67. Fake Invisible Catastrophes with Patrick Moore
In this episode Saifedean talks to Greenpeace co-founder and “drop out” Dr Patrick Moore about the misperceptions and hysteria surrounding climate change. They discuss the anti-human philosophy of modern environmentalist movements, the limitations of computer modelling as a means of making long-term climate forecasts and why there’s a case for actually increasing rather than decreasing human CO2 emissions. Saifedean and Patrick also touch on broader topics covered in Patrick’s book Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom including ocean plastic, ocean acidification and endangered polar bears.
[00:03:40] Saifedean Ammous: Hello, and welcome to another Bitcoin Standard podcast seminar. Today’s guest is Dr. Patrick Moore, who is an all-time environmentalist and a co-founder of Greenpeace. One of the people who founded Greenpeace, and then he broke off with Greenpeace and has had, what can be described as controversial opinions about environmental issues, which I think regular attendees in this seminar will find quite interesting, because it is a very refreshing perspective compared to the usual party line that you hear from mainstream media and academia on some of the important scientific issues of the day.
Dr. Moore’s latest book is Fake Invisible Catastrophes, and it discusses all kinds of things that people are intent and very adamant on believing, are about to bring about the end of the world in one shape or the other. And Dr. Moore does a very good job of thoroughly and meticulously looking at these and [00:04:40] showing how unfounded much of the fears are and where the incentives lie in continuing to manufacture these kinds of fears. Because his work is very good at exposing it because he’s had a lot of time to look into it. Dr. Moore, thank you very much for joining us today.
Patrick Moore: Thank you for having me Saif, pleasure.
Saifedean Ammous: Would you kindly please begin by letting us know a little bit more about your background in the environmental movement? How did you get into environmentalism and environmental activism and your academic background as well and how those two interacted over time?
Patrick Moore: I think actually my childhood was instrumental in that I grew up in the wilderness of Northern Vancouver Island in the rainforest by the ocean, with no road to my tiny village, which was actually a floating village, that could be moved from one place to the other to cut the trees along the shoreline.
So I grew up playing on the title flats. I had a boat when I was six years old that I could row around. And then I [00:05:40] got a motor when I was 12. So I’ve grown up on the speed and the land in nature. And I had to be sent away to school, after the one room school I went to as a child only went to grade eight.
I had to go by boat each day to school and back. And I went to a very good private school in Vancouver where I learned to be a city kid and soon became interested in the sciences, the life sciences that reflected my childhood in nature of wanting to know more about evolution and biology and genetics and biochemistry and all of these sciences around life.
So I enrolled in a PhD program eventually at the university of British Columbia in ecology, which was a word that had not yet been printed in the popular press. No one knew that word in the late 1960s, but environment and environmentalism had become an important word by this time. [00:06:40] And that’s the path I wished to go upon in my life, is to further the cause of the environment.
I finished my PhD in ecology in 1974, but during that time doing my PhD, I learned about this small group that was meeting in a church basement in Vancouver, to plan a voyage across the Pacific against US hydrogen bomb testing. And I joined this group in order to really be doing something rather than just writing exams and studying ecology in a book.
I went with this group across the Pacific ocean in 1971. And we changed history in some ways, because by going out and actually doing something, we got the attention of the media. Back then, going viral we called media mind bombs. And in order to create an image and a story, which people would be interested in we sailed this little boat and we made [00:07:40] national news in the United States, even though we were Canadians.
And we were taking on the world’s most powerful organization, the US Atomic Energy Commission. At the time, it was the height of the cold war, the threat of all out nuclear war, and also the peak of the Vietnam war, so it was very real.
And the emerging consciousness of the environment, we combined with the longstanding movement for peace in the world to challenge this threat of nuclear war between the United States and then Russia, called the Soviet union at that time. And we won. President Nixon, after our voyage, canceled the remaining hydrogen bomb tests.
And this was the beginning of the deescalation. Of the cold war and the threat of nuclear war. The next year, we’d won so easily there. We went against French atmospheric nuclear testing in the south Pacific. Again, it took two years there, but we drove those nuclear tests underground. France [00:08:40] was still detonating atomic and hydrogen bombs in the air, sending radiation all around the Southern hemisphere at this time, this was 1972, 1973.
And then we made a complete shift of strategy because we had sort of done all we could in that sphere. We went against the Soviet and Japanese whaling fleets, which were killing 30,000 whales every year in the oceans and driving what whales were left by this time, into extinction if they continued.
So we went out in our boats again, but this time in small rubber rafts. We put ourselves in front of the harpoons, in front of the movie cameras and still cameras and made headlines around the world. And this is what really made Greenpeace famous was the campaign to stop whaling, which took five years of voyages into the Pacific each one of which I was on sometimes as the leader, mostly as the [00:09:40] navigator and second mate.
Because I knew about boats more than most of the people in Greenpeace did, having grown up with them. And as time went on we became a very famous and wealthy organization in the standards of environmental groups at the time. And suddenly we had a large staff and a payroll to meet every month.
And pretty soon it became more like a business instead of a charity, which we were at the beginning. We were all volunteers. And again, as time went on, the piece got lost. Peace was about people and stopping war. Whereas the green was of course about the environment and we combined those two concepts for the first time, but the peace got dropped along the way.
And before I knew it, Greenpeace and the rest of the movement were referring to humans as the enemies of nature. The human species was the enemy of the [00:10:40] environment. Philosophically I could not stand that concept. I had actually studied philosophy quite thoroughly, Bertrand Russell as a positivist of Britain and the existentialists of Europe. I understood philosophy and I knew it was wrong to say that humans were the only bad species, the only evil species of all the 1.7 million species we have identified.
That didn’t work for me, but I stayed for a while because we were still doing good work and then, my fellow environmental directors, directors of Greenpeace International, which I was one of six, decided to have a campaign to ban chlorine worldwide. This was the discussion. And I said, no you guys, chlorine even though it’s very toxic as an element, it was even used as a weapon in World War I, to gas people.
It’s also very important for public health and medicine. Not only that, it’s one [00:11:40] of the elements in the periodic table of elements, one of the 94 naturally occurring elements. And you can’t just ban an element, these are the building blocks of the universe. I said to them, using chlorine to sterilize our drinking water, our swimming pools, our spas, was the biggest advance in the history of public health.
And also in medicine, 85% of all our medicines are made with chlorine chemistry and 25% of them actually have chlorine in them. We’re actually taking chlorine into our bodies as a medicine, in order to cure disease. So surely we must not have such a blanket policy ban chlorine worldwide, as you are suggesting.
None of them had any formal science education, my fellow directors. It wasn’t that they weren’t smart people, but they were more environmental activists, social activists, entrepreneurs looking for a career, cause now you could make a living in the environmental movement.
[00:12:40] And I had to leave in 1985, after 15 years in the top committee of Greenpeace, I decided to be a sensible environmentalist, and based my policy on science and logic rather than sensationalism, misinformation, and fear, which was becoming too much the case. And I’m glad I left, I should have probably left a little earlier, but I’m glad I left when I did, because Greenpeace has turned basically into a racket peddling, junk science today.
They have no actual benefit to the environment any longer. They’re behind closed doors with the economic forum in Davos with the globalists who, I don’t know what they think world government is going to look like, for me it would probably be bureaucrats in Beijing. And I don’t think that’s the government I wish to live with in my life.
So I have a completely different view, not only of the environment, but also of politics and economics. [00:13:40] And I think that the nation state is still a pretty good model for people to develop democracy. It’s not just about the environment for me, I have a broad picture of what I believe is a rational approach to human development and human organization, as well as all of the environmental issues that exist today.
The reason I wrote this book, Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom, was to show people that they are being lied to about so many different issues. And the main reason that the people who are pushing these, what I would call anti-environmental positions is because people cannot see it for themselves.
