Man Made vs. Nature Made Global Warming Arguments Without Merit

In my last post, I started my sordid tale of my attempt to make sense of the global warming debate and gave two examples, one for each side of the debate, of how both sides use deception to advance their beliefs. I had found that the Believers aren’t above using grossly misleading generalizations (“one thing that jumps out at you is… do they seem to fit together?!””) and the Deniers are not above using strawmen that have nothing to do with the actual debate (CO2 vs. Water Vapor) yet have emotional resonance for people that don’t understand the actual issue.

As I continued to research AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) the examples of deceptive arguments continued to mount and my frustration grew. In this post, I’m going to concentrate on the long list of arguments that I found AGW Deniers using that had little or no merit. In the post after this one, I’ll balance things out by spending time covering AGW Denier arguments that do have merit. I simply couldn’t fit them into this post. Later I’ll cover examples of how the other side — AGW Believer’s — often behave in unethical and misrepresentive ways as well. So bear with me, I will do my best to cover all sides. So don’t get frustrated over the fact that I’m starting out with only bad arguments used by AGW Deniers.  

Bear in mind that I’m only trying to give a good feel for what actually happened back when I tried to research AGW. I did go read websites both for and against and I am giving a truthful survey of the problems I found with the debate. I am not claiming to be an expert so I’m not claiming that I have considered all arguments for and against. Also, my survey back then did find that AGW Denier arguments tended to be somewhat more problematic than AGW Believer arguments. However, once I finally explain my own proposal on this subject, you’ll see that none of these arguments — for or against — actually ended up mattering anyhow.

The “CO2 is Mostly Natural” Argument

Another example of an anti-AGW argument that lacked merit is the AGW Denier claim that CO2 is primarily created by nature, not humans. Thus, they conclude, there is no need to take action to curb man made CO2.

I scratch my head over this one. This isn’t even a bad argument, it’s a non-argument.

Imagine someone, we’ll call him Bob, that makes $100,000 a month from an insurance settlement, plus $100 dollars a month from his job. Bob, who was hurt in an accident, happens to have expenses of $100,200 dollars a month. The insurance money and the expenses are fixed and Bob had no control over them. So obviously Bob has a problem because he is running a deficit and each month he is getting a bit more into debt. Over time this will grow into a significant problem.

Would you buy the argument that Bob should do nothing to increase his paycheck on the grounds that Bob’s paycheck is insignificant next to his insurance settlement?

Of course we’re concentrating only on the Anthropogenic (human-made) side of things. That’s the side we can control! Even if we could coax nature into “filling the gap” better for us, it would only be through Anthropogenic intervention – say growing more trees or cutting down fewer forests. The end result is the same. So this argument can be discarded.

Scientific Consensus vs. Manufactured Consensus – Is AGW a Conspiracy?

Another anti-AGW argument I hear a lot is that the existing scientific consensus, that global warming is human caused, is “manufactured.”

Unlike the last argument, this one actually does have some merit, though less than AGW Deniers think.

First of all, this argument openly admits one thing that is important. It admits that there is indeed a scientific consensus on AGW. A scientific consensus is a code word only used if there is a certain level of consensus. It generally means that overwhelmingly scientists agree on something, but does not imply that the consensus is total.

AGW Deniers argue that this consensus does not matter because it’s manufactured. Rather than being a consensus based on scientific merit, it’s based on political whim, conspiracy, misinformation, and desire to get lucrative grants.

So, first of all, let’s admit that it’s all true. And so what? This argument misses one major fact: that all scientific consensus outside of the SUPERB theories falls more or less into this description. [1] 

Kuhn, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, made the argument that science is a human endeavor. The myth of the cold and detached scientist that observes without emotion is just that: a myth. Scientific revolution has always depended at least in part on politics, misinformation, and lucrative grants. True though this maybe, it’s not a conspiracy – at least no more so than any human endeavor. [2] 

So I believe we can discount any conspiracy theory here. We may not be used to just how messy science really is, but this is reality nonetheless.

That being said, does this mean AGW is the correct theory? Of course not. But we probably should put at least some weight on the fact that the vast majority of scientists that have looked at the global warming models are concerned and often profoundly so. Of course the majority may yet turn out to be wrong, and we shouldn’t forget that either.

 The “Mars is Warming Up Too” Argument

I used to place this one in the AGW-Denier-arguments-with-merit category. Turns out I was wrong.

The argument goes that Mars has been shown to be warming too. There are no humans living on Mars. Ergo, global warming is natural (perhaps caused by solar flares) rather than human-made.

The argument is based on the rather shaky assumption that we actually do know that Mars is warming up. 

One of the inconsistencies the AGW Deniers hold to is that we can’t trust the warming data on earth, yet apparently we can in the case of Mars. The data on earth is based on an amazing number of measurements. The ones on Mars are based on a very few really bad measurements that have way more margin for error than the earth bound ones. 

You see the problem with this argument, right? So there is no need to give it any further consideration.

The “Earth is Actually Cooling” Argument

Speaking of inconsistent arguments, I often hear AGW Deniers in one breath claim that Global Warming is real but natural and not man-made (usually arguing that it’s caused by solar flares) and then in the next breath claim that the earth is actually cooling.

Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

This is a case where the AGW Denier is using inconsistent arguments from different sources. There are a handful of scientists that believe the earth isn’t warming. There are a few more scientists that believe the earth is warming, but that it’s not being caused by human actions. (As previously stated, the overwhelming majority believe it’s warming and it’s being caused by human action.)

Just to make things even more confusing, there is a general scientific consensus that for the last 10 or 15 years or so the earth’s temperature has dropped. (Of course this claim has its deniers too. Bear in mind that ‘scientific consensus’ is never total.)

AGW Deniers have a bad tendency to latch onto any counter argument they can without realizing that the only argument worth latching onto is a full counter explanation. The three points of view above don’t tend to be compatible with each other. If you are denying that global warming is happening at all, you probably have major issues with the measuring methods being used, so you aren’t going to put any stock in the data that shows the earth has been cooling in the last 10 years.

If you believe there is global warming but it’s not human-made, you probably agree with the AGW Believers that the last 10 years is still part of a general upward trend.

Speaking of upward trends, I think it’s important to understand that AGW Believers have never claimed that global temperature will show only an upward tick every year. That would be a ridiculous claim. Having a 10 year cooling period (Due to water vapor the Deniers point out with glee! Not realizing that it’s besides the point) is not counter proof to the claims of AGW Believers.

To use an analogy, suppose I made the claim that the stock market has an upward trend. You could then show me that the last 10 years that the stock market has dropped. Did you disprove me? Or did you really just show that you didn’t understand my point? 

