Apocalypse Soon!

Last week Matt Ridley posted two very detailed and well argued essays about climate change: a letter from Prof David MacKay (the Chief Scientist at the UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change) and his own response to it.  In comments, reader ‘Ed’ posted a lengthy review of David MacKay’s book that I felt deserved its own posting.

Guest post by EDMH
I have been reading a book which is crucially interesting and which sadly bode ill for the future, particularly for our children and our children’s children.
“Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air” by Professor David J C Mackay, see: http://www.withouthotair.com/, the entire book or subchapters can be downloaded free on the internet. And, also see a recent review in the Economist at http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13437900
Look at this diagram from the economist and be very worried particularly for the UK. Much of Europe will have similar profile except for France with 85% nuclear electricity generation and still building:

FIgure 1. Predicted electricity demand and generation capacity after forecast closures

This graphic is also reproduced here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeconaf/195/19505.htm

Professor Mackay does believe in Man-made Global Warming and considers that reduction of CO2 emissions are essential to control possible future global warming. He clearly supports the IPCC (the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and other institutional party lines. Sustainable energy to address the problem is a vast subject, much pontificated over, but what is interesting about Professor Mackay’s book is that it dispels the many myths that have grown up particularly from within the Green movements and as such it is truly fascinating.
“Sustainable energy without the hot air”, applies the numerical mind of a physicist to the problems, the solutions and the policies that are being promoted to combat global warming, carbon dioxide emissions and avoiding the burning of valuable fossil fuels, which will continue to be needed as the feed-stocks for industry.
Mackay makes things straightforward, using round numbers and the concept of personal daily energy requirements, taken in the context of the UK and Western Europe. To maintain current lifestyle the 60 million people in the UK needs about 170 Gigawatts (GW) of energy supply, (ie the equivalent to about 170 nuclear power stations).
Right across Western Europe people are currently using about 125 Kilowatt hours per person per day. By comparison energy usage in the USA is at double this rate, whereas China is now about 1/3 of the European level and India is half of that level again.
At long last Professor MacKay has done the maths and presented the figures in an understandable form. As he says, “with numbers not adjectives”. This is what appeals to me so much about his approach. He weighs in on both sides of the equation, both energy consumption and energy production

Energy Consumption

Mackay envisages that the current levels of consumption could be significantly reduced, perhaps by as much as 45% in the following ways. They are radical.

  • Improved efficiency, can reduce heating and cooling costs by at least 25%. This means much improved insulation in new build, which can virtually eliminate heating costs, but which is not often an option in older building stock.
  • Turning down thermostats, and putting on an extra sweater, 10% of the average heating bill can be saved by a 1°C reduction in the internal thermostat.
  • Of course cooling in summer to below winter temperatures, (very common in the US), with air conditioning is a real waste of energy.
  • The use of air source and ground source heat pumps is a choice for change made by individuals and can be very effective. Currently the equipment is costly but with enhanced take-up they could become much more economic.
  • Lighting Energy usage, is only about 3% of current overall consumption, nonetheless energy-saving bulbs make a difference, mini fluorescent bulbs are at least five times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and the LED bulbs coming on stream promise even greater efficiency and reliability.
  • Using electricity for transport, MacKay’s calculations show that electric cars are about 4 times more efficient than using any hydrocarbon fuel. But to give an idea of the scale of alternatives, if we were to convert all road transport in the UK to bio-fuels it would require a cultivated land area about the same size as Wales. MacKay regards hybrid cars as an insignificant possible stop-gap. He sees the use of hydrogen as a fuel to be worthless and particularly misleading, (in spite of its clean emissions on the road), because of the energy requirements needed to generate and distribute hydrogen, give an actual energy consumption of some 2.5 times as much as an ordinary petrol car.
  • Incidentally keeping head lights on in the daytime increases fuel consumption by about 2%.
  • Thus providing well-loaded high-speed electric trains are really efficient ways to get around.
  • Not flying: David MacKay’s calculations show that a single long haul flight, (for example London – Johannesburg – London), in a year uses as much energy per person as motoring an average of 50km every day. So when we Europeans gaily commute 5 or 6 times across Europe on airlines that charge us next to nothing, we are really contributing massively to the energy usage problem. Some time soon cheap flying will have to be a thing of the past.
  • MacKay also notes the laws of physics simply make it unlikely that there can be any significant efficiency improvement in flying as a means of transport. Whatever money is spent on research and development, the new materials, the new engines etc. all improvements will be marginal whatever the manufacturers may say.

