Every year on Parsha Noach for the last few, I discuss the prophetic teaching in the Torah regarding global ecological catastrophe. While in the story of Noah, we are told that human immorality caused God to wipe the slate clean, and start over, most people don’t believe the story. They think it is all myth and legend. They cannot fathom the accuracy of the entire world being flooded, and a small remnant of earth surviving on a wooden life-raft, until the water subsided.

At best, say the biblical critics, the story reflects an ancient flood of the Mesopotamian region, between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. After all, this is the cradle of civilization, and there are floods in other ancient culture’s historical record (i.e.Gilgamesh). There are least a dozen other strong theories as to why so many cultures have flood stories from around the world, including North America.

Leaving the reality of the flood aside for a moment, the story of Noah and the Great Flood have been ingrained into the Jewish imagination and our culture for eons. As a people, we have lived until recently with a strong belief that our actions could alter the world in a catastrophic way. God didn’t like what was going on, and that was that. Humans were punished. Animals punished. The world was cleansed, like a mikvah, of the impurities, and God started over. God made a covenant with Noah that such a devastation would never occur again. Furthermore, we learn in the Torah that the rains and fertility of the Holy Land, depend on the righteousness of the people. That is to say, Jews have lived with a deep cultural belief that the world’s livability and sustainability were dependent on human actions.

Now back to Noah and his ark-building scheme. What is Noah’s response to widespread ecological devastation and destruction that was predicted for the world? To preserve not only his family, but also every variety of animal and plant species on Earth, lest they become extinct by the Flood. Noah cared about the bio-diversity of the future world, and knew that without bio-diversity, the Earth would not be capable of sustaining human life either. Yes, he was following orders to build the ark, and to preserve the species, but he chose to do it. Noah endured years of ridicule and harassment for his extreme-weekend-warrior ark building. Noah had no friends, and was certainly considered an eco-freak, a survivalist, a religious-doomsdayist, an extreme eccentric, or some combination thereof. He was unmoved.

Which brings us to today’s parsha, the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Al Gore, and the concrete evidence that the world is undergoing massive environmental change caused by human activity. There are many systems on the planet that have been disrupted by human activity. Species extinction, pollution, deforestation, desertification, are just the tip of the iceberg. Humanity, while printing billions and billions of copies, have not hearkened to the words of the opening chapters of the best selling book in the world which commands humanity to steward and protect the natural world. Al Gore received the Nobel Peace today, along with a panel of scientists, for their efforts to alert the world to the threat of global warming. There is much criticism directed at Gore. He is not perfect. But was Noah perfect either? Is it necessary for a person to be perfect to make a lasting and important contribution to the world? No.

The nature of Noah’s righteousness has been discussed and debated across Jewish history. “These are the chronicles of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, faultless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)” As Rashi wrote:

“in his generations.” Some of our Sages expound this to his praise: all the more so had he lived in a generation of righteous people, he would have been even more righteous. And there are those who expound it to his defamation: by the standard of his generation he was righteous, but had he lived in the generation of Abraham he would have been considered as nothing.”

While the Nobel committee itself has been criticized, never more so than when it awarded a Peace Prize to Arafat, they too do not need to be perfect, to get something right. More often than not, the Nobel Peace prize has been given to people that have truly made great contributions to the betterment of humanity. While Gore might not be a perfect, Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to make us stop and think about the devastation that human activity is having on the planet that God gave us as an Earthly home. From Kyoto in 1997 to An Inconvenient Truth, Gore has been highly effective at changing conventional wisdom about global climate change, and educating millions of people about the devastating effects that Global Warming is and will have on our planet.

Noah didn’t do much to stop people from sinning when God told him that the gig was up and that humanity was to be drowned. And yet, he was called a tzaddik. Why? Because in a time when so many people would rather ignore what they are doing to the planet, Noah did something to preserve life. He took action. He built a bio-diversity life-raft which would sustain the world after the waters of the flood subsided. He listened to God and withstood the humiliation.

Today, humanity as a whole is still ignoring the results of their actions and refuse to take the necessary measures to protect life on Earth, much as it was in Noah’s time. However, this time around we have scientific committees and researchers, environmental groups, even politicians and others spanning the globe trying to improve and harmonize our way of life, our means of production, and human activity with the eco-systems that sustain life on the planet.

