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Jonathan Versen,aka "Hugo Zoom"

Now, if they find out the rapture is global warming, and only the cumulus clouds get saved, I imagine they will be a mite peeved.

saragon

Ha ha!

Ok, but a less sloppy thing to have said would have been that since we can't do anything to "correct" global warming, then it is idiotic to pursue policies (let alone expensive, disruptive policies) aimed at "correcting" global warming. You know, since, like, impossible tasks can't actually be accomplished?

Should I assume you.... disagree?

"If we caused it, there must be some way we can halt it" is also a logical fallacy, you know.

micah holmquist

saragon,

This was a post that was done quickly and without a great amount of thought. It was sloppy like a great Neil Young & Crazy Horse record. Ok, it wasn’t that good, but I was aiming for it.

The main thing I was making fun of is how there are a lot of things involving science that few people, and I am not exempt from this, really have a lot of knowledge about and yet many more have “leanings” that are usually related to their politics. Other examples, besides global warming, are GM foods and evolution. (Also, I think the practice of coming up with opinions based on political leanings and not the study of the matter(s) at hand does occur in areas outside of science.)

Now that I read it again, I was also referencing how it has always amused me that lots of tv preachers are really into how the rapture is going to happen soon –and do not seem to care when they turn out to be wrong- and yet they also have segments on topics like what the Bible says about investing in the stock market…

I find the whole entry amusing, but when I try to break down, it loses that appeal.

As far as whether I disagree with the idea that since “we can't do anything to ‘correct’ global warming, then it is idiotic to pursue policies (let alone expensive, disruptive policies) aimed at ‘correcting’ global warming,” my answer isn’t simple.

My knowledge of global warming and the science looking at it isn’t the greatest since my knowledge of science is weak in general. The reading I have done has usually been of people, from multiple and quite conflicting perspectives, summing up the evidence and making arguments. That is problematic, of course.

I’m not convinced there is nothing that can be done to correct or improve the situation. I read an article quoting some people, who may or may not be credible and if they are I don’t know to what extent they credible, reaching conclusions that may or not be reasonable based on findings that may or may not be valid. (There may be other problems. I am very tired at the moment and not thinking in the clearest fashion. That goes for everything I write here.) One graf-“The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a ‘tipping point’ beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically”- was interesting because it suggests this isn’t absolutely a foregone conclusion.

For the sake of the argument, let’s say that there are problems that can’t eliminated, that doesn’t necessarily mean that other problems could not be avoided by getting a handle on global warming or that just saying to hell with it would not increase the likelihood of problems that we can not solve. I don’t know enough about the details to make a comment on that and then there are the issues of what the level of disruption is and what is valued by whoever makes the decision. Is it possible that nothing should be done, because nothing productive can be done? Yes. Am I saying that is the case? No.

Yes, I understand "’If we caused it, there must be some way we can halt it’" is a fallacy.

saragon

"The main thing I was making fun of is how there are a lot of things involving science that few people, and I am not exempt from this, really have a lot of knowledge about and yet many more have “leanings” that are usually related to their politics."

That indeed deserves to be made fun of. Potential targets include virtually all politicians, political commentators, and citizen political onlookers who purport to be basing their opinion on "science".

..

Now here's where I got sloppy: I should have said "if" there's nothing that can be done (taking "nothing can be done" as a premise), not "since". Sorry about that. Obviously I have no idea whether something can be done to "correct" global warming. But *if* nothing can be done, then... (etc)

Even on a more basic level than that, I'm not sure it would even be a good idea to try to "correct" global warming, if indeed (1) it's happening and (2) something could be done about it. The effect of any lasting change in the climate is multidimensional; it would affect some people in good ways, others in bad. I'm not sure a true global warming wouldn't be a boon for the majority of humans, and nobody else is either. People take it as a given that a change would be bad, which seems to be saying, the way the weather has been over the past 100 years, is the optimal, best-tuned weather pattern for Humans On Earth. That is an extremely weird thing to believe; it's almost religious in nature. (Has God set it up that way?)

p.s. Yeah, I forgot about your thing about TV preachers/"rapture"/etc. I don't watch them and I'm not bombarded by "rapture" stuff, so that aspect of your (deserved) derision went a little over my head. My bad.

micah holmquist

saragon,

I find it notable that you do not contest that global warming is happening. It seems that there is much less contested point than it was say two years ago, although there are still heated debates over how much it is happening, to what extent, if any, humans are responsible and what the impact(s) will be.

Seeing global warming as having only negative impacts, or only positive impacts, for that matter, does fit in with the pattern of lots of people not wanting to admit that there are/would be any negative consequences from the actions they advocated/advocated. It is quite easy to oppose X if X only has negative impacts just as it is easy to support Y if everything that Y brings is good.

To acknowledge both the good and the bad is, at least often, to wade into the waters of difficult decision making. For example, and I am just making this up and being overly simple, let’s say global warming will lead to a small but measurable improvement in the lives of 50% of the earth’s humans, have no impact on 42% and force 8% to move a great distance to a very different country and culture if they want their genetic pool to swim another day. What should be done then? What if we don’t know that this will happen but there is a good 1/3 of chance of the 8% being dislocated or killed and a 50% chance that global warming will improve anybody’s life? These aren’t simple matters and I would be suspicious of anybody who can say, “those 8% will just have to adjust” and not think, “maybe, I am wrong.”

saragon

More precisely, I don't know whether "global warming" is happening. I'm not even sure what the definition is. It seems to double as both a vague (and kinda boring) historical claim (=the average temperature of the earth, whatever that means, has gone up over the past however many years according to (slightly error-prone but hopefully more or less reliable) temperature measurements), and a socio-scientific prediction (=the average temperature of the earth, whatever that means, *will* go up in the future due to "The Greenhouse Effect", and this will be bad for us, whatever that means), according to the rhetorical needs of person spouting off about global warming at the moment. Typically, a lefty "global warming" pusher will implicitly use the latter definition when making policy demands, then revert to the former more conservative one when challenged. So in any given context I usually can't easily pin down which definition is being used in the first place, let alone evaluate the truth of whatever claim about it.

But more to the point, 99.9% of the people who spout off about "global warming" are even less sure than I am of its definition, whether they know that or not.

So bear in mind, while I would not say something as sweeping as "global warming is untrue" (it may or may not be true, I may or may not know whether it's true, and I may or may not care - all depending on the definition being used), I *can*, very often, say that a person making such and such scientific/political/policy claim regarding "global warming" is full of crap.

p.s. Your hypothetical is a good illustration of exactly the type of thinking I wish more people would engage in on this subject. Everyone on both "sides" treats the issue as if it is ridiculously simple when it is anything but, and I'm not surprised to see that you understand that.

saragon

Just to illustrate what I have in mind, I once heard Bill Maher on that show Politically Incorrect (this was the last time I ever watched it, not coincidentally) characterize the bad result of global warming as, and I am not kidding, something like that we all would "burn up". How can you not want to fix global warming!, he berated the token conservative guest. This is about the planet, burning up!

I'm no genius but I know that not even the most dire predictions of global warming involve the temperature getting so high that it leads to spontaneous combustion of things, or some sort of planetwide vulcanism on a massive scale, so I was in a position to know that what Maher was saying was truly idiotic. And that (Maher's idiocy) is true independently of any particular definition of "global warming" or whether "global warming" is true or false.

The problem is, he was not corrected by anyone on the panel. Nor did the audience give any outward sign of understanding how idiotic Maher was being. As far as I know, the median citizen does indeed believe that if global warming is not halted we will all "burn up". So I'm just saying I have no confidence that the average person is equipped to intelligently judge the veracity of claims that purport to be based on "science", or even understand what is being claimed in the first place. And that's even leaving aside the whole issue of definition-shifting, which only muddies the waters that much further.

Maybe I'm cynical but I'm starting to think that such things have no place in public debate in the first place. "Global warming", properly defined, might in fact be a true theory. But there is little reason to believe that once the topic gets filtered through the political process, any sort of intelligent policy could ever be constructed to address it. I'd actually prefer politicians *ignore* the issue at this point, not because I am convinced that "global warming" doesn't exist, but because I believe that any policy proposal that stood a chance of being implemented in the real world supposedly aimed at addressing it would have a result that would be *worse* than doing nothing conscious whatsoever to address it.

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