Monday, September 30, 2013

The Certain Uncertainty Of Climate Change

There is one thing that is certain about the climate change debate. It is that nothing is certain. Well, not totally certain. 95% certainty is now claimed for both climate change occurring and for it having been brought about by human actions. I'm intrigued to know how a figure of 95% certainty is arrived at, rather than, let's say, 93%. But then I'm not a scientist with access to a vast collection of supercomputers with all manner of modelling software. In fact, I'm not a scientist, period. Some of you may well be scientists. There may even, among you, be experts (by which I mean genuine experts) who understand the subject intimately, but I think it reasonable to assume that 95% of us (actually more) are not and so therefore, rather like the scientists, cannot be 100% certain.

Consequently, we draw on the endless arguments across the rising seas of climate debate, lifting from one report which says one thing and another report which says an entirely different thing. It is a debate that might be styled as the Mail-Guardian argument. The right says black, the left says white, or rather the right says it's all rubbish and the left says prepare to fry. It is an argument between flat-earthers and the rather more than four scientists of the Apocalypse. All I would ask is, could there please be adequate warning, so I can get hold of a few sandbags for when (if) the Mediterranean decides to rise to the extent that it is coming in the back door.

Armed with 95% certainty, leading British scientists want there to be a world "Sunpower Programme". One of these scientists is Sir David King, a name inclined  to produce a frothing at the mouth among the Mailite tendency. Sir David doesn't necessarily do his cause a great deal of favour by writing in the anti-Mail ("The Observer" in this instance), but the call for there to be far greater emphasis on harnessing energy from the thing in the sky seems a pretty reasonable one. The sun is unlikely to pack in any time soon and might only be rendered redundant were nuclear winter to envelope the globe, and the certainty of this happening is, well, I have no idea.

But while Sir David is going around suggesting that all countries should participate in establishing some global solar power grid and while Ban Ki-moon is to invite world leaders to attend yet another summit at which they fail to agree to take unified action, both of them might take note of what Spain is proposing. You may recall this proposal, as I wrote about it recently. It is the one by which solar panels would be taxed, thus all but making them pointless; the same one by which, if householders fail to connect their panels to the regular supply, will result in their facing possible fines running into the millions of euros.

Spain, as noted previously, is the second largest producer of solar power in the world. It would, therefore, be in a position to be at the solar nexus of the grand King plan. But having all this sun power is problematic; there is just too much of it. Or it wouldn't be a problem were it not for the government's massive electricity tariff deficit and for major electricity suppliers to see a threat from solar. It is said that it was Iberdrola who put the idea of taxing so-called "autoconsumo" to the government.

It may be that the government doesn't go ahead with its mad scheme, but meantime one does have to wonder at the wisdom of Sa Pobla's infant school installing solar panels at a cost of 34,000 euros, only for it (or rather the town hall) to discover that it might have to pay tax on them. One does also have to wonder if the energy ministry is aware of the possibility of a tax, as it has helped to fund the project. It should know, because it has been the energy minister who has been doing most of the talking about the tax. Perhaps the public sector would be exempt; so no discrimination there then. But if it turned out the panels were to be taxed, I suppose the school could always just switch them off and use them instead as playtime slides for the kiddies. 

Back to Ban Ki-moon, though, and assuming that Mariano is deemed to be a world leader, what might the Spanish premier think to the King plan? Apart from the electricity companies holding his arm up his back, he probably wouldn't think much to it. Mariano is a non-believer. His cousin, a physicist, once told him that climate change wasn't a problem, though whether he was only 95% certain I couldn't say.

Index for September 2013

Alcúdia's electricity history - 28 September 2013
All-inclusive bans: futile - 4 September 2013
Almonds - 14 September 2013
Asunta Basterra murder - 29 September 2013
Balearic parliament cut in deputies - 12 September 2013
Catalonia independence - 13 September 2013
Cost of education - 5 September 2013
Green taxes not to be introduced - 19 September 2013
Greenwich Mean Time in Spain - 22 September 2013
John Major Avenue - 2 September 2013
Madrid Olympic bid fails - 8 September 2013, 11 September 2013
Mallorca's tourism performance in 2013 - 10 September 2013, 17 September 2013
Micro-breweries - 16 September 2013
Muro brothel - 6 September 2013
Over-supply of bars and restaurants - 1 September 2013
Pine trees and forest management - 20 September 2013
Solar energy - 3 September 2013, 30 September 2013
Tourism history - 25 September 2013
Transparency bill - 24 September 2013
Trilingualism introduction - 7 September 2013, 9 September 2013, 15 September 2013, 18 September 2013, 23 September 2013, 27 September 2013
Winter tourism and other tourism travails - 21 September 2013, 26 September 2013

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