PRETORIA – Saturday, July 4, was the aphelion point for planet Earth. This is the point at which the Earth was at its furthest distance from the Sun, on its annual elliptical cycle. Also, June 20 was the shortest day of the year, but we are in the depths of winter and cold nights lie ahead.
The Eskom executives are going to be holding thumbs as electricity demand runs high. We need a reliable electricity supply to get us through the next six months. But what about the next six years? Potential large investors will be making decisions on whether they can rely on a steady electricity supply over the next decade. We hear about the need for an electricity mix. Why do we need a mix?
The idea should be to guarantee a continuous, reliable electricity supply, at the least possible cost for consumers. That is the challenge facing Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. But some people use the phrase “electricity mix” to imply that we have to force some mix based on reducing carbon dioxide, to save the planet. So, a fundamental question is, is industrially produced carbon dioxide leading to climate change? I don’t believe that it is.
To answer this question one has to decide two things: does carbon dioxide induce global warming, and where does the extra carbon dioxide evident since the Crimean War come from?
The science tends to indicate that the observed slight warming, of less than one degree, since the Crimean War is more likely related to the natural magnetic activity of the Sun than to carbon dioxide. Since before the time of Queen Victoria industry produced carbon dioxide, but most appears to come from nature. So it seems that industry is not the guilty party, even if global warming were a problem.