Thursday, June 5, 2014

Global Warming is No Reason To Panic, Only A Call For More Technology

Democrats tend to be Malthusians -- meaning they tend to be pessimistic, cynical and have trouble envisioning win-win scenarios where everyone gains beyond imagination. Obama and his fellow Malthusians tend to only see a dire future with scarcity. This is due to many reasons: 1) their ignorance of the issues, 2) lack of a faith, 3) lack of imagination, 4) lack of  trust in the ingenuity of mankind, and 5) a failed understanding of free market economics and US history. In short, they are ignorant of everything that has led to dramatically higher standards of living!

But you can see the pessimistic and ignorant worldviews in action with regard to Obama's recent climate change initiative.

Yes, the earth has warmed 1.6 deg F (2.4 deg F in Northern Hemisphere) in the past 100 years. And the sea is rising about 1/10th of an inch per year. And we will likely see a similar change in the next 100 years.  But the hydrocarbon era is likely over in 100 years. So, none of this is a reason to panic or enact policies that put more people out of jobs.  See my blog Global Warming Made Easy.  But that's just what Obama is doing with his over-reaching (and ineffective) climate initiative that will hurt the economy and hinder job creation.  He wants to lower electric power plant emissions by 30% in 2030 compared to the year 2005*. (* see footnote below)   The Democrat's war on jobs continues!  

What they don't get:  technology will come to the rescue again and everyone will be better off!

The EPA and Democrat's Over-Reach

First off, regulating carbon dioxide as "harmful or threatening to human health" as part of the Clean Air Act is a joke and such an interpretation should be reversed.  Unlike Sulfur and Nitrogen oxides, which are poisonous, CO2 is necessary for life. Carbon dioxide is naturally occurring at about 0.030% (300 ppm), plants require it for their photosynthesis and the level has only risen to a less-than-astounding 400 ppm in 60 years. To call 400 parts per million levels of CO2 in the atmosphere "harmful to human or public health" is untrue and should be reversed.  It's just not true.

And this slow and small rise of CO2 is barely affecting the climate. At best, you might call the climate effects as an "inconvenience" since nothing drastic is happening. And it appears that the warming has halted in the past 10 years or so.

There has been no trend in the number of disastrous hurricanes or anything else. Claims to the contrary have been debunked. Last winter was the coldest in decades!  The sea will rise a foot in the next 100 years which is manageable given that our hydrocarbon era may only last another 100 years (or less).  Seawalls and gradual shifting back from seashores can and will happen during the next 100 years. There is no reason for higher unemployment today or any other panic reaction. 

But Obama's and other's misunderstandings are based strictly on alarmist views due to their pessimistic (and ignorant) nature. The only drastic or "runaway" warming scenarios come from faulty climate "models."  Obama and his liberal left have far too much faith in these faulty models and it's going to put people out of work.  All of the models are failing!

What Obama doesn't know is a lot!  He proves that daily. Even a 30% cut in electric power generation CO2 emissions is miles away from actually halting the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Electric power energy is only 40% of our total energy use.  So, a cut of 30% of the 40% share is only a 12% reduction of total energy and emissions.

There is no evidence that a 12% cut will do anything!   Just to slow the CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere would require a 55% reduction in total emissions (not just 12%) to match the uptake (absorption) of CO2 by the land and sea.  To reach 55% reduction target, you'd have to cut 100% of CO2 emissions from power plants, AND convert most vehicles to electric.  Furthermore, you might need to build some nuclear or wind power plants to power the electric cars!  The cost is in the $10's of Trillions for the US alone.   It's not happening and it's not going to happen anytime soon.

For example, after decades of alarmism, there is not a single power plant in the world where carbon is being captured.  And the US has 10,700 power plants alone!  And the technology to do so is still being developed.  Most old power plants cannot be converted.  In reality only new-built power plants can be fitted with flue gas scrubbers as part of the design.  Furthermore there are huge problems and costs associated with injecting carbon dioxide into subsurface reservoirs or into deep sea ocean trenches.  It's an extremely large volume to be disposed of.

Obama knows none of this.  He's content with just shuttering of old power plants whether there's electrical brown-outs in the future or not.   He knows nothing about that either.  He doesn't even care. This all proves again the idiocy of central planning and central planners. They don't know what they are doing nor foresee unintended consequences.

My most important point is that, although man has caused warming,  the cost to re-tool the economy away from fossil fuels is so great that it's not going to be done at this time.  Furthermore, since the warming is basically benign, it's not worth spending the money!   It's just not going to happen.  All of this will be reversed in 2016 (just ask Julia Gillard from Australia who enacted a carbon tax. She was soon bounced from office).

Technology to the Rescue

The answer to our modest warming issues and the eventual demise (and increased cost) of hydrocarbon energy is more technology.  Eventually we need something like Thorium energy to power the economies of the world.   The sooner the better!  See: Thorium Reactors may solve the world's energy crisis.   The molten salt reactors are made inherently safe, run at atmospheric pressure (no containment buildings, etc), and hugely fuel efficient.  The fuel is 4 times more abundant than Uranium.  Even the waste products are minimized and less radioactive.

What should be done is to call for a pilot program for companies like Westinghouse or GE to build and test Thorium molten salt reactors to perfect the technology.  China and Norway are already putting these reactors into use on a trial basis -- using a design that the US invented!  One thing IS for certain:  oil and gas are finite resources and already peak cheap oil is here.  We need to perfect the commercial design of these reactors and then work with a more friendly government to streamline regulatory rules and permitting.  It'll take decades so we should be starting now.

A call for a private-sector led Thorium Reactor program (or even a private sector and government partnership) should have been Obama's big initiative -- not some counter-productive and job killing initiative that will vanish once he's swept from office.  We desperately need a truly intelligent and serious President -- not Jimmy Carter II.


* Year 2005 is convenient start point because the natural gas from fracking boom has already lowered our country's CO2 emissions.   It's ironic because Obama doesn't even like the natural gas boom but is taking 'advantage' of it here.

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