Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm increasingly amazed by the ability of people to deny that mankind can effect the environment, especially when politics is involved. Poor science is made to jump through all kinds of hoops by the right. If Stephen Hawking were explicitly liberal, Rush Limbaugh would be mocking him for suggesting there is such a thing as "time."

Therefore we have to suffer through a lot of crazy debate about Global Warming, because it's a pet cause of Al Gore. Instead of listening to the majority of legitimate scientists, conservatives are forced to believe a handful of oil-company researchers. I have been batting this issue around lately with Warner Todd Huston (who believes that the new Eagles album aids the terrorists, even though it's perfectly acceptable to hate it because the album is just lame) and he's been riding the bullet train to Crazytown trying to convince me that there is no such thing as Global Warming. Or there is, but we aren't causing it and there is nothing we can do to stop it, and we shouldn't even try because there isn't any.

Warner says:

This isn't about "saving the Earth." It's about so-called scientists getting money for more research to assure globaloney exists.

Yes, that's right - the majority of the world's scientists have gotten together in secret, maybe at one of those conferences in Helsinki, and agreed to gin up the results of their research to squeeze a little grant money out of the rest of us! All this time I thought it was energy companies trying to protect their profits; but it turns out they're the altruistic ones! Those scientists are the greedy, rapacious bastards!

Warner says:

...People imagine that plastic won't break down and disintegrate. But this isn't true at all. It's just that plastic is such a new substance that microbes haven't figured out how to break it down. Eventually, they will.

Same thing happened to trees millions of years ago. Now trees break down and disappear because microbes, etc. break down the wood. But millions of years ago, they hadn't quite figured that out yet. That is why we can find bark and nearly whole fallen tree trunks deep under the earth in coal mines (for instance).

These two paragraphs have created a whole new energy source, because they make my head spin so much I have hooked a belt to it to power my reading lamp. First of all, microbes will eventually figure out how to break down plastic? How is that possible, knowing that there is no such thing as evolution?

Second, as proof that microbes learned to break down wood, Warner offers the example of million year old undecomposed wood. These microbes had millions of years - wouldn't a few of them have gone back to the older stuff and learned to eat that? If anything, this example proves that when Charlton Heston digs his fist through the sand screaming "you maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell," he will get his wrist tangled in one of those six-pack holder things, 'cause they're going to be around forever.

Finally, Warner says:

But a local "mess" does not automatically translate to a mess that encompasses the whole world!!!

I suppose the multiple exclamation points means I'm winning. But you know what? These guys always cite examples from nature ("The earth warmed during the renaissance! We didn't cause that!") so I'll refute that argument with a natural example. My "local mess" - the eruption of Krakatoa. From Wikipedia :

In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 degrees Celsius. Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888. The eruption injected an unusually large amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas high into the stratosphere which was subsequently transported by high-level winds all over the planet. This led to a global increase in sulfurous acid (H2SO3) concentration in high-level cirrus clouds. The resulting increase in cloud reflectivity (or albedo) would reflect more incoming light from the sun than usual, and cool the entire planet until the suspended sulfur fell to the ground as acid precipitation.

I'd have quoted Conservapedia instead, but they don't have an entry for Krakatoa. Those guys only have so much server space and bandwidth, and explaining how dinosaurs survived on Noah's Ark takes up most of it. But you could call the eruption a local event, and it effected the entire world. It is said that Munck's THE SCREAM depicted the post-Krakatoa sky. In Norway. Just sayin'.

And yes, eventually the sky healed and things got back to normal. But it was just one source of pollutants, and it stopped after a month and a half. We have been pouring junk into the air since the industrial revolution from points all over the globe. How brainwashed by Bill O'Reilly do you have to be before you think that might create a problem?

Well, never mind. If Al Gore believes it, it MUST be wrong. Next thing, you'll be telling me that there is a company called APPLE that makes computers and phones!


blacktygrrrr said...

Happy Thanksgiving My Friend.

eric aka

wamk said...

What about the scientists that pedicted global cooling back in the 70's?

In other words, if a collective group of scientists was wrong (and way wrong, at that), isn't it possible that they could be wrong now as well?

Danielk said...

That was a much, much smaller collective group of scientists. However, as an amateur logician I will grant you that it is possible. It's also possible that the people working with Ray Kurzweil who predict that this generation will achieve immortality are right. Most scientists disagree with that. You with 'em or against 'em?

Keep trying. Convince me!

wamk said...

Ok, a few more perhaps?

