Interview with Dr. Alex Slocum, MIT, Established Science and Climate Change (EP.195)

Climate Change


If you believe the science and scientists who gave you modern conveniences, including smartphones and microwave ovens, then you need to believe that climate change is real, near immediate, as in getting to carbon neutral in 30 years or so, and dire in its consequences if we don’t. The same scientists and the same science that gave us those modern tech tools, are saying that climate change is real and must be dealt with sooner rather than later. That is the core message that I received from today’s guest, Alexander Slocum, Walter M. May and A Hazel May Professor of Mechanical engineering at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

That is the subject of today’s episode.


Today’s blog is not a transcript of the call, but it contains the same facts and arguments written by Dr. Slocum.

“My goal:  I wish I could get deeply faithful Christians (especially  evangelicals) to read, think, pray… and I think they would see the light and push this forward…

Climate change, far left screams we are doomed, give up everything, far right howls God will save us, so what is a citizen to do?

Many believe human’s ability to look at the world around them and choose their path originates from the story of Adam and Eve.  This raises the question if “God” could predict everything in advance, why was the snake allowed in the tree? Judging by history, humans have always been free to choose their own path, and it is by this that they will be judged, as evidenced by society’s laws and their enforcement.  Indeed, societies formed and spread as Humans exercised dominion over the earth by means of their brains and opposable thumbs; however, as is now apparent, humans have flourished at the expense of the natural world of which many seem to forget they are also a part.

As we came from Nature, we are thus part of it; and just as if we do not take of ourselves we wither, so it shall be with our environment and hence ourselves.  Nature itself actually could care less, for even after the great asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs and most life, Nature bounced back J.  Balance is needed, but how is it best achieved?

God having created everything also knows about science and engineering (the internet could not exist without science).  And science and engineering are run by the Natural Laws that God also created (and scientists and engineers discover and use).  Laws such as discovered by Einstein and a host of other brilliant people that have given us the miraculous civilization in which we live.  Chief among these laws is the 2nd law of thermodynamics which states entropy always increases, and thus perpetual motion is impossible.  This law thus means in order for something to happen, there must be a source of energy; and in our universe there is one fundamental source of energy from which all others evolve. That source is when two atoms of the simplest element, hydrogen, fuse to form a new atom, helium, that has a slightly lower mass than that of the two hydrogen atoms individually.  What happened to the little bit of mass lost?  It was turned into pure energy: “light” with all its brightness, warmth, and glory to spread out in all directions.  This is E=mc2: energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.

People from every religion read by light, talk on cell phones, access the internet.  Many travel weekly by car to visit places of worship to learn more about God’s words and some travel by air now and then to visit Holy places.  And all of these modern marvels that make possible the spreading of God’s words and laws are made possible by the discovery and understanding of God’s Natural Laws.

Scientists and engineers have not only discovered many of God’s Natural Laws, they have learned that they can put them in a form that needs no discussion with God directly for clarification as they have mastered the fact that “mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe” (Galileo Galilei).  Indeed,  “science” is the process of observing things to form an understanding of why things are happening and to, ultimately, encode that understanding with a mathematical formula; and “engineering” is the process of observing things to form an understanding of what needs to be done and, ultimately, to create something to do it.

These same scientists have been saying louder and louder, and many are now shouting, that the same Natural Laws that have enabled engineers to create things to make our lives much more pleasant and longer lasting than ever before in history, that these same Natural Laws tell us we are about to engineer ourselves back to the stone age.  Climate change is real, the ice is melting and the waters are rising and the weather is ever fiercer. Some may think they can choose not to believe, that God will never let this happen, that in Genesis 8:1–22, God promised never to cause a flood, but God never promised to prevent humans from themselves causing their own flood!  Indeed, free will means the Earth is ours to do with what we please.  And that means we must waste no time to engineer our path to a renewables based future.

Each person has free will and thus can do what they wish (you do not have to click on hateful things).  But if a person does not believe in climate change and does not believe we must all work hard together to reverse it, then that person must also turn off their cell phone, lights, car, heat and go back to living a natural life just as God gave them in the time just after that fateful bite of the apple.

We are close to the point of no return, in just a few decades scientists, using the same Natural Laws that give us all our goodies, say that at the current rate the temperature will rise to the point where even if we were to suddenly go carbon negative, we will not be able to stop the melting and the waters rising. No longer can we afford to say “renewable energy is more costly than hydrocarbons, so let’s keep burning until we get a better deal”.  Indeed, modern history tells us that when science leads to a new idea and a new product, be it air travel, space flight, cell phones, the internet it takes one to two decades for the idea to reach the masses.  We do not have the time to bet on hope for a new magic energy source nor do we have the time to then build it out.

Fortunately, we DO have “good enough” renewable energy sources to save our climate and ourselves and we DO have the economic ability to deploy them, and in so doing create great jobs and business opportunities for ALL.  God has a path for us to follow as brought to us by Isaiah 2:4.  And for guidance along this path we just need to remember: As the movements  of the sun and the moon can be predicted by precise calculation, and the stars above and the earth below lie in delicate balance; we must not transgress this balance while we weigh our decisions on what path we take to the future. (Quran).

Climate change: Is there a cure that is not worse than the disease?

