the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Climate Crazy

Posted by Jeff Id on October 2, 2010

[self snip the whole thing]

Genetically altered plants to save you from AGW.


30 Responses to “Climate Crazy”

  1. Mark F said

    You’re an MD now? I suspect you mean “patience”.

  2. Jeff Id said

    #1. No md more like po.

  3. HotRod said

    I was browsing Joe Romm’s thread on the 10:10 video and found this comment, which has a crazy genius, the lucidity of a lunatic. Enjoy.

    I forget the name of the commenter, fedupwithsonethingorother.

    Steven Leibo, Ph.D., in comment (#2), writes:

    “I have not seen the video and have no intention of doing so. But I think we all have to realize that the situation is going to get a lot uglier over the next few years. The stakes are just too high, and the emotional level of both sides too elevated for this not to get a whole lot more complicated and nasty. I speak not as an expert on climate change but as a professor of Modern International History and Politics.”

    How complicated, then, is “complicated,” and how nasty is “nasty?”

    I would guess that conditions favoring the situation getting really ugly in the United States between now and (say) 2020—perhaps to the point of widespread civil disruption, anarchy, riots, and even—Heaven help us—wholesale murder (societal chaos that would make the 1861-65 conflagration known as the “American Civil War” seem like a lovers’ quarrel on honeymoon night by comparison)—include (1) GOP victories in 2010 that return the U.S. Congress partially or totally to Republican control, ensuring deadlock for the foreseeable future over clean energy and climate legislation; (2) the GOP capturing the White House in 2012; (3) successful efforts by the Far Right to prevent the U.S. EPA from regulating fossil-fuel-derived CO2 and other greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act; (4) further abuse of the public trust by wealthy fossil-fuel interests and their supporters who have largely bought out both the mainstream media and our political process and who fund highly unethical and underhanded campaigns of disinformation and denial in order to deceive the public about global warming; (5) continuing decline of the middle class along with a widening of the gap between rich and poor; (6) further economic decline and stagnation in job growth, as seems assured if the concentration of political power on the Right grows; (7) future failure to reach meaningful international accords to rein in emissions of CO2 and shift the world’s economies to non-fossil-fuel energy sources; and finally (8) a clear pattern of progression or worsening of global-warming effects including a rising frequency of intense storms, flooding, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, crop failures, water scarcity and all their attendant ills, especially if in conjunction with food scarcity and rising food prices which either portend widespread famine or represent its beginning stages.

    In other words, the prerequisite for the near-future breakdown of social order in the United States might amount to nothing more than a somewhat heavier dose of exactly everything we’ve already got or are about to get. And let there be no doubt about the fact that we’re going to get it. The required stimulus could be as little as a couple of additional turns of the screw to stress society (already strained by economic circumstances and bitterly divided between Left and Right on nearly every issue) to the breaking point and explode the cohesion which since the founding of the American Republic has proved stronger than any of those forces (including the conflict over Slavery) which threatened to tear it apart. And don’t count on the military being able to restore order in that eventuality. A military dictatorship, including martial law, might just make things worse. And whose side would the military be on? The side of anti-science, irrationalism, and reality denial?

    Then can the Center possibly hold? Not if there is continued denial of man-made global warming’s reality—the same as to say that a lot of people who presently have their heads buried in the sand to the point where they’re a$$-deep in it are going to have to get their heads out of the sand or, in the end, risk losing their heads.

    Is there a better compact metaphor with which to encapsulate the essence of our “situation”? If so, it’s that we’re all in this together, and that the fragile boat we’re on, which is being increasingly slammed by the violent winds and waves unleashed by a climate system whose heat balance has been seriously disturbed and that consequently is wildly out of equilibrium, must henceforth be placed under unified command and control, on a single heading, with a single set of emergency operating procedures, until safe harbor can be attained, and that there is (or soon enough will be) no room for naysayers, deniers, and delayers.

