“The Gore Effect”

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Can we stop this nonsense where every time a snowflake lands on Al Gore, we laugh about how it proves he’s wrong about global warming?

There’s lots not to like about Al Gore. And while I’m generally convinced that the earth is getting warmer, I’m also skeptical that (1) it’s entirely man-made, (2) there’s much we can do it about, (3) even if we could marginally offset it, it would be worth the enormous costs, (4) anyone really knows what the consequences of it will be.

But “global warming” refers to average temperatures across the planet. “Climate change” is the more appropriate term to describe the broader phenomenon, which is a greenhouse gas-caused general disruption in the climate patterns we’re accustomed to. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Al Gore or anyone else say “global warming” means every spot on earth will be hotter, all the time.

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100 Responses to ““The Gore Effect””

  1. #1 |  Nando | 

    #47 Ben:

    As much as I love Carlin, he was a comedian, not a scientist.

    Again, anyone with half a brain knows that when you burn coal, you release gases that would’ve never been released otherwise. Can anyone actually argue intelligently that all the coal we burn would’ve somehow unearthed and burned itself? Of course not. And, by applying heat to something (like Coal or Uranium), we chemically alter the substance and create new substances. Nobody can tell me that plastics would form naturally had we not started rearranging molecules.

    There are so many substances that we’ve created that would otherwise not exist that you have to admit that they will change the environment in some way or form. Maybe it isn’t detrimental and, in the grand scheme of things, I’m sure it’s not permanent, but something will change.

    I don’t argue that the state of the world at any given time is the best/optimal as far as the Earth is concerned. However, there are certain conditions which are the most favorable for human life and habitation. That is where the “global climate change” army would like the world to be.

    Again, I’m very philosophical on this issue and stand somewhere in the middle. IMHO, to do nothing or to change everything are both just as bad. I believe we should do our part to use less fossil fuels and use more renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, geothermal, etc. I also don’t think that the levels of C02 in our atmosphere are good for us as a species.

  2. #2 |  Jerry S | 

    (I am amused at all the global warming skeptics in this thread and how quickly they are being voted up. Its telling on who reads this blog.) – tim

    As we are amused with AGW alarmists.

    The position of global-warming fetishists is premised on the faulty assumption that the way the Earth is right now is the super-best-most-awesomest way it could possibly be and that any change is bad. – John Jenkins

    Amen! I’ll second that and add that the hubris displayed by the AGW alarmist crowd about stoping the warming is laughable. We’ll either adapt or perish and has anyone thought maybe a warmer world just might be better? A colder world would be much worse, IMHO.

  3. #3 |  chance | 

    In the debates between skeptics and proponants that I have seen online, heard on radio, and read, the skeptics generally haven’t been persuasive to me.

    Anywho, I would expect libertarians as a group should be the first to use and extol the virtues of alternative power sources like solar, wind, and non-fossil fuels. After all, these power sources have the potential to free the user from using state supported/subsidized electricity, and the strings that come attached with that.

  4. #4 |  Mattocracy | 

    So…if you don’t believe in Global Warming/Climate Change, you’re an ignorant and uninformed anti-intellectual, and if you do believe in it, you’re a part of a cultish religion using faux science that wants to end all debate…

    Talk about a bunch of pots and kettles.

    Bjorn Lomborg is the only person I’ve heard talk about climate change that is a reasonable and honest.

  5. #5 |  Peyton | 

    Actually, that’s not the case, Radley. Gore and global warming alarmists frequently point to regional temperature anomalies and isolated extreme weather events — events that have zero correlation to global warming — as proof of global warming. Their entire strategy has been to condition the public to view anything above, below, or outside the “average” temperature, rainfall, hurricane strength, snowfall, or what-have-you as cause for alarm. (Notice they’ve shifted their phraseology from “global warming” to “climate change” — acutely aware that the Earth, as a whole, is entering a somewhat predictable cooling period). And these alarmists have, to a large degree, succeeded. That’s unfortunate because thinking people understand that the “average” is just that — the middle point between extremes. And extreme nature events (hot spells, cold spells, ice ages, melting, freezing, dry spells, wet spells, species going extinct, etc.) have been occurring and fluctuating since the dawn of time. Pointing out when snow and cold follows Gore around is simply giving the gander what the gander thinks is good for the geese. One might disagree with the tactic, but that’s a separate debate.

