Chris Trotter deconstructs the arguments used by eco warriors and questions how much they grasp the origins of the coal industry and its predecessors

Chris Trotter deconstructs the arguments used by eco warriors and questions how much they grasp the origins of the coal industry and its predecessors

A THOUSAND YEARS ago, they say, a squirrel could travel from Scotland to England without its feet touching the ground. So vast and extensive were the forests covering the British Isles that its human inhabitants believed them to be inexhaustible. They were wrong. Large numbers of people, and large numbers of trees, would appear to be mutually exclusive.

And what do people do when the trees run out? When families can no longer keep themselves warm with fallen branches gathered from the forests’ margins? When there are no more trees for the charcoal burners to fell – leaving the ironmongers without the means of smelting the implements of agriculture and war? What happens then?

Well, then, people start digging.

These were the thoughts that passed through my mind when I heard about the eco-radical group, Extinction Rebellion’s, blockade of KiwiRail’s freight trains at Woolston, on the outskirts of Christchurch. Coal, the protesters declared, was yesterday’s fuel, and New Zealand should have done with it.

Extinction Rebellion’s Harry Seagar told Radio New Zealand that: “We need to employ a more progressive and forward thinking stance when it comes to how we source our energy. Coal has simply had its time and now it’s time for us to move forward and leave coal behind, leave it in the ground”.

How much, I wonder, do Mr Seagar and his fellow protesters grasp of the origins of the coal industry and its predecessors? What sort of world is Extinction Rebellion trying to bring into existence? Because, just as a world without charcoal (carefully burned wood) would have been a world without iron (and other metals) a world without coal would be a world without steel.

Much of the coal mined on the South Island’s West Coast was high-grade coking coal. This is the coal that is fed into the massive steel-manufacturing plants that dot the planet’s surface. Without it, the high-grade steel upon which our highly-complex technology-driven societies depends, could not be produced. It provides the critical infrastructure within which so many other processes critical to our civilisation are played out.

Take iron and steel out of humanity’s technological repertoire, and you are, in effect, abandoning civilisation itself. Is ending civilisation as we know it Extinction Rebellion’s ultimate goal? Surely not?

Let’s look again at Mr Seagar’s statement. What are these “more progressive and forward thinking” sources of energy he is urging upon us? Well, presumably, he is not referring to oil or natural gas: not when Extinction Rebellion is, itself, a manifestation of the worldwide concern at CO2’s crucial contribution to anthropogenic global warming.

Perhaps he is thinking of nuclear power. After all, it was no less a personage than James Hansen, the NASA scientist and climatologist most responsible for alerting the world to global warming, who warned us that only a wholesale shift from carbon-based energy generation to nuclear power could save humanity from the effects of Climate Change.*

Unfortunately, the construction of safe nuclear power plants requires thousands-upon-thousands of tons of the highest-grade steel imaginable. Which takes us back to those coal-trains full of West Coast coking coal – otherwise known as Square One.

Then again, isn’t it more likely that Mr Seagar was thinking of the energy generated by water, sun and wind? No need for coal, oil, natural gas or uranium when it comes to hydro-electric energy, or solar panel arrays, or wind farms – is there?

Actually, there is. Because the devices we rely upon to generate all that “clean” electrical energy, and the power cables required to carry the alternating currents from their generation points to the ecologically-sensitive consumer’s home appliances (and electric cars!) are all manufactured using coal, oil, natural gas or uranium.

Besides, the global contribution of hydro-electric, solar and wind power to humanity’s total energy budget is nowhere near large enough to keep the lights on. Not even for that part of the planet’s population fortunate enough to live in the industrial world. Let alone to illuminate the hovels of the billions who don’t.

Why is the Peoples Republic of China the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses? Simple. Because it is the Chinese who have been the most successful at transitioning an impoverished rural population into the burgeoning industrial cities which have sprung out of the ground since the demise of Maoism. And what is the energy source that has lifted so many of those hundreds-of-millions out of grinding poverty? Do we dare tell Mr Seagar and his fellow protesters that, overwhelmingly, it was, and is, coal?

Herein lies the great moral conundrum of Climate Change. That there is literally no part of the planet’s warm, industrially-woven, woolly-jumper that humanity can remove without the whole damn thing unravelling in its hands.

