Back to Medievalism

Civil Defense Perspectives March 2013, Vol. 29 No. 3

                In the 1330s, Petrarch expressed the view that European culture had stagnated and drifted into what he called the Dark Ages since the fall of Rome in the 5th century, pointing to the loss of many classical Latin texts and to the corruption of the language in contemporary discourse.

In our “enlightened” age, the term “medieval” is a term of opprobrium. That period of time indeed featured barbarous customs, corruption, superstition, institutionalized moral hypocrisy, the Inquisition, feudalism, and widespread ignorance.

But as an excellent article on the “Middle Ages” in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica notes, great advances in civilization also occurred then. It states that “in spite of the advance of scientific method…, we are still for the most part in the middle ages…. The dogma of journalistic inerrancy which still numbers its devotees by millions, the common acceptance of even scientific conceptions upon the dicta of a small number of investigators…are but a few of the signs of the persistence of what is surely not a medieval but a universal trait.”

What was the source of energy in those times? Wind, as in windmills and sails, and wood.

Medieval Technology Today

There can be no better symbol for the return to medievalism, or of the “madness of Britain’s energy policy,” than the conversion of Britain’s biggest power station to wood burning.

The Drax power station in Yorkshire supplies 7% of Britain’s electricity by burning 36,000 tons of coal a day. For a conversion cost of £700 million, it will start to burn wood chips, mostly shipped across the Atlantic from forests covering some 4,600 square miles in the U.S. This type of combustion is considered “sustainable” because the CO2 thus emitted was recently absorbed from the atmosphere by a tree instead of coming directly from underground without an intermediate residence in the atmosphere and biosphere. The cost will be two to three times what coal costs now, but possibly the equivalent of what coal will cost when Britain finishes taxing it. (Taxation of cheaper methods is what makes “sustainable” technology “affordable”—by comparison.)  But at least it preserves the generating plant. Several other major coal-fired plants will have to close.

Wood burning, of course, also makes smoke. Moreover, wood is 1,000 times more susceptible to spontaneous combustion than coal. There have been several disastrous fires in plants that converted to biomass burning (Christopher Booker, MailOnline 3/9/13, http://tinyurl.com/cl57ayn).

Biomass, including wood, comprises 76% of all “renewable” sources of energy and 10% of all the world’s energy, the majority of it going towards heat. Biomass is called “carbon neutral” although it is of course composed of organic (carbon-based) compounds, and all the carbon atoms were once in the form of atmospheric CO2. “Governments must offer incentives to drive a switch to biofuels and other renewables,” argues Heinz Kopetz (Nature 2/7/13). He suggests planting 170 million hectares of low-yielding lands with “energy crops.” He states that this would still leave space for food crops, new forests, and biodiversity protection, although “livestock production on the remaining land would have to be intensified and meat consumption limited.” Since the logistics involved in collecting, transporting, and storing biofuels are very costly, government must not only tax the “fossil fuels” competition but guarantee sales prices to producers at the expense of consumers, as in Germany’s Energiewende.

There’s an ongoing “Battle for the Barrel” in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to force the production of cellulosic ethanol by mandating a fuel blend that requires a certain proportion of ethanol from “advanced biofuels” instead of corn or sugar. Although a court ruled that EPA could not require blenders to pay for credits for a commercially unavailable product, EPA still has a mandate for blending 14gallons of a still-nonexistent product (Science 3/22/13).

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed in 2005 to replace modern petroleum products with an ancient process (fermentation) is hailed as “the most successful energy legislation ever enacted,” creating a whole new industry with an effect on greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 6.2 million cars and trucks off the road (ibid.).

Send in the Cows

For all the professed concern about Planet Earth, 12 million hectares are lost to desertification each year. Burning up biomass such as crop residue and dung is one reason. Lacking electricity and hydrocarbon fuels, Ethiopian homes get 99% of their energy from biomass, so that the soil is deprived of nutrients and of the seeds carried in the dung of herbivores. Overgrazing is often blamed for erosion and loss of plant cover. But the startling research of Allan Savory has shown the way to change a desert into a lush grassland, with a 400% increase in the livestock population.     The key is to allow a large herd to trample, graze, and fertilize an area for 3 days and then move on. Savory believes that restoring half the world’s grasslands would absorb enough COto bring atmospheric concentrations down to pre-industrial levels.

“I can think of nothing that offers more hope for the planet,” he said (Scientific American 3/5/13). Those who don’t see CO2 as a threat can appreciate the hope for humanity in his before-and-after photos (http://tinyurl.com/cttagpe). As he observes, 95% of the land can feed people only through animals.

Hydrocarbon Fuels Save Humanity and Nature

For most of history, humanity has depended on Nature for virtually all of our needs. Bad weather, natural disasters, and disease ensured little or no sustained growth in population or well-being. Malthusian bonds were broken only by the Industrial Revolution. Hydrocarbon fuels now provide 80% of mankind’s energy, and 60% of our food and clothing. COemissions, life expectancy, population, and GDP per capita have increased together. Without hydrocarbon fuels in agriculture, cropland would have had to increase 150% to feed our current population. Any increase in energy from “renewables” requires massive conversion of land to energy generation. “By lowering humanity’s reliance on living nature, fossil fuels not only saved humanity from nature’s whims, but nature from humanity’s demands,” writes Indur Goklany (http://tinyurl.com/b2lgjm8).

