The Conservative Case for Taking Immediate Action on CO2 Emissions – Introduction

I am going to do a series of posts making a case for why we have a moral obligation to take action on CO2 emissions and to do so right away. I am aware I am writing to a deeply skeptical and probably jaded audience.

As is customary, I’m going to start with a quick explanation of my “credentials.” Geoff B told me that he has been studying Global Warming since the 80s and sent me links to his favorite pro and con global warming websites. He didn’t say how many hours he’s spent studying this topic, but it sounds like its hundreds or maybe even thousands of hours by now. Probably many of you have equivalent amounts of experience studying these issues. What can I possibly say to someone that knowledgeable on the topic? I really better have good credentials so that I can command some real authority, right?

So here are my credentials: I have done the following so far to educate myself on the whole global warming and CO2 emissions issue.

1. I watched An Inconvenient Truth

2. I watched The Great Global Warming Swindle

3. I attempted to read the IPCC report and made it a few pages in before I got bored and quit.

4. I Googled on the Internet for a few hours to find answers to questions.

In total, that’s, um, 10 to 15 hours of research if I’m lucky. More likely it’s 6 to 8 hours, plus whatever I happened to pick up in the popular media, of course. In any case, if you have only picked up knowledge about CO2 emissions from the popular media, I’m probably less than 10 hours ahead of you in terms of research.

In other words, I am a complete idiot on the topic of global warming. I know next to nothing about it, have no credentials whatsoever and can’t even begin to make scientific arguments on the subject.

And that’s precisely why I’m the right one to make the case that we have an immediate moral obligation to act on curbing CO2 emissions. For I am going to argue that while the subject of global warming is complex, confusing, and contradictory at times, the choice to act on CO2 emissions is simple, obvious, and requires only very basic knowledge.

I will probably ramble on this subject for several posts to break things up. This is a complex subject and requires a complex explanation, especially if I’m talking to a skeptical audience. I will attempt to roughly follow topics in this order (though each may or may not take several posts):

1. My Global Warming / CO2 Emissions History. In a series of posts, I’ll explain my own search for the truth on this topic and share my frustrations with those on both sides of the “debate.” I’ll try to make a point of showing the dishonesty and problems that exist on both sides of the so-called “debate”.

2. My Case for Immediate Action Curbing CO2 Emissions. I’ll then explain my actual argument on why I believe the need for action is immediate. I’ll also explain why the “debate over global warming” shouldn’t be happening in the first place and why both conservatives and liberals should at least be in agreement that we need immediate action against CO2 emissions. I’ll also explain why this agreement to take action will not equate to agreement on what action to take and doesn’t have to – and must not – hurt the economy.

3. A Conservative CO2 Emissions Manifesto. I’ll explain my specific frustrations with the Republican party over this “debate” and why they are morally inferior to the Democratic party’s stance (if only barely) and give my suggestions on how to create a “conservative CO2 agenda” that will restore the moral authority of the Republican party on this subject.

4. Thoughts on Climategate. Near the end, I’ll explain why we owe those involved in the Climategate scandal more of a hearing than we are giving them, even though the scandal is real. I’ll use my own “conservative’s manifesto” to explain how we could more productively respond to the global warming enthusiasts.

5. Miscellaneous and Final Thoughts. Anything else I couldn’t fit in that seems worthy of discussion.

23 thoughts on “The Conservative Case for Taking Immediate Action on CO2 Emissions – Introduction

  1. Well, you haven’t said anything yet, other than that you’re unqualified, but I’m looking forward to the discussion.

  2. Layman:

    LOL. :)

    If nothing else, it should stimulate interesting discussion having a skeptic amongst the skeptics.

  3. It’s refreshing for someone to admit up front that they don’t know the whole story, but are interested in discussing it. It seems like every pundit and anchor for Fox, MSNBC and CNN are all experts on the environment.

  4. I’ve thought a little about my own credentials in this matter. Twenty years ago, I was working in the GeoAnalysis Group, which was part of the Los Alamos National Lab’s Earth and Environmental Science Division. While there I met Chick Keller, some of whose e-mails are part of that Climatic Reseach Unit controversy, and I sat in on some lectures of his planetary sciences group. As a graduate student I took a couple courses specifically on the fluid dynamics of the oceans. One of my advisors was head of our school’s Center for Environmental and Applied Fluid Mechanics, and one member of my dissertation committee was a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering.

    With all that, I don’t feel qualified to make any pronouncments regarding global warming, and it’s amusing to observe others with much less qualification in these sciences who feel that they can. Looking forward to reading your thoughts, Bruce.

  5. This should be very interesting and will hopefully be an actual discussion. It is hard to have a civilized discussion with anyone when both sides of the debate won’t listen to the other side because they are wrong.

    I have my own ideas and opinions on global warming / climate change but I will not share then… yet. I’m really interested in what you have to say. I also appreciate your honesty. I have probably spent about as much time as you in the research department on this topic.

  6. Bruce, whatever you write, I am against it. I have a lot more experience and knowledge about this subject than you do, so I therefore cannot agree with you. ;)

    But more seriously, let’s see how this pans out. I’m glad you are handling this in a series of posts because it’s a complex issue. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

  7. How does someone so convinced that man-made CO2 is causing the Earth to warm, square with the Medieval warming period?

    (That was when grapes were grown in England and vegetables in Iceland.) There were no SUV’s during the Medieval period. Doesn’t this prove that the Earth’s climate fluctuations are caused by the Sun?

