Seeing through industry spin


Seeing through industry spin


Here is a fine example of how big industry seeks to muddy the waters on a scientific issue. In 1982 the issue was tobacco. Today it is climate change.  For more go here.

  1. #1 by Rev. Mike on May 12, 2007 - 7:26 am

    “A” therefore, “B” = “A”? This is what we reduce debate to now, LT? “If it walks like a duck …?”

  2. #2 by LT on May 12, 2007 - 9:40 pm

    Did you click on the “For more go here” link? It makes the case fairly well on climate change.

    My point is…don’t believe everything you hear. It is just as applicable to any organization that might fund people with a bias towards specific conclusions.

  3. #3 by Rev. Mike on May 13, 2007 - 8:37 am

    The point I am making, LT, is that what you’ve put forward is nothing more than a twist on an ad hominem attack in this post. The post above this one is much better argued.

    You’re right. The notion that you’re going to find a “pure,” unbiased, scientific point of view, however, is beneath your intelligence to be putting forth. The skeptics would argue that the bias inherent to the proponents is that they maintain a self-perpetuating argument in order to receive more research grants, whether from governments or environmental groups.

    Consensus is not scientific proof. The consensus view 500 years ago was that the world is flat. I agree that the world is getting warmer. What I don’t know is what is causing it, certainly not with the degree of certainty that the scientific community would say they have. And what I DO know with darned near absolute certainty (because I AM qualified to make THAT kind of judgment) is that just because a computer model says X does not even remotely make it so.

    The immorality in this entire question is the grand scale despoiling of the earth’s clean air and water when other options exist, and on this we agree. You think that breathing sulfer dioxide and nitrous oxides in diluted quantities is bad? Brother, I’ve breathed them up close and personal. Almost killed myself once crawling up underneath a leaky flue gas duct at a coal-fired station all by myself with no one around to pull me back out. Trust me, I think it’s an obscene way to make a megawatt.

    However, conflating something like global warming into the crisis of the millennium in order to achieve the goal of weaning us off fossil fuels just insults one’s intelligence. What exactly is the “ideal” state of temperature, LT, given that even without human effects, it cycles up and down? And how would we, in all our infinite wisdom, go about determining that? And even better, how would we, in our infinite technological power, go about effecting such a change on a global scale? The real answer, if you scratch far enough beneath the surface, is that the true believers would just love to go back to a pre-industrial state. Good luck on that. Good luck, also, convincing those who don’t share our standard of living that they should just suck it up and stay poor and hungry so we can all feel better about our Christian stewardship of God’s creation.

  4. #4 by LT on May 13, 2007 - 11:09 am

    You’re right. The notion that you’re going to find a “pure,” unbiased, scientific point of view, however, is beneath your intelligence to be putting forth. The skeptics would argue that the bias inherent to the proponents is that they maintain a self-perpetuating argument in order to receive more research grants, whether from governments or environmental groups.

    I have seen it argued that the “consensus” is a result of a massive international group think propelled by governments who reward funding to scientists who tell them what they want to hear. This argument breaks down when you see there are actual scientists who run counter to the prevailing theory or who don’t agree with it as strongly yet are still working. There is no literal consensus because there still are dissenting views. It does take some audacity to imply that thousands upon thousands of scientists in dozens of countries have sold out science for money. Lots of alternative theories have come up to explain global warming but they have been proven wrong with a great degree of certainty. This is where the dishonesty of the skeptics come in.

    What I don’t know is what is causing it, certainly not with the degree of certainty that the scientific community would say they have. And what I DO know with darned near absolute certainty (because I AM qualified to make THAT kind of judgment) is that just because a computer model says X does not even remotely make it so.

    From what I can tell computer models aren’t generally held up as evidence, they are more about projections and consequences. So far the computer models have proven inaccurate on some things like melting ice caps. They have failed to predict how fast the ice would melt. It is very possible that the computer models underestimate the progression and impact of global warming.

