Environmental Paradoxes

Things are never straightforward, especially when it comes to the environment. Recall when the UN said that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035. Turns out some are growing. They call this a mystery. A similar “mystery” is the electric cars may cause more total pollution than the gasoline varieties.

These things are less mysterious than some people think. It is the problem with all human endeavors. Lots of things are obvious AFTER we know what happened. But it is hard to know before. That is why our complex plans never work out.

Glaciers can grow in warmer weather

Re the glaciers. I heard about growing glaciers in the 1980s. I was talking to some Norwegian scientists (these guys know ice). Some Norwegian glaciers were growing back then. They explained that glacier grow when they get more snow. As anybody who grew up in a cold climate knows, it snows more when it is a bit warmer. The next step has to do with the peculiar nature of water. Ice and snow are phase dependent. Until they reach 0 degrees Celsius, they remain ice. It doesn't matter if it is -1 or -100.

Warmer than 0 they melt. It doesn't matter if it is +1 or +80. They stay water until +100 when they turn to steam. So if the glacier used to be -20 and now it is -10, it doesn't matter. And if it snows more that snow will stay and eventually compress into more glacier. It doesn't stop there, however. The glacier affects the local climate, cooling it. That was the idea of the "snow blitz" and the fear of global cooling in the 1970s.

This is also one of the compensating features of nature. Warmth can cause the growth of glaciers because of more snow, which causes cooling. Cooling would cause less snow and shrink the glacier.

Electric cars may add more carbon than ordinary gasoline variety

What about electric cars? It depends on several factors. First, you need to look at the total life cycle. How much energy does it take the make the cars, batteries etc. After that, you need to figure out where the electricity comes from. Electricity makes very little pollution, but the generation of electricity does. About half the electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal. So your electric car is essentially running on coal. It gets worse.

Electric cars would regenerate at night. Electric utilities have become good at shifting demand. During the times of peak demand, during the day, they bring on added generation such as natural gas. This is much cleaner than coal, but the advantage is that gas can be turned on and off much easier than coal. Also it is during the day that solar power is working and even the wind blows harder during daylight hours. At night is the time of coal.

Meanwhile, conventional gasoline engines are becoming more efficient. It may be not only cheaper but more environmentally friendly to buy a conventional car, if you look at the full life cycle.

Saving paper may kill more trees than it saves

One more thing - On my emails I have the caption "If you feel it necessary to print this message, recall that wood is 100% renewable resource & we grow most of the pulp wood for paper sustainably on American tree farms." This is meant as a response to all those people with the "save a tree" message. Let me explain.

It may be a good thing to save paper, but NOT because you will save trees. The environmental cost of paper comes from the energy needed to move and process materials as well as chemicals used in production This cost may be greater for recycled paper, BTW. So if you put on your email, "save energy, don't print this email" you are on solid ground. But it is not nice to forests.

Paper in the U.S. comes from renewable sources. Each year in the southern U.S. alone, we plant almost 2 billion trees. These forests are where much of our pulp and wood comes from. Most pulp comes from thinning operations, which IMPROVE forest health. An un-thinned forest is much more susceptible to disease and pests like pine beetles. A over thick forest is also a poor place for wildlife to live. Most landowners cannot afford to thin unless there is an economic return.

The trees left un-thinned will die anyway and more total trees will die than in a well managed forest. You don't "save" them if you don't use paper. I suppose you could say that you deprive the beetles and fungus of a meal. If you are a fan of disease and decay, by all means save those things, but if you think you are saving trees by not using paper, you are just mistaken.

Posted by Christine & John at April 28, 2012 8:54 PM
Comments
Comment #343032

Very good points. I personally believe Global Warming is Bullshit, with a main goal of redistribution of wealth on a national level, and a government takeover of personal rights on a national level.

That being said, I would add; if forests are not thinned out as you said, then there is the danger of forest fires. Which burn all the forest and send tons of CO2 into the air.

The problem is these facts fall on deaf ears. The left don’t give a crap about the environment; it’s all about shutting down the fossil fuel industry. They hate fossil fuel, they hate those who search for it, and they hate those who are in charge.

If….and I say if, every American was driving battery powered cars; the left would then be calling for the shutdown of all coal fired power plants and if these were shut down, they would want to shut down all nuke plants. It’s a never ending cycle of protests and complaints.

Posted by: Billinflorida at April 28, 2012 10:37 PM
Comment #343033

sorry,

“with a main goal of redistribution of wealth on a international level,”

Posted by: Billinflorida at April 28, 2012 10:39 PM
Comment #343035

Bill,

“That being said, I would add; if forests are not thinned out as you said, then there is the danger of forest fires. Which burn all the forest and send tons of CO2 into the air.”

