Coal, CO2 and The Human Environment: Changing the National Climate Dialogue
By Fred Palmer, Senior Fellow - CO2 Policy, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and Leader Saving US Coal
February 16, 2021 - Bill Gates is one of the most successful, visionary and intelligent men in our country’s history. Founder of software giant Microsoft, his computer vision resulted in an operating system that is now used by an estimated 1.5 billion people daily with tens of millions more using ancillary products every day. Microsoft’s success in making our planet one world cannot be overestimated and the company has a deserved market value today approaching $2 trillion.
Gates’ massive personal wealth of over $130 billion is used to help fund the Gates Foundation, focusing on global health and development problems. Per recent news stories, Gates second effort, a clean tech venture capital fund Breakthrough Energy, has now raised $1 billion for a second round of investments after backing 45 start-ups with the first $1 billion.
On this week’s Sunday night CBS 60 Minutes show, Anderson Cooper interviewed Gates, most of which focused on climate change and his clean tech fund. Numerous Interesting and innovative products were discussed, sharing the common goals of either CO2 avoidance or CO2 capture. They also share a common trait of not being competitive in the current or foreseeable market future, unless the United States government steps in with a carbon tax, cap or limits. The interview discussion also included an advanced nuclear electric generating system, albeit with no specifics on cost.
No surprise then that Gates is a fierce opponent of the further development and use of fossil fuels, and no surprise that his opposition is 100% based on the alleged coming CO2 induced climate apocalypse if fossil fuel use is not discontinued. In Gates’ words, we have no time to lose in putting policies and subsidies in place to take out fossil fuels and put in clean tech technologies, like he is developing. In Gates concluding remark he says, “It’s an all-out effort, like a world war, but it is us against greenhouse gases”. Meaning zero CO2 emissions in 2050.
Given Mr. Gate’s intellect, reach and success, his words are a challenge to those of us that embrace Coal and those of us who believe otherwise with respect to CO2. Coal has been in demise in the US for over 10 years and 10 more like it will mean the end of Coal here. There is more than one reason for the demise, but there is little doubt that Coal’s CO2 foot print when combusted is the primary reason for the decade long decline in the use of US Coal.
Current advocacy efforts to educate on the positive aspects of CO2 from Coal combustion and also the speculative nature of the claimed looming climate apocalypse are presently invisible, if there at all. Instead the National dialogue is all Bill Gates, politicians and advocates like him. That needs to be changed, and changed now!
My colleague, Craig Idso, and I strongly believe that we have a path for this effort through the Institute for the Human Environment (human-environment.org), with its focus on the way people can live through fossil fuels use, coal to electricity and the natural environment as improved through CO2 emissions. The Institute exists as a subset to co2science.org, a 501(c)(3) organization.
The Human Environment was a new environmental concept when enacted by Congress in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). In 1972, it was the United States that championed this new concept both at home and internationally; the Human Environment was specifically defined in an agreement signed by the US and the nations of the world, in The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment. Among the principles set forth in the Declaration was a listing of the elements that included the natural environment as well as the environment where we live and work every day.
The very first Stockholm principle is worded like this:
Section 1. Man is both creature and molder of the environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the right to intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet, a stage has been reached when through the rapid acceleration of science and technology man has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale. Both aspects of man’s environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights the right to life itself.
As noted by the Obama-Biden administration in a January, 2017 DOE study, reliable and affordable electricity is a necessary reality for the human environment as we live it every day. This very week we have a massive winter cold attack on the continental United States underway with Texas suffering from rolling blackouts in the deadliest weather time of year. Mr. Gates is comfortable today no doubt with plenty of electricity but if he were in Texas, he would understand that Coal to electricity is life sustaining and an integral, positive component of the Human Environment.
Mr. Gates and others with a commercial interest in this matter, focus on government mandated complete CO2 avoidance, advancing as the reason projections from flawed, flux adjusted computer models. It is not disputed that these models have run hot since their inception, always with completely unrealistic projections of future warming. It is not disputed that the computer models cannot “hindcast”, thus earning the adjective flawed. As a computer expert Mr. Gates has to know this, yet pushes an agenda that will hurt real people in real time if enacted. Like Texas today.
As further answer to Mr. Gates, satellites measuring lower atmosphere temperatures were placed in orbit by the United States in 1980. These satellites are a more accurate reading than the ground-based temperature records that show a hotter earth, but not catastrophic warming. The satellites are the primary temperature tool as they are in constant conditions while cities change around urban temperature stations and ocean readings are inherently unreliable. If you check out the satellite readings right now at drroyspencer.com, you will see minimal warming from the January, 2021 reading. As in 0.12 deg. C over 40 years!! Over the same time period, elevated CO2 levels have produced a more robust biosphere along with record agricultural production year-over-year, benefiting both the natural environment and people everywhere.
These messages need to be conveyed to the American people in a change of dialogue about CO2 itself and then translated into US and State Government policy. If we do not succeed, coal use in the US will become a thing of the past, cheating us all from a robust future. And if we don’t change the dialogue and go down the path to the results Mr. Gates seeks, life will be shorter and meaner for people as we destroy the basic US electricity structure that is anchored by Coal today. Technology is for sure a path forward in reducing criteria and CO2 emissions from Coal, but Coal must continue to be used as California and now Texas and show us in real time.