An interesting mind game involves thinking about what a Martian would think if he/she came down and observed the activities in Lima at this year’s COP. It doesn’t take much a stretch of the imagination to conclude that upon returning to Mars, he/she would report that there doesn’t appear to be intelligent life on earth.
Delegates at the COP apparently are committed to reach an agreement to phase out all CO2 emissions by 2050. This is to be accomplished by either replacing fossil fuels with alternatives or by carbon capture and storage. Or may be it will mandate perpetual motion.
While lofty goals are noble, they ought to bear some relationship to reality. Replacing fossil energy any time in the foreseeable future simply will not happen. And, there is no scientific justification to pursue such an objective.
Earlier this week, ExxonMobil released it long term forecast which, over time, has proven to be very credible. While some may dismiss it because it comes from an energy company, ExxonMobil’s forecast is consistent with those from the Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency. The ExxonMobil forecast contains an estimate that emissions will increase by 20% over the period covered. That is because fossil energy will continue to provide about 80% of the energy needed for a growing world population and for nations to prosper economically.
Energy is an economic input like labor, capital, and technology. The only way to reduce one input is to increase one or all of the others. Economic history has clearly demonstrated that when energy prices increase significantly, economic growth declines. That has been true over the last 40 years in the US and has proven true in recent years in the EU which has been pursuing an aggressive green agenda. The economies of the EU, including Germany, have suffered by efforts to replace coal with wind and solar. Electricity prices have soared, unemployment has risen, and investment capital has taken flight to more accommodating locations.
Wind and solar currently provide about 1% of the world’s energy. Even if there was some magic technology for them to grow at a very rapid rate, it is not economically practical to replace the globe’s capital stock as quickly as advocates in Lima demand without causing a global depression. Further, without some currently unavailable storage technology, wind and solar would still require a base load conventional power system for times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Robert Bryce, an energy expert, has calculated the land mass required for these alternatives. If the US attempted to replace coal fired power with wind, it would need an unoccupied land mass the size of Italy. Since neither wind or solar can survive without large subsidies, the subsidies needed to provide our electric power needs with wind and solar would bankrupt the economy.
The wind blowing out of Lima is driven by the erroneous belief that carbon dioxide is a pollutant when in fact it is a nutrient necessary for plant life. As CO2 levels have increased there has been a greening of the earth and global temperatures have increased far less than predicted and in line with geologic history.
CO2 is only a pollutant because politicians have dictated it to be one. The efforts to prove that it is harmful represent a 25-year failure and corruption of the scientific process. The climate models that are suppose to demonstrate the catastrophic effects of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere have not been able to do so in spite of constant adjustments to them. In most fields of endeavor if observational data are not consistent with model predictions, the underlying hypothesis is rejected or the models are seen as flawed. In today’s climate world, it is reality that is rejected.
Like most COPs, there will be a high level of drama as the end draws near and delegates struggle for an agreement that can be termed progress in saving the earth. Whatever is agreed to will, like the Kyoto Treaty, turn out to be flawed and a failure.
This article appeared on the FuelFix weblog at http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/12/12/a-martian-looks-at-climate-negotiations/