Follow the Money

by Rocket Finance

Okay, folks. If you come around here very often, you know that I am a conservative who is not ashamed to embrace capitalism – not because it is perfect, but because I believe it is the best that mankind can do at the moment. I am also very much “for” the environment. I love the outdoors. I oppose pollution, etc., but I cannot accept the theory of global warming for several reasons:

  1. We were warned about global cooling in the 1970’s.
  2. I do not believe that man has the power to affect the weather.
  3. We have not observed or recorded the weather long enough in order to be dogmatic about any weather trends. For instance, if there is a warming trend underway – how do we know that this is the first time that the world has “warmed”. We don’t have temperature data that is more than 100 or 150 years old.
  4. The only solutions to global warming seem to be: reduce capitalism, impede progress, retard economic growth, conserve, and “go green”. Why don’t the global warming environmentalists become proponents of nuclear energy – the cleanest and most efficient resource we have?
  5. Global warming might be a good thing for where I live.
  6. Global warming has happened before – and we survived.
  7. Global warming – if it is occurring – is happening at a relatively slow rate. Since most of the world embraces evolutionary theory, why don’t we just assume that we will evolve in order to deal with the warmer temperatures? Why can’t we just trust the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ to preserve our species?
  8. While popular culture is united in its acceptance of the theory, some of the smartest guys around don’t believe it.
  9. We can’t predict the weather two days from now, much less ten years.
  10. Most of those who are lecturing you and I about how much energy we use, actually use a great deal more energy than you or I.

These are just a few of the reasons that I am skeptical of the idea that mankind’s behavior is causing more hurricanes, tornados and melting. The final reason is the most telling:

Follow the money.

In the November 26th issue of Fortune Magazine, there is an article that details a new company whose mission is to invest in companys that offer green products and technologies. One of the founders is Al Gore. A quote from the article:

 . . .Gore is firing detailed questions at the management team of Ausra, a Kleiner-backed company in Palo Alto whose technology uses mirrors the width of a flatbed truck that focus the sun’s energy to generate electricity. Once Gore is satisfied-sunlight lags north of South Dakota, an Ausra plant can serve 120,000 homes, and yes, smaller turbines will work fine-he shifts from inquisitor to fixer. He was chatting with California Senator Barbara Boxer “on the way over,” he repotst, and he isn’t optimistic that Congress will extend the tax credits Ausra has been relying on.

 . . .and another one of the founders of the company:

Doerr has become ubiquitous in the world of green investing. Last year he was instrumental in helping pass a California bill supported by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that will mandate the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the state.

So, the guys who are pushing a questionable theory are also positioning themselves to benefit financially from the legislation created in response to their theory. Does this strike any of you as a conflict of interest? I wonder, what if someone were to knock on Gore’s door tomorrow and present him with unrefutable proof that global warming was a hoax? Would he give that information to the world? Would he try to silence or discredit the holder of the information? What about the BBC or the New York Times, what would they do with such information? Is he an unbiased observer of facts or is he trying to make every piece of evidence fit the theory that is most convenient for him?

What I am trying to say is that the discussion of global warming is not a reasoned, well articulated discussion of objective, measurable truth or science. It has become a political weapon in the hands of elitist who would like to force their way of life on the rest of us and it just so happens that their way of life will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. It is not the first time that Al Gore has used government policy to build his nest egg.

I do not know for sure that global warming is false, but I am willing to wait for a little more data to come in before we make Gore and his buddies even wealthier. Remember, science once told us that smoking was good for our health, that x-rays were not harmful, that the sun rotated around the earth, that a heavier object falls faster than a lighter object and that flies spontaneously generate from rotten meat.

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  1. 15 Responses to “Follow the Money”

  2. By plonkee on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    Actually, one of the most prominent advocates in the UK that we should start doing something about global warming is a big fan of nuclear power.

    Global warming is not happening at a slow rate in geological or even evolutionary terms. It is only happening at a slow rate compared to the speed that humans perceive things. Whilst eventually there will be a correction and species and the environment will continue to co-evolve it is likely to result in large numbers of extinctions from which humans are not immune.

  3. By rocketc on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    I am glad he is a fan of nuclear power. US environmentalists are not so reasonable.

    As to your second point – how do we know how fast or slow things are warming up? What do we compare it to? We don’t have enough data from a long enough time period to make that judgment. Furthermore, how do we know for sure that this trend will continue? How do you know the “correction” will not happen sooner rather than later? What makes us so sure that thsi correction will happen after a mass extinction?

    Once again, the earth has warmed up before – a lot – and mankind survived.

