Re: 'Another point of view: Is global warming worth the anxiety on our young people?' (Village News, 9/26/19)
Last updated 10/11/2019 at 9:51am
Thank you, Julie Reeder, for questioning the worrying statements made by campaigners to school children (future voters and taxpayers), filling them with fear of a man-made climate apocalypse.
I too am skeptical.
The Earth’s inhabitants are, happily, enjoying a warm period on our planet. Google climate charts for the last 400,000 years and take a look. There have been many warm periods over that time frame. Meanwhile we’re seeing a rise in carbon dioxide or CO2 emissions. CO2 is a gas that warms the atmosphere, protecting us from frigid space. This particular “greenhouse gas,” however, is just a small part of the atmosphere, especially when compared to the most abundant greenhouse gas: water vapor.
Will all this CO2 cause a collapse or radical change in climate? That is the crux of the debate.
Adding to the confusion, climate change campaigners use the shorthand “carbon” in their campaigns. Carbon reduction, carbon credits, carbon pollution. But carbon, C on the Periodic Table(1), is coal in one form, diamonds in another. Carbon bonds with many other elements, forming millions of compounds and is the basis of all life on Earth. By mass, carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe and, after oxygen, the second most abundant in the human body. This is why it’s almost comical when people push for a “carbon-free future.” Ouch!
But carbon is not the focus at all. When climate change campaigners refer to “carbon” they are talking about carbon dioxide, CO2, the natural greenhouse gas the oceans release into the atmosphere when they warm, the CO2 we humans and all the other animals on the planet exhale, the CO2 the plants on land and phytoplankton at sea consume as energy/food.
It’s not surprising that CO2 levels are rising. Beyond being in a warm period, we’re setting records for human population and all of us, and much of our industrial processes, exhale/release CO2 as a waste product.
CO2 hit 4,000 PPM about 500 million years ago (warm Cambrian period) dropped to 180 PPM 2 million years ago (cold Quaternary glaciation) and have risen to over 400 PPM today. At 150 PPM, plants starve so clearly the goal is not to reduce CO2 to zero.
To address man’s contribution of GHGs into the atmosphere, which some believe will force a climate catastrophe, the United Nations’ established its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC ) in 1988. The UN-IPCC focuses, not on actual climate change, but on man’s contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and this impact on climate change. (2)
In 2008/09 (Clinton/Gore, Obama/Biden administrations), the UN-IPPC (where the USA has one vote but provides the bulk of the funding) agreed to move billions from the Treasurys of developed countries to the Treasurys of developing ones. These climate-related transfers of tax dollars reached $55.7 billion in 2016, a 30% increase from 2014. (3) The goal is to transfer $100 billion a year, every year, starting in 2020.
The push is on!
These numbers do not include all the investments in climate-focused infrastructure such as wind turbines on the mountain ridges and in our valleys, solar panels in our deserts and all the transmission grids required to deliver this intermittent and inefficient renewable energy to the population centers. This sort of “global climate finance” reached $681 billion in 2016. (4)
But heavily-subsidized renewable solar and wind energy sources, their transmission lines and underground/underwater delivery systems, are not greenhouse-gas-free and rely on a broad range of mined products and fossil fuels.
We are now measuring higher atmospheric levels of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a synthetic greenhouse gas used in the “green” transmission grid. The Environmental Protection Agency (5) and the U.N. (6) says SF6 remains in the atmosphere for 3,200 years and has a global warming potential 23,900 times that of CO2. While the U.N. offers “carbon credits,” it states, “If a piece of SF6 containing equipment is destroyed by a force majeure event, releasing all of its SF6, the project developer will calculate the inventory change as an emissions-neutral event.” (13) Some GHGs are more equal than others, it seems.
In Texas, delivering just 18,500 megawatts (MW) of wind power requires building $6.9 billion worth of transmission lines spread over 3,593 miles, (7) about the distance from San Diego to Halifax. Using this multiplier of 5.15 MWs of wind power per mile of transmission line, our current fleet of wind turbines, 539,581 MW (2017) (8), is tethered to 104,773 miles of transmission lines, enough to circle the equator (9) over four times.
Beyond the costs of building a new “green” energy grid and the habitat lost to such installations, a 2013 report by K. Shawn Smallwood estimates that in the U.S. in 2012, some 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) were killed by wind turbines, a rate of 11 birds per MW of installed capacity (10). If we extrapolate that globally, at 539,581 MW x 11, bird losses total 72 million annually. There are similar sobering statistics for bats.
The wind power industry must also share responsibility for bird deaths caused by high-tension lines. A 2007 report estimated the number of such mortalities to be at least 130 million, possibly as high a 1 billion birds per year. (11)
Mike Parr of the American Bird Conservancy has said, “Bird deaths from wind power are the new inconvenient truth.” Adding, “The total number of birds killed and the amount of bird habitat lost will dramatically increase as wind power build-out continues across the country in a rush to meet federal renewable energy targets.” (12)
Rachel Carson must be turning over in her grave.
Beyond wind energy, solar panels installed in the arid regions of the planet also require an additional commitment of resources and contribute a negative impact on habitat and wildlife.
So, yes, I am skeptical about the claims of man-made apocalyptic climate change campaigns, especially those focusing so heavily on CO2. I do worry about the social, environmental and financial costs of using precious resources and acting without caution on the claims of such overblown campaigns.
I am not alone. Many people and scientists, including Dr. Patrick Moore (formerly of Greenpeace), are questioning too. If you want a quick primer on the issue, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFHX526NPbE
To everyone who lives in Fallbrook, thank you for questioning but also thank you so much for caring!
5 “Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Emission of Fluorinated Gases,” Environmental Protection Agency, available at http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/fgases.html as of March 26, 2013.
6 “Global Warming Potentials,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, available at http://unfccc.int/ghg_data/items/3825.php as of March 26, 2013.
7 “Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, Program Oversight, CREZ, Progress Report No. 11, (April Update),” prepared for Public Utility Commission of Texas by RS&H, April 2013Quarterly Report, April 2013, p. 9-10, available at http://www.texascrezprojects.com/page29602058.aspx, as of May 10, 2
8 https://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1457147/global-capacity-grows-526gw-2017, https://www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Global-Annual-Installed-Wind-Capacity-2001-2016.jpg
9 The equator’s circumference is 24,901 miles.
10 K. Shawn Smallwood, “Comparing Bird and Bat Fatality-Rate Estimates Among North American Wind-Energy Projects.”
11 “Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects,” Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects, National Research Council, 2007, p. 71, available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11935 as of April 23, 2013.
12 “Bird Deaths from Wind Farms to Continue Under New Federal Voluntary Industry Guidelines,” American Bird Conservancy, Feb. 8, 2011, available at http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/110208.html as of March 26, 2013.
13 “AM0035: Large-scale Methodology: SF6 emission reductions in electrical grids,” Version 02.0.0, p8, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Nov. 23, 2012, available at http://cdm.unfccc.int/methodologies/DB/QR8WAAMUOFF4WP3UCTJ8G4SOX2ZZW5 as of March 26, 2013