Copenhagen and Common Sense 122

I have no expertise in environmental science, and have never made an intensive study. I realise that what I write here is so simple as to be taught to a six year old. But there is a reason I write it.

I am however trained as a historian. That mankind has changed the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indubitable from a moment’s consideration of the evidence.

Early man lived in an earth covered by vast forest. Cultivation brought a cutting down of forest for clearings. Industrial development brought a cutting down of forests for fuel and raw material. We know this for certain because the process continued into historic times, and has never stopped but simply spread into lesser developed parts of the world, and because of the unlimited numbers of tree throws discovered by archaeologists in areas of prehistoric settlement.

The burning of the trees released carbon dioxide, but this process was greatly accelerated by the industrial revolution, where the start of intensive use of fossil fuels released the stored carbon dioxide of millennia. At the same time, of course, the destruction of the forests reduced the capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and replenish oxygen.

The Earth is big, but not that big. I’ve been round it a few times. The incredible scale is of human activity. It is impossible for an honest rational man to believe that the destruction of the forests and burning of fossile fuels on an ever accelerating scale has not had an effect on the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is of course not the only pollutant involved.

Now I do not claim to understand the complex science of the interaction between man made atmospheric change and the natural processes of climate change. But plainly, as we change the atmosphere it is going to have some effect on the movement of gases and vapours within the atmosphere, which we call weather, and might perfectly well affect the extent to which the atmosphere absorbs or reflects energy from the sun.

I doubt that the processes are fully understood. But the argument seems to me unanswerable that mankind should seek to minimise its effect on the environment that bred us, for obvious reasons of self preservation.

We should also seek to reduce the astonishing rate at which we squander non-renewable resources. I view most of the opposition to the Copenhagen process as missing the point entirely – be it from the ultra-rich fossil fuels lobbies, scientific dissidents [I don’t despise them; all accepted science was once dissidence, including global warming], those who think anything agreed by governments must be a plot against us, or those who just want to keep on personally enjoying the fruits of untramelled consumption. The point they miss entirely is that we should stop polluting anyway.

I can’t say I fully support the Copenhagen process because it is too timid, the “cuts” offered by the US are derisory, and the oil producers should also be paying much more to the developing world. Carbon trading and its derivatives show we have still, despite the banking collapse. not learnt that inventive greed is not the best motivator.

But thirty years ago I never thought we would have this much agreement by governments to an environmental agenda. The broad direction is better, and Copenhagen must succeed to keep the dynamic going.

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122 thoughts on “Copenhagen and Common Sense

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  • Neil Craig

    “But the argument seems to me unanswerable that mankind should seek to minimise its effect on the environment”

    Er – it seems to me unanswerable that this is rubbish. Without mankind Britain would be & in earlier years was, solid & impenetrable forest with only the hilltops habitable. London was marshland. Would it really be better if it still was like that. Is the role of gardener not preferable to absentee lanndlord.

    On the particular case of alleged catastrophic warming – at the height of the medieval warming period it was 2 degrees warmer than now; during the Climate Optimum (5,000-9,000 BC) it was up to 4 degrees – both were very comfortable & looked back on fondly. The entire scare story is a government funded eco-fascist fraud because, in the words of Mencken “”The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

  • MJ

    The issue of consensus is largely irrelevant. Science is not democratic. The truth is the truth even if only one person speaks it and the rest disagree. Nor does it matter who funds whom.

    Hopefully disagreements over the science will cool over the coming years, along with temperatures. From what I can gather there has been a mild and steady increase in temperatures since the “Little Ice Age” of 16th-18th centuries. However, this trend (of less than 2 degrees over 200 years) is made up of regular and predictable oscillations, ie:

    1882 – 1910 Cooling

    1910 – 1944 Warming

    1944 – 1975 Cooling

    1975 – 2001 Warming

    If the pattern continues we are set for mild cooling until 2025 approx.

    The timing of recent concerns about global warming has been unfortunate because they have come at a time of predictable rising temperatures. The IPCC thinks temperatures will continue to rise (the “hockey stick”), while the sceptics think they will start to fall modestly, while maintaining the overall (but slight) upward drift seen since the end of the Little Ice Age.

    Over the next few years the evidence of who is right should be plain to see.

    In the meantime, let’s cut fossil fuel use and pollution. But global carbon taxes? Stitching up the developing nations? Forget it.

  • lwtc247

    @ writerman

    That Big oil pays some anti-AGW’ers is pretty much assured. But ones predictions about who funds _green research_ or who buys green tech patents of green technology is rather predictable too.

    You’re a CEO of Big Oil. What would you do?

