Email of the day on climate change and whether it is already too late
Comment of the Day

February 23 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on climate change and whether it is already too late

Am not sure how familiar you are with work of eminent Climate scientist James Lovelock FRS . Ten years ago he predicted it was already too late to avoid collapse in human civilization. I thought it might be of interest to you Youtube James Lovelock, end of civilization.

Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for this email and I believe this video is what you are referring to. It makes for sobering viewing. The primary point is when a system experiences aberrations a positive feedback loop begins which exaggerates future movements.

Geoffrey West’s book Scale makes much the same point. His point is the heat build-up in a closed system is finite and will ultimately result in a significant upset. Both could be considered paradigm shifts in that it would be a virtually instant change in the environment. That is also implied in the desire to contain temperature rises to 1.5%. The assumption is a warming beyond that level would be catastrophic.

I am very much of the view that trying to completely reorient the entire global economy in new and exciting ways in an unproven manner is very risky and not guaranteed to provides the solution desired.

An electric vehicle requires four times more metal than an internal combustion engine-driven vehicle. That is only one example of how much more material-intense the renewable energy sector is. Then solar and wind are much more area intensive than conventional electricity generation. Additionally, they require batteries to act as intermediaries to ensure variable supply is acceptable to the grid. That’s much less efficient than the system that has been in place over the last fifty years.

There is little to be gained from discussing what should be done. Our time is better spent on thinking about what is being done. That’s why I believe it is much more productive to think of carbon credits as a government sponsored tax. The oil sector is not going anywhere but they have to deal with emissions. That suggests the argument for offshore drilling is increasingly compelling but investment in copper demand growth will also increase.

Perhaps more important is the fact that if the climate grows more unpredictable, pressure of migration will enhance scope for significant wars in the future. The cost associated with melting permafrost could have been one of the significant causes behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for example. 

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