Facts on “Green Technology”

               Electric Cars: CO2 emissions in manufacture:  30,000 T, cf. 14,000 T for a conventional car. Indirect emissions while driving (owing to electricity used in recharging): 6 oz per mile, cf. 12 oz for conventional car. Average speed, accounting for recharging time: 6 mph. Lifetime savings in CO2 emissions: 8.7 T, or about $48 on the European emissions market (WSJ 3/11/13, http://tinyurl.com/c44qy8g).

Death Toll from Wind Turbines:  Thousands of raptors and about 39 million birds and bats of all species are killed by wind farms every year in the U.S. alone. Search areas are restricted to a radius of 165 ft although it is necessary to search 655 ft from 2.5 MW turbines to find 75% to 85% of the casualties. The industry also uses gag clauses to hide the slaughter (http://tinyurl.com/cnjelj3).

CO2 from Wind Farms: When sited on peatlands, onshore wind installations, including turbines and service roads, create an increase in net emissions. British peatland, one of the most important carbon sinks in the world, stores at least 3.2 billion T of carbon. The world’s peatlands contain four times as much carbon as all the world’s tropical rain forests (Telegraph 2/23/13, http://tinyurl.com/bbc8w2f). 

King Coal Is Global Powerhouse   

As George Orwell wrote in 1937, “Our civilization, pace Chesterton, is founded on coal, more completely than one realizes until one stops to think about it. The machines that keep us alive, and the machines that make machines, are all directly or indirectly dependent upon coal. In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miner is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the soil. He is a sort of caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.”

More than 1.2 billion people live without electricity, and 2more lack adequate access to power. “Coal is the only fuel that can sustainably meet growing global demand at such a scale,” states Frank Clemente (Wash Times 3/4/13, http://tinyurl.com/cmmcv66).

Climate Change Orthodoxy

In an editorial featuring a photograph of wind turbines, Bassan Z. Shakhashiri and Jerry A. Bell present views from the American Chemical Society on how a “scientist-citizen” must acquire a good grasp of the science of climate change and communicate it to the public. “We know,” they write [emphasis added], “that the concentrations of gases in Earth’s atmosphere are higher and increasing faster than at any time in the past 1years.” Ignoring the 17-year standstill and actual statistics on hurricanes and tornados, they state that “the average temperature of Earth is increasing, ice is melting, oceans are acidifying, and extreme weather events are more frequent.” Human use of “fossil fuels” is a “major driver of climate change,” and emissions must be reduced (Science 4/5/13).

The Common Core curriculum, being adopted in grades K-12 throughout the U.S., has standards for “climate literacy.” The “guiding principle” is: “Humans can take action to reduce climate change and its impacts.” Long-term strategies involve a “fundamental change in the way humans use energy.”

It is assumed that human beings can change the climate: “Actions taken by individuals, communities, states, and countries all influence climate.” CO2 introduced today, according to the standards, may remain in the atmosphere for a century or more. By the end of grade 8, students are supposed to know that human use of fossil fuels is a major factor in global warming (http://tinyurl.com/ca2ntle).

As to classical literature,  it is not entirely eliminated, just cut in half and placed on the same level as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and an essay by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker about medical care in McAllen, Texas. While learning the global warming catechism, students apparently will be subjecting fragments of Homer and Shakespeare to Higher Literary Criticism.

Children are supposed to be able to “reason quantitatively” and “model with mathematics.” However, they will not learn to add double or triple-digit numbers until fourth grade, to multiply such numbers until fifth grade, or to do long division until sixth grade (Atlantic 11/20/12, http://tinyurl.com/b4vutlf).

What kind of scientific example does Common Core set? “We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time,” states Diane Ravitch. Every child across America is to be on the same page at the same time, while being monitored by cameras, an electronic seat to judge posture, and a biometric wrist wrap. (http://tinyurl.com/bugsyu3).

Lying “Science” Elitists Destroying Civilization 

An anonymous leaker who calls himself “Mr. FOIA” has released a batch of 220,000 encrypted emails from warmists, and recently his own thoughts. He said he had to put aside fears for his own safety because of concerns about the “well-being of billions of people living in the coming several decades.”

The “team” (including Phil Jones, Kevin Trenberth, Tom Wigley, and Michael Mann) “consciously distorted and actively suppressed critical knowledge then furiously tried to hide their actions by conducting a vicious smear campaign to discredit critics,” writes James Taylor. The team gains academic career advancement, research funding, and positions of political power.

The “climate protection” enterprise soaks up trillions of dollars, and its effects will “destroy and debilitate in great numbers for decades and generations,” writes Mr. FOIA.

It’s time to demote the scientific-technologic elite now driving public policy and education (http://tinyurl.com/cl62avt).

Pollution from Breathing? 

According to world-class cyclist and coach Norn Kalmanovitch, human beings exhale about 1200 million (1.2 billion) tonnes of  CO2 per year. For comparison, the carbon tax scheme proposed by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard would cut emissions by an estimated 160 million tonnes, or 13% of the amount emitted in human breathing (TWTW 3/30/13).

Major Errors by IPCC

According to Vincent Gray, the measurements used to postulate that CO2 is a major greenhouse gas were actually of water vapor. Then Arrhenius overestimated the ratio of CO2 to H2O by a factor of 50. IPCC ignores all methods of heat transfer other than radiation (ibid., www.sepp.org).

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