    This brings up the other side of certainty. It is very possible that the IPCC is wrong and is understating the problem. The IPCC makes a very deliberate effort to report that which the group can agree on. There are people who think things are much worse. Some scientists believe that we’ve already past the point of no return. They believe if we turned off every car, furnace and powerplant in the world it wouldn’t stop the feedbacks already in play.

    Here are some of the Prairie Wrangler’s thoughts (my all time favourite Canadian conservative blogger) after reading George Monbiot’s book Heat.

    “Sounds easy enough, but what does it all mean? Currently, the UK produces 2.6 tonnes per capita, which would mean its emissions would have to be cut by nearly 90%. Canada produces about double, and would have to reduce its emissions by around 94%. So, while our politicians debate whether we can meet our Kyoto target of 6% below 1990 levels, Monbiot is suggesting that from current levels, we need to do about 15 times that much by 2030.

    Now, combine that shocking conclusion with the following: Monbiot suggests his proposals could only maybe meet the UK’s targets, while vast complications make many solutions tailored for the UK inconceivable in the Canadian context (covered in part 2 of the review); plus, Monbiot himself admits that even if it were possible, and every other nation were able to do the same, we may already be beyond the point of no return. These thoughts produced within me a perfect storm of intellectual confusion, scientific ineptitute, insufficiency of imagination and emotional dejection, which I’m convinced inflicted a medically insignificant but very real aneurysm. That’s when I bought a quart of rye and got completely hosed. The whole book gets a little hazy after that point (understandably so), but I trudged on.

    I loved the last part. It has to be one of the funniest things I’ve read on a blog.

    You can find the rest of it here.

    What exactly is the “ideal” state of temperature, LT, given that even without human effects, it cycles up and down? And how would we, in all our infinite wisdom, go about determining that?

    I think that your first question should be split in to two. What is the “ideal” state of temperature for nature? What is the “ideal” state of temperature for our society. If the sea levels rise animals just move inland. You can’t do that with Manhattan. A violent storm might knock down a few trees but next year one will grow to replace it. It was once warm enough for really big lizards to live in Canada, but most of the province of Manitoba was a giant lake.

    Why all the concern about species loss today? The warming is happening faster than it has happened in the past. Animals which would cope with temperatures rising one degree in 500 years aren’t as capable with dealing the change brought about a 3 degree change in 150 years.

    The real answer, if you scratch far enough beneath the surface, is that the true believers would just love to go back to a pre-industrial state. Good luck on that.

    The true believers in what? Most of the people I read argue for renewable energy and conservation. Some even argue for the need for nuclear power.

    Good luck, also, convincing those who don’t share our standard of living that they should just suck it up and stay poor and hungry so we can all feel better about our Christian stewardship of God’s creation.

    You have a faulty assumption in your logic. You assume that a developing country is far better off building a centralized powergrid anchored by coal than by using renewable power. In Canada it is cheaper to use wind/solar/geothermal/biomass than it is to pay to be hooked up to the grid. I know of a person who built a new house just outside the city. It cost less to go with geothermal than to have natural gas brought to his house. One could argue that a centralized grid is less expensive in a more dense area.

    The cost of renewable power is comparable to nuclear. If I used my house has leverage and borrowed the money to put enough solar panels on my house to go off grid I’d come out ahead in 25 years…assuming stable interest rates and the current rate of inflation.

    We have the technology to turn off every coal fired plant in North America without a significant difference in cost. Forgive me if I go in to something you are already well aware of as you work in the industry, but the wholesale cost of power is much less than retail. Saskpower pays 3 or 4 cents a Kwh and sells it to me for 10 cents Kwh. If you add 50% to the cost of power generation I end up paying 4 cents x 150% = 6 cents Kwh + other costs = 12 cents kwh. Seeing as how my electric bill is about $80 for metered power use if it went up 2 cents Kwh I’d pay a whole extra $16 a month to switch from coal to nuclear or wind. Today I have that option. I can pay a 25% premium on metered electricity from Saskpower to buy green power. I don’t understand where all the talk of economic devastation comes from.

    Most companies that go “green” find that they save money. Pay $100 more for a fridge and save $400 in power over the life the fridge. Our major problem is our short term thinking.

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