Glimpses of hope and optimism from Paris climate talks

At press time there was great optimism that a multilateral agreement would emerge from the U.N.-sponsored summit on climate change in Paris this month. An agreement would entail new commitments from 180 nations to constrain or offset emissions that contribute to global warming. The emerging framework is ambitious, creative and historic; but it will still not be enough to prevent the earth from warming another two to three degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That may not sound like much of a shift, but it is enough, scientists say, to cause large areas of the earth to become uninhabitable because of stifling heat, drought or rising sea level. That outcome would send millions of people into flight in a vast, border-crushing migration that would dwarf today’s refugee crisis.

Yet there are also many reasons to support hope that enough time and ingenuity remain to prevent or mitigate the worst. As new infrastructure is rolled out, fine-tuning the technology will optimize renewable energy outputs. And that tinkering may also lead to breakthroughs in entirely new areas of alternative-energy capacity-building.

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Already nations like Germany have achieved breakout levels of renewable capacity. On individual days of bright sunshine and optimal winds, Germany has achieved renewable production of as much as 75 percent of the nation’s daily power. Indeed, many of the obstacles ahead are political, not technological. Decommissioning K Street offices of fossil-fuel lobbyists may prove just as important as decommissioning coal plants in the upcoming struggle to secure the future by protecting creation.

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Leonard Villa
1 year 11 months ago
Of course this article assumes the truth of man-made global warming, which is still scientifically disputed. Remember Paul Ehrlich and all his predictions, the population bomb, including global cooling? I think skepticism is in order here.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
Agree that man-made global warming is still debatable, but can you give an exact citation for the prediction you attribute to Paul Ehrlich? I remember him saying something about too many people dumping too much garbage on the planet, but cannot remember him saying anything about global cooling.
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
From the Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich in 1968:
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.
He was worried about lots of things but global warming was not an issue at the time.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
Thanks, but this statement says nothing about global cooling. Can you quote what he actually said about global cooling?
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
Paul Ehrlich is known for all his failed prophecies but he is not on record anywhere i know of that links his predictions specifically to global cooling. He predictions took place during the time when most of the world thought we were headed for global cooling. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html From this 1974 article
Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. The University of Wisconsin's Reid A. Bryson and other climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth.
Ehrlich was worried about the pollution of the atmosphere affecting climate but was unspecific about its effects
"The greenhouse effect is being enhanced now by the greatly increased level of carbon dioxide... [this] is being countered by low-level clouds generated by contrails, dust, and other contaminants... At the moment we cannot predict what the overall climatic results will be of our using the atmosphere as a garbage dump
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
Excellent response, thanks! Ehrlich's work may be inconsistent with our Catholic ethos about population growth, but the bottom line is that we are using the atmosphere (nay, the entire planet) as a garbage dump. This is the same warning Pope Francis reiterates in Laudato Si'. Sooner or later, we must seek ethical options for population stabilization and taking better care of the planet. The Paris agreement is another exercise in "the art of the possible," and should contribute to greater public awareness, but I think we are going to need more than just good intentions. For those of us in the developed nations, painful adaptations may be required.
Alex Finta
1 year 11 months ago
https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/before-he-was-pushing-the-global-warming-scam-paul-ehrlich-was-pushing-the-global-cooling-scam/ Ehrlich was a coauthor with John Holdren, now Obama's science advisor.They published a paper together; see the link above. Also: http://www.climatedepot.com/2009/10/06/dont-miss-it-climate-depots-factsheet-on-1970s-coming-ice-age-claims-2/ Many more here. Many of the climate change alarmists try to deny the previous alarm over cooling. I was a grad student at Wisconsin in the early 1970's, where Prof Reid Bryson was a leading proponent of a coming "ice age." Googling "Paul Ehrlich, global cooling" will fetch many.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
Thanks, but these are statements about what Ehrlich allegedly said. I am requesting to see what Ehrlich actually said, because I still cannot find it. Can you quote directly from one of his books, with page number?
