2023 Climate Skeptics Conference: "We’re Winning!" No, They’re Not—But How they Could Win


2023 Climate Skeptics Conference: "We’re Winning!"  No, They’re Not—But How they Could Win

In February, I attended the 2023 Heartland Institute 15th International Conference on Climate Change discussing hardcore skepticism about global warming.  Most of the press and public consider global warming (which they now call climate change) a possible end-of-the-world threat.  Heartland is the foremost exception. 

Heartland began in 1984, “… to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”  They soon zeroed in on predictions of catastrophic global warming and have been fiercely skeptical of it ever since.  This year’s 2023 conference continued the tradition.  The conference included high caliber climate scientists, economists, and energy experts, many whom are retired or otherwise insulated from possible loss of government funding.

At every Heartland conference, the presentations target fallacies in the theory of a massive global warming and the various green proposals: replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind; hamburgers with McBug burgers, airline travel with electrified super trains; gas stoves with electrics; and many more. 

Even though they are largely ignored, the Heartland logic and supporting science are impeccable.  Some of the key points Heartland speakers presented were:

·         The famous “97% of scientists agree” does not refer to a monstrous heating that could cause the end of humanity.  Rather, the question was whether the climate warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1860?  Even all the Heartland skeptics agree with some warming. 

·         There were warmer periods than today in historical times, including the Medieval Warm Period (about 800 to 1250 AD) when there was a cheeky domestic wine industry in England, the Roman Warm Period 250 BC to 400 AD) when the Empire flourished, and even a Minoan Warm Period (3,000 BC to 1450 BC) before classical Greece.  All those warming periods happened before the major increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide starting in the second half of the 1800s.

·         Conversely, the warm periods alternated with colder periods, usually associated with famines, plagues, and barbarian invasions such as the Dark Ages cold period (500 to 750 AD) and the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850 AD).

·         Natural emissions of carbon dioxide are about 95% of the total—humans make up the other 5%.  Might natural variation in carbon dioxide be more than the human component?  Nobody knows.

·         There is a physics argument that the present amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (about 420 parts per million or 1/25th of one percent) is filling the band of carbon dioxide heat absorption, so adding more carbon dioxide won’t cause much additional warming.

·         Plants grow better with more carbon dioxide.  This has contributed to increased crop yields and grasslands advancing into deserts during the last several decades.  These gains would be lost if some anti-warming green new deal policies succeeded in reducing carbon dioxide levels back down to 1860s levels.  Conversely, increases in plant growing productively would continue up to roughly 1200 parts per million—three times the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today. 

·         The climate doomsayers in the 1960s and early 1970s said that a new ice age was eminent … not global warming.  There had been about three decades of slight cooling, so extending the trend line was logical … but wrong.

·         Ancient geology from thousands and millions of years ago shows that some ice ages happened when the atmosphere had more carbon dioxide in the air than the present atmosphere.

·         Replacing coal and natural gas with solar and wind to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would require massive amounts of investment in these new power sources. 

·         Also, these non-fossil power systems would require massive expensive backup energy storage systems because solar and wind power are both intermittent with wind being randomly intermittent. 

·         Wind and solar require large amounts of space, so they must be placed in rural areas distant from the urban power demand.  This means that utilities must install high-power transmission lines over long distances.  This requires even more expensive materials and construction costs.

·         All that collection of diffuse wind and solar, transmission from distant sites, and storage during nonproductive times requires more resource mining and production for things such as copper, concrete, steel, lithium, and rare earth elements. 

·         Government political forcings of “woke” environmental climate policies often lead to unsound business ventures such as the half-billion-dollar Solyndra Solar Cells bankruptcy during the Obama–Biden administration—or as the skeptics say: “Go woke; go broke.”

The Heartlanders made their skeptical points well.  They were logical, thorough, and well referenced in their papers, press releases, and even small (but often clever!) political demonstrations.  They said, “We are winning this fight!”

Then, they were ignored by press and public. 

