Sunday, March 13, 2022

On Top of Everything Else, Nuclear War Would Be a Climate Problem

Even a “minor” skirmish would wreck the planet, says Robinson Meyer

This is an amusing article. He quite reasonably portrays the disaster of a nuclear exchange and it is true that such an exchange would have huge and adverse climate effects. But his apparent claim that the damage caused by global warming would be in any way similar or contributory is hilarious.

We have had one degree of warming over the last century or so without anybody noticing it until the Greenies got shrill about it. So another one degree would presumably be equally trivial.

Yet to hear Greenies on the matter, one more degree would cause an Armageddon. It appears to be that such a fictional Armageddon is what Robinson has in mind when he sees similarities between climate change and nuclear war.

It's only in the fevered imaginations of Warmists that the climate is going to do us much harm. And the idea that the harm could be anything like the effects of a nuclear war is feverish indeed. In a nuclear war, the climate would be as trivial a contribution to disaster as it is in the here and now

Just incidentally, he quite accurately admits that cooling would cause drought. But Warmists are always telling us that warming would cause drought. Which is it?

Tony Heller has a cutting comment: "Carl Sagan said nuclear winter would kill more than half of the world's population, which is what climate alarmists say they want - so it isn't clear to me what they are complaining about".

When we talk about what causes climate change, we usually talk about oil and gas, coal and cars, and—just generally—energy policy. There’s a good reason for this. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, which enters the atmosphere, warms the climate, and … you know the drill. The more fossil fuels you burn, the worse climate change gets. That’s why, a couple of years ago, I spent a lot of time covering the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the country’s fuel-economy standards. It was an awful policy, one that would have led to more oil consumption for decades to come. If pressed, I would have said that it had a single-digit-percentage chance of creating an uninhabitable climate system.

But energy is not the only domain that has a direct bearing on whether we have a livable climate or not. So does foreign policy—specifically, nuclear war.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago, that threat has become a lot more real: Many Americans, including artists, climate-concerned progressives, and even a few lawmakers, have come out in support of a “no-fly zone.” But despite its euphemistic name, a no-fly zone means that NATO and the United States issue a credible threat that they will shoot down any enemy plane in Ukrainian territory. This would require U.S. bombing runs into Russian territory to eliminate air defenses, bringing the U.S. and Russia into open war, and it would have a reasonable chance of prompting a nuclear exchange. And it would be worse for the climate than any energy policy that Donald Trump ever proposed.

I mean this quite literally. If you are worried about rapid, catastrophic changes to the planet’s climate, then you must be worried about nuclear war. That is because, on top of killing tens of millions of people, even a relatively “minor” exchange of nuclear weapons would wreck the planet’s climate in enormous and long-lasting ways.

Consider a one-megaton nuke, reportedly the size of a warhead on a modern Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. (Warheads on U.S. ICBMs can be even larger.) A detonation of a bomb that size would, within about a four-mile radius, produce winds equal to those in a Category 5 hurricane, immediately flattening buildings, knocking down power lines, and triggering gas leaks. Anyone within seven miles of the detonation would suffer third-degree burns, the kind that sear and blister flesh. These conditions—and note that I have left out the organ-destroying effects of radiation—would rapidly turn an eight-mile blast radius into a zone of total human misery. But only at this moment of the war do the climate consequences truly begin.

The hot, dry, hurricane-force winds would act like a supercharged version of California’s Santa Ana winds, which have triggered some of the state’s worst wildfires. Even in a small war, that would happen at dozens of places around the planet, igniting urban and wildland forest fires as large as small states. A 2007 study estimated that if 100 small nuclear weapons were detonated, a number equal to only 0.03 percent of the planet’s total arsenal, the number of “direct fatalities due to fire and smoke would be comparable to those worldwide in World War II.” Towering clouds would carry more than five megatons of soot and ash from these fires high into the atmosphere.

All this carbon would transform the climate, shielding it from the sun’s heat. Within months, the planet’s average temperature would fall by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit; some amount of this cooling would persist for more than a decade. But far from reversing climate change, this cooling would be destabilizing. It would reduce global precipitation by about 10 percent, inducing global drought conditions. In parts of North America and Europe, the growing season would shorten by 10 to 20 days.

This would prompt a global food crisis the world hasn’t seen in modern times. Corn, wheat, and soybean yields would all decline by more than 11 percent over five years. In a slightly larger conflict—involving, say, 250 of the world’s 13,080 nuclear weapons—the oceans would become less bountiful; the photosynthesizing plankton that form the basis of the marine food chain would become 5 to 15 percent less productive. In the case of a U.S.-Russia war, fishers worldwide would see their catches decline by nearly 30 percent.