So only radically changing habits could make a real difference in energy consumption.
But such a change will also require a greatly increased scale of electricity generation, doubling UK electrical generating capacity to about 90 Gigawatts from the current 45 Gigawatts.

The question then is where can this increased electricity generation come from and what the likely alternate sources are going to cost in terms of finance, use of land and security of supply. David Mackay draws a scaled map of the UK showing the vast land areas that would be taken up even by a rational combination of various alternative energy generation schemes.

He makes a further crucial point that some alternative energy sources only generate heat energy rather than the higher grade more valuable and transportable electrical energy. However probably his most important point is that whatever is done, it will only ever be effective if it is on the grand scale. Turning off battery chargers and not leaving equipment on standby or other minor gestures are not going to dent the problem or save the planet. As David MacKay says only “every BIG helps”.

Energy Generation

So what are the main alternatives for sustainable power generation. These can be compared by their likely cost / Gigawatt and by their land area requirements.

  • Wind power: the wind is intermittent and thus can only ever be about 20% effective.
  • Wind power requires equivalent back-up standby generating power or storage capacity for the times when the wind does not blow or blows too much. The investment and massive subsidies for wind power seems to be utterly misguided. The energy companies are beginning to realise this and are cancelling projects.
  • On-shore wind farms: in average generating capacity these are reasonably cost-effective (rather the less than the total equivalent cost of nuclear power, but this does not count the essential “spinning” back-up generating, grid or storage resources). Wind farms take very large areas of land and are environmentally obnoxious. To provide the 90 Gigawatts, (without the essential backup) would mean covering 2/3 of the of the land area of the UK with wind farms. Incidentally they don’t kill that many birds, domestic cats are 1000 times as effective.
  • Off-shore wind farms: are at least twice as expensive as those built on land, but they are probably a somewhat more consistent source of power. However they require massive engineering, and they still need backup generating or storage capacity. Offshore wind farms have very considerable maintenance problems and are subject to much heavier wear and tear and corrosion difficulties.
  • Using water power: water is a 1000 times denser than air, the tides and their associated currents are therefore much more powerful and more importantly entirely predictable when compared with the power from wind. Better still the tides around the UK are out of phase so tidal power has potential to provide continuous power day and night. The use of waterpower for electricity storage by pumped storage on demand schemes is well understood and effective:
  • Tidal lagoons could be used in a similar manner. Estuarine barrages and tide lagoons use the outgoing and incoming tides released through turbines to generate electricity.
  • These projects have the potential to be of sufficient scale to make worthwhile contributions. It has been estimated that the Severn barrage alone could well contribute 5% of UK power needs: then there are the Wash, Morecombe Bay, Strangford Loch, etc. However the schemes would not be cheap, at their average output estimated at as much as 5 times the cost of nuclear generation. Such schemes will also run into massive environmental protest.
  • Tidal stream: there are many locations around the UK where tidal currents are powerful and predictable. These could be exploited by submerged fields of free-standing turbines but a great deal of research and investment in development still needs to be undertaken. They are likely to be costly, at about twice the price of nuclear power and are also likely to be subject to maintenance problems.
  • Wave power: the technology has been developed on a small scale. One established form operates with long snakes of jointed floating caissons, which generate power as they flex in the waves. The scale necessary to generate worthwhile power would be enormous about 70 kms / Gigawatt. They are also entirely dependent on the weather and sea-state and so can only ever give irregular output and like wind energy would require back-up generation. Current costs for average output are about 5 times cost of nuclear power. They will also have all the maintenance problems of off-shore wind power.
  • Hydroelectricity: is well established, but in the UK the uplands sites for generation are comparatively limited in comparison to the generating capacity needed. However they can be controlled to provide backup energy on demand.
  • Heat pumps: extracting heat from the air or the soil is a very effective way of using electric power for heating and possibly the reverse for cooling. The technique only produces lower grade heat energy but the costs are comparatively low, a quarter of nuclear energy. The use of such equipment is an individual decision and pumps are integrated into new or existing housing and thus make no demands on land use.
  • Solar energy: the sun is intermittent day by day and not particularly effective as far North as the UK. The value of solar input potential in Southern Spain, the Southern USA or the Sahara is more than twice the UK level.
  • Solar hot water: individual domestic and industrial water heating systems can make a contribution even in the UK. They would absorb a lot of urban roof space, which objectors would find unsightly. In cost terms although they would be individual purchases, they are expensive for their relatively small productive capacity of low-grade thermal energy.
  • Photovoltaic farms: with high technology it is possible to convert sunlight directly into electricity and there are some small scale examples. Of course these systems work better the further south you go and returns in the UK would be comparatively small. They would take up significant but not enormous land area. The estimated cost is about 3 times that of nuclear power generation.
  • Solar power in deserts: a serious proposal is that solar power could be collected and imported from other people’s deserts and transmitted north to Europe, (the long distance transmission technology does work). Also technology is available to ensure local overnight local storage to improve the consistency of supply.
  • The scale would have to be enormous, (a plant area of plant the size of Wales would be needed to provide the UK with its power needs), and the costs also are very high, about six times that of nuclear energy. Of course having such plants on other peoples’ territory would raise security of supply problems.
  • Waste incinerators: incineration of household and agricultural waste has real potential for a limited amount of power generation. It costs about twice as much as the equivalent nuclear generation. So far the UK has some limited success but is lagging far behind the best. In Denmark for example, where waste incineration is already 11 times more effective than the UK. Incineration of collected waste seems much more effective than attempts to gather gas from rotting landfill sites. Incinerators may not be thought to be the best of neighbours but they need only take up a limited amount of urban land.
  • Clean coal: there are very substantial fossil fuel coal reserves in the UK and around the world, but the normal way coal is burnt results in significant CO2 release. It is conceivable that the waste gasses could be collected and sequestered underground. It is not easy and it will be expensive. The cost is estimated to be about twice current generating costs and at least half as much again when compared with nuclear energy. However the land take would be modest. As the CO2 produced is a plant fertiliser, sequestration of CO2 would seem to be a particularly pointless exercise unless it can be conclusively proven to be the cause of climate change.

