Smart People Say Dumb Things: Bill Gates Edition
Bill Gates has written a book: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Unfortunately, the book is a disaster. He doesn’t get past the introduction before making mistakes that negate the rest of the book. He claims Carbon Dioxide emissions must be reduced to zero to avoid a climate disaster. Assuming that CO2 can even cause a climate disaster, about half the CO2 emitted every year is reabsorbed by the Earth – by the oceans and by plants. Thus, you don’t need zero, a fifty percent reduction would stop the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is vastly more difficult to cut out all emissions compared to cutting them in half.
Gates claims we have to deploy solar and wind faster and smarter. I wrote a book about wind and solar with the title: Dumb Energy. There is no smart deployment of wind and solar. They are very dumb and very, very expensive. It is routine for solar to cost five times more than electricity from natural gas. Heavy solar deployment makes it even more expensive due to the use of auxiliary batteries.
Gates says we need to create and roll out breakthrough technologies. That’s called the pie in the sky.
Bill Gates strikes me as a good guy, especially compared to the nasty guys running Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. He is sincerely trying to help the poor people of the world through his foundation. He is simply out of his depth on climate and is probably talking only to the promoters of climate disaster. There are plenty of scientists that are climate skeptics.
You might think that having a lot of money frees one from the chains imposed by the need to please one’s employer, friends, family, and social group. But, rarely do rich people take unpopular positions. Trump is one of the few. Rich people are as much slaves to political fashion as anyone else.
The same applies to scientists. It is unusual for a scientist to question popular wisdom among his peers. As for global warming, an employed scientist risks being fired if he expresses skepticism. Global warming fear is the source of vast funding for science. The hope is that giving money to the people that perpetrated the fraud can save us from it. Most of the scientists publicly skeptical of global warming are retired or otherwise independent of large institutions that hate dissent.
Gates repeats a fallacious theory that has been debunked many times.
“How do greenhouse gases (mostly CO2) cause warming? The short answer: They absorb heat and trap it in the atmosphere. They work the same way a greenhouse works—hence the name.”
Global warming theory is far more complicated than greenhouses. But we should note that the owners of greenhouses often install CO2 generators to make plants grow better and faster. CO2 greatly benefits agriculture.
Radiation has a central role in the Earth’s climate. Everything with a temperature above absolute zero radiates electromagnetic energy. The radiation from the sun that arrives as sunshine is a consequence of the extremely hot surface of the sun. But even objects at room temperature or even cold objects radiate invisible (to us) infrared radiation.
The considerable energy that is absorbed by the Earth from sunlight does not stay trapped on the Earth. It has to escape back into space or the Earth would heat up without limit. The outgoing radiation that balances the incoming radiation is infrared radiation that mostly originates in the cold upper atmosphere.
The removal of the heat energy from the Earth’s surface initially takes place by convection, hot air rising. Radiation to outer space from the surface of the earth is largely blocked because the atmosphere has limited transparency to infrared radiation. Convection carries the energy upward to a region called the tropopause that is the boundary between the lower atmosphere and the stratosphere – where jet planes fly.
At this high altitude, the atmosphere is thin enough and dry enough that radiation can escape to outer space. The height of the tropopause above the Earth’s surface varies by region and is a function of temperature and humidity. The temperature difference between the surface and the tropopause is controlled by the lapse rate, a measure of how fast the atmosphere cools with altitude. The lapse rate is sensitive to the amount of water vapor in the air. If the tropopause rises higher while the lapse rate remains the same, then the surface of the Earth must be hotter because the same rate of cooling is stretched over a greater distance. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere, particularly to the stratosphere, will make the tropopause rise enough for the thinning of the atmosphere to compensate for the infrared radiation blocking properties of CO2. There is little reason to believe that the average lapse rate is frozen at a certain level as global warming theory assumes.
That is the real, complicated theory of global warming. Global warming won’t happen unless a lot of conditions are satisfied. Something that is not likely.
There was a period of strong global warming from about 1910 to 1940. Nobody knows what caused it except that it wasn’t caused by rising CO2 because CO2 levels were too low in that less industrialized period. The current, minor global warming cannot be attributed to CO2 as its profile, involving a so-called hot spot in the upper atmosphere, does not match the profile expected from warming induced by CO2.
The most extreme weather and temperatures in recent times took place in the 1930s, not the present time. We’ve all heard about the dust bowl.
The promoters of global warming claim that anything people have reason to be scared of will be caused by global warming. Some of the favorites are floods, storms, sea-level rise, and crop failure. These threats are made up for political reasons. A thin “scientific” explanation can always be found.
I started studying global warming fifteen years ago. It took the first few years to have the realization dawn that global warming is political, not scientific. It is something like a religion that is very convenient for the promoters.
Norman Rogers spent 10-years studying climate change and climate change scientists. He is the author of the book Dumb Energy, about wind and solar energy. He is on the board of the CO2 Coalition and was formerly on the board of the National Association of Scholars. He holds a master’s degree in physics.