It is because of the forest service’s “put out the fires at all costs” programs of the past that the forests need to be thinned. The problem is that humans have sought to build where forest fires once took care of the health of the trees.
Many trees actually require fire to germinate.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 28, 2012 11:30 PM
Comment #343076

Rocky & Bill

The Forest Service was just using the “best science” available to them at the time. They are now doing a better job with prescribed fire. The biggest challenge to good forest health today are urban “environmentalists” and animal rights activists.

These guys tend to be as well-funded as they are ignorant and they use the courts to delay activities. Delaying a project by even a few months or years can allow for things like beetle infestations. Then these same dummies blame the forest death caused by beetles to global warming and use the pictures to raise more money, which they use to cause more forest destruction.

I don’t think the young people who work at these organizations are evil, but they are ignorant and many of their actions result in environmental destruction that they think they are preventing.

Posted by: C&J at April 29, 2012 7:42 AM
Comment #343084

No particular knowledge re forests and wood products. However, this need to ‘take care’ of the forests seems to be a relatively new concept. In some areas tree and fauna growth is a jungle, other areas tees are not so dense and fauna grows closer to the ground, and in dry and high places may be widely spaced. Mother nature has done a very good job over years of taking care of the forests.

I can only associate ‘tree thinning’ to a commercial purpose or where human encroachment wants to limit forest fires, which I’m not convinced it does.

Why should populations build in areas where brush/forest fires may wipe them out?

It’s a good thing that gov’t has control over some national parks and forests where human encroachment is limited. Otherwise, commercial interests/corporations would rip it up, flatten it out, build skyrises on it and plant some kind of fast growing consumer tree from Nepal ever 100’ per some ‘spec’, etc. The Forest Service has their problems, for sure, but they do offer some protection for some remaining natural forest lands.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at April 29, 2012 12:37 PM
Comment #343087

Roy

Actually mother nature does NOT do a good job of taking care of forests. Mother nature is a random and impersonal process. If we want to let that rule, we have to understand that we have to live by the rules of that jungle, where life is nasty, brutish and short.

I expect that most of us are over the roughly thirty years of age that mother nature would normally give us. Many of us know people who are handicapped who mother nature would have long since killed. Most of us prefer to avoid the violence to which mother nature would have subjected us and the diseases that would have crippled us.

We have to use natural processes to inform our decisions, but decisions must be made intelligently.

With all due respect, you start you statement with “No particular knowledge re forests and wood products.” that would have been a good place to stop.

Posted by: C&J at April 29, 2012 1:51 PM
Comment #343090

This is the problem with relying on politicized sources for your science. Yes, not every glacier is shrinking. But no, that doesn’t mean that the Himalayan Glaciers as a whole are growing bigger, which is what makes the claim deceptive. The mass balance of ice in the Himalayas is negative, losing ice in many places.

As for the cars, the quibble seems to center around what’s on the other side of that high voltage powerline from the car. If it’s more coal, it’s dirtier, if it’s wind and solar, it’s cleaner. The trick here, and what you overlook in your rush to defend the status quo is that we can develop both ends of this relationship, and at the end of the day have all around cleaner transportation, and energy less vulnerable to political turmoil in foreign countries to boot.

As for the Volt? Sales doubled in March. They are going to shorten the shutdown of the factory.

Let’s be blunt here. You want to project this image of the sober warning against the possibility of overreach on green energy. You point out what seems to be evidence of inherent corruption of some kind, you make accusations that scientists claims are exaggerated, so on and so forth.

But what you really have is a more intellectually palatable rehash of talking points that have been used again and again.

The IPCC’s claims have turned out to be conservative. Greenland and Antarctic Ice is melting faster than anticipated, and the Sea ice in the arctic is retreating at an alarming rate. When somebody says your car is smoking, and you show up and find it’s on fire, you don’t really have much credibility if you say they were just being alarmists.

Science can shoot down alarmist claims all on its own. The problem is, you have this political model, where if the truth isn’t consistently one thing, the people are accused of being dishonest. The problem, of course, is that Scientists are bound to revise their conclusions when the evidence shows things are different.

As for mother nature and taking care of the forests?

Nature is sophisticated in a way that beggars our imagination, because, to put it bluntly, nature doesn’t have to accommodate the limits of any one creature’s mental capacities, ability to know and understand to operate. It simply operates in a blind, but complex and nonrandom way. It’s murphy’s law, essentially, but taken to a hair-raising level of sophistication which we find it difficult to understand, because it wasn’t designedto be run by individuals of one big brained species. It wasn’t designed, period, not like we might design something. Whatever could happen, did happen, and whatever survived that happening grew fruitful and multiplied.

Since nobody had to keep track of all the relationships, they’ve grown beyond the manageability of unaided human brains. nobody had to run them, so nobody constrained the systems so that somebody could easily run them.

