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Global warming or carbon cult? 
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Post Global warming or carbon cult?
This piece is somewhat reactionary, but it poses some excellent questions about global warming. I post it here in the spirit of debate and as a counterpoint to the "Climate Apocalypse" thread. It's relevant to understand that C02 makes up only 0.04% of our atmosphere and that 96%-97% of that comes from natural sources. C02 added by human activity is a minuscule percentage of our atmosphere.


Welcome to the Carbon Cult
By ROSS KAMINSKY on 9.19.11 @ 6:09AM

Hot-headed they may be, but the Thomas Friedmans of our world aren't exactly "on fire."

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Thomas Friedman called Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann "crazy" because they doubt man-made global warming. But his argument smacks of the desperation of the Cult of Algore as it sinks under the weight of science, Solyndra, and logic.

After beginning with his ad hominem attack, always the refuge of those who know they're about to lose an argument, Friedman makes one error of logic after another.

First, he argues that Perry's rejection of man-made climate change is crazy because Texas "is on fire." In other words, the fact that there is hot weather means that there is man-made climate change. This sort of example, while dramatic, confuses a short-term situation with a long-term phenomenon.

But, while risking committing the logical error of "appeal to authority," on which more in a moment, I might point Mr. Friedman to a NY Times article from last year in which the author writes, "Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax…" In other words, a brief event does not prove anything about multi-generational trends. The author of that article was one Thomas Friedman who was, to be sure, still arguing for man-made global warming, but using essentially the opposite of his current argument.

Next, Friedman offers a "false cause" along with an unfalsifiable proposition, arguing that instead of global warming, the phenomenon should be called "global weirding" because "the weather gets weird." In other words, if the weather gets "weirder" than before, Friedman will attribute it to man-made factors. People tend to forget past weather except for the most destructive storms, and so almost any period of "weird" weather will likely strike many as weirder than the past. If he wants to talk about weird, he must use quantifiable data, such as frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes -- for which the data show no correlation with atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Now back to "appeal to authority": Friedman proceeds to say "this is high school physics,", referring to an article on a website of the far-left organization, ThinkProgress, in which a climatologist explains that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor "so the effects of the drought are magnified by higher evaporation rates."

Beyond the fact that anyone can write anything on a website (and I ask you to check my data below), Friedman has a couple of big problems here. First, he neglects to mention that the same climatologist says just prior to the words he quotes that "We often try to pigeonhole an event, such as a drought, storm, or heat wave into one category: either human or natural, but not both. What we have to realize is that our natural variability is now occurring on top of, and interacting with, background conditions that have already been altered by long-term climate change." In other words, nowhere in the material that Freidman is using for evidence does his quoted authority actually say that Texas's troubles are primarily or even substantially man-made.
More importantly, Friedman conveniently ignores the most recent science related to climate change, a story that consumers of "mainstream" media certainly have not heard: New data from NASA satellites show that our atmosphere is trapping much less heat than any of the alarmist models predict, implying much less future warming than Algore and Thomas Friedman would like to scare us into expecting.

As long as Friedman wants to appeal to authority, I might suggest a more credible one: On the same day in which Thomas Friedman's opinion was printed in the New York Times, Dr. Ivar Giaever, a winner of the Nobel Prize in physics (and who endorsed Barack Obama in 2008), resigned from the American Physical Society following that group's claim that it is "incontrovertible [that man-made] global warming is occurring."

His letter to the APS gets right to the point of how science has been perverted by the Carbon Cult: "In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this 'warming' period." It's no wonder that Giaever realizes that "global warming has become a new religion," and that "We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important."

Friedman is going somewhere with his scare tactic argument, regardless of its obvious weaknesses, somewhere much more expensive than Beverly Hills or Bora Bora and just as unaffordable to most Americans.

After saying that the critics of the economics of green jobs "have a point -- sort of," Friedman finds the magic potion for his particular cult, an idea that can create "green jobs" and reduce carbon emissions. And all it takes is for you to destroy your own standard of living!

There is only one effective, sustainable way to produce "green jobs," and that is with a fixed, durable, long-term price signal that raises the price of dirty fuels and thereby creates sustained consumer demand for, and sustained private sector investment in, renewables. Without a carbon tax or gasoline tax or cap-and-trade system that makes renewable energies competitive with dirty fuels, while they achieve scale and move down the cost curve, green jobs will remain a hobby.

In other words, "green jobs" will only be competitive if we make driving your car, heating your house, and buying anything that requires transportation to get to the store (which is to say, almost everything you ever buy) much more expensive. Friedman's plan would make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket," to quote Barack Obama from his San Francisco reveries.

