The high profile US meteorologist Eric Holthaus who has quit flying because of global warming has most of the science community, and this writer just for the record, on side over the seriousness of mankind’s disruptive and inordinate contribution to climate change.
But he has also lined himself up with the forces of ignorance and denialism, quite unintentionally no doubt, in his weepy weepy emotional outburst in the US media, as reported here.
There is increasing investment in new energy technology that will end the world’s dependence on fossil carbon releasing fuels that are overwhelming the natural shorter term carbon exchange cycles and seriously inhibiting the natural reradiation of energy from the earth, causing global warming and turning the oceans acidic, endangering the marine food chain.
Yet that alternative energy investment depends on the demand driven by the air transport, the land transport, and the sea transport sectors, the latter two comprising a higher sources of damaging greenhouse gas emissions than the former.
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Mr Holthaus’s crying would, if translated in a widespread cutting down of such activities, collapse not just the fossil sourced greenhouse gas activities, but the capacity of the human species to investigate and innovate in its very obvious need to stop those carbon emissions that are not part of nature’s way of doing things.
His is a profoundly ignorant, indulgent, selfish, and silly response to the problem, since a world that can’t eat, or heat itself in colder climates, is going to embark on the most ruinous imaginable plundering of the nearest forests and fisheries and arable lands to extract the energy and protein needs it can’t buy in from more distant locations.
And in this new world of anti-science, there would definitely not be a curious, funded and ultimately wealth creating push to find and perfect a new suite of alternative energy sources.
The urgency with which the disruption to green house gas emissions by the use of fossil carbon releasing energy sources needs to be dealt may not fit into the anti science manchinations of the Heartland Institute which correspond with the policy line of the new federal government, not that its Labor predecessor ever did anything that demonstrated a deeper commitment to that urgency either.
But that’s why our best or brightest or more personally mobile solar and alternative energy scientists run away to work overseas, or fly a lot to conferences, because they know that solutions already found in algal fuels for example, are now being refined and scaled up to a point where the cost of production will fall below benchmark equivalent energy comparisons with West Texas crude, or the Tapis index nearer to home.
Abandoning aviation at large would not have any substantial effect on emissions, which would surge because of the unintended consequences mentioned above. If Mr Holthaus is really serious, once the weepy stuff is over, he would urge an immediate cessation of home heating, driving, and fossil carbon releasing electricity generation.
Mr Holthaus’s cop out is with little doubt, sincerely motivated. But it’s also lazy, stupid and defeatist.