2007-11-22

Here's a good reason I don't like the Christian Democratic Party

From the department of making-me-laugh-and-cry-at-the-same-time:
Dear Gordon, I would like to respectfully disagree with your correspondents Ron and Christine Lankshear whose letter criticising the CDP climate-change policy appeared in the feedback section of November 15 CVIP. They mention that their son, a Greens supporter, was dismissive of the CDP environment policy that questions the prevailing paradigm of anthropogenic global warming. Even if one believes the claims of the cult-like prophets of doom about the causes and effects of global-warming, there is no way any Christian should prefer the overtly anti-Christian and pro-death policies of the Greens over the pro-life and pro-Christian policies of the CDP. I am assuming the Lankshears are a Christian family so it distresses me to think that their son could have adopted such pagan views. I fear this is indicative of the wider church and Christian community who have generally failed to pass on their faith to the next generation and our society is suffering because of that. GK Chesterton famously said, "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." Perhaps this is the reason why so many people today have unquestioningly adopted the new Green 'faith' - is it because they have first rejected the Christian faith? Regards, Ewan McDonald
Ron Lankshear, you marvellous person you! This letter you got from the CDP is just stunning.

That's right folks, if you're even slightly tinged green you have lost the Christian faith. If you like the Green party you have descended into paganism. It is a failure of the church to keep its members in line. Liberal theology, that's what it is, with satan lurking underneath.

This is exactly the sort of rhetoric that makes me angry and why I now encourage all potential CDP voters to reassess their position. Ewan McDonald has labelled the Greens the as "anti-Christian" and "pro-death". He also dismisses the threat of global warming as being the thinking of a "cult-like" group.

Granted, the Greens support things like homosexuality and abortion - two practices that I oppose as a Christian. Yet I can't ignore the voice of 99.99% of climatologists - men and women who study climate - who state unequivocally that the current bout of global warming is induced by human activity and that massive economic and social changes will result from it.

The CDP are full of halfwits. And to think I used to vote for them once.

(Ewan McDonald is running for the Senate for the CDP)

59 comments:

Dave Lankshear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
One Salient Oversight said...

Dave,

I updated the post.

Ewan McDonald is on the Victorian Senate ticket for the CDP.

byron smith said...

I've now posted the letter myself.

Dave Lankshear said...

Yeah, the letter shows an amazing level of uninformed paranoia.

Anyway, I'm looking up Romans at the moment, where I'm trying to find the verse that talks about salvation being by faith AND "baptism into the CDP..."

Cheers men, and thanks for the support.

Ron Lankshear said...

I was sad about the pagan statements. And I am not a Greens Party fan - far from it. As I posted on your "I am Voting" I think they have an agenda to take scripture classes out of schools etc. And I think Fred Nile and Gordon Moyes and the CDP have been very important in protecting such Christian value issues. And Gordon has been supportive of many Climate Change moves see http://www.gordonmoyes.com/2005/10/18/climate-change/

One Salient Oversight said...

Ron,

Read through this thread at the Sydney Anglican forum which discusses your letter.

One of the guys - Byron Smith - gives evidence that the Greens never had any "Anti-Scripture" agenda.

byron smith said...

Ron - as I also posted over on my blog, unfortunately, I disagree on a couple of points. On taking Scripture out of schools - see this post which links to their stated policy of not doing so, despite what the CDP have been saying. In any case, Scripture in schools is a state issue and so not particularly relevant to this election.

While Gordon may be broadly supportive on climate change (though I notice he simply lists the (relatively few) actions of the Australian government, without engaging with the debate over whether they have been adequate), the official CDP policy is one of 'agnosticism' towards climate change, opposition to ratifying Kyoto and criticism of any carbon trading scheme as unnecessary.

As Neil has pointed out, you may also be interested in the discussion currently happening on the Sydney Anglican forums.

Please feel free to come back on any of these points. As I said on the Sydney Anglicans forum, I respect a number of the bold and persistent stances the CDP have taken on some very important issues, although overall I do not find their policies particularly attractive (nor particularly more 'Christian' than most other parties).

Dave Lankshear said...

Nicely worded Byron.

I think I've finally pinpointed the bit of Ewan's letter that angers me the most. Without knowing anything about my family history or parents, he has a go at how my parents raised me! Now I know I turned out a mess, abut that might be more to do with joining the army while a tender young S.N.A.G. than anything my folks did! ;-) How rude, attacking someone else's parenting like that? What kind of stuck-up..... ooops. I was just writing to Ewan how he may need to go read Matthew 7:1 again...

Ron Lankshear said...

re the evidence on Anglicans forum
all I could see was
"But Greens’ MP Lee Rhiannon – also facing re-election – claimed the CDP ‘spreads misinformation about our party"

Then further down Andrew Rayment posted

The latest offering from the ACL on The Greens.
ie
http://australianchristianlobby.createsend.com/viewEmail.aspx?cID=090B2313BDA69DE8&sID=D482080AAA1A8C48&dID=5CB9CB5A1CE688CE

This appears to me to have the same concerns as I have re Greens education policy

It would seem easy to me for the Greens as they know what has been said to actually frame a policy that says No they won't but they haven't

BLBeamer said...

I meant to comment earlier on that "99.9% of scientists" factoid.

It's bogus. A fabrication. If agreement can be measured with that much precision, then it should be easy to name the handful of scientists who don't agree.

Anyone?

Dave Lankshear said...

Try this Dr Karl piece which at one point says:

***********

So why do half of the articles about climate change in the popular non-scientific press put forward the idea that the climate scientists are deeply divided over the fundamental concepts of the Greenhouse Effect? Because, according to the Royal Society, huge companies that make their profits from the burning of fossil fuels stoke the fires of deliberate disinformation - such as the myth that the climate scientists have not reached a consensus.

On September 4, 2006, Bob Ward, the Senior Manager for Policy Communication at the Royal Society, wrote to Nick Thomas, the director of corporate affairs for ExxonMobil in the UK. The Royal Society, which had Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein as members, is the oldest and most prestigious scientific society in the world - and it's also deeply conservative. Mr. Ward asked why ExxonMobil paid millions of dollars to groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence." Such a strongly worded letter is very unusual for the Royal Society.

If that's not good enough, try Myth number 3 of this New Scientist report: Myth: Many leading scientists question climate change.

I don't have an actual figure for you... Neil was making a point about there being a clear and convincing case by the vast majority of climate experts. And really, that's who we should be listening to... although after only reading about this for 6 months (because prior to that I was studying peak oil for 3 years and prior to that, just didn't care) even someone from a humanities background like myself, not very technical at all, can spot the errors in arguments put by the sceptics. It's the same, tired, old, recycled, boring lies, half-truths, strawmen and red-herrings.

BLBeamer said...

If there is a clear and convincing case, then why must statistics indicating near unanimity be fabricated? What is a "vast majority", Dave? Is it 51%, 60%, or something else? Ninety nine point nine percent is not just a majority.

There has been a purposeful lack of clarity on the part of the non-skeptics (the non-scientific ones, mostly) which makes debate nearly impossible, but it does make marginalization of those with honest questions easier.

