Its fun to argue all day about this subject. However, regardless of how we feel, it comes down to a matter of what are the chances and what are the choices. So here are a few very simple questions I ask myself.
1) "What are the chances that global warming or agw is really happening to the extent everyone is worried about?". Answer - Perhaps 50/50 split in opinions.
2) "Is there really going to be a massive disaster at some point if AGW is true and continues as some predict?" - Answer - I highly doubt there would be a disaster unless we all get hot enough to fry like bugs. People will cope. Nature has seen climate change before - it isn't the end of the world. Most of these predictions of impending environmental doom have almost zero credibility based on past performance.
3) "What are the chances that the solutions being proposed to fix the alleged gobal warming problem will even have a meaningful affect?" - The anwer is probably less than 50/50.
4) "Do I want to live in a top-down Soviet style command and control economy where every little aspect of my life is regulated, my standard of living is cut, and more freedoms are eliminated in order to take a flailing swing at fixing a problem which may or may not be an issue?" - and - "Do I want to give up my nation's sovereignty for this?" Answer - Unapologetically ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
So in the final analysis it seems we've been offered a choice of living in the hell created by Al Gore and the onerous solutions offered by those of his persuasion or the hell created by global warming.
I'll take my chances with global warming without batting eye.
Yes our resources are limited, yes our society is growing, yes there will come a day when energy is precious, but until that day we should take advantage of the resources present. As natural resources become scarce then recycling becomes necessary and affordable. Our economy automatically implements these processes. This is simple mechanics of supply and demand people. I believe that these scientists did not sign a career-ender publication without truly believing in this. Fear has been used before to control people. The church does it, Communist countries do this, and fascist countries have used the same techniques. This is a repeating process. When the next outbreak of fear comes along just be prepared to minimize your loss. Keep in mind that all they are saying is Excess amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere are not a problem or so is my take on this. This does not state the crisis of the limited natural resources that could or could not run out in 100 years or so. Also another thing to consider is the amount that animals, humans, and any CO2 exhaling living thing outputs several times more CO2 then all of our industry combined. Humans alone have output 150% CO2 in million tons in comparison to the worlds industry.
It seems to me that those that promote the myth that climate change is all man's fault are those that seek to profit from it. These people range from multi-national corporations that develop "alternative products" to the likes of Al Gore that deals in "carbon credits". As far as I am concerned these people are no more than scam artists that are getting very wealthy by promoting fear tactics to those foolish enough to listen and believe their manufactured lies. It is refreshing to see very credible people and groups stepping forward to debunk the myth.
My spousal-unit comment on this was to look at the animals, insects, and plants, and say you have not noticed a change. They are not driven by ideology, education, or training. And yet we are seeing changes in their behaviors. We are seeing changes in migrations, flora and fauna where we have not seen them before, as well as other changes. Why do you think they are doing that, unless in response to changing conditions?
We can argue statistics and methodology and ideology for years before coming to a conclusion. I think everything not human has already made their decisions.
I agree that "Micheal Critons "State of Fear" is an educational book. It is an excelent example of well written propaganda. I assumed that his refrences were partially correct, but in the sentences before and after his refrences I found outright lies, misleading information and other distortions like cherry picked temperature data. Most engineers understand noise, and that you will find several percent of the stations data to have any shape that you want to find. It is only the average of many stations on multiple continents that would show useful information. This mixture of lies and enough truth to make it sound good is exactly how Hitler took over Germany.
One of the lies that struck me imedately is the missquoting of Hansen's temperature predictions from '88. claiming a 300% error when the error was only 25%.
The kicker here is that Criton labels his work as fiction, yet people continue to beleive its message without researching it. Every single paper that I have read denying AGW is very similar to Criton's work. They rely in a more subtle way on cherry picked data, logical fallacies, misdirection, and outright lies to make their point.
The AGW deniers are correct in claiming that cap and trade is a bad thing, we need a simple gradually increasing carbon tax on fosil fuels applied at the source. See carbontax.org for more info. Also Hansen's latest paper :
There is a fundamental conflict between the design of our economic system with its need for growth, planned obsolescense, massive resource extraction and massive waste and the physical limits to the capacities of the planet. This is the central concept of sustainability.
