Friday, October 22, 2010

THE END IS NEAR, again

The other night I was watching the disaster movie 2012.  I've seen the big earth collision movies, like Armageddon and Deep Impact and the global warming epic The Day After Tomorrow. None of these are great movies, but all of them gave CGI technicians a multitude of challenges but I loved watching. People are fascinated with disasters, disaster movies, train wrecks, car wrecks, explosions and on and on, I am anyway.




That got me thinking about the global warming debate and several similar debates that have gone on when I was younger. Some of you will recall the population explosion and ecology scares of the 1960's and 1970's. The TIME cover (Jan. 1960) on this page was emblematic of the population scare and the Malthusian idea that humans were heading for famine, disease, and pestilence. The limits to growth idea, sold magazines and books then slowly morphed into an ecological disaster scenario which morphed into a variety of minor green issues that finally gave birth to the current disaster anthropogenic global warming or now more euphemistically called climate change.
We humans, NEED these kinds of threats, it brings humanity together. That became more evident after that photo taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft in December 1968. There was tiny Earth in the blackness of space, our fragile home that must be saved from the ravages of us. People like to believe that they can save the planet, that's why we watch those disaster flicks, we enjoy the vicarious thrill of coming close yet averting catastrophe by collective action. We yearn to make that difference by being environmentally friendly in our daily lives.
With the help of a variety of alarmists in media (CBC is very guilty in Canada), among reputable scientists, and political leaders, we have a wonderful new disaster unfolding before us. This time it's a global problem, so it must be coordinated under the jurisdiction of the United Nations IPCC and it that requires the scientific and political elite of the planet save us from ourselves. The theme is the same, only the threat is different, bigger and more immediate and even worse, people and governments actually believe it.
Not everyone believes it, Vaclav Klaus the President of the Czech Republic doesn't believe it. In a speech given this week and excerpted here Klaus defiantly disagrees with many other world leaders about the veracity of anthropogenic global warming. He did that just weeks before COP16, the next conference (in Mexico) of the scientific and political elite who stand to reap enormous benefits for themselves by subjugating humanity to a global carbon tax regime like cap and trade.
Since most scientists view global warming as a boon to government/academic research grants for their work, they are loathe to bite the hand(s) that feeds them. These days it doesn't take much to get such funding, all that has to be done is to tack the phrase "....and its impact on (OR how it is affected by) climate change" to the proposal. Do that on all proposals to whomever, and get the funding! Current scientists won't fight this, the retired ones will, and so will the amateurs.
The argument against anthropogenic global warming is a bit like trying to disprove the existence of god, its tough, almost impossible to prove a negative. Even worse there is no money in it but that doesn't stop people from trying.
Here is a video from an educated amateur (Warren Meyer) that represents for me, one of the most comprehensive attacks on the idea of anthropogenic global warming I have ever seen. It's fairly lengthy, I saw it over a couple of days, and its done on a budget, but it is definitely worth your time if you are sitting on the fence about this issue.

Catastrophe Denied: The Science of the Skeptics Position (studio version) from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.
       
     


4 comments:

  1. Once again you delve into Climate Change, raise some worthwhile points but then refer to under-educated people as sources of knowledge against the consensus view of people who actually collect, study and interpret data using the best scientific methods available. You seem to be screaming that climate change is a conspiracy to rob us of our freedoms yet provide nothing to justify it.

    What the libertarians should be doing is tentatively accepting the consensus view of the science of climate change and bringing to the table a libertarian solution. Treat climate change as if a large asteroid were on a collision course with the earth, how would a libertarian government solve the problem?

    Even if climate change predictions are exaggerated, even if killer asteroids never fly by, there's still a good reason to find solutions to these problems - they will drive new technologies and economic benefits. Imagine building a world on sustainable energy for all or having vehicles designed to attack asteroids being used for space tourism. Libertarians are invited to the table to show how this can be done.

    Where are they?

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  2. I'm not screaming, just worried that people will be duped and end up regretting their actions.
    Consensus is sometimes incorrect, I believe it is in this case. The more I learn about it, the less I believe it. Years ago as a teacher I bought into each of the previous scares (and this one) and used them in my teaching.
    In the video, Warren Meyer suggests that CO2 may have some small effect on global temperature, I believe that. He also talks about the cost/benefit of reducing CO2 and compares it to the price of getting overpriced priced insurance. New technologies and economic benefits will come despite NOT because of government intervention.
    I predict the entire "eco-craze" has peaked (but the deal has not yet been closed). People and governments are starting to see what is really going on and the eco-crowd will become a marginalized group much like libertarians are today. This is not an issue of sustainability, it is a moral issue.
    There will be no libertarian government in my life until people realize that coercion is as wrong as slavery was in previous generations. When that happens, free people can form voluntary associations and defeat whatever the future brings.

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  3. You are suggesting that all those previous scares you taught about were wrong. Were they?

    The Greenhouse Effect was relevant then and is relevant now. Air pollution leading to global dimming (contributing to global cooling) and acid rain was partially addressed by regulations that reduced the emissions of sulfur compounds and other polluting chemicals. The 'Ozone hole' is still a threat but its destructive effect was weakened when science showed that chlorofluorocarbons were devastating on O3 levels in the atmosphere.

    Sounds like education in environmental scares led to solutions by governments and industry.

    Today's (and tomorrow's) issue is global climate change. We know it's coming but you'd rather leave it to your grandchildren to deal with than to suggest libertarian ways to reduce its impact in the future.

    If you were riding in a boat that sprang a leak would you really sit back complaining about the moral issue of being coerced to help bail out the water? At the very least use your fingers to plug the hole instead of your ears.

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  4. Air pollution (like acid rain), water pollution, and all of these relatively local issues can be resolved in the courts if property rights are protected (http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj2n1/cj2n1-2.pdf). I certainly don't have answers for everything, if I did I would be no different from the alarmists.
    The alarmists think they know ALL the answers, can predict the future and have the right to force the rest of us to follow their lead for the greater good of humanity. That practically defines arrogance.
    Look around the world, those countries closest to the libertarian ideal (most of the Western world give or take), have the least pollution and the strongest rules to prevent it. Those countries where governments are the most interventionist (China, former Soviet block, India, much of Arab world) have the worst pollution now and by far the worst protections for their populations.
    I'm not the one blocking out reality, and I will take bets how this shakes out.

    ReplyDelete

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