Frances DeGasta
1 year 11 months ago
Many are unaware that deforestation looms right up there with image change. The forests are literally the lungs of the earth, absorb large amounts of carbon to live and grow on and create oxygen emissions. 30% of the rainforest has been decimated. Additionally g insult to injury is the clear cutting of millions of acres to put up solar fields and windmills. ST. Francis of Assisi is the protector of animals. That is who our Pope has taken as his name. What clear cutting is doing is hurting and destroying the natural habitats of our animal friend and birds. Windmills are decimating bird populations. If we really want to fight global warming, we need to restore our forests and add to them. Ever stand out in the hot sun and then go find a shade tree to sit under and cool off? It's not rocket science. Trees actually cool the earth.
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
The earth has gotten greener over the last 30 years as carbon dioxide is a fertilizer for plant life. See http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323374504578217621593679506 by Matthew Ridley
Michael Reilly
1 year 11 months ago
Sad to see America and, worse, the Vatican jump so eagerly onto this climate change movement. The church has more pressing business than this. We are losing the young to extreme secularism and the ministry of the Gospel is in shambles because of sexual corruption and restriction of the priesthood only to celebrate males. I live in an area that once had five parishes, but now has one with one priest. I'd like to see more concern about preaching the Gospel than about worshiping at the altar of climate change.
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
Editors,
Already nations like Germany have achieved breakout levels of renewable capacity. On individual days of bright sunshine and optimal winds, Germany has achieved renewable production of as much as 75 percent of the nation’s daily power
you might want to check it. Wikipedia says about 11-12%. See https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/timeline/ae808953f8be9fe8723ff192325a35b1.png https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Germany
Kevin Clarke
1 year 11 months ago

You misunderstand: on peak renewable energy days, Germany has achieved record levels of renewable energy production, as high as 78 percent of that day's consumption, according to this report. I believe overall Germany is producing about 30 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources. I'm not sure how the authors of that graph came up with 11 percent. You may want to check it out.

J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
I stand by my comments. The reference you gave was for electricity and not total energy consumption. It also was a fluke and for just a moment of the day, perhaps as little as 15 minutes. As such it is misleading. My guess is that 11% ± 1% is accurate. Few are against renewable energy and it is mostly from the left who are upset over nuclear energy, birds dying in windmills and dams and the heat from solar farm. Also how much is Germany paying for this type of energy? That seems to be the discussion missing. See my comments above on this subject.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
The text of the "binding" agreement is now available. Better than nothing, but all the binding "shalls" apply to bureaucratic actions, and all the really physical changes are "shoulds."
William Rydberg
1 year 11 months ago
Good catch, what about enforcement mechanisms?
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
There are none and there was never meant to be any. From a week ago http://www.politico.eu/article/paris-climate-deal-is-meaningless-cop21-emissions-china-obama/
After all this, the final submissions are not enforceable, and carry no consequences beyond “shame” for noncompliance — a fact bizarrely taken for granted by all involved.
From today http://news.yahoo.com/planned-un-climate-accord-blow-fossil-fuels-greenpeace-133909803.html
More critical, Friends of the Earth said prosperous nations had pushed through an empty accord. "Rich countries have moved the goal posts so far that we are left with a sham of a deal in Paris," said Sara Shaw, an activist with Friends of the Earth International. "Through piecemeal pledges and bullying tactics, rich countries have pushed through a very bad deal."
They all congratulated themselves and went home. From a website critical of the climate change people.
'Now that the United Nations has officially 'solved' man-made global warming, does this mean we never have to hear about 'global warming' fears again!? Does this mean we can halt the endless supply of federal tax dollars funding 'climate change' studies? Does this mean we can stop worrying about 'global warming's' ability to end civilization and cause wars, and increase prostitution, bar room brawls, rape, airline turbulence, etc.? Can we finally move on to other issues? I spent the last week in Paris marveling at how so many believe a form of modern witchcraft: That a UN agreement or EPA climate regulations can alter Earth's temperature and the level of storms. But now I realize that if they truly believe the UN has solved 'climate change' even skeptics should rejoice! Now that the UN treaty has 'solved' global warming, can we all just move on to something else?'
William Rydberg
1 year 11 months ago
Well it's a start. They must be taking what's known in the Jargon as "a principles based approach". The main problem with that approach is that most large Bureaucratic Organizations are post-modern to the bone. Which is why Europe will never for example, come to terminus writing the back-up for the European Constitution because there is no right or wrong, therefore every jot and tittle and scenario must be documented for compliance. Let's all resolve to pray to the Trinity for a resolution. Because with prayer much can accomplished. Pray for the Pope too because he is heavily invested in this important initiative... in Christ,
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Take that ISIS! They must be shaking in their boots.
