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Discussion > Zed: ‘not often aired elsewhere, let alone discussed’

What about if we end up considerably poorer by doing the wrong thing, Zed?
I am still waiting, and have been for years for someone -- anyone -- to produce one single shred of convincing empirical evidence that an increase in CO2 to anything up to 1,000 ppm will (a) happen, and (b) have any adverse effect on the weather or the global mean temperature or the state of sea or the Greenland ice cap.
For sure, you haven't provided me with one. All you have done is wander in, produce some meaningless polemic and wander out again.
I will address my "carbon footprint" when I have some evidence that doing so is essential for the future well-being of mankind. At the moment I am quite happy to see an increase in temperature because fewer old people die of excess heat than of excess cold, fewer people will die of hypothermia because they have been pushed into fuel poverty by the blatant dishonesty of this government and the last in shoving onto the poorest the cost of pointless wind farms, and my vegetables will be very grateful for the extra CO2. As will the crops that are increasingly necessary to feed the world since we insist on handing over large tracts of productive land to growing fuel oil.
And I am sure you have noticed the irony in that since bio-fuels create more carbon than fossil fuels and are less efficient. Why does anyone think that resurrecting medieval energy technology and farming practices is the way forward for civilisation?

May 26, 2011 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson


Thanks for rejoining the debate.

A few things:

- I am not saying ‘we’re so small we don’t need to do anything’

- I am saying that we’re so small it does not matter what we do

- So, emissions policy in the UK is purely symbolic

- This being so, efforts should be made to balance the pace and paths chosen towards decarbonisation with hardship inflicted on individuals and on the national economy

- If you believe that the BRIC nations will take the slightest notice of what the UK does or does not do you haven't been paying attention. The entire process of leading by example with cap and trade and limitation by treaty has failed. Completely. This approach is now dead and must be abandoned. Starting with the Climate Change Act and ending with the Kyoto protocols

- No, I’m not arguing that we should wait until other nations have tackled their emissions before acting (where do you get this?)

- I argue that the only path to decarbonisation in the UK is through an intensive program of installing new nuclear and gas

- Domestic heating needs to move from gas to electrical, and national transport needs to be electrified (which could prove very difficult in practise, but I'm not saying we should not try)

- I argue that renewables are essentially a sideshow in the national (and global) attempt to displace coal-fired baseload generation from the energy mix (see links at May 22 7:47pm)

- It’s not about money per se, it’s about creating pointless hardship and economic contraction through wrong-headed energy policy

- Whatever you may feel capable of in terms of self-sacrifice, I assure you that most other people will not be happy

- Energy/climate policy must be socially acceptable or it will be politically unworkable (see R Pielke Jr’s ‘iron law’ of climate policy)

- What you are arguing for is doomed to certain failure

- What I am arguing for might just prove:

1. Realistic – the lights stay on and baseload capacity increases (now we can move on to displace

2. Politically feasible – so long as the anti-nuke greens are pushed aside by the energy rationalists

3. Efficient at decarbonising the UK economy

4. Capable of significantly displacing coal from the global energy mix

Quite why you have a problem with any of this is a mystery to me ;-)

May 26, 2011 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

It`s been said that taking a little water with it helps.

Jun 6, 2011 at 2:31 AM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

"The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), developed at U.S. national laboratories in the latter years of the last century, can economically and cleanly supply all the energy the world needs without any further mining or enrichment of uranium. Instead of utilizing a mere 0.6% of the potential energy in uranium, IFRs capture all of it. Capable of utilizing troublesome waste products already at hand, IFRs can solve the thorny spent fuel problem while powering the planet with carbon-free energy for nearly a millennium before any more uranium mining would even have to be considered. Designed from the outset for unparalleled safety and proliferation resistance, with all major features proven out at the engineering scale, this technology is unrivaled in its ability to solve the most difficult energy problems facing humanity in the 21st century." See

Jun 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJasper Gee

Your link's incomplete.

Jun 12, 2011 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Jasper Gee

Yes indeed. IFR looks very promising doesn't it? As compared, say, to renewables.

Mike Jackson

The Energy Collective site is running like cold treacle for some reason, but this verified link works - eventually...