    Perfectly sensible notions such as this one, however, are quickly spun by the delayer/ denier side into wild conspiracy theories, generally that so-called “global-warming alarmism” is part of a socialist/ communist plot—an excuse to raise taxes and redistribute wealth, for example, or cover for an organized but underhanded attempt to abolish national sovereignty and establish a one-world government under U.N. control. This is mass paranoia married to a delusion about the physical world. The people who promote it are crazy and stupid, and frequently dishonest as well, and we do the world no good to deny the fact.

    Ironically, preservation of national sovereignty and the institutions of democracy, not to mention avoidance of general war, will be more likely the sooner we all face up to the global warming problem and address it by taking strong action to rein in greenhouse emissions. Denying global warming makes all our problems much worse and reduces the chances that in the end any human freedoms or reasonable quality of life will be possible to preserve anywhere. Those nations in the grip of mass ignorance and denial—like the United States—risk marginalization and ultimately total destruction if they continue this pattern. Destruction will come from within, from without, or from both together. Resistance is futile: either get with the emerging international protocols, accords, etc. that mandate timetables for greenhouse emissions reductions or face isolation, sanctions, and condemnation as an outlaw nation. Continued emission of greenhouse gases at anything like current per-capita rates is unacceptable. Acceptance of the relevant protocols must become the principal international standard by which nations are judged. In the end, any nation engaged in continuing willful or malicious destruction of the atmospheric commons by dumping greenhouse-gas pollution into it will be taken over or taken out—forcibly internationalized or worse.

    I will close with one final observation. Professor Leibo’s central point, viz. “The stakes are… too high, and the emotional level of both sides too elevated for this [situation] not to get a whole lot more complicated and nasty” is accurate as it stands only if we accept without question each side’s own estimation of what the “stakes” are. (I encourage readers to visit his excellent blog, at http://sagethoughts.wordpress.com/ , for further illumination.) Considered objectively, however, the simple fact is that the two sides are very unequally balanced in respect to (a) the real stakes, and (b) reasons for elevation of the emotional level (such as to anger or perceived killing rage).

    What, for example, justifies the evident rage of climate deniers who e-mail death threats to climate scientists involved in the “Climategate” controversy? Is there some rationale for this behavior, or are such deniers just nutcases—perhaps maliciously stupid criminal types who are out to make trouble and have hitched themselves to the skeptic bandwagon just to go along for the ride? Perhaps all deniers are nutcases on some level? And how does the obvious anger and hate of many deniers—evident in the insulting or threatening tone of the comments they post on blogs—compare with the sublimated anger of the video under discussion (in the form of what Charles [in comment #40, seconding Jon Dee in comment #31] calls “typical, black British humor”)—humor which is not directed at anybody in particular but which is evidently intended as a forceful jab at the dangerously off-center phenomenon of climate denial in general? I have not seen the video myself, but I trust Joe Romm’s (and Bill McKibben’s) assessment that it is off the deep end and not suitable for general distribution. There is reason for anger, though, at the harm caused by denialism and deniers—such anger being evident (for example) in a CP comment of mine where I really go off at the b*stards and which can be found at http://climateprogress.org/ 2010/ 09/ 29/ gingrich-threat-to-our-basic-way-of-life-obama-american-solutions-for-winning-the-future-aswf/ #comment-298727

    In the end, though, what it comes down to is that the comparison of the “stakes” on one side of the Great Climate War to the stakes on the other is like the comparison of molehill to mountain; one weighs uncounted gigatons, the other next to nothing. On one side we have what is at best a completely silly and childish argument, like that of a six-year-old who can’t be inconvenienced to put his garbage in the recycling bin or turn off the incandescent lights when he leaves his room; on the other, we have a reasoned argument by mature adults of high intellectual capacity (including the Romms, Hansens, Gores, Solomons, Holdrens, Manns, and McKibbens among us) who understand how the world works and who have the sum of human knowledge including all of science on their side. It’s safe to say that in any impartial court where reason and science prevailed, the claims of the denier side of the argument would be summarily dismissed without further comment.

