My Stance on Global Warming

n2215691154_37700

I’ve just chanced upon Will’s ‘vlog’ post (it was a video embedded into a blog post – what else am I to call it?). It’s a bit old – I take time to chance upon things. So, the world is coming to an end because we are selfish and excessive in our use of energy. Apparently.

Officially, I like to refer to myself as a sceptic and positivist – I follow the doctrine that speculation on ultimate causes or origins is futile and believe in the system of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing. Thus my stance on global warming is neither that of the maniac eco-warrior nor that of the inexorable cynic. However whatever the case it’s always important to take a multifaceted analysis of any situation and think outside the box (to use the old cliché), instead of dogmatically pursuing a mere single thread which exists as a relatively insignificant decoration on a thick quilt of intrinsically interwoven issues.

An aspect of the entire oil and global warming debate which is often overlooked or perhaps deliberately ignored is the economic and political aspect of it. If you think about it, nowadays oil is equivalent to power. This is very much an economic phenomenon projected onto the plane of political power in which Middle-eastern countries and Russia are at liberty to exploit their massive amounts of black gold, an unfortunate precedent which can be and in fact is unashamedly translated into a disproportionate amount of undeserved political influence. I’m sure I’m not alone in my (personal, biased and subjective) dislike of the idea of all this scarcity power being in the hands of the countries which happen to have all this oil and gas; I’d hate to see America and Britain on their knees begging Putin (we all know he’s still wearing the trousers over there) or some militant religious extremist group for a few barrels of oil. In other words this political leverage is all about the scarcity power of oil. This constitutes my primary reason for supporting a long-term move to abandon oil and other fossil fuels as a source of energy: oil is a commodity on which the world is increasingly reliant and whose natural residence is apparently countries which unnervingly frequently end up in political turmoil (I think it’s fair to say) so my personal opinion is that it seems after a little consideration a fairly bad idea to build the world up around it. I’m therefore a great fan of alternative, particularly renewable ways of producing power which don’t involve the use of such a messily obtained substance.

oil_rigsresizeoriginal image

Returning to the argument considered by most eco-warriors, I think Will is in part absolutely right (please ignore my seemingly nonsensical juxtaposition of words) about the warming aspect of, global, err, warming – whether it be us or pixies or cosmological factors who/which are at fault, there exists quite unequivocally a problem and it undeniably requires attention. However, personally undecided about the verity of the claims about the anthropogenity (neologism I believe, but a good one) of global warming, I’d argue an engineering solution rather than a human / social / lifestyle one is needed here – a protective rather than preventative solution. The Earth’s atmosphere is simply so complex that few people can claim to understand its workings in any great detail, let alone work towards an accurate model of cause and effect; by my logic it follows intuitively that any attempt to tackle a perceived cause may well be in vain if not deleterious (for example the questionable proposal of filling the atmosphere with sulphur dioxide) – far more propitious a solution would be simply to be pragmatic and do what we know we can do: consider methods of protection against predicted conditions which can themselves be more reliably extrapolated than an attempt of analysis on dubious and often erroneous data.

In fact, even if it were true that humans were the cause of the earth’s positive temperature gradient (against time), I’d be willing to bet that any attempt to reverse the trend would be futile, be it too little, too late, or both. A single word sums up the impossibility of the task of reducing Carbon emissions: China. As some may know, I blame China for many things, including milk, red tape and Communism; in this case though I feel it would be unjustified to blame her, even if her factories were indeed the cause of such future strife and suffering. Allow me to elucidate my uncharacteristically sympathetic attitude towards the developing world. I’m one of those cynics who believe the world, or at least the majority of it – certainly the influential parts of it – are driven by two main wants: money and power. In addition, everyone knows that just about everything runs off electricty. No business could function without it: transport, computers, buildings and manufacturing all slurp up vast quantities of electricity. So if money is everything and everything is electricity, there’s a lot to be said for electricity in money terms. China was blessed with unfair amounts of coal naturally available to the country, making coal a cheap source of energy. Chinese businesses (probably with the help of the government) merely exploited this by building coal power stations en masse, something the West would undoubtedly have done in the past, and which it would probably still do today. We got damn close with ‘drill baby drill’. China’s population situation is also geared towards high energy consumption: it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to conclude that 1.3 billion people squashed into 9.6 million square kilometres will require more than a few wind farms to power, and at the time China began developing at its unprecedented and scarily rapid rate (around when I was born) nuclear power was still very much an experiment and the world was still reeling from Chernobyl; the only way to supply power affordably to such a large population with so little space was to use cheap and cheerful methods: fossil fuels. So is it fair to blame China for making use of her natural resources partially out of necessity? I certainly don’t think so.