What does the term "Global Warming" mean? Ask 20 people that question and one is likely to get 15 different answers.

When the terms are defined with clarity, there is little or no scientific controversy but those clear terms are rarely explained in both political and journalistic discussions.

For example, does "Global Warming" mean a slight measurable increase in worldwide temperatures, or does it mean "We're all going to die!!!!!"?

One Salient Oversight said...

Beamer,

It's nice to know you're interested in the subject.

New Scientist magazine has a handy on-line guide that addresses many of the popular questions. New Scientist, a very popular science magazine, has come down firmly on the non-sceptic side.

The BBC also have a page that addresses the issues from a non-sceptic pov.

Since we all know what a great fan you are of Al Gore, may I also suggest that you watch "An Inconvenient Truth" (for educational purposes only of course).

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Beamer,
just be sure to read the New Scientist thing on the Ice-Ages / Co2 link afterwards. Gore portrayed the 600 thousand year old graph of ice-ages and Co2 interacting a bit too simplistically. Co2 DOES have a role in that longer term 100 thousand year cycle, but it's as an amplifier, not a trigger. The trigger is in the earth's long term "wobble" which affects how much solar energy is received. But an "inconvenient truth" is a good starting point.

The one that really spells it out for me is Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, Australian of the year. However, that was published in 2005. The data is even clearer and MORE alarming now.

This Worldchanging summary of last week's IPCC report is a more recent analysis.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, addressing the IPCC meeting in Spain where the findings were announced, said, “These things are as frightening as science-fiction movies. But they are even more terrifying, because they are real.”

It is clear that we humans have already committed our planet to a level of climate damage. Even if we stay below the 3.6 degree threshold, the Post article notes, “… the seas will continue to swell for centuries from thermal expansion and meltwater from ice caps and glaciers; the oceans will turn more acidic; most coral reefs will become lifeless expanses; floods and storms will increase; and millions of people will be short of the water they need, the report said.”


Beamer, 2 degrees warmer in the Global Climate doesn't sound that threatening. The average John Doe might think "I'll be warmer in winter and put on a bit more sunscreen and wear a bigger hat in summer". But it's not an even 2 degrees spread across the entire globe. It concentrates in places such as the northern hemisphere and Arctic. Permanent shifts in temperature are already forcing ecosystems to move towards the poles. In past climate shifts, there were some species lost but gradually trees started growing where they used to and gradually shifted into newly accessible places... and their insects and ecosystems moved with them.

Now look at the planet. Real, wild nature and ecosystems are a hard thing to find... and they are tiny pockets cut off from the rest of the world by huge tracts of human farmland, roads, or the worst natural cancer of them all, SUBURBIA! (= Cancer for planetary health).

These ecosytems are trapped, and cannot shift.

But the REAL danger of climate change that many do not acknowledge is that we will hit an increasingly erratic climate right at the time we run out of cheap oil, various cheap but important metals, cheap natural gas (North America is right on the peak of natural gas production — move to Australia, we have heaps left) and peak soil... basically, for shorthand, activists are now calling it peak everything... which is what the 11th Hour is all about.

200 thousand people die each year from Global Warming. Yet it's hardly got started. Please read more on this subject, it's huge.

BLBeamer said...

I won't be wasting my time watching Gore's movie, but I am interested in the topic. Gore may be the source of that bogus 99.9% figure, but I really don't care since he's a fraud and a hypocrite.

Ban Ki-moon's comment was nonsense and the type of thing that makes me happy I'm a skeptic. By the way, I'm a skeptic of the doomsday, cataclysmic scenarios not of the findings of real scientists.

Those doomsday predictions are commonly made by journalists and politicians and are usually portrayed as inevitable, not speculative. When scientists make them it is - or should be - embarrassing.

Chaos theory teaches us that in non-linear systems like the world's climate, no one can predict the future to any arbitrary accuracy, because the state of the system is infinitely sensitive to knowledge about the initial starting conditions. To make such predictions we would have to know the temperature, pressure, and momentum - at a minimum - of every cubic micrometer in the atmosphere. This is not only impractical but technically impossible.

Just the other day, a news story said our climate, "was out of control." When has it ever been in control? Humans have never controlled the climate.

As a Christian, I know Who reigns from heaven, and I am not concerned about man destroying our earth before His time. I do care about stewardship, however, and in that I would hope we all agree.

Humans have and will continue to respond and act on changes to their environment, including prices and availability of oil and other resources. I believe (because of the abundant evidence) that the most efficient way for that information to get to us humans is through the market/price system. As leftists and right wingers in their hubris and conceit hinder the markets from working properly, it is no surprise when disruption and misery is the result, especially for those who can least afford to adapt to the changes.

I'll continue to read the articles, including those you've linked, but I will also continue to read the scientists who are skeptics.

Can you name any skeptic scientists? If not, shouldn't you find out why they are skeptical? Don't take Al Gore's word for anything.

Dave Lankshear said...

1. What is a vast majority?
As Dr Karl said in the piece I referenced above...

Now an important thing to realize in this debate is the role of the specialist. You wouldn't get a builder to do plumbing, and you wouldn't ask a pathologist to do some surgery. So if you wanted an opinion on climatology, you would not ask a meteorologist, or a virologist, botanist, metallurgist, or physicist - you would ask a climatologist. Among the climatologists, there is agreement that carbon dioxide levels are increasing, and that in turn, this is raising temperature and ocean levels. On December 3, 2004, Dr. Naomi Oreskes from the University of California analysed 928 scientific papers that dealt with "climate change", and that had been published in peer-reviewed journals between 1993 and 2003. Not one of these 928 papers disagreed with the consensus position, even though they may have disagreed in minor details.

So why do half of the articles about climate change in the popular non-scientific press put forward the idea that the climate scientists are deeply divided over the fundamental concepts of the Greenhouse Effect? Because, according to the Royal Society, huge companies that make their profits from the burning of fossil fuels stoke the fires of deliberate disinformation - such as the myth that the climate scientists have not reached a consensus.



How do you like your documentaries served? We've got video by CBC or hosted on Google, and an article or 2.

Do you like your doco's delivered via online movie? If so, try the CBC's "Denial Machine" on their website or at google video. (I first saw this on 4 Corners just before that silly "Global Warming Swindle" thing came out... then I played "Spot the big-coal stooge").

If you don't like online movies, try Newsweek's "The Truth about Denial" article... it's a killer.

Then there's a great piece by the Ethics lecturer at Moore Theological College, Dr Andrew Cameron, entitled...
When is sceptical too sceptical?

Then you might consider re-reading Dr Karl's piece above... or listening to his great Aussie accent. It's well worth reading through Dr Karl's entire piece.

2. Trusting God because he said the world wouldn't end.

Well, yeah, but we're not talking about the world ending. Did the world end when cyclone Katrina hit, or did THEIR world end? What about the Black Plague, or the 2004 Tsunami, or countless other tragedies?

Just consider for a moment that Dr Karl, who spends his time writing "Myth Busting" science books and answering common myths on talkback radio, is actually right when he says the majority of climate scientists are saying we are causing Global Warming and that the results are varying degrees of "bad".

