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No logic for inaction - Global Warming

  1. Feb 1, 2007 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Based on what I see and read, and in spite of the many attacks on Al Gore's laudable effort to help inform the public, there is a consensus that global climate change is real and caused in part by humans. The forecasts for future emissions cinch the debate.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/

    From a political point of view the debate is over. While it is true that the minority of skeptics who remain should continue to challenge the consensus as they see fit, this does not speak to the logic that governs our political actions. Obviously there can never be one-hundred percent certainly about something as complex as the future of our global weather, however given the risk to humanity, and now with what appears to be an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community, I can see no reason why any debate about "if" should remain in the public domain. This is a question for the minority of scientists to pursue, not Joe Sixpack. In short, it is crackpottery to publically peddle the arguments for doing nothing. There is no logical justification based on any risk to benefit ratio that you wish to consider.

    The most irresponsible and selfish action, or lack thereof, is to doom all future generations for nothing but ego. If the publicly vocal skeptics are wrong, what price should they pay for interfering in what may be humanity's last hope to avert a global disaster? There is no justification. In fact, consider why they even make their debates public? Clearly the reason is that other scientists don't agree. Crackpottery!!! They are trying to bypass the scientific process for a political one because they stand alone.

    Also, the economic benefits of green technologies are many-fold; the economic gloom and doom arguments used against green technologies are based on dull thinking that ignores issues such as the tremendous health costs associated with fossil fuel use, the military industrial complex and the history of US military action in the Middle East, jobs created by green and domestic energy solutions, and efficiency gains to name a few. Consider for example that Wal Mart just opened their first high efficiency store; not out of concern for our global health, but because they are the nations largest user of electricity. It made economic sense to save energy. See, no gloom and doom. Green pays.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2007
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  3. Feb 1, 2007 #2

    vanesch

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    I have several conceptual problems with the global warming issue, and other "ecological" concerns. As I say, they are more on the conceptual level, and not so much on the practical side. They are meant to be thought-provoking, and debate-stimulating.

    The first and foremost idea (which makes my mother-in-law jump to the ceiling, which might in itself be the main reason why I cherish it), is the following: we, as a species, being part of an ecology, cannot, by definition, be responsible for "an ecological disaster". If the presence and the actions of our species leads to our own extinction (which should in any case arrive sooner or later: no species has an infinite time of existence), and even to the sixth great extinction, then that is just an ecological fact as any other, and part of the natural evolution of the ecological system which brought us into existence in the first place. Great extinctions are usually followed by a plethora of new ecological developments, so by itself, a great extinction is not an "ecological disaster". So one should take some step back from the "big disaster and responsibility" we have concerning "ecology". There's no serious problem if our actions put our species, and 90% of other species, to an end. Life will find a way. So we shouldn't worry about THAT responsibility.

    Next in line, the survival of our own species. Why would it be a problem by itself that our own species stops existing ? Of course, for the last generation, times will be hard, true. But each individual member of our species has to die somehow some day. This is the real problem, and is unsolvable. What could we care that an abstract concept such as "humanity" or "our species" survives or doesn't, if the only thing that really counts, namely that WE OURSELVES, will not survive, is an unavoidable fact ?
    The only reason to try to avoid the extinction of our species, is indeed the probably deplorable conditions in which our last descendants will suffer to death. THIS might be a motivation to be careful. Or might be a reason not to have kids anymore.

    Even better, it might be that a "disaster" on limited scale decimates our species without eliminating it. The survivors will then have "a new start" so to say, from which to build a truly better world with the lessons they learned from our errors. In that case, the "ecological disaster" was nothing else but some auto-regulatory effect for non-optimized behavior - a weeding-out which might otherwise not take place, and put more strain on our species in the long term. So maybe we should even stimulate it, if we want a better world on the long term.

    Finally, the question is: can we avoid it, and at what price ? All measures of economy will probably smoothen out the total consumption of fossile fuels for a few more decades. So instead of pumping all that CO2 in the atmosphere in 30 years, we might do it in 80 years. But in any case, the total quantity put back in the ecosphere will be the same. It is just over a longer period, but geologically, 30 years, or 80 years is in any case a delta function. Does this really make any difference ? The only difference I can see is that it buys some time for our species, which might have one or two more generations, and - maybe most importantly - might have some extra time to develop some technology that might help us cope with it.
    However, we should also consider the downside of all these economies. The economical price to pay to enforce restrictions of CO2 emissions and so on will bring economical slowdown, and hence more suffering for our current generation. So this is just a shift of suffering from hypothetical future generations to our own.