china_gdp
original image

So returning to the problem of global warming, it seems unlikely that China will wilfully do anything about her carbon emissions. Meanwhile, even if both the UK and US manage the 2050 target (I’m sure it used to be 2012…), the effect will be minimal, to say the least, even if it is true that global warming is our fault. My argument about protection rather than prevention seems to make sense.

So why don’t I join environment committee? In fact, there are several reasons, but the main problem for me is that the committee stands for something which I don’t: working off the assumption that global warming is by definition anthropogenic, it seems to work primarily to reduce Carbon emissions, a measure which I consider ineffective at best, and simply wrong at worst, and the fact that some of its aims happen to coincide with my personal ambitions for the world, e.g. renewable power, isn’t enough to convince me to join. Regardless, I still wish them luck in whatever they do; I’m good friends with one of the main figures in the society and am confident that he has good intentions and indirectly or otherwise yearns for a future unreliant on oil, and therefore also on the Middle East.

Advertisements

21 Responses to My Stance on Global Warming

  1. egbertonline says:

    An aspect of the entire oil and global warming debate which is often overlooked or perhaps deliberately ignored is the economic and political aspect of it.”
    Are you serious? Basically the only thing politicians talk about nowadays when speaking on Foreign Policy is reducing the West’s dependency on oil from Russia and the Middle East. Many would say its the real reason we went to war in Iraq. It has hardly been overlooked.

  2. Bryant Tan says:

    *overlooked by environmentalists ;)

  3. Brent says:

    Blah, blah, blah…. 2008 is the coldest year in a decade. This is nothing more than alarmism and fear-mongering. 30 years ago it was global cooling.

    As far as oil is concerned, if not for the fearmongering, we would be drilling for much more oil here in the states. We are the only country on the planet which has restricted itself from it’s own natural resources to the extent that we have.

    What is taking place here is not unlike many of the other institutions that the government has seized over the last several months and years. They have seized the media, the banking/mortgage industry, now the auto industry, etc. The energy industry is more global so they cannot just simply seize that. So instead, they reinvent it, claiming that the current system IS GOING TO KILL US ALL!!!!! In other words, this is a takeover…wake up! We are becoming a socialist country right before our eyes. Granted, there are many who want this, because it is far easier to let the government take responsibility for your life, than to do it yourself. If you do it yourself, the only one you can blame when you fail is yourself, however, without failure, there comes no success.

    All of the fancy words are crap when you finally get to the point. Global warming/cooling/climate change/enter fearmongering buzzword here/ is total crapola. Don’t believe the hype sheeple…

  4. Bryant Tan says:

    Brent,

    I, and pretty much all scientists, still think the evidence points towards a long-term upwards trend in temperatures. The point I’m trying to press though is that the solution should no longer lie in this religious instinct of humans to make themselves suffer through deprivation and force others to do likewise. As Steven E Landsberg quite aptly put in his book The Armchair Economist, eco warriors are nothing more than irrational idiots who will do all sorts of unspeakable things just to get a few energy-saving bulbs into a house while completely ignoring the fact that the production of the wretched things is (supposedly, according to their own models of carbon dioxide and warming) far more detrimental than the gases emitted in the production of the electricity required to run the average 150W bulb. Children are growing up feeding on this propaganda, learning that electricity = oil = global warming = bad. Eco warriors are literally putting words in children’s mouths from birth, preventing them from making their own informed decisions on such hugely important matters. Fundamentally, I disagree with the eco-warrior doctrine: ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. I disagree with them. But what I disagree with even more (believe it or not) is outright cynicism. I like to think of myself as a sceptic, someone who follows the doctrine that through doubt the truth may be obtained. I don’t think much truth may be obtained from simply assuming everything the media says must be false (although I would probably be surprised if I actually tested that).

    Is it a safe bet that you supported McCain? I think in that case that you and I will just have to agree to disagree on a load of things. Drill baby drill is not going to cut it. However irrelevant the oil situation is to the environment, I still believe abusing it remains a bad idea (for reasons outlined in the post).