Al Gore continues to endure heavy ridicule and criticism. Still, Gore perseveres with his quest to educate the world about Global Climate Change. He pushes governments to adopt strict measures to help curb emissions and other detrimental practices that are causing the current rise in global tempretures. He has done more than any single person to raise the red flag of danger. With the Arctic icecap melting, glaciers fading away, permafrost shrinking and disappearing, widespread species extinction, whole regional and micro-climates changing in front of our eyes, we are not unlike the generation during Noah’s days. We see first hand the results of our actions, yet we continue. Noah didn’t think he could change the way people live and think.

Al Gore thinks he can.

____

A half an hour talk from 2006 on Noah and climate change.


MP3 File

PS: Apparently even Oprah is calling Al Gore, the new Noah. Sadly, Oprah, Noah never did anything about the flood but build himself an ark!

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

54 Comments

  • Noah? More like Chicken Little.

    Oh Geez. The guy is a warm-mongerer. Sure the world is warming, like it normally warms and cools, and will for centuries to come, with or without us here. I live in Michigan, long before SUVs and carbon credits, a large glacier (no, not Hilary) sat over where my house now resides.

    Let me post two links that challenge Gore’s POV:

    An Inconvenient Half-Truth?
    http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-1287915,00.html

    Nasa and Global Warming
    http://hotair.com/archives/2007/06/06/nasa-chief-steps-in-global-warming-goo/

    And why won’t the Goracle debate other scientists about his flawed correlations. I’m no scientist, but I learned long ago that superimposing two lines that look similar doesn’t prove anything, except to Oprah and her audience:
    http://demanddebate.com/

    More Nasa admissions and mistakes:
    http://hotair.com/archives/2007/10/05/video-nasa-says-global-warming-might-not-be-the-cause-of-arctic-ice-melt/

    http://hotair.com/archives/2007/08/13/nasa-global-warming-temperature-revision-redux-how-big-is-the-problem/

    http://hotair.com/archives/2007/08/09/bombshell-nasa-revises-recent-us-temperatures-downward-after-y2k-bug-fix/

    Follow the money, and scratch a little under the surface, and you will find more Soros funded “science”. Meanwhile, Al will jet-set around the world to build a “global consciousness”. Can anyone tell me how many tress I’d have to plant to do that myself? Someday, I will have a few homes and private jets around the world using as much electricity and gas that could power every home on my current block. The difference is, I won’t feel guilty about it, and my smugness won’t clog up the airwaves.

  • Rabbi, I usually love your posts the most, but I can’t believe you drank the cool-aid on this one. And mixing politics in as well? Hmm.

    “and the concrete evidence that the world is undergoing massive environmental change caused by human activity.”

    Well, I guess like Leonardo Decraprio (isn’t he a PHD by the way?) says:

    “undebatable!” (That’s not even a real word, yet I’m supposed to trust him? The guy dates a total idiot as well. that;s what I call a shaky source!)

    So far, I’ve seen two or more sides to this “concrete proof”, which doesn’t make it so concrete in my opinion, of course if concrete isn’t mixed right, it falls apart.

    Holocaust: concrete.
    Earth is round: concrete.
    Pollution: concrete.

    Global Cooling in the 70’s and Global Warming now: more mud than concrete at this point. Sorry, I remain unconvinced that humans have as much an impact as the Goracle and Sheryl Crow say they do.

    Say we curb all emissions down to 1%, what happens when we have another major volcano eruption spewing a million times more CO2 into the air? Whom do we run to then?

  • Eric,Thank you for the compliment. The cool aid tasted delicious 🙂

    I am not saying the world will end. And since I am from Michigan too, I know about the glaciers that once covered Michigan. Fine.

    I am not a scientist. I am a Rabbi. From all the scientific stuff I have read — and there is quite a bit — the evidence and science that supports the contention that the world is undergoing change due to our activity convinces me.

    Gore is not perfect — I point to that fact explicitly. He has many faults. But he has a point.

    If you are unconvinced of Global climate change, that is your right.

    The subject is far more complex than just emissions as you know. It is the kinds of emissions, the loss of most of the world’s rain forests that sucked up carbon. It is the worlds oceans, and the carbon cycle there.

    And lets say that they are all wrong — is it a bad thing to try to reduce our dependence on the orgy with messy burning fossil fuels that we have now? Think of all the other pollutants – that you agree are a problem – and their reduction through aggressive emission and pollution controls….

