The Drawdown cult
Well educated people are sometimes drawn into apocalyptic cults. Lyndon LaRouche's followers often sported Ph.D.s. The Communist Party U.S.A was filled with well-educated intellectuals. The followers of Scientology don't lack education.
Global warming, independent of the truth or falsity of the science, has cultish aspects. It is apocalyptic and professes to be fighting powerful, evil forces for the good of humanity. This noble cause is supposedly opposed by evil forces – the fossil fuel companies. These companies are led by timid bureaucrats, many whom profess belief in global warming alarmism. It's hard to see these agreeable corporate bosses as manipulative global warming deniers, whose business plan, as one activist claimed, is to wreck the Earth.
Into this environment comes the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The book's foreword, written by the misguided billionaire Tom Steyer, says: "[T]he impacts of climate change are occurring faster and stronger than originally predicted." But the truth is exactly the opposite. There has been no increase in the Earth's temperature for 18 years. The computer models, used by the climate hysterics, said the temperature is supposed to be rapidly increasing under the current onslaught of CO2.
Not satisfied with that falsehood, Steyer goes on to say: "Wind and solar [are] now cheaper than fossil alternatives[.]" The truth is that wind and solar are two or three times more expensive than fossil alternatives. Wind and solar both have a serious problem. Solar does not work at night. Wind does not work when the wind is not blowing. Steyer also tells us, mysteriously, that widening access to family planning increases climate resiliency.
It is not a good omen that a book that is supposed to present "the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming" starts off with falsehoods of the most obvious sort – falsehoods that contradict information promulgated by Obama administration agencies.
Drawdown claims that the fossil fuel industry receives $5.3 trillion a year in subsidies. That is remarkable for an industry where worldwide sales of natural gas, coal, and oil are only $2 trillion. Apparently, the $5.3 trillion includes imaginary costs such as a charge for all the people supposedly killed by air pollution or who will be killed by global warming.
When times were good, in 2014, Exxon had sales of $394 billion, profits of $33 billion, and income taxes of $18 billion. Then the price of oil crashed in 2016, and profits declined to $8 billion. There is no sign of the alleged $5.3-trillion fossil fuel subsidy showing in their income statements.
The authors of Drawdown want us to eat a plant-rich diet. The green folks often don't approve of meat, particularly meat that has been fed grain rather than grass. However, meat and grain are carbon-neutral because plants suck CO2 from the air. When the grain and meat are consumed, by animals or by humans, the CO2 that was taken from the air is returned. It is a virtuous circle.
They try to make a case for methane, like CO2, a greenhouse gas. Methane is generated and released by cows. But there is not a continuous buildup of methane. Methane (CH4) has a half-life in the atmosphere of about 12 years. It is naturally oxidized into CO2 and water. The methane gas released by today's cows is balanced by the methane gas released by cows years ago that has disappeared. In other words, equilibrium is quickly reached as regards the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere from cows. The CO2 released when the methane is oxidized is also carbon-neutral, the carbon having originated in CO2 removed from the air by plants.
Drawdown's claim that reducing consumption of meat will have a large effect on greenhouse gases is completely wrong.
In-stream hydro is touted in Drawdown as reducing a small amount of CO2 emissions. What is notable about this is that green believers hate dams. About 6% of U.S. electricity is hydroelectric. Almost all of that comes of hydroelectric facilities installed with dams. In-stream hydro attempts to generate electricity without dams by placing turbines in the river and using the current to turn the turbine. This does not work nearly as well as a dam. With a dam, the water pressure applied to the turbines can be much greater. Water can be stored for use when electricity is needed. The green ideologues want to do away with the valuable and carbon-free hydroelectric resource and substitute puny in-stream hydro.
Sadly, Drawdown is well received by Amazon reviewers. Seventy-five percent of the reviews are 5-star. One reviewer called the book carefully researched. It is a New York Times bestseller. Presumably, the readers writing 5-star reviews are easily hoodwinked.
Norman Rogers writes about environmental issues. He maintains a website.