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MIT’s Kerry Emanuel knows his stuff. He began studying the climate since before the term Global Warming entered the lexicon. Since then he’s watched irrational ideology capture the minds of believers and skeptics alike, along with the exponential heating up of debates over the climate.
On the third installment of Coming Clean, Kerry and Benji discuss the risks of inaction; they consider true energy solutions and the reasons that some are single-mindedly enamored with solar and wind; and they talk about ways out that should be agreeable to all parties concerned, even if Kerry’s optimism is a bit guarded.
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I like what you are trying to do. It would help to perhaps develop the skeptical argument a little more completely before subjecting it to dismissal. Two instances come to mind. First, when the guest uses the case of banning chlorofluorocarbons as example of being inarguably a success, the history of ozone research might be taken into account. It is my understanding that the theory of there being “holes” in the ozone was formulated before looking for and then finding these holes? There are questions that I have as to whether the sun came up because of cock crowing, so to speak. The cause and effect of the entire cycle of ozone. Are there any other possible sources of Chlorine or Florine in the upper atmosphere? Secondly, there is more to the psychological component to the oeuvre of climate scientists. “The Malthusian thing” probably doesn’t register to a scientist.
I look forward to listening to more of these podcasts that challenge my point of view.
Last week you had Jesse Diggins on the podcast. This last weekend she became the first American to ever win a gold medal at X-C Skiing World Championships.
Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence.
Thanks for listening! I think that’s a good idea on building up the skeptical arguments. It makes for a good challenge to the guests and gives them the opportunity to make their best case. And we have some good interviews coming up. I hope you check them out.
Funny you say that. She was the first person we interviewed. It was a few months back and we lost the recording. The timing was not planned, but I’m also a coincidence-denier. ;)
It should be noted that the capital costs of turbines and photovoltaic panels have started to curve back up, so they will not get to a lower cost point, storage breakthrough or none.
Two things. First, regarding ozone, I wouldn’t worry much about verifying the existence of thin spots in the ozone layer; arguing degrees of severity tends to become a pointless war. We should be able to agree that there was a lot of excess careless off-gassing of CFCs by the late 1980’s, and that it would be good to control such releases on a cost-effective basis, given that we don’t really know for certain how severe the consequences could be. The problem was that the zealots- particularly government regulators- went crazy and arbitrarily and irrationally squelched every use of CFCs regardless of intensity or risk, and at considerable collateral damage.
The open systems use of CFCs had indeed gotten ridiculous- because they were very good as solvents, they got applied to every industrial cleaning problem, and as free-releasing propellant used for every aerosol application. We found fine alternatives to the propellant-spray hairspray and deodorants that blew CFCs indiscriminately into the atmosphere by every person in the developed world, at the same time as the stuff was blasted out at every printed wiring board assembly undergoing wave soldering. Car air conditioners were notorious for leaking.
But refrigerators and other high precision closed systems worked for decades without releasing the fluid. People with asthma inhalers contributed miniscule- probably undetectable- amounts of propellant to the atmosphere.
But the regulators, from EPA, to DoI, to DoC, to the FDA, didn’t give a rat’s patootie about the hardships and expenses being foisted on the citizens- and EPA under the guise of CAA perfection continues to outlaw every coolant as soon as the patents expire and mandate use of new very expensive, slightly better, alternatives.
FDA outlawed asthma drugs, thus eliminating every affordable, off-patent generic propellant solution- requiring extremely expensive, utterly useless, clinical trials for every cheap alternative in the US; the same corticosteroids in France and India that are sold sometimes OTC for $40 are billed to the US consumers for $500. For simple cheap powdered drugs that have been around and used safely for 40 years. (continued)
Regarding severity of extreme weather events, Dr. Emanuel cites the black swan because the data are problematic for his viewpoint. Judith Curry points out that where oceans meet atmosphere, the chaos is impossible to model, and we don’t know what the heat-bearing capacity of the oceans really is. Roger Pielke (Jr) shows how the increased costs of extreme weather events track with human behavior and unwise building decisions rather than trackable increases in weather event severity. It would be really useful to hear Dr. Emanuel in conversation with Dr Curry and Dr Pielke.
But I believe that the point is quite correct, just as with CFCs, we have potentially overloaded the atmosphere with carbon even though the outcomes are impossible to model due to the lack of understanding of positive or negative feedback from water vapor in the tropical troposphere. Thus, we should be smart and invest in solutions and alternatives to coal and oil. As they say, assembly-line level high volume manufacture of cookie-cutter reactors and smart alternatives to carbon-intense liquid fuels should be pursued with all due effort.
I am fan of George Olah’s “methanol economy“, and would favor offering a billion dollar prize for the best air capture solution. Suck carbon right out of the air, and send it to a nuclear power plant to be converted into high octane methanol for use as the primary non-aviation liquid fuel. Carbon capture and recycle.
And knock off all the Biden electric car subsidies nonsense.