July 08, 2014 | Graham

Just like my own climate conversion

One of the best reasons for being skeptical of many of the claims made about CO2 emissions is not the science, but the language. I went from being a more or less mainstream adherent to a skeptic when I read a defamatory media release from the IPCC.

In it Rajendra Pachauri branded Ian Castles, former head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and Ian Henderson, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and the ANU “so-called experts” because they had dared to point out that economic projections being used as a proxy for rate of growth of CO2 emissions were incorrectly based on market exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity.

At that moment I knew there was a scandal, and was surprised that none of my journalistic colleagues picked up on it.

In Climate change: The moment I became a climate skeptic journalist Zev Chafets recounts his own encounter with language that gave the game away.

I called the professor, one of the authors of the report, for a clarification (he remains nameless because we were off the record). “If global warming is caused by man-made emissions,” I asked, “what accounts for the world warming to this same level 10,000 years ago?”

There was a long silence. Then the professor said, “Are you serious?”

I admitted that I was.

The professor loudly informed me that my question was stupid. The panel’s conclusion was indisputable science, arrived at after years of research by a conclave of the world’s leading climate scholars. Who was I to dispute it?

I told him I wasn’t disputing it, just trying to understand how, you know, the world could have been this hot before without the help of human agency. Maybe this is just a natural climate change like ice ages that once connected continents and warming periods that caused them to drift apart or …

At which point I heard a click. The professor hung up on me. At that exact moment I became a climate skeptic. I may not know anything about science, but I have learned over a long career that when an expert hangs up in the middle of a question, it means that he doesn’t know the answer.

If a politician behaved like this expert, or Pachauri, a journalist would sense a major scoop and chase it. But not, it seems, for most, with climate change.

What is it about the term scientist that euthanases the common sense of journalists and transports them into raptures of conformism? They may not understand the science, but there job is to understand words.

The science and words both point in the same direction. When it comes to CO2 emissions we’re not really sure what effect they might have, but it’s likely to be a lot less than the alarmists would have you think.


Posted by Graham at 8:10 am | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. It’s so much easier to stick with the death-spiralling coal industry for our energy generation, even though it is heavily subsidised by public funds and is rapidly being undercut by cheaper renewable sources. The IPA and the LNP are reliant on the funding.

    Comment by Slim — July 8, 2014 @ 10:15 am

  2. Well, who knows Graham, you may be right?
    And or, it may be a case of increased atmospheric moisture, trapping more heat, which would then produce more evaporation. Bit like a self watering rain-forest, sometimes referred to, as the greenhouse effect.
    More heat= more evaporation, more evaporation=more heat trapped and so it goes.
    Co2 is an excellent fertilizer and seems to promote tropical rain forest species better than most?
    An acre of trees, i.e., will aspire 2.5 times more moisture/evaporation, than an acre of open ponded water.

