Friday, July 24, 2009


Discover Magazine blogger Carl Zimmer attacks George Will for quoting Mark Steyn:
Today Will has published a column about recent negotiations on controlling carbon emissions. He considers them a bunch of empty promises, which seems to be just fine with Will, because there is no global warming to control anyway. Here’s how Will closes his latest piece:
When New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called upon “young Americans” to “get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon,” another columnist, Mark Steyn, responded: “If you’re 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you’re graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade.”

Which could explain why the Mall does not reverberate with youthful clamors about carbon. And why, regarding climate change, the U.S. government, rushing to impose unilateral cap-and-trade burdens on the sagging U.S. economy, looks increasingly like someone who bought a closetful of platform shoes and bell-bottom slacks just as disco was dying.
In earlier days, Will liked to claim the World Meteorological Organization as an authority when he wrote that there has been no global warming since 1998. Now that the World Meteorological Organization has set things straight, he’s claiming a columnist at National Review as his authority. That’s quite an upgrade
But it isn't only right-wing ideologues who ignore climate change "reality":
At a recent dinner at the University of Oxford, a senior researcher in atmospheric physics was telling me about his coming holiday in Thailand. I asked him whether he was concerned that his trip would make a contribution to climate change - we had, after all, just sat through a two-hour presentation on the topic. "Of course," he said blithely. "And I'm sure the government will make long-haul flights illegal at some point."

I had deliberately steered our conversation this way as part of an informal research project that I am conducting - one you are welcome to join. My participants so far include a senior adviser to a leading UK climate policy expert who flies regularly to South Africa ("my offsets help set a price in the carbon market"), a member of the British Antarctic Survey who makes several long-haul skiing trips a year ("my job is stressful"), a national media environment correspondent who took his family to Sri Lanka ("I can't see much hope") and a Greenpeace climate campaigner just back from scuba diving in the Pacific ("it was a great trip!").

Intriguing as their dissonance may be, what is especially revealing is that each has a career predicated on the assumption that information is sufficient to generate change. It is an assumption that a moment's introspection would show them was deeply flawed.
When those with a vested interest in climate change aren't believers it's hardly surprising the average man in the street isn't on board the global warming bandwagon.

Update: Thanks to a link from Instapundit I'm currently getting more traffic per hour than I usually get per day. Yippee!

Update II: A hobby blogger Instalanche looks like this:


Anonymous Corey said...

Dude, Instalanche!.

2:53 AM  
Anonymous pst314 said...

"Smells to me like a return to the middle ages - religious courts, the inquisition, the imprimatur and indulgences."

You left out another medieval tradition, sumptuary laws: In Al Gore's utopia large homes, automobiles, and jet travel will be illegal only for serfs and peons like you and me. The aristocracy (or dare I say nomenklatura?) will continue to enjoy all the luxuries they have today, plus the added pleasure of requiring that we thank them for running our lives for us.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Dick Eagleson said...

Presumably the carbon used by that new hip diversion is 10,000 times or more the per person amount for an average long-haul flight.

You're off by close to three orders of magnitude.

A Russian Soyuz rocket uses about 78 metric tons of kerosene to put three people into orbit; that's 26 metric tons per passenger. The Soyuz always flies with a 100% passenger load factor.

A 747 configured for long-haul routes seats 260 or so and averages perhaps a 70% passenger load factor. It'll burn about 770 kg. of kerosene to move each of those 180 or so people 12,000 km.

26,000/770 is roughly 34; it takes about 34 times as much fuel to put a space tourist on the International Space Station as it does to move a businessperson - or an environmental activist, for that matter - from Europe or the U.S. to Asia.

There are aircraft that are somewhat more fuel-efficient than the 747 on long-haul routes, but the ratio even for a late-model 777 or A340 doesn't rise above 50.

You can boost this number by changing the definition of long-haul. Cutting the trip length from 12,000 km. to 6,000 km., for instance, doubles the ratio to between 68 and 100, respectively, for 747's and newer aircraft. Even then, the difference between terrestrial and space tourists is only two orders of magnitude, not four.

I didn't run the numbers for the case of Al Gore flying by himself on a G-V. In that particular case, both we and Gaia might be better served by rocketing Al into space.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous sdog said...

My question to these 'progressives' is, do I or do I not still get my flying car?

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you can pull down a good salary as a climate crusader. Those are some pretty pricey hobbies.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone say "Prince Charles" along with me?

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Garvey said...

Carl Zimmer is not a scientist. His writing is no better than the scientists he quotes. In the case of climate science, his chums tend to be the dimmest bulbs in the box.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Techie said...

To steal from Instapundit: I'll believe it's a crisis when the people telling me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Muggins said...

The popular belief in man-made global warming will cost people money, and for the poorer among us, it's a heavy burden. Higher energy costs means more than just more expensive cars and gas. It translates into more expensive consumer goods, including food. Energy is woven throughout the entire chain from mining and manufacturing, to transportation of goods. The Democrats, the party that represented the working class and the downtrodden masses, has morphed into the elitist Green Party, and screw the lower classes, they can ride the bus.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me a dumb optimist but this kind of stuff is why I can't believe anything serious will ever be done in regards to carbon. At least in the US (where, I think, the gummint is a little more answerable to the proles).

10:31 PM  

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