As I’m writing this, the United Nations COP26 “Conference of the Parties” climate change gathering is underway in Glasgow, Scotland, a follow up to the “Paris agreement” five years ago. Then, the “united” nations “committed to bring forward national plans” on their “highest possible ambition” regarding carbon emissions.
Yeah, I know. President Joe Biden had to take a nap to re-build his excitement. And for once in her life, Swedish eco-waif Greta Thunberg and I agree: “Blah, blah, blah.”
I hear some of you: “But Dave, the science! The SCIENCE!” Sure, science has been, and should still be, respected by society.
The thing is, science has always earned respect by returning benefits to the ordinary citizens who paid the costs of gathering science with their hard-earned money. The benefits come through the application and implementation of science in ways that leave those living real lives in the real world better off than before.
Guess what? Science, applied through engineering, has left all of global society massively better off than before. What would your life be without the benefits of great applied science that brings benefits to you such as, yep, fossil fuels?
None of you reading this column would be here in magnificent Northwest Montana, perhaps not anywhere on Earth, without fossil fuels. If you existed, yours would be nasty, brutish and short, as ordinary life has been for most of history, except for royalty and hangers-on.
But 250 years ago, science and engineering figured out how to burn coal, boil water into steam to move a piston to turn a crank. Human life itself changed, for the better. For the first time, one didn’t need a river or a horse to convert energy into work. Then somebody put that boiler thingie on wheels and in ships – Katie bar the door! These then-revolutionary, but now-simple concepts laid the table for everything since – much of it wonderful.
What about climate science? Let me sidetrack first. I’m Manhattan, New York born, and still have relatives there. Years ago, after a long family-dinner discussion about how many firearms I should be “allowed,” (I won), my jet-setting bicoastal half-sister changed the topic by declaring: “I’d give up anything to save the planet.”
Well, on “blended family vacations,” I’d had to join City Dad and Stepmom in making sure to be in and out of the bathroom before Sis took over for a half-hour shower and another half hour for makeup she didn’t need, OK? I lovingly reminded her of those vacations and asked her to walk me through what she expected from a fossil-free shower.
Bottom line was, she realized she’d have to spend most of a day in hard, dirty labor to provide herself a very brief shower – never mind the decadent steamings she’d taken for granted all her life.
Now, ya think Greta takes cold showers when she’s back with Mom and Dad from her jaunts? How about Bill Gates when he steps off his jet back in Pugetopia?
How about the “tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens” yammering in Glasgow? Unwashed? Oh, the horror!
So, back to the science. I find it striking how, after so many conferences and so much “science,” there remains next to no useful knowledge gained and then applied to improve the human condition AND the climate.
Instead, climate “science” has degraded into a cudgel for browbeating the masses into accepting their ordained fate of harsh personal sacrifice worldwide – starting in 2030 with taxation that doubles the cost of not just gas, but food, housing, travel, while realized incomes, in real, not relative terms, stay flat – all in the holy name of “climate emergency.”
So, by when, and with what will your sacrifices be rewarded? Oh, with a degree or two Centigrade in avoided warming in 2100, a full lifetime away – plus deepest gratitude from the heirs of today’s Glasgow conferees, who now strive to implement a forced global reallocation of power, money and natural resources – a reallocation to be overseen, freeze or burn, by those “tens of thousands” poised to become the new royalty of our brave new fossil-free world.
Editors Note: Dave Skinner will be leaving us at the end of the year and we’re looking for his replacement. Interested? Send a query email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Send Dave Packing” for specifics.
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