Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Why I am Optimistic in 2008

A happy new year to you! I am pretty excited about the coming year. 2007 had it's highs and lows, and I am sure 2008 will as well. However, there are a few things I am very excited about with the coming year:



  1. Global Warming: I wrote last year that I thought global warming had hit its high point. I don't mean the temperatures, I mean the fanatical discussion surrounding it. While there are still many many faithful believers, I think many people have had their eyes opened during the last year. I see more and more articles by Fox News, CNN, and the mainstream media discussing the other side of the argument. I think in the years to come, 2008 may be looked at as the time global warming stopped being considered a serious subject.
  2. The Election: No matter what your political belief system, 2008 is going to be an exciting Presidential election. Neither the sitting President nor Vice President are running for office. While Mrs. Clinton could get elected, I believe it will be someone else. I had always assumed that Mrs. Clinton would have a lot of support in the Democratic Party. However, my dental hygienist told me something I had never considered before a few months back. She said that while she would vote Democrat, there was no chance she would vote for Hillary. I asked her why, and she said that after having a Bush or a Clinton in the White House for the last 20 years, it was time for a change. I agree with her, and I think there are a lot of people who see the race the same way.
  3. The War in Iraq: The news coming out of Iraq seems to be increasingly could. Violence is down, Al-Queda is in trouble, and Iran seems to be trying to stay out of Iraq. While there are still challenges ahead, could this be the year we start to come home?

No matter what, I think the next year is going to be an exciting time. Have a great New Year!

25 comments:

familyman said...

Andy, you confuse me. I thought all along your stance on global warming was that it's happening but the jury was still out as to whether or not it was being caused by human activity. Now you are saying that you don't even think it is a "serious subject"?

I agree on the Clinton thing. If I never see another Clinton or Bush it will be too soon.

I have trouble seeing anything in Iraq as good news. 2007 was the most violent and deadly year for US Soldiers and for Iraqi civilians. If sectarian killings are down that's probably attributable to the fact that they are running out of people to kill. Most neighborhoods that have been plagued with sectarian violence are for the most part segregated finally.

But, hey hopefully it can only get better from here. I've got my fingers crossed.

Jayne d'Arcy said...

Must agree with you, Andy. It will be a very interesting year as far as all of that goes. I cannot believe that for the first time in my political loathing life I am looking forward to an election. I still don't know who I'm voting for, but it is fascinating to watch.

Andy D said...

Family,

As with any topic, the more I know about the subject, the better informed I believe my opinion is. I have spent a lot of time in 2007 reading about "man-made global warming". The more I have read, the more my opinion has changed. Even after viewing Mr. Gore's movie (twice) I have been forced to reconsider my opinion. Because of that, keep your eyes open for a new and exciting post (shameless plug).

As far as Iraq goes, check out why The Weekly Standard chose Gen. David Petraeus as their man of the year.

Jayne,

I believe this is a very exciting time to follow politics. No matter who wins, this election will be one for the History books. And no matter what the flurry of activity starting tomorrow says, you still have plenty of time to decide who to vote for. Of course, Political Friends has already endorsed one candidate...

slclemens said...

Andy, I like your optimism. Those of us in the energy industry have a lot of fuel to burn, and we, too, are very much hoping that the global warming hysteria will end this year so that our smokestacks will be able to breathe freely into the foreseeable future.

I'd like to see both the stock market and CO2 levels hit some serious new highs in 2008. Both indicators are like vitamins to our economic bloodstream.

Andy D said...

Here is a global warming article that is more consistent with my upcoming global warming article.

Anonymous said...

Andy:

Tierney is up to some logical hijinks.

He's using a fact (the fact that you will *never* be able to unequivocally blame a specific weather disaster on global warming) to imply a faulty conclusion: that most or all linkages between severe weather and climate change are suspect or simply wrong.

That's either stupid or intentionally deceptive.

If I gamble with loaded dice, you will *never* be able to claim unequivocally that the reason I rolled a certain number was because the dice were loaded. There is always a chance that I may have rolled that number without loading the dice. The *only* definitive proof you'd have against me would be the *long term* trend, of an increase in a certain number getting rolled.

The same is true with climate change: the long term trend has loaded the dice for more severe weather, more warming, worse drought, etc. And that's exactly what's happening. Climate change loads the dice for more severe weather--but you'll never know for sure whether an individual storm or event would have happened without climate change.

If you can't see the logic in that--and how Tierney's being deceptive--I'd love to shoot a game of craps with you. I'll bring the dice.

romi_moondi said...

My eyes will be kept peeled for your new global warming post; happy new year! :-)

Griffen said...

