My Case for Acting on Curbing CO2 Emissions – Immediately (My Case: Part 1 of 3)

In my previous posts I explained my own frustrations of trying to make sense of the global warming debate and my anger over dishonesty on both sides. I further expressed some additional one-sided anger at the global warming deniers for using arguments that had nothing to do with the actual debate, such as the false dichotomy of water vapor vs. CO2 or simultaneously claiming that global warming is real, but caused by the sun and then immediately also claiming that the last decade of cooling proves there is no global warming.  

I ended with finally finding global warming skeptic Stephen McIntyre’s website. I mentioned that I found something there that got around all the problems of trying to make sense of it and also convinced me that the time to act had already arrived.

 Very simply, I found out that McIntyre claims CO2 levels are growing and are man made. Apparently this fact is generally considered non-controversial because even the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) Skeptics, such as McIntyre, agree CO2 growth is man made.

 Now I found this on McIntyre’s old site, but you can still find this on his current site, such as in this article and also this one.

 Here is a sample:

That the increase of CO2, at least in the past 50 years, is mainly man-made already follows out of the mass balance
More evidence for man-made increase is in the following:

  • CO2 levels in the upper oceans follow the air measurements
  • pH levels in the upper oceans are decreasing
  • d13C ratios are declining in the atmosphere and with some delay in the upper oceans

This is a good indication that the (deep) oceans are not the source of the extra CO2, as the (deep) oceans have a higher d13C ratio than the atmosphere.

  • oxygen levels are declining in near ratio with fossil fuel use.
  • As there is a small deficiency in oxygen use, that indicates that vegetation is not a net source of CO2, but a net sink (about 2 GtC/yr), as oxygen is produced by CO2 uptake.
Super cool graph that proves my point

This graph proves it all! Too bad I have no idea what it means.

 And this is coming from the greatest hero of global warming skeptics! [1] Stephen McIntyre may be a global warming skeptic, but he is not an Anthropogenic CO2 Level skeptic.

Now, to be sure, there are some skeptics over even this claim, such as this article. But go read this article and think about it for a moment. There is next to no one arguing against the idea that CO2 levels are growing and that the growth is man made. This skeptic article really just claims that it is growing and its man made, but the earth will eventually absorb it. But that doesn’t make me any more comfortable. How will it absorb it? Will it absorb it forever? Will there be some sort of nasty side effect?

That’s Your Evidence!?

At this point, I pause to allow the gales of laughter to pass. “That’s it! That’s your whole argument? You support immediate action to curb CO2 emissions because one guy says Anthropogenic CO2-Levels is true? What type of lame evidence is that?”

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m saying I made my decision based on exactly one piece of evidence: that AGW Denier darling, Stephen McIntyre, says CO2 level is growing and man made.

How could there be a better piece of evidence to a layman like myself? Even in principle? Please describe for me what better evidence would look like? Because honestly I can’t think of a better possible piece of layman evidence.

It Was This Or Admit I was Not a Skeptic, Just a Denier

Being a conservative and an AGW skeptic, I was unconvinced by the existence of a wide scientific consensus, just like many of you aren’t convinced by it. I basically ignored it as evidence.

But what exactly would I accept as evidence then?

Was I waiting for a 100% consensus? Not going to happen. Was I basing my skepticism on a minority view? If so, why? Clearly if I didn’t buy a wide scientific consensus, then I shouldn’t by a minority scientific view either, should I? It would be mighty lame of me to go around claiming AGW isn’t a problem because ‘some scientists say it’s not a problem.’ The obvious counter argument to this would be that ‘most scientists say it is a problem.’

Did AGW Skeptics had better arguments? The truth was that I didn’t understand the scientific arguments of either side because I lacked the scientific and mathematical background required. And I also had to admit to myself that the AGW non-scientific arguments that I could understand were basically meaningless. At most they showed some doubt, not a counter proof. They weren’t enough.

The sad truth was that I didn’t get to make this decision based on direct evidence. I got to make it based on who I trusted and, effectively, which prophet I thought was the true one. So I had to admit to myself that if I was going to reject Stephen McIntyre’s word for it about Anthropogenic CO2 Levels, there was no evidence possible even in principle that would convince me to act.

I either had to accept that CO2 levels were growing and were man made based on his testimony, or I had to admit to myself that there was no possible way to convince me and that my view was effectively non-falsifiable. My choice was suprisingly simple: accept McIntyre’s testimony or choose to be some guy with his head in the sand — an Anthropogenic CO2 Level Denier in the worst possible sense of that term.

Manufactured Consensus on Anthropogenic CO2 Levels?

These thoughts haunted me for a while. But it kept coming back to this: who is holding a gun to McIntyre’s head over the Anthropogenic CO2 levels?

There was no possible way I could claim McIntyre was part of some manufactured consensus. His admitting to the consensus view on this point was genuine and there was no way around that fact. I had discovered as good as evidence as was humanly possible for a layman like myself that Anthropogenic CO Levels was real.

Anthropogenic CO2 Levels vs. Anthropogenic Global Warming

Now to be sure, Stephen McIntyre is very skeptical that Anthropogenic CO2 Levels causes Anthropogenic Global Warming. So while I can understand skepticism over the scientific consensus over global warming, I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be worried, at least a little bit, about these facts:

  1. That we’re putting unsustainable levels of CO2 in the atmosphere already – even the elite of the AGW Skeptics admits this
  2. That we plan to do more as China and India modernize, and
  3. That we currently have no way of slowing it down to sustainable (i.e. non-growing) levels.

That made me realize the truth:

The Global Warming Issue and the CO2 emissions issue are two separate but related issues.

Who cares if Anthropogenic CO2-Levels causes AGW or not? Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. It’s more than a little obvious by now that we don’t know and our science isn’t up to the task.

Let me say that again, because it was important: our science is not up to the task of proving if global warming is man made or not.

I originally went on to explain this last statement further, but I’ve decided to put off further explanation until my next post because of lack of space here. In future posts, I will also address the obvious question of whether or not it’s acceptable to allow CO2 Levels to Anthropogenically grow if we have no proof of a pending problem.

Notes

[1]  “And this is coming from the greatest hero of global warming skeptics!” My memory is that what I found was a quote from McIntyre saying something like “I agree CO2 levels are a problem, I just don’t believe they are causing global warming. So let’s shift the debate to be about acting on the CO2 Level problem.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the quote, even on the way back machine, so I’m either remembering it wrong or it’s tucked away somewhere not easy to find.

48 thoughts on “My Case for Acting on Curbing CO2 Emissions – Immediately (My Case: Part 1 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New post: My Case for Acting on Curbing CO2 Emissions – Immediately -- Topsy.com

  2. Let me see if I understand your reasoning.

    1. Human activity causes CO2 emissions.
    2. Those CO2 emissions are changing the earth’s environment.
    3. It doesn’t really matter how the emissions are changing the environment; the mere fact that the environment is being changed is a problem.
    4. Therefore, we must immediately act to curb CO2 emissions.

    I’m sorry, but that line of reasoning proves too much. It would justify curbing any human activity that changes the environment, regardless of the costs, benefits, or consequences.

    Perhaps I’m premature to criticize your reasoning before knowing what parts 2 and 3 will say. But no–your posting is changing the online environment of the Bloggernacle, and therefore we must immediately act to curb your posting.

  3. Eric James Stone,

    I believe my actual argument (so far) can be summarized like this.

    1. Humans are the known source of CO2 level growth.
    2. That growth is projected (if we do nothing) to just keep growing.
    3. In fact, it’s projected to grow faster in the future as the world modernizes.

    Therefore I’m an advocate against choosing to do absolutely nothing whatsoever about it. (I have not been more specific than this so far and have never advocated for the liberal agenda on this.)

    My question back to you would be “what possible layman evidence would you want to see that would actually cause you to take action?”

    Using your logic above, you could justify inaction in all circumstances, which strikes me as problematic.

    Do you advocate for waiting for some imminent problem first that we can prove beyond doubt stems directly from Anthropogenic CO2? Would such a proof be possible, even in principle? I guess I have my doubts.

  4. This was one of the most thoughtful and carefully thought-out rational explorations I’ve seen. I’m impressed with the intellectual honesty you approached the question. Asking, ‘What evidence would I take?’ is exactly the right approach. I plan to share your exercise with my philosophy of biology students.

  5. Bruce, actually, there is zero proof for your numbers 2 and 3 in the long term. Yes, CO2 may go up in the short term. But with the world economy slowing in 2009, CO2 emissions actually went DOWN.

    Here is the source:

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/15/eia-stunner-co2-drop-climate-bil/

    Yes, CO2 may go up again, but at what level and for how long? The way things appear to be going, we may go into another worldwide recession in 2011. It may take years to get to the CO2 levels of 2005, depending how severe the next recession is. But most importantly, nobody can accurately predict CO2 levels even a decade from now because we don’t know what inventions will come along that will cause paradigm-changing technological shifts. Those inventions may happen in five to 10 years and be adopted completely in 20 years — or they may not happen for another 100 years. We simply don’t know.

    So, the entire basis of your argument is false and based on predictions that almost certainly will not ever come true.

    The entire basis for global warming alarmism are models that take existing data and extrapolate it in ways that are impossible to prove with any accuracy. One thing we have learned about the world climate is that it is incredibly complex and sometimes even self-healing. I simply don’t take any of the extrapolations seriously because none of them have proven accurate in the 22-plus years I have been following this issue closely.

  6. > Using your logic above, you could justify inaction in all
    > circumstances, which strikes me as problematic.

    No, because I specifically said that your approach “would justify curbing any human activity that changes the environment, regardless of the costs, benefits, or consequences.” Obviously, I am willing to take into account the costs, benefits, and consequences of inaction versus action in deciding which is better.

    Higher CO2 per se is not “bad” for “the environment.” There have been periods in the past with far higher concentrations than today (and higher temperatures, of course). Now, if that leads to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and a rise of several meters in sea level, that would obviously be bad for civilization, so we might want to take action to avoid that. But the idea that there’s some sort of naturally “correct” amount of CO2 for the atmosphere that we are violating just makes no sense. What makes sense is figuring out what problems our CO2 emissions actually cause and whether they are severe enough to require curbs on carbon emissions.

    > My question back to you would be “what possible layman evidence
    > would you want to see that would actually cause you to take
    > action?”

    I would want evidence that the net benefits of the efforts to reduce CO2 emissions exceed the net costs of doing so.

  7. Bruce, let me follow up on my comment #4 with something else for you to think about as you ponder this situation.

    What were the primary ecological problems 100 years ago, and what are they today? Are they the same or different? What caused some of those problems to go away?

    I would submit to you that if you lived in New York in 1910 one of the major environmental problems was horse manure. Why is it no longer a problem? New technology. A scientist examining the environment in 1910 — and projecting as some scientists do today about CO2 — would have come to the conclusion that as the world’s population increases and industrialization increases the production of horse manure would have skyrocketed completely out of control, perhaps to 20 times already unsustainable levels.

    Well, we all know what happened to the horse manure. It went away as the horseless carriage became more popular.

    It is very possible — and indeed, given history, extremely likely — that fossil fuel emissions will be as low as current horse manure production in 100 years.

    Any student of the very basics of science and history knows that making projections decades ahead is a dangerous and fruitless exercise. Or at least they should.

  8. There is a missing step here, that can be seen by comparison with EM radiation concerns. There’s no question that power lines and the wiring in our walls has introduced an unnatural factor that didn’t exist before. But is that change harming our health and nature? (A lot of research says no, but, ah, isn’t that what those EPRI shills would say?)

  9. “So, the entire basis of your argument is false and based on predictions that almost certainly will not ever come true.”

    You are expressing certainty. I am expressing none whatsoever. Since you feel certain, you feel no need to act. Since I don’t feel certain, I feel a need to take some level of action, though not necessarily what the democrats are suggesting. (In fact, as you’ll soon see, I despise what the democrats are suggesting.)

    Geoff said: “The way things appear to be going, we may go into another worldwide recession in 2011.”

    I am clearly stating an assumption: that economic growth in the long run is up and not down nor steady. Given a different assumption — that we’ll stop growing economically forever — clearly my conclusion would be wrong. I do not deny that.

    Needless to say, I do not agree with that assumption, so I’ll say no more on the subject.

    The rest of what you say, that we just don’t know what future developments may affect CO2 levels is clearly true. I’ll say more on this subject in the future. But for now, I’ll just say that I’ve sort of already addressed this in a past post and I’ll refer you to that.

    To summarize my past thoughts, yes, I can assume that in the future there will be developments that remove the CO2 problem. And, given that assumption, I should then not worry.

    But I am unable to rationally start with this assumption. It does not seem responsible to me to start addressing the question of “whether or not there is cause for concern” with the assumption that since the future is unforeseeable that I therefore should assume there is no cause for concern. My question back to you would be “what would it take for you to act *now* given that we can never know the future?”

    Eric James Stone says: “I would want evidence that the net benefits of the efforts to reduce CO2 emissions exceed the net costs of doing so.”

    Are you saying you are in favor of any postive cost benefit analysis? If so, then you just answered my question and I appreciate it. I will hold you too it.

    Or do you really just mean that if someone can convince you of a cost benefit analysis, then you’d change your mind? (Which is really just restating the obvious: that if you change your mind you will change your mind.)

    If you meant the former, then please go read Geoff’s link here. Jim Manzi does a cost benefit analysis and ends up rejecting the democratic proposal (as I do I) but advocates taking action (as do I.) He even suggests specific actoins I can get behind. So welcome to the fold now that your bar of evidence has been reached.

  10. Bruce,

    Well, obviously I didn’t mean just any old evidence (and neither did you, or else whatever it said on whatever climate-change website you went to first would have been enough to set you on your course.) I mean solid evidence that unless we curb emissions, something worse than the damage to our economy will happen.