So, when we deal with nature, we have to keep in mind that it wasn’t put together a domesticating force, it was put together by what we would perceive as sheer accident, and a mulitiplicity of all that to boot.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2012 11:07 PM
Comment #343091

Jack,

“Actually mother nature does NOT do a good job of taking care of forests.”

Perhaps not from a commercial standpoint. But then again she has nothing to sell.

Mother Nature is neither cruel, or kind, capricious, or consistent. She is neither brutal, or gentle.

Mother Nature is survival of the fittest, and she is no more brutal than Wall Street.

The forests were here eons before man decided to make paper, or take lumber, and they survived just fine long before man decided to “manage” them.

When an extended drought happens the trees are stressed and the bark beetle infests the forest. During our “monsoons” here in Arizona happen we get the thunderstorms, and lightning strikes in the high country that cause forest fires. The trees are already stressed and the bark which would normally protect the trees from a low running fire, no longer does so.
I am sure you are aware that within the Arizona borders is the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world. These are the trees I am talking about. The same monsoon storms that cause the forest fires water these trees.

The weather patterns here in Arizona have changed even in the time I have lived here. When I moved here in 1974, we had regular monsoon storms in the summer. In the last decade these storms go around Phoenix, because it is a “heat island”, dropping little rain, just enough to combine with the dust and cover the cars with a coating of mud

Last summer we had two haboobs, which is something I had not experienced before in the nearly forty years I have lived here.
For the uninitiated, here is a link with photos and video;

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/phoenix-dust-storm-photos-video_n_891157.html

It has been estimated these two dust storms dropped more than 50,000 tons of dirt on the Phoenix area alone.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at April 29, 2012 11:56 PM
Comment #343092

Stephen

I did not rely on politicized sources. In fact, my original source was the Brazilian magazine “Veja” Since I doubt most of you read Portuguese, I looked up a bunch of English sources. There are many. It is not political; just science.


I understand that for you everything is partisan. It is not that way for me. I am simply pointing to the truth.

Re the electric car - this is another example of something that is just true. My source is the London-based “Economist” a magazine that endorsed Obama. You can make it partisan if you want, but you are wrong.


Re Nature - Nature is complex and beautiful. In nature you can get a glimpse of the mind of God. But it is not an intelligence in itself. It produces AN outcome. It is not always an optimal outcome from a human point of view or any other. Nature just doesn’t care.

We humans live in the natural environment. We cannot choose not to interfere. We can only choose whether to do so wisely, stupidly or thoughtlessly.

I take what you wrote as agreement with what I wrote. The implication is that we need to manage forests better.

Rocky

You are arguing that we need to better manage forests. If indeed they are being affected by climate change, the need is even more urgent. So, as I wrote to Stephen, We cannot choose not to interfere. We can only choose whether to do so wisely, stupidly or thoughtlessly.

The SW went through a drought that lasted 400 years just before Europeans arrived. The area is susceptible to radical climate changes. Again, all the more reason to manage well.

As I think we all agree, nature does not have a will of its own. We are living in nature. We are already interfering and cannot stop. Even if we all decided to kill ourselves, even that would interfere with nature.

Posted by: C&J at April 30, 2012 1:01 AM
Comment #343093

C&J-
Your source is not neutral. It is reputed to be moderate/center right. Which, given the information being fed to you, doesn’t surprise me.

What I know, though, from scientific sources I consulted after I first got hit with this canard, is that the whole argument about the Himalayas is misleading. It says that because some glaciers in the Himalayas are in fact growing, then that must mean there’s not a global warming problem like the scientists say there is.

More informally, the argument is being used to bash the IPCC’s science overall. In both cases, there is an unjustified generalization. In the case of the IPCC’s science, the fact that one contributer got things wrong doesn’t invalidate anything else, unless his bad data compromises it. As this this was just one narrow topic, the IPCC could go in and make the necessary revisions.

Of course, emotionally, one could push the notion that if one article was wrong, all could be wrong. But that’s not scientific. In science, you have to prove points wrong fact by fact, confirming or disproving as you go along. To do things otherwise would be to generalize hastily, without evidence.

Which brings me to the Himalayas, again. There, the generalization is, if some glaciers are growing, then the Himalayas are on the whole aren’t seeing their glaciers melt. While it’s true that the prediction that Himalayan Glaciers will be gone by 2035 is bunk, the science shows that the mass balance of the ice in the Himalayas is going negative- that is, they’re losing weight, to put it colloquial terms.

Climate change happens, but usually, in our time, it’s been confined to certain areas, regional cycles.

Your problem here is that you’re depending on sources that aren’t scientifically oriented, but politically. They depend on industry sources, on the talking points delivered by thinktanks and the like that are paid to come up with a position that discourages certain policies.

