070321 – Wednesday – an environmental E-Mail thread

– In this world of sound bites and quick posts tailored for people’s ever shorter and shorter attention spans, a lot gets lost. But, good conversations do happen though they aren’t as easy to find as the short-n-sweet variety.

– The following is an E-mail conversation between myself and one of my friends. We discuss “The Great Global Warming Swindle“, the recent IPCC Report and Michael Crichton’s book, State of Fear. If you aren’t adverse to exercising your attention span a bit, you might find it an interesting read.

– I’ve laid these out in chronological order so if you read from the top, you get them in the correct order.

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Dennis,

I think you will find this very interesting. It is a non emotional, movie that presents a very compelling argument against carbon dioxide as the culprit. It is long but well done. I think it is worth your time to give it a go.

I know I am a pain in your ass, but nevertheless, this issue is too big to just roll over and play dead. I want all the facts before I go off on a crusade.

MD

The web link is here:

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Thanks, M. I’ve been quiet for a few days but it’s not because my interest is not deeply engaged in all of this – it’s just very busy here now. I’ll look at the movie and go through the other links you’ve sent and get back in play soon. Aren’t you off to the US soon – or are you over here now?

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All,

M, on this list, sent me a link the other day to a video he felt presented a strong case for Global Warming NOT being caused by mankind. I watched it yesterday and found it disconcerting – to say the least. It was an articulate presentation and showcased many points that attacked the foundations of a lot of current Global Warming theory. The show ran on March 8th in Britain on their Channel 4.

Here’s a link to the video:

As I said, seeing this video and listening to its assertions left me disquieted. I’ve done some digging since then and turned up a lot of interesting information. If you are interested, you can follow these links.

(1)
(2)
(3)

And, M? After you’ve read through all of this, I’d especially love to hear your thoughts about it.

Cheers,

Dennis

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Dennis,

Please go to this link: You will find numerous articles on the error in the IPCC data. This makes the results suspect. This also slants things to support the pro-climate change camp.

I do not want you to think it is my ambition to debunk the “environmental” issue. It is huge. I do think we need to do all we can to reduce human induced intervention. This includes cutting down all the forests, dumping garbage in the oceans, air pollution, water pollution, etc.

Having said that, I am really pissed off when we are getting bull shit data to scare the shit out of everyone.

I think this (IPCC issue) questionable data explains what I mean. Let me tell you, there is huge money to be made by getting everyone on board that climate change is man made by excess CO2. This to me is not correct. Does it affect the environment, I think so. If we spend a fortune chasing it, will it really make a difference? I am not of the opinion it will.

We need to get after the right issues, not be led like sheep to slaughter.

I ask you to really look at this issue. View it from the political side, not the scientific side. What does the pro side stand to gain? What does the other side gain? I think the heat is high enough now that industry, if they are the culprits, can’t really be too disingenuous.

I am more and more of the opinion we are being had, big time. If so, I really think it is time that someone be held accountable. This reminds me of Ann Rands book, “Atlas Shrugged“.

Dennis, I have the feeling you want this to be true. I think you feel it is a Democrat vs. Republican vindicatin. If there is any truth in my observation, put it aside a really look at this. Also READ Crichton’s book. It really is good and makes you question what the hell is going on here.

MD

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M,

Alright. I will give it all a good going through.

Dennis

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M,

I followed the link through three pages worth and looked at a lot of the articles. You are right, there’s a lot of stuff there citing apparent problems with the IPCC data. It was quite a mix. I also saw things there from known climate skeptics as well.

I’ve been mulling all of this over this weekend thinking about truth, biases, evidence, vested interests, trust and pessimism – among other things. They all come into this in one way or another. I fully believe you are intelligent, sincere, honest and genuinly seeking to come to the most informed understanding you can. And, I am the same. And yet in spite of all of that, we’ve come to different conclusions on some things.

I guess that’s not odd at all. The quickest look at the world shows that it is packed with people who share all of our attributes and more and they’ve come to yet other conclusions – and some of them are wildly different than ours. I’m thinking here of New Agers who think they can ‘wish’ the world to get right, Business types who think that Capitalism and the market are the answer to everything and then there’s the religious folks convinced that if God made it this way and if there’s a problem, he’ll handle it.

I also think that the ‘evidence’ that you and I are looking at as we try to bolster our arguments is really more complex that either of us, or almost anyone else, is able to judge. Unless we are specialists or we have a lot of time on our hands to study up on things, most of the discussions of suposed flaws in the IPCC data are beyound our ability to follow, in my opinion. It all looks like numbers, complex relationships and assumptions we’re not privy to.

So, as bright as we are, I don’t think we’re able to judge the science on its scientific merits.

In the absence of really being able to judge the science, we are reduced to trying to figure out who we should trust through alternative logic and criteria.

