July 25, 2006

meditation xvii


God dammit, yesterday's comments were awesome, but there is so much there worthy of righteous indignation and garment-rending anger.

Stop me if I'm misrepresentin', but did some of you really say there is a meaningful cadre of industries that stand to benefit from global warming hysteria, and THAT'S how the pro-environment agenda gets its energy? You have GOT TO BE KIDDING.

For every one small company that sells backpacks that recharge your cell phone, there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of companies that benefit from things going the way they always have (McDonalds, Union Carbide, Halliburton, Unilever, etc etc etc.). British Petroleum has a nice solar department, but it accounts for... what, .0001% of their revenue?

To even hint that there are a powerful group of industries that stand to benefit from lying - or exaggerating - the threat of global warming takes a staggering lack of perspective. It's like the elephant claiming an ant blocks his view.

As for Democrats seizing it as a wedge issue, first of all, that's mostly crap, and second of all, Republicans can never blame any other political entity for exploiting a wedge issue again, given the utterly shameful way they've gone after homosexuals, people of color, and 9/11 widows. "Democrats needed something scary"? This is coming from the people that brought us Saddam's "mushroom cloud" and telling us that if Kerry was elected, "we'd get hit again"? Do you guys have any idea of the murderous hypocrisy at work here?

Climate change transcends politics, and is quite simply a matter of survival. The wave of black water doesn't give a shit if you're liberal or conservative, and while you send for whom the bell tolls, your estate is being washed away. For those of us trying to do something about it, why can't you just say thank you?

seriously, Lucy and I are wondering what your problem is

Posted by Ian Williams at July 25, 2006 9:30 PM
Posted by: xuxE at July 25, 2006 10:52 PM

i agree climate change transcends politics, and so should the solution.

i actually hadn't really thought about the idea of profiting from green politics, until the democrats and others started promoting "sustainability" investing. although i think al gore and david blood distinguish their fund from the mainstream sustainability crowd by saying profit is their FIRST concern and they invest in sustainability BECAUSE it is profitable in the long term, not because of the morality of it (god forbid).

for me personally, i simply resent the idea that i have to be down with the democratic party political machine in order to be pro-conservation and renewable energy sources, pro-affirmative action and anti-discrimination, or hold any other so-called "left wing" or "liberal" point of view. the democratic party doesn't own those ideas, and fuck them for dangling them over us in their political spin whenever they think that it will serve them at election time.

i don't mean to make this so personal, i just have real issues with the democratic party and with al gore's credibility and i consider myself pretty "left wing". in fact, next time i move it's probably going to be about 30 seconds away from where i live now, right up into the heart of the republic of berkeley.

Posted by: Salem at July 26, 2006 4:42 AM

The political debate over global warming has generated so many "bad science" explanations on both sides of the arguement that getting into a discussion with an ideolog from either side can be an infuriating waste of time. Having spent precious little time in science classes I will simply defualt to my instincts. Conservation of resources is a good thing. Waste is a not so good thing. Beyond that I always liked George Carlin's take on saving the earth. "The earth will be just fine". Save ourselves is more likely the objective. To paraphrase George Carlin, "We are a virus with legs and the sooner the earth sheds US, the better off it will be."

Posted by: alan at July 26, 2006 5:05 AM


Posted by: Chris M at July 26, 2006 5:11 AM

Hypocracy? What does that have to do with anything. I'm just analyzing politics (it was my major!) since you mentioned Al Gore, politician.

9/11 was real scary. Terrorists are real scary. Remember anthrax? Bush and Repubs clearly benefited politically from 9/11 (see 2002 and 2004 elections) for a number of reasons but mostly because they addressed it aggressively. For decades Repubs usually win when the issue is national security. Dems have not done well on this issue and know they will not take this issue away from Repubs.