    If one collects some air samples, around a cubic metre per, and then extracts all the Co2, the average drop in temperature is around 0.03C, and like all good science, endlessly repeatable, for endlessly repeatable, duplicated results.
    However, if one removes the entire moisture content, the average temperature drop is a whacking 30C, and endlessly repeatable, which probably explains why we can still get frosts in semitropical climes, in nights where there’s no cloud cover, and or, exceptionally dry air.
    Moisture may be the real climate change gas?
    We certainly know that our water temperatures are rising, some as high as an increased, 2C.
    And that warm water, around 4C, it seems, is melting Antarctic ice quicker than the best estimates estimated?
    I don’t know if Co2 plays any part!?
    However, I would opt for alternative non carbon energy, especially where it is considerably cheaper than coal, on irrefutable economic grounds alone, and for no other reason!
    And here I’m referring to cheaper than coal thorium, or endlessly available and virtually costless biogas, and solar thermal arrays, which can and do trap usable heat in molten salt for around a week?
    And yes, the infrastructure cost are considerable, but the fuel is free forever! [Mass production techniques of the solar arrays, bring the costs down, to be comparable with coal?]
    And plenty of trapped usable heat, where the arrays are located in arid regions, like central Australia, where more than 2 days of incessant rain, would have locals busy building arks!
    Geothermal looks promising, especially where it is used to heat of cool houses, with pipes buried around 30 metres.
    Which saves summer heat, and or winter frosts, to then give it back, just when it is needed.
    I also think we should be investigating the production of hydrogen using the older, (vastly modernized) catalyst assisted water molecule cracking method; plus geothermal heat, and endlessly reliable sea water.
    Our current method costs around $6.00 a cubic metre, and can only rise with the cost of the fossil fuels it is extracted from, as we convert, methane to liquid methanol, by hiving off a few hydrogen molecules.
    Cheaper hydrogen, made for a few cents a cubic metre, as envisaged, could be piped to wherever practicable, and converted to raw electric current, and pristine water.
    This power could run things like outback metal smelting industries, rapid rail, or recharge stations for electric cars.
    Currently, we can go around 330 kilometres max in an electric car, and recharge it to around 80% full in around 18-20 minutes, the time needed for a leisurely meal or comfort break.
    GM seems to be on the brink of a new battery, that will double the Tesla’s 330 kilometre range, and still not need more time for recharging?
    And we now also have wafer thin flexible 160 watt, 12 volt solar panels, that could extend that range even further, as say window tint or six roof, bonnet and boot cover?
    That produces a combined, full noonday 960 watts, and more than enough to continually recharge a 1,000 watt battery bank?
    That already grants a 600 plus kilometre range!?
    This range and mass acceptance by the car buying public, should see prices tumble and comparable to some of our Australian produced models.
    All that’s currently missing is future vision and the recharge stations, we Aussies are going to have to eventually build.
    Every decade of delay, will only make them doubly expensive.
    We could even make gas powered electric cars right now, and refill them in far less time.
    I’m not completely certain, but I believe a gas powered ceramic fuel cell, connected to a couple of capacitators, would cost far less, than a bank of batteries, and indeed, weigh considerably less?
    The advantage of this more easily filled combination, would be quicker refills, and unlimited range!
    Plus even better than already impressive 0-100 numbers, given the lighter weight comparison?
    Moreover, the exhaust product of a gas powered ceramic fuel cell is mostly water vapor; and given the comparative ease of refilling, all the creature comforts!
    I don’t know if climate change is the product of natural variation or man made?
    I do know I won’t buy coastal property below 5 metres.
    Or rely on the fossil fuel industry to improve any economic outlook.
    I do know, if we just use the brains we were born with, we can decarbonize our economy, and vastly improve our economic and future economic prospects while so doing, just by choosing cheaper than coal localized micro energy sources or options.
    As Apple would say, your own local options are now both cheaper and vastly more reliable choices.
    The fact that they are carbon free, means they will still be doing service, when we’ve passed or run out of, fossil fuels! It’s the economy stupid! Quote unquote.
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — July 8, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

  3. Sorry Slim, but coal does not receive any significant subsidies. And you’ll find the coal industry donates to all sides of politics. You’ll also find that in NSW important Labor politicians like Eddie Obeid were profiting from coal mining.

    Comment by Graham — July 8, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

  4. The electrical distributors receive public money as well the punters’ massive contribution through power bills – about 45%. According to to Four Corners last night another $30 billion is needed over the next deade or so to provide increased distribution. Whereas the global trend is toward micro grids relying mainly on renewables – once in place the ongoing cost is far more competetive than coal, and I daresay, nuclear. From the case presented last night, it really is a no-brainer, but unfortunately, that is exactly the situation with our current policy settings.

    Comment by Slim — July 8, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

  5. Slim, you said that coal received significant subsidies, and then you veer off into some spiel on power bills where you seem to object to people paying their power bills, and suggest that we should subsidise so-called renewables.

    Fact remains, coal does not receive significant subsidies and is an industry supported by both sides of Australian politics.

    Comment by Graham — July 9, 2014 @ 7:30 am

  6. Speaking of coal, it is possible to clean up coal somewhat, by the use of water, introduced into the firebox as super heated steam; which when hot enough, automatically decomposes into its constituent parts, which then burn, to produce water, which given the heat, automatically decomposes, to then burn once more and again, before finally exiting the smoke stack as steam.
    Pipe spirals could be introduced into smoke stacks to preheat water, and similar spirals could be introduced into elongated fire boxes, given we still fuel them like blast furnaces?
    The super heated steam and a venturi system, could replace fans as the blast mechanism that currently feeds powdered coal into those fireboxes, as an explosive mix of coal and air!

    In an interesting aside.
    We seem to be using a lot less coal fired power,(20%) which seems to be seriously hurting the bottom line of some suppliers, many of who see the electric car and numerous recharging stations as their savior.
    I tend to agree; more recharging stations, at critical points, would be both an excellent idea, and serve the interests of the coal fired industry, which could even consider, piling up some of their unused off peak power into molten salt banks, which could then be used to make virtually immediate steam on peak demand, or serve while a week long shutdown and general maintenance etc, takes place.
    They also have the option of using things like oil rich algae, to sequester their carbon in, while producing an excellent second source of endlessly reliable endlessly sustainable income.
    Extracting the oil as is simple as filtering out some of the algae, sun drying it, then crushing the material, to extract ready to use fuel, which includes bio-diesel, or jet fuel.
    Both of which could still be produced in well maintained facilities, long after we/they run out of coal!
    Leaving a critical mass of rapidly growing algae, in the long clear plastic pipes, where scrubbed smoke stack emission is also added and treated, will allow maximized algae production to continue, for maximized additional profit.
    Treated but highly nutrient laden effluent is fine, and treats another problem with a single solution.

    The coin operated recharging stations might also include, electric B-B-Q’s, coin operated hot water services for tea or coffee, clean toilets and shade shelters?
    4-5 spaced at equally spaced critical highway locations, Between Brisbane and Sydney, Sydney and Melbourne, etc/etc, would allow the traveling public to recharge and then drive on, or take a 6 hour rest break in their fold down car seats; and then say, take a coin operated shower and then eat their own personally prepared breakfast, heated on a coin operated B-B-Q or whatever, before continuing their journey.
    Fortunately, rural land is still comparatively cheap, and those power companies ahead of the curve, will be those surviving.
    A couple of ablution blocks, surrounded on all sides by shade shelters, equipped with recharging facilities etc, wouldn’t be too costly?
    I would wait until GM releases it’s much longer range, Tesla beating, plug in electric car, assembled here and rebadged as a Holden, before building anything like that suggested; but it wouldn’t hurt to buy up a bit of reasonably priced highway adjacent suitable land now!
    I mean, there’d even be a reliable quid in it for a far sighted private operator, or even a mum and dad investor, looking for a retirement income!
    There’s not a huge amount of work keeping such facilities clean, given the amount of mechanization currently available, which includes water blasters, steam cleaners, and remote controlled lawn mowers, which can be operated from your armchair or electric scooter!
    And if you already own some appropriate land!? Perhaps even with transmission towers already on it?
    In the final analysis, electric cars, will allow us to use our own seriously cheaper fuel!
    And given the tyranny of distance, recharging stations will be both popular and profitable!? And could even follow conveniently located, already existing, cross county transmission lines?
    And if the power companies, think that will allow them to price gouge, they could face the very same problem as now, and even cheaper solar voltaic solar arrays, displacing them as preferred suppliers.
    Aussies just don’t like being ripped off, and will take whatever options as are available to prevent it continuing, including co-op self sufficiency.
    Captive consumer markets are almost a thing of the past!
    If a couple or more power companies have feed in to many coexisting recharge facilities; a bit of real competition may prevent price gouging in the future.
    As we used to say in business, any profit is a good profit!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — July 9, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  7. Apposite, methinks. Holding out for coal puts you on the wrong side of history.

    Comment by Slim — July 9, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

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