  6. #6 |  chance | 

    Hear hear on #50. That pretty much sums up my beliefs on the subject.

  7. #7 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Jim Henley,

    I suggest you read this,

    Like Glenn Reynolds says – I’ll start believing it when the people who are screaming about start acting like *they* believe it.

    My problem is that these guys don’t act it is the catastrophe they claim it will be. They go on driving big SUVs, flying private jets, consuming vast amounts of electricity. But they want all of us “peons” to cut back so they can maintain their lifestyles.

    Reminds me vaguely of the government in 1984.

  8. #8 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ Chance,

    Totally. I think empowering individuals to be self reliant is the only way for humans to reduce carbon output, if that is their individual goal. The government has too many interest groups to bribe to get honest policy.

  9. #9 |  Jim Henley | 

    Steve, I have a lot of respect for your opinion on several issues that are not this one.

  10. #10 |  Elliot | 

    Ridiculing politicians is a wonderfully effective American tradition, particularly for dissidents who despise how such arrogant politicians pretend to be infallible while they trample on our rights.

    Who is seriously claiming that a cold day “proves” anything? What in the world made you decide to defend this crackpot collectivist icon? And, I don’t recall you objecting to any over-the-top ridicule of Bush, Quaylee, Coulter, et al..

    I say: MORE RIDICULE! DRIVE IT HOME! LAMPOON THEM ALL UNTIL THE VERY MENTION OF THEIR NAMES CAUSES IMMEDIATE LAUGHTER! SPARE NO PRESIDENT! SPARE NO PART!

    Any reason why not?

  11. #11 |  Elliot | 

    PART -> PARTY

  12. #12 |  Ben | 

    Nando, #50; I don’t argue that the state of the world at any given time is the best/optimal as far as the Earth is concerned. However, there are certain conditions which are the most favorable for human life and habitation. That is where the “global climate change” army would like the world to be.

    Allow me to point out the phrases that make me like that quote, because they are so true:

    You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced.

    and

    You wanna know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think we should stop doing what we’re doing simply to extend the potential time of existance for humans. But we need to stop saying “Save the Planet” because the planet doesn’t need saving. Nor do we need to stop global warming. We need to start with the “Save the Humans” because humans are the endangered species if this keeps happening. That’s his point, and that’s mine as well.

  13. #13 |  jwk | 

    Maybe if Al Gore would stop talking – that would help lower the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    In Nashville – we’re still waiting for him to repair the “bridges he burned” in the 2000 election. Do you think the emissions from the burned bridges contributed to global warming??? Just a thought….

  14. #14 |  Nando | 

    #62 Ben

    Allow me to point out the phrases that make me like that quote, because they are so true:

    You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced.

    and

    You wanna know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think we should stop doing what we’re doing simply to extend the potential time of existance for humans. But we need to stop saying “Save the Planet” because the planet doesn’t need saving. Nor do we need to stop global warming. We need to start with the “Save the Humans” because humans are the endangered species if this keeps happening. That’s his point, and that’s mine as well.

    Ben,

    You’re arguing semantics. If I tell you that you’re going to die tomorrow and some religious nut tells you that you’re going to the best possible place you could ever imagine, does it make a difference? Nope, you’re still going to die.

    When people say “Save the Planet,” it’s obvious that they could care less what happened to the planet, per se, if they weren’t on it. They, and everyone else, should be interested in keeping the Earth hospitable for humans. Whether they say “Save the Planet” or “Help Keep the Planet’s Atmosphere and Environment at a Level that Sustains Human Life” is a moot point. It’s not the semantics that matter, it’s the meaning that does.

