Robert W. Endlich
The notion that the USA can cut in half its CO2 emissions from the peak emissions that occurred here in 2005 is fantasy.
President Joe Biden held a virtual climate summit on the fifty-first anniversary of the first Earth Day, originally held 22 April 1970. When confronted with facts, measurements, observations, and data concerning
climate history, Biden’s climate plan is based on trying to prevent temperature increases which have occurred naturally many times in the recent past. This post will explore some of the most ill-informed and ignorant statements, plans, and actions, which all together will have no measurable impact on the climate, and will only cause economic harm to us, Earth’s human residents.
EARTH DAY ORIGINS
Let’s start with the fact that since that first Earth Day, not a single prediction or alarmist pronouncement has come true, as noted here.
Contrary to the first Earth Day declarations of rampant overpopulation, as the world’s peoples have become richer, women are having fewer babies, rapidly rising populations have become more stable, and in many nations, populations are declining, many precipitously so.
Readers might remember President Jimmy Carter’s “Moral Equivalent of War” speech of 18 April 1977 where he predicted that the US and world were running out of energy, and “If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.”
In the intervening time, the introduction of directional drilling and the practice of fracturing oil-bearing rocks, frequently “fracking,” have expanded production and reserves, especially in energy-rich North America.
But more recently the gains of poor people around the world in standard of living and longevity, have led anti-free market groups to attack the extant economic order proclaiming limits to growth, and a “climate emergency.” Such proclamations are without any objective basis, and are made purely for emotional impact, with the objective of securing economic and governmental control over many populations of the world.
IS KERRY THAT IGNORANT?
A splendid example of ignorance of fact is a recent declaration by Biden’s Climate Czar John Kerry, “We Need to get Carbon Dioxide out of the Atmosphere.”
Poor John Kerry, he does not realize that the food he eats to sustain himself, the carbohydrates in his diet and in the diet of every person and animal with which we share this planet, come directly from the carbon dioxide, CO2, in the air.
At the present time, we have about 412 parts per million atmospheric CO2. Plants, in a process combining light, water, and CO2, called photosynthesis, create the trunks, limbs, roots, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds needed to sustain all animal life.
During the depths of the last glacial maximum, concentrations of CO2 got so low that Juniper trees found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles were actually “carbon starved,” according to a paper published by PNAS, authored by Joy Ward, “Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California.”
Ward says that when CO2 levels dropped to between 180 and 220 Parts Per Million, PPM, during depths of the Wisconsin Ice Age, between 55,000 and 7,000 years ago, that Juniper growth was “constrained” by the lack of CO2 in the atmosphere. If CO2 levels get too low, the plants die and we all will die, since there will be not enough carbohydrates to sustain animals or humans. That John Kerry is so ignorant of this grade school science fact is stunning.
WE KNOW EARTH’S HISTORY
Below, the history of CO2 and Temperature over the last 600 million years as described by Berner and Scotese, shows that in the Cambrian, 600 million years ago, the best estimates of atmospheric CO2 concentrations were about 7,000 PPM, about seventeen times more CO2 than at present, with no runaway temperatures.
There were instances where CO2 increased, yet temperatures decreased, sometimes dramatically so, as happened at the end of the Ordovician, about 450 million years ago. So, the notions that CO2 drives temperatures, and that warmer temperatures than those of today are somehow dangerous to life on earth are ludicrous. We know this to be true, because the warmer temperatures and higher concentrations of CO2 are known to have existed in the past; we have the data.
President Biden has bought completely into the notion that if temperatures increase modestly as they have since the depth of the Little Ice Age about 1690, that an existential threat to life on Earth will occur. Here is a quote,
“In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach.” whitehouse.gov, 26 March 2021.
This is another instance of the declaration of a climate emergency without any objective basis. In fact, it is oblivious to human history and climate history that can be obtained through internet search.
WE KNOW HUMAN HISTORY
Please examine the graphic below in Figure 2. The top 2/3ds are the CO2 in Blue, and temperature in Black, over time, from the Vostok Ice Cores as presented at the University of Arizona.
First, examining the black line, the temperature trace, the interglacials are the peaks of that temperature curve. The last 15,000 years is called the Holocene, and the left-most temperature is the current temperature.
Present temperatures are not anywhere near the maximum of the Holocene, yet today’s atmospheric CO2 ~ 412 PPM is way off scale high.
The previous interglacial 125,000 years ago was many degrees warmer than the Holocene, and according to a Nature Letter, most of Antarctica was 6C warmer than shown at Vostok.
The bottom third of Figure 2 shows human history over time, for our ancestors, Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis, who clearly survived, even thrived, over the four previous interglacials which peaked about 125,000, 240,000, 340,000 and 410,000 years ago.
How can the present rate of climate change be “An Existential Threat,” when present temperatures are not nearly as warm as much of the Holocene?
How can the present rate of climate change be a “Climate Emergency” when our ancestors clearly survived four previous interglacials, which peaked much warmer than at present and at the times shown in Figure 2?