So if there is to be a big threat to security that Dems can take the lead on, it has to be something other than conventional national security. They would need their own threat issue. GW theory as presented by Gore is a big threat to America -- and the whole world. GW has and will mobilize the left Dem base (about 15 or 20% of voters) at a minimum, and who knows it might get another 10 or 20% to follow to some extent. The GW issue works to vindicate so many of the left's long-existing beliefs about human nature, environmental theory, capitalism, patriarchy...

The difference is that terrorism and 9/11 are established facts to all voters (well I'm sure someone out there thinks it was the Jews or Dick Cheney) while global warming leading to some catastrophe is something a lot less than that.

Many of us know that we can't simply believe the left on this issue because we know they want to believe it too badly. The left loves GW! It's like Germany and David Hasselhoff.

Posted by: GFWD at July 26, 2006 5:19 AM

Ian, I must come clean and apologize for telling you to look on the bright side and see the glass as half full. Seems the highly recruited basketball star, Kevin Love, chose UCLA over UNC.

That's the 8th sign of the apocalypse . . . just after #7 which reads: "And a Rat shall lead the mighty superpower in athletic games."

With coach k running the USA men's basketball team, Carolina getting spurned by Love, on top of all this global warming stuff, things are looking bleak.

To quote the thespian Bill Paxton, from his breakthrough performance in ALIENS:

"Game over, man!"

Salem, love that reference to George Carlin. His entire bit on the environment was awesome.

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 6:17 AM

Ian, backpacks isn't where the money is in the eco-hysteria, it's in federal research grants. I suspect you know this and are being intentionally obtuse. And then there's the power aspect. This doesn't need to be explained to you either.

Posted by: Laurie from Manly Dorm at July 26, 2006 6:46 AM

Hi Cutie Cutiekins! Have you had any other playdates with Brooke Shields?

Posted by: dratch at July 26, 2006 7:22 AM

Ian's right; we should be thanking him, Goddammit! While you haters are out there driving to your workaday jobs (probably in SUVs--grr), he's doing his bit, trying to write him some TV and buying up Priuses. Ingrates.

Posted by: kjf at July 26, 2006 7:30 AM

i just purchased a prius friday after waiting 2 months for it to show up due to backlogs. it got me wondering why ford and gm aren't making more hybrid vehicles. in fact ford recently announced they were going to go to alternative fuel vehicles and not hybrid technology. what gives?

Posted by: scruggs at July 26, 2006 7:43 AM

No need to worry kids, Wal-mart is on the case.


Posted by: Ian at July 26, 2006 8:43 AM

Thank you, dratch! FINALLY someone gets it.

Greg, I can't believe your pessimism. We didn't even need Love!

Posted by: chaircrusher at July 26, 2006 9:22 AM

OK, Matt. Point for point:

First Link:
The author, Bob Carter, is a member of the "Institute of Public
Affairs" -- a conservative, corporate funded think tank. The Telegraph
is a conservative paper, which doesn't mean they out and out lie, but
they definitely have a dog in this fight.

Second Link:
Alan Wood, columnist for the Murdoch paper The Australian.

Third Link:
Ruth Lea, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, a conservative
think tank founded by Margeret Thatcher. Oh, and she cites Bob Carter
as an authority, author of the first article you cited.

Fourth Link:
http://www.nam.org/s_nam/doc1.asp?CID=202260&DID=236771 National
Association Manufacturers. They have a dog in this fight, too. And
the article's lede quotes Stephen Hayward, who compiles the "Index of
Leading Environmental Indicators" put out every year by the Pacific
Research Institute, a corporate-funded conservative think tank.
During the Clinton Administration, PRI was a charter member of the
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (aka The Arkansas Project

Oh, a blogger. Who quotes the article in Link 2.

http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/archives/001682.html Quoting an
open letter by a bunch of scientists. I don't have time to go through
the whole list, but hey! There's Bob Carter again! And Owen McShane
who directs the "Centre For Resource Management Studies," -- you
guessed it, another corporate-funded think tank.