All of the scare stories today are either about things that are invisible or so remote that nobody can check it out for themselves. And polar bears and coral reefs are the two best examples of that, where even though [00:14:40] they are visible, if you’re up close, looking at them, not many people can go to the Arctic and count all the polar bears or go and swim the entire great barrier reef, snorkeling to see how healthy it is.
And so therefore, the experts, the scientists were being paid by the politicians to give them these scare stories, and the politicians themselves who were promising to save everyone’s children or grandchildren from certain destruction by climate change. And then of course, there’s the media and the activists who are pulling in billions of dollars by amplifying these scare stories with the public. And just think, the environmental movement is saying, do what we say and we save the world. What are they doing to save the world? They are just raking in money, based on stories which are false about the end of the world. So we can talk about all of the politics and economics, et cetera, around those issues.
But it’s very clear to me [00:15:40] that this whole issue of the world coming to an end because of climate change is so fake that you look back in history and look at all the predictions of doom that have occurred over the years. Not one of them has come true, not a single doom story. they’re batting zero on the doom and gloom and apocalypse and end times.
And I would put any money that they’re doing the same today. They are not right that the world is coming to an end or anything close to it. As a matter of fact if they would just get out of the way, things could get a lot better than they are today for all of the actual billions of people who are not living at a standard that we would consider acceptable in say Europe and North America today.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you entirely and I’ve been quite influenced by your work and listening to you about it. There’s a lot that I wanted to talk to you about from all the things that you mentioned, but I wanted to perhaps begin with this idea that [00:16:40] humans are the enemies of Earth.
I’ve also discussed it with Alex Epstein and I know you’ve been on Alex’s show several times, and the Alex has also been extremely influential in noticing this. Because I think for most people it just goes unnoticed. But it’s a fundamental assumption in how you look at the world.
Is this Earth somewhere that is being victimized by us as human beings, or is it just a big part of the universe and we are tiny little specs on it. And should we be fighting for the Earth or are we fighting against the Earth? Are we enemies of the Earth? Where do you think this comes from?
Patrick Moore: I think in the final analysis, it comes from our own individual fear of death. If that is what we have personally, I’m not afraid of death it’s stupid to be afraid of something you can’t do anything about to begin with. It’s inevitable of course, that we all die, but the projection of one’s fear of death onto the whole world and onto the whole universe in a way perhaps is a way of relieving one’s [00:17:40] own angst personally, and taking comfort in the fact that not only are they going to die, but the whole world is going to die.
Something like that. I think it’s a deep emotional problem. I’m not thinking the world is coming to an end and I’m not afraid of my own death. And I think those two things are related to each other in some way. It’s sackcloth and ashes, is one of the terms that is used for people who are always crying, that the end is coming, doom and gloom, that everything is going to be bad in the future.
And why do they believe this? It’s not true from the past. If you look at the development of the human species over the millennia, we were once just hunters and gatherers, many people starving to death living only 30 years or 35 years on average lifetime. Teeth all falling out by that time probably. We were living like wild animals. They show the polar bear in [00:18:40] national geographic, this poor old polar bear who is starving.
There’s no snow around either to give the impression that the Arctic is melting, but in fact, in the summer, the ice does melt and the land shows, and so polar bears are walking around on the land up there in the summer. But there’s no rest homes or nurse nursing homes for polar bears or any other wild species.
We look after our older people. We look after our parks and our wildlife reserves and our nature places. We actually have the brains to preserve large areas of nature into the future. We don’t just go in and ravage everything, so we’re not we’re not an unthinking species.
And we most certainly are not evil as a species. Most people are good. There are a minority of people who are actually evil and prey on other people and shoot people and rob people. So those people [00:19:40] need to be dealt with and the good people in the society should be making very certain that those people are not able to continue with evil ways, if that’s what they’ve been fallen into.
There are so many dangers in life for people, either becoming addicted to drugs or getting involved in gangs and doing illegal activities of any kinds, which are harmful to not only themselves, but to other people. But in general, most people are good.
And the other problem is a very small minority of people these days, especially with the media being controlled by the tech companies, primarily except for a very few exceptions. It doesn’t take many people to create this image of apocalypse. If millions of people are listening to television and they’re just normal people going to work every day, they don’t really have the time or the [00:20:40] ability to check on whether or not these things are true.
So again, this is the reason I wrote my book is to give people an easy 200 pages with 11 chapters of 11 different issues that everybody knows about, whether it’s the war on plastic or the destruction of the ozone layer, climate change, that the world is heating up to be so hot, that it will not be fit for life anymore, which is what they are saying.
That none of these stories are true. The polar bears are not going extinct. The coral reefs are not dying but that you wouldn’t know that by listening to the mainstream media today. It’s very difficult to counter these stories of doom and gloom and end of the world. And that’s my job, is to try to do that because it’s not true.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes, and that’s why we have you here. And that’s why I appreciate you doing this work. One favorite topic of ours here, which was the topic of our last seminar, is the issue of [00:21:40] modeling. And this is a favorite topic of yours as well, I know. I was doing my PhD about 12 years ago. I finished in sustainable development and it involved a lot of modeling and trying to think critically about how to do this properly led me to the realization that there is no proper way of doing this because the question itself was wrong and it presupposes the kind of knowledge of a human society that is similar to what an engineer has over physical and material and non-living things. It’s as if you’re designing a car and you’re thinking of a society in terms of, as if it was just a dead pieces of material that you’re combining together and completely subsuming the will of all of the actual chess pieces that you’re moving around, which are actual human beings.
And that modeling I think, has a lot of problems which as an economist have come to appreciate. So I’m interested in your perspective on climate modeling. What has been your experience with the models that we see that are constantly telling us that we’re, [00:22:40] what is it, 12 years or six years or eight months away from hell freezing over, and the ice caps melting and the sea levels rising and the ocean’s acidifying and all marine life dying, and 80% of the world’s inhabited areas getting flooded. Where are we on that?
Patrick Moore: The first mistake is to think that a computer model is like a crystal ball which you can look into and see the future.
There is no such thing as this. There is no ability to see the future. An Oracle is another name for it, a soothsayer, a fortune teller. All of these are throwing cards on the table, tarot is another one. There are all of these constructs that have been invented through time, through history, which are supposed to be able to tell you your future.
And the computer model is no different from this. It’s a sophisticated technical piece of equipment, but really the truth is [00:23:40] the output of a computer model is absolutely and totally dependent on the input into the computer model. So in order to get a picture of the future, which is accurate, all the information you feed in and must be accurate, including your assumptions.
I like this one, they say a skeptic is someone who disagrees with your conclusions, which would be the output of the computer, but a heretic is someone who disagrees with your assumptions, which is the input into the computer. We do not have the ability to create assumptions about the future.
And another clue to this is actually in the intergovernmental panel on climate change of the United Nations. They’ve taken this out of their text after having put it in twice. And I don’t know who has been responsible for putting this in deep into the big text, [00:24:40] which is like this thick, instead of putting it in the summary, it’s never been in the summary for policy makers, but what the IPCC has said that because the global climate is multifactorial, in other words, there are many factors at work, all interacting with each other. It’s multifactorial, it is non-linear, so these things don’t go in straight lines, many of them are all over the place in terms of the effect that other things have on them. But more importantly, it is also chaotic, and chaotic is actually the definition of can’t be predicted into the future because chaos is unpredictable.
That’s the whole meaning of the word. And the truth is the climate is chaotic. We don’t know 10% of what is causing the changes in the climate, even now, historically. It’s a lot easier to figure out history [00:25:40] than it is to figure out the future. And it was someone, Niels Bohr actually, nobel physicist who said predictions are difficult, especially about the future, which was one of the wisest things ever uttered by a human being. Because there is no possibility to predict the future, especially something so complicated and chaotic as the climate. People can’t even predict horse races, people can’t even predict the stock market with computers.
How could they predict the entire climate of planet Earth and all of the variables involved? Many of which we do not even understand and may never fully understand. For example, just in recent times in the last four or 5,000 years, there has been a cycle of warming and cooling.
