Monday, August 31, 2009

Comment Sense

Two excellent comments today from the National Post.  Lots of journalism is for effect, much of it sensationalist.  Much comment is political opinion and as laden with as much rhetoric as the best spin.  But some, some, offers comment that reflects regular common sense: what I shall call comment sense. 
The first is from Lawrence Solomon, continuing his series on "green" energy alternatives, a topic he has followed for longer than the topic has existed.  His latest words of comment sense concern the future prospects of coal in a "de-carbonized" society:
  • We can be confident that coal use will keep on growing for decades to come, in line with official projections that show worldwide demand soon doubling —without coal for electricity production, most jurisdictions will be unable to keep the lights on.
  • We can also be confident that communities will successfully fend off many if not most of the carbon storage schemes that threaten them and their environments.
  • Finally, we can be confident that governments, after spending tens of billions on carbon storage schemes of dubious benefit, will conclude that the safest place to store today's relatively high levels of carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, where it now resides.
The second snippet of comment sense is courtesy of Peter Foster, who discusses the ramifications of disputing the politically correct consensus on global warming: which in certain social circles is a dubious, if not heinous, sin:
  • We rely on authority for the vast majority of what we believe, but global warming theory does not rank as knowledge of the same order as whether Iceland exists or the moon is made of green cheese. My reason for believing in the existence of Iceland is that a conspiracy to conjure it out of geographical thin air is passing unlikely. But anthropogenic global warming is different. Far from being an established fact, it is a hypothesis whose allegedly disastrous consequences will occur sometime in the relatively distant future. It also comes attached to considerable psychic satisfactions and political advantages for its promoters.
  • It conforms to a broad view — long and fondly promoted by fans of Big Government — that capitalism is essentially short-sighted and greed-driven (just look at the subprime crisis!). This stance is not merely appealing to activist politicians and bureaucrats, it is pure gold for the vast and growing army of radical NGO environmental lobby groups, whose raison d'ĂȘtre — and fundraising — are closely related to the degree to which nature is seen to be "endangered." It is also appealing to rent seeking businessmen who see the profit potential in the vast array of controls and subsidies.
  • However, once you get people believing in "authority," then you're pretty much home and dry. Authority relieves us of the anxiety of uncertainty and the pain of thought. If the issue can also be portrayed as "moral" (millions of poor people dying from biblical droughts and floods!) then to question it is not merely cause for rejection but censure. Skeptics must be either crackpots or in the pay of Big Oil or Big Coal.
Comment sense reminds us that, despite the dogma peddled in the name of environmentalism, skepticism is scientific and consensus is political. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pockets of sanity getting more prevalent

One advantage of taking a hiatus from daily scrutiny of world events, environmental ideology and policy implementation, is that one realizes the virtue of patience.  Eventually this too shall pass.  The world may be largely an insane entity with only pockets of sanity, but eventually those pockets of sanity are revealed both to those who seek them, and by the excesses of those who prosper from the perpetuation of global insanity: common sense is humanity's saving grace in its quest for sustainability. 
Some recent examples of emerging sanity:
  • What America has today is government by lawyers, ideologues, social engineers and rent seekers. Congress has nary a real engineer, and precious few members with any business background or ability to figure out basic cradle-to-grave energy, resource, economic and pollution equations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks natural gas is an "alternative to fossil fuels.
  • The sad truth is that global warming scare was nothing less than a hoax. Much like the "ice age" scares of the 70's, it was a ginned up "crisis" that socialists in the environmental movement used in an effort to destroy capitalism. Fortunately, the world is watching their theories fall apart due to the current cooling trend.
  • Three cheers for Jairam Ramesh! India at last has an environment minister who is willing and able to denounce the hypocrisy and immorality of the West in twisting the arms of India and China to curb their carbon emissions. He is right to make it clear that India has no intention of signing the new 'climate change' treaty in Copenhagen in December, which would put curbs on the carbon emissions of the Third World.
  • Those development economists and sundry celebrities, who on the one hand, want to see the end of world poverty and on the other, to curb Third World carbon emissions, should be ashamed of themselves for advocating the latter path which will make the former goal impossible to achieve.
In the coming months we are set to be inundated with a full-court press of hype ahead of the next climate conference in Copenhagen.  One fact remains indisputable, what the developed economies of the world do or don't do no longer determines the fate of the world by themselves:
  •  ...each year the increase in Chinese CO2 emissions alone is greater than those produced by the entire British economy. On the fashionable assumption that climate change is entirely driven by CO2 emissions, the effect on global temperatures of Britain closing every fossil fuel power station would be much smaller than the statistical margin of error: in effect, zero.
So when you are exhorted to panic and run around like a chicken with its head cut off because the end of the world is nigh, as doubtless the rhetoric of the coming months will imply, resist the urge, reflect quietly and serenely on your world this past year or so and commit to doing your part to being a little happier, a little more tolerant and a little more involved: be empowered, be engaged but don't be dictated by dogma into irrelevance, poverty and serfdom. 
Remember, "the greatest story teller ever" spun fairy tales from Denmark.  Good place for a climate conference.