    I had already read Jim Manzi’s piece (your link is broken, BTW), and I did not recall him advocating that we curb CO2 emissions immediately. So I went back and looked at it again. In fact, he advocates against curbing emissions at this point:

    In the event that we discover at some point decades in the future that warming is far worse than currently anticipated, which would you rather have at that point: the marginal reduction in emissions that would have resulted up to that point from any realistic global mitigation program, or having available the product of a decades-long technology project to develop tools to ameliorate the problem as we then understand it?

    That fits in with Geoff B’s 5:42am comment about how we are poor predictors of what actual future problems will be. It’s entirely possible that in 2100 we will face a global shortage of atmospheric CO2 because too many people are using nanotech factories that pull carbon out of the atmosphere. (Hmm, I probably ought to write that story.)

    I have no problem with people developing technologies that reduce carbon emissions. More (non-fossil-fuel) power to ‘em! I have no ideological commitment to oil–I’ll be happy to power my flying car with garbage and a Mr. Fusion in 2015. But I see no need to hamstring our economy now just because we are emitting CO2.

  11. Thank you Bruce for writing a very well thought out, well written and intelligent article on AGW. And once again I agree with you on all points. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way about the topic.

    Geoff B says,

    It is very possible — and indeed, given history, extremely likely — that fossil fuel emissions will be as low as current horse manure production in 100 years.

    This is 100% pure wishful thinking and conjecture, and so it doesn’t make a good point of dispute. Nonetheless, I really hope so too. I would love for these guys will be successful, for example. I have some doubts about what he says in that video, but at least there are some people who are trying to get us out of this mess we are in.

    And just for the record, despite being slightly left of center politically, I’m not happy with the Democrat’s proposals either. But on the other hand the Republicans don’t have any proposals at all, as is typical. Doesn’t leave us much, does it?

    I’m looking forward to your next article Bruce. It should be very interesting.

    (PS: In #8, I was interested in reading the “Geoff’s link here” link, but it couldn’t be found. Do you have the correct link?)

  12. Eric said,

    I mean solid evidence that unless we curb emissions, something worse than the damage to our economy will happen.

    Umm… How about the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?

    Our addiction to fossil fuels doesn’t need to be a direct cause of CO2 to be a major problem. There are many other forms of pollution besides air pollution. The media firestorm over AGW is masking the fact that their are pollutants in our water and soil as well. Read this Wikipedia article on hydraulic fracturing for an example of an increasingly common problem with rural drinking water near a natural gas mine.

    So ok, you don’t want to curb emissions? That’s cool. Then how about helping to repair the damage caused by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which exempted hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation?

    Natural gas can be a reasonable alternative for energy if it is extracted safely. But the fact that it has absolutely zero regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act is just insane!

  13. “McIntyre may be a global warming skeptic, but he is not an Anthropogenic CO2 Level skeptic.”

    As far as I know, no one is. Where have you been? Almost everyone I can think of agrees that co2 level increases are man made, but that does not mean that CO2 causes climate change.

    It all comes down to the same thing; the alarmists have a correlation between co2 levels and temperature. A correlation, that’s all. Alarmists have never been able to show how this correlation translates to causation. They show lots of images of melting glaciers and polar bears but these are evidence of climate change only, they are not evidence that CO2 is the cause.

  14. Eric James Stone,

    The problem with saying “a solid cost benefit analysis” is that “solid” can mean anything whatsoever. I suspect every AGW Denier out there — even the worst of them — claims they would change their mind if they just had “solid evidence”. But “solid” can mean anything. It often means “well, actually nothing is possible that can convince me because I can always find a potential problem with it and therefore declare it ‘not solid.’”

    So I’m going to ask again, what would it take to move you to action – any level of action whatsoever? Do you want to see a cost benefit analysis done by a skeptic? You have that with Jim. Do you want to see it done by an economist? Do you want it to be peer reviewed? What are you looking for? That’s what I’m asking you.

    And why are you arguing with me if all you need is a cost benefit analysis? All I’m arguing is that there is a real onus to act. I have advocated no specific actions yet. So you have no grounds for assuming I’m advocating something with a poor cost benefit analysis. Are you implying that there are literally no possible actions that can pass a cost benefit analysis? I find that rather hard to believe. In fact, I find it impossible to believe! Surely there must be something worth doing that is worth the cost. We shouldn’t be still having the ‘act or no act’ debate. We should be debating which actions are the right ones.

    Here is Jim’s modest proposal for action: “So what should we do about the real danger of global warming? In my view, we should be funding investments in technology that would provide us with response options in the event that we are currently radically underestimating the impacts of global warming.”

    It’s half of what I’m going to propose. But he impresse me because he’s not sitting on his duff and deciding to do nothing whatsoever which is what we conservatives have generally advocated. He’s actually putting a counter proposal on the table based on his best attempt at a cost benefit analysis. Therefore Jim is a skeptic, not a denier. And he’s not making wild assumptions about what future technology will be like (that’s impossible anyhow) and he’s not assuming economic growth is going to grind to a halt forever. He’s making the only really prudent assumptions open to us at this time. They will undoubtedly be wrong, but I can’t say which way they’ll be wrong.

    There seems to be a line in conservatives mind that can’t be crossed. For some reason we can’t separate ‘taking action’ and ‘taking the actions democrats advocate.’ This puzzles me. Deciding to ‘take action’ does not require us to agree with the democrats on what action to take.

    Instead, we seem to have decided to not take action until there is ‘more solid evidence.’ But what does that mean? It seems to generally mean ‘I’m waiting for a crisis.’

  15. “As far as I know, no one is. Where have you been? Almost everyone I can think of agrees that co2 level increases are man made, but that does not mean that CO2 causes climate change.”

    It’s almost like you don’t believe me that I only spent 15 hours or less researching this. :P It was, at that point in time, totally news to me.

    Yet that’s my point isn’t it? Few if anyone is debating whether or not CO2 levels are growing due to anthropogenic reasons. Even Klem isn’t debating it. It’s a ‘solid fact’ for all intense and purposes, or at least something we can all seem to agree upon.

  16. Bruce, the entire history of the AGW Believer movement has been to proclaim disaster that is certain to happen if “something is not done immediately.”

    As I have written before, back in 1989, when I was living in Miami, a UN official said that entire nations and cities would be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising water levels by the year 2000. The Miami Herald published a map showing all of Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and most of the rest of South Florida under water. Well, here it is 2010 and except for during the occasional hurricane, Miami is still mostly dry.

    http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2008/07/punxsutawney-al-greenhouse-gashog.html

    There is a long list of predictions that have been made since the 1980s and 1990s that have not come true and proven to be fabrications and exaggerations, everything from the imminent deforestation of the Amazon (remember, it was going to also disappear by the year 2000) to the imminent disappearence of the Himalayan glaciers (since retracted as a falsehood by the IPCC).

    Just three years ago, Al Gore said on tape that Arctic ice would completely disappear during the summer by 2012. And indeed in 2007 Arctic ice hit a low point. But it recovered in 2008 and 2009 and was doing pretty darned well early in 2010 (although it’s suffering a bit with this hot summer).

