As some of my readers may know, I am actually rather attentive to environmental concerns. For several years, I have put my money where my mouth is and volunteered for local cleanups (including ocean cleanups our krewe specializes in – we have a special focus on the ocean), helped out at local animal sanctuaries, and spread a message of good stewardship with regards to our home. My wife is even more attentive than I am to these matters. She has spent most of her career working in zoos, aquariums, and veterinary hospitals.
So for me the fanaticism of Global Warming proponents is particularly irritating. Last night, my wife was watching a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef, and the mass coral bleaching event that happened in 2016, and the spin was obvious from the very beginning. Cameras panned over rows of crying academics, watching the coral turn white, and then die, pieces of flotsam carrying off into the current to music that sounded like it belonged in a funeral.
Marine Biologists and Climatologists (all on government payrolls) went on a series of adventures collecting the raw camera footage of dead and dying coral. It was explained to the viewer that even a 2C degree shift in water temperatures was sufficient to kill most of the Great Barrier Reef, and if we did not act soon, it would surely die. The rhetoric in the media was particularly extreme. The reef was declared “dead” in scare quotes, even though most of the reef survived the event intact.
By act, of course, they mean to have government regulations and taxation schemes put into place that would make things more expensive for the average Joes of the United States. It is, you see, always America’s fault. And it is thus America which must be taxed and penalized for the environmental problems somewhere else. Governments have, historically, been excellent polluters and destroyers of the environment. Why they should be trusted on this matter is beyond me.
The hole in this logic was immediately apparent to me. If a 2C shift in temperature was sufficient to wipe out the reef, how has this 18 million year old reef system (the current iteration is approximately 8000 years old) survived so long?
Here are two graphs which illustrate my point:
Notice that in both graphs, during both the 18 million year period, and the 8000 year period, temperatures have been higher than 2016, the time of the Great Barrier Reef mass bleaching event. So how is this reef still here? Why did it not die long before man starting dumping CO2 into the atmosphere? If a mere shift of 2C is sufficient to kill it, why is it there in the first place? Did similar mass bleaching events occur in the years when temperatures were higher than today?
This is only one of many inconsistencies which bother me, both in the climate models and the data itself. Correlation, as any idiot knows, is not necessarily causation. Perhaps there is an explanation for the why the Great Barrier Reef has survived previous warm periods, but is having trouble with this one. I cannot say. But so far, the explanation of the warmistas is insufficient.
Simple fact is, I don’t trust them. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say, these people don’t have any skin in the game. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite. They are paid by the very agency which wishes to push this agenda for its own benefit. Conflict of interest is readily apparent.
Thinking of this, I decided to peruse Taleb’s opinion the matter, which I located here. The thrust of the brief article is that the climate models and scaremongering are not required, nor are the specific policies espoused to correct them. Taleb’s skepticism of such modeling techniques is a matter of record. But, he tells us, the risk of global catastrophe from screwing around with Mother Nature shouldn’t be ignored. We have only one Earth, after all. It sounded sensible to me.
I’ve often thought that, were the Left truly honest about their concern for the environment, this would be the position to take. In other words, the models don’t work well, and the data is conflicting and, in any event, not accurate over a sufficiently long amount of time to be particularly useful. But, polluting the Earth is bad on general principle. Put simply, we have one planet (for now). Don’t fuck with it.
Instead, the warmistas have taken very specific policy positions but have failed to live by those same principles themselves. They will tell John Doe to give up his car, use less A/C, and to have less kids, but they will fly around in private jets, cool 14,000 sqft mansions, and do whatever they like with regards to their own families. If they really believed the Earth was doomed unless drastic measures were employed to alter human behavior, they would alter their own behavior as well.
I continue to maintain that financial wisdom is the path forward for us to be good stewards of Earth. Every time you load your shopping cart up with useless trinkets shipped over from China, running up consumer credit, you are contributing to the problem. This is an axiom I live by personally. Skin in the game. Similarly, don’t throw out the old for the new just because it is new. If you’ve ever watched those HGTV shows, you’ll see folks throwing out perfectly good refrigerators and ovens for fancy, new, “green” units. They moralize about it, patting themselves on the back for how environmentally aware they are. It amuses me how few people take into account the manufacturing expenditures necessary to make that new “green” appliance, nor understand that often times, the new models are less reliable than the old, and will eat up such savings in other ways.
Similarly, you see many Toyota Priuses, other hybrids, and new fancy electric cars driven by people who consider themselves to be proper environmental stewards. The effects of the cocktails of chemicals in the batteries are not taken into account, nor that, in effect, for a hybrid you must build two whole motors, with all the attendant manufacturing pollution. If the environment were truly their most valued goal, they would buy a used economy car, with good gas mileage, in reasonable shape. Or, perhaps, they would even ride a bicycle to work. This, of course, they rarely do. I’m much more inclined to listen to the rare environmentalist who does, however. He has skin in the game, after all.
Being frugal with your expenditures is an excellent way to both avoid loads of debt, and be a good steward. And given that China is the worst polluter anyway and is often exempted from the ire of Leftists (why let the biggest polluter off the hook?), the best things America can do is to buy less Chinese kitsch, and bring more manufacturing back to the United States. After all, we are generally cleaner about the process. The latter, of course, is anathema to the Left. They’d much rather tax American business into oblivion and let the third world dump as much pollution as it wants in an effort to punish the evil, racist United States. Such punishment is a higher concern to them than the planet they live on.
I mean, I wonder if all the crap China dumps into the water is having any effect on the Great Barrier Reef? After all, in the very same period quoted in the documentary as being extensively warming, China was rising as a major manufacturing concern. It’s entirely possible man is causing the damage, just not in the way Western academics are obsessing over.
Reducing pollution is a good and noble concern, and I support it, both in my own life and as a suggestion to others. I do not, however, support the specific policy positions of the Left, nor trust the government’s conclusions or ability to repair any damage. Notions that they can model the entire climate of Earth are foolish. Their obsession with carbon dioxide and warming has outstripped pollution concerns that could be much more pressing. They excuse the world’s biggest polluters out of political expediency, and fail to live by their own rules. They praise superficialities like “I drive a hybrid” over real volunteer work. The Leftist governments they support are often far worse environmentally than any private concern. They have no skin in the game. They are terrible stewards of the Earth. We should not listen to them.
But let’s not make the mistake of giving up proper stewardship of our home, either. As Taleb tells us, we only get one, and it is best not to play games with it if we don’t have to. And such stewardship often comes with financial benefits anyway. Leftists are determined to make their version of “good” stewardship expensive, to punish. I propose the opposite: being wise and less wasteful with your spending probably benefits the environment, too. And it is individual citizens who can best help, not bloated governments loaded with corruption, waste, and rent-seeking behavior.