Wisdom from Greta Thunberg at COP26

The wisest comment regarding the most recent mass in-person gathering by the elite? “Greta Thunberg tells protest that COP26 has been a ‘failure'” (BBC):

Ms Thunberg said: “It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve a crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place.”

She described the UN climate change summit as a “two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah” to “maintain business as usual” and “create loopholes to benefit themselves”.

The logical inconsistency of the gathering was impressive, even by coronapolicy standards. We’re in a climate crisis, so we’ll agree to stop cutting down forests nine years from now (in 2030; BBC: “Experts welcomed the move, but warned a previous deal in 2014 had ‘failed to slow deforestation at all’ and commitments needed to be delivered on.”).

[As with Ayn Rand, I can agree with Greta Thunberg on the description but not the prescription.

She said: “We need immediate drastic annual emission cuts unlike anything the world has ever seen.

“The people in power can continue to live in their bubble filled with their fantasies, like eternal growth on a finite planet and technological solutions that will suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere and will erase all of these crises just like that.

If this is a 100-year problem, as we’ve been previously told that it is by the climate modelers, why does it make sense to try to deal with it via 2021 technology? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1921_in_aviation was not very impressive compared to what is doable today. If we need to cool off the planet in 2081, won’t we be able to ask a Chinese space company (“Red Origin”?) to pull down the shades for a few days? Greta T. says this is a “technological solution that will suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere”, but even a 60-year horizon is nearly impossible to predict. The integrated circuit (“chips”) revolution was transforming lives in the 1980s (PCs and dial-up networks). The first inkling of the modern semiconductor transistor was in 1925 (Julius Edgar Lilienfeld), but it wasn’t until after William Shockley and colleagues at Bell Labs made a prototype in late 1947 that anyone could reasonably have begun to foresee the 1980s tech landscape. (so maybe 30 years is about the limit for the smartest person with the best crystal ball?) From the point of view of someone in 1947, the world of 2007 was, in fact, packed with technological solutions that had suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere and the world of 2047 will be yet more advanced (maybe you’ll be able to find an Xbox Series X in stock at Walmart by then!). Furthermore, we don’t have to go it alone. If we go back 60 years from today, China was suffering from famine and poverty in the Great Leap Forward. India was deeply impoverished. Taiwan was not a place to get advanced electronic components. Korea was recovering from a war, not making OLED panels, etc.]

No really related… carbon sequestration Palm Beach style:


  • How’s the Climate Change summit in Glasgow going? (“For nearly two years, the global elite have been telling the peasantry not to gather across households for fear of spreading deadly SARS-CoV-2. The global elite have closed borders as well (except for the U.S. southern border, which must remain open), because one certainly wouldn’t want to give a variant virus a chance to infect a new area. It is doubly bad when people from different countries mix. Since at least 2015, when elites gathered in Paris via Gulfstream, elites have been telling the peasants not to emit CO2.”)

31 thoughts on “Wisdom from Greta Thunberg at COP26

  1. It’s coming down to forcing people to make enough money to buy an electrified garage & buy an electric car. After 30 years of being a buyer’s market where a slacker could get by, the world is now telling people without money to pay up or get out.

    • lion2: The U.S. government already forces a middle class American to buy an electric car… for a rich American, via the $7,500 federal (and sometimes additional for state) subsidy paid to the people rich enough to afford a new electric car, to the rich shareholders of the electric car companies, etc. I think Uncle Joe is talking about bumping this to $12,500.

  2. Haha…Electric cars will solve anything! Wish policy was forced to logically move us towards whatever goals we have in mind or be ABANDONED! 18 years into the green energy solution, we emit more CO2 and are more dependant on fossil fuels. We blew up and demolished perfectly functioning and clean coal burning plants, use unreliable energy and pay 7 x’s as much per kwh, and only those enrolled in the governing Liberal party ‘friends and family plan’ made out like the bandates they are. Our manufacturing base is devastated and we have energy poor.

