Saturday, February 10, 2007

More "light bulb" politics

Ellen Goodman writes, "On the day that the latest report on global warming was released, I went out and bought a light bulb. OK, an environmentally friendly, compact fluorescent light bulb."

She goes on, "No, I do not think that if everyone lit just one little compact fluorescent light bulb, what a bright world this would be... But it was either buying a light bulb or pulling the covers over my head."

Well, at least she acknowledges that her actions were symbolic and emotional rather than efficacious. (Shhh - don't tell her what sort of toxic materials are in one of those CFLs. I'm sure she'll recycle burnt out bulbs rather than toss them in the trash, right?)

Most important are her remarks about "deniers".

"I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."

First, let me say that comparing global warming skeptics with Holocaust deniers is absurd. A Holocaust denier will look Elie Wiesel in the face and tell him that Wiesel's firsthand experiences didn't happen. A global warming "denier" thinks, rightly or wrongly, that the projections about weather forecasts fifty years into the future aren't likely to be any more accurate than the forecasts about next month. A global warming "denier" wonders why all the global temperature charts start right after the "medieval warm period". A global warming "denier" is skeptical that the United Nations has finally done something right when it has failed in just about every other task it has undertaken.

Speaking on behalf of global warming deniers everywhere, I reply that there are very few actual "deniers" in the true sense of the word. Just about everybody thinks that the Earth is undergoing climate change. Even Rush Limbaugh, among the most skeptical of the "deniers", thinks only that natural fluctuations, most probably solar fluctuations, are the determinant force behind any climate change that might be happening.

"Deniers" might hold one or more of the following views:
1 - Outright denial - A position held by very few, but recently bolstered by one of the coldest few weeks on record in North America. How is it that ice floes in the Arctic are melting when the pipes in my heated buildings are freezing? And I'm pretty sure polar bears can swim too.
2 - Skepticism about man's effect on the environment - Couldn't it be the sun? What about our computer models? Wouldn't a big volcanic eruption (which could happen any time now) have a greater effect on cooling the earth than anything man could do (or cease to do)?
3 - Skepticism about man's ability to affect this change - "Kyoto?" Are you serious? CFL's? Prius?

I'm not about to go into a lengthy defense of global warming skepticism, because I haven't decided what I think. I do know that many of the loudest global warming "activists" are suggesting "solutions" that don't have a chance in hell of influencing the global climate. I do know that Ellen Goodman and countless others like her have failed to address the scientific claims of skeptics, instead resorting to ad hominem attacks.

Comparing global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers like Ahmadinejad can't be expected to convert any would-be "deniers" to Ellen Goodman's view, so one questions the purpose of an "opinion" piece not intended to influence anybody else's opinion.

Lastly, I urge everyone to go out and buy some CFLs. Not because they're supposed to be better for the environment, but because they're economical.

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