Which is more important, virus or climate change?

By August 5, 2020Other

Some months ago I received in the email a British cartoon, showing a harassed Pom sitting in front of his TV. On the screen you could see dozens of signs with the word ‘coronavirus’ and someone is lecturing viewers about what they now had to do. His wife was staring out the window at the street, where people are marching with ‘coronavirus’ banners. Husband is saying to wife, ‘Oh, how I wish they’d bring back Brexit!’ It was worth a good laugh then, and perhaps an even bigger one now. But there is touch of real fear in the laugh. Covid-19, as we call it, is a powerful and real enemy. We in the ACT are lucky to have kept the numbers down, but Victoria has not been lucky at all, and NSW is apprehensive that the Victorian malady will spill over the border. The Victorian Premier seems to be on the box every day.

Brexit did dominate television for some months in the UK, and was big news here too. The virus has swamped television news and current affairs for almost six months now. There’s no doubt we are all sick of it, but no less doubt that we have to know what is going on, so we watch. Even the sporting news has been, until recently, more about how the football clubs are coping than with any actual play. Among those hard pressed by their new lack of capacity to get people’s attention are those who think that the real doom is not the virus, but climate change. Don’t we realise that the virus is just a passing thing, but that climate change is pushing us towards the end of human life? No, we don’t. One reason is that the warnings about it have been going on for more than forty years, but nothing of consequence seems to have happened. Another is that climate doom is now pictured in fifty years time or at the end of the century, whereas the virus is right now, and is killing people every day.

So the climate-worried are trying to find new ways of linking the virus to climate change, and in my view not very successfully. Example One: a Spanish bank (BBVA) has put out a long and quite interesting piece on ‘Viruses and climate change: how the two threats converge’. I read it without finding out how the two threats were doing that, but the title was arresting. 

Example Two: Fiona Armstrong of La Trobe University published a piece on her university’s website with the main title ‘Covid-19 and climate change connected’. She begins

The Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the world is a crisis of our own making. That’s the message from infectious disease and environmental health experts, and from those in Planetary Health — an emerging field connecting human health, civilisation and the natural systems on which they depend.

They might sound unrelated, but the Covid-19 crisis and the climate and biodiversity crises are deeply connected.

So I read on, to discover at the end that the whole essay was speculative. There was no actual evidence of any real deep connection, or even a shallow one, but our ‘war on nature’ produces both new diseases and a changing climate, she says. So there. I also discovered that the article was originally published in The Conversation. I might have guessed.

Example Three: The Lowy Institute publishes a daily website called The Interpreter in which appeared ‘Can Covid-19 responses be a model for climate action?‘ The decisive answer never appears. It might or it might not. Who can tell? Once again it is the headline that counts, though the body of the story makes clear that the Lowy Institute believes that there really is a climate crisis.

Science, bipartisanship, and public will: we’re going to need all three to crest the climate crisis. It will need deep, complex engagement with genuinely difficult policy decisions based off rigorous scientific advice, paired with commitments from all political camps to rise above meaningless “gotcha” point-scoring, and acceptance from all members of society to incur relatively small costs today to avoid far greater ones tomorrow.

Out in the world of politics, of course, there is fundamental disagreement as to what is to count as ‘rigorous scientific advice’, and great pushing for what can be called ‘the green deal’, an American phrase that is moving elsewhere in the Western world. The green deal, simply, is to rebuild the world economies, once the pandemic is over, on the basis of alternative energy sources, and get rid of fossil fuels. There is no need for me to rehash the sheer impossibility of implementing such a deal, at least in anything like the short run, and probably the long run as well. Nuclear power is not sustainable in the very long run, though it would help the Greens in the short term. Of course, they’re opposed to it.

Meanwhile, all the evidence suggests that in the rapidly developing worlds of China, India and other parts of Asia, there is a strong move towards increasing the amount of electricity produced by coal in particular. The day of coal is not over yet, by any means, and alternative energy sources for airline flight are along with the pigs-might-fly belief. The green deal is being pushed by the leftish Democrats in the US, perhaps in the hope that young voters will get out and vote in November, and in the further hope that they would prefer the green deal to Donald Trump.