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/13/nsidcs-dr-walt-meier-on-pips-vs-piomas/

    But you’ll notice that there is little evidence to support the idea that the Arctic will be ice-free during the summer of 2012. Yet another prediction down the rat hole. By the way, you don’t hear that much about Antartic ice because it is actually increasing:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/14/nsidcs-dr-walt-meier-part-2/

    I give you this brief rundown of global warming predictions to bolster my point that I have complete certainty that whatever is predicted by global warming alarmists will almost certainly NOT come true in, say, 10 years. I am 100 percent certain that whatever is predicted in more than 30 years will not come true. The reason: there are simply too many variables in the worldwide climate, and too many possible directions that the global economy could take, and too much uncertainty regarding future inventions.

    To base any worldview or policy prescription on political partisans who have had such a bad history of predicting anything would be crazy.

    So, to review, what do we know? We know that the Earth warmed slightly in the 20th century and has mostly stopped warming in the last 10 years. We know that CO2 has gone up (and that it has also gone up during other periods in the Earth’s history) but that it dropped in 2009 and may drop again. We know that many of the suggestions for stopping CO2 growth would cause horrific economic damage, causing massive unemployment and human misery.

    Bruce says he has other suggestions. OK, let’s hear them. But as we consider other suggestions, we need to keep in mind that governmental action is not free and very often does more harm than good. Think of the ridiculous attempt to encourage ethanol development, which has caused massive distortions in the agricultural marketplace and, worst of all, caused an overall increase in CO2 because of all the tractors and fertilizers used to make corn. Any money spent by the government to stimulate, say, windmill production is money NOT spent on something else. The Spanish have spent billions developing “clean energy” and come to the conclusion that it was a completed wasted effort that caused greater unemployment and severely worsened the Spanish budget deficit.

    This does not mean that all efforts are not worthwhile. Money spent expanding the electrical grid to carry energy created by windmills would certainly be worth it. Money spent to encourage nuclear power would be worthwhile. So Bruce may have some suggestions that make sense. Let’s wait and see what he recommends.

  17. Bruce,

    > I have advocated no specific actions yet.

    True. You have stated that your case for acting rests entirely on the fact that human emissions are increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. You have titled your post “My Case for Acting on Curbing CO2 Emissions — Immediately.” But I may have been mistaken in drawing the conclusion “acting on curbing CO2 Emissions — immediately” meant drastic near-term cuts in emissions that would actually do something significant to affect the increasing concentration of CO2. So I’ll wait to see what it is you’re actually proposing.

  18. James,

    The BP disaster has nothing to do with curbing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Even if gasoline engines were obsolete, we would still be drilling for oil because it’s used for plastics, lubricants, etc.

    Your statement “Natural gas can be a reasonable alternative for energy if it is extracted safely” is perfectly reasonable, except in the context of curbing CO2 emissions (which happens to be the context of this entire discussion) because burning natural gas produces CO2.

  19. Geoff, I appreciate you waiting it out to see what I’m going to propose. You already know half of it and can probably guess the other half.

    I am curious about some things you said:

    “…I have complete certainty that whatever is predicted by global warming alarmists will almost certainly NOT come true in, say, 10 years. I am 100 percent certain that whatever is predicted in more than 30 years will not come true.”

    Really? 100%? You’ll forgive me if I’m incredulous. You are soooo much more sure of your self that I would be in any circumstances, even if I were a PhD in climatology.

    “So, to review, what do we know? We know that the Earth warmed slightly in the 20th century and has mostly stopped warming in the last 10 years. We know that CO2 has gone up (and that it has also gone up during other periods in the Earth’s history) but that it dropped in 2009 and may drop again.”

    I’m concerned with these two statements. At what point have you crossed over into the very same games that the AGW Believers use?

    Your statements are setup to imply causality, the very same sort that you chaff under when it comes from AGW Believers. Let’s concentrate on the CO2 level downturn you reference. Just a moment ago, you admitted it was caused by the economic downturn. If we can agree it was caused by economic downturn, then (unless you intend to argue that we’ve reached a new permanent or long term economic plateau) then you are tacitly admitting it’s a blip, not a trend. And if it’s a blip, then why imply it’s a trend?

    “We know that many of the suggestions for stopping CO2 growth would cause horrific economic damage, causing massive unemployment and human misery.”

    I’d agree. But so what? Seriously, do I look like an AGW Believer to you? ;) I don’t care what they are suggesting. I’m advocating we come up with a new and better suggestion that counters theirs rather than merely balk at theirs.

    The question still remains: where is the conservative counter proposal? You know, the one that *doesn’t* cause massive unemployment and human misery but still takes a seeming problematic set of trends seriously. Why have we let the liberal define us on this? Why have we let them set the tone for the debate?

    If you believe there is no chance in 30 years, where is your 40 year proposal to bring CO2 levels under control just in case a miracle cure doesn’t come along? Surely a 40 year proposal must be cheap enough to not cause human misery and unemployement yet still start actually doing something today to reverse a concerning trend.

  20. Geoff B proclaimed,

    Bruce, the entire history of the AGW Believer movement has been to proclaim disaster that is certain to happen if “something is not done immediately.”

    The entire history? Gee Geoff… overgeneralize much? :-)

    You do have some good points that I agree with Geoff. And of course some I don’t, but that’s cool. But I would suggest that your arguments would be better heeded if they weren’t couched in such an… um… shall we say, “forceful manner.”

    Yes, I’d say that a large part of the very vocal Believer movement have stupidly used the “sky is falling” tactic to get people to pay attention, as you have illustrated quite well. But that doesn’t mean that the entire Believer movement has done this. For example, I personally think that Gore has unwittingly and unfortunately done far more harm than good to create a reasonable solution to this problem. And I’m definitely not the only one on this side of the argument who has said that.

    You combine all of the members of the Believer movement into a single “homogeneous” group by completely overgeneralizing most of your attacks. But those attacks should instead be against either a small fraction or, as in this case, the most vocal of the group. And thus those who attempt to provide a well thought out example of their thoughts, as Bruce has done, are caught in your scattergun of insults. Despite the fact that Bruce has nothing to do with the “sky is falling” crowd of idiots. In fact, he’s about as far away from them as you can get and still be on the same side.

    Personally, I count myself on the Believer side of things. But similarly; I’ve yet to find a single attack you’ve directed at the Believer movement that could include myself as one of those you are attacking. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect, of course (far from it). But it does mean most of your attacks are misdirected to those who don’t deserve it. Don’t use a nuclear bomb when a blow dart will work.

    This type of behavior closes the doors that must remain open if people are ever going to come to any form of understanding between the severely divided camps in this issue. And that brings me to the point of this post: I’d love to discuss ideas of AGW with you, Geoff. But you are making it rather difficult to do so sometimes.

    In other words, please stop attacking me. It’s really annoying.

    “All generalizations are false, including this one.” — Mark Twain :-)

  21. Bruce, let’s see what you propose and during that discussion I will also make some modest proposals of my own. Remember, many of the “solutions” proposed so far have made the situation worse, not better. The biggest mistake we make is to expect government to resolve our problems. This is why we are in the economic mess we are in — we hand our sovereignty over to others who we feel will magically cure our ills. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get out of the way and let the marketplace resolve such issues. Govt planners certainly could not have come up with the internal cumbustion engine and the Model A, which helped resolve the horse manure problem. It took entrepeneurs to do it. The government did not design the Cisco router, the Windows operating system or the Ipod. The government had a role in starting the internet, but notice that the internet really took off when private companies began using it and marketing it and perfecting it into a worldwide phenomenon. My guess is that other entrepeneurs will solve the fossil fuel problem as well, and any governmental action taken should be extremely limited and carefully targeted.

