June 20, 2003

DESTROYING THE PLANET IN ORDER TO SAVE IT

A little-known fact: jet aircraft emit no pollutants when environmentalists are aboard.

Global warming over the next century could trigger a catastrophe to rival the worst mass extinction in the history of the planet, scientists have warned.

Global warming author Mark Lynas, who recently travelled around the world witnessing the impact of climate change, said the findings must be a wake up call for politicians and citizens alike.

He said: "There needs to be an immediate phase-out of coal, oil and gas and a phase in of clean energy sources. People can no longer ignore this looming catastrophe."

I agree. We must ban authors from travelling around the world. Unless they do it on foot.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 20, 2003 02:16 AM
Comments

Get a copy of Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist", it will open your eyes to environmental propoganda.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 20, 2003 at 02:34 AM

Why is it whenever I read between the lines of one of these enviromentalist screeds I always see the same thing. "We must stop capitalism, economic growth and personal acheivement."

p.s. Keep up the good work Tim. I enjoy your site daily.

Posted by: Vince at June 20, 2003 at 04:23 AM

"Researchers at Bristol University have discovered that a mere 6 degrees of global warming was enough to wipe out up to 95 per cent of the species which were alive on earth at the end of the Permian period, 250 million years ago."

so there's only 6 degrees of separation between us and the dinosaurs...

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at June 20, 2003 at 05:16 AM

Wouldn't it be great if we could have, say, a five-year moratorium on use of the exhausted cliche "wake up call"?

Posted by: George Peery at June 20, 2003 at 06:11 AM

"A little-known fact: jet aircraft emit no pollutants when environmentalists are aboard."

if you ignore all the hot air, of course

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at June 20, 2003 at 06:17 AM

Another fun fact: The smoke coming from a deliberately set (ELF) fire does not contribute to pollution when the house in flames is under construction by a capitalist in an environmentally sensitive area. Same thing goes for vehicles torched by anti-globo/oil/Amerikkka/civlization rioters, I mean protesters.

Posted by: JohnO at June 20, 2003 at 06:38 AM

But their travel is important.

Posted by: Lawrence at June 20, 2003 at 07:38 AM

He said: "There needs to be an immediate phase-out of coal, oil and gas and a phase in of clean energy sources. People can no longer ignore this looming catastrophe."

Man I get tired of these fuckers. I can understand it when people choose to ignore economics as inconvenient. But when they ignore the laws of physics, I get pissy.

With our current level of technology, there is simply no cleaner form of power for automobiles and aircraft than fossil fuel engines.

To call an electric care a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) is a misnomer. The thing is twice as heavy due to the weight of the batteries, which means it needs twice as much energy to move. Where does that energy come from? Coal burning power plants, uh huh.

so why don't we switch electricity generation to something cleaner?

Such as? Solar is unreliable. Hydro has it's limits and is environmentally damaging in other ways. We don't yet have the technology for what are the only 2 concievably 'clean' power sources: Fusion and orbital solar generation.

Currently our best mid term solution is Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, which should be ready for use in about 10-20 years. But the most environmentally friendly fuel for them is still fossil fuels, not hydrogen.

Even if you don't take the rather dodgy claim of Hydrogen being ozone unfriendly into account, there are still alot of issues with Hydrogen: It's inefficient to extract, difficult to store and far too explosive.

The environmentalists are going to have to live with the unpleasant reality that fossil fuels are probably still going to be widely used for the next 100 years. But we have done a great job restricting the pollution created by them and will continue to make further advances in future.

Posted by: Korgmeister at June 20, 2003 at 07:44 AM

Korg: You forgot the clean, plentiful energy source that Greeny-weenies hate: Nuclear Power.

It's far cleaner than any fossil fuel, and what little waste it produces (by volume) is easily and safely storable places it won't cause anyone any harm (vitrification and deep-burial). (Fusion, of course, also makes radioactive waste, as the reactor parts themselves become radioactive... but fission has the immense advantage of working Right Now and, with modern reactor designs, being Very Safe, regardless of the delusions of the Chicken Little crowd.)

Of course, electically powered airliners are a non-starter, for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Sigivald at June 20, 2003 at 08:05 AM


Your post brought to mind a couple of lines from two of my favorite comedians:

"Everything is withing walking distance...if you have the time."
Stephen Wright

"A man attempting to walk around the world...drowned today."
George Carlin

Posted by: Charles Compton at June 20, 2003 at 10:02 AM

Tim, this post is a pure ad hominem attack, completely devoid of actual content. Congratulations.

Posted by: Bon Scott at June 20, 2003 at 10:25 AM

I agree, Bon, your comment certainly was.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 20, 2003 at 11:07 AM

I believe the travel was done by hot air ballon. Fuel for the trip was provided by Bob Brown.

Posted by: paul bickford at June 20, 2003 at 11:49 AM

In late breaking new it has been discovered that some environmentalists dirve cars . How lame can you get Tim ?

Posted by: Peter Weatherall at June 20, 2003 at 12:08 PM

""Researchers at Bristol University have discovered that a mere 6 degrees of global warming was enough to wipe out up to 95 per cent of the species which were alive on earth at the end of the Permian period, 250 million years ago."

so there's only 6 degrees of separation between us and the dinosaurs..."

no, for one simple reason: the dinosaurs could not adapt to the climate change. we can, we can wear the pelts of other creatures, or synthetic materials, or hide in our houses if the need arose. it would take a very large jump or fall in the temperature to wipe us out.

Posted by: Samkit at June 20, 2003 at 12:13 PM

It is very confronting for these guys when you mention that nuclear power is the ultimate answer. As has been pointed out previously there is no other reliable source which offers such a disproportionate amount of energy for so little input. I mean if it wasn't for nuclear power most of the European countries who have signed onto the Kyoto treaty wouldn't even come within cooee of making their targets.

Sorry greenies but until Europe gets rid of its nuke power stations and shows us how it is done then we have no other options....

Posted by: Don at June 20, 2003 at 12:24 PM

Korg, you wrote:
"there are still alot of issues with Hydrogen: It's inefficient to extract, difficult to store and far too explosive."

Considering standard water electolysis to extract Hydrogen operates at around 80% efficiency and can be tweaked to 90% efficiencies by increasing temperature and pressure, ie steam electrolysis. Electrolysis is inefficient campared to what exactly? Diesel engines? Which I am told operate at a maximum of 30% energy eficiency.

Hydrogen is been proven to be far less "explosive" that petrol, particularly considering it has a lower auto ignition temperature. Hydrogen is so diffucult to store that industry currently produces millions of tons of the stuff per annum world-wide for a myriad of industrial uses and store it either as a compressed gas, liquid or metal hydride.

Posted by: Antipodean at June 20, 2003 at 12:39 PM

"Conditions in what geologists have termed this "post apocalyptic greenhouse" were so severe that only one large land animal was left alive and it took 100 million years for species diversity to return to former levels."

um, who did it mate with?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at June 20, 2003 at 12:51 PM

Kinda like the anti-globo protestors, who fly to protests around the world using global airline companies

Posted by: Tex at June 20, 2003 at 12:54 PM

And organise the whole thing by yabbering to each other on that blatant exapmle of glabalisation, the internet (and when there, sms each other using horrible multi-national produced mobile phones that use networks established by global communications companies). If these dickheads had any credibility, they would communicate by smoke signal (and thus add to global warming).

Posted by: paul bickford at June 20, 2003 at 01:38 PM

What's most annoying is that dopes like the news editors at Reuter and AAP actually treat that stuff like credible news. And so it ends up in the daily blats and some simple souls get to believe it. This manmade global warming crap has been around for 20 years now, where's the evidence? And so what if there is some overall climate warming? It's happened before. Is our globetrotting green saying that if I move to Brisbane -- where the average temperature's 8 degrees higher -- I'm gonna die?

Posted by: slatts at June 20, 2003 at 02:23 PM

I'm too lazy, but someone should check the 6 degree prediction. I seem to recall it is at the outer end of the predictions and thus not such a looming catastrophe. The UN panel produces a range of scenarios that are modelled to give a predicted outcome for each. I think the most likely scenario had a much less alarming prediction.

Two other points:

1 no dinosaurs were around 250mil years ago;

2 not only would we survive, but we'd easily be able to maintain important food animals and plants would most likely thrive, so what's the big deal?

