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Home | 2016 | June

Carbon dioxide: the science is settling nicely

Posted by Mad Mitch on UTC 2016-06-08 16:01. Updated on UTC 2016-06-09

We announced here that, as far as atmospheric carbon dioxide was concerned, the science was 'settled'. Of course, in strictly logical terms, it can never be 'settled', but for all practical purposes we can state that the argument demonising carbon dioxide for its role in increasing the temperature of the atmosphere is 'settled': that argument is false.

Since we wrote that piece two new reports have been published.

1. Climate sensitivity

The first is still provisional, being a preliminary report from a paper to be published in August. This report maintains that aerosals and clouds do not cool the atmosphere as dramatically as was assumed. This assumption finds its way into all the conventional climate computer models, which already 'run hotter' than measured reality.

When this exagerated cooling effect is removed, the results of the models will be even more out of sync with nature, meaning in turn that the 'climate sensitivity' to atmospheric carbon dioxide is much more likely to be very low. As we suggested in our previous piece, the effect of carbon dioxide in fact is barely noticeable and completely harmless.

This is not just a one-off report. The 'settledness' we claim comes from the fact that this report is the latest in a trend of estimates of climate sensitivity which come to the same low estimate. Read the post at the link for full details.

2. The social cost of 'carbon'

Based on the horror scenarios arising from human emissions of carbon dioxide, many have attempted to calculate the 'social costs' for such doomsday visions. Taking all the assumptions as given, particularly the now elderly extreme climate sensitivity estimates and the overheating models derived from them, such calculations usually lead to huge costs – which can then be used to justify the huge costs of 'climate action'.

However, a recent paper has recalculated the 'social cost of carbon' on the basis of the latest, low estimates for climate sensitivity (see previous point) and found that it is probably a negative value: that is, the economic benefits of carbon dioxide are greater than its costs. More details at the link.

Clearing up the mess

For almost a quarter of a century, public policy has been based on extreme assumptions of the growth of human emissions of carbon dioxide and the contribution of those emissions to 'anthropogenic global warming'. The goal of reducing these emissions has been given the highest priority by successive governments and all kinds environmental organizations, even those whose initial declared purpose has really nothing to do with climate.

In the UK, for example, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has approved the erection of windfarms that will 'save the planet' despite the proven lethal effect they have on birds and bats. It seems that birds and bats no longer matter when carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced.

The National Trust has approved the desecration of landscapes by windfarms and solar panels. It seems the human environment doesn't matter when there are carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced.

The construction of offshore windfarms necessitates a latticework of deep trenches on the seabed and wrecks its ecological integrity for miles around as well as in the coastal areas where the power cables (more trenches) come ashore, all in the name of the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

The UK government is even seriously considering permitting the construction in Swansea Bay of a tidal barrier (a.k.a. 'lagoon' – sounds nicer) at enormous cost for pitiful amounts of electric power, a construction that will destroy the marine ecology of the bay and the rivers flowing into it.

There are innumerable such projects around the world, all done in the name of 'reducing emissions' – something that our settled science tells us is pointless and ultimately harmful. All other considerations have been subsumed to this false god.

Dashing for diesel

If you need a further example, consider diesel engines in motor vehicles. Up until about 2000 the general opinion was that diesel engines were noisy, heavy and dirty (particularly with emissions of extremely dangerous particulates).

Apart from the general filth and nitrogen oxides that diesel engines blow out at us, their emissions of carbon dioxide are lower that petrol engines. In a world obsessed with the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions this fact outweighed all the many other, well-known disadvantages of the diesel engine. As a result, the use of diesel engines in motor vehicles was encouraged by many governments. In the UK the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's

… 2001 'dash for diesel' sparked a major change in British motoring habits.

He slashed duty on diesel and reduced company car taxes on diesels. In response, the number of diesel cars on Britain's roads more than doubled from 3.45 million to 8.2 million.

Now, the obsession with reducing carbon dioxide emissions at any price is bringing the diesel chickens home to roost:

The Government is facing legal action from both the European Commission and environmental campaigners over its failure to meet EU targets on air quality.

New directions

Time to get back to settled science. Let's go for the ecologically sound alternative: dump diesels, pull down the windfarms and solar panels, build some nice, cheap, gas power stations and get fracking. Should we offer the perpetrators of these ecological crimes an amnesty? Probably not.

There is a special place in Hell reserved for them where, like Prometheus, they are chained to rocks and the shades of the thousands of birds of prey that their infernal machines have killed gnaw at their livers. Something like this:

Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders, 'Prometheus Bound' (c. 1618)

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and Frans Snyders (fl. 1579-1657), Prometheus Bound (c. 1618). Snyders painted the eagle. Image: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Seems only fair that the birds of prey get their own back.

Update 09.06.2016

A motorist believed the UK Government. He won't do that again.

When I bought my diesel-powered Citroen C5 estate six years ago, the last thing on my mind was that I would end up being treated as an environmental vandal by a government minister.

The rates for road tax seemed to be encouraging me to buy a diesel car. With lower carbon emissions, my new car fell into a much lower taxation band than my old petrol-powered Peugeot 406.

It is quite a shock, then, to hear Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin warning motorists like me that we face a hike in taxes designed to punish us for doing what we thought was the right thing and buying a diesel car.

Mr McLoughlin now says incentives introduced by Gordon Brown in 2001, which led to the number of diesel cars on Britain’s roads more than doubling from 3.45 million to 8.1 million, were utterly misguided.

And he says diesel car owners will have to pay an extra tax in future to make amends.

Better keep off French cars, too, if you have any sense.