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Look out climate change deniers, here comes the science:… 
18th-Jun-2008 08:57 am
unfiction anakin
Look out climate change deniers, here comes the science:

A point by point examination of the denialists' claims, backed up with hard science. So silliness like "its the natural cycle" or "other planets are warming up too!" can be easily dealt with.

Ok, we established its real, now can we finally start working together on doing something about it.

edit: whoops, the site's been boing-boing'd
18th-Jun-2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
I love how every time I hear more shouting "There is NO debate" another scientist is interviewed who disagrees.

Stipulating, for a moment, that the Earth is warming beyond acceptable variation (still waiting for scientists to publish what the Earth's ideal temperature is) and that man is the cause, can we agree to do something about it that won't completely destroy our economy? Because honestly, as much hooting and hollering is done, that's the only practical way of approaching it. People can be very fired up about a cause until it starts affecting their pocket books.
18th-Jun-2008 01:26 pm (UTC)
I don't think there's such thing as an "ideal temperature" for the planet. However, there is an "acceptable temperature range" for humans.

Why does saving the environment have to be automatically detrimental to the economy? There's plenty of green business initiatives. Seems to me that if older companies can't adapt to the new ways of doing things, then competition with smarter and more agile businesses will simply drive them out the market.
18th-Jun-2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
If your solution is to let green companies compete freely with the rest and let the market decide, I am all for that. If being green is important enough to people that the market moves in that direction, I am fine with that.

However, things like massive environmental taxes, cap-and-trade systems, MPG mandates on auto makers, and the like - these are all inherently detrimental to the economy. Adopting the Kyoto protocols would make today's economic downturn look like high times. So...that would be why saving the environment is usually associated with detriment to the economy. All the major proposals have the inevitable side effect of causing havoc our economy.
18th-Jun-2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think that the doom-and-gloom conservative economists talking about the Kyoto protocols are way more ridiculous than the doom-and-gloom environmentalists. I haven't seen any compelling evidence that our economy will suffer the way they say it will.
(Deleted comment)
18th-Jun-2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
Being green can be a business advantage. In some markets. Not in others.

For a relevant example, I work in the health care equipment industry. Assuming that a greener product costs more (if it was cheaper, they'd be doing it already), even though a hospital administrator might personally want to buy the greener product, at the end of the day, buying the normal product for less means you have more money to save lives.

At the consumer level, we might be willing to spend a few extra dollars for a greener product. At the B2B level, greenness alone rarely justifies the extra expense.
(Deleted comment)
18th-Jun-2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Eh, yes and no. Like I said, in my industry, saving money = saving lives, which trumps being green. I can't imagine that healthcare is the only industry where this is the case. I would imagine that the green movement we're seeing is very shallow at the B2C end, maybe one level up into the B2B side, but any deeper than that and greenness is a nonissue.

That is interesting about Wal-Mart, but again that's mostly B2C. Consumers like to feel good about themselves and choose the greener alternative and since Wal-Mart is already fighting in the court of public opinion, being green is probably more marketing at this point than anything else.

Green policies may not *always* equal higher costs, but I would conjecture that is the case the vast majority of the time. If there's a cheaper, greener solution, business would already be implementing it to save money.
(Deleted comment)
18th-Jun-2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, of course making money is the primary goal of business. I was talking about the purchasers of the equipment. A hospital admin or purchaser isn't going to say, "Well, I could spend $2MM on this product, or I could go green and spend $2.5MM on this other one. Let's save the world and go green!" because even if profit isn't the primary concern, that half million dollars could be better spent saving other lives.

GE is concerned with going green, but as you say, it has to be profitable. Green is Green, as our CEO says. I am absolutely 100% fine with making environmentally-friendly products profitable and affordable, as long as the way to do that isn't to tax the hell out of everything else or ban it from existence (like incandescent bulbs) to force it to be that way.
(Deleted comment)
18th-Jun-2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
"more money to save lives"
Ahahaha. Yes. because Columbia/HCA, Medstar, and Charter, et al. routinely place all profits into a free-care for indigents fund. And the Shareholders LOVE it.

In the medical industry saving money does not equal saving lives, it trumps saving lives.

Your warrants are ridiculous PR nonsense spin. I will, however, agree with your conclusion because of two things: 1. The medical industry (primarily because of the Insurance industry and the stock market) really sucks ass at taking an up-front cost for long-term benefit. 2. I have never met a hospital CEO who would give up a penny of operations profit for a gain in goodwill.