  5. Brent says:

    I’m not a Republican if that’s what you have assumed, nor am I a Democrat (Republicrat/Demlican). There were other candiates (good ones who care about America and the Constitution) you know.

    It’s hilarious to me that you *think* that there is a shred of difference between Clinton/Bush/McCain/Obama despite the fact that most of their policies are identical on paper and are bought and paid for by many of the same corporate lobbyists. You have been duped!

    It’s also hilarious to me that you think that you are so much smarter than I. I’m above your black vs. white mentality. I see everything through a crystal clear lens, while you observe things through the clouds of emotion. I’m really glad you feel good about what you’re doing. Unfortunately, it is a bit sad that you are totally wasting your life on bunk science.

    This is a takeover, and you are on board whether you know it or not. By the way, it is completely untrue to say that ALL scientists agree. It is only the ones who like working, as the honest ones are being blacklisted by the rest of the Marxists who intend to carry out the New World Order –Clinton/Bush/McCain/Obama are all involved. Wake up!

  6. Ben Dory says:

    Heh, thats what I love about the internet, the sheer comedy of the right wing nutters who comment on blogs. Ok, lets give this a quick look through:
    Blah, blah, blah[his riposte begins to shatter Bryant’s article from the first 3 words, giving an example of the incisive wit]…. 2008 is the coldest year in a decade. [not true, especially in the ice caps] This is nothing more than alarmism and fear-mongering.[what a ridiculous oversimplification, at least respect the majority of the world’s scientists enough to give their theorems serious consideration] 30 years ago it was global cooling. [what’s your point? You give no evidence to discredit cooling, it just shows that the earth’s temperature is very fragile and volatile, and that human’s can effect it]
    As far as oil is concerned, if not for the fearmongering [that’s two words], we would be drilling for much more oil here in the states. [try telling that to Alaskan inhabitants who do everything they can to prevent it] We are the only country on the planet which has restricted itself from it’s own natural resources to the extent that we have. [Britain has huge coal and sizable oil reserves, but doesn’t use them because secondary and tertiary industries are more profitable and less destructive, America is well advised to do so also]
    What is taking place here is not unlike many of the other institutions that the government has seized over the last several months and years.[is the earth’s climate an institution?] They have seized the media [the same media that is constantly attacking the Bush administration?], the banking/mortgage industry[you mean giving it 700 billion dollars to help it out? Would you rather they let it rot?], now the auto industry, etc. [that is collapsing on its own accord] The energy industry is more global so they cannot just simply seize that. So instead, they [is the US government the only body claiming that global warming is happening? Until recently they were one of the only major powers to deny it!] reinvent it, claiming that the current system IS GOING TO KILL US ALL!!!!! In other words, this is a takeover…wake up! [you are obviously not clouded by emotion…] We are becoming a socialist country right before our eyes. [mm, if everybody would just see sense and spend all their money on fuel until they become impoverished, Capitalism would flourish, right?] Granted, there are many who want this [ooh, nice move, lets blame the communists to deflect the focus on the fault of the average american], because it is far easier to let the government take responsibility for your life, than to do it yourself. [how did we get here from climate change?] If you do it yourself, the only one you can blame when you fail is yourself, [is the Government banning people from polluting? No! Is it trying hard to look at alternate energy sources? Yes, how is this an attack on liberalism?] however, without failure, there comes no success. [that’s nice…]
    All of the fancy words [that you don’t understand] are crap when you finally get to the point. Global warming/cooling/climate change/enter fearmongering buzzword here/ is total crapola. [in your learned and well researched opinion that flies in the face of the 95% certainty by the UN’s IPCC that climate change is anthropogenic Where did you get your PhD again?] Don’t believe the hype sheeple[witty play on words mixing sheep with people?]…

  7. Lulztown McGee says:

    Lulz noob.

  8. Ollie says:

    I just find it funny that Brent thinks he’s all open minded and well informed while he happily fulfills every negative stereotype about North America by blaming communism. What better way to rouse up your fellow morons than tell them that their beloved money is in danger of being stolen by the evil socialists, and that their country is in danger of being made communist?