These are exciting times, and frightening ones too, as a friend said on the phone the other morning. The inroads the virus is making into the aged care facilities in Victoria makes anyone in such a place, like me, hope against hope that the virus respects the NSW/Victorian border. We are a vulnerable lot, and the fear is about now, not what might happen in 2050, let alone the end of the century. Dealing with the pandemic is not easy at all for governments anywhere, and ours have done pretty well. I felt for Premier Andrews in Victoria in his mea culpa [my fault] statement, and it is nice to see a government anywhere accepting that finally it is responsible for the outcomes of the decisions it has made. 

Covid-19 is our present disaster. It is some way off being solved, and until it is over there will be much less talk, and virtually no action, about climate change. For my part that latter prediction is a good thing. We will cope with, and adapt to, the changes that come with shifting patterns of climate, as we always have done. The seas will not dry up, and all species will do what seems obvious to them.

Join the discussion 31 Comments

  • Even with the advent of a highly effective vaccine, the pandemic will still be with us for some months to come and the cumulative economic impacts are appearing to almost certainly be both lengthy and severe. To attempt at the same time to impose a Green New Deal costing trillions of dollars globally and requiring multi-fold increases in energy costs is beyond fantasy. It would be insanity. Fortunately it will also be impossible. If seriously attempted this it will soon provide sufficient proof in the form of widespread blackouts and economic depression to convince even the most ardent alarmists of the error of their delusions.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Green new deal does not cost trillions. It moves trillions from one stream of activity but it reappears elsewhere.

      Only special interests, looking out just for themselves, cry “costs”.

      • Boambee John says:

        Chris

        You seem confident. Perhaps you could produce an audited account of how the “Green new deal does not cost trillions. It moves trillions from one stream of activity but it reappears elsewhere.”

        OS, I think the correct pronunciation is “Green Nude Eel”. It is a rather slippery concept.

        • Boambee John says:

          Chris

          Before you prepare your spreadsheet, you might find it enlightening to read Don’s post of 15 July, The Impossible Claim.

          And don’t forget to include the costs of frequency control.

  • Mike Dinn says:

    “ Nuclear power is not sustainable in the very long run . .” Where does this come from?

  • Neville says:

    In the real world there is nothing we can do about their so called CAGW fantasy, but we should always prepare by proper adaptation, more R&D and clever innovation.
    Hopefully for the virus we may have a vaccine (s) within 6 months and if so the entire world will eventually be protected from CV-19 by mid 2021. Let’s hope so.
    Our Aussie flu season is very mild so far and the Govt’s flu tracker is probably one of the lowest results for many years or perhaps the lowest ever recorded?

    • Chris Warren says:

      In the real world there is nothing we can do about their so called fossil fuel fantasy, but we should always prepare by proper adaptation, more R&D and clever innovation.
      Hopefully for the virus we may have a vaccine (s) within 6 months and if so the entire world will eventually be protected from CV-19 by mid 2021. Let’s hope so.
      Our Aussie flu season is very mild so far and the Govt’s flu tracker is probably one of the lowest results for many years or perhaps the lowest ever recorded?

      • Alessandro says:

        How can you have a vaccine for a virus that has not been isolated, purified? I refer you to Koch’s postulates and whilst some scientists have claimed they have passed stage 1 when these were asked did they isolate the answer was no. This is another reason why the tests are ineffective. No isolated virus, no effective test and no effective vaccine. The common cold is a CV. We have heard for decades that no-one has been able to crack the code and produce a vaccine, nor has there been for any other CV. So why should we be confident that it will happen now? Pass Koch’s postulates and I will begin to listen until then any vaccine is hit and miss, hardly science, more like alchemy!