What if we are all collectively killing people as certainly as if we were each depositing a drip of cyanide into some city's upstream water supply? Scientific America recently reported 200 thousand people are killed by Global Warming annually! Is that something Christians should care about? I'm baffled by the Christians that turn around and say "But God's in control, the world won't end"... it's totally irrelevant. As James 2:15 says, when we meet someone that is hungry we should simply bless them and say...
"Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, God promised the world wouldn't end so I can ignore you completely."
Oh, I might have got that bit wrong somewhere...

It's particularly unfair Beamer because our cars and coal fired electricity are killing the world's poorest and most vulnerable. How is that loving our neighbour?


3. Free market in energy.
I'm generally a free market sort of person, for certain functions anyway. (I agree with Neil on the Medicare thing). It never was a free energy market!!! If you believe governments shouldn't "interfere" in the free market, you're going to have to be cranky about this finding from the University of Technology Sydney....
(and similar ratios of subsidy — but on a vastly greater scale — occur in the USA).
*** FROM UTS PDF ***

"This effectively creates an uneven playing field for renewable energy, making it much more difficult to respond to climate change in the energy and transport sectors," the report says. "Fossil fuel subsidies can increase greenhouse gas emissions because they reduce the price of fossil fuel energy, which encourages greater use of fossil fuels and higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions."

GOVERNMENT subsidies to some of Australia's electricity generation companies are so big they exceed the profits made by those companies, a report on energy and transport subsidies says.

Government support for the coal industry and coal-fired electricity is so generous that in some cases it has led to the construction of coal-fired power plants when other types of electricity generation would have been cheaper, the report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney has found.

Subsidies to fossil fuel energies, worth close to $10 billion, result in a serious market distortion, create an unfair disadvantage to renewable energy, and help increase greenhouse gas pollution, says the report, written by the institute's research principal, Chris Riedy, and commissioned by Greenpeace.

The report identified energy and transport subsidies in Australia during 2005-06 of between $9.3 billion and $10.1 billion. More than 96 per cent of that money flowed to fossil fuel production and consumption, with the remainder going to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

BLBeamer said...

Dave - Tim Flannery is not a climatologist, yet you referred me to his work. Guess I will cross his book off my list.

The doomsayers are saying the world will end: 10 m of water in Manhattan; death and destruction on a global scale; drought, storms; widespread extinction of animal species, etc. I don't buy it.

I agree we don't have a free market in energy. If we did, the most likely result would be the most effective and efficient energy resources would be developed and used. Yet, I can't think of a single scheme proposed by any government, UN or NGO that endorses a free market in energy. They seem to all want to increase the govt's control of energy through subsidies, taxes, or bans.

Dave Lankshear said...

Did you watch Denial Machine or even read "Truth about Denial"? You were asking for information about the sceptics, so I gave it to you.

Tim Flannery is an incredibly versatile scientist. Read his bio before you get stuck into him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Flannery

In the process of researching "Weather Makers" he read hundreds and hundreds of reports, and basically explains his book was more work than a Phd. He read all the climatologists work, he read the theory behind their work, he's visited their various computer models and comments on the effectiveness of these models, and how predictions fed through the computers a decade ago may have been too conservative.

In some ways Flannery is more qualified to write "Weather Makers" than the climatologists, because he has the ecological and biological field surveys and a breadth of experience that he breaths into his work. It truly is a remarkable book, and he is a remarkable man. I suggest reading his bio.

What is it you doubt about the science Beamer? Is it that Co2 and methane even have a role in warming the atmosphere? Ever read about spectrometers and how they can calculate the wavelength absorption of these gases? Ever read how they count the Co2 in the atmosphere? Ever studied the interacting evidence from ice-core samples, tree rings, pores in Ginko leaves, rock sediments on the sea floors, and various other methods for getting a picture of Co2 in our environment not just over the last few hundred thousand years... but MILLIONS of years?

It's a big subject, which is why I recommended a science reporter with a very readable breadth of experience. But if you really want to, you can just read the IPCC reports yourself.

BLBeamer said...

Dave - I read the Newsweek article. There were a few errors in it, such as: it correctly said that the Clinton administration did not submit the Kyoto treaty to the Senate, but then later it claims that G. W. Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto treaty.

Doesn't it bother you that so many scientists get paid to produce "pro-global warming" studies and papers from governments and other think tanks? The amount of money involved with those dwarfs the amounts paid by the "skeptical" think tanks. Yet, Sen. Boxer - a politician - is appalled that a few folks get money to publish things with which she disagrees.

Don't you see my concern? I'm not sure I have been successful at making my point since your passionate response doesn't really seem to address what I thought I was saying.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing steadily over the last 200 years or so. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that absorbs infrared radiation. The idea that burning fossil fuels causes an enahnced effect needs to be taken seriously.

If it is a serious issue, then let's let serious science do its serious work. Science does not advance based on a show of hands. It advances when a minority of scientists - or even one scientist - question the status quo and test their theories. Evidence and data are the appropriate bases for conclusions, not wild-eyed demagogic predictions of doomsday scenarios.

I'm sure you are familiar with how the political and religious authorities of the day treated Galileo, Copernicus, Jenner and other men of science throughout history. I personally have such a low opinion of the good will of so many politicians and policitally-correct religious leaders that my default position is to listen to the minority views until I am convinced one way or the other.

I read of an interview Flannery gave a while back, it may have been in the US or the UK. He admitted that he does exaggerate some of his scenarios but he justified it because the issue is so serious, he wants to spur people to action. I'm sorry I don't have the link.

I repeat my question: if the issue is so serious, and the science is so strong, why must advocates fabricate scenarios that scare little children and make old women cry?

Dave Lankshear said...

First: I dislike the implication that any scientists who has been funded by the government has been immediately corrupted and that all these climatologists and many INDEPENDENT think tanks are all simply LYING.

Many independent groups and scientific bodies have all come to similar conclusions. What does that tell you? It's not like they all got to the one convention and put a few figures into the one magic computer, and when the computer said "Doom" they all said AMEN! The idea that they all fell prey to the one data set is a myth children would believe, and shows a lack of understanding about just how rational, sceptical, and fiercely independent climate scientists and all scientists in general really are. Do you REALLY think there's no climate scientist out there that would LOVE to make his name as THE guy who completely debunked Global Warming? I suspect that many have temporary flashes where they might write a paper flaming the community and making a name for themselves... but after researching their "bit" the inspiration to do so dies under a sea of facts. We are talking about dozens of independent scientific bodies with thousands of scientists. Yet you would have us believe that other sinful human responses like PRIDE and PERSONAL AMBITION have all uniformly been smothered by the one sinful response: greed.

2. The seriousness of the scenarios? Papers go for the sexy doomer headline, that's for sure. But did you know that there is a growing body within the IPCC that are kind of sick of the conservative way the IPCC phrases it's reports? I suspect you've never read anything they've published if you are accusing them of alarmism. Some scientists involved might argue for a more moderate Appendix A for milder scenarios... but I get the feeling a growing body are arguing for an even larger, more strongly worded Appendix B outside of the "official brief" and "consensus report" of the IPCC. As for the hundreds of other reports coming out of the smaller independent climate study groups like the CSIRO group or Antarctic ocean science division etc, I don't really have a few months to do through all of these reports to answer why they are all so alarmist... maybe because the data they study is actually alarming?

