Catastrophe Watch

“Warming Predicted to Take Severe Toll on U.S.”

-Headline from The Washington Post.

So here’s an example of what irritates me about reporting on global warming. The ur-narrative in the global warming story, in case you’ve been on some other planet in the last few years that isn’t doomed (doomed!) by its human inhabitants, is that the end is nigh – catastrophe is coming; the planet is on life support. When it comes to specifics, however, things get a little more hazy. And all the doomcasting has a chilling (warming?) effect on rational discourse, leaving the debate to the sanctimonious, the eggheads, and the conservative scoffers and chucklers.

Now, I’m no global warming skeptic. I frankly don’t have anything approaching the training or knowledge to challenge the scientific consensus or majority on this one. I don’t doubt that we’re seeing climate change, that carbon has something to do with it, and that man-made carbon emissions have something to do with all that carbon. But I also watch and listen enough to know (or at least suspect) that much of what’s pumped out into the political and media environment on this topic is pure cant – pious repetition of conventional wisdom accompanied by self-purifying hand-wringing. Climate modelling, as far as I can tell, is not an exact science. Such predictions are notoriously difficult, which is why there is still much debate as to what exactly will happen in 10 or 20 years times with all those tidal waves, coastal floodplains and so forth, and why Al Gore can get called out by some climate scientists (and not all of them kooky, carbon corp-funded wackjobs either) for exaggerating. It may be the best that we can do but to treat educated guesses as holy writ is bad policy.

Which brings us back to the headline above. What will this “severe toll” consist of? Well, according to U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s summary report on global warming’s overall impact, North America could lose “as much as 40 percent of its plant and animal species to extinction in a matter of decades.” Note the “as much as.” That means that what is being reported here is the most catastrophic scenario, and one must therefore infer that predictive models differ, and so that there is some uncertainty as to the extent of plant and animal extinction.

Furthermore, who cares? Seriously, who cares? What does it matter if these species die out? I like plants and animals as much as the next guy but what will be the dire impact to me and to human civilization of such extinction? There may well be a good answer to this question but I’ve never heard it, and I’m not some knuckle-dragging Fox News goon who will reject all evidence. I’m quite open to the argument but it never seems to be made, simply assumed – biodiversity is inherently good, the death of any species is catastrophic tragedy. But why?

Then there’s the impact on the North American Timber Industry. The report indicates that “increases in wildfires, insect infestations and disease could cost wood and timber producers $1 billion to $2 billion by the end of the century.” Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But not if you consider that the top U.S. companies (just the U.S., excluding Canada, and excluding all but 27 companies) produced $126 billion dollars in revenue and $5 billion dollars in profit in 2005 alone. And, in any event, so what if timber magnates suffer – we live in a global market economy, remember? Speaking of which, a corollary possible impact of climate change is that “rising temperatures could mean an economic boom for the timber industry in regions with subtropical climates, such as South America, Africa and Asia-Pacific.” In other words, massive profits from the timber industry will most likely be transferred from some of the richest countries in the world to some of the poorest. A loss of profitability in North American markets could lead to more unemployment for workers in the timber industry, which will be unfortunate. But surely the most advanced economies in the world can find a way to adjust, and the people in the developing world who may benefit from the shift are considerably worse off than an out-of-work lumberjack in the United States.

So what does that leave? Ah, yes – the snowmobile industry. “The report also suggests that skiing and snowmobiling will suffer. The $27 billion snowmobiling industry is especially vulnerable because it is dependent on natural snowfall.” Well boo-fucking-hoo. All those people tearing around in snow buggies are going to have to find something else to do on a Saturday afternoon. Might I suggest Tiddlywinks? And isn’t there some kind of ecological justice to all of this – an ecologically destructive pastime hoisted by its own retards? (A shiny green energy star for anyone who gets that reference.)

“Our members are certainly concerned about climate change because our members work with backcountry skiing, ice climbing and snowshoeing,” Outdoor Industry Association spokeswoman Megan Davis tells the Post. The end of snowshoeing – earth in the balance indeed.

