For Unproven Theory, Scientists Propose Unproven Solutions
What's even more dubious than claims of catastrophic warming? Claims that scientists know what to do about it.
The IPCC released a report warning that unless a "rapid shift" to green energy is undertaken, we're all going to die...or, something.
And even that may not be enough. The group is saying that we "might even need to enlist controversial technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."
We'll get started right away on those gigantic atmospheric scoops to remove all those offensive greenhouse gases.
It's more of the same from the IPCC, with a little more hysteria to get our juices flowing.
"There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual," said Germany's Ottmar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who co-chaired the IPCC report, the third in a series released in the past year. The Working Group III report, written by 235 scientists from 57 countries, looks at myriad ways to fight climate change and serves as a potential road map for policymakers who plan to negotiate a new climate treaty next year in Paris.
"If we do nothing, temperatures will continue to rise," co-author Leon Clarke, a scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said from Berlin after wrapping up a week of discussions there to finalize the report's wording. "It's not necessarily a phaseout of fossil fuels," he said, but rather "a phaseout" of power plants and other facilities that don't capture the carbon they emit.
Holding emission increases to 3.6 degree Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels — a goal sought in international agreements — will require "heroic efforts" and a "massive" shift in the energy sector, says another U.S. co-author, David Victor, professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego. "It's doable in theory ... but it will be extremely difficult."
Despite efforts to mitigate climate change, the report says global greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.2% annually in the past decade — nearly twice the annual rate of 1.3% from 1970 to 2000. It says fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, which rose as the global population and economy grew, accounted for 78% of the emissions' increase between 1970 and 2010. It says about half of cumulative man-made carbon emissions since 1750 has occurred in the last 40 years.
The IPCC report says delaying action will only escalate the costs of transitioning to energy that emits less or zero greenhouse gases. It doesn't endorse any single approach but cites the value of planting forests, boosting energy efficiency and — by 2050 — at least tripling the share of energy from zero-carbon sources such as nuclear, solar and wind.
It also points to more ambitious measures such as "bio-energy with carbon capture and storage" or BECCS, in which power plants produce fuel by burning biomass — trees, plant waste, wood chips — then capture and store the CO2 emissions underground. Victor says BECCS holds appeal for the future because it produces energy while actually reducing emissions.
So we denude the planet of trees to save us from global warming? What's not to like?
In truth, there is no proof -- experimental proof, mathematical proof, or proof via any known scientific process -- that any of these "solutions" will work. Models may be suggestive that reducing emissions will mitigate climate change, but do we invest trillions of dollars into marginal technologies based on modelling? Given the IPCC's track record of models predicting temperature rise, perhaps we ought to try a little harder to gather hard evidence of possible success before going off half-cocked.
Besides, reducing man's imprint on the climate may not be enough. Perhaps the scientists could invent a machine that shuts down volcanoes. It would probably be easier than trying to run a modern economy on solar and wind power.
But this is not about the economy. It's about control -- and enriching people like IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri who is massively invested in green energy schemes.
All in a day's work for the IPCC.