Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Climate Change – Teller told us so!

*Pic: Physicist Edward Teller pointing at a formula on a blackboard on 22 May 1968. Photograph: STF/AFP

In 1959 Hungarian born Physicist Edward Teller made a surprisingly overt speech at the ‘Energy and Man’ symposium for the centennial of the American oil industry. Teller’s words came with a notable warning that the ongoing burning of fossil fuels will pose inherent dangers for all life on earth if it is continued unabated. But did anyone take note?

Here are some extracts from his speech

Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels.

But I would […] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [….] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [….] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can’t smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?

Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [….] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.

Teller was asked to summarize briefly the danger from increased carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere in the 20st century. The physicist, as if considering a numerical estimation problem, responded:

“At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 per cent [about 360 parts per million, by Teller’s accounting], if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels. By that time, there will be a serious additional impediment for the radiation leaving the earth. Our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5”.

“But when the temperature does rise by a few degrees over the whole globe, there is a possibility that the icecaps will start melting and the level of the oceans will begin to rise. Well, I don’t know whether they will cover the Empire State Building or not, but anyone can calculate it by looking at the map and noting that the icecaps over Greenland and over Antarctica are perhaps five thousand feet thick”.

Note Teller’s CO2 ppm calculation scenario predicted in the following link.

By the end of 2018 he estimated the cppm to be just beyond 400.

His calculations have proved to be incredibly accurate!


So at the American oil industry centennial it was warned of its civilisation destroying potential, and in proceeding years the industry commissioned a report on air pollution from the Stanford Research Institute. The 1968 report’s warning on CO2 was notably direct –

“Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000, and these could bring about climatic changes. […] there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe. […] pollutants which we generally ignore because they have little local effect, CO2 and submicron particles, may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes”.

Edward Teller may have been the first to warn of the tragedy now looming before us. By the time he departed this world in 2003 the American Petroleum Institute was full swing into denying the climate science it had been informed of decades before. This was compounded by the copious $ millions the industry poured into combating the climate change belief.

The 21st century has seen the oil industry relentlessly attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and fighting climate policies wherever they arose.

And now the American fossil fuel industry has their puppet Trump to peddle their dogma.

Modern American Revolt

2018 and Arnold Schwarznegger has announced he is suing big oil industry because he claims –

“They know they are killing people and continue to do the same thing over and over’

“The oil industry knew about the dangers of fossil fuels years ago, and then spent decades from hiding the truth from the public.”

“The oil companies knew from 1959 on, and they did their own study, and knew there would be global warming and climate change happening because of fossil fuels, ….and on top of it, it would be risky for people’s lives” and “that it would kill people and they would get cancer”

Schwarznegger states that– “every gas station should have a warning label on it”, every car should have a warning label, every product that fossil fuels in it should have a warning label on it” …..“ There are 7 to 9 million people dying each year because of pollution because of fossil fuels”

Arnold is not the only one suing big oil, so is New York City, and several other cities in California.
In a change of events resulting from current civil litigation, even the oil industry itself acknowledges that there is human-caused climate change, but there still remains a movement of deniers.


Meanwhile in the USA Trump and the EPA continue to downplay climate change
Youth of American challenge the oil industry through law suits –




Young People Suing Government, Oil Industry Over Climate Change Rally

Perhaps the youth of Australia will rise and challenge the fossil fuel burning industries in Australia?

We live in hope!

Ted Mead is forever frustrated and disillusioned about human apathy towards mitigating the global mess that the fossil fuel industry has imposed across the globe. Ted believes the transition to a renewable energy world is providing a welcome momentum towards change, but he feels our attitude to unite and progress unanimously in our thinking is still seemingly far away.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. George Smiley

    May 9, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Thanks Max, for God’s word. It is unlikely to be his last for a few more years.

    Especially nice is “the meek shall inherit the earth” which is quite possible when there is nothing left worth fighting over and “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son … ” so only belief is necessary for the enjoyment of the hereafter, if not the familiar and illusory material world of woe.

    Stalin was going to “bring nature to its knees” but it seems to be the way of any unbalanced biological system when some hubristic little crud gets out of hand. The usual exponential spike is followed by a major crash that resets numbers and possibilities on a far smaller scale.

    But then we aren’t part of that, having divine patronage and a corresponding immortal spark. But when the fish are gone, and there’s a couple of years failed grain harvests on a continental scale, it is then that we will eat each other, and the unmaintained cooling ponds will go up and the un-cemented well heads will too, and all the landfilled plastic washes into the rising oceans at the end – so it will be so nice to know there are engravings on a dead Pioneer spacecraft heading outwards – a guy and girl, a Beatles’ tune maybe. That’s immortality we can bank on.

  2. max

    May 7, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    There are two ways of looking at climate change or global warming, it is happening – or it’s not.
    If it is a fact then we need to try and stop it and the worse outcome if it is not a fact is that we have cleaned up our world and made it a healthier place to live in. On the other hand if it is a fact, we will have created Armageddon.

