Climate change used and abused.  If you are looking for high end statistics here then don’t bother reading any further because this article is not about that.  Statistics can be used by both sides of this argument to prove their point.  I grow tired of both sides of this argument one saying climate change is not real and the other saying our world will end in less than twenty years unless we radically lower our standard of living.  This will be a common sense discussion about our planet.

So let’s go back about 2.6 million years, really no need to go back any further and look at our planet.  This was the beginning of the last ice age.  This lasted until just 11,500 years ago.  For you archaeologist it was called the Pleistocene Epoch age.  Homo sapiens were here, that’s us, along with vegetation and animals.  We were hunter gatherers and the only fuel used was wood for fires.  Maybe some peat in northern England but that’s about it.

At the end of this period most of the big dinosaurs and other large mammals became extinct due to the harsh conditions.  We survived because we adapted and could reason.  No one really knows what started the last ice age; some will say a meteor hit the earth causing a huge amount of water vapor and dust to blanket the entire atmosphere of the earth blocking the sun’s rays.  There are a lot of theories but Fox News and CNN weren’t around back then so go with whatever theory you wish.

The point is whatever caused this was not man made.  Now you are saying here he goes he is going to try and say that man has no effect on the environment.  No I am not.  I just want you to understand that what effect we have had on the environment started in the 1860’s with the invention of the internal combustion engine.  Shortly after this, in the 1880’s, came the invention of the ability to transmit electricity over distances. This was a short 155 years ago.  I am just putting things in context for you from a historical perspective.

So from that point until now our effect on the planet environment has without question increased.  Yes I am saying that the development of the internal combustion engine was a step change for mankind.

I would say a necessary step change if mankind wanted to avert mass starvation.  The world’s population has been on a steady increase for many decades which means food supplies must increase.  So prior to the engine, horses were used to plow the fields, plant the seeds, and then harvest the crops.  Can you even imagine how much starvation would occur in the world if farmers were still using only horses?  What about milk?  Today’s modern dairy milks cows 3 times a day with automated milking machines which are all powered by electricity.  Electricity generated using mainly coal, natural gas, and nuclear fueled power plants.  Early on coal was the primary fuel due to its abundance and ease of use.  Now we have other forms of energy with solar and wind generated power.  Wind and solar are small contributors when comparing them to the power generating plants fueled by gas, coal, and nuclear.

Now I am not about to go into what life would be like if we did not have electricity or if your electricity was rationed.  I’ll let you ponder that on your own, but I think fairly quickly you will reach the conclusion that your lifestyle is going to take a major turn for the worse.

So climate change is directly proportional to mankind’s need to adopt to sustain human life due to population growth worldwide.  The conversion of stored energy in carbon based fuels and nuclear fuel into energy on demand for mankind’s use.  Has this had an impact on our planet’s environment; only a fool would say no.  The problem is there is no way to quantify the effect because no historical records exist to compare with.  We must grow food and we must haven a way to transport that food to where it is needed.   That’s the bottom line.

Ahaw but you say, we don’t need jet airplanes, heating or cooling in our homes, we really don’t need individual automobiles, we just need trucks to haul food.  If you think about it we really don’t need a lot of the things we have but please write down for me things you want to give up to reduce the consumption of energy.  I’m waiting.

Now wait a minute Don, nobody’s saying we have to give up anything, we just want to rid ourselves of carbon based fuels to stop or lower the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the environment.

You know what, that is a worthwhile goal and I have no problem with it.  We need to find alternatives because in reality the supply of these fuels is finite.  We will run out at some point.  Here is the reality though; it took us, meaning humanity, until the late 1800’s to convert fossil fuels to immediate energy for use.  Point is this will not happen overnight and you can’t force it to happen.

I know you are thinking why is he writing this what is the point?  Well here it is.  If we want clean renewable energy then the development of these forms of energy must be incentivized and it must be developed in the private sector.  Incentivized with grants, tax breaks, and financially supporting research and development in the private sector to support another step change in the production of energy like what happened in the late 1800’s.

I’ve heard some political candidates support nationalizing the energy supply of our country; in other words have the government control the production of energy.  If that were to occur, it would remove any motivation to develop new forms of energy.  This would inhibit rather than motivate the discovery of new clean renewable energy supplies.

Like it or not the primary motivator for any new technology is the potential for profit.  How much revenue and profit will an inventor realize for their innovation.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  Many of the things we take for granted now were developed with making a profit in mind by their inventor.

Capitalism is the engine of innovation and our best chance at decreasing our impact on the earth’s and our climate.