    So all in all, we should think carefully before we start implementing drastic "save-the-earth" programs: it might just bring a bit more suffering to our own generation, without in any case avoiding the final extinction of our species in a few generations' time. That doesn't mean of course that we should ignore the problem, but we should know 1) whether there really IS a "solution" and 2) whether it is worth bringing suffering to our own generation in order to implement it.
    All actions that satisfy both 1) and 2) are of course welcome.

    Disclaimer: all the above is quite provocative, I know, but I think these ideas should at least be considered before jumping to any conclusions and drastic action.
     
  4. Feb 1, 2007 #3
    The nay sayers do themselves much disservice sometimes, they argue from the position of laymen, and are backed by big business, which automatically makes you think their on a dubious platform.

    Scientists who try and nay say things are generally healthy, after all revising the model to allow for dimming, Output of the sun etc, is what science is all about.

    Al Gore means well but again his credability isn't as much as a scientists would be, he should be getting his documentary style visions of doom and gloom into perspective from scientists. ie he should have a group of scientists willing to confirm or deny his claims, and not make rash judgements.

    George Bush for example when asked about why the polar bears in the North Pole were heading towards extinction said: I have no idea why?:rofl: :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  5. Feb 1, 2007 #4

    turbo

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    My wife and I have taken a number of steps. We needed a new roof anyway, so I made sure the roofer installed a full inch of Styrofoam over the old roof before installing the new metal roof. We heat with wood and make sure that the wood is very dry, and that the flue temp stays up around 400-500 F to obtain as clean a burn as possible. We have replaced every conventional light bulb in the house with the coiled fluorescents. We grow much of our own food, and use only organic fertilizers, manure, peat, etc - no chemicals. There are a lot of things we can do to reduce our negative impact on the Earth, and it's up to us to do what we can. Waiting for "the government" to address the problem is naive and short-sighted.
     
  6. Feb 1, 2007 #5
  7. Feb 1, 2007 #6
    Global warming or no global warming, whether it is good for us or bad for us, whether we want it or do not want it, there should be no arbitrary force against the will to make things more energy efficient and free of pollution.
     
  8. Feb 1, 2007 #7
    I kind of like the idea to ensure my grandchildren will have a nice and clean planet to live on after I am gone. It wont effect me obviously because Il be dead. Maby there is no logical basis for that, but it is still a driving force that seems to be present in most humans.
     
  9. Feb 1, 2007 #8

    turbo

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    You don't have to do too much to keep a lawn healthy if you have good soil. I leave the grass a bit taller than most folks, and I never rake or bag clippings - they go right back on the lawn for the nitrogen content. We get enough green stuff for the compost bins from weeds, trimmed plants, etc. I have planted the front lawn with fruit trees and will eventually have a nice mature orchard with cherries, plums, apples, apricots, peaches, pears, crabapples, etc. The trees and lawn get little doses of organic fertilizer made from bone meal, blood meal, processing waste from seafood, etc.
     
  10. Feb 1, 2007 #9

    russ_watters

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    I have a number of comments about this issue, but one thing in particular that jumped out and grabbed me:
    "As clean a burn as possible" with wood is still much, much, much dirtier than natural gas or oil. In addition, many wood stoves/furnaces pull their combustion air from inside the house (not sure about yours), which means when it is cold outside, the infiltration of cold air offsets the heat added by the stove. I'm having trouble finding good numbers on combustion gases, but here is a link that shows an EPA certified wood stove emits more than 100x more fine particle pollution (soot) than an oil furnace: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/woodsmoke/appliances.html

    I don't see how such a thing can be seen as environmentally friendly. :confused:
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  11. Feb 1, 2007 #10

    turbo

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    Wood grows on my 10 acres and is renewable. The numbers you quoted for emissions are end-use only. They do not take into account the energy used to drill for oil, extract it, transport it, refine it into end-products such as heating oil and kerosene, etc. I'll take the environmental impact of a clean-burning wood stove any day, not to mention the economic and geopolitical advantages.
     
  12. Feb 1, 2007 #11
    Can't we just drop a few nukes down the mouth of a big volcano every so often? You know a little sunscreen applied every few years to keep things in thermal equilibrium... Now which volcano might get some big NIMBY argument started....
    JS
     
  13. Feb 1, 2007 #12

    turbo

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    We could drop one into Dotsero Crater. After 4-5K years, there might be a good build-up of pressure ready to vent. :cool:
     
  14. Feb 1, 2007 #13
    Not in my backyard you don't! :mad:
     
  15. Feb 1, 2007 #14
    People always complain about the costs associated with reducing CO2 emmisions, but I ask you what is the long term cost of doing nothing? Massive crop failure due to global warming, destruction of homes in the gulf region from increased hurricane activity, etc. =trillions of dollars.
     
