Viewpoint: Climate change — who’s waiting? We’ve always had it

It didn’t take long to find a challenger to my recent Commentary (Islander, Feb. 27: “2010-2020: The best decade in human history”). Surprisingly, it comes from Fred Benson.

Mr. Benson seems to be trying to kill the messenger, and doesn’t deal with or dispute the facts.

I stand behind my “three bold conclusions,” and I’m prepared to address any numbers Mr. Benson may have to the contrary. Just because he doesn’t care for Pierre Gosselin, that doesn’t mean the data he presents from 100 peer reviewed papers is wrong or false.

I personally am a chemical engineer, not a climate scientist, so I do not have direct access to the papers or the data, but I do have references, which I use to back up my statements. The same goes for the other “messengers” in my article that Mr. Benson doesn’t approve of. But, I’m certainly not going to quote or reference Michael Mann or Phil Jones for data, which they have twisted a bit to make their points.

Now, Dr. Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama, who provides all the satellite data on global temperatures, has studied the atmospheric CO2 content/trends over recent years, and is questioning if atmospheric CO2 concentrations will really ever double, based on latest estimates of future CO2 emissions, and taking into account how much nature has been removing from the atmosphere (“Will Humanity Ever Reach 2XCO2? Probably Not”, Feb. 1, 2020, by Roy W. Spencer). So, there is little evidence of a climate crisis or similar global threat.

I would like to challenge Mr. Benson’s “apples-to-oranges” comments on world population. I was and am stating that global population growth rate has halved from above 2 percent per year 50 years ago to 1.05 percent per year currently. No doubt the population has been growing, probably at the numbers quoted by Mr. Benson. But, as the growth rate declines from “personal choice’” as I mentioned due to increasing personal prosperity, that growth curve will level out. The opposite way is to cut off Africa and Asia from cheap electricity using fossil fuels, and the poverty will only increase, not get better. Do we really want to force a population decline by denying the benefits of electricity to these folks?

Now, I never expected folks to jump on my horse and ride into the sunset, which brings us back to hydrogen. With ACTT operating on the Island, and now the “support” of Mount Desert Island High School and College of the Atlantic, I doubt that they will suddenly drop their solarization efforts. That’s why I propose studying hydrogen. I’m currently trying to get data from Emera on the power draw of the Island for the last 10 years, broken down into quarter year figures, so we can see the variation over the period, and perhaps the impact solar has had so far on electricity needs.

At some point, if it really gets going, Emera would have to make some significant changes to be sure there was and is adequate power to the Island when the snow’s too deep or the sun doesn’t shine. What I would like to do is get a handle on just how much solar power would be going back to Emera if solar really increases. Perhaps that cheap power could be used to hydrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. If it’s enough, then that hydrogen could be compressed and used for fuel for vehicles, such as the Park buses I proposed. Right now, portable hydrogen refueling stations are available to operate refueling FCEVs. What will make it viable, if the amount of excess solar energy going back to Emera will be enough to generate a Hydrogen fueling system.

So, don’t wait to find out, but there’s no Climate Emergency.

Tom Rolfes lives in Somesville and Cincinnati.

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