Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Time To Pay Attention

With the political season already upon us, way too early, and the war to end all wars simmering away, it is easy to lose track of the other myriad issues that should concern us. One of the most important of these issues is the debate over global warming. This administration has shown no interest is what they consider the small stuff, and evidently global warming is one of those issues. I fear that they will allow this junk science to affect policy, with disturbing results possible. Since many on the side that is against the fruition of the Kyoto protocols believe the issue to be won, those in favor of Kyoto will continue to chip away at the public perception of the state of scientific understanding of global climate.

The people who push the Kyoto protocol are indefatigable in their quest, as they have pursued this issue for at least one hundred years. No, not global climate: that is only a handy tool for them. Their quest is the redistribution of wealth, from the wealthy nations to the "developing," or "third" world. They believe that wealth is a zero-sum game, and that, if only America and Western Europe could be made poorer, the less fortunate will become richer. When their theme was "socialism" or "communism," they picked up enough support to form a few empires, as well as sundry lesser nations that followed this now-disproved theory. Now that the utopian movement has been shown to be a complete failure, they believe that they can get enough support by the chicken little approach: e.g. convince enough mothers that their children are in danger, and thus garner enough support to get the planet to cross this rubicon of "Carbon reduction."

If they were sincere in their quest, Kyoto would not expressly exclude nuclear power as a way (the only practical way-ED) to mitigate CO2 emissions under the protocol. They can not even agree that trees, which absorb CO2, should be allowed a role in mitigation. What this means is that, under the Kyoto protocol, the only way for a country to achieve compliance is to burn less fuel. While some gains are possible with new technologies and efficiencies, the massive CO2 decreases required can only be accomplished by the impoverishment of the developed countries. Of course, since this is no way to sell the deal, any accolyte of "global warming" would deny that this is their goal, and instead try to misdirect your attention to the plight of the children, and back those scientists who are willing to buck their academic establishment into a corner of needing to prove a negative, which is, as we all know, impossible by definition.

Today in my hometown paper there is a letter to the editor by one of the true believers, and for once, this writer is willing to concede a little bit to reality. While soft-pedaling the import of the information, he does concede that the current climate changes as seen in ice cores are a mirror of past conditions (who was burning fossil fuel ten thousand years ago? -ED). Instead of pursuing the scientific case, which is a loser for his side, he launches into fear-mongering, predicting that, given the choice between starving and raiding, humans will raid. To avoid such total lawlessness, he implores us "to give this critically important issue the attention it rightly deserves."

I agree. If we fail to pay attention to this issue, the other side will creep back into relevance. Since the editors of newspapers will print this hysterical side to the argument, we must make sure that those in positions of political power know for an absolute fact that, those of us who are paying attention still think that this is an important issue for the future economic health of our world. And, if indeed we shall undertake to cause changes in our climate, it must be science, not politics, that determine the course of action to take. If it is decided that we should cool the climate, there are many possible technologies that are prohibited from consideration under Kyoto. The Bush administration should, by all means, finance research into alternatives.

For one thing, Hydrogen, which has been touted as a solution to the Carbon emissions problem, is of absolutely of no use unless we develop another source of cheap, clean power. If nuclear is off the table, what other power source can be made available? Hydrogen is, after all, only a means to store energy, since we can't mine it, and it doesn't grow on trees. For another approach, we could look into ways to decrease insolation on the planet's surface, which is more likely to reduce atmospheric temperatures that reductions in carbon dioxide within a lifespan, or less.

But most important of all is the research, which at present is driven by an academic establishment that buys the political case behind Kyoto, so that it is unlikely to fund additional research that will actually increase our understanding of global climate. It has been said that basic research takes too long, but that is all part and parcel of the chicken-little approach. To the true believers, if we wait, their issue will die. So they persist in their prediction that the sky is falling, and we must act, NOW. I, for one, do not believe that it is falling. I am not at all sure that the Earth is even getting warmer. I don't believe that global sea level is rising, and I wonder what to make of the fact that Antarctic ice is increasing. But I have no fear of the truth. More research is definitely indicated in the area of climate and climate change. I say: "Bring it on!!"