Steve G.

Faulty Logic

In Global Warming on June 14, 2007 at 8:32 pm

This guy thinks he has impenetrable logic saying that “we” should do something about global warming: To be fair, if you follow the same assumptions he does, he’s correct. However, one of his implicit assumptions is that the government program(s) to stop global warming will succeed. Firstly, if anybody can name me a government program that was an unqualified success, I’ll give them a virtual cookie.

So what’s the most likely scenario if government “does something about global warming”? Well, let’s go with the assumption that global warming is real and anthropogenic. Governments put programs into place to stop CO2 emissions. Even giving them the very unlikely benefit of the doubt that the programs would work as written, sleazeball politicians would without a doubt let some of their big corporate friends through. Shady countries like China would claim compliance but let their projects continue with no care to CO2 emissions in the areas of the country where nobody else can go. So, you’d have a huge amount of resources devoted to stopping something that happens anyways, and those resources aren’t available for the market to adapt.

If you seriously think government is capable of doing something about climate change, look at the Kyoto Treaty. It’s based on economic assumptions that are not necessarily true – that certain countries need fossil fuel energy to develop, that other countries can stay developed without using fossil fuels, population estimates that could be wildly variant from what actually happens, etc.

Worst, even if the Kyoto Treaty were signed onto and fully followed by all the world’s nations (unlikely, since secretive countries like China would probably try to cheat on it), it won’t prevent all climate change. Assuming the greenhouse theory is right (which I believe it to be), we’ve already changed the atmosphere significantly – a great deal of warming is already committed to.

Positive feedback from this unstoppable warming is likely to happen, too – Siberia’s rapidly melting permafrost, for example, holds a huge about of carbon that is already going into the atmosphere, exacerbating what we’ve already done. Greenland’s ice sheet is melting, potentially unstoppably, raising sea levels and decreasing the amount of reflective ice preventing energy absorption by the earth.

This is stuff we can’t do anything about. Climate change is going to happen no matter what. The best solution for humanity is to get government out of the way and let the market do what it does best and what government does worst – adapt, because things are going to be changing soon.

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  1. Interestingly, there is now work being done to crosscorrelate the challenges created by global warming and by peak oil. They point in opposite directions. We are perhaps shielded from the largest proposed changes in atmospheric CO2, because we run out of oil and coal first.

    I have proposed that the Federal government should seek to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources in its energy purchases, partly as a national security precaution. I would do this strictly through the free market: the Federal government offers fixed-rate long term contracts for electricity from new renewable sources, set at a modest increment over current market prices. Private enterprise does the research, builds the plants, and delivers the kilowatts.

  2. in this debate, you have to trust someone if you want to choose a side. most of us aren’t experts in this field, so we have to rely on whatever information seems best to us. personally, i tend to doubt the legitimacy of government’s current hobgoblin. after attempting to objectively sift through the evidence, i’ve decided that global warming is happening and that it is not anthropogenic. the results of this temperature trend will be minimal, as they were during the holocene maximum and during the medieval warming period, both of which were far warmer than current temperatures which are, historically, middling.

    i agree with nigel that there is absolutely nothing that can be done by government to fix this problem except getting out of the way. i feel that government, with its policies of promoting and protecting the oil trade and its record of massive pollution (the u.s. government is responsible for more pollution per year than any of the top polluting companies in the u.s.), is the proverbial fox in the hen house of environmental protection.

    the conclusion? i don’t feel its right to use any excuse so tenuous as anthropogenic global warming for robbing, killing or subjugating people any more than is done now. i choose lottery ticket “A”.

  3. Virtually every proposal I’ve seen on “how you can cut global warming” is a self-congratulatory, feel good measure that would stop additional CO2 gas very minimally. I think we need to challenge the greens to advocate some real measures if in fact the earth is in crisis: ration air and vehicular travel, ration vacations, ration printed materials and advertising, ration electricity for non-essential things (lighting of concert halls, ball parks, fancy restaurants, etc.) build nuc power plants s to serve anyone and NIMBYs get no electric service at all. And, if countries like India and China fail to fall in line, then military options will be used to drastically reduce their populations. As energy prices increase, innovators will find ways to cut usage drastically, even in developing countries (in fact, due to the spread of technology, they can leapfrog developed countries that are still amortizing their older, more polluting, technology) Pocketbook pressures, not political pressures, will do the most to reduce anthromorphic CO2.

  4. Actually, this fellow’s logic is relatively sound; his flaws are in the postulates.

    The entirety of Column A is global catastrophy. Column B, however, offers the best possible outcome per Game Theory. Essentially, the choices are: Column A: False: Economic global depression, mass famine, death, plagues, warfare, and ecological destruction
    Column A: True: Economic global depression, mass famine, death, plagues, warfare, and ecological destruction
    Column B: False: Prosperity.
    Column B: True: Economic global depression, mass famine, death, plagues, warfare, and ecological destruction

    “Pascal’s Ecological Gambit” dictates that we have to take the Column B option and hope for the best.

  5. Of course, he limits things arbitrarily considering there is a third column: We take action and it is incorrect, such as we try to curtail CO2 drastically, but global warming happens anyhow. In this case, the end result is drastically worse; as you have the economically caused depression anda global catastrophe that we cannot adapt to.

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