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What's good for the economy is good for the climate

 
 
 

The car-friendly guide to fixing human-made greenhouse emissions.

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What's good for the economy is good for the climate

This year I refocused my lecture about fixing man-made climate change. I was able to do that because climate scientists in 2013 dramatically improved the way they communicate the need for a permanent cumulative limit on fossil carbon dioxide emissions. They said that warming caused by fossil and mineral carbon dioxide emissions is permanent. And they published a chart showing the relationship between cumulative emissions (since the mid nineteenth century) and total man-made warming.

IPCC cumulative carbon dioxide emissions chartBy spending less time on technical details I was able to present the main results from my presentation at the National Energy Research Institute (NERI) Conference in February 2013: There is no technical constraint on the supply of carbon-neutral crude oil; and, It is highly probably that by 2080, carbon-neutral petrol, diesel, and jet fuel will be more affordable than conventional fuels are today.

After the lecture we have a 90-minute tutorial. This year course leader Dan Zwartz and I focussed on the cumulative limit and its implications. After reviewing the scientific data, I asked the students if they had ever heard that the only way to stabilise man-made warming is to completely phase out fossil carbon emissions. Nope. Not one. Most of these students are younger than the Kyoto Protocol, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Greenpeace. They chose to enrol in an expensive university course on climate change. And yet none of them knew one of the most fundamental facts about man-made global warming.

I wasn’t surprised. After all, an entire generation of bureaucrats have built lucrative careers on a cherry-picked version of climate science in which everything will be all right as long as we pay the carbon tax and ride the train and give lots of money to the governments of developing countries. That’s the version we get from the news. It’s the only version our students would ever have heard.

We told them it’s wrong. They took it in their stride. They came to university to learn. We gave them new information about climate change. With the characteristic optimism of youth, they started suggesting new ways to ease the transition from fossil fuels to carbon-neutral petrol and diesel.

Best suggestion: Ban negativity.

I could not agree more. The trouble is, doom-gloomers have the same rights as everyone else, including free speech.

There are plenty of reasons for positivity. Last week, for example, the European Commission proposed slashing European fossil and mineral carbon dioxide emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The CO2 emissions chart from my NERI presentation (below) shows that if the entire world could do that, humanity could pretty-much guarantee man-made warming would never exceed two degrees Celsius. (My chart shows emissions falling to zero by 2080. Cumulative total carbon emissions come to 0.955 trillion tonnes, which is just inside the limit for two degrees man-made warming.)Hypothetical phase-out of fossil carbon dioxide emissions

Some students last year told me my lecture was the highlight of the course. I don’t pull punches or shy away from hard facts. I make it quite clear that all carbon-neutral alternatives to fossil liquid fuels are more expensive than today’s fuels. I openly imply that battery-powered cars are expensive niche-market toys for rich gadget-freaks. I make it absolutely plain that fossil carbon emissions must totally stop. Then I show how market-led capitalism can solve the problem. (If fossil carbon emissions are taken out of the market.)

Real climate science says if we want to stabilise warming, we must sever the link between human activity and fossil carbon dioxide emissions.

This would liberate humanity from the oppressive statism of “green” politics and the misery of anti-car doom-glooming. It’s too good an opportunity to ignore. That’s one of the main reasons I like showing young people how they can build a better future.

 

Kevin Cudby is a Wellington-based Freelance Writer and Parametric Modelling Consultant who loves writing about cool new technology. Email him to discuss your requirements: hello {a} kevincudby.com

 
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