You can sit down on the steel railway tracks (the ones you insist we need more of to get internal-combustion driven vehicles off the roads) to prevent the coal reaching its destination, but that cannot, and will not, save the planet.

You can insist that we heed the latest report of the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and undertake a massive shift from meat - to plant-based food production. But that will only require more and more ecologically sensitive terrain to be brought into the realm of agricultural production. And since a huge proportion of the people likely to consume all this plant-based food are rice eaters; and given rice production is one the principal generators of “hot” methane gas; then the shift from meat and dairy to plant-based food production is likely to make global warming worse – not better.

You also need to explain to the farmers who generate their incomes from meat and dairy production how they are to survive in a world which no longer has any use for these products. And not just the farmers – but all the people whose livelihoods depend upon the meat and dairy products they export.

Which is pretty much all of us.

Sadly, the eco-warriors who make up Extinction Rebellion and all the other groups dedicated to saving the planet are most unlikely to offer any of us a cogent explanation for how any of these challenges can be met. That’s not because they’re mendacious, or devious. The vast majority are decent, caring people who see catastrophe looming and want to do something – anything – within their power to stop it.

The one thing they will not do, however, is confront the brutal, but inescapable, truth that there is only one way this planet will be saved from the effects of the 9 billion human-beings living upon its surface; and that is for more than 8 billion of them to disappear. How that might be achieved, and who should take responsibility for achieving it, are questions which, to date, only novelists and science fiction writers have attempted to answer.

Suffice to say that the ability of a small arboreal mammal to journey from Cape Reinga to the Bluff without its feet touching the ground – a prospect guaranteed to put a smile on any eco-warrior’s face – would depend upon that same person, and every other human-being in New Zealand, being somewhere else.

*This paragraph was corrected from an earlier version of the article.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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What a backward looking rant. And with some facts back to front.

"shift from meat - to plant-based food production. But that will only require more and more ecologically sensitive terrain to be brought into the realm of agricultural production."

Plants based diets require something like 20 times less land for production than animal husbandry.

What another dinosaur piece from MrTrotter. 3 top things you can do to tackle climate change:
1. Have no kids
2. Eat plant based diet
3. Dont fly

Um and that would solve the riddle. If everyone did as you recommend, there would be around 1 billion people left by 2100.

And what a terrific result that would be!

Are you a member of Extinction Rebellion then? Oops don't you know that James Shaw flies more air miles than any other MP?

If climate alarmists do all three of these things, all power to them I say.

Exactly! An uninformed idiot piece. I used to have respect for him, but reading this ignorant rant full of errors is just embarrassing. He is like an old man on the porch screaming at modernisation, belittling change that he doesn't understand.

He is not like an old man on the porch etc, he is precisely that.

I don't think your view is that of a farmer or horticulturist, as you can't necessarily produce the same amount of energy in human edible, desirable, plant form as you can in meat form of the same land! Have you ever seen a New Zealand hill country farm? Do you understand just how much fertiliser is used per cabbage plant ? 20 teaspoons at planting and weekly side dressings of half a cup per plant for 6 weeks! Work out the carbon footprint of mining the super phosphate, shipping to NZ, applying , growing the cabbages, etc to replace the energy available as grass fed beef/mutton. H'mmmmmm!

Don't forget the base point of the author's argument: Civilisation is built on steel, and steel can’t be produced without coal. Coal is a fossil fuel so therefore, no coal = no civilisation. Interest.co.nz should be ashamed of displaying this opinion piece of trash.

Now some facts: Steel cannot be produced without coal. True. More facts: Steel accounts for a total of 6.7% of all global carbon emissions. If we’re going to simplify the argument to contain only today’s technology and make broad statements like the author has done here, how about: We can eliminate the other 93% of carbon emissions, and capture the 6.7% produced in steel production at the source. Carbon capture technology (at the source) exists right now. It's also easy. This seemingly doesn’t require genocide.

Regarding point 2: Surely no one here needs the argument refuted that “rice is methane intense so all plant based diets are fossil fuel intense”. How about another statistic, just in case: Half of the world’s current population consumes rice as a staple food. Rice production currently produces an estimated 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. If 100% of the world’s population consumed rice as a staple, that would be another 1.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The math here is primary school grade. There are also more plant based food sources than just rice. And don’t forget the wealthy 10% of the world consume the majority of livestock products.

