By Fred Palmer, J.D. Senior Fellow-CO2 Policy, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and Head of Saving Us Coal
December 4, 2020 - In a “GatesNotes” article in August Bill Gates defames CO2 emissions from coal, oil and natural gas and their beneficial use by stating the following:
“A global crisis has shocked the world. It is causing tragic number of deaths making people afraid to leave home and leading to economic hardship not seen in many generations. Its effects are rippling across the world. Obviously, I am talking about COVID-19. But in just a few decades, the same description will fit another global crisis: climate change. As awful as this pandemic is climate change could be worse. “
Note that Mr. Gates is talking of horrific future risk over a period of decades which means, in attempting to create fears in all of us using fossil fuels today, he is embracing reliance on conclusions from computer model projections decades out which have been wrong for 40 years. This makes Gates’ characterization of our climate future reckless and demeans and trivializes the ongoing tragic loss of human life today raising the tragic specter of COVID-19 as a rhetorical prop to advance a political/ business agenda.
By postulating a CO2 climate calamity in the future, with no claim of present loss of human life through CO2 emissions, Gates per force embraces speculative projections from flawed, flux-adjusted computer models that have demonstrably failed. Today’s newer computer models claim validity through improvement, but the structure of models used today, while modernized to an extent, goes back the full 40 years. The models have been predicting apocalypse for all of those years and they have been wrong from the start, in the middle and they remain wrong.
Gates gets it wrong in another way. His discussion takes us into an unknown future, while the true fossil fuels/CO2 threat and calamity argument is a present argument. The Environmental Protection Agency, in the 2010 CO2 Endangerment Finding, wasn’t only talking about the future. EPA held in those findings that more CO2 in the air is a “current threat” to human health and welfare, as such a finding is required by law for regulation by EPA of CO2 today.
Gates has to be fully aware that a full decade has passed since those 2010 EPA findings and that observations since prove the findings flatly wrong based on observations in the last decade, as well as the last 40 years. It was in 1980 that the United States government first raised the specter of catastrophic global warming relying on the flawed flux adjusted computer models. The specter was raised by the first Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in 1981 led by Gus Speth reporting To President Jimmy Carter.
Speth and CEQ produced a document titled “The Carbon Dioxide Problem” which was issued as President Carter went out the door as his first and only term came to an end. If you read the document today and disregard the time line, you would conclude the document was composed last week as the predictions of climate apocalypse made in 1981 are no different in kind nor intensity as the predications made today. This is just like the Bill Gates predictions In August of this year, 40 years later for events 40 years from now.
Looking back at the Speth specious and failed predictions show how we should regard the Gates predictions today. The past 40 years show that not only is CO2 not the deadly equivalent of COVID-19, it is the opposite. First, CO2 is a benign gas required for life on earth and while it has properties that cause warming of the atmosphere, the warming is not apocalyptic. All observations show the warming is modest as well as benign and observations include satellite readings.
In 1979, just two years before Speth issued his dire warnings, NOAA satellites went up that measure temperatures and track warming/cooling trends by measuring the global lower atmosphere. Speth’s 1981 conjecture claimed there would be 3 deg. C warming by 2050. Per Roy Spencer’s web page, November 2020 satellite readings show a warming of just 0.53 deg. C. as of November 2020. We are now 40+ years after the Speth prediction and just 30 years short of 2050. CEQ and Speth completely blew this one!
Also Mr. Gates, if we are to ask and answer the question do we want more or less CO2 in the atmosphere based on whether it is good or bad, a “current threat” or benefit to human health and welfare, let’s look at human development since the 2010 EPA CO2
Endangerment Finding of a “current threat”, and see how humanity and the earth fared since.
There Are More Of Us!
In 2010, human population was 6.9 billion people and in 2020 we have increased to 7.8 billion people. Not coincidentally, in the past 10 years atmospheric CO2 increased from 389.9 ppm to 418.12 ppm.
We Are Living Longer!
Human life expectancy has gained and is at 72 years old today up from 71 years old in 2010. Again, tracking CO2 increase in the atmosphere.
The Greening Earth!
The earth has literally grown materially greener with a more robust biosphere supporting more human, animal and plant life as satellite pictures, before and after, from the United States, the UK and Australia show.
At the same time, the globe has never been more robust in food production with new records set year over year consistently. Commercial greenhouse operators have known this for a very long time and consistently run their shop at CO2 1200 ppm and above, with no adverse impact on workers in the greenhouse. And with very large tomatoes resulting!
Warming Is Benign!
There has been modest warming over the 40 years and I believe that one reason for the warming is increased atmospheric CO2 content. But remember that as the atmosphere becomes more laden with CO2 content, the greenhouse effect declines effectively tabling the concept that there could ever be a climate apocalypse caused by humans living their lives.
And by the way a warmer world is better than a cold world and if you doubt that simply research what the world was like during very cold periods. Whether the Little Ice Age or other frigid episodes, like an Ice Age, the reality is cold kills while warmth nourishes.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here: I have deep respect for Bill Gates achievements in business and his $50 billion plus in charitable works and efforts. But disregard his dire warnings that a COVOID-19 redux is on the way decades out through all of us living our lives using fossil fuels, including coal for electricity generation.
Coal, of course, keeps the lights on and electricity affordable!