  22. James, I stand by what I have written. I don’t recall ever attacking you personally in any way. I usually attack ideas, not people (although I admit in another thread I did go after Jared* a bit, but we’ve been going around and around for years, and I don’t think he takes it personally). I see the AGW Believer ideology as dangerous, a direct threat to my freedom and world prosperity. In its most extreme form, their philosophy is Satanic (forced abortions, forced population limitations to “save the planet,” etc). So, yeah, I’m kinda opposed to that ideology.

    I will say that you make good, reasoned arguments, and I often agree with what you write. I don’t see you as a fanatical Believer. So, if you see me use rhetoric you don’t like, just ignore it. It’s not aimed at you personally, and it’s unlikely I’m going to change.

  23. Eric James Stone,

    Nice middle name, I like it.

    While your statements in post #17 above are correct, they don’t actually have anything to do with what I was attempting to say. Which most likely means that I said it poorly. Let me try again:

    Let’s not spend so much useless time arguing about who is right about AGW. Instead, let’s try to clean up the planet in general. Let’s try to place reasonable and non-economically-destructive regulations upon businesses that pollute. Let’s try to make sure that the BP disaster never, ever happens again. Not just on the US’s doorstep, but everywhere in the world that people are suffering because of uncontrolled pollution.

    I’ve said before that the AGW debate is a smokescreen that hides the real issue at hand. The real issue is that we are collectively poisoning all of the planet, not just the air.

    Like I said: if you’re not concerned about AGW, then that’s ok with me. But are you willing to help ensure our water is clean?

  24. Geoff,

    I’m *very* interested in your modest proposals and would love to see conservatives shift our debate towards our proposals rather than what’s wrong with the other guys.(I have a future post where I’ll explain the political expedience of this approach. This alone justifies it in my view.)

    My own modest proposals are pretty bare at the moment I admit. But then I’m no where near an expert on this subject. I’ll discuss it in more detail in my posts, plus give my reasoning, but let me give you a bare sketch:

    I’d like to see something done to start curbing CO2 growth in the long haul rather than waiting for a crisis then trying to curb it then when it’s impossible to do so without an economic disaster. The fact that AGW might be wrong or might be a lot further off is good news *because* it means it is actually possible to curb CO2 growth without causing economic harm. But we have to actually have a proposal on the table to get things going now. I.e. act now. Now is the right time. Not later.

    If it turns out to not be a problem, then at least curbing it slowly will do very little or no harm. And if there is some miracle cure in our future, then we’ll have laws that aren’t used because we’re so far under the mandated levels. Still no harm no foul. (Or very little harm anyhow.)

    I’d also like to see some modest proposals coming out of conservatives for geo-engineering (or something like that) should things start to get much worse on the global warming side of things. Research now for it, not later. We can delay geo-engineering until a problem is more imminent, and we can use some fraction of all that money going to AGW research to fund it.

    I have a lot more thoughts than these. And I have economic views that explain why I’m convinced that the miracle cure idea probably needs some level of government intervention or it won’t happen on its own. But that’s for my future posts. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that if we put a conservative cap-and-trade policy (with a long gradual cut back) in place we *will* end up with a miracle cure in a few decades because there will be an obvious economic reason to put money into getting off CO2 producing energy in the long run. But I believe we have to first make sure the market is ‘aware’ of the need before it will solve it for us. I do not have faith that the market will come up with a miracle cure until there is economic incentive to do so.

    This should give you a pretty good idea of what my own thoughts are. I’d love to start arguing with all of you over *which proposal is the right one* rather than whether or not we should be doing something at all.

    As I explained in this post, I do not connect global warming and CO2 emissions. I don’t understand why conservatives have let liberals connect those two in the public imagination so completely. It’s time to unhook them.They are separate but related issues to me and I want to see them both addressed in a way that does not cause economic disaster.

    Finally, I simply do not care what the ‘bad’ AGW Believers say. The best response to Al Gore is to mine out the couple of truths he actually has (let’s give him at least some credit here), respond to those, and then ignore him. I don’t understand the overt anger that we conservatives feel towards ‘AGW Believers.’ Yeah, there are some bad ones. So what? There are some bad ones of us too, in fact my research indicates there are more bad ones of us then of them on this issue. I think they’ve proven at least a bit more sincere than us. It’s time to ignore them (and their proposals) and start cleaning house because frankly we have a lot of house cleaning to do.

    Let me get something off my chest here. I am angry at conservatives on this (not anyone here, more like the website I kept visiting back when I was researching this.) We really are stupid on this issue. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I am not angry at the AGW Believers. Being wrong is no crime in my opinion. Being a critic without a counter proposal is.

    And I’m angry that I have two options right now: support the liberal agenda on this or be a critic without a proposal. I galls me that the liberal proposal is so economically dangerous. But I have to admit I have enough faith in the market to recover from it eventually and get us on track. So if the conservatives do not get off their duffs and come up with a credible proposal, I will for all intents and purposes be an AGW Believer and with gusto. I have no problem opposing conservatives on this until they get real about it. But the moment the conservatives get serious and create a counter proposal, I’m back in their camp.

  25. Geoff: Yeah I know you aren’t attacking me directly. That wasn’t my point. Oh well, I tried.

    Geoff B, said,

    I see the AGW Believer ideology as dangerous, a direct threat to my freedom and world prosperity. In its most extreme form, their philosophy is Satanic (forced abortions, forced population limitations to “save the planet,” etc). So, yeah, I’m kinda opposed to that ideology.

    It’s a good thing that that extreme form of ideology isn’t in power then, isn’t it? I’ll agree it exists on the left, but it exists on the far, far extreme left, and those few nutcases have little to no power to drive their radicalism.

    Forced abortions? It will never happen in the US. Unless we’re overrun by the Chinese. Or aliens.

    Bruce opined,

    Let me get something off my chest here. I am angry at conservatives on this (not anyone here, more like the website I kept visiting back when I was researching this.) We really are stupid on this issue. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I am not angry at the AGW Believers. Being wrong is no crime in my opinion. Being a critic without a counter proposal is.

    This is exactly the reason why I lean left politically. It’s because the right pushed me away.

  26. Bruce,

    Let me get something off my chest here. I am angry at conservatives on this (not anyone here, more like the website I kept visiting back when I was researching this.) We really are stupid on this issue. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I am not angry at the AGW Believers. Being wrong is no crime in my opinion. Being a critic without a counter proposal is.

    Here’s a counter proposal in a Jonah Goldberg column from 2001: http://bit.ly/9TZTGV (You may not like the counter proposal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one.)

  27. Bruce,

    There’s nothing wrong with *not* rushing into battle when a battle isn’t warranted. Doing nothing can be the right thing to do at times — and I think that’s the “proposal” that many skeptics would put forward at this point.