    Arguing with people who say that saying “Save the Planet” is dumb because they don’t mean Planet, they mean Humanity is like arguing with an 8 year-old on why fart jokes are funny.

  15. #15 |  John Jenkins | 

    @ Nando (#50):

    I don’t argue that the state of the world at any given time is the best/optimal as far as the Earth is concerned. However, there are certain conditions which are the most favorable for human life and habitation. That is where the “global climate change” army would like the world to be.

    What conditions are those that are “most favorable for human life and habitation?” We could not begin to optimize a system as complex as the entire Earth for human habitation if we wanted to and that is not the argument being advanced. The global warming argument is a steady drumbeat of carbon emissions, carbon emissions, carbon emissions, and it specifically privileges past states over the present and future states. See, e.g.,here.

  16. #16 |  Nando | 

    John,

    Yes, you’re right that they privilege past states above the future ones. That is done because we KNOW that humans can survive when certain elements are within certain parameters in our environment. Changing them to a level never before seen since humans came onto this world (such as the Carbon levels are soon to be) brings the unexpected and the unexplainable. The prediction is that the world would become more inhospitable as certain elements start to rise above certain levels in the atmosphere and environment.

    We also know we can’t live under certain conditions, which are very likely to emerge if things stay on their path. That is why they favor the past over the future. I’d rather take my chances with the way things used to be since we KNOW that humans can safely live under them, then change them and see what happens. I’ll gamble with my money but I’d rather not gamble with my life.

  17. #17 |  Big Chief | 

    Radley, I blame “global warming” the way you do “gay marriage”, with the same level of sarcasm. I particularly use it on the nutjobs I know who have seriously sited global warming for every hurricane, tornado and heat wave that has hit over the last 5 or 10 years. I don’t have any remorse for throwing it back at them, infantile as it may seem. I do think it’s important to make the point that there is little evidence that the current state of the planet is outside of the norm.

    I think there is evidence that there is some global warming, and that there may be an man-made component to it. I don’t believe there is any evidence to conclude we have to take drastic steps to reverse it, or that we can even reliably do so. I have a big problem with anyone who claims that the man-made part of it is the biggest factor, or even if they start siting what the percentages are since there is so little information to base it on.

    The biggest problem I have with the current global warming fear-mongers is that their apocolyptic scenarios are based on climate models. From what I have read these climate models have not even accurately predicted the current state from past ones (like why the oceans haven’t warmed as predicted).

    The global warming nuts seem to be just another incarnation of prohibitionists and need to be shamed into silence. I’m for exploring other more effective means of silencing them as well.

  18. #18 |  Big Chief | 

    Nando – I live in Cleveland and am currently looking outside at over a foot of snow. I know from articles that I have read that it has been warmer here. I vote for warmer.

  19. #19 |  $name | 

    3 points:

    1) People you meet, politicians, and that guy you argued with on the internet are not representative of the scientists who research the climate and work on climate models. There exists a realm of scientific debate, in scientific journals and conferences, where all the points skeptics bring up are actually analyzed. If you can show that current models are false, PUBLISH. You’re argument will be heard. If you doubt me, go to a SCIENTIFIC conference on climate modeling.

    2) To claims that we don’t have enough information, where is the vehemence for cosmologists, particle physicists, and astronomers? They infer much more, from much less, than scientists working with earth based models. Unless you claim that there is nothing to be gained from the scientific investigation of the data we have, what is the point in claiming that we don’t have enough data?

    3) People may claim the current state of the planet is the “best possible”. Such people wouldn’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Arguments can be made that a warmer earth would be better for humans. HOWEVER, the rate of change is MUCH more important than the final state. How fast do you think the agriculture industry can relocate? How much of a loss would they take by abandoning current operations? What if the locations with the best conditions for farmland are remote by current standards? What will the costs be to extend infrastructure to those places?

