[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]G2, most of these sites advocate “market based” solutions for energy efficiency, GH gas reductions, etc….......which I agree is the only realistic way that these issues will be addressed.
This view is the basic reason that I am not losing too much sleep over “Global Warming” or “The Energy Crisis” and am a “doomsday” skeptic.
I still have some concerns about the GW science, models, scenarios, forecasts, etc.(that I still plan to post when my research is complete) ........but at the end of the day, I really don’t think that these issues matter that much.
To quote a certain past presidential campaign commercial, “It’s the economy stupid!”
Businesses and individuals ultimately vote with their pocketbooks.
When it makes sufficient economic sense, more efficient energy utilization will occur, alternate/renewable energy sources will be adopted, GH gasses emissions will be reduced and “doomsday” (whether or not it is real) will be averted.
It may be possible for governmental policies to encourage and somewhat accelerate these natural “market based” forces, but ultimately it will be economics that is the driving force.
Yes. A market based approach is what seems most feasible. However, these are not JUST the market. What establishes market trades on carbon is a government regulated carbon cap. That is, the approaches that the majority of economists and knowledgable environmentalists agree on is a combination of regulation and market mechanism. This has to be followed by a consistent reduction in the cap level to ensure stability.
There is no “natural” market with respect to CO2. This isn’t like the energy situation. In energy there is a natural cap in the form of finite deposits. As we run down the cheap sources the price will rise and we will look for alternatives. That is the general belief. And it seems reasonable given our best understanding of economics. But no such natural cap exists on GH gasses since by the time you clearly see the “cost” in the form of climate-related problems, it is too late to adjust prices.
So don’t conflate the GW problem with the energy crisis problem in thinking that the economics of both are the same. They aren’t. You can certainly remain a skeptic, but too often your skepticism seems to block your willingness to look at the science. I’m glad you took a look. Whether we agree or disagree, it is important to at least be willing to look at the counter arguments.
Incidentally, I have been investigating the climate change budget link you provided. I’ve been tracking down some of the projects at NSF and DOE. So far I’ve been able to trace three research projects that look like they will be funded by this money. What I did find is that the NSF grants had already been budgeted and were folded into this single line item to classify them as climate research. All three are pretty low level projects which will attempt to tease out more details in the carbon flux models. They are not research that presumes that we don’t know what is happening. Rather, they start with the assumption of CO2 buildup and attempt to determine the rates of flows into and out of various sources/sinks. There is nothing, that I have seen, that is based on a need to squeeze out the last little bit of uncertainty. Their just basic science to understand processes. I will report if I find out anything more.
[quote author=“psiconoclast”]There may be some reasonable action proposals being discussed somewhere, but none of them have international treaties championing them. Until a proposal gets a large number of countries behind it, it isn’t a viable solution, no matter how rational.
Well, I’m glad we’re in essential agreement on many fronts!
I guess I contend that many countries (especially the major GH gas emitters) are actually behind these proposals. The US and Australia are the only major countries that have eschewed Kyoto (and as you say provide no viable alternative). And another round of negotiations have already begun that may actually leave the US out until it asks to be included! I really think that we are way beyond the acknowledgement of the problem (which is where Conservative Athiest still seems to be stuck) and many many people, companies and countries are working hard to find ways to mitigate the GH gas problem. We are now moving into both adaptation and, surprisingly, exploitation thinking. What we don’t know is how severe the problem may get and that is because the long lag times between the emission of gas and the changes the climate might take. Along with that it is important to realize that there are scenarios (and some very cautious scientists have brought these out) in which the climate change is radical and would create havoc faster than our systems can adapt.
[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]G2, I am sorry to disappoint………….. and even sorrier to give you hope.
As a long time on-line subscriber to Scientific American, I have actually read and believe (as difficult as it is, being “blinded by my ideology” and all) that I do (just barely) understand the referenced article.
There are no doubt plenty of grievances on each side of the debate regarding government imposed regulation in reaction to scientific findings. (Does anybody remember the government imposed requirement to add MTBE to gasoline as part of the Clean Air Act of 1990?)
