Clean planet or dirty planet?

Humans have been on this planet long enough to change vast tracts of it and to influence change in almost every region of its surface. Humans have influenced a few miles above the surface of the earth and a few miles below it. The change the crust that they inhabit, and in that crust, the most important part of the planet to us where we are born and die, our changes have been planet changing, even though humans are such a relatively short lived and under developed species, with nothing to commend them but their ability to think and reason.

In my country, England, there is hardly a part of it that is within its natural state. The patchwork of typical English countryside, the hedges and fields, the winding road and the hills, have all been shaped by generations of cultivation. There is hardly a natural crop or animal to be found therein. The wilds of Scotland have been cultivated in their present form for the gentry. I could write about the changes humans have wrought on every corner of the planet.

In fact, taking the planet as a whole there is hardly a part of it that humans have not changed. I fear that by our pollution and insidious burning, particularly of fossil fuel, humans are changing the places where they do not live as well as those where they live. Deserts are becoming hotter, arctic ice is becoming less stable and melting, glaciers are mostly melting and wherever you look you can see the ugly footprint of humanity. 

In less than two hundred years humans changed the appearance of North America driving out indigenous plants and animals and those people who live there at harmony with their surroundings. If you fly over the United States at night you will see on the ground in a clear night hundreds of thousands of light, every one of then put there by humans and powered by the enterprise and will of humanity. You will today find the buffalo in zoos. The Native Americans, those that are left, have been herded onto reservations, and given the sop of running casinos as compensation for being subjected to a great genocide.

The Americans are no worse or no better than others; I could find such injustices in every part of the world where people live because most people want to dominate those that surround them and the environment in which they live.

In order to dominate humans must change the dominance of nature. Humans are very good at changing things. Unfortunately, they tend to confuse change and progress with improvements. Today in the United Kingdom’s General Election politicians are telling us we should vote for them because they will change things or vote for them because they will not change things. We should they argue either embrace change or be very frightened of it. Some changes are benign just as some things that stay the same can be malignant. Of all the changes that we welcome of fear the hardest to comprehend is the changes that will affect the fabric and structure of the crust of the planet upon which we live.

The changing climate has got to be our biggest fear. Of course anthropogenic climate change is not yet proven. I hope that some of the contributors to these pages are right when they do not intellectually accept the theory of anthropogenic climate change, but I fear they are wrong.

If we accept that anthropogenic climate change is true take all appropriate measures, and the theory turns out to be quite wrong (perhaps like the imposition of a no fly zone over northern Europe die to volcanic ash) then what have we lost?

Certainly energy costs will rise quickly but having risen they will stabilise as people learn to use renewable energy. High energy costs will not bankrupt humanity or make our life harder, just more harmonious with nature. The supplies of fuel on this planet are finite, but it seems the supply of humanity and economic growth is infinite. Taking up more renewable energy forms will sooner or later have to happen.

We will, in the course of taking environmental measures, create a cleaner planet; is that a bad thing? There will be far less smoke, far fewer particulates and much less pollution. Will we really miss the hazes over Los Angeles, Mexico City and Santiago do Chile, and the chemical smogs that sometimes come to harm us in other cities? Will we weep if we lose the Asian Brown Cloud?

If climate change poses no risk then certainly pollution and falling energy stocks do pose a risk. And anyway, should not we manage risks?

Some people point to the hundreds of millions spent each year on the IPCC, climate science, the Met Office and the like, none of which have proved terribly reliable in their predictions. However, that misses the point. For all this expenditure humanity is unwilling to change, as we saw in Copenhagen in December. Let us live with the fact that the science is too complex and stop expenditure on trying to decide just how hot or cold it will become. We should spend the money on measures. We will have nothing to lose but our pollution and we have a cleaner planet to gain.

14 Responses

  1. “Let us adjourn to the chapel and view the remains,” said Pastor Kyriakakidies as ladies swooned and gentlemen wept.

    Buying the false idea of anthropogenic global warming will reduce America’s production of grain 80% by 2060 and billions of people will starve while America becomes another Mexico with the vehicle of choice the donkey. All dogs and cats will have been eaten as the staple is the bean and farts are heard all round.

    Ignorance and stupidity are terminal illnesses to a modern society. We have more trees growing in America now than were here when Columbus arrived because we control forest fires and clear brush and grow corn which puts out 12 to 24 times as much oxygen as a stand of young white pines the fastest growing tree.