Chuck Kotlarz
1 year 11 months ago
Renewables contributed 25% of Germany’s electricity and Denmark obtained nearly 40% of its electricity from wind in 2014. Iowa expects to obtain 40% from wind in 2020, up from 25% in 2013. China is now the world’s largest investor in renewables.
Douglas Fang
1 year 11 months ago
Actually, Germany did achieve a record of getting 75% of power usage from renewable energy as stated in this article: http://www.renewablesinternational.net/germanys-record-renewable-performance/150/537/78770/ To those that are still “skeptical” about the cause and effect of climate change, I have a simple question: If this is indeed a hoax and an inflated claim created by the liberal tree huggers that want to prevent “poor” people from ever escaping poverty, then what is the reason for large countries such as China, India, and Russia, who are still perceiving to be poor relative to the Western countries, to come to same view about the cause (mostly man-made) and effect (dangerous disruption to the economic and politic stability) of climate change? Together with big oil producers like Saudi, they have all the necessary scientific resources to debunk this hoax and so far, they could not produce any serious studies to this purpose. To those bloggers who sit comfortably in the living room of your house and denounce the call of Pope Francis as well as the effort of the world community to tackle this critical issue, do you ever come around the world so you can see for yourself the detrimental effect of climate change and pollution that is impacting so many places? If not, what is the basis for your objection – Ideology? Arrogance? Ignorance?
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Douglas - I take everything Pope Francis says seriously, even when he is just giving his opinion on something, such as the state of a particular science or the prudential political or scientific solutions to perceived problems. I also take the time to read the pro- and con- arguments to these scientific controversies - something the believers do not seem willing to do. My personal position on environmental science is probably closest to Bjorn Lomborg. I take a "Pascal's Wager" approach to CO2 emissions - meaning that even if the science is not solid in every aspect, and if the worst case scenario is highly unlikely (which it is, by definition), it is still prudent to take measures to reduce CO2 emissions, including moving away from a reliance on fossil fuels and especially deforestation. I am a fan of nuclear energy, fracking, genetically-modified agriculture, tidal energy and other technological solutions and I believe free market forces will be vastly more successful than government-imposed mandates (all climate mandates have failed miserably to date, and it is likely the Paris agreement will too). But, I object to the Warmist ideologues for 1) their quasi-religious apocalyptic language (every climate accord is claimed to be the "last hope for mankind" - until the next one; the worst case scenario is the only one that gets highlighted by the media); 2) their unwillingness to deal with scientifically credible questioners, even when it is only disagreements with emphasis (they shut them out of meetings and even take them to court - see what they did to Lomborg in Denmark); and to try to silence objections; 3) their over-confidence in climate models that failed to predict the past 15 years or so of the pause or at least slow-down in global warming, despite very large increases in CO2 (their science is not rocket-science and they shouldn't pretend it is); 4) the neglect of other very important and more immediate risks (Radical Islamic Jihad, drinkable water, infectious diseases, etc.); and 5) the fact that most leaders of the environmental movement have an anti-human anti-Christian worldview, and see mankind as a pest on Mother Nature. How many of Pope Francis's allies on reducing CO2 emissions are also past or present supporters of enforced sterilization campaigns, China's one-child policy, sex-selection abortions, etc. etc. So, I will buy my electric car and use smart energy efficient technology but keep a skeptical eye on catastrophic projections nearly a century away, or anything that comes out of the UN or the anti-human NGOs. I will continue to look into the assumptions and numbers behind the headlines and oppose any ideology I believe is harmful to humanity.
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
First , no one has any objection to a renewable or sustainable source of energy or a carbon free energy. The question has always been the costs of such an alternative. There seems to be a lack of willingness to discuss the cost of sustainable or carbon free energy sources. I have looked at the link provided by the authors concerning Germany energy use and if it does show what the OP claims to have happened it is at best deceptive. It does not include energy that is not electricity and the amount of time during one day that it happened is as short as maybe 15 minutes on one day. So the claim on that basis should be acknowledged as misleading. An accurate summation would be better and I provided it with the Wikipedia link which points to about 11% sustainable/non carbon based energy sources currently in Germany.
then what is the reason for large countries such as China, India, and Russia, who are still perceiving to be poor relative to the Western countries, to come to same view about the cause (mostly man-made) and effect (dangerous disruption to the economic and politic stability) of climate change?
