For real striving, give up the driving

Comments here from someone who shall remain nameless (thanks a lot, Andy!) forced my twice-yearly drive-by glance at Hot Topic, finding again that its unending invective, rancour, impatience, embarrassing ignorance and sheer mindless chatter is all too irksome.

But a recent post by Renowden calls for comment. He talks about Bill McKibben.

Bill McKibben — that most thoughtful and interesting of climate campaigners — is bringing his very successful Do The Maths campaign to New Zealand next month [June], and will be speaking in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. Bill’s argument is straightforward:

The maths are simple: we can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The problem? Fossil fuel companies have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we do the maths to change our future.

via Hot Topic.

But Bill says that it’s the fuel companies who will “burn it all” — that’s stupid. It’s not them that have to stop burning petroleum products — it’s you and me and him! There’s nobody else using the stuff!

He predicts “catastrophe for life on earth.” When I ask scientists why a catastrophe is coming, they say I’m mistaken; they don’t predict disaster from global warming. Our local NIWA scientists are all fairly relaxed. Real scientists don’t talk about a coming catastrophe and McKibben surely does not believe in one. He only says we “risk” it to frighten us into sacrificing something.

“Five times the safe amount” he says. What baloney. Nobody, least of all our Bill, tells us how much the temperature will rise following the release of a known amount of CO2 because they don’t know how much the temperature will rise. So how can he know what “safe” is? Go on, Bill, tell us! Then we can inform the IPCC what the true climate sensitivity is, as they don’t know either. Nobody does — but a lot of recent papers suggest it’s quite low.

Bill’s telling us that the only way to prevent the burning of all that oil is to stop the burning. Just stop it, already!

But if we simply stop using petroleum products, then engines will have to stop. There’s no other way to make them go! Unless they restart, people will starve. For how will the beans and apricots get from their remote farms in the Bay of Plenty or Cromwell to the Auckland supermarkets? How will our chilled lamb and wine reach buyers in the USA and Europe? Without wine, instant starvation for the French.

We won’t be able to cure the sick and we’ll watch them needlessly die. For how will medical supplies, drugs and machines reach us? There weren’t many pharmaceutical or medical manufacturers in New Zealand the last time I looked. Which means they’re all overseas.

So the real question is: when will you, Bill McKibben, take the lead, set an example and stop driving your car and flying overseas? You could send us an email and have the same effect. We’d still be bored, but we wouldn’t have to find you a hotel.

Not giving up your own use of petroleum gives the very distinct impression that you don’t believe your own propaganda.

Your real agenda appears to be the destruction of western prosperity. Is it?

At the very least, you’re trying to give everyone a deep and abiding sense of guilt for their comparatively luxurious way of life, you bastard.

Views: 52

21 Thoughts on “For real striving, give up the driving

  1. Andy on 09/05/2013 at 10:58 pm said:

    Bill says that CO2 levels greater than 350ppm are incompatible with life on Earth.

    Which makes me wonder why tomatoes in greenhouses are force grown at 1000ppm CO2, but then life isn’t all roses and tomatoes.

    • Eggzackly!

      Current CO2 levels have persisted for about the last 20 million years, which should let anyone accept them as natural and normal. Trouble is, for about the previous 540 million years the CO2 levels were mostly more than twice as high as at present. The very period when life was developing. Which should let anyone accept that disaster is unlikely. See

  2. Robin Pittwood on 09/05/2013 at 11:07 pm said:

    I came across this comment and video over at Bishop Hill.

    “…This video does explain what could actually be behind the whole charade:
    Please be patient with it; the dull start hides a powerful truth.”


    • Thanks for the video Robin. There is an element of self-loathing across the environmental movement, I agree

  3. Andy on 10/05/2013 at 12:02 am said:

    There is some hope when questions like this are asked in the House of Lords UK

    Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Verma on 14 January (WA 110), 5 February (WA 31–2), 21 March (WA 170–1), and by Lord Newby on 23 April (WA 359), whether they will give their numerical assessment of the probability in relation to global temperatures of a linear trend with first-order autoregressive noise, as used by the Met Office, compared with a driftless third-order autoregressive integrated model and ensure that that numerical assessment is published in the Official Report; and if not, why not.

  4. Alexander K on 10/05/2013 at 11:02 am said:

    That Hot Topic promotes Bill McGibben should not surprise anyone of a sceptical inclination.
    They deserve each other and both promote fallacy as their normal modus operandi.
    Both are a waste of electrons and bandwidth.

  5. Here’s a good example of liberal indocrination – a couple of young students rap against fracking at a school in Boulder CO

  6. Mike Jowsey on 10/05/2013 at 1:20 pm said:

    Anthony takes a swing a McKibben:

    The problem with emotional people like Bill McKibben, is that they seldom delve beyond headlines and live in a world of imaginary constructs that fit their expectation.