    Re: Oregon petition, there is probably a few M. Mouse’s and D. Duck’s on it. No prizes however for who would do such a thing.

    I have no idea as to the % of real signatories to it. However it has importance in that there exists a list of signatories that can be verified. Those Ducks and Mice could be crossed off at the end a tally of bona fide signatories is the result.

    As far as I know there isn’t one for the pro-AGW camp.

    Strange tht now consensus transpires wout to be a non-issue when a word count reveals thrse posters as being the first four to mention it:

    1) glenn at December 8, 2009 12:24 PM

    2) amk at December 8, 2009 4:54 PM

    (whose whole post involved ‘the consensus’.


    3) writerman at December 9, 2009 7:16 AM

    followed by

    4) ingo at December 9, 2009 9:58 AM

    Then comes me to challenging it.

    As for pouring scorn on those scientists who are not climate scientists, consider this… how many here are physical scientists? and of them how many are climate scientists. These posters are allowed to have strong views on the issue and demonstrably believe they can comprehend the scientific aspects of AGW. Shouldn’t that grace doesn’t seen to be reciprocated to those who signed the OP as well as your ordinary man on the street?

    Well I’ve not seen anything convincing about the consensus issue, so as must happen in any debate of value there should be a little give and take, so ok. lets assume there is a consensus.


    Lets look at the computer code that is said to generate hockey sticks when random data is plugged into it.

    If that is true, and from what I read of it, it sure seems so, then doesn’t that mean it’s baseless and can be ignored?

  • chris, glasgow


    You should look further into the evidence collected by climate scientists and stop trying to go against the grain just because it is different. There is no conspiricy here no matter how much you wish there to be.

    The evidence against anthropogenic global warming is poor but not completely unfounded. However, most scientists and engineers that study climate change, including myself, are of the opinion that AGW is largely to blame and cutting back CO2 emissions is the best solution to the problem. They are not 100% but nobody will ever be

    and even if, 20 years down the line, their research is proved wrong and we were worrying about nothing would that not be better than dismissing it until it is too late? Also in the future fossil fuels are going to run out anyway so maybe it is better to adopt to more sustainable sources before now before it is too late? Just a few points to consider.

  • lwtc247

    @ MJ fair point about the truth is the truth, but how does that work? … A lucky scientist stumbles upon it (or a talented scientists works towards it). He publishes and others read it. They use their own critical faculties to assess it and then decide upon it. One would hope his training would help his see the facts independently of his own bias. Therefore if the truth was indeed found, then most scientists who suport it should (if purely the science is considered) give a good indication of whether the truth has been uncovered or not.

    As for funding, vronksy, writerman and so forth do have a point. There’s a general understanding that He who pays the pipler calls the tune. It’s a legitimate cause for concern.

  • writerman

    To be honest, I don’t believe we’ll seriously address the issue of global warming in time to avert catastrophe.

    If the scientific consensus is correct, and we are heading for a steep rise in longterm temperatures, if we don’t take drastic remedial action to cut CO2 emissions, then we’re in trouble, big trouble.

    I think it’ll take a miracle to stop us going over the 2 degree maximum most scientists believe is the maximum. I think we are on course for three or four degrees, or even six, by the end of the century.

    Why am I so pesismistic? Because I don’t believe we have ‘mechanisms’ in our political/economic system that can instigate the changes in our lifestyle within the necessary timeframe. It is going to be touch and go. My great fear, mostly because I have so many kids, is that by the time people rise up in open revolt, it’ll be too late and the climate changes will be unstoppable. I reckon we’ve got, at the maximum, a decade to alter the way we live, and start the redistribution of wealth and power.

    Finally, even though a couple of degrees increase in average temperatures doesn’t really sound a great deal, or even three or four degrees seem all that threatening, it is important to realize that this rise won’t be evenly distributed. At the arctic extremes the increase will be substantially higher, by three or four times the average, or worse. At least that’s what the models are showing, and the measurments at the moment support the models, which is disturbing.

  • lwtc247

    cheers chris.

    Scientists /want/ to be different? I’ve seen ‘different’ scientists but none who want to be different. And I certainly don’t wish there to be any conspiracies. But that they happen and that theey merit studying isn’t not comparable.

    Similarly I don’t accept the earth will go beyond a point of no return with regards to CO2. Radioactive waste yes, CO2 no.

    I don’t accept the arguement that it’s better to do something ‘just in case’.

    Daily, more than 1 billion people feel hungry. The money should be spent there and mega corporations like the oil companies should pay a hell of a lot more towards that.

  • MJ

    “how does that work?”