From what I understand they are continuing to build hundreds of coal fired power plants in India and China. So if they have seen the light, it is not being played out in actual behavior. http://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2014/11/09/india-will-be-using-and-importing-more-coal/
do you ever come around the world so you can see for yourself the detrimental effect of climate change and pollution that is impacting so many places
If you have evidence of this, then please present it. Pollution is not climate change and climate change has been happening for 500 million years so it is nothing new. If you want to talk about the effects of bad water, I will agree with you but to cure this problem, more energy is needed and there is only one source for that at the moment.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Some sobering statistics (from statista.com). In 2015, China will account for 28% of global CO2 emissions (USA is 16%). The Asia-Pacific Region now accounts for 47% of the world's CO2 emissions. Since 2005, North America and Europe have reduced their CO2 emissions by nearly 10%, whereas the Asia Pacific Region and the Middle East have increased theirs by nearly 50% and Africa and Latin America increased by 25-33%. The Paris agreement will not change the trajectory in the US or EU - all the change is to be elsewhere if this agreement is to have a prayer. Nuclear energy produces the lowest CO2 per Kwh, wind is similar, solar is 4x, natural gas is 40x, and coal is 70x or worse. Ocean power is very promising (like nuclear, and much more reliable than wind). Regarding the discussion below, Paul Ehrlich in Sept described the Pope's push for the Paris accord as "raving nonsense" because Pope Francis wouldn't change Church teaching on contraception. Ehrlich has been a prominent advocate for mass compulsory sterilization of the poor (esp. in Africa), sex selection abortions (see interview in Mara Hvistendahl "Unnatural Selection", Chapter 7), global cooling (co-authored warning in Global Ecology, with John Holdren, Obama's current science advisor) and global warming.
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
Nuclear energy produces the lowest CO2 per Kwh
There are new nuclear technologies not yet implemented that could provide energy for the world for the next 10,000 years. My guess is that this will be the main source of energy in about 50 years. Also the technology is much safer than current plants and will have almost no nuclear waste as an end product.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
Excuse me, are you suggesting that Ehrlich is an advocate for "sex selection abortions"? As, for example, in aborting girls but not boys? I cannot find anything he said to that effect in the source you provide. Could you kindly provide an exact quotation, with page number for context? BTW, he never said anything about global cooling either, see clarification by Cosgove below. So what if he doesn't have a scientifically infallible crystal ball? Popes don't have a crystal ball either. Also, may I suggest that defaming others is not the proper way to defend Catholic dogma, let alone provisional doctrines?
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
Excuse me, are you suggesting that Ehrlich is an advocate for "sex selection abortions"?
Apparently yes. Ehrlich is a low life whose main claim to fame is false predictions. In "Unnatural Selection he seems to advocate for the abortion of females:
Mara Hvistendahl spends a devastating chapter talking with Paul Ehrlich, the man who mainstreamed overpopulation hysteria in 1968 with "The Population Bomb"—and who still seems to think that getting rid of girls is a capital idea (in part because it will keep families from having more and more children until they get a boy)
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303657404576361691165631366 In Human Ecology it was Ehrlich's co-author, John Holdren, and now Obama's Science Czar who said there was global cooling. Though he did say that global warming might eventually overtake the cooling. They make a great pair.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 11 months ago
These are not quotations of Ehrlich. These are quotations of people writing about Ehrlich. I cannot find Ehrlich himself advocating the abortion of girls. Could you kindly find an authentic Ehrlich quotation? Again, the "global cooling" reference is not an authentic Ehrlich quotation. That they "make a great pair" is your inference based on temporary perceptions at the time. Who can claim to have a scientifically infallible crystal ball? Rather than attacking (and possibly defaming) other people, we better put our own house in order. This is an authentic quotation, written *before* the sex abuse scandals: "How baffling are you, O Church, and yet how I love you! How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, though not completely. And where would I go?" The God Who Comes Carlo Carretto, 1910-1988 Stop attacking Ehrlich, and consider Pope Francis' remark that Catholics "should not breed like rabbits"! I don't have a crystal ball either but, even if consumption per capita is reduced to subsistence levels, it seems to me that we cannot have an infinite number of people living in a finite planet. Another authentic quotation: "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness" (Confucius). Rather than cursing Ehrlich, we better find ethically acceptable ways to stabilize population. Humanae Vitae is good guidance. See also St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Cursing Ehrlich is easy, but how are we going to help people deal with climate change and all the other limitations of the human condition?
