Thursday, August 12, 2004

global warming denial - newsweek should stick to stories about paris hilton

in newsweek today robert samuelson helpfully debunks efforts by state AG's to demand action on global warming. admittedly, i'm no expert on the court system and the doctrine of public nuisance or any of the rest of it. samuelson gamely admits that this is an issue for the political arena - apparently he's comfortable with the notion that since our political leaders categorically refuse to deal with it, the nation should sweep it under the rug. someone ask bangladesh if they agree.

but more interestingly, sammy takes us on an adventure in logic thats quite entertaining. first he decries kyoto and similar GHG limiting efforts because they fail to do ENOUGH to stop GHG emissions. all they'd accomplish, he notes without clearly saying so, is reducing the rate of growth in GHG emissions. for some reason, this is no valid goal in itself - in fact, he joins the chorus of america-firsters in noting that china and india are at fault for increasing greenhouse gases. never mind that per capita GHG contribution from americans is exponentially higher than chinese or indians.

sammy is right that "Barring some magical technological breakthrough, lowering U.S. emissions would require some or all of the following: tougher regulation or higher gasoline prices to force drivers into smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles; restrictions on coal-burning power plants; encouragement of nuclear power; expansion of drilling for natural gas and more imports of liquefied natural gas; and regulations or tax penalties to discourage large homes. " in fact, i think most enviros would encourage this list of steps, even expanded natural gas exploration, as part of a national efficiency

sammy quickly returns to attacking the AG's for grandstanding on this issue - hey, we all know that the way to capture public attention in the US right now is to talk about greenhouse gas emissions from power plants - but can't resist a final dalliance with rudimentary science.

In response to a point noting that the eventual effects of global warming will include " increasing asthma and heat-related illnesses, eroding shorelines, floods and other natural disasters, loss of forests and other precious resources." sammy notes that "In truth, no one knows how much the world will warm, exactly when or with what consequences. " Isnt there a name for arguing a point by tossing out a inconvertible generalization ? Because I'd love to know it. In fact, science has shown again and again that power plant emissions DO cause asthma, and that the inevitable and certain impacts of global warming WILL be rising seas, increasing volatility and intensity of weather patterns, and dramatic changes in ecosystem health. of COURSE noone knows how much the world will warm, exactly when or with what consequences - merely that it will be significantly warmer than it is today, its happening now, and the consequences have the potential to be utterly

- LH


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