March 13, 2007

Climate change

Whilst I have been away ensconced in my secret Caribbean underwater volcano base plotting the subjugation on the masses, as us nasty righties do, climate change has raised its head again.

Personally I have no problem with accepting the idea that the global climate is changing as it has since our ancestors pulled themselves from the primordial seas to begin the exploitation of an entire new set of resources. Nor do I have a problem with accepting that this time humans have something to do with it, being able to deliberately changing our environments to better suit our needs is one of the basic expressions of human intelligence. Maybe the extraordinary power of the products of our minds is having some unforeseen consequences that could in future cause us problems. This is the point where mainstream environmentalism and I diverge because I worry about people, not the planet. The planet is just a lump of rock and gas whirling around pretty average star, it's already been around for 4.6 billion years and will be around for another 4.6 billion. We and our descendants on the other hand are unique and irreplaceable.

With people uppermost in my mind I cannot accept the standard hair shirt approach of environmentalism. Simply reducing our output in the west a little is going to make no difference as the third world races to reach our standard of living. I certainly cannot contemplate forcing the third world to stay third world and not raise their own standards of living to match that of the west. To live 'in tune with nature' in a pre-industral way, as we are exhorted to do by the more fringy groups, would not be able to sustain our numbers requiring a mass cull (as happened in the killing fields of the only place ever to attempt it deliberately). That is totally unacceptable. We cannot shrink our way our of trouble without the cure being worse than the disease, but that still leaves using the enormous power of human intelligence to grow our way out of it.

So what are the options?

Maybe using LED lighting system instead of incandescent bulbs, flat screens instead of CRTs (yes, pat yourself on the back. With that nice new flat screen monitor of yours you are helping to save the planet).

Perhaps using locally solar produced hydrogen converted to power in fuel cells for road transport instead of fossil fuels.

But that is all small beans compared to removing fossil fuels from the grid and replacing it with renewable energy. I am not talking about prissy windmills either, we cannot replace fossil fuel power stations with a source where on any given day you can never know whether they are going to produce any power at all (and most days won't). There is one renewable energy source that can be set up anywhere and can provide the kind of reliable power needed for an industrial society. The atomic reactor.

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