    If any of the long range sea level models are even remotely accurate, how much will it cost to move / rebuild all coastal cities and how fast can we do it? What loss would we take if this occurred over 1000 years, 100 years, 50 years, or 25 years? If you say the earth is changing independent of humans, perhaps we should study that and determine what effect it will have on humans?

    Whether or not man has an effect on the climate is almost irrelevant. We need to know if things are changing, how they’re changing, how fast they’re changing, what is creating that change, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

  20. #20 |  God's Own Drunk | 

    To paraphrase most people on both sides of the climate change issue-

    “I’m not a scientist, have no background in this subject matter and I have not performed any research into it. However, I did read an article once about it, so let me explain in absolutes why you are wrong, I’m right and how this whole global climate paterns thing works…… I also stayed in a Holiday Inn last night.”

    :)

  21. #21 |  Dakota | 

    Global Warming, fuck that. Lets get back to the goddamn super volcano!!! Now that shit is scary.

  22. #22 |  Stephen | 

    #42 smallish fail :)

    “The reason the water level in your container rises after the ice cube melts is because some of the ice was above the water level to begin with.”

    Actually when the ice melts, the water level does not change. The ice becomes exactly the same amount of water that it was displacing when it was floating in the water as ice. So, floating ice that melts does not change the sea levels. Now glaciers that are sitting on land will raise the sea levels if they melt.

    I think the earth has many “buffer” systems that act to smooth things out. Example, More heat=more water vapor in the air=more clouds=more heat from the sun reflected back into space thus reducing heat etc.

    I think the USA has done quite well in cleaning it’s act up from the early industrial times. Places that looked and smelled horrible when I was a kid are much nicer now. We are cleaning up our mess while the rest of the world is still messing things up. (hint – China)

    Places I would rather all this “climate change” tax money should go are:
    1. Cleaning up all the plastics we put in the ocean or at least stop making it worse.
    2. Logical care of our fisheries. Way too much overfishing going on.
    3. Gathering something like 100 times the data we have now about global temperature past and present and worldwide.
    4. Designing climate models that accurately predict the present when given the data up through 1990 or so. If you constantly have to go back and change your model, then it was not accurate was it?
    5. Recycling programs for medicines. Way too many pharmaceuticals end up in our water.
    6. Stop flaring off natural gas in oil production. These huge fires in Nigeria that have been going for decades are probably warming things up a little don’t you think?

    I also think that the sunspot record correlates just as well with global temperature as the C02 levels. The C02 levels could actually be caused by warming and not the other way around.

    I am an just an engineer and not a climate scientist but the way I have seen things work in my life is that just because you found a correlation does not mean you have found the cause. It might be a cause but certainly not always.

  23. #23 |  JP | 

    “When nearly all physicists and chemists believe in the importance of quantum mechanical effects at the microscopic level, and ignore dissenting voices saying that quantum mechanics is ridiculous and false, that’s not science; that’s religion. If scientists really wanted to understand natural phenomena, they would open their minds to the possibility that only classical mechanics apply to microscopic systems, and that the quantum mechanical ‘concensus’ is manufactured by cultish institutionalism.”

    Think about it for a minute.

  24. #24 |  Jim Henley | 

    As Glenn Reynolds wrote, “Some meth addict told me that it was a bad idea to get hooked on crystal meth. Well, I’ll believe that when that meth addict starts living like HE believes it’s a bad idea to get hooked on crystal meth! HAR HAR HAR! Pass me that empty Pringle can . . . “

  25. #25 |  Big Chief | 

    $name – re: your second point.
    I have no issue with speculation except when it starts to impact policy. Especially when it impacts how lawmakers try to control my life. I’m not aware of any work done by “cosmologists, particle physicists, and astronomers” that says we should go back to living in caves to stop the sky from falling.

  26. #26 |  Mikestermike | 

    Last I checked there hasn’t been any glaciers in my backyard for several thousand years. I am thankful for any global warming, as I don’t hunt mammoth very well….

  27. #27 |  Big Chief | 

    Henley, you’ve convinced me. I’ll only vote for meth addicts for president from here on. They can hardly do worse.

