Why we will probably fail to prevent catastrophe

Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, was interviewed by offbeat TV presenter Eddie Mair on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday on BBC1. Salmond’s comments about energy policy highlight the intellectual incoherence and dishonesty to which our politicians are driven by growthmania. Although Salmond should be commended for standing up to Donald Trump’s opposition to offshore wind farms, he still appears to be basing his aspiration for a future independent Scotland on future revenue from extracting crude oil and gas from beneath what would be its territorial waters. Scotland may well already be near the top of the international list of countries with the greatest percentages of installed renewable energy generation, it may well be the home of European research and development into Tidal power, but, its would-be independent government still appears to be assuming it will be OK to generate revenue from oil production over the next 50 years equivalent to those of the last 50 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe2AW0MvuRg This does not sound like a good idea to me. It is one very good reason not to vote for Scottish independence. Scottish independence does not look like it will be compatible with preventing anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). Furthermore, ACD is probably making its presence felt right now across the UK in the form of unusually cold weather. Sure, it is not possible to attribute any single event to ACD but, all the same, ACD was predicted (from a basic understanding of atmospheric physics) to give rise to wider range of more extreme weather events of increased frequency and intensity. This is exactly what we are now observing. In fact, we have been observing it for about 50 years but, until quite recently, it had not been that obvious. This is what James Hansen and his colleagues showed us last August: The climate dice are now loaded – which means we get double-six a lot more often (and a few more double ones than we used to as well). https://anthropocenereality.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/the-reason-we-keep-getting-double-six/

About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Economics, Energy Crisis, Fossil Fuels, Growthmania, James Hansen, Politics, Populism, Renewable Energy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Why we will probably fail to prevent catastrophe

  1. ccgwebmaster says:

    I think Scottish independence will be rather moot not many years from now, as law and order and civilisation spiral into fond memories for those still fighting to survive. I’d expect nations to typically regress into ever smaller regions governed by increasing unstable and short-lived regimes. Until the population crashes far enough below new carrying capacity for resources to be relatively plentiful per capita this is likely to be a key driver of conflict. That said, I personally expect the collapse will be much more violent and fast than people think. The silver lining there is you get through to the other side relatively sooner (hopefully within years rather than decades).


    • Duncan says:

      I find your analysis most interesting. Although, at my advanced age, I will not experience it (or will I?), it would not surprise me if there were a resurgence of slavery. After all, with 7 billion human beings available (i.e. at present), there would be a plethora of human muscle power even when natural resources run short. We have ignored the mathematics of population growth for centuries, Malthus has been effectively decried and discarded and growth, of whatever kind, has become the new religion. More of everything, faster, higher, deeper; worlds without end! We are suffering from technical intoxication; drunk on our own abilities literally to move mountains. It would appear that the oft-quoted observation made by JC that ‘faith can move mountains’ is correct, even if not quite in his sense! Faith plus technology and, hey presto, whole mountains have been carried away for our convenience. But, as they say in Germany, we have made up the bill without considering the landlord, that is, Nature. And, as the world-renowned Dr.Heinz Kiosk was wont to exclaim; “We are ALL guilty”!


      • Rick Altman says:

        Thanks for your comments, Duncan, I know they were not addressed to me but, even so, I feel compelled to respond, as follows… Even slaves need to be fed. Therefore: (1) Widespread starvation is much more likely because modern agriculture is dependent on fossil fuels; and (2) A post-carbon world without nuclear power will only support pre-Industrial levels of population.


    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks for that comment, CCG (can I call you that?). I was fully expecting criticism of my reluctant comment about Scottish Independence. I say ‘relcuctant’ because, in many ways, I admire Salmond’s anti-Establishment position on many things; including the siting of Trident submarine base in Scotland. In a way, I would like Scotland to have its independence if only for the reason it might force Westminster to reconsider Trident. However, without fossil fuels, Scotland does not have a viable economy and, therefore, unless we get out of the EU (or the EU collapses), we would just end up subsidising Scotland indirectly instead of directly. I wish I could share your optimism about life after (ecological) death, but I am afraid all the evidence suggests that it is a myth; peddled by climate scientists who are themselves in denial (or in fear of losing their jobs as Guy McPherson has done). The only people who will survive will be those who are not reliant upon others for their water, heat, light, and food. This number currently does not include me but, if it did, I think I would find it hard to avoid feeling like I had stolen a life-jacket from my children (who no longer live with me) and jumped into the lifeboat ahead of them.


      • ccgwebmaster says:

        I’m Scottish (by paternity and growing up there – but English from my mothers side). I’m generally a fan of independence (Salmond doesn’t seem worse than Westminster or Cameron, notwithstanding his flaws). It is my intention not to depend upon others for water, heat, light, security or food – and I believe I have a strategy that if I prove able to implement it in time will give me as good a chance as anyone from my origins could wish for. I am young enough that I don’t have the moral issue about taking a life-jacket and getting into my boat ahead of the queue (I might add that since my mother’s main objective upon recent retirement was to enjoy her retirement as much as possible before things come crashing down, your statement is rather refreshing). My optimism comes from a number of years of work and planning – and a general inability to admit defeat.


      • Rick Altman says:

        I am not sure how anything I said could be “refreshing” but, anyway, good luck to you! Optimism is an evolutionary survival mechanism, which stops wilderbeast from giving up when being chased by lions. Yes, indeed, it’s a proven scientific fact that we do not change our opinions even when presented with evidence that we are being unduly optimistic: https://anthropocenereality.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/global-weirding-and-optimism-bias/


    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks for this specific link, Patrice. What happened to your post about Cyprus? [Aha, it is there now – Ed.] In anticipation of this, I have deliberately resisted writing my own – drawing an analogy with the implosion of the Thera volcano (next to Santorini), which generated a tsunami that ended the Minoan civilisation on Crete…


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