Some people describe our economies as being addicted to growth, suggesting that we can simply kick the addiction and then move on. I think it is much harder than that. Our economies are addicted to growth in the same way that we are addicted to oxygen. Without growth our current economic system collapses.
This is perhaps one of the reasons some people are disparaging of the idea of sustainability as being some warm touchy-feely thing that is unrealistic in the 'real world'. Consciously or unconsciously they are recognising that the implications of sustainability are largely incompatible with our current economic system and its need for growth.
But sustainability isn't touchy-feely. It is a critical survival issue. FOR US. If something isn't done sustainably then it cannot be sustained. Or to use a saying from economists: "If something can't continue, it won't".
This is the central crisis we face - the way our economic system works cannot continue indefinitely. Is the end 5 years away? 50? Will its end come with a big bang or a decades long slow grinding halt? But what is absolutely certain is that it cannot continue indefinitely while its interaction with the physical world is unsustainable.
At this point many people react with a sort of gung-ho boosterism, of we have solved problems before, we can solve them again. Yes, some of them. But the problems are becoming ever bigger, and harder to solve. Ultimately the boosterism becomes a denial of reality.
And for some folks, usually of a more conservative nature, the idea that our current system is a dead end is not just alarming, it is something that disturbs their sense of meaning in life. They value our economic system as a virtuous thing in its own right. Others with a more left-wing view may be disturbed at the consequences of the failure of our system but do not have any other feelings of grief at the thought of its loss. I would put myself in that camp. The prospect of what the collapse of our system would do to our lives is horrendous. But if a new system materialised tomorrow and we relegated our current system to the trash can, I wouldn't shed a tear. Our system is only a tool for getting a job done. It has no intrinsic worth other than that.
So we have a profound problem. The current system cannot continue indefinitely because it depends on growth and growth cannot be sustained - we can't keep sweeping things under the carpet. To produce a system that is completely sustainable is a massive undertaking, the greatest enterprise in human history. And we don't even have the outlines of a design for such a new system. And humanities track record at designed political & economic systems isn't a good one. Then in addition many people have an additional existential attachment to the current system and are unable to let it go.
In such an environment, is it any surprise that many people are in denial of the need for this change or even of the existance of the problem. The existential and psychological chasm they need to cross to confront this is huge for them.
AGW is just one symptom of the sustainability crisis and AGW Denial is just one instance of our broader denial. Denial is an all too human trait. But now it might be a deadly one.
That's a good summary GlennT, however it misses one vital issue. There is sometimes a conflict between what constitutes good efficient engineering and fundamental business objectives.
Imagine if instead of replacing our consumer items every 3 or 4 years, Engineers made them to last twice as long, or they were built in module form so only 10-20% of an item had to be upgraded every time they became obsolete? I guess you might define this as efficient Engineering, but business as a whole aren't as likely to make as many sales or as much profit. Computer hardware and software manufacturers haven't made their billions through good engineering, but the constant need to upgrade, and convincing us their last product is obsolete.
I don't buy the theory that enough consumer pressure is efficient. The information isn't disseminated efficiently enough, and consumer choices can be highly irrational being easily manipulated through branding and peer pressure. This is especially the case once businesses achieve a monopoly or if they don't break rank.
We are taught that the more stuff we make and consume, in theory the richer and better of we are, this obviously isn't true. If everything lasted twice as long and served the same function, we would only earn half as much, but we would only need to buy half as much. Hence we would be just as well off materialistically. We would also emit half as much to the environment, and use half as much raw material and energy. It seems that everyone wins except perhaps the rich.
This is why I believe that efficient engineering and good business practise can come into conflict. Efficient engineering can allow us to achieve the same objective with fewer resources. An efficient business using the profit criteria, tries to convince us to do the opposite, to buy more than we really need to achieve that same objective.
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was a Washington State suspension bridge that opened in 1940 and spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula. It opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7, just four months after it opened.
Noting that we now live in an era of “confusion and ill-conceived stuff,” Ammunition design studio founder Robert Brunner, speaking at Gigaom Roadmap, said that by adding connectivity to everything and its mother, we aren't necessarily doing ourselves any favors, with many ‘things’ just fine in their unconnected state.
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