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No Climate Emergency

16 Replies

No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 3, 2019 7:57 am

This doesn't seem to appear in the Daily Mail or the BBC, I wonder why:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/29/scientists-tell-un-global-climate-summit-no-emerge/

There is no climate emergency
A global network of 500 scientists and professionals has prepared this urgent message. Climate
science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific. Scientists should
openly address the uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming, while
politicians should dispassionately count the real benefits as well as the imagined costs of adaptation
to global warming, and the real costs as well as the imagined benefits of mitigation.
Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming
The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with
natural cold and warm phases. The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no
surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming.
Warming is far slower than predicted
The world has warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate, and at less than half the rate to
be expected on the basis of net anthropogenic forcing and radiative imbalance. It tells us that we are
far from understanding climate change.
Climate policy relies on inadequate models
Climate models have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools. Moreover,
they most likely exaggerate the effect of greenhouse gases such as CO2. In addition, they ignore the
fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is beneficial.
CO2 is plant food, the basis of all life on Earth
CO2 is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO2 is
beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global
plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.
Global warming has not increased natural disasters
There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and
suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent. However, CO2-mitigation measures are as
damaging as they are costly. For instance, wind turbines kill birds and bats, and palm-oil plantations
destroy the biodiversity of the rainforests.
Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities
There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly
oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050. If better approaches
emerge, we will have ample time to reflect and adapt. The aim of international policy should be to
provide reliable and affordable energy at all times, and throughout the world.

https://clintel.nl/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/ecd-letter-to-un.pdf

At last some people talking sense. After the relatively rapid rise of around 1°C between 1975 and 2000 in the Northern Hemisphere the temperatures have been relatively flat.

f95f77dc1ad4c0ab15046a656ee22cae-huge-ha

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/figures/Figure11.png

We certainly need to reduce our consumption of finite resources and reduce our impact on the planet but focusing on CO2 is not the way to do it. Let's start with real pollutants that are directly harmful.

Best regards

Roger

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Simon Barker on Oct 3, 2019 8:18 am

If you pay them enough, you will find 500 scientists who will say anything you want.

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 3, 2019 8:33 am

That works both ways, if your grants depend on supporting a 'Climate Emergency' thats you will support. The data however does not support runaway global warming only the models do that.

Best regards

Roger

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Andy Millar on Oct 3, 2019 12:32 pm

For the avoidance of doubt, this letter has not been signed by 500 scientists. (When you choose as one of your lead signatories a journalist turned deputy leader of UKIP it does suggest you're probably running out of reputable scientists!)

And you do have to wonder why those that are reputable scientists - and some are - signed it. Take 

CO2 is plant food, the basis of all life on Earth. CO2  is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO2  is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.

Ok, probably none of those that are scientists are biologists, but you'd have thought some would have a basic understanding of biological and ecosystem processes. But anyway that's not the point. This paragraph (and it's a very short letter so no-one can claim it's "out of context") has nothing to do with climate change one way or another. It's just weird. Any scientist that tried putting that in a climate science paper would be laughed out of the room - not for challenging the status quo, but for having a "scientific approach" that would be unacceptable even at GCSE level. You could say the same about water, essential to life but too much of it is going to cause problems...

As various websites have pointed out, this letter is the same old arguments rehashed. Yes, climate scientists know that the models aren't perfect, and produce differing long term results. It doesn't affect the fact that they show common trends.

Probably a hint as to what happened here is - to pick an example - that one of the 500 was Richard Lindzen. Now he does know what he's talking about, but what's key is that he describes himself as a "contrarian". He likes to provoke debate. Which is fine - except that the time to sit around chatting about the theoretical watertightness of the Titanic's chambers is when it's being designed and built, not when it's going down. I suspect  (although I don't know, people could check if they wanted) that several more of the signatories are similar old-school academics who enjoy a good academic common room contrarian debate. The question is whether they are taking on board the effect on society of the way they are having the debate - chances are they'd say that's not their problem. Personally I'd disagree.  

Given we don't really know why these 500 people chose to sign this letter I'm not sure this is likely to turn into a very helpful discussion on this forum. But anyone interested in what type of arguments are being crafted to appeal to climate change deniers would profit from reading this letter. (I suspect, from the CO2 references, it's largely a fossil fuel lobby focused item.) But don't read it expecting to learn how to present a scientific argument to anyone who understands science!