    By becoming demonstrable to all. An obvious example is Einstein’s General Theory, which most scientists didn’t accept (or understand) until the eclipse proved it.

    Admittedly it may not be quite so simple with climatolgy, which is not a pure science but a hybrid drawing on several disciplines.

    Point taken about funding, but even then the truth will out eventually. When scientists are paid to come up with predetermined results the science is likely to be bad. By the same token however we must not baulk from those odd occasions when the desired results just happen also to be true.

  • ingo

    Now we have talked a lot of who said what and how much still needs further scientific perusal.

    I would like to swing this debate to one of Europes most exciting projects this century, called Desertec.

    This is a conglomerate of different private interests that are coordinating internationally and cooperating with Magreb countries on developing a Concentrated Solar Network.

    I am very excited about this 400Billion push to harness the sun.s energy and transmit it to the world.

    We do not need french nuclear power or Russian gas/oil from dubious oligarchs. It will provide enough resources for the producing countries and make our energy supplies sustainable for the next 3.5 billion years.

    Siemens who just bought out Solel, an Israely solar power company is involved and so is Munich Re, the insures in the know.

    What do others think of the lack of british profile in this venture? Is it again a case of limping behind?

  • chris, glasgow


    I think that Britain will probably not want to be too heavily involved in renewable energy that is produced outside it’s own boudaries. I also don’t think that they would want to get too involved in solar energy produced in the same countries that they currently buy oil from. The other problem with this is that trying to get a competitive price after all the effort needed to tranfer it over to europe I think makes it only useful for Spain Italy and South of France.

    Britain has more reliable and cheaper renewable resources at home such as Tidal, Wave, Wind, Hydro and even solar in the South of England. So Desertec, as interesting as it is, seems a bit difficult and expensive for the UK. However, I maybe proven wrong.

  • chris, glasgow


    I think that Britain will probably not want to be too heavily involved in renewable energy that is produced outside it’s own boudaries. I also don’t think that they would want to get too involved in solar energy produced in the same countries that they currently buy oil from. The other problem with this is that trying to get a competitive price after all the effort needed to transfer it over to europe I think makes it only useful for Spain Italy and South of France.

    Britain has more reliable and cheaper renewable resources at home such as Tidal, Wave, Wind, Hydro and even solar in the South of England. So Desertec, as interesting as it is, seems a bit difficult and expensive for the UK. However, I maybe proven wrong.

  • ingo

    Chris, I see your point about the emerging alternative energy producers currently held up at every stage of their projects by some jobs worth or Government lackey who is in bed with french nuclear power pushers.

    I would think that there is space for everyone and that it would be great to have a reliable sustainable source to fall back on, rather than leaving a 10.000 year legacy to our kids.

    It is notable that the only large projects in britain are undertaken by large companies or enteties like the Crown estate, whilst communities who could equally undertake such projects if they are together with it, are lambasted by onshore planning authorities.

    For example SOUTH NORFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL, soonto be abolished for an all Norfolk county council, is the least greenest council in Britain, the most obstructive to change and full of jobsworth.

    here is a list of those who ahve signed up to Desertec, I for one support it before any Russian srewball or french EDF consortium.

  • chris, glasgow


    I think you were missing my point and I don’t know what you are talking about refering to “different” scientists??? I certainly didn’t mention that. What I was trying to say was that the evidence against AGW is farily poor and relies mainly on disputing evidence that supports AGW not on their own theories. That is why they are not being taken seriously and the debate has moved on.

    Also I understand that in third world countries many people are starving. But you should also notice that many of these countries have governments with money who allow their people to starve while living a lavish lifestyle, Zimbabwe and Sudan for example.

    Also if you looked at my point regarding the end of fossil fuels the “just in case” work turns into forward planning. We’ll have to find alternatives at some point why put off the inevitable?

    Finally why do you worry more about radioactive waste destroying that planet than CO2? Where is the evidence on that theory? It seems a bit of a wild fantasy to me.

  • lwtc247

    I’m all for renewable energy too. But I can almost guarntee the tech will become owned by Big oil by hook or by crook (most likely by crook!)

    I heard a tale that in some parts of Africa it was illegal to collect rainwater (the water companies would lose out). What’s the likelyhood that harvesting solar energy on a individual basis (to the exclusion of an energy proder company) would go the same way?

  • chris, glasgow


    Council are starting to get their arses in gear with renewable energy but they need to be pushed more by the government. They have too much power over energy projects and too little knowledge. Also there are many people who like the idea of renewable energy but “not in their back garden.”

    I think that the Desertec idea is great and Spain is one of the countires that are really harnessing solar energy but Britain should concentrate on wave and Tidal. There is a company in Australia called Biopower Systems that have developed some pretty cool tidal and wave designs that don’t require barrages. We should be developing this type of energy as we have massive potential for it.

