But not in the way the Herald means it.
Phillip Mills and Barry Coates, like good zealots everywhere, loyally maintain the view pushed down our throats by the IPCC that we need to reduce our emissions “to meet the aim of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C.”
They say they can’t stay silent, as the stakes are too high. I actually agree, but they’re thinking nobly of the whole world. I see the stakes a little differently. We’re just a small country and I want to know how much it could cost.
The MfE is setting the country’s target for emissions reductions after 2020. It says the cost to each family of a 20% reduction would be $1400 per annum. But why don’t they tell us the total cost?
The 2013 census says the country has 1.136 million families. If fighting climate change cost each family $1400, the total would be $1.6 billion per annum. Projections suggest that by 2027 there could be another 364,000 families, which would add $500 million. But there’s more.
But they know what they’re doing, right?
There will also be an economic cost because the economy won’t flourish under a “price of carbon” of perhaps $50 per tonne. If our target is a reduction of 20% on 1990 levels, the MfE says the annual economic cost by 2027 in lost production could be $4 billion.
Total estimate: $2 billion from families + $4 billion from taxpayers = $6 billion per annum. It only takes $1.5 billion to run our prisons; $3 billion for our Defence Force; and $1.6 billion for the Police.
Yep, stakes are high. But they know what they’re doing. I mean, the science is all settled, isn’t it? Actually, it isn’t settled, but that’s not the worst of it. Much of it has been obfuscated, distorted and fraudulently misrepresented (but that’s for another post).
Everyone else says it hasn’t been warming for about 20 years. Our two brave opinion-makers must have heard about it: this hiatus in the Earth’s brief temperature rise from the mid-1970s to the millennium has been talked about for years. Doesn’t it make them curious? It makes hundreds of thousands of us curious, but not them.
The ones we call “deniers”
I would encourage them to give quiet thought to this problem. The climate is gigantic and complex and any investigation will quickly discover a daunting array of materials and processes about which little is known. It will require many facets of study and our two zealots will quickly find themselves lost in a swamp of climate facts, figures and theories. But they might notice a conjunction of two facts in particular. Let me help by pointing them out.
1. The current complete failure of the climate to warm.
2. The shrill predictions of dangerous climate warming.
Now that they can acknowledge the incompatibility of these two facts, a question may pop up in them (as it did in us) that simply asks why.
Sceptical inquirers (you know, the ones we call “deniers”) have been asking this and other questions for a long time.
Never mind why it might be a good idea to limit our emissions; never mind how the figure of 2°C was derived; don’t even be concerned that we regularly go on winter holidays where temperatures are 20 or 30 degrees above the ones we’re escaping and it doesn’t feel a bit dangerous.
Never mind that: if you can respond reasonably to this incompatibility of undeniable facts, you are no denialist.
They say, “This is the time for us to make a decision on New Zealand’s role. We cannot afford to fail again.” Well, I agree this is too wrong to stay silent on because any climate change target New Zealand sets will not change the climate. See the first point in my submission to the MfE in my post Assisting the Minister fight the climate.
Naively uninterested in investigating
Mills and Coates present an article devoid of science, urging us to respond to this urgent global warming but naively uninterested in investigating it. They waffle on about boosting the economy through unspecified “low-carbon policies” and reductions in the cost of batteries and insinuate that just because electric cars and solar panels have gone down in price they are now affordable. They rely not on science to persuade us but appeal instead to some nebulous morality. If they persuaded us properly (evidence works well) they wouldn’t need to resort to morality.
They display ignorance of Germany’s phase-out of nuclear reactors, apparently not knowing it has forced a desperate return to coal-fired generation (and, to correct their article, Germany generated only a quarter, not a half, of its electricity from renewable sources last year, and increased their use of coal). They might be horrified to learn that Germany’s heroic installation of about 70 gigawatts of renewable capacity since 2002 has not reduced its dependence on fossil fuels one bit. In fact, it’s risen to the highest ever.
They will certainly be horrified to learn that China is not “transitioning away” from coal: they are building a coal-fired power plant every 7 to 10 days, and they intend to keep that up for the next ten years. Japan is building 43 coal-fired plants to replace its nuclear generators.
China puts into the atmosphere the same amount of carbon dioxide in seven weeks as we produce in a whole year. Just the increase in China’s emissions over six to eight weeks is equivalent to New Zealand’s emissions for a year. Our emissions are puny—a mere 28 hours’ of China’s output. [My apologies for misconstruing Dr Mike Kelly’s presentation on 9 April. – RT]
Old-fashioned and irrelevant
Mills and Coates wax fairly passionate about fixing this climate peril we’re in. But it’s oddly irrelevant and even seems (dare I say it) old-fashioned to panic about dangerous man-made global warming when there’s been for so long so much evidence against it.
As always, don’t believe what I say, believe what the scientists tell us. Here’s Dr Roy Spencer’s comparison between a bunch of climate models and the reality of atmospheric temperatures observed by balloons and satellites. It clearly shows the blue blobs of reality and the out-of-this-world model temperatures soaring high above them. It’s been about four years since this graph was assembled, but temperatures have not risen and the model predictions show no sign of coming down.