Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bush Gets "Hot" on Global Warming

First the good news. The President of the United States, you know who
until January 2009, has intimated that global warming does exist instead
of trying to figuratively and literally dig up any and every scientific
source that castes doubt on the issue. At least sort of. At the
conclusion of an international conference here of the sixteen major
carbon gas emitting nations(the U.S. is unfortunately a very strong
first today, as it has been for many decades), Bush stated that those
nations which emit the most greenhouse gasses should set goals to remove
reduce those emissions. But(here is the rub or the smoke and mirrors)
he set no goals himself and restated his administration's strong
opposition to mandatory targets to cap dangerous carbon dioxide emissions.

The press reported that the sixteen nations in attendance were very much
less than impressed, applauding only when the Bush said that the U.S.
would participate(not necessarily support) UN actions to advance
international cooperation on the issue. He also left the meeting very
quickly, and the delegates questioned about his comments, diplomats
after all, went out of their way to say as little as possible that was
negative, which meant that they said very little, except that the U.S.
had given its position and there wasn't any thing new in it. Ed
Markey, a prominent progressive Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs
the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
made what was both the most serious and humorous comment on the Bush
speech when he said "my fear is that the president has set aspirational
goals that are really procrastinational."

There are a number of bottom lines here for progressives. The United
Nations is committed to negotiating a global agreement which will
replace and hopefully upgrade the present quite limited Kyoto Accord
when its provisions largely end in five years. The U.S. under the Bush
administration never joined the Kyoto Accord(the administration has
avoided it as if it were an Anthrax letter addressed to the White
House) so no one really takes Bush's statement about working with the
United Nations seriously. Bush's lofty comments about the need to set
long range goals combined with opposition to all international action to
set such goals reminds me a little of Adlai Stevenson's response when
Dwight Eisenhower, whom he was running against for president in 1952,
said that he was a liberal on social questions like education (that
would get Ike in a lot of trouble with Bush's buddies today) and a
conservative on fiscal questions. Stevenson said that this was like
saying you believed that your were in favor of everyone attending good
schools but you were against voting the funds to establish and maintain
such schools.

The reality is that global warming is the most acute ecological problem
that humanity faces today--a problem which, if it is addressed with the
pious wishes and de facto do nothing attitude of the Bush
administration, can have a devastating effect on human development in
the future, wreaking havoc with agriculture, life in coastal and low
lying areas, and producing in the poor countries particularly death and
destruction greater than all of the wars of modern history.

This global problem must be addressed globally and only the United
Nations can serve as the mediator and coordinator of global actions. A
global effort will require a high level of international cooperation to
mobilize scientific and technological institutions from universities to
governments to non governmental organizations and for that matter
private corporations to overcome the crisis. Actually, in the U.S.
which, despite a generation of anti-public sector policies which has
produced aculture of cutbacks, continues to have the largest system of
higher education in the world, states like New Jersey and universities
like my own, Rutgers/The State University of New Jersey, are mobilizing
both theoretical and applied resources to contribute to the solution to
the problem of global warming. But such initiatives need substantial
support if they are to succeed and lead to bigger and better policies,
that is, larger cooperative efforts with projects in other countries
which eventually can link up and serve as the foundation for a real
global solution to global warming.

John Ashton, an adviser on these issues for the British
government(Bush's faithful ally in his quixotic foreign policy
initiatives) said in response to the president's comments about "smart
technologies" as a solution to the crisis, that "smart technology
requires government and investment. We could have another 20 years of
talking about talking. We need to start deciding about doing "

* Actually, the distinguished environmental scientist and socialist
activist Barry Commoner made these points decades ago in such
works as _Science and Survival(1966)_ _The Poverty of Power:
Energy and the Economic Crisis_ (1976) and most recently _Making
Peace with the Planet_(1990) Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980 was
a major setback to the development of a global policy that would
"make peace with the planet." Whatever limited gains have been
made in the tradition of the Kyoto Accord in the context of a
much broader and popularly supported environmental movement
through the world have been treated with disinterest if not
contempt by the Bush administration, which, as it has in most
other areas, has been as much a disaster for the whole planet and
all of its people as it has been for the American people. But it
is the American people who must end right-wing Republican control
over the national government in 2008 before one can speak
seriously about a U.S. policy on global warming specifically and
ecological issues generally. That should be for progressives the
first goal for political action on questions of workers rights,
civil rights, peace, the global environment, since without it
progress in all other areas will continue to be stifle
* Norman Markowitz


Anonymous said...

