Monday, February 18, 2008

We lost the first battle in the war on climate ignorance...

The science on "global warming" was clear enough for scientists to be alarmed 20 years ago but fossil fuel lobbies, Detroit and charlatans eager for the cheap votes of ignorant fundamentalists found it easy to cloud and bury the issue. The science never had a chance in the political and media arena...the very name of the problem didn't sound like a problem. Recognizing that framing an issue is where science often looses the war in the first battle , New York Times climate blogger, Andrew Revkin gathers comments from several climate scientists who bemoan the semantic paper sword fecklessly brandished at the denialists. Revkin invites suggested alternatives for labeling the issue in such a way as to make its title conjure up more realistic and conscientious apprehension of the subject.

That sounds like a fun game, here are some of my alternatives to "Global Warming"
  • CRISP: Climate Ruined for the Interests of Selfish People

  • ICaBODD: Industrially Created Business Opportunities in Drought and Drowning

  • DEATH: Degradation of Earth's Atmosphere by Thoughtless Humans

  • SCORCH: Saving the Climate is Out of Reach to Corporate Humanity.

The time scales really are a serious problem as Revkin and the scientists he quotes try to explain in that NY Times blog post. The laboratory demonstration of delayed impact of applied heat recounted in the post very accurately presents an analog to what is actually happening in the Antarctic according to this post at the authoritative site.

Problems requiring 50 years of foresight, planning and discipline will never be solved by politicians with a four year time horizon, nor by businesses with a mantra of increasing profit in each three month period.

The politicians think time itself will end in November unless they can throw meat to the wolf pack of lobbyists. The CEO's think [their] time could end at the next annual share holder meeting. Despite the empty gale of glad yammering about their "green" intentions, by design, corporations think the world of the their profits and cannot think of what would profit the world. They live large this year on externalized costs the mass of humanity will have to pay back during [ or with ] the lives of their children. To be fair to the politicians, that "mass of humanity" includes a good many who can't think very far ahead either because they have few options for this month's meals if they don't grind up a little seed corn.

Note: some "green" is actually "a greenish glow in the dark". I am not categorically against the use of nuclear energy to alleviate our carbon burden on the climate but I trust the well funded industries who are behind most of the PR for nuclear energy about as far as I could toss a reactor. Until there is complete transparency of the relations between the science, the industry and the government involvements in nuke proposals, I am not supporting it as an alternative. Populism playing to fearful ignorance about nuclear energy does us no favors either.

When you are an addict, tapering off the drug is always a better idea than finding an alternative drug.

"Better" does not mean psychologically or physically easier, it just means better long term outcome. Who's in it for the long term, eh? Just consider the juxtaposition of the two posts I have linked here. One describes a laboratory demonstration that, though perfectly accurate in its analogy, and repeated for decades, only persuades the scientifically literate handful. The other describes an effect in the Antarctic scaled up from that demonstration to global proportions and well under way. The one says we could have known, the other says it may be too late for the knowledge to do much good.

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