Posted by: PJ at June 20, 2003 at 02:38 PM

Antipodean posts:

"Considering standard water electolysis to extract Hydrogen operates at around 80% efficiency and can be tweaked to 90% efficiencies by increasing temperature and pressure, ie steam electrolysis. Electrolysis is inefficient campared to what exactly? Diesel engines? Which I am told operate at a maximum of 30% energy eficiency. "

BIG BIG catch here. Electrolysis to extract Hydrogen is an "energy conversion" process, not an "energy generation" process. For a more appropriate comparison, an electric motor or the transmission in an automobile are 95% or greater efficient. But so what? The critical issue in the proposed hydrogen economy is where do you get the energy to produce the hydrogen. At this point, either you burn fossil fuels to power the electrolysis process or you utilize significant energy (heat) input to a chemical process to break down hydrocarbons. Work is also proceeding on advanced nuclear reactor concepts to efficiently produce hydrogen. However, none of this will quite meet the vision some environmentalists seem to have of a hydrogen economy.

(Incidently, the 30% efficiency is a bit low for advanced diesels, but that efficiency is based on a thermodynamic process limitation that, in one form or another, restricts power cycles based on heat input to efficiencies between 20 and perhaps 50 to 60%, depending on the exact cycle chosen. Fuel is not a factor.)

Posted by: KenG at June 20, 2003 at 03:02 PM

Or he could get a bicycle like the English professor from Mexico (as long as he had a valid social security card, of course).

Posted by: Fred at June 20, 2003 at 03:12 PM

As a young person facing the difficulties of the future i'd have to say that global warming is the......least important issue facing my generation

Oh boo hoo, the sea level will raise a couple of metres, some areas will be drought prone, others will become more productive. It's not like i'm going to be killed by those dastardly rising sea levels

and besides, my house is 150m above sea level so i'm all good!

Posted by: Chris Rice at June 20, 2003 at 04:06 PM

Chris,

If sea level rises several metres it seems to me that the world economy might be severely disrupted and that several billion people might be forced to move inland, giving you lots of new neighbours. Not pleasant prospects.

The real questions would appear to be:
1. Is globalwarming real?
2. If it is real, is it due to human acitivity or is it due to natural processes such as solar cycles?

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 21, 2003 at 02:40 AM

Spot on Zsa^2! The sad thing appears to be that we are no closer at getting to answer either of your questons. So the greenies want us to act on the proposition that it is WISER to accept that both are true- but without even demonstrating that this is the smartest way to go.

Posted by: Lawrie at June 21, 2003 at 12:08 PM

The brilliant Bill Whittle is, as usual, laser incisive on this matter:

http://www.ejectejecteject.com/

People believe that adapting the Kyoto treaty will save the earth. If you only do one thing today that will raise your self-esteem and promote diversity, then saving the planet and all of its species cannot be oversold. If you think building the perfect society feels good, just wait till you get a taste for saving an entire planet and everything on it! What a rush that is!
Think of the arrogance of that statement, the sheer magic involved in a belief such as that. The earth will be here for five billion more years regardless of what you or I do. What are these people really saying? The Earthís environment has been far hotter, and far colder, than it is today. Which environment are we to save? Human industry may -- in fact, likely does have some impact on global temperatures. How significant is this relative to massive factors like solar output? We donít know. The one thing we do know, with certainty, is that the more technologically advanced and wealthy the society, the cleaner all of its industries become. Want a clean planet? Fill it with rich people.

Posted by: slatts at June 21, 2003 at 03:10 PM

Thank you KenG. That is precisely my problem with Hydrogen as an energy source. We haven't figured out any way to actually get a net energy gain out of that fuel source.

Also, Antipodean yes Hydrogen is used in mass quantaties by industry. But it's also rather expensive and if you've ever seen an Oxy-welder's compression regulators go pear shaped it's not pretty!

Transporting hydrogen in the massive quantaties needed for automotive fuel is not beyond our technological capabilities...but it will be extremely dangerous, extremely expensive and extremely inefficient. Hydrogen is simply not a rational option.

As for fission, sorry but I don't like it. Radioactive waste is dangerous for thousands and even millions of years. Admittedly modern Fission powerplant designs are far better than those dodgy Soviet ones, but the potential consequences of one of them screwing up is too serious for my liking.

Posted by: Korgmeister at June 21, 2003 at 03:32 PM

"People can no longer ignore this looming catastrophe."

Sure I can. Watch me.

Posted by: T. Hartin at June 21, 2003 at 10:42 PM