Look, I'm not an idiot: One lesson I have learned in 48 years is that
things will never be as awful as the pessimists say, and never as
wonderful as the optimists say. But the climate change skeptics you
cite all seem to be exactly what I said they were: A bunch of people
who have formed their own circle jerk, funded handsomely by corporate
interests who want to resist change.

Oh, and of all the things these articles were fulminating about, the
one substantive thing they said was that the 'Hockey Stick' graph of
global temperatures was flawed, or even a hoax. So I went looking for
references on this debate:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3569604.stm -- Apparently the
conservative-think-tankies using their own junk statistics to try and
refute the hockey stick.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=11 -- good, scientifically
grounded refutation of the Hockey-Stick-Deniers.

Look, Matt, I hope you're right, because I have a dog in this game
too: my children. But all this 'evidence' you cite to support your
beliefs on climate change is pretty one-sided, partisan, and suspect.

Posted by: Claverack Weekender at July 26, 2006 9:29 AM

I think the Democratic party is using this as a magnet while the Republicans use it as a wedge.

The spoils are not for green industry, they are for control of the country, regulation, taxation, appropriation.... That's where the real money is it seems.

Posted by: caveman at July 26, 2006 9:49 AM

I think everyone needs to do four tequila shots while blaring "Aint No Wrong" by Jane's Addiction

Posted by: jason savage at July 26, 2006 10:06 AM

i found this funny (and mildly relevant)


Posted by: Father Tim at July 26, 2006 10:13 AM

-I heard K on ESPN radio Monday (I'll spare the awful details) and I now officially have no guilt cheering against the US in hoops.
-From the Sad, but True Files:
"The biggest truth to face now-what is probably making me unfunny now for the remainder of my life-is that I don't think people give a damn whether the planet goes on or not. It seems to me as if everyone is living as members of Alcoholics Anonymous do, day by day. And a few more days will be enough. I know of very few people who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren."
---Kurt Vonnegut-"A Man Without a Country"
-Barrister Matt, Denial ain't a river in Egypt. And a hat tip to you and your agribusiness buddies for icing the Doha trade round to protect the billions in ridiculous subsidies paid to your little mafia (often not grow a thing). Your conservative crew seems to be all for FAIR TRADE (a laughable term in practice) when blue-collar manufacturing jobs get eviscerated but you'll be damned if free and open markets threaten your little racket. I know, I know, nice guys don't get paid, but you might want to get Cargill's pubes out of your teeth. It's poor form.

Posted by: John Schultz at July 26, 2006 10:22 AM

I will say thank you for continuing to ask probing questions.

The last two days have made me think about our two party system and how lame it really is. I feel like the polarity is getting worse and worse and there is no place for people like me who are fiscally conservative and somewhat socially progressive.

Perhaps someone can explain why our two party system continues to prevail in this country when so many of us seem stuck in the middle.

Posted by: Chris M at July 26, 2006 10:56 AM

I am totally down with the tequila shots and believe it or not I'm glad there are people who want to make the world cleaner and healthier. After a few shots I'd surely pick up a karoake microphone, put my arm around Al's shoulder, and we'd sing a rousing version of 'Big Yellow Taxi'.

Posted by: GFWD at July 26, 2006 11:16 AM

Ian, you confuse my -ASM with an -ISM. It's not pessimism, but SARCASM that I was using. As I sent out to my Tar Heel friends, I don't ultimately care about Love, especially because we ARE loaded and he didn't go to hated rival dook.

If I had been REALLY serious, I would have cited to Bill Paxton's more meaty roles for quotes, such as when he played CHET in "Weird Science", and called Love a "buttwad".

But I'm not that pessimistic. To paraphrase Steven Wright, I don't really see the glass as half-full OR half-empty. I just see a glass that's twice as big as it needs to be.

