We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I have read about 100 articles about climate over the past year, from the scientific to the pop science. That doesn't make me an expert. But it's enough to throw out a few facts and opinions.
Climate changes over time, with or without humans.
Since the beginnings of agriculture, humans have impacted climate.
We live in an interglacial, during a time of retreating ice sheets - but still in what is technically an ice-age - meaning polar ice caps. During most of the planet's history, there have been none. We are in a cold spell.
Short-term variations and swings of climate mean no more that short-term swings in the stock market.
Carbon material in the air probably does contribute to net warming.
In the past week, YARGB has done a post on the hockey stick graph - often used to inspire climate terror. And yesterday, Libertarian Leanings posted Sound the Alarm...Again, in response to the newspaper's hysteria about Greenland ice sheets. Michaels, who has been a real scholar in this area, points out that the articles on the glaciers fail to mention that ice is accumulating in Greenland faster than the glaciers are melting.
Climate and climate-modeling are incredibly complex, and if carbon material in the atmosphere plays a role in the current interglacial warming, so be it. It won't be enough to prevent the return of the next glaciation. It hardly matters what we do in the US anyway - that hybrid car might make you feel virtuous but it does nothing...the manufacture of the batteries spills tons of CO2. And countries like Russia, China, India and developing countries are dying for the chance to burn oil the way the US and Europe do - and they will. Thus nothing meaningful will be or can be done, except maybe some very expensive, feel-good cosmetics. Eventually, nuclear power will replace carbon sources, but climate is not the main reason to do that. Energy independence, and economy, is the reason to do that. At some point, oil power will look the way horse power looks to us today. I refuse to worry pointlessly about it, nor will I worry about an asteroid hitting the earth. As long as there are billions of people on earth, we will effect climate, and everything else, somehow.
(Image: Wooly Mammoth in New Jersey, summertime, a few thousand years ago, by paleo-artist Moravec.)
The subject of global warming will be a landmark in American, and world, science. This is the first time that science was so politicised so as to give up its usual rigor and fact-based search for the truth.
How many times have you heard scientists say something like "There is still a great deal of uncertainty in global warming, but the stakes are so high that we can't wait until all the evidence is in, we must act now." Hardly the scientific method, but a great way to panic the politicians looking for a "feel good" issue and thereby reap tons of grants and contracts for research.
For the good of science and its credibility in the future, scientists should do what they do best and let the politicians be the ones act now in the absence of proof. But, science is in bed with politicians, lured by the money and the ability to gain even more influence by attacking the Bush Administration. Its a sad day in the scientific world.