We won’t get rich trying to push energy uphill

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From: DM Loxley, Hartoft, Pickering.

Barrie Frost is correct when he infers that different organisations and people have different agendas about our climate in his letter “Let’s have the full facts about the condition of our climate” (Yorkshire Post, November 10).

To my mind, one truth is that there is nothing wrong with the climate but there is with the human beings. Not that we have “caused” the current condition but, as he suggests, paranoia is being used to frighten us.

Early in my engineering education, I was taught that 
we cannot get rich by attempting to push energy uphill, which 
is exactly what we do try to 
do.

Nature takes a “cut” of the energy we use to do this and, as a result, we have to use twice, or more, as much low-grade energy as we get high-grade (usually electricity).

When I read the letter on the same day from Dr John Rayner, I had to check. I agree with his 0·9 degree rise over the past 150 years but over the past 450,000 years I have it from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the maximum/minimum excursion has been 10 degrees.

By comparison this 0·9 degree rise represents 0·3 per cent of the total energy in the atmosphere.

The energy contained in Superstorm Sandy represented about the same fraction of the total energy in the volume of the atmosphere occupied by that storm.

As the total energy in the atmosphere, which is low-grade heat energy, increases, winds and storms will get more ferocious.

The ubiquitous windmills cannot convert more than 50 per cent of the energy in the wind to electricity and even then only 27 per cent to 30 per cent of the time. So we certainly will not get rich.