What concerns me more, because it is my field (whereas atmospheric physics isn't), is the misunderstandings about risk management in all this. Let's say (crudely, and people can disagree with my figure but I'd argue the order of magnitude is correct) that 95% of scientists who understand the mechanisms involved believe that the climate will significantly change due to man made effects - even if they can't accurately predict exactly in which way it will change. And let's say that if they're right then there will be considerable loss of life. Then any credible risk management process says that you put that into a matrix, the probability of occurrence will go in as high (not inevitable, because some relevant scientists disagree, but most don't) and the related consequence will be severe. That comes out with the conclusion that you must do something to reduce your risk.

In most countries you are not allowed legally (or, I'd suggest, morally) to say that a bridge is ok if 95% of your engineers say it is going to collapse with significant loss of life and 5% say it's fine. You have to do something about it. The fact that as MD of the construction company you don't understand the arguments of 95% of your engineers ("but I can see it standing, I walked across it this morning and it was fine") will be, quite rightly I'd argue, no defence when it collapses.


I don't plan to debate this any further here as I have no evidence that any of us are experts in climate science, and I think this subject is too serious for a banter level debate (see my comments above on Richard Lindzen). I am sure other institutes (e.g. IoP?) have forums where they do have that expertise and would be able to accommodate such a debate.

Andy

Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Andy Millar on Oct 3, 2019 1:10 pm

P.S. To finish on a positive note, because I do like to be positive, there is a really useful discussion that could be had on these forums. It's perfectly reasonable that a very large number of engineers will be concerned about their jobs and careers if mass CO2 reduction is required. So a useful discussion would be how their expertise could be harnessed in the new industries that will be required. A bit like the thread that Luciano's tried to start on IA. There aren't likely to be less engineering jobs in a low carbon economy - just different ones. And I suspect in the fields covered by the IET they won't actually be terribly different.

(I write as someone who's father spent 43 years as a chemical engineer working on the manufacturer of town gas! Some readers may need to look that up ☺ At the age of 59 when his gasworks - the last in Southern England - closed he managed a very successful transition to a rewarding career in a completely different field.)
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Andy Millar on Oct 3, 2019 1:15 pm

P.P.S. I'm just trying to think if there's anything in UKSpec about being able to adapt your role as the world changes (which could be just your company changing its business strategy, which gets many engineers very stressed.) I don't think there is explicitly, perhaps there should be...
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 3, 2019 1:37 pm

I actually see this as an engineering problem. All the plans bandied about, renewable energy sources, replacing IC engines with electric power, replacing gas heating with something else all require a major engineering input and an vast amount of resources.
Is replacing the UK’s IC engine vehicle fleet with EVs by 2040 (or 2030) possible or even sensible? If we don’t have a ‘Climate Emergency’, just a ‘Climate Problem’ then this transition can be carried out over a longer time scale. It’s a matter of risk assessment.
Is becoming CO2 Neutral (whatever that really means) by 2050 possible? Can we build enough windmills, tidal barrages and nuclear power stations by then? If 2100 is a more realistic target then probably we can. Again it’s risk assessment. Is it an emergency or just a problem?
The IPCC produced four planning scenarios, an absolute worst case RCP8.5, a very best case RPC2.6 and a couple in the middle. One is a sort of business as usual RCP6 and one is making a reasonable effort RPC4.5.

b048b2d35b7cbad12897382e9b894ea3-huge-cu
 
 
https://judithcurry.com/2019/01/28/reassessing-the-rcps/

All the scaremongering and disaster scenarios are based on the absolute worst case. The business as usual case means we need to do something to stabilise the situation but this can be done on a practical timescale.
I don’t see the transition to a more ‘renewable’ world reducing engineering jobs, it can only increase them.
Best regards
Roger
 

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Simon Barker on Oct 3, 2019 10:15 pm

The business as usual case means we need to do something to stabilise the situation but this can be done on a practical timescale.

Kicking the can down the road and making it somebody else's responsibility some unspecified time in the future doesn't actually solve any problem.

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 4, 2019 12:04 pm

OK so we have a problem that requires engineering solutions. The IET should be part of the solution but I don’t see any concrete action. There is a lot of rhetoric and virtue signalling but no planning, no road maps of how to reach a solution, no estimates of resources and time scales.

