20 April 2008

Climate Change: Big Government Left and Right

For those of you not paying attention to the 'we must act' commercials, they are clever in taking political 'opposites' and putting them on the same sofa to exhort us to acting on 'climate change'. The idea of human induced climate change is something that is weirdly to those in Big Government circles as it gives a non-national enemy to 'fight' or 'act against' that has not been established in either climate models or the geological record as being something that can be caused by the methods given. Indeed, natural climate change is an ongoing phenomena of Rock 3 from the Star Sol ever since the planet developed an atmosphere. That original atmosphere acted to host thermophilic life that lived, not on sunlight, but on energy coming from the planetary core and from incoming deposits by asteroids and comets. Life went on merrily until the clouds of sulfur and other products in the atmosphere were removed from it by such life to let sunlight in. Then the new energy source of sunlight gave a new area for life to expand into and produce a toxic waste that would disturb the eco-system: oxygen.

Indeed, life can have profound effects on the planetary atmosphere! That life grew to such an abundance that in mere tens of millions of years, as opposed to the billions of those first thermophiles, there was so much oxygen in the atmosphere that life could grow to truly strange sizes and the simplest lightning strike could cause a mass conflagration. In swampland. That was, as swamps are, very, very wet. A balance would be struck as massive amounts of carbon dioxide would be taken from the atmosphere by early plant and animal life, and we find that today in massive coal beds and limestone formations, some of the latter deposited by pure chemical concentration of materials turned insoluble.

After that, life settled down, surviving massive amounts of injections of carbon dioxide, methane, sulfuric acid and other compounds from volcanic activity, and from the still randomly passing asteroids and meteors. Life would be at peril *from* this environment but no longer the leading changer of it. That and the planet tended to stabilize into super-continents and then break up, causing all sorts of untoward extinction events. The upper cap on carbon dioxide, as measured by isotopic variations in calcium carbonate and things like coal, puts atmoshperic concentration of carbon dioxide (and carbon monoxide, but to a far lesser extent with all that oxygen floating around) at ~7,000 parts per million (ppm) of atmosphere. In comparison *today* the lack-luster planet suffers in the ~300 ppm zone that also gets us frequent glacial periods.

The very models that the 'climate change' hypothosis rests on, especially for human caused variants, all feature the small, sub 10% change in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as measured over the last 10,000 years and most concentrate on the chilling point by point rise of the last century or two. What is that? 1 ppm every 20-30 years? Assuming we can burn all the oil, and all the coal, and all other hydrocarbons taken out of the atmosphere by previous life on Rock 3, you would still not get to those lovely levels of the Carboniferous as the vast quantities of carbon taken up in non-energy producing limestone and dolostone represent a good portion of that amount. Still, for argument's sake, lets say that wasteful mankind continues on this 1 ppm rise every 20 years heading towards the burning of everything available to release carbon dioxide. To get to those lovely levels of the Carboniferous, and the greatest proliferation of life the planet has ever seen in extent, volume and mass (if not diversity) you are looking at 3,850 years to achieve this... or a bit shorter than all of recorded history of mankind.

Even given *that*, the data... you know all hypotheses rest on data and try to explain it, right?... is indicating other factors for ground surface temperature changes. A prime one is the non-shifting of weather measurement stations so that they are encroached upon by suburbia. Weather stations out in fields in the 1950's now find themselves in a built up environment of housing subdivisions, strip malls, mega malls, an enhanced road network and, sometimes, buildings exhausting their HVAC in the direction of the weather station. There is a group of individuals now getting volunteers to wander over to their local weather monitoring site and to just do this thing known as 'take a picture of it'. Disturbingly these pictures are revealing weather stations that are cheek-by-jowl with large structures, heavy equipment, furnaces, housing developments and many other things that would tend to make local temperatures rise, that are *not* indicative of planetary-wide phenomena of climate.

