18 February 2007

Global Warming as Euphemism--Dumbing Down the Debate

The concept of "dumbing down" is not new. You can see it in education, in the popular media, in science journalism, in science research--anywhere you look. To be honest, it is beginning to look a lot like an Idiocracy.

People use euphemisms to avoid spelling things out. Wouldn't it be more honest to simply say what you mean? Because nobody really means just "global warming" when they say it. They actually mean "catastrophic anthropogenic global warming--and pollution, imprudent energy consumption, environmental destruction, species extinction, rapid depletion of oil leading to economic devastation (peak oil), and many other things.

Global warming can be protean in its meanings. It can mean a human produced carbon dioxide driven disaster. Some people actually believe that human produced carbon dioxide is leading to a "rising global temperature" from which most of the biosphere can never recover. That certainly sounds serious, if you can believe it. But with a dumbed-down media, dumbed-down science journalism, and dumbed-down science research--how does a person know what to believe?

Why do people use euphemisms that blur the meaning? Intelligent people like to be precise in their language--if possible and if the situation demands it. Using terms like "climate change" as if they mean something is a good way of "self-dumbing down." Climate always changes--it cannot possibly stay the same.

Many intelligent people have conflated "global warming" with the full spectrum of environmental disaster--all the bad dreams that sensationalist/alarmist popular writers such as Paul Ehrlich have mass-produced for public consumption over the last several decades. The predictions of the alarmist-doomsayers have not come true--have not come close to coming true. But we forgive those blatant errors because the short attention span of a dumbed-down media-saturated public, the primeval human fascination with catastrophe sits waiting to be stoked once again.

Who could possibly favour mass extinction? Do you? No? Then you must believe in "catastrophic anthropogenic global warming." Who could favour spewing pollution into the air we breathe? Do you? No? Then you must believe in CO2 climate change disaster. Who could favour the current wasteful misuse of energy? Do you? No? Then you must believe in the oil company/neocon conspiracy to destroy the earth. Why resist it? You will be assimilated.

There are only so many resources that can be used to change the modern infrastructure. If you want to curtail pollution and bring about wiser energy usage, that is wonderful. But don't hide behind euphemistic language. Reducing global CO2 is not the same thing as solving all the environmental problems listed above. You may think that global warming is a good banner to march under, but you are only making some people very rich and famous, while diverting attention and resources away from the underlying problems you should really want solved.

When I was quite young, global cooling was all the rage among the alarmists in science and the media. I looked around at all the exhaust pipes and smokestacks and said to myself, "that's a lot of CO2 going into the air. If CO2 is a greenhouse gas, I'm not worried about that ice age everyone keeps talking about."

Later, when global warming started being popular, I thought to myself, "it's about time people started getting smart about all this CO2." I persisted in this complacent frame of mind for several years.

I rejected creationism very early in my life as being, like religion,very unlikely based upon logic. I have never denied the holocaust. I consider Darwinian evolution to be the best hypothesis to explain the diversity of life on earth--although I will entertain alternative theories based on scientific principles that might explain punctuated equilibria.

Then, after I had gotten training in engineering, computer science, chemistry, statistics, medicine, epidemiology, molecular biology etc., I decided to revisit what was rapidly developing into a steamroller of apocalyptic proportions. I looked at different sides of the debate.

My conclusion is that climate models are nowhere close to the competency needed upon which to base anything meaningful. It should go without speaking that I hold the opportunists making big money on "carbon trading" (Al Gore) and other schemes in the greatest contempt. Does the term "conflict of interest" mean anything?

I have installed wind generators, solar panel systems (both free-standing and grid inter-tied), micro-hydro systems, and follow the renewable energy research. I like renewables and hope world energy use turns more to sustainable energy sources.

I hate dirty air. Flying a small plane is much more fun when you can see the landmarks and geo-features below you. Having lived in the LA area too many of my years, I assure you that I hate pollution. But that has nothing to do with the orthodoxy of the climate change church of perverted and misplaced data.

Hiking, climbing, kayaking, backcountry skiing, are just a few of my hobbies. The wilderness is my favourite place. If you think I would buy into any philosophy intent on destroying the wilderness, or reject a philosophy that genuinely protects the wilderness, you are under a misapprehension.

But do I care what you think? Hell, no. You will think whatever you think. In a dumbing down world, where words do not mean what they are supposed to mean, and where the media and even some scientists strive for blurred and imprecise meanings, what most people are led to think doesn't really mean anything. In other words, in an idiocracy, people carry around a cloudy blur in their minds.

Oh yes, you will be assimilated.

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Blogger Ugh said...

Al, you are a thoughtful and sober voice on this issue. I love your web site because unlike the hysterical voices you often direct our attention to real and upcoming solutions, yes solutions. I have always believed that our success - I'm talking about the human race - is rooted in our ability to use more and more energy not less. We need to do it intelligently and effieciently and as cleanly as we possibly can (within reason). Many of your articles discuss these attributes within the new technologies that are right around the corner. I hope we live long enough to turn the corner.