When we are measuring trends over centuries, we do not draw conclusions based on short periods of time. This is why AGW Deniers got excited over this article and didn’t even notice that the authors upfront explained that the general upward trend was still positive. [3]

The “This is Just Like the Ozone” Argument

This argument is that a bunch of environmentalists once complained that the ozone was being destroyed by CFCs and they created a huge scare. Then, decades later, nothing went wrong and we were all happy. Therefore, global warming must be the same.

Fact is, the environmentalists successfully convinced the world to cut back on CFCs. Therefore, we might as well draw the conclusion that the environmentalists saved us all once before and they can do it again with global warming.

Of course not all AGW Denier arguments are as bad as the above ones. In my next post, I will cover some I came across that I feel have real merit.

Notes

[1] …all scientific consensus outside of the SUPERB theories falls more or less into this description. “SUPERB” is a term coined by Roger Penrose’s, the famous physicist. It is part of his “scientific theory classification system.”  Penrose claims that only a handful of scientific theories that fall into the SUPERB category and they are the most famous ones, such as Newtonian Physics, Quantum Theory, or General Relativity. They have overwhelmingly proved their value beyond our wildest imaginations.

Oh, and all have been proven wrong in some measure. So “being right” isn’t the point. Being more right than everything else is what really matters. The other classifications are USEFUL and TENTATIVE. Penrose puts his own Twistor theory in the TENTATIVE category at this time. 

[2] …it’s not a conspiracy – at least no more so than any human endeavor.  But Kuhn was wrong, of course. Scientific revolutions are not entirely based on politics. If this were true, then there would not be the obvious scientific progress we’ve seen since Newton. The fact is that we do move, eventually, from worse to better scientific explanations. But it’s a messy process and sometimes you do have to wait for the next, and thus less entrenched, generation to take over.

However, the Scientific Community has a fairly good recent track record on this. For example, the standard model was adopted at, shall we say, light speed.

[3] …and didn’t even notice that the authors upfront explained that the general upward trend was still positive. I am simplifying a more complex issue here for the sake of space. In reality, this study did prove one thing that the AGW Deniers are right about. It proved the models being used by AGW Believers are imperfect and that we lack knowledge on many subjects that will turn out to be important. In this case, the models failed to take a certain type of water vapor into consideration. See this article for a balanced view of this issue. The bottomline is that the models need to be adjusted for these new findings, but probably won’t affect the athropogenic nature of global warming predicted by the models. I will address the fact that the models are imperfect in a future post.

45 thoughts on “Man Made vs. Nature Made Global Warming Arguments Without Merit

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New post: Man Made vs. Nature Made Global Warming Arguments Without Merit -- Topsy.com

  2. The “Earth is Actually Cooling Argument” is only inconsistent when you’ve got someone arguing both that point and that the warming is caused by solar cycles or whatever. Otherwise, you’ve just got different factions in the anti-AGW crowd making different arguments and disagreeing.

    Otherwise, good points well made.

  3. Actually you could argue successfully that the earth is cooling now (last ten years) warming before and still be non-anthropogenic so long as the fluctuations in solar activity matched that data. (I have no idea if they do or not).

    One other comment:

    “When we are measuring trends over centuries, we do not draw conclusions based on short periods of time. This is why AGW Deniers got excited over this article and didn’t even notice that the authors upfront explained that the general upward trend was still positive. [3]”

    One needs to be very careful here. Not all data is created equal. Most of the measurements over the last few decades are probably very accurate. As we go back further in time direct measurement techniques become less accurate, the sample size smaller, and the total portion of the earth covered smaller. Eventually we get to inferred data and not direct measurements. The accuracy / precision goes down with each of these steps.

    Good post though Bruce, I look forward to the follow up posts on arguments with merit, and on AGW believer’s arguments, as well as your own theory in the end.

  4. No time to post and all the comment problems had me frustrated commenting here. (Too many comments lost that took a long time to compose) That said I look forward to this. I moved from warming skeptic to warming believer more than ten years ago. To me the evidence is overwhelming. But I have to agree that some of the believers have engaged in exactly the kind of behavior they justly criticize the opposition for engaging in.

  5. BTW – the point about the Standard Model is great since it is an ugly theory almost no one actually likes but, until recently, it fit the data so well everyone had to accept it.

  6. Actually, the solar cycles confirm (or at least are consistent with) the idea of current cooling. The last half decade or so, we have been in a solar minimum between solar cycles. The previous solar cycle was particularly strong, but the next solar cycle is taking it’s own sweet time to start. And it is during this minimum (period of little to no solar activity) that global warming has not been observed. This is consistent with other more extended solar minimums. I realize of course, that we need to do a certain amount of averaging, so I can understand them giving AGW the benefit of the doubt.. but still…

    Solar physicists that I know (this used to be my line of research) were generally opposed to AGW, but you could hardly get anyone to listen. This has been my major problem with AGW. It is entirely consistent with solar activity being some kind of a forcing function (this would be consistent with general warming and temporary cooling at the moment) but no one has a good argument why not besides, we don’t know why.

  7. Few people have any problem with anthropogenic global warming being treated as a tentative theory worthy of further investigation.

    Many do, however, have a problem with the idea that a tentative theory that is completely devoid of critical evidence should be used as a justification for permanently dampening the economic prospects of mankind.

    The evidence for the anthropogenic part of AGW is so shoddy it is embarrassing. Anyone defending AGW with a religious fervor should be ashamed to show his face in public.

    Based on the level of evidence we have now, there is no rational reason to conclude that such measures as taxing energy consumption to death in an attempt to mitigate this largely hypothetical problem will do anything other than make everyone on the planet poorer, sicker, and altogether worse off.

  8. This is all I have to say on the matter:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/us/politics/24gore.html

    Al Gore is trying to molest the planet in the same way he molested this poor massage therapist.

    But more seriously, Bruce, I really appreciate your delving into this subject and sharing your thoughts. You get high marks for entering with an open mind, and I look forward to your conclusions, even though it is becoming clear I will probably disagree with them.

  9. Geoff,

    In the first paragraph of your linked article, “no charges were filed because of lack of evidence.” That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, of course. Nonetheless, at the moment there is no evidence. Thus, at the moment, no basis for your rather tasteless “joke.”

    I mean, come on! Really?

    Stay classy, Geoff.

  10. Mark D. said,

    Many do, however, have a problem with the idea that a tentative theory that is completely devoid of critical evidence should be used as a justification for permanently dampening the economic prospects of mankind.

    I personally disagree with your use of the words “tentative” and “devoid” in your quote above. But I’d say that while you are overstating the effects rather dramatically, you do nonetheless have a good point.

    While I seriously doubt any of the extremists on both sides of this argument will agree with this, I believe this is not a “black or white” situation. There can be compromise.

    I agree the the economic issues affecting this are very important, especially considering the recession we are in. There should not be any draconian pressure upon businesses that would reduce their ability to hire and provide for workers. However, there is little reason to not place restrictions upon pollution if it can be done in a reasonable and responsible manner.

    Unfortunately in today’s political climate, the word “compromise” is a dirty word. And for that matter, so is “responsible.”

  11. Suppose Congress decided to pass a law that stated that every homeowner must dig a hole at least three feet deep in his backyard and fill it up again, once a week.

    The effects of such a requirement would be mild compared to the waste of resources that will ensue if CO2 regulation gets a significant foothold.

  12. Mark D. said,

    The effects of such a requirement would be mild compared to the waste of resources that will ensue if CO2 regulation gets a significant foothold.

    Out of curiosity, specifically what waste of resources? Sources please.

  13. James, if you hang around here enough you’ll find a fair amount of my “jokes” are tasteless. But it is true that it is impossible to believe this massage therapist’s claims are true because you can’t msaage a lifeless piece of wood like Al Gore, so he must be making the whole thing up.

  14. Bruce, I’m aiming this comment at you and any other people who “have eyes to see and ears to hear.”

    The NAS came out with a paper that is being called a “black list.” This paper lists pro-warming people as being good and anti-warming people as being “skeptics” and “deniers.”

    You can read more about it here:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/06/new-black-list.html?showComment=1277213779069#c6191112104390299796

    We have seen this same tactic used on Bruce’s threads. If somebody dares to contradict the global warming “consensus” he is called a “denier,” an outcast, a sub-human similar to a holocaust denier.

    Bruce, I would urge you to read a bit about the history of eugenics. 100 years ago there was a scientific “consensus” that science should be used to perfect human life. The racism and ethnic biases were toward an Aryan ideal and the creation of a super-human. This science reigned supreme until Hitler took it to its natural conclusion, ie, killing an entire race of people in his quest to create this ideal. Thank goodness this scientific consensus broke apart when the world saw where such ideas lead.

    Totalitarians love the idea of a scientific “consensus.” It allows them to repress any ideas that are not convenient and don’t fit into the consensus. Thus, we have a small group of climate scientists building up a “consensus” by suppressing the publication of ideas that don’t fit the consensus. And now we have a blacklist where “skeptics” are clearly identified so they can be shunned.

    The world has slightly warmed in the last 100 years. The warming has stopped in the last 15 years. Carbon dioxide continues to grow in the atmosphere. This much is certainly true and has been confirmed by just about everybody with any knowledge of this area. How much of the warming is natural and how much caused by CO2? We still don’t know for sure. What role does the sun play in this scenario? The sun clearly must play some role and logic would dictate the role is at least as large as CO2.

    Clearly there are a lot of unknowns. The totalitarians (and their unwitting accomplices) would have you ignore all of the unknowns and accept everything they say as truth, just as the eugenicists did 100 years ago.

    Let’s review what we know about the two groups involved in this debate.

    –One group wants to shut down all debate and have everybody accept their version of the truth. This includes creating blacklists of “skeptics” and “deniers” with Orwellian-like tactics. They want to shun non-believers and prevent them from being published so they can claim that only one group has been “peer reviewed.”

    –Another group wants a continuing debate with a wide variety of idea being explored. This group wants the many questions about climate science to be addressed and studied.

    –One group wants to control your life, the kind of car you are allowed to drive, how much you pay for gas, how much you are allowed to fly, what you do for a living, how much you pay in taxes (much more), and even, among the most extreme members, how many children you are allowed to have (because too many children ruins the planet). They want a world agreement to limit your freedom. This group uses lofty goals (saving the environment) to justify its attempts to control your life. This is the tactic of all totalitarians — they always have a good justification to take over your life and limit your freedom.

    –The other group wants limited, moderate measures that deal with specific concerns. This group wants more study before taking drastic measures that would limit freedom or raise your taxes.

    Could the difference be more clear? One side involves the tactics of fear, repression and control — the other encourages personal freedom, openness and continued scientific study.

    I know where I fall in this debate. Do you?

  15. Geoff B,

    Re: “The List” — They might just shoot themselves in the foot. Right now it looks like they’ve got nearly five-hundred “skeptics” on the list. One day they might have as many as a thousand. And when they do — and the majority of them have graduate degrees — I’d hope the science community would reevaluate the consensus.

  16. James, reasonable estimates place the direct cost per household to implement a hard cap on CO2 at about $1800 per year, indefinitely.

    Most of that money will be directed into counterproductive boondoggles like CO2 capture and storage, agricultural ethanol production, electric cars, wind farms the size of Rhode Island, and so forth. By any rational estimate, an artificial excess of all those things is a net social cost to humanity. One that will cause resources that could be directed to actual human health and welfare to be squandered to the benefit of no one.

    Compared to cap and trade or the equivalent carbon tax the gambling industry is a positive boon to mankind. At least it is a zero sum game.

  17. On the blacklist:

    Please read more here:

    http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2010m6d24-Global-warmings-Stephen-Schneider-The-Light-That-Failed

    Jack, you may be right. The extreme tactics taken by people like Schneider (who was once a respected scientist) show a desperation that may backfire. The list of “skeptics” — already 503 people — is certain to grow. Who knows — maybe when the list of skeptics is longer than the list of non-skeptics, perhaps a few honest arbiters will begin to accept that there is no such thing as a consensus on AGW.

  18. The NSA came out with a paper that is being called a “black list.”

    I think that is rather the NAS, or National Academy of Sciences. The NSA is something entirely different.

  19. Geoff said,

    The NSA came out with a paper that is being called a “black list.” This paper lists pro-warming people as being good and anti-warming people as being “skeptics” and “deniers.”

    Now I read it quickly and so it’s entirely possible I missed something, but the actual published paper that is referenced by the link you provided doesn’t entirely fit with your description. This is a quote from the initial paragraph:

    “Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

    And that’s it. There is no “black list” in this paper from what I can see. It appears to be only a scientific analysis of publication and citation data. (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.full.pdf+html)

    That said, I will emphatically agree with you that the paper is being abused and misapplied by pretty much every extremist on both sides of the argument. And it is entirely possible that even though the paper seems innocuous enough, the researchers who wrote it may have a biased view. And I’m sure it’s even possible that the research behind this paper is faulty. But to use this paper all by itself as evidence of for your tie with eugenics is a huge stretch, Geoff. The paper itself means pretty much nothing; it will be forgotten tomorrow. But I will agree that you do have a point when it comes the the extremist’s reactions to this paper.

    You mention that their are “two groups involved in this debate.” To use your words, those groups are the “Orwellian blacklisters” and the “personal freedomers,” let’s call them OBs and PFs for short. :-) Now from your description, I personally would fall quite squarely within the PF camp with you. Yet you and I differ quite a lot with our personal opinions about climate change, and so we obviously don’t belong in the same camp. How is that possible?