  3. “the world of 2007 was, in fact, packed with technological solutions that had suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere”
    I’m willing to predict that Greta isn’t going to go to college to become an engineer! As a member of that profession (and most of it at Bell Labs, in fact) that’s exactly the job of an engineer. In the limited imagination of someone like that, it also is impossible to consider that the only way with enough oomph to get the world out of the crisis they think we’re in is nuclear power. The lefties have painted themselves into a corner by still being irrationally against it. Unless we all reduce our power needs considerably by going back to the stone age, all those Tesla’s need to get their juice from somewhere. The irony is that the best chance for Greta and other young people to contribute and solve the big problems that they worry about is by becoming scientists and engineers. But science is hard and not as easy as screeching at everybody.

    • Blame it on the lefties, what right wing states have volunteered to store our nuclear waste? Also, here in SoCal, the San Onofre plant was a real wake up call to the realities of nuclear energy. The ageing steam generators were replaced with new Mitsubishi designs, which were failing at an alarming rate, far sooner than the original units, only a few years after installation. Presumably there was some attempt to save on costs here. Why use a proven 30+ year old design when you can make it theoretically more efficient? Luckily, there was a small leak of radioactive material which prompted the further inspection revealing the failing steam generators. Nuclear power is a theoretical panacea that doesn’t square with the realties of the environment and human nature.

  4. Everyone’s familiar with nuclear’s most spectacular failures. Point is if greenhouse warming is really an urgent emergency, then the cost/benefit says we should keep trying to improve it (and maybe also keep the profit motive out of it).
    “Nuclear energy is not fairydust,” says Detering. “There’s waste and there’s a risk of something going wrong. Comparing it to something that’s real, these are small issues.” For his part, Dawson says he won’t advocate for nuclear power if a better alternative emerges.

    “But today, I think this is the most reliable, efficient, scalable, carbon-free technology we have,” he said. “So let’s do something that works today.”

  5. Ordinarily I agree with Senorpablo that nuclear power, as implemented by present-day Americans, is unfeasible economically. But if only the other hand we are in a climate crisis, as experts assure us that we are, the pure economic arguments and nuclear hazard risks can be ignored. No matter how much money is wasted on nuclear power, it can’t be significant compared to what we’ve spent on coronapanic (also a “crisis”). And no matter how much risk there is from radiation, it can’t be as bad as the consequences of the Earth turning into Venus.

    • Isn’t solar a viable option now? If it makes sense economically on an individual, per home basis, why not scale that up? Seems like it also has the potential to create a large number of working class jobs.

      The real issue with nuclear is you cannot divorce it from human nature. People are greedy, they inevitably cut corners, become complacent and make mistakes. We’re incapable of building reliable things at the expense of efficiency and profits. Also, what happens when reactors become commonplace in countries and societies which do not share our values in terms of safety? If a country like Japan, with their cultural values, can’t build a reliable nuclear reactor, surely that’s an ominous sign for others. It’s a miracle that China hasn’t had a major nuclear accident. Every new reactor that comes online changes those odds.

    • Senorpablo – you may want to consider the fact that solar has really piss-poor EROI. If you consider the amount of energy it takes to mine materials, manufacture, transport, install, decommission and dispose of panels after service life, you realize that solar is mostly about shipping pollution from West to China.

    • Senorpablo: Solar in the Arab countries has been incredibly cheap, as I’ve noted here previously (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2020/08/16/solar-electricity-at-1-35-cents-kwh-in-abu-dhabi/ for example. 1.35 cents per kWh!). Unless there is some huge subsidy behind the scenes, that is the full cost including capital (consumers would pay more, of course, since the power still has to be distributed).


      says that prices for utility-scale generation are dropping. But, on the other hand, not every part of the world is sunny. And you might need electricity at night. So I think if you truly believed that the earth was in danger of melting you would also build some nuclear plants. As you say, the safety record isn’t perfect. On the other hand, generating electricity from burning fossil fuels has killed way more people than nuclear plant accidents (the killing is done quietly via air pollution, lung cancer, etc.). And if you believe that climate change will kill millions you’d certainly be willing to risk the lives of thousands by building a new nuclear plant.

      averros: How is it possible that the EROI on solar is poor for that utility-scale project in Abu Dhabi? I’m a big believer that the price of something is a great proxy for how much environmental damage is caused by production (so buying a Tesla S does a lot more harm to our beloved planet than buying a Honda Accord, for example). If the electricity is costing only $1.35/kWh, how can there be a huge environmental cost?