  1. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it” Upton Sinclair,
    1. History has shown at every major tech transition there have been those who thought they had something to lose who most complained.
    2. Those who profit from the cumulative effort of others will thus often seek to manipulate the masses:
  2. Let’s look at the history:
    1. Automobiles? Going that fast will suck the air out of the cabin and kill the people…Thousands who depend on maintaining horses and hauling away poo from the streets will lose their jobs!  Needed faster cleaner better transport you do not have to maintain when not using…
    2. Wood to coal: all those people who will lose their jobs!  BUT had to be done because forests all cut down…  Needed more concentrated transportable fuel (CONCENTRATED SOLID) and SURPRISE even more jobs created!
    3. Coal to oil and gas: all those people who will lose their jobs! BUT had to be done, people were choking in cities from the smoke…  Needed more concentrated transportable fuel (LIQUID FUELS) and SURPRISE even more jobs created!
    4. Oil and gas to renewables (focus on electrification from electric cars to heat pumps for all heating and cooling): all those people who will lose their jobs! BUT had to be done, planet is choking in cities from the smoke… Needed more concentrated transportable fuel (ELECTRICITY)  and SURPRISE even more jobs created!
  3. In each and every case it was new technology created from basic science discoveries that enabled more concentrated and dispatchable power.
    1. Renewables and Batteries re getting better every year, and the price per kWh now cheaper than any other form of power. Resistance is not only futile, it’s an act of ballistic podiatry.
  4. History, Science, Technology, humanity are all intertwined and all march to the future.
  5. Indeed, the Bible itself foretells all this:
    1. … for then there was light, and then in Genesis (1:26-28) out of nothing God created man in his own image. And God said Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
    2. Good, and God loves us and made us in HIS image which means He created us to love and take care of that which we have dominion over, just as He has dominion over us.
    3. God created us out of nothing
    4. We are creating lots of stuff seemingly out of nothing but dirt, all made possible by the energy of the universe that God has enabled us to discover step by step… each step more complex than the previous one, each more powerful. For with great power comes great responsibility and we have to learn to use it.
    5. We can see this in the advance of technology each step more wonderous than that before, but each step made possible by more amazing understanding of God’s world that enables us to harness ever better sources of energy.
    6. Just as we begin to run out of a source of energy that also happens to be poisoning us, we learn the next step.
  6. Proof of “yes we can” in a bipartisan manner fix the problem is in the oild crises of the 1970’s Both political sides came together and the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department Of Energy (DOE) were all bought into existence by a combination of Nixon, Ford, and Carter. These departments have done wonders for health and energy security, and our economy has boomed.

Given decades of overblown climate disaster predictions, how do we respond to the “Boy who cried wolf.” “accusations”?

  1. Every one of the disaster’s predicted is coming true.
    1. Rachael Carson’s “Silent Spring” is here, as ever more powerful ag chemicals kill off bugs, good and bad… 1/3rd of all birds are now gone.  Insect populations plummeting…
    2. Scientists predicted more extreme weather events, wetter wets, drier drys… Look at the massive floods and fires we have had, far worse and far more frequent than before.
    3. Climate change is an accepted fact now, even by those who do not believe human’s caused it, yet it was predicted years ago.
  2. Most fossil fuels (85-90%) are mined and extracted in states that vote red, because those states are large with huge natural resources. BUT It will be these states where the majority of utility scale wind and solar will be built, because they have the land area.
  3. But can we afford to?
    1. Just thinking of the economic loss from coastal flooding and economic cost to defend save coastal cities… yes we can
    2. Just think of how much we spend on insurance and defense…
    3. Swords to plowshares:
      1. For the two trillion spent on wars in the last decade we could have had 500 GW of CO2-free 24/7/365 electric power !
      2. What would the Prophets do with the next Two Trillion Dollars?
  1. Summary:
    1. with all predictions, there’s some uncertainty.
    2. Gravity is only a theory. If we throw a ball up, we suspect it will fall back down, and so far it has every time.
    3. So too we have observations of the physical world and models that have been accurate to date that, while more complex than Newton’s laws, help us predict the costs and consequences of “business as usual” and interventions of various types that seem likely to mitigate the consequences.
    4. The weather is a good example! Short term its pretty good, and getting better all the time
    5. The predictable and evolving consequences of not acting to are catastrophic.
    6. The best estimates of costs vastly exceed the costs of acting.
    7. Here the “cost” of acting is at worst like paying for insurance: auto, home, health, social security, defense.
  2. Working proposal: Democrats can have their Green New Deal and Republicans can have border security
    1. Because protecting the USA from threats is a role of the military, then who else but the military with its purchasing power and logistics expertise is better able to install and protect renewables all along the US/Mexican border
Avg US electric power need (GW) 600
Annual Military budget (B$) 700
% reallocate for renewables install on govt. land 20%
Funds to be spent on renewables (B$) 140
24/7 Renewable cost and grid connect  ($/W) 4
Annual installation (GW) 35.0
% of total US power to supply with renewables 50%
Years to supply renewable US power 8.6


The arrays of solar panels and wind turbines will have roads and require constant monitoring for maintenance and protection.  Drones, patrols…. All will create a virtual barrier without having to waste any resources on a continuous physical wall

Each wind turbine serves as a center for central pivot irrigation crops that cannot tolerate direct sun such as high value spices grow under arrays of solar panels

We challenge Mexico to do the same on their side of the border.”

Resources from Alexander Slocum

His Paper titled “A Sustainable Revolution: A Bright Future for Energy & the World – Click here to download for free

Peer-Reviewed papers

And visit his website  (One Over Sadness Equals Happiness)


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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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