When talking about global warming, there are a few questions that must be dealt with.

First, is climate warming? The answer, though not definitive yet, is probably yes. We can readily see some evidence of that happening.

The Earth is a dynamic system, which means it is constantly in flux. Average temperatures are continually moving up or down. Equilibrium would mean that the system was dead. In spite of what Al Gore says, there never has been a time of equilibrium in the system, and that's a good thing.

Second, if temps are going up, what is the cause? Is it Man's contribution of greenhouse gases? Conventional wisdom (as portrayed in most of the media, anyway) says 'yes'. But the truth is that that is a hypothesis, not even a full-fledged theory yet, and certainly not an established scientific fact. Let me explain:

Obviously we can't put the Earth into a laboratory and experiment on it. Experiments must be done on climate models. Scientists formulate a hypothesis, plug their assumptions into the model, and then see if the model can predict reality.

Even the best climate models don't predict reality very well. Thirty-five years ago NASA's James Hansen was designing climate models that showed an ice age was imminent; today he designs models that show the climate is heating up. But the track record of the models is just as dismal. Heck, the Old Farmer's Almanac does a better job of predicting weather patterns and climate trends. The assumptions that are programmed into the model must be incredibly complex. In fact, more complex than our understanding of climate at this point. It's really no big surprise that the models don't have a great track record. It's not something to feel too bad about or be embarrassed about. It's just the way it is.

So what's going on? Why all the hysteria? Some say that the "reality of global warming" is even worse than predicted. Could that be?

That's one explanation offered by the manmade global warming enthusiasts, but a simpler, scientific, and less hysterical explanation is simply that one or more of the assumptions programmed into the models are incorrect. That just means the hypothesis is flawed. Perhaps something else is going on than the researcher expected. It does not prove or disprove the scientists' opinions, or establish cause and effect. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes.

But is there a "consensus"?

I love to point out the fact that there are still scientists studying gravity, and that's one area most people thought was settled long ago, right? Can I see a show of hands? And another thing to think about is that 'consensus' really isn't a scientific term. It's more of a political term.

So how do we get from a flawed hypothesis to a sound scientific theory? The short answer is: we don't. The hysteria is due to politics and propaganda.

How do we get from politics and propaganda to an established scientific fact? Again, we don't, obviously. What we get is more politics and perhaps public policy.

Why? In two words: money and power.

More taxes. Higher prices on energy (and everything that uses energy to make or transport - Have you noticed what has happened to the price of grain, for instance? Stop and think about the effect of higher food and heating costs on the world's poor.) Control of energy sources. Sales of books, 'carbon offsets', and myriad 'green' merchandise.

Does it bother the True Believer that Al Gore has 200 million dollars in the bank from selling carbon offsets, which do nothing to actually help the environment? That his prediction of a 10-foot rise in sea level is echoed by not one scientist anywhere? No, of course not. Some people want to be scared. Impending catastophe is supremely sexy.

Does it bother the True Believer to learn that many of the scientists involved in the IPCC project sued to have their names removed from the report?

Does it bother the True Believer that the grandfather of global warming politics is a man named Maurice Strong, a big UN muckety-muck who happens to be a communist, eugenicist and de-populationist? No, of course not. Those same people craving catastrophe probably don't understand the implications of those words.

It is an understatement to say there is disinformation and subterfuge coming from all sides on this issue. This very piece you are reading could be chock-full of disinformation, so it's imperative that you do your own research.

An example of disinformation is Greenpeace members protesting, calling for President Bush to sign Kyoto, when they know full well that the US signed Kyoto way back in 1998 under Clinton/Gore! The fact is, Bush CAN'T sign it, since it's already signed, but that doesn't stop the protesting and name-calling does it? And apparently not one journalist has noticed the disparity. (and Bush has never mentioned it, either. Go figure.)

That is an example of disinformation in a nutshell. Watch for it.

Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and current board member of the Sierra Club, once said "If you don’t know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then ... make it up on the spot."

Al Gore once said something similar: "When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, holler."

Carl Amery, a founder of the German green movement, has said "We, in the green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which killing a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year-old children to Asian brothels." Read that sentence again and let it sink in. It would take a LOT of propaganda and programming to pull that off, wouldn't it?

Paul Watson again, says "We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion." He doesn't say exactly how he would like to accomplish that, but disposing of 6 billion people would be problematic. Doesn't he know that rotting corpses give off greenhouse gases?