Let’s start with the Minoan warming 3000 years ago, then there was a cooling. [00:26:40] Then it came to the Roman warm period 2000 years ago, 2011 I could say, but I’ll just say 2000. And then came the dark ages, which was a cooling period. And then came the medieval warm period. When the Nordic people, the Scandinavian people colonized Greenland and had farms and many thousands of people living there and they had to evacuate.
As the little ice age, again cooling came on, which peaked around 1700, and now we are in the modern warm period as I call it, it hasn’t really been called that officially because no one wants to admit that the warming that is occurring now is a natural phenomenon, but it is following in the same pattern of 500 years up and 500 years down and 500 years up and 500 down that has been typical of the last five or 6,000 years as the global climate is actually in a net cooling at the present time [00:27:40] in this 10,000 year long interglacial period, the warmest was between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago, what is known as the holocene climatic optimum when it was warmer than it is today. And everybody just ignores that, they act as if the world began in 1850. They call everything before that the pre-industrial age as if the first three and a half billion years of life on Earth were all one thing.
And that it was always the same then or something. The fact of the matter is we have no clue about why this thousand year cycle is happening. People have put forward ideas, but none of them really work in terms of being rigorous proofs of why and what cycle is this? It’s a small cycle in terms of degrees.
It’s only one or one and a half degree cycle. We’ve only seen a one degree increase in global temperatures, celsius that is, since 1850. one [00:28:40] degree, and everybody’s saying that the world is coming to an end over one degree. The global climate has changed by five or 10 degrees in its history and life continued to flourish through these periods and what most people don’t understand, another important thing to know, is that they think that humans are a new species.
That we just came along recently. No, our ancestry goes back to the beginning of life, just like everything else which is alive today. Every single individual of every insect, every fish, every human, every crab, every tree can trace its history back to the beginning of life.
Every individual that is alive today of every species, the trillions of individuals there are on this planet, all represent a continuous successful reproduction since the beginning of life and the [00:29:40] time frame that we are on, the time horizon we are on today, means that the species that are existing here on Earth today are the toughest bad-ass species that ever existed in the world because most species have gone extinct long ago.
99.9% or something like that, species that did exist at one time are no longer here. Largely because of calamities, most of which were probably meteors, which became asteroids because they hit the earth and punctured the core, like the one most recent 65 million years ago, which wiped out nearly 90% of all the existing species on Earth. Because it threw all this material into the stratosphere from puncturing the Earth to the core, and the magma was thrown up.
Like it was like lava being thrown into the stratosphere where it remained for many years, blocking out the sunlight and [00:30:40] ending photosynthesis or almost ending it so that all the plants died. If all the plants die, most of the animals are gonna die. This has happened five times just in the last half billion years.
And yet, despite these five major extinctions, the Permian was even worse than the most recent one. It was 250 million years ago, despite that, there’s more biodiversity in life today, more species on the Earth today than there ever has been in this era. So life is so powerful that it has been able to go through these massive extinction events, either caused by huge volcanic activity, those would be in the earlier years or by asteroid striking the earth and causing these calamities of the end of photosynthesis, basically and the end of the food chain.
We have found ourselves at this point in history with an extreme high biodiversity compared to the [00:31:40] early history of the Earth with evolution continuing. People don’t realize how long evolution takes.
We could talk about the polar bear as a classic example, because the fun fact about the polar bear, and there’s many facts that people should know about them, is that the only reason they exist is because of climate change. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any polar bears. Climate change created polar bears.
So we shouldn’t think that climate change is always bad. Climate change often results in things that we would think are good because the climate becomes better for certain species than it was before. And indeed the idea that large sheets of ice are good for the Earth is total fantasy. They talk about ice as if it’s alive or something.
It’s totally dead. It’s water, which is in a solid state. And [00:32:40] it has almost no contribution to the existence of life. As a matter of fact, a sheet of ice, a glacier is preventing a forest from growing there. If that sheet of ice wasn’t there, there would be a forest full of animals and birds, but the Earth is so cold at this point in its history, and this is the other irony of this whole situation, is that the Earth is colder now globally, on a total global basis, than it has been for 250 million years. During this interglacial period, we’re a little warmer than we were during the glacial periods. But we’re in an ice age called the pleistocene.
And this is very clearly set out in my book. I’ve managed to condense an awful lot of information into 200 pages so that people don’t have to read a 500 page book, cause a lot of people don’t want to do that. So it’s a very approachable book [00:33:40] and makes these arguments on all 11 of these issues that I address, including the forest fire issue, the climate change issue, the coral reefs, the polar bears, lots of issues are +addressed.
The plastic issue is a really important one because plastic is being demonized as if it’s some material from hell that is going to destroy the planet. When in fact it’s entirely sterile and benign. Somehow or other people are able to make the jump from plastic being used to contain all our food because it’s sterile, non-toxic and extremely good material for all our food to be in. It preserves it and keeps it fresh. We put the cellophane over the meat in order to keep toxics out, to keep anything foreign out and preserve it. And then apparently, as soon as you throw the plastic in the ocean, it becomes a toxic menace, leaching chemicals into [00:34:40] all of the marine life.
It’s completely stupid. A piece of plastic in the ocean is no different than a piece of wood in the ocean with the exception of fish nets that have been thrown away by fishing people. Those are meant to catch fish. And so you shouldn’t have a bunch of nets floating around in the ocean catching fish because the fish will not survive if they’re caught in a net that’s just drifting around that some fishermen has thrown away.
That’s a small exception and that could easily be addressed with a program to encourage fishermen to bring their damaged nets back to the beach instead of throwing them away into the ocean, so I blather on endlessly Saif.
Saifedean Ammous: I wanted to just get back to the modeling thing. So generally the image that you get, if you have the misfortune of watching TV and following the mainstream media narrative on these things, we’ve had this idyllic Earth that was perfect up until capitalists invented these evil [00:35:40] engines in the 18th century.
And then they’d just been spewing, toxins all over the world, destroying this pristine Earth that we had, and I obviously don’t really buy that. Life 500 years ago was far less pleasant than it is today. And it was far dirtier than it is today for the vast majority of people alive. Some of the things that we take for granted, that even the poorest people today take for granted, are things that the world’s most affluent people 500 years ago could not even dream of.
So the ability to walk around in a street where you have sewage and you don’t have dirt everywhere, where you have modern sanitation is something that even the poor people can enjoy. And it’s something that the rich people could not enjoy in many other periods. You couldn’t have cities that solved the sanitation problem in the way that we can be with all of the amazing machinery that we have.
I’m skeptical of the idea that everything was good and then it went very bad. But I’m also, I’m going to challenge you a little bit on the sort of counter narrative that you provide, which goes [00:36:40] back hundreds of millions of years. You’re telling us about temperatures, what they were like a million years ago or a thousand years ago, 500 years ago.
I’m curious, just how critically have we looked at this ancient weather, ancient meteorology, and ancient archeology so that we can so confidently talk about these temperatures. I can understand, obviously a couple of hundred years ago there were stories about the river Thames in London freezing during the winter, and that was a common thing.
So I can understand that yeah, probably it was a lot colder in London when the river was freezing, but I’m not so sure that we can reliably get answers on things a thousand or 10,000 or 10 million years ago. This is what kind of puzzles me, whether that w whether it even matters.
Whether we can have this accurate past record, because I think the far more important point is that we don’t have a control knob for the Earth’s temperature. And I think [00:37:40] this idea that carbon dioxide concentrations are like the control knob for the planets thermostat, I think that’s what needs to be challenged.
So I’m wondering, do you think there is a strong evidence about how the data in the past was, and do you think that we can tell with any kind of scientific precision what is the impact of human activity on the climate, or do you think, as I tend to think, that the changing of the climate is like the changing of the night and day. And you may as well get upset about the fact that it’s getting dark today every day.
