Year 4, Month 6, Day 14: Whistling Past The Graveyard

Even some Republicans are starting to pay attention. The Weirton Daily Times (WV) reports:

FAIRMONT – A Republican congressman sought common ground in the climate change debate Thursday but found the same clash of science and ideology that paralyzes Washington had followed him to West Virginia, a state long built on fossil fuel production.

For more than three hours, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, quizzed a panel of national experts – only about half of them scientists – about the causes of global warming and what to do about it. McKinley has long questioned the science behind global warming. He now acknowledges climate change is occurring but is not convinced human activity is to blame.


…professor John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, called affordable energy “the basis of our standard of living today.”

While reducing CO2 emissions may or may not affect climate change, Christy said he’s certain it would raise energy costs.

“I’ve lived in Africa, and I can assure you that without energy, life is brutal and short,” Christy said. “…We are not bad people because we produce carbon dioxide.”

Well, I’m sure glad to hear that. May 31:

In arguing against the regulation of greenhouse emissions, Professor John Christy’s asserts that our current standard of living is built around affordable energy, and that emissions reductions would likely raise the costs of power around the world, an assumption which crumbles upon examination.

Oil and coal are “affordable” energy sources — first, because both receive massive federal subsidies, and second, because fossil energy’s “externalities,” such as safety enforcement, disaster cleanup, quality control, public health impacts, leak repair, and climatic effects (not to mention a host of rather expensive wars) are also absorbed by the government. That is, citizens twice pay the government to keep fuel prices low (and if that makes no sense to you, you’re not alone).

Christy goes on to say “…We are not bad people because we produce carbon dioxide.” That was true enough when we didn’t have the facts about the greenhouse effect and its likely consequences for our civilization. But those days are past. The facts are in, and now we know: continuing to accelerate our CO2 emissions is to ensure that as they struggle for existence on a planet heated into climate chaos, our descendants will think of us in less generous terms.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 1, Day 21: I Do Not Believe You Are An Idiot. My Choice Of Verb Is More Accurate: I KNOW You’re An Idiot.

The Anchorage (AK) Daily News reprints an Op-Ed from the Kansas City Star of a few days ago, titling it “The Costly Ignorance Of Climate”:

The overwhelming number of scientists who believe in climate change scored another “victory” in 2012.

Unfortunately, because of timid political leadership in the United States and around the world, the war against global warming is still being lost.

Scientists have long warned that man-made greenhouse gases are heating up the Earth. They added more evidence to their arsenal when the contiguous United States recorded its hottest year ever in 2012. The average temperature was 55.3 degrees, smashing the 1998 record by one full degree, an incredible leap given the usually small changes in these kinds of measurements.

The New York Times reported other worrisome facts: 34,008 daily high records were established at U.S. weather stations but only 6,664 record lows in 2012.

Worldwide, the average temperature is expected to come in as one of the 10 warmest ever, with all of those occurring in the last 15 years.

Always happy to mock the faithful. January 14:

There’s no doubt among people who pay attention to the evidence that climate change is a dangerous reality. Self-styled “skeptics” confuse incomprehension with intellectual honesty; the root of the problem lies in a word we hear too often in the discussion of the burgeoning greenhouse effect and its consequences. “Believe.”

Scientists’ relationship with reality is vastly different from the faithful’s relationship to their religions. You’ll never hear a religious adherent say that they’ve evaluated the data and are prepared to accept their creed’s validity within two standard deviations, and you’ll never hear a climatologist say they “believe” in climate change. Scientists accept the evidence for climate change because they understand how that evidence was collected and analyzed, and their evaluation of other possible explanations for that evidence suggests that the consensus explanation is the correct one.

To conflate the concepts of belief and understanding is to do both science and religion a disservice. And when this confusion makes concerted international action on global climate change less likely, it makes risible religion’s claims to moral ascendancy.

Warren Senders