There clearly needs to be an orderly and fair process for vetting the science, economics and politics of regulatory decisions. In my lifetime, the regulatory pendulum has swung back and forth several times and may now be slightly tilted toward industry.
However, I think that is preferable to stifling debate and denying industry legitimate avenues for appeal of policies that they believe are scientifically misguided and that could adversely impact their business, employees, stockholders and/or customers.
Just because a scientist gets his/her paycheck from a private employer does not mean that they should be presumed to be stupid, wrong, biased, unethical, lying and/or attempting to deliberately create unsubstantiated doubt.
The fact is that industry, academia and government all compete in the employment marketplace for the best scientific and engineering talent. In general, industry offers superior overall compensation, career advancement, research funding, etc. Plus…… industry uniquely offers the opportunity to actually implement and bring to market practical solutions resulting from scientific discovery.
Where do you think that the majority of the best scientific minds choose to be employed?
Sorry I missed this before. Well I’m grateful that you did and let me apologize for the enuendo.
For everyone. The issues that have been discussed in these threads have scientific, political and policy dimensions that we have (myself included) consistently mushed together somewhat indiscriminantly. Rather than carry on a longer debate about these as well as argue about process, I want to simply recommend that anyone who is interested in this should get a copy of Ross Gelbspan’s book, “Boiling Point” and read chapter 3, “Criminals Against Humanity”. Actually you should read the whole book! You can hear Gelbspan speak on To The Point with Warren Olney (June 10). Here is the blurb:
Oil Industry Dampens Global Warming
Ford, British Airways and other multinationals have now called on the world’s richest nations to take urgent action on global warming. At the G-8 summit next month Prime Minister Tony Blair wants a global plan to cut greenhouse emissions, but President Bush is resisting. Newly uncovered documents show that the oil industry has played an important role in White House policy making. Have the economic concerns of big oil trumped the science of climate change? How much has the oil industry shaped White House policy on global warming?
Listen very carefully to the rhetoric of the other guests, especially:
MYRON EBELL, Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a research center advancing the principals of free enterprise and limited government. Note how he sidesteps the questions and specific issues.
My politics are driven by the situation described in this book. I do not believe the author because of an a priori ideology, but rather because I am fairly close to the science and know that he has reported that correctly. I also have contacts in some of the agencies involved and have gotten confirmation that what he reports conforms with what they saw take place with respect to policymakers trying to alter the scientific reports. I therefore conclude that the Bush administration is engaged in the worst kind of deceit with respect to global warming, not because of concern for the economic pain that reductions in GH gasses might cause, but because he is protecting the oil/coal/gas and auto industries’ interests. The pattern of lies is simply too compelling to conclude otherwise. But you should judge for yourselves. CA is perfectly right to want to investigate before drawing conclusions. All I ask is that you study resources that are not politically motivated or ideologically-driven. The science and science reporting (including economics) stand on their own.
[quote author=“Guest #2”]For everyone. The issues that have been discussed in these threads have scientific, political and policy dimensions that we have (myself included) consistently mushed together somewhat indiscriminantly. Rather than carry on a longer debate about these as well as argue about process, I want to simply recommend that anyone who is interested in this should get a copy of Ross Gelbspan’s book, “Boiling Point” and read chapter 3, “Criminals Against Humanity”. Actually you should read the whole book!……………………………But you should judge for yourselves. CA is perfectly right to want to investigate before drawing conclusions. All I ask is that you study resources that are not politically motivated or ideologically-driven. The science and science reporting (including economics) stand on their own.
Yes, by all means, you should read Mr. Gelbspan’s book and judge for yourself……..While you are at it, you may want to read a number of the other recommendations from the “G2 Environmental Disaster Book of the Hour Club”. The common theme in all of these is environmental doom and gloom, impending global disaster, the end of life as we know it and (guess what)……….. it’s all the fault of GWB and the evil energy industry!
