Thursday, August 5, 2010

Climate Change/Global Warming Continues

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its most recent State of the Climate report.

Its conclusions are not surprising.

Last decade was the warmest decade on Record

Last year was the warmest year on Record

There are fewer and fewer Climate Change deniers now. And their arguments are more and more convoluted.

And yet, Conservatives and the Republican Party are determined to prevent the US congress from taking any reasonable or effective action to address our contribution to that problem. For the most part they have stopped claiming its all a fraud or putting forward some new unscientific argument. Now they are just saying we can't afford to do anything.

I guess this is progress of a sort. But the problem remains and its critical that we, as a nation act. This concept that companies are allowed to massively pollute the environment in a way that threaten huge environmental and economic disasters and should not have to pay for that pollution, and should not be compelled to reduce and even eliminate that pollution is incredible to me.

If your neighbor backed his car up to your house and ran a hose from his car into your house, you would have a reason to object. Yet that is what power companies do every day. They are not the only polluters, but they are certainly one of the largest. And every day they are allowed to pump thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to and accelerating Global Warming. And according to Conservatives and the Republican Party, thats OK. They should be able to do that as much as they want for as long as they want without cost or constraint.

Stuff like this makes me wonder, what are their priorities?

With deficits largely resulting from Conservative/Republican backed tax cuts and mindless defense spending that will be a burden on our descendants for decades, even generations and their refusal to do anything to address Global Warming dooming our descendants environmental and economic impacts we can only guess at, what do they really care about?


RKMeier said...

I suppose I could be lumped in with the 'deniers.' Although I don't consider myself one, I do question Global Warming orthodoxy. As you know, Global Warming proponents are of a like mind with George W. Bush in their belief that "You're either with us, or against us." This lockstep mentality--even if it's correct--is remeniscent of the kind of totalitarian thought favored by dictators in the first half of the 20th Century.

I'm not a scientist--hell, I didn't even do that well in science class in school, so for the sake of arguement, let's accept that global warming is correct.

Why then is it necessary for so much of the science to be hidden?

Why also is it necessary to stifle open debate? If someone's a fool, time will prove him out, so why not let him argue?

Why the effort to make "deniers" feel isolated? I can answer that one. It worked well enough during McCarthy's time.

Why is it necessary to belittle people with opposing views? And calling them deniers, the same word used for people who deny the Holocaust (the evidence for which, unlike Global Warming, can easily be seen and understood by the smallest child). Why the effort to shut them up?

No, none of these things invalidates global warming science--as I said, I'm not qualified to debate that. But the petty, devious and high-handed way the global warming agenda is being pushed on us is likely to make anyone suspicious.

Uncle Walt said...

Dear RK Meier,

I am sorry you missed the debate that has been raging within in the scientific community about global warming for decades. The risks of global warming and the human contribution to global warming have been discussed since the late 50's. Sorry you missed it.

Perhaps you missed it because by the time you started to pay any attention to the debate, it was over. There hasn't been any serious dispute about the basic concepts of Global Warming for more than a decade now. Every scientist that has actually studied this agrees that:

The earth is getting warmer.

The current warming trend started in the middle of the 19th century.

Methane and Carbon Dioxide (as well as other gases) in the atmosphere act as green house gases, trapping the sun's heat in our atmosphere.

Human activity (through the prodution of green house gases like Methane and Carbon Dioxide) is increasing the pace of the current warming trend and will inevitably increase the max temperature that this warming trend reaches.

You may have missed that debate but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

And none of it was hidden. The debate was carried on in the same place that most scientific debate was carried on, in peer-reviewed scientific journals. That may be a class of publication that you don't read much. Few non-scientists read them. I know I didn't.

There was a debate and it wasn't hidden. It wasn't well covered by the media but it was mostly done in publically available journals.

The problem is that the people who claim the debate is still going on generally fall into two groups. People who are not scientists and simply choose not to believe the evidence and scientists who are paid for their research by those companies and industries that do the most polluting (just like cigarette company scientists claimed that cigarettes were addictive and didn't cause cancer long after that debate was really over as well).

The problem is that the stakes in this debate are huge. If all the Climate Scientists are right then Global Warming is going to cause massive economic and ecological problems around the world.

Continued in next comment

Uncle Walt said...

A small example. The Central Valley in California is one of the most produtive agricultural regions in the world. It depends on snow melt from the Sierra Nevada for water to irrigate those crops. As the earth warms up, the snow pack in the Sierra shrinks (that is happening right now). Many of the cities in California also depend on the Sierra snow melt for their water. At some point, there simply won't be enough water to allow farmers to have their water and people to have their water and the river ecosystems to have the water it needs to survive. So the central valley will become less productive costing hundreds or thousands of jobs. And thats only one example in one state.

The stakes are huge and yet some people want to still pretend there is a debate going on about science.

We have wasted way to much time already. We should have acted 20 years ago. You may remember that George Bush, in his 2000 campaign, acknowledged the problem and promised to take action about it if elected. The scientific debate has been settled for a long time.

So now we actually need to act.

I could apologize for belittling people with opposing views, but I won't/can't. People who choose, despite all the science, to deny the human impact on Global Warming do so because they choose to believe something else, not because they actually have any scientific basis for their beliefs. And based on their illogical beliefs, they are blocking critically needed action on what may be one of the most important issues we will face in the century.

If people who do not accept the settled science don't like to be called deniers (like those Holocaust deniers) then come up with better reasons for denying what the science tells us. Come up with an alternative theory that explains the data. Don't just say I don't believe because I don't want to.

If you are suspicious, then do some research yourself. I suspect that you will find that devious (or down-right dishonest) would best describe those who work for or are paid by the big polluters who are trying to keep this "debate" going as a means to protect their industries while the problem only gets worse.

I encourage suspicion. Find out for yourself what the facts are. They are out there.

But don't take too long, we are already way behind where we need to be in addressing this problem.

RKMeier said...

No, I recall that the debate has been around for quite a while. In fact, in the 1970s, it was the coming ice age. (Brrrr!) In the late 80's, I was told we had ten years to live.
So I've been paying attention, I'm just a little surprised that armogedden is taking its sweet time getting here. If it doesn't, I'm sure they'll come up with a new doomsday theory.

Uncle Walt said...

Glad you are still here RK,

The argument about the coming ice age in the 70's is an interesting one.

Industrial pollution was a problem before WWII but post war it exploded. We, as a nation and worldwide, were pumping so much garbage into the air that, in addition to creating a huge spike in respiratory diseases, we were literally blocking out the sun. All the ash and soot that we pumped into the atmosphere created a condition called global dimming where a significant fraction of the heat from the sun was reflected back into space by all that soot.

Remember all those very very tall smoke stacks that they built next to factories and power plants. They started building smoke stacks higher and higher to keep the ash and soot from falling on the town next to the plant. Pushing it higher into the atmospehere.

All that pollution was interrupting the pre-existing warming trend that started in the mid-18th century.

And what happened? Every industrialized passed laws (like the Clean Air Act) that restricted the type and amount of pollutants we could pump into the atmosphere. The result was that the air got cleaner and clearer and the pre-existing warming trend reasserted itself.

Proof, in case you needed any, that mankind can do enough damage to upset global system.

As an aside, despite some of the reporting at the time, there was never the scientific concensus on that Global Cooling that there is now on Global Warming. And despite the scientific concensus we took action across the world and fixed some huge problems.

We need to do that again.

And I hope you are not insisting that we wait for the worst effects of Global Warming arrive before you will support doing something about it.