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Sustainable conference in Rio finds AGW panic unsustainable

Reuters: Environmentalists throwing global warming under the bus

Twenty years ago, Rio de Janeiro organized the Eco [June] 1992 Earth Summit which created the Convention on Biological Diversity and, more importantly, The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The latter body was the first global political octopus that gradually led to the top-down, politically driven creation of a nasty tumor inside physical sciences, the climate alarmism "research".

However, you shouldn't forget that in 1992, the AGW propaganda was just one of several environmental topics – in Rio as well as in Al Gore's first bestseller, Earth in the Balance, published around the same time. The AGW ideology was just destined to experience much more striking a growth rate and overshadow all other topics and misconceptions that the environmentalists liked to talk about (a few of which were legitimate) within a decade or so.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hundreds if not thousands of immoral corrupt pseudoscientists and ideologically fanatical loons were increasingly promoting indefensible statements about the climate on Earth and its evolution. The destruction of the capitalist industrial economy as we know it was their proposed "cure" and the organized clique of loons got remarkably close to realizing their goals. This scary social phenomenon peaked about 15 years after the Earth Summit.

All of us remember these recent events very well; in fact, even today, in 2012, some of the AGW climate alarmist zombies are still occasionally walking on the streets of our cities or they are trolling in the comment sections of our blogs.

Now, the Associated Press, Reuters, and others are informing us about a June 2012 conference that will take place exactly 20 years after the Earth Summit and will therefore be called "Rio plus 20":

UN conference returns to Rio with new emphasis (AP)

U.N. sustainable development summit shifts from climate change (Reuters)
The conference is called
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 website)
The press agencies inform that the organizers have acknowledged that the climate hysteria is "too controversial" and "intractable". It is not sustainable so they have shifted to a topic that "everyone" must agree with, namely "sustainable development". The Center for American Progress, a communist tank in D.C., already labeled the Rio+20 conference as "a missed opportunity" because it seems unlikely to the comrades that it will manage to destroy capitalism (see the Reuters report above).

Well, I happen to have a huge problem with comments about a "sustainable development", too. Fortunately, this cliché is much less specific than the global warming ideology, so it is much less effective as a tool to control the people and change their behavior according to an ideological template.

But what does it really mean, sustainable development?

By definition, development really means that some quantities are changing. The "productive ones" should be growing. For quite a long time, they may grow exponentially. This exponential growth may change many quantities by many orders of magnitude.

The exponential real (inflation-adjusted) growth of the GDP may actually continue indefinitely as we're shifting our money to new categories of products and all the products our ancestors had to pay for become unbelievably cheap.

The exponential growth of many other things, like the amount of a particular metal that is mined annually, cannot continue indefinitely. But what's important is that in almost all cases, this fact doesn't imply any tragedy. It just implies that an exponential description of the evolution of a quantity, while it may be sufficient at a certain time scale, ultimately becomes inadequate.

But it's just a description that breaks down, not Nature or the civilization!

There's nothing wrong about the requirements for life on Earth or human civilization to be sustainable. But what's being deliberately hidden in this ideology is that these things are pretty much tautologically guaranteed. In particular, sustainable development doesn't require us to leave the exponentially growing train of coal or oil consumption in 2012. And not even in 50 years. All the arguments claiming that we have to do so are wrong or completely non-existent.

When it comes to energy, fossil fuels remain the most acceptable solution which is cheap and has other advantages. Because of various "conceptual" findings when it comes to new types of fossil fuels, I extended my estimate of the time scale at which the growth of fossil fuels will continue from 100 to 200 years. In the future, the estimate may be raised again – by me or anyone else who looks at these issues rationally.

At some moment, people will run out of fossil fuels. Will it mean a catastrophe? It wouldn't mean a catastrophe even today. We would need years to convert most of our economy to electric power which could be provided by lots of solar panels, wind turbines, and – which is preferred – nuclear reactors. (Thorium or thermonuclear reactors may materialize in a few decades.) The price of electricity would jump 5-fold, it could become 1/2 of our expenses and the factories' expenses, and the GDP per capita could drop by 50 percent or so. It would be tough but it would be far from an unsolvable or fatal problem.