  28. #28 |  fwb | 

    The total industrial output of C to the atmosphere is 6 billion tons per year. This amounts to an increase of 0.73% per year IF all the carbon stays in the atmosphere. That calculates out to 0.002% of the atmospheric C per day. The naysayers claim CO2 lasts anywhere from 50 yrs to more than a thousand yrs. Why because they do’t know how long it lasts. The equilibirium between the atmosphere and oceans is rapid with the oceans containing 51x as much dissolved C as the atmosphere. The models suck because the person creting the model can only include certain factors. In order to properly and scientifically evaluate anthropogenic effects, the entire system needs to be modeled leaving out nothing.

    Getting published as a disbeliever is nearly impossible. Scientific journals are hgihly politicized and peer-review is one of the most overrated methodologies out there. Peers nearly always allow their friends or people they agree with publish while doing all they can to stop those with whom they disagree from having their day.

    Do humans cause issues? Yes, but those are primarily localized. Do humans THINK they are in control? Of course, the ego is a major player in most people. Can we FIX the issue? We probably have a minor effect on the global climate and because of that we can only have a minor effect on controlling change. We each are here for such a short time that most often we have no idea of changes over geologic time scales.

    I’m just a PhD with 30 yrs experience studying chemical thermodynamics of the environment. And I still know very little except that the aim of all these chicken littles is to frighten others so that controls can be implemented. The current hobgoblin is CG. Soon there will be something else and many will be clamoring for those in charge to protect them.

  29. #29 |  $name | 

    Big Chief-

    Point partially accepted.

    Most (I personally know of none, but I haven’t actively tried to find any climate scientists that are also Luddites) scientists studying the climate do NOT recommend we go back to living in caves. Public figures and politicians on the other hand…

    I agree with you that making policy decisions based on commonly held beliefs about the science is ridiculous. I feel the same way about nuclear power, free trade, public education, and a host of other issues where the common consensus disagrees with the research. Just because idiots use research to advance their cause / position does not mean I think the researchers are wrong.

    We have what amounts to a failure for markets to properly incorporate negative externalities into their prices. Pollution of various types has various effects on people and commerce. For example, certain types of pollutants raise the risks of certain diseases, thereby raising health care costs. Why is that price not included in the product producing the pollution? Partially because the risk isn’t sufficiently understood or quantified, but also because it takes a massive state intervention in pricing (which I think is a BAD idea). From a Bayesian perspective we should try to incorporate all current information into an estimate of the probability of negative aspects related to climate change occurring, multiply this by the estimate of the cost of the negative thing occurring, spread that cost over all industries contributing to the risk, and put the proceeds towards insurance, prevention, or something. I have no idea how to do that and feel it’s probably impossible.

  30. #30 |  John Jenkins | 

    @ $name (#69):

    To claims that we don’t have enough information, where is the vehemence for cosmologists, particle physicists, and astronomers?

    Three things here: (1) we don’t argue about particle physics because no one has a clue what the hell they’re talking about (hint: if your discussion ever tends toward the properties of dead cats, you’re way out past the point anyone is listening); (2) what are astronomers making up (although the inability to settle on a definition of “planet” makes you wonder about those guys); (3) the consensus (or lack thereof) among cosmologists, physicists and astronomers is not generally cited as proof that we have to do something or we’re all doomed (of course, if we’re all dead in a box somewhere, but no one can see us, aren’t we already doomed? Damn it, physicists!).

    If climate scientists were just duking it out in their journals, no one would care. Once you try to bend science to your policy preferences, it’s a whole different ball game.

    @ Stephen (@72):

    Actually when the ice melts, the water level does not change.

    You’re right. I forgot my basic displacement equation (and the fact that water’s decreased density when frozen corresponds to the increased volume).

  31. #31 |  Elliot | 


    #67
    Big Chief, well put.

    The more arrogant the spokesperson, the more dire or hysterical their warnings, the more fun to tweak their noses. These Y2Kyoto Chicken Littles have not been ridiculed near enough, considering all the anti-freedom legislation which they have passed and which they plan to pass.

    Large corporations are trying to position themselves as being Green, hoping to avoid being carted off to the guillotine when and if this becomes a full bore revolution. Green is the new Red, after all, and the best two weapons against them (in protection of freedom) are (1) science, as a rational tool of skepticism to seek the truth and (2) ridicule, in large heaping doses, for those who push irrational ideas via propaganda.

    To put it another way, David Letterman, who often does a fine job poking fun of politicians until the very mention of their names starts the audience chuckling, has given air time to RFK, Jr. and some of the most hysterical climate “experts”, when he should be putting up pictures of the Hollywood disaster film footage Gore included in his so-called documentary, or the poor polar bear on the melting iceberg.

    When comedians don’t do their jobs, it’s time for us to push them. It’s not time to insist that people stop joking about Al Gore and cold weather.

  32. #32 |  chance | 

    “(3) the consensus (or lack thereof) among cosmologists, physicists and astronomers is not generally cited as proof that we have to do something or we’re all doomed (of course, if we’re all dead in a box somewhere, but no one can see us, aren’t we already doomed? Damn it, physicists!).”

    You obviously haven’t been following the doomsday asteroid debate.

    Also, I swear the comment numbers changed, I gave props to 50, and then 50 changed to 51. Does that happen often here?

  33. #33 |  John Jenkins | 

    @ chance (#82):

    Also, I swear the comment numbers changed, I gave props to 50, and then 50 changed to 51. Does that happen often here?

    It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen sometimes. I think it happens because some comments get intercepted for moderating and when a comment gets approved, it gets put into correct time order by the time the comment was made, and all the subsequent comments are displaced by one.

  34. #34 |  supercat | 

    If scientists really wanted to understand natural phenomena, they would open their minds to the possibility that only classical mechanics apply to microscopic systems, and that the quantum mechanical ‘concensus’ is manufactured by cultish institutionalism.

    The scientists who suggested that relativity and quantum physics model the universe more accurately than classical physics were able to formulate predictions and say, in essence, “If we do X, classical physics predicts Y will happen but we believe Z will happen.” They then conducted experiments and confirmed that action X does indeed produce consequence Z.

    Really, nobody knows if the actual mechanisms behind the behavior of the universe bear any relationship to those theorized by quantum physicists, but the engineers at Intel, AMD, et al. do know that high-speed, high-density chips whose designs take quantum-physic effects into consideration are far more likely to actually work than those which ignore such effects. Thus, regardless of whether quantum physics is “right”, it is useful.

    What useful (or even meaningful) predictions have global warming “scientists” put forth? Scientific theories are useful when, and only when, they can accurately predict things. Any “scientific” theory that can’t accurately predict anything is meaningless.

    Global temperatures are certainly significantly below historical maxima (Greenland used to support agriculture, for example), and CO2 levels seem to be below historical maxima as well. Given that the planet didn’t go into any sort of thermal runaway condition then, I see no reason to believe it’s in imminent danger of going into one now.

    Although some methods of reducing CO2 emissions would be practical and inexpensive, the “global climate change” alarmists are pushing for many measures which are expensive and impractical. The environment would be better off if, rather than spending $10B on some particular anti-global-warming measure, a business instead spent $5B doing something that would produce real benefit to the environment and let its shareholders have the other $5B. The alarmists, however, would rather force the shareholders to spend $10B on environmentally-useless measures.

  35. #35 |  Ironbear | 

    “Can we stop this nonsense where every time a snowflake lands on Al Gore, we laugh about how it proves he’s wrong about global warming?”

    Well, no – because that just never ever gets old. ;)

  36. #36 |  John Jenkins | 

    @ Nando (#66):

    I’ll gamble with my money but I’d rather not gamble with my life.

