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James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

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How Far Should we Go to Battle Climate Change?

In the 1970’s everyone thought that the earth was cooling; then they started to claim that it was warming up. Nowadays there are people on both sides of that argument, and we have settled on the name climate change to cover both theories.

Generally the consensus is that the planet is warming up, and so governments have focussed on methods to inhibit that change. They have chosen to focus on a long game of reducing carbon emissions, preserving and restoring natural habitats, reducing industrial impacts on the environment, etc.

Yet there are many who support the idea that we must try something far more drastic, with far faster results, such as deliberately altering the earth’s climate on a massive scale. Plans to achieve this include building devices on the ocean floor which will cool the oceans and therefore the atmosphere as well. Another is to fire tiny particles into the upper atmosphere to create a nuclear holocaust effect and block some of the sunlight from reaching the earth.

Worryingly, using tiny particles to block the sunlight is very similar to a theory behind the K-T event which saw the extinction of the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago … and I am not being alarmist to mention the extinction of a species. Human attempts to interfere with nature or alter the environment have not been met with much success in the past.

•    Rabbits were deliberately introduced to Australia, but years later a fence had to be built across the whole continent to keep them at bay, and when that didn’t work diseases were released to try and cull the overwhelming population.
•    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent one century straightening waterways to make them more navigable, and the next century putting them back the way they were to prevent flooding.
•    The European wild boar was intentionally introduced into California for sport hunting, only to become an agricultural pest that farmers pay now hunters to remove from their vineyards.
•    Salt cedar and tamarisk were deliberately planted by early environmentalists in order to help reduce erosion, and are now being laboriously hand-removed by a new generation of environmentalists to restore the native habitat.
•    Suppression of small fires in national forests both interrupts the life cycle of fire-dependent species and leads to mega wildfires that destroy instead of restore.
•    Scientists trying to study the effects on animals of a nuclear war under laboratory conditions created killer bees, which escaped and have proven impossible to fully exterminate.
•    Westerners put in charge of environmental preservation on the island of Komodo forbade the natives from practicing a religious custom of feeding the Komodo Dragons, resulting in the hungry dragons eating people.
Examples taken from The Guardian Express Newspaper.

The climate has always been in a state of change. The question is whether human impacts are causing dangerous rates of change, and then how we should try and counter this change, or at least reduce it to a natural level.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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  • Mel Tisdale on July 20 2012 said:
    The take home message from this article is that Mr Burgess was looking for something to write about and hit on climate change. I suspect that he did five, perhaps six, minutes of investigation and then another ten minutes finishing it off.

    Just to point to one error: it is true that some scientists were talking about a possible cooling in the 1970s and the media, being the sort of clowns they are, built it into a "Read All About It! Next Ice Age On Its Way!" drama. A moment's proper research would inform Mr Burgess that the majority of scientists in the 1970s were predicting global warming, not cooling of any kind, let alone the sort that would lead to an ice-age.

    It is because the media has done such a lousy job of informing the general public about climate change (and thus the politicians who follow public opinion because they are mainly concerned about their next election campaign) that we now face a situation where some scientists have been forced to seriously consider extreme geo-engineering projects because of the danger they see in business as usual approach is in itself an extreme course of action.

    People don't seem to realise that we are conducting a massive experiment by pumping loads of CO2 into the atmosphere and it is not at all clear that the human species will be able to cope with the result. Unlikely, but not impossible is runaway warming leading to a 12 degree rise in global temperatures. No matter what any CEO of a major oil company might say, you simply cannot adapt to such extreme conditions because humans cannot live in them, period.

    I am only too glad that my son has yet to present me with grandchildren and I hope it stays that way, because it is highly likely that children born now will face a future where the planet is just not going to be able to feed them. It would be o.k. for Republicans to have as a rite of passage denial of climate change if only climate change were susceptible to acts of parliament. Unfortunately, Old Mother Nature is going to carry on operating to her laws, no matter what Senator Inhofe and his colleagues might say or do. As far as she is concerned they are irrelevant. Her laws are the only game in town.

    Anyone who is genuinely concerned about climate change, and only childless pensioners have any reason not to be, should go to skepticalscience.com and read up on it. Perhaps Mr Burgess might also like to spend some time doing so. He might then like to have another go at writing this article, only this time treat it with the respect the topic deserves. As a species, we are in a mess and it is going to take a lot of luck to come though our current situation without serious loss of life. 9 billion population? Oh yes, and where is the food and water going to come from, let alone the money to re-house vast numbers of them due to sea-level rise?
  • Hi Ho on July 20 2012 said:
    @ Mel Tisdale. I grew up in the 1970's and there was no talk of global warming (at all). I remember friends in the 70's talking to me about the coming Ice Age.
    Maybe it had something to do with the cold winters and the sky high price of heating oil.
    The Ice Age prediction went out of style, like Bell Bottom jeans.
    F.Y.I. The article is about the long history of interventions in nature by men that harms rather than helps the environment.
    Sometimes the harm can't be undone. Something we all need to consider.
  • Mel Tisdale on July 21 2012 said:
    @Hi Ho

    You are correct, there was no general talk about global warming among the general public because, as I point out, the media saw more sales in pushing the minority scientific opinion that an ice age cometh. However, if you check the scientific papers of the time, you will find a large majority discussing global warming. Of course the ice-age went out of style, it was not supported by the science. We are just as badly served today by the media, who now need advertising revenue from the fossil fuel industry in order to stay afloat.

    Go back a few years and he idea of global warming was laughed at. The folly of that has become blatantly obvious, so the current mantra is that it isn't going to amount to much. That too is slowly being seen for the stupidity that it is. We can only hope that the new mantra becomes: 'We must act'. if it doesn't, then our grandchildren will be in for an even rougher time of it than need now be the case.

    You are right in saying that sometimes the harm cannot be undone. Lose a leg in a car accident and no amount of surgery will bring it back. The same is true of climate change/global warming. Go past a tipping point and no amount of carbon reductions will then stop the climate moving to a new and much hotter stable state.

    What we need to realise, as a species, is that it is (probably) not yet too late. We can act to avoid that catastrophe, but thanks to the denialati we don't have too much time left and the changes we need to make, again thanks to the denialati, are going to be more draconian than they need have been had we acted earlier. And that is what the article is about: the dramatic solutions being put forward to meet the dramatic situation we face.

    I only hope that the denialati are made to pay for their crimes, for crime it is to deliberately stop action that would save countless lives. I imagine that will put a lot of politicians (and at least a couple of peers) behind bars, which will give them time to reflect on just how important they really are.
  • Biff Hargraves on July 21 2012 said:
    The modern style of climate alarmism is fashionable in politically correct circles. But it is not a particularly impressive style, given its frequent mis-statements of historical and scientific fact.

    Most scientists are not climate alarmists, unless their incomes somehow depend upon adopting an alarmist stance, or at least being fashionably PC.

    Alarmists will certainly be remembered for having misled the public and skewing political agendas and budgets. Perhaps they will be forgiven, in some cases.

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