Saturday, August 22, 2015

Climate Change

Climate change is real, small, and inexorable, and has little or nothing to do with CO2 which is also real, small, and has an unpredictable affect on the climate .   CO2 is not a pollutant and the more dangerous heavy hydrocarbons have already been controlled by large expenditures to clean up the air and the water. Carbon-based economy has given us our exalted standard of living and there is no reason to think it can’t continue to do that. More CO2 is generated when we burn more carbon in energy plants and cars, and most of the results of that are positive.

The only preferable alternative to carbon is nuclear power if we can get over our irrational fear that a nuclear reactor can be a nuclear bomb. Consider the worst possible scenario. A 9.0 earthquake causes a tsunami which damages an old nuclear reactor which melts down and drops its radioactive uranium into the catch basin below. The number of deaths or casualties from the incident due to any radioactivity equals zero, really, zero. Beat your breasts about whether bad things will appear later, but look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Chernobyl carefully and you'll find that that isn't to be expected.

Beat your breasts about the 30,000 people who died by drowning. Get real. Don’t be led down the garden paths by software engineers, meteorologists, and other quasi-scientific phenomenologists who choose their own causes and make them fit today’s data with the numerous adjustable constants which then fail to predict the future or the past. They try to use  “first principles,” to calculate future climate, but fail, because that approach is too difficult.  Chiefly: 1) there are too many variables causing them to ignore important physics, and 2) too much data is required all over the world simultaneously let the model know where we are starting.

There is a difference between a consensus that the climate is an area which should be studied and a consensus that the study is succeeding. In my opinion it is failing in important ways such that it is no basis for any policy decisions except to get more data. Even then there are more basic reasons why the climate can never be predicted 100 years in advance due to the nonlinear character of the process.

Suggestions: get off the knee-jerk ideological anti-carbon kick and concentrate on limiting negative side effects. Give high priority to the safest of all technologies, nuclear power, which is long-term the most reliable, and be realistic about the limited capability of wind and solar and their quality of life issues as well as environmental degradation, whether it be aesthetic or destructive  (like birds).

Anti-carbon and anti-nuclear is old-fashioned. We are not running out of oil and nuclear isn’t killing people. Get a life.

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