Second to that is another phenomena known as 'processing error'. Apparently NASA/NOAA computers had a systemic programming fault in them that was not due to incoming data, but due to human inability to program well. Outside researchers called into question the rise of NASA/NOAA temperature readings not only as an independent variable, that unrelated to other phenomena like urban heat retention, but as a dependent variable, in other words something else was driving it and it was an effect of that something else. Simple comparison of measurements to the resultant graphs indicated a huge systemic error in the programming that made temperature a dependent variable due to an error in processing. NASA admitted to this error, and started reprocessing its data and warning other nations (you did know we help out in that, right) that utilized NASA/NOAA code or processing facilities, that there was a problem in the software. When re-processed the warmest year moved backwards to the mid-1980's and the planet has been on a decline or plateau with a trend downwards since that time.

Third, the models based on examining Venus and Mars are proving to be highly dependent upon those atmospheric conditions of those planets. Applying that general rule to the highly mixed and chaotic atmosphere of Rock 3, without taking into account density and particulate differences have made those models unreliable for terrestrial based work on climate.

Fourth, sunlight. Increase solar activity by a miniscule amount and climate will vary on Rock 3, upwards and downwards. Normally this masked by the final factor, but in the highly chaotic conditions of having large, separate oceans and plates riding high and dry, along with a continent sized heat sink in the south pole, in this era the sun can have very small changes, far less than 1% or even 0.1% and have enormous impact on the climate of Rock 3.

Finally, and this is my pet peeve, by not examining the history of the planet and seeing that its normal temperature is some 18 degrees centigrade higher than today and is due to conditions of plate positioning and tectonic activity, those pressing for a limited time-frame miss the overall major change factors for climate: the planet's crustal activity.

Saying 'We can't wait'/'We can solve it' on climate change is a political call to unification behind the State, not a scientifically based or reasoned phenomena. Global climate change is an historical fact that encompasses the entire history of Rock 3, and looks to be a dependent variable that has major movers far outside of the current human technical capability. Thus when the Left and Right are brought together on the same sofa, things start to sound... well... here is a sample:

And here is a small taste of the call to action, to solve something that is beyond the means of humanity to even figure out, none the less *predict*:
"We don't always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?" Pelosi asks.

"No," Gingrich replies. "But we do agree our country must take action to address climate change."
From SFGate text in their article on it. It would not be worrying if this were the only 'conservative' voice to speak up on this and ignore the nature of science, which requires data, supported by hypothesis, that makes predictions that can be measured, and then leads to new conclusions that can also be measured. 'Climate change' of the man-made sort fails on the data basis. What we get, instead, is the Big Government push by none other than Al Gore who is the BACKER for this idea (Source: CBS via Newser).

Now, as the 'We can solve it' folks back all sorts of climate change treaties and protocols and the such like, along with purely national controls, they really must address that the US is no longer the largest producer of carbon dioxide: China takes that along with some other 'greenhouse gases'. How did they get there? They were allowed to do so under exceptions in the Kyoto Treaty for 'developing nations'! So the greatest contributor to the nasty climate changing greenhouse gas of carbon dioxide is fully supported in DOING SO by the CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNITY.

And as for having 'diversity of opinion' in politics, do note that all THREE Presidential contenders are on-board with the 'climate change' message, including Sen. John McCain who sponsored the Liberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act, which went down to defeat in 2003 (Source: Pew Center).

Want to put liberty and freedom at risk?

Put massive controls on US industry without even doing an economic impact analysis to see if the *cost* of doing *nothing* is greater than the *cost* of trying to fix a *problem* that just might not exist. But that, of course, is well known risk analysis done by economists and insurance companies on a daily basis and well understood by anyone who has had to get any form of life insurance, car insurance, and look at how economies change due to external influences. Doing that is *mathematics*.

Not politics.

And for those who want to put economic growth on a global basis at risk for a less than understood and possibly absent phenomena... well...
Oh, Yeaaah!

Try the Kool-Aid.

I recommend the Soylent Green version.


