Does green have a dark side?

I occasionally post “sustainable energy” news clips to the PeaceChurch mailing list, particularly where the church in Australia is adding something to the debate. Responses are inevitably mixed – no less earlier this week when I posted the following:

Some 40 religious leaders (including Churches of Christ, as well as leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Baha’i faiths) sent a letter to the Fed Government “calling for immediate and decisive action on climate change”(8.8.08)It coincided with a visit to Australia by Pacific church leaders who are deeply concerned about the effects of climate change on the region. The letter can be seen at

Some of the feedback (with permission from all sources) can be found in the comments section on this post. You may like to continue the discussion there, remembering that light is more illuminating than heat – which, given the topic, sounds like a terrible pun!

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

3 thoughts on “Does green have a dark side?

  1. Ah! 40 of little faith! If they cared to seek the facts, rather than to embrace the fantasy, they would realise that their concerns should be addressed to Almighty God, not to the Federal Government. Noah coped by heeding divine advice and building the ark.

    Climate change is a natural phenomenon. Scientific studies provide conclusive evidence that there have been significant changes in climate over the ages, long before man started burning fossil fuels to the extent that happens today – in fact, long before homo sapiens was present on earth in significant numbers.

    Scientific evidence is that CO2 emissions generated by nature every day render modern man's contribution totally insignificant.

    But the scientific evidence is simply ignored, because it does not fit the hypothesis of the Carbon Trading industry brigade, nor does it advance their agenda .

    Why let facts interfere with the gravy train?

    The cost of Carbon Trading and the reduction of CO2 emissions will be borne by the man in the street in all developed countries that subscribe to this populist farce. That cost is simply an impost which will benefit a small band of unprincipled, unscrupulous con-men (con-people?) in the first-world.

    Actually, the effect upon people in third-world countries of this posturing will be negative, inasmuch as first-world resources that could have been used to assist third-world countries cope with problems arising from climate change will have been wasted.

    Maybe wasted is not strong enough – misappropriated describes the fraud more aptly.

    The articles below may be of interest.

    Some interesting reading:-

    Hello Mom, (and other friends / rellies)

    Thanks for circulating the very pertinent article below.

    I wish to add a few comments for general consideration, since I was appointed in 1994 by the Australian Greenhouse Office (via the Institute of Engineers) as an engineering consultant to conduct Energy Audits in the mining and industrial sector. The information we gathered was collated by the AGO and CO2 equivalent carbon emissions were calculated for presentation, political evaluation and international negotiation. Our Energy Audits qualified the "clients" for a rebate on our consulting fees which generated substantial interest in the programme. Through our hi-tech equipment we were able to advise many Mines, Hospitals and commercial institutions on how to reduce up to 10% of their power consumption for no loss of productivity, mostly with a capital expenditure payback period of under 12 months and often under 1 month!

    I agree with Dr David Evans wholeheartedly about the Greenhouse Gas Farce and to put matters further into perspective have always argued that the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in 1883 created more CO2 gasses in a week than the total subsequent emissions from man's industrial revolution to date. However, while I agree that socialists (represented in Australia by the Labour Party and other minority parties) have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot by exaggerating problems and misrepresenting reality for political expediency, I believe that there is a far more important issue at stake. I consider waste of any manner to be a shame for mankind.

    Since I have been a power engineer for most of my life, it has always astonished me how individuals and corporations have abused the fantastic privilege we enjoy from fossil fuels and electrical power in the modern world. Having travelled quite extensively, I could add to that abuse list the manner in which so many simple opportunities and natural gifts are ignored, especially by 3rd world nations where food often grows untended if only planted.

    So rather than attempting to gain political mileage from abusing socialists for their failure to grasp the truth about Greenhouse Gasses, I respectfully suggest that we urge them to channel their idealism and energy into pursuing worthwhile objectives like training our modern youth to respect their parents, and to treasure everyday gifts of life (including our common sense), rather than focussing on tearing our society apart by preaching materialism, godlessness and rebellion. Tried, proven and ageless values are the cornerstones of a society that we must nurture in order for us to care enough to conserve energy and any other resources at our disposal.

    Thank you for instilling these principals in our family.

    Love always, your son
    Lawrence Findlay.

    David Evans | July 18, 2008
    I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.
    FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.
    When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.
    The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.
    But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
    There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:
    1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.
    Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.
    If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming. If we had found the greenhouse signature then I would be an alarmist again.
    When the signature was found to be missing in 2007 (after the latest IPCC report), alarmists objected that maybe the readings of the radiosonde thermometers might not be accurate and maybe the hot spot was there but had gone undetected. Yet hundreds of radiosondes have given the same answer, so statistically it is not possible that they missed the hot spot.
    Recently the alarmists have suggested we ignore the radiosonde thermometers, but instead take the radiosonde wind measurements, apply a theory about wind shear, and run the results through their computers to estimate the temperatures. They then say that the results show that we cannot rule out the presence of a hot spot. If you believe that you'd believe anything.
    2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.
    3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.
    4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.
    None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.
    The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion.
    Until now the global warming debate has merely been an academic matter of little interest. Now that it matters, we should debate the causes of global warming.
    So far that debate has just consisted of a simple sleight of hand: show evidence of global warming, and while the audience is stunned at the implications, simply assert that it is due to carbon emissions.
    In the minds of the audience, the evidence that global warming has occurred becomes conflated with the alleged cause, and the audience hasn't noticed that the cause was merely asserted, not proved.
    If there really was any evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming, don't you think we would have heard all about it ad nauseam by now?
    The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.
    What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.
    The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence for why the changes are necessary. The Australian public is eventually going to have to be told the evidence anyway, so it might as well be told before wrecking the economy.
    Dr David Evans was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005
    From The Economist:-

    Aug 27th 2007

    Methane from the oceans could power the world

    MUCH effort is quietly going into the pursuit of what is probably the
    world's greatest store of fossil fuel–caches of methane, the primary
    component of natural gas, stored in structures called methane hydrates,
    or clathrates (a general term for gas molecules trapped by water
    molecules). Looking just like ice, they are methane molecules trapped
    within tiny cages of water molecules. They form where temperatures are
    low and pressures are high, which is to say, on the sea-floor at the
    continental shelves, and within the permafrost at the Earth's poles.

