Sunday, December 09, 2007


Six hundred different ways the world will end due to Global Warming! All is lost. If one cause of Global Warming doesn’t get us, there are still at least 599 others that will. Wacky scientists, media enablers and charlatans are whipping up hysteria on so many fronts that rational people are beginning to wonder if we are being ‘had’ on this global warming idea. Are normal changes in nature and climate becoming the latest money making machine to obtain government funding?

What are some of the 600 ways the world will crash because of Global Warming? A few are: global dust bowl, bubonic plague, the earth will spin faster, new ice age, illness and death, vampire moths, bananas destroyed and phenology shift. My one great fear is the vampire moth, I imagine a blood sucking moth swirling about my head. Bananas destroyed means ‘apes gone wild’ and no bananas on my breakfast cereal. I worry about ‘ phenology shift’ because I don’t have a clue what it means. Mostly I’m concerned about the earth spinning faster because I have often been told that I am pretty unbalanced and I don’t know if I could handle more spin.

600 ways of collapse demand 600 different solutions. Solutions involve: scientists and pseudo-scientists asking for funding, media enablers raising hues and cries to boost television ratings and the government throwing tax money at the problem in paroxysms of grandstanding. Yet taxpayers - who pay for it all - are poorer and no safer. Good scare words can do wonders to line the pockets of charlatans. Years ago Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. noted " a good catchword can obscure analysis for fifty years". Common sense tells me that if there are over 600 ways, and the list grows daily, what is the sense of doing anything? We’re doomed no matter what. This ‘Catch 22' is more like catch 600. If we implement 600 solutions, the cost will certainly reduce us to penury and we will again live as cavemen. Better to remember the old song "Don’t worry, Be happy" and live at risk.

Following the philosophy of "Don’t worry, Be happy" should not lead to despair; rather it is a call to reason. Are there any facts about the big idea of Global Warming and environmental collapse?. Facts are ugly, thorny things but ideas are velvety and suave, and bring comfort by suggesting that our understanding of - and hence control over- the world is increasing. They are comforting even if they are scaring the bejabbers out of us. The most fertile ground for the formation of ideas is obviously ground barren of facts.

Al Gore tells us about the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are the primary cause of global climate change. The 600 scientific ideas flow from speculating on and spinning out fantasies on this grand idea. Scientists and their ideas are presented as the gold standard for beliefs; as modernists, they replace the Bible and religion as sources for ultimate truth. An explanation of this phenomena is given by Daniel Kahneman, 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, in his "availability cascade" which describes the way an idea can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it and the tendency of people to replace their own beliefs with the crowd’s belief so they are more ‘in’ and socially acceptable. Much scientific speculation does not wait for proof before being broadcast to the public. Journalists prefer to report on the sensational, inundating the airwaves and journals with repetitions of some speculation so that it suddenly becomes a consensus and incontrovertible. In science, however, there can be no consensus, just facts. But minus facts, feckless politicians throw tax dollars at any, I repeat any, solution.

But facts, as noted, can be ugly. A recent article titled "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" by Dr. John Ioannidis, has reviewed thousands of published scientific papers and found that when facts were finally available, most findings were wrong. The hotter the field of research the more likely the finding was to be wrong. In climate research the rush is on to find the latest theory on how the world will collapse and get this new ‘idea’ into the hands of the media to trumpet a new wave of gloom and doom that will cover the researchers in dismal glory. In the 70's, the consensus was of a ‘new ice age’ within ten years, heralded in by a catastrophic world wide famine. Scientists proposed melting the polar ice cap to save mankind. But facts got in the way, none of it happened. In the 90's experts moved on to ‘global warming’ as the new hot theory. The idea now is so compelling that we can’t wait for the facts. We must act!

I say take a deep breath and "Don’t Worry, Be Happy".