By Roman Andrews
As the world in general, but Western nations in particular, debate and consider the enormous potential impact of carbon neutrality, some fundamental questions arise. Is such transformation likely to steer the world towards a safer or, conversely, more perilous position? Is the concept of carbon neutrality real and science-based with multiple peer-reviewed studies? Or is it financially driven with enormous profits for those involved, many of whom are prone to justify certain measures based on rapacious accountancy, favour stealth taxation for those in Treasury departments, and seek additional revenue with limited public objection?
The ‘global warming, science is settled’ position is increasingly challenged by those who argue that pure science is never settled and should always be open to reconsideration of both emerging and new evidence not previously considered. This is a healthy situation, otherwise, advances are never made. One only has to consider enormous technological advances in industries such as transport, defence weaponry and medicine. Without the skeptical nature of science and the willingness to question the status-quo, these innovations would have never come to fruition.
If global warming does ultimately become empirically proven, one report suggests global economic output may dwindle by 7.22% by the end of this current century (N BER, National Bureau of Economic Research). This study references a model for data scavenging impact of rising temperatures, agricultural productivity, labour output, sea levels, linked with mortality and birth rates. It is hard to find evidence of any sea level change over the last hundred years despite doomsday type predictions of ice age super cooling versus climate change overheating since the 1980s. Some critics argue extensive data analysis is essential and extending the study period right back over hundreds of millions of years with reference to ice core investigation is necessary to gain a more comprehensive and therefore accurate assessment. The impact of erroneous assumptions is colossal, not only financial in terms of trillions of dollars across the world, but also in terms of the social engineering needed to change existing energy consumption and travel patterns. Not to mention the construction of massive geophysical infrastructure for sea defences.
Seen in periods of major armed conflicts, enormous technological gains occur in an unnaturally reduced time-scale. If carbon neutral proponents are ultimately wrong, there would still be a significant leap forward in technologies associated with the benefits of energy conservation and energy consumption reduction together with decreased demands on energy transport and storage infrastructure across the entire energy spectrum.
The geopolitical dimension of this issue is a major factor in ensuring long term outcomes. Those countries with self interests in promoting certain technologies dependent upon specialist minerals, strategically controlled by them, are unlikely to favour a transition into alternatives where they lose out financially — particularly where their grip on power is politically impacted. It has long since been the ambition for all the world’s countries to become aligned on aspects deemed beneficial to all. However, when one factors in local ambitions, the influence of lobbyists and corporations with considerable financial resources, corruption in some countries and the equalising of net gain versus net loss, this ambition is frustrated and seemingly always out of reach.
In an ideal world, it would be logical to first achieve agreement across the geopolitical landscape before governments and agencies would have sufficient credibility to dictate policy to others.