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Global Warming Skepticism

  

From the very beginning, I've had a natural skepticism of the global warming campaign with its holier than thou celebrity activists, media accomplices, apocalyptic alarmists with end time visions, political leaders, nations, groups of nations (the EU), and of course the blighted UN - all happily piling on and wieghing in, wanting to be part of the "consensus."

But i hadn't studied the subject in any depth where i felt comfortable writing or speaking about it.  Or to question the ruling orthodoxy.  I didn't want to mispeak myself since there was all this "science" we kept hearing about (as in "the science is all but settled") that I knew nothing about. 

But I questioned it in a generic sense, knowing, like everyone else, that we've always had cyclical climate change, and that while human activity may have some effect now, there were probably far greater forces at work, the same forces that have been causing climate change all along.  It was this basic pedestrian knowledge that made me skeptical even without knowing very much about climate science. 

For example, we all learned about ice ages when we were kids.  We knew that they came and went over tens of thousands of years and that at one time Alaska and Asia were connected by an ice bridge across the Bering Straits.  And that animals and hunters following them crossed over from Asia and into North America eventually finding their way down to the very tip of South America, populating the continents.  And how many times have we all seen Ice Age with our kids?  So we all already have this common understanding that dramatic global climate change has been a part of earth's history for eons. 

We all learned that massive glaciers carved out what became the Great Lakes and, coming from Indiana, flattened the northern half of my state, and many other such well known examples of the impact of glaciers blanketing Canada and reaching well into the northern portions of our country, knowledge that most lay non-scientists were aware of.  The glaciers came and went and this cycle repeated itself over and over.  We all knew that. 

And it follows that if you've had ice ages, you had to have ice thaws, which means you had - global warming.  And, taken together, that means global climate change - a cyclical, organic, rhythmic, natural phenomenon that  had been occuring all along, all obviously before human activity would have had any effect. 

We all read about the dinosaurs that roamed the earth millions of years ago, and how hot, steamy, and balmy it was then.  In the kiddie books that i read to my three and four year old, one of our favorite books spoke of dinosaur fossils being found in Minnesota and Montana and that the climate there during the dinosaur age was tropical - in Minnesota and Montana!  Well before, suffice it to say, man made CO2 emissions were a factor.  

And then there are the convenient ogres, the usual boogy men and demons that inhabited the global warming mythic narrative and seemed to dovetail so well into the overarching structure of left wing ideology and belief in general. 

What with Big Oil, Big Car, Big Power, and sundry other evil, greedy, polluting corporations and industries, and, of course, the made for order ultimate bad guy of the left, the US itself, the number one pariah state and contributor to greenhouse gases (soon, however, to be overtaken by Communist China), standing alone in the docket, accused, guilty, convicted and condemned: the one industrial nation that had not signed on to Kyoto, found guilty of raping and pillaging our sacred planet earth. 

The whole global warming "consensus" had become the perfect cudgel to beat and pummel the US and our capitalist economic system - the same system that had created so much wealth and had raised the standard of living for so many millions here and abroad.  And, here, too, i began to question the ruling dogma. 

Then there were the recommendations of the global warming crowd.  Wind mills, solar power, carbon taxes, cap and trade, CO 2 sequestration, reams of regulations, arbitrary mandates, raising CAFE standards, government expansion as far as the eye could see, international bodies controlling us, monster bureacracies with thousands upon thousands of unaccountable, unelected, bureacrats worming into every aspect of our lives, telling us what to eat, what cars to drive, and what lightbulbs to use - again, the perfect storm for the left, giving them the control they covet and the ability to undermine the US to boot. 

(The one helpful, practical idea to reduce carbon emissions and create energy independence, by the way, was the one you never heard about - nuclear energy.) 

The end result of all of this would be to drive the cost of energy through the roof, put a major dent in the economy costing trillions, and restrain emerging technologies that may resolve many of their issues - for what purpose?  To control the temperature of the planet?  All that headache and cost to somehow alter the temperature of our feverish little baby, the planet earth. 

And I thought about my various jet travels across the oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and how interminable those journeys seemed, hours and hours, jetting across the horizon at 600 or so miles per hour, wondering when it would end.  And before air travel, the same journey by sea would, of course, have taken months.  I had a tangible sense of the size of our beloved little planet, the enormity of it.  And somehow, we mortals were going to control the temperature of this massive thing called earth.  Talk about hubris. 

And, here, too, I grew suspicious and wondered about the audacity, presumption, and conceit of the global warmists, in their haughty predictions, their unwillingness to countenance alternative views, their end time visions (which were screwy), and their prescriptions for what to do about it. 

Then there was all the schemes for offsets that guilt ridden lear jet liberals and cowering corporations could invest in to assuage their guilty conciences and do proper penance when they went over their carbon limits: you could pay bribes basically to companies (or to governments) that invested in alternative fuels or that planted trees somewhere as if any of that would actually reduce CO2 levels - all quite silly. 

And there were all the old environmentalist panic attacks of the recent past: the population explosion, the depletion of natural resources, the Malthusian nightmare scenarios of mass starvation, global cooling, acid rain, DDT, all big items in the seventies, complete with breathless warnings by scientists and endorsements by the prestige media, none of which came to pass, and, of course, were quickly dropped, no one, none of the protaganists the worse for wear, no accountability for the hysteria, no culpability for being dead wrong, no liability for attacking whoever. 

And there were a host of other reasons that came up that aroused my suspicion: the arrogance and hypocricy of the celebrities dictating to us how to conduct our lives while they continued jetting around and living extravagantly, the dire predictions of catastrophes just around the corner, the hype,  the inconsistent data, the alternative energy and carbon offset scams, the cherry picking of facts while ignoring contradictions, the use of the derogatory term "deniers," putting those who did not buy into their apocalyptic scheme on the same moral plane as Holocaust deniers, their impractical and costly recommendations, and a whole host of reasons that made me question the whole premise - that man made carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels needed by our industrialized economies were alone, above and beyond all other causes, the reason for global warming - that half degree increase in global temperature (over the course of a century) that was about to bring about unspeakable environmental calamity.

Considering the complexity of "global climate" not to mention climate change, it seemed both simplistic and unlikely.  

So, before i even got into the whole topic of global warming, made some attempt to understand the "science" of global warming, i had a natural skepticism based on a completely lay understanding of the topic. 

And then i researched the matter a bit.  During my trip to Scandinavia, a perfect place to do so, mind you.  I brought some articles, essays, and other reading materials on the subject so i could finally get down to brass tacks and understand the "science" of global warming.  And now that i have, i'm as skeptical as ever, only more so. 

I refer you to my latest article, for September 07, on "Global Warming Agnosticism."  Have a look.  See you next time.    

Comments

  • Nick Johnson

    October 17, 2007

    Insightful...

  • noah

    October 18, 2007

    i enjoyed it and relate to it fully. i too felt that we've always had global climate change well before human activity would have had any impact. i look forward to reading your article too. noah.

  • wayne

    April 24, 2008

    And one wonders where the term extremist comes from? Obviously this whole diatribe was written from the perspective of a ultra-right wing extremist who refuses to see any sort of reality other than the one you create for yourself.

    Yes, there are climatic cycles and yes it gets colder and warmer. But reference the ice cores spanning tens of thousands of years that show that CO2 levels are higher now than they have ever been. I suppose you want to flaunt the basics of chemistry now and try to convince the world that burning carbon based molecules does not result in CO and CO2 byproducts? And that the millions and millions of barrels of oil and millions and millions of tons of coal that get burned don't contribute anything to the atmosphere? Or maybe you would like to dispute the scientific facts about the effects of certain substances like methane and CO2 in the atmosphere itself. Maybe there really is no greenhouse effect at all. Maybe the earth secretly drops to absolute zero at night because atmospheric gases and water vapor really don't hold heat in.

    Perhaps you are so arrogant to think that man can have no negative effects on this spacious earth of ours. Just like the people from 150 years ago thought there was no way man could hunt the buffalo to near extinction or the passenger pigeon. Just like the whaling fleets that didn't think they could ever push those species to the brink of extinction. Just like people from this past century didn't think we could pollute rivers so much that their surfaces would catch fire and burn and that they were completely poisoned. Thomas Jefferson speculated after the Louisiana purchase that there was so much land that it would take 500 generations to fill it all up, yet is was settled in five. Human arrogance never ceases to amaze me.

    Let's assume for the sake of argument that man's burning of fossil fuels produces neglible effects on the long term climate of the earth (though the vast majority of scientists and the study of climatology disputes this). Let's throw global warming out the window for the time being. Don't you think that any person with a conscience and a sense of moral responsibility would still make an attempt to limit consumption of finite and limited resources? Don't you think God in heaven would bless people who tried to waste less and be more efficient with their gifts? I certainly do. And I am getting sick and tired of right wing republicans (for the most part) sitting in their SUV's wearing expensive suits trying to tell the rest of society that if a person can afford to burn gas in a vehicle that gets 12-15 MPG, then it is their God-given right to do so. The rest of the world and the people that live in it be damned.

    I've got news for people who try to justify extremist political viewpoints with some sort of religious entitlement. Why don't you listen to what you are saying and how hypocritical it sounds. God didn't create this planet so the haves could flaunt their wealth to the have nots. So people who could afford to waste could get away with it while others go without.

    You mentioned other issues that you qualified as "environmental panic attacks." I've got some news for you. Acid rain was a serious problem and it caused acidification of mountain lakes. Then regulations (perish the thought) were passed and sulfur emissions were greatly limited - from diesel trucks and from power plants, and guess what - less sulfur in the air equates to less sulfuric acid, and now it is not as big of a problem anymore.

    DDT was also a problem that really was a problem. It was a compound with a very long lifespan that collects in fatty tissues and has spread all over the planet to be found in animals in the arctic. It caused thinning of bird's eggshells and led to the decline of the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. Then it was made illegal to use in the US (Oh my God - illegal you say - sacrilege). And guess what? The birds populations have recovered and the eagle was delisted off the endangered species list. Well, imagine that.

    And as far as the population problem? That too is a very real problem. As a scientifically trained individual, I would think you would be aware of some very basic math and science that teaches that nothing (and certainly not populations of humans or animals or plants) can grow forever in a finite world with finite resources. The more people there are, the less resources there are to go around. That is simple math. Eventually, things reach their breaking point and something is going to give. Whether that be mass starvation or just civil unrest because there are too many people trying to buy limited supplies of gasoline that has gotten too expensive, it matters not. There cannot be an unlimited number of people inhabiting this planet and that is just a plain simple fact. It would behoove human society to be a little more responsible and preserve the quality of life for everyone by limiting population growth. As has been shown many times in animal populations, if we don't do it, mother nature will. It will be bird flu or AIDS or ebola or just a lack of food in a bad year of droughts.

    Those are some of my thoughts in response to some of yours.

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