    • Philip, electricity at night from solar can be stored from day-time. For example, local efficient coal – firing plant bought hydro-generators and pumping water into their upper pool during low use hours of the day to unleash it down on generators blades during evening hours during peak pricing. Since fuel efficiency of this process is obviously below 50% it burns more fuel then if it burned extra coal at night instead. But it is price – efficient. How naive is the suggestion that in current over-regulated at all consumer, producer and supplier level environment price of monopolistic good is reflection of its real efficiency?

    • Roger B: I’m aware that solar energy can be banked to some extent. But I still think that if we accepted what the climate scientists are supposedly saying, i.e., that we’re in a Hollywood-style race to save Planet Earth from becoming uninhabitable, we would pursue multiple decarbonization efforts simultaneously. So we would build solar as fast as possible and also build nuclear as fast as possible (and sweep up after the inevitable incidents associated with the nuclear plants).

    • @Everyone: One of the problems I have when trying to talk about nuclear power in a rational way is the number of people who approach the conversation with preconceived agendas. Combined with a relative lack of good information about alternatives like Westinghouse SME reactors, it just degenerates into shouting fest about Jane Fonda:


      OK, that’s the Westinghouse spiel, but are there any qualified power system engineers/designers in this room who can offer a rational and unbiased assessment of them? This picture sure looks compelling and always makes me wonder: “Why aren’t we doing more of this, especially in areas where electricity is expensive, like Massachusetts, and helping people convert to efficient forms of all-electric HVAC for their homes?”


      Why are we using all that land, building or thinking of building so much solar, and waiting for the winds? Why don’t we have 10 of these distributed all across Massachusetts with a combined land use of 150 acres of land? Even if you triple that for each facility you’re still using less than 500 acres of land to produce 2.25GWe of carbon-free, stable and reliable electricity.

    • Alex: It all sounds great, but remember that we have a market economy (sort of) in the U.S. and there are other countries with market economies. If nuclear power plants were the cheapest way to produce power, wouldn’t we expect to see lots of them being built? China is building some, I guess, but it is still only 5% of power generation there: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_China

      If nuclear power is barely feasible in China, the world’s current infrastructure king, how can it work in the U.S.?

      (I think the pro-nuclear folks are examples of the age-old principle “When the market gives you an answer that you don’t like, declare market failure.”)

    • Avveros, is not the cost of all the associated, “hidden” costs for solar baked into the current retail costs, save for gov subsidies? On the other hand, good luck coming up with a true cost for nuclear, especially if you factor in the potentially near infinite damage which can result from a catastrophic accident. The greatest risk from solar is probably from installation accidents, since we know that roofing is actuality a dangerous profession compared to say, blue lives matter.

      Philg, sure solar doesn’t work everywhere, all the time. Neither does nuclear, hydro, or even coal for that matter. That’s not a compelling reason not to use it where it makes sense.

    • Seniorpablo – the monetary costs are not the only metric to consider; while in principle free market should account for input energy (coming from fossil fuels, mostly), the international trade is anything BUT free market. Also, energy is not really fungible – if you have a power station in a country on a different continent it does little to help you with your needs for electricity in your country.

      So… since manufacturing solar panels requires large up-front energy expenditure – with energy coming from fossil fuels, a valid argument can be made that use of solar power actually damages the climate* more than spreading use of fossil fuels to generate power.