Explore posts in the same categories: Holy Flurking Shnit!

15 Comments on “Catastrophe Watch”

  1. Danny G Says:

    You wrote: “What does it matter if these species die out? I like plants and animals as much as the next guy but what will be the dire impact to me and to human civilization of such extinction? ”

    Well, I learned in Madison that diversity is good and a part of morality — and not just biodiversity! Actually, I learned that before Madison, but it was a geography Professor in Madison who gave me this understanding of morality in contrast to relativism, explained somewhat here: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0004-5608(199903)89%3A1%3C26%3AASOAGT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-V#abstract

    Also, developing nations generally can use all the trees they can keep, since their own timber “industries” have de-forested enough of their landscape to cause a great deal of desertification already.

    I’m not disagreeing with your critique of the hysterics of global warming, simply your smug assertion that biodiversity isn’t inherently good for its own sake…even when it’s destructive, as can be the case with certain pests, bacteria and viruses, etc.

  2. HW Says:

    “I’m not disagreeing with your critique of the hysterics of global warming, simply your smug assertion that biodiversity isn’t inherently good for its own sake”

    Ah, but I made no such assertion, smug or otherwise. I remain neutral on the question. Conversely, the assertion that biodiversity IS inherently good, requiring no further argument or explanation strikes me as monumentally smug. Nigh on a tautology – “biodiversity is good because it’s good.” Last I checked the categorical imperative (what little I understand of it) applies a duty of man to man, not man to the abstract notion of diversity.

  3. kate Says:

    Enter feminist viper cum climate change advocate.

    You said that the IPCC report warns that “North America could lose “as much as 40 percent of its plant and animal species to extinction in a matter of decades,” and made reference to the “uncertainty as to the extent of plant and animal extinction.” Indeed that’s the case – the nature of science is that it’s uncertain.

    Science 101 tells you that you can never prove anything in science. You have hypotheses, you test those hypotheses, others test similar hypotheses, and everyone then devises a THEORY to explain the bulk of the findings. So, scientific theories (containing science, as they typically do) naturally contain uncertainty, yes. But are we going to argue over the legitimacy of other favorite theories, i.e. that of relativity, gravity, evolution, etc? No. Is climate change a theory? I think the series of IPCC reports (which date back to years ago) are indicating that it’s as close to “it’s happening” as science is able to get. But climate change models, on the other hand, ARE based on the theory of climate change (and all its constituent, supporting hypotheses), and again will contain some uncertainty. What matters is the legitimacy of the claims supporting the theory, and it seems that we have quite the bulk of scientists supporting this one.

    check out this well-written explanation on IPCC and uncertainty for more: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/3/17/192820/086

    so, to your point “Seriously, who cares? What does it matter if these species die out?…what will be the dire impact to me and to human civilization of such extinction? No, you’re no knuckle-dragging Fox News goon, and it’s not a question that gets answered very directly, you’re right on that. And no, the death of any species is NOT a catastrophic tragedy…species die out every day. But I’d argue that, instead of asking why biodiversity is inherently good, ask why no biodiversity is inherently bad. Darwinian theory states that species will adapt to their environment in order to survive. If we’re changing our environment at such a rate and in such an unnatural way that species can no longer adapt appropriately, we’ll certainly be affecting that species’ survival. We have NO IDEA what the consequences of this might be. I don’t know enough to say that it’ll devastate the world, but it will undoubtedly change life as we know it. Is that OK? Can we live with that? I’d rather err on the side of caution, and protect what we can. Who knows, animal X that goes extinct could be the sole food source of Y which we depend on for purpose(s) Z. Remember our 7th grade biology food chain?🙂

    As for the sad snowmobilers and downtrodden snowshoers, those are egocentric complaints r.e. potential manifestations of climate change, and are silly to take into consideration. Possible climate change effects on national security, per recent news, is more likely to rile people up in a more meaningful (though still egocentric) way (?).

