Monday, January 01, 2007

Middle Way on Global Warming Finally Emerges

Article from NYTimes here.

Finally a 3rd voice has emerged in the shrill debate between the fear-hyping enviros and global warming is a conspiracy let's keep burning some hydrocarbons oilmen.

According to the article:

A third stance is now emerging, espoused by many experts who challenge both poles of the debate. They agree that accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gases probably pose a momentous environmental challenge, but say the appropriate response is more akin to buying fire insurance and installing sprinklers and new wiring in an old, irreplaceable house (the home planet) than to fighting a fire already raging.

So according to this article I'm a nonskeptical heretic--or the term I like better and have called myself since reading his book: A Skeptical Environementalist (Bjorn Lomborg).

The article cites this opinion piece for the BBC as a premier example of this 3rd way. The title interestingly enough is called Chaotic World of Climate Truth.

It's author, Mike Hulme Director Tyndall Center for Climate Research begins by lamenting the switch from language of climate change to "catastrophic" "irreversible" apocalyptic future scenarios. Then the zinger from Hulme (my emphasis):

I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics. How the wheel turns.

Hulme then delivers a coup de gras: the reason behind the use of the word is chaos is (surprise surprise) a political agenda. The Kyoto Protocal is failing--as was predicted by Lomborg and others--so the stakes have to be raised. Use fear--toxic fear. Kyoto runs out in 2012 and these groups are priming the pump for another even bigger ("Kyoto was just the first step") more expensive & damaging commission. And of course, Reason #3 as Hulme points out is that such language balloons the budgets of science groups. Money and power. Wow, story of human politics in a nutshell right there--oh I'm sorry I forget they are the rational reasonable people who don't do such things, aren't persuaded by such self-centered motives.

Once more Hulme (again my emphasis):

To state that climate change will be "catastrophic" hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science. Is any amount of climate change catastrophic? Catastrophic for whom, for where, and by when? What index is being used to measure the catastrophe? The language of fear and terror operates as an ever-weakening vehicle for effective communication or inducement for behavioural change.

That last sentence really says it all. Amen brother.


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