Ms Thunberg can berate as many political leaders as she likes, but without engineering nothing will actually change. Resources will always be limited and these will control the time scales. Moving the ‘CO2 Neutral’ target from 2050 to 2100 may not be ‘kicking the can down the road’, it may be the optimum way. Is it sensible to shut down generating stations before the end of their useful life and so waste some of the energy and materials used in their construction, probably not.

Firstly what is the problem to be solved? The UK shall be ‘CO2 Neutral’ by 2050. What does that actually mean? What does CO2 Neutral mean?

1) Don’t burn anything that contains carbon?

2) Burn things containing carbon and then stick the carbon back in the ground somehow?

3) Burn things containing carbon and buy carbon credits (indulgences)?

The technology for 2) does not exist in  an industrial form yet and probably won’t by 2050. It might be available by 2100. If the whole world is trying to become CO2 neutral there won’t  be enough carbon credits to go round for 3) to be practical so that leaves 1).

1) means don’t burn coal, oil or gas (possibly wood as well) for:
a) Electricity generation
b) Process heating
c) Domestic heating
d) Transport

The technology generally exists to replace fossil fuelled transport with electric/hydrogen power. The electricity and hydrogen need to be produced somewhere which increases the load on a) Electricity generation. A large amount of infrastructure need to be built for charging EVs and distributing hydrogen for fuel cell or combustion engined vehicles. We need to increase our ability to produce battery or fuel cell powertrains, including the supply chain, by a factor of 100. Is this possible by 2030, 2040 or 2050 depending on which rhetoric you choose?

How do we replace oil and gas for domestic heating? The first step is obviously to reduce demand by reducing heat loss. This is quite difficult with a lot of the UK’s housing stock and previous attempts at improving insulation have resulted in numerous problems with damp etc. There will still be a need for heating so how can this be achieved?

i) Ground or air source heat pump.

ii) Electrically heated storage system.

Both of these increase the load on a) Electricity generation and may be difficult to install in existing UK properties. Changing cooking from gas to electric is relatively easy but further increase the load on the electricity generation and distribution systems.

I don’t have any answers for process heating. How can we manufacture concrete and smelt metals without burning gas or oil? Aluminium smelting and some of the refining processes can be done electrically but that also increases the load on a) Electricity generation.

 How to proceed with electricity generation and distribution? The load on the system has been increased by the other solutions and we have to shut down more than half of our existing capacity. What are the alternatives?

Nuclear is a good start for base load but the current generation of reactors have slow response times to changing loads. It’s unlikely that newer generation systems will be available in time to be on stream by 2050. They will be available by 2100. The fuel cycle will also need to be supported by breeding and reprocessing. Could we build ten or more nuclear power plants by 2050?

I don’t think Solar PV is viable at the UK’s latitudes, in southern Spain it may be.

Wind is an option, however the low energy density and moderate capacity factor will require many turbines spread over large areas. The intermittency will remain a problem and will require a complementary system of storage or back up. The concrete and steel requirements for wind power are greater than those for nuclear power which offers a significantly greater service life. Could we build and install enough wind turbines by 2050?

Tidal barrages/pumped storage. Tidal barrages also require vast areas due to the limited head (tidal range) and slow cycle time (11hrs). They also have an intermittency but it is plannable and can be managed by multiple basins with some loss of total efficiency. A useful contribution to the problem would require a barrage on all the UK’s major estuaries. The barrages could also be used as pumped storage facilities to support wind power but that removes the generating capacity. Separate pumped storage facilities could be built to support wind power but the likely, mountainous, regions are well away from the generation sources and end users. This will require expansion and reinforcement of the grid system. Are there enough places to install tidal and pumped storage systems? Could enough be built by 2050?

If the above can supply enough electricity what about the distribution system. In another thread it was noted that domestic distribution is based on an average 6 or 7 amps single phase per property. In a CO2 Neutral world that is not enough. Additions are required for EV charging, cooking and heating. Will doubling the value be enough? How can that sensibly be achieved? I would suggest reinforcing at higher voltages and doubling the number of substations to reduce the disruption of the 415/240V system to a minimum. How many new substations would that be to be built and installed, 1000s?

This is a possible road map to a CO2 Neutral future. It is full of assumptions that can be challenged. It contains many open questions. It does not contain estimates of the amount of raw materials involved. Is it possible by 2050? I don’t think so. Is it possible by 2100? Maybe. Is it necessary?