Some sources:
Steel carbon impact: https://www.letstalkaboutcoal.co.nz/future-of-coal/making-steel-without-...
Rice production: https://www.wri.org/blog/2014/12/more-rice-less-methane
Livestock emissions: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/

New Zealand could be part of CO2 free steel.
https://pureadvantage.org/news/2018/04/17/steeled-for-change/

Fusion, Geo, and Solar, with hydrogen or ammonia as a carrier, trees, dead trees and dead fish replaced as a source Job done.

Largely agree with you. Just wondering what makes Ammonia better as a Hydrogen carrier than Methane? Ammonia can be really dangerous.

Ammonia is a low energy density fuel about half of hydrocarbons, making it ill suited for transport. It has to be stored at significant pressure (similar to propane) and is frequently lethal if it leaks and is inhaled in significant quantities. That is not really acceptable for distributed use as safety measures too expensive (same reason it's only used in big industrial heat pumps). One upside is no carbon required, and possibly more efficient to produce (energy out vs in). But synthesized Methane or heavier more easily stored and far more energy dense hydrocarbons are better - and can use atmospheric CO2 to provide carbon, synthesized hydrocarbons are free of sulphur and can be used in very efficient solid oxide fuel cells.

Can be synthesized from abundant renewable stock without carbon and returned to the same state with a PEM. True it can be toxic if inhaled but so can petrol or uranium :-)

Fusion is really no better than Fission - it uses highly radioactive and biologically active Tritium (Hydrogen-3), and produces a monster amount of neutrons that turn fusion reactor structures radioactive and makes them high-maintenance, and it will be far far more expensive - engineering is feasible but economics are awful. A well designed cheap mass-produced low pressure fast-spectrum molten salt breeder reactor would do more to wean Human race off fossil fuels than anything else because it would be cheaper than all other kinds of power, use small amounts of fuel, and market economics would then do the rest. So if you actually want to end fossil fuel use (and not just fly around world to virtue-signalling conferences). Put big money into fission R&D

I prefer my half-life to measured in decades rather than aeons.

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Mostly right Chris. Except demographics say we will have 11 billion in 100 years.
So, birth control and feminism control over divorce and abolition of patriarchal rule, has to be done.
World pop will come down when majority start having only 2 kids, or less.
THAT is only solution to global warming.
But no one wants to publicly say that.
Too many people and they increasingly want more stuff they do not need.

That change is already underway.

We can reduce our numbers in a humane and orderly way by simply lowering the birth rate to below replacement or we can leave it to catastrophe. I know which I prefer but I expect the economists and bankers think we can ignore both and the elite prefer the other as they believe they have the wherewithal to dodge the consequences.

Too late fort that. As Catton pointed out in 1980
https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/63fae3tq9780252008184.html
we are already in overshoot.

Trotter is quite right here; it will happen and it won't be pretty. And we'll end up living on renewables by default, at a lower level of energy-use.

I still think it maybe hope we can do this, given the will. One thing that hasn't been often factored in is us baby boomers are going to have an impact going out as we did coming in. I have a feeling with bad diets and habits that lifespans are going to start going in the opposite direction to what they have been. I think we have to try to do this otherwise what do we leave the grandkids with?

You are making the grand mistake of not factoring in China, India and Africa who have not experienced the ‘baby boomer’ effect. It is from there that the population explosion will come from, not the West where a few million old farts will pop their clogs in the next couple of decades making very little difference to anything.

China won't have another population explosion, young women will not be willing to sacrifice themselves to alter of the kitchen sink, now they are educated, have careers and choice, they will behave more the way Japanese or Koreans do, India is slowly emancipating women and has a reasonable strong conservation culture, Africa not so much.
I do not believe the exit of baby boomers to be the be all and end all, by the way, just a factor.

Indeed....but Mr Trotter has pointed to the elephant in the room, not that it will make any difference to the increasingly hardening positions being taken.
I have always wondered how failed states occurred....

Only Africa is likely to significantly grow - rest of world is at or below replacement. But African states show nothing like the competence required to support such population growth - massive war, famine and disease will inevitably stop runaway growth.

This is factually incorrect - income, health, life expectancy, child mortality and every other measure of progress is only getting better in Africa. Have a read of Factfulness by Hans Rosling if you want to know more.