    But when you gamble with economic development, as such, which will necessarily decrease in any significant effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (think less efficient fuels, more expensive fossil fuels, etc.), you are not just throwing away money, you are potentially throwing away lives as people who might otherwise survive or flourish are either not born in the first place as a result of the economic plight of their parents or die for lack of food, potable water or medicine (imagine the vast famine that would ensue across the world if petrochemical fertilizers became too expensive to produce).

    That’s the problem with trying to predict a complex system (in this case, two independent, complex systems!) that you really don’t know what you’re bet is. You might be all in without even knowing it.

  37. #37 |  Tim C | 

    Here is an interesting summary, note that many of these scientists reversed there position (this is specifically aimed at those commenters who have said they haven’t heard convincing arguments from skeptics). Also note, solar cycle thing I mentioned previously is mentioned here as well.

    http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=5370

  38. #38 |  chance | 

    “But when you gamble with economic development, as such, which will necessarily decrease in any significant effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (think less efficient fuels, more expensive fossil fuels, etc.), you are not just throwing away money, you are potentially throwing away lives as people who might otherwise survive or flourish are either not born in the first place as a result of the economic plight of their parents or die for lack of food, potable water or medicine (imagine the vast famine that would ensue across the world if petrochemical fertilizers became too expensive to produce).

    That’s the problem with trying to predict a complex system (in this case, two independent, complex systems!) that you really don’t know what you’re bet is. You might be all in without even knowing it.”

    But wouldn’t you agree the gamble works both way? If we assume the consensus on climate change is flawed (or fraud, or hype, or whatever) and are wrong (i.e. global warming is partially man-made, and the effects are bad for us), then those same people “who might otherwise survive or flourish are either not born in the first place as a result of the economic plight of their parents or die for lack of food, potable water or medicine” because we didn’t take prudent measures?

    I look at it this way, and maybe from an economic standpoint this is naive, but if global warming really is not happening, and we take actions that cause the economic hardship you describe, we can reverse course on those policies that caused harm (oops, solar sucks, free coal for everybody!). If on the other hand warming is real and we take no actions until it is much later down the line, will it be as “easy” to change direction and implement mitigation strategies?

  39. #39 |  supercat | 

    I look at it this way, and maybe from an economic standpoint this is naive, but if global warming really is not happening, and we take actions that cause the economic hardship you describe, we can reverse course on those policies that caused harm (oops, solar sucks, free coal for everybody!).

    If the global climate is going to change in an adverse way regardless of what people do, people may find themselves needing a lot of energy. If adequate facilities for energy production and distribution are not in place before that occurs, there may not be time to develop such resources before many people starve, overheat, or freeze.

    Mathematically, it is very unlikely that the climate is proceeding toward disaster with just enough ‘momentum’ that changes in man-made CO2 emissions will determine whether or not it goes over the brink. I don’t know how likely it is to go over the brink, but the probability that it will go over the brink regardless of what mankind does is almost certainly higher than the probability that mankind’s actions will be the determining factor. To use a rough analogy, suppose a bowling ball is rolling toward the top of a hill. Maybe it will go over, or maybe it won’t. It could theoretically have just the right amount of momentum such that blowing on it (with normal human breath) could make the difference between going over and not, but it would almost certainly have either too much or too little.

    Thus, if one is going to take any course of action, it would make more sense to plan toward the more probable difficult scenario (i.e. that the climate is going to change adversely, so we’ll need a way to deal with it) than the improbable one (we can prevent an adverse climate change by undermining the economic development that would protect us against one if it occurred).

  40. #40 |  Big Chief | 

    $name – re: your second paragraph – Please point out where I made that statement, or even implied it.

    My contention is that while there is general agreement in the scientific community, there is far from any consesus on the future levels of warming, the root cause(s), or the effects. My complaint is that I’ve heard of NO scientific group that supports the extreeme outcomes being touted by Al “ManBearPig” Gore. The UN committee’s own worst case estimates are FAR below Gore’s claims. But Gore’s scenarios are what are being used by the media (news and popular) as the baseline.

