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July 19, 2001 12:55 AM   Subscribe

Hello??? McFly???!!??? Tiny, but remarkable Pro-Bush/global-warming-as-myth protest in Bonn as reported by The Times. 40 deluded rich american kids against the world. Literally. And, no it's not a new reality TV series... although... I can see it now.... "Protester"(tm)
posted by blackbeltjones (44 comments total)

 
I've heard a couple of petro company campaigns designed to misinform the public by claiming that a significant number of scientists doubt global warming, which is completely false. At least they've been degraded from claiming that this is natural climate change to empty liberals-are-pansies insults.

They'll soon have to realize that the economy sometimes has to take a hit for the team; wether it's for global warming, fair labor practices, or the abolition of slavery ... doing the right thing can get expensive.
posted by skyline at 2:05 AM on July 19, 2001


campaigns designed to misinform the public by claiming that a significant number of scientists doubt global warming

Uh, but a a significant number of scientists do doubt global warming. The very article you linked to contains the line "some researchers told the Amsterdam conference that the assumption of progressive and even temperature rises could be completely wrong" and even says that "Europe could soon find itself in the grip of a new ice age" - which would involve cooling, not warming. If you read the press releases for BOTH sides of this argument it also becomes clear that few scientists are willing to assert we have any proof of the causes or any proof that actions being asked for will produce any appreceable effects - nor can we assert the opposite with any true confidence.

Frankly, it comes down to whether or not we should gamble our economy on fuzzy science. Since I have yet to see ANY clear-cut proof in any of the reading I've done on the subject, so I feel that it would be wrong to do so. Even the staunchest of Kyoto supporters will admit to gaps in our knowledge and a lack of understanding of weather patterns over extended periods of time.
posted by RevGreg at 4:33 AM on July 19, 2001


I saw an episode of Southpark last night.

They had global earth brainwashing day where they forced all the kids to work and do manual labor for the preparations. There were 3 50 year old hippies and they've waived their arms around like Jedi, a mindtrick, 'you do want to work for the global earth brainwashing day. the republicans are evil'.

One kid staples a poster on global warming and then asks "My dad is a geologist and he says there is no proof of global earth warming...", the hippie waves his arm again "there is global earth warming, the republicans must be stopped"
posted by tiaka at 4:37 AM on July 19, 2001


So tiaka, what are you trying to say? That Republicans aren't evil and shouldn't be stopped? Say it ain't so!
posted by lia at 5:04 AM on July 19, 2001


Uh, but a a significant number of scientists do doubt global warming.

Not really. There are some - but then in politics you can always find someone to say anything. By far the majority agree that there is global warming.

Of course, you can always argue that the scientifists of the IPCC, the UN etc - not to mention those employed governments all over the world - are all engaged in some sort of conspiracy. But that's not very persuasive.
posted by Mocata at 5:14 AM on July 19, 2001


As for climate change, I like Pascal's Wager.

As for reactionary protesters: well, it's a little bit sad, really. I assume they're travelling on to Genoa for the whole tear-gas, water-cannon, plastic bullet and strip-search experience, yes? Ah, no they're not.
posted by holgate at 5:47 AM on July 19, 2001


...in politics you can always find someone to say anything.

I'm sure that if there were some political motivation to do so, either party could trot out a phlogiston chemist on demand.
posted by harmful at 6:29 AM on July 19, 2001


As for climate change, I like Pascal's Wager.

Exactly.

"Europe could soon find itself in the grip of a new ice age" - which would involve cooling, not warming.

But not global cooling. The ice age possibility is completely compatible with global warming.

What's the null hypothesis here? We know that we're pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at increased rates comared with two centuries ago. We know CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The result of these things is that we're pumping energy into the closed system that is the earth biosphere. Some people think, or hope, that the system might have some way of maintaining homestasis by fixing carbon--but even there, we're rapidly losing the most efficient means of doing that, the rain forests. Where's the burden of proof? Giving the possible consequences of doing nothing, anyone who suggests that global warming isn't happening should have to make their case pretty strongly. Simply saying "some scientists doubt" is not exactly a strong argument.
posted by rodii at 6:35 AM on July 19, 2001


When the local weatherman can accurately predict the weather two weeks from now, I'll start to believe that somone can tell me that the earth is getting warmer from HUMAN activity. Until then, I'll stick with my belief that it's eco-propaganda.
posted by CRS at 7:18 AM on July 19, 2001


Hey. Gotta give all the people they hired to protest in Florida a vacation somehow.
posted by terrapin at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2001


When the local weatherman can accurately predict the weather two weeks from now, I'll start to believe that somone can tell me that the earth is getting warmer from HUMAN activity.

You're right, CRS. It's not us. It's the fucking otters. Damn you, otters!

Does anyone really have to point out that being able to accurately predict local weather to X decimal points of specificity has nothing to do with predictors of global warming trends? Probably not, because you're not interested in genuine debate or making rational arguments--you'd just rather paint it as "eco-propoganda" (because we Greenie-Weenies sure don't want those nice paychecks from Momma Earth to dry up) and go your merry way.
posted by Skot at 7:57 AM on July 19, 2001


The very article you linked to contains the line "some researchers told the Amsterdam conference that the assumption of progressive and even temperature rises could be completely wrong" and even says that "Europe could soon find itself in the grip of a new ice age" - which would involve cooling, not warming.

If global warming and it changed the flow of the Gulf Stream, it could well result in Europe getting cooler despite a general warming trend worldwide. It's called "global warming," not "European warming."

There is a general consensus that the Earth is getting warmer and that carbon dioxide's presence in the atmosphere contributes. This doesn't mean that there's a consensus that manmade factors have caused this century's warming, that we're in for a steady predictable rise in temperatures, or that CO2 is the major -- or even a major factor -- but the most recent statements I've seen from climatologists, even ones who come down squarely against emissions protocols, agree on this. You can dismiss it as propaganda if you want, but I'd encourage you to look into Lindzen's record before you do. When the major academic skeptic of global warming says "global mean temperature has probably increased over the past century, ...CO2 in the atmosphere has increased over the same period, [and] added CO2 is more likely to have caused global mean temperature to increase rather than decrease," can we at least accept that he knows what he's talking about and start thinking about the other issues that he raises?
posted by snarkout at 8:06 AM on July 19, 2001


Ohh.. I like those weather arguments.

Christians - "Ohh yeah, how can that C-14 testing work? The Scientists can't tell me how the weather will be today, let alone billions and billions of years ago" There was a picture of a white guy holding an umbrella with this pissed off look at this black guy without an umbrella.
posted by tiaka at 8:14 AM on July 19, 2001


snarkout: Ahh, but my understanding is that even pro-global warming scientists will admit that about 70% of that warming occurred prior to 1940. That is, of course, prior to the industrial revolution, indicating that "global warming" is due to natural variations in the earth's climate.

And thank you for admitting that some scientists do doubt global warming. Skyline's first sentence had me worried.
posted by gd779 at 8:18 AM on July 19, 2001


Oops, I forgot to also mention. Lindzen only admit's that "CO2 is more likely to have caused global mean temperature to increase rather than decrease". Well, if you read carefully, that's kind of obvious on it's face. I think that statement is understood better in context [from the same source that you cited]

As it turns out, much of what informed scientists agree upon is barely quantitative at all:

1) that global mean temperature has probably increased over the past century,
2) that CO2 in the atmosphere has increased over the same period,
3) that the added CO2 is more likely to have caused global mean temperature to increase rather than decrease, and
4) that man, like the butterfly, has some impact on climate.

posted by gd779 at 8:23 AM on July 19, 2001


70% of that warming occurred prior to 1940. That is, of course, prior to the industrial revolution.

the industrial revolution began long before 1940. i'd say the US was quite industrial by the time the '40s came around.
posted by tolkhan at 8:40 AM on July 19, 2001


Ack! Delete previous post! Delete previous post! Arrrrggghhhhhh!

*sigh* I'm too tired, and not paying enough attention. I mixed up two points:

1) 70% of current warming occurred prior (I believe just prior) to 1940, before an explosion in industrial activity (and thus CO2). In fact, data from the University of Virginia shows that virtually 100% of the warming that has occurred since 1880 occurred prior to 1940 [source]. If CO2 causes global warming, and we're pumping out much more CO2 than in 1940, why haven't we seen more of an increase?