    Let’s therefore ask: what does anybody except a few wealthy special interests have to lose by control of greenhouse gases and the transitioning of the world’s economies to non-fossil-fuel (preferably renewable but including nuclear where feasible) energy sources? The answer is that on balance there is nothing to lose. In fact, we all (including skeptics and deniers, excepting paid disinformers who might be out of a job) have much to gain in the long run from such a transition. Major benefits include much-reduced future global warming, a far cleaner environment, and reliance upon domestic rather than unreliable and costly foreign sources of energy. What, on the other hand, do we have to lose by NOT controlling greenhouse gases and making the transition to clean energy? The answer is: essentially everything—which I need not describe here since the full description of the loss is given in the next-to-last paragraph of my post above, preceding this one.

  4. HotRod said

    I’ve just re-read it myself. A parody beyond beyond beyond.

  5. Jeff Id said

    wow, the man lives in opposite land.

  6. HotRod said

    It’s so difficult to choose one’s favourite passage.

    This one?

    ‘…. we’re all in this together, and that the fragile boat we’re on, which is being increasingly slammed by the violent winds and waves unleashed by a climate system whose heat balance has been seriously disturbed and that consequently is wildly out of equilibrium, must henceforth be placed under unified command and control, on a single heading, with a single set of emergency operating procedures, until safe harbor can be attained, and that there is (or soon enough will be) no room for naysayers, deniers, and delayers. ‘

    It has so much quality prose, it is astounding, truly, the divergence between its sense, ie none, and the apparent brain behind it, he/she is not ‘stupid’.

  7. Brian H said

    He is going to be SO disoriented by the disconnect between his causes and effects. I wonder if cognitive dissonance can be fatal …

  8. bob said

    Ph.D’s must be getting pretty cheap, nowadays. Modern International History and Politics. Sounds more like current events, and he doesn’t get it.

  9. j ferguson said

    “… mature adults of high intellectual capacity (including the Romms, Hansens, Gores, Solomons, Holdrens, Manns, and McKibbens among us) who understand how the world works and who have the sum of human knowledge including all of science on their side.”

    No one who could compile this list using those terms, “mature adults of high intellectual capacity” could possibly have sufficient intellectual wherewithal himself to make that appraisal. Intellectually, a couple of the people on this list, but not all. Maturity doubtful in every instance.

    “Sum of human knowledge” is pretty good too.

    More utter nonsense.

  10. HotRod said

    Or maybe this passage, in which he invades China.

    ‘Acceptance of the relevant protocols must become the principal international standard by which nations are judged. In the end, any nation engaged in continuing willful or malicious destruction of the atmospheric commons by dumping greenhouse-gas pollution into it will be taken over or taken out—forcibly internationalized or worse.’

  11. Eric Anderson said

    Genetic engineering to save us from AGW. Great plan. Do something we scarcely understand — and certainly don’t know the long-term consequences of — in order to save us from a non-problem. How could anyone not support such a great idea?

  12. Pat Frank said

    [snip per request]

  13. Pat Frank said

    [snip per request]

  14. HotRod said

    No no, sorry I wasn’t clear.

    The comment was by someone whose handle was something like ‘fedupwithdenial’.

    He opened his comment by referring to a previous comment by Leibo.

    Leibo is blameless, leave him alone!

    The more I read the whole comment the more I wonder if Joe Romm is having his leg very elegantly pulled. The comment is so perfect, coming from exactly the right place, and yet tipping repeatedly into absurdity. I just don’t know. It could be real. It could be a brilliant pastiche like the Henry Root Letters, absurd yet believable.

  15. j ferguson said

    #14 HotRod Bingo. Lying in bed last night, reconsidering my earlier remarks I, too, concluded it was a spoof. No one could write something so foolish with such precision and excess who actually believed what is there.

    Romm’s leg is being yanked, maybe along with the others that imagine that the recent stupid attempt at parody reflected the contemplated intentions of more than a very few people.

    Those guys who are setting out to “engineer” trees might take a whack at the “friendly” tree, the one carnivorous one that is friendly only because it takes 24 hours to get enough grip on you to start digestion. Friendly trees occurred in a science fiction tale I read when I was a kid. Maybe they could “engineer” ones which preferred alarmists.