  • I’m really at a loss right now about this site. I just spent a hlaf hour writing a whitty retort with all sorts of links and humor, and for no reason, the site decides to refresh like it did yesterday. Unfortunately this time, I didn’t copy my work ahead of time, and all is lost. Suffice it to say it was hilarious and I don’t have the time nor excitement to re-write it. So I’ll just leave you with my main point:

    “If you are unconvinced of Global climate change, that is your right.”

    I DO believe the world is warming. I DO NOT believe it is the cause of humanity. There are no humans on Mars (yet), and it is undergoing a similar phenomenon.

    The rest was a rant about self-indulgant, arrogant celebrities that want us to sacrifice while they feel better about their consumption and emissions. I’m spent! And Good Shabas.

  • Sorry, Rabbi – you are reaqding pseudo-science rather than science.

    Bolstered by the PC get-on-the-bandwagon mentality that bedevils modern academia. And amplified by a left-leaning media that has an anti-West, romanticized anti-industrial agenda (oh, look – here’s another reason why It’s All Our Fault).

    Similar pseudo-science was used to bolster the assertions that:

    Racism is still rampant in American society

    Divorce does not significantly impact children

    Homosexuality is genetic

    There are no inborn differences between boys and girls

    Every single one of these assertions – including global warming – has been soundly trashed by hard science. Yet the myths persist because the liberal echo chambers of media and academia create the impression that “everybody knows” that these things are true.

    They are not true.

    Besides the detailed arguments – which are widely available – the scale is completely off. When you do the math, the forces and energy balances involved in even minor shifts in global climate dwarf anything caused by human industrial activity.

  • Ben-David, it’s a good thing that you are such a clever guy with interesting things to say because your tendency to overstate cases is incredible. First of all, the debate on the genetic roots of homosexuality is like every other debate of this nature: the evidence goes back and forth without confirmation and we’ve already bene through that. Wether or not divorce significantly impacts kids is also the subject of studeis that tend to go back and forth an each side always trumps one particular set of studies while ignoring the rest. NOt to mention that the debate suffers from hopelessly obscure notion of ‘significantly affects’ whcih only sociologists could ever rest content with as a studiable phenomenon. Racism demonstrably exists in teh united states and the only pseudo-scientific question is whether or not it is appropriate to entitle it ‘rampant’.

    You are right partly of course: in each one of htese cases, a political agenda grabbed on to fragments of evidence and declared their case. That’s what always happens – sober reflection bears it out or doens’t years later. But htat’s happened on both sides: conservatives have long tried to ‘fix’ gay people on teh basis of shaky evidence, tried to deny racism on similar bases and made overblown claims about the effect of divorce to bolster their claims about family.

    Big fuckin’ deal. It happens all the time and it is most definitely not the left that is the sole practicioner of ‘champion a cause based on scant evidence’.

    and similarly for global warming; do all the math you like but there are simulations that predict that our output can cause environmental shifts and simulations that declare it next to ipossible. Which results in teh state we are really in, ignorance. which is the state we are still in with respect to most of the thigns you claim pseudo science bolsters

  • Muffti:
    Which results in the state we are really in, ignorance. which is the state we are still in with respect to most of the things you claim pseudo science bolsters
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    …. ok, so what do thinking people do under such regimes of agenda-driven misinformation?

    Go with what’s popular? Unquestioningly swallow what the elecronic, imaginary Everybody projects as obvious truth? Even as we know that we are being subjected to propaganda?

    In each of the examples I cited, many people are still clinging to these *beliefs* long after objective reality – and results of misbegotten social policy – have demonstrably proved them incorrect as *facts*.

    And yes, I see this sort of denial of reality much more on the intellectual/political Left than on the Right.

    You say “Big F*ing Deal”. But it IS a big deal – spinning away from reality to preserve cherished beliefs is never a very good idea, for individuals or for society.

    The economic, political/social, and human costs of the more extreme prescriptions for “stopping global warming” are steep indeed.

    Is there no obligation to get at the truth?

    It’s a good thing you’re so likeable, Muffti – because your professorial detatchment is incredible – and a frustrating denouement to your otherwise insightful posts.

  • Aw, B-D, does this mean you and Muffti are kinda buddies? 🙂 Thanks for the only mildly back handed compliment!