One criticism of the scientists involved in generating the data supporting the theory that global warming is a function of mankind’s activities is that they have vested interests in continuing to get their grants and such. It sounds like a damning accusation because it is obvious that they will gain, if the current hoop-la continues.

But, on the other hand, when has there ever been anything that’s gotten big in the public’s eye that hasn’t resulted in the same sort of a feedback loop for those involved? It’s a criticism that applies equally well to everyone in the game on every side so I think we need to look deeper.

The people who run corporations usually follow that pathway for the profits. Large corporations are, after all, entities that exist solely to generate profits for their shareholders and those who run succesful corporations, get to participate in those profits. Indeed, the news tells us that even executives who run failing companies often end up with millions of dollars in golden parachutes. I would summarize by saying that in the world of business, the truth is most often sacrificed for money.

The people who aspire to politics? Some go into it for the good of mankind, I suppose. But, I think most go into it for the power that will accrue to them. And regardles of how their intentions began, I think few will rise very far before they are deeply entangled in the world of political favors, interlocking obliigations and compromise trades. In this world, the truth is most often sacrificed for power.

And scientists? Some, I’m sure go into it because they hope to invent and patent a process that will make them rich but I suspect the vast majority of them go into it for the intellectual challege of uncovering nature’s secrets and learning how reality works and how we can control it. So, yes, the motives are mixed up, I agree. If scientists are good, profit and success may come to them. But, on the other hand, many labor their lives away on just their academic pay – content to dig through and reveal the intricate details and the trivia of whatever little nook of the physical world they’ve decided to investigate.

In business and politics, the way forward is the way that works – whatever works. In science, on the other hand, the way forward usually has to involve a big dose of adherance to the scientic method. Or the results they produce will not describe the world well and lead to testable and verifiable predictions.

If, as many critics claim, the scientists have lost their way on the climate issue because of their pursuit of wealth, then they are building a bubble of a theory which will burst at some point. Wasn’t that one of the key points in Soros’ book? That whenever our beliefs about reality diverge from the way reality is actually working, then we get into bubble space and sooner or later the tension between what we imagine and what is – is going to slap us?

Science is mankind’s one pursuit that follows a methodolgy designed and intended to generate data maximally free of human bias. This is, for the most part, what scientists do.

As a pursuit, science has utterly changed the world exactly because it cuts to the core of how things actually work and leaves our opinions, preconceptions and prejudices out of it.

Religion has changed the world profoundly also but mostly, I think, by bringing strife and fanaticism into it.

And business has changed it by creating things for profit. But, by and large, business can only create from the fruits that science first yeilds.

Science is quantitatively different because of the scientific method. The people that practice it are not perfect but the scientific method they employ is the best tool in our tool box by far.

So, when I ask myself who I will gamble and trust in this world of competing claims, I think it is the scientists because of everything I’ve said above. Not a blind trust – a reasoned trust. Not a complete trust – but a watchful trust. If we’re trying to snoop our way into places we’ve never been before (like a world which seeems be be warming rapidly), then I think I’ll choose to follow the bloodhound who’s had the best success record at snooping out the truth from physical reality so far.

Enough of that thread. Let’s take another.

I know you are impressed with Crichton’s book. And, I’m sure it is very well written and convincing. Thinking about this reminded me of a conversation I had over dinner many years ago. Our friends, J and C. were with me and my first wife, R. (whom I know you know). As a group, we were calmly discussing some disagreement R. and I were engaged in and after awhile, when R. got up to go to the restroom, J. said to me, “Dennis, you know just because you are smarter than R. and you can debate circles around her, doesn’t make you right? Being right is different than being able to dominate someone through your verbal skills or your intelligence.

Crichton’s forte is to be a great writer. I’m sure he must be dazzling. But, again, is he the bloodhound with the best record at ferriting out the truth or simply the most dazzling advocate around?

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Dennis,

Hum, what to say about all of this. First, I paid absolutely no attention to climate change until you started your series of article beginning with peak oil. I got interested and followed your publishing. When you got to climate change, honestly, you scared me pretty good. I began to read up on this, and yep I found a lot of information confirming what you were saying. I thought I new what this was about so I began to champion this notion that the earth is going to burn up. However, I ran into a guy who did not care to roll over. He gave me some information to the contrary, quoting sources, along with a copy of Michael Crichton’s book, State of Fear. Truthfully, I did not read the book but immediately went to the Internet to dispute this heresy. I had no problem finding a whole host of critics. Well then I began reading other material on the Internet which started to point out some flaws with the current thinking. The last being a discovery of a huge error In the latest IPPC study which makes their results very suspect. Next I read Crichton’s book. Although it is fiction, his charts and sources are documented. they are very convincing to the contrary. If you have not read it, I strongly recommend you do.

He makes the point, very well I might add, that there is every bit of reason for the pro climate changers to fudge the truth as far or further than the Nay Sayers.