:-)

BLBeamer said...

First: I dislike the implication that any scientists who has been funded by the government has been immediately corrupted and that all these climatologists and many INDEPENDENT think tanks are all simply LYING.

May I be permitted to dislike the implication that those who disagree with the so-called 99.9% are lying?

Sen. Boxer and others claim the recent fires in California were due to global warming. You implied the 1000 or so people who were killed in Hurricane Katrina are also victims of global warming. Dave, without putting too fine a point on it, that is ignorance and not supported by science, governmentally funded or otherwise.

Dave Lankshear said...

Beamer, you are now engaging in strawmen.

First, it was not myself that called the sceptics liers paid by big coal, but the CBC documentary.

Second, did I actually state as a matter of fact that Katrina was caused by Global Warming? Look at the context mate. I was replying to your assertion that sounded dangerously like us Christians don't have to take any humanitarian action on this because God's in control of the world. Tell me, if there is clear evidence that a corporation is polluting someone's water with toxic chemicals, do Christians in the area have a moral obligation to help fight that corporation and seek justice, or do we just say "God is in control of the world, that's His department. Go in peace..."

(Context of my Katrina statement below. Did Global Warming cause the Black Plague? Context Beamer!)

******************

2. Trusting God because he said the world wouldn't end.

Well, yeah, but we're not talking about the world ending. Did the world end when cyclone Katrina hit, or did THEIR world end? What about the Black Plague, or the 2004 Tsunami, or countless other tragedies?

One Salient Oversight said...

Deeeeep breath....

BLBeamer said...

Brother Dave,

I went back and read our thread. I really believe if you do, too, you would agree that I can be forgiven for 1) believing you implied Katrina was due to global warming, and 2) the statement beginning First: I dislike the implication... was yours and not the CBC.

But I apologize if I did somehow take your words out of context.

I mean this in the most respectful terms, and only in sincere friendship: but I will not be discussing this issue with you anymore. You seem to have too strong an emotional attachment to it. I have tried to demonstrate where I do and continue to believe the science, and the genuine science only, on this matter. My inability to express myself in terms that communicate my views are no doubt largely to blame. I tried to show a few times where some of my objections were (chaos theory, etc.) but to no avail.

However, writing as someone who has witnessed Al Gore's inexplicable career, I can not in good conscience believe most of what that guy says and I implore you to be very careful should you choose to accept his work.

Dave Lankshear said...

?

Beamer, chaos theory is about physics, not climate.

Al Gore is a science popularizer, not a climatologist. He's an easy target, but he is not the foundation for Global Warming.

I'll just clarify that I did not describe Katrina as a Global Warming event, and have written on a post Neil did a while ago about jumping to conclusions too early about extreme weather events. While it is impossible to describe one weather event as a symptom of climate change or a statistical fluke a "normal" climate, the climatologists are very clear that extra heat = extra energy in cyclones. So if sceptics ask "Go ahead, prove that Katrina was a GW event" I'd simply reply that climate doesn't discuss one event in isolation, but a long term trend in statistics. What remains to be seen is how many extra Katrina's we experience as those trends intensify.

I accept that blogging is very prone to crossed wires.

However, I am willing to continue discussing this if you have any genuine questions. For instance, I still have a lot to learn, and if you have any genuine issues with the theory of Global Warming raised by the sceptics you have been reading, I'd be happy to look at them with you. I am not even a scientist... and accept that I am not an "expert" in this either.

(Any crankiness on my part above may have come from being under attack in a number of internet forums at once, and I might have transferred some agro over here. Sorry.)

BLBeamer said...

Beamer, chaos theory is about physics, not climate.

Wow. I've never heard of physics being excluded from the description of natural phenomena before. Physics is the science of the interaction of matter and energy. If climatology is so specialized that the laws of physics do not apply, then no one can possibly know anything about climatology.

Rather than discuss further, let me take some time to finish reading the resources you and Neil provided earlier.

Tomorrow I will send you a link to a US government report that records anomalies in the data regarding heating in the atmosphere.

I agree with you that Al Gore is not qualified to be telling anyone what they should know about climatology.

BLBeamer said...

Dave, as I promised here is the US government report I mentioned earlier.

Most theories and greenhouse computer models predict that greenhouse warming in the tropics should record at increasing rates as one moves from the surface of the earth into the atmosphere, peaking at about 10 km above the earth. At 10 km, the level of warming should be about 3 times the level at the surface. However, if you read this summary, you will see that the data does not reflect what, theoretically, we would expect to see. The report says we don't know why, although they do offer a speculative reason.

The fact that observed and predicted patterns of warming don't match indicates there is something we don't yet understand.

Making vast changes to economic and political structures based on not yet understood phenomena is unwise.

I hope you would at least understand why I feel the way I do about the doomsday scenarios.

Cheers.

Dave Lankshear said...

This is from the US Climate Change Science Program, April 2006

Firstly, keep in mind that I am not a scientist but have only been reading about this as a concerned citizen for the past 6 months. If I make an error that doesn't reflect on climate science, but me. (winks)

Secondly, let me just add that anything coming out of the US Federal government has to be taken with a grain of salt. We have to check everything for undue influence from the Administration. It's a sad but true fact that they tried to pressure NASA scientist James Hansen to modify his report and silence him. "The Denial Machine" points out that even the term "climate change" is white-washing propaganda to get rid of the scary term "Global Warming".

Thirdly... I don't have any trouble with this report you have quoted! Where exactly is the problem? Co2 heats the atmosphere, provides a "blanket" effect that cools the upper stratosphere but warms the troposphere, and generally up to a 'certain height' the troposphere warming is amplified. All they have identified is an anomaly around the tropics, and clearly state that it's either in the computer models for the tropics, or some actual physical process that they have not quite understood yet — but either way, recommend more study into the tropical data. They do NOT recommend throwing out the baby with the bathwater! This is one of many sub-speciality areas within the overall consensus that Global Warming is real and happening, all they are saying is that more study is required on this one atmospheric cycling phenomenon.

They do NOT disprove any of the negative impacts such as agricultural land being lost (to drought, rising sea levels or reduced snow-packs and failing summer melts), disease vectors spreading, health impacts due to heat stress, and many others.

No, this was a very specific study on a very specific part of the overall theory, and your argument that we "shouldn't do anything about it" from this paper...
1/ Goes far further than the paper itself. Far from disproving Global Warming, page 2 clearly states...

* The most recent climate model simulations give a range of results for changes in global-average
temperature. Some models show more warming in the troposphere than at the surface, while
a slightly smaller number of simulations show the opposite behavior. There is no fundamental
inconsistency among these model results and observations at the global scale.

* Studies to detect climate change and attribute its causes using patterns of observed temperature
change in space and time show clear evidence of human influences on the climate system (due to changes in greenhouse gases, aerosols, and stratospheric ozone).

* The observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes
alone , nor by the effects of short-lived atmospheric constituents (such as aerosols
and tropospheric ozone) alone.


