24 thoughts on “What if it’s a big hoax?

  1. Greig

    Reducing polution, protecting forests, etc is a great idea, and nobody would object to that. But mandating the use of expensive energy (renewables) will make the world poorer, delay the resolution of global poverty and human overpopulation, and so means the continued deaths and misery of millions of people. In what way is that a “better world”? And for whom?

    If we are going to deliberately harm people, and accept the environmental damage from human overpopulation, it had better be for a good reason. The case for action on climate change needs to be a strong one when balanced against the environmental harm it will cause.


  2. Geoff Davies Post author

    Greig, subsidising fossil fuels ($9 billion per year in Oz) makes people poorer and destroys the planet to boot.

    You’ve been reading my other posts, notably From Greatest Greenhouse Polluter to Least, so you should recall that I feature efficiency along with renewables. If you need only half the energy, and the energy costs twice as much per watt of end use, then you don’t pay any more.

    Even conventional economic studies, that don’t feature the major efficiencies I’m talking about, estimate the “cost” as a minor reduction in growth rate, if done sensibly, meaning if we don’t try to “save” the most polluting industries. Funny how “creative destruction” doesn’t seem to apply to them.

    And the world has supposedly been getting richer for many decades, but the poor are still there, so the current paradigm doesn’t work.

    Greig there’s a whole different way of looking at these things in which these fragmented appeals to old ideas don’t apply. Try reading my longer works – Economia or The Nature of the Beast.


  3. Greig

    In the last few decades, the paradigm that you say ” doesn’t work” has raised some 4 billion people from a miserable, subsistence lifestyle into relative wealth and comfort. And even better news is that, as you have optimistically suggested, technological development and innovation in energy efficiency can in the future halve the per capita energy needed. Then developing nations will continue to use cheap energy, but pay only half as much for their energy, and so they will raise their populations from poverty even faster.

    Creative destruction does not apply to industries that offer prosperity to billions in poverty – we don’t need to try to “save” such industries.

    (BTW, subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are not to provide price protection, as with expensive renewable energy, but to fund environmental projects such as stack scrubbers, rehabilitation of mines, and job creating service industries, eg transport and distribution infrastructure. This doesn’t make us poorer, it makes us richer, and is also the best way to use regulation and government controls to remediate the externalities of low cost energy generation.)

    Good luck with your Maoist nanny state (forgive me if I do not agree that your Gaian “economics” is a “different way of looking at these things”). Good luck too in convincing the billions of people in developing Asian nations that the cheap energy that is fueling their salvation and addressing human overpopulation is actually destroying the planet, that productivity, prosperity and wealth is a zero sum game, and they need another Great Leap Forward.

    You need to make a strong case. Do not be surprised if they declare that is not a better world that you offer them.


  4. Geoff Davies Post author

    Greig –
    Perhaps we need to clarify what we’re talking about. Japan, Korea, Taiwan and now China and India managed their markets and heavily intervened in the economy, so they were/are far from Western “free-market” economies. I’m not sure which 4 billion people you’re referring to. There are rising middle classes in China and India, but the factory workers are very far from “relative wealth and comfort”. See for example http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/dickens-meets-huxley-labor-in-china/ .

    Your claims about fossil fuel subsidies are highly incomplete. See http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/43868.html or https://www.tai.org.au/index.php?q=node%2F19&pubid=831&act=display .
    The big subsidies are in the form of tax breaks and rebates for primary producers, miners, company cars and such things.

    [Amended below, 8:30am 23rd]
    So you what you really want seems to be Business As Usual. You want global warming to go away and you retreat to a string of epithets and some assertions that have no relevance to what I’ve been saying.

    So we can’t even try something that has zero entry threshold and might be good to do anyway? Perhaps it might expose some of the folly of current Business As Usual, so we’d better not go there, who knows what it might lead to.


  5. Greig

    Your last paragraph is a misrepresentation of my view. I am an avid supporter of “no regrets” policies on climate change. Yet you imagine that I want BAU, and so utterly miss the point. Which is this: what you and I want doesn’t matter – it is what the other 7 billion people on the planet wants that will dictate what happens in the future. If you are asking them to give up their hard won prosperity by demanding that they give up cheap energy, then you are not offering them a better world.


  6. Geoff Davies Post author

    Well that is entirely your interpretation Greig, not mine.

    What I an arguing is first that a sustainable path is not dramatically more expensive, and possibly not more expensive at all. Second that it is folly for developing nations to build fossil-fuel-dependent infrastructure that they will soon have to give up. Third that to continue with fossil fuels is to court a high probability of catastrophe, from global warming.

    So I am not “demanding that they give up cheap energy”. I am pointing to a path that can lead to indefinite prosperity versus the fossil-fuel path to catastrophe. I don’t understand why you (a) dismiss my cost claims, and (b) ignore global warming (and peak oil).


  7. Greig


    The billions of people that you need to influence are not stupid. If the Copenhagen conference delivered a message, it is that global warming isn’t important enough to developing countries to justify a response. This is probably because they know that:

    gas and biofuels will replace oil as it becomes scarce and costly,
    coal and gas are the by far the cheapest energy options and will last for centuries (long enough to raise their populations to Western affluence),
    nuclear power (IFR) is cheaper than renewables and there are sufficient resources for it to supply global needs for millenia
    renewables are limited and expensive and are projected to remain so for at least the next 50 years, maybe longer,
    while global warming is a reality, the case for climate change catastrophe has not been made.
    Ending global poverty, and advancing technology to incorporate sustainable supply of food, water, shelter, health and education services is all far more important than global warming.

    Now hopefully you understand why I dismiss your cost claims, and ignore your climate change alarmism. You haven’t convinced me, so I doubt you will convince them.


  8. Geoff Davies Post author

    Well that about spells it out. Each of your propositions is contradicted by readily available evidence. If that’s how you select your evidence then there’s no constructive discussion we can have.

    And even if global warming weren’t important, we are hitting many other limits of Earth’s capacity to support our wastefulness and absorb our abuse.

    But please desist from your insults, such as “Maoist nanny state” or whatever.


  9. Greig

    Oil will be replaced mainly by biofuels and gas, coal is cheap and plentiful, nuclear will last for millenia, renewables are expensive, AGW catastrophe is not a certainty, poverty and overpopulation are critical issues.

    Each of the above propositions form the heart of the energy policy for nearly every single nation on Earth, as well as their climate policy (as demonstrated by the outcome of the Copenhagen conference). And yet you say they are acting contrary to “readily available evidence”? How did the governments of the world, with all of the best advice available, get it so fundamentally wrong? And most importantly, how are you planning to convince them that you are right and they should correct their ways?


  10. Geoff Davies Post author

    Simple Greig, they’re not listening to the best available advice, because they don’t have the political guts to face the problem and because they’re in psychological denial, like a lot of people. So they listen to the fossil fuel industry, which gives them very soothing messages.

    Yes indeed, how do we break through their political/psychological denial, it’s a very big challenge.

    As I suggested earlier you, and all governments so far, just want business as usual, and you want global warming to go away, along with all the other limits we’re encountering.

    btw I agree poverty and overpopulation are critical issues. I also advocate markets that are managed so they behave they way they claimed to behave, but usually don’t when left to themselves. So your “Maoist nanny state” smart-alec remark is very far from the mark.

    I don’t think this exchange has much more to offer.


  11. Greig


    You are under-estimating others intelligence and concern for the next generation. Do you really think that people are that shallow? Do you really think they are unable to weigh the evidence, and determine whether global warming or addressing poverty should have priority?

    I really balk when someone tells me that after studying a subject (in which I am qualified) for nearly 30 years, that I am ignorant. Worse that I am influenced by base instincts, or nameless, faceless greed and unable to recognise that influence. You insist that you can see the evidence, and have all the answers, and others are blinded to the right path by their weakness or evil forces. You remind me of a lay preacher of old, filled with fire and brimstone, and certainty of the path to salvation, and not a shred of doubt that his congregation already has one foot in hell.

    In the end it comes down to a belief. Is Mother Earth going to punish us savagely for our wicked ways? Or is all this talk of impending apocalypse just doomsaying? When it comes to faith, never the twain shall meet.


  12. Ben Gleeson

    Hi Geoff,

    Could be that the difference you’re trying to convey in terms of “a whole different way of looking at these things” has to do with a different self-perception from the ‘rational, self-interested individual’. It’s not that the rationality needs changing exactly, rather the conception of ‘self’ needs expanding.

    Without an ecological perspective, the world is reduced to a series of discrete problems to be discredited and dispelled one by one. Many of these problems are somebody else’s to start with; so of course why would a “rational” individual even acknowledge them?

    It follows, why would anyone create a better world for nothing? Where is the benefit to the discrete self?

    Human perception does change according to perspective but unfortunately practising the perspectives of multiple others is too much effort for many of us.

    I’m looking forward to reading your book. All the best, Ben


  13. Ronald Bastian

    Hi Greig,

    Wow….what a pistol. Unfortunately I found your “come-backs” very difficult to follow when laced with so much anger. Your outbursts smacked of a young turk trying to put the highly acclaimed author and geophysicist in his place by presenting a verbal “one-on-one” armwrestle.
    Oil and coal are no longer “cheap” fuels. They will continue to rise because we (the masses you refer to) have no control over prices. Furthermore, I have no idea why you or anyone else believes that reducing carbon emmisions is a bad thing and that continuing to behave the way dirty industries have done and continue to do is OK.
    I sense that you are arguing from a very subjective position and need to revisit what “the common good’ really stands for, and a little respect wouldn’t go astray either.
    Do I think that “the people” are so shallow ?……..from where I stand, they certainly are, and it appears they have a number of supporters or we wouldn’t be having this debate, would we ?.


  14. Greig

    Hi Ronald,

    I am a little surprised that you have interpreted my response as angry. My only flash of anger was in the last post, but surely you can understand it is in response to Geoff’s argument that he is right, and everyone else (me, the governments of the world, etc) are all ignorant, lazy, uncaring for future generations, and in denial as a matter of political and economic convenience. I am not sure what you mean by my argument being “subjective”, certainly it is my forthright opinion, I hope you are not hinting at vested interest – because that would indeed be disrespectful.

    I disagree that oil and coal are expensive. Compared to what? They are still far and away the cheapest available energy options, with only gas and nuclear offering viable alternatives. Certainly oil will rise in price in the near future impacting transport costs; gas (CNG primarily) will take over progressively, and electic/nuclear being a possible future (one that China is currently deploying on a large scale).

    Renewables (solar and wind) are still either intermittent or very expensive or both, and look like staying that way for many decades hence.

    Finally, I beg to differ on the issue of people being shallow. I have found that there is a tendency for those on the “green” side of the debate to disrespectfully categorise their opponents as shallow, right-wing, greedy,money grubbers, when in fact they are people with deep concerns for the future of their communities and the world, and the pragmatic solutions that are needed to resolve the difficult problems the world faces.

    My own deeply held view, and one I share with many acquaintenances, is that there is a real concern for our ability as a community to maintain health and education services now, and so there is less scope for funding expensive green energy solutions than is generally acknowledged. And, perhaps even more importantly, we ignore the needs of the developing world, who need cheap energy and advanced technology now to draw themselves from poverty. Considering the uncertainties of climate change, these are far more certain and compelling issues than the need to reduce carbon emissions.


  15. Ronald Bastian

    Hi Greig,

    Firstly, perhaps you should go back and read again your “somewhat” spurious verbal attack on Dr Davies. That was no “flash of anger and possibly set the tone for your entire comment which came across as “subjective” whether intended or not. I fail to find any hint of ‘disrespect’ to you, but I did mention your “name calling” as coming across as clearly disrespectful as well as unhelpful. The comment I made on oil etc costs are not to be confused with how much they cost to produce, I am clearly stating the retail cost at the pump that we have absolutely no control over. Do you believe that the people in the developing world can afford to pay the same prices we pay for fuel ?..or the high technology required to help them up the ladders of capitalism.? I am sorry Greig, I suspect an agenda that you are keeping mostly to yourself that you are not being completely honest about.

    You have already hinted that “green” thinkers are the nemesis of your position and arguments. Greig…. I despise “labels” and have no place for them in my thinking. Those that seek comfort of living, acting and thinking” within the square of their views of the world, to me, live and think quite detached from any spiritual sense of the “needs” of the entire human race and everything that is inter-connected with it. I wave NO banners for any politics, religions, or anything that attempts to define me as a “follower”.
    Finally you stated: “Considering the uncertainties of climate change”. That was your fatal slip-up Greig. Welcome to your own private “banner”…and, I am at least honest enough to publish my identity in full.

    I see no point in any further attempts to debate this issue with you Greig.
    You obviously resent many of the positive suggestions that people put forward with an obviously strong belief in your opinions only. many of your comments may be of some value but that does not mean that everyone else is wrong either.


  16. Greig

    Ronald, you obviously do not believe the people of the developing world are able to attain the same prosperity we enjoy. But it matters not. The developing world will develop regardless, because billions of people are motivated, and neither you nor I have the power to change that fact.

    And I do not resent positive suggestions. I just don’t see anything positive in policies that are in denial of the urgent necessity to raise the world from poverty.


  17. Geoff Davies Post author


    If you were to say to Ronald “I consider that the course you advocate would leave the developing world in poverty”, that would be a statement of your views that does not impugn the motives or integrity of Ronald.

    But you said “… you obviously do not believe the people of the developing world are able to attain the same prosperity we enjoy” and that is projecting your own interpretation onto him, and implicitly impugning his integrity – implying that he is too stupid or uncaring to want people to have decent lives. From what he wrote here, that is clearly not the case.

    If you want to continue to post here (and disagreement is fine) then just state your views without impugning the integrity or motives of others.

    And …

    Because I stay with my conclusions, that are different from yours, you accuse me of dogmatism, belief, etc. etc. No Greig, I just read the evidence differently and reach my conclusions accordingly. And I think I’m better informed than you, but that’s a long way from “belief”. So again, quit impugning the integrity of those you disagree with.


  18. Greig

    Geoff, you say “how do we break through their political/psychological denial, it’s a very big challenge” i.e me, the governments of the world, anyone who disagrees with your view, are “not listening to the best available advice” because we’re “in psychological denial.” And then you say “I think I’m better informed than you”, i.e. I am intellectually lazy and ignorant. So whose integrity is being impugned?

    My point is stated clearly, that those who advocate expensive local solutions to climate change and environmental protection are not considering the welfare of the developing world, nor the obvious fact that policy is typically driven by majority, and they are indeed in vast majority. If by stating that view you feel I am insulting others, I cannot help that.


  19. Geoff Davies


    Par 1: There’s nothing reprehensible about ignorance, but an unwillingness to be further informed is reprehensible, and that’s true of many in government, and of many commentators. The fossil fuel industry goes further and promotes disinformation. If you quote their stuff you take your chances.

    Par 2: If you had stated your view as straightforwardly as you do here there would be no problem. Keep it up. And have a look at your previous posts to see how sprinkled them with insults.


  20. Greig

    Geoff, how do you know that someone is unwilling to be informed? Perhaps they just have an opinion, based on a different premise, and they think that you are the one who is unwilling.

    You appear to be implying that I am disposed to quoting fossil fuel industry propaganda. Whereas I think my views are based on a lifetime of experience as an engineer and interested observer of the climate change debate. Perhaps, rather than such bold statements, eg “Each of your propositions is contradicted by readily available evidence” that it would be more useful to provide a reference (not quoting yourself) that supports your alternative view.

    And there is plenty of disinformation coming from the extremes of this divisive debate. The unrealistic predictions of a green energy future based on renewables, the alarmist cries for urgent action to avoid the wrath of Gaia – nasty floods, droughts, storms, heatwaves, massive sea level rise, etc, etc. I have noticed you take your chances with such nonsense often enough.


  21. Ronald Bastian


    Wise men “quit” while they are ahead…that, unfortunately is not you. Perhaps that is why you keep coming back…
    I sense your engineering background must be in mining, otherwise, how could someone like you dig such a deep hole for yourself.
    Please don’t quote the Gaia Hypothesis if you have no idea what it means. Gaia refers to a belief that the earth and it’s systems are self-healing (among other things) .”No threats or wrath there”. You keep “Banging-on” about what you believe without providing “ANY” references.
    Perhaps you might be able to come up with one or two from Lord Monckton.

    The “readily available evidence” that Geoff refers to is scientific evidence, researched, studied, documented and peer reviewed by scientists across the globe. Can you base your arguments from a similar scientific source, if so, I would love to see them.
    Your career in engineering is guilty of paying you a serious dis-service by guiding you down a path to a place you now appear comfortable with.

    My experience with “environmental Engineers”,is that they claim to have an “Engineering solution” to” whatever” damage is done to the planet by “other” Engineers, such as town planning/mining/hydrological experts.etc. They (Engineers), can effectively “create” models and impressive drawings that are designed to convince the relevent planning departments to approve massive inappropriate developments to take place, only to find a few years down the track that cities/towns and rural areas become inundated with floods and other hydrological “stuff-ups” because of the rush for a quick “cash-grab” by developers, all supported by ENGINEERS. of many different pursuations…….Where are they when their collective expertise and “hypotheses” fail ?…Do something useful….”build a bridge”

    When reading your responses to other commentaries, I immediately think of words like “recalcitrant, argumentive, disagreeable”, but I do not feel that “name-calling” is productive or good manners so I won’t use them here.
    In a true democracy you are entitled to as many opinions as you like….
    a little tip for nothing Greig, make sure they are based on sound scientific evidence that can stand-up to scrutiny or is that too much to expect from where you are coming from…………


  22. Greig

    “The “readily available evidence” that Geoff refers to is scientific evidence, researched, studied, documented and peer reviewed by scientists across the globe.”

    Actually, it isn’t. As evidenced by the fact that he references his own opinion pieces when asked for supporting material.

    I maintain that oil will be replaced mainly by biofuels and gas, coal is cheap and plentiful, nuclear fuelled power will be available for millenia, renewables are expensive, AGW catastrophe is not a certainty, poverty and overpopulation are critical issues. And there is no “readily available” scientific evidence to contradict those facts.


  23. Geoff Davies

    Greig, by referencing my own material, I am pointing you to further evidence from other sources. This ought to be totally obvious, but you persist with this and other misrepresentations. My patience is at an end. Any more such nonsense will be deleted.



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