Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat..

The Chronicle today ran an editorial titled “Hot Times –As global warming becomes a given, solutions seem ever more distant.” They quote NASA climatologist James Hansen saying “The climate system is on the verge of tipping points. If the world does not make a dramatic shift in energy policies over the next few years, we may well pass the point of no return,” and urge lawmakers to overcome partisanship and special interest lobbying to address this threat.

Of course, not to rock the boat, in the same section they ran a piece by geophysicist and Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham titled “Climate change alarmists ignore scientific methods.” He claims that the theory that human generated CO2 is responsible for global warming “has gained little acceptance among legitimate scientists,” and that “human-caused global warming is simply not a threat to be concerned about.”

Cunningham writes for The Heartland Foundation, a right wing think tank whose sources of funding, now secret, in the past have included the Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Scaife Foundations, (think Koch Industries and Gulf Oil.) According to Sourcewatch, their causes include “common sense environmentalism,” genetically engineered crops, privatization of public services, school vouchers, deregulation of health insurance, and opposition to tobacco control measures.

When I first saw this article I thought that I’d write about it, and I wondered how I would dispute the word of a real geophysicist. Turns out that it’s no problem. The few facts he presents seem legit, the problem is the conclusions he draws from them.

In these days of record temperatures, receding glaciers, melting sea ice, and anomalous weather, I find it ridiculous to maintain that human activity is not changing the climate.

Sure, there are cycles of solar activity and variations in the earth’s orbit driving the climate. But rising greenhouse gas levels demonstrate that our emissions are outstripping the ability of the oceans and forests to lock up atmospheric carbon in a “carbon cycle” that generally takes about a century. The “global dimming” effect of soot and particulate pollution probably mitigates the warming effect of greenhouse gases to some degree, but is hardly to be counted on as these cycle out of the atmosphere in about a weeks time. Scientists have an imperfect understanding of the forcings and feedbacks that drive the earth’s climate. As one who considers conservation to be a conservative value, (take that, crazy dominionists) I don’t see how we can continue to interfere with systems that are as indispensible to us as they are incomprehensible.

Besides the lunacy, there is a moral issue in that the effects of climate change are expected to hit hardest in Africa, island nations, and delta regions, where poor and powerless people will be hard pressed to adapt to changing conditions. We should tell a billion people living on the margins that they will drown, starve, dehydrate, or otherwise perish so that we can carry on business as usual? No wonder the Pentagon considers this a major issue.


At 8:18 PM , Blogger judge chief charly hoarse said...

Correction of sorts; I said that Cunningham seemed to have his facts straight. I've been trying to confirm his statement that $30 billion dollars has been spent researching climate change vs. $20 million spent debunking it. The only source I can find for these figures is from Sen. James Inhoffe, Paleo-Republican from (oil) Oklahoma, a dubious source.


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