    Peter 3:3-7: “God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men.”

    For all who believe in the Bible and God’s word – could burning, coal, gas and oil, be the fire?

  3. Christopher Nagle

    May 7, 2018 at 1:42 am

    cont …

    The renewables revolution will keep the war against the environment going for a little while longer perhaps.

    What Goebbels and every under-siege regime pedlar before and since has worked to install is inertia and hope that tomorrow can be put off. And they all do it because they know the audience really wants to believe that the awful rumours are all untrue, that the status quo is inviolable and that marginal tactical solutions will save the day.

    Powerful regimes like ours dance with their constituencies in a tango of the willing, that has the few stepping out with the millions…all volunteers

    And yes, I will be rushing off to buy my 400 km range Nissan Leaf in 2019 because it will make me feel better; that I am somehow doing my bit, even though I know that it is delusory…ho hum.

  4. Christopher Nagle

    May 7, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Kieth #11, I have been for some years following agog at the shenanigans of the fossil fuel lobbies and how wildly successful they have been. I am sure you have had the dubious pleasure of trying to have a rational discussion about climate change with people who get all their ‘science’ lowdown from Newscorp.

    And I will grant you that after 50-70 years of rolling out the most powerful indulgence based totalitarian system of communication and consciousness management ever developed, courtesy of marketing and sales inc, and a slew of outstanding exponents of the genre, like the tobacco and the gender lobbies, and a mass population so colonized they will buy bottled water at 4,000 times the price of tap, I would still assert that corporate perfidy is only 20% of the problem.

    And the reason I say that is that we have a good working model of the workings of orchestrated mass denial as developed by perhaps the most outstanding founding father of modern marketing and sales, Reichminister Joseph Goebbels.

    For the last 27 months of WW2, German forces were relentlessly retreating, but he was able to remould that into a series of heroic tactical victories, successes and potentially promising trends that made losing look like winning.

    Besides the fact that the Gestapo did an excellent job of making sure that doubters kept their views strictly to themselves, there was also an enormously powerful culture of willing suspended disbelief that materially assisted Her Goebbels in his brilliantly conducted campaign of regime defense-in-adversity.

    And here was the bottom line. There would not have been a single adult in Nazi Germany at the time that didn’t know what defeat would mean; i.e., so dreadful as to be unthinkable. That was 80% of the battle. All Goebbels had to do was line it all up and cement it in.

    Germans were particularly afraid of the possibility of ‘Slavic-subhuman’ Soviet occupation, because they were not bound by the laws of war. And their political commissars were at least as frightening as the Gestapo, especially after the ‘special treatment’ handed out to them early in the war by then victorious German forces. There would have hardly been a German soldier on the eastern front in the early months of operation Barbarossa that wasn’t either involved in, watched or heard captured commissars being peremptorily shot by firing squads…thousands of them

    Then the were the very unpleasant rumours about the behavior of the SS, most particularly in the East.

    And their fears were real. Until the Soviet High Command finally put a stop to it, their occupation troops committed around 2 million rapes, with some women being raped 60-70 times….

    Then there was the spectre of what invading occupiers might turn up, like why there were so many cattle trains full of people clogging up the rail system and the terrible noises coming out of them when pulled up in sidings, or the whispered rumours about the awful smell that got into everything in towns like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald and Dachau…and the rest of them.

    It doesn’t matter how awful and destructive the regime is, there is always a certain level of pervasive passive mass complicity and identification with it at all sorts of levels, and ours is no different.

    The ‘renewables revolution’ is on about the same level as Goebbels’ ‘heroic victories’ and his promise to use his huge ‘secret reserve’ of airpower towards the end of the war, to destroy the advancing allies. Renewables will certainly produce tactical victories by reducing the speed of CO2 buildup, but it will make hardly a dent in the speed with which we are closing down the ecosphere.

    Nobody is suggesting that we need to move to capitalism ‘lite’, that say reduces production inventory and levels to a per capita updated version of what they were say in 1914, and diverting economic resources to repair and restitution of the environment and our equally damaged social infrastructure, much in the same way as one would for a national war effort, because right now, that is ‘unthinkable’. I doubt if you could find anyone who would even entertain the idea, except perhaps as a bad joke made by an ideological crank.

    Cont …

  5. Wining Pom

    May 7, 2018 at 1:06 am

    #15 … My grapevines have more brains than you. Well, strictly not true, more hormones than you. They need X amount of heat to ripen and guess what? They have been ripening earlier each year. All over the world vines have been ripening earlier. Brown Brothers spent tens of millions of dollars expanding to Tassie because of climate change. It really is simple. The world is getting warmer. Go and talk to some grapevines instead of listening to people who are paid to say other than the truth.

  6. Ted Mead

    May 6, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    #13 … Chris – I was fully aware of Teller’s background regarding his scientific work towards the H-bomb.

