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Whether you know it or not the industrialized world is at war, a climate war. The industrialized world didn’t ask for it, it has being forced upon us. The fossil fuel burning world is being attacked by factions that want to extract the wealth of the prosperous nations to pay for a remaking of the world and “save it” from the industrialized nations crime of releasing carbon dioxide into the air.

However, as one of the Australian climate commissioners recently revealed, these governments, environmental groups and the United Nations have no answers as to what specific climate benefit would result from their victory. This is what makes the climate war so dangerous. Without a specific, targeted temperature drop figure somewhere in the future as a goal the entire transformation from fossil fuels to “renewables” lacks any true objective. The attempt to re-make energy production on a global scale will likely be prohibitively expensive and yield a temperature reduction that can only be guessed at! History has proven over and over again that stumbling into war without a specified, targeted objective, results in billions or trillions of wasted dollars and the pointless loss of human life.

Every once in a great while when our moon’s orbit takes it closer to Earth something quite remarkable can happen, a government official tells the truth. Apparently the increased gravitational force of the closer moon wrenches the truth from the unwitting official’s mouth. Before you know it he or she has blurted out something that in a moment, changes the entire landscape. With the last full moon being closer to earth since 1993 just such a thing happened in Australia.

In March, around the time of the moon’s closer proximity a reporter named Andrew Bolt, writing for Melbourne’s Herald Sun, happened to be interviewing Australia’s leading Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery. Bolt was looking to get a figure as to how much the earth’s temperature would drop if Australia reduced its carbon dioxide emissions 5% by 2020. At first Flannery was unwilling to give an answer, probably because he didn’t have one. Bolt pressed him for an actual number, something he could get his arms around. Flannery responded with “look it will be a very, very small increment.” Bolt continued to ask Flannery for an actual number.

Apparently at this point the moon’s stronger gravity effect kicked in. Upon further questioning Flannery blurted out “If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years.” The first time I read this I had to go back and read it again, I was that stunned. Bolt was not satisfied with this answer. He was simply looking for an actual number, not a vague statement of generalities. He pressed Flannery to give a number like the cost of buying a car. He said you need to know the price of the car before you spend real money to buy it right? Flannery agreed.

Bolt then used a different approach. He gave Flannery a set of temperature numbers that he could pick from. This would help Flannery give the amount of temperature drop benefit Australia would achieve by reducing carbon dioxide emissions 5% by 2020. The closer moon’s proximity and increased gravity was now pulling harder on the earth than it had in 18 years. Flannery responded with this remarkable admission. “Just let me finish and say this. If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years”. After reading this I was glad I was sitting down.

This eye popping remark comes not from some everyday politician but from a climate commissioner of Australia. He is saying that if we shut down every coal, gas or oil burning electric utility, eliminate every car, bus, train and ground all planes, shut all factories that make things and stop using fossil fuels entirely everywhere in the world it would have no effect on earth’s temperature for hundreds of years, perhaps a thousand years. Amazingly, even after that tectonic plate shifting admission Flannery still had no actual number as to how much the temperature would drop if Australia shut everything off today. He could only offer “it’s going to be slight.”

What is “slight” Is it a tenth of a degree? A hundredth of a degree? A thousandths of a degree? Flannery had no answer. That’s because he doesn’t know what the number is. It’s like saying the car is going to cost you money to buy. Well ok but how much? Well, we really don’t have a number for you but trust us it does have a price. Well then, I’m not going to buy it if I don’t know the price. What’s scary and dangerous about the climate war is that governments will force you to buy that car no matter what it costs.

And that is the whole issue. What price are we supposed to pay to revolutionize the way the industrial world makes energy and what temperature benefit will result? This climate commissioner of Australia has no answer as to what the temperature drop would be. I strongly suspect he has no idea what the cost will be to achieve the temperature drop either. It took 200 years to achieve the amount of energy production we have in the world today. You can bet it will take trillions of dollars to re-engineer it into something else. Even if such a thing were possible there is no guarantee it would have any significant effect on earth’s average temperature. According to the Australian climate commissioner the end result, whatever that might be, would take up to one thousand years to take effect.

There is hope. Mr. Flannery has basically admitted there is no need for the climate war to continue. By revealing that the temperature drop would not be realized for perhaps a thousand years there simply is no pressing need to transform the way we make energy today, tomorrow or twenty years from now. The collateral damage resulting from such a forced and rapid transformation would likely far, far exceed any guessed at benefit of unknown magnitude hundreds of years in the future. To risk the prosperity and safety of billions of people on such tenuous assumptions is reckless and irresponsible to the extreme. The climate war should be declared over.

Energy Tribune, 31 March 2011