Thursday, December 03, 2009

Some like it hot

Others not.

So have the figures that show a tight linkage between human lifestyles and changes in climate and atmosphere been tuned up for purposes of "clarity?" sure looks like it. Is this going to legitimize other hypotheses? Could be -- and if one cares about science, should be. It's certainly not the first time that academic politics went to war with science and if the reality turns out to differ from the current consensus in one way or another, I certainly won't be surprised. Science is supposed to follow the data while opinion usually follows authority which follows the money.

Don't be downhearted, unplugging your cell phone charger or even driving a Prius wasn't going to change anything anyway, much less "save the planet" and I suspect you're only "going green" because it's a new way to buy into hipness.

While I do believe that science is the best possible route to truth, I don't automatically believe in the intrinsic honesty of those who practice it. If global warming does not have human activity as the predominant factor, that doesn't mean the people who lobby for the oil companies are honest and face it, they're spending huge amounts to influence scientific opinion as well as public opinion to support doing absolutely nothing that might cost them anything. Perhaps the Industrial Revolution / global warming link is true and perhaps the decrease in solar activity since the late 1950's has masked or counteracted it. The Maunder minimum does correlate strongly to a long period of solar quiesence after all. There's evidence for several schools of thought, but I just don't know and so I'm not going to be like the trolls, many of whom have jumped on a competing bandwagon hoping to ride it to where the Wizard will give them a brain and resort to mockery -- nor am I going to be a counter-troll and fling dung on anyone with other data that might be ignored at present. After all, this "climategate" thing may prove to mean nothing in the long run.

I am however, going to mention that even if we have caused atmospheric CO2 to rise and average temperatures to follow, particularly at the high latitudes, the Earth's climate is too complex and dynamic a system not to call into question simplistic long term predictions. What if the obvious warming at the polls does precipitate a sudden and catastrophic drop in temperatures as some have been arguing rather than the boiling hell of the planet Venus as others like to predict? Evidence grows that this is what happened with the Younger Dryas freeze some 12,800 years ago. Global warming could lead to global cooling and no fooling. This planet has been in a relatively long period of climate stability and change is always coming -- don't count on any change making you happy.

Odds are that I won't live long enough to see any of the hypothetical scenarios play out and I'm certainly not going to sell my coastal home or put it up on stilts. Who knows but that my Great Grandchildren won't desperately be dogsledding down here to Florida 50 years from now anyway and some future Palin won't be crossing the frozen Rio Grande heading for refuge in Mexico.

Does any possibility make alternative energy a bad idea? I don't think so. We are going to run out of things to burn eventually and the little bit of oil we might get out of the Gulf or in any Alaskan wildlife reserve won't matter one way or another - indeed arctic oil may be covered under miles of ice if that scenario proves real. We're always going to need more energy if we're to remain a civilized species -- or become a civilized species, that is.


Anonymous said...

Nice back-peddling on your faux science agenda. This Al Gore created movement falls at the feet of liberals and socialists. Have fun winning elections after this debacle.

Capt. Fogg said...

Y'know changing atmospheric composition and the possible effects on climate have been a concern of paleoclimatologists at least since I was in college - and Al was too. I have enough formal education in Geology and related subjects to be confident that you don't know what you're talking about - and a good deal of subsequent reading which doesn't include the Gospel of Exxon or Republican propaganda drafted by AMOCO.

Yes, I have some doubt about all the factors in the equation and how they interact; about the linearity of some predictions -- and I suspect there are cooling trends masking some warming trends. The fact of climate change is obvious in large areas of the planet and cannot be denied. The only uncertainties in my mind are about the factors involved, but rather than try to educate you, I'll get right to the point and call you a blowhard with undisclosed motives, obvious personality problems and no education at all in paleontology, climatology or geology, just like nearly all the denial junkies.

The Democrats won the last election because the Republicans and their borrowing, spending, deregulation and tax cutting proved yet once again to produce war and recession. Good luck trying to write that out of history again.

Anonymous said...

How's Obama's approval rating? The Dems are setting a record for spending and borrowing right now. Believe what you want but Clinton and the Dems intimidated their way into the housing crisis. That was some crafty "regulation". The beauty of Clinton was he dropped the HilaryCare silliness and worked with the Republicans. Obama is doing the opposite. He can't take any criticism. His ego is going to land him in the one-termer category.

Capt. Fogg said...

Much better than Reagan's or Bush's at this point I believe, but please refrain from making authoritative comments when you're incapable of objectivity.