2) There was a well-documented warm period 900 years ago — long before the Industrial Revolution — when the global temperature was one to two degrees higher than today (incidentally, without any apocalyptic consequences).

Sorry about the mix-up in my last post.

*hides face in shame*
posted by gd779 at 8:59 AM on July 19, 2001


The big problem is that it was labelled Global Warming back in the 80's so people get stuck on the warming part. They think that if they had a colder than normal winter, the phenomena labelled as Global Warming doesn't exist. Forget about Global Warming. It was an overly-simplified view. Instead think Global Climate Change. Or rather Accelerated Global Climate Change. Climate change means that winters and summers aren't neccessarily warmer but more extreme. Winters will get worse. Summers will get worse. There will be more doughts, more hurricanes, more tornados, more current changes, etc, etc. Climate changes aren't new. The climate would change by itself. But we are speeding them up by several degrees of magnitude. A true indicator of our effect on climate change is to track the number of severe storms per year. Science did itself a huge wrong by initially labelling it Global Warming.
posted by dithered at 9:27 AM on July 19, 2001


Interesting take on the whole matter here

Perhaps some of you remember my infamous "booga-booga" argument? (rodii and snarkout, certainly); gents, could be I was not too far off in pointing out the somewhat lucrative aspects of the Henny-Penny offense :)
posted by UncleFes at 9:30 AM on July 19, 2001


hrmm.. i'm still skeptical, as always. go watch "Walking With Dinosaurs" and take note of the years they give for the periods the dinosaurs live. the last ones were 65 MILLION years ago, iirc. the dinos lived on earth for millions of years previous to that. Now in relation humans have inhabited earth for what a few thousand measly years.

Now, obviously we humans do dumber things than the dinosaurs, but I just have a hard time buying that we can determine climate changes from our limited timespan.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:46 AM on July 19, 2001


jbelshaw: We've managed to wipe out a surprising number of species and deforested a good deal of the planet in just a couple hundred years. I wouldn't underestimate our impact on the atmosphere just because it isn't as palpable and easily measurable as a forest.
posted by dithered at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2001


2) There was a well-documented warm period 900 years ago — long before the Industrial Revolution — when the global temperature was one to two degrees higher than today (incidentally, without any apocalyptic consequences).

Well, sure. Although I'm not sure that the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warming Period are really relevant to the argument, I think everyone with any understand understands that the climate is variable. The questions that need to be addressed are whether human factors are accelerating the pace of climate change and, if so, what the best ways to ameliorate that change are.

I've seen climate change cited as the reason for the end to the Viking settlement in Greenland, c. 1500, but that's certainly not a world-coming-to-an-end situation. And more localized climate shifts and ecosystem failures have certainly been the reason for the end of more civilizations than global changes. A large volcano explosion will cause much more change than the amount we're talking about, but there's very little we can do about the Earth's orbit or volcano explosions.

The other Lindzen source I cited says this:

Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled. We are quite confident (1) that global mean temperature is about 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than it was a century ago; (2) that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen over the past two centuries; and (3) that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas whose increase is likely to warm the earth (one of many, the most important being water vapor and clouds).

I'm not trying to obfuscate the fact that there is genuine scientific debate about the causes of global climate shift; nor am I trying to say that Lindzen isn't a respected scientist. (From all that I've read he is, even if he doesn't hold the majority view; I'm a layman, and understanding competing arguments requires more technical understand than I've got or really am willing to acquire.)

I just wanted to point out to say, "The Earth ain't warmin'! It was damn cold last winter!" strikes me as ignorant. There's a general -- and I mean general; the gap between Lindzen and Stephen Schneider is big enough to drive a truck through -- scientific consensus.

While it is certainly not the case that scientists are carrying "The End is Nigh" signs and marching around the White House wailing and tearing their hair out, it is not the case (as some have claimed) that because the planet was warmer during the Medieval Warm Period that global warming is a myth. It may be the case that artificial sources for warming are insignificant in causing climate shift. That's a legitimate point of contention, and anyone who keeps the debate focused on a denial of the last hundred years' of warming (or claims that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas) comes off as either ill-informed or an industry shill.
posted by snarkout at 10:42 AM on July 19, 2001


Comparing us to other species is invalid. We are the only ones who can manipulate the environment, on a local level, to suit our needs. This, combined with the fact that humanity is a grossly overpopulated species, and you create a force of immense cumulative power in terms of affecting the world at large.