However, you will find very little “science” or objective reporting in these materials. Rather you will be entertained with selective statistics, faulty logic, various out-of-context half-truths, vicious ad hominem attacks on the skeptics and biased conclusions that will have the cumulative effect of convincing you to slit your wrists in order to avoid experiencing the certain collapse of humanity that is being wrought by GWB.
My personal frustration is that for a number of weeks now, I have been attempting to wade through all of this crap to get to the unbiased “truth” about global warming. I am not doing this in order to “win” some sort of trivial scientific/political debate on this forum but rather to understand, to the best of my limited ability, what the future is most likely to hold for my grandchildren…...something that is VERY important to me personally.
At this point in my reading, my observation is that the credibility of the author is inversely proportional to the shrillness of the book title and the rhetoric contained therein. With a title like “Boiling Point” and chapter headings like “Criminals Against Humanity”, you should be forewarned about which part of the scale Mr. Gelbspan’s credibility lies.
The bottom line is that most of these shrill environmental activist authors cannot be trusted to tell you the truth and the whole unbiased truth!..........But, you should read them and judge for yourselves.
My personal solution to this dilemma has been to go back to the source documents cited by these (and other) authors and to read the entire relevant sections in order to understand the underlying scientific theories and findings and to form my own conclusions………needless to say, this is a very time-consuming and laborious process for which G2 and others have taunted me relentlessly…….however, I am not doing it to satisfy them!
If you do not choose to invest the time and effort that I have committed to this topic, I can recommend a book that will, no doubt, draw an instant attack from G2. However, it is by far the most objective, credible and meticulously researched, footnoted and referenced analysis of the overall global warming, energy and other environmental issue topics that I have yet found. In this document, you will find none of the shrill rhetoric typical of G2’s reading list but rather, you will find clear, logical, objective analysis and carefully researched references to the source documents from which the author draws his very well reasoned conclusions.
The book is “The Skeptical Environmentalist, Measuring the Real State of the World” by Bjorn Lomborg, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
After reading a magazine article in 1997, he set out to disprove a critic of the rhetoric and doomsday hype that was being promulgated by the radical environmental activists. Upon returning to his classroom, he assigned 10 of his best statistics students to analyze some of these claims. What they found led him on a four year quest for the truth that resulted in the publication of his book.
Immediately after its publication Lomborg was subjected to a series of incredible professional and personal attacks from the environmental activist community. Among the most virulent was an 11 page article in the January 2002 issue of Scientific American entitled “Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist” (by some of G2’s favorite authors). SA “generously” offered Lomborg 1 page to rebut these unprecedented attacks in the subsequent May edition of the magazine some four months later.
Instead, Lomborg elected to immediately publish a detailed point-by-point 32-page rebuttal on his web site. As is the frequent practice of posters on this forum, he parsed and posted the exact quotes from SA and, immediately following each point, provided explicit, objective and convincing rebuttals.
Thereupon, in the spirit of “free and open scientific debate”, SA immediately threatened to sue Lomborg for copyright infringement for publishing their screed on his web site. Lomborg, not having the inclination or resources to engage in a protracted copyright battle with a powerful publishing empire, immediately removed the offending defense of his book from his web site.
Of course, once on the web, always on the web. Today, Lomborg’s rebuttal can be found on a number of other sympathetic web sites including the following:
I recommend that you read Lomborg’s book, then read the scathing SA attack on him followed by Lomborg’s calm, rational and factual rebuttal………and then make up your own mind.
I, for one, am tired of reading the shrill environmental doom and gloom attack pieces such as those recommended by G2. I am in search of the scientific facts and will make up my own mind when I have digested a sufficient quantity and quality to convince me one way or the other.
Just to briefly conclude the sorry saga of the environmental activists vs Bjorn Lomborg, you should know that they also attempted to destroy his professional career by conducting a witch hunt before the politically motivated and scientifically inept Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (DSCD) which (relying upon the Scientific American article and refusing to read Lomborg’s rebuttal) determined in January of 2003 that his book was “objectively dishonest” and “clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice”.
Subsequently, in December of 2003, the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation repudiated these findings of the DSCD and released a highly critical assessment of the Committee’s ruling. The Ministry found that the DCSD judgment was not backed up by documentation, and was “completely void of argumentation” for the claims of dishonesty and lack of good scientific practice.
