Saturday, January 2, 2010

What do you think about global warming?

What I think about global warming can’t be put on a bumper sticker, not does it make a nice slogan. I think the issue is complicated with a lot of unknowns and there is a lot of components to the question. The question, “What do you think about global warming?” is really several questions. Do you think it is occurring? If that question is answered in the affirmative then that leads to other questions. If it is occurring, is it manmade? If it is manmade, what should we do about it? Assuming it is occurring, how severe is it? Do we have time to stop it? Can it be stopped? Below are my thoughts at this time.

(1) Climategate cast doubt on the theory of global warming. Climategate revealed data tampering, conspiracy and group-think. It showed that some scientist reached conclusions and forced the evidence to support the conclusions. Evidence that did not support the conclusions was doctored to show something it didn’t and then the raw data was destroyed. Scientist resisted efforts to comply with freedom of information acts and resisted efforts for others to see their research. Scientist who did not support the dominant theory were marginalized and silenced. For me, Climategate threw serious doubt on the validity the theory.

(2) Climategate does not negate the other evidence however. Despite the revelations of climategate there is still a large body of evidence that supports the climate change theory. There are hundreds of scientists throughout the world studying this issue. Many governments, organizations, and scientist all came to the same conclusion that climate change is occurring and it is manmade. I find it hard to believe that climate change theory is all a hoax and is a large enough hoax to encompass all of the individuals and agencies involved. Also, there is the physical evidence of shrinking glaciers and melting icecaps. I do not believe JFK was assassinated by elements of the CIA, or that 9-11 was an inside job, or that the moon landing was faked. I have a hard time believing in grand conspiracies. It is hard to get a large number of people to perpetuate a hoax or keep a secret. On balance, Climategate cast doubt on the theory of global warming but did not disprove it.

(3) The Consensus on global warming is less solid than has been presented. There are reasonable people and credentialed scientist who are critics of the theory or some aspects of the theory. These critics have been hushed and should be given a voice and platform. The science should not be considered settled.

(4) Climate change is occurring and has always occurred. The earth has always been cooling or warming. Climate has never been stable. That climate change is occurring and that there is a warming trend seems undeniable.

(5) We do not know the ideal temperature of the earth. Is one half of one degree less than it is today the ideal temperature? What should the temperature be? How do we know that what is occurring is not a natural fluctuation. The climate warmed in previous periods prior to man’s ability to impact it. If man’s production of global warming pollutants is causing global warming, perhaps it is even a good thing and is helping us avoid another ice age. How do we know that manmade global warming is not a countervailing force to global cooling? Maybe the scientist of the 60’s were correct after all and the world was heading for another ice age until manmade global warming reversed the trend. I have these doubts but will acquiesce and assume that global warming is a bad thing. I do wonder however how one determines that a degree less or a degree more is not really the ideal or natural temperature of the earth.

(6) Assuming climate change is global warming and it is manmade, I do not know that anyone knows what to do about it. Copenhagen accomplished virtually nothing and global warming emissions increased under Kyoto. Assuming global warming is occurring and assuming it is manmade; the prospects for stopping it are not very encouraging. Poor countries understandably are not willing to forgo the economic development that the prosperous countries enjoyed. I don’t blame them. In times of economic downturn, many in the developed countries are not willing to accept a curtailment of growth that would most likely be necessary to combat global warming and they are not willing to pay a fee to poorer, often corrupt, countries for those countries foregoing development.

(7) The current proposal for Cap and Trade will do virtually nothing to curtail global warming emission and will be detrimental to economic growth and simply expand government. In theory cap and trade could successfully curtail CO2 emissions. The cap and trade bill under consideration however, gives away too many credits and is in essence a tax on consumers. A revenue-neutral cap and trade with no give away of credits could possibly work, but has never been proposed. Another problem with proposed cap and trade is the use of carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are fraudulent and fictitious. A better method of reducing carbon emission would be a revenue neutral carbon tax.

(8) Carbon-based fuel should cost more. Even if global warming theory is incorrect we need to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. We need to do it for our national security. People will not conserve simply because it is a noble thing to do. If energy cost more, people would change their behavior. When gas was $4 a gallon people used less of it. If gas prices had stayed high we would have seen the popularity of smaller vehicles and carpooling. Over time high energy prices would cause people to choose to live closer to work instead of far-flung suburbs and houses with less square feet would be more desirable. Alternative fuels would flourish if only carbon based fuels cost more. Tinkering with CAFE standards and Cash for Clunkers programs and exhortations to combine trips and properly inflate your tires are going to have minimal impact on use of carbon fuels.

(9) Even if we had in place a workable cap and trade policy or a carbon tax and international treaties, I do not know that there is time enough to curtail carbon emissions sufficient to stop global warming. Assuming global warming is occurring, how fast is it occurring? I don’t know if the IPCC overestimates the danger from warming or underestimates it. According to Al Gore. the polar ice caps will be melted within five years. Other global warming alarmists likewise warn that the end is near. Even if we took immediate steps to radically reduce carbon emissions, it would take some years before the climate trend would be reversed. Reversing climate is like turning an ocean liner; it is not quick or easy. There may not be time to do it.

(9) Assuming climate change is real and it is global warming and it is manmade and the end is near, I think the solution for surviving it lies in geoengineering. I do not think we can save ourselves by abandoning technology. If I accept all of the above assumptions, then I think we need to pour money into efforts to use mankind’s ability to innovate and problem solve to combat global warming and in efforts to accommodate global warming. We need to move aggressively to manipulate the environment. We need to pursue ocean iron fertilization. We need to seed the atmosphere with reflective particles that will allow cooling of the earth while we have time to curtail harmful emission. We should aggressively pursue carbon sequestration. We should aggressively pursue replacing carbon-based energy with nuclear energy.

(10) Environmentalist may be the worse enemy of saving the planet. Assuming global warming is a reality and the survival of the planet is in danger, the environmentalist are likely to be the ones who will stand in the way of effective efforts to save it. I am not speaking of all environmentalists of course; I am myself an environmentalist. I love nature. I hike and birdwatch and I used to canoe and camp. I want clean air and clean water and I want to save beautiful vistas and natural waterfalls for future generations and I want endangered species to survive. I oppose mountain top removal and other practices that degrade the environment. I believe we should be good stewards of the earth. The most vocal of environmentalist, however, seem to have an agenda that goes beyond protecting the environment. Unfortunately, the most alarmist of the global warming theorist are also the people who think we need to live in harmony with nature rather than take dominion over nature and be good stewards of the earth. Rather than using clean nuclear energy to heat our homes they would prefer we shiver in caves. Much of the environmentalist movement is anti-human, anti-progress, anti-growth, anti-technology and anti-capitalist. Much of environmentalism is closer to an ideology and a faith than simply advocacy of policies that are protective of the environment. Instead of advocating practical solutions for combating global warming, many environmentalists are more concerned with changing people’s hearts and attitudes. Assuming global warming is real and the worst predictions are correct, the enemies of surviving it are the anti-technology and anti-market environmentalists themselves.

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1 comment:

  1. I wish for Conservatives could wrap their heads around your points number 1 and 2.