    Muffti thinks you may have misunderstood – Big f@ckin’ deal was supposed to concern the fact that it happens all the time, not to suggest that it isn’t a total shame and pity. Sorry for being misleading. But Muffti thinks the right DOES do this an awful lot. Studies have recently suggested, for example, that capital punishment is a deterrent (thogh Muffti is a little suspect) – but the right has been claiming to the deterrence effect long before it was demonstrated, essentially on an ‘intuition’ that it keeps people from crime. Even the left buys it – it took the left forever to even get around to contending that the deterrence effect was suspect, focussing most of their arguments on the inhumanity of state killing (Muffti doesn’t really ahve a strong opinion on this either way). The really right were happy to jump all over IQ tests and the supposed demosntration of which races were smarter. (Muffti again doesn’t think it’s impossible ro even improbable that the races are different – just that the sceince behind the results was, well, plainly stupid). And, perhaps you won’t like this one, but Muffti seems to recall that the big issue of the day is whether or not to go to Iraq officially based on information that is provably faulty all across the board? Didn’t the right jump all over shaky CIA data – projecting as a totally likely scenario that we would be uncovering weapons of mass destruction in every warehouse in iraq?

    Propoganda is used by everyone and misinformation, half truths and lies is free to all. Sometimes the left does it better, sometimes the right does it better. Sometimes the left gets some evidence they overblow and say ‘proves’ their claim, sometimes the right finds a study and ignores the rest of the data to trump there position. Muffti finds it hard to believe you don’t think this is the same evil trick played by both.

    The thing about all the questions you mention is that they are extremely difficult to study and solve and often they are just too vague to even know what is being study or solved. So really thinking people should maintain a wary watch on science as the results slowly pile up, rather than jump all over the latest ‘study’ that cnn gives you a half baked report of. Keep tabs with people who actually work in the fields to collect professional opinions about what is going on. And if you are really interested, take a cold hard look at the data yourself. Having an informed opinion takes a lot of work and given that that work takes time, we probably don’t have the right to all the many opinions.

    Regretably, we’re not epistemically responsible by disposition. When we are told by cnn that some study shows that eating beans may increase your risk of cancer, bean sales take a plummet. When we see a half baked story about what the right wing orthodox are doing, Muffti posts it and (sometimes) regrets it later. Truthfully Muffti is glad you keep him honest on that front. We are programmed to process data and just hearing it makes us give it some, and often way too high, a degree of subjective probability.

    [To be truthful, this is part of the reason Muffti thinks people maintain religions in the face of (ahem) the objective world virtually making it senseless to do – just being told that there is a god who did such and such makes you give some credence to it. It took Muffti a long time to overcome the tendency to slip back into the beliefs that are popular adn the like. ]

    Muffti can’t say that in the examples you cited objective facts have proved the beliefs wrong – the jury seems out on most of them and what is really needed is a long sober look at the facts to draw out what inevitably will bre a complicated story. Does divorce have a ‘significant’ effect on kids? No doubt the answer will be muc more complicated than the question belies. Muffti has yet to see objective reality, or at least our best attempts to udnerstand it, solve these questions conclusively. He’s seen what you would expect from big hard questions: conflicting, hard to read data from studies that attempt to control for factors that are near uncontrollable due to their sheer number. Compare, in contrast, quantum mechanics, chemistry, cognitive science’s work on vision, generative syntax, astronomy… which have nicely stated questions that we have made significant headway in conquering. Why? Because we have a clue what we are studying and how to go about it.

    So there is an obligation to get at the truth. So far as Muffti can tell, based on all the people he knows in who work in related science programs and what he’s read, the answer won’t be surprising: the question of global warming is awfully difficult and the evidence hard to sort out. Nonetheless, most models tend to predict that te combined human activity of the last two centuries seems to have had some demonstrable effects such as wearing down the ozone layer, increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The real question is how much and the problem is, as usual, the question invovles so many variables that we don’t really know how to control for (is solar variability a variable to control for?) that studying it is beyond difficult.

    Anyhow, Muffti isn’t sure why you are worried to be honest. The changes on accout of global warming fear are at present cosmetic at best. Al Gore pays massive power bills for his mansion. Despite the UN coming out with its big statements on weather change, getting an agreement hammered out has proved nearly impossible and generally leaves the big polluters (china, looking at you) uninterested.