Eddie said...

i would LOVE to hear your education rich but independent study poor, very intelligent self poke holes in the points presented in the video below.
you DO NOT need to believe in anything (is it caused by humans or NOT?) to understand this argument.


A Jacksonian said...

Eddie - Prestigious organizations, especially those that depend on any sort of public financing have a stake in finding *for* reasons to expend government resources... which includes the universities that the members of NAS and AAAS normally reside. At the 2004 AAAS meeting on GW there is a problem of such things as not only indicating that the Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking, when it is expanding, and that methane *lags* warming (as does carbon dioxide) according to all historical records.

One can do the economic cost based scenario and the math behind that is well known: stipulate the gravest consequences in monetary terms of doing nothing, and then examine the cost of mitigating that consequence not only in increased cost to industry but in reduced economic output.

The 'skeptics' are not waiting for 'absolute proof' but something that is reliable beyond climate models which some of the very same climatologists who claimed for GW a few years ago are now disavowing due to lack of understaing of how different layers in the atmosphere interact. Such things as the processing error by NASA and the problematical measuring of actual surface level temps are calling into question just what is being measured and if it has meaning at all. Add in the actual data from ocean observation satellites recording a steady decline in temperature and it isn't all that obvious that the 'skeptics' are seeking a spotlight, but trying to get their colleagues off of the idea that pushing for 'action' without backing by data is not a smart nor wise thing to do. That 'bar of uncertainty' has indeed *moved*, but it is down, not up.

Large corporations also have a vested interest in regulation, especially that which raises the barrier to entry to competition as it cuts down on competition entering the market. The costs faced by small businesses to expand into large ones is horrifically steepened by each and every regulation that applies to the larger scale firms but not the smaller ones: to meet the minimum regulations for employment and other overhead a small business must expend far more capital to expand than a large firm for similar expansion. 'Expert organizations' have a vested interest in seeing increased spending on whatever it is they are claiming expertise in: if all the educational experts cannot yield a better reading rate than 1958 when Johnny couldn't read, then how come they still have not come up with a solution that works? Jonah Goldberg goes through this concept in "Liberal Fascism" where investing in 'experts' is an attempt to take questions out of the public's hands and leave it up to a self-selected group seeking influence in governmental affairs. If the US Big Agribusiness *still* needs government help in the way of subsidies and payments to 'compete' against third world nations, just why is that a wise expenditure for the US? And if it *can* compete, then why do they need government subsidies? Take the $15 billion per year in the Agriculture bill that goes out for direct payments and you find less than $0.75 billion is spent for actual 'emergency' work and the rest is on subsidies and price supports... for the consumer to pay more for products, not less. And the 'experts' keep on getting those passed... to the great benefit of their businesses.

On the sidebar are my NOLA articles and there is one grand and obvious problem in that which, for all the science and actual measurements, no one wants to address: NOLA is sinking and all the things done by the federal government since the 1960's to 'help' the area are causing it to sink *faster*. Yet for that very simple, measurable, year on year sliding of land via subsidence, when the inevitable happens and a major hurricane hits folks get all in a tizzy. I do offer solutions, none of which is to continue on the way we are going: there is an economic cost to each of the solutions, and each addresses the salient points of the fact that NOLA has been sinking, will continue to sink and nothing we can do can *mitigate* that. No matter how much we change industrial output and 'stop GW' NOLA will sink as it has always done there since the ending of the last glacial period. Yet the very easy to understand concept of saturated soils compacting and why they do so gains almost ZERO attention, while federal, state and local funds are spent on 'rebuilding' and in maintaining the very edifices that are making it worse. In that video the call for 'immediate action' and 'policy changes' sounds very nice... so why is the 'immediate action' with NOLA to rebuild it? The damage has already been done, and those areas last hit will be prime targets *again*. Are we getting changes in insuring those in flood areas for NOLA? We get 'immediate action' based on many things, but a reasoned, economic analysis positing the actual costs are not done beforehand.

