The Paris Climate Summit is about to take counter-productive decisions

Assuming that it will be decided to greatly increase the number of so-called renewable technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines, it will be a counter-productive decision — quite independently as to whether our present global warming is man-made or whether it’s a product of a natural warming period.

One way of explaining it is to say that the laws of thermodynamics — which no scientist in the world will gainsay — is that any solar cells or wind turbines only extract a part of the solar or wind energy received and, in doing so, wastes the rest as low-grade energy.

The other way is to consider the total world economy as a physical system which, if driven by energy from the outside — solar energy plus energy from fossil fuels — is heading towards an automatic state of least effort, like all systems driven from the outside. This is what is often called the law of least effort — another derivation from the laws of thermodynamics.  With one exception, no economic decisions can hasten or delay the ultimate state of least effort but not change it.

The only way that the final automatic state of least energy (maximum efficiency) can be raised to a higher rate of activity is to increase the energy entering the system from the outside. But the possibility that also must be considered that the activity of today’s world economic system might already be running too high — a lag from many years’ use of high levels of fossil fuels.  Thus any attempt to increase economic growth and increase total world trading activity by raising energy inputs would only be marginal at best  and would have to be maintained permanently.  Other factors in the complex economy would act against the higher activity.  It would only be a sort of King Canute act before the natural automaticity of the total system, like the tide, takes over.

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