After the party is over

Humanity likes to feast; hundreds of millions of Christians feast at Christmas; other religions also have feasts and set times of their calendars. A feast is a feature of many festivals where all the joys of partying with loved ones come to the fore.

Of course, perpetual feasts and festivals would soon pall and people would long for the quietude of normality.

However, it seems when it comes to the use of fossil fuel energy and the earth’s rare resources the party never ends. Those people who are not invited to the partying of the western industrialised nations are rapidly starting their own parties modest at first but ever growing never ending, or at least never ending until the planet calls a halt. I am minded of Browning words about the partying of the people of Venice in their pomp.

“As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop,
Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop:
What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?”

Merry Christmas

and a happy New year

Merry Christmas

To everyone

Fashion In Climate Change

After about six years of there being very little public interest in climate change in the last year public interest has revived, perhaps as a result of a younger generation coming through and taking an active interest in demonstrating against global warming, or perhaps it is merely that there are fashions in news reporting and climate change has come back into fashion, replacing other fashionable items of public interest.

Other matters of public interest come and ago and come back again, in the same way that fashions come and go and come back again such as the fashion of starting wars, ending wars, reporting famines, the wearing of beards or the miniskirt.

Each time a fashion returns it comes back with a slightly new twist. Climate change has returned but with things that did not feature last time round such as demonstrations to inconvenience the public defended by the mantra that the public will be more inconvenienced by climate change, but that presupposes that demonstrations will change anything in the short term. Greta Thunberg did not feature last time climate change came around and I am thankful for that.

Climate change is a real issue and the solving of it require real thinking, scientific and technological innovation and not wooden boats in the middle of Oxford Circus or the whining of a person who has no solution but simply urges “them” to “do something”.

Carbon Dioxide Concentration in the Atmosphere

I regularly look at atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration even though it is invariably bad news. in the past twelve months CO2 in the atmosphere has risen to 408.53 ppm, which is a rise of 2.53 parts per million compared with 12 months ago. It seems relatively clear to me that this is shown in the extent of sea ice in the Arctic and the extent of ice in the Antarctic, both of which are reducing and in very modest sea level rises.

I think that now it is not about reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that humans push into the air, but about removing carbon dioxide from the air. It is not about targets, which as one commentator pointed out on these posts are usually politically motivated boasts but about hard measures of which there are insufficient around.

Fracking: a Study in Stupidity

There is something about humanity that thinks if you can dig up a resource from the good earth, it is free and you can use that resource to enrich humanity individually and collectively. We dig up many resources from coal to oil, and from gold to lithium to enrich ourselves (or some of us) materially with these resources at the same time impoverishing ourselves in ways you cannot judge with mere money.

Nothing is free in this great planet: everything is connected; so if we dig up and burn coal to produce heat and other energy, a by product of digging up coal is to damage our lungs and in some cases to create the deaths of some of those who do the digging as well as those who close to the slag heaps carelessly dumped close to schools and homes.

But people stupidly ignore this inter connectivity of resources in their quest for enrichment, and so has it been with fracking. In theory fracking is a way of getting cheap natural gas from under the earth where it has been stored in shale rock for hundreds and thousands of millennia. Readers of these essays will know that I have always opposed fracking; it has always been clear that the risks to the many are greater than the rewards that the few and the many may reap from fracking.

I have listened to eminent people claim that fracking is safe and will contribute to our energy security by lessening our dependence on imported natural gas by producing home grown energy. I have never subscribed the the view that fracking is safe. I regarded fracking as presenting three major risks in the following order of importance and risk:

  1. Risk of methane leaking into and infecting water tables;
  2. Risk of methane, an insidious greenhouse gas, leaking into the atmosphere and
  3. Risk of causing earthquakes by damage to the rocks from which methane is extracted by explosions.

In the past view days the government has called a moratorium on fracking in this country. An earthquake of 2.9 on the Richter scale seems to have been caused by fracking and the advice the government has got is that it is impossible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by fracking and so it has suspended all fracking until it can know that fracking is safe.

Having suspended fracking on the basis of the third in importance of risk (in my view) I cannot see that racking will ever return to the United Kingdom, where the geology is unsuitable, there is dense population and where so much of our water depends on clean water tables: all rise to all three potential risks are serious and health and life threatening. However, with humanity you can never say “never” as we stupidly continue to pursue our quest for material wealth at the cost of the environment.

Had the government listened to views like mine the money wasted on fracking could have been better spent on benign energy (like wind and solar) preventing the waste of energy and improving renewable energy and preventing the use of unnecessary energy. Fracking was bound to be dangerous and to me this was obvious.

Andrea Leadsom, the UK minister responsible for science, said that the decision to call a moratorium on fracking follows the science. It is a shame that the government did not follow the science and the common sense when it permitted fracking in the first place. Fracking in the UK has been simply a study in stupidity.

The Outlook for Climate Change

It looks as though 2019 will become the second warmest year on record, since record of global temperatures began to be taken in the later part of the 19th Century. Predictions are always hard but if 2019 does not end up as the second warmest, it will certainly be in the top 5 warmest years, according to the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Adninistration. The trend towards warming is undeniable; there will always be some years which buck the trend but if you consider things on a decade by decade basis this planet is warming at about the rate about a degree Celsius per century. That rate will almost certainly increase over the next decades.

I do not wish to be alarmist – Extinction Rebellion are spreading more than enough alarm without suggesting any real means of mitigating climate change.

I have always thought that the starting point of trying to mitigate or slow done the rate of global warming is through energy use, which is responsible (in my view) for most of the global warming the planet is experiencing. In recent years I have formed the view that to prevent rapid global warming we must not only curtail fossil fuel energy use but also population expansion.

Eventually we can address the use of fossil fuel in energy use. I doubt if humanity will ever be ready to address the growth in population. The planetary outlook is not hopeful unless we can refrain from breeding and curtail our numbers.