Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dumbass Of The Day

I try to be a little different here, figuring most anyone who comes here has already read the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, or has at least consumed Publicly Traded Media. I don't have to try, really, because I already am "a little different." Hey, if people tell you something often enough, it starts to sink in, and by the time I was eight years old, grown-ups and my peers had remarked not much over a hundred times, "You remind of a little old man." A blog lets you roll with this kind of eccentric baggage. Most of my fun comes from trying to either spot important things before they happen or from peering under the collective memory radar to some big nasty bogey approaching. Let me tell you, there are some really big juicy black ones under there I haven't had the heart to tell you about yet. But some of them I love to surface to my tribe of adoring hordes, better known as the Smartest People In The Whole Wide World (SPITHWWW). Welcome, SPITHWWW!

That said, some things can be fairly well-known and still be worth repeating. Take James Inhofe, the Senator from Oklahoma pictured above. Now combine him with the concept of Global Warming. Rinse. Repeat.

There were on-topic stories in the Drudge Report this morning, one of which contained Inhofe's speech to the Senate floor about his favorite theme. I read some of it. If you like having hot knitting needles jammed up through your nostrils into your brain, by all means, go read the greatest oratory since Diogenes had dysentery. You could also take my word for what he said. The Senator forcefully transmits his contempt for the hoaxers who keep warning us about how the earth is heating up and how people might have something to do with it. After wading through the offal, I then googled "James Inhofe, moron" and the first hit was a ThinkProgress post from July of this year noting that Inhofe compared Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth with Hitler's book Mein Kampf. There might be some justice in that comparison. Yet, to paraphrase something Hitler once said about France, "I'd rather be in prison in the Northwest than a Senator in Oklahoma."

Understanding the "Global" part of Global Warming is a tricky business, since no one fully understands how the planet works yet. A mere handful of people, like James Lovelock, the predictor of the ozone hole and promulgator of the 'Gaia' hypothesis as the planet's cycles being subject to highly conjoined self-organizing material principles, have made some pretty good guesses. Guesses which probably reflect a decent intuitive and developing understanding, but which fail to clear the scientific bar of pure repeatability and thus, in an absolute sense, are not predictive. I'm not a scientist, just someone who has been privileged (and sentenced) to work with some good ones, and I know two First Principles:

1) Small changes have big effects, which are difficult if not impossible to predict.
2) Scientists love to argue like a roomful of rabbis, particularly when money is involved.

So here would be a fun experiment: gather a group of meteorologists and climatologists in a dungeon and tell them, "I am locking this door. When you develop consensus on a working model of Global Warming, we will return to let you out and you will be given a trillion dollars. Oh, and as a further incentive, there's no food or water until then." After a couple of days, when they started to...well let's not dwell on the possibly unsavory outcomes of one little experiment, let's just plan for efficient and sanitary disposal of their bodies. What's truly interesting in the debate is what scientists are NOT arguing over.

Every scientist agrees that the products of friction are heat and waste, and that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere traps heat. We're now clocking in at about 380 parts of CO-2 per million, which is increasing by about 1.5 parts per million a year, up from 286 ppm at the start of the Industrial Age (mid-1700s). The last time carbon dioxide levels were as high was more than a hundred thousand lifetimes ago when, presumably, humans didn't exist. At that time almost every animal species on earth went extinct. In the past 30 years, average temperature has risen by an average of .36 degrees every decade. There's more of this data, but let me get this straight: at what point do you drop pretensions to scientific replication and start using common sense?

We've got scientists and Senators telling us not to take policy actions because we can't predict the outcome of a bad trendline. I want to stand on your shoulders, you giants. Allow me to crawl up there with my spiked cleats. Ah, better. Now that I'm up here I can hear your gutteral, incoherent screams much more clearly. So you're saying that if you don't fully understand something, but it looks like it could kill off our entire race, instead of abandoning hope we should abandon caution and keep doing exactly as we are. Until we prove beyond a shadow of a scientific doubt how irrevocably fucked we are? Is that right? I dunno (shifting spiked cleats thoughtfully), I'm having a little trouble with your approach. Let's bring in the rabbis, and ask them to explain the concept of "Global Sins."

No comments: