Either Humans Can or Can’t Change the Climate

I came across an article yesterday that absolutely threw me into a tizzy fit of “does not compute”. I can only assume the writer knew that those most likely to buy into this sort of contradiction are accustomed to not really doing a whole lot of critical thinking.

The article, published on MarketWatch, begins with climate change denialism. Well, sort of. To say that this article is all over the place would be an understatement. It’s just a scattershot of the top five climate change denial talking points, completely unaware that they contradict one another. Let’s look at some quotes. Please keep in mind that this is a right-leaning article and, therefore, has no links to support any of the assertions being made, so it’s not my fault they’re uncited.

Renewable energy makes America’s electricity more expensive, and few want to buy GM’s electric Chevy Volts.

The first part of this is only true if you don’t look at any effects of non-renewable energy. For example, increases in health problems caused by poor air quality end up costing much, much more in terms of medical care. They say this in response to natural gas, which is a great bridge fuel while renewable energy sources develop, but the idea that a resource that causes people to be able to set their tap water on fire is not one that we can hold on to for long. And, of course, the argument “the new thing is expensive” to stop doing something is ridiculous. All new things are expensive. They become less expensive when we invest in them. Does she have a car? Does Diana Furchtgott-Roth realize how expensive those were compared to horses and buggies and how much it raised prices on shipping originally? Progress requires investment, but I think people can handle paying 20% less on their electricity over the course of 20 years.

Further, unless China, India, and other emerging economies join America in emissions reduction, effects on global warming will be minor.

Citation needed. The article goes on to point out that those countries hold 37% of the world’s population. Unfortunately, that statistic (uncited) is meaningless since the US contributes more than them toward climate change. In fact, we contribute more than anybody toward climate change. Us cutting down on carbon emissions will have a huge impact, even if China and India don’t jump on board.

But even if that weren’t the case, so fucking what? Why should we not do something that would limit the amount of environmental damage because two other big countries haven’t? Again, by that logic, nothing would ever be done because nobody would be first. I was always under the impression that America fancied itself a world leader, but maybe Furchtgott-Roth would disagree?

Moreover, some new data suggest that global warming has practically stopped over the past decade.

No, it hasn’t.

Yes, Arctic ice is thinning, but ice in Antarctica is thicker than ever.

For one year this has been the case, and every climate “skeptic” jumps on it like it’s a snow storm in winter. The thing is, this is actually an indication of climate change, and has been predicted by climate scientists. This isn’t proof that climate change isn’t happening, this is confirmation that it is.

Is Planet Earth getting warmer through man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, or due to natural causes beyond human control? If so, is warming harmful rather than beneficial? On cold winter days, many would find a little more warmth welcome. It might even lead to lower heating bills and fewer carbon emissions.

I…I don’t…WHAT? Is Diana Furchtgott-Roth the stupidest person on Earth, or is the person who wrote her talking points?

First of all, stop fixating on “warming”. It was a term used that describes climate, not weather. The general warming trend on the planet can cause colder weather events as well, just like when ice melts in a glass of water on a hot day, it doesn’t make the water immediately hotter. It starts by making it colder and eventually warms up to whatever the temperature outside is.

Even so, let’s say that this stupid analogy is correct and a slightly warmer winter is pleasant for people who don’t live near to the equator. What happens when summer comes around and is even hotter than it was last year? Won’t that be less pleasant? And yes, it might lead to lower heating bills in the winter, but higher cooling bills in the summer. Big picture, Diana. Big picture.

I leave it to the scientific community to battle out the pros and cons of the climate change debate.

Bullshit. The scientific community is almost entirely in agreement on this. There is no “battle” and no “debate” within science. There are only political hacks who want to pretend there is so they can borrow the respectability of science without having to do the hard work of actually deciphering the facts. She’s spent the whole article to this point arguing against the consensus of climate scientists and is now trying to pretend that her arguments are the arguments of a significant part of the scientific community. They aren’t.

But what really gets me about this piece, other than it’s abject dishonesty, is that it then goes on to start advising geoengineering. For those who haven’t heard of it, geoengineering is the process where you try to purposefully effect the climate. Scientists generally do advocate for it, but as a compliment to emission control, not as a replacement for it. The author basically is saying that rather than try to limit carbon, we should just be playing with other things in an effort to allow us to pollute more. And, of course, this should be handled by private individuals, because that always works.

But what got me more about the claim is that it contradicts an article that claims that people really can’t effect the climate. Either one country doing something is not enough or there’s no proof that carbon is the problem or it’s too expensive, etc. Now, suddenly, we can somehow change the climate, and do it cheaply too, which astounds me.

Either human beings can effect the climate and do so in a cost efficient way or they can’t. You can’t claim that one method is impossible despite all evidence to the contrary, and then claim that another is totes possible and easy.

Essentially, this is more muddying the waters by people who don’t ever want to have to pay a dime more than they absolutely must because it might affect their comfort right now, and to hell with what happens tomorrow. It’s short sighted, which in an of itself is less of a problem than that it tries to appropriate science in an effort to undermine it. And that is a major problem. The claims made in this article are specious, and pretending that there is a real debate in the scientific community about this subject is an outright lie.

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