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
If anyone wants to see a balanced analysis of the climate change in the last 200 years, I suggest two books with almost identical titles: Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything . It is available from Amazon for less than $6 on the Kindle and one can be reading it in a few minutes. It is relatively short and easy to read. The whole climate debate is over one number, temperature sensitivity to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. http://www.amazon.com/Lukewarming-Climate-Science-Changes-Everything-ebook/dp/B0172DH4P6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450108664&sr=1-1&keywords=lukewarming A second book called " The Lukewarmer's Way: Climate Change for the Rest of Us " http://www.amazon.com/Lukewarmers-Way-Climate-Change-Rest-ebook/dp/B015913P38/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450108664&sr=1-4&keywords=lukewarming These two books have concluded that there is some mild global warming, but not enough to cause any immediate threat to the planet and there is no evidence that there has been any harm done as a result. In fact there may be some benefits. Also anything proposed to counter this warming trend will have little or no effect on the climate. Someone just pointed out the plight of the polar bears to me. Apparently the polar bear population has quadrupled since global warming started 40 years ago while at the same time the world food population has doubled.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Luis Gutierrez below seems incredulous that Paul Erhlich might have been an advocate for sex selection abortions. But, many/most of those involved in the Population control movement of the late 1960s/early 1970s openly discussed it as a way to very effectively control population - by getting rid of future mothers. I referenced The New York Times (pro-choice) writer Maria Hvistendahl and her book "Unnatural Selection," which I think is a must read for anyone seriously interested in women rights. (http://www.marahvistendahl.com/unnatural-selection). Far more females were killed by this policy than all the other political ideologies of the 20th century. But the amazing thing detailed in the book is how much Planned Parenthood, and its international agency (IPPF) directly advocated sex selection abortion as a particularly efficient way to limit population (less girls --> less babies). They only stepped back from that anti-girl policy when they were exposed by pro-life advocates in the USA (just as PP is now doing since exposed as a profiteer in selling baby parts). The argument was that killing off future mothers had a leveraged effect on population control "“Sex selection, moreover, had the added advantage of reducing the number of potential mothers – what the Chinese demographer Wang Feng would later call a “double whammy.” (p104, Kindle edition). Even in Erhlich's now infamous work, "The Population Bomb (p141)," he advocated for funding for sex determination research: “[I]f a simple method could be found to guarantee that first-born children were males, then population control problems in many areas would be somewhat eased.” Most of Hvistendahl's seventh chapter (titled "The Doomsayer") is about her long visit and interview with Paul Erhlich and her discussion with him about sex selection abortion. Erhlich defended it as more moral than girl infanticide or sex trafficking: "You can be aborted as a conceptus, you can be killed at birth, or you can be sold to slavery and die in a slum someplace." (p108) No doubt, Erhlich was not alone among population control environmental ideologues in promoting sex selection abortion, and thankfully most have stepped away from that now unpopular method. But, the list of advocates mentioned in the book include: Population Council president Bernard Berelson - who in Beyond Family Planning, in Science Feb 7, 1969, 533—543, ranked sex selection’s ethical value as higher than putting sterilizing agents into the food supply and compulsory sterilization. Planned Parenthood's head of Research Steve Polgar (p99), and then Director Alan Guttmacher (p99) Wiliam McElroy, Biology Head at Johns Hopkins (p100), Duke U demographers William Serow and VJ Evans Margaret Mead, the anthropologist (p97). For an update on Erhlich's failed predictions, see the NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/us/the-unrealized-horrors-of-population-explosion.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2 So, be careful who your allies are in this environmental crusade. As the Good book says, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Mt 10:16
J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
Thanks Tim, I was reluctant to spend another $10 on a kindle book just for one chapter. But maybe I will buy it anyway for the rest of the book. A year or so ago I heard an interview with Erhlich about his famous wager. He was a graceless disgruntled man who would not even consider that the person he lost his bet to had any insight into human behavior and the world.

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