Health is improving, but GDP per capita throughout africa has not increased in a decade for the larger countries (most have actually gone backwards), and is only slowly creeping up for the absolute poorest. With population projected to double in next 30 years they will soon run up against the same population pressures that have fomented war throughout Arab world as young angry underemployed men cannot see a brighter future under status quo. The food production boost from higher CO2 and better farm tech will eventually run out, and vast wars will start again.

only 2 out of 54 African countries are showing a falling GDP per capita
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

The 10-year rate looks bad for all countries following the GFC dip - this is a global phemonenon, not an African one. The African trend remains firmly upwards.

The Western world need to stop subsidising Africa through World Vision, Red Cross and so on.
Realistically, if all of these so-called charities pulled out of Africa, naturally the population would die down to a sustainable number eg. how many humans can survive on locally sourced food and water. Simple really.

Coal miners have been abandoned by the new left

Wouldn't it be better if people were constructive rather than destructive with their life's work?

Plenty of work in the trades.

Didn't you read the article?

Our coal miners produce the coal that's in the steel which is in turn in countless items that you rely on every day, literally for your survival.

Coal miners have been abandoned by the right too. What's happened to Trump's promises to bring back coal jobs?

It appears Mr. Trotter is starting to get the issues at hand with climate change. He will be accused of being a "climate change denier" soon - the new "racism" charge. The fact is no one is denying climate change. It is very obvious that Auckland is getting warmer. There is some debate as to the extent that humans are the cause. The real debate comes in what to do about it. Mr. Shaw of the Greens seems to say that if you don't agree with his solutions you are a "climate change denier". However, that is pure nonsense from a party that spews a lot of nonsense at the best of times.
Technological change will reduce human contribution to climate change and not mass suicide or genocide. But those liberals who don't want to have kids and, in fact, kill themselves then I say "go for it". Your self-righteous do-goodism will not be missed.

There is only debate about our contribution among those who think the economy is more important than the planet.
Reducing our numbers and thus our impact on the planet and all the other species that have a claim on it does not require us killing ourselves or each other (unless we leave it too late).
I'll tell what will be missed if we fail to do anything and that is a habitable planet.

Ah yes, the old 'technology will save us' fairy.

What direction are global emissions going in again and when is this fabled technology supposed to start bringing them down?

I think you’ll find that technological change is already invented and just has to scale. The world needs to decrease and eventually eliminate fossil fuels by hugely ramping up renewable energy (especially solar combined with battery tech - which has exponential growth properties), upgrading power grids to smart grids, and transitioning to electrified transport. The tech is all there, already invented. Just have to go ahead a do it. NZ is already well along the path with a high percentage of renewable energy. Our transport is hugely dependent on fossil fuels though, and our buildings are hugely inefficient.

I have a good solar system and am a lowish rural energy user - well insulated home, wood fire lit for 2-3 hours a day in the winter, mostly lpg for cooking in a 2-person household. Solar gives me 30-50% of my electricity per annum, but very little in the winter months. Had a battery system and it took around 10% of the system's output to run it, and gave us around 4kW on a good day to use at night before it broke. But of course we didn't get that in the winter. So what I'm saying is that solar is a bit overrated as a complete solution.

You just have a sizing problem. My system generates 166% of my annual usage and I have no wood or gas (everything is electric).

You’re right. I could cover the lawn and garden with panels.

Or, you know, people could simply point out that there's a big difference between use of coal for coking and use of coal for electricity generation, so arguing against one by discussing the other is a big naff.

Um, Chris, as surely as science bought us iron from charcoal, steel from coking coal and plastics from oil, we will get electricity from abundant renewables, storage at scale from improved batteries and novel biodegradable materials from advanced materials science. All it takes is continued support for scientific endeavour in these critical areas, and a concerted effort to improve human well being as well as the planet's.

Please Chris by all means put all your money into the dying fossil fuel industry, as it will give me great pleasure to serve you in the soup kitchen in your dotage.

Please tell me more about these abundant renewables.

Wow... what a backwards piece. Do you live under a rock? Do you somehow make a living out of these views? Pieces like these will eventually also fade into obscurity. Maybe looked back on by future generations for a good laugh. Heck - maybe something will make it into a meme!

I trust we’ll get the an article on here with the well-reasoned opposing view explaining to Mr Trotter how the world can continue without coal? NZ certainly won’t need it, that’s obvious. Ask Solid Energy how the business case for it looks. Mr Trotter probably also knows that China is now the world's leading country in electricity production from renewable energy sources, with over double the generation of the second-ranking country, the United States. I’m sure he’s also aware of very industrialised Germany’s Energiewende (energy transition) - the planned transition by Germany to a low carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply. Those nations who don’t transition will be left behind. Mr Trotter’s thinking belongs to the 20th century.

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Unfortunately the denialist ill-informed rants have kicked in and attacked the messenger. The article is correct. Energy comes from 85% carbon based (and it will run out), the balance from structures built with carbon based processes - and these need regular replacing.

Such is the reliance, at our present popn level we are doomed. We need either birth control, war or disease. Take your pick.

Agreed Rastus. It's where you end up if you've been thinking without fear or vested interest.

Without fear? Who cares if the human race pops off..majority have no appreciation of the planet or species round them - good riddence.

Finally a report that makes total sense! Sorry folks but wind, solar and batteries will lower your standard of living plus us hard done by farmers wont be able to feed you (either veges or milk & beef) but at least we will have the ability to look after ourselves.............
Its all about the science and simple maths boys and girls, a fair few of us are going to have to go! How? War, famine & disease Im betting.

Interesting program on Aljazeera just the other day. There are now a few movements promoting not having any kids or at the very least, one less. The carbon footprint of just one more child in the world is huge. Its pure logic, we were not in this mess 20 years ago or more. More people also equals more wars as the competition for resources increases. Nothings going to change however in proactively managing the problem but it will be controlled by war, disease, starvation and a major water crisis and climate change.

Carlos - download and read Catton's 'Overshoot'. We were indeed in trouble, and long before 20 years ago. We overshot on draw-down - a bit like emptying your finite account at the bank, doubling each withdrawal. You were always going to be in trouble...

I've never seen so much existential dread. My kids don't buy into this dystopian nightmare, so hopefully it will pass with the millennial's if they opt out of breeding. The cleanest and most efficient power is nuclear - there, I've said it.

Have you watched Chernobyl?

Fukushima anyone ? Sorry but nuclear is not the solution. Its all good right up until the point it goes BANG.

US Navy anyone? "The Nuclear Navy has logged over 5,400 reactor years of accident-free operations and travelled over 130 million miles on nuclear energy, enough to circle the earth 3,200 times. The nuclear reactors can run for many, many years without refueling. They operate all over the world, sometimes in hostile environments, with no maintenance support except their own crew. "
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/10/28/americas-navy-the-uns...

Exactly Profile. It is incredibly safe if done correctly and with the right safety contingencies in place. Do you seriously think that the average person is going to accept lower standards of living, mass unemployment, no air travel and vegan diets because of your climate extremism?? All the while the elite are flying around in their private jets lecturing us as happened at the Google Climate Summit recently. Prince Harry, bare foot, lecturing us on how to live our lives (I ran the Q7 particularly hard after reading that). You have zero credibility and I will do whatever I want.

Average person accept lower standards of living? It is just about possible (remotely possible) that the developed countries can and will control CO2 and methane emissions and to do so accept lower standards of living. But it is impossible to get the developing world to do so. Africa, India, China and then plenty of smaller countries (small but way bigger than NZ) will demand buses and then cars and air conditioners and refrigerators and other consumer goods similar to NZ households and international flights, etc.

This article makes me almost nostalgic for the old school lefties. The ones that actually cared about the economic wellbeing of the lower middle and working class. Chris at least sees that if Extinction Rebellion get their way there are going to be a lot of ordinary citizens out of work.
From the tenor of some of the other comments it seems new lefties are OK with this result. Unfortunates living purposeless lives on the dole might not object too strenuously to a forced sterilisation programme.

BS - we need to be well past that kind of BS by now....

Actually, 'doing nothing' is often more sustainable than 'working' in that the spend is always 'consumption' and exponentially-increasing consumption is what got us into this mess. Interestingly, the 'medical points' system is doesn't appear too dissimilar to other selective ethnic programmes....

But remember that beyond fossil fuels, there will be a lot more work required per person, and mostly in food production.

