Global Warming Report logical conclusion: Ignore Global Warming?


My disclaimer: I’m a well educated and experienced (social) science research person and hardly ignorant about scientific analysis. Yet I still fear I must be missing something major in the Global Warming debate because I find only a handful of people agree with me that the current debates about Global Warming border on complete nonsense.

We certainly should look for CHEAP ways to reduce emissions. But we should NOT do the expensive things everybody seems to insisting upon now. I may revise my views when the next IPCC report comes out later in the year or when IPCC starts to address the economic implications of dealing with GW as they did in the earlier report. It was that report that led me to believe we should ignore global warming even though most others seemed to feel the IPCC 3rd report was a call to do everything possible at whatever cost to stem the tide of GW.

Of course there is Global Warming and of course it appears that human causes are significant – only a handful scientists believe otherwise. But it does not follow that we should forego trillions in global GDP in an effort to stop Global warming. On the contrary it’s not clear we should allocate any resources to the very low ROI Global Warming alleviation efforts while millions starve and die of diseases that cost dollars to prevent.

For the most part we should ignore Global Warming.

What should we do with the time and treasure that will likely be largely squandered failing to reverse the warming trend? Use these resources to solve the ongoing catastrophic conditions on earth that are the product of poverty and disease.

Bad water, malnutrition, and diseases like malaria run rampant in underdeveloped countries. Advocates for foregoing trillions of dollars in global GDP in the hope of delaying the effects of Global warming rarely (it would seem almost NEVER) even remotely contemplate the alterative uses for this money. The alternative uses are so dramatically superior to the life return on the GW investment that there is a *moral imperative* to ignore the warming in favor of saving lives NOW.

Ironically the current report actually *decreased* estimates for sea level rises, the median ranges of which are anything but catastrophic. Yet the media headlines imply something new has been learned. It’s been obvious for some time that humans play a role in warming. The issue we must address is: Should we forego trillions in economic development to delay the effects or should we solve other, easier problems? The answer is obvious – put the money where it will do the most good, which is saving the planet NOW, not later.

Why are so many failing to see the light here? I think several powerful forces are in play in this debate to fuel the intellectual irrationality. Among these forces are:

1) The selfishness and narrow focus that comes from our affluence. GW is seen as a threat to our personal affluence, rotaviruses and malaria are not. Picture a GW person strolling through a South African Aids ward with a can asking for carbon sequestration donations to see my point here.

2) Media frenzy, media math ignorance, and media excluding the daily catastrophes in health. The media, even non-commercial and blog media, generally seeks interesting and provocative content over reasoned logical content. Also, few journalists handle research well because they prefer reporting on contentious things rather than reporting the ‘gist’ of the subject in an educational way. This is why the current report, which mainly reaffirmed what most knew already, is presented as a big new indication that catastrophe looms around the corner. Media also fails dramatically to adequately address critical situations like Darfur, poverty, and global health challenges. These catastrophes are simply are not in the news, which needs to save precious room for the latest about Britney Spears.

3) The enthusiasm in the scientific community. I’m not suggesting the reports themselves are sensationalistic, rather what I think happens is that in normal scientific environments you have researchers checking and balancing each other. In the Global Warming community is seems it’s simply unacceptable to challenge the prevailing wisdom. Also, it’s simply naive to think that the jaw dropping amounts of grant money that are flowing into the process have no influence on research proposals. Scientists don’t have to distort the facts to create a problem – they just need to be silent when movies like “An Inconvenient Truth” suggest that science proves catastrophe is around the corner when science shows nothing of the kind. Example: Sea level rises were just predicted to be lower than previously thought. Unfortunately that headline won’t sell many papers or get any new grants funded.

4. Politics, rather than reason, allocates government resources and government attention. The above factors make it politically difficult to suggest anything but what many politicians are suggesting now – that catastrophe is looming around the corner and they want to fix it with more public spending. It’s not even clear you’d have a remote chance at winning an election on a “spend on Africa, not GW” platform.

This report would suggest I am wrong about this.

