Ethics Hero Vaclev Smil Offers The Truth About Climate Change That The Hysterics Don’t Comprehend And The Biden Administration Ignores

Finally: a respected, objective scientist who is trying to explain how useless the arguments of climate change hysterics are, and how incompetent and dishonest (or ignorant) the Left’s approach to the problem continues to be.

The scientist is Vaclev Smil. He’s the Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, with interdisciplinary research interests including energy, environmental, food, population, economic, historical and public policy studies. His latest book is “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going.” The New York Times Magazine made the mistake (from its political agenda’s point of view, anyway) of interviewing him about climate change, and the interviewer, David Marchese, was clearly dismayed at what he heard.

Read the whole thing, but here are some representative snippets:

  • “According to COP26, (The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow last fall) we should reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent by 2030 as compared with 2010 levels. This is undoable because there’s just eight years left, and emissions are still rising. People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic…People toss out these deadlines without any reflection on the scale and the complexity of the problem. Decarbonization by 2030? Really?”
  • “What’s the point of setting goals which cannot be achieved? People call it aspirational. I call it delusional…It’s misleading and doesn’t serve any use because we will not achieve it, and then people say, What’s the point? I’m all for goals but for strict realism in setting them.’
  • “The official goal in the U.S. is complete decarbonization of electricity generation by 2035. That’s Biden’s program: zero-carbon electricity in 2035. The country doesn’t have a national grid! How will you decarbonize and run the country by wind and solar without a national grid? And what will it take to build a national grid in a NIMBY society like the U.S.?”
  • “Check the China statistics. The country is adding, every year, gigawatts of new coal-fired power. Have you noticed that the whole world is now trying to get hands on as much natural gas as possible? This world is not yet done with fossil fuels. In 2000, Germany began its…attempt to decarbonize the country’s primary energy supply. At the time, fossil fuels accounted for nearly 84 percent of that supply. By 2020, that share had decreased by only about 8 percent. Can you tell me how you’d go from 76 percent fossil to zero by 2030, 2035? I’m sorry, the reality is what it is.”
  • Frustrated that the scientist isn’t calling for massive policy mandates that won’t work, the interviewer raises the specter of “imminent catastrophe.” Smil answers in part: “What is “imminent”? In science you have to be careful with your words. We’ve had these problems ever since we started to burn fossil fuels on a large scale. We haven’t bothered to do anything about it….We could have chosen a different path. But this is not our only imminent and global problem. About one billion people are either undernourished or malnourished.. .This is the problem of society today. We cannot do three things at the same time. So who decides what is imminent?”
  • “I’m just telling you that this is a totally unprecedented problem, and people don’t realize how difficult it will be to deal with. You don’t have to have 200 countries to sign on the dotted line to reduce emissions. But you have to have at least all the big emitters: China, the United States, India, Russia. What are the chances today of Russia, China and the U.S. signing on the dotted line as to the actual reduction of emissions by 2030?..In an ideal world, we could cut our emissions…But the point is it has to be done by all these actors in concert. Are we going to come together and make that global compact to make it work? That’s the question.”

[Smil doesn’t say so—you know, professors—but the answer is no. We don’t have an ideal world, and we are not going to have an ideal world. That means that Biden’s incremental pandering to climate change activists just hurts the economy and citizens with no chance of really addressing global climate change at all. Shutting down a pipeline accomplishes nothing, while causing needless harm to the economy.]

  • “Suppose we start investing like crazy and start bringing down the carbon as rapidly as possible. The first beneficiaries will be people living in the 2070s because of what’s already in the system. The temperature will keep rising even as we are reducing these emissions. So you are asking people now to make quote-unquote sacrifices while the first benefits will accrue to their children and the real benefits will accrue to their grandchildren. You have to redo the basic human wiring in the brain to change this risk analysis and say, I value 2055 or 2060 as much as I value tomorrow. None of us is wired to think that way.”

Again, Smil doesn’t say it, but sufficient numbers of people will never be wired to think that way.

  • “There are these billions of people who want to burn more fossil fuel. There is very little you can do about that. They will burn it unless you give them something different. But who will give them something different? You have to recognize the realities of the world, and the realities of the world tend to be unpleasant, discouraging and depressing.”

I find the most telling part of the interview to be when Marchese, desperate for some hope, evokes Pascal’s Wager, the contention that believing in God is a “good bet” because the results of being right would be better than the alternatives. That is literally the “Do something!” mentality that has characterized the irresponsible policies, enacted, attempted or proposed, by progressives. Smil responds that we have been “doing something,” but it’s not enough to address the problem.

