Stories from the New China (and beyond)

Ten signs that believers in man-made global warming don’t actually believe

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Anyone reading through this blog will know that I’m not a scientist. OK, I am literate and not an easy pushover for rigid ideological frameworks, but what could I possibly add to a scientific debate? Yet my little layman observations have been gnawing at me for some time now. And while I have been a genuine agnostic about the man-made global warming theory, I find myself becoming increasingly skeptical and dismissive. Two reasons. First, because global temperatures haven’t really risen for a decade (although I readily admit that could just be a blip in the long-term data). Secondly, because the credibility of so many advocates of the theory feels well, shaky. And that’s what this nobody-asked-me-but post is all about.

One obvious caveat. Nothing in this post proves that the man-made global warming theories are wrong. Far from it. But I am proposing healthy skepticism and debate. There are undoubtedly serious people who believe in man-made global warming. Why are we not hearing from them? And why are we not having a real debate about global warming in the West? Well, perhaps because many leading activists, political leaders, and yes, even some scientists who claim to believe in the theory, don’t actually buy into it themselves.

Here are ten signs of the rot. Not my lack of faith. Theirs:

1) Lack of serious alarm about India and China

Both countries are poised to surpass the US as the chief belchers in the near future. Perhaps it was fine to talk about the rich Western countries setting an example back in the Eighties, but not anymore. Not in a grave crisis. Until I see genuine, freaked-out, sustained outrage over the trajectory of Indian and Chinese emissions, I have no choice but to assume that another agenda is at play.

2) Shunning Nuclear power

Nuclear power has problems—mostly legal ones based on bad science and silly movies, but also with potential weapons grade plutonium being siphoned off from breeder reactors. But if one seriously believes that global warming is a crisis, you have little choice but to start planning for a serious security regime using breeder reactors—Bill Tucker (my brother-in-law—yes, it’s a shameless plug) writes eloquently about such possibilities in his book: “Terrestrial Energy.”

3) Little or no interest in technical fixes

Could a hose to the sky spewing sulfur dioxide solve all our potential problems for 10 million dollars a year? I have no idea. But since the majority of global warming alarmists have shown tremendous interest in shutting down the world’s industrial economy (even though we are simultaneously told it is already too late) and close to zero interest in technical fixes, why should I accept that they consider this a serious crisis?

4) Little or no interest in planning for a world that is significantly hotter

Other than finger-wagging you-are-doomed rhetoric, where is the serious planning to save lives, particularly in the third world? Conversely—somehow we are expected to believe that green technologies offer all kinds of wonderful opportunities to make money and live better, but there is no opportunity in enormous swaths of farmland opening up. There is something distinctly cavalier about the environmental culture, something simultaneously frivolous and moralistic, say compared with the medical world.

5) No significant lifestyle changes at the top

This one’s a cheap shot right? Gore’s house, the endless global conferences in out-of-the-way locations with superb temperature control, the private planes? Yes, yes, but if you really believe in something, you don’t buy carbon credits, you become Ghandi. So I will acknowledge that it is slightly irrational, but it’s true: I am more likely to be persuaded by a person who has sacrificed for their cause.

6) Spin control part 1: “Global warming” becomes “climate change.”

Serious scientists don’t accept mealy-mouthed, hedge-your-bets, inaccurate portrayals of their theories. They stick to their guns, even if the climate has stopped warming for a decade or so, because they know something you don’t.

7) Spin control part 2: green technologies create opportunity rather than hardship

I have lived in the third world for great swaths of my life. I know who will suffer if every last drop of fossil fuels are not burned and every last fracking rock is not broken open to reveal the gas beneath. So I see this point for what it is: a frosting of sugar for the world’s bitter pill, and a recruitment strategy for the better minds of my generation. If global warming is indeed a crisis, and no technical fix is indeed possible, there will indeed be famine. Feeding people may not be particularly glamorous, but I would frankly take the global warming believers far more seriously, particularly those who state that significant warming is irreversible, if some of the better minds of my generation were working on agricultural technologies.

8) Refusal to entertain or seriously debate other theories.

This one is so obvious:  The diminution of countervailing evidence (don’t look at global temperatures anymore, just look at the ice cap) rather than a serious attempt to re-work models based on new evidence. Character assassination (oil company stooges, “deniers,” etc.) of pretty much anyone with reasonable doubts. Microphones turned off. Well, serious theories can stand up to debate. In fact, they are strengthened by it.

9) The subtle disparagement of human progress and ingenuity

The assumption always seems to be that “we” are the ingenious, enlightened beings. It’s those “others” in the past—those stupid Neanderthal clods—who fouled the nest. Crap. I am inspired by the hard work, love, and hopes of my ancestors, from the hunter-gathers who survived under frightfully difficult conditions, to those who worked in the factories of the twentieth century. What I don’t respect is people burning books (ostensibly to keep warm a la “Day after Tomorrow”), or any other such down-with-daddy sentiments. For those who think that human progress can only be kosher under socialist world government, well come out and say it, but please don’t pretend you believe in climate theories that you don’t actually believe in.

10) The use of polar bears as a mascot

Yes, it’s a parting shot, but consider: Panda bears do not actually make China a cuddly, friendly country. The use of polar bears (particularly when there are more of them every year) does not make global warming alarmism any more noble or convincing—except perhaps, to impressionable children. Well, I’m not a kid. This is a silly symbol, signifying nothing more than cheap manipulation. It belittles an important theory which we should be seriously debating.

Written by eastofethan

November 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Excellent Blog and a truly Excellent elucidation and summation Ethan!!

    – posted through the resourcefulness occasioned by the thankfully all too porous GFW


    November 3, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  2. I agree wholehearedly, I only wish I had written it. I especially liked point 5. Leaders who tell us to do something while driving their SUVs, living in a fuel guzzling house, flying on a private plane etc etc. If they really believed the drivel they expouse, they would be practicing what they preach. I might be more inclined to believe them if they “lived their words.”


    November 13, 2009 at 1:43 am

  3. Since you didn’t say it, I will: As inconvenient as it would be if we got this climate matter wrong, we are going to burn every drop of oil, lump of coal, and anything else that can be squeezed from the fossilized past regardless of the outcome of the great climate debate. Does anyone really seriously think that we are going to scrap a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure (to extract, refine, process, distribute, and burn the stuff) –to save a few bears or whatever. Cover the planet with solar cells and windmills, put a breeder-reactor on every corner, (I’m all for it) but we’re still going to burn all the dinosaurs… sorry.


    December 5, 2009 at 10:08 pm

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