  7. stan stendera on 10/05/2013 at 2:37 pm said:

    I am all the way across the world in Marietta, GA, USA, yet have somehow discovered this excellent blog. The point about the greenies is simply when they get their way disasters follow:

    They got their way on wind in Germany, the UK, and others and multi thousands died because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes.

    They got their way on DDT and 20 million to 200 million (pick your estimate) African children died from malaria. I know this is controversial, but I know it is true. Google African deaths and DDT.

    They got their way on the carbon tax in NZ and OZ which is wrecking business and commerce in both Countries

    Imagine you are a Mother in Kenya watching your child die the excruciating death from malaria. Preventable malaria! Imagine your are 70 years old in a flat freezing to death because you can’t afford heat. Imagine you are a small business in Oz having to close down because of the high energy cost of the carbon tax. You’re having to lay off your long time employees, many of them friends. Imagine all this evil is caused by someone’s IMAGINARY notions about CO2 induced warming. Just imagine.

    • Magoo on 10/05/2013 at 3:24 pm said:

      Not to mention all those who starved in Africa because the greenies told their governments that genetically engineered food was bad for them and that the west was experimenting on them with it.

    • SimonP on 10/05/2013 at 4:08 pm said:

      Some perspective please.
      There is no shortage of electrical generation in Northern Europe, even if the wind farms aren’t working. Prices are set according to demand by reasonably open free markets. People freezing has much more to do with levels of poverty and inequality.
      You have a point on DDT but it is not a particular safe chemical to use and spraying costs money which the Kenyan government does not have.
      The ETS in NZ has absolutely no effect at $2/NZU. The carbon tax in Australia has barely kicked in and might be scrapped post-election. You would be struggling to find a single person who has been laid off solely due to either imposition.

    • There is no shortage of electrical generation in Northern Europe, even if the wind farms aren’t working

      So why is everyone and his dog predicting that the lights will go out soon in the UK when the Large Combustion Plant Directive forces coal fired power stations to shut down?

    • stan stendera on 10/05/2013 at 7:40 pm said:

      Because the dog knows better then you, Andy, or the fools in charge in the UK.

  8. David on 10/05/2013 at 5:35 pm said:

    Bill’s on a funding drive. Money is running out for these guys so off on a tour around Oz and NZ to raise some cash.
    Nice comment from Tim Blair. He really does have crazy scary eyes. Fanatical even.

  9. J McK on 10/05/2013 at 5:36 pm said:

    It is more usual to use gitatonnes of C not CO2 (CO2 does not burn)! Anyway for the record the numbers when I last looked where:

    Known recoverable reserves: Lifetime at current usage
    Gas 144GtC 86 years
    Oil 163GtC 48 years
    Coal 791GtC 203 years
    Total 1098GtC

    For comparison there are about 40,000GtC of CO2 dissolved in the oceans.

    Even if “they” burned the whole lot – which would take some time – the earth will cope fine.

  10. stan stendera on 10/05/2013 at 7:37 pm said:

    Another example Simon. Ethanol. What the greenies said: Let’s convert food, FOOD, into automobile gas. Humans are rioting in African and the middle east because of food shortages..
    How would you like if it YOUR child was dying because it did not have enough to, simply, EAT.

    • Simon on 10/05/2013 at 8:55 pm said:

      Making ethanol from corn is just plain dumb, no argument there. Don’t blame “greenies” for that, that was US farming lobby doing. The Economist has a good summary:

      On the other hand, bagasse from sugar cane is efficient use of a waste product. Brazil runs their trucking fleet on it.

    • Simon, we may agree on some things. It is the heavy hand of dogma and big government/big corporation that leads to insanity

      Possibly the best example of this in recent times is the decision to convert the UK Drax power station from coal to woodchip, which will require a 700 million pound refit and thousands of hectares of US forest to be harvested

      I am sure that there are lots of great things we can do with waste products in a cost effective way. The Italians ran their trucks on grappa (distilled wine) during WW2, when the need arose

    • Simon on 10/05/2013 at 9:58 pm said:

      I too query the economics of sending wood-chip all of that way, unless there are back-loading efficiencies to be had. Remember too that chip is a low value by-product, the primary product is sawlog and US forest is sustainably managed.
      Comparative advantage and all that; maybe the UK should stick to what it has in abundance: coal, nuclear power and maybe even wind 😉

    • Simon, you wag you!

      Britain has an abundance of coal, but Maggie put paid to that during the coal miner disputes.

      Nuclear was an option but the governments of recent decades have depleted the local skills sets of the UK workforce

      The big issue is of course the apparently huge reserves of shale gas that the UK government seem reluctant to tap into.

      So maybe the shale gas will save the day and some French or Chinese guys can figure out the nuclear (Thorium?) solutions

      I notice that no one mentions wind when discussing serious energy policy. NZ Meridian Energy TV ads have replaced pictures of birdchoppers with pictures of Jeremy Wells drying his hair with an electric hairdryer.

      Is this a subliminal message?

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