It won’t and can’t be enough either, but “doing something” will cause immense harm on the way to failure. I do fault Smil for not being clear about what his analysis reveals. Absent a totalitarian global government, all the climate change posturing by the U.S. is futile and ultimately deceptive.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Hero Vaclev Smil Offers The Truth About Climate Change That The Hysterics Don’t Comprehend And The Biden Administration Ignores

  1. “There are these billions of people who want to burn more fossil fuel. There is very little you can do about that. They will burn it unless you give them something different. But who will give them something different? You have to recognize the realities of the world, and the realities of the world tend to be unpleasant, discouraging and depressing.”

    This is the most important piece. People do not care where the energy comes from, they care that energy is plentiful and cheap. Currently fossil fuels are the only answer to that equation, so western governments are trying to artificially make it not plentiful and expensive in an unethical effort to force people to accept expensive, unreliable, non-feasible “green” alternatives. The only way to actually make any real changes to the use of fossil fuels is to find a more plentiful and cheaper alternative to fossil fuels. That is reality.

    Ignoring reality is unethical.

  2. “Absent a totalitarian global government, all the climate change posturing by the U.S. is futile and ultimately deceptive.”

    Many, perhaps most, of the climate change alarmists seem intent on creating just such a government.

    To be fair, some of them are coming from the other direction: they want a totalitarian global government (it amuses me that the authoritarians always assume that *they* will be the authority when their hoped-for dystopia finally arrives), and they’re using an exaggerated threat of climate change to move toward that goal.

  3. Support for Elon notwithstanding, add to the list the push for electric vehicles and solar (including home-based) power that adds the environmental issues of the creation and disposal of the required storage density (batteries), solar panels, etc., in addition to the creation of a sufficient power grid. A gas tank only requires a bit of metal every 20 years or so.

    But right now I’m more concerned about whether sea turtles are going to start sticking the billions of used virus-test swabs and vials up their noses.

  4. How many people globally (1…2 billion; more?) would give their eye-teeth to have one 50th the lifestyle that most upscale Global Warming Alarmist Lefties enjoy? Just access to entry level on demand energy would allow them meagerly improved diets and lift them above miserable subsistence.

    It gets worse.

    Berkeley National Laboratory: World On Pace TO INSTALL 700 Million Air Conditioners By 2030

    And worse yet.

    1.6 billion (that’s with a B!) more AC units by 2050.

  5. Imagine if you will, a meme, similar to the one that shows the rich Tesla driver plugging his car in and smug about “saving the environment” but it pans out and you see that his home electricity comes from the coal-fired electricity generation. But then we could also show how his electric car burden on the systems is driving electricity prices up for everyone, particularly poor folks, while this rich Tesla driver gets to avoid gasoline taxes like all the other poor idiots who should just put down $80k for a new electric car.

  6. There is a very simple solution to this alleged imminent catastrophe.

    http://www.st-v-sw.net/STSWbd0.html

    We considered a war in which a mere 100 megatons were exploded, less than one percent of the world arsenals, and only in low-yield airbursts over cities. This scenario, we found, would ignite thousands of fires, and the smoke from these fires alone would be enough to generate an epoch of cold and dark almost as severe as in the 5000 megaton case.

    – Carl Sagan, quoted in ST-v-SW.net

  7. Vaclev Smil accurately explains why global warming is a problem that can’t be solved. This is exactly why politicians love it so much. They can posture endlessly. They can enact numerous laws and regulations. They can posture at numerous photo ops and attend copious conferences and summits. Best of all under the guise of saving the planet, they get to take money from one group of people and give it to another group of people and collect political contributions from both groups. What’s not to love? It is the gift that keeps on giving.

  8. Thank you for covering this, Jack. I have an urge to shout at people who spew climate alarmism and doomsday prophecy about the planet. Humans can and will adapt to whatever consequences occur from burning hydrocarbons to generate energy, volcanism, wildfires, deforestation, livestock flatulence; it’s going to be gradual and we will better understand what is happening faster than the pace of any change in global weather.
    That wanna-be totalitarians want to impose misery on everyone while making exactly zero changes in their lifestyles, jet setting their way to hob-nob with important people and say nice things about each other, telling us proles why we must suffer for the greater good.
    They’re better than us, after all, and know what’s good for us.

  9. “Absent a totalitarian global government, all the climate change posturing by the U.S. is futile and ultimately deceptive.”
    Yet another leftist rationale for one-party rule here, on the way to one-world government globally. Just part of the plan.

    • The interesting thing about Smil is that he doesn’t seem troubled by the idea of global dictatorship to address climate change. He just acknowledges that without it, or something close, a “solution” is impossible, because people and nations won’t change their proclivities.

  10. To paraphrase a movie line. “ predict chaos and chaos will come!” Every time I drive I picture the replacement of cars, trains, and airplanes, world wide. I cannot imagine a junkyard large enough to hold the obsolescent material that does not decompose.

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