What is sillier than pretending to care about the environment, but in reality, just waggling our fingers in each others’ faces with pretentious and hypocritical instructions about how to live our lives?
You got it: Waggling our fingers in each others’ faces to waggle each others’ fingers in the faces of yet others…while pretending to act in response to “facts” and “evidence” about our modern day environmental boogeyman, global warming.
It’s getting hot
By Al Meyerhoff
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Story appeared in FORUM section, Page E1
Al Gore is spending $300 million for a publicity campaign to convince the American public the climate is changing and it is a crisis. That’s like sponsoring an ad campaign to convince the world that the planet is not really flat.
It’s not all his money, of course. Most of it is from the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” Inconvenient indeed. But that this campaign is necessary at all speaks volumes about the failure of environmentalists to persuade our citizenry that the climate threat is both real and immediate, overcoming not just skepticism but national torpor and attention deficit disorder as well. When there is a polar bear on my front lawn, call.
With a touch of jingoism (including Americans landing on Omaha Beach and the moon) Gore’s “we can solve the climate crisis” campaign urges that good old-fashioned American know-how can prevent climate change – and without waiting for others to help. That’s another odd approach, since actually the problem to date has been precisely the opposite.
In the second section, Meyerhoff finally gets to the “science” — the one and only splotch in the entire essay that has anything to do with why we know what we think we know, about what it is we need to do next.
He gets it wrong. How sad.
Global warming is not rocket science. It is caused by carbon emissions and can only be contained by reducing them. Action by those responsible will not come from 30-second commercial spots, moral suasion or “continued scientific assessment, development of cost- effective options, public debate and consensus building,” as urged recently by the U.N. International Chamber of Commerce delegate. [emphasis mine]
“Global warming” and it’s sister synonym, “climate change,” don’t describe phenomena. They describe a single doctrine. Those in favor of the doctrine have simplified it, to thwart off attack…to make any “skeptics” or “denialists” look like dopes. To treat it respectfully, you have to leave it splintered up into it’s component four parts.
The four parts to the doctrine are:
1. Since the industrial age, something called the “mean earth temperature” has been increasing. This is what you’re being taught about when you are told “The Science Is Settled.” They’ve collected some more data, and the data seem to agree that 1998 was a warm year.
This is true, but problematic. I’ll discuss in greater detail below.
2. The rise of the mean earth temperature is due to carbon dioxide. There is some firm science behind this, since the “greenhouse effect” is indeed a more-or-less “settled” part of science.
But it is also problematic. Carbon dioxide is portrayed as a menacing ingredient, simply because it is the one most closely related to technology and industry. That it has some potential as a greenhouse gas, today, doesn’t mean it has any potential at all tomorrow. After all, the science is equally settled that carbon dioxide is part of a cycle involving our oceans, our air, and our vegetation. Oh, and one other thing: Unlike the related gas carbon MONoxide, it’s non-toxic. You breathe it. That’s a little detail a lot of people are forgetting…and our climate-change enthusiasts are doing nothing at all to remind them, because why should they?
3. We are reaching a point of no return with the saturation of carbon dioxide, as well as with the rise of the mean temperature. The doctrine of global warming rests, completely, on this; yet nobody anywhere with a reputation worth defending, is articulating it outright for if they were to do so, they’d be telling a fib.
Instead, it is left up to people to presume it. Which they do. But it just isn’t so and there’s no evidence to even suggest it might be so.
4. By reigning in our carbon dioxide emissions, we can take some incremental steps toward heading off or avoiding a climate change crisis.
The truism of this, is established by truism #3…which is so fragile nobody’s putting their name next to it. And yet they put their names next to this one simply because it has become popular, in a kind of a rock-star sort of a way, to back it up.
Sorry. There’s not a scintilla of evidence anywhere to indicate it might be so.
Quite to the contrary, according to an editorial Dr. Robert Carter wrote up a year and a half ago…
There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998
By Bob Carter
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 09/04/2006
For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society’s continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
This is part of an, ahem, unsettled branch of climate science. What have those temperature readings been doing over the last ten years?
Jennifer Marohasy addressed this directly on her own blog after coming under attack by a “Gore disciple”:
Peter Boyer is apparently a disciple of Al Gore – one of the many who has been trained to give that famous slide show about the imminent climate crisis. Anyway, he is also a columnist for The Mercury – Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in Tasmania. Today, in a piece entitled ‘Misleading opinion fed by misunderstood data’ he writes:
Jennifer Marohasy told ABC Counterpoint listeners that NASA data showed Earth’s surface temperature was trending down from a high in 1998, revealing serious flaws in greenhouse theory.
If confidence and clear expression were all that counted in the climate debate, Dr Marohasy would be a winner. Listeners unfamiliar with the data she talked about may have felt she was right.
But alas, the evidence says otherwise.
Present and past global average surface temperatures are derived from painstaking assessment of countless readings all over the planet, on land and sea, together with satellite observations, corrected for local aberrations such as the urban heat island effect.