It's a remarkable prescription from a liberal given that this is the single most regressive tax one could propose. Low-income people spend a major percentage of their incomes on food, transportation, and utilities; Friedman's plan would be devastating for them unless -- as the Democrats would no doubt propose – upper income earners then subsidize the higher costs for lower earners, turning climate change into just another method of wealth distribution.

Of course this is really what the issue has been about all along, both on a national and international basis. George Will had it right when he said that "today's 'green left' is the old 'red left' revised." And while that's the most often quoted sentence of Will's article, another is just as appropriate when considering Friedman: "The green left understands that the direct route to government control of almost everything is to stigmatize, as a planetary menace, something involved in almost everything -- carbon."

Thomas Friedman says that "President Obama has chosen not to push for a price signal for political reasons," as if what would conceivably be the biggest tax increase in U.S. history is a good idea other than for banal "political" considerations.

But let's be fair to Friedman: he does have a significant moment of honesty when he says that President Obama has "opted for using regulations and government funding" to increase the cost of energy. In other words, even Friedman admits that Obama is trying to do through the EPA and the Department of the Interior what he knows he cannot get through Congress, what he could not get through the Senate even when the Democrats had a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

Friedman asks if we should "pay a little more per gallon of gas and make the country stronger, safer and healthier." To put this call for human sacrifice in context, allow me to pose a multiple choice question.

Roughly what percentage of the earth's atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide?
A) 52%
B) 31%
C) 17%
D) 9%
E) 4%

If you answered D, 9%, you're…wrong. In fact if you answered any of the above, you're not just wrong, but wrong by two or three orders of magnitude. The answer is that the earth's atmosphere is less than 390 parts per million, or less than 0.04%, CO2. Yes, this is up from about 320 parts per million, or .032% CO2 fifty years ago, but it is an astonishingly low number to most whose only contact with "climate science" is through what they read in the papers.

Have you ever heard that fact discussed in the "mainstream" media, or even on the nominally conservative Fox News? You hear that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased, but you never hear that it's gone from a minuscule number to a very slightly larger minuscule number.

In fact, our atmosphere is approximately 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 99% of the atmosphere. Of the 1% that remains, more than 90% is Argon. Less than 4% of that 1% is carbon dioxide. (Those measures are of the "dry atmosphere," excluding water vapor, because the water vapor percentage is highly variable. At the surface, water vapor is usually somewhere between 1% and 4% of the atmosphere, reducing the other numbers proportionately.)

If this doesn't already have you asking, "What's all the carbon dioxide fuss about?" here's a little more:

• The "greenhouse effect" of increasing carbon dioxide is logarithmic, meaning that each additional increase has less impact on temperatures than the prior (same sized) increase.

• It is estimated (such as here and here) that 96%-97% of carbon dioxide comes from natural sources, such as animals, plant decay, and volcanoes. Climate alarmists claim that the single-digit percentage human contribution to atmospheric CO2, a small percentage of a tiny percentage, is nevertheless destroying the world.

• Although estimates vary widely, water vapor, which is essentially 100% naturally occurring, is responsible for the majority, somewhere between 50% and 90%, of the "greenhouse effect." So, man-made carbon dioxide is responsible for a small percentage of a tiny percentage of less than half of the greenhouse effect… but is destroying the world.

The point of this is not to offer you a science lesson, but to put in context the fear mongering as anti-capitalists posing as environmentalists become ever more desperate. As Solyndra pounds one of the last nails into the "green jobs" and solar-as-savior coffin, alarmists are making one last stand urging you to reduce your standard of living on the altar of the cult of man-made global warming. It is an altar bloodied with human sacrifice, made to a false god.

http://spectator.org/archives/2011/09/1 ... ice-signal


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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
Thanks for the article, Geo.

As a Carbon Tax is looming here in Australia, we really need as much information as we can get.


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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
geo wrote:
This piece is somewhat reactionary, but it poses some excellent questions about global warming. I post it here in the spirit of debate and as a counterpoint to the Climate Apocalypse thread. It's relevant to understand that C02 makes up only 0.04% of our atmosphere and that 96%-97% of that comes from natural sources. C02 added by human activity is a minuscule percentage of our atmosphere.
Hi Geo, thanks for posting this article, it is very useful to analyse the climate debate.

To start, it is established clearly that temperature correlates to CO2 levels over 420,000 years of ice core data from Antarctica. When carbon dioxide level goes up, so does temperature, and when CO2 goes down the temperature falls. Science understands why this is so. The idea that "because CO2 is only 0.039% of the atmosphere it does not drive climate change" has the same status as saying “Look, the sun goes around the earth – otherwise why would we call it sunrise and sunset?”

But, despite this egregious scientific error in his article, I agree with Kaminsky that carbon taxes are a communist plot. We have this problem in Australia, with a communist, Lee Rhiannon, rebadging herself as a Green, and actually getting elected to the Federal Senate to pursue her revolutionary agenda under cover of environmentalism. This watermelon strategy, green on the outside and red on the inside, shows how commos have used environmental concern to spread their anti-capitalist creed.

What we need is not carbon taxes, but identification of new technology that can remove carbon from the air, with prospects of a profitable capitalist business model, and then initial government investment to assist leading contenders to mobilise private investment. Carbon taxes are just a way to increase the power of the state and redistribute wealth, as Kaminsky points out. In Australia we are suffering a sort of coup, with a lying government who promised they would not have a carbon tax before the election, and now want to legislate one with poison pills that a future conservative government could not repeal. This is a travesty of democracy, and shows the authoritarian streak in leftist environmentalism. Down with leftism, I say, it is no help to address global warming.

Carbon taxation is just fiddling with incentives in a secondary, inadequate, unpopular and highly dubious way. Check out this interview with Bjorn Lomborg for a succinct rebuttal of the carbon tax idea. The real game is identifying and developing new sustainable energy technology that will help to regulate the global carbon cycle. Only when such new technology is commercially profitable will we have a sustainable incentive for large poor countries such as China and India not to free-ride on rich country emission reduction efforts.

Consider the orders of magnitude. The world ocean contains about two billion cubic kilometers of water. The moon and sun cause this water to go up and down about a meter twice a day. The energy contained in tidal motion is massive. In practical terms, meaning on historical time scales, the tides already are a perpetual motion machine.

If we can extract a tiny fraction of the energy of the tides, and of the similarly massive energy of sun, wave, wind and current, the key question becomes one of finding the most technologically efficient and environmentally beneficial way to convert that energy into a means to suck carbon out of the air to regulate the global carbon cycle. It is likely that working out ways to extract ocean energy will be the most productive and scalable, since the ocean is more than twice as big as the land.

The question is the most efficient and effective way to convert ocean energy into useable form. I don't think the current models based on direct conversion of wave or tide energy to electricity are likely to be the best. If we use ocean power to pump and transport and process algae for biofuel, it should be possible to establish closed loop coastal power stations such that all the produced CO2 goes back into the algae farm for new production with zero emissions. Tidal pumping for algae production especially could be a way to tap ocean energy in a way that makes it accessible for electricity, reducing dependence on fossil fuel. Using ocean power to enable low operating costs for algae biofuel production is also possibly a way to retain the internal combustion engine after peak oil, with all the flexibility and distributed infrastructure it now has.

None of this sort of thing will happen unless people test out different ideas. NASA is doing some good testing with their OMEGA project in California, but it is small scale, and I am not aware of many other activities aimed at large scale sea based biofuel production.

According to Jonathan Trent of NASA, algae farming could yield 100 times the amount of oil produced by soyabean, and six times the amount from palm oil for equal crop area. This makes sense since microalgae is the fastest growing plant on earth. Algae will grow nearly anywhere at sea. If technology is developed, algae could readily become scaleable to mass industrial operation at sea, with the advantage that it will not replace arable land or rainforest or other useful areas. Fifty million square kilometers of ocean is classed as desert, and might eventually be ideal for bulk fuel and food/fish production, after piloting in sheltered coastal locations. Ocean based algae production would require 0.1% of the world ocean to sequester all current coal emission equivalent. That is not impossible, and could be a commercially valuable way to cool the ocean and grow biofuel as part of a practical strategy for climate stabilization and energy and food security.

If we can make the ocean deserts bloom at low cost, my assessment is the impact would be entirely benign, helping to stabilize atmospheric CO2, reduce ocean temperature and provide a sustainable biofuel that would deliver energy and reduce pressure on land for crops. That is all something for independent analysis to comment on, but I don't think there has been much discussion of this theme.

Intensive algae farms on 0.1% of the world ocean, using wave and tide energy to raise nutrient-rich water from the ocean deep, could mimic algae production from the upwelling of deep rich cold currents. Mixing this rich water with CO2 provided by sources such as artificial trees or mine emissions, could produce algae for fuel and protein, or for release into the sea as fish food. The NASA OMEGA project is an interesting starting point.

It is not clear that a post carbon-fuel economy is needed. If we find methods to remove more carbon from the air than we put in, carbon can remain an important fuel. The broad point is the role of new technology, and how to catalyse geoengineering. Relying on tax measures would be like the USA having said in World War Two that market instruments such as trade sanctions would be enough to defeat Germany and Japan. In fact, such sanctions, like carbon taxes, are like a flea on an elephant, entirely insufficient to cause any change in direction. What is needed is visionary public investment on large scale.

http://fixtheclimate.com/ lists fifteen responses, in priority order. Climate engineering and new technology are at the top of the list, while cutting emissions is at the bottom.


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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
Perhaps the purpose of this thread could be to review the basics of this controversy, by assuming that little if anything is already decided. It's an inconvenient truth that "the science is settled" view toward man-made global warming is itself an unscientific stance. Openness to new findings is essential; constant debate about what the facts mean is going to be inevitable. I sometimes have the sense that those committed to the anthropogenic thesis see anyone who would doubt this as similar to creationists, who try to use "science" to obfuscate what 150 years of biology has shown us. But a glance at who the dissenters are--many of them firmly in the scientific establishment--shows that we're not dealing with a fringe here.

I don't know how basic we need to get. Is there agreement that there is a significant warming trend, making the argument one about whether warming is human-caused? Dr. Giaever, cited in the article, questions even that warming is a problem. Shrinking glaciers and polar caps would seem to be incontrovertible evidence of warming, and if a .8 degree rise in 150 years has caused it, that would mean that .8 is very significant after all. What I'm talking about is examining some of the statements in Kaminsky's article in more depth. I'd like to look further at the evidence such as what Robert cites about the essentialness of carbon to temperature increase (evidence that would not automatically prove a human cause, anyway).

This is new territory for human beings: having to determine what global actions we need to take for the sake of coming generations, having to try to understand exactly what is going on over the entirety of our planet, needing to make accurate predictions based on that understanding.

The danger of countries retreading the whole debate could be paralysis, no action taken. On the other hand, assumptions can be hazardous. It's a genuine bind. The one thing that gives me some hope for a way out is that if we had never heard about global warming, we would still have to take decisive action to find alternatives to oil and eventually, carbon-based fuels. This is so for wider environmental, as well as economic and security, reasons. I think the focus on carbon has had some unfortunate consequences for environmental thinking as a whole. But I have to admit I'm fairly pessimistic about our ability to protect the planet while at the same time driving forward with our agenda of more and more, in terms of population and material standard of living.



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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
“… anti-capitalists posing as environmentalists.” “… communist plot.” This conversation sounds like a combination of Dr. Jack Hodgins from Bones and a Faux (sometimes known as Fox) News report. Forget global warming; what about the incredible damage done to the health of the planet and all living creatures by human-produced carbon pollution, deforestation, and other activities supported by ultra-conservative “capitalists?”


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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
Here's that Friedman opinion piece which probably isn't as bad as Kaminsky makes it out. To be sure, it's more of a political jab against Republican candidates than anything else. It's a shame that something as serious as global warming is being used as political fodder.

Is It Weird Enough Yet?

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Every time I listen to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota talk about how climate change is some fraud perpetrated by scientists trying to gin up money for research, I’m always reminded of one of my favorite movie lines that Jack Nicholson delivers to his needy neighbor who knocks on his door in the film “As Good As It Gets.” “Where do they teach you to talk like this?” asks Nicholson. “Sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.”

Thanks Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann, but we really are all stocked up on crazy right now. I mean, here is the Texas governor rejecting the science of climate change while his own state is on fire — after the worst droughts on record have propelled wildfires to devour an area the size of Connecticut. As a statement by the Texas Forest Service said last week: “No one on the face of this earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions.”

Remember the first rule of global warming. The way it unfolds is really “global weirding.” The weather gets weird: the hots get hotter; the wets wetter; and the dries get drier. This is not a hoax. This is high school physics, as Katharine Hayhoe, a climatologist in Texas, explained on Joe Romm’s invaluable Climateprogress.org blog: “As our atmosphere becomes warmer, it can hold more water vapor. Atmospheric circulation patterns shift, bringing more rain to some places and less to others. For example, when a storm comes, in many cases there is more water available in the atmosphere and rainfall is heavier. When a drought comes, often temperatures are already higher than they would have been 50 years ago, and so the effects of the drought are magnified by higher evaporation rates.”

CNN reported on Sept. 9 that “Texas had the distinction of experiencing the warmest summer on record of any state in America, with an average of 86.8 degrees. Dallas residents sweltered for 40 consecutive days of grueling 100-plus degree temperatures. ... Temperature-related energy demands soared more than 22 percent above the norm this summer, the largest increase since record-keeping of energy demands began more than a century ago.”

There is still much we don’t know about how climate change will unfold, but it is no hoax. We need to start taking steps, as our scientists urge, “to manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.” If you want a quick primer on the latest climate science, tune into “24 Hours of Reality.” It is a worldwide live, online update that can be found at climaterealityproject.org and will be going on from Sept. 14-15, over 24 hours, with contributors from 24 time zones.

Not only has the science of climate change come under attack lately, so has the economics of green jobs. Here the critics have a point — sort of. I wasn’t surprised to read that the solar panel company Solyndra, which got $535 million in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy to make solar panels in America, filed for bankruptcy protection two weeks ago and laid off 1,100 workers. This story is an embarrassment to the green jobs movement, but the death by bankruptcy was a collaboration of the worst Democratic and Republican impulses.

How so? There is only one effective, sustainable way to produce “green jobs,” and that is with a fixed, durable, long-term price signal that raises the price of dirty fuels and thereby creates sustained consumer demand for, and sustained private sector investment in, renewables. Without a carbon tax or gasoline tax or cap-and-trade system that makes renewable energies competitive with dirty fuels, while they achieve scale and move down the cost curve, green jobs will remain a hobby.

President Obama has chosen not to push for a price signal for political reasons. He has opted for using regulations and government funding. In the area of regulation, he deserves great credit for just pushing through new fuel economy standards that will ensure that by 2025 the average U.S. car will get the mileage (and have the emissions) of today’s Prius hybrid. But elsewhere, Obama has relied on green subsidies rather than a price signal. Some of this has really helped start-ups leverage private capital, but you also get Solyndras. The G.O.P. has blocked any price signal and fought every regulation. The result too often is taxpayer money subsidizing wonderful green innovation, but with no sustainable market within which these companies can scale.

Let’s fix that. We need revenue to balance the budget. We need sustainable clean-tech jobs. We need less dependence on Mideast oil. And we need to take steps to mitigate climate change — just in case Governor Perry is wrong. The easiest way to do all of this at once is with a gasoline tax or price on carbon. Would you rather cut Social Security and Medicare or pay a little more per gallon of gas and make the country stronger, safer and healthier? It still amazes me that our politicians have the courage to send our citizens to war but not to ask the public that question.


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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
Avid Reader wrote:
“… anti-capitalists posing as environmentalists.” “… communist plot.” This conversation sounds like a combination of Dr. Jack Hodgins from Bones and a Faux (sometimes known as Fox) News report. Forget global warming; what about the incredible damage done to the health of the planet and all living creatures by human-produced carbon pollution, deforestation, and other activities supported by ultra-conservative “capitalists?”


The article is a bit over the top. Kaminsky seems to be framing the Green movement as a Trojan Horse which liberals will use to sneak in new taxes and a need for bigger government. There might be some of that going on, but clearly most folks really are genuinely concerned that human emissions are warming the planet. The article's strengths, I think, are that it does pose some reasonable questions about global warming and it does point out various logical fallacies being used by Friedman and others in the AGW debate. The idea that the matter is already settled and that we should leap on various bandwagons to reduce carbon emissions is a dangerous proposition and every bit as over the top in my opinion. The science is, in fact, very complex, and we should try to examine the issue without getting caught up in the political crossfire. In that respect, I think the article is a good starting point, as DWill says, to deconstruct the arguments and review the basics of the controversy.

Robert starts out his post with this statement: "it is established clearly that temperature correlates to CO2 levels over 420,000 years of ice core data from Antarctica. When carbon dioxide level goes up, so does temperature, and when CO2 goes down the temperature falls. Science understands why this is so. The idea that "because CO2 is only 0.039% of the atmosphere it does not drive climate change" has the same status as saying “Look, the sun goes around the earth – otherwise why would we call it sunrise and sunset?”"

Before proceeding with the rest of Robert's post, I'd like to examine this argument. We know that correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation and we also know that during past warming trends C02 levels increase after temperature rises, sometimes by decades or even centuries. So I don't think we fully understand why this is so.

According to NASA's web site, about 90 percent of the sun's heat is absorbed by the greenhouse gases and radiated back toward the surface, which is warmed to a life-supporting average of 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). But water vapor is much more prevalent in the greenhouse process than C02 and it's all naturally occurring. As Kaminsky says, humans are contributing a small portion of the C02 portion of greenhouse gases. How much is too much?

Kaminsky may have some of his numbers wrong. He says that 96%-97% of carbon dioxide comes from natural sources, such as animals, plant decay, and volcanoes, and that humans are contributing a "single-digit" percentage to atmospheric CO2. But NASA says humans have contributed to atmospheric CO2 concentration by a third since the Industrial Revolution began. "Single digit" means up to 9% while NASA suggests about 33%. That's pretty significant, but we still don't know how much of a C02 increase will actually lead to higher temperatures. We don't really know if the slight temperature increase in the last 150 years is due to human emissions or whether it's a totally natural fluctuation or some combination of the two.

If you read between the lines, the debate between the two sides is much more political than scientific. Even if we all accept that the current warming trend is anthropogenic, the disagreements really set in with how to respond to it. Those who are more liberal-minded believe the government should play a role in reducing carbon emissions and those who are more conservative-minded would say please don't get the government involved. So you can see perhaps why "belief" in AGW falls along political lines more than anything else.

As far as political solutions go, I've always been in favor of increasing the gasoline tax (not at this time, of course) which would discourage people from driving so much. It has the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions, but the real point of a gasoline tax is find a revenue source for maintaining our nation's roads system and possibly other public works projects.


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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
geo wrote:
Kaminsky seems to be framing the Green movement as a Trojan Horse which liberals will use to sneak in new taxes and a need for bigger government. There might be some of that going on, but clearly most folks really are genuinely concerned that human emissions are warming the planet.
We certainly see exactly that Trojan Horse strategy happening in Australia with the carbon tax. Political operators are exploiting popular concern about climate to introduce measures that won’t help the climate but will ruin the economy. They are likely to be voted out at the next election as a result, but not before they can do their best to entrench their stupid scheme. The intellectual level of debate is atrocious, suggesting Kaminsky's description of the emotional argument as cultic is correct.

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correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation and we also know that during past warming trends C02 levels increase after temperature rises, sometimes by decades or even centuries. So I don't think we fully understand why this is so. ... we still don't know how much of a C02 increase will actually lead to higher temperatures. We don't really know if the slight temperature increase in the last 150 years is due to human emissions or whether it's a totally natural fluctuation or some combination of the two.
The evidence on anthropogenic causation via CO2 is overwhelming, and is accepted by all leading scientific bodies. Contrarians simply refuse to look at the evidence, which is readily available via public websites - eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect . We discussed some of it in the thread on Climate Apocalypse. People may find that an alarmist title, but the situation is alarming, with business as usual careening us towards the destruction of civilization.

To repeat, CO2 stays in the air for a century, while water vapor stays in the air for a week. It is this stability that causes a steady rise of CO2 to produce a steady rise in temperature. The 'greenhouse' effect is simple physics.
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debate between the two sides is much more political than scientific. Even if we all accept that the current warming trend is anthropogenic, the disagreements really set in with how to respond to it. Those who are more liberal-minded believe the government should play a role in reducing carbon emissions and those who are more conservative-minded would say please don't get the government involved. So you can see perhaps why "belief" in AGW falls along political lines more than anything else.
The right wing tends to reject the science because the left wing links it to unacceptable attacks on the capitalist economic system, with calls for an end to growth, population reduction, putting up with the cold, not moving around, etc. As well, the left sees this as a bonanza for big government, putting on a guilt trip to increase the size and intrusiveness of the state. If global warming can be de-linked from left wing politics, there is strong prospect for commercial ingenuity to find innovative technological solutions that can sustain current ways of life with minimal transition challenge, while also easing the burden that humanity puts on the planet.
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As far as political solutions go, I've always been in favor of increasing the gasoline tax (not at this time, of course) which would discourage people from driving so much. It has the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions, but the real point of a gasoline tax is find a revenue source for maintaining our nation's roads system and possibly other public works projects.
It is really worth studying taxation very carefully to assess the real incidence of impact. Carbon taxes are anti-growth. Using energy is good, as long as it does not pollute. The challenge is to find energy sources that do not pollute the atmosphere and threaten to destabilize the climate.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:19 am
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
Has anyone noticed the back-and-forth going on about whether global warming has "stopped" in the last decade or so? The word "stopped" is likely to be a political usage, but there is some reasonable discussion about what a somewhat flat graph line might indicate about the cause of warming that has, without any doubt at all, occurred during the last century. The greenhouse gas explanation would be consistent with steady yearly increases, whereas a punctuated pattern of increase might be more in line with 'natural' increases coming off of the Little Ice Age.

I read an interesting paper on the effect of measurement on calculations of the temperature increase. It was a 2003 paper, but if the author's point is valid, it would still apply. He says that older ways of measurement probably exaggerated coolness, and newer ones don't, so the actual increase in average temperature is less than is commonly stated. He also says that it is a mystery why increases in surface temperature haven't been matched by increases in lower-atmosphere temperatures. If greenhouse gases are heating up the surface, they should be heating up the near atmosphere, too.
http://www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/170.pdf

The carbon tax in Australia appears to be causing a big furor. My impression is that the countries that signed Kyoto would be doing just this type of thing in order to be able to report success in reducing their carbon output. Such measures seem more likely to have quicker results than do scaling up new energy industries. I understand that doing anything to impede growth is very serious and will create hardship. But don't we have to make some hard choices here? We can undergo a period, maybe a long one, of adjustment to a new energy regime, with lower rates of growth, or we can forget about that and just continue to emphasize growth. That we can have it all, have it both ways, I'm tempted to label as 'delusional'.



Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:12 am
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
artificially inflating prices with a tax isn't the answer.

We do need to transition to renewable energy. For the simple fact that it is renewable, if for nothing else. Not to mention the consequences of the persuit of fossil fuels.

As these possibilities become more refined the prices will drop. The price of reading the human genome has dropped amazingly as technology improved.

So it will also with alternative energies as those technologies improve. Fossil fuels are cheap (comparatively) now due to the massive infrastructure already in place for them.

If they were talking about starting gas and solar simultaneously, with no underlying support for either, i would think erecting solar panels on all of our roofs would be much more appealing an idea than constructing mile upon mile of pipeline delivering liquid fuel.

Ultimately some kind of solar energy harvesting technology is where we need to go.

What's the difference between winter and summer? just a few degrees of tilt of the earth's axis. The sun can do the job. We just have to find out the best way to capture that energy.


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:05 am
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
DWill wrote:
Has anyone noticed the back-and-forth going on about whether global warming has "stopped" in the last decade or so? The word "stopped" is likely to be a political usage, but there is some reasonable discussion about what a somewhat flat graph line might indicate about the cause of warming that has, without any doubt at all, occurred during the last century. The greenhouse gas explanation would be consistent with steady yearly increases, whereas a punctuated pattern of increase might be more in line with 'natural' increases coming off of the Little Ice Age.
Again, here is the scientific chart of temperature. You can see the flat red line at the top as the basis for the denialist arguments. What is happening is that temperature rise is going into the sea, and after a lull will sweep back with even greater intensity to push us beyond four degrees of warming this century, putting the planet into raging fever and upheaval. That is, if we accept business as usual, and prove too stupid to respond to the evidence before our eyes. That would show that homo sapien is an oxymoron. But I have hope and faith that we can prove to be sapient.

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The carbon tax in Australia appears to be causing a big furor. My impression is that the countries that signed Kyoto would be doing just this type of thing in order to be able to report success in reducing their carbon output.


Yes. We have an ex-communist prime minister, Julia Gillard, who was elected to minority government on the basis of an explicit promise of no carbon tax, and then she was able to sweet-talk two rural hick parliamentarians to betray their electorates to support her in exchange for bribery on a new broadband internet system.. Meanwhile, Gillard let the green tail wag the government dog by allowing a demagogue environmentalist, Bob Brown, to run government policy on carbon tax, completely breaking her pre-election promise and revealing herself as a liar and fool. The broader electorate is seething at her incompetence and duplicity and the government's voter support stands at 25% in opinion polls. Gillard should resign so a legitimate and competent government can be voted in.

The conservative opposition has a far better climate policy, based on directly supporting programs that evidence shows have the best value abatement, in terms of carbon reduction measured against subsidy cost. This is a policy that is supported by Nobel Prize winning economists, as listed at fixtheclimate.com, but you wouldn't know it in the face of the screaming leftist propaganda for carbon taxes coming from the greens and their fellow traveller neocomms.

The Kyoto Protocol is nothing but fraud driven by leftists. It is irrelevant to actually addressing global warming. The United Nations just proves that a camel is a horse designed by international agreement. The only thing that will actually help is investment in technological innovation, but Kyoto prioritises all other sorts of leftist rubbish.

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[Carbon taxes] seem more likely to have quicker results than do scaling up new energy industries. I understand that doing anything to impede growth is very serious and will create hardship. But don't we have to make some hard choices here? We can undergo a period, maybe a long one, of adjustment to a new energy regime, with lower rates of growth, or we can forget about that and just continue to emphasize growth. That we can have it all, have it both ways, I'm tempted to label as 'delusional'.
Your faith in carbon taxes and austerity is touching, DWill, but useless. I know you get a frisson from appealing to sacrifice, but that is a mug's game and irrelevant to actual results. Unfortunately the evidence is carbon taxes will not work to reduce temperature and are just a device to make government more intrusive into private life.

What we need is new technology to suck carbon out of the air. My view is that ocean based algae production is the only realistic candidate. It is a shame there is no interest or investment in this. I get the feeling people are sleepwalking over a cliff. If we can sequester more carbon than we produce, we can retain our existing economy, habits and infrastructure, while also regulating the global atmosphere to avert the looming catastrophe. We can have our cake and eat it too, through a win-win approach that saves the climate through capitalist investment.


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Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:38 pm
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
DWill wrote:
Has anyone noticed the back-and-forth going on about whether global warming has "stopped" in the last decade or so? The word "stopped" is likely to be a political usage, but there is some reasonable discussion about what a somewhat flat graph line might indicate about the cause of warming that has, without any doubt at all, occurred during the last century. The greenhouse gas explanation would be consistent with steady yearly increases, whereas a punctuated pattern of increase might be more in line with 'natural' increases coming off of the Little Ice Age.


I also remember when we had a couple of cooler-than-normal winters and suddenly "global warming" became "climate change." I do understand that the weather might become increasingly unpredictable, but it also shows the unfalsifiable nature of climate change. Friedman calls this "global weirding" as if anything that is unusual should automatically be attributed to manmade causes. I really don't think we can verify this empirically, although it certainly could be true.

A while back we had an online chat with Todd Riniolo, author of the critical thinking book, When Good Thinking Goes Bad. I asked him specifically what a critical thinker is supposed to make of global warming and he said actually the planet has cooled over the last decade. I don't know if that's actually true. NASA's Goddard Institute says the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade. Would it be that surprising if the planet did have a cooling trend for the next 10 or 20 years?

I really don't have a problem with the basic premise that the earth has warmed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and that it's probably related to human activity. I have a problem when global warming is over-simplified and usually tied to some political solution like the carbon tax in Australia. Neither can I quite accept that Al Gore can buy carbon credits to offset his lavish lifestyle. That doesn't wash.


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Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:47 pm
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
Robert Tulip wrote:

What we need is new technology to suck carbon out of the air. My view is that ocean based algae production is the only realistic candidate. It is a shame there is no interest or investment in this. I get the feeling people are sleepwalking over a cliff. If we can sequester more carbon than we produce, we can retain our existing economy, habits and infrastructure, while also regulating the global atmosphere to avert the looming catastrophe. We can have our cake and eat it too, through a win-win approach that saves the climate through capitalist investment.


For what it's worth, I think this is nice idea though I have no idea how feasible it is. But even if we could sequester our carbon output, I'm not sure having our cake and eat it too is a sustainable option for the human species.


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Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:50 pm
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
geo wrote:
I'm not sure having our cake and eat it too is a sustainable option

In this context, it means being able to retain and improve our current economic system while also sustaining natural planetary systems. The conventional wisdom is that these are mutually exclusive. This is why environmentalists love their sacrificial hair shirts with their false assertion that capitalism is the problem.

However, if we can grow biofuel at sea in a way that is environmentally and climatically beneficial, mimicking the way petroleum deposits were actually laid down millions of years ago by algae in shallow warm seas, but speeding it up using technology, we can have further economic growth to make everyone rich and happy, moving into a whole new planetary era of abundance and peace, while letting the planet recover from our mad attack of the last few thousand years.

To date, this whole idea of mimicking the natural process of fossil fuel production has not been analyzed or tested. People prefer to act like rabbits caught in the headlights, frozen into inactivity by the freight train of global warming that will occur as sure as night follows day if we continue with business as usual.

The dominant paradigm is so proud about working against nature that we lack the humility to seriously examine how we can work with nature. Meanwhile the real security and stability challenges of climate change are growing worse every day.


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Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:53 am
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Post Re: Global warming or carbon cult?
I strongly agree with geo about Al Gore and the carbon credits. This is why I have misgivings about global warming's takeover of environmentalism. It's weird, that someone can build a mansion in Tennessee and salve his conscience by paying for tree-planting in New Guinea, all the while that his house consumes 20 times the energy of the average American home.

No one with an ounce of sense could note the environmental record of controlled economies and say that capitalism is the problem, and I don't think that environmentalists do. Robert is attacking a straw man.

Robert, I don't see how it is realistic or wise to imagine a cornucopia with the manufacture of algae biofuels. This reminds me of the "friendly atom" ad campaigns of the 60s. It also reminds me of people who think that solar or wind, being inexhaustible, can supply us with all of our energy wants. These sources don't have the energy density to be more than players in a complex energy picture. Algae biofuel has more energy density than most other alternative fuels, but to make it on the scale needed would be difficult. It, too, will be one component of a post-oil economy.

Because we will eventually have to do without our miracle fuel--oil--and because no other single fuel will be able to take its place, much of our work needs to be centered on efficiency, squeezing more value from whatever energy source we use. Changes in lifestyle will be inevitable, too, but I don't see these as necessarily meaning a lower quality of life--quite the opposite in some regards.



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