    The reason is that your descriptions of the two camps are skewed. Yes, there are quite a few OBs out there, and they annoy the hell out of me too. But they aren’t the majority of those who think that climate change is real. The OBs you are describing are the radicals. They are the halfwits who belong to the Earth Liberation Front, for example, who cut power lines or burn down car dealerships. The OBs you describe are extremists and do not represent all of those, like myself, who believe that man is impacting the climate.

    I would, however, agree that the OBs are much more vocal. It’s unfortunate that all reasonable opinions on both sides are always overshadowed by the extremists’ screaming and cursing at each other. But as long as we try to keep the hard-line fundamentalists on both sides away from the power to actually affect the country, we’ll be doing fine. Of course looking at all of the radical zealots in Washington, I’m not sure we’re doing all that fine at the moment…

  20. James, you need to look at how such lists are used in science and elsewhere to understand the very real alarm among scientists at such tactics. Such a list of “creationist” scientists was passed around to discredit anybody who questions evolution. The purpose was explicitly to create a list of people who are “beyond the pale,” not real scientists, etc. It became impossible for these people to get published and taken seriously by the scientific establishment. The black list was total. If you look at the original NAS paper and then look at the list, that is exactly what these people are trying to do here — they want to force non conformists out of the scientific community entirely. The fact that Schneider has lent his name to such an effort is an embarrassment to him and to climate scientists.

    I wish that such tactics were only being used by environmental extremists. I actually know people who belonged to Earth First and other such groups, and if it was just them promoting such views then I would probably not really care about this issue because the chances of it ever affecting me or the general economy would be minimal. Unfortunately, it is the people at the very center of the global warming movement — Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Al Gore, Hansen, Schneider — who are conspiring to A)exaggerate the evidence for AGW B)prevent contrarian views from being published and C)create a blacklist of “deniers.” So, to use your language, the OBS have taken over the climate change movement, and it is a very scary thing indeed.

    One last point: we haven’t really gotten to what Bruce wants to do about climate change, but we do know what the OBs want to do. And, again, there are extremists who want zero population growth, forced abortions, etc. These extremists have a tremendous amount of influence on those at the very center of the AGW movement. And what do those at the center want? Worldwide control of all economic activities. Worldwide carbon taxes. Worldwide cap and trade schemes where government chooses 1)what kind of car you can drive 2)how much you can fly and where 3)what kinds of businesses are clean and what kind are not, etc, etc. Again, James, these are not the extremists — these are Hansen, Al Gore and the people at the core of the movement. They want to take away your freedom of choice in ways that are indeed totalitarian.

  21. Mark D.,

    Thanks for the link. I agree with you, believe it or not, that adding such a significant cost-per-household for these measures would be insane. But I’ve also come to realize that you can’t take a single article from a single source and consider it to be “God’s own truth” on the matter. There is always another side to ever coin. For example, in the article you linked to, there is an update which says:

    The bill passed by the House sends the value of pollution permits to consumers, and it contains robust cost-containment provisions. Every credible and independent economic analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (such as those done by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the Energy Information Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency) says the costs will be small and affordable — and that the U.S. economy will grow with a cap on carbon.

    I personally haven’t had the time to research this legislation in depth. And so I have no idea if the cost-containment provisions mentioned above will work, or even if the measure itself is worthwhile. On the surface, and with the little I know about it, it seems to be mostly a half-hearted effort to do “something about climate change because we promised, and the voters will get angry with us if we don’t.” Or in other words, it seems to me to be all politics and little science. I wouldn’t be particularly disappointed if this legislation failed, even though I think there should be much more restrictive legislation against pollution in general. (Not just CO2, but all pollution.)

    However, you said,

    Most of that money will be directed into counterproductive boondoggles like CO2 capture and storage, agricultural ethanol production, electric cars, wind farms the size of Rhode Island, and so forth. By any rational estimate, an artificial excess of all those things is a net social cost to humanity. One that will cause resources that could be directed to actual human health and welfare to be squandered to the benefit of no one.

    The capture and storage idea could be a boondoggle, I personally don’t know. I have heard that agricultural ethanol production isn’t a good idea at all. Wind farms have proven somewhat useful, if problematic. But electric cars? Not all of these ideas are bad, there’s one or two good ones mixed in with the rubbish. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    What we have right now in regards to renewable or alternative sources of energy are pretty pathetic, I’d agree. But why fight against ideas or research that might solve this problem? Even if climate change is false, our current practice of extraction of oil and other forms of limited energy resources is simply not sustainable. The main reason behind why we have the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is that most forms of easily found oil on the planet have been found and extracted. We are being forced to look in more extreme locations such as deep underwater, which obviously isn’t working out very well.

    Even if we completely ignore the idea of climate change or pollution, we have a very serious problem. We don’t need to run out of oil for the world to be placed into crisis. The issue is not one of “running out” so much as it is not having enough to keep our economy running. A shortfall between demand and supply as little as 10 to 15 percent is enough to wholly shatter an oil-dependent economy. In addition, our food supply is very dependent upon oil. From fertilizers and pesticides made from oil, to packaging in plastic made from oil, to the tractors used by farmers, to the gas to move the food to stores, our current method of obtaining food in the US and other industrialized nations relies significantly upon something we’re quickly running out of.

    And so even if you don’t agree with the politics, even if you don’t agree with the extremists on the opposite side of the climate change shouting match, even if you don’t agree with me, you must still see that something must be changed soon because the foundation of our civilization is crumbling beneath us.

  22. Geoff said,

    Again, James, these are not the extremists — these are Hansen, Al Gore and the people at the core of the movement. They want to take away your freedom of choice in ways that are indeed totalitarian.

    I’ll keep this short because I seem to be monopolizing the reply box here. Sorry about that. :-)

    I personally don’t see Gore as an extremist. As for the rest of the people you mentioned, I haven’t heard anything that bad about them. They have some stupid ideas occasionally, but nothing I’d consider Orwellian.

    That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, of course. Could you please give references? I’d like to look into this myself.

  23. James, this is a very, very good comment, but I would like to address a few points, if I may.

    The first is that fossil fuels keep on being described as limited, but new finds and new technologies keep on increasing our reserves. In the 1920s, when oil ran out in the eastern U.S., we “ran out of oil.” Then when oil ran out in Texas, we “ran out of oil.” Don’t you remember Carter during the 1970s? We were going to be “out of oil” within 10 years, but here it is 32 years later, and our reserves are bigger than ever. The reality is that new oil has been found around the world (Brazil has gone from an oil importer to an oil exporter in 10 years while its economy has grown). Huge finds of shale oil in Canada and the western U.S. have increased supplies. And, like it or not, there is a whole lot of oil in shallow waters of the U.S. coastline that we cannot get at because of environmentalists.

