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Let’s Turn Down the Heat on Discussions of Global Warming

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Despite the strong consensus within the scientific community that global warming constitutes a serious threat to the human race and that human activity is contributing to the warming trend, there are some people who continue to insist that there is nothing to be concerned about and no reason to alter our behavior. An angry tone seems to be common when these doubters and deniers discuss global warming.

Several possible explanations for the intensity of their reactions come to mind. Their anger may be triggered by antagonism to environmentalists and their long history of opposing the unbridled harvesting of natural resources in the service of commerce and profit. The fact that science is seen by many as the enemy of religion may be a factor. They may be concerned that addressing global warming threatens our love affair with the automobile – fearing that sooner or later “they” are going to take our cars away or expect us to drive cars powered by carrot juice that won’t even come close to going zero to sixty in a matter of seconds.

Whatever the explanation, global warming seems to have become one of those issues, like abortion or gay marriage, where no one is allowed to remain neutral. There seems to be very little middle ground. You either accept global warming as a serious threat, or dismiss it entirely.

When “four out of five dentists” recommended sugarless gum “for their patients who chew gum,” I didn’t switch to sugarless gum, I quit chewing gum. I also found myself wondering what was wrong with that fifth dentist. In the same spirit, if four out of five scientists are concerned about global warming, I am willing to share their concerns.

Global warming seems to be an issue where we would be wise to err on the side of caution. If the grim scenario envisioned by the scientific community comes to pass, the consequences will be severe. We should be doing everything we can to minimize the damage.

Even if scientists are wrong about global warming, there are dangers involved in continuing to burn fossil fuels. Much of what we can do to combat global warming has benefits that outweigh their costs.

Let’s take a layman’s look at cars. You don’t have to be a scientist to know what happens if your sit inside your car, with the engine running, in a garage or other enclosed space. If you sit there too long, you won’t have to worry about global warming any longer. You will die of carbon monoxide poisoning. This would seem to indicate that the exhaust coming out of our cars is hazardous.

The cloud of smog enveloping our cities is not a figment of the scientific imagination. Find a high point outside of any major metropolitan area and you can easily see it for yourself. I’m certain we could get a heated argument going about exactly how dangerous smog may be, but no sane person would argue that breathing heavily polluted air is a good thing.

As the price of oil rises, the cost of driving our cars is going up. You can rail against the oil companies all you want. I’ll be happy to join you. Their profits are obscene, yet they are still subsidized by our government.

By subsidizing the oil industry and keeping taxes on gasoline low, the government has helped to keep gas prices down. We pay much less for gas than drivers in Japan or Europe. About the only thing the government could do to keep gas prices from going up would be to regulate oil company profits. Don’t hold your breath on that one. In the long run, the price of gas is rising and will continue to do so, for reasons that are beyond the government’s control.

Oil is a finite resource. While the amount of oil on the market at any given time may fluctuate, the amount of oil left in the ground (the total supply) can only go down. The demand for oil is rising as China and India and other smaller countries around the globe join the Industrial Revolution. Anyone who understands the law of supply and demand, knows that when supply goes down and demand goes up, prices rise.

The law of supply and demand is not subject to repeal by Congress. Our economy is going to be impacted by rising oil prices. By acting aggressively to reduce our oil consumption, we will be less susceptible to inflationary pressures as the scenario described above continues to unfold.

Calls to reduce our dependence on foreign oil have been a staple of political rhetoric since the the first OPEC oil crisis in the early 1970s. There are good reasons to move beyond vague, empty promises. Not all of the petrodollars flowing to OPEC are being used to build lavish palaces. A fair percentage is being spent on weapons.

We would be wise to remember Lenin’s remark that we (capitalists) would sell them (communists) the rope they will use to hang us. It’s not just communists who might use weapons we have sold or financed against us. Reducing or eliminating the transfer of huge sums of money to the kings and dictators running the countries that sell us much of the oil we consume would be a wise move.

Energy independence is an important goal. We need to stop talking about it and take action.

With or without the threat of global warming, there are absolute benefits to minimizing our consumption of oil. By finding cleaner ways to power our cars, driving less, and driving fuel efficient cars, we will save ourselves a lot of money and have cleaner air to breathe.

The second major prescription for individual action to combat global warming is to use less energy to light, heat, and cool our homes. We are being asked to insulate our homes more effectively, to turn our thermostats up a little in the summer and down a little in the winter, and to purchase energy efficient appliances.

What if we do all this and it turns out that scientists have sounded a false alarm with regard to global warming? We will have saved a considerable amount of money on our utility bills. Those of us who have gone so far as to install solar panels or other devices to generate electricity for our homes will not even have utility bills.

Another key argument made by the doubters and deniers is that we will damage our economy in the process of acting to counter the threat of global warming. This is a legitimate concern, particularly if you own coal mines, an oil company, or a utility company. As we switch to alternative and renewable sources of energy, the profits of these companies will drop. Eventually many of them will go out of business.

Will our larger economy suffer? Yes and no. Whenever major changes take place in an economy there is some disruption. Some jobs will be lost. New jobs are created.

This process is already underway at present. Research and development into green products is beginning to produce results. Concerned consumers are already helping to increase demand for the new products that are being developed and introduced in response to global warming.

Electric cars are already on the market. They will continue to improve in terms of range and ease of use. Automobile manufacturers who continue to crank out gas guzzlers have been losing market share for some time now. The market share of automakers who produce electric cars, hybrids, and fuel efficient vehicles is expanding and will continue to expand. Those auto manufacturers who don’t transition fast enough may ultimately go out of business.

Homes have already been built, and in other cases retrofitted, with devices that generate electricity using renewable, non-polluting sources. A growing number of homeowners have been able to “go off the grid” entirely. In some cases homeowners are even able to sell unused electricity back to utility companies.

This trend is not going to be reversed. As the demand for solar panels and other products providing clean, renewable energy continues to grow, prices will drop, profits will increase, and it will become more and more cost-effective for homeowners to switch to these options.

The revolutions in transportation and communication have accelerated the globalization of the economy. With or without a response to the threat of global warming, some industries are going to shrink, while others are going to expand. Serious efforts to combat global warming might speed up the process, but the end result will be the same.

The business community has already joined the fight to reduce carbon emissions. The full weight of entrepreneurial activity, inventors, and venture capitalists is on the side of new technologies. The smart money is no longer being invested in typewriters or telegraph lines. Gas guzzling cars and coal-burning utility plants will eventually go the way of the typewriter and the telegraph, but companies utilizing old technologies will do everything they can to drag out the process of changing over to new technologies.

Coal companies, large utility companies, and oil companies, in particular, want to keep their gravy trains running for as long as possible. They don’t want to leave any coal or oil in the ground. The slower we move in the direction of renewable energy, electric cars, etc., the more profit they stand to make. The key battles in their efforts to maintain profitability will be fought in the halls of government.

Utilities and oil companies wield considerable influence within the political arena. Their profits are threatened by most of the actions we need to take to counter the effects of global warming. They will not go down without a fight.

It would be nice if governments at all levels were willing to take the lead in addressing global warming, but the pressure these industries exert make governments reluctant to act. The primary concern of most politicians is staying in office. They will remain comfortably in the pockets of oil and utility companies unless and until they get the feeling that they are losing more votes by supporting those interests than can be offset by the votes they can purchase with the campaign contributions they are getting from them.