  28. Jack,

    I think you are right. I think the vast majority of conservatives are proposing to do nothing at all and do see it as “not rushing into battle.”

    Eric James Stone,

    Excellent article. Sort of proves the point. I will be referencing it in future posts as proof of Jack’s point.

  29. Just a few random points:

    re: # 4, “in 2009, CO2 emissions actually went DOWN.”

    Just to be clear, this means that less CO2 was emitted, not that the atmospheric concentration went down. To use an analogy, the water level in the bathtub still rose, but the faucet was turned down slightly. (For CO2 levels, see here.)

    re #12,

    “It all comes down to the same thing; the alarmists have a correlation between co2 levels and temperature. A correlation, that’s all. Alarmists have never been able to show how this correlation translates to causation.”

    I hope that we can agree that we are at least one step beyond a simple correlation. Rise in temperature and the number of personal computers is also correlated. What makes CO2 more relevant than PCs is that CO2 is a known greenhouse gas. In other words, it’s ability to absorb heat, and re-emit it, is a demonstrated physical property of CO2.

    So let’s re-write the above as: “All the alarmists have is a correlation between a known heat-trapping gas (CO2) and temperature.” It’s still too conservative, but it’s more accurate with respect to the plausibility of cause-and-effect.

    re: #15
    “a UN official said that entire nations and cities would be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising water levels by the year 2000.”

    Geoff, I followed your link on that, and I see it is popular out on the internet as an example of a failed prediction. Unfortunately the full article is behind a pay wall at the Miami-Herald and I can’t seem to find anything but the same quoted section anywhere else. Nevertheless, I think a fairer way to read what is available is that the U.N. official was urging action by the year 2000, or else we might be committed to such consequences later. That fits better with what I’ve read (e.g., see The Earth’s Commitment to Warming)–that the human induced climate changes cannot be stopped on a dime, even if we tried. Thus the concern about ‘tipping points,’ and so forth.

  30. Well, Bruce, don’t forget the little qualifier: “when a battle isn’t warranted.” It’s not merely a question of not caring enough to go to battle (not sure if you were implying that) or even being blissfully ignorant of supposed risks. It’s just that, while most skeptics believe there’s been some warming and that (yes) we’ve contributed to it, they simply are not catastophists. They see other more, shall we say, “measured” means of getting around the problem because of a more conservative view of the risks.

    You know, I think it’d interesting to do a little background study on the science community. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that the percentage of those with a liberal political bias versus those with a more conservative bias would most likely reflect the percentage of those who are on the “alarmist” side of the climate debate versus those who are on the “denier” side of the debate.

  31. “They see other more, shall we say, “measured” means of getting around the problem because of a more conservative view of the risks.”

    This isn’t the same as advocating no action all for a known problem. This is the divinding point for me.

    I guess I’m curious, does not my basic suggestions in the comments above imply a ‘measured’ means of addressing the problem?

    I perceive a disconnect here in that I *am* advocating measured means, but I’m wholly against neglect of the issue, whether we add “benign” in front of it or not. (I explain this better in two posts.)

  32. I tend to make my mind up about things the way you have. Something will convince me so completely and I decide. One thing will make sense.

    As far as global warming I still think God’s in His heaven and it’s all going to work out. Jesus is going to come again and the millenium and things are going to be fine.

    That being said, I would totally support geothermal and solar power and also windmills. I think there are a lot of things we can do to alleviate the problem. But everybody has to be on the same page. I’m not going to ride a bike to work until those making me do it also ride their bikes. Not supporting the burden on the peasants.

  33. Bruce,

    Let me clarify by saying that I think climate change will be better addressed by dealing with other problems. There is no guarantee whatsoever that we can make a significant enough difference by tackling the C02 problem head-on — none at all. In fact there are serious doubts on that point. But we can make an easily quantifiable and predictable difference by focusing a little more on economic growth. A wealthy nation will be far better prepared to deal with (say) sea level rise than a poor nation. A wealthy nation is also much more able to implement and sustain environmental protocols. A healthy economy will forward technology better than a flailing one with the rather inevitable turn toward greener technology being sped up. And best of all we’d be better positioned to tackle those problems that really should be at the forefront of our concerns. e.g., poverty, hunger, health, poor infrastructure, etc.

  34. Bruce, I have wanted to wait a day regarding this statement:

    “Let me get something off my chest here. I am angry at conservatives on this (not anyone here, more like the website I kept visiting back when I was researching this.) We really are stupid on this issue. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I am not angry at the AGW Believers. Being wrong is no crime in my opinion. Being a critic without a counter proposal is.”

    I think you have back-tracked a bit from it, but to make sure it is completely dead and buried, let me propose a few things you may want to think about.

    1)Rushing to action without complete information is very often the WORST thing you can do. The history of the world is filled with “emergencies” that were not really emergencies. As Jonah Goldberg mentioned, the destruction of the US forests in the late-1800s for trains and for farming was a horrific thing. But that problem was resolved because of innovation and economic progress, and now the U.S. forest cover is the greatest it has been since the Mayflower. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is wait to see what happens. And, lo and behold, as I mention above, nearly every major claim made by global warming alarmists have proven not to be true. So it’s a very good thing we didn’t rush to take rash measures that would have, say, made the 2008-2009 recession even worse than it was.

    2)Just because I say I don’t think it is worth acting on global warming does not mean I don’t care about the environment. This is something that I hope James in particular can understand. Personally, I am very concerned about the loss of pine trees in the Colorado Rockies. I think there is a need to make sure companies aren’t dumping chemicals that may hurt people. There are literally hundreds of different individual environmental issues that really are important. You may want to read Lomberg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist.” One of his points is that the concentration on global warming has actually harmed the environment by taken attention AWAY from other real environmental threats where govt action could actually make a difference.

    3)Policy makers and individual citizens must decide what issues they personally think are the most important. Think about what the U.S. Senate has concentrated on in the last 18 months. Health care took up months and months of time. Before that, it was the stimulus bill. Most recently it was the financial reform bill. Pretty soon it will be cap and trade (which will hopefully die a painful and lasting death). There are only so many hours in a day and only so much time on a congressional calendar. Is global warming more important than, say, finding a way to provide capital to small businesses? Just because you answer no and believe that concentrating on the economy is the most important thing right now does not mean you are necessarily a “critic without a counter-proposal.”

    I oppose gay marriage legalization but I have not written about it in probably 18 months. Why? Well, partly because the whole issue has been examined to death but partly because there are about 50 other things that are more important. A few thousand gay people getting married is very unlikely to affect my life in any serious way — nearly 10 percent unemployment is. So, am I remiss for not beating the drum on gay marriage every day? I think the answer is obvious.

    So, claiming that the opposition is filled with “critics without a counter-proposal” is a bit disingenuous. I would expect better from you.

  35. Geoff B pronounced,

    There are literally hundreds of different individual environmental issues that really are important. You may want to read Lomberg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist.” One of his points is that the concentration on global warming has actually harmed the environment by taken attention AWAY from other real environmental threats where govt action could actually make a difference.

