Energy/Environmental Madness

This post will be a two-fer.

First, a full page ad has been running in the statewide newspaper over the past few days. It brings up a simple point:

Much of America's oil and natural gas lies offshore, miles from our coasts. But outdated federal laws prevent exploration and production in many areas, even though advanced technologies allow us to develop these energy sources safely.

While it's true that this message comes from the American Petroleum Institute, their message is valid, at least when it comes to discussing the issue. Banning exploration of the continental shelf seems ludicrous in light of ever increasing oil prices.

While many of the less open minded environmentalists will fight tooth and nail to keep the oil industry from drilling off shore, what these same folks don't realize is that our laws won't prevent oil companies and exploration firms from foreign nations from doing just that. On more than one occasion the topic of Chinese gas and oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere along the US coast has come up. It seems stupid to me to prevent our own industries from exploring while being unable to prevent others from doing the same thing, but without the environmental or safety oversight under which the U.S. Petroleum industry works.

Second, like many of you out there I caught part of ABC's 20/20 last night. And, like many of you, I was outraged at the last segment of the show. The show gave a countdown of the many ways the world could end. The one considered to be the most dangerous was not the supervolcano or gamma ray burst or asteroid strike. Rather, it was human-caused global warming.

While I could rant and rave about the junk science that is being taken as gospel, I think that I'll leave it up to Jim Lundgren at the Volokh Conspiracy as he did a much better job blasting the segment and its premise.

Among the claims that were repeated multiple times (by Al Gore and others) were that there was no scientific debate over whether the cause of global warming was humans. Not only did ABC liken those scientists who did not accept this orthodoxy to Holocaust deniers and to scientists who claimed that cigarettes were not associated with cancer, but ABC actually showed witness after witness for tobacco companies claiming that tobacco did not cause cancer, as if it were not enough merely to mention the analogy in passing. (Query whether that airtime could have been devoted to at least one reputable expert who disagreed with ABC's smugly certain experts?)

ABC showed experts claiming that the reason that scientific dissenters were unwilling to accept the orthodox opinion is that they were being paid by major polluters to take those positions.

ABC trotted out various group studies about the impending environmental disaster, as if ABC was unaware of just how inaccurate group environmental predictions had been in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lundgren also links to a piece in the Boston Globe titled “MIT's Inconvenient Scientist” that tells us about Richard Linzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT.

Here's the kind of information the "scientific consensus" types don't want you to read. MIT's Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen recently complained about the "shrill alarmism" of Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth." Lindzen acknowledges that global warming is real, and he acknowledges that increased carbon emissions might be causing the warming--but they also might not.

"We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as "the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," "the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average," and "Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why." . . .

He's smart. He's an effective debater. No wonder the Steve Schneiders and Al Gores of the world don't want you to hear from him. It's easier to call someone a shill and accuse him of corruption than to debate him on the merits. . . .

Like Linzen, I am not saying that global warming isn't happening. Like Linzen, I also believe that the the finger has been pointed prematurely at homo sapiens as the sole cause. There are a number of other factors that can be driving climate change, including such things as the Sun and natural climatic cycles. To claim otherwise is madness, ignoring factors that we may have no control over. If climate change cannot be averted because it is part of a natural cycle, then pouring resources into programs and projects that will have no effect is a waste of time and money. Instead, those resources should go towards adapting to the upcoming changes and mitigating the effects of those changes where possible.

The problem is that we just don't know enough yet. Going off half cocked will solve nothing and may, in the end, make things worse.

But don't tell Al Gore that.

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