    Here is the website:

  • chris, glasgow


    It is really down to the government of that country to decide who owns the renewable energy and they should put regulations on that. Most companies, not just exclusevly Oil, want to increase profit and monopolise their industry but it’s down to the government to allow them to do this.

    There are so many bad things that some African Leaders have done to their own people, from outlawing talking about Aids to promoting poor formula milk over breastfeeding to mothers with babies. It is no suprise that the water collectin ban is happening.

    On the point of harvesting solar energy on and individual basis i think that this can be a problem if they are producing much wasted energy. Hooking the panels up to a national grid and getting a rebate is something that would be beneficial and not waste energy but know doubt that would be exploited in third world countries.

  • Vronsky

    lwtc seems to be running this thread. Click on his link and look at his site – and look at the sites he links to. He’s unworried about AGW, because Baby Jesus (or the dinosaurs) will be right back to save us. So stop worrying and turn up the thermostat – Jesus loves you, and obviously the globe cannot warm when we have a god so co-o-o-o-o-ol.

    I’m only guessing now, but I think Baby Jesus might have shares in Conoco.

    “The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.” (Judges 9:8)

    Oil is god.

  • tony_opmoc

    Fascinating discussion. As regards to the CRU leaks, the emails are only a small part of the overwhelming evidence of scientific fraud. The emails merely paint a picture, which by themselves may be insufficient to prove fraud in a criminal case, even though there are blatant requests to delete information requested under Freedom of Information Law – which is almost certainly illegal.

    The actual computer code itself though is far more damning, and shows clear evidence (which incidentally is well documented in the code) to generate a pre-determined outcome.

    On Anthony Watts website there are multiple examples of even the actual code itself being analysed line by line to clearly demonstrate this.

    The evidence of cherry-picking of data is absolutely overwhelming.

    The hide the decline, was actually about omitting tree-ring data that demonstrated a fall in temperature, because it was known by everyone that temperatures had actually risen. They kept the earlier tree-ring data that showed temperatures were rising, and then substituted actual temperature records to produce the hockey stick.

    But if the decision was made to discard the most recent tree-ring data because it showed a decline, why was the earlier data assumed to be correct? The logic is quite plain to see. Cherry pick data to “prove” Global Warming.

    To anyone not trained in science, the reaction is probably so what!!??

    But to anyone trained in physical science and maths, such behaviour is just completely and utterley totally outrageous and criminal. It brings science itself into disrepute. Its totally disreputable. Its totally unacceptable. I read comments from real scientists, and I can see their restrained fury in every single word they write.

    You simply do not do that. If real scientists and engineers behaved in such a manner, bridges would fall down, in fact absolutely everything would collapse.

    The entire World has been lied to by these Bullies and Criminals.

    The objective has been clearly stated by such influential people as Maurice Strong who you may never have heard of. The objective is to crash Western Civilisation.

    Western Civilisation is totally dependent on high density, reliable, continuous energy supply. If you don’t rebuild power stations – or if you replace them with windmills, absolutely EVERYTHING in CITIES will Fail. Most people in the West live in Cities.

    There will be No Water, No Sewage, No Money, No Jobs, No Food, No Transportation. People in Cities Will Die a Most Horrible Death without ENERGY.

    That is The Agenda. Massive Depopulation. The Big Cull.

    Just Switch Off The Energy – Pull The Plug and Die.

    And I agree Exponential Population Growth is a Very Serious Problem. There are however far more Graceful Ways to Resolve it, Than Mass Genocide.

    Now you May think I am talking Nonsense. Just Check out Your History Books – and The Mass Slaughter in The Last Century. That was Just Millions. This time it Will Be BILLIONS…

    Unless We Stop This Insanity.

    Its nothing to do with Liberal Left Wing Values of the People Defending it. They’ve been conned and lied to just like everyone else.


  • tony_opmoc


    Desertec which I looked into a couple of years ago is a Club of Rome project and in theory sounds wonderful.

    In practice, it is a massive diversionary project that would be completely useless at supplying usable quantities of energy to Europe.

    Solar energy obviously has uses in hot dry sunny countries, but even if you had the most enormous solar power stations,there is no way to efficiently transport that energy vast distances.

    Any energy produced in such way should be used locally for example – desalianting sea water for irrigation – or if sufficient energy could be produced – for high energy intensive industry.

    It would be great if a solar power station could reproduce itself from its own energy in the desert. After all most of the content of a solar power station is glass which is made out of sand.