    I didn’t note this into the article because I preferred to point out the simple fact that there were people around back then who could see the inherent dangers of the long-term use of fossil fuels.

    Whether Teller strategically denounced the use of fossil fuel as an agenda to advocate nuclear advancements may be conjecture, though his support for nuclear energy development and strategic defence systems doesn’t portray him in the saint category.

  7. Keith Antonysen

    May 6, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Chris #15 … I think deniers have been so successful in the past through not being challenged. The points put out by Sandy have been well and truly debunked by scientists through sites such as Scientific American, Real Science, Skeptical Science – and more importantly by scientific research.

    There is consilience with a number of science disciplines such as Chemistry, Physics, Medical Science, Oceanography, Geology, Zoology etc which is something contrarians can’t get around. A few times I have referenced Dr Benjamin Burger, a Geologist; he has researched the Triassic-Permian boundary when mass extinction took place. His work showed how a thin layer of molten larva ignited coal which then produced greenhouse gases which had a fatal impact on most life forms.


    Dr Burger has written a research article also available on the internet, though yet to be published.

    Sandy … I do not believe Geology or Medical Science etc are forms of Religion.


  8. Keith Antonysen

    May 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Sandy … modelling in the past has not been particularly accurate. The planet had been divided into grids of 200 x 200 kms in the past, but now with more sophisticated computers, those grids are 10 x 10 kms.

    In the Northern Hemisphere there are huge variations in temperature. The last few years in the Arctic have been extremely warm, while in some areas further South temperature has been excessively cold. The Eastern States of the US have had record snow while the West Coast States have had little. It had been reported that some ski resorts on the West Coast were having financial difficulties due to lack of snow. Weather patterns have become more extreme and variable.

    The warmest year recorded since records have been kept was 2016 – an el nino year, yet 2017 was a neutral or marginal la nina year was recorded as the 2nd or 3rd warmest year ever recorded.

    Check the state of the Bering sea at present as it definitely isn’t showing signs of cold. But I do acknowledge that predictions made about the state of the Arctic Ocean being ice free have not helped; for example, suggesting 2013 would be ice free after the record set in 2012.

    Karl et al put the notion of warmer times in historic times to bed. A colleague was quoted by contrarians far and wide, except the colleague had made a complaint about an administrative matter and stated the science itself was correct. Prior to Karl et al the notions about Greenland, Maunder etc have been debunked anyway. Apart from Karl et al, research on the Barnes Ice Shelf of Baffin Island also does not comply with the notion of warmer earlier periods.

    Check permafrost thawing in Arctic areas … there is much damage to infrastructure such as roads which have begun to break up and resemble wave patterns where they were once flat. Buildings are breaking up through foundations being undermined, or being lost on coastlines through permafrost thawing causing erosion and buildings becoming completely undermined.

    So yes, there are areas that are becoming colder depending on season, but there are other areas becoming excessively hot. A temperature of 50.2C recorded in Pakistan at the end of April 2018 doesn’t suggest cold! Wildfires in California during their winter of 2018 does not suggest cold. Water temperature measured off Maria Island does not suggest cold.

    Go to reference at #2, the heading being Exhibit A. It provides information about what fossil fuel companies knew decades ago. Exhibit A has hyperlinks providing information relating to the dates provided.

    What we are seeing are extremes, with warmth being displayed as outweighing cold as predicted by climate scientists.

  9. Chris Sharples

    May 6, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Re #15 … Don’t bother people, please don’t bother. There’s no point trying to reason about this.

  10. Sandy Tiffin

    May 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    It is unfortunate that the above correspondents quote outdated, politically (ie funding driven) and corrupt “science” based on bad computer models that have predicted nothing, instead of looking at reality.

    Check out Piers Corbyn at weatherwatch.com, where using models based on our electrical connection to the solar system, and particularly the sun and the moon, Piers has been able to predict the COOLING they are experiencing in the northern hemisphere much more accurately than the UK BoM. In a recent interview he explained how in 2004 he had given a presentation to the oil industry at a conference, and that the CEO of Exxon agreed with his modelling, but said they would play the global warming game as it would keep oil prices high.

    Obviously Ted and others are not keeping up with what is actually happening with world weather, so check out Adapt 2030 on Youtube to find out how the worst spring in over 100 years is affecting crop losses and food supplies in North America, Europe and Northern Asia, including North Korea where 20 million people are facing famine, and likely to agree to anything. Think about it.

    We are heading for a Grand Solar Minimum, with predictions that it could be as bad as the Maunder Minimum of the 17th to 18th centuries, and history tells us what happened then, including plagues and famines. Now we have unsuitable infrastructure which can’t cope with severe cold, like the nuclear power plants in the NE of the USA which were on emergency during one of the half a dozen blizzards they have had this year.

    Of course the Hockey Stick Graph constructed by Michael Mann for the IPCC ignored the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and the Maunder and Dalton Minimums through some tricky algorithms and corruption of data. Prof Tim Ball recently successfully sued Mann in the Canadian High Court to gain access to the data Mann has hidden for the last 20 years.

