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Debunking a climate sceptic By Clive Blanchard, B.E.(Hons), M.I.E.Aust, CPEng, NPER, M.AIRAH Many climate sceptics have been making ridiculous claims.

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Presentation on theme: "Debunking a climate sceptic By Clive Blanchard, B.E.(Hons), M.I.E.Aust, CPEng, NPER, M.AIRAH Many climate sceptics have been making ridiculous claims."— Presentation transcript:

1 Debunking a climate sceptic By Clive Blanchard, B.E.(Hons), M.I.E.Aust, CPEng, NPER, M.AIRAH Many climate sceptics have been making ridiculous claims. As an aid to promoting informed debate, I have analysed the claims in ‘Why an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is not necessary’ by sceptic Leon Ashby. The majority of the claims are ridiculous, and even the two or three reasonable questions he raises are readily answerable.

2 Introduction There are a number of documents circulating, claiming there is no need to have an emissions trading scheme. One of these is ‘Why an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is not necessary’ by Leon Ashby President of “The Climate Sceptics” My presentation shows a number of the tricks used by Leon and many other climate sceptics to distort the facts. By understanding the sceptics arguments, you can demonstrate to others that a trading scheme is required.

3 About Clive Blanchard, the author Is a Registered Professional Engineer with a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering. (University of Adelaide). Established www.coolmax.com.au in 1997. It is Australia's premier independent website on energy saving in the home.www.coolmax.com.au Is on a Standards Australia sub-committee. Wrote ‘House Taming: How to reduce greenhouse gases in Comfort’ a book on reducing energy use in the home. Has spoken at industry conferences and seminars and has had a number of innovative papers published. Has had a number of innovative energy saving ideas patented. Has over 30 years experience in minimising energy use.

4 Outline of this presentation 1. Examples of tricks used by climate sceptics 2. Why we should have an emissions trading scheme. 3. What you can do about it

5 Examples of tricks often used by climate sceptics When arguing that the benefits of an emissions trading scheme are small they often use the lowest estimates of the reduction in carbon emissions associated with the lowest carbon reduction targets, yet when they argue about the cost of a trading scheme they use the highest estimates of likely carbon costs. Comparing the costs of a high reduction target with the benefits of a low reduction target is completely misleading. Implying that what occurs in a controlled experiment can be directly extrapolated to the earth as a whole. Stating untruths (e.g. saying 3.4% of CO2 in the atmosphere is caused by humans when it is actually 28%)

6 Suggesting CO2 is not a pollutant Leon argues that because CO2 is needed for life it is not a pollutant. Anything in too great a concentration is a pollutant. In this context, if the concentration is great enough to cause an unacceptable change in climate, then yes it is a pollutant.

7 Arguing that more CO2 is good The fact that plants may grow faster in some circumstances in higher concentrations of CO2 is irrelevant to the debate. This faster growth only occurs where growth is not limited by sunlight, water or nutrients. It is irrelevant because there would be few if any locations on earth where the limiting factor on plant growth is atmospheric CO2 concentration the normal limits are: insufficient water Insufficient sunlight Insufficient soil nutrients

8 Arguing that human caused greenhouse emissions are tiny. First of all he says human caused CO2 emissions are only 3.4% of total CO2 when it is actually 28% He ranks greenhouse gases by volume when you should rank them by contribution to the greenhouse effect. Concentration of CO2 showing the actual increase since 1750

9 Arguing that Australia’s ETS will have no effect on greenhouse gas emissions He does his analysis assuming Australia is the only country reducing greenhouse gases ◦ (actually real commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been made by most countries, and now cover over 85% of emissions) ◦ He uses the erroneous arithmetic detailed in the previous slide ◦ He uses the 5% commitment by 2020, which is not relevant as the long term expectation is that all nations will reduce emissions to an equivalent of around 2.5 tonnes CO2 per capita. (Australia currently emits about 26 tonnes, requiring a long term per capita reduction of about 90%)

10 Claiming it will cost $4,550 per taxpayer Leon claims it will cost $50 Billion per year for 40 years or $4,550 per taxpayer per year based on a report from Frontier Modelling. Check the original report: it gives $121 billion over 20 years or approx $6 billion per year i.e. 1/8 the value claimed here! When you do the numbers, the Frontier Modelling report suggests it will cost $283 per person per year or less than a dollar a day per person. This cost is affordable.

11 Blaming Spain’s unemployment on their renewable energy policies. Most commentators link Spanish unemployment to labour market and other economic policies. The one technical paper that claims a link to the green policies, claims 110,000 jobs were lost due to moving to green power, but even if this is true (most commentators argue it increased employment) this is only a fraction of Spain’s 4.1million unemployed.

12 Claiming that ‘just 5 independent scientists’ from the IPCC supported the claim that CO2 causes climate change This is a ridiculous statement. The vast majority of those on the IPCC believe that human greenhouse gas emissions probably cause climate change. If he wants to make this statement then his own analysis says that only two independent scientists from the IPCC believe that there is less than a 90% chance that climate change is caused by mankind.

13 Implying that just because it has been warmer previously, we shouldn’t worry about climate change. Our current society didn’t exist in previous warm periods. Our society is set up for the current temperatures. We could change the climate our society is set up for, but do we want to pay the cost? The rate of change of temperatures is far higher than previous changes. It is less risky to slow human caused climate change, than to deal with the consequences.