Posted by: xuxE at July 26, 2006 11:35 AM

why does the 2 party system prevail? i think because of fear of the unknown and apathy. people hardly even vote as it is. imagine if you had to learn about 3 or 4 candidates? the horror! plus, the two parties have such a vested interest in the system that they won't even really *deign* to engage a new party.

but anyway, since we're on the subject of parties, (and tequila shots) anyway, i have an idea!

let's make our own party!!

Posted by: Beth at July 26, 2006 12:08 PM

Pubes, teeth, eeeewwwww.

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 12:12 PM

Counsellor Tim, I hope you're not as gullible as so many seem to be on this topic. Aside from lucrative research grants at the federal feeding trough, billions will change hands if this country signs onto a Kyoto-style regulatory scheme.

And I left that Ag job 7 months ago. I work for the DoD now, a whole 'nother racket.

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 12:18 PM

P.S. I neglected to mention that I've never supported agriculture subsidies, only IP rights. I'm all about free trade, counsellor.

Posted by: Piglet at July 26, 2006 12:27 PM

"for me personally, i simply resent the idea that i have to be down with the democratic party political machine in order to be pro-conservation and renewable energy sources, pro-affirmative action and anti-discrimination, or hold any other so-called "left wing" or "liberal" point of view. "

And there you have the one thing the Republicans throw in my face that I can't satisfactorily answer: "Yeah, well, your party sucks as bad as we do! Ha-ha! I win!"

Actually, since the Bushies took office, no, the Democrats DON'T suck just as bad bad any more. But they do suck, and their machine does not address environmental issues either. They remind me of the pigs in "Animal Farm", who contribute to the problem, and when their companions complain, they'd say, "Well, we're not as bad as the humans, at least. If you don't support us, the human farmers will come back, and you don't want that, so suck it up."

Those Democrats and liberals who DO address the problem are pretty much people who are no longer inside the beltway, or never were. In case you hadn't noticed, Al Gore ain't holding no office these days, and Michael Moore never did. They don't have any power. Who's still in power among the Democrats? Wishy-washy moderates like Kerry and Hillary who take so many sides of every issue that you can't ever tell what they really think.

But if Democrats are failing to address the problem, the Republican party is actively moving full steam backwards. I've heard some folks argue that the Republicans actually WANT global warming and everything it entails, because it's part of the loony religious right "We want the End Times" goals. That they're actively seeking to bring about the end of the world so that they can supposedly get Raptured. I'm not sure I'd go that far (see what I said yesterday about cognitive dissonance and the tragedy of the commons)...but, you know, if it were true, it would be completely consistent with this Administrations behavior around global warming. Completely consistent. Think that over, you who laugh at the mote in the Democrats' eye despite entire lumberyards in your own.

Posted by: Father Tim at July 26, 2006 12:27 PM

Beth, you're right. That was gross. Got carried away. Sorry.
Barrister, I assume this has been an easy transition. Different game, different crooks, but, as long as your crew keeps grabbing all of the cash it can get its hands on, we're good.
I guess the rest of the national business media is similarly "gullible" as EVERY NEWS ARTICLE blames the deal's collapse on the US and EU's pissing contest over their ridiculous subsidy scheme(s). Love the forced-fit Kyoto reference, too. Give up the ghost, Barrister. You guys killed Kyoto a long time ago.

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 12:40 PM

Who killed Kyoto? It failed in the Senate 95-0... in 1997! Not a single liberal Democrat senator thought highly enough of it to vote in its favor. Give it up, indeed.

Posted by: Father Tim at July 26, 2006 1:05 PM

That was Sense of the Senate resolution, nine years ago, and Gore symbolically singed it while VP in '98. Good for Gore.
You conveniently failed to answer my previous question so I will repeat it:
is the rest of the national business media similarly "gullible"? Because EVERY NEWS ARTICLE blames the deal's collapse on the US and EU's pissing contest over their ridiculous subsidy scheme(s).

Posted by: Ian at July 26, 2006 1:07 PM

I would like to redirect attention to chaircrusher's point-by-point link analysis a few comments above - it was blocked by the blog software (as was Matt's yesterday) for too many URLs, but I manually put it back in. Great stuff.