The Ministry characterized the DCSD’s treatment of the case as “dissatisfactory”, “deserving criticism” and “emotional” and pointed out a number of significant errors. The DSCD’s verdict has since been withdrawn in March of 2004 with a determination that the original charges were invalid and all further investigations have been stopped.
I bring this up to illustrate that the environmental activists are not interested in objective scientific debate nor will they tolerate any challenges to their doomsday orthodoxy. Rather, they view any skeptic as a mortal enemy to be crushed by any and all means at their disposal.
There are many other examples of attempted character assassination of global warming critics by the radical activists………some of which are MUCH MORE vicious and underhanded than the attacks on Lomborg.
The final example is the disgusting case of Frederick Seitz, a highly respected senior physicist, Past President, National Academy of Sciences and President Emeritus of Rockefeller University.
Dr. Seitz had the audacity to collect the signatures of 19,000 scientists on a petition in opposition to the Kyoto treaty.
Even if you are a died-in-the-wool environmentalist, this kind of S**T should be setting off big time alarm bells and causing you to wonder why these people are so afraid to actually discuss the issues rather than try to destroy the professional and personal lives of the skeptics.
Its too bad you don’t believe in god and heaven. You will probably not live long enough to see how things come out for your grandchildren. If you were like TheChamp you could watch from heaven to see how it all turns out.
My only remaining question is, what do you think all of these shrill environmentalist (which I guess in your view includes any climatologist or physicist who has worked on the science behind global warming) are motivated by? Do you think the whole world wants to destroy the American way of life and GWB?
Well enjoy your win and your clearly superior intellectual position on this issue.
[quote author=“Guest #2”]
My only remaining question is, what do you think all of these shrill environmentalist (which I guess in your view includes any climatologist or physicist who has worked on the science behind global warming) are motivated by? Do you think the whole world wants to destroy the American way of life and GWB?
First, there are respected scientists who have worked on this problem who are not “shrill”. For example Richard Lindzen of MIT who’s work and positions I am sure that you are very familiar with.
I think that many (perhaps most) are sincerely concerned about the possibility of a (low probability)“worst case” scenario that will wreak havoc on large parts of the earth.
I think that some others (the shrillest) have a vested economic interest in frightening the public in order to compete for, acquire and/or perpetuate funding for their organizations/careers and/or to sell their latest book. There are potentially trillions of $ to be spent and made in addressing the “threat” of global warming.
I think that there are some international actors who would like to see the US economy and affluence curtailed…...and if they could stick it to GWB in the process that would be a bonus.
I think that there are a few others who really want to drive civilization back to a pre-industrial economy for philosophical reasons that I do not pretend to understand.
.........and, there are some who see this as an area of political vulnerability for GWB and the Republicans and are going to try to exploit it for political gain.
I suspect that most people who feel strongly about the issue on the global warming activist side of the argument are motivated by some combination of these factors….....and possibly some others? What do you think?
While there are “nutcases” on each side of the argument, from what I have read, I do think that there is far more strong emotion on the pro-GW side.
I really don’t think that anybody disagrees that some level of global warming is occurring and that at least 50% is almost certainly attributable to human activities. However, how these trends are projected for the next 100 to 200 years and the likely consequences are where the real controversies lie.
If you have not already done so, you really should read (at least) the section of Lomborg’s book that deals with global climate change. It is only about 75 pages and is very well written and (I predict) will give you some things to think about that may modify some of your views on this topic.
At this point in my research, my best current “guess” is that the temperature rise over the next 100 years is most likely to be somewhere in the 2 degree C range or less, will have relatively few adverse consequences and may even be somewhat beneficial by increasing rainfall, extending growing seasons, and raising crop yields due to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
I have come to this current “guess” after looking in some detail at the 2001 IPCC Report on Climate Change, specifically the “Scientific Basis” and “Impacts” volumes.
