Getting Serious About The Climate Debate
Dec. 23rd, 2010 @ 02:43 pm
It's time to get serious about how the Climate Debate is framed and move towards actively pushing it into a more productive direction.|
Take, for example, the name "Global Warming". "Global Warming" isn't merely inaccurate, since we have clearly seen abnormally cold temperatures along with our abnormally warm ones, it is counterproductive because of those periodic cold snaps.
Likewise, there are problems with the use of models and computer generated "Anomalies" that are intended to replace actual ground measurements. Consider the reliance on GISTEMP. GISTEMP attempts to cover parts of the globe where stations are scarce by using models based on stations hundreds to thousands of miles away. No one (including me) is going to be convinced that a thermometer in one part of the world can be used to accurately measure the temperature of another part of the world 500 or more miles distant.
There are two problems with "Global Warming", one of which can be solved by reframing the debate and the other which cannot.
It should be clear from the growing number of instances of severe weather -- heat waves, cold snaps, torrential rains, prolonged droughts -- that our climate =is= changing. That we are experiencing an unprecedented rearrangement of the global climate, and that in many case -- most, by and large -- the changes are not positive. No region of the planet is experiencing increased stability or an increase in weather patterns that will improve the lives of its inhabitants or the productivity of the land. This is the bad news. But the other bad news is that the changes that are being experienced are no completely of the form "It was warmer this year than 10 years ago." After years of no winter, Austin is experiencing its third winter in a row. Except that unlike winters past, this is a far dryer winter. The buildup of dust and pollen on the solar arrays attests to the lack of rainfall at a time when historically we'd have had rains.
The proper descriptive terms for what we are experiencing is "Climate Change" because that is what is happening -- our climate is changing, and clearly not for the better. At a time when winter rains are needed to start producing changes in the peach trees out back, there is no rain. Yes, we are getting the chilling hours that are needed, but there is no rain and there hasn't been appreciable rain in months. We are experiencing, quite simply, a winter drought -- something that we've never experienced in all my years in Texas.
The other problem is one of misplaced religious beliefs and trust that G-d will not allow Man to destroy the planet. To suggest that this is misguided is an understatement for it isn't merely misguided, it is a violation of the precepts of the dominant religious culture. In both Luke 4:12 and Matthew 4:7, Jesus is supposedly quoted as repeating the words of Devar'im 6:16 -- "Do not test the LORD your G-d as you did at Massah". From this we learn that we don't say "G-d won't allow" or "G-d will prevent", because G-d has already told you not to do that. When Ha'Satan supposedly took Jesus to a great height and said "Jump!", Jesus knew that G-d had made no such agreement that His angels were going to prevent him from falling to the ground and dying. And we need to tell those who have the "G-d will not allow us to destroy the Earth" belief that G-d has already told us "Don't test Me."
Climate Change is badly in need of a PR movement. The science is irrefutable, but the Sales and Marketing department is too focused on "Is too!" and not enough on consumer acceptance. Very few products can be sold with a bad name -- Smuckers likely being one of the few. "With a name like Smuckers it has to be good". Smuckers is good without the name. And it was a popular brand long before marketing companies looked for every single last "edge".
But Global Warming doesn't "sell" because it simply isn't what is happening. Drought isn't warming, exceptional winter storms isn't warming, torrential rains isn't warming, nor are record breaking hurricane and typhoon seasons Global Warming. Global Warming is, descriptively enough, the warming of the globe. And only a fool can't see that the globe isn't getting warmer the same way a pizza put in an oven on 350F for 15 minutes gets warmer. If I sold you an oven that periodically was a deep freeze, dish washer, trash compactor, oh -- and an oven -- you wouldn't buy it as a "Food Warmer". Chaotic kitchen appliance? Sure. Not that you'd =want= a Chaotic Kitchen Appliance, but just saying -- one name is descriptive and the other simply isn't. And we =need= to get people serious about this debate because it is simply too important for bad marketing.
How dare you question our right to FUBAR up this Garden of a Planet, as is our Manifest Destiny to Rape and Pillage? [Did I lay that on too thickly?] I think it's more about the "Manifest Destiny" and entitlement
than any misplaced trust. I think the scope of mental change, let alone economical one required specifically of the USA, is beyond the physically possible.
I always took Isaiah 65:17
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."
to mean that the biosphere will be broken beyond repair, and that G-d will have to replace the whole mess.... but it will NOT be pretty getting there.
I think the PR fiasco is partially due to the scientists themselves having initial difficulty understanding the chaos that the "warming" will create. Chaos, as such, is hard to understand, and even harder to... predict.
I don't think there are any challenges that are beyond our technical or financial abilities.
There is already a major shift underway in terms of conservation that has the potential to reduce energy demand on the order of 30 percent or more. There are other changes with the "Smart Grid" that are probably worth 10 to 20 percent -- just from being smarter, not even from being more efficient (though "more efficient" will come from "smarter").
One of the issues is what I call "Using all the energy you pay for". By that I mean, not just paying because it's "there", but actually making effective use.