The only way is up?

Today’s news report by Harry McGee in the Irish Times will come as a shock to those of us who had hoped against hope that the runaway carbon emissions train was at least being brought to a halt, whatever about being turned around.

Latest estimates from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are that Ireland’s CO2 emissions shot up by 4.6% in 2007. These estimates have been developed by Prof Richard Tol of the ESRI using a mathematical model he developed.

The Programme for Government’s target for a year-on-year rolling emissions reduction of 3% now looks in serious trouble. Prof Tol’s model suggests Ireland’s emissions in 2007 were of the magnitude of 73 million tonnes, that’s close to 18 tonnes for every man, woman and child in the land.

Somehow, we have to turn that around and get emissions down to 64 million tons by 2012 if the Government’s own target, within the framework of EU guidelines on emissions reductions, is to be met. The silver lining, such as it is, is that 2008 emissions are expected to be down 2.2% on this year’s total. This has nothing to do with Government policy and everything to do with the slowdown in consumer spending and economic activity generally.

These figures may give some political impetus to get the idea of a Carbon Levy back on the agenda in time for this December’s Budget, but in a time when people are anxious about an economic slowdown, is a Fianna Fail Finance Minister really going to have the gumption to tell the Irish public that a carbon tax is on the way?

He can expect to be savaged in the press, especially the right-leaning Oirish editions of UK papers that are are busily importing the lynch mob style of journalism into Irish public affairs.

And it’s not just the tabloids: last weekend the Sunday Times’ lead story was a Green “plot” to reduce speed limits. Plot? Normally a phrase associated with criminal activity is here used in a broadsheet to describe an exceedingly modest proposal aimed at both reducing emissions and saving lives (it might even save road users in fuel bills). The same newspaper gave Phelim McAleer a free plug for his odious anti-environmental vendetta documentary just a week or two earlier.

So yes, Brian Lenihan will be treading lightly when it comes to a carbon tax. Labour’s energy spokesperson, Joanna Tuffy will presumably continue to cover herself and her party in shame in its attempts to oppose every environmental measure this Government has floated in the last year. Who’ll forget her embarrassing performance in opposing the introduction of low-energy bulbs?

ThinkOrSwim is a blog by journalist John Gibbons focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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11 Responses to The only way is up?

  1. Ned Kelly says:

    Windfarms kill bogs. So does Shell Oil. A curse on all your houses.

  2. Are you guys not ashamed of yourselves for perpetuating the shameless lie that the earth is warming significantly, and that it has something to do with man’s activities? The whole ‘global warming/climate change’ issue does not stand up to even the most cursory examination. Almost daily we get more news contradicting the completely unscientific ‘consensus’ which was only concocted because there is no empirical, factual evidence for this scam. Think about it – if there was any real evidence, why would the ‘consensus’ have to be concocted in the first place? More scientists now dispute the flawed IPCC’s findings than back them, their computer models have been totally discredited, and their presentation of the myth becomes daily more extreme, hysterical and eco-chondriac. Even most ordinary people have woken up to the fact that the whole hoax is being used to force money, in the form of taxes from them. Little is ever written of the enormous benefits that would come from warming, nor the disastrous consequences of cooling.
    I know my statements are not so popular with those that rely on emotions rather than facts, and before you may be tempted to dismiss them as ‘just my opinion’ please respect the fact that I have been studying the whole issue since 1983, reading between the lines of the GW proponents, and the evidence for my statements is overwhwelming, so much so that I started to collect it on a web-site, and have been astonished at how much material there is. It does not sell papers, nor help the case for those that cynically want to scare the populace into believing the lies for their own ends.
    If you really do care about the future health and wealth of us all, please keep an open mind, look at the other side of the ‘argument’ and draw your conclusions for yourself. You will probably be both pleasantly surprised and relieved and find you can devote your energies to something that really does matter.
    Remember the basis of Stalin’s propaganda department; ‘The bigger the lie, and the more it is repeated, the more it will be believed’. That is how we have ended up in the sorry state of mistakenly believing that we have any effect on ‘global’ climate. It also distracts us from dealing with immediate, local issues that we are responsible for, and can do something about, but that requires us to take responsibility for those very issues, rather than expect others, worst of all, the state, to do something about them. The state’s record for achievement in anything, except obstruction, is abysmal compared to that of individuals. That is why it is up to individuals like you and I to get real and start to act for ourselves, in all our best interests. Stop worrying, and stay warm – it’s so much better than living in fear and cold!
    JD, Borris, Co. Carlow.

  3. John Gibbons says:

    I get plenty of abusive email from the anti-GW brigade, most of it as nasty as it is ignorant, and so it hits the spike straight away. Jonathan above is in a slightly different category, the wilfully ignorant. These are folks who, for whatever odd reason scour the internet looking for anti-GW propaganda (there’s tons, it’s not hard to find) and then put it all together and pow! Instant expertise. Absolute certainty.