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And even though the world would get cooler, the nuclear winter resulting from a full-blown global conflict (or even “nuclear fall,” as some researchers prefer) would not reverse the effect of what we might morbidly call “traditional” human-caused climate change. In the short term, the effects of ocean acidification would get worse, not better. The layer of smoke in the atmosphere would destroy as much as 75 percent of the ozone layer. That means that more UV radiation would slip through the planet’s atmosphere, causing a pandemic of skin cancer and other medical issues. It would affect not just humans, either—even on the remotest islands, the higher UV rates would imperil plants and animals otherwise untouched by the global carnage.

Nowadays, we don’t tend to think of nuclear war as a climate problem, but concerns over these kinds of dangers were part of how modern climate change achieved political prominence in the first place. During the 1980s, a set of scientists raised the alarm about the effects of a nuclear winter and of the growing “hole in the ozone layer.” As the Stanford professor Paul N. Edwards writes in A Vast Machine, his magisterial history of climate modeling, these environmental issues taught the world that the planet’s entire atmosphere could come under threat at once, priming the public to understand the risks of global warming.

And even before that, climate science and nuclear-weapons engineering were twin disciplines of a sort. John von Neumann, a Princeton physicist and member of the Manhattan Project, took interest in the first programmable computer in 1945 because he hoped that it could solve two problems: the mechanics of a hydrogen-bomb explosion and the mathematical modeling of Earth’s climate. At the time, military interest in meteorology was high. Not only had a good weather forecast helped secure Allied victory on D-Day, but officials feared that weather manipulation would become a weapon in the unfolding Cold War.

The worst fears of that era, thankfully, never came to pass. Or at least, they haven’t happened yet. It is up to us to make sure that they don’t.

Outside of the direct effects of the bombs themselves, the full effect of a nuclear exchange could be even worse. If several years of gasoline- and diesel-fueled conventional military operations followed the global destruction, then the permanent consequences for the climate system would be even worse. That would also be true if society tried to rebuild by undertaking a fossil-powered reconstruction—and that would very likely be the case. The ruins of our postwar society would be poorer, and fossil reserves are the easiest energy sources to locate. Renewables, wind turbines, and other decarbonization technology, meanwhile, require secure factories, highly educated engineers, and complicated global networks of trade and exchange. They depend, in other words, on everything that peace provides. Solving climate change is a luxury of a planet at peace with itself.


France Cares About Green Causes, but Not Its Green Party

Yannick Jadot, the candidate for the French Green Party in April’s presidential elections, walked through a small cheering crowd to a podium topped with banners featuring his face, as speakers blasted a version of “What a Wonderful World” by the punk rock singer Joey Ramone. The candidate bobbed his head to the rhythm.

The event on a recent afternoon in the sun-soaked central square of Montpellier, a large city on France’s Mediterranean coast, had all of the trappings of a dynamic and enthusiastic campaign. “Environmentalism is all about fun!” said a speaker introducing Mr. Jadot.

But with less than 30 days to go before the first round of the French presidential elections, the Green Party’s campaign has so far failed to generate much excitement among the public. For weeks, Mr. Jadot has been stuck around 5 percent in the polls, about a third of the share of the top three right-wing contenders and one-sixth of the support for President Emmanuel Macron.

The Greens’ disarray comes despite the increasing prominence of environmental concerns in France in recent years, marked by a series of climate marches and lawsuits, as well as by sweeping climate change legislation and a wave of environmental protests that have engulfed universities and cafe terraces.

Mr. Jadot said in an interview that “the French are not yet invested in the election campaign,” as other more dramatic issues like the pandemic and the war in Ukraine are consuming much of their attention. He added that he remained “confident” that voters would soon focus on environmental issues.

But so far, the run-up to the election has been dominated by issues like security, immigration and national identity, reflecting France’s recent shift to the right. By comparison, climate issues have largely been ignored, accounting for 2.5 percent of media coverage of the election in the past four weeks, according to a study released by several environmental groups.

The problem, analysts say, is that the French Greens have failed to bring in new ideas and create a clear, coherent platform that goes beyond their core issues. They also point to the party’s struggle to be seen as a credible governmental force, capable of dealing with issues like diplomacy and defense, as is the case in Germany, where the Greens are now part of a three-party government coalition.


The Green Immoralists

Thousands are dying from Russian missiles and bombs in the suburbs of Ukraine.

In response, the Biden Administration’s climate-change envoy, multimillionaire and private-jet-owning John Kerry, laments that Russian President Vladimir Putin might no longer remain his partner in reducing global warming.

“You’re going to lose people’s focus,” Kerry frets. “You’re going to lose big-country attention because they will be diverted, and I think it could have a damaging impact.”


Did the global moralist Kerry mean by “impact” the over 650 Russian missiles that impacted Ukrainian buildings and tore apart children?

Are Russian soldiers losing their green “focus”? When Putin threatens nuclear war is he merely “diverted”? Would letting off a few nukes be “damaging” to the human environment?

