The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘Energy issues’ Category

Scientists Predicted Ice Age? Not True

Posted by Bill Nance on October 17, 2009

I keep reading snark as well as serious arguments claiming that Global Warming is a myth. It seems that invariably in these screeds someone mentions that in the 70s there was some hoopla about the “coming Ice Age.”

Now, I remember being in school in the mid-70’s and remember reading something along these lines. But in fact, as a study published in the Bulletin of The American Meteorlogical Society shows, the people screaming gloom and doom over an ice age were newspaper reporters, not overwhelmingly scientists.

In the early to mid 70’s climatology was still a science still in it’s infancy, and more importantly a science without things like the space shuttle, or U-2 and SR-71 aircraft to use in their observations. Heck, weather satellites were still a fairly recent thing.

The report shows that due to some cooling observed from the mid-1940’s some scientists did indeed make the claim. –About 12% of them. The other 88% reported either no change (16%) or increased warming (72%).


Virtually all of the reports citing the possibility of global cooling came out in the years 1967 and 1971. By 1976 virtually no one was making the claim.

Find another straw-man argument folks, global warming is happening. We may or may not be able to address its man-made aspects in time to make a difference. But pretending it isn’t happening at all when there’s a broad concensus among climatologists and other scientists that it is and it is at least partially man-made just makes you look like a putz.¬† This isn’t Chemistry. It’s a theoretical science. We can’t prove the existence of black holes or human evolution either. We extrapolate from the data, come up with theories which best explain our observations. Global warming has been beaten to death by climatologists from day one. At this point, virtually none of the experts are questioning it any more. That’s called scientific consensus. Yes, it’s still theory, but no, no one has come up with an alternative that tests out as plausible.

When broad scientific consensus is reached and points to something with catastrophic consequences for the entire human race, only a jackass makes it a matter of political point-scoring. We can argue all day about what the best possible course of action to deal with global warming may be. To argue that it isn’t happening or that we shouldn’t even try to address it is stupid at best a racially suicidal at worst.

When Rush Limbaugh shows me his PhD in a related hard science I’ll be interested in his nattering. Until then I’ll rely on what the actual experts tell me, thanks


Posted in Energy issues, News & Analysis, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | 2 Comments »

Energy for America: how one brave politician foretold truth

Posted by Bill Nance on September 5, 2008

You may not remember a U.S. Senator  named Paul Tsongas. My younger readers may have never heard of him. But Paul Tsongas, aside from being a fine and decent man and a great supporter of his community of Lowell Massachusetts, was also prescient on the issue of energy.

As early as the 1970s, Tsongas took a politically unpopular position in favor of nuclear power, along with conservation measures, better standards for energy efficient homes and placing energy taxes on BTUs derived from oil and dirty coal. He took a rationalist approach to the issue which he consistely followed until the end of his political career.

His stance cost him politically. At the same time he was advocating more research and new development of nuclear power, the blatantly false propaganda piece The China Syndrome was scaring the bejeebers out of an ill-informed electorate. The so-called environmentalists did everything they could to make sure the U.S. dependence on foreign oil and the resulting pollution problems would continue for nearly three decades longer than necessary.

At the same time, the Three-Mile Island accident, in an incredibly unlikely series of events came to national attention and further terrified the American public. It is rarely mentioned that this disaster, in which everyone talks about how bad things could have gone, was unlikely to recur. Unlikely to the point of impossibility. In fact, it did NOT result in any disaster. As was testified to in congress, the actual leak of radiation from the plant was less than the amount one gets from a single chest x-ray.

Paul Tsongas was not deterred. He continued to push for a comprehensive answer to America’s energy problems, including, but not restricted, to more nuclear power plants.

In the 1992 Democratic primaries, I remember Tsongas making one of the most honest statements I’ve ever heard from a politician running for office. To paraphrase: “We have three options: oil, coal or nuclear. They all have their downsides, so it’s a matter of pick your poison.”

Much of what Tsongas advocated is now being repeated by both Presidential Candidates in this year’s campaign.

You got it right Senator Tsongas. I knew it then and I still believe it to be true. There IS no silver bullet to the energy issue. The issue is one which is complicated and has many components. Today, as when you first talked about the issue, America faces hard choices and real challenges. One can only hope that the winner in 2008 will be as practical and prescient as you were.

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