Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Real World problems with AGW (in a Nutshell)

Here's a few issues to be concerned about as far as AGW goes... which have little or nothing to do with the science behind the theory.

1. The public at large really doesn't care. They have other things they are MUCH more worried about. If you had a straight Yes/No poll among the public to “do anything and everything to reduce CO2 levels even though it may cost jobs and drive prices up”, there's not much question about what the answer would be. Whether they believe in the AGW theory or not: they understand unemployment and things that directly impact their pocketbook TODAY. The political establishment has spent decades teaching folks to only worry about today and let tomorrow take care of itself; don't expect all that training to be cast aside over what maya happen in 100 years, if ever.

2. Many - especially in the 'educated' classes - believe 'science' has settled the matter. (It hasn't.) Many think there is a 'consensus', and the consensus can't be wrong. (It can.) It is clear the integrity of the research process has been severely compromised by individuals with personal agendas, e.g., Jones, Mann, et. al. Sweeping that fact under the rug will not make things Right, or make the problems go away, and it doesn't prove anyone's scientific opinion, either. Too many have a vested interest in saying or doing ANYTHING to be considered 'correct' - which means the Pursuit of Knowledge and Truth is an intentional casualty in this conflict.

3. There is a LOT of political power at stake. Any option that places power and control over people in the hands of government bureaucrats is going to get a lot of attention by those (self-serving) bureaucrats. Nature of the beast. Cap and trade and similar political vehicles are not dead and their objective is NOT to 'solve a climate problem', but to acquire political economic power and control. Period.

4. There are BILLIONS at stake in this "scientific" controversy. But it's not about science any more. The stakes are too high. Grants, careers and reputations are on the line. And its blindingly obvious that enormous fortunes - personal and corporate - are within reach. Somewhere in the middle are the (very large) "non-profit corporations" that pay very large salaries to their executives and staff. The $Golden Rule$ is still functioning.

5. The once-separate entities of “Scientific Inquiry” and “Political Policy”, at least on this issue, have become hopelessly intertwined. It will be difficult - if not impossible - to separate them. A Gordian solution is needed, but that's the last thing anyone seems to want. A truly independent and dispassionate observer can and should ask serious questions about (a) the conduct of researchers attached to AGW research and the peer-review process, (b) whether or not appropriate steps are being taken to improve the quality, accuracy and availability of Real World observations to researchers of all stripes, (c) determining if researchers are systematically trying to obtain accurate data with repeatable results to clarify the known uncertainties in the theory, (d) whether or not there exists *any* organized and DISINTERESTED mechanism to help guide and direct research into all aspects of the AGW theory. (Unfortunately, the answer to all those questions is: NO.)

**sigh** How “Science” gets out of this mess is not clear. What is known is that it won't be easy. It's been proven allowing Politics to be the driving force will only make the problem worse. (Politics doesn't care about Science, unless it supports political goals and agendas.) Trusting the folks with the most to gain - on either side - doesn't seem like the way to go, but what better option is there? Ouch.

...A cynical comment - I went to elementary school in the 1960's. In the fourth/fifth grade, I was taught the Vikings named Nova Scotia "Vinland" for predominately ecological and climate-based reasons. That single fact, by itself, casts significant doubt about the CO2 cause/effect climate cycles which are critical to the AGW theory, i.e., it's been warm before and people burning fossil fuels had little to do with it. But, then, schools don't teach that particular point about the Viking migrations anymore... Funny how those facts which get in the way of particular agendas seem to fade into the background when they become “inconvenient”, isn't it?

Sorry. No quick solutions and no easy answers here...

The over-whelming desire to Do Something (anything!) is born in the (mistaken) belief that the feeble actions of mankind are the predominate moving force driving the universe. Such must be so, otherwise our importance in the Grand Scheme of things is much smaller than we would like it to be... and what our egos demand. It's become less a matter of understanding the world and universe around us (with a proper dose of awe and wonder at its inherent beauty), as much as it is yet-another misguided attempt to wrest away control of things which are clearly beyond our ability to manage.

As for our continuing attempts to influence (e.g., control) planetary climate... we know so little with certainty that Doing something may prove to be worse than doing nothing at all.

- Steve

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