2/ Suggests that because there is one small phenomena we don't understand, we should abandon the whole show. But the reality is 200 thousand people are dying annually from Global Warming (Scientific America).

3/ Defies the basic Co2 physics we get from empirical tests and data from Spectrometers and Spectrophotometers. We know what it does empirically, so why should more CO2 = more heat? Apparently this is quite basic physics.

4/ Ignores that there appears to be some credibility issues with some of the authors involved.

5/ Snubs Christian science authors like the head of the IPCC who wrote (in response to "The Swindle"...)

4. The troposphere is warming less than the surface – NOT TRUE.
This raises a debate that took place in the 1990s but which has now been resolved. There is now agreement among the scientists involved in measurements that trends in satellite observed tropospheric temperatures when properly analysed agree well with trends in surface temperature observations. The programme also stated that warming should continue to higher levels. That is not the case. In fact, higher levels are observed to be cooling, consistent with the science of global warming that indicates that there is warming below and cooling above the ‘blanket’ of additional carbon dioxide.


My own position is half motivated by Global Warming and half by Peak Oil. If we are running out of this stuff, shouldn't we be preparing for that anyway? Shouldn't governments wean us off fossil fuels now that the technology can at least generate as much electricity as we need? (Liquid fuels are a real, real problem though). We're going to have to wean off the fossil fuels at some stage. From everything I've read, the earlier we do that the better.

Dave Lankshear said...

D'oh! Typo, meant "Why SHOULDN'T more Co2 = more heat"? Just saying that we know what Co2 actually does with sunlight and nothing any sceptic has said has doubted this because they'd be laughed out of the room. What CO2 does with heat is fundamentally provable, and does not rely on ice-core samples or any of that "climate change" stuff... it's a fundamental question of physics.

BLBeamer said...

Dave - You are misstating my view.

James Hansen is a physicist, with credentials second to none. Many of the world's atmospheric and climate scientists are, too. Physics is fundamental to the study of climate change. So, what we have learned from chaos theory should be relevant to this topic.

Those who predict cataclysmic future events (as Dr. Hansen has done in the past) don't have much factual basis for their predictions. They are engaging in speculation.

I don't recommend throwing out the baby with the bath water, I also recommend more study. Unfortunately, too many people, mostly politicians, journalists and "popularizers" say, "Why keep talking when 99.9% agree?" Obviously, they don't all agree. No scientist worth his salt wants to stop studying, and that is my point.

We just don't know enough to make some of the drastic changes many politician are calling for, or being pressured to call for. What's worse, some have called for heavy handed government action, based on imprecise computer models.

I agree this report does not disprove the spread of disease vectors, etc. But it also does not prove them because many of them are unprovable due to the fact they are predictions based on modeled scenarios. Most of these predictions are based on computer modeling. Since these models do not yet fully reflect reality (as this study demonstrates), obviously the models are flawed.

By all means, lets keep working on the models, as this article indicates they are doing. But implementing drastic, draconian measures to eradicate a threat that we have reason to suspect is not as dire as previously indicated is foolhardy.

In the mean time, conservation, stewardship and reform of markets making them more efficient is the safest and most reliable way to go. Markets tend to be self-correcting but wrong-headed government policies rarely die. This is a fact in the US and I presume it is the same in Australia.

I don't understand why the Bush administration gets derided for allegedly attempting to influence scientific reports, but when Sen. Boxer makes nonsensical claims regarding global warming, she gets applause. Bad science is bad science, regardless of who does it. Just because Sen. Boxer appears to be a fellow traveler, she should not get a pass when she says something stupid on this subject in order to make cheap political points.

Dave Lankshear said...

I know nothing about Senator Boxer and don't really want to comment on that. What the climatologists are telling us is that they really do know enough to have quite real concerns, that these things are escalating, and that we have to do something.

Tim Flannery goes on about chaos and some of the unpredictable patterns in cloud formation under warming impacts... that in some scenarios, clouds could increase warming (as Co2 interacts with water vapour to become an even more potent greenhouse gas) and in other cases, different clouds form and reduce sunlight and reduce warming.

But they know enough to state that this is extremely serious — not the end of the world — but most probably the end of 1 in 5 species now (a 20% extinction event), let alone if we continue with business as usual which you seem to be recommending which results in a 3 in 5 or 60% extinction event.

Governments give heavy handed subsidies to fossil fuel giants, governments should withdraw these and help the market switch. Just wait a few more years till peak oil kicks in harder, and we'll all realize just how urgently we need to wean off the fossil fuels because the stuff is simply running out.

BLBeamer said...

...that in some scenarios, clouds could increase warming (as Co2 interacts with water vapour to become an even more potent greenhouse gas) and in other cases, different clouds form and reduce sunlight and reduce warming.

Exactly: "some scenarios", "could increase". Looks like you may be starting to see my point about speculation.

Here's a quote from Dr. Hansen: "Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as “synfuels”, shale oil and tar sands were receiving strong consideration. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions. Scenarios that accurately fit recent and near-future observations have the best chance of bringing all of the important players into the discussion, and they also are what is needed for the purpose of providing policy-makers the most effective and efficient options to stop global warming."

I understand his view stated at the first of his quote, although I don't agree with it, but how can one not agree with the bold part of this quote? More importantly, why are those who agree with it, often equated with Holocaust deniers and flat-earthers by the media?

Dave Lankshear said...

Because so often people that agree with that statement push it to say that nothing is really happening, it's all up for debate, we can't really see that 200 thousand people are dying right now from Global Warming, and let's continue business as usual.

The immediate facts are that atmospheric concentrations of Co2 are pushing the entire planet and ecosystem into levels of warmth at speeds of change it has not seen for millions and millions of years. Sure the sea level has changed, but not this fast. Sure the temperature has changed before, but not this fast (not for 55 million years at least).

So we are pushing the planetary climate system towards dangerous new territory and the "Precautionary Principle" kicks in because the potential for "very bad things" is so great, that even if there is 50% doubt over just how bad it could get, that doubt does not prevent us needing to take action. Would you play Russian Roulette, even if the gun had 10 barrels and only one round? The climate scientists are telling us the odds are far worse than that already... and it's more like we are already sipping poison, but there's a whole mug waiting to pour down our throats.

20% of biodiversity on this planet is already committed to extinction. Just how much worse do we want this to get?

Dave Lankshear said...

6 degrees discusses whether Global Warming scientists are being too alarmist or conservative in their report writing.

BLBeamer said...

Because so often people that agree with that statement push it to say that nothing is really happening,
I suppose there are folks who say that, just as there are folks who say it is too late, we're all doomed.

Would you play Russian Roulette, even if the gun had 10 barrels and only one round?
If you had to play Russian roulette, who would you rather controlled the magazine and the trigger: yourself or someone else?

Dave Lankshear said...

Aside from the humanitarian impacts, do you think the bible supports caring for creation for it's own worth and intrinsic value?

BLBeamer said...

God's creation was created originally good and is here for our care and our benefit, too.

Even though it is under the curse, as Christians we should still practice good stewardship if for no other reason than we are to love our neighbor as ourself. Is that what you meant by "humanitarian impacts"?

