“Let’s take the average cave man at home, listening to his stereo…”, Troglodyte, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, 1972
It’s official – according to California Governor Jerry Brown, I am a Troglodyte. For those of you who don’t know the definition, a troglodyte is 1. A person who lived in a cave, 2. A hermit, 3. A person who is regarded as being deliberately ignorant or old-fashioned.
I live in a pretty nice house, so I don’t live in a cave. I share this house with my wife, and three of my kids and their families, so I am not a hermit. That leaves the third definition, “a person who is regarded as being deliberately ignorant or old-fashioned.” Yep, that’s me. My “willful denial” of the “threat of climate change” makes me, according to Governor Brown, a troglodyte.
You see, the science is settled. Global warming is the greatest threat mankind currently faces one that might ultimately drive us and everything else on the face of the planet into extinction. Even the U.S. military agrees! The tipping point, beyond which we can no longer stop this event, happened 15 years ago; wait, 10 years ago; wait 5 years ago; wait – will be happening soon if we don’t do something now.
Global temperatures are the highest they have ever been in the history of the planet. The polar ice caps are melting. Polar bears are dying. The coral reefs are bleaching out. Habitat is being destroyed at an alarming rate. There are droughts and rumors of droughts. Weather is becoming more extreme. As my 16 year old son pointed out to me just the other day, “dad, it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter;” which is why he tries to stay inside as much as possible where the temperature is a more constant 75-77 degrees –like it is supposed to be.
“We have a lot of troglodytes south of the border,” Gov Brown intoned during a speech at a climate-change conference in Toronto – particularly, he noted, Republicans in Congress.
And Governor Brown has been doing his part in California to ensure that the state, currently suffering from a drought, is well on its way to turning back into a desert, much as it was when it was first colonized, while at the same time spurring development of a high-speed train costing billions and outsourcing electrical production to outlying states where it won’t impact California’s “pristine” environment.
California needs electricity, but doesn’t want to generate it within its own borders. Fossil fuels are evil, as is nuclear power. Let Arizona, Nevada, and other states use them; just send the power to California.
California needs water, but would prefer to get that from out of state as well. Heavens forbid they get water by building desalination plants along the coast. Where would the power come from to run them? What would they do with all the salt and minerals that would be a byproduct of such an effort; I am sure it would be bad for the environment somehow, and even if not, wouldn’t such plants be “unsightly?”
It has been proposed by some on the left that troglodytes such as I be jailed for the good of society. We are, it seems, not only complacent in the killing of the planet, but advocating violence against mother Gaia, and fomenting apathy amongst the unwashed. Surely we modern-day dinosaurs should go the way of our saurian brethren and simply shuffle off the mortal coil.
“Global Warming is settled science,” they wail, “how could any sane, functioning human being argue otherwise?
That one can even utter such a term as “settled science” is to me an indication that person has very little understanding of science, scientific method, or the history of scientific advancement. Such a statement is ridiculous on its face, and sounds more like the utterances of a religious zealot than someone who has even a modicum of training in the scientific method.
Ask an astronomer what the term “settled science” means. Up until Nicolaus Copernicus proposed otherwise, “settled science” stated that the sun, planets, and indeed, the entire universe, rotated around the Earth (though even Copernicus still believed that the universe rotated around the sun). Even after he proposed it, it took quite a while for his theory to become accepted; sixty years after publishing it, there were only around 15 astronomers in all of Europe who professed belief that it was true. It took Galileo and his telescope, in the early 1600’s, to show conclusively that the old Ptolemaic theory, which put the Earth at the center, was in fact incorrect.
This, of course, would also lead to a revolution in physics, upsetting that apple cart of “settled science” as well. Both astronomy and physics have been regularly “unsettled” ever since, as has every other field of science on a regular basis.
In fact, one thing that can be said of science, it is always changing as we make new discoveries. “Science” after all is merely the way we describe our understanding of the greater world and universe around us. “Scientific method” is the methodology we use to gain that understanding; and since it can never be said that our understanding is absolute, when something comes along that is counter to our current understanding, truth dictates that such understanding must be modified to take the new knowledge into account. Thus there can never be such a thing as “settled science;” there is always the possibility that our understanding is faulty.
I do not doubt that the climate is changing in various areas around the Earth. The geological record is replete with examples of how this has occurred in the past. One would have to be able to willingly suspend one’s belief in the laws of nature in order to suppose that such is not occurring today. You don’t even have to go into the prehistoric geologic record; the climate in Europe and America is very different today than it was during the Little Ice Age or Medieval Warming Period. It is different than it was at the turn of the last century.
So I agree – we are experiencing “climate change.” We may live in air conditioned houses, but the planet does not. Unfortunately, when Gov Brown, Al Gore, and those of their ilk use the term “global climate change” (formerly “global warming”, and before that, “global cooling”), they don’t mean climate change in the conventional sense. They are using a shortened version of a longer term. What they actually mean is “Anthropogenic Global Warming;” not climate change caused by natural effects or cycles, but rather by the effect of mankind on the environment.
Where I differ from Governor Brown is in the questions of responsibility and solution. Are we causing the problem or is it at least primarily, a natural phenomenon? And, particularly if it is primarily natural, what, if anything – no matter the expenditure of time, money, and energy, can we actually do about it?
Despite what those on the left have to say, everyone is not on board with this. Certainly not all climate scientists are, and even if there was a “scientific consensus,” that doesn’t make it scientific “fact.” See the above paragraphs on astronomy for an example. There is ample evidence that the “evidence” in favor of AGW has been manipulated. AGW supporters like to bandy around the phrase “97 percent of scientists agree” when in fact this too is a fabrication. Was there a poll taken? What were the questions asked? Who tallied the results?
In fact, there is no poll. The number comes from a 2009 study by a master’s student at the University of Illinois, based on a two-question online survey. Of those “polled,” only 5% of the respondents (around 160 scientists) were climate scientists. The actual 97% statistic was drawn from a subset of this data; those respondents (79) who were “both self-reported climate scientists and had published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change. “
Of these 79 scientists, 77 were in agreement with the two questions asked: 1) that global temperatures had generally risen since 1800, and 2) that human activity is a “significant contributing factor.” So, 77 / 79 = 0.9746 and voila! The 97% of scientists agree statistic is born!
There is of course, a very large difference between “significant contributing factor,” whatever that unquantifiable phrase means, and “caused by.” Should we be basing trillion dollar decisions on a two question online “poll” by a grad student?
Other “studies” have come to the same 97% number however. Doesn’t that mean something? Well, of course it means “something.” Exactly what though is another question. In 2013 John Cook, and Australian scientist and author of the book “Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand” conducted a study of 12,000 abstracts. He found a 97% consensus “among papers taking a position on the cause of global warming in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are responsible.”
It has been said that “figures lie and liars figure.” It is also said that there are three categories of lies; lies, damn lies, and statistics. It’s all about how you present the numbers.
Of the 12,000 abstracts reviewed, only 34 percent of the papers (4,014 of the total) expressed any opinion about anthropogenic climate change (these would be the “papers taking a position”). Of these, 33% appeared, by Cook’s analysis of the abstracts, to endorse AGW. 33 / 34 = 0.9705 and bingo! Another 97% corroboration!
Unfortunately what appears in a paper and what is described in the abstract of the paper are not always the same. Nor should you necessarily rely on an interpretation of the data by someone who, by the title of the book he authored, certainly has an opinion on the subject, if not a vested interest. At least that is what the left is always telling us when a study is funded or supported by “big oil” or “big pharma” or anyone else who disagrees with their position and has a vested interest to the contrary.
A recreation of Cook’s study by David Legates, a professor who formerly headed the University of Delaware’s Center for Climatic Research, found that only 41 of the papers actually endorsed what Cook claimed. This turns out to be 0.3% of the total abstracts, and only 1% of the 4,014 “expressing an opinion.” Not 97%.
Of course, I suppose that Dr. Legates and anyone else who disagree that the “science is settled” are all troglodytes as well, at least according to Jerry Brown, who, as governor of California, has to be recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the subject.
Well, if I am a troglodyte then so be it. I am in good company. A recent poll shows 91% of Americans aren’t worried about global warming – or at least it isn’t their number one concern. Why does this matter? Because this is an election year and AGW is a big issue for the Democrats and not so much for the Republicans.
Bernie Sanders considers climate change to be “the biggest national security threat” and “a major crisis.” It figures prominently in his campaign. Hillary Clinton vows to continue on with President Obama’s policies when it comes to climate change. President Obama has been a big supporter of AGW, “investing” billions of taxpayer dollars into alternative energy and much time, rhetoric and regulation into the destruction of the coal and oil industries.
On the Republican side, no one is touting climate change as an immediate concern, except as current administration policy affects job creation and the economy. Republican candidates are more focused on the immediate threat of “Islamic extremism” and economic stagnation, viewing the ongoing Democratic AGW debate as scaremongering over a non-issue.
That of course, is because they too are Troglodytes.
My position is that if you look at the past 100 years or so, it certainly seems that we are, or have been, in a warming trend. How much of that is natural and how much is caused by man is open to question. Over the long haul, we have been in a warming trend since the start of the Holocene. During that period, sea levels have risen over 350 ft. Were we living then, would we be arguing to stop the Ice Age from ending? Can anyone deny that Earth is a far better abode for life today than it was then?
During the last interglacial period, 125,000 years ago, global sea levels were 12-18 feet higher than today. And yet, life abounds. Somehow the corals muddled through. Will 12-18 foot higher oceans inconvenience us greatly, at least where we currently inhabit land at or near current sea levels? Yep! But it will not end all life on the planet. This is not an extinction event.
Certainly the issue of whether or not we can do anything to prevent climate change, man-made or natural is open to question.
We should be good stewards over the land. Certainly that is what the scriptures tell us. We should not pollute indiscriminately, or waste our resources unnecessarily. That does not mean however that we should impoverish ourselves over a 0.01% change in temperature.
Governor Brown thinks I am a troglodyte. I think that I am very glad I live in Texas, not California.