  9. Ollie says:

    I just find it funny that Brent thinks he’s all open minded and well informed while he happily fulfills every negative stereotype about North America by getting angry and blaming communism. What better way to rouse up your fellow morons than tell them that their beloved money is in danger of being stolen by the evil socialists, and that their country is in danger of being made communist?

  10. james says:

    you’re all fags!!

  11. Brent says:

    Guess what, the truth has nothing to do with the number of people who believe it. Furthermore, did it ever occur to you that climate change is natural, since before the last 150 years that we have records of the climate, this climate change phenomenon has happened naturally for hundreds of millions of years? But only in this miniscule fraction of the planet’s history, it is our fault, right?

    You people are completely insane! You won’t get a single dollar of support from me, in fact, I will do all that I can to discredit you liars.

    Do you agree with Algore, the world’s most brilliant climate scientist and inventor of the Internet, that the polar ice caps will be completely gone in five years? You call me an idiot? I laugh at you!

    Who knew it would be so easy to brainwash you?

    I, and pretty much all scientists, still think the evidence points towards a long-term upwards trend in temperatures.

    That is a lie, and either you know it, or you are not very smart for a scientist.

    What is “long-term” to you? 100 years? What kind of scientist are you?

  12. egbertonline says:

    Brent, I’m really sorry about this, and I know this is all very important to you. But this is fucking hilarious. I hope you don’t mind that I and some of my friends are using this as a form of comedy.

    xx

  13. Mumming mum says:

    Wow, Brent is Mcarthy incarnate.

  14. Oli (the real spelling) says:

    Well Brent’s post well and truly cheered me up.. I’m always concerned that the world is passing me by – but then a gem like Brent comes along and reminds me I have a long way to fall yet :)

    Thanks

  15. egbertonline says:

    God, this nutter uses the fear of communism for absolutely every point he tries to make. For example, here is part of a post where he discusses the pro’s and cons of Linux:

    “Even though Windows is despised by many (who coincidentally hate capitalism), I have never had any single sort of hardware issues with the OS.”

    He also seems to be obsessed with convincing others how much smarter than them he is:

    “He had no answer, but a look of frustration in his eyes, as if to suggest that I am smarter than he is, and that there is no reason to continue the conversation because I was right and he knew it.”

  16. Cynicism says:

    Has no one else considered the fact that this argument is totally irrelevant and time wasting? You, as single people among billions could not make a change, even if you WERE old enough to vote. Call me a cynic (please), but it’s the truth.

    Who cares what any of us believe, because unless something drastic happens and one of you was to take the place of Obama or Hu Jintao – which let’s face it – is impossible, world politics won’t change.

    Everyone who matters doesn’t care, and everyone who cares doesn’t matter. That’s the world – so tough shit whatever you believe.

  17. Bryant Tan says:

    That’s essentially what I said in my vegetarianism post – the effect a single person can have on such a global phenomenon is miniscule so why bother?

  18. egbertonline says:

    Hmm…well I’m not trying to change anything, but most people should still try to pursue the truth if simply only to satisfy themselves. Argument is a good way of doing this since you test your opinions against others’. Anyway, who knows, with all of the evil geniuses I know I may end up influencing the next Hu Jintao. And I’m only taking down Brent because he’s being extremely insulting and he seriously needs to be told he’s not as smart as he thinks he is. For his own sake.

  19. Foolchild says:

    Role models, getting other people to copy. And feeling good about yourself, feeling superior. You can even save money at the same time. :D
    (I don’t eat vegetables and I prefer to leave at least one light on at night – makes 4am loo trips just a little less hazardous)

    With voting, like a couple of 100 votes can make a difference, so it only takes like 200 ppl to be like ‘hmm yeah ok I can be a**ed to go and vote to swing a local election, which can have repercussions. Plus, your local party/council will make a difference to you anyhow.

  20. Gideon says:

    Bryant, you know what’s best about your blog post? I’m sure the content is excellent and all (although I can’t read it just know – maths & chem hw) I absolutely love this Brent person. It makes me feel warm inside that I haven’t been wrong and unjust all these years, espousing judgemental statements about Americans (from the USA at least) based on stereotypes. I was right. That makes me feel really happy.
    But then again. If someone that stupid is allowed internet access…

  21. […] time ago I wrote a blog post on global warming. I thought it would end up passing by the blogosphere with little comment. My expectations were, I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: