Sunday, 7 December 2008

Blowing the climate change research budget

I have no hard numbers here, just a rant. I am really "Cool It", by Bjorn Lomburg at the moment - but only in small increments. I get halfway through a chapter and wake up an hour later to find that I have drooled on the couch. That's nothing to do with Mr Lomburg's writing skills, and more to having a Monkey whacking me on the head at 4am with an empty bottle and asking for extra milk.

Lomburg makes an interesting point about solar power and research in an early chapter. Apparently the cost of solar power has been coming down at the rate of around 50% per decade for some time now. It's still horribly expensive compared to gas and coal, but even if the decline in costs slows down, it should be economic by 2050 (and there is an unstated assumption there that the cost of electricity generation from coal and gas does not rise significantly in the meantime).

It immediately hit me - can we speed up the reduction in solar costs by putting more funds into research? We seem to be spending a huge amount of money on research into the impacts of climate change, but not much on doing something about it.

All I seem to read about in the papers is that so-and-so has attended a climate conference in some far off country, along with 10,000 others. That is then followed up by a plethora of articles on how climate change is going to lead to the extinction of polar bears, spotted turtles, elves, gnomes, fairies, trolls and life as we know it. We have scientific journals bulging with horror stories on how climate change is going to produce more chaos than every disaster movie ever produced by Hollywood, but bugger all on what we could do to prevent it (assuming you believe it is a problem, which I am sceptical about).

Instead of studying how the habitat of the lesser speckled gronklenose is going to be affected by the impending meltdown of the planet, would we not be better off dirverting that funding into building a workable fusion reactor or an economical solar cell? Getting those things on the market might actually do something about reducing CO2 output, which is more worthwhile than gasbagging on about things that might or might not happen.


Anonymous said...

You regularly mention Monkey, getting whacked, getting milk, shopping, doing stuff with juinior etc and being tired from it all. You mention J sometimes too but no mention of how she contributes. Does she do anything or just give you her opinion. My missus and I just broke up (no kids) and she spent the whole time telling me what she thought and what I should do, did no house stuff, and wanted a baby so she didn't have to go to work no more. But I don't know how she'd have one because she spends all her time scrubbing up so she could go out and shop for more stuff to scrub up with. You sound like a bloke who does lots of stuff and I hope you get some help from j.

Boy on a bike said...

J is a whirlwind of activity that leaves me trailing in her wake. I sometimes get tired from just watching her do stuff.