    I believe we need to be good stewards of the Earth. But I also believe that environmental threats have been exaggerated and always will be. I’m sure you’ve heard that the Amazon rainforest is disappearing at the size of a US state every year. We’ve been hearing that every year for more than 30 years. So, if that were true, the entire forest would have been long gone by now. But the truth is that the forest gets burnt down and then it grows back as some farmers abandon their farms and move on. If you fly over the Amazon (as I have many, many, many times) it goes on for, I do not exaggerate, more than three to four hours of flying time. Solid green as far as the eye can see. This does not mean we shouldn’t care about the Amazon — it simply means that we need to take such claims with a grain of salt.

    The U.S. forest cover was at its lowest about 200 years ago. That was because most people back then were farmers and they had to clear acre after acre of forest to grow stuff. The U.S. forest cover is now higher than it has been in 300 years. Why? Because of economic growth. Instead of being farmers, people go work in clean buildings or from home.

    So, there are a couple of lessons we learn from this. 1)Chicken littles ALWAYS say “civilization is crumbling beneath us” because of environmental threats. They always see doomsday right around the corner. But interestingly the world has a way of cleaning itself up. Eastern Europe was at its dirtiest just 30 years ago under the Communist regimes that were in power. But low and behold, economic growth and political freedom have cleaned up Eastern Europe. Which leads to 2), which is that the solution to all of our problems is economic growth, democracy and the promotion of free markets. It turns out that central govt control doesn’t bring innovation, it doesn’t bring new technology, it doesn’t bring a clean environment. Where are the dirtiest countries right now? They are the ones that are underdeveloped and the ones with central government control. Progressives love to love China, but the reality is that China is one of the dirtiest countries around when it comes to the environment. But when you go to Hong Kong or Singapore or Taiwan, all areas that have democracy and economic freedom, suddenly things get clean.

    Some day (hopefully in our lifetimes) some smart entrepeneur is going to develop a clean engine that doesn’t run on fossil fuels. Some day soon other energy sources will be discovered to run our furnaces and provide electricity to factories and offices. That day will come fastest if we allow businesses to grow and entrepeneurs to make money. It will come very slowly or never if we expect the government to bring it to us.

  24. First off I took a look at your links, thank you. Yeah, I’d say Bill McKibben is a bit of an extremist, based solely on this article. I’ll have to read more about him now, before I make a final decision about him. But my initial impression is that anyone who bends even good data to match their agenda is pushing a bit too hard to make a point. The other link struck me as a bit too much of a conspiracy theory. (“Worse, however, than the flaw in the equation, is that this fact has remained covered up by NASA from the first Lunar landing until now, nearly 41 years.”) There might be some validity to this article, I’m sure. But anytime I see someone say there is a 41 year old cover up, my internal warning sirens go off and tell me to take it with a 5 lb. grain of salt. And the “Climategate” really wasn’t much of a conspiracy from what I’ve read. It seemed to be a typical non-issue about a brainless idiot that got blown waaaaay out of proportion.

    But even if I take all three items at face value, I’m still not seeing anything Orwellian. McKibben says some things I definitely disagree with, for example, but nothing that will create forced abortions or worldwide control of all economic activities.

    Geoff said,

    The first is that fossil fuels keep on being described as limited, but new finds and new technologies keep on increasing our reserves.

    Quite true. However that is not the only fact that needs to be taken into account here. No data point can live in isolation if we want to get at the truth of a matter. In this particular subject we need to also address these items: 1) how fast are fossil fuels being used (eg: are they outpacing our reserves)? 2) how easily and how quickly can we extract the oil from increasingly more remote and dangerous locations (eg: the Gulf Coast)? 3) what will be the impact of this extraction upon the local populace (eg: the Gulf Coast disaster, http://tinyurl.com/2cdwftd or http://tinyurl.com/2eto348)? Because of the answers to these questions, I still stand firm with my original assessment that our foundation is crumbling underneath us. Will the foundation collapse in our lifetime? I have no idea (and I truthfully hope not). But it will collapse at some point in the future if nothing is done.

    Geoff also said,

    Some day (hopefully in our lifetimes) some smart entrepeneur is going to develop a clean engine that doesn’t run on fossil fuels. Some day soon other energy sources will be discovered to run our furnaces and provide electricity to factories and offices. That day will come fastest if we allow businesses to grow and entrepeneurs to make money. It will come very slowly or never if we expect the government to bring it to us.

    Now here is where I’m confused. There are a lot of people like yourself who are demonizing the government for some reason or the other. Now I’ll be the first to agree that in many cases government has overreached it’s boundaries and it should be retracted. Welfare needs some serious reform, for example. But on the other hand there is a very valid reason in some cases for government control for social improvement. That’s a large part of what a national government is for: social improvement for the betterment of it’s people. According to Hobbes, people in a community create and submit to government for the purpose of establishing for themselves, safety and social order. And a “social order” in this case (so as not to be confused with socialism) is a relatively stable system of institutions, patterns of interactions and customs, capable of continually reproducing at least those conditions essential for its own existence (according to Wikipedia).

    Yes I agree that we need to support the entrepreneurs as you describe. But government can also play a critical and essential part in that. Take, for example, the amazing program that brought us to the moon. It was enacted by the US government. And the benefits for businesses based on the science that got us to the moon are still felt today. Or how about the National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/). It is a government organization that “supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.” And as part of the charter for the many Engineering Research Centers that it funds, they are specifically directed to freely hand over research, and work very closely with interested businesses who might benefit from that research. These are just two out of dozens of good examples of how government has assisted businesses. It can definitely do the same with renewable energy, if applied correctly.

    And so I just don’t get the rabid anti-government mood from the Libertarians. Yes, national government has some huge problems, and there are very valid reasons why you would want it out of your life. But, once again, please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. (That poor baby… :-) ) A nation this size and with this much power in the world can not be effective in the manner in which it must be with the extremely limited government that the Libertarians wish to impose.

    Should we limit government? Absolutely! But only with reason and common sense. Should we limit government to the extremes wanted by the Tea Party and the Libertarians? I personally think it’s not even possible. And even if it were, the severity of the change to such an extremely limited government would cause such an unsustainable and crippling effect in the country that we’d be decades recovering. Our quality of life would dramatically suffer and most of the social benefits we enjoy (national parks, higher education, the NSF described above, museums, and a myriad of other critical needs such as water safety, etc.) would be eliminated. Take a look at the severe reduction in services in Colorado Springs, CO this year for a real-life example. (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_14303473)

    I really just don’t understand how this is a good idea.

