Friday, July 06, 2007

Climatic Denial

I don't mean to imply that we are in imminent danger of being wiped off the face of the earth - at least, not on account of global warming. But climate change does confront us with profound new realities. We face these new realities as a nation, as members of the world community, as consumers, as producers, and as investors. And unless we do a better job of adjusting to these new realities, we will pay a heavy price. We may not suffer the fate of the dinosaurs. But there will be a toll on our environment and on our economy, and the toll will rise higher with each new generation. ~ Eileen Claussen

A few small voices are starting to argue vocally that we had better stop kidding ourselves: Man-made CO2 are probably not a significant factor global warming. It's about time.

Reid Bryson, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus, known as the "father of scientific climatology", and a curmudgeon after my own heart makes no bones about it. Sure the planet is getting warmer, but industrial contribution to that warming is small. What about all those scientists who disagree? "Consensus doesn't prove anything, in science or anywhere else, except in democracy, maybe," says Prof. Bryson.

Of course, Prof. Bryson's colleagues at UW-Madison are quick to throw him under the nearest global warming bus. In fact, say his former friends, emissions have increased by 35% over the last 300 years. Why, it's amazing we aren't suffocating!

To put that figure into perspective, let's turn to Dr. Michael Fox, writing in the Hawaii Reporter. According to Dr. Fox, CO2 accounts for 3% of greenhouse gases, with water vapor accounting for 95%. So, that 35% increase means that we've added less than 1% to the total through carbon dioxide emissions. Cutting them back, then, is going to do precious little.

Then there's the little issue of Mars. It seems Mars is getting warmer, too. Evidently, all those satellites and rovers are having a deleterious impact on the Martian climate. They must be, because if they aren't, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a man-made excuse for Martian heating. A Russian, Habibullo Abdussamatov, has theorized that the sun is getting hotter. Of course, this doesn't sit well with the climatological establishment: " 'His views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion,' said Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England's Oxford University."

That being said, there's the little issue of Neptune and Trition, which are also showing signs of warming also indicating the possibility of increased solar brightness. Either that, or someone has opened a steel mill on Triton.

Now I have gone on at length about theoreticians who seem to come up with out-there theories meant mostly to disprove existing theories. There seems to be nearly constant attempts to discredit Einstein, despite the fact that observational evidence keeps supporting his theories. But, that's the difference in this case. Observational evidence is equivocal, despite what the bulk of the just-stop-emissions crowd likes to say, and some observational evidence, like Mars and Neptune, points in quite a different direction. Even the cosmic ray supporters seem to have as much solid evidence as the Al Gore front.

No matter how much evidence is found that the Earth has been considerably warmer over the eons than it is now, a significant group of scientists and politicians want to take the easy way out: Just stop the emissions and everything will be all right.

Well, troopers, it won't be, and the sooner we get over that fallacy, the better off we'll be. We need to accept the probability that the planet is getting warmer without our help and that we can't do a bloody thing to stop it. Then we can get about the business of mitigating the coming effects.

To give a concrete example, we need to stop this ethanol foolishness. As part of the push by the oil companies to control our food supply as well as our energy resources, there is a false idea being pushed that ethanol will somehow be more eco-friendly. Well, ethanol is a hydrocarbon, and burning it will result in carbon dioxide emissions. So there's no significant global warming impact. But, if we're using food stocks to propel cars, and the arable land is shifting or disappearing because of planetary climate change, we're going to starve before we have to worry about getting to the mall.

It's time to get our priorities right. Scientists need to quit worrying about getting grant money by following the party line and do some serious research. And the politicians have to stop thinking there's going to be an easy way out and start dealing with the serious problems the inevitable climate change will bring.

It's time to get real or join the dinosaurs.

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