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.