      * – that’s if you believe that AGW is real and that CO2 causes it. So far no physicist I talked to managed to come up with a plausible physical mechanism for it. The purported explanations by AGW believers are plainly unphysical – like, violating 2nd law of thermodynamics or making basic mistakes like thinking that the sum of fourth powers is the same as average. (Oh, and in the process of researching it I found a glaring mistake in Feynmann’s lectures where he explains temperature of gas column in gravity – I totally admire the guy, but he’s human, too:)

  6. I am not grasping issue with storing nuclear fuel in this country. It seems made-up to me. Isn’t federal government already has ownership of ample areas of Nevada desert where nuclear bomb testing had taken place, no doubt without people’s of Nevada formal agreement or understanding, and which has deep mine shafts where underground nuclear testing took place? If US federal government were serious about storing nuclear fuel who would stop it from creating underground facilities in Nevada desert which is supposedly not connected to any watersheds or water beds? Cost for it is a rounding error on all unconstitutional and often harmful spendings that are in recently passed “infrastructure” bill.

  7. I love this puppet kid walking around talking gibberish and calling for “immediate drastic cuts.”

    OK, kid, let’s see what that means. Map out a big area of the East Coast of the United States and order 30% of the people living there – selected on a random basis – that they cannot use oil, natural gas, wood burning stoves, or anything other than wind and solar power electricity to heat their homes this winter. Last night where I live it was 26 degrees. Tell the Federal Government to move troops in, locked and loaded, and make sure 30% of the people chosen at random follow your totalitarian bullshit brainwash orders. Then get ready to count the bodies.”

    They’ve got all these kids hanging out the windows of their schools and all I can think is: “These inmates are trying to run the asylum, enabled and supported by their crazy neo-Marxist f******d parents.

    • Alex: I don’t think that the central planners have to tell an individual how much heat he/she/ze/they is allowed to use. Greta’s goals can be achieved via pricing and taxes, e.g., a carbon tax. When societies were poorer, heating a house to 55 degrees in the winter was considered sufficient. An appropriate (from Greta’s point of view) tax on fossil fuels would reduce consumption to the point that our beloved planet can be saved (unless the increasingly rich folks in China and India decide that they don’t want to join the conservation party and simply emit all of the CO2 that we would have emitted).

      (Separately, if the climate scientists are correct, pretty soon nobody in Massachusetts will be needing a heating system at all!)

    • Philip, hardly anyone is heating house above 65 F if he/she pays for heating costs oneself-es.
      In private houses most of the energy used for heating are from negative F to 55 F, not to 55F to 65F.
      Renting in large apartment buildings is a different matter, if heating is steam based and requires piping, landlords pay it and nowadays landlords in large cities are lucky to correct rent at all, they can forget it if they limit heating and instead to prepare pay for lawyers and lawsuits’ proceeds.
      So even your proposed fascism wit a smiley face of putting few layers separation between real enforcement power of men with guns and public is not likely to make a dent in any man-made warming if such in fact exists

    • @Philg: Oh, sure give them the easy way out. 🙂 I’d really much rather if they took Greta’s intensely heartfelt and adamant advice and just went in there and DID it. If you’re going to do it, do it RIGHT! Don’t mess around with these “frog boiling in the water” multiyear solutions that don’t really solve the problem, because the problem is the PEOPLE. I know they can meddle with the carbon taxes, I know they can slowly turn those people into dependent paupers, they can correct the ones who scrape together the money, get on the “Resilience dole” and get with the program.

      But Greta is a very intense person who has thought this through and deserves to have her solutions implemented in the most direct, blunt and immediate ways possible. The problem with you, Philg, is that you just won’t give her the credence she deserves! How dare you!?!

    • Separately, I’m already paying a significant Carbon Tax to drive my Ford Escape Hybrid (which gets about 31-32 MPG reliably despite being 11 years old.) Today I filled the near-empty tank which was down to 15 miles to empty. The cheapest gasoline in my area is $3.35 a gallon, which is almost a miracle compared to a lot of other local stations charging $3.59 and up. It has an approx. 15 gallon tank, small for a 3800 pound 5-door SUV, and it cost me $50 to fill it.