    Anyway, all this to say – you should care. It’s scary stuff.

  4. kate Says:

    oh but i will say, plenty of people are definitely hysterical about global warming. you mentioned al gore, who has ironically done more for this cause – both good and bad (by being just a taaad bit polarizing) – than any scientist has yet been able to.

    but if you actually read the IPCC reports (http://www.ipcc.ch/), it’s frightening how un-alarmist and how very rational they are.

  5. HW Says:

    Kate,

    Thanks for taking the time (a lot of time it seems – I hope my nonsense hasn’t distracted you from your lab work) to respond in depth. I’ll go in roughly reverse order, as this saves me energy and so is good for the environment.

    I do care, sort of. And it does seem scary, sort of. My objection though, as I thought I made clear, is to how the debate is framed and how it’s reported. I don’t have a problem with climate scientists making models or the underlying theory – like I said, I don’t have the authority to question those things. But what’s most clear from all these models, with their widely varying parameters of prediction, is that the near-term climate conditions, particulaly weather, is going to become increasingly unpredictable. What the cost-benefit analysis should be regarding mediation, prevention etc. is a very worthwhile debate. I just don’t think we’re having it – that’s certainly not just the global warming “advocates” fault – it’s the knuckle-dragging assholes’ fault as well. More so. I believe, in fact, that the Bush administration slashed funding for NASA’s weather modelling capacity, hampering our best guide to future effects. There may be a good reason for that budget decision, but somehow doubt it.

    Anyway, I digress. Back to your comments. Egocentric? I guess it seems to me more anthropocentric, and frankly I don’t care about the planet if it ain’t doing something for me and mine. All this save the planet shit is the wrong way to go about it if you ask me – it’s again part of the whole “the world is doomed, doomed” scenario that gets presented to raise people’s consciousness. Understandable, but a method of limited returns. Being people, we can’t be anything but anthropocentric. I believe that’s as close to the categorical imperative as it gets. The point of caring about the environment is that it’s good for me, not that I’m good for the environment. The environment as abstract good is pretty meaningless. I object to the whole notion of “stop being so selfish, think of the planet.” I say a much more effective approach would be: “It’s your ass in the sling.” Clearly this is implied but not really made explicit, which brings us back to my main objection. Tell me what the risks are without hype, how that’s going to affect me and mine, and what I can do about it.

    It’s certainly true that climate change makes the future uncertain, unpredictable. But what’s new about that? We can’t legislate against blanket uncertainty. Effects, costs, and relative costs of mediation and prevention have to be clearer. Thanks to that same ol’ science we’ve never before as a species had the capacity we now do to try and model the future. Uncertainty has been and will remain a constant of human existence. We’re just a bit more spoiled now.

    You say that we are changing the environment in an “unnatural way.” I don’t really know what that means. I think it’s a problematic way of thinking, and it’s common in environmentalist arguments, to think of nature as this unspoiled thing out there and man as the “unnatural” element over here, fouling things up . That takes man out of the system – an extreme anthropocentric view in fact. Whatever happens it’s all part of nature, as George Carlin says. Again, the notion that we are bad children fouling up a nice garden is another irritating element of the way this debate is framed. I think the notion that we need to adapt (something we’re good at – look how crazy dope we are) to a changing environment and we better start getting serious about it is a lot more concrete and empowering, and I look forward to the time when we start tackling it in earnest. Less self-flagellation, more answers.

    And no, I don’t remember 7th grade biology as I was never in the 7th grade. At the time I was busy re-enacting Charles Dickens novels, which is what all English people do until they go to university.