I also, think that 1) as fossil fuels become more inaccessible and therefore more expensive and 2) assuming that wind and solar continue to decline in costs at the rate of ~30% to 50% per decade,….. by sometime during the middle third of this century we will be well into the transition to renewable energy without much (if any) government intervention or international treaties. This transition will be driven by economic reality and good old fashioned capitalism/greed and not by government imposed regulation. (BTW, this corresponds fairly closely to the so called “A1T” (transition) scenario modeled by the IPCC that predicts a 1.7 degree C temperature rise by 2095 with a gradual decline thereafter)
A guy that I play golf with occasionally owns a company that builds and operates wind turbines all over the world. He is building them as fast has he can put them up…….mostly in Europe but also here and in Asia.
According to one source, this is the first year that venture capital investments in solar energy will exceed government investments. There are some very interesting things happening with nanotechnology in solar that could accelerate the rate of adoption dramatically. (The next Microsoft or Qualcom could well be a solar technology company?)
These are strong signs that the economics are finally turning in the favor of renewables. I am certain that once the economics are right, this stuff will spread world wide very rapidly just like cell phones have done in the last 10 years.
As I said above, I am not really interested in “winning” or “losing” a debate on this forum topic…......I am much more interested in understanding the truth…....and am still seeking it in spite of the hype on both sides of the debate.
Well, CA, I guess the question is, do we continue to consume and pollute until we are the direct recipients of economic catastrophe in some indefinite future, or do we exercise some restraint in the present? Why are we so afraid of making the economic sacrifices necessary to serve a greater goal than an ever-expanding profit margin? Or is that all we are in the end - servants of vast, invisible economic forces outside of our control? Honestly, where global warming is concerned, I’d rather err on the side of caution and restraint, but that’s just me.
[quote author=“Alan Slipp”]Well, CA, I guess the question is, do we continue to consume and pollute until we are the direct recipients of economic catastrophe in some indefinite future, or do we exercise some restraint in the present?
You seem to be mixing up the concepts of consumption, pollution and global warming.
First of all, carbon dioxide is not a “pollutant” in the normal sense of the word. It is essential to all (carbon based) life on this planet. It is extracted from the atmosphere as an essential element in plant photosynthesis and acts as a “fertilizer” for plant growth. It is exhaled by every air breathing organism as a byproduct of metabolic oxidation. In general, higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 promote more rapid plant growth. CO2 is naturally sequestered in the oceans, living plants and all biomass.
It also absorbs and radiates heat. If it were not for this and other “greenhouse” gasses it is estimated that the average earth temperature would be approximately 39 degrees C (59 degree F) cooler than it is today.
The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been gradually increasing since the industrial revolution and will almost certainly continue doing so until approximately 30% to 50% of global energy consumption is supplied by something other than fossil fuels (e.g. renewables such as solar, or wind, nuclear, etc.)
Although there are some technologies that can reduce the amount of CO2 that is introduced into the atmosphere as a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, all climate models predict that doing so will have an insignificant (and probably undetectable) impact on global temperatures and/or climate.
The only known mechanism that is likely to initially slow and then gradually reverse the increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is to transition from dependence upon fossil fuels. This will only realistically occur when alternate energy sources are economically attractive relative to fossil sources which should happen within the next two or three decades.
Second, ironically, there is considerable evidence that reducing air pollution actually allows more incident solar radiation to reach and warm the earth surface thereby somewhat increasing global temperatures. We know this because of the substantial progress that has been made in reducing air pollution in the developed world over the last 25 years. In spite of this, we should continue to reduce air pollution with more emphasis on the developing world. From a global warming perspective, doing so will not significantly change the outlook on temperatures over the next 100 to 200 years and will have other substantial health benefits that greatly outweigh the potential consequences any reasonable expectation of increased temperatures.
Finally, the economic models all show that, by far, the most cost-effective way of dealing with whatever level of global warming that does occur is adaptation. Those best equipped to adapt will be the “wealthy” economies. Wealth is primarily driven by consumption.
