Update October 26: Ms Theel has left a comment saying that she no longer is with the American Wind Energy Association, having moved on to the Harvard Kennedy School. Noted.
For me, the word ‘twitter’ doesn’t easily associate with concepts like depth, study, diligence or even consciousness. But as it has become a major communication tool, used to broadcast broadsides on either side of almost any issue, Twitter is something we have to consider.
On Tech Insider there is a story about Shauna Theel’s ‘tweetstorm’ about climate change. Tech Insider describes Ms. Theel as a ‘clean energy expert.’
I guess she qualifies. She’s actually Deputy Director of the American Wind Energy Association, something Tech Insider might have thought to mention. Almost head of a lobbying organization might have also served as an introduction.
Here’s what Ms. Theel tweeted, with my response below in bold.
“There’s currently more CO2 in the atmosphere than at any other time in human history (1)”. Human history is short. CO2 levels dropped from 3000 ppm to about 287 ppm about 50 million years ago. On the other hand, temperatures for most of the past 10,000 years were as warm or warmer than today.
“We WILL be at 500 ppm. The question is how much higher. No climate scientist can tell you exactly what that will lead to. (2)” Well, actually, the IPCC says that should that happen around mid-century it will lead to about 2C in temperature rises, if it stops there.
“But it will be dramatic and difficult to deal with. We are doing an experiment on the Earth that hasn’t been done in millions of years (3)” True, but it is an experiment that has been repeated many times over the past few billion years. Temperatures change. They go up. They go down. So does CO2. Occasionally (not always), they do it at the same time.
Half of what’s in the atmosphere now will still be there 1,000 years from now. 1/3 will still be there 20,000 years from now. (4)” Well, some say that. Some say it won’t. You’re more confident than most scientists, but then you have wind turbines to sell, don’t you?
“Decisions we make now will not save us from climate effects we have already locked in. They will have a moderate impact on our children (5)” This lock in theory–seems a bit soft on details. Can you elaborate?
“Decisions we make now will have a dramatic effect on people 1000s of years from now. That is the long tail of climate change. (6)” And the evidence for this is found… where? The IPCC says emissions will start to decline after the population stabilizes and people reach a certain level of development shortly after the next century begins. I haven’t even seen speculation on impacts thousands of years into the future. Where do you get this?
“We may not be willing to pay in order to avoid that, but should we morally? What will those in the future think of us now? (7)” You think our descendants will pass judgement on us. Tell us how you feel about George Washington and Aaron Burr. Or even how often you think of them.
“The timescales of climate change mean we need to think about cumulative emissions reductions, annual reductions are a bad measure. (8)” But we can only control our current emissions. This doesn’t make sense. What has been emitted has been emitted.
“Natural gas reduces our short-term emissions but may lock us into a fossil economy. Our policies need to be shaped around the long tail (9)” You keep using the phrase ‘the long tail.’ I don’t think it means what you think it means. Natural gas is a great bridge fuel while we wait for renewables, like your precious wind turbines, to become affordable. Don’t knock it. Compete with it.
“So stick that in someone’s pipe to smoke next time they tell you renewable energy will raise our electric bills a few cents. :)” Bad optics on that image, don’t you think? If it were only a few cents….
Well, as propaganda goes, this… goes. Fossil fuel companies have shills. So too do renewable energy companies. Let the games begin.