Monday, April 07, 2008

The futility assertion...

While the often snarling tenor of the debate on anthropogenic climate change becomes a cottage industry, economists and others are pointing out a new and, I think, reasonable question:
The charged and complex debate over how to slow down global warming has become a lot more complicated.

Most of the focus in the last few years has centered on imposing caps on greenhouse gas emissions to prod energy users to conserve or switch to nonpolluting technologies.

Leaders of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change — the scientists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year with former Vice President Al Gore — have emphasized that market-based approach. All three presidential candidates are behind it. And it has framed international talks over a new climate treaty and debate within the United States over climate legislation.

But now, with recent data showing an unexpected rise in global emissions and a decline in energy efficiency, a growing chorus of economists, scientists and students of energy policy are saying that whatever benefits the cap approach yields, it will be too little and come too late. [More]
I don't expect you to swallow this, but during my moments of discouragement over this issue as hopelessly entwined with politics, I too envisioned a stalemate until 1) people were drowning or starving as a result or 2) the next Bill Gates comes up with technology to obsolete fossil fuels.

It could be that 1) will occur causing to 2) to occur. As the discourse labors on the economic return to energy producing and saving technology rises rapidly. We (Boomers) may be the last generation to treat the issue cavalierly, and if the recession we seem to be headed for lasts as long as I think, energy consumption patterns will be shifted geographically forever.

In fact, while climate change skeptics can't burn enough stuff fast enough, I can imagine a future where to do so would be lame beyond belief - the future equivalent of wearing polyester suits.


Anonymous said...

Before you get so excited about gobal warming you really do need to think about the data being used! Is it long term enough to show a real warming trend is are we seeing the normal short term ups and downs? My take on the data is the latter. I support with the simplistic data point that we still are not as warm as we were in the 1940's. Don't believe me? There are several airplanes buried under ice in Greenland that land there during WWII. Look it up on Glacier Girl website.

Ol James said...

Economist, political analyst and other higher educated type are unable to get their 15 minutes of fame in the media. Face it nobody wants to hear their findings and look at their graphs and charts simply because...well..they are boring, even if there is some truth to it. So they have to enlist celebrities, political honchos and the like to get the media attention and scare the life out of us by telling us we are "DOOMED". While they set up websites and committees and foundations to handle your donations.
I believe we should take care of the Earth in any way we can. There are some very good organizations that do this and do not get the attention as the doomsday crowd. Examples, Ducks Unlimited, B.A.S.S., Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Quail Unlimited. Albeit these and other groups are sporting groups they do billions yearly,(combined), to improve and help Mother Nature. Hardly a word is heard until something like Mad Cow or Mad Deer comes into play.
Both side of the issue can go back and forth from now till the end of time. But what would amaze me is a tractor trailer rig pulling a 40 ton load from New York to California being powered by a Solar, Diesel, Bio-Fuel Hybrid that get around 75 mpg. Yeah, 'Ol Bill Gates has his work cut out for him, so he and all these expert need to get on the ball.
Could this be similar as to what happened when they were trying to build the "Tower of Babel"??

""Well, I sat there at the table and I acted real naive
For I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve""
This^ may be why you don't see politicians in short sleeves.

John Phipps said...


I've long since realized the science/math supporting these arguments is beyond my range, so trading single data points or anecdotes doesn't get us very far, IMHO. Please read my previous posts about how I arrived at my position - in short by following the explanations of scientists/writers I have found entirely credible, such as Ron Bailey, Carl Zimmer, Sahron Begley, or Greg Laden.

As for the town of the debate, try this: pick any two entries on Climate Change Daily - one from each column. See which one strikes you as more politically and socially adversarial.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

ole said...

Just give me a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels and I, for one, will use it.

John Phipps said...


I think that is exactly what the solution will look like. A carbon tax could help speed its identification, I think.

Thanks for commenting.

Ol James said...

Mr. John, I have to disagree with the Carbon Tax sentiment. I, (IMHO), believe we are taxed enough. I believe that government, Federal, State, County, City and so on have dropped the ball. With the taxes we pay now government has become an entity of it's own,(let us not forget "Eminent Domain"). Government SHOULD be leading the way by funding R&D to make alternate fuel a reality. We might butt heads on this but like me I'm sure another scar on the noggin won't bother you none. I like a good debate even if I bring a slingshot to a war.