I'll let others argue with your odd theory that it makes sense to use tax policy to incentivize corporations in a system that by design legally mandates them to care only about profits, but not to punish them with tax policy.
19th-Jun-2008 01:04 am (UTC)
Coming in late, but: Even Big Oil likes green or energy conserving technology. More than high prices or low prices, Big Oil really likes it when prices stay the same. They have to spend lots of money finding and developing fossil fuel sources, and the most valuable thing they can have is stability in the market. If conservation means that supply and demand remain relatively stable and predictable, this makes Big Oil happiest.
18th-Jun-2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
2 things in response to this one:

1) Those things you cited (taxes, etc) are simply new factors in the ways of doing business. If the old dinosaur companies can't adapt, then they should die off and make way for new business that can.

2) My right to clean air, clean water, and a future for my children and childrens' children trumps any claim that a business has on making money. My rights as an individual are legally and morally greater than those of any corporation.
18th-Jun-2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
Haha, taxes are ANYTHING but a new way of doing business. Environmental protectionsit taxes are simply a new excuse for more government control. It's not about "adapting to a new way" it's about people taking your money away.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Going green has to be economical and financially viable or people won't commit when it's time to take out the pocketbooks.
19th-Jun-2008 01:08 am (UTC)
I would like to point out that our current economy that is based largely on burning dead dinosaurs* has tied us to an unsustainable resource. Because we have not tried to move away from oil dependency by encouraging a system wide change through those very eviron taxes, has forced us into a a recession and depreciated the dollar and I dont think that we have even began to see the downturn in our economy BECAUSE we have not chosen to move away from our 1900's technology.

The same ZOMG the economy! argument was pulled out when they banned freon to protect the Ozone layer. Industry found a safe alternative that was cheaper and was even a waste product from industrial manufacturing. Win win for all.
18th-Jun-2008 01:24 pm (UTC)
other planets are warming up? that's really a reason some use?

All the cool kids are doing it, so it's ok!

(get it? cool? oh, I slay me.)
18th-Jun-2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
Hey! Oh!

But yes, it really is an "argument" (i'd link directly to that one, but the site's been boing-boing'd)
18th-Jun-2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
You know, I don't know what to think on this. My personal opinion is that "There is so much data that no one really knows."

My main problem with all these studies is this:
Everyone who studies it sets out to PROVE something. It's never been "impartially" studied. The green crowd studies it, and surprise surprise, they find that the green crowd is right. The anti-green crown study it, and they find out the green crowd is wrong. There's too much biased research going on.
18th-Jun-2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
Based on the overwhelming existing evidence, most new hypotheses are now built on the idea that global climate change IS real.

I don't like to rely on politicized activists to filter my science. I'd rather read what real climatologists say directly on science sites and in science journals.

Also, and this might smack of "argument from authority", but climate change has weathered the onslaught from the true hardcore skeptical community. These people are BRUTAL too, so if its stands up to that level of scrutiny, I tend to believe it.
18th-Jun-2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
I know this comment wasn't to me, but I'm gonna jump in anyway.

Based on the overwhelming existing evidence, most new hypotheses are now built on the idea that global climate change IS real.

That's kinda self-fulfilling then, isn't it? If most new hypotheses are building in the assumption that global climate change is real (and anthropogenic...which is where my beef is) and then the studies conclude that why yes, it is warming, that doesn't say much

I don't like to rely on politicized activists to filter my science. I'd rather read what real climatologists say directly on science sites and in science journals.

You like to do so because it forms your opinion or because it bolsters your pre-conceived notion? In other words, if you read some climatologists on science sites or journals say that global climate change is bunk or that at least it's not anthropogenic, that would change your mind or at least cause doubt? Or would you simply write them off as "deniers"?

Also, and this might smack of "argument from authority", but climate change has weathered the onslaught from the true hardcore skeptical community. These people are BRUTAL too, so if its stands up to that level of scrutiny, I tend to believe it.

Why, yes, that does smack of "argument from authority" and a whole host of other logical fallacies. Apply it to theism versus atheism and get back to me.
18th-Jun-2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
No, its not self fulfilling at all. Data suggests that global warming is real, so you create a hypothesis based on that data. Then you test that hypothesis. If its untrue, it doesn't mean that your experiment or testing "failed", it just meant that you found evidence to the contrary of your statement. Continue to do this again and again and you arrive at a damn good predictable model of reality. Whenever I read something from you about global warming, I get the feeling that you're actually denying reality, just because it doesn't fit with your conservative view of the world. (at the same time, I realize that you and TheBruce deny the scientific process outright because it doesn't conform to your young earth idea)
I do so because it forms my opinion. If climatologists determined that climate change was not human influenced, I would believe it. At this point, most signs point to us being the cause however, so that's what I go with.
There's a little argument from authority there, sure. But the difference is that the skeptical/scientific community is completely transparent and open to scrutiny in their process. A true "argument from authority" is when you cite a government, celebrity, religious or even scientific source that has no evidence beyond their name or reputation. In the case of theism/atheism, tests have been done, and there's currently no evidence for a theistic universe.
18th-Jun-2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
i get what you did there
18th-Jun-2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
The dirty secret of logical fallacies is that they are not all created equal. Logic was designed to be clean and exact, like Math. In that system, argument from authority (which, by the way, was never in any of my Logic textbooks; argument ad Verecundiam [to inappropriate authority] was.), ad ignorantium, and even ad hominem: Circumstantial are legitimate. In the real world, where the harm is not theoretical, and the time to act may not wait for a fully non-fallacious argument they are but reasons to discount the weight given, at worst (and absolutely necessary shortcuts that have proven their reliability empirically at best).

Your compatriots seem to have this same problem with other data-intensive forms of conclusions. To wit: evolution. It is merely a theory, in the same way that gravity is a theory. In the same way that your expectation that light will allow you to see is based of the gambler's fallacy. In the same way we build round buildings before we know the full digits of π.

There will always be outliers in the data. There will always be a crazy minority who objects (or can be bought). The rare attribute of leadership is not found in waiting for certainty, but in knowing when it is time to act on imperfect knowledge.
18th-Jun-2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Agreed. I don't think anyone - even the majority of the scientists conducting the studies - are without bias. And even if they were, they aren't the ones presenting the data anymore. It's the zealots like Al Gore who are taking (read: cherrypicking) data to come up with a conclusion.

Maybe global warming is real. Maybe not. Maybe humans are causing it. Maybe (probably, in my opinion) not. I agree with you 100% in that there's just too much data and no objective way to interpret it. At the end of the day, the data doesn't speak for itself, it requires interpretation, which is subject to the biases of the people doing that interpretation.
18th-Jun-2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
I reject the idea that there's no "objective" way to interpret it. I believe in science because it works. I believe in the objectivity of science because biased science is always rooted out and discredited swiftly as an emergent property of the scientific process.
18th-Jun-2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I am leaning more and more toward the idea that we can't ever hope to understand or fix our environmental issues. The system as a whole is so complicated, so many smaller systems intertwined, that the proverbial butterfly is causing hurricanes all over the place - every change we make affects so many other systems and it all piles up no matter how well intentioned. Hybrid cars are great and all, but the components in their batteries mean you have to drive 100k miles just to break even on environmental impact.

This isn't to say we shouldn't try, of course. I don't want to be a defeatist. And whether or not climate change is real (and I believe it is), there's no harm either way in trying to improve our planet. But we need to also start adapting, putting our good old fashioned human ingenuity toward figuring out how to survive if things can't be improved.
18th-Jun-2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
I think what we really need is to put all our money into the space program, develop some FTL technology, and get the hell off this rock before it kills us.
18th-Jun-2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
here, here.
18th-Jun-2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
of course, that should be hear, hear.

I hate myself.
18th-Jun-2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
wait, really?

i was never sure which it was.....
18th-Jun-2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
I keep thinking I know which is correct, and then I forget.

According to wikipedia, it's hear, hear:

18th-Jun-2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
I personal like "Hear Here" for its grammatical sense, but it's not the right phrase :)
18th-Jun-2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
I think you need to take a break from pondering about the remaining BSG episodes....
18th-Jun-2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Hey man, I've seen the future (or is it the past? I don't even know anymore.), and it doesn't go well for us. We need to make with the getting the hell out of here, like yesterday. The twelve colonies can have this rock for all I care.
19th-Jun-2008 12:03 am (UTC)
> Hybrid cars are great and all, but the components in their batteries mean you have to drive 100k miles just to break even on environmental impact.

The economies of scale and potential for R&D-based efficiency gains are a lot higher in batteries than fossil fuels.
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