Posted by: Lee at July 26, 2006 1:37 PM

I was wondering why Matt didn't respond to those!

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 2:47 PM

Oh please, Lee. Counsellor, Kyoto collapsed because it did not include scheduled commitments by developing countries. Read Sen. Byrd's Resolution S98. Clinton and Gore couldn't get the signers to include those countries, and they had 8 years to try. (But yeah for symbolism!) Gore himself said the Clinton Administration would not send the Protocol to the Senate for ratification until there was participation by developing nations, which they never was. And 95 to NOTHING sounds bipartisan to me.

Posted by: Lee at July 26, 2006 3:05 PM

What's up with Please, Lee??

Someone countered you point by point and you ignored it.

I can't believe you don't have anything to say.

Well, I can. That's totally the way this game is played these days.

Posted by: Father Tim at July 26, 2006 3:06 PM

Maybe the third time will be the charm:
is the rest of the national business media similarly "gullible"? Because EVERY NEWS ARTICLE blames the deal's collapse on the US and EU's pissing contest over their ridiculous subsidy scheme(s).

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 3:14 PM

Yes, Chaircrusher annihilates the cause for skepticism of the anthropogenic cause of global warming by... attacking the messengers as bought-and-paid-for cranks. Except, of course, for the hundreds of Canadien scientists who you can't be bothered to look up. (And those who believe humans are the primary cause of GW do their work for free, have no conflict of interest, have nothing but our best interests at heart and are never to be questioned! Never mind the systematic bias against researchers who don't tow the line.)

Even a majority of those who believe the way Mann does about global warming now admit the hockey stick chart is deeply flawed statistically. But hey, you found someone who doesn't!

With all due respect, crusher, your beliefs, like Al Gore's movie, are pretty one-sided, partisan, and suspect as well.

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 3:16 PM

Tim, you can't possibly tell me that you don't find an answer to that question in my previous comment. I told you what caused the "collapse." Are you for real, or just jerking my chain?

Posted by: Father Tim at July 26, 2006 4:01 PM

I wasn't talking about the collapse of Kyoto. You accused me of being "gullible" on the collapse of the Doha trade round. You then mentioned an omniously-sounding "Kyoto-style" regulatory system as a good reason to cheer its collapse. My question, you know the one you keep refusing to answer, is: is the national business media similarly "gullible" in its reporting that the DOHA TRADE ROUND (maybe Ian can get it in braille for you)collapsed because of the US and EU's refusal to give an inch on its insane system of subsidies(that feeds the fat and disgusting trough of agribusiness)? This was and has remained my original question. It was you who employed the tried-and-true conservative/GOP trick of bringing up an irrelevant strawman (Kyoto) in order to bleat on and on about--- arguing, shooting down, and contradicting points no one was trying to make.

Posted by: kent at July 26, 2006 4:03 PM

Matt, whatever. The reason I looked through your links was because I was curious as to whether they really did justify skepticism about human input into climate change. I'm willing to consider it, really I am.

I was frankly surprised when they turned out to be articles by bought hacks, in conservative newspapers, or conservative bloggers, who sourced the same bought hacks. Not only that, those articles had the unmistakeable taint of Talking Points -- they all said basically the same things, quoted each other as authorities, and put forth the same "Hockey Stick" refutation that doesn't hold up to even cursory examination.

In other words, this is the standard conservative "Big Lie" school of propaganda. Not only that, with only the simplest of web searches, they're plausibly refuted by the writings of actual scientists. I found two sources at the top of the list when I searched on "Climate Change Controversy," and there were hundreds more.

Please dig up some actually convincing, substantive links that show that there's no human input into climate change. Oh and while you're at it, contrast and compare what Exxon and other multinationals stand gain short-term versus what a few hundred climate scientists will gain in grant money. Exxon pays more for PR -- not even advertising, just PR -- than the sum total of funds available for climate research from governments. The idea that there's someone out there flogging the hockey stick to win big somehow fails the laugh test.

But heck I won't convert you. This is an article of faith for you. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Betsy at July 26, 2006 4:29 PM

A few months back, after scanning Michael Crichton’s ‘State of Fear,’ feeling dumbfounded, I spent hours online reading about global warming (mostly .org and .edu sites) and in the end, I came to the conclusion (was initially leaning hard the other way) that there isn’t enough evidence to pin it down as a legitimate threat.

If I’m wrong, would someone please point me to several web sites where at least four or five bona fide scientists, (not speaking through the media, environmental organization or think tank) states otherwise?

An aside: on another thread I commented that my energy bill stayed the same when I switched over to Con Ed’s Power Your Way. Actually the new plan was reflected on my subsequent bill, which went up ten dollars. I think it’s a real shame that people are punished dollar-wise when they go green. Ten dollars may not be much, and even though it’s tax deductible, I think it would be a hard sell for most people in my building/neighborhood.

Posted by: Matt at July 26, 2006 4:33 PM

Ah, ok, Tim. I forgot that the left never brings up Kyoto. And I wrote that I hope you weren't gullible, not on Doha, but on the financial incentives and pressure on researchers to tow the politically correct line on GW. Look, the Protocol collapsed, not over subsidies, but over the absence of scheduled commitments by developing countries. If you want to know whether I think business media are being gullible, and assuming you're right that "EVERY NEWS ARTICLE" blames the collapse on subsidies, which I highly doubt as a literal matter, I don't know. Are they wrong? If they mean subsidies were the sole or primary cause of Kyoto's failure, then yes, they are most definitely wrong. I hope that is clear enough. And didn't I say I oppose subsidies?

Ok, Kent. A few of them have ties to conservative think tanks and the like. One would never find such links or political leanings in experts such as, say, Helen Caldicott. I'm sure they're all apolitical and the Sierra Club has never funded environmental research. There are billions of dollars at stake not just for oil companies, but in regulatory schemes and grants for the hysterical side also. There's ample cause for skepticism for any curious person. You haven't refuted anything, and I think you're being led by the nose, but then you're free to think the same about me.

I'm ready to put this one right next to abortion and religion on debates that are a waste of time.

Posted by: kent at July 26, 2006 6:40 PM

I dunno. I see a definite upside to acting on Global Warming, in that the things we would be doing to stop GW are the same things we should be doing for other reasons. And as petroleum becomes more expensive, some of these changes will happen anyway because the financial upside of alternative and hybrid technologies becomes a no-brainer.

We should be working towards getting a more sustainable path for humankind. A big obstacle to this is big multinational companies that want to extract maximum profit out of available resources now. I'm not for onerous restraints on businesses. I'm talking about facilitating the changes that will take place sooner rather than later. The problem with letting the market sort it out is that by the time the corporations have wrung all the money out of extractive resource consumption, the breakdown will be much more painful than working NOW to take the next steps.

Very small changes -- like making CAFE standards stricter -- have never caused the harm the auto companies claimed they would. They hired a few more engineers and sucked it up. At this point you can buy a full size Cadillac that gets the same milage my mom's 1966 VW Bug did.

Posted by: Father Tim at July 26, 2006 11:09 PM

I love how after Kent filets your "sources" chapter and verse, we move things to the abortion/religion "can't really argue about it" aisle. Smooth move. And I'm guessing you're all the rage at cocktail parties...

Posted by: Matt at July 27, 2006 4:20 AM

What in the world are you talking about, Father Tim? Chapter and verse? He basically just said, "They're right-wingers!" That's not an argument, that's an attempt to stifle one. This forum is usually better than this.

Posted by: Michelle at July 28, 2006 11:55 AM

Sometime reader, never posted before. I was following this debate here this week, and then this afternoon, came across this Op-Ed in the NY Times.


Interesting, no?

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