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Feb 12, 2011

The Planet Won’t Save Us!

It’s been a pretty harsh winter in Oklahoma. Well, the latter part of winter, anyway. I recall comments before Christmas by neighbors talking about how mild the weather had been and how fortunate we were. Today, they say the weather is wickedly unpredictable and this chaotic climate has been consistent nearly every day for the past several years….What?

It’s this type of anecdotal evidence, based on frustration and poor memories, which perpetuate all the crazy weather theories out there. Only scientific data can really shed any light on the circumstance. But even then –the best we get is correlations, not causality. That’s when the agendas come out of the woodwork to convince you to behave and mostly buy the things that benefit the soothsayer.

For those less familiar with what a correlation is allow me to explain. In its simplest definition it is a mathematical relationship between two factors. Such as age and height in a child – as one increases, the other tends to also increase, or food to starvation – as food decreases, starvation increases. These examples are “strong” correlations; however, a correlation could be there has been an increase in timberline acreage in America over the past 100 years and the population in America has also increased over the past 100 years. This would be a “weak” correlation as the cause of the two are likely not related, but the facts and data are true and crazy arguments could be made that to control population in America we should cut down more trees.

I think I was a teenager when I understood correlations did not necessarily mean causality and could be sold to sound scientific and convince people to change what they did. I read an article that said men who had sex more often were healthier and better looking. It mostly implied, but actually stated at times, that having sex would make one healthier and more attractive. Then I shook my head and laughed, realizing the converse was a better explanation – healthy, good-looking men are more likely to be having sex (at all) and therefore more often.

Anyway, back to the green part of the message. I read in the Wall Street Journal this week that climate alarmists are now switching gears about “planet warming” and now claiming (with handy-dandy statistical correlations) that the increased CO2 that humans have put in the air is the cause of the crazy cold we’ve been experiencing the last few years, and also the droughts and out-of-season heat waves around the world. However, the statistical conclusion of this claim simply doesn’t bear out.

The specific claim tested is that increased CO2 shows more extreme weather as this life-giving gas is increased in the atmosphere. (Yes, I did call CO2 life-giving; it’s not a poison – look it up). The study showed no indication of this at all. I’ve also read other studies that claim the weather is not getting more extreme, but rather the information about extreme weather is simply better distributed. There is even some evidence that the climate is actually milder now than two hundred years ago. And one of my favorite scientific “greenhouse gas” findings is the ratio of CO2 to water vapor’s proportionality for both quantity and quality for contributing to global warming. There is more statistical evidence that water is destroying the planet than carbon di-oxide is.

“But what if you’re wrong?” is always the counter-debate I get when I discuss these things. “It’s not worth the risk if it turns out you’re wrong, Dj!” (Note the Chewbacca defense.)

A friend from Florida addresses this best, I think. He explains weather risk by comparing computer models’ abilities to tell him whether or not to abandon and protect in half-a-million dollar investment (called his house) when a hurricane is less than 36 hours from the coast. “It’s still a crap shoot as to where it’s really going to hit, when it’s only 36 hours away,” he says. “Now, I’m supposed to trust their prediction of the temperature fifty to a hundred years from now – and put my money into their undeniable truth? No, THAT is too risky!”

The late George Carlin gives a pretty good skeptics take on the environmental movement. He even humorously states that the earth deliberately evolved humans in order to create plastic because it couldn’t do it on its own. “And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet…Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another. But we’re gonna save the f***ng planet?”

Another friend of mine mirrors Carlin’s sentiments. He asks why we are trying to “save the planet.” He points out that most evidence shows the planet tries to kill us. Perhaps bad environmentalism is just a preemptive strike against the monster. Okay, not seriously, but he does laugh at the idea of saving the planet and follows up with the statement – should he be absolutely wrong and this global warming is truly man’s fault, then worst case, all the humans die and the planet wins. If we truly are that horrendous of a species, then cosmically that’s a good thing.

Well, perhaps I can’t go that far, but he does have an interesting point. And mother nature seems a bit tougher than we give her credit. Last year's oil spill showed us this in a way most Sierra club members won't talk about. Now don't think I'm promoting dumping crude into the oceans; that's absolutely not what I'm saying. However, the Gulf self-cleans 40 million gallons of naturally seeping oil annually; thus when a man-made one occurs, it may not be quite the planet-ending disaster we tend to conclude it to be.

Then again, even if I'm wrong - perhaps near-global annihilation isn’t a bad thing. According to geologists and evolution, it has happened at least five times before, without which, we wouldn’t even be here. It provokes curious thought. I’ve never equated the green movement with nihilistic existentialism before…but don’t worry – it’s only a correlation.

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