Four numbers say wind and solar can’t save climate

Robert Bryce writes for Bloomberg News:

This month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will begin releasing its fifth assessment report. Like earlier reports, it will undoubtedly lead to more calls to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide worldwide.

As the discussion unfolds, I would urge everyone to keep four numbers in mind: 32, 1, 30 and 1/2. These are the numbers that explain why any transition away from our existing energy systems will be protracted and costly. Let’s take them in sequence.

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2 thoughts on “Four numbers say wind and solar can’t save climate”

  1. First, foremost, always: any policy based on climate management is presumptively false. Whether it’s replacing coal with methane or replacing methane with solar or replacing gasoline with electricity for transport, if the basis is supposed to be climate management, then it’s being promoted on foolishness or wickedness. Carbon dioxide from humans does not drive climate or weather. We know this empirically from the temperature trends since 1850 — and that’s with the data contaminated to create a warm bias. Really good data would almost certainly reinforce the idea that climate management is no basis for any policy.
    That’s first. Second is the fact that yes, those in poverty want to get to a decent standard of living and cheap energy is a sine qua non. When the American west looked a lot like Africa’s hinterlands, people who lived there were generally poor. They were subsistence farmers with dirty water, irrigation problems, and three sets of clothes. If very few limousine liberals want to live that way, why do they think it’s okay to force that on Latin American farmers and African herders and Asian fisherman? So Mr. Bryce is correct that climate policy is going to give way to economic policy. Since climate policy is a chimera anyway, that discussion shouldn’t even be happening.
    A related threat is this: if the poor countries who are actually developing get their way, they’re going to use cheap energy and get us to use the expensive and unreliable energy based on guilting us over their poverty. Refuse to be part of that. India and China are poor because of their own governance problems, not exploitation by the West. They’ve got to work their own way out. We don’t owe them for it.

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