Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The reason I asked about carbon dioxide

My last missive asked what effect a doubling of the UK's production of carbon dioxide would have. It wasn't a frivolous question, nor was it one to which I expected a precise answer. Nor, indeed, was it asked in the belief that human activity producing carbon dioxide is likely to have any appreciable effect on the climate.

It was asked in the hope that a passing Warmist might undertake a calculation using the same methods they use to estimate the effect on temperatures of world-wide industrial activity continuing uninterrupted by greenie initiatives. Only a fool would suggest they pin their colours to one calculation and one figure of anticipated "global" temperature rises, but they conclude there will be a significant increase according to every one of their methods of estimating these things. So, what is the range of figures for the effect the UK has now and the effect it would have if it doubled its output?

Of course none of the great and good would descend to the grubby depths of this blog, but some of their supporters have chipped in from time to time when I have ventured to question something about the Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming theory (see, for example, the comments here and here). This time no one bothered at all. Maybe they have all given up with me, or perhaps they knew that any figure they might propose would be so pathetically small that it would illustrate the point I want to make.

It is at the heart of the whole exercise that things are measured globally save in the case of countries that produce absolutely bucket loads of CO2. They will be used to illustrate the evil of industrialisation to mother earth, whereas other countries (such as the UK) which produce tiny amounts compared to the whole will be lumped in with the sinners to produce stupendously high global figures for which all bear collective responsibility. This masks a truth that is spoken too rarely (unless you happen to be keen on some of my previous offerings such as this and this), namely that there is absolutely no point the UK taking any step to reduce its CO2 emissions unless all other countries do the same. And even then there is no point unless the big players do far more than us.

There's also no point bleating "but we must do our bit". We don't have a bit to do if the bit we do has no effect. After all, this is a game of cause and effect. If the effect predicted by the doom-mongers will occur regardless of anything done in the UK (which certainly seems to be the case for as long as China and India continue on the wicked path of lifting their people out of abject poverty by providing them with electricity for their homes and industries), we really shouldn't waste a penny on the exercise. Still less should we engage in self-flagellation.


Anonymous said...

Obviously there is no point in any one country making an effort to reduce CO2 emissions if the rest of the world doesn't, but as you know, but apparently don't want to know, we are all in the same boat.

Would it be OK for one London household to start burning coal? After all, just one coal fire isn't going to lead to a return of the great London smog is it?

Andrew W

TheFatBigot said...

Welcome back Mr Andrew.

Are we all in the same boat?

Even if, like you, I were to accept the word of the man in the sandwich board proclaiming "the end of the world is nigh unless you repent your sins" I would still have to ask what he means by "your".

This is a simple game of quantities. While China & India expand their emissions and America & Russia maintain their output at pretty much constant levels the end of the world is nigh whatever the bit part players do. We are not all in the same boat, bit part players have no substantive causative effect. The sin is the cumulative effect of the wickedness of all sinners. One little sinner is irrelevant while sin accelerates elsewhere.

Your London coal burning household argument fails because it assumes the other households are not already burning coal. Yet they are.

Mark Wadsworth said...

As to your previous post, there is no need to speculate what impact it would have. China's emissions have risen by an amount equivalent to the UK's total emissions over the past [I can't be bothered to look it up] years, and the impact was zero.

As to the previous comment, nobody in London is allowed to burn coal because last time we did it there were smogs. If everybody in the world emitted more CO2, nothing terribly would happen.

Anonymous said...

Would it be OK for one London household to start burning coal? After all, just one coal fire isn't going to lead to a return of the great London smog is it?

Surely the point was:
During the great smog would one household NOT burning coal have made any difference?
Equally if each household burning coal had been spread across the entire country would there have been a smog?

james c said...


By arithmetic, the rise in temperature will be 1% more.


Neil said...

Dear Fat Bigot, you seem here to be coming close to asking a key question. Also, one which your own experience makes you very well qualified to answer.

On which side in this dispute should the burden of proof be?

TheFatBigot said...

It's funny you should ask that Mr Neil. I was sure I had once opined on the burden of proof in this context but cannot find it; I'll keep looking.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the strategy of those advocating emissions reductions in the UK and other "bit player" countries is to lead by example, and once the ball is rolling, to apply pressure to other players by whatever means are available - diplomatically, trade tariffs and threats thereof etc.

"bit part players have no substantive causative effect."

Not individually, but as a group they can.

Andrew W

Roger Sowell said...

We may have a live experiment in reducing CO2 from the idiot state of California, USA, where I currently reside. The state law AB 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) requires 28 percent absolute reduction in CO2 and equivalent GHGs by 2020, which would be the same as the emissions in 1990.

I say "may have" because the issue has been placed on our November 2010 ballot, whether to go ahead with AB 32 requirements or suspend them until unemployment drops to a healthy level of 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

The UK is about double the population compared to California, so if there is no effect from the UK curbing emissions, it makes zero sense for California to proceed down this path. One notable difference, though, is that California consumes essentially zero coal, and I believe the UK consumes quite a bit for industrial purposes, and possibly home heating in urban areas?

The war of words is well under way in California over the AB 32 ballot issue. I play a small role by making public speeches on the matter, taking the position that AB 32 should be stayed, that is, the ballot initiative should be approved.

Oldrightie said...

1829; The burden of proof must rest with the argument that most disadvantages the human existence. All AGW theory misses the pachyderm on the sofa. Too much overpopulation.

J Bonington Jagworth said...

“a passing Warmist”

I think they’re all too busy commenting at The Grauniad. Personally, I find their hero Al Gore’s behaviour a constant source of amusement as, like so many telly evangelists, he berates everyone except himself for our sins against the planet. Meanwhile, he runs at least two homes (although Tipper’s got one to herself now, I suspect) and a fleet of vehicles, and consumes more energy than a small African town. And hamburgers, if appearance is anything go by.

I agree entirely with your point about all pulling together, if at all. It must be obvious, even to a warmist, that China and India are not going to slow down production anytime soon, and that the UK’s contribution to CO2, even if it mattered, is utterly insignificant. My favourite illustration of this is that China is commissioning a new coal-fired power station every couple of weeks, representing a whole UK’s worth in a year!

This is the dilemma for the warmists - either we’re all headed for Hell in a handcart or we get out and push the handcart ourselves to a different circle of the same place, by dismantling every worthwhile (but energy-consuming) convenience and piece of infrastructure. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse will do the rest...