Sunday, February 21, 2010

I suppose you could make this shit up.

NYT, "A Small Price for a Large Benefit":
FORECASTS involving climate change are highly uncertain, denialists assert — a point that climate researchers themselves readily concede. The denialists view the uncertainty as strengthening their case for inaction, yet a careful weighing of the relevant costs and benefits supports taking exactly the opposite course.
Emphasis mine. This is really the only reason that I can see why the IPCC "Climategate" e-mails are causing such a stir - even without them, a lot of other researchers have come up with a lot of other evidence for climate change independently of one another. But deniers take every tiny suggestion of inconsistency as damning evidence. This perplexes me because, as the author of this article explains, taking action isn't going to cost that much.

The actions we're trying to take have obvious benefits even if you don't care about anyone's carbon footprint. Oil wells renew so slowly that they might as well be a nonrenewable resource; we have to import a lot of it to meet out needs, and the process of refining it into a usable form adds to its cost. Coal also renews very slowly, and mining it is extremely labor intensive and dangerous, not to mention highly damaging to our national landscape. And using our energy sources more efficiently means we spend less money on it in the long run, and have more money for other things. So switching over to renewable energy sources - even if climate change turns out to be less serious than expected - seems like a pretty good idea to me.

Well the climate deniers - the "skeptics" - seem to think that these are bad ideas, and that we shouldn't bother pursuing them because global climate change might not even be real. And in fact the implication (or in some cases, the statement) that accompanies the outrage over the "Climategate" e-mails and other "counterevidence" they find is that anthropogenic climate change is all a hoax. I guess that might be possible - maybe not likely, but for the sake of argument let's assume for a moment that someone really is making all this up.


I mean, if this is a hoax then it's a pretty elaborate one, because nearly every single professional scientific organization in the world and 97% of publishing climate scientists are in on it by now, not to mention individual national governments, political parties, and a good portion the media. No one would go to all that trouble just for shits and grins - so what's the benefit and who gets it? "Profit" isn't going to cut it here, because there are plenty of ways to make a profit that don't involve orchestrating a massive global conspiracy. If any of the "skeptics" out there have ideas on this then I'd be very interested to hear them, because I can't think of any.


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