Millions of cars, thousands of factories and tons of trash WILL do something to air, land and water surrounding it. And because nature is so finely linked together, pollution in one place will effect nature in another. dithered is right....this effect will not manifest itself as an inexorable increase in global temperatures. Rather, it will throw nature off of its balance, and create more powerful floods AND droughts, etc, etc. Although seemingly contradictory, this is the frightening truth.

We have the technology to change this planet's ecosystem, and we also have the technology to see that we are doing it. Illogical comparisons to completely different species, or economic bickering or a simple willingness to ignore that now, finally, most people, and a vast majority of scientists, think that climate change is real, and that humanity has something to do with it. Hell, Bush's own scientific panel said so....what other proof could you be waiting for?
posted by thewittyname at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2001


thewittyname: I assume your post was directed at me. And please don't assume, that just because I don't subscribe to your beliefs, i'm a wing Republican supporter. Because i'm not. I'm not comparing humans to actions of any other species. I'm just stating what should be an obvious point. Human history is insignificant in relation to the history of the earth.
posted by jbelshaw at 11:03 AM on July 19, 2001


OK, I'm a troubleshooter for my bosses, and utility is a watchword. Assume that the NSA report is correct, and global warming is real, albeit somewhat less than terrifying. Kyoto seems a uniquely BAD way of addressing the problem! First, it assumes facts not in evidence - that human CO2 emmissions, that account for less than 5% of all CO2 emmissions, are the cause of the warming; second, that lessening emmissions will affect the warming; third, that the only way to ameliorate the effect is to spend billions reducing the emissions, and fourth, that the US must be the country that bears the cost. Europe is using carbon emissions as a fat strawman to shunt attention their lead in water and air pollution; In fact, if Europe is taken as a whole, its emissions far outpace the US; China emits a nice bit of carbon, too, but has dealt itself a nice "Get out of economic jail free" card and exempted iself from reductions.

Kyoto aside, what about all the other things that may or may not contribute to global warming (such as it is), including methane and a little something called water vapor, which might be a little difficult to, ahem, reduce, what with the globe being 2/3 covered in water and all. They're not addressed at all.

And, we've got to take into account that a little bit of climate change may not be althogether the bugaboo that the greens would have us believe. Plants love it! And they are the base of the food chain. More plants = more animals. And better fed people. Now the case could be made that there is an increase in violent storms/weather extremes, but at the same time, you're referring to localized items in a global climatic package. So at the same, you have localized storms, but also localized, uh, milding of temperatures too. And the increased storms data has histoically been skewed by using dollars of damage as a gauge of what constitutes a severe storm...but, those numbers have been gigged by increased development in areas where storms occur (like the Florida coast), an effect which is exacerbated by government's willingness to subsidize post-storm repairs.

I'm not completely against trying to keep the Earth from becoming another Venus. But I would like to see people discuss things a bit more rationally, with less politics, more economic considerations, and increasing exactness and scope of the science.
posted by UncleFes at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2001


Comparing us to other species is invalid. We are the only ones who can manipulate the environment, on a local level, to suit our needs.
Your toxic chemicals could be another lifeform's metabolic catalyst--
Photosynthetic life (trees, mosses, algae) produce free oxygen - a toxic, reactive gas. Before photosynthetic life evolved, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen is toxic to anaerobic (non-O2-using) lifeforms (like bacteria). Photosynthetic life altered the entire atmosphere of the planet to suit its needs. See Lovelock's Ages of Gaia for more examples.
While I support 'environmentalism' because ideas like sustainable development are reasonable and sane (and dependence on fossil fuels and unlimited resource availability are not reasonable and sane ideas), I think most of the moral backing for environmentalism is human-centric chauvanism. You can make an ethical argument that pillaging resources and degrading the quality of life for other humans is a Bad Thing - but I don't think you can extend those ideas into an encompassing moral belief that our present-day ecosystem is somehow preferable to a pre-Cambrian swamp or an irradiated roach-infested desert.
posted by twitch at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2001


<silliness>
Well, to turn the attention away from stupid things that greenie-weenies like Fes focus on, like plants and animals, and onto human factors that are important to tough-as-nails conservatives like me, an increase on mean temperatures also means an increase in tropical diseases as the tropics spread. Malaria for all!
</silliness>

Fes, I'm perfectly happy to see a debate happening, and I'm not sure that Kyoto was the pancea some people on the left made it out to be. But you're framing the debate in the right way -- How much of global warming is humanity's fault? Will global warming continue? If so, what will the outcome of global warming be? And if the outcome is bad, what should we do about it? -- rather than just dismissing it as something climatologists made up (or, to be fair, asking for a giant industrial freeze first and science to back such a thing up later). I'd like to see more, rather than less, intelligent debate on the subject.

