The end of the world for some a day or so late; Is this climate change or same old same old?

May 23, 2011

If you predict just about anything you have a good chance of being right — it may well come to pass. Just don’t be too specific about time and date.That poor preacher who predicted that the world would end Saturday was apparently wrong and as I understand it is now in seclusion and quite distraught. Reportedly some sucker in New York spent his life savings buying posters and such proclaiming the end of the world.

But then again they may have been just a day early. For it was the end of the world for at least 116 (the latest count as I write this) folks in Joplin, Mo., where a tornado struck Sunday, and it may well seem like the end of the world for as many or more who are picking through the rubble looking for what little they can salvage or worse yet looking for missing loved ones and friends.

Within the last hour or so I heard a purported weather expert say that he has never seen such a cold weather pattern in the mid level atmosphere and thinks it might be unprecedented, but he was quick to also note that there have been cyclical weather patterns of  heavy snow packs and torrential rains and floods followed by droughts and then deluges all over again since weather began to be officially recorded. And what happened before that we don’t necessarily know for sure — at least we don’t have the official statistics (the Bible of course speaks of flood and famines).

He also indicated one cannot attribute the recent spate of bad weather and natural disasters all over the nation and world to the notion of global warming or climate change, as it has been renamed (because we hear of both extreme hot and cold weather). Those who study such things just don’t know for sure what is going on, or at least he did not, he indicated.

(I’m just paraphrasing what I heard on part of Tom Sullivan’s talk show aired on Fox Radio. I got it by way of KFBK, Sacramento, where Sullivan used to hold forth until he hit the big time and moved to New York.)

I wished I knew of some independent and objective and non-biased repository of scientific observations and conclusions on the weather so I could get this whole climate change thing in perspective. I know that the reactionary right is in denial and/or thinks it’s all a ploy by the far left to use as an excuse to control all human behavior (the right mainly focuses on control of sexual behavior). I have also just read in the past day that some of the more thoughtful among the so-called “conservative” movement or Republican Party, that is the thinking branch, would like to give some credence to the possible dangers of climate change and the notion that man has had some part in causing it and possibly has the power to help remedy it. But they risk being kicked out of their own movement for such heresy. Just ask Newt Gingrich who has had to explain away past spoken sympathies with the notion of climate change brought on at least partly by man’s activities and possibly fixable by man’s change of behaviors. He’s not even allowed to say it is worth looking into (his explanation of past statements — not necessarily so, just worth looking into). The mighty Rush Limburger Cheese himself has said Gingrich’s nod to the notions of the non-reactionaries on possible climate change was in inexplicable (read that unacceptable).

Mixing science and politics could lead to the end of the world for us all.

P.s.

I kind of indirectly described Gingrich as thoughtful. I think he is an idea person, although the word “thoughtful’ might not apply to him depending upon the context of that word one has in mind. He is given to making rash and bombastic statements. But his current problem seems to come from thinking, that is at looking at more than one side of an issue, something his brethren do not approve of. To be fair, same goes on the far left.

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Environmental concerns — all I know is what I read in the papers…

April 27, 2010

One of the initial reports I heard on the latest offshore oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (a giant oil platform explosion) was from a so-called expert who assured everyone all was fine and there was no sign of a major oil spill (and, oh, thank heavens it was a certified oil industry expert instead of some kooky environmentalist or left-wing , non-scientifically-educated reporter talking, needlessly worrying us all about an environmental calamity).

Well that was late last week, I guess.

Now I just read that as the result of this same oil rig explosion a thousand barrels of crude oil are spilling into the ocean each day. That’s got to be costly and it cannot be good for the marine environment.

(Eleven platform crew members were still unaccounted for and presumed dead.)

The good news, if there is any, is that it is believed that since the whole thing is far enough out to sea, crews have more time than they otherwise might to contain the spill.

We’ve had bad spills before and they have done terrible environmental damage, but the world goes on, and to some extent nature comes back, and I presume the attitude of many is that such is the cost of survival in modern society.

And then there are those who claim that those who are concerned about environmental degradation of the planet are just alarmists or people who are against progress and who would, in fact, like to take us all back to the Stone Age.

Well, I don’t consider myself in that category, but I am concerned about the environment, and I can say right here I would just as soon there be no offshore oil drilling and certainly no more started — but I am reasonably sure there will be, even if this newest incident has dealt a blow to the cause of drill baby drill. Just before the latest catastrophe President Obama had proposed consideration of limited new offshore drilling, no doubt for political purposes as much as his perceived need of offshore oil.

I’m not a scientist and even though I have a four-year college degree my education was fairly light on hard science. So really all I know is what I read in the papers, so to speak. I have to depend upon the interpretations, primarily written by journalists who get information from scientists, directly and indirectly.

And it only seems logical that when educated folks are studying the unknown, if they are truly being objective they are likely to come up with varying interpretations of the data they have collected and one researcher’s data might not match another’s.

But over time, if everyone stays objective, it seems only logical that some common patterns will be noticed.

At some point there has to be a general consensus among scientists. The generally accepted story has been that the majority of scientists worldwide believe in the phenomenon of global warming that seems to be caused or at least greatly exacerbated by the actions of man.

Now some scientists, we are told, do not follow that line. But I have assumed or at least suspected that many of them are in the employ of industry groups who always fight environmental regulations.

Within the last year or so I have been reading reports that in some cases that some scientists who promote the theory of global warming have been caught faking data or purposely misinterpreting it. One motivation might be that even though they actually believe in global warming, it is easier to get continued funding for study if you can spice up the dire predictions a little. Or global warming detractors would have you believe that it is all a hoax and dishonest researchers are just eating up research grants.

A seemingly straight-forward opinion (opinion, that’s important) piece by a scientist I read in the Wall Street Journal the other day flat out claimed that there is no solid scientific evidence of global warming.

So who do I believe? And do I try to get my own personal count on how many scientists think one thing and how many the other? And do I personally sift through all the data (you know I’m not going to do that and neither are you)? I would not likely be able to interpret the data and would not know how accurate it was or the veracity of those who collected it.

A lot of people have a prejudice in this matter. They see environmentalism as too costly and a threat to jobs and just a plain waste of time.

Personally I would like to have clean air to breathe and an all-around healthy environment and I would like to see the survival of the planet and mankind.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that the only way we can keep employed and feeding ourselves is to foul our nest. It just does not make sense to me.

But I have to depend upon the experts who look at the facts in an objective manner.

Cooking the books to get research dollars under the guise of objective study or simply writing the things the way industry wants it (no costly regulations) is not the kind of expert advice that seems worth anything to me.

(You have to know that the same industrialists who would buy phony research to lobby against environmental regulations would demand the most objective information they could get when making their own business decisions, such as where to drill for oil or dig for coal.)

The best the layperson can do is read as much as he or she can and stay objective and do whatever seems to be called for on a personal basis.

P.s.

“Global warming“, some have noted, should have been labeled “climate change”, as it is sometimes now, because that phraseology is easier to understand, because, as I understand it, global warming can cause warm weather in some places that have been cold and cold weather in some places that have been warm and rain in dry areas and drought in rainy areas.

P.s. P.s.

Come to think of it, I don’t have to entirely depend upon what I read in the papers — I have (we all have) seen or otherwise experienced pollution first hand, such as smog, dirty rivers and lakes and other filthy waterways, as well as garbage strewn all over.