14 August 2008

moderation of global environmentalism

Since this is fast becoming another 'religious' topic where no reasonable people can debate, I will now relate my moderating positions.

1) Global warming includes both man and natural factors to some degree. CO2 itself, as but one factor, is both created by natural and man-made factors. The correlation involved is not causation, in fact there is research which describes that the opposite may be true (that temperature increases increase CO2/carbon). Most of this suggests that the precise causes are muddled between natural variations and man made ones (ie, man is not the sole cause, nor is he innocent).

2) Most of the publicly consumed scenarios (such as just about anything put forth by Gore) are not universally accepted by scientific communities as they are quite dire. Computer modeling of environmental change is still quite uncertain because of the massive number of variable influences. Some things will come to pass regardless of human behavior (even behavior to moderate/eliminate pollutants) and some will only come to pass because of it. We aren't well versed enough to tell the difference or to know what precise effects we will have.

3) This does not mean that human behaviors can not or should not be moderated in conservation methods or through less environmental impacting methods of production. Quite the opposite it suggests we should be engaged in doing what we can to control our impact (especially where we understand what it is) on both ourselves and the global/local environments. This to me is a separate issue of importance relating to property rights rather than some method of saving the planet. If people feel it's a more important cause, go ahead and believe what you will. But don't tell me this is a selfless cause to save cute fuzzy creatures and green park lands because it isn't nor is saying so likely to induce productive and practicable measures to resolve the problem.

4) This also means that most of the money involved should be placed in adaptive methods of climate change. Natural variation will occur. Local climate changes occur from year to year anyway, as anyone in the central US or California could attest. Human beings have been involved in climate adaptation for thousands of years (usually by migrating). We have 'stopped' because of our modern urban technology dependencies and stubborn settlement of a particular place rather than particular climate conditions (for instance New Orleans or San Francisco probably aren't well situated because of natural events).

5) Most of the public figures involved in promoting global warming as a social cause are involved frequently in 'do as I say, not as I do' means of self-promotion. This indicates (to me) that they are attempting to capitalize on a fear-based event, rather than put forth solutions to avert it. It is more likely because of the enormous cost (to the expense of very certain and direct issues such as abject poverty or the scourge of malaria or AIDS) and enormous uncertainty involved that they do not have solutions (or at least they don't have solutions we can all "profit" from). We should be skeptical of these proposals, as we would be with any major leader who will directly profit from our exertions (religious, political, business) unless we ourselves share in the fruits of our labors.

6) Solutions must include any means of production or energy/resource efficiency that are available. Carbon credits haven't as I see them promoted American resource efficiency, instead what has done so is significantly raising gasoline/energy prices. Recapture devices are unlikely in the near term, but they are indeed worth implementing if the environmental externalities of production are directly imposed upon the industries involved in producing them through other costs. Energy costs which involve pollution should be conceived of as higher than those which have less or none because of their externalities. The cost of coal for example is rendered in the cost of respiratory disease for humans and in the cost of negative local climate changes in the quality of air and water..measured against the cost of not producing valuable energy for a given population.
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