Geoff Cousins, President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is fiddling while Rome burns. His pursuit of Adani and the climate bogey has distracted him from his primary duty of care in conservation – saving habitat and wildlife. He is wasting money, time and resource which might have been better used to save critters and preserve critical environment. His recent visit to India, to chat with indigenous tribes to lay a case against Adani, would have carried a nice price tag with it – and a lot of emissions. Imagine if you used all this money being burned by blind ideology to buy more land and preserve it – to fund action teams to rescue distressed wildlife, victims of both human and nature’s wrath. Imagine that!
If we are to truly understand the climate, we need to go back to the beginning. That beginning, specifically when life emerges, arises much earlier in Earths history than previously thought, by hundreds of millions of years. But the history of the atmosphere and how truly unique it is goes back much further.
It all starts with a big bang, but without Sheldon. A few billion years pass and inside one of the tens of billions of galaxies each comprised of hundreds of billions of stars, a bunch of gas and stellar debris coalesce into a disk at the centre of which our Sun ignites. Around that, left over rocks and material which formed from the death of other stars, bunch together to form planets. This is where a series of events occur which create the unique set of circumstances that made us possible.
In addition to the obvious benefits of being the right distance from the Sun – in the Goldilocks zone, we also had a major fender bender with a Mars size planet called Thea that did two important things. Firstly, it added its iron core to our own enabling the critical magnetic umbrella. Secondly, it stripped off a good portion of the planets mantel, the ejected material forming the moon. If our mantel was any thicker we would not have a planet surface that continually folded over itself, exposing fresh elements to interact with the atmosphere. Instead, we would look like Venus.
So, approximately 4.5 billion years ago our planet is formed. During and shortly after, we get pummeled by meteors and comets which bring us water. Interestingly, the sun was only about 70 percent as bright as it is today. Earth should have frozen over right? Fortunately greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly methane and carbon dioxide, trapped enough of the sun’s heat to keep temperatures above freezing. Keeping these trapped was important, which initially was a problem.
Due to the earlier prang I mentioned, our inflated metallic liquid outer core was spinning nicely around a metallic solid inner core. This generated an immense magnetic field that enveloped the Earth shielding it from deadly solar winds. Initially the layers were poorly developed and so the magnetosphere was extremely weak, half the strength of today. Solar winds stripped away the hydrogen and helium. But strengthen it did, critically preserving our precious gases and oxygen which would have been blasted away. As Earths tectonic plates ran into each other, the mantel was continually turned over, with material deep from within the planet boiling to the surface and pumping all kinds of gases into the atmosphere.
During this period, called the Archean Eon, complex chemical reactions in the oceans transformed carbon-containing molecules into simple, living cells that didn’t need oxygen to survive. Instead they made energy out of sulfur and other elements.
Atmospherically this is where the rubber hit the road. These bluish-green microscopic organisms called cyanobacteria flourished. They made oxygen from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight— photosynthesis, pumping it into the oceans and atmosphere. At that time the ocean was a thick green stew saturated with iron. The immediate result of this oxygenation process was to rust out this iron into red iron oxide which sank to the bottom – where you can see it today. Its why our desert are red.
Even better, you can still see those cyanobacteria that caused it. These single-celled microbes (blue-green algae) often accumulated in formations called Stromatolites, which literally means ‘layered rock’.
It is now believed that life in the form of single celled organisms began 3.5 billion-years ago, some 400 million years earlier than thought. But it seemingly stagnated for a while, taking almost two billion years to evolve into complex life. Two fossils resembling red algae were recently unearthed in India. The fossil was maintained so uniquely that scientists were able to see distinct inner cell structures that give clues about its age.
The media is responsible for bastardising a debate that folds everyone into one of two camps. Deniers or believers. At the heart of the argument is not whether it is getting warmer or colder, but the influence of CO2 emissions. Very few people know enough about this to speak with any great authority, let alone try to model it. No one as yet, knows enough to make any prediction or determination as to how much influence it has exerted in recent history or is likely to. My research suggests the doubling of CO2 levels may well be a godsend. In a global environment where we are burning and clearing forests, strip mining the sea and perpetrating an extinction scale event never experienced before, that little carbon dioxide molecule is helping the environment fight back.
In the 12-month period ending August last year, deforestation in Brazil increased by almost 30 percent. Unfortunately conservationists have taken their eye off the ball, blinded by the new shiny one called climate change.
This is all truly ironic and sad – so much opportunity lost. All that wasted and misdirected effort railing against climate change. As you will discover, the future of CO2 emissions has already been decided and short of some other calamity, will become a footnote in history. In short, a convergence of technologies have arrived that will deliver superior economics and applications. These have long been heralded and anyone maintaining a shallow interest and sliver of intelligence could read the tea leaves. Clearly, today’s journalists infused with activism but little intelligence are quick to spray pathological invective in support of their belief reminiscent of the French Inquisition.
It seems technological ignorance knows no bounds, especially amongst the media. You would think with smart phones in hand, tablets and numerous other devices surrounding them, it would be easy to gather and monitor the readily available data. Apparently not – they have been too busy watching twitter and reading Facebook posts from other like and weak-minded idiots. Nice…got that off my chest.
I will get into the detail and time lines later, but with respect to energy disruption, the writing has clearly been on the wall for some time. For example, discoveries announced in the last two weeks have been able describe a commercialisation timeline of new innovations in battery technology. This will enable large scale, financially viable energy plays with incredibly diverse application enabling capabilities never before realised, only dreamed of. The emphasis being here is the financial component – no tax payer dollars required and likely outcomes being cheaper energy bills. The starving masses have no capacity to buy the energy the elite want them to use. In other words, the elite would rather they go without power than use affordable sources they do not agree with.
By 2025, combustion engines and fossil fuels will be redundant. A photo-voltaic breakthrough is imminent, the continuing evolution of fuel cell tech, fusion science and numerous other highly prospective energy sources will mean cheap energy for everyone, almost anywhere. 2017 is the year of technological convergence, a year we begin to see hopes replaced by reality.
Make no mistake, the climate is changing. The scientific effort is well worth it, including the CO2 implications. This should not distract us from the other environmental crises including deforestation, habitat loss and the extinction of wildlife and fauna.