Tag Archives: carbon emissions

Denial 101 Debunking Essay

This is the essay I wrote for a course assessment. It follows the argument layout that people have found works best when trying to explain examples of climate change denial which is :

debunking structure

The point here is that the fact takes pride of place. It’s the first thing that the reader takes in. A bad debunking does it the other way round. It’s sort of understandable. You say what’s wrong and proceed to say why… but it doesn’t work, the myth gets pride of place, is remembered, while the debunk gets forgotten. As in…

debunk wrong 001 debunk wrong 002

Anyway, here’s my debunk attempt …..

It’s a fact that different parts of the world are being and will be affected differently by global warming. Different kinds of evidence – e.g. sea level; ocean, land and air temperatures; icecap melting; precipitation; biodiversity changes – all contribute to the emerging climate change consilience indicating that urgent action is needed now to keep average global warming to around 2 degrees. Some effects may be beneficial, at least in the short term. But the overall global effects will make the world a much harder place for its many species, including human beings, to survive.

Yet there is a myth that global warming is nothing to be alarmed about. For example, in 2013, the UK Environment Secretary, Owen Patterson, said that “There are advantages to global warming.…I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries. ….The IPCC latest report shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two and a half degrees…. what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time, and we are very good as a race at adapting.” (ref1)

Mr Patterson is correct is saying there are some advantages to global warming and in UK we may see crop yield increases as temperatures warm; growing seasons may lengthen and extend further north. However it is also true that increased sea level combined with tidal surges and changing precipitation patterns will endanger our UK coasts and cities. Indeed in 2013/14, large areas of southern England were inundated for four months causing destruction of farmland and property. Droughts will also increase and farmers will have to adapt to use different crops more suited to these more extreme conditions.

When Mr Patterson makes statements like these he is guilty of cherry-picking the facts and misrepresenting the risks. Even within UK, he ignores the many disadvantages to UK of localised global warming. It’s not as if Mr Patterson is unaware of these risks. His own government department has analysed the likely impacts. (ref2)

On a global scale, he hugely misrepresents the situation. The 2.5 degrees he makes light of will play out very differently around the planet. Some Pacific Island countries may disappear altogether. Sub-Saharan countries, already poor, are facing a loss of 40% of their crop production. Some countries will face mass population movements to avoid famine. (ref3) The UK may be able to afford to mitigate and adapt to 2.5 degrees of warming but many countries do not have the wealth to do that even if it were possible.

If you hear that climate change brings advantages just ask yourself : Advantages for whom? where? and for how long?

John Doerr: Salvation (and profit) in GreenTech

This was a talk given in 2007. His catch phrase in the talk is “…but I’m afraid it’s not enough.” At the end of this talk, John Doerr was in tears. I wonder what he’s feeling and saying now when things are looking so much worse for the climate.


Been reading this 2012 article about “Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust.” It’s about the USA clean tech boom in particular.

No surprises then than fracking, lower gas prices and fossil fuel industry opposition are involved.

“….Perhaps the biggest force working against … clean energy in general is this: Because natural gas has gotten so cheap, there is no longer a financial incentive to go with renewables. Technical advances in natural gas extraction from shale—including the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—have opened up reserves so massive that the US has surpassed Russia as the world’s largest natural gas supplier.

The price of natural gas peaked at nearly $13 per thousand cubic feet in 2008. It now stands at around $3. A decade ago, shale gas accounted for less than 2 percent of America’s natural gas supply; it is now approaching one-third, and industry officials predict that the total reserves will last a century. Because 24 percent of electricity comes from power plants that run on natural gas, that has helped keep costs down to just 10 cents per kilowatt-hour—and from a source that creates only half the CO2 pollution of coal. Put all that together and you’ve undone some of the financial models that say it makes sense to shift to wind and solar. And in a time of economic uncertainty, the relatively modest carbon footprint of natural gas gets close enough on the environmental front for a lot of people to feel just fine turning up the air-conditioning.”

Being undercut by Chinese low prices for solar echnology  is also involved in undermining the clean tech industries. But the positive effect of that is to have helped solar panel installation companies and make solar installations cheap and immediately profitable.

But maybe the biggest threat is the vested interests of the fossil fuel companies. US is not alone now in chopping the subsidies to clean energy sources whilst maintining those to the old dirty ones. UK is doing the same.

Despite the fact that renewable energy received only a quarter of the subsidies that fossil-fuel-based electricity received between 2002 and 2007, it’s wind and solar that are on the chopping block.

Even solar’s biggest allies on Capitol Hill—people like Edward J. Markey, a top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee—fear the industry’s oil and gas foes may have gotten the upper hand now that the clean-tech bubble has burst. “We are not Panglossian about what lies ahead,” Markey says. “The fossil fuel industry and its allies in Congress clearly see the solar and wind industries as a threat and will try to kill these industries as they have for the preceding two generations. They want this to be a five-year aberrational period.”

In other words, John Doerr may once again have a good reason to shed a tear.



Caroline Lucas MP on what’s wrong with the Tory 2015 Finance Bill

Caroline Lucas is the only Green Party MP in the UK House of Commons. This is her contribution to the debate on why the 2015 Finance Bill, brought in by George Osbourne for the Tory Government, should be voted down.

If you see no video just below this, it’s probably because you’re using iOS and can’t play the Flash video format. Never mind, you can watch the extract on ParliamentLive website by using this link.