Andy,

I haven't had a chance to chime in before, but wanted to send a "shout out" from Jen and I in Oregon. Best wishes for 2008!

Love the commentary, especially about Iraq. I have an Iraq vet named Manny that joined our gym a few weeks ago. He served two years in infantry, got shot at countless times, had near misses with RPG's, and watched some of his friends die in action. We spent a lot of time talking about the Iraq war. It is great to get first-hand experience, yet he is only one side of the story.

He is still communicating with his friends who are still active duty, and said their optimism is increasing month by month.

His stance is that somewhere between the media's portrayal and the administration's portrayal is lies the truth. It is all doom and gloom? No, but it isn't quite as rosy as the administrations reports are either.

He isn't real fond of the media portrayal of the war, and felt there were some dishonest reporters in Iraq. He was watching CNN one day, and saw the headlines "Gunfire Rages Over Baghdad!". He stepped out of his 20th floor hotel room in Baghdad, and heard no gunfire, nor did he recall any heavy gunfire over the past day. He did hear a few shots, but said it was no more than a busy day in South Central L.A., It was a slow day for Baghdad standards at the time. We all hear about media bias, and this story surely is proper for the context of that debate.

His take on the mission was "what a wonderful mistake". He said that even if the justification was wrong, there were dozens of other reasons we needed to be there for the Iraqi people.

His eyes lit up when he talked about guarding the election sites during the first elections, and he had some pretty cool pictures. The city traffic shut down for 3 days, and there were soccer games every 100 yards in the streets. It was a grand festival, and I think an indication that we should believe that the Iraqi people are interested in a democratic society.

Anyway, this guy Manny is 45, and he is considering another tour of duty after he finishes his nursing degree this summer. He believes that Iraqi people are worth his time, and believes that we are in a position to make a permanent difference. It would be rediculous to say that this is proof that the fight is worth it. If you met Manny in person, though, you would understand his experience, his passion, and his belief in what the troops are doing.

Griffen said...

...oh, and I forgot about global warming. My brother made an interesting comment the other day. He said, "Global Warming will truly be the emergency that Gore says it is when he takes a commercial airliner, instead of a private jet, to accept his Nobel Prize."

Actions speak louder than words, right? Before familyman thinks that I'm a Southern Oregon redneck-hick that takes pride in his sasquatch-sized carbon footprint, I'll give you my position.

Less junk on our planet, and in the atmosphere is better. We all want a clean planet. I don't think it is worth imposing fixes to global warming that ruin our industry and economic prosperity, without having certainty that this warming cycle isn't just a cyclical pattern.

Here's my thought. Our economic prosperity has historically afforded us the luxury of tackling huge issues. If the majority of American's were struggling to find food, and we had 50% unemployment, would national debate about racial equality have been heard? I think not.

So let's continue policies that are economically and environmentally friendly. I'm sure we can make plenty of progress on this front for environmental concerns. And make penalties for flagrant polluters so personally and financially crippling that they can't recover.

In the end, I believe that the marketplace will sort this out. Somehow, someone will figure out a way to make a fantastic profit out of something that cleans up our environment. Until then, I'm going to recycle more stuff , and emit fewer greenhouse gasses by eating fewer legumes.

Anonymous said...

hmmm. another rebuttal deleted by andy? or just an oversight?

Andy D said...

Sorry for the delay in posts Anon, have been celebrating the holidays and haven't thought much about this site in that time.

However, your loaded dice scenario doesn't quite equate. I can take your dice and study them and prove they were loaded. You can't do that with "man-made global warming".

Andy D said...

Thanks Romi, and Happy New Year.

Welcome to the site Griffen. Happy New Year, and tell Jen we say hi. I like your comments. I had to read them aloud to my better half.

Anonymous said...

Andy: cool. Glad you're enjoying the holidays instead of obsessing over blogs like a certain anonymous poster!

But, the loaded climate dice are already proven. If rising CO2 levels and temperatures aren't proof enough of loaded climate dice, then what is? And we haven't only proved the loaded dice, we've got the long term trend to show it too.

familyman said...

Hey Griffen - I agree with your thoughts on being personally more environmentally responsible. The only thing I'll take issue with is this statement - "Our economic prosperity has historically afforded us the luxury of tackling huge issues."

I actually think that over the last 50 years, Our economic prosperity has historically afforded us the luxury of IGNORING huge issues.

For example, billions of plastic water bottles, hundreds of thousands of used cell phones, billions of paper and plastic shopping bags thrown away every day filling up land fills polluting the oceans. All possible simply because we can afford to do it.