  4. By RobC on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    rocketc, I think we do have data. Look at http://gwperplexed.niof.org/index.htm#How%20do%20we%20figure%20it%20all%20out?.

    Humans haven’t survived warming this fast. Humans only go back to the last ice age, and the warmup since then has never been as fast as it is now.

    Your initial point, that we don’t have measured data before 1850, is valid. And I agree that proxy data can’t be used with much precision. But you can overdo that argument; even with lousy precision we can see that earlier temperature changes were much slower.

    Could people adapt? No doubt they could, but in the meantime they will face considerable and unnecessary hardships. As we see deserts growing while other places are seeing more violent storms and flooding, and as mountain snow packs disappear so irrigation water isn’t available to farmers, people will wish we’d used a lot better judgement.

  5. By RobC on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    Sorry, I messed up the link. It should be http://gwperplexed.niof.org/index.htm#How%20do%20we%20figure%20it%20all%20out?” TARGET=””>this page.

  6. By rocketc on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    You sound so sure about all of this. Yet here is a quote from the page you cite:

    The processes are so complex that they defy simple calculation. Climate scientists have to use elaborate computer models to account for all the variables. Computer models can answer specific questions, but can’t prove anything, because every model has limitations and there’s no way to prove any model yields correct results.

    It’s better to compare the different factors in the historical record, but the records don’t go back very far. Scientists try to represent the historical record using proxy data, but that’s never reassuring. For example, a scientist might look at tree cores or ice cores and find that some kind of data, maybe a ratio between the isotopes of some element, corresponds to temperature over a few decades. In reality it never matches one-to-one. But then he’ll apply the correspondence over thousands of years. Or even longer.

    We just finished the second straight hurricane season with almost no hurricane activity in the western hemisphere, yet scientists were falling over themselves to forecast the worst season yet because of global warming. Once again, we are required to trust the people who can’t predict the weather 3 days from now to tell us what the weather will be 10 years from now and what the weather was 200 years ago.

    How do we know that “humans haven’t survived warming this fast”? No one knows what the real global temperature was 200 years ago. Furthermore the graph that you cite is dealing with less than a degree change over the course of 2000 years – yet we have no idea what the temperatures were like before 200 years ago. You cite the lack of precision, but when someone states that the “global temperature was .1 degree C during the Medieval Period, and now it is .4 degree C” therefore we must panic – that seems like an attempt at precision. The graph is 90% made up!

    I wonder what caused the warm-up during the Medieval Period? Was the internal combustion engine? Hairspray? Coal burning power plants? Cow flatulence?

    Global warming requires faith that man can change the weather. I do not believe that man is that powerful.

    Global warming requires me to trust a man who is not a scientist and who intends to become extremely wealthy from my faith in his theory.

  7. By RobC on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    Don’t go too fast for me, rocketc. I didn’t say this stuff was easy. And it’s not fair to pull out part of an argument and ignore the rest.

    How can you be sure there was a Medieval Warm Period? As you said, there isn’t any measured data. We have some anecdotal remarks concerning Europe and China, but not a global record. The proxy data supports the notion; but if you accept that much from proxy data how can you reject the same proxy data that shows more gradual temperature changes than we are seeing now?

    We aren’t depending on people to predict the weather ten years from now. We’re looking at the data we have now. It shows global warming since 1980 that can’t be explained by any solar change or any other change.

    The greenhouse effect is an inescapable fact of physics. Physicists can prove that the planet is warmer than it would be if there were no greenhouse effect. If you raise the amount of greenhouse gases, then it’s no leap of faith to conclude global warming will increase. But besides higher measured temperatures, we can see empirical evidence of the effects: rain patterns are changing, plants and animals are migrating away from the equator, and both ice caps and mountain glaciers are shrinking.

    I don’t have a stake in the storm-statistics fight. Scientists still are sorting through the data and haven’t agreed on what it all means.

    Suppose I give up the claim that humans never have survived temperature changes this fast, since neither of us believes the proxy data. It still is true that the population never has depended so much on the productivity of the land, since there never were this many people before. We can see that, of all the factors that influence climate, CO2 emissions now are dominating over the others. As CO2 emissions continue, we can expect to see continued global warming. That means continuing loss of farmland and rangeland to drought, more damage due to floods, and continued loss of irrigation water.

    Tell me, what would it take to convince you that six billion people can affect the climate?

  8. By rocketc on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    I cannot be sure that there was a Medieval warming period – I was using the data on your site – your chart makes that claim. The only temperatures that I accept on the chart are those that were legitimately measured – since about 1800 or so. Even then, I’m not sure that they had the technology to figure the average global temperature.