A button I have left over from the 1960s says “If the people will lead, eventually the leaders will follow.” Responding to the threat of global warming is a cause where this may need to be the case. We can drive less. We can drive 55 miles per hour on highways even if the posted limit is higher. We can buy electric cars or hybrids. At the very least, we can buy the most fuel-efficient cars possible.

We can switch to compact florescent light bulbs. We can buy energy-efficient appliances. We can plant trees. We can turn our thermostats up a bit in the summer and down a bit in the winter.

The “power of one” is a popular concept these days. The power of a hundred million, or two hundred million, is even greater. Let those who doubt the scientific community go on doubting. If enough of us who are concerned take action, we can begin to turn things around without the help of the government.

At some point we will manage to elect a Congress and a president who will join, or perhaps even lead, our efforts. The government plays a huge role in our economy. (Larger than it should, but that’s another matter.) It is important that they join our efforts as soon as possible.

There is a lot governments could do to reduce carbon emissions short of passing legislation. Government contracts for calculators were a major factor in creating a level of demand that led to mass production and, in turn, to drastic reductions in the price of calculators. Government contracts for solar panels, electric cars, etc. would have the same effect.

If governments joined concerned individuals in making fuel efficiency a top priority when buying cars, the government wouldn’t need to mandate fuel efficiency. The market would take care of that. If governments at all levels simply joined consumers by purchasing only compact florescent light bulbs, the demand for conventional light bulbs would plummet and companies would stop producing them.

As mentioned above with regard to individual consumers, the government could save a lot of money by becoming more energy efficient. That would enable them to reduce taxes, which as any good Republican will tell you, is a great way to win votes.

Even if the scientific community is wrong about global warming, taking the actions listed above will give us cleaner air to breathe and save us a lot of money on transportation and utility bills. We have little to lose and much to gain by moving in the direction of non-polluting, renewable sources of energy.

The dire predictions of Karl Marx have proven to be less than accurate, but his rhetoric was quite energetic, so I will close by paraphrasing him: Concerned citizens of the world conserve. We have nothing to lose but high gas prices, soaring utility bills, and polluted air. We have a world to save

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About Winston Apple

Winston Apple is the author of "Edutopia: A Manifesto for the Reform of Public Education." He is a former teacher. He has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1990). He is also a singer-songwriter and recording artist.
  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    While I agree with your general objectives of ‘greening’ society, the rhetoric you use certainly doesn’t fit with turning down the ‘heat’ on the subject.

    Despite the strong consensus within the scientific community that global warming constitutes a serious threat to the human race and that human activity is contributing to the warming trend,

    That consensus is fictional. Fewer than a third of the recognized climate scientists in the world have taken this position. Most are neutral or have taken no public position, and large numbers remain skeptical.

    The evidence clearly shows that global warming is overshelmingly a natural, cyclic phenomenon with human contributions negligible.

    An angry tone seems to be common when these doubters and deniers discuss global warming.

    Ah, I see. Like most global warming advocates you just want the skeptics to be ‘calm’ or in other words to be silenced, because their demands for empirical evidence are difficult for scientists whose position is more like a religion and is based mainly on politics to deal with.

    The fact that science is seen by many as the enemy of religion may be a factor.

    How about they mostly want to see real evidence rather than theories based on wildly inconsistent methodology. The truth is that those who question global warming are taking the scientific position – to be skeptical of theories until there is actual evidence to support them.

    You either accept global warming as a serious threat, or dismiss it entirely.

    It’s called the ‘leap of faith’ – it’s key to most religions, including global warming.

    Let’s take a layman’s look at cars. You don’t have to be a scientist to know what happens if your sit inside your car, with the engine running, in a garage or other enclosed space. If you sit there too long, you won’t have to worry about global warming any longer. You will die of carbon monoxide poisoning. This would seem to indicate that the exhaust coming out of our cars is hazardous.

    This is actually not true with a large number of contemporary vehicles. I know that my truck produces virtually no CO.

    The cloud of smog enveloping our cities is not a figment of the scientific imagination.

    I’m not sure how old you are, but many of us remember how terrible smog was 20 years ago and are pretty happy with how much better it is today. You may have noticed that they’ve switched from warning about actual particulate smog to ‘ozone alerts’, because that’s the only output from cars they can measure that might theoretically be dangerous, though proof of the actual threat from ground-level ozone is largely lacking.

    Find a high point outside of any major metropolitan area and you can easily see it for yourself. I’m certain we could get a heated argument going about exactly how dangerous smog may be, but no sane person would argue that breathing heavily polluted air is a good thing.

    Most of the cities I visit regularly which used to have smog problems have remarkably clear air today. Only a few which are basins which create inversion domes are still smog ridden, and in some of those cases (Los Angeles) a lot of the smog is coming from outside the country.

    As the price of oil rises, the cost of driving our cars is going up. You can rail against the oil companies all you want. I’ll be happy to join you. Their profits are obscene, yet they are still subsidized by our government.

    Facts are not your friend. The profit margin of the oil industry is extraordinarily low compared to other businesses. If my business had a profit margin that low I’d fold up shop and go back to teaching college.

    By subsidizing the oil industry and keeping taxes on gasoline low, the government has helped to keep gas prices down.

    Low in the sense of taxing it more than ANY other product in the marketplace. And from what I’ve seen the prices aren’t terribly low.

    That said, I agree that we ought to tax gas much more than we do, but good luck selling that to consumers.

    About the only thing the government could do to keep gas prices from going up would be to regulate oil company profits.

    That would basically come down to nationalizing the oil industry because with profits as low as they are investors would dump oil stocks if they went any lower.

    I could go on. But you do make some good points, and there are plenty of reasons to improve our environment and reduce dependence on foreign oil, not least fighting terrorism. But your argument is not helped by your obvious intolerance of scientific skepticism about global warming or your willing to repeat the fictions of the environmental socialists without questioning them even a little bit.

    Dave

  • http://cqpinion.blogspot.com Krutic

    The fact that science is seen by many as the enemy of religion may be a factor

    This is easily one of the most nonsensical arguments I’ve ever heard by global warming alarmists – and I have heard many.
    Name one major religion or sub-group of a religion that has views counter to global warming or science in general.
    Most issues are related to stem cells and evolution (and mostly in Christianity).
    Global warming is in no way connected to stem cells or the evolution/creationism argument.

    Moreover not ‘many’ but a very few idiots think science and religion are ‘enemies’. Most intelligent people do not believe this.

    The elitism and self righteousness here is amazing.
    You know that is one of the reasons why people don’t like Al Gore – he comes across exactly like this – full of himself and condescending to others who don’t agree with his nutty dire predictions.

    Oh and Dave I’d call ’em environmental fascists not socialists!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Although Dave is talking complete bollocks, particularly with regard to his remarks on the scientific consensus, I will refrain, in the spirit of Winston’s article, from engaging in a heated debate. Some other time.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    You can read the comments here and choose to accept Dave’s pronouncements regarding the lack of scientific concensus on global warming – believing him simply because, well because Dave says so, kinda like we believed mommy and daddy or Uncle Al – you know, the guy who was always telling you to pull on his finger, when you were a kid, or you can take a bit of time and discover that he’s only one more conservative voice in abject denial of the notion of human contributions to global warming.

    Here are a few members of the scientific community who DO have a concensus regarding the reality and very real dangers of global warming:

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    American Meteorological Society

    American Geophysical Union

    American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

    Geological Society of America

    American Chemical Society

    U.S. National Academy of Sciences

    International Academies (Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change.)

    Of course there are some scientists who disagree, or supposedly have registered “no opinion” on climate change. While it is apparently assumed by opponents that the members of the scientific community who ascribe to the reality of global warming are, as Winston suggests, “power hungry,” or have some nefarious political agenda, it is rarely suggested that those who are in opposition have any agendas of their own, or that they may well be influenced or even intimidated by the powers that be in government and the corporate community which have a vested interest in suppressing the notion of global warming.

    I wonder if Dave remains skeptical regarding the use of tobacco products and their connection to cancer?

    B-tone

  • Clavos

    Dave’s not the only one.

    William Gray, recognized as one of America’s top two hurricane experts also has reservations, as does Max Mayfield, recently retired director of the National Hurricane Center here in Miami.

    Others who have published books questioning the “consensus:”

    Bjorn Lomborg – The Skeptical Environmentalist and Chill Out

    Peter Huber – Hard Green

    Jack Hollander – The Real Environmental Crisis

    S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery – Unstoppable Global Warming

    Wilfred Beckerman – A Poverty of Reason

    These are just the books on my own bookshelves; there are many others published.

    Just yesterday, Canada’s National Post published an opinion piece by Lorne Gunter which quotes several top Canadian scientists as they discuss anomalies and discrepancies in the findings touted by the “consensus,” including recent work in the polar ice fields that indicates the melting of the ice caps is due to shifting of ocean currents, not global warming. Other data suggests that the caps have stopped melting and are re-freezing.

    In short, gentlemen, there is a growing amount of authoritative and very credible scientific dissent about many aspects of the “consensus” which cannot be ignored any longer.

    Global warming exists, no one of any standing in climatology disputes that basic observation. It is the extent of anthropogenic causes that these scientists question. There is considerable data that suggests that global warming is cyclical and far more closely related to solar activity than human activity.

  • Cannonshop

    Funny thing is, it’s never BEEN about the Climate, anymore than Anthropogenic Global Cooling was thirty years ago.

    It’s about POWER. Power, and money. There’s a lot of both in Apocalyptic Predictions, both religious, and non-religious, and there are a lot of fools out there willing to toss their reason aside for the latest “The End is Nigh” scare-tactic, especially if the scare is tied to something most folks agree as being a good thing-most anyone you meet, right or left, agrees that less pollution is better, and nobody wants to live in a toxic wasteland if they can help it.

    When someone with a doctorate of sciences tells someone who is a non-scientist something, that scientist tends to carry quite a bit of credibility-often enough that a non-scientist will accept what they are saying without question, and usually without applying the scientific method themselves. This becomes even MORE so when the scientist in question is considered a “Respected” scientist-in other words, known to the public, or to powerful non-scientists. (F’rinstance, a Presidential Scientific Advisor, the head of a department at a prominent university, or a staff member of importance at a well known lab.) This CAN be a mistake, taking an “authority” at their word. The infamous “Mann Hockeystick” graph that formed much of the scientific basis of the Kyoto Accords, for instance, went un-challenged until a canadian hobbyist in mathematics (okay, so the guy had a masters’ degree…) demonstrated that using the same mathematical models published to support “Runaway Global Warming” in Mann’s papers would produce the same exact result when randonm numbers were placed into the values where observed climate numbers had been placed-this promptly resulted in papers being pulled and further access to said materials being restricted by the very respected (and still very much employed and cited) professor.

    Science, to be SCIENCE (as opposed to DOGMA in the style of Creationism and ID arguments) MUST BE TRANSPARENT. That is, the experiment MUST BE ABLE TO BE REPLICATED and DERIVE THE SAME RESULT. Cooking the books is cheating. In the case of science intended to influence policy, cooked books is BAD.

    The entire Anthropogenic Model is basically put forward to influence behaviours and policies. For it to be serious science, it must be one-hundered-percent ethical-that is, no data ignored for being inconvenient, no models massaged to get a specific result, and the experimental data must be completely accessable, along with the error-ratio. Many “Global Warming” papers omit the last bit-and with good reason… when your margin of error exceeds your predicted outcome, in other sciences (metallurgy, for instance, physics, Engineering, or chemistry) you’re not ready to publish your hypothesis, much less claim it to be a full theory backed by hard evidence.

    Ignoring inputs is also bad science- that is, ignoring things like tectonic activity, volcanism, Solar activity, or orbital mechanics when discussing climate is ignoring significant inputs into the system in favour of “proving” your hypothesis. It’s like invoking only selected archaeological sites as proof of God, or ignoring mundane facts to prove aliens built the Pyramids.

    The difference, of course, being that “Scientific Authorities” are making the assertion, so they recieve a higher level of credibility among the Public, Leadership, and Media, than other kooks with agendas.

    Incidentally, this extends into scientific specialties outside of the one under discussion- a biochemist may well be focused enough to take the word of a peer in another field as gold without examination of that peer’s methods. It’s happened before, after all, and it’s really no different from an auto-mechanic taking the word of an Architect, or a machinist accepting the claims of an economist, and offering his or her support to a fellow professional without questioning said trusted peer’s motives or methodology.

    Finally- only the truly ignorant would claim that the climate does not change-we live under a G-2 VARIABLE star, on an unstable skin of rock and water over a boiling and active core of superheated material, in an elliptical orbit that is perturbed by a closer mass that weighs roughly a quarter what our world weighs, all of this in motion at speeds that are, frankly, amazing. Our atmosphere is a fluid mixture that flows at a different speed from the ground beneath it, and has additional movement imposed through a process known as convection…and the whole mess is unevenly heated, and barely held together by gravity.

    it would be more extraordinary if the Climate was NOT fluctuating and changing, human presence or not.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming strikes me as being arrogance on the scale of the Humanocentric, Geocentric, crystal-sphere model of the universe that was commonly(and wrongly) accepted prior to the time of Copernicus.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    B-Tone, you can take my word or not as you choose. We’ve been over the issue before, so I’m not just making stuff up, as Clavos illustrates.

    And the argument as a whole is not whether there is global warming or global climate change, but mostly over what the human role in it is.

    Putting aside all of the ‘deniers’ (how’s that for a charged word), the key point to me is that those who support human causation want to shut down all scientific inquiry on the topic. They want NO questions asked. They oppose the basic empirical process which is the basis of science. That makes them inherently suspect to me.

    And when you get right down to it, this is ALL political. It’s all about advancing a globalist agenda using global warming as a wedge issue to raise funds and intimidate governments and build power.

    Dave

  • Boxorox

    Certainly, you can take all your characterizations and assumed motives stated in this article about GW deniers and skeptics and turn them toward yourselves. To the contrary, I find the global warming campaign proponents to be the ones who overwhelmingly deal with this subject in inflammatory tones and act quite defensively toward those who question their foundations and their motives. We, who rely upon and defend science in the face of the global warming mania, tend to be far more civil, rational, and offering of facts, than our GW opponents.
    This issue is about science and natural history. It is about preventing the political campaign to control society from distorting the truth and making sure that we, as a nation and as a species, make the right choices for the future and to focus on issues that really matter. Global warming and its opposite, global cooling, have been around since time immemorium. We don’t influence, but we would do well to remember how to adapt to it and its effects, just as our countless previous generations of ancestors have done.

  • Boxorox

    B-tone-

    By the way, the GSA (Geological Society of America) does not present itself as a support of Anthropogenic Global Warming. We are dedicated to the investigation and study of natural truth. The GSA is not a political organization but is dedicated to preserving science and furthing the understanding of earth history and its natural processes. As a whole, the membership is skeptical, at best, about the role of humanity in climate change.

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    It really doesn’t matter too much what the ultimate causes of global warming may be. What matters is how we are going to respond to it. Doing nothing is one option but may prove more costly than getting a head start on planning our responses.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    But if human’s didn’t cause global warming it does raise the question of whether they can actually stop it or even if they should try.

    But it’s all sort of moot since the latest evidence suggests that global warming is neither as severe or as worldwide as has been suggested.

    For example, a study last year showed that the ice in the arctic was no longer melting and had never been melting at the rate claimed by the IPCC.

    And more recently the polar ice cap has actually been expanding.

    The irony is that if you search google news you find the one factually supported article with information from actual research proving that ice is not melting in the arctic, and dozens of content-free panic pieces about global warming, surging rises in the sea and doomed polar bears – none of which has any factual support.

    Sorry, it’s all just fearmongering bullshit.

    Dave

  • Doug Hunter

    Ah, Chris thanks for bringing back the other inane response from alarmists. When pressed it always ends with that. Who cares what the facts are, we should just act for the sake of acting. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen alarmists say that.

    How about we don’t act foolishly, blowing hundreds of billions, and imposing authoritarian controls while getting ourselves involved in a process we know little about.

    Believe it or not there are real problems that don’t need consensus to be dealt with out there that are much more straightforward to solve than GW. Alternative energy is one of them.

    Just a couple of points since this debate is so stale already.

    1) Alarmists claim all scientists who are skeptical are selling out for some sort of energy industry money. How about the billions of $$$ floating around to anyone willing to indict mankind for this so called climate change? How can you say that the paltry few million energy companies had used to battle this early on even compare to the billions flowing into this issue by those hoping to make a killing when the new carbon economy arises.

    2) Not that alarmists would care about research, but, check out the warming after the younger-dryas cold spell only 12000 years ago. Greenland warmed 20 degrees F in only 50 years, the antarctic warmed by 4 F in roughly the same period. The world as a whole warmed much faster then than it has now(currently like 1 degree F in 150 year span), completely naturally.

    Just a couple points to look into for yous. I think CO2 probably does have some minimal impact on climate, but, like most climate scientists polled I dont believe there is evidence sufficient to make major changes to public policy.

  • zingzing

    so los angeles smog comes from… where? “other countries?” like where? i suppose mexico… but i’ve never heard of any such thing. reference, please.

    dave, you seem to have two version of facts. your version and the version that doesn’t fit in with your vision of your version of the facts. you ignore the latter.

    as for your “big cities have remarkably clean air” shit, go to china. go to new york. the air is not clean, it’s filthy. and don’t quote “hurricane experts,” as they are obviously all fools.

    i think we can all agree that there is no harm in going more green and decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels. if you live in a big city, take public transportation (except for the jmz/nqr around 8:15 am, thank you). if you live in buttfuck, sit on your ass and drink beer all day, you fuckin’ hicks. thanks. :)

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    First: Boxo,

    A published statement by the GSA as follows:

    The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries.”

    Second: Clav,

    I’m sure your bookshelves are quite impressive, but I wonder how many scientists are represented by the groups I cited above?

    I find the opposition here very disingenuine and mis-guided. Your skepticism does not make you superior or right. A great deal of good, hard science has been accomplished that firmly establishes the reality, not only of global warming, but of the deleterious effects of human activity.

    Most of you doubters are so skeptical of all human motivations, that you can’t fathom that anyone might simply be doing their jobs as scientists without some nefarious political agenda underpinning their reported results. You are incapable of believing that there is such a thing as an honest man or woman – unless, of course, they agree with you.

    You accuse supporters as being alarmists and/or as having evil, power grabbing agendas. Could it be that most of you have taken your positions in the fear that, god forbid, the truth of human influence on climate change might put a dent in your portfolios, which renders your opposition both self serving and highly political?

    B-tone

  • Clavos

    “don’t quote “hurricane experts,” as they are obviously all fools.”

    I quoted ’em.

    Surprised at you, zing. You’re not usually such an asshole…

    As for going more green; I’m all for it. think I’ll trade my current 6 cylinder SUV for a V-8 painted green. :>)

  • zingzing

    yeah, i didn’t know who quoted the hurricane experts, but whatever. on the environment, clavos, you may as well be dave.

    and really, when was the last time the “hurricane experts” were even close to making an accurate prediction?

    and what was remotely asshole-ish about THAT statement? in fact, what was asshole-ish about any of it, except for telling the hicks to just sit still? and the second paragraph… even if that’s been said 100 times before? what’s asshole-ish about asking where los angeles’ smog comes from, if not from los angeles? what’s asshole-ish about letting dave know that big-city air is NOT clean, because america (or texas) is not the fucking world?

    the only thing i said that was asshole-ish was that last statement, really, which was MEANT to be asshole-ish in my usual way, so you really should expect it by now.

    i think the only thing asshole-ish you can see is my opinion.

    (other than this whole post, which is just a reaction.)

    (i’m feeling ill, excuse me.)

  • http://www.winstonapple.blogspot.com Winston Apple

    “An angry tone seems to be common” in these comments. Allow me to make one further attempt to “turn down the heat.”

    I don’t consider myself to be an “alarmist.” I do consider myself to be alarmed. If the alarmists are right, we have a great deal to lose by failing to act. Hence my feeling that “we should err on the side of caution.”

    I am not a scientist, but I do my best as a concerned citizen to be informed by facts when possible. The scientific community is one source of information we need to access on some important issues, including global warming.

    [A brief aside about science: It sometimes takes scientists a while to figure something out, but eventually they get it right. The only “theory” widely accepted by scientists with which I personally disagree is gravity. I am not convinced it exists. I think a more likely explanation for the observed effects is that the Earth sucks.]

    With regard to the threat of global warming, obviously there are scientists on both sides of the issue. As the comments in response to my article indicate, it’s not difficult to get a game of dueling facts going – including a dispute about what percentage of scientists are concerned about the impact of human activity on global warming.

    The main point I tried to make (I obviously didn’t do a very good job) is that we will benefit from most of the actions we, as individuals, could take to lessen the effects of global warming “(e)ven if the scientific community is wrong about global warming.”

    We can save money on gas for our cars and on our utility bills. We can lessen the inflationary impact of increases in the price of oil. We can stop sending tons of money to OPEC. And, by God, we can help Al Gore sleep more peacefully.

    – Winston Apple

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    Dave, the Arctic ice is not that relevant as it is already in the water; it is the Antarctic ice, which is almost entirely on land, that would be a cause for concern. Coincidentally, there was an article about this Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean on the BBC news web site yesterday.

    Doug, you appear to have misunderstood. I’m not suggesting that any particular course of action should be undertaken, I merely said that what matters is what response there should be. Don’t let your conviction blind you.

    Global warming is a fact, if for no other reason that the Earth is emerging from an Ice Age. It would seem likely that human activity is going to add something to the natual processes at work.

  • Druxxx

    I think the one thing we can agree upon, and IMO the point of the article, is that fossil fuels are finite. We have to slow our use of them. Alternates are a must.

    And energy independence would have the added benefit of taking a few billion dollars out of the pockets of rogue states that don’t like us.

  • Clavos

    “A great deal of good, hard science has been accomplished that firmly establishes the reality, not only of global warming, but of the deleterious effects of human activity.

    The reality, yes. Agreed. The extent (if any) of the “deleterious effects of human activity” ON GLOBAL WARMING is a looong way from being established, which is precisely the whole point of the discussion.

    As for portfolios: mine is mostly in defense (warmongering) and pharmas; they pay far better than green for now; but I will shift when the time is right. I don’t invest in causes; only results.

  • troll

    As for portfolios: mine is mostly in defense (warmongering) and pharmas; they pay far better than green for now; but I will shift when the time is right. I don’t invest in causes; only results.

    ……..we have met the enemy and he is us (href Pogo etc)

    boycott war profiteers

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    You proved my point to some extent regarding what is short sighted and self serving. Go for the gold. Fuck the rest of it as long as I get mine.

    The evidence that human activity is having an adverse effect on the world’s climate is not nearly the stretch that you seem convinced of. It is a very complex question, but I agree with Winston, given the possible cost, to err on the side of caution seems at least prudent to me.

    B-tone

  • Howard Bowen

    Dinasaurs. Is it real? I have read articles claiming raw, intact dinasaur eggs have been discovered. I realize the media has such impressive powers over the thinking of people, that the skin, eye color, nails, feet, and incredulously, the wings, on huge cumbersome cold blooded animals, has become the science of palenotolgy, a science to believe in which theoretically, fills the void created by atheist america. When I view programs whose themes are set in pre-industrial era’s, the sexuality of the age is depicted as it is today, which is a far cry from the sexual morays of society prior to penicillin and birth control pills. The so called sexual revolution is a phenomenon that was orchestrated by television. Almost every word of historical data surrounding sexuality of society is altered to promulgate the current attitudes. Revisionist have completely changed the truth. It is obvious that “science”, partnering with television, has created public ambivalence and confusion concerning global warming. What about the polical television environment? Is it better to disguise the truth from people in all matters, because the truth is too difficult to deal with?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ah, Howard’s back. Seldom makes any sense whatsoever, but conjures up some interesting pictures.

    “The sexual morays of society”, for instance. I have this mental image of packs of horny eels ravaging unsuspecting bathers off the Atlantic coast of pre-industrial France. I’m surprised the phenomenon hasn’t been covered in more depth by the historians of that period.

  • Clavos

    B-tone:

    “You proved my point to some extent regarding what is short sighted and self serving. Go for the gold. Fuck the rest of it as long as I get mine.”

    The point of investing IS, as you derisively put it, to “go for the gold.” Self serving? Of course; it’s my money I’m investing to better myself and those I choose to share the benefits with. Short sighted? I don’t see how; on the contrary, I tend to look at the long picture, which would indicate two things:

    1. The present GW phenomenon is a part of a thousands of years cycle which is ongoing.

    2. If #1 is true, and there’s ample scientific evidence that it is, its existence owes little to human activity. That being the case, any plans for attempts to ameliorate the effects of human activity should not be undertaken lightly or precipitously. Looking for alternative fuel sources, an idea that transcends the GW issue, is worthwhile pursuit precisely because it encompasses issues of national security.

    The Global Warming debate is much more about geopolitical and geoeconomic goals and ambitions than it is about science. Americans who uncritically accept the conclusions of a body like the UN (of which the IPCC is a part) are being, as Americans often are, very naive.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    It does distress me that people are investing in endeavors which promulgate and support war and mass murder. But that’s just me.

    You fail to consider that while we may well be in a warming cycle owing to larger influences, that we may also be exacerbating the adverse effects it is having on our climate via the pollution of our air, water and ground. Isn’t it also possible that the climatologists and scientists in related disciplines involved in this research are aware of said cycle, but still see the deleterious effects man is causing over and above the natural events? There is no naivete’ to it.

    B-tone

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    This whole thing about “human involvement” seems about the dumbest part of this discussion. Is there “something to lose” in taking care of the environment and being more prudent on earth issues? Is there “something to lose” by not providing a better planet for future generations?

    The idea of whether or not “we” caused it seems akin to standing around outside of a burning building, watching it burn down, and arguing about who caused the damn fire. It’s ridiculous. The evidence regarding climate change is there, it exists. This discussion of an apparent mythology is absolutely ridiculous and, from an outsider’s perspective, seems to demonstrate, yet again, the ultimate in American arrogance. The rest of the world is ahead of the curve on this issue, yet us in North America (Canada is now included in this, thank you Stephen Harper) are dragging our feet along with China.

    The fact of the matter is that there is a scientific consensus about global warming. It is occurring. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which in 2005 the White House called “the gold standard of objective scientific assessment,” issued a joint statement with 10 other National Academies of Science saying “the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.” Anyone can cite fringe studies taken by special interest groups, but I’d rather trust those with nothing to hide and no interests to protect. What “special interests” are there to appeal to, other than the law of nature, in terms of the U.S. Academy? It’s not a “political” issue at all, it’s only been made into one by idiotic special interest groups with shortsighted philosophies and cash-first ideologies. It’s disgusting to watch from the outside. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to experience from within.

    The only debate in the scientific community, the reputable scientific community, is about how much and how fast warming will continue as a result of heat-trapping emissions.

    People citing these fringe studies need to investigate those studies more to discover the special interests behind them.

    The day I trust Bjorn Lomborg, of which there are pages and pages and pages of refutes to his “facts” online is the day I roll over and give up all reason. Lomborg’s books have been refuted by just about every reputable scientist within earshot, so I’d be careful citing that one.

    Peter Huber is arguing his points with HEAVY political interest, dismantling global warming into the idiotic “us vs. them” debate. His book, Hard Green, (which I’ve sadly read) is a snotty and idiotic manifesto that argues AGAINST environmental conservatism of almost every kind. Huber says that all environmentalism has “damaged” the human race and believes all modern science to be fraudulent. Yeah, there’s a trustworthy voice.

    Hollander’s book argues that poverty is the REAL environmental crisis because of the huge heaps of garbage left in shanty towns and their escaping pollution. Those damn poor people polluting the earth with their refuse! His book has been openly refuted by most major objective scientific bodies that had the patience to put up with his shoddy research.

    S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery’s book has, again, been openly refuted by most major scientific bodies. There are countless refutes online that actually use FACTS as opposed to their bland hypothesis. Their idea that “global warming is unstoppable” isn’t supported by any concrete evidence. The idea that global warming occurs naturally every 1500 years is halted easily by the fact that humans haven’t burned fossil fuels every 1500 years. Duh.

    Wilfred Beckerman is an economist, first and foremost. His book, A Poverty of Reason (which I’ve also read), looks at everything (and I mean everything) within the global warming discussion from an ECONOMIC perspective. Yeah, real objective.

    Clavos, no offense my friend, but I think you need some new books on your bookshelf. Your reading material does prove illuminating as to how you have this point of view that you have, but it surely isn’t even-handed or unbiased.

    This idea of “fear mongering” is idiotic too, but it’s no surprise that it comes from the “Everything’s Fine” crowd of right-wingers. The notion that there is even a “raging debate” about global warming is alarming to most people, as the rest of us would rather change our lifestyles to a minimal degree and start helping to put out the fire.

  • Clavos

    “Clavos, no offense my friend”

    None taken, Jordan.

    You are as entitled to believe what you want to believe as I am.

  • Cannonshop

    zingzing- the LA basin was called the valley of the smokes long before European colonization. It’s a BASIN-the type of terrain that is PRONE to hold smog.

    Did anyone look at the numbers in terms of CO and CO2 put out just in the Pinatoubo eruption? St. Helens?

    Pinatoubo put out more CO2 than the entire industrial age prior-including the age of coal-burning and the unregulated output of the Soviet Union. (the guys who turned Lake Baikal into a near-lifeless body of water.)

    This doesn’t even touch ongoing geophysical activity worldwide that doesn’t normally make headlines.

    It’s rather interesting that in CE 1000 Greenland was good wheat country, and Scotland was growing the wine-grapes common to Southern France today-and nobody was burning industrial quantities of fossil fuel at the time.

    None of this means that it isn’t a good idea to get off the fossil-fuel habit. Oil is how groups like Al-Quaeda are financed, it is subsidizing a paranoid neo-stalinist in Venezuela,and it has a finite supply that once gone, takes a few thousand millenia to replenish. None of these, nor the carbon output, is going to be impacted by “Carbon Trading” band-aids, instead, it will simply transfer wealth from developed, regulated states to states that are unregulated dictatorships, the largest of which is a one-party state that has neither environmental controls, nor civil rights protections.

    But that’s an aside to the main issue, which basically breaks down into a faith-based doctrine of human significance over forces humans don’t fully understand. i.e. Anthropogenic Global Warming is based more on faith and arrogance than on hard science. It bears more than a little similarity to the thinking in the 12th century that attributed the Plague to “Sinful Behaviour”, and it is most often grounded in the same kind of puritanical thought that claims that if everyone stops committing a particular sin, the world will be a better place, so why not use whatever excuse you need to make them stop?

  • zingzing

    cannonshop: “the LA basin was called the valley of the smokes long before European colonization. It’s a BASIN-the type of terrain that is PRONE to hold smog.”

    so where is the smog coming from, if not LA?

  • JustOneMan

    Hate to piss on the global warming morons in here — but truth and facts win over consensus…

    From Tech Daily…
    Over the past year, evidence for a cooling planet has exploded.

    China has its coldest winter in 100 years.

    Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history.

    North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began.

    Record levels of Antarctic sea ice,

    record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile — the list goes on and on.

    No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously

    Gee…dont let the truth get in the way of praying to Al Gwhore fat lard ass…

    JOM “Global Warming – Fairy Tale for Morons”

  • Cannonshop

    Certainly, Zing-zing, it’s coming from LA. The thing you’re basically ignoring, is that it was coming from the pre-Los-angeles inhabitants TOO. LA had smog when the only fuel in use was wood, and it retained smog long before anyone even knew what internal combustion WAS. (or, for that matter, steam engines). It’s a really shitty place to build a city if you care the least bit about air-quality, and LA would have smog if you ripped every gas, diesel, or coal-fired engine out of the area.

    after all, it had smog when the population density was down around five to ten every square mile, rather than the hundereds to thousands per square mile today.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    JOM, you do realize that global warming produces more extreme weather patterns, not simply an overall warmer planet, right?

  • Cannonshop

    Um, JustOneMan:

    Name calling is what the other side does. It undermines your argument.
    That said, several backers of Anthropogenic Global Warming have already prepared their counter-argument, the pseudoscience underlying the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” comes to immediate mind- that is, “Global Warming” sparking a “Global Cooling” trend of (AH-gAIN) catastrophic proportions.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Cannonshop, clearly you’re not very familiar with JOM’s work, or you’d know that your advice is going to go right over his head.

    As for yourself, no-one seriously promotes The Day After Tomorrow as an accurate depiction of the results of global warming. Of course it’s pseudoscience – it’s a Hollywood movie. Strawmen don’t help your argument.

  • Cannonshop

    I was actually referring to the portion of the hypothesis that states that as the climate/temperature rise, the weather becomes more extreme. I used the wrong example of how this is popularized.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    How is that hypothesis in the realm of “pseudo-science?”

  • zingzing

    cannonshop: “Certainly, Zing-zing, it’s coming from LA. The thing you’re basically ignoring, is that it was coming from the pre-Los-angeles inhabitants TOO.”

    true. i had a clue that the landscape had some role in LA’s smog issues, but i had no clue it played such a large part. or that wood fires could create smog such a huge area… i’m still a little doubtful on that one, but whatever, that’s not the point.

    the point was that dave nalle claimed that LA’s smog comes from OTHER COUNTRIES. which is nonsense. so i asked where LA’s smog was coming from, if not LA.

    i’m glad to hear that it is coming from LA, because that was some ming-boggling bullshit. my mind does not appreciate bogglement.

    so, dave… where is the smog over LA coming from, if not from LA?

    oh, and i love jom’s “first snowfall in baghdad in ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY” silliness. yeah, it’s rare to see snowfall in baghdad. but snow has fallen in baghdad before, and during recorded history.

    weather’s a funny thing. minnesota’s winter has been colder than the last few years, to be sure, but it is still a fairly warm winter for them. here in new york, we’ve had about half as much snow as usual, and no snow has really lasted more than a couple of days. so while wisconsin has a terrible winter, we have a pretty mild one (with several days of near-springlike temperatures). my mother says it’s been cold and blustery and snowy in north carolina, which isn’t that rare, but it is rare for her to comment on it.

    but cold days here and warm days there is not what we need to be worried about, now is it?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    so los angeles smog comes from… where? “other countries?” like where? i suppose mexico… but i’ve never heard of any such thing. reference, please.

    Actually, not just from Mexico, but even from clouds drifting from Asia. LA may get as much as half its pollutoon this way and here in Texas we get huge amounts from agricultural burning in Mexico. Here’s an article on the subject from USA Today.

    dave, you seem to have two version of facts. your version and the version that doesn’t fit in with your vision of your version of the facts. you ignore the latter.

    Facts are facts. The only area of disagreement is in what those facts mean.

    as for your “big cities have remarkably clean air” shit, go to china. go to new york. the air is not clean, it’s filthy. and don’t quote “hurricane experts,” as they are obviously all fools.

    I was mainly talking about the US and other modern nations. You may not be old enough to remember what pollution was like in the 70s. By comparison we have amazingly clean urban air today. And it’s actually been getting better for a century or so. In the 19th century London had clouds of sulphur dioxide which floated around the streets near the river and killed people.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    dave–china’s pretty modern. that may just be the issue. and while there aren’t sulphur clouds floating around in our streets, we burn different things these days… there are people, a friend of mine included, who have fairly weak respiratory systems or allergies and have trouble breathing in our bigger cities. of course, given that, why would he choose to live here, you might ask…

    i still don’t buy that you can blame 50% (!) of LA’s pollution problems on asia and mexico. sounds like passing the buck to me. i’m sure the u.s. passes just as much of its pollution around the world as the rest of the world passes around. and its the u.s. that fights to keep standards of emissions lax throughout the world, so who do we have to blame?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Because of LA’s unique geographical position in a basin – like Mexico City – it’s a gathering point for any pollution that happens to drift by and once the pollution gets there it doesn’t move out until there’s a major shift in the weather, which doesn’t happen much in LA.

    The US may pass its pollution to other parts of the world – I’d guess northern Europe – but our pollution is so incredibly low relative to land area compared to most other countries that I doubt it has much impact.

    As for China, they are burning coal in huge amounts in the dirtiest possible unregulated ways. Their output of particularly nasty stuff like SO2 and carbon particulates is huge compared to any western nation including the US.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    In the 19th century London had clouds of sulphur dioxide which floated around the streets near the river and killed people.

    Try the 1950s. The smog was sometimes so toxic and full of nasty crap that it was actually green – hence the term ‘pea-souper’.

    It took an Act of Parliament mandating the use of smokeless fuels and the relocation of power stations out of the city for things to improve.

    Unfortunately, the smog is now making a comeback, due to the ever-increasing volumes of traffic in the city – which, yes, does sit in a basin, albeit a shallow one.

  • zingzing

    i was in china last year, and was very entertained by the fact that you can look directly into the sun.

    also, it seems that most adults cough almost uncontrollably. of course, they smoke like rock stars over there as well. i was smoking a good 30 a day over there, and when i got into social situations (social graces demand that every male offer a cigarette to every other male every time they smoke at banquet meals–WHEN I WAS DINING WITH THE COMMUNIST PARTY, BITCHES–), i’m sure i had up to 50 at least one or two days. even the girlfriend, who doesn’t usually smoke, was buying cartons. lung-buttering stuff right there.

    but i digress–i’m not going to say that the u.s. is responsible for china’s nasty habits, but we certainly are happy to profit from their cheap energy and labor standards. we may pay lip-service to joining world efforts to reduce emissions, but our economic models keep us from fulling embracing those ideas. let those other countries wallow in pollution, as long as we can profit. the chinese economic boom is hurtling towards certain doom, that’s for sure.

  • JustOneMan

    “global warming produces more extreme weather patterns”…..oh how could I be so wrong…the warmer the earth gets the colder the weather…oh now its so clear…

    JOM “Global Warming= Religion for Atheists”

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    JOM, it’s easy to be wrong – for you. Just start typing. Or open your mouth.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    There are some people commenting here, well, one at least, who are (is) mind numbingly dumb. I’m not naming any names, though. If the shoe fits…

    B-tone

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Unfortunately, the smog is now making a comeback, due to the ever-increasing volumes of traffic in the city – which, yes, does sit in a basin, albeit a shallow one.

    When I was last in London everyone was talking about large portions of downtown basically being closed off from private vehicles. Did nothing come of that?

    As for China, it was announced today that it just passed the US as the number-one producer of CO2. Of course, if you break down CO2 output relative to GDP (a rough indicator of how polluting their industries are), they’ve been number one in pollution for years.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    When I was last in London everyone was talking about large portions of downtown basically being closed off from private vehicles. Did nothing come of that?

    You’re thinking of the congestion charge which was introduced by London mayor Ken Livingstone in 2003. Unless you’re a resident, you have to pay £8 to drive your car into the city centre. The scheme has its critics but seems to work quite well as far as it goes. There are still blackspots: when I was there in December it was still far quicker to walk down Oxford Street rather than take a bus.

    The major snag – I’ve noticed – is that the people who can afford to live in the congestion charge zone are the folks who tend to own gas guzzlers like SUVs and… well, you’ve lived there: I’ll leave it to you to imagine how ridiculous a Hummer looks trying to knuckle through the narrow streets of the West End.

  • Duscany

    If engineers could create cars which emitted pure oxygen Los Angeles would still be smoggy (or at least hazy). The reason is that temperature inversions make Los Angeles naturally hazy whether there are cars or not. That’s why the Indians here called it “valley of a thousand smokes.”

  • STM

    Dave’s right, much of LA’s pollution problem is the result of its location … in a coastal basin.

    It’s virtually identical to Sydney in that way, even down to mean summer and winter temperatures – and temperature inversion, where you see that pall of brown smog just hanging over the city on cool, clear, days, is not pleasant. Photchemical smog in these two cities, and also in others on the coast like Vancouver and New York, is a major problem.

    Sydney has one slight advantage: more weather change than LA in summer, with cool southerlies often blowing in for an hour in the evening and dispersing the smog. It still doesn’t get off scot-free, however, and I’ve seen the brown pall hanging over the Sydney basin against a bright blue sky in winter just as you would see in LA.

    Although greater Sydney is a very big urban area geographically and suffers also from being part of a very long urban coastal strip, it is not the size of the greater LA area, at least in population terms, and so the problem for LA is really the sheer volume of pollutants in concert with its location … and it’s worth remembering that the Southern California coastal strip from about Santa Barbara down to San Diego is now also just one long urban sprawl.

    The last time I was there, I developed a persistent, hacking cough after about three days as my throat reacted to the particles in the air, and I was staying on the coast so you’d imagine that places like the San Fernando Valley would get it even worse.

    This vanished after a couple of days as the body got used to it. I have also had the exact same thing in Sydney, although more intermittently and I’m assured that intermittently doesn’t – or didn’t – apply in LA.

    It’s for health reasons that we should be cutting pollution of this type as much as anything else, as kids in places like these are particularly at risk with conditions like asthma.

    I’m not sure climate change is the only factor here.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dead on with that last comment, Stan. It’s the health issues that matter most of all with virtually all forms of pollution. I’d put national security issues in second place. Saving the world by redistributing wealth to the third world is somewhere WAY down the line.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I’ll leave it to you to imagine how ridiculous a Hummer looks trying to knuckle through the narrow streets of the West End.

    London’s not so bad – plus when I lived there I didn’t have a car most of the time. I had a hell of a time driving my little Austin down the streets of Norwich (where I spent some time doing dissertation research) without hitting parked cars and oncoming traffic.

    Dave

  • Maurice

    I am wasting my time responding to this post.

    The government makes more money on gas sales than the gas companies. The federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents. The gas companies have a very slim profit margin and make 7 to 14 cents per gallon. We need to investigate the obsene profits the US government makes from the sale of gasoline.

    The church of Global Warming (GW) divorced itself of science when it continued to preach even when its early fervent precepts were shown to be false. As an engineer I am truly annoyed by claims such as the great CFC hoax that required us (U.S.) to change our behavior based on theories that are so far out they make the spagetti monster seem reasonable.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    London’s not so bad – plus when I lived there I didn’t have a car most of the time. I had a hell of a time driving my little Austin down the streets of Norwich (where I spent some time doing dissertation research) without hitting parked cars and oncoming traffic.

    There’s a reason why Europeans tend to drive smaller cars…

    I’ve read that residents of the congestion zone bitch about the charge even though they don’t have to pay it. Their logic on this escapes me – as does the logic of actually running a car when you live in the middle of a city with perfectly fine public transport which will get you pretty much anywhere far quicker than you could drive.

    For most journeys, there’s no practical reason to drive in any major city that has a decent, comprehensive public transit system (London, Paris, New York, San Francisco etc)*. If you need a car to go on trips or do the grocery shopping, fine (and in San Fran you can even rent them by the hour to do just that).

    But commuting by car in such places? Pointless.

    * Los Angeles doesn’t count. It’s not really a city anyway, but a conglomeration of about 45 towns that have merged together into a massive urban sprawl. There are even scheduled airline services between some of the LA suburbs.

  • http://www.intersportswire.com alessandro

    #53 – Bingo.

    You win the prize.

    Cui bono?

  • STIGO

    london is poo, along with most of europe, nice, but governemnts in europe are all fucked

  • Maurice

    Winston,

    you seem very earnest and sincere. What do you think about PETA’s letter to Al Gore?

