Turn down the hype (by Arthur Dent, formerly Albert Langer)



Originally published as a guest post at Bill Kerr‘s blog by Arthur Dent on 21st May, 2015.


* * * * * *

According to the World Bank:

“By acting now, acting together and acting differently, we will be able to transition to a low emissions, climate resilient development path and hold warming below 2°C.”(1)

To help achieve this, a MOOC sponsored by the World Bank (Turn Down the Heat) requires students to produce “digital artefacts” with the aim “create a sense of urgency and a call to action for individuals, companies or countries to change behaviors associated with a warming planet”.

My call is for the World Bank to change its behaviour and “turn down the hype”.

It should be obvious that none of the measures advocated by the World Bank have had much impact on the planet warming, and there is no reason to expect that creating a sense of urgency in support of more of the same will have a better result.

The IPCC’s authoritative report on Mitigation of Climate Change(2) shows clearly that there is no realistic prospect of holding warming below 2°C.

The simple reality is that most emissions will result from the rapid industrialization of developing countries like India and China who cannot and will not switch from the cheapest energy sources available while they remain poor. No amount of hype will change that reality.

If the problem was as grave and urgent as claimed there would be no alternative but for developed nations who can afford the cost to switch from cheaper fossil fuels to more expensive nuclear power and also pay the costs of the entire world doing the same. But the World Bank does not advocate that, so it is difficult to believe it takes its own hype seriously.

Wind and solar power cannot solve the problem because they are intermittant. Power is also needed when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. There is no technology on the horizon that could store energy cheaply enough to compete with the dispatchable power from fossil fuels, even if wind and solar power was free. Instead of pretending that wind and solar could do the job it is clearly necessary to act differently. Since there is no viable replacement for fossil fuels on the horizon that developing countries could afford, it is necessary to do something very different from what the World Bank advocates.

We will need some breakthroughs in fundamental technology. Neither the regulatory nor the market pricing mechanisms advocated by the World Bank can achieve that. Massive investments in research and development and fundamental science are required. Contrary to the hype there is no “return” on that investment. As with all fundamental science, the results have to be made freely available to the countries that are too poor to pay for it. So the “free rider” problem ensures that no carbon pricing mechanism could motivate such investment. At present each developed country is hoping that somebody else will pay to develop the necessary technology. There is no “national” benefit in doing so. It is a global, not a national problem. The most ambitious national targets for R&D are about 3% of GDP for all purposes. These targets are not being met, despite the fact that new technology is the driving force for economic growth.

A global levy on developed countries that can afford it is required, to pay for the costs of a massive global R&D program that is not expected to produce any “return” on the investment, other than “merely” solving the problem of global warming.

That may require a significant expansion in the total scientific workforce and consequently a long lead time for education.

If it is not successful, then we will have to resort to some combination of geo-engineering, adaptation strategies and subsidizing nuclear power in all countries, at potentially vastly greater costs. But even if a massive global R&D program failed to produce clean energy competitive with fossil fuels, it would at least accelerate economic growth generally and enable the whole world to afford more expensive energy than fossil fuels more quickly.

“Modernization has liberated ever more people from lives of poverty and hard agricultural labor, women from chattel status, children and ethnic minorities from oppression, and societies from capricious and arbitrary governance. Greater resource productivity associated with modern socio-technological systems has allowed human societies to meet human needs with fewer resource inputs and less impact on the environment. More-productive economies are wealthier economies, capable of better meeting human needs while committing more of their economic surplus to non-economic amenities, including better human health, greater human freedom and opportunity, arts, culture, and the conservation of nature.”(3)

We need more modern technology, not medieval windmills.

(1) WDR 2010: Development and Climate Change
(2) Working Group 3
(3) An Ecomodernist Manifesto

8 thoughts on “Turn down the hype (by Arthur Dent, formerly Albert Langer)

  1. think that it is an unknown as to what eventuates. If the present conditions continue then it would seem that the predictions may be true however things never stay the same. I don’t rule out breakthroughs in research for more efficient and clean energy. The money set aside is not the ONLY money spent on research. There are various researches that are indirectly developing research that benefits the development of new energy sources. When an alternative is developed then the trend starts down and that will take time but depending on the ease of transition as to how long. Thinking in the next 50 years problem solved!!! But I won’t be here to be proven wrong so I can say that.


  2. global cooling started in 2003!!! I suppose we can expect extremists on both sides. It indeed may be true that the earth is cooling. there is no equilibrium in the universe so it is either warming or cooling. To give a specific date for an event that happens over 100’s or even thousands of years is totally unrealistic. They don’t have a specific year for the ice age for that reason.

    Evidence would seem to point to the earth warming and this could be wrong but the evidence at the minute seems to indicate it is true and because it also appears the earth is/should be in a cooling phase tends to indicate it must be human activity.

    finding a more efficient energy source cannot be controversial. Using inefficient renewable s is inefficient and controversial. Cannot understand the opposition to research into cheaper more efficient energy sources!!!!


  3. Reading through the post by Mr Dent its easy to see he knows nothing of the science, so he talks about finance and clean energy to minimize a problem which doesn’t exist. Profound ignorance.
    ‘To give a specific date for an event that happens over 100’s or even thousands of years is totally unrealistic.’

    Actually we know the mechanisms at work when the Medieval Warm Period ended and the Little Ice Age began, there was a build-up of icebergs in the North Atlantic around 1250 AD.

    Ice cores and paleo history more generally tells us what life was like in Europe at the end of the previous interglacial, called the Eemian, and it was a brutal onslaught for the flora and fauna in the area. So we can look back 100,000 years with confidence on the dates.

    ‘Evidence would seem to point to the earth warming and this could be wrong’

    The evidence, agreed by both sides, there has been no global warming for 18 years. The warmists call it a hiatus, while the Denialati refer to it as a gently sloping plateau leading to an escarpment.

    ‘Cannot understand the opposition to research into cheaper more efficient energy sources!!!!’

    Fusion power is in the wings, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Most importantly, knowing CO2 does not cause global warming and is not a pollutant, means we don’t need useless, expensive renewables. Also, assuming global cooling is coming, the extra CO2 created by humans will be of great advantage in maintaining agricultural productivity.


  4. One final point, the Klimatariat has been searching frantically for an answer to the pause in world temperature, where is the heat hiding? Hot spots in the upper atmosphere was a classic fail and so too was the warmth in the deep oceans, they have no understanding of thermal dynamics.

    They had all but given up when somebody discovered that the argo buoys are faulty and with a few simple adjustments to the data, they disappeared the hiatus and made it appear global warming never stopped.

    NOAA is leading the charge on this, its the old trick of lowering the past to raise the future.

    This is first class parody.


  5. I am not deeply involved in climate science but recognise there is debate to either warming or cooling. I am sure when 1250 is stated it is an approximate not a specific date. Again I think it would be impossible to decide the turning point specifically for cooling to heating and vice versa. It is not a smooth turnaround. I am also sure they had no idea in 1260 that things were changing.

    18 years means nothing in terms of temperature change. The warmists talk in terms of decades which is wrong and therefore they have to defend changes over short periods. Temperature changes over hundreds of years if not thousands.

    Cold fusion is not the only technology being researched there are many options and it is not possible to know at the minute which one will work out or when but we do know one or some of them will work out in the future.


  6. ‘I am also sure they had no idea in 1260 that things were changing. ‘

    The Vikings were well aware.

    ‘The warmists talk in terms of decades which is wrong and therefore they have to defend changes over short periods.’

    That’s because a 30 year time span is regarded as climate, so we look for trends.

    You may not have noticed that the Iceland and Greenland snow melt is running a month late this year.


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