That’s like trying to get upset about the planet getting colder or hotter. I don’t think we can affect the temperature of the planet. And if it’s going to get colder, there are so many forces that are far bigger than what we can control. And I think it’s absolutely insane to be thinking of micromanaging the temperature when, the obvious thing to do is to just adjust. Similarly, [00:38:40] when it gets dark, you don’t sit there and plot, how do we move the Sun back so we get 12 extra hours of sunlight every day. You just turn on the light. So what do you think?
Patrick Moore: Those are two very distinctly different questions. The one about whether we understand climates of the past versus whether we can do anything about the climate of the present. Yes, we do have very good information about the past, and it’s because of what are known as proxies, oxygen 18 being one of the main ones, then there’s carbon dating for example, everyone knows about carbon dating.
It only can go back a few tens of thousands of years though. For example going back 800,000 years, the ice cores, which have been drilled at Antarctic, show us bubbles inside ice 800,000 years ago. So we can see the concentration of gases in those bubbles.
We also can see by the isotope oxygen 18 the temperature can be shown, [00:39:40] but then you can go to Marine sediments. Marine sediments go back hundreds of millions of years, they have been falling down on the bottom of the ocean. Life remains coming down and forming sediments very deep. And some places like in the middle of the Pacific ocean, you can go back hundreds of millions of years where the Pacific plate is coming towards north America, but it hasn’t arrived yet.
It’s been coming for a long time. Hawaii will eventually come to the shore of North America and every mountain range west of the Rocky Mountains came from the other side of the ocean on the plate and collided with North America and formed these many mountain ranges from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific today.
So the idea of California is going to fall into the sea is the opposite, California is constantly being pushed into the rest of North America.
Saifedean Ammous: California [00:40:40] is going to be the new fly over country, right?
Patrick Moore: Yeah apparently, it seems to be heading that way. People are evacuating it by the thousands. But we do know from these proxies of sediments, this began in 1958, the international geophysical year, where many countries coordinated their efforts, sending drill ships out. This is one of the things they did. This is one that tectonic plate theory was basically verified, was due to the data that was discovered in 1958, with people looking all over the world for evidence of how the Earth was formed historically.
And so we do know that there was an ice age 350 million years ago that lasted 100 million years to 250 million years ago, that ice age was called the Karoo. It has a name with a capital letter, and we know it occurred because of records that [00:41:40] exist in the sediments and in the mountains and in these proxies of temperature.
And so this is the first ice age, this one we’re in now for 250 million years. This is the place to see an ice age. That is why there are huge sheets of ice on the poles, even in an interglacial period, such as the one we’re in now, which is only one of more than 40 interglacial periods. In other words, there have been also more than 40 glacial periods within this pleistocene ice age, when the ice descended down from the Arctic all the way to the US border and further south, and formed a huge sheet of ice that 20,000 years ago was the peak of that.
We know that, we can see it in the geology even. We know the history going back thousands and thousands of years and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and tens of millions. We have good solid information on approximately what the CO2 level in [00:42:40] the atmosphere was.
For example going way way back, CO2 at one time was at least six to 10,000 parts per million in the global atmosphere. I’m talking about half a billion years, 500 million years ago. CO2 was much higher in the early formation of life than it is today. And people say yes, but humans weren’t here then so they wouldn’t be able to stand that.
That’s not true. We are quite capable of living in an atmosphere of 10,000 parts per million CO2. Submarines for example, go underwater for three months, they have an upper limit as 8,000 parts per million for CO2 inside the submarine. When it’s only 415 in the normal air we have today, it was only 280 when the industrial revolution started.
And it was 180 at the peak of the last glaciation 20,000 years ago. The lowest [00:43:40] it’s been in the history of the Earth. So CO2 and temperature are both lower now than they have been in almost the entire history of the Earth. With CO2, it has bounced back from the glacial period 20,000 years ago, as it warmed into this holocene interglacial period, it bounced back from 180 to 260 and eventually to 280 before we came along and started increasing it even more up to over 400.
But at 400, it’s still not half the level that plants would prefer. Plants would like 800 to 1200 to 2000 parts per million CO2 to operate at their maximum efficiency. That’s because they evolved in an atmosphere of far higher CO2 than exists in the world today. All the plants on the Earth that are out in the open are starving for carbon dioxide, even at the levels we have increased it to.
So the key message in my book [00:44:40] is that not only is CO2, that we’re putting out good for the environment and good for all of the plants, we have to learn to think like a plant because we eat plants. There’s no question of the fact that if the plants disappeared, all the animals would disappear because animals couldn’t exist if it weren’t for the plants, plants are the ones collecting the solar energy and turning it into food. Turning it into plants first, and then it’s food for us. So we have to recognize this. And the fact of the matter is, the reason commercial greenhouse growers increase the CO2 in their greenhouses double and triple what it is even today at the elevated level, we’ve caused it to be, they do that to get much higher yield from their plants.
And it’s actually proven now that all over the world, the forests and crops are growing 30% faster than they were just 50 [00:45:40] years ago because of our CO2. So we do know a lot about the past of temperature and CO2. We know that the Earth was free from ice, more than it had ice. We’re in a glacial period now.
We’re in a ice age called the pleistocene, and we don’t know when it’s going to end. Because the last one lasted a hundred million years and this one is only 2.6 million years old. It could last for another 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 million years. So we’d better get used to it. And that’s your second point is we better get used to it.
Whatever nature throws at us on a global scale, there’s not much we can do about it. Great, Bill Gates wants to block out the Sun. That’d be great for our food supply. We need the Sun, and the fact is though, in the final analysis safe, we are the saviors of life on Earth, but not doing it on purpose.
It [00:46:40] was inadvertently that we discovered the fossil fuels that were created by solar energy, millions of years ago, we are releasing the sun’s energy that the plants captured, and then they turned into coal or oil or gas, and we’re releasing that CO2 back into the atmosphere where it came from in order to grow the trees faster in the food crops faster.
That’s what the result is. CO2 is entirely positive. There is nothing negative about it to call the food for life a toxic gas is so ridiculous that the human species has become so far off the path of real science and the truth about what’s actually going on as a result of our activity, that we threaten our own existence as a result.
I think that people’s individual fear of death can be projected on the whole population. And that’s what they’re [00:47:40] doing by saying, we should have a reduction of 80% of our energy, which is what the fossil fuels are providing. It’s actually a little more than 80%. If we were to actually do net zero, and again, I don’t predict a future very often, but I have one prediction about the future that I know is true. Net zero will not happen. Because it’s impossible for it to happen.
Unless we actually commit suicide as a species. That would be tantamount to committing suicide as a whole species, not just individuals.
And I say, the people who support these ideas of mass suicide should just kill themselves and leave the rest of us alone, right? They should go first and I mean it, if you who are listening out there really believe that we should reduce the energy supply of civilization by 80% causing mass death and mass suffering worse than anything that’s ever happened in the history of [00:48:40] human civilization.
Then you should get off this planet and leave it for the rest of us to figure out, cause you are a burden. You’re a double burden, because first you’re using energy yourself, and secondly you’re spreading this lie that we could end fossil fuels and still be a civilization. It’s not possible.
Saifedean Ammous: The way that I say it is if the world doesn’t have too many humans, the world has too many Malthusians. If you really believed what you say, if you really believed that humans are destructive to the Earth, and you think that this is true, you would kill yourself.
And I’m not saying that to invite people to go and kill themselves, I’m saying it to try and expose to them the fundamental hypocrisy in the fact that you’re taking a breath at this moment, when you think that this is a bad thing. If you really believed that it was a bad thing, you wouldn’t do it.
Obviously you prefer surviving and destroying the planet as you see it. You think that you’re destroying the planet and yet you continue to choose to do it every moment when you survive. But if [00:49:40] you believe that, you can just do the very effective thing to reduce the burden on the planet by killing yourself.
