One Finite Planet

Climate change: anthropogenic climate change is not 100% certain, just highly likely. How likely is our is our ability to stop it?

First Published:

It can seem like the word is divided between those who will who will not accept any evidence of anthropogenic climate change, and those who will not will not listen any questioning of the need for action to prevent climate change.

Reality is neither group is correct because no case is 100% certain.  Even the official statements from the IPCC do not declare 100% certainty on C02 output driving climate change. The world is actually grey – not black or white.  The real key is dealing with probability rather than certainty.

Most of us will insure our home without needing 100% certainty that our home will burn down. We do not use lack of 100% as a valid argument for inaction with our home, so why advocate lack of 100% certainty as an argument for inaction on the entire planet?  The risk certainly justifies taking out insurance!  The real uncertainty worthy of  attention is “what if actions to prevent climate change will be ineffective or are insufficient?”  Typical of insurance, what if the ‘policy’ will not payout to cover the risk?

I heard a statement from a prominent “anti climate change” advocate: “Climate change is natural, it is happening all the time”.

The person making the argument was not known for great logic, but just consider for a moment, what if there is valid point?  Climate change can occur even without the meddling of humans. What if the current changes would continue even without further human This raises the possibility that, even if accepting that humans are a source of climate change, there may also be natural underlying change in combination. Or perhaps, human induced climate change has or will trigger additional natural climate change that may continue even if human behaviour changes.

How certain to you need to be that your house will burn down to take out insurance?  When the risk is high take out the insurance.  Anthropogenic induced climate change may not be certain, but it is clearly at a risk level where we need to take out our insurance.  Now consider, do we also need insurance that current steps will not prevent climate change as well?

Consider some background: Ice Ages.

Technically we are currently an interglacial period within Ice Age.  Ice ages have interglacial periods (like now) and glacial periods like in the move ‘Ice Age’.  You could call a glacial period a ‘very ice age’ and what is thought of in the popular vernacular as an ice age, but in fact the presence of even polar ice caps like we currently have qualifies as an ice age.  Over the past 100 million years the earth has spent more time outside ice ages (no polar caps at all) , than within ice ages (either polar caps like the present or glacial periods).  No ice age at all means way higher sea levels (as much 200 meters higher), and a glacial period results in lower sea levels (as much as 130 meters lower).

Over the past 3 million years (the entire time humans have existed) the Earth has alternated between the glacial and non glacial periods of an Ice Age.  The last time the Earth was truly outside an Ice Age was before humans existed, which may be why glacial periods also get called ‘Ice Ages’. Humans have not existed in a time ‘less Ice Age’ than things are at present.  However, the normal state of the Earth of the past 100 million years is to be outside an Ice Age… something humans have never experienced.  Within an Ice Age (as we technically are) the most common state is a glacial period, but we have had around 11,000 years in the current interglacial period.   Human civilization has really only existed in a inter-glacial period.  The least common state, of the least common state of the climate of the Earth.

Humans have live through the change from glacial to interglacial, but not civilization, and very specifically not a global civilization supporting over 7 billion people.  We have a very fragile system that is unlikely to support anywhere near our current population in a change to either a glacial period (never experienced by civilization) or the most common state of the Earth, completely devoid of polar ice caps, which has never been experienced by humans at all.

Now consider, are we really confident we can stop climate change?  Yes it is urgent that we do what ever we can to minimise, or even eliminate our own contribution to climate change, but we should not be over confident that anything we do will actually stop climate change, rather than just reduce the impact.



Table of Contents


COP27: Climate change action sabotage?

Reports from COP27 seems indicate the key initiative this year to make wealthy nations cover the cost of the damages poor nations will incur as a result of emissions that have main originated from those wealthy nations.

The proposal as it stands has a missing an essential piece, and trying to cover for that essential piece, appears most to likely to increase emissions, and move COP away from a focus on solving the climate crisis and instead toward just fighting over the cost.

This is a troubled look at the key flaw in what has been put forward and the real solution that should be in place.

Read More »

Did Al Gore nail it: Is climate change merely inconvenient, or is it an existential threat?

Claims that +1.5oC warming would be ‘catastrophic’, and that climate change represents an ‘existential threat’ can be quite vague as just what is ‘catastrophic’ or an ‘existential threat’?

This webpaper, seeks to translate ‘catastrophic’ outcomes and ‘existential threats’ into more concrete outcomes.

“We recognise climate change is a serious problem and are committed to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent the disastrous consequences anticipated to occur by around 2026”

Typical government position: Is it ok?

Read More »

The Power struggle in Australia.

From “the biggest corruption scandal ever” in Brazil, problems in Venezuela, human rights in Saudi Arabia and Iran, to the problems caused by lobbyists against action on climate change, an abundance of fossil fuels is a source of political power, yet rarely force for good, and Australia, with a wealth of coal and gas, is not spared.

The current crisis in Ukraine not only drives up energy prices globally, but it also creates a dilemma for gas producing nations.

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Environmental impact of the transition to EVs.

Its 2022, and only 1 in 8 new car purchases globally is an EV, and as only 1 in 4 car purchases is a new car, only 1 in 32, or around 3% of all car purchases, are an EV purchase. While the EV percentage is rising, there will be gas/petrol/diesel cars until at least 2045, and little reduction in emissions from the EV transition alone.

As demand for EVs will continue to outstrip supply, no one will need to choose an EV to save the planet, or run out of other choices any time soon. Bans are to pressure manufacturers to move from protecting their existing assets and produce enough EVs to meet demand, rather than force consumers into ICEVs.

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Big Oil, AKA Big Fossil: How real, and what about ‘big climate’?

Yes, big oil clearly has a vested interest in arguing against climate change and downplaying risks, but on the other hand, aren’t there also vested interests exaggerating and overstating the risks of climate change? Effectively ‘big renewables’, ‘big science’ or ‘big climate’?

This is a look at the financial might on each side of the argument, and the respective motives for each side to overstate their case.

Is this really a balanced fight, or is it more like the might of ‘big tobacco’ vs ‘whistle blower medical research’ all over again?

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EV Home Charging and V2G: Missing an opportunity for the planet.

Move to renewables for energy, and electricity for transport, and we solve the climate problem.

But renewables require storage, and uptake of EVs requires home charging, and there is a cost to both.

But what if electric vehicles could solve the “green power grid” problem, provide energy security, and avert a threat of increasing inequality, and reduce costs? It turns out this dream scenario is definitely possible but can be fully realised only if the home charging problem is solved.

Read More »