Jun 12, 2011 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


The original article by Barry Brook can be found on his site here:

Jun 12, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Thanks,BBD. Got there. It definitely wasn't working for me yesterday. Something I said, probably!

Jun 13, 2011 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson


Sorry, I missed this.

@ May 26 2:09pm you said:

- why do you say that something that is easily quantifiable in whole percent, will make no difference? Less than one hundred times that, and it's the whole lot.

Your question was answered in some detail a few years ago, and the results discussed in a piece in the Times by Bjorn Lomborg:

Computer modelling - using DICE (dynamic integrated model of climate and the economy) - shows that the net effect of the UK renewables effort is impossibly tiny. The temperature increase by 2100 without Mr Brown's plan would have been 2.4536181C. With the best-case scenario the huge UK effort means that the temperature at the end of the century would be 2.4532342C. The effect is a difference of about 0.00038C - or about one three-thousandth of a degree in a hundred years. This is the equivalent of delaying the temperature increase by the end of the century by a little less than a week.

Of course, these numbers are way too precise: different models and assumptions would give somewhat different results. Yet because we are talking about relative change, the absolute climate sensitivity of the particular model matters very little. Thus the order of magnitude is robust and indicates an astonishingly small effect for a very large cost.

If one imagines that the reductions could be sustained across the century (which presumably would also call for five repeated investments of hundreds of billions of pounds), the effect is still very small - a temperature reduction of about one six-hundredth of a degree.

Using the latest academic meta-study by Professor Richard Tol we can calculate that cutting 1,100 million tonnes of CO2 would create benefits worth £4 billion in terms of the impact on agriculture, forestry, preventing deaths from heat and cold, disease and unmanaged eco-systems. At a cost of £100 billion, the investment involves paying £1 to do less than 4p worth of good.

The UK emits about 2 per cent of global CO2. Thus we could imagine the world as composed of 50 UKs, each emitting one fiftieth of the carbon. If all 50 of our “UKs” paid a £100 billion to reduce temperatures by one three-thousandth of a degree in 100 years, the result would be still be trivial: one sixtieth of a degree by the end of the century. Costs would most probably increase similarly, fiftyfold to £5,000 billion. This amazing sum would simply postpone global warming and its problems by a mere 11 months by the end of the century.

The cost of £5,000 billion is equivalent to a hundredfold increase in global donations to developing countries. To make a simple comparison, the UN estimates that for about £40 billion annually, we could solve all major basic problems in the world - we could give clean drinking water, sanitation, basic education and healthcare to every person in the world. But instead we are spending a fortune achieving almost nothing.

Okay, I said the UK could achieve nothing and it's actually about one three-thousandth of a degree C. Mea maxima culpa.

Jun 13, 2011 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Now do you start to see what's going on? Why 30% gets alchemised into 80%?

Some people are just energy fantasists, plain and simple. Others are opportunists making a fat profit from the brainless scramble for renewables (the UK is full of them). And some are both.

Between you and me, I know you know nothing about the energy market, or the grid, or generation technologies. It's obvious from what you say here.

I hope you have learned something useful today, both about the relentless self-promotion of the renewables industry, and the IPCC's enthusiastic willingness to join in.

Finally Zed, let's just remember who actually pays for all this. The entire European renewables sector is totally dependent on subsidies - be they direct or indirect. It is so utterly uncompetitive it would literally collapse overnight if the river of public money were to stop.

Don't believe me? Well go and check on what has happened in Germany (yes, Germany) and Spain since 2008. Go on.

All the billions and billions of Euros and Sterling have come from 'the people'. Usually as what is effectively regressive taxation that hits the least well off the hardest.

That's right - the useless, hyper-expensive, dishonestly promoted renewables sector is a parasite that is most harmful to the weakest members of society.

And you pitch up in comments here plugging it on a routine basis. Well, I hope you feel good about yourself this afternoon.

Jun 16, 2011 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Zed expressed some (tactical, feigned) disdain recently at my use of the term 'energy fantasist'.