    I’m well aware of Karl Popper’s philosophy and all that jazz about no theory in science ever being “proven,” only not yet unproven. That wasn’t my point. The theory that climate change is happening is not much in dispute as far as I understand. The theory that man-made carbon emissions are the leading cause of that climate change is, I feel, presented as less conjectural than perhaps it ought to be. But that’s another issue. What I was referring to is the question of predicting effects – climate modelling is difficult. I don’t mean that the science underlying it is unsound, merely that it’s difficult to predict with accuracy things like species death, tidal waves etc. This is one reason the variables are so wide. “Up to 40 percent” means “between 10 and 40 percent,” and so on. And in the specific case of species extinction that “up to 40 percent” actually referred to “of all species surveyed.” I did read the report and you’re right that it’s tone is pretty sober. But the media takes the worst-case scenario and puts up screeching headlines.

    What with science having been made into a political football (perhaps punching bag might be a better metaphor) by our Bush administration friends, I can see why some of what I said might get your scientific dander up. But that don’t mean I’m not going to go after what looks to me like hysteria. I’m no fancy big-town lawyer (insert thumb-snapping of suspenders here) but I calls ’em as I sees ’em.

  6. kate Says:

    talk about lengthy. earlier dickens reference suddenly makes sense : )

    first off, per your use of the word “framing,” i’ll direct you to one of many hubs where a VERY heated discussion about how science is framed has been developing:
    http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/

    yes, a huge issue that we’re tackling is 1. how to communicate science effectively, 2. how to put science is a palatable little tibit/nutshell that is understandable and meaningful to people, and 3. how to be true to the science, regarding two of your aforementioned points (appropriately addressing scientific uncertainty, and making it audience-relevant without being misleading r.e. the actual data). that topic has provoked 100s of hours of blogging from a huge variety of sources, so i’m just going to go ahead and leave that topic relatively untouched. except to say, of course, that climate change is indeed an issue of framing. which i blogged about myself, a few days ago:
    http://anteriorcommissure.blogspot.com/2007/04/
    attempt-549-to-explain-climate-change.html

    per your point that we’re not having a debate on the cost-effectiveness of climate change, you’re damn right we’re not. i see it as a two-tiered issue:
    1. we produce the most accurate and complete assessment of the SCIENCE behind climate change; that the IPCC report garnered such support from the scientific community (how easy is it to get anyone to agree on anything these days, much less thousands of scientists?) speaks to the legitimacy of the science within.
    2. we take this science into consideration when formulating the appropriate science POLICY regarding the findings. science policy marries economics, politics, funding, media/society…you name it, it probably influences science policy somehow.

    what i find so contentious about all this climate change chatter is that half of us are debating what should be done about it (the policy) while the other half are still debating whether it actually exists or not (the science). you have to separate those issues.

    so what i’ve gotten from your argument is this: you agree with the science (i.e. climate change is happening), you see the scientific uncertainty in the science (i.e. models), and you don’t think we should be making policy decisions on a scientific topic with that kind of uncertainty. as a flippant aside, hey, they probably wouldn’t be releasing a report on climate change if there was so much uncertainty that it wasn’t worth reporting. to many, publishing fringe science means academic (or regulatory science) death. given the tone (which you correctly relayed as sober), i’d venture that an “up to 40%” change is pretty significant. i’ll get to that point again later.

    so, your claim that “we can’t legislate against blanket uncertainty. Effects, costs, and relative costs of mediation and prevention have to be clearer” is a bit of a straw man. science will never, ever be certain, unless we’re planning on redefining science (and then we’re in real trouble). don’t we make plenty of decisions based on some amount of uncertainty? scientists can’t get much clearer than the IPCC reports, based on consensus within the scientific community and the report’s methodological merit. hey, i mean, we were absolutely and positively *sure* about going into iraq, and look how that turned out. this time, we have much better grounds, and a WAY lot more people will potentially be affected (many of which will be much more affected than us, according to the report).

    per your next point: touche, you got me there. i meant anthropocentric.

    you say “frankly I don’t care about the planet if it ain’t doing something for me and mine.” i don’t believe you. i’m not waxing tree-hugger when i say that we’ll see some pretty dramatic changes if the predictions are correct. we’re already seeing changes. this isn’t fear-mongering – it’s reporting what careful observations and models and a bazillion experts are telling us. are some people/media sources getting all crazy? absolutely. is that in itself undermining the legitimacy of the scientific claims? you bet your ass. what’s frustrating is, opponents of climate change (mostly due to political reasons; look up Phillip Cooney for a lovely example) are blaming scientists and climate change proponents of fear-mongering to invalidate their claims. watch any of the opponents’ comments in the Congressional hearings for a taste:

    http://science.house.gov/publications/hearings_markups_details.aspx?
    NewsID=1765

    in fact, in one of these hearings, Rep XXX (don’t remember name) threatened that energy-efficiency standards based on climate change would cause a little girl (shows picture here) to wear two coats inside during the winter. the fear-mongering is on both sides.

    and of course, it shouldn’t be happening anywhere. but hey, it’s american media.

    to your point that the dangers of changing the environment in “unnatural ways” doesn’t cut it for you, fine. but you exactly support my point when you then said, “we need to adapt (something we’re good at…) to a changing environment and we better start getting serious about it is a lot more concrete and empowering.” sure, it’s empowering. sure, we can adapt. we’re flexible. it’s because WE’RE HUMANS. birds and bees and fish and monkeys (ok maybe the smarter monkeys…they seem to be catching up with us) are NOT as flexible. so there’s natural selection for those that are entirely INflexible; these aren’t the species whose survival concerns me. what i am concerned about is that an entire species cannot adapt to radical changes. does a two-degree increase in atmospheric or oceanic temperature seem like much to us? no – we didn’t evolve to care about those differences, b/c they don’t affect us. could that difference matter to a bunch of other species? now we could be talking life or death. it is a completely anthropocentric viewpoint, and while we’re humans and that presumes anthropocentrism, it doesn’t hurt to recognize the interaction between the rest of the junk that we’re inhabiting (though not exactly sharing) the Earth with. you hear it time and time again, and it sounds hippy treehugger-ish, but the universe is all about balance.

    my scientific dander is up. bring it.

  7. HW Says:

    “My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant …”

    Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I must have been having an artful dodgeback … I mean a pickwick flashpip.

    Anyway, in reverse order again, deftly side-stepping your dander, for which I can recommend an excellent medicinal shampoo…

    Species death is all too often presented as evidence of bad, destructive human selfishness and greed. But to me this smacks of sentiment, not rigourous thinking. I’m eager to know more about concrete arguments for biodiversity vis human benefit, but I don’t see many. That diversity or “balance” are important is too vague a contention. And by the way, if those adorable little sea otters got the chance they’d kill you and everyone you care about (and eat our brains off their tummies). Share with other species indeed!

    I’m perfectly sincere when I say I don’t care about the planet outside of the benefits it can provide me and those I care about. This is why I object to the concept of eco-sin, of man having sullied some pristine garden of “nature.” The general picture of climate change presented to the public is both oversimplified and apocalyptic in nature. I just saw some snippets of a news special with Diane Sawyer on the environment on Friday that made me want to vomit it was so bad. According to the models we have, climate change will have significant effects on future conditions. But those effects are less predictable than indicated, will happen over a longer time than indicated, and are much more manageable by advanced economies than is generally believed. In fact, the dirty secret about climate change is that those most affected are most likely going to be poor people in the developing world. Draw your own conclusions as to why this hasn’t been the emphasis in the west.

    As I said before, my major problem is with the way climate change issues are reported and presented. I don’t have the scientific knowledge to challenge the scientific models, only to note what’s left out of most reporting. It does worry me that man-made climate change has become such holy writ in the public sphere that challenges to the prevailing scientific model will likely be dismissed out of hand. Let me put it this way. These kinds of predictions are tricky and always rest on certain assumptions. In the 60’s Paul Erlich and all those population scientists predicted demographic apocalpyse – food shortages in Western Europe, riots in the streets. Didn’t happen.

    What makes you so certain of the reliablity of the current predictions? You yourself are not a climate scientist. Are you that much better qualified than I am to evaluate the claims? Scientists and the scientific consensus have been wrong before, particularly about the specific effects of large-scale changes. I certainly think we should pay attention to the scientific consensus on this important policy question but the existence of a media hype machine and environmental movement determined to present a narrative of incontrovertible scientific fact, iron-clad prediction and worst-case scenario is going to raise my skeptic’s dander no matter what.


  8. […] not so much the forth) to relegate to a bloggish backwater. So I encourage you to go and see the rhetorical sparks fly. Explore posts in the same categories: Holy Flurking […]

  9. kate Says:

    agreed on the point that promoting biodiversity often smacks of sentiment. which is unfortunate. tearing that assumption down will require a few steps outside the normal constructs that we’ve gotten comfortable working under. are many people willing to do that? no. is that an easy task to re-frame these issues in a troublingly fast-paced media-centric environment we’re all gasping for air in? no. i’m lacking for a better, more engaging and easily-accessible term to win you over.

    alright, so i can’t convince you to care about biodiversity through science, as (per your last point) i’m neither a climate scientist nor biologist/botanist/naturalist. i’ll proffer science-based logic instead. your continued anthropomorphic perspective is seemingly wedging you into a spot where you care about anything more than the human condition. i can only respond that the human condition is NECESSARILY about more than humans. let’s talk about the basic rudimentary necessities of our human existence. shelter? check. water? uh oh, might be affected climate change. food? uh oh again…particularly w/ substantial loss to biodiversity (i know your boundless intellect helped you transcend 7th grade, but i know that the food chain’s covered in other grades too). safety? IPCC seems to predict otherwise. clothes? guess that doesn’t matter, as we’ll probably be wearing shiny silver space-age suits before too long. see, all these things DO affect you, so you should care about them. particularly if silver’s not your color.

    but here’s my bigger concern r.e. the general disregard for science.
    while this all may be a bit tongue-in-cheek coming from you, it plays out in much more damaging ways in government. bear with me on this one. earlier this month, another blog mentioned the appointment of science-unfriendly official to a regulatory position at the OMB. while i can’t attest to the veracity, i generally trust the source and don’t find quotes like these out of context r.e. much of what you hear from administration officials. the blog quotes her as saying that it would be “more cost-effective for people who are sensitive to pollution to stay indoors on smoggy days than for the government to order polluters to clean up their emissions” and that she “opposed stricter limits on arsenic in drinking water, in part because she argued that the Environmental Protection Agency’s calculations of the costs and benefits overvalued some lives, particularly those of older people with a small life expectancy.”

    first off, if this is true, she just decided grandma shouldn’t be too concerned about drinking water b/c her ultimate cause of death (and apparently quality of remaining life) is negligible. while this waxes a bit ageist, it’s the same elitist argument that you described in your above post – how climate change affects certain populations that don’t concern us is not our problem. old people don’t actively contribute to the economy anymore? go ahead, drink some arsenic-water. developing countries that don’t contain/produce/have anything that’s particularly advantageous or appealing to us? enjoy snuffling in our carbon, some nice costal flooding, some severe droughts, severely taxed agriculture, etc etc (according to IPCC). we’re not just anthropocentric anymore, toto.

    i’ll admit that the economic argument that you/she seem to be promoting has some validity. is she correct about the short- and medium-term cost-effectiveness of changing carbon emissions? absolutely. can she say the same for long-term cost-effectiveness? jury’s still out. what about the sustained competitiveness and economic viability of developing nations like china and india that can build the changes into the system as it grows instead of attempting to change it once it’s all been established (like us)?

    it reminds me a bit of my developmental psychology class. when kids are young and naive, they’ll take whatever reward is most immediate, even if they’ll receive a much better reward if they wait a little bit (e.g. $1 today vs $5 tomorrow). now flip it around, so that it’s no longer a reward but a burden. is it easier to take what we have now, and not concern ourselves with something that will ultimately (according to IPCC etc) be extremely damaging, costly, and devastating to already-vulnerable areas? hey man, ignorance is bliss, even to adults. but i don’t necessarily think this inability to see past our nose (or to the $5 we’ll get tomorrow) is particularly adaptive or, according to my developmental psychology class, mature. if we can’t think outside of ourselves – we are, after all, human – we should be thinking ahead to what will benefit us (and by benefit, i’m also talking outside-of-lifespan darwinian future generations here) in the future.

    now, having said all of that:
    i think we’re mostly in agreement here. how climate change – and most other scientific topics, for that matter – is being communicated very much colors how it’s perceived. i hate sensationalism as much as you (though admittedly not to the point of vomiting). but most journalists are trained to present both side of an issue – 50:50. much of science isn’t 50:50 and/or even debated among scientists. of course there’s some uncertainty about the climate change models. but all you have to do is get a couple of people to stress the uncertainty, and you’ve got a full-fledged debate. look at what happened to evolution – it’s a topic that’s not exactly debated amongst scientists anymore, yet if you give the 1% of people that aren’t convinced of evolution the same amount of airtime as the scientist, what’s an unwitting and under-science-savvy public to think? you’re right that i’m not a climate expert, and i fully acknowledge the fact that i’m not qualified to talk about the science supporting climate change. but put into context, my concern about the legitimacy of climate change stems from the general communication issues, politicization, and media frenzy that unfailingly follow most hot-button scientific issues.

    a little long-winded and disorganized today…apologies.

  10. HW Says:

    I agree with you that we’re basically in agreement. That said, that crack about the food chain really hurts. Given that my science education was conducted by rapture-obsessed Christian missionaries I was of course taught the truth – that the food chain is an awe-inspiring, interconnected thread of biological life created by God six thousand years ago and all leading directly to my belly, ’cause that’s the way Jesus wants it.

    The human condition isn’t about anything “more” than humans, by definition. There isn’t anything “more.” But this is a looped semantics argument at this point – the very admonition that we should think about “more” than ourselves is itself entirly anthropocentric (we can’t help ourselves on that score) – it’s all about ourselves.

    You’ll get no argument from me as to the scientific wisdom of the Bush administration. If its officials are friendly to anything, it’s business. That said, I’m not familiar with the arguments about arsenic and so forth, and I’m no advocate of poisoning grandma. But I’d caution you against jumping to the conclusion that all arguments about cost-effectiveness are “elitist.” In some cases, it’s quite the reverse.

    In any event, I’m pretty sure we’d largely agree on policy when it comes to climate change – carbon taxes and so forth. Although I personally can’t wait for my shiny space suit.

  11. kate Says:

    to compensate for a paucity of response on my end (which you certainly shouldn’t take as victory), a few more sources for the record
    first, the most recent Congressional hearing from IPCC panel members; monotone voices but good messages:
    http://boss.streamos.com/real/science/scitech07/041707.rm
    also, though i hate to admit it, thomas friedman had a good piece in the NYTimes Magazine, on the political and competitive advantage that we’ll have by going “green”:
    http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60F11FE3E5B0C768DDDAD0894DF404482

  12. Riki Says:

    Interesting blod with special comments. I ust comeback and read ohter sites from tis bolg.Rgds Richard

  13. kate Says:

    alright, not to start it back up again, but this speaks to the biodiversity issue, and a bit to biological alarmism.
    in nov, science published an article on the depletion of sea-dwelling species that comprise most/all of our seafood would be so extensive, 100% of the stocks would be gone by 2050. the article raised serious hackles from a bunch of researchers; their challenges are well-taken, and are here:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/316/5829/1281b.pdf


  14. i’m losing my mind, and i don’t think it’s cleve. Corrina Eudora.


  15. damn all these beautiful gir. Frederik Kyleigh.


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