Climate Debate Belmont RSL 25th October, 2022
by David Archibald
28 October 2022
What stops the Earth from looking like Pluto? It is energy from the Sun. The Sun’s energy does change and our climate follows.
Back in 2007 when we were in Solar Cycle 23, I predicted that Solar Cycles 24 and 25 would be weaker and that the planet would be cooler. That has come to pass. Peak temperature was in 2016 and we have had six years of cooling since:
If we look at Australia’s temperature record as measured by satellites, it has been absolutely flat:
For forty-four years — nothing. Two thirds of Australians alive today haven’t experienced climate change.
We are gathered today in the City of Belmont which has declared a climate emergency. If that flat temperature record gets you excited enough to declare a climate emergency, you might be a bit special. But not special in a good way. More in a special needs sort of way.
There was a pleasant and much appreciated warming of the planet in the second half of the 20th century, so what caused that?
From 1933 to 2006 the Sun was more active than it had been in the previous eleven thousand years. That is now over and our world is going back to conditions of the Little Ice Age.
What of carbon dioxide? The greenhouse effect, which is 80% water, keeps the planet thirty degrees warmer than it would otherwise be. So the average temperature of the planet is fifteen degrees instead of minus fifteen degrees.
Carbon dioxide contributes ten percent of that or three degrees. The carbon dioxide level prior to industrialization was about three hundred parts per million. If the relationship is one degree for every one hundred parts per million and the concentration is going up at one hundred parts per million every fifty years, that’s two degrees per century and we would fry.
But carbon dioxide’s heating effect is logarithmic, not arithmetic:
The first twenty parts per million has a heating effect of 1.2 degrees and then the effect drops away rapidly. So that from here each one hundred parts per million only heats us up by a tenth of a degree. And that is lost in the noise of the climate system.
Carbon dioxide is tuckered out as a greenhouse gas. Its effect is minuscule. It is not a real problem.
Also consider that at the bottom of the last glacial period, only fifteen thousand years ago, the carbon dioxide level got down to 180 parts per million. Plant growth shuts down at 150 parts per million. Fossil plants from that period show signs of carbon starvation.
For plants, we are still at starvation levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere:
The more we can raise carbon dioxide levels, the safer all life on this planet will be.
The real problem is that the unhinged concern about global warming has led us down a dead end in energy policy.
The renewables we see around us, solar panels and wind turbines, are made using cheap coal power in China at four cents per kilowatt hour. Under ideal conditions in the Australian desert, solar panels produce power at twenty-one cents per kilowatt hour. You can’t make more solar panels with power produced from solar panels. They are neither renewable nor sustainable. They are an artifact of cheap coal power, which is ancient history given what has happened to international coal prices.
What Australia should be doing is converting our low grade coal to diesel and petrol to keep our economy going.
That is absolutely necessary given how fractious the international situation has become. Every day’s delay in doing that puts us deeper in danger. One day our fossil fuels will run out and we should prepare for that day, if our grandchildren are to have any sort of standard of living at all.
That ideal future is sodium-cooled breeder reactors powering the conversion of biomass into the thousands of different hydrocarbon molecules that a modern economy runs on. That is the ideal future, and the only possible future worth living.
If we stray from that path, it is back to horse drawn carts, disease and destitution.
Vote this evening as if your grandchildren’s lives depend upon it, as they most assuredly do.
David Archibald is the author of The Anticancer Garden in Australia