She will be interested to learn the company I'm in. Here's an excerpt from a recent essay by Dr James Hansen on the dangers posed by renewables advocacy (emphasis mine):

The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy

The insightful cynic will note: “Now I understand all the fossil fuel ads with windmills and solar panels – fossil fuel moguls know that renewables are no threat to the fossil fuel business.” The tragedy is that many environmentalists line up on the side of the fossil fuel industry, advocating renewables as if they, plus energy efficiency, would solve the global climate change matter.

Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

This Easter Bunny fable is the basis of ‘policy’ thinking of many liberal politicians. Yet when such people are elected to the executive branch and must make real world decisions, they end up approving expanded off-shore drilling and allowing continued mountaintop removal, long-wall coal mining, hydro-fracking, etc. – maybe even a tar sands pipeline. Why the inconsistency?

Because they realize that renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future and they have no real plan. They pay homage to the Easter Bunny fantasy, because it is the easy thing to do in politics. They are reluctant to explain what is actually needed to phase out our need for fossil fuels. Reluctance to be honest might seem strange, given that what is needed to solve the problem actually makes sense and is not harmful to most people.

I will continue to describe advocates of renewables plus 'energy efficiency' as energy fantasists because that is what they are.

The collective distorting effect of their fantasies on energy policy is profoundly dangerous. It is the energy fantasists - not the climate sceptics - who are pushing us towards a future of continued high emissions, insecurity of supply, inadequacy of supply and cripplingly high energy prices.

Just take a look at Germany and the UK.

Aug 7, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I'd like to, if I may, consult my magic calculator. The population of the UK is set to be an incredible 70m by 2050. The population of the world is set to be 9000m by the same year give or take a few moments.

Now most of those 9000 million are not in a situation to cut their emissions, even if they were the sort that might like to think of the rest of us. I know it’s a ridiculous amount but let us say we cut our emissions by 50% (slightly less as a country because we will grow by 8m in the period up to 2050). Now for the new 2500m people in the world due to arrive in the next 39 years, farting sheep required blankets to keep them warm is not gonna do the greenhouse situation any good at all. So we’ll have to allow them to burn stuff and we’ll probably build some dwellings and that needs hydrocarbons as those ugly things in the sea don’t do much, just look ugly. We have saved 62*0.5 people’s worth of CO2 (minus the 8m new guys of course). It’s only fair that the new 2500m people get that stuff, I am not interested in no trading scam so they don’t need us to pay for our 50% reduction. Magic Calculator says 62*0.5/2500 = 0.0124, 1.24% of my current emissions for every new dude. Now what about all those thousands of millions who want a better life, they’re gonna want a bit more to improve their lives no? I think we all know where these daft sums are going, hence I will spare you. We haven’t done anything about emissions which makes me realise that nobody in our government believe a damn thing that we are being fed, that or they just don’t care.

I do hope my magic calculator isn’t one of those IPCC type ones, that turn 2350 into 2035. Still the consequences of my inabilities are not likely to impact on the world economy in such a drastic fashion.
We are no better than cattle being fed fodder by the media, Politicians simply reflect public opinion in their views/policies (or what they think we believe based on what the media tell them (and us) we believe. Been happening in science since I first got involved 40 years ago, making a living out of belief, everything both causes and cures cancer as required. Playing on people’s hopes and fears to provide a very healthy parasitic living for themselves. We allowed good science to be usurped by the post-modernists who are not interested in data; Rev Tom gave them big foreheads and only the need for a prior.

Aug 31, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterCamp David

advanced economies cannot match the "China" price for labour (India is catching up to the West surprisingly quickly). If we cannot keep in train with the China price for other industrial inputs, then we have no future. Power is a very important input.

Sep 12, 2011 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


Let's carry on here. Then I can refer you back to all the things you have ignored since April.

Nov 9, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Seriously BBD - relax. Don't take it personally, I do actually have things which keep me quite busy, I'm not dodging the subject.

Because I spent too long on the other thread, I am going to have to focus on other things for a little while now, but I can see this is needling your noodle, so I shall come back to it when I get an opportunity and get back up to speed with it.

But relax, be less confrontational. I enjoy good debate, but if you're always half a degree from meltdown then that's the last thing it will be.

Nov 9, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Don't take me for a prat, Zed. You have had since April.

I'm busy too, but I find time to engage in debate here and increasingly, elsewhere.

The politest word I can think of for you today is disingenuous. Your avoidant behaviour is vexing. It is the problem here. Do not try and twist this round by wittering on about me being 'half a degree from meltdown'.

Your credibility is very much on the line again.

Nov 9, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


I think any worry about ZED's credibility will amount to closing the barn dor after the horse has gotten loose.

I just now came into this particular discussion thread and am very impressed by your arguments. I would probably put myself into the same group of thought that I think Mike Jackson represents - Wanting some solid evidence that increasing concentration of CO2 represents a threat to mankind. But leaving aside the climate issue, we still have to deal with the energy issue and in this I am very happy to see someone who understands the numbers involved. Whether we all agree or not on what we should do, it is foolish to ignore what it is we can do. As the saying I first heard in the Navy goes "Wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first." ZED seems to be fine with wishing and spitting. You on the other hand understand that it is better to put both hands to work doing that which is achievable.

Nov 22, 2011 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56


Thank you.

I am unpopular on this blog because I hold conventional views on the ability of CO2 to heat the climate system. It would be refreshing were more commenters able to do as you do, and distinguish between climate science and energy policy.

The Greens have conflated the two - so why should those of us who do not subscribe to their loopy ideas be bound by them here?

Nov 22, 2011 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I am unpopular on this blog because I hold conventional views on the ability of CO2 to heat the climate system.

Funny that. Richard Betts has pretty conventional views on CO2 too, and he is pretty well-respected. But yeah ... that would explain it

Nov 22, 2011 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

I am of the opinion that there is a large element of "bitchy little girl" syndrome at play in the various blogs I read. In the case of the ones I visit most often, Bish Hill, WUWT and Judith Curry, it is in large part because the moderators stand above that syndrome. I think it detracts from the discussion and try to keep in mind my "Would you drink a beer with them." theory. I.E. don't let a person's opinions on a topic over influence your perception of them as a person. It's possible they could be your best beer buddy. I think I can honestly say I'd buy a beer for just about everyone I see on this site (with the possible exception of Hengist - I'm convinced he actually looks like the guy in photo I'm seen him use.)

PS - you need to make it to the PNW to collect on that beer. Wine is also an option, as I live in some of the best wine country in the world. And whiskey, of the scottish, irish or canadian variety.

Nov 23, 2011 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered Commentertimg56


Oh, agreed ;-)

It's a PITA. The problem as I see it is that very few online commenters are capable of admitting that they are mistaken. This is an impediment to rational debate.

A minor point, but you are talking to a whisky buff - only the Irish is spelt with an 'e'! I'm not at all sure that the sweet Canadian stuff is regarded as 'whisky' at all... ;-) Except perhaps by Canadians, that is.

Nov 23, 2011 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


I'm a relative newcomer in the world of whiskeys. Ventured into it from a developing enjoyment of brandies. Scotches were first. Then I bought a bottle of Jameison to accommodate a friend. When he failed to show up that evening, it wasn't long before I was trying the stuff. The next slippery slope was to Canadian, mainly because I saw a cool looking bottle of a brand bottled in Hermiston OR. I wouldn't characterize it as sweet, but then, like a lot of subjects, I still have a lot to learn. Most likely I'm going to be the same sort of whiskey drinker that am as a wine drinker. My friends seem to think I am very knowledgeable on the latter score. I correct them by stating I am a consumer, not a conneiseour (sp?). In other words - I just drink the stuff.

Nov 23, 2011 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

Oh, I just drink the stuff too, but you do have to watch the quantities. It's not known informally as 'electric soup' for nothing ;-)

Also, the better single malts tend to come in at £35 a bottle, so there's plenty of scope for blends to take up the slack unless you are embarrassingly rich or a two-glasses-a-week man.

The Canadian whiskies that I have tried tasted very sweet, but I am used to (and vastly prefer) island single malts like Laphroaig, Talisker, Lagavullin etc. These are well away from the sweet end of the palette.

Nov 23, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD