Tag: climate

Global warming as a market failure

June 9, 2010 | By | Reply More
Global warming as a market failure

At CNN, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway portray climate change as another victim of free market fundamentalism:

Since the early 1990s, there has been a sustained history of attempts to undermine any science that suggested that contemporary industrial society might be doing irreparable harm to human health and the natural environment. This included the science that demonstrated the harms of DDT, the dangers to children of second-hand smoke, the causes of acid rain, and the reality of the ozone hole. Often the same people were involved in several or even all of these attacks. The common feature in all these cases was a link to think tanks promoting free markets and opposing government regulations.

One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see the pattern: People are loath to admit that our free market system has created problems that the free market has proved ineffectual to solve. Nicolas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, has called global warming “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen.”

Share

Read More

Power versus truth

April 29, 2010 | By | Reply More
Power versus truth

This video illustrates the conflict between truth and power. The parody troupe called the “Yes Men” staged a “press conference” presenting themselves to be representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As part of this conference, they took the position that “clean coal” was a myth and that the Obama Administration should be instead focusing upon proven effective technologies such as solar energy and conservation.

In the middle of these proceedings, in walks the the Executive Director of Communications of the Chamber of Commerce making clear that he, Eric Wohlschlegel, was the true representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, further announcing that the event was a “fraud” and a “stunt.” Wohlschlegel then twice announced, “If you have any questions, you are welcome to direct them to me.”

After a rather testy yet amusing moment where the two purported representatives questioned each others’ identities, a reporter took up the offer of Wohlschlegel, raising her hand and asking Wohlschlegel to comment on whether the Chamber of Commerce “acknowledges climate change.” Wohlschlegel refused to answer this simple question and, instead, scurried away. His actions aren’t surprising in light of the Chamber’s failure to even admit that the climate is changing. The Chamber and its cheerleaders simply can’t find the courage to admit that the climate is changing.

This stunt illustrates the interplay between truth and power. Scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is happening as a result of increased greenhouse gases, and that this situation presents huge dangers to our civilization (and thus to our economy). Scientists don’t have enough money to flood Congress with lobbyists, however. “Clean coal” is a joke, technologically and as a public policy (and see here); no such technology exists, and there is nothing feasible on the horizon. It is beyond debate that coal is a terribly dangerous basis for an energy policy, yet the Chamber is married to Coal. In the meantime, conservation, ignored by the Chamber, is a guaranteed way to address energy needs and to minimize risk of further climate change, yet the Chamber would rather promote profits than truth. Here is the kind of company the Chamber coal-trainkeeps and the kinds of tactics it uses to prevent honest dialogue regarding the causes of climate change and meaningful steps that should be taken to address it. Here’s a lot more information from the website of the “Yes Men.” And here’s Rachel Maddow’s report.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 10 years, we’ve learned that you can “swiftboat” any person and any Truth, if you have a lot of money. In modern society, truth, all by itself, doesn’t have legs. A 2009 poll by Pew Research Center found that “[w]hile 84% of scientists say the earth is getting warmer because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, just 49% of the public agrees.”

According to the March/April edition of Public Citizen News (I have the print edition only), the Chamber’s reactionary position has driven away numerous corporate giants such as Nike, General Electric and Apple. Public Citizen has presented a brochure of various legitimate ways of dealing with climate change. Ironically and sadly, the Chamber is wearing narrow blinders that needlessly drive it into the arms of the fossil fuel industries. Those with open minds know that “protecting the climate is not costly but profitable.”

Wohlschlegel barged into the fake conference to announce that the fake speaker was not “legitimate.” In reality, Wohlschlegel’s (and the Chamber’s) failure to deal with the issue of climate change honestly shows that they are not legitimate. Nonetheless, the Chamber has lots of money, and thus lots of power to load up the halls of Congress and media airwaves with falsehoods. And if you fill up enough airwaves with false statements, it will confuse the public, meaning that nothing gets done on these two critically important issues of energy supply and climate change. But that is exactly the plan of the Chamber.

Share

Read More

Warming to Climate Claims

February 9, 2010 | By | 11 Replies More
Warming to Climate Claims

As Washington D.C. gets record snowfall, climate denialists cackle with glee. It was a cool summer, and now a cold winter. So, they wonder, where is this global warming?

“People,” I want to condescendingly say, “look at the sun.” Weather girls of all genders and persuasions are mentioning that this is the coldest winter in 11 years. Notice that? Are they unaware that there is an 11 year cycle of solar warming and cooling that corresponds to — and can be measured by — sunspots? So it’s like saying with implied importance that this is the coldest month since 12 months ago. The spots are just starting up, much like the days getting longer at the end of December. Here is a nice look at the sunspot phenomenon.

It is intuitively confusing that dark spots mean more heat. But the pair of images here shows visible and ultraviolet views of the same scene. Those dark spots are tunnels into the gamma-hot regions of the sun. Our eyes can only see one octave on the spectrum. Both hotter than blue and cooler than red ranges are invisible. Dark. Red hot is the coldest temperature that gives off light. (Read about Black Body Radiation if you want to know how this is known.)

Another detail that climate denialists get wrong is the meaning of heavy snowfall. If you get heavy precipitation, it implies much moisture aloft. That is, many more megatons of water are evaporated. By heat.

So before you point to a low local current temperature as evidence against global warming, please look at the time scale that climatologists use, like the Temperature record of the past 1000 years, or even for the last century and a half:

Share

Read More

Congressman John Shimkus: The Bible says don’t worry about global warming

March 29, 2009 | By | 22 Replies More
Congressman John Shimkus:  The Bible says don’t worry about global warming

Illinois Representative John Shimkus knows all he needs to know about climate change. It’s all in the infallible Bible. Here he is demolishing all of that silly science with a few phrases out of Genesis. Based on his expressions, he’s a hero in his own eyes. He’s got that look that he knows he will go to heaven. Don’t worry. There’s only going to be one worldwide flood and we’ve already had it. Case closed. Proceedings from the March 25, 2009 hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment:

If you want to learn a lot more about the nonsense Shimkus spouts, visit Progress Illinois.

Share

Read More

What if there were animals that were genetically close to modern humans, but startlingly different?

January 27, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
What if there were animals that were genetically close to modern humans, but startlingly different?

What if there were animals that looked very much like modern human animals and almost identical genetically, yet they differed from us in notable ways? Would their discovery shock and horrify people? Quite likely. Wouldn’t it also make many people start thinking deeply about the fact that modern humans themselves are animals? You’d hope so. Wouldn’t this discovery make us intensely curious about our own origins? Remains to be seen. What follows is a true story.

The evidence is overwhelming that large numbers of Neanderthals roamed Eurasia for 200,000 years. The evidence is also clear that Neanderthals differed from the modern humans in genetically small but socially and physiologically significant ways. This incredible story can be found in the October 2008 edition of National Geographic, in an article entitled “Last of the Neanderthals.” This article is a must read article for anybody who wants to peer into the not-so-distant past in order to learn about his or her bipedal cousins. The article is filled with incredibly lifelike modeling of the Neanderthals. It is also filled with detailed information about Neanderthal physiology, as well as clues to Neanderthal lifestyle.

Share

Read More

More on the corn ethanol fiasco

January 9, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
More on the corn ethanol fiasco

Corn ethanol is a terribly costly and damaging joke that has been inflicted on us by politicians looking for something that looks like a fix, rather than doing the much harder work to find real solutions to our energy problems.   I’ve posted on corn ethanol before, and it’s now time to pull down the tent […]

Share

Read More

Obama: Listen to scientists “especially when it’s inconvenient.”

December 21, 2008 | By | Reply More
Obama: Listen to scientists “especially when it’s inconvenient.”

We are about to do a 180 on government attitude toward science.   Barack Obama specifically singles out the “scientific process,” and urges that we need to listen to scientists “especially when it’s inconvenient.”

Share

Read More

James Hansen: Put the CEO’s on trial for their destruction of our climate

June 25, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More
James Hansen:  Put the CEO’s on trial for their destruction of our climate

Climate scientist James Hansen has recently argued that “fossil fuel “CEO’s should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature”. Why?  Because they know exactly what they are doing.  They are profit-fueled deniers, just like those big corporations who still push cigarettes while denying the well-known strong link between cancer and smoking. Here are […]

Share

Read More

Don’t just stand there regarding climate change. Do something!

May 7, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More
Don’t just stand there regarding climate change.  Do something!

That’s the message of Audrey Schulman, writing in Orion Magazine. Her article is entitled, “How to be a Climate Hero.” Schulman describes psychology experiments where the subject is surrounded by stooges, everyone in the room doing a mundane task.  Eventually, something untoward happens. For instance, smoke starts pouring out of the vents, indicating a dangerous […]

Share

Read More