    Frankly, South Park was too kind to Al Gore.

  41. #41 |  Jerry S | 

    BIg Chief – You’re right, South Park should’ve slammed him more but it was still pretty finny.

    My contention is that the consensus is failling apart.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/27/james-hansens-former-nasa-supervisor-declares-himself-a-skeptic-says-hansen-embarrassed-nasa-was-never-muzzled/

    Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen, NASA’s vocal man-made global warming fear soothsayer, has now publicly declared himself a skeptic and declared that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarming climate claims and said Hansen was “was never muzzled.” Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of man-made global warming fears.

    “I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man made,” Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009

  42. #42 |  mattincincy | 

    I apologize if this has been addressed. I’m at #42. If I have a large cup (32 0z) filled with Ice and water to the tippy tippy top, when the ice melts the water will not overflow. Period. The Ice Melting Flooding the World claim is bs. Unless you’re talking about ice that’s on land. That’s different.

  43. #43 |  mattincincy | 

    “Some meth addict told me that it was a bad idea to get hooked on crystal meth. Well, I’ll believe that when that meth addict starts living like HE believes it’s a bad idea to get hooked on crystal meth!”

    If the idea here is to disprove the validity of this arguement:

    I’ll start believing it when the people who are screaming about start acting like *they* believe it.

    That doesn’t work at all. A crystal meth addict isn’t making piles and piles of meth and telling everyone else not too- he also can’t keep himself off the drug. Al Gore is very capable of not flying around the world in Lear Jets, living in gigantic homes and consuming the energy of a small village. Not only is Al Gore NOT part of the solution, he’s a bigger part of the problem than most.

  44. #44 |  Jason | 

    “Climate change” is the new name for what we used to call “weather”.

  45. #45 |  Dreadnaught | 

    You do make a point. But, fear monger James Hansen seemed to think it was very important that it was warm on the day he testified before Congress. And he is a scientist. If it is relevant that it is hot on one day, it is just as relevant (politically) that is was cold on a particular day.

    http://dreadnaught.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/inauguration-fails-to-demonstrate-global-warming/

  46. #46 |  JB | 

    “Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen”

    That’s very interesting, and completely untrue.

  47. #47 |  JB | 

    “I apologize if this has been addressed. I’m at #42. If I have a large cup (32 0z) filled with Ice and water to the tippy tippy top, when the ice melts the water will not overflow. Period. The Ice Melting Flooding the World claim is bs. Unless you’re talking about ice that’s on land. That’s different.”

    This kind of stuff is painful to read. Of course ice on land is counted. That’s what a glacier is. Also, you’re completely ignoring the volume/temperature issue. As water is warmed, it becomes less dense and increases in volume. Warm up an ocean, and the water level will rise.

  48. #48 |  Ytaker | 

    The fact that he, and many others, interpret every even mildly hot day as a proof that global warming is happening is rather galling. I know that individual events aren’t that important in the general scheme. My friends, and he, don’t seem to. Given that the world is, in general, a lot colder than the past, and the fact that a huge number of people are experiencing snow, it’s only fair to rub it in.

  49. #49 |  10INTM | 

    Stop wasting our time, JB from #97! Yes, matter takes up more volume as it warms. HOWEVER!!!….water is the exception to the rule because it is denser in its liquid form than it is in its solid form. Life, as we know it, on Earth would not be sustainable if water behaved regularly. Water organisms would not be able to live in partially-frozen ponds. Penguins in the Antarctic and polar bears in the Arctic would have much less to walk upon. Winter migrations would be impossible for many land animals (unless they’re some damn good swimmers).

    Either try the experiment yourself (without already having your mind made-up about what kind of results you’ll get [or want]) or Google your facts before you post them.

  50. #50 |  JB | 

    You didn’t even read the link I posted, did you?

    Liquid water increases in volume as it heats. We’re talking about an enormous amount of liquid water in the oceans, which increases in volume as it warms.

    You are embarrassing.