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Science and Politics

by Jerome a Paris Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 01:11:46 AM EST

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy editorial which basically claims that global warming does not exist and is politically motivated scaremongering.

Of course, the timing of their own editorial has nothing to do with politics and with the fact that the US Senate is slowly coming to terms with reality (if only the reality of US industry and financial centers being left behind by Europe in the management of carbon trading) and is presenting (oh so timid) resolutions to have the USA actually do something about global warming.

But the point of this post is simply to point you to this line by line, claim by claim, peer-reviewed-science-based rebuttal by the good folks at Real Climate.

I'm not a fan of the doom-mongering arm of the climate change argument, but that was some of the most appalling nonsense I have ever seen come from a major newspaper.

These are the conclusions:

And a warmer Earth may not be any worse than a colder one, certainly not for the longer growing seasons it would allow in the world's temperate zones. None of this justifies passing, for the first time, limits on greenhouse gases that would impose hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs on American energy production.

Which translates into, we'll be ok up here in Washington, so fuck the rest of you. Maybe if someone shows the writer the predicted changes in  hurricane distributions they might think again.

The US lifestyle is not negotiable. Unfortunately, neither is physics.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 01:38:22 AM EST
I'm really afraid that there isn't any doom and gloom arm of the climate change argument. There's maybe a hangnail.

That's about how much attention is given to the threat of catastrophic climate change--a dramatic change in the course of one to two decades that moves the climate from the extreme of one equilibrium basin into the range of another. Such a change could easily dwarf all the standard projections of changes in degree per century. Yet, it is barely mentioned in most discussions, despite increasingly strong evidence that it presents a real danger.

Googling for "catastrophic climate change" yields ~ 13,700 hits, and for "abrupt climate change" ~ 81,600 hits, for a total of 95,300 hits. For "climate change" ~ 24,000,000 hits and for "global warming" ~ 12,900,000, for a total of 36,900,000. Thus the two terms for the rapid, catastrophic change are < 0.3% of the the more general terms.  That's hangnail territory.

by Paul Rosenberg on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 02:21:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
would any sane person spend time on the WSJ ed. page?

I like the rest of the paper (enough to pay for it online), but John Fund, Paul Gigot et al are a bunch of ignorant weasels that might as well work for Faux news.

Regardless of the debate in the scientific world, how can anyone ignore the hard fact that we've excavated millions of years worth of carbon deposits and turned them into CO2 in the last 150 years.  That has to have some effect.  How could it not?

by HiD on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 02:01:36 AM EST
The WSJ article is a bunch of baloney. The administration's own Arctic Commission found that ice is supposed to melt so much that shipping lanes would open for the Arctic Ocean. And other studies have shown that the only reason the current climate is as cool as it is is because of the massive soot in the earth's atmosphere from man-made pollution.

Iraq War news and comment.
by Eternal Hope on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 03:49:00 AM EST
This is a pretty bogus editorial, that's for sure. There is one accurate point buried in it, though, which is that the Kyoto treaty is a meaningless political statement. Why are we reduced to statements like this? Because NO POLITICIAN IS GOING TO PROPOSE A REAL SOLUTION.

The U.S. rejected the Kyoto treaty (97 senators voted against ratification (none in favor)--not just the evil Republicans). European countries are struggling to meet the requirements, or backing out. And even if Kyoto were enacted by every country and then actually implemented by every country, it would not make any difference to the problem because it is such a small step. This is not a "Bush" problem, it's a "Western Civilization" problem.

The problem of global warming is huge. The economic disruption that would be require to reverse it is huge. Most people simply don't understand the scale of the problem: One estimate is that we would need to cut CO2 emissions by 70% to negate the problem.

SEVENTY PERCENT REDUCTION. That is a HUGE amount. Basically it says that everybody needs to cut their use of energy to 1/4 of what it is now. How are you going to do that? It's so completely impractical that getting the political will to do it is simply NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. It would essentially require the replacement of the entire Western electricity generating system with nuclear power, and the replacement of the entire automobile transportation system with electric trains.

Realistically, what politician is going to take that on as a platform? It's not going to happen. What is going to happen is a bunch of handwringing and a lot of flooding of low-lying areas. Move to high ground!

by asdf on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 11:10:37 AM EST
On moral grounds, we have no right to leave the planet to our descendants - or the other species that cohabit this planet with us - in the condition you describe.

On selfish grounds, the changes will be more than flooding in Tuvalu and Bangladesh.  Climate change will disrupt our agriculture (feeling hungry yet?), destabilize governments due to economic effects, increase the spread of tropical diseases, etc.

Failure is not an option.  Fortunately, many in the private sector are beginning to wake up to the threat, and address it in their own firms, and put pressure on the dinosaur Republicans to abandon Bush's "faith-based climatology."

As the situation becomes more desperate politicians will respond - they always wrap themselves in the flag in a crisis and blow the trumpets to charge.  

Hopefully enough leaders of science and industry - as well as the rest of us making evolutionary changes in our everyday lives - will already be in motion so that by the time the politicians notice that they're not leading the pack anymore, we'll all have made progress on the difficult road ahead.

What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? - Thoreau

by Dem in Knoxville (green_planet_2000 (at) yahoo (dot) com) on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 12:39:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who will put the pressure on the Democrats? They don't support Kyoto, weak as it is, either...
by asdf on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 02:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. the WSJ op/ed page is not news, it's religion.

  2. Putin said the same thing about global warming -- that it could be a good thing because it would extend growing seasons in the north.  I remind everyone that a globe tapers towards its poles;  what is being discussed here is extending growing season for a small amount of planetary real estate while wrecking agriculture in the much larger surface area each side of the equator...

  3. I've been reflecting that the Great Work of the 21st century, if we had any sense, would be to clean up the suppurating, pustulent mess left by the big cheap petro/carbon party of the 20th century.  however, we are still "led" [hah!] by willie-jousting testosterone-poisoned lunatics, who think cleaning up after themselves (let alone after anyone else) is "women's work" and therefore infra dig.   they find it soooooo much more manly and dignified to scrabble and scuffle  viciously in the gutter over the piddling, shopworn remnants of our squandered planetary wealth.

  4. it's already too late.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 03:30:02 PM EST
For a look at his matter in the eye of the Science, I highly recommend this web site : Union of Concern Scientist.

Solid stuff.

by Jerome USA on Mon Jun 27th, 2005 at 08:09:13 PM EST

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