    We are depending on people to predict the weather 10 years from now – didn’t Al Gore make the claim that global warming will continue unabated for the next 10 years?

    I will let these 400 scientists make my arguments:

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb

    I recommend reading the entire article.

    Convince half of these 400 scientists that 6 billion people can affect the climate and I will accept the hypothesis.

  9. By rocketc on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    Didn’t Gore predict that we had 10 years left to make the changes in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance?

    Check out this story from August:

    http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB118835472067611877-lMyQjAxMDE3ODI4OTMyNTk0Wj.html

    This is why people like me are skeptical.

  10. By RobC on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    It’s not my place to defend or apologize for Mr. Gore. I have my own criticisms of him.

    But saying that the greenhouse effect will increase as long as greenhouse-gas concentration is rising is not the same as predicting the weather.

    Thanks for the link to Sen. Inhofe’s page. I can appreciate all the work that went into assembling it, but it doesn’t prove anything. Most of the comments complain about the politics. Most of the comments come from people who aren’t climatologists. Most of the comments from climatologists appear to be criticisms of the IPCC project taken out of context and which don’t contradict the conclusions. What you are left with is a very short list of comments, none of which agree with each other. And only one, from what I can see, relates to our discussion. Dr. Paldor says,

    “First, temperature changes, as well as rates of temperature changes (both increase and decrease) of magnitudes similar to that reported by IPCC to have occurred since the Industrial revolution (about 0.8C in 150 years or even 0.4C in the last 35 years) have occurred in Earth’s climatic history. There’s nothing special about the recent rise!”

    Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain how he knows that. More to the point, none of the comments relate to the basic facts. Temperatures don’t go up by themselves; some physical cause has to be involved. Solar irradiance doesn’t explain why the global average temperature has gone up since 1980, and neither do sunspots. Volcanoes, tectonic action, nothing explains it except greenhouse gases, and they explain it completely.

    From the comments given, it’s clear that much more than half the people being quoted believe that global warming is happening and it’s due to CO2. Some of them just think the concerns people like me have are overblown. So the bottom line is, they do believe that 6 billion people can affect the climate.

    The way I see it is that we’re not talking about big changes in the earth’s energy balance; we’re talking about small changes (~1°F in over 100 years!) that have a big effect on our lives. 1° doesn’t mean the whole planet burns up, it means mountain glaciers get a little less snow in the winter and melt a little faster in the summer. In time, the glaciers disappear and farmers who depend on snowmelt in the summer don’t get it. Semi-arid parts of Africa that now get just enough rain to grow some grass for cattle stop getting even that much. Beetles that never could get up a big population before because of winter-kill now can survive and increase gradually in numbers so they can destroy a forest. That’s what we’re seeing now. So what can happen with 2°? This could be awfully expensive, and just to pretend it’s not happening, or it is but it’s not caused by people, or it is caused by people but there’s nothing we can do about it, simply diverts us from making important decisions.

  11. By rocketc on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    There is a lot of “if” and “could be” and “maybe” and “projected to be” wrapped up in this whole thing.

    I just think we need to proceed with greater caution. What if we had reacted to the great claims of global cooling in the 1970’s in a large way?

    6 of the 10 warmest years occurred in the 30’s and 40’s. does that mean the globe is cooling?

    Also, I was looking at some of your charts – how do they know what the CO2 levels were in AD 1000?

    I have enjoyed the interaction, we will wait and see (but I think I’m right) 😉

  12. By RobC on Dec 20, 2007 | Reply

    rocketc, that’s a gracious closing. I regret spoiling it but I hate letting a question go if I have an answer to offer. They look at the air trapped in bubbles in ice cores. I think the temperatures to which you refer were just in the US. You probably remember movies about the Dust Bowl.

    I enjoyed the dialog, too. I don’t doubt you’re partly right–maybe it’ll turn out to be more complicated than anyone realizes.

  13. By Canadian on Jan 4, 2008 | Reply

    I believe that if there is a chance that global warming is happening (and I believe it is practically a certitude) that it is incumbent upon us in the wealthy West to make adjustments ASAP because the hardest hit will be the people who can least adapt and whose lives are already difficulty (Bangladesh, etc.). It is very selfish of us to refuse to act when the consequences of not acting could be so grave. And in any case, the actions to combat global warming are also beneficial for other reasons (pollution, waste, landfills, smog, community-building, liveable cities, food quality, etc.).

  14. By rocketc on Jan 4, 2008 | Reply

    I’m not so sure that it is a certainty. Advanced technology results in low levels of pollution. Read this article from

    Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin, Merited Scientist of Russia and fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, is staff researcher of the Oceanology Institute.

    http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080103/94768732.html

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