The Heartlanders also have a few journalists to share their opinions.  Marc Morano authored The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change and Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal Is Even Worse than You Think.  His most recent release is The Great Reset: Global Elites and the Permanent Lockdown, in which he argues that covid emergency lockdowns were a fraud used for increasing government control, citing Jane Fonda’s quote: “Covid is God's gift to the Left.”   Morano further argues that the lockdowns were dress rehearsals for the climate emergency lockdowns that he said are being planned.

Republican politicians Representative Lauren Boebert and Senator Ron Johnson visited and gave speeches commending the Heartlanders, and then adding their own comments about government failings with climate, covid, and censuring of dissent.  

Then, they all were ignored by press and public except for Heartland supporters and one Florida newspaper (the conference was held in Orlando).    

Yes, Elon Musk’s release of the Twitter files has shown that shadow bans exist, and George Orwell’s 1984 memory holing of events does happen—only electronically now.  Still, there are things that get through.  How might Heartland get its points widely repeated?

Perhaps one should go back to the wisdom of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates: 

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Despite all the complaints about the many fallacies in environmentalist proposals, and the failures of many environmentalist attempts, the enviroes DO HAVE a set of ideas that could (conceivably at least) build a new world economy.  In contrast, the Heartland skeptics have been arguing for the status quo (or even a previous economy) that is seen as more fossil-fuel use, more giant nuclear plants, and vastly increased energy inputs for farming. 

Far better would it be to propose that there are unlimited possibilities for new technologies that could supply abundant food and energy while avoiding climate overheating.  With that prosperity consciousness in mind, it could then be argued that the markets can best determine which technologies triumph rather than government bureaucrats and politicians.  Thus, always build; always have some new positive alternatives even when arguing the failures of other policies.

For this discussion, I shall briefly note three major areas for which any one of the three alone could provide all needed food and energy while mitigating global warming.  They are (1) advanced agriculture, (2) next-generation nuclear fission, and (3) spreading agriculture into the oceans.

The first, agricultural advances. have already been happening for not just centuries, but millennia.  Recently (starting in the 1970s), miracle wheat and miracle rice made fools of those who (quite logically) extrapolated food production trends to world famines in the 1970s. However, the 21st Century can do much, much more.  Regenerative agriculture, with things like cover crops and no-plow planting, have maintained high food production while requiring less energy input, and thus, causing less warming.  Genetically engineered crops were resisted, but now the government made us take genetically engineered covid vaccine shots, so get used to it in agriculture.  Robots can crowd more crops together, can perform tasks more cheaply, and can even do the pollinating if necessary.  American consumers will probably not embrace the bug de jour dinner plate, which radical environmentalists suggest, but livestock of all kinds thrive on bug protein supplements.  Greenhouses and vertical farms can multiply production again from less land area and less water (although only on high-cost specialty crops like salad greens).  Besides, their “waste product” stems and leaves can help feed those six-legged mini-livestock … protein supplements!

Second, the nuclear reactors developed for submarines are complex and touchy, like a fancy race car.  Expanding such reactors to giant gigawatt (billion-watt) sizes was looking for trouble and expensive to boot.  Next-generation reactors have better materials and techniques for inherent safety.  Even better for cost practicality, small modular reactors can be built in a factory and shipped to the site rather than expensively built on site.  They can also be shipped back to a factory for cheaper repair or disassembly.  The factory can also recycle “unburned” fuel so there is much more fuel to burn and less to store for thousands of years.  Thorium can be added to the uranium fuel mix to multiply usable fuel again. 

Third, our planet, Earth, has a surface of 71% ocean (the planet name should be Aqua).  Aquaculturing seaweeds (really sea vegetables!) and sea animals on 10% of the ocean area could provide food for ten billion people and fuel for their vehicles with no net global-warming emissions.  In fact, waste material slipping away from the process would pull down enough carbon dioxide to stop global warming. 

For more information on these world-saving processes, see Saving the World Before Breakfast: A Better Green New Deal and Saving the World Before Breakfast: The Earth Alone Can Save Us.  These books are available either through Amazon, as well as slower but at a more reasonable cost through the website Savingtheworldbeforebreadkfast.com. 



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