Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Global Warming: Paying the Piper

It is a testament to any ideologue or dedicated apologist of a worldview to be able to deny what is happening, or make themselves believe it is something else. History is replete with such exhibitions, from the grain reports at the height of the famine during the Great Leap Forward to those denizens of The Weekly Standard and National Review that claim Iraq is a perfect demonstration effect of democracy in action.

Not to be outdone, contemporary negationists have found a new cause to embrace. The alleged non-existence of global warming. The problem with this proposition is that it flies in the face of what is occurring.

Notice the high correlation (over .90 covariation [with 1 being a perfect correlation]) between temperatures and CO2 emission rates. This is not mere opinion, or some fantasy novel. These are the warm hard facts.
According to deniers, this is a part of earth's "evolution" (at this point I am only giving time to those that actually admit the earth is getting warmer, not those members of the Flat Earth Society, or Congressman Bridges's office, who continue to cling to the illusion it is lie perpetrated by the Illuminati). They even cite the increases in temperatures back in the Middle Ages as a comparison to show that this is not a new or unique occurrence. However, what is not addressed is that while there was a warming period during the Middle Ages, it stabilized, becoming non-linear, and ultimately decreased over time. Moreover, it still was not as warm as it is now.

What does all of this mean? As you can see, the projections are not going to decrease or stabilize over time. In fact, it is going to continue to get warmer.

More ominous, CO2 emissions are going to continue to increase at a similar pace.

Naturally, there is still much debate as to the causes. There is no doubt that much of it is natural, either through volcanic eruptions, weather changes, but much of it is also of our own doing. Regardless of whether anyone wants to face it, drastic increases in fossil fuel usage, particularly the over-use of coal burning as a source of energy, and deforestation has had significant contribution to increases in both CO2 emissions and by causation our warming temperatures. This should not be a revelation. Here is the CO2 emission rates (parts per million, or ppm) from the ice ages to now. Again, notice the rapid increase in CO2 emission rates right at the time of the Industrial Revolution (i.e., the time when we started to contribute to global pollution).

These are the kind of phenomena that anti-environmentalists like John Stossel believes to be over-hyped or could be easily solved by Adam Smith's invisible hand. Unfortunately, it is not going to go away, with or without those that claim it is the product of a socialist conspiracy to take away their coal and regular gas.

This also comes off the recent CDC's semi-report on climate change before Congress. It is an open secret in DC that the Bush Administration is attempting politicize federal agencies on the issue, with the implicit (sometimes less so) understanding that scientists in those agencies are not to reveal the full problem, on the threat of losing their job. To illustrate the mendacity, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding's report to the Senate over global warming was heavily edited and redacted by the Administration. Here is the kind of story you will not be hearing from those "liberal media" outlets on your radio stations anytime soon.

White House Cut Warming Impact Testimony

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer Tue Oct 23, 8:31 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The White House severely edited congressional testimony given Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of climate change on health, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks, according to two sources familiar with the documents.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Atlanta-based CDC, the government's premier disease monitoring agency, told a Senate hearing that climate change "is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans."

But her prepared testimony was devoted almost entirely to the CDC's preparation, with few details on what effects climate change could have on the spread of disease. Only during questioning did she describe some specific diseases that likely would be affected, again without elaboration.

Her testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had much less information on health risks than a much longer draft version Gerberding submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in advance of her appearance.

"It was eviscerated," said a CDC official, familiar with both versions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process.

The official said that while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly "heavy-handed," with the document cut from its original 14 pages to four. It was six pages as presented to the Senate committee.

The OMB had no comment on Gerberding's testimony. Gerberding could not be reached late Tuesday for comment.

"We generally don't speculate and comment on anything until it is the final product," OMB spokesman Sean Kevelighan said in reference to the draft testimony. He added that OMB reviews take into consideration "whether they ... line up well with the national priorities of the administration."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the committee chairman, in a statement Tuesday night said the Bush administration "should immediately release Dr. Gerberding's full, uncut statement, because the public has a right to know all the facts about the serious threats posed by global warming."

The Bush administration has been trying to defend itself for months from accusations that it has put political pressure on scientists to emphasize the uncertainties of global warming. Earlier this year a House committee heard testimony from climate scientists who complained the Bush administration had sought frequently to manage or influence their statements and public appearances.

The White House in the past has said it has only sought to provide a balanced view of the climate issue.

The CDC is part of the Health and Human Services Department and its congressional testimony, as is normal with all agencies, is routinely reviewed by OMB.

Copies of the original testimony already had been sent to a number of associated health groups representing states, county and city health agencies that the CDC routinely coordinates with, a CDC official said.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner sought to play down the White House changes. He called Gerberding's appearance before the Senate panel "very productive" and said she addressed the issues she wanted during her remarks and when questioned by the senators.

"What needed to be said as far we're concerned was said," said Skinner in a telephone interview from Atlanta. "She certainly communicated with the committee everything she felt was critical to help them appreciate and understand all the issues surrounding climate change and its potential impact on public health."

The deletions directed by the White House included details on how many people might be adversely affected because of increased warming and the scientific basis for some of the CDC's analysis on what kinds of diseases might be spread in a warmer climate and rising sea levels, according to one official who has seen the original version.

Gerberding seems to have tried to address some of those issues during questioning from senators.

Boxer produced a CDC chart listing the broad range of health problems that could emerge from a significant temperature increase and sea level rise

They include fatalities from heat stress and heart failure, increased injuries and deaths from severe weather such as hurricanes; more respiratory problems from drought-driven air pollution; an increase in waterborne diseases including cholera, and increases vector-borne diseases including malaria and hantavirus; and mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress.

"These are the potential things you can expect," replied Gerberding when asked about the items listed. "... In some of these areas its not a question of if, it's a question of who, what, how and when.";_ylt=Avpdftm8uWTbJLOh8cjJlt5h24cA

All of this is transpiring in the backdrop of the raging fires in Southern California this week--the consequences of the warming climate, associatively caused by our own pollution of this planet. It is now the largest movement and evacuation of Americans since the Civil War. Here is just a snippet of what people like Dr. Bellamy claims is poppycock.

I would not be so presumptuous as to assert that I have the answer to all of this. It could be that much of this is going to happen or will continue to take place, regardless of our actions. It may be that one day we will have to drastically alter our lifestyles, economies, even distribution of population in certain areas of the world. All of this remains an open question. Nevertheless, I am positive of this much. There has to be a better way than our current path.

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