  8. Yes! I blog on this a lot (too much people say), and its sad that something so scientifically solid is being dissed so. Way to go. I’m doing a five part series on my blog on the science of CC, and I’ve hit this hard over the last few months, but I look forward to your arguments.

  9. “Bruce, whatever you write, I am against it. I have a lot more experience and knowledge about this subject than you do, so I therefore cannot agree with you”

    I’ve decided to change my mind and from now on I’m simply in agreement with whatever Geoff says.

    ;)

  10. SteveP,

    I expect you to give me a reality check. Because I’m going to need one. :)

  11. “How does someone so convinced that man-made CO2 is causing the Earth to warm, square with the Medieval warming period?”

    It’s a little know fact that people during the medieval period ran everything on steam power… which is water vapor!

    ;) :P

  12. John Mansfield — ;)

    R Biddulph — the solar cycles have a massive impact on warming. The parallel issue is that CO2 emissions are raising dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans and shifting the PH slightly. That is worth being concerned about, as is the possibility that global cooling may occur due to something other than the extinction of the megafauna this time.

    I think we are in a race between whether we get hot fusion and room temperature superconductors or whether we run into a mess of not enough energy, water or environment. Huge differences in outcomes depending on which we get to first.

  13. “With all that, I don’t feel qualified to make any pronouncments regarding global warming, and it’s amusing to observe others with much less qualification in these sciences who feel that they can. Looking forward to reading your thoughts, Bruce.”

    Richard Feynman once said that the only topics we can talk about are the ones no one present knows anything about. Thank goodness for ignorance or we’d all get bored. ;)

  14. I see that what I wrote could be read as slighting Bruce Nielson, so I’d better clarify. It is refreshing to have someone express a bit of humility before tackling the topic in the way he has. Also, with the entanglement of global warming with politics, we tend to hear the same points over and over, but it looks like Bruce will be approaching the topic in a different way.

    Thinking back to the earlier stages of my career put me in mind of one particular conference that my school hosted. This was a year after I received my degree, but I came back for the conference honoring Owen Phillip’s 70th birthday. The most memorable presentation was James Lighthill’s on mechanisms limiting the growth of hurricanes. Lighthill had held the Lucasian chair between Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking, and this event was about three months before his fatal swim around the Isle of Sark. At dinner one night, I shared a table for five with my old advisor and his wife, Charles and Bridget Meneveau, a geology professor, Bruce Marsh, and Julian Hunt, who at that time was directing Britain’s Met Office (something like the U.S.’s NOAA). The Meneveaus and Hunt reminisced about Toulouse, how a capital city retains something special, even centuries later. (I didn’t know Toulouse had been a capital.) I had heard Bruce Marsh tell great stories before about working in Antarctica, but he had another story in honor of me since he found himself sitting next to a Mormon from Nevada. As a young geologist, Bruce had a job with a mining company in eastern Nevada. He was soon to be married, and his future father-in-law advised him to buy a good suit instead of renting a tuxedo, so Bruce drove to Salt Lake City to do that. At the shop, the sales clerk directed him to suits that were much more expensive than he could afford, and he told the clerk that, but the clerk said not to worry about it, and sure enough, the shop sold him a very nice suit for a very low price. Telling his co-workers about this, they told Bruce, “Don’t you get it? They thought you were going on a mission.”

    Another person I worked with told me of a visit with Julian Hunt about a year later at Cambridge, where Hunt was a fellow of Trinity College. At Cambridge, no one walks on the grass except the fellows, so Hunt invited his guest, “Hey, you want to walk on the grass with me?” Not long after that, he was made a baron and took a seat in the House of Lords. Hunt was very friendly and interesting, and even politely interested, when he sat at dinner with mundane me.

  15. Life was so much easier when all we had to worry about was the Russkies trying to blow us off the map, and nuclear winter.

  16. Bruce, I’ve read your reasoning on this issue elsewhere, and it’s very sophomoric. You’ve drunk the Kool Aid. I’m very saddened that smart people buy into this BS.

    I’ve been paying attention since the early 70′s when I was a science-nerd in Jr. High. Some things have been consistent: There always have been alarmists since then, and “scientific concensus” has flip-flopped many times on many issues since then. Oh, and this is generally true too: “deeper behind-the-scenes truths can be discovered when you ‘follow the money.’”

  17. Book, I’m willing to give Bruce his chance to put forward his viewpoint before calling it sophomoric. He might have move on to junior year by now, you never know.

  18. Life was so much easier when all we had to worry about was the Russkies trying to blow us off the map, and nuclear winter.

    The nuclear winter theory is not exactly a shining light in the annals of climate science. More like one of the greatest examples of scientific corruption ever.

  19. Books,

    I appreciate you called me smart. Nice to know I have you fooled. ;)

    Geoff,

    Thanks for the defense, but in truth Books is overestimating my abilities. My arguments will be more like those of a high school drop out — and I’m proud of that fact.

    I think most people are in that boat and feel just as frustrated as I do over the impossibility of feeling certain on this issue one way or the other. In short, I think all of us (except maybe the scientists themselves — and I can’t understand what level they are at) are arguing at a high school drop out level most of the time.

  20. Kurt,

    I’ve decided to take your advice and removed my future posts and replaced it with the text to episodes of “I Love Lucy” because I always thought that show was fun and interesting.

    Now that I look it over, I think it actually improves my over all arguments. ;)

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