Accompanied by a graph showing the last 120 years temperature trend Mr Boyer went on to suggest that the world is still warming.
Of course the world has been mostly warming over the last 120 years, but over the last 10 years global temperatures have not been trending up, as predicted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, despite a continual increase in carbon dioxide emissions.
What are these four pillars of the global warming doctrine? They support something that is among the most fragile among all the articles of what is known: Axioms, paradigms, theories and mindsets that fall apart most quickly, when simply taken seriously.
Let us presume for the moment that the world is still heating up as a direct result of industrial carbon emission, and that those who are pointing it out to us are simply trying to get us to contribute incrementally toward the continuing survival of our planet.
Should this open question about the rise of the “mean temperature” since 1998 — during which time, it is uncontested that carbon saturation has been increasing — be settled first?
After all, if we’re going to sacrifice to incrementally fix the climate change problem, and it actually WORKS, it is going to work through the depletion of carbon in the atmosphere. What does that do, exactly? Shouldn’t we be wanting to know that?
We’re currently at 380 parts per million, give or take. What happens if that goes down to 250? Our climate change disciples tell us that will bring things under control…unless it doesn’t…in which case, I guess we need to bring it down to 150 parts per million or something. Some of our skeptics seem to have some pretty impressive credentials, and they point out that the carbon/temperature connection has some problems.
You say they’re “dirty,” that they all work for the oil companies. Maybe that’s true. But what of the carbon/temperature connection? Does it suffer from problems or does it not? Shouldn’t somebody, somewhere, be wanting to know?
I don’t have any formal training in any of this. But I’m ready to call shenanigans on the whole thing. Those who insist on the greenhouse-gas qualities of carbon dioxide, concede that methane is much worse. Where’s the attack on methane? Answer: Such a campaign wouldn’t serve the interest of the attention whores, who in that circumstance would only have something to say to those among us who own cattle, insisting that we slaughter some of them. Very few of us have anything to do with cattle…but a whole lot of us have something to do with cars.
The “Morgan Rule” of environmental activism is that it has to do with getting attention, and not an awful lot to do with saving or helping the environment. According to that, then, we must pay more attention to carbon dioxide even though it’s a non-toxic, less-than-effective greenhouse gas agent…one which our plant life needs to consume in order to survive. And so the “Morgan Rule” triumphs. We are to sacrifice to reign in our carbon emissions…and just let our methane emissions go out of control.
It doesn’t have to do with “truth” — it has to do with “inconvenience.”
I entered this in response to Mr. Meyerhoff’s editorial, which runs so short on real science and so long on instructions about what we should be telling each other to do:
What is this evidence I keep hearing about? What I see for myself, is that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is, has been, and is projected to continue to be, insignificant. Three 100′s of a percent. Let’s double that. Let’s cut it in half. What’s that do to the global temperature? Is there “evidence” that there’s a correlation? There is much evidence that there is not. CO2 rises…temp tapers off.
The evidence also indicates that environmental activism is all about getting attention, and has little to do with helping the environment. Gore, whose house uses much more power than the average, is spending 300 large to get the word out. Anyone making a profit off that? Anybody beginning to suggest that isn’t the case? No. It is, after all, a money grab.
And, the evidence indicates that it IS a scam. As they say: I’m much more worried about the intellectual climate.
Update 4/28/08: Fellow Webloggin contributor Bookworm finds something else that perhaps should be getting some of our attention…one wonders what Mr. Meyerhoff would think about it.
You had to go ahead and do it anyway, and only now, when things are getting serious, are you figuring it out yourself. These are words parents say to teenagers, and conservatives say to liberals. In teenage land, you end up with pregnancies, STDs, and substance abuse. In liberal land, you end up with increased greenhouse gases and world starvation:
The worldwide effort by supermarkets and industry to replace conventional oil-based plastic with eco-friendly “bioplastics” made from plants is causing environmental problems and consumer confusion, according to a Guardian study.
The substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites, some need high temperatures to decompose and others cannot be recycled in Britain.
Many of the bioplastics are also contributing to the global food crisis by taking over large areas of land previously used to grow crops for human consumption.
The market for bioplastics, which are made from maize, sugarcane, wheat and other crops, is growing by 20-30% a year.
Most damning of all:
How do the enviro-goonies answer charges like these? That we’re just falling for a big scam, we’re contributing to the world’s hunger and poverty problems, we’re not making the environment any cleaner, in fact, we might even be creating a greenhouse gas problem where there previously wasn’t one?
If you read Mr. Meyerhoff’s piece, you already know. By ridiculing anyone skeptical, and embracing the pain involved in whatever sacrifices we might be called to make. By calling for everyone to make them together.
Reminds me of a joke we used to have at one of the places I used to work. The argument was that a particular product line wasn’t making us a profit, in fact, was costing the company money…the rejoinder was “yeah, but we make up for it in volume.”