    The whole darned conspiracy of all those thousands of scientists working in scores of different fields, all coming to the same conclusion is laid bare. This is at nothing compared to Johathan’s studies on the subject, which he says date back to 1983. Impressive. Any chance of some peer-reviewed papers in respected scientific journals (other than the usual hired guns like Fred Singer et al) to back up your conspiracy theory? Didn’t think so.

    “That is how we have ended up in the sorry state of mistakenly believing that we have any effect on ‘global’ climate”. Jeeze, Johathan, did you ever hear of the Ozone Hole? Well we and our CFCs made it, all by ourselves. Luckily, we listened to the scientists and (just about) stopped destroying the Ozone layer before it disappeared completely. Or maybe that’s another anti-GW conspiracy theory? How about plate tectonics? Surely some evil scientists dreamed that one up too? It’s too wacky to be true, right?

    “…it is up to individuals like you and I to get real and start to act for ourselves, in all our best interests”. Well said, Jonathan. You might start by spending less time getting your Science from The X Files and a little more time reading an actual science book or two. They are full of things called FACTS. Honestly, you’d be astonished. Many of them are even more amazing than the cock-eyed nonsense you’ve been reading on the neo-con websites you appear to depend on for guidance.

    “Think about it – if there was any real evidence, why would the ‘consensus’ have to be concocted in the first place?” That sentence merits a mention in the annual Darwin Awards! Jonathan, before you bombard me with 50 more emails, can I save you the bother? I only posted the above as a cautionary tale. I won’t be running any sequels. May I suggest you stick to sites reporting Elvis sightings or crop circles.

  4. Willie C says:

    Whoa John, surprised to see you letting nutters loose on what is generally a very authoritative Blog, tho was amused to see your reply to “Johnathon”. Don’t mean to be too critical but really why would you bother even taking the time to deal with someone as dumb-ignorant as that? Unless you’re just having fun with him, John??

  5. I must say I am appalled by the level of debate, if you can call it that, on this blog! Personally I am interested in hearing both sides and forming my own conclusions. If, or as soon as I encounter any evidence for MMGW I will gladly put my hands up and admit I was mistaken before, but to date I have not come across any evidence, just conjecture and ideology and many, many closed minds. I rather hoped I would find some open-minded debate here, and am still optimistic, so shall check in from time to time. Meanwhile I will continue to celebrate being a carbon-based life form and breathe out without feeling guilty!
    I admire John Gibbons for being open minded enough to risk some debate, though, so, John, thanks for your time and trouble. All the best, Jonathan.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Global Warming, Science vs. Nonsense, with reference to peer reviewed studies. Not ‘nutter’ material!

  7. John Gibbons says:

    Johathan, I had a look at your attachment – is that the best you can do, seriously? Re-heating the old lies and distortions is not “peer reviewed studies. Can I modestly point you towards a piece in today’s Irish Times dealing with the whole anti-GW movement from a historical perspective. Some of the larger lies are laid bare, as is the shabby ideological underpinning for this anti-science movement, for that is what it is.

    The headline sums up the article pretty well: “Science in thrall to idealogy keeps bogus debate alive”

  8. Point taken, John, having read it. Re, above, it’s probably not the best I can do – I skipped past it the other day and thought I’d forward. With respect, your second sentence, above, could equally well apply to your piece in the Irish Times. My main interest is to keep the debate going, so I am happy to see both sides aired, so, I hope, people will find answers for themselves. I am not in the business of proselytising, it’s just that I see one side, the ‘for’ MMGW side often makes the case that the ‘debate is closed’ when it has clearly just begun, and am redressing balance in the media, which has no interest in the truth, more interest in selling itself, especially newspapers, so I see a bias to the side that presents bad news. This is true of the media across all subjects, not just this one. The media rarely mention the Manhattan and Oregon declarations, for instance, yet always mention the IPCC, and do so as if it something other than a political body that presents a summary, and as we all know, summaries can easily misrepresent. I think you would agree with me that their are extremists on both sides, and I see a lot more extreme, and often very unpleasant attacks and smears from the ‘for’ side, which is a poor substitute for debate, and does neither side any favours. Your poster Willie C, above, for instance does this page no favours by referring to a fellow contributor to the page as a nutter, and to be honest that kind of expression almost caused me to dismiss your blog as not interested in discussion and to dimiss it as having nothing to contribute – as I am sure many view my blog in the same way. Likewise ‘wilfully ignorant’, as I think, you, like me are interested in reasoned debate, and we probably both know that there is no point reasoning with those who do not use reason!Thank you for replying, anyway, and apologise for you finding my first post ‘abusive’. I did not mean it as an abusive attack, but just as you are sensitive to getting plenty of ‘abuse from the anti MMGW brigade’, I too am probably oversensitive to abuse from the other side. I would like to think we can both step back a bit, respect how much this discussion can be over emotive, and in any further communications behave like grow-up gentlemen.
    I am fearful busy for the next couple of days, but will certainly visit your page, even if I can’t sit down and respond immediately. Rest assured I see no point in ‘bombarding you with 50 e-mails’ – life is short enough as it is, and there to be lived to the full, after all!
    All the best, Jonathan.

  9. Jonathan,

    Presumably you at least believe that global warming is happening. You simply dispute that it’s man-made, right? Now read Adam McGrath’s response of September 3rd again. In a nutshell, he explains why it’s man-made. If you still believe that sunspot activity or whatever is causing it, or contributing to it, then ask yourself the question, “Should mankind be making the problem worse with our emissions?” Even if we don’t have a full explanation as to what is causing global warming, it is in our interest to take precautionary action. Not to do so would be foolhardy in the extreme.

    The time for debate is long over. The Jason Project reported to the US government in 1975 (or around that year) that climate change was happening and that if global temperatures rose by even 2°C it would have serious consequences for the polar ice-caps, global sea level, food production in the US, and other things. The government, fearing that taking action on climate change would affect the US’s global economic standing, launched a campaign of climate-change scepticism, and the sceptics have been with us ever since. You have been reading their sites, it seems, and believing them, much as people read horoscopes and believe them.

    I first heard of the dangers of climate change from a European Commission scientist in around the mid-1980s. He said the problem would be almost intractable and far more difficult to deal with than the problem of ozone layer depletion. And this is proving to be the case. The developed world has refused to face up to the problem until now, and has scarcely begun to address it.

    There are no pluses in global warming, as you so blithely suggest. Vast areas of currently arable land around the world will be rendered desert and arid if global warming continues.

    It is deceiving of Brian Cowen to say that as Ireland is a small country we contribute only a small percentage of the world’s emissions. Ireland is a rich country and our carbon footprint per capita is one of the highest in the world (John Gibbons has the figures). Therefore we have more to do, not less, than most other countries. And that includes you.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Yes, I believe that at times the globe warms up a bit, and at other times it cools down a bit, just like all the other planets in the solar system.There is plenty of evidence for these fluctuations in the past as well as the present. I have seen no evidence for a long-term trend either way at the moment, hence my willingness to debate.We will have to agree to disagree about ‘The time for debate is long over’ as you put it, above. The very fact that you have entered the debate tells me a great deal about your position.
    I despise faith in any form – it is the antithesis of reason, and neither believe in horoscopes, nor ‘believe’ in sites that I read, including this one, but integrate what I read into the context of my existing sum of knowledge. This is the only method of learning that I respect. Don’t forget that all knowledge is contextual.
    I am also old enough to have experienced the ‘Coming Ice Age Scare’ of the 1970s. That has played a part in my current open-mindedness and knowledge (not belief!) that the debate has a very long way to go.
    Thank you for taking the time to add to it, Jonathan.

  11. Yes, we are due another ice age, but it could be millenia away. What is more worrying is that we might precipitate a cooling, and that could happen in this century.

    If the north polar and Greenland ice-caps continue to melt, the flow of cold freshwater into the sea will halt the North Atlantic oscillation that warms western Europe. If it stops, the Irish climate will get cooler immediately, and precipitously. It could happen in our lifetime.

    How cold it will get is not certain, because a warmer globe might prevent the spread of ice-sheets over Ireland like in the past.

    There have been major changes in global temperatures in the distant past, with severe warmings and coolings, which led to mass extinctions. The ability of the human race to survive a major warming at this time is greatly compromised by certain factors: the world population is 6.5 billion, as compared to a few million the last time there was significant climate change. Arable land is at a premium, and global warming will decimate it. In the past, populations could shift with the climate to greener ‘pastures’ but we won’t have that luxury this time, as all the arable land is occupied and its acreage is falling all the time due to desertification and erosion. Water is already a scarce resource in many parts of the world and its availability will plummet as global warming continues. Deforestation leads to soil erosion and further desertification and enhances global warming.

    An escalating world population, loss of arable land, water shortages… it is clear that unrestrained global warming will decimate the human race, leaving only a small fraction of the current population alive on the planet.

    We have had two very wet summers in a row, leading some people to wonder whether this will be the pattern from now on. It won’t; but it will be part of the pattern. When we get rainy summers, the rain will be heavy, but when we get dry summers, they will be very hot and we will experience severe drought, especially in the east.

    I have not seen any article explaining why the last two summers have been so wet, but admittedly I haven’t looked for it. I have one idea about it that I would like someone to check out. When the ‘Azores high’ extends north into Europe in summer, we get an extended period of hot, dry weather. But when the northern ‘lows’ extend southward, they keep the Azores high away. The northern lows crossing the Atlantic are wetter and stormier than they used to be. So, next summer, if the Azores high extends north, we will have the hottest, driest summer on record, given the trend in global temperatures. If it doesn’t extend north, expect more flooding. Can anyone tell me if this makes any sense?

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