    Yes, it makes a great difference what we do and throwing away petroleum is nuts. You can pack the whole human race in a cube one kilometer on a side. We have less mass than the sum total of termites or cockroaches. The only difference is that we are terminally arrogant. They are not.

    • I just don’t understand ho buying technology which reduces carbon emissions will bankrupt America or anywhere else for that matter. This is a foolish claim. Buying Hermes Handbags (a completely frivolous expenditure) doesn’t bankrupt anyone!
      Your claim about more trees than when Colombus arrived is not supported by any evidence. Who do you think did the counting?
      My point is not about reducing the use of petroleum to nothing, but reducing the amount of fossil fuel burning to the level that the planet can recycle – which is a fifty percent reduction in emissions – the reduction in fossil fuel burning may be slightly higher.

      Hear endeth the lesson.

      Robert

  2. A Message in a Bottle
    The report on my imminent death is immature. I have been sloshing around in the basins on the crust for more than four billion years. I now cover nearly 71 per cent of the planet. Since the last ice age, I have lifted myself out of the basin by 120 metres and scared the tribes of Noah to the higher ground. During deep time, I became the universal solvent for the volcanoes and the clouds. I have taken up as much salt as required by local circumstances and sometimes give it back in hot shallows and desert areas of my world. I have given man the salt in his blood. I have absorbed as much gas as I need to maintain balance with the organic world within me and on land. Your CO2 output is infinitesimally small. The exchange is so peaceful that science calls it equilibrium. I can absorb more CO2, if the plants do not need it, and it does not give me acid imbalance. My pH will remain basic no matter what you say. The variations you measure have come and gone many uncountable times on the planet and your baseline is too small to know the truth. What you do not get is that warming of the oceans releases CO2 and other gasses from my water, while cooling my water allows me to take up CO2 in vast amounts to nestle with the other molecules in my coldest most remote realms. I can absorb all that man can produce because your impact is feeble compared to my capacity.
    Please watch me with humility for you cannot change me. I am the ongoing sink for the planet, and I am huge and my heat content is beyond your estimation. Measure me here and there with your microscopes but know that I will never be that way in that place again. Open your mind to the infinite cycles of chemistry and physics and kneel on my beach. You can only hurt me by not respecting my infinite ability to change chemistry and temperature in all the corners of the seas. My CO2 feeds your plants and your plants provide all the oxygen you breathe. Your base line is infinitesimally small yet your mouth is wide open. Stop sending me your plastic water bottles.
    Poseidon, the King
    __________________________________________________________
    I am Aeolus
    I am mostly invisible, but not space. I am the wind you breathe, the 20 km thick shell around your sphere. I am bigger than Poseidon’s realm by many times. I am oxygen, and I am 80% nitrogen. I am both water vapour and humidity. I am carbon dioxide, methane, laughing gas and ozone. Argon, neon helium, and hydrogen make my fireworks in the lightening. I heat you by convection like an oven, cool you with my wind chill, and bury you in my microscopic hexagonal crystal frost. From the poles to the equator and from your caves to Kathmandu, I cover you, feed, and water you and your plants: no wind, and there is no food worth eating, for plants or man. Over four billion years and more, I practiced my cycles. My ozone protects you from your sun’s blue rays; my methane warms your coldest nights. Your green plants whirl out my oxygen all night trading it for my CO2 in the sunshine. When you walk in your forest, be thankful for the bargain.
    Without my parts per million CO2, you would choke. Without my parts per million CO2, you would freeze. As your people grow in numbers and size, I need more CO2 to fertilize your food. In my opinion, the more fat children, the merrier, because the earth does not laugh enough. Do not pump my CO2 underground or earth will quake from the wrong as it did under Denver on August 9th1967. When you sequester, be prepared to scavenge for food, and perhaps burn your oxygen for warmth
    ___________________________________________________________________________
    Vulcan – god of fire said, “All the gasses from the mantle of the earth drive my fire and push up my liquid rock. Water affects my temper. When I foam, I am deadly. My carbon dioxide is colourless, and difficult to detect. It is heavy. It sinks and has killed many camped near Lake Nyos, in Cameroon. My sulphur dioxide is a killer too. At more than 20 ppm, it irritates, burns your eyes and is dangerous to breathe. When inhaled, most becomes sulphuric acid. My hydrogen sulphide is easy to smell, like rotten eggs. People are generally able to notice the odour; it can kill you at 50 ppm. My radon is colorless, odourless, tasteless, and radioactive. It can creep into your basement. My hydrochloric acid is colorless, but with an ‘acidic’ odour and taste, My HCl is common around blowholes and in eruptions. It can and will destroy the ozone when it blows to the top of the atmosphere. Just like the liquid acid, my vaporous acid will burn anything it touches – especially the breathers. My sulphuric acid comes in shades of brown and is odourless; exposure results in quick burns and dissolves the outer layers of the teeth. However, my worst most painful acid is hydrofluoric. It is also invisible and will cause deep burns and permanent blindness if not flushed with water. Death by hydrofluoric acid is horrible. Ask the ghosts of Iceland in 1783.
    My chimneys are scattered around the planet and one big puff like Krakatau or Pinatubo can ruin your air and cool your world. Between expulsions, my gasses are usually scattered. You will never know when I will speak and kill you because your lives are too short. My CO2 is my most benevolent gas, and I have given you parts per million for you to feed your plants. Use it carefully and do not abuse it. It is weak to fear me and not prosper. I come when I want.
    I do not respond to human sacrifice.”
    __________________________________________________________________________
    Finally, Gaia – the earth element said:
    “Among the ancient elements of Aristotle, the earth element was both cold and dry. He thought I occupied a place between water and fire. Aristotle lived a short span, just a moment ago in universal time, and he did not ask me. I am wet and dry, hot and cold, light and dark in all the rainbow colours. Gaia is rich and overflowing with goodness. My sphere vibrates with the gravity of the solar system. I ring like a bell when I quake, and if gravity dropped me, my sphere would splash like a tear. When my skin slides, I create wealth and prosperity in your copper mines. You dress to match me at your atomic scale with treasures from your tiny mines.
    I must admit, your choices of where to cluster astonish me. I guess you do not know me yet.
    I condensed more than four billion years ago as stardust gathered at my core. In all that time continuing tomorrow, I am sorting out the stardust into separate useful solids and liquids. I give most of the vapours to Vulcan and Aeolus and most of the fluids to Poseidon and they all share.
    So far, you have found only enough gold to fill one house and enough diamonds to fill one truck. There is more where that came from. Find where I have hidden it in the mountains and under the waters. It is good for you to quest – good luck.
    Man is late to the life that began in the salty wet clay. You have the salt of Poseidon, the gills of fish, and the brains of monkeys; you have the muscles of babies and the lips of giants. Your eyes magnify everything and what you see scares you. You must place your optical illusions in the perspective of prosperity, health, food, shelter, and clothing. Please listen to your science and not your demagogues . Your footprint is light. How many of you have seen a mine or a well? None! They are rare like diamonds.
    Do what you need to do. Make all your people happy. You have wit enough to do it cleanly. Dig my coal and burn it; make it into plant food again and water. Pump my oil and burn it. There is more where you have not looked. There is much where you have already looked in trillion tonne layers of rock in Colorado. It is for man to use and recycle. Do not hesitate to scratch me; I do not bleed; I give.
    I do not want to be alone. Gaia and man belong together, and you do not know why. Much of my surface is empty of man. Perhaps illusions are the answer to the riddle. There is always more room for the children. Oh yes, the sunspots may be back when the lying stops. ”