  16. j ferguson said

    #15 Insert comma after HotRod. Sorry.

  17. Mark F said

    J Ferguson
    Youtube now has an apology from 1010 stating that they missed the mark with their non-spoof and intentional alarmist video production. They stand behind their extreme alarmism. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  18. j ferguson said

    #17

    “I’m not afraid to live in fear.” Groo the Wanderer, 1485

    Mark, I think I have more confidence in our collective good sense to imagine that anything remotely like blowing away doubters (isn’t that a better term than deniers?) could ever get very far.

    This is not to say that a few of the insane might not pick up on this and menace the insufficiently alarmist radio station or two.

  19. Mark F said

    Agree on our collective good sense. As a spoof, perhaps a little dark. As an alarmist tactic thought by the organization to be rational, very scary. We aren’t really that far from reruns of religious inquisitions, witch-hunts and other purges having eugenics-flavored motivations.

  20. Don Keiller said

    WRT “Genetically altered plants to save you from AGW.”

    What Planet are these bozos on?

    With or without GM (which the ecoMENTALists will object to anyway) plants respond to increased [CO2] with increased photosynthesis and increased allocation of the resulting carbohydate to the roots.

    In fact precisely what they these geniuses say they seek (grant money).

    Their ignorance of the large body of literature on this subject is truly breath taking.

  21. j ferguson said

    #19

    Hi Mark. The alarmists do seem to be gathering momentum as a religious mania.

    For a very sobering history of what such manias are capable of, and assuming you can find the time, have a look at Macaulay’s “History of England from the Accession of James II.” It’s 5 volumes which are free at Gutenberg.org. As a whole I thought them well worth the months they’ve taken me to read.

    He’s droll, thorough, and very readable even though the books are full of archaicisms of the 1840s when they were written.

    He covers in great detail the religious conflicts of the second half of the 17th century and the extremes people were prepared to go to in support of what today seem trivial differences.

    In the US, we owe a lot to James II. As a wannabe tyrant, his creativity was so broad that we have many paragraphs in our Constitution and Bill of rights almost specifically aimed at his more evil schemes.

    In those days, you could be hung or burned at the stake for a cynical remark on the religious view du jour.

    To the degree that the alarmist beliefs have become religious in tenor, we can expect to see contemporary variations on witch burnings. They7 just haven’t figured it out yet.

    On Macaulay, I haven’t been able to find anyone else whose read him. The times he described are so similar to today’s, it’s too bad.

    But then the time it takes may not be the best time investment.

  22. timetochooseagain said

    Wasn’t this Freeman Dyson’s idea?

  23. Retired Engineer said

    Back OT. So, Frankenfoods are bad, the ultimate corporate/big business evil, but Frankentrees are good, saving us from certain doom.

    You sure Al Franken didn’t write this?

  24. Phillip Bratby said

    I like warming. I don’t want to be saved from warming. I want to be saved from cooling.

  25. Brian H said

    #22, Time;
    Yep, he points out that modifications of silviculture and agriculture would have far larger impact at minute fractions of the cost, far faster. The Warmist response is to call him senile.

    #24, Phil;
    Yep, you have permission to adopt/share my email sig:
    ________________________
    Help keep the planet Green! Maximize your CO2 and CH4 output!
    Global Warming=More Life; Global Cooling=More Death.

  26. M. Simon said

    Genetic engineering to save us from AGW.

    Which I am against because it is evil. However, I like plant and animal breeding to get the variations we desire. Which is to say I favor unnatural selection over targeted changes.

  27. Brian H said

    M. Simon Simon;
    Good luck with that. I, for one, will welcome our new GM offspring and masters!

  28. Brian H said

    Krap. Blew it. Above should have said:
    M. Canute Simon;
    Good luck with that. I, for one, will welcome our new GM offspring and masters!

    😉

  29. Pat Frank said

    Thanks, HotRod Jeff, please snip out #12 & #13, as my criticisms are directed to the wrong person.

    Thanks,

    Pat

  30. M. Simon said

    Brian,

    Well. I was wondering. At first.

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