01 August 2007

The War on Climate Change

I, like many others, are merely observers in the global warming (aka climate change) debate, and not neck deep in the peer-reviewed articles. But some of us observers can and do think for ourselves. I would like to believe that my engineering background provides me with some critical thinking tools. As has been pointed out by many of the naysayers, there are many variables to take into consideration, not just CO2. The hysteria over global warming is just another in a long line. It bothers me that people think so statically and are immediately prone to extremism when things change. We saw the same thing in the 1970s with global cooling.

Are we contributing to climate change? Some of the warming can be attributed to our actions, but certainly not all of it. You are foolish to think that we, as a species, do not have some impact on our environment. Do we have that much of an impact that such an extreme Algorean-type reaction is needed? No.

Are all the weather extremes we see today a result of global warming? No. We have a little more than 100 years of good data. That is an awfully small window when compared to the age of the Earth. We also tend to have a short time perspective. We also forget that we are our own worst enemies when we change our landscape to suite our needs. When we channel streams and rivers, pave land, do not manage our forests properly, and build our houses on steep slopes, in flood plains and below the mean sea level we pretty much guarantee that we will suffer at the hands of Mother Nature. We also tend to forget that when a severe storm hits a highly populated area there is a higher probability for misery. Why blame a nameless and faceless threat like climate change when we should blame ourselves for being so arrogant and stupid in the first place?

Is it a pending disaster as folks like Al Gore would have you believe? Probably not. I am definitely not willing to bet the house on long-term modeling forecasts. I have enough problems with simple groundwater models at work that I find it hard to believe that climate models can be accurate. In fact, climate change may actually benefit some people.

Can we actually do anything about climate change? Probably not. We cannot even provide clean and safe drinking water to 1.1 billion people. How exactly do you expect to change the climate? How do you change the mind set of billions of people. How do you reduce CO2 emissions without nuclear power? How do you reduce CO2 emissions without stabilizing or reducing population? Are Al Gore and his merry band of hypocrites going to stop flying private jets and go commercial or do away entirely with using air planes? Are you going to stop eating meat and drinking bottled water? It is folly to think that merely increasing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks and getting rid of coal fired power plants will result in “positive” climate change or reversal of current “trends”. The same arrogance and stupidity that had us build in areas where we should not, will have us “burn” money for the sake of a tenth of a degree.

What should we do then Mister Smarty Pants? Let’s change the debate from the War on Climate Change to economic prosperity and security. Let’s cut the use of oil to get us out of the Middle East and stop us from providing cash to sociopaths like Chavez and Ahmadinejad. We should be the leaders of alternative energy research and innovation. Let’s be honest, there is not enough oil and coal to last us forever, so let’s make sure that when supplies tighten up we are ready with answers. Being leaders in alternative energy makes economic sense. Let's provide incentives for people to be their own energy suppliers. Stop touting this ridiculous notion that we need to save the polar bears. Sure they are cute and cuddly, but they would just as soon sink their teeth into an environmentalist as a baby seal. And no, they do not drink Coca Cola.

Sure, I drive a fuel efficient car and I will do what I can to reduce my emissions without going overboard and becoming a vegan and wearing hemp-only clothes. And I do think we need to use and find reliable alternatives to oil and coal for security and economic reasons, not merely environmental. But am I worried? Not in the least. There are other things going on right now that I am much more worried about; for example, a clueless democrat or republican getting elected President of the United States of America. Now that scares the living bat crap out of me.