Eliot Spitzer Takes Charge of the Weather

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Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson takes a well-deserved (and well-reasoned) jab at the attorneys general who pretend to be suing away global warming.

[Thanks to Christine Hall-Reis for the link.]

NEXT: Dr. Homer

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  1. Well, if Bob Samuelson tells me what the case’s merits are, and what the plaintiff’s motivations are, then I guess that settles it.

    Love the idiot “small number/big number” argument, though. 2.5%? Why, that’s a SMALL number! Sure sounds small to me!

  2. Actually, that’s the biggest number they could hope to get, and it would be swallowed in a couple of years’ time. That makes it a pretty small number.

    Of course, if you say 650 million tons, you’re playing the big number/small number game in reverse.

    But I personally hope the suit goes forward and they win quickly. When the brownouts start in winter, Elliot Spitzer will be roast on a spit.

  3. I think the author is correct. The purpose of the lawsuit is to draw attention to those filing the suit. The only cheap method I am aware of for removing carbon dioxide from the air is to grow more plants. A better method, however, is to encourage coral growth. They convert the carbon dioxide in the air into limestone. There’s no way that carbon dioxide will ever get back into the atmosphere!!

  4. When Joe (or GG or Jean Bart) can’t argue the big picture they are quite willing to nit picks (or pick nits). Consequently, they are ALWAYS nitting picks (or picking nits).

  5. Since the suits are being carried out by populous northern and western states (plus Iowa and Vermont) almost exclusively against companies operating in southern states, Spitzer is almost certainly safe. The people he’ll be hurting won’t have a vote or a voice.

    Since they’re carefully sniping at red states from blue states, they’re also assuring that the Democratic Party doesn’t suffer a backlash, either.

    I wonder if the Gubernator has any control over the California attorney general. If so, I’d be suprised for them to stick around on the suit, although he may need to look tough on global warming and nasty out-of-state power companies who are the scapegoats for California’s incompetent deregulation plan.

  6. That’s hilarious, Don. A global warming skeptic taking someone on the opposite side to task for nitpicking, and accusing him of being unable to argue the main point.

    FYI, I don’t try to convince Reasonites of the legitimacy of the scientific consensus on greenhouse issues for the same reason I don’t try to convince Jewish people of the divinity of Jesus.

  7. because both are ridiculous concepts to begin with? 🙂

  8. Because both are a matter of faith.

  9. Jacob Sullum,

    People who deal with climatology as a science call it “climate change” – IF some anthropogenic effect due to a change in the carbon cycle, etc. is underway, warming would be only one of a set of possible outcomes (at least from the perspective of specific geographic locales).

    Don,

    I am not joe or Jean Bart; get used to it. My suggestion is that stop your attacks on personalities and address the arguments.

    DaveInBigD,

    I hate to break it to you, but Vermont is a “northern” state.

    BTW, just to deflate the notion that Vermont has done nothing to cut carbon emissions from its electric power portfolio, most of Vermont’s power is derived from nuclear (Vermont Yankee – ~75%) and hydro (Hydro Quebec), with a few % from windpower and other so-called “renewables” (e.g, the wood-fired plant up in Burlington).

    dhex,

    The notion of anthropogenic climate change isn’t ridiculous per se. Given the general increase of carbon, sulfur, etc. in the atmosphere since the advent of the industrial revolution it is not particularly strange to ask questions about any potential effects such may have on our climate. That doesn’t mean that the case has been proven, however, the notion itself isn’t ridiculous.

  10. Tim,

    No, its not a matter of faith for most of the scientists involved; there is a great of hard science involved in this issue after all.

    Now, for political and ideological adherents on both sides there is a lot of “faith” being preached; but that’s another matter entirely.

  11. The issue of global warming (or climate change) has become politicized. The barricades are up, the Molotov cocktails are ready and the battle has begun.

    The earth has been much warmer in the past (e.g Jurassic period). It has also been much colder (Pleistoscene era/Ice Age). Despite all the posturing, scientists really don’t know why the earth alternately warms and cools over the eons. Carbon dioxide is a factor, but the ocean life has converted tons and tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to limestone and dolomite. What effect has that had on global temperatures and the atmoshere?

    We think way too small on this issue. We think 100 years, or even 500 years is significant, but the last Ice Age lasted tens of thousands of years. What triggered it? Why did it end? There are bigger forces at work here than just some smokestack emissions dating from the past century.

  12. I don’t care how or why the earth warms, but I wish it would warm a little faster. A few more degrees would feed more people and support more species of life.

  13. There’s a wood-fired power plant in VT? Do they use pulp, or are they just tossing logs in?

  14. Steven Crane,

    As I understand it they throw in logs, but I’ve never been to the plant nor studied how it actually works (aside from it being a typical power plant in that it heats water to create steam to turn a turbine). Its amazing how much in the way of energy technology is all about boiling water.

