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NOVEL SEND UP OF SUPERPOWER CLIMATE THEORIES

Animal Farm 2 is a fiction novel that sequels and updates George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The animals’ commune continues under totalitarian pig rule. The animals are employed to mine coal discovered on the farm for a power station. The animals learn climate science when global warming is associated with pollution and they discover that heat and water emissions from all sources are more culpable than carbon dioxide from their coal. 

Guided by logic and science they plan to liberate their farm from pig and human control. The story is a satire that satirizes politics and some theories of climate science.

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PARADIGM SHIFT IN CLIMATE SCIENCE

Like understanding in other fields of science, climate has had phases, punctuated by crises of individual scientists’ faith, with breakdown and replacement, referred to as ‘paradigm shifts’*.

PARADIGM 1 Until 1945

Our understanding of climate was of regular procession of the seasons. Extreme events were divinely caused. Conditions and climates would continue favourably by prayer, diligent duty and sacrifice. 

PARADIGM 2 1946 – 1987

With scientific understanding, the behaviour of the atmosphere, oceans and earth became predictable causes of weather but variations in climate statistics were understood only superficially. Another ice age was possible. Weather forecasts were uncertain within days and speculative further ahead. Energy supply was managed by laissez-faire economic supply and demand. Scientific theories were tested by experiment. There was no possibility of changing climates, although there were experiments to increase rainfall by cloud seeding.

PARADIGM 3 1988 – ?

Pollutant gases seemed linked to climate after a ‘hole’ in the ozone layer was claimed to have been repaired by limiting accidental release of chlorofluorocarbons, having a catalytic effect on ozone. When there seemed to be polar ice melting, glacier retreat and higher sea levels, global warming was attributed to greenhouse gases, especially by the increase in carbon dioxide from fossil fuels combustion. When science theories could not be tested, credible assertion and modelling that explained adjusted data was accepted. Energy supply became controlled by governments. Worldwide restructuring of energy supply without fossil fuels turned to renewable energy, especially from solar and wind. Reduction of energy consumption was not considered.

PARADIGM 4 2021 – ?

The link between global warming and fossil fuel combustion is realized tenuous. Increasing carbon dioxide in air has other possible explanations and in any case its effect is non-catalytic, benign and its warming effect is unsubstantiated. Warming by other combustion products, heat and water vapour, can no longer be ignored. Carbon dioxide is recognised to be benign. Renewable energy is realised to cause warming equal to or greater than fossil fuels. To prevent global warming, energy use should be scaled back if possible in industry and all other human activities, especially in high energy-using countries such as Australia; Canada; USA; Europe.

*The term ‘paradigm shift’ is explained in Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Realist, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, 2003. My coming novel ‘Animal Farm 2’ explains these views https://martinknox.com

LIMITING HIGH ENERGY USERS

Energy was rationed in war-time to conserve scarce supplies. Less severe scarcity was dealt with by allowing the price to rise. A person’s energy consumption was mostly unregulated, without limits on demand. 

The Paris Agreement in 2016 . . .

‘. . . set out a global framework signed by 192 nations to avoid dangerous climate change with a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change; the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries; to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science, so as to achieve a balance between emissions and containment in the second half of the century.’

Under this agreement, nations ‘volunteered’ to limit emission levels. A small number of nations emit most of the emissions and these high emitters would observe the same growth limits as low emitters. Nations causing most warming would have the same proportional restriction as those causing least. 

The focus on so-called greenhouse gases, having warming qualities which are hypothetical, are associated with energy emissions from combustion, either by direct release in combustion or indirectly from intermediate products such as electricity, during and after use. Thermal energy emissions are more significant but not included.

The burden of emissions reduction would fall on developed nations with the highest per capita electricity consumption, with self-indulgent demand such as for air conditioning, whereas poor nations might possibly have no electricity connected and need the growth desperately? In developed countries, most energy is consumed as electricity and petrol.

In a developed country, the restriction of emissions growth could conceivably limit the use of a third family car, whereas in an undeveloped country, a carless family could have use of its washing machine limited, requiring more manual labour. Is this an equitable difference?

There is no precedent for the limitation by The Paris Agreement, of demand for energy, or any commodity, in order to make a contribution to reducing universal external costs of climate change. It is an unprecedented restriction of energy growth with disproportionate effect on developing countries. At best, it is a bold attempt to rein in emissions growth but heavily weighted against low energy users who need that growth to develop.

At worst, the regulation of emissions limits standards of living, because emissions are associated with combustion and energy consumption, as is the standard of living. 

Do people have a right to limitless energy consumption, as they do to oxygen from the air? Per capita emissions in developed nations are much larger than in undeveloped nations who would be cutback proportionally. Could the developed nations cutback their emissions without preventing developing countries attaining a similar standard of energy use? Could emissions cuts depend on emissions, in the same way that income tax rates depend on income. Emitters should have to suffer greater cuts proportional to their high energy use. High polluters should have to compensate low polluters.

An energy consumption tax is needed, whose function is to penalize high personal consumption of high-emission energy and subsidise low consumption, low-emission energy.
If you agree, tell your politician.

My other writing on growth, energy and rights is at https://martinknox.com

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