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Spring feel like it is here a little early this year?
February 18, 2002 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Spring feel like it is here a little early this year? does anyone care?
posted by specialk420 (24 comments total)

 
Bill Maher of Politically Incorrect has repeatedly said that both for environmental reasons and political reasons, we need to steer away from petroleum. Mostly Maher wants America to stop being so dependent on fuels from foreign markets, and I think he's right on the money there, but it's not gonna happen overnight.

We do have the technology today to make electric cars. However, the best success has been with electric/petroleum hybrids which still would greatly reduce fossil fuel usage. Why we haven't done this is due to both political and economic concerns. Human society doesn't turn on a dime. In fact, a cruise liner turns more smoothly than humanity.

It's taken a couple centuries to get us from slavery to where we are today, and we STILL have people who stupidly base their opinions of others using skin color, on all levels of the pigmentation spectrum. This is largely cultural in nature. We cling to our history like a security blanket, instead of learning from it like a college textbook. Until the day when skin color is no more important than eye color, we'll still be struggling.

Getting the world to accept that we are destroying our own planet by polluting it may take longer than the actual destruction itself. We're crashing into our own demise. Does anyone care? Some do. Some don't. Therein lies the problem.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:16 PM on February 18, 2002


While I agree we should move away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles as soon as possible, there are too many contradictory reports out there to make me a believer in global warming and the dire effects described in the article.
posted by gyc at 10:21 PM on February 18, 2002


It's taken a couple centuries to get us from slavery to where we are today

No. Nothing changes. In the Sudan today, Arab and Black muslims in the north continually take rebels (Christians, Animists, and Muslim, all black) and force them into slavery.

As for the environment: I say UP with global warming! I'm really sick of the cold winters here in the midwest, and I sure wouldn't mind a little sunshine. People said 30 years ago the world would be consumed in an environmental disaster 30 years in the future. I'm still waiting for it to happen, and I'll only believe the special-interest environmentalist groups when I see some solid, long term climate data. There is no good way to model and predict climate change, so for now I'm going to enjoy driving an SUV, and when one with better fuel economy and cleaner emissions comes into my price range, I'll buy it. The only thing outlasting the doomsayers is the environment itself.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:43 PM on February 18, 2002


too many contradictory reports


i wonder how many of the contradictory reports you have read have been funded by power companies and big oil....??? here is an excellent article with 27 years of what appears to be unbiased (actually accidental evidence) of dramatic global warming.

username: metafilter

password: metafilter


read and learn.
posted by specialk420 at 10:49 PM on February 18, 2002


The only thing outlasting the doomsayers is the environment itself.

So what if it ceases to exist as we know it because of uncontrolled pollution and land development.
posted by tcobretti at 11:05 PM on February 18, 2002


You might have warmer winters in the midwest, but you'll be sharing them with all the displaced New Yorkers, Floridians, Seattleites, oh and anyone living within 150 miles of the Mississippi river, all of whom will be fleeing to your neck of the woods to buy up all that new oceanfront property.

I'm not saying. I'm just saying.
posted by chicobangs at 11:34 PM on February 18, 2002


People said 30 years ago


by the looks of things 30 years ago... you were a the less than a twinkle in the eyes of a pair of gene pools the planet would be better off had they not crossed paths....
posted by specialk420 at 11:47 PM on February 18, 2002


That's really charming, telling people who disagree with you that they never should have been born. No, really, it is. I wish I could be 1/10 as classy.
posted by darukaru at 11:51 PM on February 18, 2002


Yeah, that "global warming" is almost certainly the reason we had so much damn snow this year.
posted by kindall at 12:07 AM on February 19, 2002


Anyway. So, reading this article… "leading scientists said today". Funny, then, how only one scientist is quoted in the article. So what we have here is one man's theory of what will happen. Much like that NY Times article, which is less a damning catalog of scientific fact and more a fluff piece... and *also* mostly seems to be based on one man's theory of climate change.
I don't dispute the necessity of getting ourselves off the fossil-fuel tit, but there are more and better reasons to do so (limited supply being the primary reason, the awful geopolitics of oil being a close runner-up), and more and better ways of getting the point across than yelling 'OMG A WARM WINTER THE STUPID HUMANS HAVE DOOOOOOOMED THE EARTH'.
posted by darukaru at 12:08 AM on February 19, 2002


FWIW, Dickinson's page (the scientist quoted) and the event (third from the bottom).

What I find truly stimulating is not whether the Earth is warming, which even most contrarians have accepted, nor really the mechanism behind it (which we don't seem likely to discern any time soon), but the question of what to do with the information at hand.