You have published a couple of article that trash the movie. What seems to be missing is real evidence that the charts depicted, such as CO2 leading temperature rise and others. Now I have not spent a lot of time chasing all the links, so I will reserve judgment on this.

So the author of the movie, which I sent you is biased, the others are not???

Having said all of that, I’ll tell you what I think. I think there is something very wrong with all of this. We are being manipulated on both sides. I do believe that man is ravishing the environment. Maybe it affects climate, maybe not. I really don’t know and really don’t put much faith in either side every giving me an honest assessment. I do not have (or want to spend) the time to become a climateologist to figure it out for myself.

As a side note, I would imagine that most of you think I am a Rush Limbough stooge. That would be as far from the truth as you could get. My political view is very simple; I despise and disrespect and certainly do not trust politicians, none of them. Therefore I am not willing to give them any more power; left or right. I would take it back if I knew how. I surely do not think they will solve any of this. For example, Look at Europe (resuls from the very recent European Union summit on climate change) in their latest foray into fixing this. Looks good huh!! One small problem, they left out the nuclear solution.
They would not touch it. If you read James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia, you find out that this is the only short term way to get off oil, coal and gas. Solar power, wind mills and the like just can’t hack it. Bio fuels compete with food production and it is incredibly inefficient.

So here is what I am going to do: I am going to forget about this argument on climate change. It is what it is.

Nevertheless, I really do like the earth and hate seeing it being ravaged. Even though I have no faith that any of us can change the direction we are headed. I will still treat her with dignity and respect. She is the only space ship we have. I guess I am adopting the “small is beautiful concept”.

I hope that the rest of you can find some equilibrium in this.

MD

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Dennis,

I think you misunderstand me a bit. I am not denying that man is having an impact on the environment, including climate change. What I am suspect of, is the degree of his impact on climate change vs. natural events. Frankly, I think some of the other environmental issues are equal or greater in importance than climate change with respect to damage to the ecosystem. The water is foul, the bio-mass of the ocean is being decimated, the air we breath is horrible, the natural foliage is being depleted at an alarming rate. I suspect all of this is interconnected and to single out one aspect is overly simplistic.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that the “good guys”are fudging the numbers just as much or more than the “bad guys”. I just don’t trust any of them.

Regarding Crichton, give it a read. It will not be wasted time and I know you will like it. The point to his book, from my perspective, is how anyone can find evidence to make his argument. He also has some great evidence to the contrary. He points out how people react on emotion even when they are very ignorant.

So, at the end of the day we are not so far apart. I suppose I am pessimistic when it comes to what impact we can have on fixing any of this. Momentum is against us. Too many people around the world that are too low down the triangle to worry about these issues. They just want to make it to tomorrow. We are 300 million out of 6.5 billion. How many of us really care? And, we are the supposed educated ones.

MD

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M,

“So, at the end of the day we are not so far apart.” Yes, I too believe that’s true. And I agree with a lot of what you say here.

The future is very hard to predict and things may well turn out quite different from what we expect. Unfortunately, unless we’re willing to pretend that the future will take care of itself, we have no choice but to try to make sense of the tea leaves we have.

I was in a book store yesterday and found a copy of Crichton’s book. I thumbed through it and found the section at the end where he recaps his personal thoughts on environmental issues as distinct from the story he develops in the book itself. I found many of his comments reasonable and even fairly middle of the road. He’s not without humor about himself and his views either. The last point he makes (tongue in cheek, I’m sure) is that he is, himself, without bias on these issues. Ha!

I’ve come to have my doubts on the Polar Bears in general and on the likelihood of a sharply time-delimited Peak Oil crises. And the points that the Professor from Paris made about Malaria in the “Swindle” video also bears a deeper look.

Crichton is a dangerous wild card here. He is very good at what he does. I’ve read some of his earlier works like the Andromeda Strain. He is a world class writer like Dan Brown. I am absolutely certain that if someone paid him enough, he could write a book completely opposite of his State of Fear book and make it just as riveting and convincing. I believe most of what you see there is his skill as a writer, not the inherent persuasive power of the facts he cites. How can we trust a fiction writer who has world class ability to make people believe what he writes? If I read him, it will be for entertainment.

Yes, I’m pessimistic as well. The more I study this, the less I think humanity has any significant chance of rising to the problems. We are too deeply in the grip of our biological imperatives and our biases and illusions.

If you want to know who I trust the least in all of this, it is the corporations. If mankind survives this period, I think future historians may look back on the unconstrained growth of impersonal, profit driven corporate power to be one on the worst plagues mankind unleashed on itself during this period in our history. They are major players in the drama whose only aim is to bolster their profits. Is it any wonder that the forests are disappearing, the oceans are being dredged, the environmental movement is being deflected by intentional misinformation and governments like the US are handing out no bid contracts to the like of Halliburton? All of this at a time when we should be making decisions based on our collective future welfare.

Dennis

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