In reality, we will never run out of fossil fuels overnight. The price of fossil fuels will chaotically change and at some point, we will gain the hindsight to see that there will have been a growing trend (due to the fluctuations, you can't really be sure about such statements when the trend is just getting started). Alternatives will be gradually getting more acceptable and by the time there are almost no fossil fuels left, it's obvious that the alternatives will be more feasible than the fossil fuels.

But this is not what is happening today. And it is totally irrational to try to speed up the convergence to that point. Instead, we should behave rationally today. And the rational behavior means that we prefer fossil fuels over solar, wind, or another ludicrous source of energy that is 5 times more expensive.

What I want to emphasize is that by behaving irrationally today, we would not be helping future generations. Even if we consider the interests of the future people to be on par with ours, it's better to use the fossil fuels today because the future generations will be much more capable of replacing them with something else.

Just think about your ancestor who lived in the year 1400 and who wanted to work all his life to be able to donate you – a distant descendant – 100 cubic meters (60 tons) of wood so that you have enough energy and you're rich. Your ancestor believed that the humans would expand, the forests would shrink, and wood would become exponentially expensive. How grateful would you be if I tell you that wood currently costs between $200 and $700 per cubic meter? You will tell him that you don't know what to do with the wood and its market price is equivalent to a year of your income so the gift won't really make you rich. It would be much better for your dynasty if you were able to send him a gift back in time. And it wouldn't necessarily be wood that you would send. You may want to send him a solar electromobile instead. Or a $5 laser pointer (or $100 gun) that your ancestor could use to impress or kill all enemies and become the Roman Emperor. ;-)

The Rio plus 20 summit may be the first large summit that acknowledges that the global warming hysteria has peaked and there is a very tiny potential that its downtrend will get reverted and the meme will become able to significantly influence the political landscape of the world in coming years or decades once again. But it's clear that when one fad is over, the people who have enjoyed this AGW fad – an assorted mixture of Marxists, investors dreaming about supereasy profits, journalists who can make living by repeating the same tendentious sensational fearmongering all the time, pseudoscientists who dream about a universal scientific consensus and about easy grants, Islamic terrorists, and people who belong to several of these groups at the same moment – will be looking for another fad.

Some lessons that the people have learned from the global warming hoax are more general and will hold for any future environmentalist fad, too. Others will not generalize. It's important for the people to understand that both groups of insights exist. People shouldn't jump into another superstition which is almost identical to the AGW nonsense. But people should also avoid the idea that everything that sounds remotely similar to the AGW nonsense must also be nonsense.

We will see how the environmentalist movement and our reactions to it will mutate and evolve in coming months and years.

State of the Union Address

In his third annual speech, Barack Obama mentioned "climate change" in one sentence only: he acknowledged that there's no consensus among the lawmakers to fight it. But one can still talk about clean energy standards and innovation, he believes.

Obama wants to raise taxes for the rich and for companies that outsource jobs.

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snail feedback (6) :

reader arse maker said...

You seem to conflate AGW with the political implications.

The Earth is warming, the only arguments against this are pretty pathetic.

CO2 increase is the main forcing of this. Again, its hard to argue against this. CO2 absorbs infrared light.

The effects of this are of course extremely complex.

I dont think there are many people saying we should abandon modern civilization as a result.

If you take as a fact AGW is fact. The solution isnt really hard. (I dont agree that spending 50% of our money on fuel would be anyhting but the end of the modern economy, look at what "high" fuel prices does to americans). If we moved to high density cities. Removed cars. More extreme is things like city farms. Though this is all easy to do.. most people in cities would have to make almost no changes. Electricity is easy, Nuclear can eaaasily supply all the electricity we need for a very long time. The dangers are always so overblown its stupid.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Hi arse fu/maker,

your rant is cute, indeed. At the beginning, you tell me that there are not too many people who say that we should abandon the modern civilization.