  25. james gets a gold star for citing PNAS.

    if geoff could cite PNAS, meaning, if article against AGW could get published in there, I might take notice.

    but until then, i will just say that the guy (or woman) than can provide peer-reviewed, rock-solid evidence that man’s actions are not effecting the Earth’s climate would be a rock star.

    like totally.

    that’s how this stuff works. guy with the evidence that goes against current consensus wins.

  26. Geoff B. writes,

    ‘One group wants to control your life, the kind of car you are allowed to drive, how much you pay for gas, how much you are allowed to fly, …

    ‘The other group wants limited, moderate measures that deal with specific concerns. This group wants more study before taking drastic measures that would limit freedom or raise your taxes.’

    This is exactly how I feel about it. I’m not an expert in the subject. I couldn’t be one if I wanted to, and I shouldn’t be expected to. The vast majority of people are laymen in virtually every field of learning.

    But I do see a clear and definite correlation between people who buy into AGW extremism, and people who favor higher government control over people’s lives. Is it just a coincidence that, statistically speaking, the more politically “liberal” (a misnomer in my opinion) you are, the more likely you are to embrace the truth of AGW?

    (For poll results by political affiliation see here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/126563/conservatives-doubts-global-warming-grow.aspx )

    This alone (my observation of the correlation, not the Gallup poll) serves to make skepticism my default position. I can’t help suspecting that AGW is being used as an excuse for imposing leftist programs.

    Undoubtedly, those on the left would say that my “rightism” makes me deny AGW for the purpose of imposing “rightist” programs. But I don’t think this holds water. I mean, what rightist programs would those be? Letting people do what they want? I heard a really lame argument recently, basically saying that conservatives oppose any restriction on their ability to pollute. That’s dumb. Nobody wants to pollute for its own sake. Everyone wants clean air and water.

    If the motive for denying AGW is alleged to be money, that’s dumb too, because money can be made selling “green” products as well as non-green, as every company from Proctor & Gamble to GM can testify. You can’t watch TV for a half-hour without being bombarded with ads for green products. In fact it would be just as credible to argue that huge corporations like Toyota and P&G love AGW hysteria since it enables them to make money selling Priuses and biodegradable cleansers.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that when conservatives oppose environmental policies it’s because they tend to conflict with the conservative values of small government and low taxes, and not because conservatives enjoy breathing smoke. Whereas when liberals favor them it’s because like conservatives, they enjoy clean air, but unlike conservatives they have no fear of large government and high taxes.

  27. Agellius writes,

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that when conservatives oppose environmental policies it’s because they tend to conflict with the conservative values of small government and low taxes, and not because conservatives enjoy breathing smoke.

    I’d have to agree, but with a caveat (see below). I’d say the majority of normal, hard-working Americans who lean conservatively have this or a similar outlook. There’s no limb that needs climbing here. And there’s no basic problem with small government and low taxes, if it is done with responsibility and foresight. A centrist-facing conservative political stance has a great deal of good ideas to bring to the table.

    And so does a centrist-facing liberal stance.

    Agellius also writes,

    Whereas when liberals favor them it’s because like conservatives, they enjoy clean air, but unlike conservatives they have no fear of large government and high taxes.

    Some liberals are exactly as you say, I’ll agree. Some of them are the stereotypical tree-huggin’, build-nothin’-nowhere, let’s go back to a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, anti-anything-business idiots that are so easy to paint a target on. But the majority are not at all like that. Just as the majority of conservatives are not all pollutin’, money-grabbin’, gun-totin’, racist spoutin’, fat, bald, sweaty, sleazy hypocrites that the Left demonizes.

    You are basically pointing your finger at straw men. Your stereotypical “leftist” does exist, yes. But he or she isn’t a true representative of ALL of the liberals. Just as someone like the leftist’s whipping boy, Cheney, isn’t a true representative of ALL of the conservatives.

    Agellius, you paint all of liberals with one broad sweep of a brush to demean them all collectively as socialists who want to emulate, for example, the restrictive world of the book “1984.” And you paint conservatives as the opposite, and so obviously the “good guys.” Well, anytime I see such a stark black and white description of any two opposing groups, no matter who they are, my bullcrap alarms start screaming.

    Because there are absolutely no examples where any group is completely blameless, from a cub scout meeting all the way up to a world summit of nation’s leaders. Humans are imperfect. There are no organizations, political platforms, businesses, or any other human-created collection of individuals that doesn’t have serious problems with it. And so your simple “good guys, bad guys” description of the conservative vs. liberal debate on AGW (or any other subject for that matter) simply doesn’t hold up. Because the Republicans are just as fallible as the Democrats when it comes to this discussion. They make as many mistakes, and they tell as many lies as the other side does.

    It is my view that both sides are pointing their fingers at each other’s extremist wing of their respective party. And they are then saying that the few, but very loud extremists are the voice for the entire political party, which isn’t the case for either of them. But unfortunately the media, loving a ratings-making fight, have handed over the bullhorn to the extremists on both sides so that if you are not careful and selective, all you will ever hear are the loud, very vocal extreme wings of government. All the media gives us is hate radio, screaming matches which are supposed to be informative conversations, lack of any form of political civility, rational thought or fact checking, and highly politically biased and skewed “news” specifically meant to mislead the public. And yes, it happens on both sides. Olbermann and O’Reilly are on two sides of the same filthy coin.

    And because the minority of political extremists makes ratings, and thus money, the vast majority of those of us who have a more reasonable and rational ideal of how to govern are drowned out and ignored. And unfortunately, being bombarded by such rhetoric constantly, the entire nation is slowly drifting to those extremes.

    And so Agellius, the arguments from the left that you pointed out as lame or dumb in your post above most likely are. But where did those arguments come from initially? Who made them? Did those argument initially come from a leftist extremist? Or were those arguments created by some pundit or politician to show how wrong the other side is? I personally don’t know the answer to that.

    But I do know that the arguments you pointed out above (vast control of government, etc.) aren’t typical of myself (being a centrist) or any of the centrist-facing liberals that I personally talk to, either in person or via the Internet. And I’ve read hundreds of articles by reasonable politicians and pundits on both sides who call for only a reasonable and justifiable restriction on businesses for safety and health reasons. Nothing over the top or unreasonable. Just what should be considered common sense restrictions on business practices in regards to pollution.

    But do any of those ideas ever make the national news? Of course not.

  28. James:

    I think it is you who have oversimplified what I wrote, or possibly attributed attitudes to me which you have observed in others.

    I admit that speaking simply of “conservatives” and “liberals”, and what people in each camp are like, naturally will lead to oversimplifications. Of course not everyone fits neatly into one camp or the other, and people within each camp vary as to the extent of their allegiance to the camp’s core values, and even as to what those values are.