Whenever I hear the call to 'immediate action' and far ranging 'policy change' without actually looking to make sure we have a handle on what we are doing. And if the scientific data actually begins to show 'Global Cooling' then just how much economic activity will we have spent to address one 'global disaster' that helps us not one bit against an entirely different one?

If you want a truly sobering thought, all the long term costs to the US are nothing in comparison to the top four disasters aimed at North America with the fifth being the 'Big One' along the San Andreas. We really can't do a thing about the first one and, as it is a relatively assured recurring phenomena and has global impact that makes GW look tame in comparison, why are we not planning for *that* disaster? And our government hasn't even started on 2-4 yet and we don't need much in the way of 'international input' on them: they are problems we face almost alone... and yet they are all now in their minimum to average cyclic periodicity. If we can't handle the things we know can and will happen and plan for those, I don't really see the need to expend energy on something that has extremely doubtful backing behind.

We are in an inter-glacial period and these have demonstrated rapid and severe climate changes in a narrow band between glacial periods. That is *normal* and hard to predict which direction and how much things will change. The others in my Top 5?

They will happen, it is a question of *when* not *if* as they have all happened before and none of them offer a damned thing we can do to stop them. If we can't plan for the disasters we can know and expect, then why should we expend anything on the ones we can't know or expect or even forecast which way it will go?

That requires prioritizing and analysis... not 'activism'.

Eddie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie said...

i appreciate the lengthy and well organized answer. most skeptics don't even bother "thinking". but you either you havent watched the videos or you haven't bothered to fight the point it brings up: we might not have time for analysis and to wait for certainty - either we take action now or GW could possibly wipe out most of civilization.

the only aspect of your comment that is certainly wrong is to consider a major quake in CA more damaging than GW. take a world map out: the world is not the US.

A Jacksonian said...

Eddie - I did, indeed, watch the video, and it is unpersuasive: GW is not a proven hypothesis.

The 'Big One' in CA rates as my #5 disaster that can hit the continental US, it is one of the few that has actually been prepared for.

Cascadia is on its cyclicity and a Magnitued 8.7-9.0 earthquake lasting 5 minutes hitting from Portland to Fairbanks I consider to be 'not such a nice thing' as disasters go. That comes in at #4, even though the tsunami from it would be a pretty nasty shock to Japan and other parts of the Pacific that haven't prepared for something like the 1700 tsunami.

After *that* little adventure in fun comes the New Madrid Fault Zone and it doesn't get the loveliness of being *one* quake, but has multiple large shocks and thousands of smaller ones attendant to it. Just through the Memphis to St. Charles corridor along the Mississippi are millions of people living in unreinforced masonry buildings, some of them quite high. That sort of shock over a period of months would take out the central communications and energy infrastructure of the US, along with major transportation centers and conduits (not just barge traffic, though that, alone, is a disaster). Also note the high level of earthen dams along that area that would be put at risk by multiple 7.0+ magnitude quakes.

La Palma and the Cumbra Vieja make for a lovely tsunami about a half-mile high across the atlantic seaboard, say from Providence to Miami. And in multiples (with the most conservative estimate between 3-5 tsunami events). Just in financial and industrial capacity, plus transportation, is not only a US shock, removing those centers, but is a global one. If the economic impact to the US was $1 trillion due to 9/11, try to compute the cost of Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, and all the way down to Miamai. That has a definable economic cost and global shock to it that actually can be roughly estimated within an order of magnitude, while GW does NOT have that. It has the benefit of being a certainty that hinges upon a volcano with earthquake activity.

Top of the list is Yellowstone, which is in its cyclical event timing. Its previous eruptions have seen 10' of ash all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico and has caused global cooling for decades. That and its brother mega-caldera makers are each extremely lethal to the survival of species on this planet.

