Michael Mann still really just doesn’t get it

Beyond destroying our politics and corroding public trust in science, climate change denial also threatens the future of a habitable planet and a viable global economy. As a growing body of research has revealed, the maintenance of a “fossil fuels forever” mentality has real implications for the future of global food production, biodiversity, social functioning and geopolitical security. Leading economies around the world have recognised that the decarbonisation of energy and transport systems are key to the future prosperity of human civilisation.

The dramatic fall in the cost of renewable energies and commitment to large-scale investment in solar and wind energy highlight a pathway away from coal, oil and gas. But government leadership is badly needed to take the threat of climate change seriously and ramp up the scale of economic transformation on a par with the political and economic mobilisation we have applied to other existential threats in the past.

As the actual IPCC reports (specifically, the SRES) point out, and as every economist who has turned their attentions to the subject insists, all we have ever needed to do is make non-fossil fuels cheap and we’re done. True, the economists have been saying we should aid this process by sticking a tax of the social costs of carbon on the fossil side but that’s a matter of efficiency in reaching the goal, not the goal itself.

If, for example, solar is cheaper than coal then we’re done. Simply because people will naturally install solar off into the future, not coal.

And we are told, repeatedly, that solar is now cheaper than coal. Thus we’re done in active measures. We can just sit back and allow the market to carry the weight for us. True, if solar isn’t cheaper then the market won’t, but then that means that all those people telling us it is cheaper are being economical with the actualite, doesn’t it?

In the US and Australia, we must shift away from a culture of politically motivated climate change denialism to an acceptance of the truly existential threat now facing humanity.

But this is the point. Given the advances that have been made in non-fossil electricity generation we don’t face an existential crisis. We have already shifted from A1FI to something more like A1T, or from RCP 8.5 to 4.5 or even 2.6.

This is, of course, only true if what we’re being told about renewables is true. But if it is then we’re pretty much done here.

18 thoughts on “Michael Mann still really just doesn’t get it”

  1. Steyn is still waiting for Mann to make disclosure, what, two years after he was required to? What’s Mann hiding? And why do the D.C. courts allow it?

  2. Demonstrations of Mann’s “corroding public trust” are to be found in Mark Steyn’s book A Disgrace to the Profession which relies solely on quotes from Mann’s fellow scientist to prove what a mendacious shit Mann is.

  3. WTF does this even mean?

    “Leading economies around the world have recognised that the decarbonisation of energy and transport systems are key to the future prosperity of human civilisation.”

    how can economies recognise things?

  4. Tim, of course they are lying about the cost of renewables. This is why the constant propaganda and demands for government action. Pretty obvious. It is a dangerous game to approach this with logic, assuming that everyone else can see what you see.

  5. Sorry to keep banging on, but PV is only effective in reducing total CO2 emissions when installed at tropical latitudes. Otherwise, it takes more (CO2 emitting) energy to manufacture than it will ever produce.

    So panels made in Norway (say) could be truly ‘green’ if installed in the UK – those made in China, not so much.

  6. Mr Ecks.

    Outside motherfucker.

    Heat, Collateral, Blackhat, Last of the Mohicans are fantastic films.

    I will fucking cut you!

  7. Michael Mann faces arrest for Holocaust denial if he ever visits Germany. He has all but disappeared from public life since it turned out he really was just a Holocaust denier, and his use of Holocaust-denying memes about climate change was no coincidence or accident.

    The real oddity here is that the Guardian doesn’t shun him like everyone else who dropped him like a hot potato after that incident.

  8. Solar is cheaper than coal+CCS (carbon capture and storage). Solar is not cheaper than coal alone.

    Hydroelectric is still significantly cheaper than either of these, as is nuclear, both of which emit zero carbon, but they get the greenies in a tizzy because we have to build dams and storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel. Except, of course, when you try to buy some silly French design for your nuclear power plant that’s stupidly expensive when the old one is cheaper and more efficient and, if you build two of them, outputs more total power.

  9. Tim,

    Climate change being solved by cheap solar would only be true if everything was powered by electricity, and wasn’t reliant upon the incredible utility found in energy dense fossil fuels. Electricity may be (partly) done, but transport, heat & industry will require other technological measures.

    NB: never mind solar, onshore wind is now cheaper than new build CCGT, and offshore isn’t far off.

  10. NB: never mind solar, onshore wind is now cheaper than new build CCGT, and offshore isn’t far off.

    How so? You mean when it’s blowing? And when it doesn’t, you have the back up CCGT boot up…

  11. Wind, (with subsidies), is cheaper than CCGT, (with heavy carbon taxes).*

    ^Note: when the wind is blowing, (but not too hard).

  12. Tim, if you pick solar, then the lifetime cost vis a vis coal/gas has to include the infrastructure to turn it into a 24/7 energy source. Same with windmills. Same with any other intermittent source.
    Also, if you try to favour ‘green’ energy sources, then you necessarily make investment in coal/gas/nuclear less attractive as they will now have to vary much more (lower duty cycle) to accommodate the intermittent sources within the overall demand. This is opportunity cost with a vengeance, as you surely already realise.

  13. “Michael Mann …. was just a Holocaust denier”: my golly, I hadn’t heard that. As a metaphor it’s quite wonderful, in a gruesome sort of way.

    I don’t understand holocaust denial. I can understand, for example, repugnance at the people who make a living, sometimes a dishonest living, out of exploiting the horrors inflicted on the victims, but I don’t understand the denial bit. Am I being terribly naive here?

  14. Chris Miller,

    I am missing something that makes your point clear. It almost sounds like you are saying that the extra energy used to ship a solar panel to the UK from China, as opposed to from Norway, is what determines if a UK solar panel be a net energy producer.

    Tractor Gent,

    I agree that making solar useful 24/7 is helpful but I tend to look at a longer time frame. Since I grew up in the south I’ve never seen a need for AC in Pennsylvania. Therefore my energy usage is very low in the summer. What I need to be able to do is to store solar energy from June for use in December. Since heat pumps* aren’t financially viable here burning hydrocarbons and nuclear are still the only realistic options for my energy needs.

    * Once upon a time geothermal was specifically used for a process that turned heat into electricity. Making the term ambiguous was not a smart linguistic move.

  15. Just to clarify, Norway could (in principle) use electricity generated only from carbon-free sources (hydro). China can’t.

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