Even if we wanted to do so, we could not realistically curtail the consumer demand of the 1 billion Chinese and the 1 billion Indians who are rapidly moving toward a developed world middle class standard of living. All of the UN IPCC models assume that even the third world will have standards of living roughly equivalent to those of the current developed world by the year 2100.
So,…….. “What should we do?
1. Ignore the global warming hype.
2. Welcome the rise in fossil fuel costs which will act to accelerate the transition to alternative energy sources.
3. Invest in R&D of renewable energy sources and nuclear fusion.
4. Encourage economic development in the third world which will give them the economic strength to adapt to the most likely consequences of the expected level of climate changes.
[quote author=“Alan Slipp”]Why are we so afraid of making the economic sacrifices necessary to serve a greater goal than an ever-expanding profit margin? Or is that all we are in the end - servants of vast, invisible economic forces outside of our control?
No, the economic forces are our servants……if we will only let them work without excessive interference from government.
These economic forces have resulted in unprecedented human progress in our standard of living, overall health, life expectancy, etc. If allowed to continue without severe government imposed constraints, they will also facilitate world adaptation to any likely level of climate change
[quote author=“Alan Slipp”]Honestly, where global warming is concerned, I’d rather err on the side of caution and restraint, but that’s just me.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that “caution and restraint” will have any impact on the global climate. Such policies will only inhibit economic growth thereby making the world less adaptable to climate change.
[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]Finally, the economic models all show that, by far, the most cost-effective way of dealing with whatever level of global warming that does occur is adaptation. Those best equipped to adapt will be the “wealthy” economies. Wealth is primarily driven by consumption.
The economic models, however, are flawed. The current global economy is simply a gigantic Ponzi scheme. It is all based upon the notion that human economic activity is fundamentally sustainable in perpetuity. In its current form, nothing could be further from the truth. Oil is being used up, deforestation and habitat loss are a reality, and species are going extinct - all directly and unequivocally as a result of human economic activities.
There is simply no way to honestly evaluate the current human economic situation as being sustainable in the long term, without the introduction of changes.
There is, however, a valid debate over when the best time to jump off the merry-go-round is. The abovementioned issues are extant, but how long will it take for them to become severe enough to collapse the global economy? 50 years? 100 years? The true argument isn’t pretty though, because no matter which way you slice it, a lot of people die. Unless, of course, something is discovered in the intervening time that allows us to skirt the issue.
So, there it is: The fundamental rub is about gambling with the future. The environmentalist approach (or at least the rational variant of it) is to immediately reign in human behavior, regardless of the cost, and protect the biosphere, thus ensuring a survivable future for some. The alternative approach (and the one we are on by default) is to play for all the marbles - continuing our expansion, on the hope that we can keep making discoveries in time to stave off disaster.
Now CA is resorting to lying not just distortion. Oh well. Fortunately the future doesn’t depend on his version of reality. The fact is that most of the rest of the world and a significant fraction of Americans are now very much aware of the threat and are starting to do something about it. CA can believe whatever fantasy he wants to, he is just irrelevant.
[quote author=“Guest #2”]Now CA is resorting to lying not just distortion. Oh well. Fortunately the future doesn’t depend on his version of reality. The fact is that most of the rest of the world and a significant fraction of Americans are now very much aware of the threat and are starting to do something about it. CA can believe whatever fantasy he wants to, he is just irrelevant.
No. CA isn’t lying. The rub, as I pointed out, has to do with fundamentally flawed economic models, which lead smart people to make incorrect projections.
G#2, you tend to get frustrated when people don’t “get” the obvious (from your perspective) truth regarding the environment. Try to understand that they might find it equally frustrating when you do not “get” the obvious (from their perspective) truth with regards to the accomplishments of mankind’s postindustrial economies.
The reason that I keep harping on the issue of sustainability is that global climate change wouldn’t be an issue if there were no practical limit to the amount of natural resources that we could safely extract from the earth. Given no such limit, dealing with mere warming would be a simple engineering exercise. Unfortunately, there are limits with regards to natural resources, and climate change is not an isolated issue.
That is what must be persuasively articulated to all the die-hard fiscal conservatives.
In the meantime, ad hominem attacks are not helping things.