The debate about SuperStorm Sandy is heating up, whether the whole planet is or not. Here's what some have to say:
There is no doubt that warming is occurring but I am unclear that
we understand that there is any clear correlation between warming and a
bad storm although I understand the arguments for it. I just don't
think it is scientific.
I hear a hard edge in those who stridently assure us that big storms like Sandy are related to climate change.
I hear that too. I suspect fear enters into the picture for a lot
of thoughtful people who have the skills and sufficient access to
information resources to observe, think and act. Frankly, anyone who is not freaking out is just not paying attention.
not just happening in New Jersey and New York. My family and friends in
Sweden are in the most affected northern climate zone and they are experiencing dramatic
weather changes first hand. As we rode through the Cordillera Blanca
[White Range], my friends in Peru pointed out the now brown slopes.
Glacier National Park had over 100 glaciers, now less than 30, and is
predicted to be glacier free within 10 years. You can argue it's because of cattle in feed lots instead of
cars, or chopping down the Amazon instead of burning black stones
anyone who attributes these drastic changes to anything but human
activity is delusional. We have adequate science to prove that the
climate is way out of whack; how much
is getting to be a detail.
I'm not suggesting people become apoplectic, but it is appropriate that
we recognize the potentially devastating consequences and weigh our
responses accordingly. There are those
who have the skills and resources to sound the alarm about climate
change. And logically, just as we don't have all the answers about peak
oil (etc.), they don't have all the answers about climate change. That's
If you believe it, fine. But acknowledge that is a belief and not a fact.
I don't base my actions on fairy tales. I operate by certain principles to avoid such traps:
- I study issues carefully and read scientific articles, and employ
journalism primarily to lead me to valid sources, not to jump to
conclusions. I look beyond the sources to the support they receive, and
apply Jim Hansen's adage: "It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it."
- I devoted years of my youth to learning the analytic tools I would need to discern fact from fiction. As Winston Churchill allegedly put it, "Not everyone is entitled to an
opinion; in order to have an opinion, you have to know something."
- I apply those tools as things come up; I do the math. I have a well-honed "crap detector" and it comes in mighty handy: I encounter B.S. just about every day.
- And when in doubt, I apply the precautionary principle. I didn't
make this up. It is statutory in the European Union.
There are ways to get to the heart of the matter.
you may be right but you don't know.
If we are in doubt about climate change, then under the precautionary
principle, it is our responsibility to err on the side of caution, in
this case to jettison our addition to burning stones at all costs, just
in case the IPCC is right. If they are wrong, no harm can come of it. In
fact, the consequence will be on the upside: a little more oil will be
spared for our children. It is our moral obligation to do so anyway. If
in the process we mitigate climate change, even a little, so much the
better. They will thank us for holding to our principles in the face of
ridicule or worse.
And of course there's the argument that things are going to get very
much worse as humanity crashes into peak oil, even if the climate tames
down completely. There will be die off
(thank you, Jay Hanson). There
will be climate refugees. Do we therefore turn cynical? Do we sit on our
My hat is off to those who are designing and building artifacts for a world
beyond oil. They may be using oil / gas / coal to do so; they need not be apologetic about that. There is so much to do that they can go where they are welcomed, not where they face cynicism or worse. With success, there will be
little post-carbon pockets of sanity, which with a little luck will
propagate. No, they won't reach everywhere before things go really bad.
It's like building life boats. Better than going down with the ship of
fools on fuels.