Doomsday climate rhetoric is counterproductive

Judith Curry

Article published on December 27 on Judith Curry’s website (translated from English by the editorial staff)

Over the past two centuries, fossil fuels have enabled human progress, improved living standards, and extended lifespans for billions of people. In the 21st century, moving away from fossil fuels has become an inevitable imperative to mitigate climate change within the framework set out in the United Nations Paris Agreement. Thus, the energy transition of the 21st century is dominated by strict goals for the rapid elimination of carbon dioxide emissions. However, the recent COP27 meeting in Egypt highlighted that very few countries in the world are ready to meet their emission reduction commitments.

The desire for cleaner, more abundant, more reliable and cheaper energy sources is universal. However, the goal of rapidly phasing out fossil fuels conflicts with the need to provide electricity to developing countries. The rapid deployment of wind and solar power has inevitably increased electricity costs and reduced reliability when it enters the grid. Alleged human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region, home to the world’s solar photovoltaic infrastructure, are creating political conflicts that threaten the solar industry. Global supply chains for materials needed for solar and wind power generation and battery storage are creating new regional conflicts, logistical challenges, supply shortages and rising costs.

Given the apocalyptic rhetoric about climate change, does the perceived urgency of reducing carbon dioxide emissions outweigh these other considerations? It is clear that the climate “crisis” is not what it used to be. COP27 left out the most extreme emissions scenario, the source of the most dire projections. Just a few years ago, the emissions trajectory led to 2 to 3 times the warming° It was considered a success in terms of climate policy. As limiting warming to 2°C seems achievable, we have set ourselves a new target of 1.5°C. The starting point for these warming targets is the late 19th century; The Earth’s climate has already warmed by 1.1°C. Against the backdrop of relatively modest warming, climate “crisis” rhetoric has now refocused on extreme weather events.

Linking extreme weather and climate events to global warming should prompt the international community to rapidly move away from fossil fuels. However, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that eliminating emissions will have a significant impact on extreme weather and climate in the 21st century. It is very difficult to disentangle the respective roles of natural climate variability and land use in the slow progression of global warming. If we look into the past, including paleoclimate data, we can see that more extreme weather conditions prevailed all over the planet. It is a fairy tale to imagine that we can minimize severe weather events by affecting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For example, Australia’s emissions, which account for just over 1% of global carbon emissions, have little impact on global warming, as well as the country’s own climate.

It is increasingly recognized that these emissions and temperature targets do not take human welfare and development into account. Yes, we need to reduce CO emissions2 In the 21st century. However, we must distance ourselves from the false urgency of eliminating CO2 emissions.2 and the strict schedules we impose and give ourselves the time and space to deploy new energy systems capable of meeting the diverse and growing needs of the 21st century. We must have the necessary energy to deal with the vagaries of extreme weather and climate events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *