Friday, May 23, 2008

Our arse is grass

When I was a kid I remember reading a book by that grumpy climate change 'denier' Nigel Calder which included an insight that struck me as being quite clever at the time

Calder argued that if you were viewing the Earth from space the dominant life form on our planet would appear to be grass

Rice, wheat, corn, it’s all grass

And that grass is so fiendishly clever it has contrived to enslave billions of the most sentient creatures on this planet into its service

Humanity has torn down woodlands, scoured the earth for natural resources and utilised some its most advanced science in the service of its insatiable Green Master

And it would be fair to say that our continued existence is a lot more dependent on grass than the level of reliance grass is placing upon us


The reason why we have allowed ourselves to be enslaved in this way is that, with the exception of a few perverse loners who like hanging around hydrothermal vents, all living things on this planet are solar powered

Grass rules because grass enables us to eat starlight

Grass also enables us to eat oil

Humanity has come up with some fabulously elaborate and energy-inefficient ways of turning oil into grass

But oil itself is nothing more than stored sunlight (assuming you believe all that stuff about oil being fossilised fish goo) so the 'all living things are solar powered' generalisation stands


I am a geological sciences graduate and old enough to have studied the subject before it became heavily politicised

And back then, as a general rule of thumb, one of the conclusions you could draw from studying past epochs was that…

Warm Global Climate = Good

Cold Global Climate = Not so good

which is one of the reasons why I am one of those people who blows off the Man Made Global Warming thing. Historically speaking, a little warmer has generally been better for living things than a little cooler and, given that the Earth doesn't keep a rigidly constant temperature anyway, I'd personally rather be alive during one of the upswings than one of the downswings

I'm also one of those climate change 'deniers' who places more store in trivial stuff like how far our planet is away from the Sun, or how active the Sun is at any given point in time, as being just a teensy wee bit more important than the Man Made Global Warming Lobby currently gives it credit for

And, as it happens, it's a lot easier for a beautifully self-balancing system such as our Earth to shed and deal with a little excess solar radiation than to try and whisk up some extra heat if the Sun cools off a bit

With all that in mind, and with the knowledge that low Sun spot activity can be directly correlated with a cold global climate, pictures like this taken of the Sun today concern me in a way that no amount of the global warming poop we've been subjected to thus far ever could...

A spot free Sun - maybe some other stars will go out with it now

Of course, the most reliable way to find out what the global climate is going to be like in five or ten years time would be to phone up a bookmakers and ask for some odds. Unlike lobbyists, scientific or political, bookies only make money when they get things right



Tom said...

If this principle was used with electricity from wind turbines, if the earth ever got too cold we could put huge electrodes in the sea and collect hydrogen in a giant sandwich bag, torching it for heat, light and mass entertainment.

Stef said...

There might even be some energy left over to clone Jeremy Clarkson

He'll save us

Anonymous said...

We don;t have a moment to spare do we? Lets all get out there and burn as many fossil fuels as we can. Our very survival may depend on it!

Stef said...

Having now watched Hydrogen Volume Test Man in action it is my considered opinion that water, or anything containing water, needs banning and anyone found in possession of water or plastic bags in public places needs locking up

Stef said...

We don;t have a moment to spare do we? Lets all get out there and burn as many fossil fuels as we can. Our very survival may depend on it!

Until we find another way to put grass on our dining tables it probably does

Temperature wise my personal opinion is that it won't matter f**k all how much or little we burn either way

Stef said...

Still, now that speculators have driven the price of oil up to $135/ barrel we now effectively have that carbon tax which was going to save the world

One of the things that interests me about this global warming business is that whenever data appears which indicates that global temperatures might be falling proponents for MMGW start talking about pollution/ resource depletion issues as a fall-back position

Well, yes, and it would be mighty fine if some of the public consciousness real estate currently dominated by MMGW was given over to educating people about the multitude of other ways globalists are throttling us and our planet

Anonymous said...

You'd think people would be overjoyed that oil had doubled in price in a year because it will save them from global Armageddon. Yet for some reason the ungrateful buggers are all moaning! said...

Global warming delayed for another decade

Anonymous said...


When I was a kid I remember that at some stage the big scare, apart from the Russian SS-20s, and Nostradamus' apocalypse predicted every 4 years, was global cooling. We were at the dawn of a new Ice Age, but it turned out to be complete and utter bollocks.

Analysis of tree rings dating back 11,000 odd years has shown that the Sun has been very, if not hyper-, active recently. That could very well explain our recent weather history. Maybe, maybe not.

I'm not saying Human activity does not produce pollution, I'm just doubting the global warming theory as such.
Plus the policies to combat said global warming are entirely focused on carbon dioxyde, which is bollocks.
Diesel fumes may induce global warming, but dioxin dumped in your backyard will give you leukemia. Look at what's happening in Italy, and have some more mozzarella.
Carbon dioxide is the perfect scapegoat, as it is produced by each and everyone of us, so YOU should feel guilty and YOU should pay for a greener world, you kitten killer.

Instead of fighting terrorist movements, we are fighting terror.
Instead of fighting pollution, we are fighting carbon dioxide.

Stef said...

We were at the dawn of a new Ice Age, but it turned out to be complete and utter bollocks.

It is and it isn't

As we both appreciate, it is virtually inevitable that there will be more glacial periods in the future, just as it is equally inevitable that there will be warming periods

As usual with these things, be it the ups and downs of the stock market or global climate, the timing is the question

At the heart of what the Doomsayers in the 70s were saying was an appreciation that a little colder is a lot scarier than a little warmer; purely down to the amount of solar energy available to power living things

Given that we're already heavily supplementing the Sun's contribution to our food supply with fossil fuels, we are much more exposed to a fall in temperature than a rise

and if global warming really does take a, um, 'holiday' for the next decade or so the penny is going to drop

Stef said...

I used to have a really bad recurrent nightmare about an SS-20 crashing into my bedroom...

There's nothing quite like scaring the crap out of the young is there

Anonymous said...

We all knew really, that this was about bringing back rationing didn't we?

Antipholus Papps said...

Stef, I hope you realise that you have just solved the trickiest of Zen koans, namely: "Who is the great master who makes the grass green?"

It was the grass all along!
(This is better than Scooby Doo!!)

Stef said...

We all knew really, that this was about bringing back rationing didn't we?

of course, as Mr Redwood says, carbon rationing can't be made to work unilaterally in a single country

so, we'll just have to make sure that it's imposed and administered globally then

Stef said...

...and it's nice to see John trying to portray a more human, approachable image in the portrait used on his blog - he still looks like a Vulcan but a Vulcan an open-necked checked shirt

paul said...

when you combine that sun pic with the long term climate charts its time to invest heavily in fur companies

Anonymous said...

The Daily Politics today Andrew Neil flummoxed some New Labour drone by pointing out that global temperatures have fallen 0.3% since 1998. It was like staring a medieval churchgoer in the eye and saying God doesn't exist - it just didn't compute!

Stef said...

oh it will

about five years too late as usual

Tony said...

Fertilizer prices:

Tom said...

Science wibble of the month?

"Roman rise and fall 'recorded in trees'"

"They found that periods of warm, wet summers coincided with prosperity, while political turmoil occurred during times of climate instability."

"Dr Buntgen explained: ... 'If you have enough wood, the dating is secure. You just need a lot of material and a lot of rings.'"