This article is a bit of a ‘rant’. It is my opinion and reaction to a CNN “news piece” on “Global Warming” today. The “news” was reacting to some announcement ( I think by the IPCC?) that GHGs were at an all time high and this, seemingly, spells doom. So read this as an editorial opinion piece, not as ‘science’ nor ‘news reporting’.
On CNN they did a LONG segment on Global Warming this morning. Bill Nye was prattling on… It would seem that CNN thinks a Toy Science Entertainer is somehow a science authority… He was opposite another guy (who’s name I didn’t catch) in a faux ‘balance’ vignette as both worried about how horrible the future would be (especially if everyone in the world tried to have U.S. standards of living). Then there was the cute Milk Chocolate Lady Lead (who’s name I also didn’t remember… ever time she smiles I forget things ;-) At any rate, she was smiling away trough the whole “Gloom and Dooooom We’re ALL Gonna DIE!!!” story… It would seem that the content didn’t bother to enter her brain nor change her ‘presentation’ style…
At least we can find out what the Warmista Taking Points are. As this was worthy of a long chunk of prime CNN time, it will be a significantly vetted point of view.
1) Sandy is evidence of Global Warming. Yes, that one again. Completely impervious to history and the blatant stupidity of the argument. Nye even went so far as to make a faux time line with New Orleans and Sandy and saying that in geological terms that 5 years was a ‘blink of an eye’ and if these go to 4 years then 3 … accelerating disaster, clearly. It would seem he’s clueless about the DROP in landfall frequency of major hurricanes and drop of ACE. Oh, and 2 data points make a trend line, and one that accelerates as well… Just Daft. If this is what passes as Science on CNN, the world is screwed.
2) The Other Bozo made the wrap up analogy (after Ms. Happy Talk asked if it would get worse) that “blow more gas or hotter into a balloon it goes up more, right?”. Um, what? MORE gas into a hot air balloon doesn’t do anything. (I’ve done it on ‘ground crew’. One uses a big fan to blow it full of air BEFORE heating. It then just lays sideways on the ground, cold.) Added HEAT will make it rise, and faster. But what does that have to do with the atmosphere? Pretty simple: It will increase convective cooling of the planet. Even their analogies are dead stupid and ass-backwards. But ‘simple and wrong analogies’ are ‘proof’…
3) People are evil and it’s us damaging the planet. We had the appeal to ‘Humanity as the Sin’ with Billy Nye talking about how there were only 3 Billion long ago but now too many. And the rich west worse than most. (FEEL that Guilt, ye Carbon Sinners!) Never mind that CO2 has had a beneficial effect on plant life globally and never mind that through most of history CO2 levels were higher than anything we could reach burning ALL fossil fuels.
4) Bogus Statistics. They had a statistic that “CO2 is now 85% of GHGs”. Ignoring water vapor that is far more important than carbon dioxide. Ignoring, too, that most CO2 is from natural sources. Ignoring that CO2 lags warming. Ignoring that we can’t even show such gases ARE “green house gasses” and ignoring that “green house” is a bad analogy. Green Houses work via stopping convection, gases can’t do that. No, it’s all CO2 all the time, and we make all of it… Humans as Casual. They even stressed that the US was the major problem. Ignoring that China now makes more CO2 than the USA, has a higher CO2 growth rate, and the USA has been static to dropping.
5) It’s about “dirty” vs “clean”. There was a sop to “thinking big” about making things more efficient and more clean. Hey, I’m all for more efficient and clean; but it doesn’t need a Central Planning Tyrant to be achieved. Strangely, Mr. Nye then advocated under ground utility wires as a more efficient way to distribute electricity (and somehow more clean, I suppose). This completely ignores just how hard it is to repair underground wires and facilities. Those places in NYC that will be down the longest are those with underground utility vaults that are flooded… The complete lack of logical connection between undergrounding and anything else was lost on Nye. Further, he seems unaware that undergrounding wires requires LOTS of digging, done by large Diesel Powered Equipment that burns a LOT of fuel.
6) Ocean Acidification made a return cameo. Never mind that the oceans are ALKALINE and guaranteed to stay that way, given the giga-tons of alkaline minerals on the ocean bottom. Never mind that the historic CO2 levels were higher when life evolved in the oceans. Nope. Just the scare word ACID!!!! and how this would threaten food supply and the entire food chain. (Again ignoring that the food chain starts with phytoplankton that benefit from more CO2…)
In short, it’s the same old bogus set of Scare Tactics and bald faced lies.