Sunday, 18 February, 2007  
Blogger Fat Knowledge said...

But do I care what you thing? Hell, no. You will think whatever you think.

Why not try and convince people of the way you see things? You are an intelligent guy, who has a platform in your blog to reach many people. I think to not try and convince them of things that you believe is a waste of your time and talent.

If you don't want to convince people about this, why not write about something else that you want to convince them about (or find more interesting science and health articles and videos to point out)? If you believe environmentalists are being misled by the global warming movement, why not write about what they should be doing instead? What is the best way you see to fight pollution and protect the environment?

You may think that global warming is a good banner to march under, but you are only making some people very rich and famous, while diverting attention and resources away from the underlying problems you should really want solved.

It should go without speaking that I hold the opportunists making big money on "carbon trading" (Al Gore) and other schemes in the greatest contempt.

I am in favor of a carbon tax and a gasoline tax, and if those can't be accomplished then I would support a cap and trade system for carbon. I believe that doing so will reduce consumption of coal, oil and natural gas (in that order) and increase demand for renewables like wind and solar. Beyond decreasing carbon emissions, I believe that this will decrease pollution in the form of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and mercury emissions. I think coal mining itself does serious environmental damage in terms of leveling mountains and toxic runoff, and decreasing it will be good. I think decreasing the use of oil will also have many positive geo-political for the US and decrease the oil curse that occurs in 3rd world countries. Am I really just "making some people very rich and famous, while diverting attention and resources away from the underlying problems you should really want solved"? What should I be doing instead?

I hold the opportunists making big money on "carbon trading" (Al Gore) and other schemes in the greatest contempt.

Why do you see Al Gore as the main opportunist making big money on carbon trading? Do you really believe that Al Gore's involvement with global warming is motivated primarily by money? I find that absurd proposition. Wasn't Al Gore born rich? Why does he want more money? And if he did want money, do you really think working with global warming causes is the best way to do it? Dick Cheney made $50 million in 5 years as CEO of Halliburton. I think if Al Gore worked as a CEO of a company that could take advantage of his political connections he would make much more money than what he is getting with his global warming work. He is on the board of directors at Google and Apple, you would think if he wanted a cushy job at a high tech firm where he could make lots of money, he would be able to do so easily.

Al Gore might be incorrect about what is causing global warming, or what its implications will be, but I don't see him as doing this solely for the money. He believes in this and is doing all he can to work on it. Why not attack him for relying on bad science, or over hyping the negative implications of global warming (his talk of global sea rising in his documentary goes way beyond what the IPCC has stated)? If you have a good case for why you believe his motivation is greed, I would like to hear it.

Sunday, 18 February, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

Excellent comments, both. With readers such as these, who can wonder why I bother to write a blog? Thanks, Craig and mping.

But convincing people that my views are correct is not my intent. Most true believers of CAGW automatically reject other points of view--labeling them equivalent to holocaust deniers and evolution deniers. That type of reflexive judgment is typical of those conditioned to be politically correct. The idea of looking at different sides of an issue is prohibited in political correctness.

I don't have a lot of time for blogging, but when I do I want to have fun with it. I want to be irreverent and unorthodox. I don't want to attack the usual suspects--who are being attacked by millions. I want to express points of view that are suppressed.

If I were writing a book, I would take the trouble to put the arguments in logical order with supporting information. Until I have that kind of time, I'll just satisfy my perverse idea of having fun.

Energy taxes have a different rationale from "carbon taxes." Gasoline tax as a "user fee" or as an incentive to maximise energy efficiency can be justified--but not as a global warming palliative. But "global warming" is hot (in the media) so global warming is used as a rationale.

Al Gore is a total moron and opportunistic hypocrite. I know more about Gore's history than you do, obviously (from your comments). But if you want to know why I think Gore is an idiot and someone no bright person would want to pay attention to, you'll have to dig it out for yourself.

Monday, 19 February, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

By the way, if you haven't read Bjorn Lomborg's book "Skeptical Environmentalist", you should. Lomborg is an economist, so he is perfect for looking at allocating scarce resources for dealing with real problems. Despite the hatchet job done on Lomborg by the PC orthodoxy, his book is excellent.

"Global Warming", or CAGW more properly, is a phantom problem. If you throw money at CAGW--spending it in ways that do not palliate other, real problems, you are making it harder to deal with genuine problems. Carbon trading--which is making a lot of already well-off people quite wealthy--is a good example of phantom palliation.

Monday, 19 February, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think there is some reason in what you say but also a bit of Conforming to one of those two realities that you write. The alrmente and those without.

Sunday, 10 January, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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