Present day flat earthers

The laws of science are fixed.  They can be invisible for centuries, because they have not been discovered yet. Nevertheless they govern our reality with a relentless power. We may not even be able to explain how they work at the basic level, like gravity, but we know that gravity pulls masses towards each other.  To plan on a world that ignores gravity would be foolish.  It would be costly.  Any project which assumes no gravity is doomed to failure.
John Tyndell discovered that CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere allowed humans to occupy this planet’s surface.  He promulgated a law of nature which showed that the quantity of greenhouse gases caused the atmosphere to heat or cool in proportion to their concentration.  Subsequent experimentation has amplified this proposition.
There is no room for religion here.  Scientific fact is what it is.  Ones belief system is irrelevant.
The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is racing towards 450 parts per million and beyond.  The atmosphere is heating up.  Climate scientists are suggesting we try and contain the temperature rise to 2 degrees.  Seems low, until you consider that the average temperature in the atmosphere is 6 degrees.  A 2 degree rise carries our species into unknown territory.  Of course it does not endanger the atmosphere.  It has been higher before, but we weren’t here.
Like planning out future on the basis of no gravity, planning our energy future while ignoring global warning makes little sense.
So why are governments not running over themselves to diffuse the time bomb of large and possibly uncontrolled global warning.  One reason could be ignorance.  A more likely one is wishful thinking, living in a dream world in which everything will be all right on the night.  A more likely reason still is the influence that the overwhelming might of the fossil fuel industry brings to bear.  They fund political parties, and individual senators and congressmen.  Their goal is to go making profits and the purpose of spending on public affairs is to make that situation continue.  We see the big oil companies advertise smiling scientists in white coats standing among glass whiteboards covered in scientific formulae.  Their message is simple.  We are doing all we can to create a better future.  BP for instance even developed a new logo with green at its centre, and allowed their adman to infer that BP stood for beyond petroleum.  A short time later they sold their renewable business, but held on to their logo.  A short time after that they covered much of the Gulf of Mexico with oil from deep sea oil production.
Then there is the role of the fossil fuel inspired think tanks, like the Heartland Institute.  They have a long record of defending the tobacco industry, and of reaching into schools and teaching children wrong science. They are classic flat earthers.  I am sure they carry some influence with elected officials, particularly those with fossil industries in their constituencies.
Energy is a complex subject, insofar as when it does work; it finishes up degraded as low quality heat. Useless heat. Energy begins off life as a quantum of very useful sunlight.  It arrives here on earth and it causes all life to grow. It lights our days, grows our trees, and excites our atmosphere into winds.  It is the mother lode.  It evaporated oceans, it causes clouds to form, rain follows, rivers flow. Crops grow.
As we stand we are living on borrowed time. The fossils we use are the result of millions of years of sunlight compressed into carbon molecules and stored in the crust of the earth.  They take millions of years to replicate.  Using fossils is the same as the old dears in Chekhov’s plays who live in the past and seek to replicate what granny and granddad did when their cellars were full.
As a species we don’t have the option of living in the past.  We have the technology to live in the present.  Living in the now is healthy.  In our case it is essential.  Millions will die on account of global warming, and government inaction.
Let us forget about cold fusion, carbon capture and storage, the hydrogen economy, clean coal, fuel cells, hot fusion, or any of the other nostrums that get mentioned as magic bullets to solve the energy crisis.

4 Responses to Present day flat earthers

  1. Ted Mooney June 20, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    Eddie, You tell us the nostrums to forget but you don’t suggest an economically viable approach to ensuring the lights don’t go out when fossil fuels become as vilified as the Witches of Salem! And who believes today that Salem was rife with witches?

  2. Cormac June 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Hello, enjoyed this article. I too became interested in climate change quite late in my career, when I was asked to teach an introductory course in climate science at WIT.
    I caught your interview on RTE lunchtime news today. As so often, I was astonished at the ‘balance’ presented, i.e. the way that random, uninformed opinion was presented as equally valid as that of an acknowledged expert in the field. At one point, the newscaster actually said the classic ‘but Val is entitled to his own opinion’, which ignores the fact that the gentleman is not entitled to his own facts.
    Good luck with the new farm!

  3. Owen Martin September 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Flat earthers came about due to the triggering of the mass hysteria gene. Global warming is a mass hysteria induced event. The success of Wind Turbines are also as a result of mass hysteria. Characteristics of people in a mass hysteria are: refusal to accept facts and especially reality and complete hatred and condemnation of deniers. Also, loss of free will can occur. In a couple of hundred years time, people will look back on climate change and wind turbines with amusement, much like we do nowadays about flat-earthers and witch hunters.

  4. Paul Collinson October 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    It is absolutely impossible for the efficiency of a wind turbine (HAWT or VAWT) surpass the Betz limit of .59? or is there a possibility that with the advancement of technology and material science that someday soon, someone will come up with a way of breaking this??

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