Quite simply: we're pretty sure the Earth is warming, and we're pretty sure our industrial activity has the capacity to cause it, but whether we are, in fact, causing it, will require slightly better models than the ones at hand. Yet decisions do still need to be made, and we hardly have the time to wait for the science to be complete. The usual reaction to this dilemma seems to be weighted pretty heavily towards assuming the worst and acting accordingly. If it's even a possibility that our output is precipitating a global disaster, we'd best curtail our smoking ways post-haste, preserve the stability of natural processes, and give Dick Cheney the bill.

Not so fast. One of the key arguments in Bjorn Lomberg's new whipping-boy request (speaking from press reports, I haven't got hold of a copy yet) is the necessity to weigh the effects of environmental legislation, good and bad alike. If the industrialization of Gaia is leading inexorably to global warming, with a moderate but recoverable disaster to follow, but the only way to stop it is to devastate the global economy to the tune of a billion additional in gripping poverty, well, we might need to grin and bear the moderate disaster.

Ah, but we can have even more fun with this, since the above assumes we know that our actions will lead to the All Natural Cook-Out. We, at best, can speak in probabilities that our actions are the cause, and that a reversal can have an effect. If the likelihood is high that we're to blame, and the cost is measured in mere billions of dollars, prudence seems an obvious course of action. Yet what if the likelihood is uncertain, and the cost devastating? Is it truly prudent to condemn the world to great hardship to avoid a probability? And at what probability do we accept the hardship, and at what do we accept the warming? We deal in a realm of great uncertainty and it would behoove us to consider that the cure just may be more harmful than the ill.

Myself? I'll let you know when the beach is at my doorstep.
posted by apostasy at 1:39 AM on February 19, 2002


The 'get off of fossil fuel' sentiments are so much hot air and lip service. So what if Maher and a few hundred others are driving about in hybrids when architects add windows like their billing hours or when homeowners want convience over savings and environmental concerns.

When I hear about the dependence on foriegn oil its usually from someone who wouldn't dare identify herself with any green movement but is looking for some "common sense" justification for keeping the environment relatively clean for her grandchildren. Yes, there are many who truly feel concerned about our current course of action and policies, but lately it seems to me that the big stink over foreign oil is a byproduct of post-9/11 anxieties and not a real concern about anything environmental.

Its very fashionable right now to be a global warming denier and comment on foriegn oil, but in the end Arabic gas burns just as badly as American gas.
posted by skallas at 2:10 AM on February 19, 2002


I would rather be totally off of fossil fuels. That's why I've got stock in a couple of companies that are starting to produce fuel cells with automotive-strength cells arriving in 2005. I think that'll make something of a difference.

As a suggestion, troll-with-my-name, you might try more than pointing at an article and saying read and learn. Making a point or contributing to discussion other than bringing up the topic might help, because I am skeptical of information from either side. As usual, I think the truth is somewhere between the two extremes presenting their sides.
posted by SpecialK at 7:55 AM on February 19, 2002


Yeah, that "global warming" is almost certainly the reason we had so much damn snow this year.

Presuming you are from Buffallo/Upstate NY area, the fact that the lakes hadn't frozen over because of an unusally warm early winter is exactly why you got so much damn snow.
posted by eriko at 7:56 AM on February 19, 2002


No, I live in Seattle.
posted by kindall at 7:56 AM on February 19, 2002


I would rather be totally off of fossil fuels. That's why I've got stock in a couple of companies that are starting to produce fuel cells with automotive-strength cells arriving in 2005. I think that'll make something of a difference.

To further smash the "redneck with an SUV" image that some may have from my postings on here, I must wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Some of the research and development being done now is very exciting, and will just snowball to everyone's benefit. I'm still not about to give up my Expedition, but I try to offset that by investing in Powerball, which is not a lottery site.
posted by ebarker at 8:31 AM on February 19, 2002


As usual, it is important to remember that climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.

Also, global warming is a poor term and should be replaced by major climate change since warming in some places leads to cooling in others (disruption of the gulf stream by warming equatorial oceans could rob England of its mild winters, for example).

