Grist For The Mill

When an article starts like this… “When the apocalypse comes, it’ll be every man and woman for themselves” it might be a clue that alarmist tendencies may color what they write.

Grist used to mean grain that had been cleaned of its chaff and was ready for grinding. Now it apparently means words thrown on the internet that are ready for the electronic version of pulping.

The article that drew me to the site, which claims 2 million unique visitors a month, was a fairly unreadable rehash of a MIT paper postulating negative effects on agriculture and more importantly, found a way to hyperventilate on how trade will somehow make it even worse. But really, Grist is just a vehicle for regurgitating whatever scary stories are available about the environment, especially global warming.

Typical is this story titled “4 Reasons Why We Can And Must Fight Terrorism And Poverty Through Climate Action.” In it they state that “the poor suffer most from climate change.” Given that the most measurable impact we have seen from climate change is a greening of the planet that has contributed to an 11%-17% growth in agricultural yields, I beg to differ.

The story also adds that green energy will create tens of thousands of new jobs. Perhaps they don’t realize that labor is a cost of doing business and that those new jobs are one of the primary reasons green energy is more expensive than fossil fuels.

But really, the story doesn’t say anything about how climate action will reduce terrorism or poverty. It just says that we must do it and it will be good for us.

Typical also is this article railing against the possibility that BP will be able to deduct some of the $20 billion it has paid in penalties for the Deepwater spill from its tax bill. They quote a familiar name, Representative Raul Grijalva, he who wants to investigate Judith Curry and Roger Pielke for climate crimes, who disapproves of this, saying it is ‘gaming the tax system.’

So Representative Grijalva and Grist want businesses not to be able to deduct expenses? I think I’d like to see their tax returns…

I just wonder at the ability of such shoddily written, one-note alarmist scare stories to attract 2 million unique visitors a month. I wonder if those stats are current.

Given that Real Climate has apparently forgotten to pay their domain registration fee, it would appear that interest in the alarmist side of the climate war is fading. And given the number of alarmist blogs that have gone inactive over the past two years, one wonders if Real Climate will pony up the fee to continue. I’m not even sure we’ll be able to say ‘Well, we’ll always have Grist.’ The mills are waiting. (Of course you can always read my book…)

grist for the mill


20 responses to “Grist For The Mill

  1. Preaching on global apocalypse has been around since the Noah stories were first written down if not longer. So far the preachers have all been wrong.
    There is no rational reason to believe the current focus of apocalyptic preaching will have a different outcome.

  2. “Humans will use 3000 Quads by 2075. If they all come from coal we’re ruined” how is that not an apocalyptic statement, Thomas?

    • Hi Hans, well, the world burned 523 quads from all energy sources in 2010. If we use six times as much energy in 2075 and even the same percentage as today is coal, even if the CO2 doesn’t get us the pollution will. If it’s all from coal, we’re not just ruined–we’re screwed.

      • Tom,
        There are ways to burn coal more cleanly. For a small fraction of what is being squandered on climate hype and dubious redundant studies to support the hype we could have developed world standards and technologies to make cleaner coal a reality.
        Soot, NOx, SOx, metals, all could be significantly reduced. The technologies could be licensed cheaply, even freely, to developing countries to support their electrification.

      • You could say the same for horse use in 1915, yet nobody was screwed in 1975, nobody was drowning in horse manure. Why the “what if in 60 years” scaremongering?

      • How does your 3000 quads translate to GtC? What would be a “safe” level?

      • So clean coal will lead us away from the apocalypse? Essentially the same way coal is used in western europe? Desulphured and smokescrubbed?

      • Hi Hans,

        I’ve used the same argument in different context elsewhere. The problem is we do have a pretty good idea of how many people there are going to be in 2075. We have a fairly good idea of how many of them will have acceded to a modern lifestyle by then. We have a good idea of the range of energy consumption for different modern lifestyles.

        And we have a good idea of what will be built in the way of energy infrastructure between now and then, unless everybody all of a sudden starts to agree with me.

        As I am more or less a geezer in a garage saying that august institutions like the International Energy Agency, World Bank, IMF, BP and the Energy Information Administration are wrong, wrong I tell you!, I doubt that’s going to happen.

        I’m a firm believer that the future will be very different from the present and different in ways we can barely grasp today. While failing to understand the transition from animal power to the ICE might have upset investors in buggy whips, the people of New York still moved from point to point. As they do today with very low levels of private car ownership.

      • Hans, clean coal is a lot, lot better than dirty coal. It is not as good as hydro, nuclear or renewables. But probably the best thing we could do for the planet right this second is donate clean scrubbing technology to India.

      • Thomas, Now to wrap things up for my understanding of your concerns: is 3000 quads using clean coal (i.e. all nasties taken out except CO2) still a threat to humanity?

      • To humanity? No, at least not from what I can see. Not even to civilization.

        But that doesn’t mean there is no threat. When the scientists say storms will be more intense I believe them. When they talk about more destructive storm surges I believe them. Etc.

        I think global warming will be a very real problem in the future. Especially for some heavily populated developing countries, but also for the rest of us.

        I think people will eventually die because of climate change, whether by drought, heatwave or flood. More mundanely, we will pay a lot of money to put things right, either before or after the fact. I hope it’s before.

      • “I think global warming will be a very real problem in the future. ”
        Why? Climate sensitivity is low, there is absolutely no sigh of worsening storms. And with clean coal there will be no pollution whatsoever. So with all respect, those are not the words of a lukewarmer.
        I think OTOH global warming will be very beneficial in the future. Global warming can only be a problem in the future if climate sensitivity were high. Again my lukewarm calculations fir this century:

      • Hi Hans

        Although I hope you are correct, I am considerably more pessimistic. I believe the brute force increase in emissions will more than compensate for the lower sensitivity you postulate–my estimate for sensitivity is 2.1C, which would worsen the situation if correct.

      • As a point of order, Hans’s 1.3 K sensitivity is transient sensitivity; I suspect that Tom’s 2.1 is at equilibrium.

      • Hi HaroldW, my estimate is indeed for ECS.

  3. Talking about reading your book, it’s on order, should arrive in January. It seems Amazon has to send their packages by space probe to orbit Jupiter before they land it in Madrid.

  4. The writer of “When the apocalypse comes, it’ll be every man and woman for themselves” has no faith in humankind. It is like the “business as usual” scenarios, lacking optimism and even logic.

    • Well, to be fair–the guy was talking about zombies. But then he segued into climate change as if it were kinda the same thing.

      • For me the zombie is a metaphor to justify killing those who disagree with the enlightened: The unbelievers are spiritually dead and are therefor ok to destroy so the enlightened can live.

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