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Thursday, December 03, 2009

A little bit more...

Finally have a chance to sit down and write a bit more about the Munk debate.

There hasn't been a lot in the MSM about the debates, and "climategate" is still barely rating mention.  There are a few columnists and the National Post that will talk about it without trying to sweep the whole thing under the carpet.

In thinking about the debate (which I'll have to go back and watch agan, now that it's up on the Munk Debates website, so I can hear what Lawson was saying), I'm thinking the debaters exemplified my thoughts on logic and emotion, and the role they play in AGW alarmist/skepticism.

May and Monbiot argued from almost purely emotional viewpoints.  May did attempt to use facts and figures, but they were pure BS (more on that later).  I still can't say for Lawson, but Lomborg's position was almost pure logic.  While I disagree with his premise that AGW is real and a problem, I have no disagreement with his including climate change in his top 10 list of things we need to deal with, since adapting to climate change - warm or cold - is something we humans will always need to deal with.

I found a few of May's statements ludicrous.  For example, at one point she claimed to have followed up every single reference used in Lomborg's book and found them to all be wrong.  Every single one.  Ridiculous!  The only way that could be possible is if she allowed her own personal bias to reject any source or information that disagreed with her own conclusions.  She also tried to get all scientific in talking about the bubbles in ice cores (irritating, in that she sounded like she was talking down to the audience, as if they were children, or mentally difficient, but that could be just her speech mannerisms), and went on to claim that CO2 levels have never been this high in a million years.  Pure fallacy.  Rarely in the earth's history have CO2 levels been as LOW as they are now, and the last million years have been a slow drop, not an increase (with a few blips in each direction along the way).  Of course, there are plenty of sites that claim otherwise, but I've noticed that they are also predominantly sites that promote AGW alarmism already (ie: Wikipedia, Science and Nature magazines, and the like).  Of course, that works on the assumption that CO2 drives temperature which, again, is a false assumption.  As our technology improved and we could study various core data (ice, ocean sediments, etc), we see that CO2 is as likely likely to follow as lead, and there's very little correlation between CO2 and temp, and even less causation.

Monbiot was the champion as using the emotional arguement.  Well spoken, amiable and friendly looking, he finished off his portion of the debate with a dramatic experience of his.  In a nutshell, a Kenyan village he was supposed to visit but didn't because he ended up in the hospital got massacred, which was discovered when he finally did make it out there.  98 people were murdered, their bodies left for the hyenas.  He claims that this was done by people made desperate by a severe 4 yr drought that was "almost certainly" caused by global warming, and that this incident was the turning point for him to fight AGW.

Lets take a look at this "logic." 

First, he's assuming that the drought was caused, not just by global warming, but human induced global warming.  Because somehow, there's a difference (assuming we're actually causing any warming at all).  This implies that, if the world weren't warming, the drought wouldn't have happened.  Which also implies that, if things were cooler, there would be no drought.

Second, he blames these drought conditions for the atrocity committed by people.  If there were no drought, he implies, people wouldn't be desperate enough to kill each other.  (I noticed that, while he mentioned the villagers were cattlemen, he didn't mention if their murderers actually took the cattle, or anything else for that matter.)  No drought, no attrocities.

I happen to live in a fairly northern part of the prairies, which are typically pretty dry to start with.  We're a whole heck of a lot colder than Kenya.  We've also been experiencing drought for the last 10 years.  I haven't noticed any gangs of desperate people toting AK47's going around killing people (though we certainly have had our share of murders).  Why?

Well, for starters, I'm in Canada, where even our poor have more personal wealth than most people in third world countries.  We have a comparitively stable government and rule of law.  Canadian culture also doesn't accept AK47 toting gangs going around slaughtering entire villages.  Our desperate farmers are being forced to sell their breeding cattle because they can't afford to feed them - and those animals are going to slaughter, rather than another breeding operation.  People are losing their homes and farms, going into debt, declaring bankruptcy, and a few truly desperate commit murder-suicide.  Instead of killing other people, they kill their own families, and then themselves.

Monbiot would have us believe that, if we combate climate change, stop global warming (a questionable goal in itself) and cool down the earth (yeah... cause my garden did so well this past cold summer... NOT), there will be no more severe droughts, and therefore no more attrocities.

Pure emotionalism.

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