But the science on Global Warming is pretty conclusive. It’s happening, and it’s us who set it in motion. Whether we can stop it is debateable, but I’m certain there will be more regrets for not trying than otherwise.

Even when I considered myself a Republican, I believed that you didn’t play politics with science, that what the political debate should be about is how we respond to the challenge, not whether we respond at all. The failure to respond to observable, discernable, confirmable facts seems to me to be one of the stupidest kinds of mistakes we can make, and the kind with the most potential for grief. What I see in even your moderate stance is an unwillingness to take any action that would actually require increases in efficiency, decreases in emissions and the reliance on fossil fuels. The premises you are accepting seemed to be all about justifying doing nothing in the face of the evidence.

I think, on the whole, it will be much easier to adjust to a lower carbon emission energy policy than it will be to adjust to the consequences of global warming. Or, as some call it, Global Weirding.

Regional changes can come for the oddest of reasons. Recent division between unseasonable highs and lows have come about because the Jet Stream has become unstable, the cold air from the North reaching down on one side of the country, and the warm air from the south reaching up the other side. It’s said this is happening because decreased strength in the cold at the North has diminished the power of the jet stream, making it easier for it to bend in loops and eddies.

Even in the past, strange, counterintuitive results have occured on account of regional changes. The Sahara, for example, was once a lush grassland. However, when the temperature dropped in certain locations, the rains lessened, and a chain reaction of events created the desert we know today in about 200 years.

So, the question will be not merely what cards we’re dealt in the final hand, but just how big of an adjustment we have to make. There are cities that never had to worry about water that will, cities that never worried about rain that now will have to adjust to more of it. Places where snow never fell will have to deal with more of it, and places where snow always fell will now have to live with less of it, with attendant effects on glaciers, vegetation, etc.

We’re talking a massive, global disruption of the world’s economy, and nature with it’s massive complication won’t react in the way that human machines do, with their constrained complexity. It will defeat our expectations as how we will need to act to cope with all the changes, and that will carry with it the cost of all the things we will need to do in order to adapt.

We’re borrowing trouble for our children to pay back. We could do the wise thing, and learn how to live without fossil fuel energy, but that requires summoning the kind of political will your people specialize in stifling.

As for the Electric car? I think oil is getting to be harder to extract than it is worth to pay for. In the article I submitted, they probably noted that part of the reason for the increase in sales is the increases in gas prices. I don’t think that’s going away, and because of that, neither will the desire for alternatives go away.

I don’t depend on whether or not a publication endorsed Obama to come to conclusions about their claims. I pointed out, for example, that the claims about the Volt being a flop were premature, rather than attack the Economist on political grounds. I also pointed out that the conclusion of the study he cited more or less says that the cleanliness or dirtiness of an electric car is dependent on whats on the other side of that plug. So, if we become more dependent on electricity to power our transportation, it’s only reasonable to suggest that maybe the problem we need to solve is not the electric car or plug-in hybrid, but instead the dirty plant on the other side of the powerline. Do that, and you’re clean all around.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2012 8:15 AM
Comment #343102

C&J: “It may be not only cheaper but more environmentally friendly to buy a conventional car, if you look at the full life cycle.”

I saw a study once somewhere showing Hybrid drivers on average actually drove their cars more after they bought it than before because they thought it was OK. They essentially cancelled out any eco-friendly goodness. These people would have been better off buying a modern efficient gasoline engine car and driving the same amount.

Every sector of our society is filled with folks who latch on to the latest and greatest without seeing all the parts or perspectives. Maybe it’s “free range” or “locally grown” or even the latest greatest hybrid electric car. Maybe it’s those stupid Vitamin C cocktails people take thinking they do anything for the common cold. Consumers are not known for sitting down and weighing all their options and facts and carefully considering the consequences of their decisions. If they were we’d live in a dramatically different world. I’m not sure it would be better or worse but it would certainly be different.

The way every failure or setback of alternative energy has been turned into an argument against the movement is sad. Meanwhile the industry has been growing by leaps and bounds with exciting changes every year. And where does this come from? The federal government working with private industry by way of smart regulations and tax payer funded research grants. But don’t tell the critics. The Volt can’t go as far under every circumstance so why bother buying or investing in such stuff?

It’s the same with climate change. Every snow storm is used as evidence climate change is a hoax. Just ask BillinFlorida. He probably burns more carbon on Earth Day just to screw the libruls. The politicization of these subjects is what the movement fights for and against the most. The same forces that can propel it forward and strengthen it can also bog it down in nonsense. There is a world wide consensus on climate change but don’t tell the American right. It’s warming on Mars without humans, cold on Earth in winter, the South polar cap is growing, there’s a glacier somewhere out there growing not shrinking, so therefore global warming is a hoax.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at April 30, 2012 10:10 AM
Comment #343106

Adam Ducker-
First, they’re fixated on dealing with the issue on the level of a political debate, with gotcha points to score points for the judges.

