We’re hearing and reading an awful lot about the problem of carbon lately, and I use the word ‘awful’ in its proper context, meaning that what we are being told fills me with a sense of awe and fear! In fact, I believe these statements are less than the truth in several ways, or at best misleading.
For a start we are wrong when we refer the material under discussion as ‘carbon’, which is a black, often sooty substance, which can be either solid, lumpy or a powder. Carbon under extreme pressure and heat turns into something entirely different – a clear, crystalline substance, almost indestructible and often very beautiful, which we call diamonds.
The actual stuff to which all the present hoo-ha refers is carbon dioxide, normally found as a gas, except at very low temperatures, when we find it valuable to keep frozen food in freezer boxes from melting.
It is one of the most natural and abundant chemicals on earth, is not poisonous and is vital to every living thing on earth, especially plants, which inhale it and use it, through the magic of photosynthesis for their own energy requirements.
They then exhale what is to them a waste product – called oxygen, which humans and all other forms of animal life inhale as another vital means of staying alive. This interaction forms a very neat and natural circle in that we, in our turn, then expel the very carbon dioxide that the plants need – a perfect example of the balance of nature.
And yet carbon dioxide is at the present time being portrayed as the villain of the piece, causing global warming and all sorts of other problems, most of them being produced it would seem, by human beings and their works alone.
Yet as Professor Ian Plimer (formerly of Adelaide University) said, (to paraphrase), ‘Four days output of ash, rubble and, above all carbon dioxide from one decent sized volcano equals about five years effort on the part of all people throughout the world, to stop or at least control outputting the gas!’
And don’t forget that volcanoes are popping off their lids all the time, somewhere on earth. In other words, according to the professor, the contribution to this so called pollution by man is, to say the least, pretty insignificant! But such is the arrogance of mankind that we try to steal all the thunder for ourselves, even when the news seems bad.
It appears, from what we are told, that all this carbon dioxide we are producing, from the burning of coal and a myriad of other ways, is causing ‘global warming’, which may or may not be happening.
I tend to believe that it is, but for vastly different reasons to those the politicians would have us accept.
Because they say we are the cause, they tell us frighteningly that we are also the cure – if we just stop burning coal or using too much electricity or cover too much mileage in our cars, we shall all be alright and the world will get back to normal!
I see this as an enormous, political arrogance, even a lie. If one reasonable volcano can obliterate the efforts of the whole world for five years in a mere four days, then we are wasting our time.
I firmly believe, based on the writings of people much more eminent than me, that we are, at the present time, still coming out the last ice age that the world suffered some thousands of years ago.
Because of this simple fact, the globe is therefore warming up, as it has done many times before apparently, between previous ice ages, and it is a process that will continue until the planet has reached its optimal high temperature, maybe thousands of years in the future, after which it will begin cooling again, heading for the next ice age.
Whatever man, in his arrogance may do, there is no way this phenomenon can be stopped.
We will be about as successful in this endeavour as King Canute was, in trying to stop the daily tides of the sea – impossible! What is really needed, rather than a useless ‘Carbon Tax’, which will do nothing to halt global warming, is a means of adjusting the way we live in order to accommodate the changing conditions.
Governments need to invest their thoughts and our money in devising better and more efficient ways to capture and store water, (not by making it from sea water), cheaper ways to insulate homes and, above all in finding some viable method of converting the vast, free energy of the sun into something we can use directly.
We have already learned how to do this in a small way, with the use of photoelectric cells, and with enormous windmills, but these are barely scraping the surface of the enormous power hurling itself at us twenty-four hours a day, from our home star.
Our government, in its wisdom, wants to cease the mining and burning of coal or gas to provide our energy, using the methods mentioned above instead, and as it stands that’s not such a bad idea, except for one vital factor.
They are still selling our valuable coal to China and India, where it is used, not very ‘cleanly’, to power their power stations, hundreds of which are dotted about both countries. So the net result is, we stop burning the stuff here, so it can be burnt there – net CO2 savings at best zero, and quite likely, because of less efficient methods, producing more of the stuff than we would have!
Although Australia is a great country, both geographically and in the quality of its population it is, none the less tiny when considered in global economic terms. The imposition of a ‘carbon’ tax, proposed by the present Government will result in considerable hardship to us all, with little or no compensating advantages, as far as I can see.
© 2013 – Brian Lee - Edited 2021 - Originally published on Starts@60
Power station Image: © https://beveridgewilliams.com.au/
Further comments below from Prof. Ian Plimer in 2021 Sky News interview