  3. Demagogue – a political leader who gains power by appealing to people’s emotions, instincts, and prejudices in a way that is considered manipulative and dangerous.

  4. The goal of the greens is to reduce our energy use 80% to a level of that we used in 1865! At that time we had about 50 million people which would mean getting rid of 250 million in America and a similar fraction world wide.

    Energy correlates with production 1:1, one is a function of the other. We have seen recent proof from T. Boone Pickens that wind farms will not deliver usable power and he spent millions on studys finding that out.

    Solar cells are dependent on the use of lanthanides for “doping” silicon crystals. China has nearly 100% of all lanthanide deposits, mining and production. Again, we will be at the mercy of a foreign power if we try to go solar, but it is a poor source not working at night and electricity is difficult to store. The newest, higher efficiency cells again use lanthanides!

    • No quite right; the goal of the greens is to reduce fossil uel energy use by 80%. there is still other forms of energy – wind, wave, geothermal, tidal, PV and my technology, thermal solar. There is also dirty green energy – nulcear, biomass, biofuel etc. Switching over to green energy will provide a huge economic boost. You can use thermal solar to generate electricity – by concentrating mirrors and other ways. Nothing to do with lanthanides.
      In the USA you are already at the mercy of Arab oil, and, of course, Chinese manufacturing!

      Robert

  5. Sorry, but that is the way it will turn out as the elected class has screwed up the capital markets by not enforcing their own laws for the sake of political payoffs.