    YES!!! Exactly! This is precisely what I have been saying all along. And thanks for the tip on Lomberg’s book, I will definitely add it to my reading list.

    As for my opinion on the GOP tendency to “not rush in” on AGW? As I’ve said, I’m not at all happy with some of the Democrat’s ideas on AGW. The Dems have a few good ideas and some terrible ones. And so the suggestion to “have a more measured response” actually has a great deal of wisdom to it, to a degree.

    But unfortunately that stance is not what is advertised or promoted by the GOP. If it were, I’d be much more willing to listen, as I’m sure many other people would be as well. Instead the focus is mostly upon the removal of regulations upon business. For example, the United States Chamber of Commerce just released an “open letter.” The letter reads like a Republican playbook, following line by line what has been said by most of the Republican politicians and pundits.

    And after reading through it, I agree that there are some very good ideas in there that should be enacted. For example the mention of consumer confidence and uncertainty is spot on. Obama has not addressed that very well at all, I think. A few flowery speeches just doesn’t cut it. And there is a section entitled, “Rebuild and Expand America’s Infrastructure” that contains very good ideas, some of which are actually found on the White House’s web site as already being enacted or promoted.

    But then there’s the section called, “Ease the Regulatory Burden.” And here is where we part ways. Have the lessons the public has learned about BP been forgotten already? If the focus of this letter is about jobs, what about the hundreds of jobs lost because of the spill? That section focuses upon numbers: “1,500 new regulations,” “29 major economic rules and 173 major policy rules,” etc. But this flurry of numbers is a slight of hand trick. There have been similar such number of regulations for decades with no problem either to job numbers or the economy.

    The severe lack and repeal of regulation over business practices is the main reason we have a pollution problem all over the world.

    And so if you say that the GOP is simply taking a more measured response to AGW, then why is it not taking a measured response to pollution in general? Why such an extremely rabid anti-regulation stance where a “more measured response” of some reasonable regulation would suffice?

  36. James, you get extra credit points for actually reading some of the Chamber of Commerce literature, which most lefties are unwilling to do. I think there is a broad consensus among most businesspeople today that many common-sense environmental regulations are a very good thing. Up until the 1970s, you could dump all kinds of chemicals everywhere without consequences — contaminating the ground water and harming people. That has changed, and I think even libertarian leaners like myself think that is a good thing. So when the Chamber of Commerce discusses regulation they are mostly discussing other areas of regulation. Nobody wants to repeal regulation against dumping toxic waste. Let me give you one small example from my business. You remember the Worldcom and Enron fiascos of 2000? Basically what happened was that companies were inflating their market value through financial fraud. So Congress, trying to resolve the issue, instituted the Sarbannes-Oxley laws. These laws caused many small public businesses to have to add entire teams of accountants to make sure they were in compliance with the laws. The company I work for has 50 U.S. employees — we hired five new accountants who did nothing but comb our books to make sure we were complying with Sarbannes-Oxley. 10 percent of our workforce did nothing productive — they were an insurance policy against being investigated by the government. Well, my company decided this was not a good use of money, so we took the company private in the U.S. and moved the five employees into other more productive areas.

    THIS is what the Chamber of Commerce is referring to. In just about every industry these days there are reams of regulation that get in the way of productively growing revenue. This does not mean you get rid of all environmental regulation — it means you look at areas where regulation is getting in the way of growing a business and hiring new employees.

  37. “Rushing to action without complete information is very often the WORST thing you can do”

    This is semantics at this point. I am advocating taking appropriate actions now based on what we currently know. I even suggested a “40 year plan” to you. Is this a case of “rushing to action?”

    By calling a 40 year plan (or 50 year, or 100 year) “rushing to action” you have basically written off any possible action now, haven’t you?

    It would seem that the alternative is to ignore the problem all together and I gather that is what conservatives in general are advocating. But CO2 levels growth *is* a problem now. And while you are right that it might naturally go away, you have no rational basis at all for assuming that.

    The point of divide between our point of view seems to boil down to the fact that you have a great deal of faith that the problem will go away on it’s own. If I had that kind of faith, I suppose I’d be in favor of doing nothing too.

    However, consider your own example: “As Jonah Goldberg mentioned, the destruction of the US forests in the late-1800s for trains and for farming was a horrific thing. But that problem was resolved because of innovation and economic progress, and now the U.S. forest cover is the greatest it has been since the Mayflower. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is wait to see what happens.”

    Tell me something, Geoff. Did trains disappear without massive government intervention? It seems to me you are remembering history wrong here.

    Last I checked, automobiles became ubiquitous *because* of massive government intervention — roads built using taxes. Your example is probably the largest example of a government intervention you could have possible picked. I have a libertarian friend that is still angry that the government forced the trains out of business and that we (in his mind) have a much less efficient economy based on roads, trucks, and cars whereas we should have been based on trains. He’s also against federally funded freeways and thinks they’re an abomination and unconstitutional.

    Feeling certain that the problem will go away on it’s own just isn’t an acceptable answer in my opinion: even if it turns out to be true. We can’t forsee the future with any degree of accuracy, but we do have a ‘best guess’ that is known to be more likely than the alternative.

    You act on what you now know. Staring off with a policy of “the problem will probably go away on it’s own” isn’t good policy on anything. This is little more then wishful thinking. If you start with this as your stance then the only evidence that will ever convince you to move to action will be a crisis.

    Is there really no alternative? Is there really no way to take actions now that don’t hurt the economy and that pass even your discriminating eyes on cost benefit analysis? I find this really really hard to believe.

  38. > Last I checked, automobiles became ubiquitous
    > *because* of massive government intervention — roads
    > built using taxes.

    OK, but was there a massive government plan to build roads in order to cause Americans to buy cars in order to save the forests from being consumed by the railroad industry and cities from being overrun by manure? Or was it Americans buying cars because they wanted cars that caused demand for the government to build more and better roads, and as a pleasant side effect saving the forests and stopping the manure problem? Methinks the latter is a more likely explanation. It sounds like you are planning to advocate a version of the former.

  39. Bruce, OK, fair point on the 40-year plan. That’s not rushing.

    Regarding the rest of your comment, I think you may be missing the point on what I consider to be the skeptical argument. Let me summarize it the way I see it.

    1)Temperatures are rising slightly.
    2)CO2 is going up (mostly) and will probably continue to go up in the short term, but we don’t know what will happen to C02, say 20-30 years from now.
    3)Causation between rising temperatures and CO2 increase is impossible to prove for the reasons you mention in your part 2 post and also for what we know from the Earth’s history, which is that CO2 and temperatures have gone up and down throughout the Earth’s history for many different reasons we don’t understand.
    4)There are other reasons for the measured increase in temperature that have nothing to do with CO2 (cloud cover, sun activity, urban heat activity causing faulty temperature measurements and the general complexities of the world climate).
    5)Predictions regarding the Earth’s future climate are almost certain to be wrong based on the fact that the climate is so complex and influenced by so many factors in addition to CO2.
    6)Much of the information we know about this issue comes from suspect sources have have been influenced by politics and bad behavior on the part of a small group of scientists. In addition, some of these scientists have plotted to prevent opposing viewpoints from being published. Still, it is true that most skeptics (not all) accept that manmade CO2 is increasing.
    7)The exaggerations made by climate Believers have also made much of the science claimed by them to be suspect.
    8)Based on 6 and 7, some of the “save the planet” efforts such as ethanol subsidies and trying to redirect entire economies toward “green” energy has done more harm than good. Other suggestions such as cap and trade and massive carbon taxes would do much more harm than good.
    9)There may be other suggestions that would actually do more good than harm but they are not currently on the table among the major decision-makers.