Best regards
Roger
 

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 8, 2019 8:53 am

Someone has done the arithmetic on this:
‘Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 2050 Requires A New Nuclear Power Plant Every Day’
https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerpielke/2019/09/30/net-zero-carbon-dioxide-emissions-by-2050-requires-a-new-nuclear-power-plant-every-day/#6ac3ca3535f7

And a view on alternative energy, it’s all about the money.
‘New Michael Moore-backed doc tackles alternative energy’
https://apnews.com/933b49681b0d47d3a005d356f35251ab


Best regards
Roger
 
 

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Simon Barker on Oct 8, 2019 2:57 pm

Moving the ‘CO2 Neutral’ target from 2050 to 2100 may not be ‘kicking the can down the road’, it may be the optimum way.

80 years from now is about as far as you could possibly kick a metaphorical can.  It's safe to assume that all of the politicians making that pledge would not only be out of office by then, but most would be dead from old age.  It allows a good 50 years of making nothing more than token efforts to solve the problem, while still allowing for another 30 for future generations to actually do something.

But by that time it may be far too late.  If the Greenland ice caps melt - and they are already melting now - then most of our coastal towns and cities will be underwater.  In the UK alone, we could have tens of millions of displaced people to find homes for.  Worldwide, it would be in the billions.  By choosing to wait to fix one problem, you create a whole load more.

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 9, 2019 9:03 am

I am not considering delaying starting any activity. I am looking at a sensible/practical time scale to achieve a CO2 Neutral target from an engineering viewpoint. Roger Pielke’s arithmetic suggests that from now we would have to build a Nuclear Power Plant per day to reach CO2 Neutral by 2050. If he is correct that is neither sensible nor practical. As he shows a similar conclusion would apply to doing this with wind power and that would also require storage systems. Maybe reaching the target by 2100 is possible?

The melting of the Greenland Ice Caps is an interesting question. If you look at the official Danish website different measures tell completely different stories:
http://polarportal.dk/en/greenland/surface-conditions/
This shows the surface mass balance which hasn’t really strayed much outside the 1981-2010 average. There’s no significant problem there.
http://polarportal.dk/en/greenland/mass-and-height-change/
This uses a different satellite based measurement which shows a steady decline in mass unlike the previous measurement.
http://polarportal.dk/en/groenlands-indlandsis/nbsp/viden-om-groenlands-indlandsis/
This is a complete disaster scenario quoting likely temperature rises by 2100 of 5-10°C and giving a sea level rise of 7m if all the ice melted. The actual sea level rise quoted is currently around 0.6mm per year, 60mm per century.

What is the Truth? Is there no real problem? Is there a bit of a problem? Will the sea level rise 60mm by 2100 or 7m?

Best regards
Roger
 

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Simon Barker on Oct 9, 2019 1:39 pm

You're thinking about this from an engineering point-of-view.  Essentially "business as usual" but gradually replacing old technologies with new ones as they become economically viable.

The climate change protesters aren't thinking like that at all.

Here's a few possibilities I have just come up with off the top of my head...
  • What proportion of air flights are actually necessary?  If we ban flying on holiday, and most business trips, then we could perhaps cut 90% of all flights immediately.  There would be a knock-on effect on the supply of perishable foods, but we would just have to grow our own food instead.
  • Shipping is a lot more efficient than air, but burns dirty oil.  Push through a programme of converting ships to solar and wind.  That will be costly, and the ships will be slower.  So less stuff imported from overseas.  Insist that goods are designed to last longer, and be repairable (just like the olden days).  Forget buying that latest iPhone.
  • Convert all buses, taxis and trains to electric.
  • Scrap all petrol and diesel cars.  Discourage large electric cars - we won't have enough electricity to charge them.
  • Improve home insulation standards.  Ban landlords from renting inefficient homes (we've made a token start on that already) and offer grants for energy efficiency.  Ban gas, oil or coal heating. And cooking.  Make sure new houses actually meet the latest building regulation standards (most don't), and make those standards tougher every year.
  • Decarbonise the electricity supply.  That will mean less electricity generated.  Live with it.
  • Electricity will have to go up in price.  Introduce an escalating pricing scheme.  The more units you use, the more each unit costs.  That will encourage people to save electricity.  Heating your swimming pool will become ruinously expensive.
  • Things that use a lot of energy to make will go up in price.  Live with it.  Make things last longer.
Will the average member of public accept that?  Possibly not.  When you work through it all, it will be like going back to the 1940's in many respects.  Maybe including the food rationing until things get sorted out.  Could we do it?  I would have thought so.