    If such a thing is viable, then why hasn’t it already been done. Yes I know about Solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, but all of them have been built using conventional energy.

    Any power plant worth having must produce more energy over its lifetime, than all the energy inputs to build and operate it – otherwise it is an energy sink.

    I have yet to see any conclusive proof that any solar power plant is not any energy sink, and the same is true of windmills.

    I would like to see windmills reproduce themelves as well. If they can’t they are a waste of time, and a mere diversion.

    By reproducing themselves, I mean that all the energy required in all stages of design, mining, refining, manufacturing, operating, maintenance and distribution comes from the windmill – to make another one.

    I don’t think its possible. I believe all solar power is dependent on input from conventional energy.

    If you get out less out than you put in, then you are wasting energy and should’t have bothered because you have gained nothing. You have an energy sink.

    Fortunately oil is not about to run out, though I think it may be turned off.

    Whilst I agree with almost everything that lwtc247 has posted today, I do not agree with his views on Nuclear Power, particularly the latest Thorium Based technology, which can in theory be used to turn useless nuclear weapons material safely and cleanly into enormous amounts of cheap electricity. We have to get rid of nuclear missiles, and this is by far the most sensible way of doing so.


  • chris, glasgow

    “If real scientists and engineers behaved in such a manner, bridges would fall down, in fact absolutely everything would collapse.”


    That is not necessarily true, for example an engineer could work out the figures for building a bridge and then beef them up to make sure it will work sufficiently even though the lesser figure would be enough.

    I think that you are blowing this out of proportion because although they fudged figures there is still a huge amount of evidence that has not been fudged and supports the general consensus regarding global warming.

    Also your comments about windmills and solar panels are a bit odd. In theory you could easily make a wind turbine out of wood, which is a sustainable material, and use the electricity from the existing wind turbine to power the tools to make it and then power the electric transporter to take it to site. this could be repeated again and again but they may not last as long so it would probably require more effort and would be less efficient.

    The solar energy can be transported easily from Africa by using underwater cable routes and several large transformers which would boost the energy to europe. These transformers could be powered by tidal or wave so it can work but it would need be done at a non competitive rate which is probably why not many people are going for it at present. However, in the future when prices go up it maybe viable. But the energy would be coming from the same countries that we get our oil from at present. This dependance on the Middle East is what most countries are trying to move away from with renewable energy.

  • opit

    I agree. Pollution is the issue.

    Dispose of the warming certainty by viewing commentary provided by Dr. John v. Kampen ( ) on videos on YouTube by professor emeritus Ian Plimer – Earth Sciences.

    That’s the first of 3 he posted Dec 3 and referenced by me Dec 4 with further information.

    Water pollution is my main bugaboo…though corporate farming and pesticides are linked.The index is at under Collections Forwarded to Blogger

    You will find information from a rancher/blogger and a retired Ohio farmer/blogger regarding multiple threats to food and water and included in information which covers Monsanto Terminator seeds, destruction of Iraq’s agriculture, mass suicides by farmers in India and Africa..and much more.

  • opit

    Oops. The farmer/rancher commentaries were back in mid August on the main blog just before notes on Current TV’s water news group 15 Aug.

    Environment and Sickening Practices 14 Aug and ‘Green Acres’

    Do watch the infomercial Home. It’s 1hr 33min and I found it excellent.

    And in light of Dr. Plimer’s report I find myself questioning whether the Uranium articles are accurate…but have no updates to debunk them.

  • techniclour

    why would it not be a good thing for the Middle East to benefit from solar panels? or even ‘useless’?

    we can run a geo-thermal pipeline down from iceland.

  • Vronsky

    Very detailed analysis of the scientists who signed a petition objecting to the American Physical Society’s position on global warming. Highly recommended as an insight in the players and their methods.

    (it’s a PDF)

  • frank verismo

    “Readers might like to check out for views from some actual climate scientists, and some debunking of the regular distortions that prevent meaningful discussion on this issue.”

    They’re welcome to do so, but should be aware that it’s owned by Al Gore’s press officer, Arlie Schardt (Environmental Media Services). Something to keep in mind when considering said ‘debunking’.

  • crab

    I read EMS has campaigned for marine stewardship, against deregulation of GM technology, against Bovine growth Hormone additives…

    they don’t sound too bad to me.

    The “Union of Concerned Scientists”, campaign against nuclear power, against military research, for scientific integrity, agricultural and energy reform, and action on global warming.

    Check em out and clear your heads’

  • Neil Craig

    So no grovelling apologies from the eco-liars who said McIntyre & co were getting money, nor any evidence that there was the remotest trace of truth in anything they said then. How expected.

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