Truth or Consequences

A few days ago, surfing the morning news, I came upon this article.  According to the headline we are headed irreversible climate change.  The article quotes the IEA, or International Energy Association.  I had never heard of the IEA, but fortunately, wikipedia had, IEA is an  international policy group who's members are the many of the major national governments, that advises its members on energy consumption and production policy.  Visiting the IEA website quickly turned up  the press release that was clearly the source of what the UK Guardian was making all the fuss about.  A few days later, my news surfing turned up this opinion piece by  Victoria Times columnist Iain Hunter, who presents us with an unattributed  morality play  from 56 million years ago, a version of it can be found here, in addition to a Guardianesque take on the IEA press release.

The IEA article is about energy infrastructure.  What it is saying is that if nothing is done we will have invested our collective capital in an energy infrastructure that is less efficient and will release more carbon.  Keep reading all the way to the bottom and there is a quote by the IEA chief economist,  Fatih Birol, where he says "As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the "lock-in" of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals,"   The goals referred to are the WEO goals  to reduce the world level of carbon in the atmosphere to 450 ppm by increasing energy efficiency and promoting no carbon or low carbon energy sources.  

Nowhere do I see in the IEA press release that we are headed for irreversible climate change.  What I read is that if we continue down the road we are currently following, it will be difficult to reverse investment, or if we spend all our money on coal fired electrical generation, there ain't gonna be any money for wind or solar.  It also says that continuing down the path we are currently following is that energy production will account for 4/5ths or 80% of the 450 ppm goal.  Serious stuff, but I don't see the IEA suggesting the sky is falling.

The Paleocene Eocene climate change event of 56 million years ago occurred during a time when the earth was already much warmer than it is today.  It is considered a  'lesser' extinction event, but it has been linked to global warming.  At a time when the earth was considerably warmer than today, there were no permanent polar ice caps, an additional temperature rise, cause unknown,  may have triggered the release of methane locked into the ocean floor.  Mass extinction chiefly affected microscopically small organisms,  foraminifera and dinoflagellates, inhabiting the ocean floor.  Apparently it did not much affect terrestrial  species or even  foraminifera species that floated near the ocean's surface as opposed to living on its bottom.  It was also the period when mammals (including our ancestors) thrived and spread across the globe.   Rice University scientists believe that methane, a greenhouse gas was the culprit.  Rice University is also studying how to recover the methane that is currently locked into the ocean floor, a potential energy source believed to be  twice as large as  the current known supply of all forms of fossil fuel.

So, what's my point?   I see a deliberate distortion of primary news sources to foster  belief that we are doomed as a result of human activity affecting the global climate.

What they really said; IEA-WEO, invest wisely in energy infrastructure, abandon high carbon inefficient energy sources, keep global carbon in the atmosphere to 450 ppm.

Rice University et al.  An event caused mass extinction of a type of bottom dwelling sea life but apparently did not affect other lifeforms other than maybe being beneficial, occurred 56 million years ago on an earth that was much warmer than ours, had  different continental positions, ocean currents, etc., may have been caused by a relatively sudden release of  a greenhouse gas, methane that had been locked into the ocean floor, resulted in a rise of CO2 levels equivalent to 10 times more than the total amount that would be released by consuming all the known fossil fuel reserves today, resulted in an additional rise of global temperature of 6 degrees C.   In other words we are not even close to duplicating what may have occurred during this 56 million year ago event.

The Guardian UK elected to completely change what the IEA said to,  we will have irreversible climate change by 2017.

Mr. Hunter combines the Guardianized version of the IEA press release with a distortion of a parable based on the 56 million year old event that occurred under different conditions, is not fully understood yet, had negative and positive effects on various species dependent on their ecological niche.

So, sui generis?  What's their motivation?   I would like to believe it is all about getting attention, 'read my stuff, add to my click count'.  It sure worked that way for me.  But for conspiracy theorists, their motives may be more sinister, check this out :-)

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