Category Archives: Misc

My Take on Climate Change

All the news these days about “denying science”.  Denial of vaccines, denial of climate change, denial that the earth is round!

To you, I say GREAT!  Believe whatever you want, but understand that just because you believe that doesn’t make it true.  If you woke up tomorrow and decided you didn’t believe in gravity, all of a sudden you aren’t going to float off into the sky.  Go ahead try it.  I’ll even put money on it (and as an engineer I’m not much of a betting man).

This thinking is the same as a young child, where if they close their eyes all of a sudden they disappeared.  Even if you close your eyes to these things, they are still there, you can’t do anything about that by ignoring it!  (Note I’m not calling you a young child here, only pointing out that this simple form of thinking isn’t using your true mental abilities).  So you can be a denier, for whatever worth that is to you, or you can look around (regardless of your beliefs) notice that things around you are changing, and decide that what YOU DO does make a difference in this world.

Science is objective.  Science does not have feelings.  Scientific method is meant to provide a tool, a mechanism, to determine cause and effect that is reproducible, that want more people can try it and find out if they get the same result.

Now climate change is tricky, because scientists must design models based on past data and their most objectively designed models they can devise.  The previous data consists of the limited data available from only a few decades of the earth’s very long history.  Note that as these decades have gone along, the number and quality of measurements have improved.  Computational power has improved vastly, greatly improving models, which can include any more variables.  Throughout these enhancements over the decades, the results of these simulations and studies haven’t changed though.  The consensus (97% of scientists from all around the world, all nationalities, all religions, all political views) agree that climate change is real.  Good luck getting 97% of anyone else to agree on something!

What makes for a good argument includes being able to see the other side’s point of view.  So let’s run an experiment (yes we’re still using science here, hopefully you can also see my point of view).

Let’s put ourselves in a sealed room.  Inside that room you have two ways of generating power.  There’s a solar panel that’s receiving light from a window, and a small gasoline generator.  Which one would you want to get power from: the solar panel which won’t fill the air with carbon monoxide, or the gasoline generator that will put you to sleep in a few minutes?

I bet you didn’t pull the cord on that generator, at least if you want to continue this conversation.  Now think about this – the earth (round or flat, whatever you believe), is only SO large.  It can’t get bigger, and if you believe NASA and SpaceX are actually putting people in space (I hope you do), you know it’s also very hard and expensive to get people off this planet (and even then, we’ve yet to find anywhere else to go).  Included with that earth is our atmosphere, which like that room we were standing in a minute ago is only so large.  Now think about that gas generator again, except now there’s millions of them, larger ones in our cars and trucks, all around the planet, all running at the same time!  Tell me how you don’t believe putting all that bad stuff in the air isn’t going to eventually cause a problem.

Now on to coal.  Coal is cheap.  Coal is easy to find.  Coal is easy to remove from the earth, process, and burn for energy.  Except coal is dirty, it’s made up of lots of additional materials that don’t burn, or when they do make nasty stuff that again makes it to the atmosphere.  So coal is only cheap if you say “I don’t care about all that junk in the air”.  As soon as you need to deal with the extra crap it starts getting more expensive to “scrub” the output.  And the more a company has to do to not let the junk out, the less profit they make, the less happy they are.

Energy companies look at this and compare to other technologies and say “hey, coal was great when it’s all we had, but there’s cheaper options available now.”  To the coal miners: thank you for your service.  I’m sorry the companies you worked for didn’t set you up for the future, but when your product is no longer needed nothing is going to change that fact.  It’s time to move on.  There are other things in the world than coal, no matter what some people want to tell you.

It’s like expecting someone to still want to buy a 1992 Honda Civic (sorry if you own one).  Unless this car is nostalgic to you, you could care less about this vehicle.  There are so many newer models, with some may additional features, and higher efficiency!  Coal is the 1992 Honda Civic of energy.  There’s a few people that want to hold onto it, but the world is moving on.

Other clean energy sources are getting cheaper, and others are being invented or made more efficient.  Many countries are now relying on solar, wind, and nuclear power.  I read an article yesterday that even claims that we could now efficiently use the difference in salinity where a river meets the ocean to generate energy!  If nothing else, I’ve learned that energy is everywhere!  Can we pick some sources that we can be in the same room with?  That will at least make me feel better about being on the same planet with them.

Again, I ask, why deny climate change?  How does it benefit you?  Why not say “sure, climate change could be happening, but I’m just not going to do anything about it.”  At least you can then get behind 97% of the scientists around the world on this topic.  I see the dilemma: at this point, you’re left with “I hate the planet” or “I hate scientists”.  Without scientists, we wouldn’t know anything about this, and we could at least blissfully continue whatever we want without that lingering thought.

So screw you science!  How dare you ruin my plans for blissful life and profit!?

To this science responds, “I don’t care what you think, get on board or beware of the consequences.”