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Getting Warm in Here?

May 6, 2014

So the Obama administration is going to ‘pivot’ to global warming/climate change, finally! Now that unemployment, the economy, high taxes and runaway government spending have been solved, it’s time to go after the really tough problems.

I just don’t get it. Well, I do get it, but I guess I don’t get why ‘they’ believe it is going to work this time.

First, ‘climate change’ is WAY down the list of things that concern us average citizens these days. I mean WAY WAY down there on the list. The top three, according to the junk I read, is the economy, jobs, government spending. Pretty much in that order. This is the stuff that keeps dad awake at night. Climate change doesn’t even make the list of stuff most people think about at all.

We want our government to be tackling the stuff that really affects us on a daily basis.

Now, there is, of course, a huge and passionate debate about the reality of climate change. To me, that isn’t what the debate should be focused on. Climate change is very real, the climate changes constantly. The real debate should be about what causes it, and what, if anything, can we actually do about it, assuming there is anything we can do about it.

Personally, I don’t think this planet even knows, or cares, that humans exist. Sounds weird, but let’s think about it for a second. This planet has been around for, let’s say, 3.5 billion years or so. We humans have been around for the last 5000 years, give or take. We have been using carbon-based fuels in quantity for the last 75 or so years. So the human-caused climate change argument is that we have been able to muck things up in 75 years to the point where we are affecting the weather.

Really? If you look at what we actually know about the planet history, going back hundreds of millions of years, this planet has gone through some pretty tough times. Something caused those mountains to form. Something moved the continents around then created then killed the dinosaurs. There is record, in the earth, of massive volcanic action lasting hundreds of thousands of years. We know of at least three ice ages that covered most of the planet in ice for zillions of years. Miles thick ice. The planet has swung from roasty-hot nasty to frigging-cold nasty in a bi-polar swing of millions of years.

All without our help.

We are here, some say, because the planet is currently in the middle of the pendulum swing, a relatively mild and calm period. This calm period is likely to last a few hundred thousand more years, give or take. In the noise, which might be measured in thousand-year periods, it should be expected that there will be ups and downs. In the 75 years we have been pumping CO2 into the air with reckless abandon, the planet doesn’t even know we are here. It just doesn’t care.

The problem is, these little ‘swings’ in the noise of the planet could be enough to wipe humans out, or at least make things really uncomfortable for us. We haven’t been around very long, planet scale, and we would like to be around a lot longer. So anything that makes us uncomfortable we feel we have to get control over. Hence, man-made climate change as a mission (plus there’s money to be made!). We don’t like things that we can’t control, which is why natural disasters make us so nervous. When a rogue wave can wipe out 100,000 people in an afternoon, we demand an explanation. Problem is, there isn’t one. The trend seems to be headed in the direction of blaming climate change on ANYTHING that we don’t like, weather wise. Increased tornados, massive hurricanes, wind, rain, snow, no snow etc.

What if the current drought in California is because of all of the efforts the state has made to control the climate? Maybe their efforts have made a difference, just not exactly in the direction they had hoped. We know so little about how this planet works, this is just as likely as anything else being pushed as man-made climate change these days.

A few months ago there was a news program that had a segment on solar activity, which was pumping out junk and sending it our way. A scientist was being interviewed by the nice news lady, when out of the blue she asked ‘is it possible that this solar activity is being caused by global warming?’ The reaction from the scientist is priceless, blank stare and all. You can find this on YouTube somewhere. Climate change is a very popular topic these days with very little comprehension as to what exactly it is.

We just don’t like not being in control. So we pretend we are in control and a segment of the population takes on the view that we are to blame for whatever is happening in the climate at any given point and therefor we need to stop doing whatever it is we are doing to cause whatever is changing and MAKE IT STOP.

Now, please don’t read me wrong. I believe the climate is changing, because that’s what it does. I also love the idea of using less energy for lighting, cars etc, but not because it is messing up the environment and causing climate change. I like it because it makes sense that technology makes things better, cheaper, lighter, faster, smarter etc. I like turning on a light in the house that is using 4.5 watts instead of 75. I feel I have benefitted from this because I am using less of something I have to pay for.

I personally do not connect the two.

The main problem I see with the current administration ‘tackling’ climate change isn’t that they can’t do anything about it in the long run (although they can’t); it is that they want to force innovation at a faster pace than innovation wants to go. They want to drive energy prices sky high in order to get everyone on renewable energy. The problem with this is that renewable energy just isn’t ready for the big time yet, and as we have learned from Solendra and others, pouring money and pressure into the space doesn’t accomplish anything. You have to let it happen at the pace of progress. It is being worked on, and we are seeing advances in solar and other sources, but there are still unknowns, and we are still in need of a few serious breakthroughs in battery, power transmission etc. Money isn’t the issue, the pace of progress is, and there isn’t anything much the government can do to help.

Innovation cannot be forced. So, while the smart people are working on cool stuff that will eventually make things better, can the government please go focus on the stuff that is making us miserable right now? Unemployment, the economy, high taxes and runaway government spending come to mind.

Is it hot in here?

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