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Chile’s earthquake: it’s a fair question

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

How long before earthquakes like Chile’s are blamed on the internal-combustion engine and/or America’s combustive foreign policy?

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“Still a consensus” that humans cause climate change

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

First, I love this Washington Post article’s title — “Series of missteps … threatens climate-change agenda.” I’m not sure if the word agenda was a Freudian slip or what, but that’s essentially what this consensus amounts to: it’s a political agenda.There are some things climate scientists want to accomplish. End of story. The idea isn’t to discover truth, but to advance a cause. All of this I guess I’d be okay with if the truth were in fact settled; it would be no crime, for example, if a bunch of scientists discovered a 10-mile-wide meteor screeching toward earth and subsequently had a pretty strong agenda to do something about it. That’s human nature. My problem is that climate scientists are putting the cart before the horse, and that’s what this title implies. There’s an agenda that’s at risk here, never mind whether the science is settled (and these problems along the way — the fabrications, the collusion, the obfuscation and outright dishonesty — are mere “missteps”).

I also got a kick out of this line from the article: “There is still a scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change.” The word consensus means “majority opinion.” So all we really know is that at least 51% of scientists believe humans are warming the world. The reporter says this as if we’re talking about an election, the results of which are indisputable if the “consensus” among voters on election day is that Candidate X is their guy. The result of this scenario, of this particular consensus, is that Candidate X will be seated.

But is that the same thing as a scientific consensus that a particular natural — or unnatural — phenomenon is real? Are the laws of nature governed by majority opinion? Does the fact that today scientists voted on a scientific truth make it so? If 51% of scientists voted at noon in New York City that the sun wasn’t up, would that change the reality at all? What nonsense. And the word “still” kills me, too. What that implies is that the consensus isn’t as strong as it used to be. Perhaps because the so-called evidence isn’t there.

Gotta run. Today we find out what our baby is! (In case you’re worried, it’s human. We just don’t know what kind of human.)

Categories: Global warming

No rise of atmospheric CO2 fraction

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Skeptics of the IPCC climate consensus have asked whether increased CO2 from manmade sources would just mean bigger trees. Not warmer air — just more green, larger-than-usual plant life. That question is typically dismissed as so absurd as to not justify a response. But an interesting study just came out:

Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems.

So, it turns out all that CO2 might not be increasing global temperatures. But wait! It doesn’t mean the science was wrong. Okay, it does, but see, there’s another conclusion they’re sure of — at least, to the extent that one can be sure of “some” studies that “suggest” the following:

[The] ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase.

Right. Forget about that hockey stick. Temperatures haven’t risen much, if at all, as a result of the CO2 that was supposed to have been getting trapped in the atmosphere but was instead being sucked up by plant life. But they’re going to; those temperatures are going to rise — that’s what matters.

Just trust us, they say.

Friedman on global warming: he’s right, but for the wrong reasons

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t know what to believe, but I’ve determined it doesn’t really matter.

Does carbon affect the world’s temperature? And if so, how much? If a lot, is it a problem? And if it’s a problem, is it a big one? If it’s a big one, can we fix or reverse it? If the former, at what cost — at a cost greater than that we’d bear by living with the problem? And if the latter, again, at what cost? And — perhaps most important of all — is technology already moving us quickly along Green Street anyway, at such a clip that overbearing government action would be redundant at best and unnecessarily self-destructive at worst?

There are too many questions here and no one is smart enough to know all the answers.

Many who answer the first question affirmatively say that, though the science is there, its implications aren’t: a warmer globe isn’t that big a deal. Still others say it’s a problem, it’s a big problem — but there’s little to nothing we can do about it. And still other believers who say it’s a big problem and there’s something we can do to fix or reverse it say there’s no way we could possibly afford to do so.

Wow. What a mess. So is there a way around the science? Some sort of common ground outside the problem that might make it easier for those of us who lack climatology degrees? I believe the answer is yes.

Whether Thomas Friedman is right that global warming is a problem worth making a huge fuss over — and therefore whether the science is there — is totally irrelevant: there are too many other good reasons to get off the slick stuff that powers our cars and the sooty stuff that warms our homes. Both are dirty, unhealthy, and too many of our enemies comprise the group with the largest stores of oil for it to remain safe economically and in terms of our own national security for too much longer.

In short, man’s impact on global warming is irrelevant. There are too many other settled, noncontroversial reasons to find a better, cleaner way to power our lives.

Conservatives like to say the world is cooling. They think they’re clever. All this cooling trend could mean is that the models didn’t predict some other factor that’s now masking the warming effects of carbon, and when this other variable’s effects wear off and the world is that much more carbony and the world warms all over again, but this time much more because we will not have slowed carbon output down—then what? Then what will conservatives say? It’s time to forget about the science; I repeat, no one knows what the hell is going on in the air up there. We should consider ourselves lucky that there are good reasons to kick the carbon habit, forget about the debate and whether it’s over, and then do what we can to assure that Democrats don’t blow this with yet another terrible solution or set of solutions.

Instead, what we conservatives should do is admit that the science might be there and then ask the public whether the way liberals plan to deal with the science is prudent – or at least more so than other sensible solutions. Conservatives should focus exclusively on the fact that what the liberals propose to get us off oil and coal amounts to a cure that’s worse than the disease. Taxing carbon is just plain dumb economics, not to mention that there are more constructive ways to expedite oil and coal’s extinction.

The first solution is nuclear power. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a climate-change believer and longtime nuclear-power advocate, says we could reach what the Kyoto Protocol (way back in 1990) set as its goal for 2030’s carbon limits by building 100 new nuclear plants and electrifying half our cars and trucks.

Think about that.

By doing these two simple things, we can accomplish in the next 20 years what Kyoto hoped it could accomplish in 40.

And that’s the difference between the liberal and conservative approach (not just here; this is a systemic, holistic difference between the two schools of thought). Taxing and punishing an economy into compliance is much harder and takes far longer than simply creating positive incentives to encourage our economy to move in a smarter direction.

But what I believe doesn’t really matter. Democrats are hellbent on steamrolling the economy into submission to Mother Earth, whether that’s the best solution or not to a problem no one is 100% sure even exists.