14 Using short time scales to reach erroneous conclusions There are many factors which influence temperatures. Including many that cause short term fluctuations. Even if there is an overall rising trend, you will get some short periods where the trend is flat or even down. To get a meaningful understanding, you need to look at periods of 50 or a100 years. Leon claims that the trend in the last decade was flat, however it has just been shown that it was the hottest decade since records have been kept.

15 Claiming ice core data doesn’t support global warming The Vostok ice core data shows there is a link between C02 and temperature. Because of the feedback loops, rising temperature can increase CO2, or rising CO2 can increase temperature.

16 Claiming Miskolczi’s paper ‘Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres’ means CO2 will not affect temperature Past climate changes caused by natural events have triggered greenhouse gas releases which have increased both CO2 and water vapour, while he argues that as CO2 increases water vapour reduces. Even if we accept his work he still concedes temperatures can increase 3 degrees due to CO2 increases, which is greater than the commonly accepted figure of 2 degrees being the maximum tolerable temperature increase.

17 Overestimating the cost of cutting greenhouse emissions Leon quotes a report prepared for the Business Council of Australia which he uses to give the impression that four out of every 14 businesses will close, but: The chart he uses is for $40 per ton, without compensation. Compensation was always going to be included. He failed to mention these case studies were all Energy Intensive Trade Exposed businesses (EITE businesses) ◦ Other businesses will only be significantly affected if they fail to make adjustments early enough ◦ Even with these EITE businesses the business council was arguing for a change in the scheme, not abolishing it. ◦ Substantial changes were made to the scheme so the conclusions do not apply to the current proposal

18 Claiming misleading costs Leon makes a number of misleading claims about costs, such as that power will rise (in price) 100%. ◦ the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has forecast the wholesale price of electricity may double, However what you pay (the retail price) increase due to the proposed emissions trading scheme is likely to be around 3 cents. Other factors mean predicted retail prices will rise more than that, but current proposals won’t lead to an untenable result. ◦ Even if the cost per kW rose by 100%, this doesn’t mean we would spend twice as much on power, as at that price a large number of energy saving initiatives will be highly cost effective.

19 Claiming that Australia’s economy will be like Cambodia’s This is another completely unsubstantiated claim, that Leon provides no evidence for. Lets keep the debate meaningful and ignore ridiculous claims like this.

20 Tricks often used by climate sceptics : Wrap-up Claims denying that man is causing climate change are either: ◦ Valid questions over-emphasised ◦ Meaningless Claims about the costs of an emission trading scheme typically use the highest estimates of carbon cost giving an artificially high cost. Claims about ineffectiveness of action typically: ◦ Using the lowest estimate of carbon costs and reduction target and hence showing a small benefit. ◦ Often assume only Australia takes action when countries producing over 85% of emissions have committed to reductions.

21 Why we should take action The cost of not taking action is likely to be far higher than the cost of taking action. Most proposed actions have other benefits as well. An emissions trading scheme is insurance for our planet.

22 The cost of not taking action is likely to be far higher than the cost of taking action The report ‘Australia to 2050: Future Challenges’ estimates an 8% reduction in Australia’s GDP by 2100 if no action is taken. Coastal flooding as sea levels rise. ◦ As significant numbers of Australians live very close to the sea, this will have a major impact Increased droughts in much of Australia particularly in the South West and South East. More Bushfires.

23 The cost of not taking action is likely to be far higher than the cost of taking action - continued More frequent flooding due to extreme rainfall events, particularly in the North West of Australia. More storm damage. Southerly spread of tropical diseases and pests. 6% decrease in Australian net primary production

24 Most proposed actions have other benefits as well Increased energy efficiency and increased use of alternative fuels will reduce conventional pollution (particulates, NOx, etc ) Reafforestation will reduce soil erosion, increase birdlife and other native species.

25 An emissions trading scheme reduces risk We all live our lives exposed to risk, we might have a car accident, so we insure our car. An emissions trading scheme is insurance for our planet. The difference is that in this case if we don’t take out the insurance (i.e. reduce greenhouse gas emissions) the negative consequences are highly likely to occur.

26 Why we should have an emissions trading scheme: Wrap-up The consequences of not having a scheme are probably unacceptable. The costs of a scheme are much less than the likely costs of not having a scheme. ◦ We can minimise the impact of climate change and still have economic growth

27 Summary Climate skeptics are erroneously claiming that scientific evidence is being ignored ◦ When in fact they are distorting that evidence. They claim logical arguments are being ignored ◦ When in fact they are ignoring logic and facts They claim that international bodies will dictate to us how our lives will be run ◦ This is another completely unsubstantiated claim that Leon provides no evidence or arguments for.

28 Summary - continued In fact: Climate change probably is man made The costs to minimise it are affordable An emission trading scheme uses market forces to minimise the cost Previous experience with the introduction of legislation impacting businesses is that businesses typically grossly overestimate the costs of the legislation

29 What to do next Distribute this to those who will be interested. Take action to reduce your own greenhouse gas emissions. For a simple and quick analysis to give five cost effective actions to reduce your energy use in the home visit http://www.coolmax.com.au/ht/house- taming-quiz.php

30 Further information To start with try the government site www.climatechange.gov.au www.climatechange.gov.au Also try http://info-pollution.com/warming.htm which lists a range of sites debunking myths For energy saving ideas try my site, www.coolmax.com.au www.coolmax.com.au Also try www.yourhome.gov.auwww.yourhome.gov.au


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