By Don “Doc” Sanders
You’ve probably seen panic-inducing headlines about climate change. I think the wildest one I have read is: “Code Red for Humanity.” The article it accompanied reported that we can’t turn the clock back to reverse the environmental damage that humankind has caused. We are doomed if we don’t take immediate and drastic action to implement the “green movement.”
Thankfully, most of this Code Red stuff is baloney. Centuries, if not thousands of years, show that as far as our climate and environment are concerned, this is the best time ever to be alive.
Every time that a well-researched good news climate analysis is reported, the United Nations moves the goal posts farther back so that the state of the environment still appears discouraging. It isn’t that the environmental science is bad. Rather it’s the shoddy reporting by our friends in the media who nitpick what to report.
The U.N. reports several possible scenarios regarding the climate, from good to the very worst possible outcome. So, guess which scenario the press often chooses to report: “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”
Let’s face it. For many members of the press, science is not their forte. It is kind of like Al Gore and his book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” in which he shares his “environmental science” predictions. Did you know that at Harvard he earned a D in a natural science class as a sophomore and a C+ in another natural sciences class his senior year?
Exaggeration is these journalists’ forte. Their philosophy is that if they don’t report doom and gloom, you are unlikely to read what they write.
The political climate today is toxic, but not necessarily the environmental climate. Don’t become confused by the negative reports.
I do acknowledge that I’ve seen examples of lax environmental practices in my travels around the world, like when I’ve visited the allegedly “pristine” mountains of China. The dairy farms in northern China heat their milking parlors with high sulfur coal. And every two weeks, China starts up another coal-fired generation plant for electricity.
The United Nations uses computer models to predict climate science. The predictions range from the most likely future weather events to the most extreme events that may occur only every 500 or 1,000 years. Guess which models get reported by the members of the press.
You can always count on the worst-case scenario making the headlines, TV newscasts or Twitter. The statistical models for the past 50 to 100 years demonstrate that the total elimination of fossil fuel would have a teeny-tiny effect on the environment — about 0.2 of a degree in temperature.
In his book “Inconvenient Facts” Gregory Wrightstone reported that weather change occurs over an 18,000-year cycle rather than what we’ve seen happen in the past 100 years.
No one really knows much about the impact of human activity on climate beyond following the news about the latest heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires. I think these catastrophic events are bad, but the news reports generally compare only catastrophes that have occurred in the past 50 to 100 years or so. When you look at weather data from around the world, hurricane activity has not increased since the time that weather information has been recorded. We would never hear this on the news, but wildfires, hurricanes and floods are less frequent today.
As a matter of fact, the recent weather in the Northwest is piddly compared to the 180-year and 240-year multiple-year droughts the earth hosted from 800 to 1400 A.D.
We are less likely to die from a severe weather event than our great grandparents. In the 1920s, weather disasters killed about 500,000 annually. Even though the world population is four times what it was in 1920, fewer than 20,000 people now die a year from bad weather events. I don’t want to minimize these deaths, but compared to the 1920s….
I think it was Galileo who hypothesized and published about the size of our galaxy. Politicians persecuted him for proposing such a concept. And the same goes on today as politicians and activists battle it out, twisting the science to fit their agendas.
On TV and the Internet we watch activists demonstrate against fossil fuels, decimated rain forests, drought and a host of other environmental issues. These same activists are blinded by their blather and never realize that, overall, people are better off now than any time in history.
The rate of extreme poverty is at the lowest level ever. Not that we don’t want to do more, but we are gaining on it. People are healthier, living longer (unless you live in a violent place like south Chicago), freer and more comfortable than ever in history. Yet we are being bombarded with the rhetoric of eliminating fossil fuels and going green with electric cars, boats, trucks, tractors and probably even snowmobiles.
However, think about this. Whether it is Elon Musk or some other do-gooder, the alternative energy sources they advocate, such as wind, solar and lithium-ion batteries, require a substantial amount of resources. Right now, the Chinese have the corner on the lithium market. Do we want Joe or Kamala sucking up to the Chinese some more to purchase lithium?
What about the massive lithium mine being developed in Nevada to replace Chinese lithium? It will be the major insult of all insults to our environment! It will make strip coal mines look tame. How does that compare to drilling more gas wells or the Keystone pipeline that was almost finished?
And what becomes of solar panels when they become obsolete? Or all those batteries scrapped from Prius cars and other electric vehicles? What about the wind generation systems? Those propeller blades eventually wear out. They’ll be an environmental nightmare to dispose of. It appears the politicians haven’t considered these issues.
While I am a proponent for improved electrical generation and alternative energy sources, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Our society should take the time to resolve improved energy collection efficiency with new technologies. And we also need to consider what happens with all of the old lithium batteries, wind-power fan blades and electronic components when they have to be junked. We are trading one environmental concern for another that likely will be a larger nightmare.
- Wrightstone,G., 2017. Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know. Silver Crown Productions.