But science doesn’t work that way. Everybody can be wrong, especially the guy who thinks he’s defeated his opponent. I’d say the thing about dealing with science in the News media is that it helps to consult multiple sources, because not everybody dealing with the material knows what they’re talking about.

Even when they talk about the science, the GW contrarians basically lead with the notion that their ideas have been politically surpressed. This gives the politicians permission to suppress right back to treat it as a product of political rivalry, and an assault on the free market, instead of a matter of important public policy.

They don’t, however, lead with how well backed up their evidence is, which should be the red flag on all this contrarianism. You don’t rely on a scientific theory as a basis of action if you haven’t even confirmed it as a theory to begin with. Even if Global Warming dissenters actually had a point, they would need to prove their theories before they would be a legitimate basis for law. After all, if they prove false, as many of them already have, they are no rational basis for policy.

Evidence is what puts claims to the test, not popular opinion. Unfortunately, the GOP is no longer a party that relies on scientific evidence to make policy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2012 1:52 PM
Comment #343107

Al Gore gave a speech at Hampshire College about Global Warming. The crowd was relatively quiet until he started talking about how corporations are NOT people, and money is NOT free speech. The young people went wild, clapping and cheering.

Rush Limbaugh played the tape, and followed with a ten minute explanation of why corporations are people, and money is free speech.

So, conservatives, you have your talking points. Corporations are people. Free speech is money. “We the people” includes corporations. And, thanks to Citizens United, there is nothing wrong with Romney receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from anonymous donors- anonymous as far as any of us are concerned, anyhow- so you conservatives must support the richest of the rich and their corporations. And when corporations like Exxon fund a handful of Global Warming deniers, you conservatives must support Exxon and that ilk.

Posted by: phx8 at April 30, 2012 3:31 PM
Comment #343112

Stephen: “…the GOP is no longer a party that relies on scientific evidence to make policy.”

Yes, and don’t forget that evolution is “just a theory” so why should the GOP feel the need to embrace such a thing?

Posted by: Adam Ducker at April 30, 2012 6:09 PM
Comment #343116

Adam

The world is really complex. No individual or group can understand the interactions. That is why it is good that we have the market system that permits the decentralized and distributed decision making. Government conferences cannot deal with this problem. The UN process is uniquely unsuited to getting anything really controversial done right. Most of these clowns just enjoy jetting around and producing enough carbon in a couple of hours to equal an average person’s year.

There is the classic essay that nobody knows how to make a pencil. The environment is complex. We need to match that with a system that can handle the complexity best.

I have to comment on that “locally grown” thing. That is one of the dumber “ecological” ideas. Well, I should say the idea is fine, as long as it is not taken too seriously. It is up there with animal rights as the things that can really harm the environment if allowed to get out of hand.

Stephen

“But science doesn’t work that way. Everybody can be wrong, especially the guy who thinks he’s defeated his opponent.” Indeed you are right. Our knowledge of climate science is much better than it was back when Al Gore learned the craft.

Stephen

If you actually read and understood you would see that my bold headline says glaciers can grow in WARMER weather and I explain how glacier get bigger when there is more snow and there tends to be more snow when it is a bit warmer.

This does not violate the global warming dogma. In fact, it is within the scripture. My reasoning did NOT come from a center-right source, although unlike you I think science should not have politics. I learned this about glaciers when I was in Norway twenty years ago from people who studied glaciers. They showed me actual glaciers. I suppose that maybe to you experience is a right wing thing.

Re global warming in general – the die is cast. You can talk all you want about the disruptions, but to the extent that they will happen, they will already happen. The science tells us that. We need to adapt.

Re coal powered cars – I will be happy as anybody else when your future technology makes electricity cheap and carbon free. But we will be making electricity in the old ways for at least twenty or thirty years. We will emit LESS CO2 if we covert to clean natural gas, something that you are less than enthusiastic about BTW. But the plants that are in place will not be scraped, even in the unlikely event that your future technology comes early.

We have to be very careful with responses. I believe that human activity is having an effect on climate. I also understand that this affect is already baked into the climate and I know that even if we Americans reduced our CO2 to zero, by 2020 China will be pumping as much CO2 into the air as the whole world did in 1990. We have to look to realistic solutions.

I think that Al Gore types and the IPC did the world a disservice by speaking in panicky terms before they understood the science. The thing about the Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035 was just plain childish stupid. It discredited their more valid concerns.

We should act thoughtfully and deliberately. We have to recognize that this will cost US money, not the “rich” or somebody else. The gas prices we see today would be considered low if we truly address the problem.