    Hank Reardon,

    Climate change could also be cataclysmic for certain human populations that already feed themselves (though there is no reason why in the long run they can’t use technology to fix the problem or simply move to greener pastures). Anyway, the notion that climate change will neccessarily bring this benefit is simply unknown, in part because at least some of our basic food crops might either be poisoned by too much CO2, or because their competitors (“weeds”) animals which attack them (“pests”) might grow even faster under such conditions. Climate change is such a complicated issue that to wish it on could lead to some very nasty “revenge effects,” even if it is beneficial in some ways.

  15. “I am not joe or Jean Bart; get used to it. My suggestion is that stop your attacks on personalities and address the arguments.”

    GG,

    Joe’s argument wasn’t worth addressing. And it was fun attacking him.

    Oh, and BTW, I wasn’t claiming that you were Joe or JB (if you are Joe, that would impress me since your style is different); I’m simply pointing out a tendency the three of you share to focus on small points you think you can win.

  16. “No, its not a matter of faith for most of the scientists involved; there is a great of hard science involved in this issue after all.”

    Yes, there is lots of data (often conflicting), as well as many dubious computer models.

  17. The early medieval period was a period of global warming, and in that case it was benificial. The modest global warming the best current models predict is on the same order, and as a first cut is likely to be benificial. Granted, none of that proves that IT WILL BE benificial, and some populations will probably suffer.

    At this point, the people who want us to enter into some sort of Kyoto deal need to come up with a stronger argument than supported by the current science of climate change.

  18. Hank Reardon,

    Longer growing seasons are NOT complex…

    There is no guarantee that any particular area would have a longer growing season; indeed, some might see a shortening of such. Again, like most people in this debate you treat climate change as if it were simply an up or down scenarior, when it clearly is not.

    “Revenge effects” require complicated scenarios which could happen but are likely concocted by grant seeking researchers in need of a problem.

    Attacking the integrity of researchers is not an argument.

  19. Don,

    “I’m simply pointing out a tendency the three of you share to focus on small points you think you can win.”

    Please, just make a real argument in the future instead of focusing on argumentative style or inept insults. Furthermore, what you define as “small points” is probably a self-serving device designed to mitigate via a fallacious classification rather devestating points.

    Yes, there is lots of data (often conflicting), as well as many dubious computer models.

    That’s really beside the point, since I never argued that anthropogenic climate change was underway; I merely stated it was not ridiculous to study the matter or be concerned about it. And the computer models are hardly dubious. Now they may be limited, but that is a function of technology in large part. Indeed, over the past thirty years climate modelling has consistently improved with regard to issues like realism and the like.

    The early medieval period was a period of global warming, and in that case it was benificial.

    In portions of Europe (particularly in France and Italy). Do you know if that was the case planet wide?

  20. GG,

    Yeah right. It is always too complex for laymen to understand, how else are you going to fool the masses into forgoing the freedom that comes from energy usage. Longer growing seasons are NOT complex, and most people can understand that. “Revenge effects” require complicated scenarios which could happen but are likely concocted by grant seeking researchers in need of a problem.

  21. “I don’t care how or why the earth warms, but I wish it would warm a little faster. A few more degrees would feed more people and support more species of life.”

    But the glaciers are melting! MEELLTING!! What a world!!

  22. There’s a wood-fired power plant in VT? Do they use pulp, or are they just tossing logs in?

    It’s very likely that they bring in logs and shred them into sawdust or fine chips, and then blow a mixture of (sawdust|chips) and hot air into the furnace, using oil burners to start the combustion. Whole logs wouldn’t burn anywhere near fast enough to get the rated 53 megawatts of power for the plant in discussion here.

  23. I have never seen a refutation of this study but the Global Warming folks continue to cite iceberg size:

    Better Detection, Not Global Warming, Behind Increase In Large Antarctic Icebergs, New BYU Study Shows

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021024070050.htm

    If it is indeed happening, here is evidence of the contribution of the Sun to global warming. (Last time for the Sun being this active was in the medieval period)

    “Sun more active than for a millennium”

    http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994321

    Joe:
    “I don’t try to convince Reasonites of the legitimacy of the scientific consensus on greenhouse issues for the same reason I don’t try to convince Jewish people of the divinity of Jesus.”

    You sell us way short on this one joe. It isn’t a matter of faith. It’s exactly the “legitimacy of the scientific consensus” that is in question, and also with the powerful arguments of the many scientific skeptics; does “consensus” mean anything in this debate?

    Gary Gunnels:

    “Attacking the integrity of researchers is not an argument”

    It certainly is when they openly advocate deception: National Center for Atmospheric Research (NOAA) researcher Steven Schneider and global warming action promoter said that, “We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36643

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