Clearly, White House claims repeating the need to keep temperature increases to less than 1.5C claiming “climate emergency” and “existential threat,” are not borne out by the fact that human ancestors and our own Homo Sapiens have survived, even thrived, in temperatures much warmer than the present. The gradual increases in temperatures as we humans continue to emerge from the Little Ice Age is no threat, despite the cries to the contrary by climate activists and government officials, who clearly do not engage in facts, climate history, human history or critical thought.
HUMAN CONDITIONS ARE IMPROVING. RAPIDLY.
The declarations of climate emergency fly in the face of easily available data which show that things are getting better in a hurry:
In recent years, when population doubled, food production went up four-fold.
In developing countries, since 1970, undernourishment has fallen from 34% to 13%.
In the 1870s, there were over 20 million victims of famine, from 2010-2016 the number had fallen to 255,000.
Up until 1875, world life expectancy was under 30 years, today it is well in excess of 70 years.
Deaths from weather and climate related causes has dropped by over 99 per cent since the 1920s.
These and other figures of merit show that since widespread introduction of inexpensive fossil-fueled energy, the lives of Earth’s peoples, including the poorest have become much better, and the cries of imminent climate catastrophe are modern claims that the sky is falling.
TEMPERATURES TODAY SHOOTING UP?
On 4 May 2021 the Los Angeles Times carried a story by the AP’s Seth Borenstein, America’s new normal: A degree hotter than two decades ago.
Borenstein’s article repeats the message from NOAA: surface temperatures have been shooting up. There was no evidence that Borenstein had sought another point of view other than skyrocketing temperatures and “a much hotter time period for much of the globe than the decades before,” from Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald.
Nothing in Borenstein’s article pointed to non-climate-related issues such as the Urban Heat Island or poor exposure of instruments, such as those found by crowd sourcing, an effort led by Anthony Watts and Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.
And what about that new “unimpeachable” source of surface temperatures, the US Climate Reference Network, USCRN, which was supposed to resolve some of the above issues? Nary a Borenstein word.
However, it is possible to find and plot data from the USCRN, which I did below in Figure 3, and it tells a completely different temperature story from that told by NOAA and its proxy voice, AP’s Seth Borenstein.
BIGGEST FOLLY OF BIDEN’S CLIMATE SUMMIT?
“We can reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by half since the 2005 peak.”
In the days following Biden’s Climate Summit, two prominent skeptics showed in numbers what would be required for the USA to cut emissions of CO2 by half since their peak in 2005.
Roger Pielke Jr posted his calculations on the number of fossil fuel power plants which would have to be closed in order to meet the Biden Promise, based on publicly available information and simple mathematics. Quoting Dr Pielke:
“In January 2021, according to the US Energy Information Agency in the United States there were 1,852 coal and natural gas power plants that generated electricity. By 2035, to hit President Biden’s target all of these power plants will have to be either shut down or converted into zero-emissions power plants (using carbon capture and storage technologies that presently do not exist).”
“…more than 11 of the fossil fuel power plants operational in January 2021 will need to be closed every month, on average, starting today until 2035.” (Bolding added)
Think of it, eleven power plants per month, on average, closed starting on 22 April 2021.
Have any of you heard of ANY power plant closing to meet this promise? And what will be done to replace the power lost, to generate the electrical load taken off-line to meet the Biden Promise?
Willis Eschenbach’s post on this went into some detail, which I quoted as follows, bolding and all capitals added:
Willis then posted a project management chart, sometimes called a Gantt chart, for the time required to design, get approvals for, construct and bring on-line a 2+ Gigawatt Nuclear Power Plant; it is on the order of 10-11 years. This is mid-2021 and there are only eight and a half years before the Biden Promise Deadline, Willis says this, again bolding added:
“the idea is of adding two nuclear power plants per week to the grid is ‘absolutely ridiculous.’”
WHAT MIGHT BE THE RESULTS OF THESE EFFORTS?
Dr Pat Michaels has made the calculations on previous such endeavors.
Regarding an older Waxman-Markey proposal, Michaels estimated that, using the UN’s own models, the cooling would be <0.008C, impossible to find, given that the standard error in temperature measurements is ~0.5C
And, in a Forbes piece, Michaels estimates that even if the US reduced its emissions to zero, that by 2100 the temperature cooling would be 0.137C, again not visible to ordinary measurements, given that 0.5C standard error. Repeating, this if we cut US emissions to Zero!
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Although there is the appearance of a serious effort to avoid “climate catastrophe,” there is no danger that US or global emissions of CO2 will affect temperatures in the slightest. Humans, and our human ancestors have done simply fine in the four previous interglacials we have observed from examining the Vostok Ice Core data. We are not nearly as warm as we were during much of the Holocene, let alone those interglacials which occurred 125,000, 240,000, 340,000 and 410,000 years ago.
Although NOAA claims temperatures have shot up almost 2 degrees C in the past two decades, there is no support for that view from the US Climate Reference Network, or, to put it bluntly, “Temperature Measurements don’t support the narrative. So, they change the measurements”
The notion that the USA can cut in half its CO2 emissions from the peak emissions that occurred here in 2005 is fantasy. Biden and his administration are engaged in wholesale fantasy to believe that this is possible and have taken no steps to bring on-line the massive number of nuclear power plants necessary to achieve such a reduction or take off-line more than 100 fossil fueled power plants per year to meet their own promises.
Buddy, can I sell you a bridge?