    Do you remember the climate scientists who predicted that snow would be a memory by 2016? Tell that to the rescuers in the Pyrennees coping with lost people after a blizzard in May – late spring over there. In fact, all warming alarmists should take a trip to north central USA where they can’t get the crops in because of the snow, and tell them it’s all in their heads!

    It saddens me that good people are brainwashed by silly theories which have no basis in reality – as observed through NASA and NOAA satellites. Earth’s overall temperature has not gone up: “The Pause” is continuing and even in Oz the chaos is worsening, with farmers complaining of cool summers with frost, and warm winters. We are already experiencing crop losses, such as a 30% loss of wheat, due to bad weather. If the theories cannot explain anything, and predict nothing, then scientific method says one must change one’s theories. I don’t care for opinions that have no basis in fact, as anyone can be bought off.

    Frankly, warming alarmists remind me of flat-earthers as they imply we are the centre of the universe but not actually connected to it, as changes in the cosmos somehow don’t affect us because humans are more powerful and destructive than the universe. I don’t think so! Check out the Electric Universe Paradigm on Thunderbolts.info, and ask yourselves why this isn’t more common knowledge.

    “Science” has become a religion and people are killing themselves with guilt! Is the recent self immolation of a New York climate activist as a protest against climate inaction the only logical answer to CO2 concerns? He has saved us all from 20 tonnes per annum of CO2 for the rest of his little life. I hope all the above correspondents were grateful for his sacrifice. Who’s next?

    Sandy Tiffin

  11. TGC

    May 6, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    #1 … Any relation to the literary famous Hyman Kaplan?

  12. Chris Sharples

    May 6, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Edward Teller was of course famous as an advocate for nuclear power (and bombs!) throughout his life. He designed the H-bomb. In that light I’d say his warnings about fossil fuels were just a convenient argument for him to use in the 1950s to advocate for nuclear, and one which he later evidently forgot about as indicated by #1. Teller was famous in his later decades as a denier of climate change as documented by Oreskes & Conway in their book about the history of denial “Merchants of Doubt”

    Teller is just another example of how people from all parts of the political spectrum (including the Green end) will try on convenient-sounding arguments, which they don’t really believe in, to try to lend weight to a cause they do believe in. So please don’t hold Teller up as a shining example of somebody who knew what he was talking about!

  13. Kelvin Jones

    May 6, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    #7, #8 and #9 … I am well aware of the statistics and technical challenges surrounding the issues of climate change and the technology problems in forming a solution. What you both seem to miss is that 7 billion people at the moment are living because of fossil fuel energy technology.

    Radical disruption to energy supply, in all its forms, including food, would cause massive population stress. Unthinkable !

    Electrical energy is the key multiplier in our copious supply of energy in all its forms. Other energy technologies heavily rely on it for their output. What is totally misunderstood by people and particularly monetary economists is that energy is like no other commodity and actually drives the monetary economy. It comes first.

    Economists have been lulled for over 300 years into believing that technology will come to the rescue and save the day, and that we can then go on in the same old way. Well this time it is not happening, in fact the reverse. We are now installing lower grade energy technology in the form of renewable systems. This is not to say that the engineering of solar or wind technology is inferior, it is the fundamentals of the energy physics that is inferior to thermal energy power generation.

    If I said to you instead of wind turbines to replace steam turbines we should used the old windmill technology. You would laugh and say it would not work to power a city. There is one wind mill now operating at Callington near Oatlands in Tas, restored and operated as working mill on a tourist basis. If we replaced the grinding stones with a generator it would be a wind generator. You would be right. However, when the first windmills along with water wheels introduced in about the 1400s they were a marvellous addition to human and animal energy of the time, and in fact hey did not add energy to the existing base – they multiplied it. A single human miller’s energy could process many more times the amount of grain as a huge number of human grinders.

    Just because a sleek computer designed piece of modern high tech materials and is far more efficient than its earlier wind mill technology does not mean that it is better than the current thermal turbine technology. This is apart from the vagaries of output determined by the weather.

    In a simple form, Peter Cundel the famous Tasmanian gardening expert, has it correct when he says almost weekly on his Saturday morning ABC broadcast when talking about vegipatches. The work energy you put in rewards you by the amount of crop (energy) you get out. It is the gain (yield) factor of the plant collecting the sun’s energy enabling one person to supply energy (feed) to many. Incidentally biotechnology has increased the energy gain (yield) by almost double since the end of WW2.

    The same gain cycles (a type of Carnot cycle) applies to our secondary energy systems. We put energy in to build and run them, and we benefit by the energy multiplier effect.

    This is the real problem if you reduce the gain factor by going to renewable energy because then the energy multiplier reduces (gain of the system) reduces. As economists are finding out belatedly, the monetary economy runs down and if you are too zealous too quickly.