    As with all fossil-fuel resources, it is hard to estimate just how much
    methane is trapped in clathrates worldwide. But there is a lot. One
    litre of clathrates can hold more than 150 litres of methane. Numerous
    deposits have been identified off the coasts of all of the continents.
    Even a few of the lakes in Central Asia are just frosty enough to
    support clathrate formation. Some guess that clathrate methane reserves
    could equal twice the rest of the world's fossil fuel supplies combined.

    America's National Energy Technology Laboratory put together a
    consortium of other government agencies and petroleum companies to
    drill for clathrates with some success in the Gulf of Mexico; they were
    promptly hired by India to perform the trick there. A Japanese
    government collaboration has drilled about 30 wells, with a timeline to
    start production and distribution of methane from hydrates by 2016. In
    June China reported having pulled up some first methane-bearing samples
    from the South China Sea.

    All of this might sound like the beginnings of the solution to the
    world's energy problems. And it may yet be. But, as always, there are
    some daunting details to sort out first. Many deposits will yield just
    a fraction of the hoped-for methane, and harvesting even that will be
    difficult. The little cages of water around the methane are dangerously
    delicate, so that collection has to take place on the sea-floor. Much
    work is now under way on adapting conventional drilling equipment for
    large-scale deep-sea methane recovery.

    Clathrates are suspects in a number of geo-crimes great and small.
    Mixed with sea-floor sediment, they can constitute vast unstable
    deposits prone to underwater landslides. Such a landslide 8000 years
    ago in the North Sea created a tsunami that flooded much of coastal
    Scotland and Norway.

    And, given their delicate nature, clathrates tend to release their
    methane bounty during these landslides. Methane is the cleanest of the
    fossil fuels when burned; but released directly into the atmosphere, it
    is a "greenhouse gas" significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.
    Vast releases of methane from clathrates are widely thought to have
    played a part in two global temperature spikes that led to mass
    extinctions about 250m and 55m years ago.

    Because the icy slush left over after methane removal is less
    structurally stable than the clathrates, stripping the seafloor of some
    of its methane might result in frequent landslides that release much
    more methane. Many clathrate deposits sit atop grand reservoirs of free
    gas, so that drilling might unleash a methane burp of enormous size,
    with environmental impacts to match.

    One brilliant-sounding idea, now being studied, calls for pumping
    carbon dioxide into the clathrates. The carbon dioxide would make the
    clathrates more stable; and, its presence would case them to give up
    their methane, sequester the carbon dioxide, and let off a little heat
    that kept the reaction going.

    The technological challenge is vast, but no more so than the potential
    economic rewards. The trick is to get the gas, without the pains.

    See this article with graphics and related items at


  2. … I have noticed that sometimes such people can (unwittingly) be instrumental in launching something bigger and more worthwhile, even if it was for entirely the wrong motives. (possibly a little related to the parable where one person sows the seed, another waters the crop while yet another reaps the harvest)…….. In the end, it is only the results that count. An interesting discussion revolves around CARBON DEBITS & CREDITS. While I agree that the system is hugely flawed and may tend to stifle progress, what I do like is that it stimulates the planting of trees! Any fool with a $5 axe can lop down a tree that took years to grow, but the carbon credit system helps to create industries that plant and harvest trees, establishing businesses that are obliged to think about long term investments, which inevitably is the only way we will stem the degradation of our land and heritage. Unfortunately, I can not vouch for how much forestry re-growth business actually takes place globally, which places this dream onto the 'endangered species' list.
    Probably the biggest outrage of the present situation is the fake under-supply of crude and the spiralling inflationary consequences that are starting to bite deep into every day peoples lives. A compounding blow is that a significant number of the world's farming community dived into planting bio-fuels, which has caused (as yet) uncalculated damage to many economies that could least afford the financial burden of higher basic food costs. It is quite worrying to observe our Christian based society in the western world loose its way to such an extent that for all of our technical superiority we can not conspire, plan and agree to get such obvious decisions right. On the contrary, we are able to witness (and marvel at) the modern success of the Chinese nation, who unashamedly admit making decisions that are intended to yield maximum results 3 generations from now! Strangely enough, those are the same values that were embraced by the immigrants and settlers who pioneered Australia, Africa and America!


  3. It is interesting, I was standing around a campfire in the freezing cold of Araluen, Perth, last night discussing with a group of Christian Youth Leaders the polution we were causing by burning wood. Someone made reference to some of the articles you have posted here, most of the young people around the fire agreed that global warming was not an issue and that peak oil was an even bigger conspiracy.
    I simply asked what it would look like if we honoured the earth as stewards and guardians like we are meant to, would we need to be having this discussion. Regardless of carbon trading and other seemingly expensive schemes, should we not be reviewing the manner in which we (particularly in the developed world) use and abuse the resources (including human, but that is another topic!) around us.
    I personally think we (individually and corporately) are being distracted with Carbon issues, oil issues etc from the primary issue of creation care, or stewardship/ We are experts in exploitation, and what happens when someone says we might not have much time left, oil left, or time left before we have to pay for every tonne of carbon, we just seem to want to quickly use more, get more for me or us no matter what the flow down effect on others…this is exploitation.
    End of my rant


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