    Nevertheless if the words are to have any meaning at all then we need to be able to make general statements about the political persuasions of the people to whom we apply the words. And I think it’s reasonable to say generally that conservatives favor less government and lower taxes, and that liberals have a higher tolerance for big government and higher taxes, relative to conservatives.

    Of course some liberals are very extreme, and so are some conservatives, but not all are. Everyone knows that. I was not intending to imply otherwise. Nevertheless there is a clear correlation between one’s liberalism and the level of credence one gives to the theory of AGW. There is also a fairly high level of harmony between environmental policies and leftist policies — if that were not so, then the majority of liberals would not support the majority of environmental policies, but in fact they do.

    Since I’m a conservative I am skeptical of the motives behind the environmental movement. If, for some reason, the AGW movement were pushing for *less* government and *lower* taxes, then I would not suspect leftist motives behind it — but then maybe liberals would suspect conservative motives.

    Also I don’t say that AGW was a leftist plot from start to finish. I just think that if it did not happen to fit hand-in-glove with the leftist political agenda, then it would not so easily have captured the seemingly unquestioning allegiance of academia and media, resulting in the near-universal hue-and-cry that we have witnessed from those quarters, not to mention from the Democratic Party.

  29. Agellius wrote,

    And I think it’s reasonable to say generally that conservatives favor less government and lower taxes, and that liberals have a higher tolerance for big government and higher taxes, relative to conservatives.

    I completely disagree. That is a vast oversimplification. For a personal example, if Obama has such a tolerance for higher taxes, then why are my own taxes now much lower that they used to be? Or if Bush were so pro-responsible spending, why did the deficit balloon under his watch? If the GOP were so anti-big government, why did the government grow so large during the last decade? (To be fair, Obama is continuing that expansionistic trend unfortunately.)

    Yes, the political parties can be pigeonholed into these nice, compact and tidy packages if you’d like. But the reality is far, far distant, and much dirtier than these vaporous illusions. Politics is a nasty business. Politicians lie and cheat constantly to remain in power. That’s just the way it is and always has been. Yes, there are liberal extremists that can be used to fuel your dismissal of the liberals as vastly inferior to your “shining knights of conservative thought,” but they are a minority only and not a overarching example of the entire political platform.

    Politics is a knock-down, drag out fight of money and power, and sometimes it is a miracle if anything constructive is accomplished at all. But when something good is accomplished, it is almost always accomplished by the center isles and not by the extremists (from either side). The famous quote, “politics is the art of compromise” is true. Our government is set up to work as a vehicle for agreement and compromise between two (or more) opposing sides. It is usually a very good thing when one side has the Congress, for example, while the other has the Presidency (or visa-versa). In other words, there are checks and balances in place in our government that tends to override an extremist trend over a period of time. At least that used to be the case before the modern media gave an unchecked bullhorn to the fanatics.

    Agellius also wrote,

    Nevertheless there is a clear correlation between one’s liberalism and the level of credence one gives to the theory of AGW.

    Oh, I don’t doubt that at all. It is unfortunately true that both pro and con on this issue tend (in general) to place their political valuations before any evidence of AGW placed before them.

    He also said,

    Since I’m a conservative I am skeptical of the motives behind the environmental movement.

    As am I, for certain parts of it. As I said, no organization or group is blameless in this argument.

    And lastly,

    Also I don’t say that AGW was a leftist plot from start to finish. I just think that if it did not happen to fit hand-in-glove with the leftist political agenda, then it would not so easily have captured the seemingly unquestioning allegiance of academia and media, resulting in the near-universal hue-and-cry that we have witnessed from those quarters, not to mention from the Democratic Party.

    I’m glad you say you don’t think it’s a plot. But when you say “Leftist Political Agenda” and “Leftist Plot” I hear shades of Limbaugh in the back of my mind. And it tends to make me think that you actually do believe that vast, nationwide conspiracies are hatching from the evil, socialist Democrats.

    Let me let you in on a secret: the Dems are no more or less evil than the GOP. It’s true! The moronic leftists who said Bush was in on the 9/11 attacks are just as wacko as the idiots on the right who say Obama is a secret socialist. Or fascist. Or whatever the current conspiracy of the day happens to be. You may not agree with the “Leftist Political Agenda” as you call it, and that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean it has absolutely no worth at all and should be dismissed outright as “socialist conspiracies.” Or that the entire Democrat national political platform should be considered a “threat to the nation,” as I’ve heard from the pulpit, politicians and news anchors. And most importantly, that those who agree with some of it’s principals should be treated (as Glenn Beck put it) as an “enemy of conservative values.”

    [begin rant mode]

    An enemy? An ENEMY?!!!

    I am a practicing Mormon. I try my hardest to be a good person and to attend church every week, the Temple when I can, and to keep the promises I’ve made to the Savior. I fail constantly of course, but then that means I’m just like everyone else. I have a firm testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ and I try to live it as best as I can. Just like the rest of us.

    But I can’t tell you how many times I feel as if I’m not wanted in church meetings, just because I’m not a conservative. Just because I happen to have a slightly different outlook on how our political process should be dealt with, I am not asked to family gatherings; I’m not wanted in the “inner circle of the righteous few.” I’m not given certain callings because I might espouse some “liberal” values in class. Every time I raise my hand I get furtive glances from those around me even though I’ve never said anything worth that response. And I have to sit in the pews listening to someone voice in testimony meeting on the 4th of July how wonderful it is to be in the Lord’s own officially sanctioned political party.

    The subversive political division that has corrupted the ability to have a civil dialog in the US has found it’s way into every Mormon ward in America. I’ve read countless horror stories, much worse than mine, of many liberal Mormons who have left the LDS church because they no longer felt welcome there. Not because they were living unrighteously, but simply because they were Democrats.

    Now, how exactly does this fit in with the Lord’s teachings of love, faith and charity for all? How often have you attempted to cross the divide and to understand someone from a liberal viewpoint? How often do you open your heart to those who follow the “leftist plots?” Are there any liberals in your ward? How exactly do they feel in church? Are they welcomed? Do you know? And how exactly can you call another of God’s children an enemy because they are a Democrat, and still call yourself a true follower of Christ? How exactly can you stand by and let people who want to learn about God’s teaching leave the church in tears because you don’t agree with their political decisions? Can’t you see that the Lord’s Gospel is far greater and infinitely more important than any stupid man-made concept like politics? Can’t you see what harm is being done around you?

    Am I your enemy? No I’m not. But I can sure see why someone would want to be, considering the results of your actions. If I didn’t know with a conviction that the Gospel is true, I’d have long since found some other church that actually wanted me around.

    [end rant mode]

    (For the record Agellius, this rant isn’t directed specifically at you, but generally to all of the Republican members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Specifically to those who follow Glenn Beck’s hateful and harmful statements against his fellow Saints. And yes, Mormon Democrats have just as many sins as the Republicans. Just not this specific one.)

  30. this rant isn’t directed specifically at you, but generally to all of the Republican members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    So wait — it’s not ok for conservatives to reject or dismiss or generalize about liberals in a negative way (and I agree it’s not), but it’s ok to go the other direction?

    I actually agree with you on the problems of extremism, but this kind of response seems to be part of the problem. There can’t be compromise if there is continued objectification of the “other side.”

    For example, it seems unfair to blame conservatives for the decision of liberals to leave the Church. The hostility that comes in such an accusation in its own right inhibits the possibility of dialogue just as much as people getting up and declaring their party to be the One True Party in church does. Both approaches are examples of extreme behavior that is damaging to the Church and to our nation. We can’t really get to the point of effective committees and compromise if each “side” plays either the victim or the champion, insisting that the problematic behavior is only engaged in by “the other side.”

  31. Mfranti,

    I used to have a blog, but I haven’t updated it since ’06. Life happened. ;-)

    Michelle,

    Good call. I stand guilty as charged, & I apologize. My built up frustration with the problem got the better of me & I ranted. But while my delivery was uncalled for & wrong, the message is still valid.

    There is an unfortunate culture in the church where it is assumed that if you are LDS, you are Republican. And those members who are not Republican are typically treated as misguided poor souls & sometimes much worse. A great example of this is how Senator Reid was treated recently by Mormons in Nevada when he was scheduled to speak at a Fireside there.

    And so yes, I was wrong to say all Mormon Republicans are at fault here. That was a stupid statement. Nonetheless, there is still a terrible problem hidden in the current culture of the church.

  32. James:

    You write, ‘if Obama has such a tolerance for higher taxes, then why are my own taxes now much lower that they used to be? Or if Bush were so pro-responsible spending, why did the deficit balloon under his watch?’

    I was talking about conservative principles, not the actions of one allegedly conservative president. Bush’s deficits ballooned largely because of the two wars he was fighting, combined with his tax cuts (consistent with conservative principles), would be my guess. Granted he did a lot of stuff that conservatives disagreed with due to his ideas of “compassionate conservatism”, in addition to needing to compromise with a Democratic Congress in order to get things done. That doesn’t change the principles themselves.

    If your taxes have gone down under Obama, good for you, but mine haven’t. I had to pay out of my pocket last April for the first time in my life, and not because of increased income I assure you.

    You write, ‘Yes, the political parties can be pigeonholed into these nice, compact and tidy packages if you’d like. But the reality is far, far distant, and much dirtier than these vaporous illusions.’

    Again I wasn’t talking primarily about political parties, but liberal and conservative principles. You are the one, I think, who is trying to pigeonhole me as someone who oversimplifies things, merely because I acknowledge the reality and importance of principles and how they affect people’s beliefs.

    You write, ‘Politics is a knock-down, drag out fight of money and power, and sometimes it is a miracle if anything constructive is accomplished at all. But when something good is accomplished, it is almost always accomplished by the center isles and not by the extremists (from either side).’

    I don’t buy the existence of a “center” in politics. The center is supposedly the midpoint between left and right, but it has no meaning of its own. Someone in the center, theoretically, is someone who’s moderate, i.e. not too hot and not too cold, but just right. But who defines “just right”? Everyone defines it for himself. And naturally most of us believe our own positions are “just right”, and therefore moderate, and therefore centrist. Personally, though, being aware of these things, I dismiss the idea that I am centrist. I admit that my positions lean right. That doesn’t mean that in practical matters I would be incapable of giving and taking in order to get some of the things that I want. As George W. Bush did.

    You write, ‘It is unfortunately true that both pro and con on this issue tend (in general) to place their political valuations before any evidence of AGW placed before them.’

    You can speak for yourself on this, but if you’re applying that to me, I deny it. As I said, I’m not an expert on AGW and therefore would not even know what to do with most of the “evidence”, and neither would the vast majority of people, if they were honest with themselves. I don’t place my political views above the evidence, I’m just staking out a position of skepticism. I believe that conservatives are not evil, and therefore if people were really in danger due to global warming then conservatives as well as anyone else would be willing to take steps to avert the danger. I mean think about it: If conservatives are all about capitalism, why would they not want to avert global catastrophe? What could be worse for free enterprise then having potential customers dying by the thousands, and expensive real estate swallowed up by the oceans?

    You write, ‘when you say “Leftist Political Agenda” and “Leftist Plot” I hear shades of Limbaugh in the back of my mind. And it tends to make me think that you actually do believe that vast, nationwide conspiracies are hatching from the evil, socialist Democrats.’

    You can believe what you want based on your perceived “shades”, or you can believe that I mean what I say. I have no control over you in that regard.

    You write, ‘For the record Agellius, this rant isn’t directed specifically at you, but generally to all of the Republican members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    “Generally to all Republican members”?? LOL!

  33. agellius opined,

    Again I wasn’t talking primarily about political parties, but liberal and conservative principles. You are the one, I think, who is trying to pigeonhole me as someone who oversimplifies things, merely because I acknowledge the reality and importance of principles and how they affect people’s beliefs.

    Yeah, I knew you were talking about principles. But unless they are God-given or moral principals, they aren’t entirely practical in the real world. This is especially true with political principals which bend and break like cardboard.

    And so my examples were of times when political principals were not followed. Attempting to illustrate my point.

    He also said,

    But who defines “just right?”

    A good philosophical question. Goldylocks? ;-) Seriously, you have a point, but only if taken in a vacuum with no other data taken into account. A nation’s culture & society form the basis of what is accepted within it’s borders. For example, just after the Civil War the newly founded Democrat party were the political arm of, to put it bluntly, racists. Thus by most accounts of the time by reasonable & intelligent people, they would be considered extreme & outside of the norm.

    Obviously that has changed over time. Since then both parties have taken turns on the “wild side.” Both sides have had their fair share of wacko behavior in the last century. At the moment it is the Republican’s turn. Or, more accurately, the Tea Pary/Libertarian’s turn.

    If conservatives are all about capitalism, why would they not want to avert global catastrophe?

    For the same reason they didn’t want to avoid the financial crisis in ’08-09: It’s “someone else’s problem.” No one was (or is) willing to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

  34. James:

    As usual we have failed to persuade one another. But I’m content to leave things as they are.

    I can always count on you for a rip-roaring debate that is not quite on topic. : )

  35. Agellius said,

    I can always count on you for a rip-roaring debate that is not quite on topic. : )

    I’m glad I can be of service. ;-) Have a good one.

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  38. Pingback: » Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions – Assuming No Risk Without Rational Evidence The Millennial Star

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