I do think there would be some positive economic developments from emissions limitations, because they would spur additional research into things that aren't necessarily getting it in industry now. Nobody expected the space program to lead to Teflon. But this is a guess on my part and not something I would base a policy decision on.
posted by snarkout at 11:38 AM on July 19, 2001


And, we've got to take into account that a little bit of climate change may not be althogether the bugaboo that the greens would have us believe. Plants love it!

Ever seen what a warm summer's algal flora does to a pond of fish?

(And yes, I do think the Cato Institute bloke's arguments were a little facile.)
posted by holgate at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2001


Yeah, and nobody figured that the Space Race would give us Tang. Good or evil? You decide. And UncleFes - damn fine points you made.

For my part: I seem to recall that accurate weather records (temp, humidity, rainfall, etc) began in approximately 1888 (or 1886). Sheesh - just over one hundred years ago. One hundred years of documentation versus hundreds of millions of years of educated speculation on the part of the scientists. While I understand that scientists & paleo/archeologists can tell us general things about the past (dinos lived, big plants all around, ice age, etc), I have trouble believing that they could calculate temperature differences of only several degrees in either direction, or climate changes to any level of specificity beyond "Ice Age here, at this moment in time (spans 70 million years)...very cold..."

Since the larger context of this debate seems to revolve around the issue of the earth's temperature going up by 2, 3, or even 5 degrees, it sure makes it difficult to relate that to events that occurred millions of years ago and that "we" can only (ONLY) make "best guesses" about. Scientists are good, but THAT good?
posted by davidmsc at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2001


Good points made by all.
I'd just like to point out that the concerns driving this particular political policy may have nothing to do with sound science but rather significant funding and staffing of the administration with fossil fuel types who are looking after their bottom lines.

And who can argue with the good common sense of polluting our planet less? Is conservation really just a misguided virtuous scheme? Ask California, not Cheney.
Is it wrong headed of me to care about reduce, reuse and recycle? Should I not care about the condition of the planet I will leave my children just because some neanderthal oil company executives wish to challenge anything that impacts their profits?
posted by nofundy at 12:27 PM on July 19, 2001


Paleoclimatologists are usually dealing with hundreds or thousands of years, not millions. Here are some of the tools they use. The science involved in paleoclimatology -- from coral and Anaractic ice samples to sociologists studying agricultural records -- is really interesting.
posted by snarkout at 12:30 PM on July 19, 2001


I'm always disturbed when people say we needn't deal with a problem because science hasn't proved that the problem exists and/or because they can't quantify the extent of the problem.

This sort of argument reminds me greatly of what some people say about evolution. You can't prove that it happened. And indeed, you cannot, at least not in the way that you can prove some questions of logic or geometry. And, indeed, there are scientists who will attempt to poke holes in evolutionary theory and say that we really just don't know.

Be we really do know. Or at least we're certain enough to treat evolution as a fact. There are differences of opinion as to the rate of change and other details, but we know pretty well what happened.

With global warming, there is general agreement among scientists studying climate that global warming is occurring and that people are making it worse. Certainly there are naysayers, but they are a small minority. There is a great deal of disagreement about the details of projections, but none of the projections is very good.

