As yet another environmental issue unfolds, relating to fossil fuels, it seems ever clearer that we need to begin the change in human activity to those of increased sustainability. It is meaningless what any given individual believes to be the case with climate change; there are so many sibling environmental issues that however you choose to look at the situation, you always end up with an urgent need to shift away from fossil fuels (I’ve gone into it here, here, here, here, here, and here).
That said, there are a vast number of trivial movements out there that do little more than encourage a sluggish response to these issues. These movements would be entertaining where it not for the dire situation we find ourselves in. It is also somewhat confusing seeing as many of these individuals come from a conservative and pro-industry camp and what they fight is indeed true conservation and the most obvious progressive thinking (true biological and industrial prosperity).
Here, I will give a few examples that irritate me, to highlight typical critics and the pointless, baseless or simply trivial arguments they use. I do this because, if the reader has children, wishes to have children, cares at all for life as we know it or at the least has some sense of morality, they must see that such behaviour does nothing but stunts our awareness and progression. I made the point here that without innovative thinking, we will lead ourselves down a very synthetic and sick path.
The Aussie political blog
A while ago, while doing some research on senator Minchin, I came by the blog, Australian Climate Madness, which quite quickly exposes itself as the typical politically motivated dribble. An example of this was just written on May the third under Fallout from ETS dumping continues which illustrates the writers views; “[Climate Change] will sink down in public consciousness again, only emerging briefly when there is some pointless UN gabfest on… Nobody really cares, as more and more people (including politicians) realise that there are more urgent and pressing things to worry about…”
Such a statement exposes the author to have little to no understanding of climate science while only having the capacity to think within the short time spans of political terms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author would go as far as Donald Trump who believes a snow storm in the middle of winter disproves climate change (my rebuttal to Trump can be found here).
Weather and climate are two different things on two different time spans and regardless of what you believe to instigate the fact, we are seeing a warming trend over time (click here to look at the most recent article of many articulate and well researched posted from Skeptical Science regarding climate warming) and the myriad of environmental issues relating to this change. We have probably hit peak fuel supply and even if we haven’t, with population growth unabated, relying heavily on unrenewable forms of energy and fertilizers, supply will increasingly be unable to meet the demands of our species.
Good policy making should be aware of this and be;
- innovative to meet the needs of the country while reducing dependence on other countries (a favourite point for the conservatives),
- embracing of climate studies and how it can be applied to natural resource management and agriculture,
- positive in the search for other sources of energy – especially renewable forms.
Although petrol might still be flowing from the pump and wheat available from the cereal box within Rudd’s life time, this will not excuse him and others for not taking action sooner rather than later.
Another point made on this blog is that CO2 is harmless. Sure it is a relatively harmless gas produced through aerobic respiration, however,
- we have developed over a century of understanding that it is one of the more important greenhouse gases that permit life on this planet as we know it (even at such relatively low concentrations),
- we have added billions of tonnes of the stuff to the atmosphere in a fairly short amount of time,
- we are seeing a warming patterning in climate (put this and the previous point together if you wish – and should) and,
- there is also mounting evidence that this CO2 is not so harmless when the bulk of it is then absorbed by the oceans (this is a wonderful resource of peer-reviewed work relating to acidification of our oceans).
To state that CO2 is harmless, well the writer is only looking at the gas from the most politically comfortable angle and not the reality.
A concerned citizen’s group
While surfing, I noticed the headline of a FOXnews piece; Exclusive: Citizen’s group plans extensive audit of U.N. climate report, and just had to read it.
As it’s put in the article, “a leading global warming skeptic recruited a group of concerned citizens to fact-check the sources referenced in the U.N.’s latest climate-change bible — and gave the report an “F.” Now she’s planning the nail in the coffin: a comprehensive audit of the entire report.”
As a leading global warming skeptic, I figured it only fair to visit her, Donna Laframboise, website, noconsensus.org. Under the heading of Global Warming Theory 101, she endeavours to explain her reason for being skeptical. On this page there are two photographs of people with weather balloons, under which is written; “We can’t predict next summer’s weather reliably. But we claim to know – within a few degrees – how hot it will be 100 years from now.”
This is Ms. Laframboise’s insightful argument; that far off weather predictions are in some way the same as climate predictions. No-one claims to know either weather of climate in the near or far-off future. It’s an ever refining process of modelling based on our ever increasing understanding of weather and climate. Regarding weather; I’m sure Ms. Laframboise grabs an umbrella if the evening news the night before says that there’s a good chance of rain. This is because our models for predicting weather are getting better. The same goes for climate modelling and climate predictions (different models of course). Her logic is even more baseless than those made in the nineteenth century that a heavier-than-air craft could never fly and are just as counter-productive if applied.
If I was a smoker who denied the medical science consensus that second-hand smoke can cause various medical problems and gathered a bunch of concerned individuals to review the available literature, I’m sure a whole heap of obvious questions would arise; Am I not bias as a selector, more likely to choose “concerned individuals” that agree with my views? Who’s to say that such a review has any relevant training to critically audit such literature? How balanced would such an audit be – ie. would they also give equal weight for the evidence that goes against their bias or simply harp on when they find a spelling mistake? How transparent would the whole process be and what review would it in turn face for merit?
I have the distinct impression that such a review will only highlight the various issues already known and in truth will offer little more than the wonderful argument Ms. Laframboise puts forth on her global warming education page. It seems more a self-promoting act to make noise with the media outlets paying for her advertisement.
On the plus side however, this could provide at least an afternoon’s light reading before the next IPCC report to ensure that silly little mistakes don’t again take the attention away from obvious concerning trends to trivial debate.
The unqualified mentor
The last for this article will be one I’ve often talked about and is often considered the darling of the climate change skeptics; Lord Christopher Monckton. This only needs to be brief.
- He seems to accept that there is mounting evidence that the climate is changing (although he tends to talk this down); his beef seems to be more with what is causing this (which he argues cannot be CO2). So he cannot have a problem with people who are involved in adaptive landscape science, relating to natural resource management and agriculture under the changing climate.
- Sure, he probably won’t live long enough to see the end of fossil fuels, but he too (like Rudd etc mentioned above) must appreciate that this is unsustainable long term and nitrogen fertilizers too will be increasingly difficult to obtain once we have depleted the natural gas resource. So he really shouldn’t have a problem with research, development and policy changes to obtain more sustainable technology and life styles unless he really wants future generations to truly suffer.
Why the hell is he making such a noise about it then? He isn’t even a scientist in any form and one argument that he has made about biofuels (that I’ve mentioned here, here and here) is irrelevant to the quest that he’s on, because he isn’t the champion of the starving people in the wake of biofuels, he is the hero of tea parties and pointless debate. As with Laframboise, his too must be a self-serving act.
For what these people claim to stand for, they do the opposite and willing stand in the way of progress and development (I also argue that here). This defies logic and, I fear, sends us further up the river without a paddle with these people somehow thinking we’ll eat ourselves out of any problem; that growth solves all. That’s going to be difficult with 9 billion people, no fossil fuels left, once fertile agricultural lands now dust fields and all relevant study long since mocked and stunted by people who could only see up to three steps in front of them and not down the path they wished for us to head.