    What is needed is a whole approach to the energy crisis, and that is to include the load side of consumption. Simply reducing energy consumption causes the economics of the system to go into meltdown as less consumption means less income for the energy supplier with the electrical industry being the first to be hit. That means higher energy prices. A nightmare again!

  14. Keith Antonysen

    May 6, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Christopher, I believe the history of the science behind climate change is important as it is very difficult for contrarians to deny. Though as you ask, what has stopped action taking place is also important. Major fossil fuel companies have had a huge influence, political ideology and fundamental religious beliefs also have been identified.

    There are numerous denier Agencies such as Heartlands, Cato “Institute”, Marshall “Institute” et al that receive funding from fossil fuel corporations to spread doubt about the science of climate change, and they have been horrendously successful. The denier “think” tanks, such as those listed, generally hold a Conservative ideology. The IPA is Australia’s example of a conservative “think” tank dispersing nonsense about climate change, ideologically driven.

    The Republican Party has virtually been bought by fossil fuel corporations .. just check where the donations have come from.

    Fossil fuel corporations have known for decades about the impact of their products .. try 6 June 1978 from reference provided at #2.

    There are a number of Court cases being held in the US, such as received in today’s email:


    The logic is quite amazing from the fossil fuel camp, blaming cities for what they, the fossil fuel companies had done, by ignoring the impacts of climate change. It displays the obfuscation that the fossil fuel companies have been carrying out for years.

  15. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    May 6, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Look Kim, I hear what you are saying and I am sure you and Elon Musk would get on like an ecosystem on fire.

    Personally I am a bit too much of a terrestrial plodder to go for a spaced out future. I will have myself cryogenically frozen for the next ten thousand years and wait out the apocalypse that way, if you don’t mind.

    Bon voyage, captain Peart.

  16. Kim Peart

    May 6, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Re: 8 ~ Christopher Nagle ~ I wonder if the engineering of Earth-only options, is because the space option would change the control of resources and the cornering of wealth.

    When exploring the problem of how we can live in harmony with Nature, and become a sustainable presence on Earth in 2006 with my document ~ Creating a Solar Civilization ~ I came to see that once we had secured a sustainable industrial presence in space, there would be no further call on resources from Earth, and also an infinite return on the investment.

    This option could have been opened in the 1980s, and once secured, the economy on Earth would have changed.

    Simply envisage a future where there is unlimited energy from the Sun and resources millions of times vaster than found on Earth, all freely available.

    An unlimited future in space would change how money is viewed, and remove poverty, which would lead to peace in space and on Earth.

    With the main game in space, and where there is no limit to expansion, it would then be possible to design a lifestyle on Earth that worked within ecological limits.

    The smart people in the carbon energy monopolies, who knew the facts about CO2, would also have known the implications of allowing a space based economy to even begin.

    The “my way or the highway” approach means that for space to be allowed to happen, industry would have to be in control.

    Once in space, however, industry would no longer be in control.

    That is a Catch 22 for industry, which has locked up our future on this planet, and become a threat to human survival and the Earth system.

    Serious space funding has been suppressed, for decades, as Earth-only options have been enforced by industry, and for other reasons, pursued by conservationists, which in the end has served the wishes of industry to maintain their grip on power and wealth on Earth.

    The delay in getting serious about space options has been the main threat for decades.

    Our choice is to rise to the challenge of a Manhattan Project level of action for space, securing survival, peace, creativity and unlimited prosperity, or tumble into an extinction oblivion on an Earth becoming a dying hell.

    I have recently explored how we might rise to the challenge ~

    What will we choose, hell on Earth, or survival in space, from where we can remake an Earth paradise, and turn Venus into a second Earth, for the hell of it?

    If we act on space now, in a serious way, the future that we are going to will begin to kick in on Earth now.

    We either make a rapid transition to a stellar economy, or we are fossils on a hot dead Earth.

    Do we really want two Venuses in the Solar System?

  17. Christopher Nagle

    May 6, 2018 at 9:30 am

    What is far more interesting than the history of the science of global warming, is why it wasn’t acted on.

    The perverse role of the fossil fuel industries is an obvious one, but it doesn’t really explain why the overall response has been so desultory towards a threat that is potentially so dire.

    There are some resonances here in the kind of fear and weakness driven denialism that went on in relation to fascist rearmament during the 1930s, but even that is a narrow small beans explanation as to why there has been so little response to CO2 pollution by way of industrial/technological trajectory, until very recently.

    And even now, it is still on the margins, because the so called renewable energy revolution is only touching the edges of this problem, let alone the much larger one of the creeping demolition of the entire ecosphere by an industrial system that is growing exponentially in terms of production, use and the dumping of wastes by billions of new consumers, as its innovation and efficiency keeps relentlessly dropping the marginal costs of production and consumption.

    The industrial revolution and capitalism is and always has been a hydrocarbon beast from top to bottom. Less than half of a barrel of oil is actually used as energy. The rest finds its way into the industrial chemistry set and synthetic materials technology built into most of the things in the room you are presently sitting in.