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Alasdair Anderson on Oct 9, 2019 3:45 pm

Simon Barker:
Here's a few possibilities I have just come up with off the top of my head...

  • Shipping is a lot more efficient than air, but burns dirty oil.  Push through a programme of converting ships to solar and wind.  That will be costly, and the ships will be slower.  So less stuff imported from overseas.  Insist that goods are designed to last longer, and be repairable (just like the olden days).  Forget buying that latest iPhone.
I will just concentrate on the 'possibility' where my expertise lies.
Ships are already moving towards less polluting options. The dirty oil burning ships of my younger days (1960s to 1980s) are a thing of the past, probably quite literally as the expected life-time of a ship is around 25 years. Ship-owners have been experimenting with wind and solar power for the last couple of decades, not so much because of environmental concerns but because of the continuing rise in cost of fuels. There have also been ships designed to go slower and so use less fuel, but here we do come up against the consumer demand requirements so you are quite correct regarding the impact it will have on consumers.
The International Maritime Organization has set a target of reducing emissions from shipping by 50% by 2050. This might not sound too much of a challenge, but remember the 25 year life of the ships. The ships that are being designed now will still be in service in 2050 and are part of that target.
Solar does not provide enough power to significantly affect the ship propulsion. Wind is practical (though intermittent), after all we had a worldwide fleet of wind-powered ships only 150 years ago with only a smattering of coal powered ones (the first steam-ships capable of world-wide trade dated from the 1860s, and they still had sails and masts as a back-up). Probably the biggest change in shipping will be hybrid ships first (just as hybrid cars were the big thing prior to full electric cars) and there are already a number of these around.
One of the biggest drivers in global shipping is the globalisation of manufacturing. As you mention the iPhone I will use its example. They are all now manufactured in China and shipped to the consumers. The shipping requirements would be drastically reduced if they were manufactured/assembled local to the individual markets, but this would cost more.
As you can see from this, your suggestions are sensible and already being thought about, which bodes well for your other suggestions.
Alasdair
 

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 11, 2019 11:02 am

Simon's suggestions as written are sensible but lack the practical details and possible time scales. I left air and sea travel out of my proposals as I was thinking UK/Europe where most things can be done with electric railways.
'Decarbonise the electricity supply' is a good thing but how long will it take?  If you are replacing fossil fueled transport systems with electrically powered ones you can't just shut down the oil, coal and gas power stations you need something to replace then with.
Ms Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion can demand zero carbon by 2025 as much as they like, without engineering details it's just a dream. Maybe the engineering is the 'Truth' they are demanding that governments tell?

Best regards
Roger

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by mapj1 on Oct 11, 2019 11:14 am

If you are replacing fossil fueled transport systems with electrically powered ones you can't just shut down the oil, coal and gas power stations you need something to replace then with.

you may decide, at least in the short term, not to replace them, either at all, or with something much reduced.
Consider the scrapping of Concord - no replacement was needed, as supersonic flight was no longer seen as worth it by the folk who would have had to pay a few k per ticket. As the price of fuel rises, first the poor walk or use a bicycle, and after a while as the price rises, everyone does.
You could in effect tax people who have more than a 30 minute commute - actually you could strart by banning companies from doing things like paying a London weighting that actively rewards people for  wasteful traveling. - I'm sure that would cause some soul searching about head offices in London, but I challenge anyone to justify moving a number of people equivalent to half the population of Scotland in and out of our capital daily.
There is quite a lot of low hanging fruit to be taken first, but like separating and recycling your rubbish, totally unthinkable in 1993, and now de-rigeur, public opinion changes are needed, but that can happen much faster than infrastructure changes to the buildings and roads they use.

regards Mike

Re: No Climate Emergency

Posted by Alasdair Anderson on Oct 11, 2019 11:28 am

mapj1:

you could strart by banning companies from doing things like paying a London weighting that actively rewards people for  wasteful traveling. 

Better to actually encourage companies to move out of London. About 25 years ago my employer was trying to move out of London and had a design for a new HQ in Hampshire. Because of the size of the office complex it exceeded planning guidelines and the local council referred it to Westminster, where the minister who had to make the decision was also the minister who had been tasked by Government to stop businesses from relocating out of London!  You can guess what the decision was.

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