Friday, January 19, 2007

a disinterested view of climate change? nope

An Australian engineer called Len Walker compares the current "near-hysteria" about climate change to a stock market bubble. Just a bunch of ill-informed people thinking they are experts and acting on that wrong basis. Oddly, Walker doesn't note that in this instance, almost all climate experts agree that climate change is happening and that human activities -- not frigging sun spots -- are the cause. But Walker notes that things have been cooler since 1998, so the climate bubble has probably burst anyway.

Walker writes, "We would not like to buy at the top of the sharemarket cycle, nor should we buy into a possible global warming peak without a responsible and wide-ranging debate." That may well be the single most absurd climate change statement I have ever read or heard.

Our man Len also repeats the usual canards about water vapor being the biggest greenhouse gas (true, but it is changes at the margin that are driving incremental changes that appear to be building momentum). Oh, and because those in the 1970's who were worried about a new ice age were wrong, people who worry about the planet heating up are also axiomatically wrong. Truly flawless logic, kind of along the lines of saying that because greenies didn't ruin baseball in 1980 we don't need to worry about the effects of steroids on the game in 2007.

No need to worry, no need to take action that might hurt the economy, says Walker, who identifies himself as a member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, but somehow fails to note that (according to a Google search) he is the managing director of Linc Energy, a company that is involved in turning coal into gas (surprise!).

The "responsible and wide-ranging debate" Walker calls for I guess will be clearly decided in his mind when the Greenland ice sheet has completely disappeared, the Gulf Stream has switched off, when Bangladesh is a shallow gulf, when the wheat fields of Kansas have dried up and blown away, and when all the residents of submerged Nauru and Tonga have moved to Len's neighborhood in Australia.

I wish Walker was right, that this was just a bubble of opinion and that the only damage from worrying about climate change would be financial damage. Of course, the reality is much more bleak and the damage from NOT trying to mitigate climate change could be a civilization-ending calamity.


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