    Without fossilized carbon feedstock, present modern society is out of the question.

    And the thing is, burning fossil fuel for heating, cooling and transport is only a percentage of its use for producing the heat/chemical/materials transformations necessary to actually make stuff like metals, and particularly steel. Using electrolysis to make it like aluminium is still in the research phase down at MIT, so transformation of that very major industry is still decades away.

    The technological fixes for CO2 pollution are only going to be partial if we cannot slow the industrial beast down in line with our real ecological income and no one has much interest in that, because the transformation that will have to take place will be one of the largest ever attempted by our species, and it won’t necessarily be all that pleasant, because really major change never is.

    When the most successful modernizers outside Europe, the Japanese, put in place an equally dramatic shift in direction out of their medieval economy and society, they managed it in 40 years with an utterly ruthless military dictatorship and a preparedness to squeeze the population so hard you could hear the pips squeak.

    Anyone a bit slower off the mark got the shit beaten out of them, and/or was over-run.

    And the thing was, there was an extant model of successful modernization in Europe that everyone could reference. While it was not a particularly pretty sight, its power and effectuality could not be denied, or at least not for long. But even then, for a lot of people, willingly getting on board was a really tough gig that required huge compromises and surrenders of traditional practice.

    There is presently no slow down model on the table anywhere. And anyone who wants to give it a go is going to be mostly flying by the seat of their pants, as they switch away from goods and services production into environmental and social fortification, using a quasi wartime economic model. Best of luck with that…

    When we glibly talk about the end of ‘business-as-usual’ we aren’t talking about just rationing Mars Bars. And in the meantime, we still have to make a living and plan for what the children are going to do to make theirs, 10-15 years down track, while the status quo still persists.

    Hence the glacial progress to get out of the shit, that very likely will only happen when the glacier has almost completely melted, because deep down, we all know the trip will be as dangerous as it will likely be uncomfortable, as we watch the wealth accumulated over the last 200 years get ripped up, and global populations collapse.

    You do not have to be Einstein to understand why there isn’t exactly a stampede for the door into a different kind of future, even if we know that doing that will make the trip a lot less daunting. The certainty of what one has presently got teetering on the edge of a precipice is so much more palatable than jumping down it in the hope of a softish landing…. until one is pushed.

    Blaming the admittedly very powerful hydrocarbon industries for perfidious obstruction of a rational future is about 20% of the answer.

  18. Kim Peart

    May 6, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Re: 6 ~ Kelvin Jones ~ The Earth’s first primal solution to energy needs was the Sun, which supplied all the power to drive the Earth system, evolve life, and fill the biosphere with organic bulk, which led to the formation of fossil fuel deposits.

    The Sun is a virtually infinite energy-well, with so much fuel in reserve, it will burn fiercely over the next 5 billion years, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant star.

    The Sun is also getting warmer, very slowly, but inevitably, now 35 percent hotter than at its birth 4.5 billion years ago.

    The Earth system has been able to maintain a steady temperature for life, but the human CO2 hit may now have pushed to survival boundary, pushing temperature up too fast for the Earth system to cope with, in the light of a hotter Sun (Lovelock).

    Where the Earth system for life may have had a billion years to run, before the Earth becomes a second Venus with all life gone in a heat that melts lead, burning all remaining fossil fuel deposits, evaporating all water, the human impact is in the process of causing a premature heat death of the Earth, and the greenhouse gas load is now such, that if all humans vanished in a rapture, or a pandemic, the heat death may now be unstoppable for the Earth system, as cause and effect leads to the Earth releasing more and more greenhouse gas.

    This is a survival Catch 22 for life, where the Earth will die with us, or without us.

    And the Earth system will die in a billion years, or so, in any case, but now the date may be much sooner.

    Then there is the evolutionary dynamic that delivered up a tool-maker that could build the means to expand life beyond Earth, along with machines, launching industry in space, harvesting the power of the Sun to do any work, to build any dream.

    The closer a solar power station is located to the Sun, the more power that can be harvested.

    It is a strange coincidence that the 1980s was a key decade for the Earth system.

    In the 1980s the safe level of CO2 of 350 ppm, according to James Hansen, was passed and left behind.

    In the 1980s a Manhattan Project level effort to build solar power stations in space could have been in full swing.

    We could have begun the transition out of fossil fuel, and into stellar power, drawn from the Sun in space.

    I have read how the nuclear option is not an option for human civilization on Earth to meet all our energy needs, in a number of other places.

    A Manhattan Project level effort now, to access the power of the Sun in space, can be the way to survival for humankind and the Earth system.

    With the power of the Sun, we can beam energy to Earth to extract excess carbon from the air, and process extracted carbon into a useful resource for Earth and space industries.

    With factories in space, and unlimited energy to do work, we can build robot machines to clean up the mess of human laziness, such as the plastics that fill the oceans, even down to the micro plastics that now threaten the food chain.

