Being that it is Earth Day today, I thought I would point out a few interesting pieces I've seen over the last few weeks about climate change. In many ways, Dick Lugar was right. President Obama's energy message has failed and it's largely due to political reality. The right has been very successful at shifting the message from "It's happening" to "It's a hoax" and they've done it with no facts or science whatsoever. They've succeeded in portraying leading scientists as a doomsday cult of true believers. Attack your opponent with what is, in fact, your greatest weakness...surprise, surprise...
So where are we at on this Earth Day 2011?
1. Glacier National Park once had 125 glaciers. It now has 20.
2. A shipping lane has now opened through the Arctic.
3. 400 coal-fired plants around the United States emit an average of 366,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants per year -- mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. These kill an average of 15,000 people per year.
These three items are absolute facts. If you still are in doubt (and I know some of you are), go ask your local science teacher to show you how a greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) warms the atmosphere. It's actually pretty cool to see first hand.
What's been interesting of late is to see how some energy companies have been changing their tune.
Richard Kelly, CEO of XCel Energy, is now saying that a $20 per ton carbon tax would translate into an extra 5 bucks on a 100 dollar a month bill. He's also saying that Xcel could find a way to conserve more energy and admits they waste quite a bit. This way the extra tax wouldn't be passed on to the customers. He, along with other energy leaders, see the future.
So what is it and why are they saying all of this? Because climate change is a security threat. I've put up articles from the DoD detailing that they are moving forward regardless of what the knee jerk debunkers think. In 2010, the human species burned 6 billion tons of coal. Energy demand is expected to rise by 30 percent by 2030, which means burning roughly 8 billion tons per year. From the article:
If climate change continues unchecked, we will see millions of people displaced globally, countries destabilized and U.S. troops mobilized to address these new threats.
The Defense Department calls climate change a destabilizing influence and “threat multiplier.” There is no better example of climate change as a destabilizing force than what happened in Pakistan last year. More than one-fifth of Pakistan was flooded by torrential rains and insurgents have pounced on the chaos-created opportunity to turn Pakistan into a breeding ground and safe haven for terrorist activity.
This is very, very serious folks.
So, why don't Americans believe in global warming? The Economist nailed it and offered an excellent solution.
A somewhat constructivist approach to building public concern would be to build up the issue-linkage between climate change and the search for renewable-energy sources. This would help mitigate the economic and psychological concerns (the latter because it's easier to accept a problem exists if you have a way of addressing it.) And renewable energy doesn't have the political or epistemological baggage of climate change. As my colleague said yesterday, "The idea that sustainable-resource use and renewable energy is some kind of socialist hippy hobby is incredibly naive and frivolous, and extremely damaging to the American economy.
I completely agree. Let's focus on the renewable energy as a tool to mitigate security concerns and bolster our economy.
Yet, we also need to call out the fact free science crowd and revel them for what they are: bullies. They don't like to lose and they will do everything in their power to win. As with most of these debates, the only way victory is achieved is through money.
If Americans can see that they stand to lose money as a result of carbon emissions and stand to reap huge rewards for renewable energy, we can wave bye bye to the professional debunking of climate change.
Time to get out the spectacles!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The subject of climate change has once again come up in comments so I thought I'd bring everyone up to speed on the latest which, in many ways, is sadly nothing new.
Basically, it comes down this: climate change is happening and the Chinese are moving ahead of us in green technology. Oh, yeah...and the right (as usual) is doing everything in their power to "prove" that man made climate change supporters are wrong by showing that it is a secret liberal plot to enslave and/or kill everyone.
Whether you agree that climate change is man made or not, it is happening. This means that parts of our planet are going to become unstable which will, in all likelihood, lead to national security concerns for the United States. Thankfully, our military has embraced the seriousness of the situation and is putting its resources to use.
As far as I'm concerned, it's probable that climate change is man made but I think we need more data and research. What we don't need is the pathological drive by the right to win the argument. Simply put, they are not being rational (surprise, surprise) and are hell bent to not give an inch on this issue. Worse, they seem to be turning more irrational. Take a gander at many of the conservative blogs out there that are offering this video and this video as "proof" of the liberal plot. Both of these shorts have been linked in comments here and emailed to me by hysterical conservatives. Read the comments below each video. Really guys? C'mon...
"Climategate" is over, folks. Factcheck dispensed with all of that hysteria quite nicely. They also addressed the "climate science slipping" meme as well. Again, all this demonstrates is that we need more data in my opinion. In the final analysis, I'm with Michael Mann on this one: time to take the politics out of climate science.
My employer, Penn State University, exonerated meafter a thorough investigation of my e-mails in the East Anglia archive. Five independent investigations in Britain and the United States, and a thorough recent review by the Environmental Protection Agency, also have cleared the scientists of accusations of impropriety.
But the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.
My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science. And their failure to accept the reality of climate change will hurt our children and grandchildren, too.
More specifically, time to remove those who have a pathological need to prove people wrong whom they don't like. In all honesty, that's what this is really all about..an emotional reaction. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Ken Perrot has an excellent piece which basically torpedoes the naysayers and details that the only "gate" out there is "Skepticgate."
And, as I will continue to say over and over again, the Chinese are all in with green technology. If we want to keep pace with them, we're going to have to step it up. This could be an area that could keep jobs in this country (should we decide to lead the world in green tech) and, more importantly, spark our economy. You want to bitch about the deficit? Fine. Here's one solution to helping reduce it.
So, enough folks. I've got no problem with you if being a critical thinker is your raison d'etre. This is why we have peer review. But if you think that climate change science is part of a cabal whose goal is a power grab, I implore you to seek psychological help.