Just as I would not want my neighbor dumping his trash in my yard, neither should I dump sewage in the river than runs downstream through his property. How likely is my unsaved neighbor to listen to the gospel if he believes I don't care for him by spoiling his property which he purchased with his labor?

My biggest quarrel with the modern Global Warming crowd (many of them) is they have crossed the line into idolatry and worship the creation rather than the Creator. What's more, they denigrate those who hold a biblical view of the relationship between creation and Creator. Even many self-described Christians do this, sadly. I'm speaking in generalities, I should add.

Dave Lankshear said...

Oh yeah! There are some MAD people in the Greenie movement... just ask Neil about some of the madmen and women in ROEOZ (Running on Empty -Oz). Mad, MAD I SAY!

They promote druidism, the end of industrial civilization, do nothing to ameliorate peak oil and just let the billions starve because that'll be best for the planet, etc. Many of them hate humanity and worship nature only.

The thing is — while I disagree with their conclusions — I agree with many of their concerns.

So while you look at more immediate environmental consequences such as the downstream pollution illustration, what about letting a nation become completely addicted to oil in their agriculture, transport, law enforcement and every other vital service... and then suddenly out-bidding them when the final oil crisis starts?

EG: Have you ever read the Pulitzer prize winning "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond?

BLBeamer said...

I've not read Diamond's book. If you have, I'd be interested in your thoughts.

I'm not sure anyone "allowed" a nation to become addicted to oil. Help me out by rephrasing your question.

Dave Lankshear said...

"Guns, Germs, and Steel" was Jared Diamond's greatest work and was recently turned into a mini-series. Basically, why did Europeans take over the world when other human beings in PNG or South America shared the same DNA and potential? The answer: geography, the health of the local environment, and resources.

In a similar vein but on the other side of the coin, Jared Diamond wrote the sequel to how civilizations thrive, and wrote about how they Collapse in the book of the same name.

The answer: civilizations collapse when they ignore their unique situation with geography, the health of the local environment, and resources. Collapse did not receive a Pulitzer, but I don't think the message itself was as popular.

So here's the thing: there is an emerging science called "human ecology" that can analyse things we used to put down to "acts of God". Remember when lightning was a mysterious "act of God" and now we understand it to be all about electrons? In the same way, there are various laws about the rise and fall of civilizations. These are not precise laws, but then lightning strikes are hard things to predict as well. Yet we still put up lightning rods.

How compassionate is it of vastly well equipped "Christian" nations to not put up "human ecology lightning rods" and warn of potential collapses?

BLBeamer said...

The answer: geography, the health of the local environment, and resources.
I realize you were summarizing, but it seems Diamond has missed something. Does he explain Hong Kong? One hundred and twenty years ago it was a barren point of rock: no resources and nothing special about its geography. I'm not sure it even had an environment to measure the health of.

Re: lightning rods. It's because lightning is unpredictable that lightning rods are so valuable. Just as affluent nations can better withstand shocks to their systems, so ought we to favor policies that have shown they increase the wealth of poor nations. "Wealthier is healthier".

Dave Lankshear said...

But what is that wealth based on? Cheap oil, and driving ever larger SUV's and living in McMansions on the edge of town without any possibility of an electric tram or train public transport system because the suburb is spread across the landscape too thinly.

Nevertheless, "if you built it, they will come". Once the inevitable trams and trains are built then New Urbanism can spring up around the stations.

We should be helping the 3rd world leapfrog passed the oil and coal age so they aren't bankrupted by it the way we will be (due to peak oil now, gas in 10 years, and even coal in 2025ish)!

Instead I hear right wing "Denial Machine" lobby (as exemplified in the "Great Global Warming Swindle") insisting that Greenies are in an anti-humanitarian conspiracy against the 3rd world! What — we want them hooked on oil — at today's prices?

BLBeamer said...

But what is that wealth based on? Cheap oil, and driving ever larger SUV's and living in McMansions on the edge of town...
Did you really mean to say that wealth is based on those things? It seems to me that those are evidences of wealth, not the bases of wealth.

Dave Lankshear said...

What I meant to say that a large part of the American economy seems to be the development and then fitting out of McMansions in a town plan that has no future after peak oil. How viable is suburbia after oil prices super-spike and the rationing begins? How healthy are the people driving SUV's and hummers compared to other parts of the world where they walk or ride bikes?

It's an artificial economy based on ever growing debt, and many, many people are wondering how much more steam it has in it.

Whereas Kerala India is an amazing story of sustainable economy, with much poorer Indians having a better standard of health and comparable lifestyle than the average obese westerner, myself included! One doesn't need an American definition of "wealth" to be truly wealthy. Many of the Greenies I know have a thing or 2 to teach us Christians about greed, or "contentment".

BLBeamer said...

What I meant to say that a large part of the American economy seems to be the development and then fitting out of McMansions in a town plan that has no future after peak oil. Have you ever been to the US? I don't see the American economy that way. That's a caricature.

How viable is suburbia after oil prices super-spike and the rationing begins? Probably as viable as it's been for 100 years. I don't think there's much appetite for rationing of oil in this country. We already had that during the Nixon and Carter administrations and it sucked.

How healthy are the people driving SUV's and hummers compared to other parts of the world where they walk or ride bikes? If they don't drive hummers to the park or mountains, they'll just stay at home and watch tv. ;)

Many of the Greenies I know have a thing or 2 to teach us Christians about greed, or "contentment".
I only know a few Greenies. Without exception, they are pagans and full of resentment for those who don't live the lifestyle they deem proper - although they don't seem to object to the stainless steel industry (if the number of piercings is any indication). I'm sure that is not typical of all of them, but that's my perception.

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Beamer,
I've been to the USA and seen some of the vast suburban sprawl... which has grown even vaster since I was there in 1989.

Just because American's don't "like" oil rationing doesn't mean that it isn't coming in the next 5 to 10 years. How viable are those vast suburban developments outside of any cosmopolitan areas? I believe there's even a new term for these countless miles of bland sameness.... all completely pointless and hopeless without private transport. Put simply, peak oil is the end of the current deal, the end of the post-WW2 "American way of life".

See this preview of a great documentary.

My argument as a Christian is:-
1. So much of the economic pain that is most probably coming was preventable if we'd admitted the oil numbers years ago and started the appropriate action.
2. Kyoto only measures what comes out the tailpipe, we need to consider how much runs through the pump into the tank. We need to sign the "Oil Depletion Protocol" which is an international oil sharing arrangement as we head over Hubbert's peak into permanently declining and vastly more expensive oil. If we don't, us first world nations will simply outbid the third world and many 3rd world nations will simply implode. (Economically and maybe even demographically as even 3rd world agriculture is largely oil based these days... I've met politicians that really think the most realistic outcome is that many 3rd world nations will just go "Mad Max".)

BLBeamer said...

Well, some of those suburbs are more viable than others. Personally, I would be concerned about the long term viability of any place in the desert where the consumers don't pay the full cost of water (e.g., Laughlin, Nevada). But Americans are quite mobile, as you've observed. They have no hesitation about packing up the hummer and moving to wherever better opportunities exist. If there is such a thing as a genetic American trait, that is probably it.