    In our age, work in space can begin with remote-control systems, managing robots from Earth, and later from protected and healthy environments in space.

    Robots can be small, just like the size of satellites is going down.

    A mini-robot program can be used for mining and building, costing much less to send into space.

    Mini-robots can be used to build larger robots, once the space factories are established.

    The one detail that should really inspire us into action, is the detail that once there is a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth, there will be no further call on resources from Earth, but the beginning of an infinite return on the investment.

    Is this worth investigating?

    If yes, we had better be swift, as an Earth getting hotter is removing our survival options, all too rapidly.

    We can commit to collective suicide on a dying Earth, or we can decide to survive.

    What will we choose?

  19. Kelvin Jones

    May 5, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    I accept that greenhouse is occuring.

    However … Firstly Teller was a nuclear scientist. Although I am not familiar with all his work, I would think his solution would be nuclear energy. In my opinion that should have been the world’s first primary solution. This to replace fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Too late now. Why? Because to seamlessly support an industrial load on a world basis currently needs high grade thermal turbine derived energy.

    Wind and solar are too low a grade as we are finding out to our cost.

    Whilst the Greens did a good job of making the world aware of global warming they forced a solution which was good intentioned but the engineering was seriously flawed. A bridge to far.

    Just ask the French President, France’s 15 nuclear plants are keeping Europe stable, including Germany with its massive and unstable commitment to wind.

    We have a long way to go to match our load requirements to the output characteristics of renewable energy generators. We need time to adapt.

  20. Kim Peart

    May 5, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Then a Princeton physics professor wrote in 1977 ~ “If this development comes to pass, we will find ourselves here on Earth with a clean energy source, and we will further improve our environment by saving each year, over a billion tons of fossil fuels” (page 162, The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill.)

    O’Neill was writing about Dr Peter Glaser’s 1968 proposal to locate solar power stations in space, which he saw could be achieved with a Manhattan Project level approach which delivered the nuclear age in a couple of years during World War Two.

    If we had bothered making the transition to the power of the Sun we could have avoided CO2 driven Earth changes entirely.

    By simple deduction, the 1990s level of CO2 was enough to melt all the remaining ice because the difference between the last ice age and the past few millennia is 90 parts per million, delivering a few degrees higher temperature and around 130 metres in sea level rise.

    Now, with atmospheric CO2 sailing past 410 ppm, further additional heat is in the system, with other greenhouse gases now being released from the Earth, such as from melting Arctic permafrost, driving more heat into the Earth system.

    Our strife with CO2 is that it remains aloft for so long, driving up the temperature, ever slowly, ever surely.

    Greenland ice is melting from above as the Arctic ice sheet breaks up.

    Antarctic ice sheets are melting from below as warmer ocean water gets beneath them.

    But sea level rise is not the only strife as CO2 driven heat going into the sea is heating up the ocean, and CO2 going into the sea from the air is making the oceans more acidic too swiftly, and more CO2 in the air is changing plant biology, making some food crops more toxic and less nutritious, and rising heat driving climate changes threaten the stability needed to plan for agriculture, and the whole boot-full of changes impacting on human society drive environmental crisis that will lead to conflicts that can slide in to nuclear madness.

    A young German woman said to me yesterday, “The Earth is dying.” She could see no hope.

    Anyone reading about how the the corals cooked in the heat in the last bleaching of The Reef would also be seeing one face of a dying Earth as an unsustainable human presence and the Sixth Great Extinction reap their worst.

    The need is clearly to extract CO2 from the air as swiftly as possible.

    What is the plan to achieve that, as CO2 and other greenhouse gases keep rising into the air?

    This a Catch 22 of human survival, as Guy McPherson suggests, and he gives us no more than a decade or so, as our planet tumbles beyond hope for our able actions.

    Will a Manhattan Project level response rise to harness the power of the Sun to extract excess carbon from the air, and drive it down to at least the 1980s level of 350 ppm as suggested by James Hansen as the upper limit for a safe Earth, beyond which we are condemned to a runaway greenhouse effect which he has suggested will send Earth into a second Venus where the rocks glow in the heat.

    James Lovelock has looked at the Earth and sees that change will happen swiftly to a hotter and more dangerous planet.

    Faced with a pure survival challenge, why is there such little academic interest in survival?

    I attempted to raise debate with a climate change plan in the last two elections in Tasmania, but found myself standing before a deafening wall of silence.

    I look to the stars, as do astronomers, and wonder if the eerie silence is a warning for us that civilisations on the cusp of expansion beyond their home planet have a really bad habit of going extinct, which may become so with the CO2 bomb, rounded off with the atom bomb.

    Yet, within reach is the power of the Sun, so vast, virtually infinite, which we could use to solve all our strife, do any work, create any dream, improve our cosmic survival options, and reshape Venus into a second Earth as a hobby.

    Human society in space would be in orbital space cities and settlements providing radiation protection and Earth gravity by rotation for health, with remote-control systems driving robots to do the tough work in a vacuum.

