Year 3, Month 2, Day 5: It’s All About The Benjamins

The Bangor Daily News’ Dana Wilde talks about why Climate Change is real:

Several readers, with helpful intentions I’m sure, reassured me earlier this month with a few pats on the head that climate change, if it’s even happening, is a natural occurrence that’s nothing to do with us and moreover, to jog me out of naivete, that global warming is a hoax. Don’t worry, be happy, we were sagely advised in the 1980s.

Here are some of the points I’ve heard that are meant to reassure me there’s no need to worry about climate change or global warming:

• It still gets cold in winter.

• Earth’s climate has always changed and always will change.

• Global warming is just a theory.

• There is no proof the exhaust from my car hurts anything.

• Scientists are often wrong.

• Scientists fake climate research findings.

• Global warming is not mentioned in the Bible.

• There was no Y2K disaster.

The problem I have with these arguments is that I believe in the existence of computers, cellphones, penicillin, bone marrow transplants and internal combustion engines. I also believe in photosynthesis, DNA, infrared light, blood types, viruses, the theory of relativity and the vibration A440, even though I have never seen any of these actual items or processes with my eyes.

What I mean by this is that the same method of study — namely, what we call “the scientific method” — led to microchips, life-saving chemistry, instant communication and so on. So that method has a certain high reliability. It has been applied to Earth’s climate, and so the findings of climatologists are very likely to be in the same range of reliability.

Now, if the climatologists were disagreeing about the findings, then we would have a situation where the research was incomplete, the matter was not fully understood and global warming would be “just a theory.” In other words, the scientists would not yet be sure whether the proposed explanation was completely accurate to reality or not. Scientists are often wrong about their theories. That’s why they keep compiling, analyzing and checking data until they agree on an accurate explanation.

It’s a good piece. And the comments are mostly full of stupid (don’t these trolls have anything better to do? Or would they all fail Turing tests?). I felt the time was ripe for an OWS-style letter. Sent January 30:

Cui bono? Once conservative media outlets and their allies in politics ginned up a “controversy” about the causes and severity of global climate change, it is appropriate to ask: who benefits from increased support of climate science? And, conversely, who benefits from delay and obfuscation?

On the one hand, climatologists in small teams, angling for (at most) a few million dollars to carry out complex research projects. On the other hand, companies like Exxon, which reported profits of 10.6 billion in the first quarter of 2011 — over two thousand times more than a five-million dollar grant for a typical climate study carried out over several years. Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s CEO, received twenty-nine million dollars last year, over three hundred times the average salary of a climate scientist.

Big oil’s obscene profits won’t survive once America changes its energy economy. No wonder they want to confuse the subject as much as possible.

Warren Senders

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