Energy Storage
Storage of electricity is notoriously difficult, sources of standby capacity are essential for most renewable energy sources, (wind, solar etc.).

  • Pumped storage: There are a few operational UK schemes where pumped storage is achieved very effectively. These are essentially two water reservoirs one above the other with reversible generators / pumps. When there is excess, “cheap” power in the grid, it is used to fill the upper reservoir and later the water is released to recover the power via the turbines. The largest UK installation at Dinorwig in North Wales has an output greater than 1GW. The technology is reasonably priced, needs suitable upland sites, but is replicable and does not use much land.
  • Other storage: the most promising of these is the future use of battery storage in a large fleet of privately owned electric vehicles as mentioned earlier using intelligent charging and control technology.

Growing plants for fuel, biomass: photosynthesis, though effective in nature on a world scale, is a very poor way of converting solar energy and atmospheric CO2 into fuels useable for electricity generation or transport, (about 0.2 watts / sqm as opposed to almost 20 watts / sqm for photovoltaics in Southern California).
The fossil fuels we burn now are the result of many billions of years of photosynthesis. When burnt, the biomass probably increases CO2 levels even though to arrive as a fuel carbon capture has taken place so the process is essentially carbon neutral:

  • Wood: growing wood for fuel requires about 2500 sq km to produce a Gigawatt of energy in other words 8 times current UK area of forestry for the 90 Gigawatts required.
  • Biofuels: growing crops to generate liquid fuels diesel or ethanol for example is possible and proven but is even more space consuming at about 6000 sq km per Gigawatt. This would mean about 12 times the UK arable land area for the 90 Gigawatts required.
    But we also need arable land to grow food. The devastating effects of replacing food crops are already being seen and their replacement for biofuels is leading to rapid food price rises especially in the developing world: biofuels are not a solution but a real disaster in the making.
  • Nuclear fission: in spite of all the adverse publicity and protest, it seems that nuclear fission:
    • is about a million times more effective at energy production than any fuel chemical reaction
    • is effective and capable of constant continuous production
    • is comparatively cheap compared with more “environmentally acceptable” alternatives
    • absorbs very little land
    • produces a small amount of waste that can be handled comparatively easily in spite of the propaganda
    • produces no CO2 from its production
    • has a virtually unlimited fuel supply
    • is immediately available
    • has potential for greatly increased efficiency (up to 60 times current output levels) in the future even enhancing current known technologies using fast breeder reactors and / or thorium technology
    • does not pose security of supply problems.