    Why is there such little academic interest in the demands of survival?

    An asteroid, or a super-volcano, could do us in on Earth, but in space we could survive, even in arks for life, and rebuild on Earth.

    Why is there such little political interest in survival?

  21. Jon Sumby

    May 5, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Re #3 … Keith, Yes I know. I focussed on the 50s because in the 40s Callendar’s seminal work was largely ignored as ‘theoretical’, while in the 70s the development of the science in the 50s and 60s was temporarily derailed by the false countervailing dialogue of ‘global cooling’.

    Unfortunately those few years of the ‘global cooling’ media dialogue in the 70s (perhaps driven by oil companie’s early disinformation campaigns) has been used by deniers over and over again to ‘debunk’ the science – while conveniently ignoring the 50s and 60s developments as well as the scientific research unanimous agreement on global warming since the mid-70s.

    The reality has been that since the 1940s, the science has been settled about global warming and the brief couple of years of ‘global cooling’ only existed in mainstream media, not the science world. See: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-22283372

  22. Keith Antonysen

    May 5, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    #1, Jon … going back even earlier; already at the beginning of the 20th Century, Avante Arrhenius, a Swedish Nobel Prize winning Scientist was the first to make predictions in relation to the impact of burning coal on the atmosphere.

    Also, there was a very short article in a New Zealand paper in 1912 about the impact of coal on the atmosphere … https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/1912-article-global-warming/


    “The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.”


    “This article’s authenticity is supported by the fact it can be found in the digital archives of the National Library of New Zealand.”

  23. Keith Antonysen

    May 5, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks Ted, for continually promoting the dire need to get involved with mitigating, and adapting to, climate change.

    Already in the mid 1800s experimentation by Eunice Foote and John Tyndall showed how CO2 picks up radiated warmth. Since the 1850s far more sophisticated experiments have shown the same effect in experiments that can be replicated.

    Fossil fuel corporations have known for decades about the impact of fossil fuels on climate, as Ted has written. A summary in relation to … “this timeline highlights information alleged in the Complaints filed by San Mateo County, Marin County, and Imperial Beach that comes from key industry documents and other sources. It illustrates what the industry knew, when they knew it, and what they didn’t do to prevent the impacts that are now imposing real costs on people and communities around the country …” :


    Currently there are a number of Court cases pending against fossil fuel companies in the USA.

  24. Jon Sumby

    May 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Hmm, ‘Edward Teller may have been the first to warn of the tragedy now looming before us’, but I think not. By the 1950s, global warming was well established within the scientific community and was emerging in popular culture.

    An article in 1950 was titled ‘Is the World Getting Warmer?'(Saturday Evening Post) which explored links between atmospheric temperature change, agricultural shifts and rising sea levels. In 1957 an article in the Christian Science Monitor was titled ‘Are Men Changing the Earth’s Weather? To give two examples …

    In the timeline there is this:
    1952 – Lewis D. Kaplan published research showing that in the upper atmosphere, adding more CO2 must change the balance of radiation.

    1955 – Using a new generation of equipment including early computers, US researcher Gilbert Plass analyses in detail the infrared absorption of various gases. He concludes that doubling CO2 concentrations would increase temperatures by 3-4C.

    1957 – US oceanographer Roger Revelle and chemist Hans Suess show that seawater will not absorb all the additional CO2 entering the atmosphere, as many had assumed. Revelle writes: ‘Human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment…’

    1958 – Using equipment he had developed himself, Charles David (Dave) Keeling begins systematic measurements of atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa in Hawaii and in Antarctica. Within four years, the project – which continues today – provides the first unequivocal proof that CO2 concentrations are rising.

    1959 – An article in The New York Times reports on research by Bolin and Eriksson on the effects of their modelled 25% increase in atmospheric CO2 by the year 2000, concluding that the effects on climate ‘may be radical’.

    1962 – A stronger (although also little heeded) warning was sounded by the Russian climate expert Mikhail Budyko. His calculations of the exponential growth of industrial civilization suggested a drastic global warming within the next century or so.

    1965 – US President Johnson told the nation ‘…this generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through … a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.’

    1969 – US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was warning of a dangerous sea-level rise of 10 feet or more. ‘Goodbye New York’, he said, ‘Goodbye Washington’.

    1972 – John Sawyer’s paper in the journal Nature, ‘Man-made Carbon Dioxide and the “Greenhouse” Effect’, breaks the issue into the mainstream.

    1975 – US scientist Wallace Broecker puts the term ‘global warming’ into the public domain in the title of a scientific paper.

    Teller was speaking of something that was in general discussion in science at the time, and this was being translated across to policy makers and the general public but it was generally ignored as something that is not of immediate concern; just as it is today in general life.

    Finally in 1998 Teller signed the Oregon Petition which stated; ‘There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate’. A bit of a change in attitude.

    However, the 1950s is a very important decade because humans have caused all the global warming since 1950.


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