      So I’m going to be curtailing my long-distance driving, but where I live, I still need to drive a minimum of ~25 miles round trip to visit larger stores. So all of my driving in the next few months is going to cost me a lot more. I’m already paying a significant carbon tax, and Greta doesn’t care about that, it’s nothing near where it should be.

      I’m thinking she wants gas here to cost at least as much as it does in this California town:


    • @Philg: Also, I think it can be inferred that if the price of gasoline continues to rise into the $4-5 dollar range where I live, Amazon is going to be the principal beneficiary this holiday season. People will order more of their holiday gifts online to save gasoline.

      In an online forum I contribute to for the FEH, I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the number of people who write in their questions because they have decided to go out to the barn or the yard and try to resurrect a 15 year old Hybrid vehicle that has been sitting for several years, which is a task for the hopelessly adventurous. They think they’re going to save some money on gas, but they don’t understand that leaving one of these cars outside for more than a few weeks without driving it basically destroys them.

    • Greta’s success with minimal education effort made her substitute for late Rush Limbaugh (RIP) on this blog. Greta – Rush Limbaugh on steroids. Rush called educon decades before it became apparent. Rush was much better then his duller contemporaries with less guts and forced degrees in engineering departments.

    • LSI: If you want to see educon, look at today’s WSJ! https://www.wsj.com/articles/usc-online-social-work-masters-11636435900

      Over the past decade, the University of Southern California has used a for-profit company to help enroll thousands of students in its online social-work master’s program.

      The nonprofit school used its status-symbol image to attract students across the country, including low-income minority students it targeted for recruitment, often with aggressive tactics. Most students piled on debt to afford the tuition, which last year reached $115,000 for the two-year degree. The majority never set foot on the posh Los Angeles campus but paid the same rate for online classes as in-person students.
      Recent USC social-work graduates who took out federal loans borrowed a median $112,000. Half of them were earning $52,000 or less annually two years later, a Wall Street Journal analysis of newly released U.S. Education Department data found. Compared with other master’s-degree programs at top-tier U.S. universities, the USC social-work degree had one of the worst combinations of debt and earnings.

      “I realize now I could have gotten the same job with a much cheaper degree from a different school,” said Susan Fowler, a 37-year-old mother of two, who enrolled in USC’s master’s-degree program because of its prestigious name and the flexibility of its online classes.

      Ms. Fowler, a 2018 graduate, enjoyed the program but owes $307,000 in total student-loan debt, including about $200,000 from the master’s degree. She said she earns $48,000 as a community mental-health therapist in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

    • Wow Philip! USC takes the cake! I thought my education was not efficient as I spent it on electives that I have rarely used in the real world (twice to be sure, but big time). I graduated almost 30 years ago. But 2 years after graduation I was an underpaid engineer making $60,000 with overall student loan amount with interest that I paid off was under $30,000. And I felt every dollar that I need to pay off. I am wondering what people are taking $300,000 loans for? Gamble at OTB? Participate in rodeos?
      Whatever the reason I do not want to help Ms Fowler to pay her lavish debt. Although I want my taxes to be used for defense purposes and maybe for return to the moon I see better use for them in financing midnight basketball youth programs directly then paying Ms. Fowler and USC. Why do we need the middle-persons?

    • LSI: I wonder how many of the folks profiled in the article will vote against student loan forgiveness and the party that promises it to them?

  8. Thanks to our 24×7 media and 24×7 S.O.S. (Twaite, FB, Instagram, et. al.) everything is a crises those days.

    If a monkey halfway around the glob runs into a market and stabs a local or tourist it will make the news and everyone will demand an end to this madness otherwise humanity will die.

    Is anyone old enough to remember “Duck And Cover” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKqXu-5jw60? If not, what about the “The Day After” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_After

    From the video of “Duck And Cover”: “Even a news paper can save you”, I guest the same can be said today about the face diapers, or the cars we drive, trees we cut, cows we grow, et. al.

    The ONLY crises I know of that needs immediate attention is demanding more from our schools and educators. Fix this and every other problem will take care of itself.

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