Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 13th 2015 Contents "Idon t believe in climate change. It
is all a politically motivated hoax
that is not supported by all scientists.
Even if the world is getting warmer then
that is better for humans. Stop wasting
money on renewable energy, we don t
No, I haven t gone off kilter on climate
science and become an overnight climate
change denier. The above quotation is an
imaginary response by somebody who
does not buy the science on climate
While there is an 87-97% consensus
among scientists that climate change is
real and that humans are to blame, a
small but vocal minority of scientists---
and a much larger proportion of laypeo-
ple---doubts the scientific status quo.
According to a PEW Research Centre sur-
vey 50 per cent of Americans do not
believe that climate change is a result of
It is easy to say that one side or the
other has scientific consensus on their
side and to decry the opposing side as
cranks or mad hatters in the pay of big
oil, the illuminati or whatever other con-
spiracy theory is currently trending.
Thank goodness for dissent. Isn t that
what the entire scientific process is built
on? Scientists trying to prove or dis-
The public debate has become ideologi-
cal with proponents of both sides picking
and choosing what data they use. Social
media is full of websites proclaiming
dodgy science as truth. As a rule of
thumb you should never believe anything
on social media that starts with, "Main-
stream media will not report on this,
but...." But people do.
Sometimes even scientists cause confu-
sion by appearing to be biased, like in the
case of the recent claim by NASA scien-
tists that 2014 was the hottest year in
modern record. They then quickly had to
retract their statement and announce that
they were only 38% sure that this was
the case. Confused? As it turns out their
data results fell within the margin of
error, but that was never put in the press
As in every ideological war symbols are
important. Renewable energy (RE) is one
of the battle cries of the climate angst
crowd. Conversely the climate deniers
have made it an emblem of an enemy
idea. Even Nobel Prize laureate Ivar
Giaver announced on the Lindau Nobel
Laureate Meeting website: "When will we
stop wasting money on alternative ener-
gy?" That is a terrible shame because
renewable energy is about so much more
than just combatting climate change.
Here are some of the reasons why you
should choose renewable energy even if
you think that climate change is a hoax:
First, fossil fuels are subsidised to the
tune of US$ ten million per minute
according to the IMF. I start off with this
one because the ideological division
between climate change believers and
deniers is often the old fashioned division
between right-wingers and left-wingers.
The political right prides itself on being
fiscally responsible and the left loves
another reason to hate big business so
this should appeal to both. The fossil fuel
industry receives US$5.3 trillion per year
in subsidies. Solar power on the other
hand receives nearly no subsidies.
Secondly, solar power has reached price
parity with electricity from the fossil
fueled grid. The cost of storage of RE
power is tumbling down due to tech
advances a rate similar to what the com-
puter chip industry experienced.
Third, resource wars! Bloodshed!
Nobody has ever fought a war over sun-
shine. Guyana is being bullied by
Venezuela in a border dispute over an
area that just happens to have proven
hydrocarbon reserves. China is building
an illegal island in the middle of the
South China Sea to establish hegemony in
an area that contains, yes you guessed it,
oil. World War 3, anyone?
Fourth, carbon dioxide expelled by
humans in to the atmosphere ends up in
the ocean and causes ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification threatens animals that
produce calcium carbonate shells and
skeletons like corals, clams, oysters, phy-
toplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplank-
ton and zooplankton are just the building
blocks on which the entire oceanic food
Fifth, stable energy prices. Have you
noticed how fossil fuel prices push and
pull economic activity? The sun always
Sixth, the World Health Organization
says about seven million people die each
year because of air pollution, much of
that is due to dirty energy.
Seventh, have you ever heard of a
deadly sun spill? Or a wind slick? Easy to
get to oil and gas is increasingly hard to
find. New resources are often in fragile
places like the Arctic or thousands of feet
deep down in the ocean. Places where we
really cannot control oil pollution when
the inevitable accidents will happen. It is
not as if we have done a very good job of
this in the easy to get to places.
Eighth, our civilization is largely built
on hydrocarbons. From important items
as pharmaceuticals to trivial ones as cos-
metics, we need oil. It is insane that we
are burning the building blocks of our
civilization as fuel.
Monday, July 13, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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