I’m sorry, but that’s what they are, IMHO given the available evidence. Bald Faced Lies (from liars or idiots or?). There isn’t any other conclusion possible. The counter points are well known. There have been plenty of opportunities for folks to look up the data. Bill Nye holds himself out as some kind of science authority, so he’s a “public person” and asserting an expertise. All those things say he has an obligation to know something about the topic. Including the actual science data and arguments pro and con. So it is a reasonable presumption that he “knows or ought to know” things like ‘the oceans are alkaline’ and ‘CO2 was higher in the past’ and ‘hurricanes are happening at lower rates now’.
When someone has ‘reason to know’ and then strongly pushes what are demonstrably incorrect statements, what else can they be? You have a choice of “idiot” or “liar” near as I can tell. As these folks are not particularly stupid, that only leaves “lazy idiocy from lack of looking” or “liar”. As they are being professionally employed in the field (given their CNN role), that pushes “lazy” mighty far.
So IMHO the CNN ‘piece’ was a carefully crafted “Power Of Stupid” piece designed with idiot level arguments (like hot air balloons and “acid bad” metaphors) pushing an agenda to the ‘useful idiot masses’. Designed to push fear and guilt, not inform. It’s “YOUR fault” for wanting to live in a technologically advanced society and use fuels. Just send money for the pet projects of the Greens, and everything will get better. Underground power distribution will stop hurricanes, after all…
I’m sure there was more I’ve now forgotten, but those were the big points. Which means it is all that more important to continue reminding folks that we are NOT getting hotter, the atmosphere does NOT have a ‘tropospheric hot spot’ (so one presumes that hot air balloon is sinking not rising… in their ‘model’…), the oceans are alkaline and not acid (so not acidifying), there are FEWER hurricanes, and weaker at that (lower ACE).
How best to do that? Frankly, I’m not sure. We are up against The Incredible Power Of Stupid here. It will take similar ‘happy talk talking points’ and similar ‘over simplified’ arguments to reach that audience. Then again, perhaps the CNN audience is just too stupid to matter? If they can’t remember anything from year to year, nor have high school science level of understanding, perhaps they are just going out to get stoned tonight anyway and won’t remember the story at all by tomorrow… Could that be why it has to be repeated so often?
So maybe some nice “Scare Story” shows showing the 1800s level and number of hurricanes and what the WOULD do today, followed by “Thank God CO2 is keeping hurricanes down!” (Hey, if bald faced lies, lack of logical connection, and political drama are acceptable for the Goose… well, Gander, get busy?) Maybe something like “CO2 is feeding the plankton and giving us more food than ever!!! with nice charts of total ocean catch.” Never mind that the catch is changing species and is more tech driven… Goose, meet Gander… I don’t know if I can grit my teeth and lie through them like the other side does, though. I’m trapped in that ‘hobgoblin of small minds’… an irrational insistence on consistency and truth.
It is very clear from the overall structure and content of the CNN piece that this is a propaganda campaign, not a quest for truth in science. They have a side chosen (there was not a single whiff of the Skeptical POV on their set). They had to arrange for those folks to be in studio well in advance. It was not “news”. The presentation was scripted. (Q & A were clearly not spontaneous, and had coordination). The focus was on ‘scare the rubes’ and ‘treat them as useful idiots’ and not on ‘what is a logical and consistent view of the truth’ as evidenced by the dumb down and wrong arguments / analogies used.
It is also quite clear that Engineers need to stand up and point out that “scientists” make lousy Engineers. We need the power and distribution guys to point out how under ground wires are NOT always the best solution. That flooding is worse when the transformer is 8 foot underground than when it’s 40 foot in the air, and that when a break happens, it’s not as easy to fix as stringing new wires above ground. That concrete poles can make more difference. And, most importantly, that it is an engineering problem that is solved best PER SITE and BY ENGINEERS.
Similarly, power generation and automotive fuel / power source decisions are best made by THOSE Engineers as well. Politicians and scientists make lousy managers of industry and lousy Engineers. Too ‘one size fits all’ and too hypothetical. Not enough detail orientation and not enough grounded in reality. Nye typified this with a statement that we needed more ‘Big Ideas’ on the problem. No, Billy, we don’t. We need a thousand and one SMALL ideas, all carefully fitted to an optimum solution of real problems. It’s “Big Thinkers” and “Big Ideas” that come from politicians and generally screw things up. Look at history: wars and destruction, starvation and famine, massacres and genocides… All from “big ideas” from “big thinkers”… Collapse of the Soviet Union from too many ‘big ideas’ and not enough tailored solutions to real needs.
The notion that politicians ought to have more power and scientists need more authority is what is broken. (Especially the politicized scientists of today). The million and one folks who can make those decisions right; corporate managers, small business owners, engineers and even marketeers and salesmen need to start raising their voices. Instead of being ‘compliant’ and thus part of the ‘useful idiot’ class; they need to start saying “Hang on a minute: THAT is a broken idea and a solution to a non-problem that will make things worse, not better.”