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Epidemics come, and they go. This one will, too, and by most standards, it has been fairly benign. The vast majority of those dying have been the frail elderly-most recent deaths in Victoria have been aged 70 to 100. And before I am accused of being unbelievably callous, would you prefer to lose your 90 year old grandmother to coronavirus, or your 10 year old daughter to influenza? Sheer luck has given us the former-this time. Next time, and there will be one, it is unlikely to be as kind.

  • Stu says:

    Don, I agree with at least one statement in your piece. The seas will definitely not dry up.

  • Neville says:

    The number one problem with their so called CAGW is that the Labor and Greens want to waste trillions of $ on this lunacy from now on.
    I’ve shown the co2 emissions + levels from NOAA, Wiki, Lomborg’s team etc over the last 30/50 years and they all prove that all of our future trillions $ will be a waste of time and money.
    Lomborg’s team has at least 23 expert members and at least 3 Nobel Laureates and their estimate agrees with the NZ govt estimate that net zero emissions will cost NZ at least 5 trillion $. ( 1 Trillion $= 1,000 billion $)
    But we have over 5 times the NZ population and a much higher reliance on coal, gas etc to provide our energy. NZ has much more Hydro+ thermal etc that provides cheap and reliable energy, so the comparison doesn’t even come close to any sort of rationality.
    So our waste of 25+ trillion $ would have to be double that number or 50 trillion $ at least and all for a ZERO return and with the added misery of regular blackouts and a totally wrecked and forever fragile electricity grid.
    Of course the voters will turn very nasty long before that time, but Labor/Greens will still manage to waste trillions $ before people start to wake up.
    Don’t forget that our half of the globe or SH is already a NET ZERO emitter of co2 and Aussies + NZ only emit 1.2% of global emissions and the rest of the SH countries another 5.8% of global emissions.
    And of course no change for their so called CAGW at all while China, India and non OECD countries continue to build 100s of coal fired stns for decades to come.
    Remember I’ve linked to Indian intentions to use coal to power themselves into a high energy future by 2040. See my previous links.

  • Chris Warren says:

    So the Neville fossil is still spreading its loony nonsense. What a broken record with no evidence – just crappy carbon dogmas.

    • Boambee John says:

      Chris

      Just vecause you wish to ignore the evudence, that does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Pull your head out of the sand, and open your mind a bit!

    • Alessandro says:

      Sadly Ad homien attacks are the lowest forms of argument. Now supposing you are right and RE is the way to go just answer one question for me. How do you resolve the choke point?

  • Neville says:

    Here’s the quote below from the CSIRO site of Cape Grim Tassie. The NH is a NET source of co2 and the SH is a NET SINK. Just a pity that Flannery and his Climate Council mob + our govts + world govts + thousands of so called scientists etc don’t understand any of this and today the NH pop is about 7 billion and the SH just 0.8 billion.

    The so called mitigation of their so called CAGW is the greatest fra-d and con trick in history, just ask China, India and non OECD countries who must be laughing all the way to their banks. Here’s the CSIRO link, see under heading “Seasonal variation”. The latest reading in June is 409.5 ppm.

    https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Assessing-our-climate/Latest-greenhouse-gas-data

    Seasonal variation

    “Carbon dioxide concentrations show seasonal variations (annual cycles) that vary according to global location and altitude. Several processes contribute to carbon dioxide annual cycles: for example, uptake and release of carbon dioxide by terrestrial plants and the oceans, and the transport of carbon dioxide around the globe from source regions (the Northern Hemisphere is a net source of carbon dioxide, the Southern Hemisphere a net sink).

    The Cape Grim baseline carbon dioxide data displayed show both the annual cycle and the long-term trend”.

  • Neville says:

    NOAA trends in annual mean growth rate of co2 per decade are shown here 1960 to 2019. Since Paris COP 21 in DEC 2015 the trend has increased, so all pain for ZERO gain.

    Dr Hansen said that Paris COP 21 was just BS and fra-d and Lomborg, Shellenberger etc seem to agree. Here’s the link to NOAA per decade trend chart since 1960.

    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gr.html

  • Neville says:

    Also here’s Wiki’s graph of co2 emissions since 1970 or 1990 and “China + other countries” certainly making the most of the last 30 years and India will come on stronger very soon according to their media. It seems coal and other fossil fuels are very hard to beat, with exception of clueless OECD countries who seem to still believe in the S&W idiocy.
    Or as Dr Hansen said at COP 21 DEC 2015, “that’s like believing in the Tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

  • Neville says:

    Here’s Lomborg’s NY Post article where he calculates the cost of net zero emissions by NZ. But as I stated the net zero calculation cost is also agreed by the NZ govt’s calculation as well. Here’s the relevant quote and article link and don’t forget they will have no measurable impact on temp at all. Yet they intend to flush 5 trillion $ down the drain for a ZERO return.

    https://nypost.com/2019/12/08/reality-check-drive-for-rapid-net-zero-emissions-a-guaranteed-loser/

    “Across the century, the cost for the small island nation of 5 million souls would add up to at least $5 trillion. And this assumes New Zealand implements climate policies efficiently, with a single carbon tax across all sectors of the economy over 80 years.

    No economy has ever introduced climate policies that effectively, because politicians love to pick winners, promote ineffective solutions like electric cars and lavish subsidies on poorly performing technologies.

    What will this achieve? Let’s ­assume that in every one of New Zealand’s elections between now and 2100, governments are chosen that continue to fulfill the promise of going to zero by 2050 and staying there. Imagine, too, that New Zealanders don’t rebel against the inevitably large tax hikes on energy — no “yellow-vest” protests.

    In these artificial conditions, if New Zealand meets its promise of zero emissions in 2050 and stays at zero for five decades, then the greenhouse-gas reduction, according to the standard estimate from the United Nations’ climate panel, will deliver a temperature cut by 2100 of 0.004 degrees”.

    • Alessandro says:

      Neville, I confronted a green loonie today and asked her why temperature precedes CO2. What do you mean she says looking totally bewildered. I suggested she goes and look at the charts again and note that CO2 follows increases in temperature. Perhaps we can turn down the solar thermostat and fix the CO2 not that it needs fixing.

  • Boambee John says:

    Don

    The Kung Flu epidemic has been badly handled almost from the beginning.

    It became clear fairly early that those at significant threat were those with co-morbidities, those above 60 years old, and particularly those in both groups. A logical approach would have been to concentrate on protecting them, push social distancing on everyone, but keep the economy going.

    The approach taken will see our grandchildren struggling to pay off the debt, in a much weaker economy. They will also find themselves in a much diminished democracy.

    The best thing to have come out of this disaster is the utter descrediting of computer “modellers”, who have been shown to live in a fantasy world of their own mental creation. This should cause at least some of our political representatives to look much more closely at the dire predictions of the climate alarmists. We can but hope!

  • Boambee John says:

    Chris

    Further to your comment above about needing only to re-purpose trillins to implement the Green Nude Eel, your comments on the data below please.

    “Why “Green” Energy Is Impossible | Power Line

    These numbers are sobering, obviously. But Minnesota consumes only 1/71 of the electricity in the U.S. If we extrapolate Minnesota’s numbers to the U.S. as a whole, a rough conclusion is that getting all of our electricity from wind, solar and batteries would consume around 70% of all of the copper currently mined in the world, 337% of global nickel production, 3,053% of the world’s total cobalt production, 355% of the U.S.’s iron output, and 284% of U.S. steel production. Along with unfathomable quantities of concrete–which, by the way, off-gases CO2.

    Thus, at a minimum, implementing just this one part of the Democratic Party’s Green New Deal would require an expansion of mining, world-wide, that would dwarf anything in human history. Whether the world contains enough of these metals to support a transition to solar, wind and batteries in the U.S.–and if so, for how long–I have no idea.”

    • Alessandro says:

      If the US loonies get in, heaven forbid, it makes sense to invest heavily in mining companies in the short term then short them when the copper penny drops.

