Friday, December 11, 2009

Snap Judgments - Climategate

Snap Judgments - the newest sensation that's sweeping the nation!

These Gentlemen have decided upon a new segment to grace us semi-periodically, meaning whenever a topic of interest happens in current events that we want to stay on top of. From the time the request for answers goes out until the post goes up, no more than 24 hours shall pass (from this point on, I was a little late getting this up) so that you can get our most honest and unadulterated reactions to anything currently happening on the world stage.

This exercise is meant to be quick and to the point, so I will be, too! On to our first subject - Climategate.

Adam Winer
I fundamentally don't believe in any scandal or argument that ends with "gate" unless you're actually referring to the hotel or connected offices.

Brett Abelman
Climate-Gate: first impression: for heaven's sake can we stop using "-gate" as a suffix for "scandal."

Okay. So. What it seems like to me: There is a lot of science in support of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming. Science is messy. The world is huge. The weather is freakin' crazy. The scientists at Copenhagen, they believe that global warming is happening, and we as a human race must prevent it or we face disaster. What do they do when they come upon messes in the data? Announce to the world something complicated like, "we don't understand exactly how it works, and science isn't clean, but this is how we think this might fit in if this future experiment shows that..." snore. The cable channels have already started proclaiming the whole thing bunk.

So they - unwisely, though out of a place of conscience (and I'm sure quite a few were motivated by base concern for their reputations) - aim to keep quiet the controversial data. They are on a Mission to Save the Planet. The wee little dumb folk of the world, they don't have patience for subtlety and contradiction and risk assessment. The wee little dumb folk, they tell the politicians what to do, and the politicans tell the businesses what to do, and if the businesses don't stop polluting, we're gonna need more than Captain Planet. It's (assuming all this interpolation is accurate as to their intentions) haughty and unscientific and wrong. But when High Stakes are up, moral questions get gray.

As far as global warming itself, it's hard to argue that reducing pollution would be a bad thing in and of itself. The question of government controls is more economic than anything, and ridiculously complicated. The best thing, in my mind, is for the public to continue to "go green" in this recent trendy way (though hopefully to do so in smarter ways than just buying so-called 'organic'), and convince businesses to reduce their emissions for the sake of appealing to the well-off green customers. Market forces, that kind of thing. Very little bad can come of this.
The last question is just how much the anti-legislation, anti-green types will make of this. Will Fox commentators and bloggers all over blow this up so big that it constitutes a serious backlash against the green trend? Will people start spraying CFCs just to say "ha ha!" to their political enemies? With any luck, this will blow over pretty quickly - or actually have a positive effect as, in order to understand the controversy, people actually have to read about the real science, and learn about the vagaries, and make complex decisions based on complex facts. Time will tell!

Beaver Dam Graham
I have little to no impressions, because as of late I've been spending my days going to great lengths to avoid thinking about climate change. This is mainly because it scares the bejesus out of me and I don't need another reason to not sleep at night. Space existing is bad enough, now I have to think of my own world turning against me? No sirree, I'll just try to keep my carbon footprint as small as I can, and turn off NPR whenever they start talking about it.

Anyone who proports that climate change isn't real or a big deal is lazy and I'm going to go as far as to say a jerk, because even if climate change truly isn't "as big a deal" as scientists are (only just recently) saying, pollution is still bad news bears and something needs to be done about it. And I still won't listen to NPR talk about it on the radio.

ali d.

My first instinct upon considering ClimateGate is to wonder whether the ends might justify the means. Can we really claim that there's anything wrong with trying to be more Green as a nation? If the facts/fears surrounding global warming led to such an intense initiative toward cleaning up our personal and corporate practices in order to treat Mother Earth better, is that really so bad?

But of course, it's never that simple. Climate legislation will likely lead to the federal government spending more money and a tax hike (see: the cap and trade bill). Especially with the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference underway, it would be nice to know that we're combating legitimate data. In the end, though, it seems clear to me that humans really are mucking up the planet, global warming or not, and we should probably work to curtail that as much as we can. I just hope that legislation affecting our efforts to create clean energy will allow for U.S.-made research and implementation, so we can create jobs and boost our economic stance while helping the environment.

And really, let's look at it rationally - this is no Nannygate. Let's calm down, people.

David Pratt

First, let me say that I could go off on a rant all its own on the fascination with calling every scandal "Noun+gate." The Watergate scandal was named such because it was a scandal involving the Watergate, which is a hotel. It makes sense. There are no hotels or gates in this scenario. There's some research involving water, but that didn't make it into the name. Continuing down this line of thinking is just going to take us off-topic before we even get to it in the first place. So, the point is, there's no hotel, there's no gate, and, besides a massive invasion of privacy, there's not even a scandal.

Bottom line: Scientists still disagree about the extent of global warming. That was something we knew before the e-mails came out and something we still know now. The questionable material in the body of what was sent literally came from two out of over 1,000. In one of them it was requested work which ran counter to global warming theory not be included in a study. The reason, however, was that the paper itself was shoddy. After the material was published along with the rest of the study anyway, it came under attack by scientists not involved with the work because - surprise - it was shoddy.

And even if you're still not convinced that man can ever influence the weather or climate no matter how many tons of greenhouse gases we pump daily into our atmosphere, are you seriously going to argue with the idea that we shouldn't be poisoning the air we breathe and the water we drink? Because everybody being sick or dead is going to be a whole lot more harmful to the economy than cap-and-trade.

There you have it, our very first Snap Judgments. That's all for now, look forward for more, only on These Gentlemen.


Jstone said...

Snap judgment:

It doesn't matter. The way we do things now is not the best way it can be done. At the most basic level we have the technology to eliminate that awful smell that comes out of a car. We should move with that regardless of climate change. If it helps, fantastic.

Max Nova said...

It high time that "real Americans" (republican senators) renounce the tyranny of liberal propaganda and live a life without science. Put up or shut up.

B.Graham said...

Disclaiming: My snap judgement is a bit disjointed because, for the first half I didn't know what climate-gate was, and for the second half, I did.

Ozkirbas said...

I believe my snap judgment was: "Climate-Gate. Ha."
I have proof in e-mail form.