    Go to http://greenecon.net/understanding-the-cost-o… for figures on what “green energy” costs. You will find that coal produced electricity is now one cent per kilowatt hour, but to build a new solar plant costs $9,000 per kilowatt hour.

    Not only will it take 205 years to break even, but the quantity of capital and time needed for the conversion are not available until most of those people have starved to death. And, that assumes they can use the existing infrastructure which automobiles, trucks and trains cannot.

    Eliminate trucking and you will starve much of America before the people can be taught to eat thistles, roots, tubers, dogs and cats. The result will bring stories like “The Donner Party” to your block. Just do the math; I have.

    • Adrian

      How does the math accommodate the health costs of burning coal, the cancers and other diseases that burning brings?

      You’ve chosen to compare apples with oranges. Why not compare wind with oil?

      We need an energy mix of many types. We also need to understand that coal has many hidden costs – pollution, healthcare etc. Which need to be factored in to make a whole fair comparison. Also what about the cost of what is now happening in the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana? Of course BP will pay to clean up, but what about the long term hidden damage?

      As for political payoffs, the oil and coals companies have had far greater government support than renewable. They have got lots of free money from your taxes.

      Americans live in the richest farming country in the world. They fed themselves for generations and will do so in future, if needed. You underestimate the resolve determination, invention, quality and adaptability of your people. I do not.

      Regards

      Robert

  6. Nothing is perfect and everything has costs in terms of human lives. The lanthanide series elements come from deep shaft mines in China and they have very poor safety records. They also are very difficult to dispose of safely.

    Farming is very energy intensive and a tractor gets far worse fuel mileage than a Formula 1 car. We will always need lots of petroleum to farm. Going back to horse drawn plows will reduce our farms to a few percent of the size they are today and with no output as they will be able only to support the people on the land. The “Prius” tractor does not exist.

    T. Boone Pickens spent many millions of Dollars trying to find a wind power system that could overcome transmission losses as people do not live where the wind blows well enough to make power. Windmills will never be more than a few percent of our sources. Some engineers have said we are “built out” in the wind sources we can use to advantage.

    CO2 is not a problem. It is a poor “greenhouse gas” as I have here shown and you can read more confirming what I have said at http://globalwarmingnotes.i8.com

    The green movement is a fraud perpetrated by international socialists, aka communists, seeking to accomplish what they could not on the battlefield, the drawing board, the patent office, the production line; the defeat of the western world. The real crime is that you cannot see it.

    • I go to the USA frequently and I am amazed at just how wasteful your energy use is. The cars are overpowered and have too large engines; lights are left on unnecessarily, and houses are poorly insulated. Because fuel is cheap you waste it. Do you really think the economy will grind to a halt if you waste no energy and are more careful with it? America has no right to pollute the rest of the world.

      Just because people disagree with you, that does not make them communists, or international socialists or part of a conspiracy.

      Robert

  7. Unless you are an architect or building engineer I don’t think you are qualified to judge the insulation in our buildings. In fact I suspect they are better insulated than yours, but I have not see the figures, have you?

    You appear to be clinging to the idea CO2 is causing global warming when it is not. Your own John Tyndall proved that 150 years ago.

    Our cars may, or may not, be over-powered. The cars with the greatest power on our roads all came from Germany. Some came from England, but they’re always in the shop getting repairs so they do not count. We have far greater distances and had larger families for a long time until the socialists got a leg up.

    All of Europe and England are socialist, politically correct and getting run over by Muslims who will start killing you when they achieve majority. How long will that take when they are out-breeding you 8:1?

    Man has improved nature in every move. A corn field puts out 12 to 24 times as much oxygen as an equal area of “rain forest.” (What happened to the “jungle?”) And, that corn field produces thousands of bushels of corn that feed people!

    Let’s stop with the doom-and-gloom! The world is not in trouble if we get rid of all the socialists and communists.

    • Wow, I don’t know where to begin on this. I’ll stick to my view of climate change being likely caused by human carbon dioxide emissions, ignore your view about how carbon dioxide emissions make no difference (which ignores the thermodynamics and seems to argue that atomic weight of elements varies). I’ll also dismiss, if I may, your theory about a communist/Muslim conspiracy.

      I have to say that it certainly is not all doom and gloom and I believe in the ability and ingenuity of your great country to make a positive contribution to avoid the worse effects of human induced climate change, if its inhabitants can put aside their own selfishness.

  8. we are destroying the environment, we are destroying ourselves.
    Thanks robert

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