At the end of your comment, however, you are promoting nothing else than the idea to abandon the civilization as we know it and you offer naturalist details how it should be done, adding that it's "easy".

The statement that "the Earth is warming" is nonsensical. The Earth is warming every morning and cooling every evening our Central European time (because the average temperature is aligned with Eurasia, the biggest land, because the land is more variable when it comes to temperatures). It is increasing every spring and decreasing every fall for the same reasons.

In between the years, it's sometimes growing, sometimes dropping, mostly due to El Nino and La Nina episodes. In the last 30 years, most 5-year periods were warming, but already in the previous 30 years, it wasn't the case. Aerosols, volcanos, solar activity, slower ocean cycles, and many other things almost certainly play a non-negligible relative role. At much longer timescales, we find out that it has warmed or cooled depending on the starting point and time scale.

The statement that the Earth is "just" warming is a proof of a defective brain or dishonesty of the speaker.

CO2 absorbs IR light but given the small amount of CO2 in the air, it's just not an important climate driver. The greenhouse effect is just one of many effects determining the atmosphere on the surface and 90+ percent of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor.

The increase of temperature in the last 100 years is unlikely to be mostly due to CO2 but even if it were the case, the change was just modest 0.7 deg C which is negligible for all practical purposes.


reader OldSouth said...

I often read your thoughts, rarely pause to comment.

Thanks for your witty analysis, especially enjoyed the example of the mythical ancestor and his precious supply of wood.

Also appreciate your admonition that we act rationally today, in the interests of our children. It needs to be said, and your choice of words is most effective.

Best regards.

reader arse maker said...

Using our feet instead of cars is the end of our civilization? I prefaced that by saying living in high density cities (which is a growing trend anyhow). Not having a car in many large cities is normal. Urban sprawl makes no car almost impossible because of the huge distances you have to travel.. which is why I prefaced by comment to start with.

It warms during the day? And you call my comment cute?

CO2 has increased by a huge amount, about 30% since the industrial revolution. Of course there isnt a simple relationship between CO2 and temperature.

Climate scientists address the points you bring up. Only idiots think the climate is a simple system where one variable overrides all cycles and other variables.

At this point a similar percent of climate scientists agree about AGW as biologist agree about evolution.

Maybe they are all wrong, time will tell but if i was claiming evolution was a bunch of nonesense it seems fair to think my opinon was based on something other than the preponderance of evidence.

reader Eric said...

arse maker:

You have not defined what you mean by "AGW" adequately enough for us to determine whether a majority of scientists support it or not (a similar problem, incidentally, exists with your evolution example, but let's leave that aside for now). Specifically, are you saying most scientists think the concept of an average global temperature is meaningful, that such average global temperature has risen in concert with CO2 increase, that such an increase is due to man's activities, that the changes you propose would reduce CO2 output and bring us back to some "safe" level, that the changes you propose are better than spending the effort on adaptation, and on and on?

If all you are saying is that most scientists think the Earth has generally warmed over the past 100 years, then sure, most folks agree. However, if you are further asserting that such warming is unprecedented, or unusual, or caused by CO2, or caused by mankind, or preventable, or reversible by changing our CO2 output, or dangerous, or an impending catastrophe, etc., then, no, I do not accept that the vast majority of scientists accept all of these things. Particularly when the question of what to do about it is not scientific at all, but rather a political, social and economic one.

Finally, even if there is a large number of scientists who agree on every one of these things, we need to be cautious about carrying out science by vote.

reader Greg said...

Well... if we're doing science by consensus, it seems that the largest majority of scientists agree that Catastrophic AGW is crap and the additional CO2 added by humans is beneficial.

I think Lubos has proven both of those points over various blog posts.

As far as the "green cities" idea, well, it would require a major redesign of most of our cities and a 180 degree change in our thinking about nuclear energy.