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Mr Trotter is a brave man by opening himself up to all these social media idiots. I think it's important to note that he's not advocating for fossil fuels, only pointing out the blindingly obvious. Climate change = too many people. There's too much b******t around these days, and no real solutions, although I note that Greens co leader James Shaw says that technologies yet to be invented will save us all. That's reassuring. Good on Mr Trotter for having the courage to be honest.

So many opinionated militants, all blinkered by their own brand of outrage and all only as narrowly aware as this allows. We humans are excellent tool users, we share and use prior knowledge and techniques to innovate. The development of all technology and materials we use today tracks back to our use of fire, sticks and the wheel. But we have been profligate and proud. We did not develop efficient systems and be satisfied that we could improve our lot without the assumption that all we saw was ours to plunder, rather preferring to embrace "growth" as a measure of success (example: plastic packaging). Until profit motivated measures are replaced by achievement based measures nil will change and mankind may just stagnate and dwindle in a degenerating environment. To address the article, to eschew any process that is required to create the next stage of technology would be foolish. For example, why not plan the use of coal to produce the materials and energy you need to build Hydro to replace coal for energy production. Equally foolish, the continuation of the use of the process simply for profit, including the emotive cry of saving an industry, it's done get over it.

Well put! Strange how when it comes to climate change most want everyone else to "sacrifice" their; lifestyle, diet, technology, homes, hobbies etc to save theirs! When all people stop flying, going to night clubs/disco/concerts,

For all those who believe in the 97% settled argument on human cause of global warming I suggest you read this.
David is analysing the author of the 97% report, the result will surprise you.
I have also added David’s bio so you can see he knows what he is talking about.

http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-climate-falsehood-you-can-c...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_D._Friedman

This is a you tube clip on the way the world works
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-yJ3K9fNos

Superintelligent AI is coming. According to polls of AI researchers perhaps as soon as 10 years, but guaranteed within 50-100 years. That 'singularity' renders all existent environment/politics and social issues irrelevant. Either it ushers in trans-humanism post-want techno-utopia where every problem is fixable at low cost by near magical tech advances, or it 'Skynets' and trashes the biosphere for its own purposes. So if you care about life you should be focusing all your attention on trying to make the utopian version of that more likely, not 21st century environmentalism that is nothing more than a sideshow within that pressing context.

...and that is for more than 8 billion of them to disappear. How that might be achieved, and who should take responsibility for achieving it, are questions which, to date, only novelists and science fiction writers have attempted to answer.

Don't leave us hanging Chris, what's the answer?

Once he collects all six infinity stones, he could simply snap his fingers, and half of all life would cease to exist. I saw it in a documentary; worked out great there.

Never understood why he went for 50% - would re-populate too quickly.

His obsession with balance pushed him to go for half, regardless of how little sense it made.

In the source material, he was a lot more straightforwardly evil. He didn't care about anyone's quality of life. His purpose in killing half of the universe was, basically, to impress a girl. And because he finds killing to be fun.

I think, watching the movies between the lines, his motivation wasn't that different. There was no girl to impress, but there is definitely evidence that he enjoyed killing and just used "balancing the universe" as an excuse.

India and Pakistan are itching to throw in the first billion.

Note that Sweden will be using hydrogen (generated from renewable electricity) to make steel. Estimated cost is 20-30% more than standard but likley less than standard once externalities are priced in.

That is very encouraging. 20-30% more is not so much as to be unaffordable, and hydrogen can be produced at low cost by nuclear powered thermochemistry if world ever wants to get off fossil fuels.

Low tech solution to good chunk of problem available tomorrow given political will: plant trees.
Bill Mitchell on economics of this
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=42669&cpage=1
Educate women, give them good career opportunities and the birth rate falls. One child is enough for most. Halve the population with each generation. Increase productivity via automation to offset negative population growth. Outright ban massive carbon producing activities like frivolous foreign travel or commuting by car. A biological system can die before a market mechanism has a chance to function. Just transition for workers in coal industry etc is vital.

Given above poverty line income the birth rate has been dropping rapidly. With evidence that young people prefer social interaction via screens there is a very recent phenomena - a loss of interest in physical sex (well it is a rather embarassing occupation). So for many supplying comments online is taking the place of face to face communication. Solution to the world's over population - send money and mobile phones to poor countries and beef up their WiFi. Also discourage religion by laughing at it.

