For the same reasons that “Those people who would have us distrust our climate scientists” tell us that climate change is either: not real, not as bad as the climate scientists say or will be good for the planet and her peoples, the solutions to climate change will be easier than public knowledge suggests.
We really do need some good news about climate change. and here it is – believe it or now, just like the rest of what I report: Not only will the solutions be easier than we have been led to believe, but the results will be vastly profitable for mankind. Not only will there be profits instead of costs, but the profits will be greater than any industry in the history of mankind. This will not be the “energy too cheap to meter” promise of nuclear power. This time, indeed, things are very different.
Our society is poised for a change. We have ridden the fossil fuel train about as far as the tracks extend. The tracks will be extended in the future, that is for certain, but the costs of business as usual will continue to increase. We are at place in time where we have been before. When coal took the place of wood as the primary fuel for civilization, we made a great leap. When oil came on the scene, we made another great leap. Now we are about to see the cost of alternative energy sources fall below that of our traditional fossil fuels. This will lead to yet another breakthrough in our society, one that I would like to believe is far greater than the transition from wood to fossil fuels.
The transition this time will be no less fantastic than before, and because there are ten times as many people on this planet than before, the results could certainly be even greater than before. I truly believe that this is the beginning of the third age of enlightenment. Just think of a world fueled by clean energy, costing less than traditional fossil fuels.
So, how can I say this when the media and all of those anti-climate change people keep telling us that fixing our broken climate will be too expensive (and curiously, at the same time they tell us that climate change is not real.) Well, I do not have any scientific findings to show you this time. No academic magic, not professorial papers. What I have this time is plain old common sense.
It should be fairly obvious to you if you have read more than a few of the entries in this journal, and it was likely obvious to you to begin with. Our climate is changing rapidly. It is because of mankind’s fossil fuels emissions and it will destroy our civilization as we know it if we do not do something about it really soon. We are in big trouble right now, much sooner than we have been led to believe we would be in trouble. The reason this is all happening so much more quickly and with greater impacts is very simple. Twenty years ago, when the climate scientists told us we should act, we did not. They told us back then that the longer we waited to act the greater the challenge would be to bring our climate back under control. They were not wrong.
But scientists have reticence. This reticence, something common in science land, has caused them to do two things. Both of these things are done so that the scientists minimize the risk of losing credibility. They err on the conservative side of any discussion because if they are wrong their credibility is tarnished. They do not go out on limbs. They do not push the envelope too far. They try not to find themselves in a pickle. Being wrong too many times results in their credibility being destroyed–the climate journals will no longer accept their papers for publishing and as the old saying goes, they perish.
As you have seen in these pages, when reporting climate discoveries, the scientists err on the conservative side. The reason is that; the worse their predictions become, the more alarmist their predictions are, the greater is the perceived chance of failure–of being wrong. This is a fundamental challenge in science and climate science is no different. How does a scientist really tell it like it is without reticence? He or she does not, it is that simple. They have their careers and families to protect. Would you do any different?
So their findings of climate change impacts are reported conservatively. Now consider scientific discoveries about new energy alternatives, atmospheric carbon capture and carbon sequestration in the oceans, in saline aquifers, in periodontine rocks and as mountains of calcium carbonate on the surface. These findings are all reported conservatively too. This means that the new energy alternatives will be easier to develop, cheaper to deploy and more efficient than what the media is reporting from the scientists press releases based on their academic publishing. It means that atmospheric carbon capture will be easier and cheaper and more efficient, that sequestration in the oceans, saline aquifers and periodontine rocks will be easier and cheaper and more efficient and disposal as mountains of calcium carbonate will be easier, cheaper and more efficient . . . than what the media reports.
Now consider that “those people who would rather we all distrust the climate scientists” (I am not talking about the vast majority of those people, just their leaders–we know who you are), “those people . . . ” spread propaganda that exaggerates facts. They exaggerate the few scientific findings that downplay the impacts of climate change. They exaggerate the statements of “their” scientists even, who say that climate change is not real, and . . . they exaggerate the costs of fixing our climate.
I have read a lot of climate science findings that talk about the fixes, the new technologies in the lab, on the proving bench and in the scale test stages. This is not my area of specialty, but I can draw conclusions here and there beyond this common-sense intuitive thinking that “those people . . .” are repeating propaganda that exaggerates the costs of fixing climate. It all just makes so much sense to me – why would “those people . . ” NOT exaggerate the other side of the coin? Those propagandist responsible would not just stop at discombobulating the facts about climate change impacts and future projections. Why would they do this? It’s propaganda! They need every straw horse they can find.
So we have two levels of magnification happening in the climate change solutions challenge. One is the tendency for reticence among scientists. The other is the tendency towards exaggeration by “those people who would rather we not trust our climate scientists.” Put them together and subtract them from what the climate scientists findings report and the solutions to climate change will not be very difficult, they will in fact be very easy.
One caveat though, a good scientists always has his or her caveats: We do have time limits. Twenty years ago we were warned that as time goes by, climate change would get worse faster if we did nothing. We have done nothing, and what they told us twenty years ago is now turning out to be true. These guys and girls are still telling us this, only now they have done things like change the goal posts on us because we have failed so greatly at taking action when they told us to. Now they say that the threshold to dangerous climate change is 1 degree C instead of 2 degrees C. They say we only have a decade, not to begin actions, but to get actions fully implemented. They say that we need to limit our atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not to 550 ppm (1990s) or 450 ppm (early 2000s) or 350 ppm (2008). Now the safe operating level of CO2 for our planet is 300 ppm CO2.
It’s not likely to fall further because the preindustrial level of CO2 was about 280 ppm, or will it? I can only read a couple of thousand papers a year, but what I have to say now, I would like to credit to the opening of my mind that this great climate change challenge has led me through. We must all think differently than we have in the past. We may indeed need to draw down atmospheric CO2 below the preindustrial level of 280 ppm because we may have already overshot.