08 April 2007

Global Warming: Real Crisis or Fashion Fad?

In case you have not heard, there is a global crisis. It is not HIV/AIDs. It is not malaria. It is not hunger. It is not lack of clean drinking water. It is not lack of basic sanitation facilities. It is not lack of access to basic health care. It is the earth’s climate changing.

The United Nations has provided a report that suggests that we need to immediately do something about this crisis. Not all the other ones I mention above, but climate change. I find it interesting that of all the global crises, global warming seems to be the only one we should get motivated about; maybe because this “crisis” has no face. When you think global warming, you do not think of a starving child in Africa. When you think global warming you do not think of a village in Haiti without clean drinking water. When you think global warming you do not think of the children orphaned because of HIV. When you think of global warming you do not think of the person dying from a mosquito bite. When you think of global warming you think of ice bergs melting and palm trees in the Artic. Sure some polar bears are having a tough time, but you rarely think of a child in need or the gaunt face of a struggling mother.

Everyone, it seems, is on the global warming bag wagon. From Al Gore to Hollywood (the biggest hypocrites of them all) to politicians to scientists everyone is jumping aboard and purporting that there is consensus in the global warming debate. The science is infallible they say. The computer generated models are very accurate they say. Just look at the trend and the delta they say. Say something contrary to what the global warming aficionados think and you are liable to receive death threats and become black listed by those with an “open” mind. The whole attitude of these elitists makes me think the whole fiasco is akin to Big Climate Change; another all powerful, but secretive entity, that is intent on controlling humanity.

I am not disputing the trend of overall global warming. I am disputing the cause and I am trying to be rationale – not something the elite snobs want when so much funding is on the line. I will give you a few things to think about:

1. Ice core data indicated that in past warming cycle’s temperature increases before carbon dioxide levels increase. What then caused the increase in temperature if it was not carbon dioxide? Could it possibly be other factors?

2. The ice core data shows temperature and carbon dioxide increases but then the temperature and carbon dioxide levels decrease again. I thought that once you had an increase in CO2 levels there was no return. The aficionados claim that we will burn up. What caused the decrease of temperature and carbon dioxide in the past? Remember these records come before man had invented the SUV. How did those intrepid cave men fight global warming in the past – maybe there is a missing link and a missing solution on a cave wall tragically demolished due to our ignorance. That mural was not depicting a hunt; it probably was the formula to stop global warming.

3. In the 1970’s, scientists were worried about global cooling. Yes, global cooling. The levels of CO2 did not decrease during this time period. On the contrary, CO2 levels have been steadily increasing for more than 50 years. Those scientists were quite certain of the crisis and crazy ideas were brought forth to stop global cooling. Now crazy ideas are being proposed to fight global warming.

4. If CO2 is really to blame, can you really do anything to curb CO2 emissions without controlling population? As I have said before, more people require more resources, and more resources results in more CO2 and other greenhouse gases such as methane being emitted.

5. The Earth’s climate has changed without human intervention many times over thousands upon thousands years. Glaciers have been receding for thousands of years. What makes us think we are that special to cause it this time? Our science? Our computer models? Our infallible knowledge that only man can control the Earth?

There are lots of good websites like RealClimate.org that think that the rise in greenhouse gases is a cause for alarm. You can sift through all their editorials and resultant comments by scientists. I have spent many an hour looking through their website, but for some reason I do not find myself convinced. They present many plausible ideas and studies to support their stance, but I feel like something is missing. My bullshit meter is in alarm mode when I read it. Just when I think they may have a point because it is in the 80’s in Kansas City in March, the following week it gets to below freezing in Kansas City. Mother Nature can be fickle; another reminder that the climate can change at the drop of hat.

Photo by KCThinker, water tap in batey, La Romana, Dominican Republic

03 April 2007

The Trouble with Political Pronouncements

Martin Frost, a former democratic congressman to the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote the following in a Foxnews.com editorial about energy independence: "Like so many other Bush pronouncements, it turned out to be a statement made for political expediency with no substance or commitment behind it."

Newsflash: ninety nine percent of all political pronouncements, from both democrats and republicans, are politically expedient with no substance or commitment behind them. I have the utmost contempt for the politicians in Washington, D.C. who find it easy to promise so much and deliver on so little of substance. They play their little game with the future of the United States hanging in the balance. If there is pork to be had then everything is easy, but to actually address a real problem like energy independence or the burgeoning national debt or the unfunded trillions in Medicare and social security liabilities the politicians are strangely noncommittal and provide us with nothing but political expediency. No one wants to present the very tough and unpopular decisions needed to address these problems because they fear for their chances of re-election. All the solutions require sacrifices**: cuts in spending, cuts in benefits, and an increase in taxes - that is the truth, you have to have all three - there is no hiding from that reality. Who is willing to go to the American people and present that? Who is willing to look their campaign bankrollers in the eye and say the trough is closed? And if you do present a proposal like that you are shot down. The only thing you hear from the talking heads is criticism, nothing constructive whatsoever. Each of the key issues above needs to be addressed soon otherwise we will saddle our children and grandchildren with an enormous burden. I just do not see anyone in Washington, D.C. that cares about America. I think they care more about ensuring their party benefits and stays in power. I have found that they are all talk. Pretty speeches and flowery rhetoric does not solve problems. And I do not think I am alone in America in thinking this way.

You can think what you may, but I am as cynical as I have ever been about our elected officials and their chances of finding a "consensus" on any issue. Let's just look at becoming energy independent. It will take nuclear power. It will take new coal power plants with carbon sequestering. It will take coal to oil. It will take more wind and solar power. It will take more drilling in areas like ANWR. It will take more fuel efficient vehicles. It will take higher gas taxes to encourage a reduction in consumption. It will take significant investment in renewable technology. It will take more than just biofuels (never mind that we are taking land away from food production for energy production). It will take a change in mindset. It would not take much to convince me to change, because I know what is at stake. You need someone that has a grasp of how to convince everyone else including the anti-nuclear crowd, the auto manufacturers, the oil companies, and the citizens of this country. You need someone that can convince the left that this is a responsible way to become energy independent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You need someone that can also convince the right that this is a reasonable way to get us out of the Middle East and other areas run by despots. In the present political climate I do not see anyone that has the ability to unify people to make the changes necessary and that is a sad commentary on our society as a whole.

**Sacrifice is not in the American dictionary anymore. It is a word that is fading fast with the greatest generation. Our society has become fat and lazy. And so have our politicians.

Photo by KCThinker, sugar cane loading appartus, March 2007