Saturday, August 8, 2015

Climate Change Skeptic


Something about the hot weather in August seems to bring the Climate Change fanatics out of the woodwork. Today, the Connecticut Post, my local newspaper, featured a climate change op-ed on its editorial page entitled, “End coal-caused injustice in Bridgeport.” Predictably, it was written by two leaders of Connecticut environmental organizations.

I guess you could call me a climate change denier, but I prefer the appellation, “climate change skeptic”. I am not a scientist but I know enough about science to be wary of the alarms sounded by such organizations. Just three years ago on another hot August day I wrote a post on Global Warming after the paper carried a number of articles predicting impending doom.

The very fact that in three short years the term “Global Warming” has been dropped in favor of the more general “Climate Change” should be enough to warrant skepticism. Why the change? Was it the absence of any signs of warming in the past few decades, or was it the chicanery of a few years ago when global warming scientists tried to prevent the publication of contrary views?

Another reason for skepticism is the fact that climate change alarmists are turning to other causes to rally support. The claim is now that fossil fuels and coal fired power plants have a greater impact on the poor (“people of color”) living in cities like nearby Bridgeport.  They write that such “communities carry a disproportionate share of exposure to harmful and toxic power plant emissions…”

It is true that there has been a large coal fired power plant in Bridgeport for as long as I can remember but why its emissions should effect the urban poor more than the more prosperous towns right next to Bridgeport  is hard to prove. After all, only a couple of years ago Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, a darling of the environmentalists, claimed that closing the Bridgeport power plant would have little effect on the local environment. He blamed states in the South and Midwest for sending their wind-driven emissions our way. He claimed that Connecticut was tired of serving as the “tailpipe of America.” Malloy argued,
“For far too long, prevailing wind patterns have carried pollution generated elsewhere across our borders and into our lives and lungs.” If we eliminated all our home grown air pollution, the air in parts of Connecticut would still be dangerously polluted and fail to meet federal standards—because of the inter-state transport of pollution.”
Left unsaid by Malloy and the authors of the CT Post op-ed is the fact that most pollution created by the Bridgeport plant is carried further east by the prevailing winds.

Another reason for skepticism is the classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.  Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that is essential to life on earth. Humans and other animals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Trees and other plants take in carbon dioxide, process it, and then exhale oxygen. It is considered to be one of the so-called greenhouse gases but since water vapor makes up over 95% of the greenhouse gases, why are we so alarmed about carbon dioxide? Actually, carbon dioxide is necessary for plants to grow and produce the food the world’s population needs.

Connecticut’s air and water are probably cleaner now than they have been since the coal-fired power plant was built. The authors claim the plant emitted 2 million pounds of sulphur dioxide last year. That noxious chemical is poisonous but a quick google check showed that sulphur dioxide emissions were down over 40% in this country between 1970 and 1999. I can only guess that the total emissions are much lower today. Even so, most sulphur dioxide emissions are caused by volcanic activity. What are we supposed to do about that?

My final reason for skepticism is that environmentalists usually only look at one side of the coin. They never consider the positive impact of the coal-fired power plant on the people, rich and poor, of Bridgeport and the surrounding towns in Connecticut.

Where were those people supposed to get their electricity for the past 50 years? Even today solar and wind are a poor substitute in Connecticut for the power needs of the population. Electricity is a basic human need in our society and it is remarkably inexpensive in Connecticut. What would life had been like for the “communities of color” in Bridgeport over the past years without the coal fired electricity generating plant? A couple of years ago a winter storm practically brought the whole state to its knees when power went out for just a few days.

Ultimately, I am skeptical not only about climate change but also about man’s ability to do anything about it. Even the Pope in his new encyclical mentioned solar activity as a driver of climate change. 

Still, for true believers I copy these suggestions from my post of three years ago.

1. Stop using hair dryers and let your hair dry naturally. Young environmentally conscious ladies could just brush their hair dry or even cut their hair short.
2. Stop using clothes dryers. Hang your clothes out on the line and dry them with good old solar power.
3. Stop heating your swimming pools. Let the sun do the work. What’s wrong with a nice brisk dip on a hot day? I’ll think of changing my views when, Al Gore, the high priest of global warming, stops heating his huge pool. He uses more energy on his huge mansion in a day than most of us use in a year.
5. Activists could stop using their Iphones and Ipads. Millions of these devices have to be re-charged every day.
4. State supported universities, most of whose scientists are global warming believers, could go back to playing their football games on Saturday afternoon rather then under the lights at night. Pro football and Major League baseball could follow suit.

5. Even the President could take the lead by using Amtrak once in awhile rather than the gas-guzzling Air Force One. I would guess that he has taken more trips during his brief stay in office than all previous Presidents combined.


1 comment:

  1. David comments from England:

    Enjoyed your piece on Climate change/Global warming. Am I a sceptic? Not sure. I’m old enough to remember that back in the seventies of the last century climate scientists were alarming us with tales of the coming ice age. They’ve gone very quiet about that, except for one interesting suggestion that, in fact, temperatures would have fallen in recent years, causing major problems to humanity, if it wasn’t for the blessing of all that carbon dioxide we have been pouring into the atmosphere, which has maintained the temperatures we need!
    Having said that, fossil fuels may well have had their day – they won’t last forever – and, yes, the pollution may cause problems. So we do need alternatives. The problem is that most environmentalists mutter about ‘renewables’ without really knowing what they’re talking about. Yes, solar and wind power are an option, but on a cold, freezing, still December night, they don’t work – and that’s when we really need that energy!
    One area it is worth spending money on is energy storage. If it would be possible, reasonably cheaply, to generate lots of it when the sun shines, store it and use it after dark, those solar panels might be a really worthwhile investment. Another possibility on the horizon is that nuclear fusion might be made to work – a sun here on Earth, without all the nasty radioactive leftovers.
    Shallow thinking is a problem here, as it is in many of humanities problems. The environmentalists march in protest about fracking, nuclear power, and on and on, then head off home in their cars, turn on the lights/TV/cooker, and settle down for a warm and cosy evening writing angry stuff on Facebook.