But obviously these people don’t want to kill themselves. They want to control you. And that’s what it really comes down to. It comes down to control. I entirely agree with you that there is a real environmental catastrophe that’s not fake and it’s not invisible, and that would be the catastrophe that would befall us as human beings if we were to dump fossil fuels.
Because the same kind of people who believe that the Earth is being burned because of our use of fossil fuels. Also, if you are able to believe such ridiculous ideas, you will also believe ideas as ridiculous as the idea that yeah, we can just shift away from fossil fuels and use solar and wind and biofuels and batteries and all of that stuff.
And then that’s it. When we don’t need to use fossil fuels. It’s all a big conspiracy by the US government and the Saudis and the oil producers and Chevron and Exxon to get us to use this [00:50:40] evil chemical that they use to control the world. But I think the reality is very different. The reality is fossil fuels are enormously transformative for human life.
And this is the thing I think, people don’t get the importance of fossil fuels, they think they’re an optional, cosmetic detail of our life. They think it’s like the color of your iPhone. And so when they think about what we need for our energy future, they talk about it, all right we need to stop using coal and oil and reduce the gas and then increase the wind and solar as if you’re ordering different flavors of ice cream, as if you’re ordering the color of your iPhone.
But really what they’re doing is effectively saying I’d like my iPhone made out of wood. I don’t want any plastics in my iPhone. I want my iPhone to be completely biodegradable and natural. And you’re just not going to make an iPhone from wood. We’ve been making phones for 20 years now. Nobody has succeeded in making a smartphone out of wood and [00:51:40] tree leaves.
And by all means, go ahead and try doing one. But if you’re going to ban people from using iPhones until they can make them out of twigs, there’s just not going to be iPhones. And the same is true for staying warm at winter. And the same is true for all the basic infrastructure that makes our life possible today that everybody takes for granted because they’re completely ignorant of the engineering realities that are necessary to allow them to survive.
Particularly think about it, you’re in Canada, what it takes to survive a Canadian winter today and you survive it while you’re on the couch, sifting through TV channels.
And you think that just can be done by just switching off all of the fossil fuels in Canada and moving to something sustainable. I think it’s completely absurd. There’s no question about it. I think it would be massively destructive for humanity if we were to actually attempt to do this. All that it’s doing, I have enough understanding of how economic incentives work, that there’s no way they’re going to uninvent fossil fuels. People will always find a way to produce them and consume them. Because the engine is just too useful [00:52:40] and the people who want to uninvent fossil fuels have never even tried to live one year without an engine. So they’re not going to uninvent it, but they’re going to make it more and more complicated for people to use it, I think.
And it’s going to raise the cost of energy for people. It’s going to raise the environmental destruction that is caused by the inefficiencies. For instance, in Texas and California, now you hear the sales of diesel engines are shooting through the roof and everybody’s got a nice little diesel engine next to their home because of what happens with all the unreliability of the grid because of the “renewables” that they’re using.
Renewables between quotation marks because they’re just unreliable. So the alternative to a grid that runs on fossil fuels and nuclear is not a grid that runs on wind and solar. The alternative is everybody has their own diesel engine. And then you’re walking around in the neighborhood and all you hear are diesel engines and all you smell is the sound of diesel.
This is what the environmental movement is effectively doing. They’re causing [00:53:40] all kinds of damage by forcing people away from the most economic options because of these fake invisible threats and in turn, forcing them toward destructive and inefficient options that are actually causing damage to life and to the environment.
Patrick Moore: That is so true, I don’t know how we get out of this disastrous scenario that western countries, most western countries have adopted now as gospel. The idea that the ambition is to eliminate fossil fuels and to reduce CO2 emissions. I think the issue with the oil and gas company and The North Face, the company which makes outdoor clothing, is a perfect example where The North Face refuse to supply the oil and gas company with jackets for their workers, outdoor jackets for their workers, because they didn’t support oil and gas.
And then some research was done and it was determined that more than 90% of North Face’s [00:54:40] products are made from oil and gas. Because they’re plastic. And plastic is made from fossil fuels. Instead of the berating them, the oil and gas people said, thank you for being such good customers of the oil and gas industry to North Face.
This is what people need to realize that in fact, every day their lives are dependent on fossil fuels and they should appreciate that, rather than denigrating that the most important energy source in the world today. But the real irony Saif, is the opposition to nuclear energy among the same people who want to stop using fossil fuels because nuclear energy there’s simply no doubt about it.
It’s easy to do the math, that nuclear energy could provide at least 50% of what fossil fuel provides today. In other words, could take out 50% of the fossil fuels in the first place. All electricity, nearly [00:55:40] all electricity could be produced with nuclear energy. And today, by far the majority of electricity is produced with fossil fuels all around the world.
So it could just take that out, because nuclear energy produces 24/7 reliable electricity. It’s been proven. There’s 440 nuclear plants operating in the world today, that could be 4,400 nuclear plants, if we wanted it to be. If the politics would allow it to occur, and we’re not doing it.
And there’s opposition to it from the same people that want to end the use of fossil fuels, we could also have every ship on the sea. All the big ships could be nuclear powered. If you can take nuclear missiles under water for three months in a submarine with nuclear propulsion, surely oil tankers and cargo ships could run with nuclear propulsion.
And that is simply a fact, they could be. That would take out 2% of the fossil fuels right there, with one little thing. All the trains [00:56:40] should be electrified and run with nuclear electricity. Whereas that’s not the case today, especially in North America. There are so many examples of how nuclear energy could reduce the need for fossil fuels it isn’t funny.
Nothing else could even come close. Hydroelectric could if the resources were there, but hydroelectric depends on topography and rainfall, and we’re not going to have hydroelectric energy in Saudi Arabia anytime soon for example. Or Denmark, which gets lots of rain, but it’s flat. So there’s no place to put a hydroelectric dam in Denmark. But Norway gets 90% of its electricity from hydroelectric.
Canada gets 60 Brazil gets 80. So some countries get the majority of their electricity from hydroelectric power and that should be encouraged, but they’re against that too. They’re only in favor of wind and solar, when it comes right down to it, they’re against biomass energy, which means burning [00:57:40] wood, basically.
So they’re actually against fire of all kinds. They are against combustion. They are against burning waste garbage to make electricity, which the Europeans are doing everywhere. Europe gets 4% of its electricity from burning waste that is not suitable for recycling, and China’s doing the same thing.
In the United States and Canada. We throw more than 50% of our waste into landfills, which could be burned to produce electricity or heat. And so we’re way backwards, at the same time, they’re saying we should eliminate fossil fuels, which would make us even more backwards.
Saifedean Ammous: I’m wondering if you have some kind of explanation, I haven’t been around the environmental movement so long.
Why is it that combustion is such a bad word for them? Why is that such a bad thing? Why did they hate things burning down? It’s essential for humans for who knows millions of years, we’ve been cooking with fire and staying warm with fire, [00:58:40] and it’s an essential part of the management, and I’ve heard you talk about this, of the management of forest ecosystems.
The reason that you get a lot of forest fires is that people don’t use the wood-fire. If people were consuming the old trees, cutting them down and using them to stay warm and to cook with them. Then the forest wouldn’t have a lot of timber sitting there so that when a small fire takes off, it doesn’t end up being so huge.
I’m wondering what is it, if you have some kind of explanation for why that is the case, do you have any insight into this?
Patrick Moore: It’s almost as if they’re against everything that actually works. I said long ago, I coined this phrase, not only do we have to go back to living in caves, but we can’t even have a fire to keep warm and cook our food with anymore.
It is an anti-human philosophy. The philosophy of today’s environmentalism is fundamentally anti-human. So that’s why it makes sense for them to cut off 80% of the energy supply. That way you can get rid of a lot of humans. [00:59:40] Because they are the enemies of the Earth. So I know that’s a very cynical and dark accusation in many ways, but I can’t see if there are there really people who think that eliminating 80% of the world’s energy would make it a better world?