  • Mah buddy Muffti want me ter keep ‘im ‘onest.

    Mah buddy Muffti wrote:
    the right has been claiming to the deterrence effect long before it was demonstrated, essentially on an ‘intuition’ that it keeps people from crime. Even the left buys it – it took the left forever to even get around to contending that the deterrence effect was suspect, focussing most of their arguments on the inhumanity of state killing.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Both of them were based on/reacting to pretty well-established historical precedent that showed a correlation between stiff penalties and reduced crime. So the Right was like “it’s obvious man” – with good reason, even before stickling statistical confirmation – and the Left were looking for distracting/countervailing arguments. The Left’s purpose in ignoring commonse-sense reality – and the result they envisioned – are interesting points to ponder, but my posts are already much too long (for some!).

    Further:
    The really right were happy to jump all over IQ tests and the supposed demosntration of which races were smarter.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … which is why both Bushes have appointed more “dumb” blacks to administrative/cabinet posts than the Clintons.

    Or are CodePink and World Can’t Wait the only “real” Leftists?

    I think you meant to say “the more extreme, reactionary conservatives”.

    Gotta get mah buddy Muffti outa them academia places a bit more…

    Further:
    the big issue of the day is whether or not to go to Iraq officially based on information that is provably faulty all across the board? Didn’t the right jump all over shaky CIA data – projecting as a totally likely scenario that we would be uncovering weapons of mass destruction in every warehouse in iraq?
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    1) Not every warehouse – you are creating a rhetorical straw man.

    2) All decisions of policy – including war – are reached based on incomplete information. I thought that was the point of your Don’t WOrry Be Happy posts in this thread?

    In addition, the decision to go to Iraq was also based on a long-term strategic view of the region, and a desire to replace hegemony/dictatorship with something more representational (and What’s not to like about such a program?). That strategy was articulated in public for those who were willing to listen.

    3) In fact, the multiple threads of Iraqi and Iranian sponsorship of global terror and WMD have been confirmed by documents (and warehouses) discovered in Iraq.

    And continue to be discovered – as Israel’s recent performance in Syrian airspace demonstrates.

    Muffti – since I’m an engineer rather than a philosopher, I am certainly gratified to hear you distinguish between the validity of scientific truth and “softer” truths. And I certainly agree with it.

    But which misinformation campaigns SHOULD we get riled up about?

    Fer instance: I get the impression that you cited the Iraqi war as an example of *misuse* of “soft” – and even slanted – statements for political purposes. Although you carefully disclaim any personal opinion in many of the examples you cite – my guess is that you would justify concern and political activism in the face of what you/others perceive to be a geopolitical decision of far-reaching consequence, propped up by misinformation.

    So why to you write:
    Muffti isn’t sure why you are worried to be honest.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    The fact is that R. Yonah and his post typify a growing number of folks who have been led – by information that is at best incomplete and imprecise, at worst dishonest and scaremongering – to intense worry and concern. And convincing large numbers of people to take that (shaky) position has no less far-reaching political and social consequence than the decision to go to war.

    It’s reached the point where a Democratic governer sacked his state’s meteorologist for speaking the scientific truth about this issue. That is – for not toeing a politically motivated line in matters supposedly scientific.

    About this I shouldn’t worry? Just about Iraq?

    You’re quite right, buddy – each side picks its own definition of mendacity and propaganda.

    So: who is promoting this disinformation and what is their purpose?

    This is what I see:

    Left-leaning folks are promoting this position. They seem predisposed to cobble together the doomsday scenarios, to promote them, and to believe them with almost religious fervor – not you, Muffti, I know you (sometimes quite suddently!) don’t have any opinions on most things I happen to write about… I mean the “really left”.

    What are Their purposes? Several have been proposed:

    – these scenarios let them reclaim some of the ideological high ground they have lost as more people realize the threat of Islamic terrorism, and turn away from knee-jerk 60’s-era pacifism.

    – these scenarios let them continue to demonize the Capitalist West despite the collapse of communism and the slow death of socialism around the world.

    – these scenarios justify centralized authority and control over trade and other areas of life, which is the political structure they support (as long as THEY are the ones with the control, natch).

    Muffti- don’t you think this is a propaganda program worthy of concern?