David MacKay does not say he is a supporter of nuclear energy but his arithmetic shows that it is likely to be the only real and currently available answer of sufficient scale to tackle the impending energy problem facing the UK and the world.
As the former director of Greenpeace International Patrick More, (now much vilified by his old movement), has said

“we made the mistake of lumping nuclear energy with nuclear weapons, as if all things nuclear were evil. I think that is as big a mistake as if you lumped nuclear medicine with nuclear weapons”.

At last David MacKay has done the world a great favour in clearly laying out the numbers involved in sustainable energy.
His book does not make for comfortable reading. It clearly explodes many of the myths promoted by Green campaigners in the past years and negates many of the policies that governments are now pursuing, (particularly, for example the subsidising of wind energy). I sincerely hope that the world’s policy makers will sit up and take notice. Fat chance ???

In Conclusion

The greatest tragedy is that the Green Movements have so effectively negated the nuclear energy option in much of the Western world for so long. If, (and this is a very big if), the production of CO2 from fossil fuels is in fact posing a major the problem and inducing climate change, nuclear energy seems to be the only viable alternative for mankind. Without the malign influence of the “well-meaning” green movements, something might have been done to ameliorate the planet’s position as far as its CO2 emissions were concerned.

Indeed, if CO2 emissions are the real problem, Green objections to Nuclear Energy will bear a very heavy responsibility for the damage they have done to the future of our planet.
There is even, a not unreasonable, conspiracy theory that Alexander Litvinenko was murdered using the very exotic radioactive element Polonium, simply to make sure that the West remained fearful and antagonistic towards anything nuclear and thus help maintain the full dependence of Western Europe on Russian energy supplies.

France is one of the few countries that has wisely resisted pressures from the environmental lobbies, as a result 85% of all their electricity generation is nuclear. Thus it is the most enlightened in the world. Their nuclear industries now hold the most advanced technologies in the field, (a position once held by the UK, but which was sold off for a pittance by the last Labour government). The French are also fully involved in the next round of fusion power generation at Cadarache, which is a great hope for clean energy generation for the future.

There is already a transmission line from France to the UK capable of carrying the output of two French nuclear power stations, but of course, the French will be able to set the price when the brown-outs start and the lights go out in the UK in only a few years time, (that is likely to start in about 2015, see the earlier diagram).
The French have even embraced high-speed electrically powered trains as an acceptable alternative to medium distance flying within Europe.

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15 Responses to Apocalypse Soon!

  1. tonyb says:


    Thanks for that very detailed exposition which I shall re-read and no doubt comment on again. I had forgotten that I had written about David Mackay before, when he became Chief Scientist. I’m afraid I don’t share your admiration.

    This is a short extract from my article on the politics of climate change;


    It reads as follows;

    “(Note: The terms used ‘significant behavioural change’ is similar to that used in the extract at link 2.)

    Item 28. It can be seen that the highly alarmist** viewpoint detailed here echoes the recent comments about ‘thermo dynamic crimes’*.

    (Note: *The increasingly frenetic tone of the climate debate in the UK can be seen in this comment from David Mackay that was made public just before the first airing of the advert.)


    “Setting fire to chemicals like gas should be made a thermodynamic crime,” he said. “If people want heat they should be forced to get it from heat pumps. That would be a sensible piece of legislation.”

    Who is David Mackay?

    (from the same link above) “Speaking last week on his first day as chief scientist at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, MacKay set out a vision of how Britain could generate the threefold increase in electricity it needs, with nuclear power at its heart. DECC is the govt dept that is the successor to Defra in climate change.”

    Mackay has also been an expert witness in front of this EAC committee.

    Those individuals and organisations who presented information for the report that we are examining in detail here are listed in this document:


    All the minutes on the fourth report of the EAC are here:


    Now Ed, it really worries me that someone can call for carbon rationing and proclaim that even burning gas is a crime, as it has echoes of James Hansen. I don’t want my Chief Scientists to speak in those terms and my respect for his integrity and balance diminished immediately.

    As regards other energy sources, I have written a peer reviewed article on wave energy and tidal power and the depressing thing is that we are decades away from anything viable-all the attention has been focused on wind power which I think is an expensive cul de sac.

    The problem with all these alternatives sources is that development is still at a very early stage (even wind power relatively speaking) and the energy we receive will be so expensive that it will bankrupt our industry and general public.

    It is clear that the Greens have demonised nuclear which is unfortunate as it is a highly practical and, more importantly, relatively inexpensive means of providing the base load power a large industrial country like ours needs. Fusion also seems to me to be viable in the relatively short term.

    As a country we are sleepwalking into an era of energy shortage of epic proportions and what will be generated from conventional sources will become very expensive in order that it can ‘compete’ with very high priced renewable energy.


    [Tony, I’ve moved your comment to here from the previous thread – Verity]
    ** Despite new policy: https://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/cleaning-house/ I have left this unaltered as it was a direct quote and altering it would have changed the intent of the author. VJ.

  2. gallopingcamel says:

    It is encouraging to find more people coming to the realization that nuclear power has so many advantages over the alternatives.

    France built up its nuclear power very rapidly because it lacked adequate coal reserves. An excellent discussion can be found here:

    “tonyb”, your optimism about nuclear fusion may work out in the long term but this particular “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow keeps receding. I spent many years working on research related to fusion power.

  3. gallopingcamel says:

    Quite a few “Greenies” now support nuclear power. In addition to the Greenpeace Patrick Moore (not Sir Patrick Moore the amateur astronomer ), other notables include James Hansen (NASA/GISS) and James Lovelock (Gaia).

  4. John F. Hultquist says:

    Additional reading: http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=2469

    Regarding: E = mc2 and its corollary, E = mv2

  5. tonyb says:

    Galloping Camel

    I’m a member of the focus fusion society.


    None of this is to decry the need though to urgently build some nuclear power stations
    whilst we experiment with renewables.


  6. Faustino says:

    MacKay, as quoted, shows that nuclear power is far more cost-effective than all other low-emission options. A high proportion of Australians believe in AGW and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, although the cost to our coal-based economy would be enormous. At the same time, Australia has the world’s greatest supplies of uranium and is the world’s leading supplier of fuel for nuclear power; it has a large and almost entirely sparsely-populated land-mass which is one the most geologically stable in the world, and therefore optimal for underground storage of nuclear waste as well as providing many possible sites for nuclear power stations. However, the government and Greens, while strongly committed to anti-AGW action, are implacably opposed to nuclear power. We have no relevant infrastructure, engineers, education or regulations, apart from a small plant producing isotopes for medical etc applications. If we were ever to have nuclear power stations, it’s been estimated that there would be about a ten-year lead time in developing regulations, staff etc before any construction could begin. In the mean time, we have a number of government subsidised schemes to reduce emissions which effectively price carbon at from $A600 – $A4000 per tonne, compared to suggested staring price of $A10-40 if a carbon tax or ETS is introduced.

    Having first been briefed on AGW in 1989-90 by the IPCC’s then chief scientist, Sir John Houghton, I have followed the issue closely, and have been increasingly sceptical of the statistical basis for the AGW hypothesis and measures to attempt to deal with it. This is exacerbated when those who claim to be most concerned about AGW rule out the most cost-effective way of reducing emissions while maintaining the economy.


  7. gallopingcamel says:

    Thanks for that fusion link which I plan to explore in detail.

    When it comes to advanced nuclear reactors, have you looked into Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs)?

  8. DirkH says:

    Germany has the strongest Green party it ever had, at 22 % approval rating. Their secret to success? Mobilizing protest against nuclear power.

    Don’t ever, not in a million years, expect Greens to accept nuclear power – it is their MO to be against it; it is the heart of their movement, much more even than being against CO2.

    As a consequence, don’t expect civilization to survive under a Green government. Germany will get it and get it hard.

  9. boballab says:

    I first commented on this over at TaV when the article appeared there but unless the post author made a serious mistake or Dr. Mackay needs to seriously go back and do basic research on US temperatures. The problem is this statement:

    Of course cooling in summer to below winter temperatures, (very common in the US), with air conditioning is a real waste of energy.

    (emphasis mine)

    Now unless he basis everything on the winter temperatures of Miami, Florida and Hawaii he is blowing smoke. For most of the US the winter temperatures go far below what any residential AC unit could possibly reach. Example where I live in coastal Maryland the average winter temperature is 43° F or 6.1° C. Now does anyone seriously believe that anyone living in my area is setting their AC to BELOW 43°F? Hell my thermostat doesn’t even go that low! Now imagine what the average WINTER temperature in places such as North Dakota and Alaska reach. Now what do they do to get below WINTER temperatures? Use a commercial warehouse freezer unit? Hell even San Diego in Southern California can get down to the low 50’s in January (lets not even mention what happens at night out in the desert areas).

    If this guy can screw something this elementary up , it doesn’t bode well for the rest.

  10. Verity Jones says:

    I notieced your comment at tAV about and was going to reply there. It didn’t take long to download the whole pdf of the book and search for ‘air condition’. This seems to be the relevent paragraph (and does not specifically mention the US):

    Before leaving the topic of thermostat settings, I should mention airconditioning. Doesn’t it drive you crazy to go into a building in summer where the thermostat of the air-conditioning is set to 18 ◦C? These loony building managers are subjecting everyone to temperatures that in wintertime they would whinge are too cold! In Japan, the government’s “Cool-Biz” guidelines recommend that air-conditioning be set to 28 ◦C (82 F).

    I think Ed make the leap (mentioning the US) because airconditioning is so rarely needed in the UK.

  11. boballab says:


    This just reinforces what I said about his lack of doing basic research. An example of this is that large corporate chains such as Walmart in the US (over 5,000 buildings) do not leave temperature control in each building managers hands: They are controlled centrally from the home office in Arkansas. Also if you look at my more detailed response to someone else at tAV you will see how heating and cooling in the US has typically played out.

    Basically this “Scientist” took his experiences from what seems to be the UK, mentions Japanese Governments guidelines and somehow he knows how the US operates? As Penn and Teller say: Bull$hit.

    The US Department of Energy Guideline for Thermostat setting for AC units in the summer is 78°F which I was able to find in less then 5 mins on the DOE website:

    In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning, too, by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal as you wake or return home.

    Also for installations like my home which has a heat pump they state this:

    Limitations For Homes With Heat Pumps, Electric Resistance Heating, Steam Heat, And Radiant Floor Heating

    Programmable thermostats are generally not recommended for heat pumps. In its cooling mode, a heat pump operates like an air conditioner, so turning up the thermostat (either manually or with a programmable thermostat) will save energy and money. But when a heat pump is in its heating mode, setting back its thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently, thereby canceling out any savings achieved by lowering the temperature setting. Maintaining a moderate setting is the most cost-effective practice.


    It is just recently that some new and so far unproven programmable thermostats have come out to let people with heat pumps use the set back technique.

  12. boballab says:


    I have recently tracked down the US DOE’s latest figures which are from 2005:

    Click to access tablehc2.7.pdf

    Click to access alltables.pdf

    In those two links you can see where people in the US set their thermostats for both AC and heating and when you compare the temperature settings you find that the vast majority of people in the US set their AC to a higher temp then they do their heating.

    Thus if the author did a little basic research such as Googling: Department of Energy and finding the link to their Energy Information Agency department (6th link down) then selecting Households, Buildings, Industry & Vehicles the bogus claim that was made could have been averted and actual data looked at.

  13. Edmh says:

    Herewith correspondence I had with Prof Mackay last year which I intend to work up into an article in due course.

    “In response to your correspondence.

    Where is the flaw in this logic ?

    Greenhouse Effect = +33.00⁰C Water Vapour causes 95% of the effect = 31.35⁰C Other Greenhouse gasses cause 5% of the Effect = 1.65⁰C CO2 is about 75% of the Effect of all GHGs = 1.24⁰C Total worldwide Man-made CO2 is about 7% of atmospheric CO2 = 0.086⁰C So closure of the world carbon economy could only result reducing the Greenhouse Effect by 86 thousandths ⁰C. The UK contribution to Man-made CO2 is ~2% = 0.00174⁰C .So closure of the total UK carbon economy could only result reducing the Greenhouse effect by 1740 millionths ⁰C.

    The following response has been made:

    flaws are marked (*)

    Greenhouse Effect = +33.00⁰C Water Vapour causes 95% of the effect = 31.35⁰C Other Greenhouse gases cause 5% of the Effect = 1.65⁰C CO2 is about 75% of the Effect of all GHGs = 1.24⁰C
    Total worldwide Man-made CO2 is about 7% of atmospheric CO2 = 0.086⁰C
    * Nope, steady emissions lead to CO2 concentration rising.
    So closure of the world carbon economy could only result reducing the Greenhouse Effect by 86 thousandths ⁰C. The UK contribution to Man-made CO2 is ~2% = 0.00174⁰C. So closure of the total UK carbon economy could only result reducing the Greenhouse effect by 1740 millionths ⁰C.
    * Well, that’s “the tragedy of the commons”. You can always argue that it is fine for you to be antisocial because you are just one person. But there are other views of ethics, leadership, pollution. London doesn’t have smog any more, and that’s thanks to all 7 million people all following the lead of whoever went first.
    Yours sincerely,
    David MacKay, Cavendish Laboratory “

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