Do they actually believe that? Or a better world for humans? They’re certainly not keeping that in mind. They might think it makes a better world to have less humans though. I think that’s where they’re coming from.
Saifedean Ammous: This kind of pathology really, has existed for a very long time where people get worked up about the fact that, oh no, planet Earth has X number of people on it, but it should only handle X over five.
And this is a catastrophe which only I can fix. The world has had a lot of people like this for a very long time. All of them have been proven wrong because the population continues to grow and population growth [01:00:40] has reduced, not because of any kind of environmental pressure, it’s reduced because of the time pressure of people wanting to do more things with their life then just to have children, which is partly because people’s lives are more secure now.
So they don’t need as many children as they used to before. So people don’t have as many children, but I think, yeah, you’re right, I think that is a motivating assumption. And that’s why you and I are heretics because we question the assumption and people don’t like to think about the assumptions.
People just think nature is pristine and the world would be so much better if we weren’t here, but there’s nothing to even assess it in terms of better or worse. Good and bad, better and worse are categories that only exist in our human mind. And so if you get rid of yourself and if we eliminate all of humans, what’s left is not good and it’s not bad, it’s nothing, there’s no human to assess it.
There’s no subjective valuation behind it. And also, I just want to comment something you said you’re absolutely correct. Nuclear could reduce a lot of the uses for fossil fuels, [01:01:40] but I’m sure you agree, it can’t eliminate fossil fuels because a lot of the uses of fossil fuels are not just about energy generation.
It’s about the materials that they provide, which are essential for all kinds of things. And I’m not really sure whether it is a good objective that we want to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. I don’t think there’s any reason to do it.
Patrick Moore: Yes, there is.
Saifedean Ammous: Why do you think?
Patrick Moore: Conservation of a precious natural resource that is limited. If you can find an alternative that does the job just as well, for example using nuclear energy to provide the energy for making plastic from fossil fuels. Right now we use fossil fuels to provide the energy to make plastic from fossil fuels. But if…
Saifedean Ammous: Oil reserves have been increasing for as long as we’ve known about oil, we keep digging.
Patrick Moore: Yeah, but they’re not infinite. And neither is the supply of nuclear fuel, but it’s far more close to infinite than fossil fuels are.
Saifedean Ammous: I think both of them are practically speaking, they are infinite compared to our needs. It’s [01:02:40] like sitting at the in front of a lake and worrying that you’re going to be thirsty.
You’re you wouldn’t be able to drink the entire lake for a thousand years if you tried.
Patrick Moore: Yeah, but a thousand years is a small amount of time. We have enough nuclear energy for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s very unlikely that we have enough fossil fuels for hundreds of thousands of years at an exponential rate of increased use which I suppose will level off at some point.
It is a much more finite than the supply of nuclear fuel.
Saifedean Ammous: The point to keep in mind is that as our consumption has increased, we continue to find more. And I think there’s quite, I’ve read about this, I’m quite convinced that fossil fuels are not actually from fossil. Some of them might be from fossil, but there are fossil fuels on Mars.
There are fossil fuels on other planets, which have not had life. I think compelling work that suggests that fossil fuels are just naturally occurring substances in the crust of the Earth. And for all intents and purposes, nobody has [01:03:40] run out of them. Even though we’ve been digging all over the world for them for two years.
I think it’s entirely plausible that just like all other things that we’ve not run out of, this might just be one of the other environmental fake catastrophes. I’m sure you remember the 1970s when we were going to run out of everything and the population bomb and Paul Ehrlich and all of that stuff.
And you may be familiar with the work of Julian Simon whom I like a lot, because he’s an economist.
Patrick Moore: I know it. I know it like the back of my hand, yes. I know that whole issue with the bet made with Ehrlich et cetera. But on the other hand I don’t believe that fossil fuels are abiotic as they say, they are dependent on life for their creation.
They are hydrocarbons. They are made from solar energy. I think it’s pretty clear that fossil fuels are, the great reserves of them that we have the great gas fields, oil fields, and coal seams, are the result of life. It’s obvious with the coal there’s fossils of plants in them. With oil and gas, it’s [01:04:40] not possible to see the imprint of life other than the fact that they are hydrocarbons, and they have been created by heat.
I know a lot of professional geologists who specialized in hydrocarbons. They don’t believe that they are made abiotic. And it’s true that there might be some methane on some other planets.
That’s a pretty simple molecule and could be created by various factors, but it’s not going to result in massive deposits like in marine sediments that we have with the oil and gas that was created in the sea bottom.
The reason there’s oil and gas in the great Plains in Texas all the way north through Alberta is because that was the bottom of the sea for a long time.
And the reason there is coal is because that was an area that was forested for a long time. We don’t understand [01:05:40] the mechanism for the burial of forests to make the coal, because it’s amazing how much of it there is. One theory, which doesn’t stand up for all of it, is that when trees evolved, the primary evolution that happened was the evolution of lignin. Cellulose, which is the polymer of glucose, which is basically a natural plastic has been around for 3 billion years at least. Life invented plastic 3 billion years ago when it created cellulose. Cotton for example, is pure cellulose, which is a plastic. And the cotton plant knows how to make plastic in the form of the glucose polymer.
It’s too bad. We don’t call cellulose polyglucose in the same way that we call polystyrene, made of styrene, the monomer polystyrene is styrene. The [01:06:40] monomer of polyvinyl chloride is vinyl chloride, but the monomer is cellulose is glucose. And this was created billions of years ago. But lignin, which is the reason that trees are able to grow so tall, is because lignin became the concrete for the rebar of cellulose.
Cellulose is a long, thin structure and lignin is like a plastic, like concrete. And reinforced concrete column is basically mimicking a tree, because cellulose is the rebar and lignin is the concrete. And this happened about 300 and some million years ago when forests emerged for the first time and global biomass [01:07:40] increased by at least 10 to a hundred times.
Before trees, everything was flat on the ground. There was no wood and wood is what made it possible to have such a vast amount of biomass covering the areas of the planet that have enough rainfall and suitable temperature regime for trees to form. But how those forests ended up buried is a bit of a mystery. And one theory is that at the time lignin was created by plants, there was no enzyme to digest it.
Cellulase, for example, digests cellulose, lignase digests lignin. But at the time lignin was created, there was no lignase. It was only when a fungus evolved [01:08:40] much later that there was something that could digest lignin. So it’s possible that the trees, as they died, piled up a kilometer deep.
And when lignase was finally invented, only the ones on the surface could be accessed. And the rest of them eventually turned into coal. With the Marine sediments, it’s easier to understand because they were definitely buried in sediment. The deeper and deeper the sediment gets, the more heat there is down below to turn it into hydrocarbons.
But with coal, it’s actually quite a mystery how so many forest could have been buried all around the world to create the coal, the huge coal seams that we find today. But in all of my studies, I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority, at least of fossil fuels are made by life.
[01:09:40] And that even if there were some abiotic mechanisms, they’re just so small compared to the actual production of oil, and gas and coal through biology, through solar energy. So basically, fossil fuels, the hydrocarbons we’re burning today, we are releasing the solar energy that life captured in the sea and on the land at that time and became lost.
That’s the whole reason we are the saviors of life is cause all this carbon in the fossil fuels was lost to the cycle of the atmosphere and the oceans and the plants. It became varied and lost. All we’re doing is putting it back in the atmosphere where it came from, the carbon dioxide that is. And feeding it to the plants and making them grow much faster.
So this is the optimistic version of the situation. And not only that, this is the true version. This is not the lie that carbon [01:10:40] dioxide is the poison. Carbon dioxide is the basis of all life, we know that for a fact, and we know that our CO2 going into the atmosphere is causing more rapid growth of plants on the land and the biggest irony or paradox or whatever you want to call it that puts the lie to the whole thing, the population issue included, is that India and China are contributing more to the greening of the earth than any other countries.