The beautiful thing about a market economy is that it has built in rationing: as prices go up, those who value other things higher than oil adjust their oil purchases in order to buy the things they value higher. This is done automatically, without the guesswork and politically motivated decisions of a bureaucracy.

But not just consumers adjust their behavior, suppliers and distributors do, too. So, I'm not too worried about the predictions of oil depletion and such. If the oil companies are as venal as Al Gore claims (they may well be), then they will discover, convert and make money off other energy sources as oil becomes more and more a losing proposition.

I'm aware that there are areas for improvement in the market for oil (and worldwide not just in the US), but making the market freer, not less free has a good record historically. That's the basis for the US's wealth, by the way. And Australia's too.

People do, have and are adjusting their behaviors as we speak: high-speed internet and improved computer security now allows many of my colleagues to work all day from home or a spot close to home without actually having to drive in to the office each day. The voters in my region have approved a massive project to install trains for commuters (as a government project not sensitive to market forces it has the expected suboptimal decision-making and mismanagement) but it is taking 1000's of cars off the roads each week. People are adaptable and do vary their behavior based on the palette of choices they must make given their finite resources.

Many 3rd world nations are already "Mad Max", and it is primarily due to the work of politicians (e.g., Zimbabwe, N. Korea, etc.) they are that way. Those poor people would love to be allowed to compete in the marketplace. They have something to offer someone wants. But their tyrannical governments won't allow them to sell it, and many Western governments conspire in those efforts.

As a Christian, that appalls me.

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Beamer, I agree on Zimbabwe. It's horrific and disgusting.

But moving right along...

The energy market never has been a "free" market, going way back to American political deals with Saudi Arabia to guarantee free flow of oil to the world market. If one were to "bill" all those actual political costs into the oil market, America would already be paying much more for their oil and would have adjusted somewhat accordingly.

The real basis for American wealth is a much more complicated series of historical accidents than being due to one political ideology, (and an ideology that does not apply to THE fundamental commodity that at this stage enables all other commodities). For example: America was the OPEC of the world up until about WW2, WW2 did not tear America down requiring massive rebuilding projects and war-debts, it's one of the oldest democracies in the world and so enjoys some of the benefits of a "cleaner system" whatever your economic leanings, and America today has been somewhat imperialistic in sabotaging nations with competing economic agendas. (See the documentary, "The War on Democracy" or "Confessions of an Economic Hitman").

Oil is the fundamental lifeblood of the modern world that enables all other commodities in the current production system. It is NOT a matter of just switching off the oil, and moving to other products. It takes 10 calories of oil and gas energy to make one calorie of food energy. Oil is food. Oil makes everything from paints and plastics through to toothbrushes and medicines.

We can wean off of it: but as the (usually) free market fusion reactor designer Robert Hirsch said on our 4 Corners last year:
*******
DOE Consultant Robert Hirsch on OPEC
The worst case is that it has occurring now or very soon, because the world is unprepared, it is absolutely unprepared, there are no quick fixes in something like this.

What has to be done is to do things on a very large scale, you can't save your way out of it although conservation is going to help, You're going to have to produce fuels from coal or shale or remote gas or bio-mass, but you're going to have to do things on a big scale and those things can NOT be done overnight.

Can we leave it to the market?
I happen to be a free market person, I prefer markets taking care of things. I think that because of the magnitude of this problem, because of the difficulties associated with fixing ourselves so we can transition to a different world 50 years from now, I don't think the market will take care of it all, i really believe that.

I think that governments have to take the initiative and have to declare that this is a very serious problem and we are going to do extremely unusual things in order to build what we need to build in order to mitigate the problem in enough time and I'm not sure that we have enough time in which to do it.

(More on various technical options, then asked about OPEC).

What they are asking us to do is to trust them, and frankly on something that's the lifeblood of our civilization and the way we live, to trust somebody who won’t allow any audits is extremely risky. I personally don’t believe the numbers that are out there.” (ABC's 4 Corners)


**********
So as a Christian, I am concerned that peak oil is the "Greatest Story Never told" and that all of us are going to be caught up in a whole lot more pain because of big energy corporations not reporting the whole truth to government, and governments not wanting to admit the truth. For example, I personally briefed Maxine McKew on peak oil a few months ago. A few days later she heard one of the world's best experts on this subject brief her for 50 minutes on peak oil, how we know it's hear, and how incredibly serious it is because there just is no replacement that can do what oil does. (A friend filmed this briefing and you can see Maxine introducing Dr Bezdek — co author of the Hirsch report I referred to above — at this 51 minute movie.)

She then defeated our Prime Minister in his own electorate of Bennelong! (Only the 2nd time that's happened in our voting history!) But did we hear anything about peak oil from her or any other politician? Fat chance, even though a Queensland state government report came out during the Federal election campaign that confirmed peak oil will hit in the next 10 years.

So as Christians, are we to just sit back and let this thing take people by surprise? Should we enable corporate greed to soak up a few more billion as they lull the world governments into inaction in the last few years we have to get some rail built? And are we to allow 3rd world nations to collapse because we NEED to fill our Hummers, and will out-bid them for the remaining oil? These are really vital questions that the average citizen has no inkling of, let alone an informed moral outlook.

BLBeamer said...

Dave - I'm a free market guy, too, but I don't understand Hirsch's comments. I agree with him there are no quick fixes - there rarely are - but he says that governments must do something different. Yet, OPEC is controlled by governments. How likely are they to change anything?

Even in the US stories like this and this are evidence that it is beyond naive to expect our state and federal governments to take any effectual action any time soon. But it is not so naive to expect them to free up markets since they have done so before.

Changing unfair laws like those illustrated here, would be relatively simple steps, and would enable the innate genius of folks to find solutions without having to wait to be told what to do by bureaucrats.

Dave Lankshear said...

Biofuels cannot grow in the quantities we need them to. I've been looking at this for a few years, and although I'm not a scientist have read many alternative energy reports. Unless there is some miraculous breakthrough with genetic manipulation of algae or yeasts, or some amazing improvements in battery technology, there are no replacements for oil. None. Zip. Zero.

So the one best option available to us is learning to redesign our economies to do without oil. And that means going beyond energy vehicles into energy efficient cities... and town planning IS a government responsibility.

The one single greatest step to solving peak oil and climate change is New Urbanism city codes.

Developers have sold Americans the lie that suburban McMansion's are the most attractive way to live. It has been packaged as the "American dream". As the documentary "The End of Suburbia" points out, what really is the American dream? Is it a McMansion in the bland sameness and isolation of suburbia? Or is it a fair go for everyone, and that anyone can "make it" and contribute to society?

New Urbanism is more attractive than suburbia and has more social and health benefits. It uses far less resources and energy to construct because things are generally closer together, requiring less plumbing, wiring, broadband cables, pavement, street lighting, sewers, and all of this and adds up to a huge saving in embedded energy.

Then there's the fact that it requires vastly less energy to function. You walk to the local shop rather than drive to the local mega-mall. This adds to a sense of locality and loyalty and community identity, and helps alleviate isolation, depression, obesity, and the destruction of local community social capital.

