The Weather Outside
Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 7, 2007
As a Wisconsinite, you’ll forgive me if I lack the vision that my socially aware friends in faraway places enjoy. I’ve been told that we are in danger of catastrophe because of global warming. Now, someday I will likely spout off about that in elegant detail, but let me keep it general for the moment (which will be long enough in itself).
My main issues with this global warming thing is not that I necessarily think the world is not warming. I am not convinced of that, but I am respectful of science, and I won’t ignore measurable and observable things. If temperature readings say that there has been an increasing trend in global temperatures, I can accept that. Notwithstanding the evidence that this warming actually peaked nearly a decade ago, let’s just say such a trend actually exists.
My problems are two-fold with respect to the global warming discussion. Actually, maybe three-fold. I don’t know, as I type it will probably be more, so let’s just find out as I go.
Keeping it general, the first issue I have is when science moves from observations of something that is determinable, to developing theories as to the cause of those determinations (still no problem), to stating unproven – and unprovable – theories as fact. The relevant example here being “people are the cause of global warming.”
Furthermore, there is an even greater problem when those who question those theories are shunned and ridiculed. To me, that is a much greater issue than the actual theory itself.
Second, I am very leery of bedfellows. When global warming activists start blaming the existence of humans on just about everything, and when said activists happen to be pro-population-control, and when those same people will call China’s one-child-only policy a good a positive step in the direction we all should go, well then it presents a serious question in my mind about whether or not they are coming to their conclusions about global warming based on reasons of science or on reasons of social agenda. Clearly, not all who are concerned about the potential effects of global warming have such extreme ideas. But nearly all who have these extreme ideas are in the “Global Warming is destroying us” crowd. Prove me wrong.
My final issue with all this is the causation vs. correlation fallacies that are so rampant. It goes something like this: There is more Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. Temperatures have increased. Therefore, more Carbon Dioxide increases temperature. This is a fallacious argument. One could just as easily assert that increased temperatures cause more Carbon Dioxide. Few make this argument, but there is no more reason to not make this argument than there is a reason to make the other. Both are workable theories (for example – greenhouse gases released by insects increases with temperature, as do emissions of such gases from the world’s oceans. One could argue that something else increased temperature and the result were more greenhouse gas emissions). There is yet another possibility: the two have nothing to do with each other, and the increase in both is either coincidental, or alternatively that the inrease in both measures is caused by a third factor (or a fourth, fifth, …, gazillionth factor). I am not arguing for or against any of these things at the moment. I am just pointing out that the scientific process goes awry when such a simple thing as assuming causation occurs when it should not be assumed.
The real issue with the last problem is that other evidence gets ignored when the cause is already assumed. How many of us have seen the charts of Carbon Dioxide cycles in ice core samples, that shows this spike occurring every 100,000 years or so? How many of us have been witness to charts of solar activity showing us a much stronger relationship between temperature fluctuations and cycles on earth in relation to sun activity? How many of us know that only 2% of all greenhouse gases are attributed to human activities? These are worthy and valid questions that should not simply be ignored.
However, all that said, neither is questioning the causes behind global warming a license to ignore responsibility for the condition of our surroundings. We are stewards of this beautiful earth. Having dominion does not mean exercising authority with reckless abandon. We should take reasonable and relevant steps to keep our world clean and safe. But understanding this does not mean adopting policies where abortion on demand and a contraceptive mentality takes over, where in our “wisdom”, we have determined that the best way to sustan life is to limit life. Nor does it mean adopting standards that will hamstring progress and create hardship for many people. There is always a proper balance that can be struck. It seems we seldom seek that balance, instead opting for one extreme or the other. I suppose it’s natural to fear that giving an inch will allow someone else to take a mile. If only both sides could give a few inches…
Anyway, to get further into all these studies and get in depth on any of them would make this a multi-page entry. While this would be interesting to me (perhaps not others), it is not the real point of this post. And why should you believe me, anyway? I’m an actuary, not a climatologist.
So, what is my point? In all honesty, it’s to complain about the temperature outside right now. It’s about a week now since the thermometer has hit 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and much of that time has been spent in the sub-zero range. And yet, I see on my TV that people are concerned about how warm things are. Are you all insane? What do you want from us!!!
Right now, I’m just trying to keep the beer in the garage refrigerator from freezing. A little warming just doesn’t seem like a bad thing…