*tosses two cents onto the floor*
posted by iceberg273 at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2002


you might try more than pointing at an article


special k - thanks for the heads up on mefi etiquette.... very helpful.

as for extremes... here is another relevant article.

as a former landcruiser owner/driver, my conscience finally got the best of me as idled my way through traffic jams of other gas guzzling SUVs - ill look for the stat, apparently the difference between driving an SUV and a more modest vehicle in a year - is more than equivilant to opening ones fridgerator door and never closing it for the year... should'nt we be riding our bicycles a little more to work off our robust american waist lines?

barker - thanks for powerball post - i had not seen that one.
posted by specialk420 at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2002


The weather this winter has much more to do with the El Nino/El Nina cycle than global warming. It's not the best argument to put forth, really.

It's also useful to remember that there are multiple points of contention here. The first is whether global warming is occurring. I tend to believe that, as the scientists in the linked article do, it is proven to a reasonable degree of certainty that we have seen warming over the last century. The second part is the argument over the degree to which human activity is affecting this process of warming, and that is much less certain, even to proponents of human solutions. The final question is whether, given a consensus that human activity has been a root cause, we should alter our behavior, and how. Here's where it gets really murky, alas. There are unknowns all through the climate models, so toying with them deliberately may produce unexpected results. And making changes in what we do can proceed in many different ways, from fully voluntary 'market' solutions to full-on authoritarian coercion. And then the question becomes who is coerced and why. There's the root of all the muckety ruckus, because for the government to exercise its tremendous power ought to be something that is not done lightly and the proofs should be at a reasonably high standard.
posted by dhartung at 9:53 AM on February 19, 2002


My SUV (which I love) produces a lot less waste than most the cars parked around it. That's because I drive a scant few hours a week to get groceries or go skiing. I drive it so I can carry home an occaisional large item, enjoy the higher seat and appreciate the ability to tow a heavy trailer from time to time. If you want to talk about environmental impact, give us each a certain number of "credits" and let us use them how we like. And while we're outlawing SUV's, let's be sure to eliminate all classic cars too. If it's wrong, it's wrong - too bad. You don't get to be "grandfathered" into it. They won't do that because getting rid of SUV's (and not classic cars with much higher polution levels) is about class warfare and not the environment.

OB Links for the alternate viewpoints: Former Greenpeace activist slams radical greens (I haven't finished reading this, but it's been very enlightening so far). And how can we forget what Former Greenpeace director Patrick Moore said on ABC's 20/20 (June 27, 2001): regarding how the environmental movement has been hijacked by political activists. "They're using environmental rhetoric to cloak agendas like class warfare and anti-corporatism that, in fact, have almost nothing to do with ecology," Moore tells Stossel.
posted by stormy at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2002


Ah, but we can have even more fun with this, since the above assumes we know that our actions will lead to the All Natural Cook-Out. We, at best, can speak in probabilities that our actions are the cause, and that a reversal can have an effect. If the likelihood is high that we're to blame, and the cost is measured in mere billions of dollars, prudence seems an obvious course of action. Yet what if the likelihood is uncertain, and the cost devastating? Is it truly prudent to condemn the world to great hardship to avoid a probability? And at what probability do we accept the hardship, and at what do we accept the warming? We deal in a realm of great uncertainty and it would behoove us to consider that the cure just may be more harmful than the ill.

Actually, one of the advantages to green efficient technologies is that they offer an immediate payoff for areas that have not already been developed. If you don't have an electrical grid on your doorstep, it is more cost-effective to design for solar than for a connection to the grid. Micropower using renewable resources appears to be the cheapest and easiest way to get the rural areas wired. In addition, energy efficiency technologies have the potential to save quite a bit of money here in the industrial world. The cure not only has the potential to stop global warming, but also has the potential to reduce some other major costs of our energy use.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:53 AM on February 19, 2002


I try to offset that by investing in Powerball, which is not a lottery site.

wow, they're like energon cubes. like the kind soundwave used to make.
posted by kliuless at 11:06 AM on February 19, 2002


I also should have added that I'm a big fan of alternative energy and follow emerging technologies very closely. KirkJobSluder illustrates another point - economics could (or will) drive the future of alternative energy - not legislation. Also, I just got an email with another Bjorn Lumborg link.
posted by stormy at 11:08 AM on February 19, 2002


KirkJobSluder: Quite true, but, as Kyoto demonstrates, the general thinking seems to be that rather more radical change is required.

You do bring up the important point that, in the opinions of many (myself included), global change is much more likely to be curtailed with technological innovation and market-based solutions than with scads of regulation. Efficiency and awareness are reducing our environmental footprint, and, while still too high, there is at least reason to be optimistic. So naturally we should be moving towards the sustainable technologies you speak of, but this will require encouraging the global market, not gutting it.
posted by apostasy at 11:12 AM on February 19, 2002


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