Phx8
Al Gore is a meathead. His panicky BS years back have helped discredit the environmental movement. I don’t forgive him for that. Today global warming comes in near last in the list of people’s concerns. I don’t forgive people who have pushed the idea that there is no reason to take action. But I recognize that pinheads like Gore is what gave them ammunition that helped fuel the skepticism.

The environment is an important issue. It is too important to be treated like religion. We can and we do manage many things much better than nature left to its own devices. NONE of us wants to live in a natural world. Those who think they do have not thought very clearly. So the question becomes HOW do we manage?

Some people who I usually support want to not manage much at all. They want to just continue with human activities w/o very much thought for the environment. Some people you usually support want to frame the issue as the fragile earth that is always in danger and only through extreme asceticism and lots of rules can we hope to survive. I would pronounce a plague on both their house. They will murder the earth given their way. IMO, in this debate both Rush and Al Gore are shitheads we should ignore.

Posted by: C&J at April 30, 2012 8:29 PM
Comment #343130

C&J-
But the Himalayan Glaciers, when you look at them all, are not growing. Some are, most are not. The mass balance of the glaciers is a net negative, and the shrinkage of glaciers in many reasons is documentable.

Yes, some warmer weather allows snow. Too warm, though, and it either doesn’t snow (it rains instead), or it melts. The thing that should concern you is that the warming has mainly been in places of latitude or altitude where heat would normally escape.

As for this inevitability? It’s funny how you appeal to what we don’t know in order to assert what you can’t know. Even your average scientist will tell you that though we can’t avoid some of the warming, we can’t really know at this point whether we’ve passed some tipping point. The whole point of our urgency is to avoid passing that point.

But you? You, in all your great knowledge of the subject have come to a conclusions that the scientists aren’t even willing to be nailed down on, given the complexity of the situation. Your position is not as sober or conservative as you think it is. It’s very much an unproven leap of intuition on your part, and I don’t see why we should base policy on it. I’d say that if the possibility remains that some warming can be prevented, we should do that.

Your party’s “sound science” movement has been undermining public understanding of this subject for years, using rhetoric and emotional appeals (including trashing Al Gore) as a means to keep people from making decisions that would disadvantage the corporations, like Tobacco Companies and energy corporations, which would be disadvantaged or made obsolete by changes in policy, or public sentiment.

It’s time to end that movement. We don’t need “sound science”, we need REAL science, the stuff that isn’t designed around giving support to some right-wing or corporate talking point.

There may not be time, but so long as uncertainty is present, I would say taking measures to mitigate warming is the smart thing to do. At the very least, we make sure our resources last longer. But more than that, if we are right, we save the trouble of having to uproot centuries worth of infrastructure and established communities, simply so a few millionaires and billionaires can keep on making the money they are accustomed to making.

We shouldn’t be writing policy in their interest, but the public’s interest. There’s no point to a Democracy where we pointedly ignore the impact this could have on millions whose quality of life, prosperity, whose jobs and lives could be affected by this.

Look at all the places with water shortages, all the places where heat imposed costs. If the ice sheet melts, look at a map to see all the cities on the coasts that would have to retreat back from the sea, or wall it off like New Orleans does.

We’re talking a derangement of the way the weather behaves on a regular basis, and we don’t know what the consequences are in enough detail. So we’ll have to take the heat waves, the droughts, the torrential downpours, the unseasonable changes of cold and heat, and other changes to the environment in order to support our cities and towns, carry out our livelihoods, etc.

We’re talking about a fundamental danger to our way of life, yet the so-called conservatives, who should want to preserve our way of life, are saying, do nothing, let the changes happen, or don’t even believe that changes are going to occur, despite the evidence.

Once upon a time, to be conservative meant you played it safe on your assumptions, on what you supported, on what was allowed to change. Unfortunately, the cult of the consistency of small minds has taken over your party, the people who don’t merely approach new ideas with caution, but fundamentally reject anything that clashes with their worldview, especially the part that clashes with the vested interests who have wrought their influence on the party.

Unfortunately, it means that Conservatives no longer act conservatively. They look at weather out of control and rationalize it, rather than admitting that the standard scientific theory says this is a preview of preventable climate change. They look at a war that’s going bad and insist they are going to stay the course because the night is always darkest before the dawn, rather than admitting they have a problem building, and cut it short. They look at an economy that is collapsing, and say the fundamentals of the economy are sound. They look at one that has collapsed, and on the first round say, let the chips fall where they may, though that would be destructive to the basic existence of much of our economy. They look at an economy that’s sliding towards depression, and they say “do nothing.”

How many calls do conservatives have to get wrong before they realize that they’re no longer seeking out the safe assumptions, but merely the ideologically consistent ones.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 1, 2012 7:24 AM
Comment #343131

C&J: “It is up there with animal rights as the things that can really harm the environment if allowed to get out of hand.”

