Saturday, February 13, 2010

Crisis Or Opportunity: Which Way On Global Warming?

Global Warming.

It's a problem and an issue that won't go away.

And this issue is one that isn't just a pet conceit of
Western elitists - it's something that is definitely
happening, and it's something we have to do something

But there's two ways of looking at this - as either Crisis
or Opportunity. And all we've heard so far is just the
"Crisis" side of the argument.

Now to be sure, the proponents of the Global Warming
crisis meme have been at times been their own worst

First, there was "Climategate" - the expose that some
climate researchers had fudged some of their data to
reach a predetermined conclusion. Naturally, this
inspired some commentators, most notably Glenn Beck
and Rush Limbaugh, to hint rather strongly that the
whole issue is just another elite conspiracy to "Blame America
First" and should be disregarded by "right-thinking" folks.

However, as a writer on economic and political issues,
I deal with all kinds of people where "fudging" the data to
reach a predetermined conclusion is nothing new.

To the politician, bankster, or economist, fudging
the data and lying about it is an everyday tool of the
trade - so why should I be surprised when some environmental
scientist does it? I'm not. And in fact I was a skeptic - until I
read in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings about the potential
strategic effects of climate change .

That changed my mind. That convinced me that Global
Warming is a fact. But, I am still skeptical that "Global
Warming" is entirely man-made. And it seems that a lot
of otherwise sensible people aren't buying it either.

The anthropogenic theme was what Barack Obama
took to Copenhagen last year - and the BRIC coalition
of newly industrializing countries promptly shut him

They sense - accurately, in my view - that "Global Warming"
and the mechanics of a proposed new "carbon control" regime -
Cap and Trade, carbon sequestration, new carbon taxes,
carbon-neutral trade - are nothing more than a plot
by Western nations to re-arrange global trade patterns
in their favor. China bluntly told the world it will continue
to burn coal - of which it has a 300-year supply - in its drive
for manufacturing dominance. And the others - Brazil, India,
and Russia - showed no willingness to "compromise" with a
West they view as fading, decadent, and corrupt.

And I'm not surprised. The professional "environmental"
movement has many times, on issue after issue, been
embarrassingly and consistently wrong. Whether the
issue is overpopulation, global warming, resource exhaustion,
or otherwise, the causes are always the same - Western
(that is American) lifestyles, Capitalism, and Democracy.

Blame and Guilt are not good selling points to a skeptical
and distrustful audience.

So, despite all the evidence, we might well be alone on
this issue. If that's the case, and especially if it comes
to light that the principal causes of global warming
are not anthropogenic, what do we do?

Doing nothing is not an option. The evidence of
"global warming" is both widespread and plain to
see even for the layman. And I don't think it's wise
policy to be only a volcanic eruption or two away
from a truly catastrophic climate situation. So
what do we do?

First of all, we have to accept that Global Warming and
Climate Change are facts. Even if the causes are not
all man-made, our response will of necessity have to be.
And the first thing we must do in this regard is to
change our mindset to view "Climate Change" not
necessarily as a Crisis but rather as an Opportunity.

And, in my view, there are some things we can do right away
to start taking advantage of the opportunity and in the
process start correcting things.

First of all, Reforestation. Biomass - trees - may well be our
best friends in ameliorating climate change. And deforestation,
especially in Africa and Brazil, may well have contributed to
the present situation. Trees are a natural carbon sink; and all
the good we might do here in reducing carbon emissions
might well be undone by overharvesting the Amazon
rain forest and traditional African slash-and-burn
agriculture. But we in the U.S.are not entirely without
blame - the recent mudslides and floods in Southern
California can directly be attributed to the failure to
reforest the areas burned in the fires two years ago.

And why wasn't this done? The environmental impact
report required to replant these burned areas won't be
completed for another year, if at all.