  • Neville says:

    Even the clueless EU extremists have been rolled by reality and they’ve had to agree to a big cut to the climate lunacy and divert many more billions Euros to other spending because of CV-19. Gotta love it, go Poland you little beauty.
    And it seems that their so called net zero emissions targets will be shoved way beyond 2050. Will these EU donkeys ever wake up???
    So Don it looks like you have your answer from the EU fanatics, their fantasy climate budget will have its spending slashed as they concentrate on more important issues that impact on their voters. BTW a recent poll has shown that US voters rank climate change last on their list of priorities. Big surprise NOT.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-coronavirus-package-climate-funds-programmes-billions-a9629481.html?utm_source=CCNet+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3896863ead-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_08_07_01_41_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fe4b2f45ef-3896863ead-36463321&mc_cid=3896863ead&mc_eid=dcbe0ef09b

  • Neville says:

    More fantasies from the EU about their spending on so called climate policies. Now we know that at least 50% of that spending goes on agriculture and helps to keep farmers afloat and even the money left over seems to have very dubious destinations. This is EU Greenwashing on steroids.
    These fanatics are clueless and are quite happy to continue wasting 100s of billions Euros on their so called CAGW lunacy and of course ZERO change by 2050 or 2100 to temp or climate. Just check out the co2 level data from 1960 to 2019 from NOAA for yourselves.
    And please remember the above if you’re ever tempted to vote for Labor and the Greens in the future. If you do you’re voting for a fantasy world and condemning Aussies to a shockingly reduced standard of living for a very long time. And all for NOTHING.

    https://gulf-times.com/story/670001/Is-the-EU-s-30-climate-budget-greenwashing?utm_source=CCNet+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3896863ead-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_08_07_01_41_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fe4b2f45ef-3896863ead-36463321&mc_cid=3896863ead&mc_eid=dcbe0ef09b

  • Neville says:

    Over at Jo Nova’s blog Tony from oz or Anton Lang has been studying OZ energy generation for years.
    This latest coverage has found very regular failure of Wind farms that must be backed up by fossil fueled power, when the wind drops or the wind speed is too high.
    The turbines turn off and back up power must save the grid or blackouts would close down the grid completely.
    These wind failures occur very regularly, on average about every 3 days and of course the more Wind farms you have the more failures you get and even more back up is required.
    So too little wind causes the turbines to stop and the same result when the wind speed is too high.
    Wouldn’t it be much better/cheaper if we just cancelled this unreliable idiocy and built more high tech HELE coal plants that supply BASE-LOAD power 24/7 whether the wind is blowing a gale or stopped for hours during a cold frosty night?
    As I’ve said many times S&W are an unreliable super expensive disaster and the more we install the greater risk we run of power black outs now and until 2100.
    IOW all pain for ZERO gain.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2020/08/wind-power-failure-100-times-a-year-we-get-a-500mw-outage/#comments

  • spangled drongo says:

    When the Australian Press Council is so deliberately “confused” what chance is there for a well-informed populace?

    Ian Plimer tries to put them straight and gets ignorantly criticised for his trouble.

    He also makes the point of Australia being carbon neutral:

    “In the past decade, China has increased its CO2 emissions by 53 percent, 12 times Australia’s total output of 1.3 percent of the global total. The grasslands, forests, farms, and continental shelves of Australia absorb far more carbon dioxide than we emit.”

    https://climatechangedispatch.com/the-australian-press-council-is-a-hive-of-climate-zealots/

  • Neville says:

    Another barking mad report about future climate risks in NZ. And do they understand the NZ economy emits a whopping 0.1% of global co2 emissions? SARC

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/10/cascading-fallacies-in-climate-risk-assessment/

  • Neville says:

    No doubt about it, we have had extremely low cases of flu in OZ this year and avoided many other cases of disease and sickness into the bargain.
    Of course lock downs do help and a lack of tourists from overseas have helped to keep numbers very low.
    A good report from Jo Nova and Chris Gilllham using WHO statistics.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2020/08/australians-wiped-out-the-flu-and-avoided-50000-other-cases-of-sickness-and-disease/

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