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Now You CO2 It, Now You Don't!
In 1996, the EPA looked to science to account for global warming:

Recent scientific evidence shows that the greenhouse effect is being increased by release of certain gases to the atmosphere that cause the Earth's temperature to rise. This is called "global warming." Carbon dioxide (CO2) accounts for about 85 percent of greenhouse gases released in the U.S. Carbon dioxide emissions are largely due to the combustion of fossil fuels in electric power generation. Methane (CH4) emissions, which result from agricultural activities, landfills, and other sources, are the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the U.S.

These days, the Bush administration appears to look to lobbyists, mainly, for its "science." Andrew Gumbel reports in Britain's Independent that the administration has just decreed "that carbon dioxide from industrial emissions - the main cause of global warming - is not a pollutant," excising "a 28-page section on climate change from an EPA report," and "ignoring a report by the US Academy of Sciences that argued that the evidence of climate change could not be ignored":

The Bush administration appears to be guided by a leaked memo by the political consultant Frank Luntz, which advised: "Should the public believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

Don't know about you, but I prefer to err on the side of breathing, summer and winter temperatures that aren't falling off the ends of the thermometer, and not submerging big chunks of the planet.

Posted by aalkon at September 1, 2003 9:27 PM


Amy, NO.

For every twitchy little article you find about how this shale stone or that sediment pile PROVES that global warming is happening, I can find you seven guys with degrees who say no.

Don't glibly trivilize the stakes of this conflict by saying we should "err" on the side of caution. That error could be devastating to billions.

Kyoto is a shitbath. The international hard-on for this thing is mostly about containing Western/American power through manipulation. MOST of current environmental thinking is about affirming central political control of the planet. But the solutions and clarity for our environmental problems, to say nothing of the economic resources to combat them, are going to come from free individuals, working and investing as they see fit.

Journalist types love writing stories like this CNN piece because it shows how serious and compassionate they are. When a TENURED PROFESSOR starts telling us how we should reconfigure our global economy, CHECK YOUR WALLET. Can we seriously regard the "Climate Action Network of Canada" as a dispassionate party in these matters?

Two links for starters, conveniently offered by Dutton's A&LD:

See also Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist" (2001), website

Posted by: Cridland at September 1, 2003 9:44 AM

Cridland is pretty much right about this. Carbon Dioxide may indeed be causing global warming, but that does not make a pollutant. 0.04% of the air is already CO2. Saying Carbon Dioxide is a pollutant is like saying if I break a dam and flood a village, water is a pollutant. I'd like to keep the definition narrow - pollutants are non-naturally occuring substances that hurt our health. As opposed to CO2, which while it may behoove us to reduce it, will not interfere with our breathing and health from merely being in the air.

Posted by: Jonas Cord at September 1, 2003 12:58 PM

And one more, just because it's freshly composed and published for this holiday:

Posted by: Cridland at September 1, 2003 2:19 PM

I'm certainly not sure about what causes global warming, but I am concerned about emissions from power plants, etc. -- whatever's in them, something tells me I don't want to get up over the smokestack and start sucking it down. I'm neither right or left wing, but I do dislike this administration's tendency to bow to industry and religion in decision-making. What does George Bush have against breathing?

Posted by: (Amy Alkon) at September 1, 2003 2:19 PM

Costs too much. HEh.

Seriously, sorry for the slap, it's been a long weekend. We, the capitalist freedom-loving environmentalists, need you on our team. PETA already has Alicia Silverstone and Melissa Rivers. We need a girly fashion type on our side too. And you are easily the most stylish member of the Seipp League of Webheads, or the Tony Pierce Commitee of Seven, or whatever the LA bloggers are called this week.

Posted by: Cridland at September 1, 2003 4:40 PM

I don't particularly care about shale or sediment, but I do know that this summer's temperatures in London were higher than any recorded there in the entire 20th century. Other anecdotal evidence -- it's more humid in L.A. this summer than is seasonally natural, and El Nino is caused by uncharacteristic warming in the Pacific.

The global warming denier argument is that this is part of a natural long-term cycle of warming and cooling. To which I'd respond that England is a very old country, and many of its early buildings are still standing. Virtually all, with their thick walls and low ceilings, were built to insulate against the cold. IF this is a cycle, it's a really long-term one, and we're gonna get very hot for a long time.

Also, PETA does not speak for all environmentalists! I'm a registered Green and I hate those dumbasses.

Posted by: LYT at September 1, 2003 8:06 PM

PETA would never have me. To emphasize how rare I like my steak (because American restaurants often don't believe you when you say "rare") I sometimes add "rare -- as in, still mooing." Yum! Do not do this in Paris, as they will believe you, and the steak will be merely hinted at by a flame. And I mean hinted at. That's a fine way of preparing steak tartare, yes -- but filet mignon is best when it's had more than a brief flirtation with the stove.

Posted by: (Amy Alkon) at September 1, 2003 8:38 PM

It's time to get real here. For the latest on the links between CO2 and global warming, see,3604,1032980,00.html. For applications to join the Flat Earth Society, go to It may, in fact, be worth contemplating the following analysis from the FES and examining the structural similarities to some of the arguments above:

While the Society is not a "crackpot" group, it is opposed to the fashionable, politically correct Spherical Earth theory, which is expounded every day by so-called "scientists", the media and political leaders. The Society asserts that the Earth is flat and has five sides, that all places in the Universe named Springfield are merely links in higher-dimensional space to one place, and that all assertions are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true false and meaningless in some sense.

One more cautionary story: if you are fond of denying scientific reality, consider the fate of Billy Williamson, a Texas state representative who liked to defend an infamous asbestos plant in his district. "I think we are all willing to have a little bit of crud in our lungs and a full stomach rather than a whole bunch of clean air and nothing to eat," he said once on the floor of the state legislature. "And I don't want a bunch of environmentalists and Communists telling me what's good for me and my family." Shortly thereafter, he contracted lung cancer and died.

Posted by: Andrew Gumbel at September 2, 2003 8:25 AM

Y'all can check out what's going on at
the Byrd Polar Research Center at OSU,
and e-mail 'em if ya have questionss about
the ice-sheets (thickness, drift, melting...etc):

Ya can also check out the Center for Mapping for
any other questions:

Very high-tech stuff

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at September 2, 2003 8:40 AM

This site also deals w/ mapping ice sheets over the pole, and has links to the Byrd center:

Byrd and Center for Mapping has cool pics and high tech mapping!

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at September 2, 2003 10:30 AM