I wonder what the naysayers are going to say in twenty years when the damage is undeniable? "OK, I guess I was wrong"? Of course, by then, the damage can't be undone, or can only be undone with particularly draconian measures.
posted by anapestic at 12:43 PM on July 19, 2001


Snarkout: thanks - that link was just what I was looking for.
Nofundy - yes. Greenhouse-effect apocalypse aside, smog is still nasty and the link between acid rain and fossil-fuel emissions is conclusive. And what ever happened to ozone degradation? Last time I looked, nobody was questioning that CFCs were eating a hole in the ozone layer and that there's a direct link between solar radiation and skin cancer. These aren't minor or tolerable issues.
My paranoid side wants me to think that these issues are being deliberately upstaged by industries that want to discredit all environmental scientists by focusing only on their weakest and most-far-reaching argument.
posted by twitch at 12:44 PM on July 19, 2001


We can't have a vibrant free market where the opponents of greenhouse gas reductions can sell their wares in the future, when large swaths of places like Florida, Southeast Asia etc. are under water now can we? Also in interest of greenie-weenie nature, there's the second prong of climatological study which predicts global warming has the power to disable civilization. In many studies, just mere inches added to the total volume of the global ocean has the capacity to displace tens of millions of people. Among all kinds of other things. None of them good for the good guys or the bad guys.
posted by crasspastor at 1:06 PM on July 19, 2001


Malaria for all!

There was a great article in the New Yorker a few weeks back about the guy who used DDT to nearly eliminate malaria. He literally saved millions of lives singlehandedly, until Rachel Carson's giant-wad-of-bs "Silent Spring" hit the shelves and got everyone's panties into a bunch. Malaria is already coming back, and it has nothing to do with increasing temperatures, it has to do with pure human fuckery.

And who can argue with the good common sense of polluting our planet less?

Nobody - that's why it's happening! America is a LOT cleaner than it was a decade ago, way more so from two decades and, to give credit where it's due, it's my fellow greenie-weenies :) who made it happen. Things are getting BETTER!

But this isn't about pollution - I'm not sure CO2 constitutes "pollution," since we exhale it and plants inhale it. Most of the so-called greenhouse gases are pefectly natural - they just claim there's too damn much of them.

In the end, I'm not saying we shouldn't deal with this, because we should. The science seems to be at last mvoing into an area where we can trust it. We should absolutely keep studying, in more depth and more scope. But when one side is screaming that the cities are going to slip off int the sea and we're all going to be steamed like clams, it's hard sometimes not to be drawn to the relative reasonableness of the other side. I've said this before - it the greens REALLY want to accomplish something, they are going about it in exactly the wrong way - with elistist and obviously wildly speculative pronouncements coupled with demands for money and "shame on you" self-righteousness. What they should be doing - what I do in the business world every day - is chop the Big Picture into discrete, achievable goals, sell the opposition on them (with soft and honey'd words, as Machiavelli once advocated), and incrementally move in the direction of my ultimate objective. That's what works. And you'll get the increased attention on things like alternative energy sources that will ultimately benefit us as well.

Baby steps, people. That's how these battles get won. The henny-penny stuff will only generate further animosity and entrench the opposition.
posted by UncleFes at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2001


Photosynthetic life altered the entire atmosphere of the planet to suit its needs

if photosynthetic life needs CO2 to photosynthesize, and it produces O2 as a waste, then wouldn't altering the atmosphere of the entire planet by using up the CO2 and replacing it with O2 have been a bad thing for it? it'd be choking on its own waste.
posted by tolkhan at 1:30 PM on July 19, 2001


Yep. Except for the fact that there are naturally occurring sources of CO2 and fauna to go with the flora. Not every bacterium uses the photosynthesis model.

That, and the world's a BIG place. Lots of room to fart raw O2.

And instead of thinking "bad thing," try thinking "evolutionary impetus." Presto! Australopithecines! :) [cue theme from "2001"]
posted by UncleFes at 1:44 PM on July 19, 2001


But when one side is screaming that the cities are going to slip off int the sea and we're all going to be steamed like clams, it's hard sometimes not to be drawn to the relative reasonableness of the other side.

It really sounds as though you're equating "relative reasonableness" with "what I want to hear." If the science is there to back up a mass flooding scenario, then that's what should be reported. I have seen nothing in your arguments to support that alternative views are more reasonable, only an unwillingness to believe something that is very unpleasant.
posted by anapestic at 2:37 PM on July 19, 2001


I have seen nothing in your arguments to support that alternative views are more reasonable, only an unwillingness to believe something that is very unpleasant.

I'm not arguing that they are more reasonable, hence the quotes. But the world-is-going-to-flood-and-we-are-all-going-to-die stuff isn't borne out by the science. .5 to 3.5 degrees celsius, over a hundred years, just isn't that murderous. And the assumptions used to generate the latter half of that margin are untenable worst case scenarios that just will not happen.

I mean, sure, it's fun to say the world's coming to an end, but reality is a little less exciting.
posted by UncleFes at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2001


hence the quotes

and of course there were no quotes :) guhhhhh

You get my idea though - it doesn't mean they are right, it just means that, if you are the moderate type, you are going to look more favorable on the side that proposes that perhaps the world isn't going to end after all.
posted by UncleFes at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2001


fes:

it's amazing to me how you sort of tried to advocate environmentalism while insulting it at the same time.

but it seems to me that you didn't think everything through. it's fine that DDT could have been a nice cure for Malaria. Two things: 1) what were the long-term effects of using a pesticide to cure Malaria? I'm curious, since DDT's purpose as a chemical is largely to kill things. 2) Rachel Carson mainly had a problem with spraying it all over everything we, and many other organisms, touch and ingest. I doubt she would have had a problem with DDT ingested in pill form for medicinal purposes.

but, since you don't link to any article in the new yorker, who knows? the rest just seems weird to me. you claim environmentalist research is just now becoming trustworthy; what made you think that it was not in the past? you've said a lot, but you seem to think that the flaws in environmentalism are obvious when -- certainly to me -- they are not.

as an aside -- CO2 can be pollution in much the same way that noise can be pollution, but is not necessarily. too much of either is not good. you're correct in stating that some greenhouse gases are natural, but the quantity is what elevates the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere to its present state as "problematic."

we should be encouraged that we're making progress on the environment, but of course we should not stop. frankly, i'm worried that a protege of Reagan's Secretary of the Interior -- who was involved the anti-environmentalist backlash movement, the Sagebrush Rebellion -- is currently the secretary of Interior in our current administration. hopefully the neutralizing effect of a democratic majority in the senate will be able to counter some of the damage done, or at least act as leverage in favor of the environment.
posted by moz at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2001


DDT wasn't a cure for malaria. It killed the mosquitos that transmitted malaria. Here is a long-ago MeFi thread on malaria and DDT in which I say mean things.
posted by snarkout at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2001


jbelshaw,

I do not think that you are some wing republican, but I do think that your logic is flawed. Time and the ability to damage the environment are not related. In fact, if anything, humanity has done a remarkable job of quickly destroying in centuries what nature has built over milinnea.

I think that even if you think the framework of the Kyoto treaty is flawed (and it certainly could be, as most political creatures are), one should still recognize several things:

1) Humanity has a large capacity to affect the environment
2) Nature will react to human meddling in unpredictable ways
3) Such meddling is therefore dangerous, given the power of nature

Continously pumping gasses into the atmosphere that we know will change the way the atmosphere handles heat is not a good thing. Humanity does not know enough to say for certain what the effect of this CO2 buildup will be, but if look at the results of other human activites, the pattern is not encouraging.

For example, the over-plowing of fields has repeatedly lead to desertification. The destruction of forests has caused a dramatic increase in sediments flowing into rivers and oceans, choking off life, etc etc...

We know not what we do, which, considering the potential consequences, is a good reason to try and reduce the levels of CO2 we pump into the air.
posted by thewittyname at 5:40 PM on July 19, 2001


thewittyname: don't get me wrong. I think conservation is something that should be done. Whether or not we are altering our climate or not. I don't like smog, trash alongside the road. I hate when people throw cig butts out their car windows(especially when i'm behind them on my motorcycle). I agree with fes's point that sometimes some environmentalists can be pretty heavy with the doom and gloom. I'm a skeptic at heart.

While watching that dino doc on dvd the other nite, I was hit by the insignificant time that humanity has been around. I don't believe that we can do a whole lot of damage to the earth as a whole(short of blowing it up), we damn sure can make it fairly difficult for humans to live in. That being said, I think we should make common sense decisions to prevent damage to our own ecosystem. The key words in the last sentence is common sense. Yes, we still need power plants. Yes, we still need some fossil fuels to power transportation. No, I can't ride a bicycle to work, its too far, and its too damn hot in Austin. But we have improved a lot in conserving energy. We need to continue, and improve, but it won't come all at once.
posted by jbelshaw at 7:32 PM on July 19, 2001


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