Between the two of them, they’re emitting as much CO2 as all the rest of the world put together to start with. Between India and China, they are contributing 50% of the CO2 which is causing the forest and all the food crops and all the plants to grow better.
And because they’re high populations, they are growing more food and planting more trees than anyone else. In the last 50 years, China has created vast new areas of forest that were once [01:11:40] denuded areas basically. And so they are sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere to make food and wood, and then the natural areas as well are growing faster.
Between the two of them, the two most populous countries in the world are contributing the most to the greening of the planet. So what could be wrong with that?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I’m with you. I’m wondering, one thing that I found really interesting is that last year we had a we have basically a beautiful experiment, well it wasn’t beautiful for human beings, it may have been beautiful for scientists, the COVID shutdowns when the vast majority of the world’s cars and airplanes were parked and they weren’t emitting any evil CO2. This was the dream that many environmentalists want. It was a massive reduction in people’s consumption of fossil fuels.
We saw the price of oil go negative because there was so little [01:12:40] demand for fossil fuels as there was before. And we had the entire fossil fuel supply chain basically come to a grinding halt with people, not knowing where to put their fuel. So we had an enormous reduction in the consumption of fuel for a few weeks.
Now arguably the economic impacts of this have been devastating. Unless you happen to work from home and watch TV and are emotionally invested in the melodramatic production of this coronavirus into the great war of our generation. For people out in the real world, there are a lot of people had their lives destroyed for very stupid reasons, and it wasn’t fun.
I’m definitely not a fan of these shutdowns and of the science behind them. But I think they provide us with a very interesting experiment which is, for many months, the world did what the environmentals have been haranguing us to do for many decades, which is stop emitting CO2. Well we went and reduced CO2 emissions drastically.
And yet you look at the NASA data. And you see [01:13:40] that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued its uptrend over the last year and a half with basically no difference from how it has been rising over the past decades. So do we actually have any impact on the concentration of CO2 or could it well be that there are natural processes on Earth that are bigger than us and maybe it’s the weather that’s driving the CO2, maybe it’s maybe it’s patterns with sunspots that are driving it, maybe it’s just a historic development of the way that the CO2 cycle has worked. Maybe there’s a bigger cycle that we’re part of. I’m curious, what do you think of that?
Patrick Moore: I don’t think much of that. The fact is there is no other known source of CO2 besides our fossil fuels and cement production, which is about 5% of our emissions.
So it’s a significant portion, where we’re turning calcium carbonate into lime and emitting [01:14:40] CO2 in manufacturing cement. But fossil fuel consumption is 95% of our CO2 emissions. And there simply isn’t anything else in the cycle that could be resulting in an increase in not only atmospheric CO2, but it’s pretty certain that CO2 is increasing somewhat in the oceans.
It’s a very much smaller level because first off, the oceans can hold so much more CO2 than the atmosphere has in it. There’s about 50 times as much carbon dioxide in the oceans as there is in the atmosphere in quantitative terms. This is why they predict ocean acidification.
They’re saying that the CO2 will cause the oceans to become more acidic when they really mean less basic, the oceans will never become acidic. It’s impossible for that to happen, just due to the salinity concentration they have in them. Most people don’t realize that if it wasn’t for CO2, the oceans [01:15:40] would be so alkaline that life would be impossible without CO2 providing a buffer to the alkaline elements, the sodium and the calcium, et cetera, that are in the oceans, the pH of the oceans would be 11+, which is like about Drano, the same pH has Drano. CO2 actually not only provides the basis for life in the ocean, as the source of carbon for all life in the ocean, it also makes the ocean habitable for life. Which is not a factor with the atmosphere.
The issue of pH in the atmosphere is a non issue, it doesn’t exist. Whereas pH in water is a different matter. But even in the lakes and rivers, where there are no buffering salts, like there are in the ocean, there is no evidence that the acidification of lakes is going to result in the death of all the life in the rivers and lakes.
[01:16:40] It’s a complete fake hypothesis, the acidification hypothesis, it was invented because the temperature stopped increasing for 20 years from 1996 to 2014 or something like that. And now it has started to rise up a little bit again. But this is the modern warm period, it’s what you would expect.
I do not believe that there is any other explanation for the rise in CO2 from 280 to 415-17 or whatever it is now. There’s no other explanation besides human CO2 emissions, we are responsible for at least virtually all of it. And that is a good thing. We are doing nature of favor by emitting this.
Saifedean Ammous: And the fact that CO2 emissions are helping in plant growth is pretty uncontroversial. You’re the only one I find who talks about this regularly, but very few people will challenge it because it’s pretty obvious. We learn this in fourth grade science, plants [01:17:40] feed on CO2 and in greenhouse gases, they upped the level of CO2 in order to feed the plants. It’s very clear and you show NASA studies that show this to be a fact, right?
Patrick Moore: Yes, it’s in controvertible as they say in science. There is no argument against it really. Yet they do make arguments that, for example some people say that if plants increase in growth, they will be reduced in nutrition. And that would be true if you reduce the amount of nutrition to them. If a plant grows faster, it needs more nutrition. That’s why farmers use fertilizer.
In nature, there are limiting factors to the rate at which plants can grow. There’s sunlight, plants can’t grow in the dark. Then there’s water, plants can’t grow without water. Then there are nutrients, many different nutrients coming from the soil and coming from the air nitrogen, for example, and nitrogen fixing bacteria is a huge part of the whole cycle of life.
Carbon dioxide is just [01:18:40] one of the requirements for plant growth, but it is in some sense, the most essential one. Although when you say essential nutrient, you mean essential. So there are many essential aspects and it’s not just nutrients that are essential, it’s also sunlight.
And water can be seen as a nutrient in a way. It is both a nutrient and an essential water, just plain essential for the life of plants. So limiting factors is a concept where the essential nutrient or factor which is the most limiting, is the one that will determine the rate of growth of a plant. If you have everything provided except you only give them one hour of sunlight per day, that will be the limiting factor on their growth.
And the same thing goes with water and carbon dioxide and everything else. So right now, what we’ve had for many millions of years is that carbon dioxide was essentially the limiting [01:19:40] factor for growth of most plants in the wild, and now that’s becoming less true. Now, carbon dioxide has been increased to where other factors become the limiting factor. Water hasn’t been increased and nutrients in the soil haven’t been increased, in a wild environment for example.
So you will find that now other factors become the limiting factor to growth. Whereas CO2 is no longer the limiting factor. And this is important in all of biology, the idea of limiting factors, because there are many factors essential for a living thing to grow and survive. And I’m getting close to where I have another appointment.
Saifedean Ammous: Oh, yes. Okay , we’ve got a bunch of people that wanted to ask you some questions. I’m going to let Peter ask one and feel free to let us know whenever you have to leave.
Patrick Moore: Please, Peter.
Peter Young: Hi, thank you Patrick, that was really fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing those insights.
I just [01:20:40] had a follow-up question on the link between CO2 and warming. So the basic argument that we’re told about carbon dioxide and methane is that these are greenhouse gases and they help the Earth to retain heat that’s coming in from the Sun. So my question is, you’ve said the relationship between CO2 and warming is complicated and we don’t understand it, but can you just provide a bit more of an explanation as to why you think that we wouldn’t observe that kind of greenhouse effect.
Given that we know, I think it’s in laboratory conditions, we know that CO2 has this kind of greenhouse type heat retention effect.
Patrick Moore: We actually don’t really have greenhouse type experiments to show the effect of CO2. it’s all basically modeling and it’s all exaggerated. It is fairly well agreed now that the doubling of CO2 would result in an increase in global temperature of less than one degree, perhaps one degree.
So what they do is they say, [01:21:40] oh no but the knock on effect of that will be to make more water in the atmosphere. And that will result in more heat. They’re using positive feedback, projected positive feedback as some kind of a multiplier of the effect of CO2. There’s no evidence or proof of that.