How so?

Posted by: Adam Ducker at May 1, 2012 8:13 AM
Comment #343133

Adam

Animal rights - when gets out of hand - actually gives rights to individual animals. In the natural world, populations are important, not individuals.

For example, if you want to maintain healthy populations and genetic diversity, you may want to hunt and kill particular animals. You might, in fact, need to eliminate whole populations, especially of invasive species. If I could kill every one of the coyotes on my farms, I would do it. They are not native to Virginia and they are causing unwanted disruptions.

It can get even worse if we feel a moral duty to “save” animals. A hard winter will kill lots of deer. People who save these deer by taking them food are messing with the environment. The large deer populations are already preventing forest regeneration in areas of Virginia and Pennsylvania. I know about those areas; I am sure there are others.

Let me make a distinction between being humane and granting rights. I don’t believe in causing pain. We should also be circumspect when controlling natural population. But we cannot be disturbed by the need to cull.

Stephen

Re the glaciers. Some are growing, most are not. You are right. But at the current rates, even if they shrink, it will be hundreds of years before it reaches the crisis the IPC claimed for 2035.

Re the inevitability - the much touted scientific consensus is that there is already enough CO2 in the air to warm the planet. Furthermore, simple logic tells us that CO2 emissions in the world will grow, even as American emissions are quickly declining.

I think that we have to be realistic. “Your side” cries about the future, even as they fly around and waste energy, or fight against partial solutions, such as natural gas (1/3 the CO2 of the coal it replaces) in favor of future technologies that may exist sometimes in the future.

Re places like New Orleans - this is another place where your side is acting irresponsibly. We need to NOT build in places we know (or science tells us) will be under water. Yet we hear from your side the need to rebuild or help the poor remain in these low lying areas.

RE Al Gore - I do not have much respect for him. He is a hypocrite and not good for the environment. His hyperbole a few years ago has weakened the real movement.

Re water shortages - I have been studying this. Water is a very interesting resource. It is both a local and world resource. It is both renewable and static. It should not be compared to oil or other things. We have the same amount of water as we did a million years ago and will have the same amount a million years from now.

The problem is location and condition. It is strictly a management issue. It is also a local and national issue, not a world one. In fact, if we try to make is a world issue, with dumb definitions like “virtual water” we will interfere with workable solutions.

Let me point out what I think is a difference between us. You seem to think it is always or usually better to take action on a large scale. I think it is often better to do less and to do it on small scales. You believe in planning. I believe in iterative process. I think these big conferences and meeting are worse than nothing. You have confidence that they work.

IMO - I am for real solutions. You like the kind that sound good.

Posted by: C&J at May 1, 2012 9:17 AM
Comment #343139

C&J: “Animal rights - when gets out of hand - actually gives rights to individual animals. In the natural world, populations are important, not individuals.”

Our society has extended it’s circle of rights over the centuries though, wouldn’t you say? It’s not inconceivable to believe we might one day extend more rights to animals than we already have today.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at May 1, 2012 12:21 PM
Comment #343142

Adam

I sure hope that the circle of rights never comes to encompass animals. If it does, and we really take is seriously, we are doomed.

Of course, it depends on the “rights” you are talking about. If you mean treating animals in humane ways, I think you are okay. If you talk about trying to guarantee animals the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I think that is way too far.

Rights require countervailing responsibility. We humans except some of our members for special reasons. But we control for that.

Imagine expending rights to rats and mice.

Actually, I would extend a particular right. We could extend a proper warning. I had an infestation of beavers. They were destroying my trees. I asked them to leave. They would not do so. Some of my neighbors were more persuasive. I assume they used better arguments.

Until we can perfect inter-species communications, we will be out of luck with that rights thing.

Actually, we have a similar rule with fellow humans. If people are doing something sufficiently troubling or dangerous, we warn them to stop. If they refuse or do not understand, we use violence up to and including lethal force.

Posted by: C&J at May 1, 2012 1:04 PM
Comment #343148


The U.S. Forestry Service, like many other tax funded government agencies, is becoming a subsidiary of corporate interests.

The article on electric cars is a fossil fuel industry plant. The author could not get beyond applying electric car usage to a continuation of the current status quo of usage, and displayed no knowledge of how technology will be developed to enhance an electric society.

When the sun sets, there are many fewer cars on the highways. Peak usage of cars is going to and from work. And, every time the sun sets, it also rises. In the not to distant future, we will have the capability of moving renewable energy around the globe and down from space. The decisions that we make as a nation, as a society, as a species, as the power brokers, can either speed up or retard that development.