Climate-change moralists love humanity so much in the abstract that they must shut down its life-giving gas, coal, and oil in the concrete. And they value humans so little that they don’t worry in the here and now that ensuing fuel shortages and exorbitant costs cause wars, spike inflation, and threaten people’s ability to travel or keep warm.

The Biden Administration stopped all gas and oil production in the ANWR region of Alaska. It ended all new federal leases for drilling. It is canceling major new pipelines. It is leveraging lending agencies not to finance oil and gas drilling.

It helped force the cancellation of the EastMed pipeline that would have brought much-needed natural gas to southern Europe. And it has in just a year managed to turn the greatest oil and gas producer in the history of the world into a pathetic global fossil-fuel beggar.

Now gas is heading to well over $5 a gallon. In over-regulated blue states, it will likely hit $7.

The result is left-wing terror that the voters in the coming midterm election might rightly blame Democrats for hamstringing the American ability to travel, keep warm in winter and cool in summer, and buy affordable food.

But how will the Biden Administration square the circle of its own ideological war against oil and natural gas versus handing the advantage to our oil- and gas-producing enemies, as Russia invades Ukraine?

Or put another way, when selfish theory hits deadly reality, who loses? Answer: the American people.

President Joe Biden lifted U.S. sanctions on the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to provide green Germany with loathsome, but life-saving, natural gas.

But first Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States. He has no problem with pipelines per se, just American ones.

While Biden doesn’t like the idea of Germany burning carbon fuel, or Putin reaping enormous profits from Berlin’s self-created dependency, or Germans importing liquified natural gas from America, Biden also does not like the idea of forcing German families to turn off their thermostats in mid-winter when there is Russian-fed war not far from Germany’s borders.

Here at home, Biden gets even crazier. As our enemies around the world reap huge profits from record high oil and gas prices, did Biden ask Alaska, North Dakota, or Texas to ramp up production?

In other words, did he ask Americans to save fellow cash-strapped Americans from a self-created energy crisis, in the way he assured the Germans that during war reality trumps theory?

Not at all.

Instead, Biden came up with the most lunatic idea in recent diplomatic history of begging autocratic and hostile regimes the world over to pump more oil to lower America’s gas prices.

For years, America has sanctioned the oil-rich Venezuelan dictatorship, a narco-terrorist state that wars on its own people and its neighbors. Now Biden is begging strongman Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to pump the supposedly dirty fuels America has in even greater abundance but finds it too icky to produce.

Biden also has beseeched the once sanctioned, terrorist Iranian government. He wants Tehran to help us out by upping the very oil and gas production that America has tried to curtail for years. In return, Iran is demanding a new “Iran Deal” that will soon ensure the now petro-rich theocracy the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

On the eve of the Russian invasion, Biden begged Putin to pump even more oil to supplement its current Russian imports to the United States.

Did Putin see that surreal request as yet another sign of American appeasement that might greenlight his upcoming planned invasion? In Russian eyes, was it more proof of American weakness and craziness after the humiliating flight from Afghanistan?

Biden has blasted the human rights record of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. Now he is begging the monarchy to pump more of its despised carbon-spewing oil to make up for what his administration shut down at home. Is that why the Saudi royals refused to take his call?

The moral of Biden’s oil madness?

Elite ideology divorced from reality impoverishes people and can get them killed.


Australia: World’s best weather equipment couldn’t predict deadly Qld floods

But they can predict the global temperature in 50 years' time!

Forecasts issued by the Bureau of Meteorology during last month’s floods failed to predict how long a deadly supercell would remain over southeast Queensland despite Australia having the world’s best equipment, experts say.

Analysis of the deadly southeast Queensland flood event indicates the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and authorities were shocked by the slow-moving nature of the cell, which lingered above the region to dump one metre of rain over four days.

Questions have been raised about the accuracy of forecasts, which led to delays in warnings for people in low-lying areas.

During the height of the floods Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who staunchly defended authorities’ response, declared the amount of rain and flood levels were “not foreseeable”.

Experts say the severity of the rain event, which would become the south east’s wettest three days since records began, was “very difficult” to predict.

Queensland University of Technology Adjunct Professor Mark Gibbs, a specialist in weather research, said the BOM forecasts were made using the world’s best equipment.

He said the bureau accurately predicted the region and severity of the supercell system, but declared it tough to forecast which towns and suburbs would be hardest hit.

“It was more than a typical summer storm and they are very, very difficult to predict,” he said.

“The thing is very sensitive and there’s a tipping point – a little bit less rain it would have been fine but it hung around for that little bit longer and the flood compartments in the dam filled up.

“People want everything perfect these days … we want to know when it’s going to rain, where and how much – the science is very very good but it’s not at that stage.”

Prof Gibbs said the BOM issued “carefully worded and thought-out forecasts”, which he said people often misread or expected to be certain.

“Economic forecasts are mostly wrong yet we seem to accept that – whereas with the weather forecasts people expect them to be 100 per cent right all the time,” he said.




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