If Mother Nature didn’t want us to use coal, gas or oil, why did she provide us with so much? Need to get fracking fast I say

and all that Uranium, what was She thinking

... same with all those animals ... if Mother Nature didn't want us to eat them , why did she make them out of meat .... yummy...

8 billion to disappear? One convert is Patrick Crusius, the man accused of the El Paso massacre. These words are in his testament, entitled 'The Inconvenient Truth' : ""Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly over-harvesting resources… the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable"".

22 dead; it is scarey stuff.

Any hand wringers worried about coal just need to buy Brazilian steel smelted from plantation charcoal. The blast furnaces are net CO2 sinks and net electricity generators. There is around 1 million ha planted in charcoal specific bred eucs there - so if guilt free steel is your thing go for it.*
*this post was paid for by Big Charcoal - if you are worried about that too.

Isn’t that why they’re cutting down the rain forest? No free lunches when it comes to energy.

Not it isn't a free lunch - but it is free electricity and higher grade pig iron as charcoal is way more pure than coke. It is amazing what can achieved when you plan ahead. Note that it is trees specifically bred for charcoal, and grow about 2,500 km from the Amazon. Though, granted, it is never easy to keep a hand wringer happy.

For a small arboreal mammal to journey from Cape Reinga to the Bluff without its feet touching the ground it would have to fly from one island to another. But other than that it would be simple to give it the trees it needs. Move all the people of NZ to the Chathams. It would be a dense population on the Chathams but still less than 20% the density of Monaco or a third of Hong Kong's. Fortunately poverty and a FOMO is rapidly moving everyone to cities - if you think Auckland is growing rapidly check Istanbul or other 3rd world cities. Soon the land will revert to wilderness and people will live stacked in highrises, powered by nuclear and fed on artifical meat made from seaweed. Growing the seaweed will absorb much of the excess CO2. The shape of things to come.

Before we all get too excited - Please take a few minutes to watch a presentation by a highly qualified physicist on thermodynamics and the atmosphere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5bwaf9QXro

Yes, the population needs to be drastically reduced. On our cuttent path war, starvation, disease can do it, but if the AI singularity arrives soon enough, AI will come to the population reduction need conclusion. Perhaps it will accomplish this more 'humanly.'

Well, CT has at least nailed the contradictions inherent in the ER world-view. And yet, and oddly considering his penultimate paragraph, no mention of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement...to which the obvious rejoinder is - 'You first'......

Shame on you interest.co.nz for publishing this opinion piece. It’s dressing opinion up as fact, fear mongering, inaction inducing and encouraging the spread of misinformation. It is a dangerous article. The points raised here are false, and interest.co.nz appear to have entered the post-fact era of journalism by publishing this.

It appears the writer of this article is releasing a book soon or wanting to garner attention by releasing an inflammatory article without concern for anyone but himself. This is blatant self interest release of false information.

To be clear, the main points of this article are: We can’t stop climate change without murdering 8/9ths of the world’s population because; 1. Civilisation is built on steel, and steel can’t be produced without coal. Coal is a fossil fuel so therefore, no coal = no civilisation. And 2. Rice is methane intense so switching to a plant based diet increases fossil fuel emissions rather than reducing them.

This doesn’t qualify as journalism. Interest.co.nz is somewhere I come to receive fact based information - not somewhere that gives nonsense opinion pieces the same priority as facts.

Here are some facts regarding point 1: Steel cannot be produced without coal. True. Steel accounts for a total of 6.7% of all global carbon emissions. If we’re going to simplify the argument to contain only today’s technology and make broad statements like the author here, how about: We can eliminate the other 93% of carbon emissions, and capture the 6.7% produced in steel production at the source. Carbon capture technology (at the source) exists right now. This seemingly doesn’t require genocide.

Regarding point 2: Surely no one here needs the argument refuted that “rice is methane intense so all plant based diets are bad, everyone must die”. How about another statistic, just in case: Half of the world’s current population consumes rice as a staple food. Rice production currently produces an estimated 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. If 100% of the world’s population consumed rice as a staple, that would be another 1.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. There are also more plant based food sources than just rice. And don’t forget the wealthy 10% of the world consume the majority of livestock products.