I recall scientists in the early 70's predicting we'd run out of oil by the year 2000.

How about the following diseases/events that would wipe out huge numbers of the world population:

West Nile
Africanized Bees

It's not that I'm against scientists, but merely pointing out the FACT that science is often wrong. A consensus means nothing, without the proof to back it up.

Before we go running all willy-nilly (how often does one get to use THAT term!), more study needs to be done. The "remedy" that is proposed for global warming is incredibly damaging to the world economy, with no proof it would actually do anything. Add to the mix that China is bringing on coal power plants at an amazing rate, and we are even further behind the eight ball before anything begins.

Danielk said...

Those predictions you mention were frequently prefaced by the term "if present trends continue." The publicity that they got allowed the trends to reverse. The scientists were not wrong, except perhaps about the oil. Given our methods of finding oil then, they were right; we just found more oil since. And who knows, maybe bacteria will still evolve and eat it all.

Adding to this ghoulash, in order to sell papers it's easy to report that the end is near, hence the Africanized Killer Bee story. It wasn't the experts who put that story out there, it was Hearst Inc.

Scientists as a whole are seldom as much in agreement about anything as they are about global warming. And with oil companies making record profits, why do you think it will wreck the economy if they give a little back? If I'm not mistaken, you believe the economy is healthier than it was in the 90's and things were pretty good back then.

WAMK said...

What about the scientists and UN folks that lied about AIDS?

They politicized the scope (over 40%!) of the AIDS "crisis" to receive additional funding.

One could easily substitute "Global Warming" for "AIDS" in those stories..

Danielk said...

I'm going to step into this particular trap. Suppose the public statements on AIDS had gone the other way - "We belive the disease will die out on its own; there really is no reason for people to change their behavior" -- do you think that more people would have AIDS now or less?

It is unusual for a red-state guy like yourself to be outraged because someone discouraged gay men from having sex!

The threat of communism was exaggerated in the fiftied and sixties, but that arguable resulted in the neutralizing of Communism.

I admit that I'm swinging at the argument with planks from my own platform, but my point is you can admit the worst-case scenario is unlikely and yet still do some good by publicizing it.

wamk said...

Ahh, but it didn't. Scientists and the UN folks falsely inflated the AIDS "crisis" by 40%, to draw attention to a situation they felt was important.

Fool me once..

If science is so perfect, and the results so clear, why do they have to inflate the result?

That's what makes me skeptical about GLobal Warming.

wamk said...

One last question:

Does the field of study of the consensus of scientists matter?

Danielk said...

Can I put you down as feeling that AIDS is unimportant?

And let's add an important distinction: the UN scientists were either WRONG or DECEPTIVE, or for that matter maybe they're right and people are lying to the Census takers. Given the difficulty of getting accurate info out of people about their own sexually transmitted diseases, "deceptive" is the least likely possibility.

For this field of study question I'll say yes, but remember if the scientists study the global warming question on behalf of the oil and power industries I'm inclined to ignore the results.

wamk said...

So just because a environmental scientist has research that is funded by Big Oil, he's a liar?

I do think AIDS is important. I also think that it's important to recognize that the UN and WHO deceptively inflated numbers for years.

The UNAIDS program now admits that cases of AIDS peaked back in 1998, yet kept quiet about it. Why not make that information known, that AIDS had peaked, and perhaps their programs of education had worked to slow the spread of the diseaes?

Politics and money.

All I'm suggesting here is that in the same way that you discount ANY information that contradicts man-made Global Warming, the UNAIDS and WHO folks actually did falsify, lie, and coverup information that went against their cause.

So why aren't you as angry with the UNAIDS and WHO floks, as you are with Big Oil?

Danielk said...

I guess it's harder for me to be angry at someone who exaggerates because they think it will save lives, as opposed to someone who exaggerates even though it may cost lives.

wamk said...

So the ends justify the means in your mind?

But only when you agree with what the "ends" are.

Danielk said...

Whoa, you just blew my mind dude! I never saw the "ends justifying the means" argument coming up in this context. How dare someone predict the worst case scenario in the interest of saving lives! That's just wrong!

Well, we're both being pretty consistent here. I'm the relativist and you're the absolutist. You believe that unless all the scientists completely agree that greenhouse gasses are harmful, we must not take action to stop them.

Tell you what - until everyone agrees that that same-sex marriage will destroy marriage itself, I think we should allow it. And until all the readers say there is a liberal media bias, let's shut up about that. I'm pretty sure that will work for you.