Anonymous said...

Griffen, when you wrote...

"Global Warming will truly be the emergency that Gore says it is when he takes a commercial airliner, instead of a private jet, to accept his Nobel Prize." Actions speak louder than words, right?

...you committed a logical fallacy called Ad Hominem Tu Quoque.

You can read about it here. Or in any logic textbook.

Andy D said...

Anon,

Interesting link. I agree with Griffen. If Gore isn't willing to change his own lifestyle for global warming, then regulating everyone else's sure is suspicious. Either Al Gore doesn't believe his own arguments, or he falls into the other category your link provides..

"...the fact that a person's claims are not consistent with his actions might indicate that the person is a hypocrite but this does not prove his claims are false"

Griffen said...

Anon,

Lets look at Bono's recent work. He is able to court people on the left and right to join the fight against AIDS in Africa. He spends time in Africa working to fight AIDS, and he has no profit motive involved in his cause. His work is respected by most.

Even if my previous statement doesn't pass the logic test, I think it is fair to say:
1. Al's political past doesn't give him voice with a certain percentage of American's.
2. He isn't necessarily leading by example.
3. He also has profit motive attached to his crusade.

Andy makes a very valid point, that most of the dissenters in the global warming argument have had their message squashed. At least we are having a more open discussion about the global warming hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

Griffen,

I dig Bono too. But even if he was a hypocrite, I'd still think his cause is just and right.

So if you're applying the same criteria to the climate-change-deniers as you are to Gore, then at least you're not a hypocrite. If you're being consistent, I think this is what you'd have to point out:

1) Scientists funded by Exxon have little voice with many people around the world.
2) The lifestyles of energy executives aren't exactly known for their moral and ethical example.
3) Energy companies have a little profit motive going themselves.

That's the same logic you used in dismissing Gore.

I think Gore is a good spokesperson and gets the science right as much as any scientists I know. And, as for his lifestyle, if every American installed solar panels on their roof and offset their CO2--as Mr. Gore does--it would be the most significant global reduction of CO2 emissions since the industrial revolution. That would be one "hypocrite's" action that the planet would love.

Griffen said...

Anon,

I think you just simplified the argument. I think Al and the Oil Exec's are equally as self-interested and corrupt. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The fact still remains that Al isn't liked or respected by many because of his past. You can't lead people without respect. In Al's case, he probably turns some people away from more serious consideration.

Imagine if George W. spoke about the increased need for timber harvesting after his term ended. Even with science to back it up, he wouldn't be the right person to deliver the message. He is too polarizing. Traditionally moderate voices would be a better choice for the face of the global warming movement.

And as for Al, his lifestyle is as selectively environmentally friendly as mine is. Al buys a solar panel, I ride my bike to work more than most American's do. Does that make either one of us a good example? Not really, because when environmentalism isnt' convenient Al takes a private jet, and I throw away crap when I shouldn't. When you are under scrutiny like Al is, you must take extreme care to lead by example.

So I'm still going to agree with Andy. The other side of the warming story is going to continue to get increased exposure, and gain political clout in 2008. We'll have a debate, instead of worldwide environmental triage.

Anonymous said...

Griffen,

Your logic is all over the map.

You'd like voices that speak more "moderately" on climate science--somewhere between Gore (i.e. IPCC) and Exxon. But that begs the question of who's got the science right. If the red light is flashing in the cockpit, would you only pay attention to the light if it flashed in a more "moderate" and less alarming way? If you want to ignore Gore, fine. I just hope you'll pay attention to the world's climate scientists (IPCC), whose findings Gore is simply publicizing.

You equate your environmental responsibility with Gore's. It's great that you ride your bike to work sometimes. Are you carbon neutral? Gore is. If every American were carbon neutral, it would be the most significant global reduction in CO2 since the industrial revolution.

Bottom line: climate change deniers use Gore as a convenient single target exactly because he has been an effective spokesperson for climate scientists. What we don't need are people speaking for the scientists who soft-peddle the science in the interest of "moderation," and, perhaps coincidentally, also in the interest of the fossil fuel industry. The way to respond to a blinking red light in the cockpit isn't to deride the red light for its insistent voice, but to do something about the problem it indicates.

Andy D said...

Now Anon, I have to call you on this. Aren't you the same one who attacks any scientist who says something against global warming as being in the pocket of "big oil"? If it doesn't matter who the message comes from, then why do you attack them and not their science?

Anonymous said...

Andy,

First, no, I don't attack any scientist who says something "against global warming." I am interested in all real peer-reviewed science. And therefore, since...