    I am all for taking good care of Mother Earth. Using science and practices that make sense. I agree with your title but not some of your assumtions; like your very first sentence (consensus!?!?!).

    As has been pointed out there are geographical considerations also. Here in Idaho we can drive for 300 or 400 miles and not see a soul. We don’t have the smog problems of L.A. or New York. We do have huge beef and pig ranches.

    Appropriate solutions based on science should be the mandate for all concerned.

  • http://www.winstonapple.blogspot.com Winston Apple

    Maurice,

    Obviously you, Dave, and any number of other people who have commented on my post, realize that I am concerned about global warming and feel we should be doing everything we can to limit activities that MAY be contributing to the problem. I emphasize the word “may” because I will readily admit that I am not a scientist and I am in no way equipped to know whether human activity is contributing to global warming.

    It was never my intention to try to convince anyone to change their position. I think that several of the comments to my post make it clear that there are people on both sides of the issue who are better informed, and better misinformed, than me on this issue. I won’t even claim to know which side is which.

    I think the tone of the comments to my post supports my contention that discussions of this issue tend to get heated. My intention was to convince people to stop getting so upset – to agree to disagree about the issue itself – while agreeing that “we should err on the side of caution,” particularly since we will benefit in other ways from doing the things we can do to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

    The few comments that do address my main point seem get lost in the heated exchange. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by that. Although I am relatively new to blog sites, it seems the angry posts draw the most discussion.

    At the risk of adding even more fuel to the fire, I will respond to your inquiry about my thoughts regarding PETA’s letter to Al Gore. I am a vegetarian. I hope Al Gore stops eating meat. It would be good for his health and good for the environment.

    For what it’s worth, I think everyone should give up meat, but I don’t ever try to convince anyone of that. I am not an evangelical vegetarian. Despite the efforts of PETA and other vegetarians who do engage in missionary work, you needn’t be too concerned about Idaho’s beef and pig ranches. The vast majority of Americans will give up meat when it is pried from their cold, dead hands, along with their guns and their car keys.

    And hey if this global warming thing turns out to be as bad as some scientists predict, you’ll be able to broil your meat by just leaving it out in the sun for awhile. (I’m going for the Triple Crown here – earnest, sincere, and a sense of humor.)

    Winston Apple

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    My intention was to convince people to stop getting so upset – to agree to disagree about the issue itself – while agreeing that “we should err on the side of caution,” particularly since we will benefit in other ways from doing the things we can do to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

    Nothing upsets people as much as hypocrisy, and that’s what dominates the GW debate. People claiming to be scientists holding irrational beliefs on a basis of pure faith and then trying to suppress any scientific inquiry into the subject like a sort of Spanish Inquisition – that kind of behavior is upsetting and it should be.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Maurice,

    You asked Winston, not me, but I’m nothing if not opinionated, so here’s my tuppence worth about PETA’s letter to Al Gore:

    It says nothing. It alludes to a report by the UN (Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues And Options) which reportedly found that raising livestock for meat is harmful to the environment, but doesn’t explain why (though presumably, the report does), and asks Gore on that basis to add eliminating meat from our diets to his list of priorities to save the environment, without giving him any specifics.

    The letter is to some degree, hypocritical because PETA’s main raison d’etre is to stop what they perceive is cruelty to animals, and only incidentally the “saving” of the environment; yet they’re trying to enlist Gore to their cause by pushing his button.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Don’t forget the converse Dave – coins have two sides…

  • Clavos

    Maurice,

    You asked Winston, not me, but I’m nothing if not opinionated, so here’s my tuppence worth about PETA’s letter to Al Gore:

    It says nothing. It alludes to a report by the UN (Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues And Options) which reportedly found that raising livestock for meat is harmful to the environment, but doesn’t explain why (though presumably, the report does), and asks Gore on that basis to add eliminating meat from our diets to his list of priorities to save the environment, without giving him any specifics.

    The letter is to some degree, hypocritical because PETA’s main raison d’etre is to stop what they perceive is cruelty to animals, and only incidentally the “saving” of the environment; yet they’re trying to enlist Gore to their cause by pushing his button.

  • http://cersin.zip.io Esperansoel

    Come promesso la prof ssa Faliva ha messo a disposizione i materiali visionati in aula.
    Li troverete nella sezione materiali del Master.
    Fatemi sapere se avete bisogno di ulteriori approfondimenti.
    http://cersin.zip.io

  • Maurice

    Winston – your reply makes sense and I look forward to future posts.

    Clavos – thanks for your 2 2 tuppence. As I understand it the main complaint was methane.

  • Clavos

    “As I understand it the main complaint was methane.”

    Ah yes, the old cow farts threat…

    [guffaws]

  • http://www.winstonapple.blogspot.com Winston Apple

    I stated in my last comment (#58) that “I am not an evangelical vegetarian.” At the risk of sacrificing my “non-evangelical” status, I would like to pass along the thought that came to me when I read Clavos last comment (#65) mentioning “the old cow farts threat.”

    Considering our treatment of cattle – growing them primarily as a food source – it would be a cosmic joke worthy of Kurt Vonnegut if the human race were to be done in by cow farts.

    – Winston Apple

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It would indeed, Winston.

    But not quite as elegant, I feel, as Douglas Adams, who in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy envisaged a race of beings who decided to get rid of a whole useless third of their population – the ones that did fundamentally artificial and superfluous jobs like advertising executives, documentary film producers and telephone sanitizers. But they were humane, so they told this third that their planet was doomed by some impending cosmic disaster and packed them off in a massive spaceship.

    The ship eventually crash-landed on prehistoric Earth – where the survivors founded the human race – while the remaining two-thirds stayed behind on their home planet and lived happy, trouble-free lives until they were all wiped out by a virus contracted from a dirty telephone.

  • Baronius

    Winston, there’s a lot of merit to the point you’re making. The problem is that those first two paragraphs of your article are maddeningly condescending. You say, in essence, that you don’t understand why someone would disagree with you. Maybe they’re greedy, or religious nuts, or they like to drive their cars fast.

    That’s your launching point for bringing everyone together in a calmer environment?!

    Look, I’m a pro-lifer, and I refer to people who disagree with me as “pro-choice”. That’s not a big concession. That’s the term they prefer, and there’s no need to be a jerk about it. But you refer to people who disagree with you as “doubters and deniers”. How about “skeptics”? That term doesn’t conjure up any images of neo-Nazis claiming that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

    I also note that a lot of commenters have disagreed with you on global warming, but not one of them has said “me like to drive fast and kill tree”. You should look at some of the reasoning that your opponents really use, rather than create belittling hypotheses. I think that most GW skeptics (a) distrust the track record of environmental science, and (b) distrust the motivation of those who politicize it. (A few of us delight in pollution and global death, but less of us than you apparently think!) Understanding that would be the first step toward bridging the divide.

  • Maurice

    Damn, Baronius! You talk good!

  • http://.winstonapple.blogspot.com Winston Apple

    Baronius (#68),

    Your points are well taken. Although it was not my intention to be “maddeningly condescending,” several comments starting with Dave’s (#1) seemed to feel that I was. Consequently, before I posted this piece on my own blog, I did a fairly substantial rewrite.

    Hopefully, by eliminating phrases that inadvertently turned up the heat on the discussion, my main point will be clearer – that we will benefit from reducing energy consumption even if the threat of global warming is a false alarm.

    – Winston Apple