Second - phase out burning coal for power generation.
Clean coal? No such thing. Besides, as a solid hydrocarbon,
coal may well be more valuable as a chemical feedstock
material in place of increasingly scarce oil. We already have
the technology to convert coal to these other uses - why
not use it? The same thing applies to natural gas, which though
clean and abundant, is more valuable as a feedstock than
a fuel;

Third - let's lose our unwarranted aversion to nuclear
power. If we're serious about a limited-carbon future,
nuclear power will have a huge role to play, whether we
like it or not. Thanks to the unyielding opposition of
the same folks people pushing the Global Warming
alarms, we are currently stuck at Nuclear Power
Technology 1.0. Meanwhile, France, Japan, and China
are currently at Nuclear Power Technology 3.0, with
the fourth generation in the planning stage. And the
French and Japanese have the technology to recycle
spent fuel rods into more usable fuel. We don't. We
have a long way to go here if we are going to catch up;

Finally, if we're serious, we have to do more to wean
ourselves from oil-based motor fuels. Methanol is
both renewable and cleaner burning than gasoline,
and becoming available in more and more places.
However, it is highly corrosive, and cannot be used
in most cars without major modifications to both
the engine and the fuel system. A few years ago, most
of the major manufacturers produced a few models
that were "flexible fuel" - could burn either methanol
or gasoline, or any mixture thereof. Today, they don't -
except for fleet vehicles such as taxis and delivery
vehicles. And CNG and propane have the same problem
as methanol - limited availability of vehicles, and a limited
number of fuel outlets. For these reasons, these are both
dead-end technologies;

But once again, foreign nations are showing us the way.
For the last three years, Europe has had diesel hybrid
vehicles, which take current hybrid technology and marry
it to a small-displacement, clean-diesel engine. And later
this year, Audi will bring the first clean-diesel hybrid
to the U.S. If the Toyota Prius was hybrid technology 1.0,
the forthcoming Audi Tdi Hybrid is hybrid technology 2.0.
Go to the alternative-fuel diesel hybrid, and you have hybrid
technology 3.0; vehicles that can get 40-50 mpg on clean,
renewable fuel. They are not in the market yet, but they will
be soon;

If there's a common thread to all this, it's this. All of the
things I've just mentioned are doable now, with technology
we currently possess. Even if they won't completely solve
the climate problem, they will make a considerable start.
But when it comes to actually doing something , we have
been sold short by our elites, especially those now making
the most noise about climate change and "Global Warming".

Our elites are very good at creating ponderous studies and
calling for action on this problem or that, but they fail
utterly on implementation. Being primarily creatures of
thought, they instinctively recoil from people of action, who,
culturally benighted though they might be, just might come
up with workable solutions for the problems.

And if they do propose solutions, it's almost always this tax,
that regulation, or the totally unworkable "Cap and Trade"
scheme that thankfully died a quick and unlamented death
in Congress. No plan of action - no Manhattan Project or
Apollo program - just more carping, pointing with alarm,
and more urging for someone else to do something.

Small wonder that when we talk to the rest of the world
about the climate change problem, they don't take us
seriously. We shouldn't be surprised.

But that is not to say that the rest of the world isn't
concerned. They are. For the most part, they see
solving the climate change problem (or at least
adapting to it), as a tremendous opportunity.

The French will do their bit by proceeding to go
100% nuclear and hydroelectric for power generation
by 2020. Unlike us, they see "wind" and "solar" as
ephemeral technologies unsuitable for large-scale
application. The Chinese have embarked on an
Apollo-program-scale project to be the world's
technology leader in batteries for hybrid and
electric vehicles. And the Japanese are years
ahead of everyone in the technology of
processing nuclear waste into nuclear fuel.

And the prime market these countries see
for their innovative technologies? The United States.

If these sound to you like the "green shoots" of the
"new economy" that the President was talking
about, you're right. But as usual, these high-wage,
high-skill, "jobs and industries of the future" will
happen elsewhere - not here. For when it comes to
"green jobs" and industries suitable for Americans,
the President is talking about weatherstripping
homes or recycling bottles and cans.

And that's a development you can thank our
anti-industrial, anti-manufacturing elites for.

So, when the President, Al Gore, or some left-wing
Hollywood celebrity talks about "Climate Change"
or "Global Warming", I'm skeptical. The discussion
is all problem - no solution.

But when I hear Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck,
Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or Bill O'Reilly talk
about the issue, I'm encouraged. While they may
dispute the details, they are also quick to emphasize
that if there is in fact a problem, there's also a solution,
one that can and should be turned to America's
advantage in a competitive world.

Technology? New Industries? Jobs of the Future?
Sorry, but that's part of the problem; not part
of the solution according to environmentalist

And that's why I'm with Rush on this one.

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