Michael Anderson sent me a link to this SFGate column by Jon Carrol, A thought experiment about energy extraction, and asked for my comments.
My comments are behind the brackets embedded in the text extracts.
In the last few years, whenever I’ve written about climate change, I’ve gotten mail. Some of it is of the “dear butthead liberal” variety, but a few letters were polite and well-reasoned. They were from people with respectable academic credentials. And they said: There’s another side to the climate change story.
There’s no question that the Earth is warming up; almost everybody believes that now . . . The issue instead is whether humans caused that warming. These reasonable people say that it’s not proved. [ Nor is it proven that human CO2 emissions are responsible for modern climate change.]
Of course, they’re in a tiny minority. [ No proof for this claim, let’s have some comparative numbers.] If there’s anything the scientific community is united on, it’s the human contribution to the warming trend. [ The UN IPCC Assessment Report, AR-5, was less pessimistic about human climate change impacts, in fact Working Group 2, responsible for the impact of climate change found that most scientific literature they reviewed acknowledges that many of the more worrying impacts of climate change are in fact symptoms of social mismanagement and underdevelopment, not temperature change, which has not increased over the last 18 years. Yes, humans have some influence, though it is quite small when compared to the natural CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, by forest fires, volcanos, and active seamounts.] Studies beyond measure have confirmed that hypothesis. [ What studies? No links to the studies that support this claim.] In matters like these, a layperson has to decide what’s right based on a consensus of experts. [ Consensus is political term, it is not a scientific term. Science is about hypotheses that can be proven or disproven. A single proven scientific finding can destroy all the scientific consensus, plate tectonics and the sun is center of universe springs to mind.] I am not a climatologist; I can’t really evaluate any claims; like most of us, I decide whom to trust and then trust them. [ This is just intellectually lazy, plus dishonest. If the Jon does not have any scientific knowledge, only feelings, why is he calling for action by his readers. This is typical of the liberal thinking we get on local blogs, “if you do not feel like I do you are wrong.”]
And, so far, so good, if “good” is the right word. Nothing has happened to prove that the humans-cause-it hypothesis is flawed in some way. [ I would say that the 33 general circulation climate models that could not predict the pause in warming is a flaw in the “humans-cause-it hypothesis.”] Indeed, new people espousing that view seem to be turning up all the time — former skeptics now convinced. [ Really, maybe Jon could have listed a few of these former skeptics, I am seeing more movement in the other direction, especially retired professors who can now speak out without fear of retaliation. Some examples include Patrick Moore co-founder of Greenpeace, Freeman Dyson a renowned theoretical physicist at Princeton University, Lennart Bengtsson the former director of the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. ]
But, as one of my letter writers said to me, science is not decided by majority vote. [ Right, it is not a voting issue. ] The history of science is the history of discredited theories. [That is how science works.] Things that all respectable people once believed in (phlogiston springs to mind) turned out not to be at all true, although good try, guys.
But, in this case, I don’t think so. I think the majority of scientists are right. [ What majority? The UN IPCC scientist were a small sub-set of scientists, with most of the reports being written by government political hacks, not scientists who specialized in unique areas and were not skill in statistical analysis. Nor, were the political hacks.] But then I did a thought experiment — what if the minority is right? What if climate change is not caused by humans? [ It is not, it is caused by shifts in the earth orbit, variation in solar radiation, clouds and cosmic rays in a complex inter-action, not influenced by humans.] Suppose you knew that, you had proof of it, and you had to decide whether to reveal it or not. [That is not how science is done. Jon should stick to reviewing movies, and let the science to someone who is a scientist.]
Me, I’d sit on it. The climate change theory is important because it fingers the energy companies and tries to hold them accountable for their spewing great tons of carbon dioxide into the air. They pollute the air; we can see it happen. [ What!! CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, Jon did not see anyone “spewing great tons of carbon dioxide into the air”.] We know they pollute groundwater wherever they set up shop. [ How do we know? ] And we know that they are dealing in a limited resource, using ever more sophisticated technologies (like fracking) to get the oil. [How do we know? We have been running out of oil for fifty years according to experts, but it has not happened yet, nor is it likely for the next 500 years.] Coal companies cut the tops off mountains and devastate the communities they call home.
But what do we know about Americans? Americans love animals. It often seems as if more people care about abused dogs than care about abused children. A little curly, fluffy endangered something might grasp the public attention. [With no knowledge of the science the author now demonstrates how the left uses emotions rather than facts to persuade the weak-minded readers. We have a lot of this thinking on local blogs.]
So the spotted owl was born. I mean, it was a real thing, and it really was in danger. [ Yes, the spotted owl was in danger and logging has been shut down for 20 years, but the spotted owl population is still declining. Why, scientists found out the barred owl, which has naturally migrated from the East through Canada, is forcing spotted owls out of their habitat and beating them for food and nesting sites. It was not timber harvesting. Yet, once the science was known, the environmentalists continue to block logging in the National Forest. Why?] And, sure enough, people who had not heard of the spotted owl 10 minutes before became upset by its possible extinction. Owls, after all, are familiar figures in children’s literature. They are often avuncular. Sometimes they show a softer side. Who could not like an owl? [ So the environmentalists used the same lefty playbook that Jonathan Gruber and Obama used to sell Obama Care, they lied.]
This lesson was learned by environmental activists. When they were seeking to alert the public about the dangers of global warming, they hit upon a genius idea: a polar bear. Specifically, a polar bear trapped on a small iceberg, surrounding by the rising waters. [ Again another environmentalist lie. A study by US Geological Survey researchers and scientists found that polar bear survival rates were particularly low from 2004 to 2006 due to heavy spring ice.They found no correlation for the decline with summer sea ice conditions. The study also found that polar bear populations in the area had largely recovered by 2010. The US Fish & Wildlife Service reported earlier this year that “the number of polar bears observed in 2012 was high relative to similar surveys conducted over the past decade.” Science again invalidated the environmentalist claims. ]
The polar bear was not really the concern (although everyone wants to keep those cute little guys, cute little fearless killers), global warming was. But the bear inspired schoolchildren, who wrote letters and explained it to their parents. Save the polar bear! How do we do this? By limiting carbon emissions. By getting away from fossil fuels. By reinventing society along ecologically sensible lines. By stopping the world from killing itself through greed and inattention. [ So, now we have a liberal/progressive consensus that lying to children and the general public about spotted owls and polar bears is the way to save the planet from global warming that is just part of a natural cycle. Even the UN IPCC AR-5 report down played the warming impact, yet the lefties continue to spread their impact crap.]
So I believe in global warming, but in one important way it doesn’t matter. The course of action is clear, whether or not. We need to do the right thing.
[ I am glad this pile of cow scat was in the entertainment section of the San Francisco Chronicle, not in the sections read by intelligent readers. More appeal for those that believe in anthropogenic global warming religion than those interested in science.
There you have it, my thoughts on the SFGate article, which is designed to appeal to people with a poor understanding of science, such as many of our local left. Your comments are most welcome. Let me know where I am not on track.