  16. Feb 1, 2007 #15
    thats not the 1/2 of it--what of all that expensive beachfront real estate. The only good thing I can see is with the polar icecap melting, all sorts of new shipping lanes. And I disagree with some of what Vanesch had to say (not the more philosophical issues) re that we can only slow down a runaway process and hope to buy time for a better fix--eg sequestration, whatever. Wish I could recall the numbers, but believe I heard something on the order of absorbing an increase to about 0.05% before we hit the slippery slope. It's tough but doable with enough collective resolve. What do you tell India, China, and the devoping world--sorry you guys don't get a chance? Or to Americans and their addiction to Walmart for that matter, to say nothing of their own prodigal habits.
     
  17. Feb 1, 2007 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    Obviously you don’t believe in reincarnation. :biggrin:

    The most obvious answer is that those who may suffer miserable deaths due to our actions will be our children or grandchildren. We are not talking about an “abstract” surplus population after all, we are talking about our progeny. But beyond this is the issue of responsibility. Simply put, we don’t have the right to ignore the ramifications of our actions. We don’t have the right to ignore the suffering that it will cause. We don’t have the right to doom future generations. Just as any parent is implicitly responsible to feed and clothe their children, we have the responsibility to give future generations a fighting chance. Of course we will all die one day [for now], but this same argument might be used to starve a child to death as well. If the child will die one day anyway, what does it matter? For that matter, why not just nuke the middle east and be done with it. It sure would make MY life easier. And they’re all going to die someday anyway.
    We didn’t have kids.

    A good war could accomplish the same thing. Would you support nuclear annihilation as a means to improve the species?

    We have the technology to eliminate fossil fuel use now - it is more a matter of will and priorities than technology. For example, it was estimated by the scientist in the Aquatic Species Program that for about the price of the Iraq war to date, maybe two, we could tap a CO2 neutral energy supply to replace the entire US demand for crude. And time after time we see that the only factor stopping the use of clean technologies is the price. In other words, the problem is not technology; it’s the money – the artificially suppressed price of oil. What is the real value of having no reliance on oil? What is the economic value of walking away from the problems of the Middle East? What is the value of averting an energy war with the Chinese? The demand for crude has been a plague on humanity for a century now, and it has come with price that is incalculable.

    I think what you are really saying is that you don’t have the answers in your back pocket. Sure there are challenges to be met, but your position is to say that without even trying we should give up because other bad things might happen. You are also ignoring that our best estimate is that future undue suffering is only guaranteed if we do nothing. Sure, the experts could be wrong, but based on what they are saying we have no time to argue any longer. We have to make a choice and take action if we are ever going to do so. We are told that a “soft landing” is still possible. We are told that it may not be too late. When faced with only one option, the only reasonable course is to act on that remaining option.

    Absolutely I agree - we must think carefully about the actions taken. The real danger that I now see is that irrational choices will be made to satisfy political concerns. We must make good decisions that are guided by the science. We have to let go of our favorite solutions and accept the best solutions. We have to be willing to change and adapt. But first and foremost, we have to be willing to try.

    I think I enjoyed your rebuttal as much as any seen before.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  18. Feb 1, 2007 #17
    Prevention is shortsighted and passive for our species. Long gone are days of stable earth in the middle of universe, unchanging, dull. Problem solving is adaptative. I say, bring it on GW. We should focus whatever resources into solving the problem, rather than trying to prevent the problem, after all, if the projections proove right we are up for big warming (inducing social, biological, climatological disbalance which will induce ... ) even if we stop CO2 emissions right now.
     
  19. Feb 1, 2007 #18
    Ivan,

    Nice post. Yea the best estimates for IRAQ I have seen are about a trillion dollars, not the 400 billion or so usually quoted. That would buy a lot of wind turbines and the like. As to Vanecsh's args, they're is something deeply and darkly fatalistic about it all. Here I was just hoping that the Bird flu might take out a couple billion people, relatively painless vs starvation--that along with zero growth birth control would buy some time.
     
  20. Feb 1, 2007 #19

    Evo

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    Actually that's not true, there was a thread about it in the earth forum and looking back, this is normal cyclical activity. Look at 2006, nothing in the way of a major hurricane. And something that's not mentioned is typhoon activity, which hasn't been unusual. Gee, is global warming only in the Atlantic ocean?

    It's these inacuracies that tend to harm the global warming issue.
     
  21. Feb 1, 2007 #20
    Hmmm, I guess Cnn and the huge report on global warming coming soon out of Europe must have been lying to me then?????


    http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/02/01/climate.talks.ap/index.html

     
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