The decision is ours. We can be a nation that condones and accepts this fossil fuel industry slogan of we can’t or we can be true to our nations history and be a nation that can.

Is it true that a generation must pass away before we once again become a nation that can?

Posted by: jlw at May 1, 2012 3:04 PM
Comment #343151

jlw

“The U.S. Forestry Service, like many other tax funded government agencies, is becoming a subsidiary of corporate interests.”

I would be interested to know why you think this is true.

Posted by: C&J at May 1, 2012 4:02 PM
Comment #343209

C&J-
They’ve acknowledged that, yanking the offending report. Trouble for your argument is, there are plenty of counterexamples to the industry’s claim, and meltings occuring at a much faster rate than anticipated at different sites.

If you’re saying that some global warming is inevitable, that’s right. Some is. The question is, how much? Small differences in temperature can mean a lot in terms of the world we end up living in. If we continue down the fossil fuel dominated path, we will end up pushing things far afield from where they would be if we start changing things now.

As for Al Gore’s hypocrisy?

Well, who fed you the information that led you to consider him a hypocrite? Who made those specific arguments, unfair arguments, considering today’s technology about the limos and the jets?

That’s right, the folks who are paid to create such propaganda on behalf of the companies that have a lot to lose if people take Gore seriously. You’re being duped, victimized by ad hominem arguments that are meant to get you considering who’s making the argument, rather than the merits of the argument themselves.

What has weakened the movement is a deliberate propaganda campaign aimed at getting conservatives like yourself and uninformed members of the public to believe that it’s all a hoax, all a socialist scientist-enriching conspiracy. Surveys have indicated that your side of the aisles has been most profoundly affected by the propaganda.

Many people see things in even more of a contrarian fashion than you do, and the problem is, this is not a supportable position on the facts.

You need to take a good, long, hard look at what you’ve been sold.

As for water? Water that doesn’t come from natural weather means we have to do something like dig a well, build a de-salinization plant, or something else. Look at California and its setup, as classically portrayed in works like Cadillac Desert. That’s what you have to do in order to move a hell of a lot of water that doesn’t belong there to a place you need it to be.

I think you need to consider that cost, that expense, that effort, when analyzing the economic effects of climate change. You speak of me being blind to the smaller parts of the issue, but I’m not. In fact, I’m trying to direct your attention to them. I like to call this middle scale thinking. We need to recognize that the expense is not merely going to come from every place warming, it’s going to come from local changes that are the result of the global shift, and the cost of dealing with all those changes together.

I mean, it’s not merely that some crop-raising or water acquiring’s going to get more expensive, it’s also that in some cases, economic activity’s not going to occur because the cost has gone up so high. It won’t be affordable. Consider all the opportunities lost, the margin lost in our economy from having to deal with all the new problems, all the shifts. I won’t make apocalyptic predictions, but it doesn’t have to be an apocalypse to be the end of all the fun we’ve had this last century, our nice and easy way of life.

As for what I believe in?

I believe in a combination of planning and iterative process. I believe that I can side with whatever gets the job done… but really, only with what gets the job done. I won’t sign onto a laissez faire approach on principle. I’ll sign onto it if it works, and only then. I believe that there is not enough planning done in government these days, but I don’t believe that the government should do nothing but plan, or should engage in central planning for everything.

I’m a pragmatist. Not an idealizer of one ideology or another. Sounding good is a distant second to working that way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 2, 2012 2:14 PM
Comment #343210

So, when we deal with nature, we have to keep in mind that it wasn’t put together a domesticating force, it was put together by what we would perceive as sheer accident, and a mulitiplicity of all that to boot.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2012

And yet, the GW alarmists trust computer models to warrant spending trillions of dollars to combat nature.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 2, 2012 5:23 PM
Comment #343212

SD writes; “Even your average scientist will tell you that though we can’t avoid some of the warming, we can’t really know at this point whether we’ve passed some tipping point. The whole point of our urgency is to avoid passing that point.”

Do the “above average” scientists know this so-called tipping point? If no one knows, why are libs so anxious to spend trillions of dollars to combat something they don’t know or understand?

SD writes; “They (Conservatives) look at an economy that’s sliding towards depression, and they say “do nothing.”

It is difficult to imagine anyone more out of touch than one who writes this drivel. Conservatives have introduced many, many plans designed to ease and end this recession.

Just as with MMGW, the libs and dems recommend throwing money after a problem they don’t understand and can’t fix.

Too warm, spend trillions that won’t make a damn bit of difference. To much debt, spend trillions that won’t make a damn bit of difference.

I hope obamer and his lib/dem cronies in congress run on spendng trillions, and more stringent regulations, on fixing MMGW. Perhaps they can get algore to tour the country in his jet telling the American public how terrible they are to consume fossil fuel.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 2, 2012 5:48 PM
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