Gore speaks for and with the scientific community, and

CEI, Marshall Institute, etc. speak for and are paid by the fossil fuel industry, therefore

I trust Gore and the scientific community more than paid bloviators.

And, yes, I point out that not only are your "scientific" heroes on climate change *wrong,* they also often *happen* to be in the employ of fossil fuel industries. That doesn't necessarily mean they're lying, but it makes their sloppy scientific work extremely suspicious.

But I will give you this: if the scientists employed by the fossil fuel companies were doing respectable science (i.e. weren't being proven desperately wrong at nearly every turn), I'd pay more attention to them, no matter who paid their way. The problem is, they're just dead wrong or catastrophically misleading in their conclusions nearly all the time. I hope you can now admit that every time you've put up some "science" by these cats, I've been able to shoot it down with strong peer-reviewed science.

slclemens said...

Can we take a free-market approach to this science question?

It is clear that there is a substantial amount of strategic investment on either side of the global warming debate. Those of us in the energy industry are indeed investing in our own scientists. And universities and government agencies have their own scientists, too.

Why not simply let the market sort the science out? If profit can generate solutions, why can't it also diagnose problems--like whether or not global warming is real?

With the success we've enjoyed in the past decades, those of us in the energy industry have been blessed with enough assets to--crass as it sounds--simply purchase the definitive conclusions to the scientific debate. With some moderate industry-wide increases in our investments, we could end the debate on global warming, declare it a non-issue, and move on to more pressing issues, like the burdensome health, safety, and environmental regulations choking our mines and smokestacks.

Griffen said...

Anon,

Let me give you a little background as to why I'm willing to listen and see how the debate unfolds. From your writing, I gather that people that aren't willing to accept your blinking red light analogy is what troubles you the most. Part of my skepticism comes from living in an area where the environmental political machine has been working for decades. I realize that the example I give you is a little apples to oranges, but stay with me.

Douglas County in Oregon is filled with timber, and it is where I was born, raised, and now live. Wildlife biologists and other scientists have been blocking timber harvests for years around here, and unfortunately timber is the number one industry in this area.

You can probably imagine the back-and-forth between timber and science. I won't go into the details. What I have seen is a spotted owl ruin the lives of families around me. And when the spotted owl crisis subsides, the next environmental issue has always been available to shut down timber harvesting.

I've seen video tapes from closed meetings where environmental groups, scientists included, have admitted that the animals are just the mean and that the end is to shut down the mills. The result was homeless families, kids that starve, people that turn to drugs for a living, and over 25% unemployment. It was ugly.

So my skepticism over the severity of global warming science is based in personal experience. As I see the dissenters gaining voice, I am glad. My hope (back to my original post) is that the radicals in this movement aren't able to impose policy that disrupts our economy.

I'm suspicious that somewhere in the global warming scientific community lies a group that wants industry disrupted to the fullest extent that the science can support. And I would bet that they hold a lot of power amongst this community.

Here lies the root of my skepticism. I believe there is a problem, but want to have time for balanced scientific debate to properly present the extent of the problem. And I'm allowed to be skeptical for non scientific reasons.

Anonymous said...

Griffen: you want to prolong the "scientific debate" over global warming because you worry that people are really interested in "shutting down industry" rather than solving an emergency.

I worry that industry wants to prolong the debate because they want to preserve their grotesque profits rather than solve the emergency. I'll admit that in the long term we're may have to effectively end the oil and coal industry if we're going to solve this problem. The clean energy field is booming now, and creates more and better jobs. I'm sure blacksmiths howled in protest over the invention of the "horseless carriage"--their massive industry was being shut down. Fossil fuel industries will howl louder.

It would seem that the middle ground solution would be to turn neither to "anti-industry" groups nor pro-industry groups [btw, I can name a dozen very well funded explicitly "pro-industry" groups, I can't name any well funded explicitly "anti-industry" groups] to mediate between our two positions, i.e. to turn to the world's scientific community. But here's the rub: the world's scientific community is the one already saying that we have an emergency and that "prolonging the debate" is a disaster.

Your position is a "pro-industry" (specifically pro-fossil fuel) position, which is a mirror image of the "anti-industry" position you describe. The scientific position is that of the IPCC.

BTW, I know the story in Oregon and agree with you that the loggers have had it tough in some places. It is important to note that many in the environmental movement have fought long and hard for retraining programs, subsidies, social safety nets, etc. for helping workers in extractive industries live comfortably and well while they transition out of industries that are destructive. [What happened to the people who made Thalidomide? I hope we helped them retrain for new jobs, but I'm glad we didn't keep that destructive industry open just for the sake of preserving jobs.]