Lyall Watson (no relation, other than their faith), biologist and author, says that "Cannibalism is a radical but realistic solution to the problem of overpopulation." Yes, he really said that.

I'm sure the majority of environmentalists aren't this far off their rockers, but these are some of the leaders of the movement. And think again about those higher food and energy costs and billions of poor folks struggling to make ends meet.

Maurice Strong (mentioned above), a senior UN advisor and director of the Temple of Understanding, is a little more laid back: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring about?"

But politics and global evil aside, should we be concerned about climate change? The answer to that is an unqualified 'maybe'. So wouldn't it be nice to just let the scientists work without all the propaganda and hysteria?

Bottom line: Don't let anybody take your money or freedom based on a hypothesis. Real science is not done by a show of hands. Recognize the doomsayers, propagandists, and slanted journalists (and bloggers) for who they are and get on with life.

And think carefully about the people who tell you "the science is settled and it's time for action". Please don't perpetuate the politics and the disinformation at the expense of the science. As Lenin famously pointed out: "A lie told often enough becomes the truth".

Also, don't twist anything I've said to mean that I'm some sort of anti-conservationist. I'm all for conservation (as we all should be), whether we are talking about energy, or species, or habitat, or preserving air or water quality, or other 'green' technologies, or whatever. That's not really what this argument is about. It's about controlling energy use, and robbing people to pay for it (okay, TAXING for the 'progressives' and other business-as-usual-types) - to create a 'solution' to a 'problem' that is still in the hypothesis stage scientifically.

Joel said...

Ah, argument by question. Gotta love it. Frankly I have not one iota of sorrow for taxing Big Oil to pay for alternative energy sources that reduce greenhouse emissions. I think they have stolen enough cash and freedom from us already.

Dr. Scotch said...

I'd love to see the reference for the so called Lenin quote about "A lie told often enough becomes the truth." This sounds more like a quote from Exxon-Mobile. When over 90% of the environmental sceince community says the problem with global warming is exacerbated by the green house gasses that the capitalist economic system pumps into the air, I think we can dismiss those who deny this fact.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous undermines his case greatly, except for fans of the late J Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, and Joe Goebbels by his "quote" from Lenin,(a bit like Ronald Reagan's "Ten Commandments of Lenin" which the Soviets showed came from old Nazi big lie propaganda) but he makes the scientific argument, very weak as it is, better than president Bush would or could.
But he really doesn't address concretely the points which I raised in my article, namely the general recognition, not "hysteria," of a far-reaching environmental crisis connected to the escalating emission of greenhous gasses and the realization that a global environemntal policy, which will reguire planning and regulation is necessary to deal with the crisis, which, as Dr. Scotch notes, is supported by 90% of he scientific community(which may by the way be a conservative estimate).
Anonymous takes a "what me worry approach" and uses what for thousands of years has been called sophistry to talk around the issue, to make arguments that sound reasonable but clutter up a reasonable and logical analysis by both using, as Joel notes, questions as distractions and setting up straw bogeymen.
It isn't, even under our system of state monopoly capitalism, a question of taxes and low development or low taxes and high development/pollution/global warming. As Barry Commoner began to argue forty years ago, technologies exist and can be developed to sharply reduce a whole series of global environmental problems at the point of production.
But they can't be developed by governments which protect energy and other corporations short-term maximization of profit as the basis of policy, they can't be developed by anti-energy conservation policies of the kind that Reagan in the 1980s and Bush today actively pursues(which by the way meant and means falling behind other developed countries in the development of alternative energy systems) and they certainly can't be developed by a government which has ignored and/or suppressed among its own scientific agencies the scientific work on global warming, along with many other enviromental and health care issues, and sees international cooperation on such questions pretty much as it sees international cooperation on foreign policy affairs, that is, scientific "coalitions of the willing" or scientists that reflect its views uncritically.

Lenin by the way has been quoted as saying to ultra-leftists that "facts are stubborn things"(a version of that quotation is also attributed much earlier to John Adams in the U.S.). Facts are stubborn things, both political economic, social, and scientific. From conservative European politicians to even some corporate leaders in high tech industries here and abroad, not to mention all progressive people everywhere, it is really common knowledge, an international "consensus," that the Bush administration, anonymous apologia aside, has willfully refused to face the major economic social, political and enviromental facts of contemporary life.
Norman Markowitz

Anonymous said...

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