Global Warming: So?

Le Figaro on-line is showing beautiful photographs of traditional Brittany houses with slate roofs covered with snow. (Le Figaro is one of the big French dailies. I read it every day.) The pictures are notable because Brittany is a peninsula with seas on three sides. There are even outdoors palm trees there. It’s almost never cold. Much of Europe and much of the US , including the Deep South, are experiencing one of the coldest winters on record.

I know this is meaningless with respect to the global warming hypothesis. A few data points don’t a long-term trend make, or unmake. I would refrain from mentioning this especially cold winter if climate-change cultists did no comment on the warm winter in California. It’s true that my rose bush is 25% abloom and that some of my tomatoes from last June are still more or less ripening. By the way, if that’s global warming, I am sorry it’s a religious hoax. I like it.

The global warming world view is wrong in its whole and in its parts as well. Let’s assume (“assume”) that every measurement of the alarmists and every numerical implication is correct. Then, what? It turns out we would still have much less than a global catastrophe on our hands. We would be facing a series of medium-sized problems all of which have solutions we could deal with.

For a sober article on the economic and social consequences of climate change if the cultists climate predictions were, in fact, correct, see “Socioeconomic Impacts of Global Warming are Systematically Overestimated.”

Telling the Truth and Tarentino, Liberals, the Secretary of State, and the President

I have a liberal friend with whom I have fairly frequent serious discussions. He thinks of himself as a moderate liberal, even a centrist because his owns guns and his guns are dear to him. Yet, he voted for Obama and he can give a spirited defense of every aspect of Obama’s policies and actions. That’s a test, in my book.

He told me once, but only once, that the administration’s program of at-a-distance- assassination-of-the-untried was not a problem for him. He dos not see how assassinating an American citizen, for example, on the presidential say-so, could be a problem, ethical or judicial. He does not discern a slippery slope. That too is a test.

He and I have had repeatedly two bases of disagreement. First, we have different values, of course. Thus, he insists that it’s fine for him to use the vote to take my money by force in order to give it to someone that he, my friend, thinks deserves it more than I do because he, the other guy, does not have health insurance.

I disagree.

Note that this is an actual example of a fundamental value difference because my liberal buddy does not have to go there to achieve the same results. He could try, for example, to convince me to give up some money on the basis of expediency: It’s unpleasant, even messy to have the uninsured dying on my front lawn for lack of medical care. (As they do all the time, of course.) Or, he could persuade me on fellow-human grounds. He does not feel like doing either because, I think, he has no moral qualm about taking my earnings by force for a cause he judges good. That’s a big difference between us. Continue reading

What I Did Not Write About Enough in 2012

Climate change

Nothing new there. Alarmists keep lying, making up data, cherry-picking data, exaggerating grossly the consequences of what does happen on the climate front. Not really worth dealing with. Instead, go to the “What’s Up With That” blog every so often. There is a direct link to it on the front of this blog and here also, is the link: Masters, McKibben and Droughting Thomases.

It’s not exactly a dead horse though; it’s a new religion that will find its place among others and perhaps, next to the “Maya Calendar End of the World” cult. Or, maybe not, or maybe, it’s a little more: It looks like one of those widespread but lightly held beliefs. It may become soon like the rule that you don’t walk under a ladder. It might influence legislation yet, but, I think not in a major way. I believe we got off easy.

Belief in global warming plays an important role in my life though. It helps me separate in seconds those who are real skeptics, like me, from those who merely play at pretending to be skeptics in order to glean the social benefits of such skepticism.

And, in case you are wondering, here is my current understanding: There is no warming that is global, and of significant duration, and that’s man-made, and that constitutes an emergency for humankind. Continue reading

The Pigou Club

Professor N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University initiated and hosts “The Pigou Club” of economists, journalists, and politicians who have favorably written about pollution levies as an efficient way to reduce emissions. Arthur Cecil Pigou was the economist who was the first to deeply analyze externalities (uncompensated effects on others) in his 1920 book The Economics of Welfare.

Pigou proposed a levy on negative external effects equal to the social cost, so that buyers and users pay the full social cost of products. The most common applications are tolls to prevent traffic congestion, parking meters that vary by time of day, and pollution levies.

The policy of charging those who create negative externalities is named Pigouvian, or Pigovian. Mankiw advocates higher gasoline taxes, but that would also tax those car owners with cars that run quite cleanly and are driven in roads that are not congested. The best Pigovian policy is to focus the charge on the negative element such as harmful emissions.  Continue reading

From the Comments: Climate Change Advocates and Religion

Jacques Delacroix has a thoughtful response to an equally thoughtful comment by a climate scientist (full disclosure: the climate scientist is also a childhood friend of mine and a fairly decent man; I say “fairly decent” because he sometimes associated with people like me!) in his post on the peer review process. I thought I’d reproduce the whole thing here: Continue reading

The Cold in California, in Europe, and in Liberal Hearts (Updated)

Note: This is a replay.

It’s been an unusually cold and rainy month of May in northern California. Thousands of miles to the east and north, in Paris, France, a May cold record held for sixteen years was beaten recently according to Le Figaro of 5/11/10. I don’t know if any of this means anything in terms of so-called “ global warming” ( a few points don’t make a trend). I am certain however that the climate duffuses would be clamoring if the month of May had been especially warm in either part of the world. Al Gore is speaking in Santa Cruz this week. He is a rich man with no sense of ridicule. He became rich by selling imaginary protection against an imaginary ill, global warming, while living in a giant house and flying in executive jets with his entourage, Hollywood-style. Meanwhile, my wife and I dry our laundry on the line, in the backyard, like both of our grand mothers used to do. I wonder how many climate activists forgo an electric or gas dryer, to help save the planet. I have not found one yet though I keep asking.

Here is a micro story about how liberals think, a slice of life. Last Saturday, I go by a young friend’s of mine who is holding a garage sale. I may find something to buy from her in spite of my wife’s warning that she will divorce me if I bring anything else into the house (except the beautiful quilts I get for her at the flea market, of course). At least, I will bring my friend cheerful moral support. I know I am in enemy territory there, ideologically. It matters not because likability does not follow strict ideological lines and because those who are meritorious by conservative standards are not all conservatives. (A reason for hope, by the way.) Continue reading

Polar Bears Multiply: Global Warming Faulted

From Live Science, accessed 08/19/11:

“Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, (BOEMRE) was placed on administrative leave on July 18 pending the conclusion of an Inspector General investigation into “integrity issues,” according to the suspension order. Monnett had been questioned by the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in February about a 2006 research article published in the journal Polar Biology, in which he reported observations of drowned polar bears in the Beaufort Sea. In the article, Monnett and his co-authors speculate that bear drownings could increase if continued climate change resulted in less ice cover in the Arctic. The work was cited in the 2006 Al Gore documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” [Gallery: Polar Bears Swimming in the Arctic] “

Here is what my own inquiry shows: Monnett and Gleason in their 2006 article abstract and introduction list at length diverse kinds of damage global warming might have on polar bears’ welfare. They present the fact that they had noticed four carcasses of polar bears off-shore incidental to a study of something else. They comment that similar studies conducted in the same general area in the past had turned up no polar bear mortality. They say that they “speculate” (their word) that continued warming would probably have bad consequences for the polar bear population. Nowhere is there any suggestion, in the abstract or in the introduction, that the warming in question is long-term or, especially, man-made.

I have no objection to any of the above as a scholar although I can summarize my environmental position as follows: Continue reading