Now if you want to look at *my* solution to the energy problem, realize that it, as a sidelight, also addresses GW because of what the aim of it *is*. It is not a run around and shout disaster but directed towards building our way to moving energy generation and manufacturing off of the face of Rock 3 from the Star Sol. Strangely this can be done with ZERO shouting and finger pointing and using the horror of GW but, instead, via rational outlook and reasoning.

Whenever I hear the 'call to action now' I hear someone wanting to over-ride good and prudent sense and who is unwilling to use their minds to reason. If the evidence for GW is actually contra-indicatory, in other words the evidence used to tout it falls apart, the hypothesis deriving from false data must also go with it. That is *science*.

My background in geology tells me that the science is bunk based on observations and on the incoming data of global sea temperature which has been headed steadily downwards for a decade. GW does not have that in its prediction boundaries and says the opposite. Ditto atmospheric temperatures which peaked in the 1980's and have been downwards since then. These are used to push GW and yet the data isn't there: NASA/NOAA had processing errors and the satellite oceanic temperature assessment has been ongoing for years. As we only have a historic record on terrestrial, not continent covering glaciers, based on less than 2,000 years of experience, and that is during an interglacial period that has swings in climate and temperature that are rapid, we can't say much about it save to note it.

If you want something to wipe out civilization that we CANNOT stop and yet we can, actually, address, then look at Yellowstone: it will happen and our chances of survival as a species, not just a civilization, will be slim. Yet, by following a prudent course towards space based energy and industrialization we can assure that BOTH will survive that event if we have the good grace to survive that long. I suggest that for the sake of the environment and continued economic growth we start putting into place those things that are required to get us there and STICK TO THEM.

That is hard.

It requires no marches, no protests, to invective put against industrialized nations, no splendid treaty, no UN agreement: it can be done by the US alone and open up a brand, new industry not only for this nation but for the world. We can and *should* do that for survival purposes *alone*.

If cuts down on 'greenhouse gas emissions', well we get something out of it, don't we? If it reduces depending on petroleum, that is all and well on its own, isn't it? If it finds newer ways to generate up safe, clean power, store and transmit it, there will be benefits to everyone on this planet.

That is the creative, non-draconian, non-organized but gently nudged direction that government has proven capable of doing, as witness the aircraft industry: the WWI-WWII years were spurred on by government incentives via airmail contracts, not by *you must do this, or else* approaches. The fallout of that has been more transportation, communication and better emergency responses to far off places than could ever have been done in the steam age. So why not do that for the next step outwards to get energy generation and manufacturing out of the biosphere? It will start small, as it always *does*, but the benefits of just the energy generation portion will drive industry to space for all that lovely energy for the gathering. Nothing beats cheap energy save free sunlight.

Not that anyone in the GW 'movement' will seek a non-draconian, non-'save civilization' route that not only addresses their concerns but does it with minimal government interference. Heavens to betsy, no!!

Are there problems on that road? Yes.

Are they open to new ways to sustaining human liberty so that they can be addressed? Yes.

I am astounded that those who wish for government action will end up impoverishing the world to 'save civilization'. Thanks, but I would prefer a way to get more people out of poverty, create a better world for everyone and ensure that human liberty continues without lovely government 'help' to 'save civilization'. The USSR was none too swift on any of those fronts and had absolute control over its people and industries. That path is one of ruin.

My timelines fit within all of the most alarmist GW ones, so that by the end of 30 years we are shifting more manufacturing, proportionately, off of earth because it is economically smart to do so: companies that *don't* will find themselves making buggy whips in the jet age.

How about some creativity from the global alarmists, instead of restrictions that they want from governments? Or is the point to gain power over your fellow man, instead of creating new ways for him to be free and have liberty?

That poor gentleman with the video is very smooth, but he glides past a number of things that are not so, and gives assertions where the facts are contrary to his views. Don't sell a good direction based on alarmism... sell it because it is good to do on its own, and relatively cheap to achieve. Because when I hear alarmists coming by to 'solve a problem' I look towards Franklin's quote on security and liberty... and see folks using the alarmism to gain security and put liberty at risk.