In terms of design it ensures a sense of neighbourhood, with every home only 5 minutes walk to the local community park. It combines the best of old world charm with high-tech modern living.

America abandoned New Urbanism and traditional town planning after WW2, and it is largely why the average American consumes twice as much oil as the average European.

New Urbanism is simply the most effective way we can beat both peak oil and climate change. Town planning is a government responsibility. But it will take 50 years of rezoning and rebuilding to get most of the way there (through "natural attrition rates of old homes anyway... who knows how many places will be abandoned when peak oil hits?) So we'd better get started... yet the community know nothing about the problem to even begin the debate.

BLBeamer said...

Biofuels cannot grow in the quantities we need them to. My point was not about biofuels, per se. My point was that governments simply have too many concerns to be expected to do a good job at solving such a crisis. Those two stories pointed out that the government was more concerned with tax revenue, then anything else. Nearly all governments are. But motivated individuals can solve such problems, and a free market gives them the freedom to experiment and determine which of the proposals are most satisfactory.

So the one best option available to us is learning to redesign our economies to do without oil. Successful economies aren't designed. No human designer(s) can possibly do the job successfully because the necessary knowledge is too diffused throughout the nation/world. One may not agree with Hayek in general, but he got that bit absolutely correct.

Developers have sold Americans the lie that suburban McMansion's are the most attractive way to live. It has been packaged as the "American dream". As the documentary "The End of Suburbia" points out, what really is the American dream? Is it a McMansion in the bland sameness and isolation of suburbia? Or is it a fair go for everyone, and that anyone can "make it" and contribute to society? Some people want to have McMansions, others don't. Developers try to sell people their goods as avidly as a butchers, or grocers or car dealers. Who says that suburbs are bland and all the same? That's as tendentious than if I asked, who wants to live in the city with all its immorality, ugly architecture, crime, pollution, corruption and noise?

Many if not most Americans just don't like being told how or where they can live, often because those doing the telling rarely are willing to live by the rules they wish to impose on others.

I'll read about New Urbanism, until I do I have no specific comments to make.

BLBeamer said...

By the way, Neil: I read the two articles you linked. I had seen the BBC one before. Thanks.

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Beamer,
the thing is that there very well may not be a choice. New Urbanism is the best solution if we really are entering a transport constrained future. Unless "Mr Fusion" or something equally fantastic comes our way, suburbia will just become an incredibly difficult thing to make sustainable.

Also, someone approves suburban developments don't they? Some city council or law dictates what can be built where, even in free market America? So why are they deciding "wall to wall suburbia" now when we are heading into the final oil crisis?

BLBeamer said...

The spread of suburbia is due to many things among them growing population, mismanaged cities, people's desires, etc. In my state there is a law called the "Growth Management Act" or GMA which targets which areas growth may occur in and which ones are to be preserved. Is that an example of New Urbanism?

If so, it hasn't been an unqualified success. Cities and counties have made affordable housing nearly impossible to find in the cities since the combination of high taxes, repressive regulation and poor schools has given many people no choice but to move from the cities to the suburbs where they will have a chance of finding a place they can afford.

I'd encourage you to actually visit some suburbs, before you decry their blandness. I don't see how suburbs can be criticized for their sameness, when pushing people into high density housing will result in even worse sameness.

Dave Lankshear said...

Suburbs are called "the dormant city" in that nothing happens in them. One has to drive away for anything interesting. They are boxes that we sleep in, surrounded by neatly trimmed lawns.

New Urbanism is about density and DIVERSITY of function. There's a bit of commercial, residential, and recreational zoning all carefully mixed up together to allow people to work, rest and play in the one interesting walking distance environment. Instead of driving an hour to work, one walks past one's favourite bookshop and coffee shop to work, or at least to the local renewable electricity powered tram to get to work.

Having enormous areas of the same function not only makes suburbs dysfunctional and car dependent, it makes them dull and depressing.

BLBeamer said...

Suburbs are called "the dormant city" in that nothing happens in them. One has to drive away for anything interesting. They are boxes that we sleep in, surrounded by neatly trimmed lawns.
My goodness, Dave! It seems you have only spent fifteen minutes on an early Sunday morning in an American suburb. You're partially correct: if I want to go hiking in the mountains, I have to drive all of 45 minutes out of my suburb. If I want to go to a salt water beach, it's another 45 minutes the other direction. We happen to have a fresh water lake and two rivers in our town, so we don't have to escape to go boating or fishing.

Except for all the theaters, colleges, concerts, athletic events, libraries, and parks in my section of suburbia, you're right: there's nothing to do!

I happen to work 16 km from home (along with many of my neighbors). My favorite bookstore is Amazon.com, but I can choose from not fewer than 12 coffee shops on my way into work.

Unless you were referring to Australian suburbs. If so, you have my sympathy: they sound horrible.

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Beamer,
it sounds like if one has to live in suburbia, you've got a pretty nice area. I've got a train station and interesting shops within a 25 minute walk... but imagine if it was all within a 10 minute walk... there and back? Imagine if "ducking out to get some milk" did not involve the car, and took a maximum of about 15 minutes, including a chat with neighbours?

Except for all the theaters, colleges, concerts, athletic events, libraries, and parks in my section of suburbia, you're right: there's nothing to do!

I assume this is all within walking distance? And there's commercial and business in that mix as well, with local newsagents, clothing stores, bakers, greengrocers, butchers etc..., all in walking distance?

Look, you sound like you've got a nice developed patch of suburbia. My point was not to attack ALL suburbia as completely without character... but the vast huge bands of Exurbia "super-suburbia" where people have to drive 30 minutes just to get the milk. Generally speaking, New Urbanism can give you a nice home with some backyard, and some more affordable apartments for the frugal, all in an attractive mixed use higher density, high diversity neighbourhood. As a general rule, suburbia cannot offer the same thing.

BLBeamer said...

No, all those things are not within walking distance, but many of them are. The train station is a 10 minute drive, but the shuttle bus stop which drops me off at the train platform is a five minute walk.

All those things, if not within walking distance are a short drive and not once do I have to go into the city or leave suburbia. I live less than an hour from Seattle and 30 minutes from Tacoma. I can't remember the last time I was in either (except once in September when I went to a major league baseball game). Unless I become involved with the courts, I believe I could never have to set foot in the city again.

Here's the kicker: I live in one of the least developed areas of the county. So, I think your description of suburbs as bland and offering little is incorrect.

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Beamer,
I'm still thinking about that Tropical Troposphere anomaly.

This site seems to think the error is actually in the recordings. There have been known difficulties with radiosondes, so that's not surprising.

Realclimate.org states...
***********
Conclusion

The most likely resolution of the "lapse-rate conundrum," in my view anyway, is that both upper-air records gave the wrong result. The instrument problems uncovered by these papers indicate that there is no longer any compelling reason to conclude that anything strange has happened to lapse rates. From the point of view of the scientific method, the data do not contradict or demand rejection of the hypotheses embodied by models that predict moist-adiabatic lapse rates, so these hypotheses still stand on the basis of their documented successes elsewhere. Further work with the data may lead us to more confident trends, and who knows, they might again disagree to some extent with what models predict and send us back to the "drawing board." But not at the present time.