Solid Waste & Recycling


Shifting Sandy

The past month or so have been tough for Americans along the eastern seaboard. Hurricane Sandy, Frankenstorm, Superstorm Sandy…whatever you wanted to call it was devastating.
I was a bit shocked by how quickly climate change was blamed for Sandy, as if bad weather and devastation is something new. When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama for president, days after Sandy, largely because of his (rather toothless) stance on climate change you can see where the science has gone- to political levels where common sense and logic are optional.
I read with interest fellow (and new) blogger David McRobert’s well penned piece “Hurricane Sandy, the Berkeley Earth Studies and Climate Change Doubts” (29 October 2012). It does what good writing (and other art) should do and that is evoke a response.
My response is that while the climate is certainly changing, as it always has and always will, we aren’t even close to having all of the answers and that includes the extent of our involvement and the true impact on weather patterns.
Instead red lines are drawn where there should be no lines and scientific investigation and a continuous improvement in our understanding of the changing climate and our understanding of it. Instead of science we are served up with a pseudo religious screed.
A good portion of the results of this science has been co-opted by special interest groups and politicians who have codified it into an inalienable dogma. If this dogma is questioned in any way it results in retribution and pejorative insults.
McRobert’s tale of Berkeley’s professor Richard A. Muller fits perfectly into this narrative. It is a Saul of Tarsus on the road between Damascus and Jerusalem conversion story and immediately reminded me of my youth and my fundamentalist Christian upbringing. I remember sitting in church and from time to time hearing stories of non-believers who one day, for one reason or another, decided to read the Bible from cover to cover. After a careful read of the great book they were convinced that yes all of this is true. The shackles of their doubts broke free and they converted and dwelled in the land of positive feedback- of coming to the same conclusion as everyone else. All of their doubts were washed away. They were non-believers but had seen the light. (Of course we never heard the stories about those that read the book and did not believe- they continued to be non-believers).
While I don’t question the professor’s motives or his science I do question the narrative that is created by others. This is a redemption story instead of a scientific one.
Climate change science has been turned into groupthink. It is politically incorrect to think much less put on paper any doubts one might have. You immediately become labelled as a skeptic or the more ominous denier as opposed to someone trying to close the gap between what is known and what remains unknown. It’s become the difference between good and evil. You are either good or evil.
While some climate change skeptics are funded by vested interests I would argue that some of the ENGO and political proponents of climate change dogma are very much not on the side of the angels but have their own vested interests. Some are nothing more than wealth re-distributionists trying to assuage their post colonial guilt, dressed up as environmentalists who fly to exotic locales to have conferences and pretend they give a damn. Both have clouded the debate.
In the mix somewhere are the real scientists, such as Dr. Muller, undertaking the research necessary to fully understand how our world is changing. Each tests different hypotheses to try and answer the question which in fact has many interwoven answers. Some will have different answers that might be partly wrong or partly right. The rush to create the narrative, whose last page has already been written (and edited a few times), has constrained the development of the true and accurate story.
Somehow we are led to believe that we live in some kind of static climatic equilibrium. That somehow our de-sequestration of carbon sequestered millions of years ago (when the world incidentally was much hotter than it is now) is somehow bringing us back to that same place. We leap to cause and effect with a gaping intellectual bridge washed out by the rush to reach conclusions.
Somehow the insurance industry, and the record claims after a weather event, is now suddenly held out as peaen of virtue (remember these are the guys who raise you automobile insurance rates just for speeding) forgetting that there are many more people living in the same place, in houses whose size and costs have increased over the decades as our prosperity increased. It is not much of a surprise that this keeps going up just like every year we have record high gasoline prices. There is no going down.
Pinning Sandy (and Katrina), drought and thunderstorms on climate change follows this thinking and is a gross oversimplification. We are part of a big puzzle and certainly not the only piece on the board.
It is clear that our world and climate are changing. It is clear that we need to seriously consider how and what type of energy we use for the simple fact that most of our current sources are finite and in some cases that finity has come into sight.
Ultimately we need to be able to have the debate to help us come to the correct answers. Those who at one time thought the earth was flat informed that debate that ultimately proved otherwise. Right or wrong climate change debate will inform the correct answer and inform the proper solutions.

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