    THEREFORE

    A)Doing nothing is better than the current suggestions on the table.
    B)Most skeptics are open to other alternatives. Let’s hear them and then do a cost-benefit analysis.
    C)Let’s make sure that the other suggestions don’t get in the way of other, more worthy environmental efforts.
    D)Even with all this, let’s be reasonable and understand that for many people climate change is way, way, way down on the list of things they are concerned about, compared to, say, keeping their job and promoting economic recovery.

    I think this is a much better summary of the skeptical argument than what you have presented.

    “Tell me something, Geoff. Did trains disappear without massive government intervention? It seems to me you are remembering history wrong here. Last I checked, automobiles became ubiquitous *because* of massive government intervention — roads built using taxes.”

    Regarding trains and the role of governmental intervention, you have your history a little off. Automobiles starting taking off in the 1910s and the 1920s. At that time, many of the main roads were private toll roads. Train travel immediately went down as people saw they no longer needed a streetcar to commute or that they could get to the next state over quicker by car. Trucks started carrying freight more than trains. Passenger train traffic per capita plummeted.

    It is true that the biggest expansion of automobile traffic took place in the 1950s and early 1960s during Eisenhower’s interstate highway boom.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System

    But by then train traffic had already plummeted and the move to suburban living had already started the recovery of the U.S. forest cover (which was the main point I was trying to make).

    One of the interesting things we have learned about the highway system is that it seems to work best in areas where it is supplemented by private toll roads. In Denver, where I live, the main interstate system is hopelessly clogged during rush hour, so a private toll road was started (C-470) to help with congestion. It works like a charm.

    In a perfect world, the “massive governmental intervention” would have never happened. The government would have laid out a master plan and then contracted private companies to operate and maintain the toll roads. Thus, the people who actually used the roads would have paid for them, and government would never have created a massive, unending bureaucracy to plan and pay for highways. So, the most interesting thing we have learned from the interstate highway system is, once again, things work better if you privatize and keep government out as much as possible (except to help with the original planning).

  40. While I don’t disagree with your summary of the skeptical argument, I do want to point this out:

    “9)There may be other suggestions that would actually do more good than harm but they are not currently on the table among the major decision-makers.”

    Whose fault is that? Is it the liberals? Or the skeptics?

  41. Bruce, the reason that has been the case is because the entire system has been rigged against anybody who is not a Believer. I am a skeptic and I have been doing what I can for the last three years. People like Sen. Inhofe have been leading the charge to take the discussion in a different direction. Now that Climategate is getting a lot of play in the media, skeptical views are being heard.

    It is worth pointing out that respected people like Bjorn Lomberg (who is a Believer but a cautious one) have been vilified within the environmental community for not joining the head-long rush to cap and trade. Lomberg has a whole long list of ideas regarding this issue but he has been ignored.

    So, I would say it is mostly the fault of the Believers for not making room for other ideas. But I would also say that is slowly changing (and just in time).

  42. Geoff,

    Your examples of supression are valid — but they are of AGW BELIEVERS policing their own!!!! We’re talking about a whole different group here that never did care about what the rest of the AGW believers thought of them and weren’t at all supressed by the media. And who is supressing Rush Limbaugh and other conservative pundits?

    If you argue that skeptical scientists were supressed by the scientific community, I will buy that. But I do not buy the media supressed conservative pundits. If anything, the media amplified them e.g. the John Stossil report. There had never been a time that media hasn’t given significant air time to ‘the other point of view’ if for no other reason than to create a circus and sell more advertisements.

    If the conservatives had come up with their own proposal to curb CO2 emissions, the media would have had a heyday with it. Now there is a battle of legislation going on. Party!!!

    Therefore, I find it hard to believe that AGW Belivers are the cause of the lack of *conservatives/skeptics* coming up with an intelligent proposal of their own. That line of thinking would require me to believe that for some reason AGW Believers were totally unsuccessful at supressing out and out deniers (who got plenty of media attention from start to finish) but totally successful at supressing some intelligent counter proposal that actually gave them part of what they wanted.

    I suspect the real reason is much more simple: there are no conservative proposals as of yet.

  43. Hey, everyone on the conservative side of this argument: I suggest that it’s pretty pointless for us to say anything more until Bruce has unveiled his proposal in part 3. Either we’ll be convinced that he’s right, or we’ll have something concrete to find flaws in. Either way, the discussion will be more fruitful after he’s posted part 3, and arguing with him now probably just delays part 3.

  44. Geoff B also said,

    James, you get extra credit points for actually reading some of the Chamber of Commerce literature, which most lefties are unwilling to do.

    Well thanks for the extra credit I suppose. But as I’ve written at least a dozen times since Bruce began his epic series of posts: I’m a centrist, not one of your “lefty” over-generalizations. Good job of insulting me again.

  45. Geoff B pointed out,

    THIS is what the Chamber of Commerce is referring to. In just about every industry these days there are reams of regulation that get in the way of productively growing revenue.

    You happen to be the first and only conservative I have heard who has clearly illustrated this very good reason for a reduced or an alternate form of regulation upon businesses. I agree with your point that rampant and unwise regulations do create a very heavy burden to small businesses. You have an extremely good point here.

    So if that is the case, then why exactly is the GOP not using this valid argument? Why aren’t the Republican’s willing to make a reasonable and responsible deal by working with the Dems on this subject? A deal where small business is not regulated to death, but the pollution is still reduced? Why is it that I’ve never heard any other conservative (who has the power to sway policy) say anything even remotely similar to this? Why are Republican politicians saying, “Do it my way, or go to hell” for every regulative legislation? Why does it have to be a “black or white” choice of no regulation, or the Dem’s version of regulation?

    What the heck happened to the middle ground?

    If the GOP really want to safeguard the small businesses who would be affected by unwise regulations, if they really were leaders who wish to protect the populace, then where are their ideas? And no; removing all regulation isn’t an idea, it’s graft. That isn’t leadership, it’s boardroom influence peddling.

    (PS: I’ll agree that the Dems aren’t blameless in this at all. Some of the regulations are a burden as you say, and are not needed. And on occasion they go waaay overboard without thinking about the unattended consequences.)

  46. Bruce said,

    I have a libertarian friend that is still angry that the government forced the trains out of business and that we (in his mind) have a much less efficient economy based on roads, trucks, and cars whereas we should have been based on trains. He’s also against federally funded freeways and thinks they’re an abomination and unconstitutional.

    Wow. That’s rather extreme, to say the least.

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

Comments are closed.