40 thoughts on “Global Warming Report logical conclusion: Ignore Global Warming?

  1. I think “fear of novel risk factors” also plays a role. People have struggled with malaria these many years, so there is a widespread feeling that it’s not going to wipe out human life.

    I am not at all certain that we can predict what will happen as the climate warms. That does scare me, but your point still holds — I’ve bought more malaria nets than carbon credits.

    I was recently quite startled when I looked over the Red Cross guidelines for blood donors; they mandate a 3-month waiting period after return from even a brief stay in a malarial region.

    Speaking of the Red Cross, if y’all want to do something to help people: http://givelife.org

  2. One major volcanic eruption releases enough emissions to eclipse all the human generated emissions since the beginning of time.

    Let’s get real folks – we are just guests here and we exist in an incredibly violent universe – just image two solar systems colliding at 500,000 MPH, it happens all the time and takes thousands of years to complete.

    Humans like to think they are smarter and at the top of the food chain – basically I don’t think we have a clue. Global Warming is the biggest farce and scam ever and it exists to promote an agenda through fear.

    Now of course since we are only guests here we really should like good guests. I believe we should be good to nature since it allows us to exist and we should be smart about conservation.

    It is shameful that in the 21st Century we still are forced to use oil. The fuel cell was invented decades before the combustion engine. There is no excuse that this world doesn’t offer free and unlimited power everywhere. Of course just look at the profits of Shell and Exxon to see why we are forced to use oils – it comes down to money unfortunately.

    And remember one lump of rock could ruin everyone’s day. The irony is the largest and closest passing asteroid we detected 1 day after it passed us.

  3. Good points and link Tommo!

    Glenn – funny you mentioned asteroids because that is perhaps the best way to get my point across. It’s a fact that the earth is hit by small rocks regularly and also a fact that a large enough rock will devastate the planet, making it totally uninhabitable. But it hardly follows that we should invest trillions in developing an asteroid / meteor defense shield. There are better uses of our limited time and treasure.

  4. Oh my, Oh my…how the media plays us like a fiddle. The earth has survived climate changes before and will continue to do so. It will take 1,000 years before we see the disastrous results they are screeching about today, if it ever happens.

    So, I say let’s fix our immediate problems, try to help as many as possible enjoy their short time here and worry about Mother Nature in 950 years from now.

  5. I am not at all certain that we can predict what will happen as the climate warms.

    True, and perhaps the debate divides us because people answer the question “what do you do with dangerous uncertainties?” in very different ways. GW activists stay focused almost exclusively on the catastrophic possibilities rather than the costs or the “averages” of the IPCC report projections.

  6. Keep in mind Al Gore is actually a robot he certainly doesn’t have the best interests of the human race in his plans… 🙂

    Wasn’t he born somewhere in New Mexico in 1947? Joe can you shed some light on this?

  7. I put together some of Hubble’s Greatest Hits! I have hundreds and hundreds of photos from Hubble.

    Anyway here is a link that I think spells out the story.

    weknowsolittle

    Enjoy!

  8. I just noticed Flickr can really display the images at the full resolutions. Just email me if you want the full size image of anything that is up there.

    The Hubble images are 1920 X 1200 and really look amazing on the right monitor.

  9. Hi Wadard – I was hoping you’d check in on this.

    But you are doing the frustrating thing. Saying correctly that there is anthropogenic warming, but then asserting that this means disaster. IPCC does not suggest disaster, it suggests modest changes in climate over the coming decades. I say it’s obvious that during that time we’ll have new tools and opportunities to mitigate those effects. Better to spend resources on current catastrophes than imagined, unlikely ones.

    The nonsense I’m talking about is best represented by the assertion that Katrina is a GW thing. It’s not, and no hurricane researcher says Katrina was caused by Global Warming. I’m not even sure any hurricane expert would say Katrina was “significantly influenced” by GW. So why are the activists saying otherwise and media letting this go on?

  10. When guys like Fred Wilson don’t get it it’s no wonder there is so much confusion:
    http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2007/02/90_confident_th.html

    I commented over there as follows:
    Arggghhh – if bright guys like you and others posting here don’t even understand that you’ve misquoted what IPCC’s “90%” meant it’s no wonder we are about to squander perhaps a trillion in lost GDP failing to solve this problem.

    1) Global warming is happening – that’s not in dispute in responsible scientific circles. Pretending this is the issue is the straw man of the debate.

    2) The 90% is the likelihood humans are the main cause of the warming. This is also not responsibly disputed except by a handful of scientists among thousands who accept this. It was considered “likely” before and the new report says it is “very likely”. We should accept the IPCC conclusions here.

    3) What is responsibly disputed is whether we should forego trillions in lost GDP in efforts to reduce warming. I suggest it’s probably more responsible – in fact morally imperative – to first solve current catastrophes such as 3rd world health and hunger. These are cheap and easy fixes, where most GW alleviation schemes are expensive and problematic. Sure, do the cheap stuff for GW, but spend the big money where it’ll do the most good.

  11. So Alan the question for you is this:

    You can save 1,000,000 people today, and improve the environment, with interventions that will cost a billion dollars. Or you can *possibly* save 1,000,000 50 years in the future and help the environment with an intervention that will cost two billion dollars.

    There is no rational or moral way to choose the second option, but when I hear the GW debate it seems they are asking for the second, less effective type of intervention.

    I think a key to understanding the issue more clearly is realizing that the *current* state of affairs in much of the world is bad and only needs modest investment and innovation to become better. This should be our focus now, and after those problems are solved we should work on the expensive, harder to solve problems.

    In the meantime of course we should practice conservation and look for alternative fuels and build more nuclear plants.

    It would sure be nice if we could talk about the IPCC report and cost of intervention and alternative uses of the money rather than how angry they are at those of us who, like them, want positive change for the planet.

    We are in this together and it’s definitely not a zero sum game.

  12. Don’t back off now, JD! You’re abso-tootly-ootly right on this GW business. Why should I give up my Escalade just to make some treehuggers happy? All they want is yell at us. I give to the United Way so they can buy mosquito netting and vaccines and such. That should be enough! Why should we make any kind of personal sacrifice when we don’t have to?

    Heck, some scientists say the GW effect might not happen anyway. Or at least it won’t really get bad for 100-200 years. Let people deal with it then. Screw the future!

  13. Joe I have to say after watching The Great Global Warming Swindle – I am very compelled to believe that man definitely is NOT the driving force behind global warming.

    That is not to say climate change isn’t happening – it just isn’t being caused by man.

    This has become a political football and being passed around and those that disagree are heretics and are attacked.

    That is politics and not science – the precise nature of science is investigation and challenges and opposing views.

    This is more about the business opportunity and the political gains to be achieved through this panic.

    You should watch that video – amazing information and very reputable people involved in it.

  14. There is no doubt in my mind at this point that the sun is primarily responsible for all climate changes on this planet and others in our solar system.

    We are all being ripped off with this Global Warming agenda! This is scary stuff Joe and Al Gore is behind it.

  15. The more I research and review anything out of the IPCC the less I am impressed. They are an organization about controlling a message and if that means they need to alter or conveniently delete scientific data to support their political agenda – they have no problem doing it!

    They want to be perceived as a scientific authority on this topic but they are merely a political hit squad looking to further their agenda – and to hell with good science.

    Swindle is an ever appropriate word for this topic!

  16. Glenn is that film online? Although I think some politics are involved in the IPCC it is a very authoritative body of scientists. I don’t see the IPCC as the problem here, rather the faulty interpretations of the IPCC’s good science. For example their research suggests a sea level rise of a few feet over the next century rather than the “twenty feet” many alarmists keep talking about even as they cite IPCC data.

  17. One of major problems with the IPCC is they do not remove the scientists names that have resigned. IPCC tells them that since they participated in a work the IPCC is allowed to use their names.

    You need to find that video and watch it. Wait to you hear what top scientists are saying about the IPCC which was really started by Margaret Hatcher in the 70’s. It is a political organization not a scientific one.

    Everyone should watch that video. Al Gore and the alarmists have it backwards – completely.

    CO2 increases do NOT cause climate change. CO2 levels have risen as a result of rising temperatures that are directly caused by increased solar activity which in turn affects the clouds which in turn affect the oceans which in turn cannot absorb as much C02 and actually end up increasing CO2 levels. CO2 rising levels are a RESULT of climate change. The science is clear on this – and this is coming from top scientists at MIT, NASA, etc.

    This is such a political football that scientists are willing to cave in on the topic so they can get research funding.

    One key element of the IPCC findings – they assume 1% increase in C02 production sustained over time. The largest increase ever in CO2 production was recorded at .48% and is usually lower than that. So using 1% doubles the highest known recording – what kind of science is that? It looks like an actuary working the numbers to make a scenario play out!

    People need the real facts here – Global Warming caused by human generated C02 is just flat wrong, bad science and totally a scam. This is the new form of evironmental extremists – they needed a new bandwagon to hitch on to.

    Even the co-founder of GreenPeace thinks Global Warming caused by human generated CO2 is a farce – go figure!

    Just unbelievable Joe. You have to see it!

  18. Thanks, Joe, for including the link to the Fred Pearce article in New Scientist. Takes some guts to put up a well-articulated counter-argument at the end of your own post. Of course I especially like it because it validates my view, but with the solid figures I’m too lazy to go find and the economics expertise that I lack.

    I go by gut feeling quite a lot as you can probably tell, but I have a lot of generalized information to draw on. My feeling is that Pearce is being conservative, and it has little to do with Al Gore’s charts. Humans are a big force on this planet and getting larger exponentially fast. That’s not just population, but resource use- mostly in the form of fossil fuel exploitation becoming globalized rapidly. The third world’s race to become SUV-driving Walmart shoppers to rival us will have major consequences. Maybe it’s from reading a lot of sci-fi- especially Kim Stanley Robinson- but rapid climate change seems highly plausible to me considering the inputs. The only thing I see possibly saving us from a significant climate shift is running out of the fuels that are causing the trouble, but I don’t see that happening nearly fast enough, not to mention that that is an even bigger nightmare in its own way. Out of the frying pan… That’s why investing in the fight to mitigate climate change could be crucial, and why Gore’s message is so valuable regardless of his attempts to sell the message through highlighting the worst case scenarios.

    Fortunately, the best technology improvements to mitigate climate change will be the ones to cut off the source of the problem- clean, sustainable, non-fossil fuels for heating, electrical generation, and transportation, etc. Could it help us navigate the passage twixt Scylla and Charybdis? Not probable, but possible, and one should consider the alternatives. It’s likely we’ll be swallowed by both monsters at once at the current rate.

  19. the best technology improvements to mitigate climate change will be the ones to cut off the source of the problem- clean, sustainable, non-fossil fuels for heating, electrical generation, and transportation

    Yes Max. This notion makes me cozy, and globally warm, because it’s something almost everybody can all agree about and work towards.

  20. Linda, not all of us are Christian (including myself). That type of proposal insults me.
    And I hate to be a thorn in everybody’s side but I would still rather side with the environmentalists. I’d rather do measures now to protect the earth later for future generations then wait until the last moment. Sorry, it’s just me.

  21. One day a man named al gore came up with an idea. It was called global warming. He wrote books and sold them to schools. He made a film and sold that also. His clam was the sky was falling. People became afraid and started believing this theory. There was proof. This was junk science. The extremists were now so hypnotized that they couldn’t get past the falsehoods and see the facts.
    What can we do cried his hypnotized minions. You can buy electric cars and make your own clean energy at home I will be willing to sell you my products for those who cannot afford to change immediately. I will sell them carbon tickets. This action put so many people who couldn’t pay these ridiculous fees out of work. They were truck drivers and workers that traveled the USA. The average person couldn’t afford to go to work anymore. Big companies that supplied jobs for Americans went out of business or moved out of the country.
    The global crazed answer to that day that other countries stopped sending oil was. STARVE AND DIE! If you can not afford to do so immediately we will not supply your gas needs you will have to loose your jobs and food will not be delivered to the stores anymore.
    The people who rightfully did not believe this theory became angry. There was certainly plenty of evidence against this theory. The weather itself was against this theory. They understood how many people would loose there jobs. They understood how many people would starve to death not only on their land but on many others that they have once supplied food for. This would isolate people all over the U.S.A and other lands that depend on the U.S.A. Crime would be high and people would have to resort to cannibalism. People would be like zombies walking to farms but the food had long ago already been stolen by the starving masses.
    The global warming advocates began investing in global warming companies with the money they collected from all these people who once had jobs. Yes that’s right they took the tax money that the U.S. citizen earned and invested it in this false ideology. They then would not allow these same people their own natural resources to pay future taxes. Taunting them with phrases like to bad, we have to clean things up even though we are all living cleaner then ever before. We are all buying more efficient products everyday it was not good enough they needed to force change so they could make money much more rapidly. OUR POLITICIANS ARE ELECTED TO SERVE US NOT THEMSELVES OR OTHERS!

  22. Sandyshores I think the science is settled that we do have a major problem with CO2 pollution and a very high likelihood of increased warming, so it’s not fair to say Gore invented that part of the story. The science is now “clear enough” that we have warming and it is human caused. However that does NOT at all suggest we have catastrophes looming as the film AIT and many others – including sharp respected scientists like Jim Hansen at NASA, have suggested. Ironically we have scientists doing very good work in their own – often narrow – fields of research but then making what I think are unsupported assertions about looming problems, often based on their interpretation of the work of others. So I see the problem is not with the science, rather with our faulty human tendency to pick and choose what we pay attention to.

    The more I study the catastrophist ideas the less credible they are to me – they generally take the form of only looking for evidence to support the catastrophe hypothesis (e.g. Arctic Sea ice shrinking), while ignoring other signals (Antarctic sea ice growing). The absurd form of this, now common, is for journalists to point to global warming when there is a dry spell or hot day in an area. This is so preposterous it remains incredible to me that most climate scientists continue to tolerate the nonsensical claims that this type of artifact provides us with evidence for climate change. In fact most evidence shows a current and temporary cooling trend despite what is very likely an overall warming trend.

  23. I THINK THAT WE CAN SAVE FROM GLOBAL WARMING BY OURSELF. WE HAVE TO USE NON POLLUTIONATE SOURCES LIKE WIND-ENERGY. WATER ENERGY AND FROM OTHER INVESTMENTS. THE SCIENTISTS SHOULD MAKE DIFFERENT WHICH DOESNOT POLLUTE OUR ENVIRONMENT.

  24. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/01/28/0812721106.abstract

    I’m not understanding the report as well as I’d like and comments about this at RealClimate: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/02/irreversible-does-not-mean-unstoppable/
    are loaded with political interpretations but I think in some ways this supports my “mostly ignore it” idea.

    This noncontroverial study shows that even if CO2 emissions go to zero….today…. the effects on the climate are not reverseable and will continue for 1000 years regardless of our actions today.

    Although his views remain unpopular in climate science circles Lomborg has been talking along the lines of what this study shows for some time. ie Reducing *todays* CO2 is at best a delay tactic, slowing future warming by a trivial amount. This study shows that even if we could stop all CO2 and pull billions of tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere we’d *still* have most of the problems people are projecting we’ll have now.

    As always you *can* make a case that we should do some mitigation because more pollution will bring more climate and other problems, but I think this paper weakens the case for immediate and heavy handed action to avoid huge looming catastrophes.

    Yes, I’m very interested in any comments critical of my interpretation.

  25. (39) You hit the nail on the head. One key point regardless of what we possibly think we can do this is another long-term cycle in the massive life span of our planet.

    We have just as much of a chance of making our situation worse as we do helping it. We just don’t know enough about our climate, how it works, and don’t have enough data to make proper assessments nor adjustments to make a difference.

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