22 12 2009

This is the most succinct description I’ve seen yet of the dangers presented by global warming:

Of course, you can find a way to dismiss all that.

Maybe you believe that the consensus among climate scientists that global warming is here and is getting worse is just a big plot…to do/get/steal…WHAT?

Do you think they all those scientist got together and decided to lie in order to become big shots?

Or did they make up the whole thing because they plan to make big money out of this concerted lie (HOW, exactly? Please tell me. I’m having trouble imagining where all that dough is going to come to them from.)

Or are they simply the most abnormal cabal of scientist every known to history? Though many scientists have always worked to be remembered and honored by posterity—just like top writers, composers, conquerors of the world, etc.—, do you imagine that thousands of today’s top climate scientists, many of whom would dearly love to be favorably remembered IN THE FUTURE as the people who discovered global warming and warned the world about it, would lie about it now, merely for a status bump of a few decades, even though the inevitable long-term result would be that later generations of scientists would discover their lie and revile them for it?

Or are they self-deluded? Are those thousands of scientists all joining together in kidding themselves–an example of the madness of crowds? Of course, they are trained in the scientific method, which calls at least for reiterative testing and retesting of hypotheses by new and different scientists; and, again, if they turn out to have been this foolish their memories will be reviled, but still…maybe?

Or are they just a bunch of evil European liberals who concocted this in order to ruin your American lifestyle?

Pick one please, oh global warming skeptic reader. I want to hear you defend it.



12 08 2009


People on the Right have been known to scare us into doing dumb things (Think Iraq war!). A sad current  example of that practice is discussed in the article referenced below. The article explodes the myth that some on the Right have recently created about this one doctor and the larger issues he has taken positions on. The article also explains succinctly why scaring folks works so well so often.

And, no, the “Frightening” that the Right has used in the health care debate and elsewhere is NOT paralleled on the Left by warnings about global warming. The difference is that our warnings of global warming are based on the work of LOTS of reputable scientists, while, at least in the case of the doctor discussed above, the Frightening practiced by the Right has generally been accomplished by distorting the facts.

For an authoritative look at the science behind global warming, visit the site of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

I always give scientists at least the benefit of the doubt, and I usually believe them when their pronouncements make sense in light of the moderate-to-good scientific knowledge I have.

I grew up in a world where extreme moralists were incessantly claiming to speak authoritatively about every aspect of life–from what happens to people after death to whether dancing should be prohibited.

I was troubled by all this hectoring, because I was serious about being a responsible guy, and I wanted to know who to believe. Then I learned about the scientific method and I realized that scientist don’t just make up their pronouncements or take them from ancient books. Instead, scientists actually TEST their hypotheses with real-world experiments, and change their ideas when experimental results require.

And then there is the fact that the child of science, technology, routinely produces new, wonderful things that we can each test for ourselves, and in the process  see the device’s underlying scientific theory  actually working, often spectacularly,  in the real world.

Since its inception around four hundred years ago, experimental science has increasingly routed the practitioners of the traditional “our ancestors believed it so it must be true” school of analysis.

What a relief for any thinking person!


21 04 2009

Cicero was a famous Roman attorney and orator of the first century B.C., a period when mastering the art of rhetoric was considered such a necessity to a noble Roman that the subject dominated their schooling. Cicero was said to believe that words could do almost anything. He in fact did some wonderful things with them. A fine historical novel about him is Imperium by Robert Harris.

So let’s look at an interesting bit of rhetoric on a modern subject!


In the New York Times, an imaginative but uncredentialed fan of economics named John Tierney creates an argument to show that, “Hey, we don’t have to do anything about global warming! The act of continuing to consume will itself solve the problem!”


One Bob Comments Thus:

“I can’t improve on the thoughtful comments here showing the specious and incomplete nature of this type of analysis.

“I think trying to justify a lifestyle so egregiously wasteful is like a disease. The symptoms are overconfidence and denial. The only word I can think of for this disease is megalomania, except that in this case it applies not to an individual but to our entire civilization. Growth and development and technology come at a price. The price is the destruction of the natural systems of the world – on which all life depends. Where are the examples of natural systems being recreated on the scale in which they were destroyed? Farming gets better and therefore depleted farmland magically returns to an ecosystem with the same biodiversity and regenerative capacity as virgin forest? Maybe in 1000 or 10,000 or 100,000 years. Fished out oceans, that have had the seabed scraped clean from factory trawlers, are being to restored healthy ecosystems capable of regenerating the fishing stocks on which our burgeoning population depends? We don’t even know how these ecosystems work and we never will because we’ve destroyed them. In a world of exponential population growth natural systems aren’t being restored and they will never be. We can’t even get the Icelanders to stop hunting the last whale, the Japanese to stop hunting the last tuna, a poor Indonesian or African farmer from cutting down the last tree to feed his family, the American to give up anything…

“We are so grandiose in our aspirations that we believe we could re-engineer an entire planet to our wishes? That we can destroy natural systems and recreate them at our whim? We are many generations away, or perhaps an infinite distance away from that ability. And if we could, would we want to anyway? We could create a world more beautiful than that which was created for us? No amount of technology can fix this. Every attempt to leads to more problems, deeper, more subtle, more intractable than the problem that was supposedly going to be fixed. Perhaps we should discard our hubris and accept that there are limits we can never overcome.

“To be sure, this is a screed. But a fitting rebuttal to the specious and dangerously naive idea that more growth and more technology is going to fix this. The very activity that created these problems is going to suddenly and miraculously transform from the agent of destruction into the agent of restoration?

I’ve had enough of specious, misleading and ultimately useless theories from economists. When we’ve transformed the natural world into a pile of money, what shall we do? Eat money? Perhaps we should listen to the Ph.D. Ecologists instead.

A Faustian bargain we’ve made and now were stuck with it. The answer is to stop, admit we’ve made a mistake, consider what we are doing and take a step back. Before it’s too late.”


Bob whupped Tierney’s ass!