Sustaining Future

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Great Global Warming Swindle

A re-watch of The Great Global Warming Swindle prompted me to look at the evidence again. [I am not a practising Scientist. I am just trying to apply a rational mind on this important issue.] The skeptics pointed at the correlation between atmospheric CO2 with the earth temperature and said that the earth temperature led the atmospheric CO2 by about 800 years. They claimed that solar activities have much bigger impact on earth's temperature than atmospheric CO2.

BBC weather presenter, Paul Hudson has written article on the issue: research published by the Royal Society two years ago seemed to rule out solar influences. Its approach was to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare them with changing global temperatures. The results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Beside climate change, there is the issue of exhausting the available fossil fuel. Fossil fuel is a limited resource. While according to wikipedia using 2005 estimates, there is 4x1024J of remaining fossil fuels which at the rate of 2005 consumption may last up to 800 years. I believe cheap, easily extracted fossil fuel will be exhausted within no more than another 100 years because there has been no significant discovery of large reserve since the sixties.

The energy falling on Earth's surface from the Sun is about 120PW which is 8000 times the usage at 2004.

The Great Global Warming Swindle did point out an important equity issue - we should not be barring the developing countries from using cheap fossil fuel to drive their development.

On one hand, I believe human is causing the current climate crisis. On the other, we should respect the wish of people in the undeveloped or developing countries to pursuit a better life.

It only took about 150 years for the developed countries to switch from the traditional renewable biomass fuel to fossil fuel. With the rapid technology development, it is possible to switch to renewable energy in much shorter period. The technological capability of the developed countries was developed based on exhausting fossil fuel. On the basis of equity, the technology of renewable energy should be shared with the developing and undeveloped countries to provide energy source for these countries. China and India have a proposal on the table:
"Developed countries should pay at least 0.5 percent of their economic output to help less wealthy nations build wind turbines, solar plants and use other clean technologies," and "industrialized nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2020, such cuts would make room for the developing countries to 'modernize their economies'".

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