It may well be the most of the increased water is in the form of clouds. In which case it will have a cooling effect. The only thing we really have to go by is the long historical record of CO2 and temperature. And this shows that for millions of years at a time, a CO2 goes up and temperature goes down, not up.
There are so many periods in the historical record where CO2 and temperature are not in sync with each other, that it is clear that there must be many other factors involved which offset the effect of CO2. [01:22:40] You have to read my book because this is possibly the most complicated question there is because you can’t, because CO2 is invisible, you can’t see what it’s doing.
And it is true that it’s a greenhouse gas and it is true that all else being equal, an increase in CO2 would result in a very slight increase, in temperature. But you have to remember that water vapor is 25 to a hundred times higher than CO2 is in the atmosphere.
At the present time, CO2 is such a minor player and they managed to make it into a big player by multiplying it by assuming there will be positive feedbacks. When in fact there may well be negative feedbacks and indeed the historical record indicates that for some reason they go opposite to each other, through much of the history of the Earth.
When CO2 is going up, you would expect temperature to go up, but in fact it’s going down. And this is for millions of years [01:23:40] at a time. The actual historical record to me is a far more important thing than a projected computer model of what’s going to happen.
The best scientists in my estimation are saying that it would be a doubling of CO2 from the present level would cause no more than one degree in increased temperature under any circumstances and perhaps not. This is the modern warm period, we know that the little ice age was the coldest period in the whole history of the 10,000 year interglacial, we call the Holocene.
It was a bad time to be alive because people starved crops failed, it was cold through summers sometimes. And that was at 1700 is that when that peaked. That was after the Greenlanders that all came home long before that, because Greenland had started to cool. So the little ice age was a real thing and 300 years [01:24:40] ago, it peaked or the nadir low point was reached and it started to warm again.
And you mentioned the Thames at one point in London. It was only for 300 years that it froze regularly once or twice per decade in 1814 was the last time the Thames froze solid enough for people to go out on it in the winter in London. They had these huge ice festivals. There’s lots of paintings of this.
We know what years it was. They were keeping good enough records at that time that we know the whole history of the freezing of the Thames. And it ended in 1814 as the global warm period came on, the modern warm period came on globally. And that was not because of fossil fuels.
There weren’t any fossil fuels being used between 1700 and 1850, or very few. It was only really by 1950s that fossil fuels started to become a factor, or a possible factor. It, [01:25:40] it just, there is no good evidence showing CO2 has caused the warming in the modern, warm period.
It’s a cycle that’s been going on for at least 6,000 years. We didn’t cause the Roman warm period and we didn’t cause a medieval warm period. And we, I don’t believe were causing this warm period.
Saifedean Ammous: There’s nothing new under the Sun. There was nothing that happened in the last 50 years in weather that is completely unprecedented.
Sure, there are a lot of records because we started keeping records for most places in the last 50 years or so. So you’re constantly getting the rainiest year and the warmest year and the coldest year. And you’re always going to be getting those records, but there’s really nothing fundamentally different than the Earth.
The variation that has happened in the last 50 years is no different than what has happened 200 years ago, and even if it was different by some interpretation, by some scientists fears, is it different enough to destroy modern civilization as a precaution? That’s the question that people need to ask themselves because the threat of, maybe if we burn [01:26:40] carbon dioxide maybe we unsettled the pristine mechanics of the Earth is some very deep philosophical, hypothetical threat.
Whereas the threat of stopping fossil fuels is certain death and starvation for hundreds of millions, if not billions of people, without question. I wish people could think a little bit more critically rather than just emotionally, which is whatever’s on TV we get emotionally worked up about and then get morally indignant about and start lashing out at people instead of thinking critically.
But hey, this is where we are. I just want it to end by giving you a little bit of our perspective here on these issues from a Bitcoiner perspective. My next book is called The Fiat Standard and it has a couple of chapters on issues of energy and environment.
My contention is that part of the problem in science and the reason that panic and hysteria pays off in science is that there’s no opportunity cost in science because science is not financed by the market. Science is financed by government and bureaucrats who don’t face opportunity [01:27:40] costs.
And so in the market, if you come up with an idea like, oh I think your people are consuming this thing and it’s going to destroy the Earth, if you come up with this idea, the market would jump off and you could show people that this was actually happening. Obviously people want to live in the Earth, they wouldn’t want to get it destroyed and they would definitely want to finance your research to hear more about it.
But of course, if you can’t provide convincing evidence that are more compelling ways to spend that money, because in a free market, you can’t force people to finance your research, but in the modern world, in the modern Fiat world, when money comes from government bureaucracies, They face no opportunity cost.
They just need to write a report and then the money printer just prints out the paper and they hand it out. In that kind of world, there’s no place for thinking of opportunity cost and there’s no incentive for the bureaucrat to ever err on the side of recklessness.
You always want to err on the side of too much caution. And so therefore in that kind of world, if you present a research [01:28:40] proposal saying, I’ve looked into ocean acidification and it looks like there’s nothing new under the Sun, this is just the same ocean as it’s always been. Whereas I present the research proposal saying the oceans are acidifying all marine life is going to die, I need $5 million to study this and build a lab about it.
I’m far more likely to get funded for next year than you are. There’s no opportunity cost. And I think ultimately a big part of the hysteria that is driven in science, which is what you talk about beautifully, I think comes from that. It comes from the fact that science financing doesn’t face opportunity cost.
And so scare mongering and chicken little-ing has an upside potential as an enormous asymmetric upside potential. There’s nothing to lose from going around and telling people the world is going to end. Paul Ehrlich has been doing it for 50 years and he still has a job and people still listen to him and he’s been wrong on it all the time.
So there’s absolutely no downside for it, but of course there is a huge downside to being the one who says, oh this is not an issue, and then it turns out to [01:29:40] actually be an issue. All of this is to lead us to Bitcoin, which I’d like you to consider and take a look at because it, in my mind fixes all of these problems by cutting off the root of the corruption that causes them all, which is free money. Which is the money printer that just hands money over to anybody who’s connected.
And Bitcoin fixes this radically because it’s money that nobody can print at their own whim. The supply is agreed upon by consensus, by everybody, and nobody can change the parameters of the consensus. And so if we have a Bitcoin economy, the only way that you could get funding as a scientist is if you prove to people willingly, to get people to willingly fund you and to get people to willingly give you some of their money.
And I think in that kind of world, we’re going to have a lot more reasonable scientists and a lot less hysterical scientists.
Patrick Moore: That’s very interesting, Saif. I agree with you a hundred percent on the funding issue because there was a time when most science funding and technology [01:30:40] funding came from the private sector. When General Motors or 3M invest money in research in technology, they expect some result.
They expect to make something useful come out of it. Whereas science that is funded by government is by nature political. And the politicization of science is the problem we have today. It is controlled by politics rather than by science. And the true pathway in thinking is that first comes the science, which informs the politics.
In this case, the politics is dictating the science and it’s backwards. I saw this actually written out clearly in bold letters on the internet the other day, good policy cannot come from bad science. And that’s what we have now, bad policy is coming from the [01:31:40] bad science and the bad science is all doom and gloom, end of the world, end fossil fuels and all that stuff.
And people are believing it because it’s being shoved down their throats every day by a massive media machine, and we’re in a bad spot here. In order to improve the situation we have to end, how do you do this though? I mean, how do you end the government’s financing of most of the science?
Saifedean Ammous: Bitcoin!
Patrick Moore: I would really like to see, is there a document that I can read?
Saifedean Ammous: I’ll send you some stuff, absolutely. I’ll send you my book and I’ll send you some introductory material to Bitcoin that explains this.
Patrick Moore: Wonderful!
Saifedean Ammous: Okay, absolutely. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for joining us.
Patrick Moore: Thank you, Saif. And thanks everyone else, it’s been a pleasure. Take care!