Interest.co.nz, don’t give these people a voice. Don’t revert to misinformation and facilitate inflammatory opinions over fact for the sake of views - or whatever reason you allowed this to be published. Would you publish the opinion of a holocaust denier? No. That would rightly alienate your readership and be highly offensive. But you’re in the same boat here.

Some sources:
Steel carbon impact: https://www.letstalkaboutcoal.co.nz/future-of-coal/making-steel-without-...
Rice production: https://www.wri.org/blog/2014/12/more-rice-less-methane
Livestock emissions: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/

Epic rant! Hope you had a good lie down after. Even got the holocaust in there.
1. Steel can be made without coke. Your link is missing tech that has been around since the 1950's. Just visit a Brazilian eucalyptus charcoal blast furnace. Lack of coal there drove innovation proving you can get by without it.
2. Do you read your links? We have a lot of grazing in NZ. Alarmists here only ever rant about NZ gross emissions and ignore soil carbon. Fortunately your link highlights the benefits of grazing like we have in NZ. "Additionally, better management of grazing lands could improve productivity and create carbon sinks with the potential to help offset livestock sector emissions." and "Grassland carbon sequestration could further contribute to the mitigation effort by, with global estimates of about 0.6 GT CO2-eq per year."
Good on Interest for publishing a diversity of opinion. Climate change chicken littles are so boring - it is refreshing to read a different view.

Have you EVER factored in the needs of other species on this planet that have as much claim to it as we do?

YES. Compare and contrast how many species live in a forest plantation vs. an open cast coal mine and associated coking plant.

Steel can be produced without coal? That is good news. Does Brazilian eucalyptus charcoal emit less carbon? Doesn't really matter I guess, given carbon capture at the source isn't exactly a challenge. But let's presume you've found carbon free steel. That means the author's argument is reduced to rice production emits methane, so switching to a plant based diet won't help the planet, so we're all screwed anyway and don't both trying anything but mass population culling.

Pretty weak argument to publish. Might even be akin to a 2 year old arguing why they don't need to use the loo before bed. It certainly doesn't qualify as journalism, and has the same effect. Crap everywhere.

You've also pointed out that gross livestock emissions can be reduced through carbon sinks. Another great point. And we haven't even started on dietary changes for cattle greatly reducing their methane production, or the carbon impact/lack thereof of lab grown meat in the future.

This article doesn't qualify as diversity of opinion. This is opinion dressed up as fact and gives climate change denialists a voice. Climate change is open to opinion and debate as much as whether it's going to be dark tonight or not. Why is the inflammatory/action preventing trash given a platform?

Your opinion here, now that looks like it contains some fact. Perhaps the author can take some pointers from you. Or me. Or half of the commenters here who are probably not even journalists.

I would question how much Extinction Rebellion protesters *need* to know about the origins of the coal mining industry. They know climate change is real, they know we're well into feeling the catastrophic consequences, they know massive changes are needed if we are going to avert the worst effects and they know that governments the world over have completely and utterly failed to do anything meaningful about it or take people's concerns seriously.

The whole point of ER is to get in the way and make it impossible for those in positions of power to ignore the need to take action. As a left-wing historian rooted in the trade unionist movement, I would've thought the author would've seen the utility in strikes. Instead we have a dubious dog-whistle about overpopulation...

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Large numbers of people, and large numbers of trees, would appear to be mutually exclusive.

In Roman Britain there were an estimated three million people and probably quite a similar number one thousand years ago.

Interesting. In our current technological epoch energy release equals carbon release, I doubt we will be able to get away from that for some time. I see a lot of paternalistic victorian attitudes behind the contention of anthro global warming. Its just as arrogant as the positioning of man at the top of the animal kingdom. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the weather changes are influenced by natural and uncontrollable forces. This does not compute inside the victorian mindset that the world is ours to control and define. Nor does it compute with that other victorian virtue of neo liberalism because it threatens the viability of many concepts underpinning the command and control of global commerce. I think there needs to be a lot more examination of the facts before we panic, but in this day and age of feeling we need to panic instead of actually having a genuine reason too panic it is all very understandable that someone might get all worked up and harangue a coal worker or two in order to let off some nervous energy stemming from taking in just a little too much social media, perhaps. A good psychologist ought to be able to help with that and I suggest many activists might just want to seek out the help of one in order to keep a balanced state of mind.