    Al Gore, Muffti – Nobel Prize, Muffti! For what?

    For a politically motivated program of agenda-driven pseudo-science.

    Oh, yes, Muffti – I am concerned. And the first place to start in setting public policy discourse on track is, as you say – to keep it as honest as possible.

    And so far there is no scientific/statistical basis for the hyped-up fear-mongering that’s going on.

  • Gore never used his bully pulpit the 8 years he was in office to say, “Stop logging” or call for a complete ban on tree cutting. He and his ilk are the problem, not the solution.

  • This reminds me of a teaching I learned last year. (If anyone has a source, I’d love to get it.)

    Moses was the reincarnated soul of Noah. (He was Noah’s gilgul.) Why? Because when God told Noah that he was going to detroy the world in a flood, Noah didn’t argue with God to save the entire people. He just set about building his ark, loading up his family and watching the tide rise. When Moses descended from Sinai and the people were sinning with the Golden Calf, God threatened to wip out the entire people. Moses argued for the people and pleaded with God that they have a second chance — Noahs’ gilgul had learned its lesson.

    But maybe it wasn’t the only lesson to learn. Yes, arguing with God to save the people is a good way to go. But what about arguing with the people to save themselves? Perhaps Noah’s back for a 3rd try?

  • GM’s atheism seems to be based on outraged idealism. Perhaps atheism based on outraged idealism is a form of faith. IMHO, it is, and IMHO is accepted by G-d Himself as faith. Just saying. I am no expert.

  • Well, Muffti’s not sure what outraged idealism is, nor what doesn’t count as a faith the way JM uses the word, but she’s entitled to her HO.

    B-D, Muffti isn’t so sure we actually disagree on much (sorry for Muffti’s lack of opinions – like he said, he doesn’t think people generally sould have as many as they do.) But why are you writing like a southernah?

    The right’s claim to deterrence was challenged for years and continues to be challenged, on standard sociological grounds. It took the left years to catch up and demand a hard look at the evidence. And the evidence against the deterent effect (not to mention the cost, etc.) was palpable. And so, point is, prior to the science the right happily promoted an agenda based on waht was deemed to be obvious. It’s ok; we all do it. Muffti was just trying to give examples of cases where the right is as guilty of pre-scientific inquiry action and propoganda as the left.

    Muffti DID mean the ‘extreme reactionary’. ‘really’ is ambiguous bewteen ‘extreme’ (‘he’s realyl tall’) and the ‘genuine’ (‘he’s really Bob Dylan’). Appologies. CodePink is, in the intended sense really left.

    RE: iraq,
    1) it was hyperbole, not a strawan. The point was that there were supposed to be significant stores of weaponry that we had reason to fear. That rhetoric somehow dropped out of the bush speeches on iraq within a year after the mission was ‘accomplished’.
    2) The strategy was articulated for those wililng ot listen. Agreed. Regretably, however, it was propagandized as a war for national security on account of weaponry and connection to terrorism. and that propaganda was used and reused by the right. All wars are based on partial information – but surely that line of thought can be used to justify any negligent use of intelligence that one sees fit.

    The pointof my Don’t worry Be happy post (nice one) is that people do tend to react immeadiatel to half baked information. But you like to thinik that war policy is somehting that is set on teh basis of long term in depth study. not what you hear the latest study tells you as reported by some journalist who knows nothing about the field.

    Muffti is all for replacing hegemony dictatorships with democracy – but, like, c’mon. Is that really what we are seeing in Iraq? And, if htat was the motivation, don’t Iraqis get a say in this?

    3) Agreed about Iran and Iraq. But that’s not how the Iraq war was sold and how it was sold still awaits vindication (9-11 connection? checmical warfare?)

    Muffti thinks we should get riled up about misinformation campaigns generally. Agreed. And Muffti thinks that global warming is similar – all he meant ist hat he massive amounts of money and effort put into campaigns to curb global warming effects have come to remarkably little. Which shows you just how impotent the forces calling for environmental policy really are. Whereas the Iraq was manages to roll on with no real end in sight (esp. assuming a clinton victory). But, again, Muffti wasn’t being literal – he can see why you are worried and, while muffti isn’t as convinced that Global warming is not a human aided and abetted phenomenon as you are, he thinks that hte promotion of access to information and the increased reliability of information can only be a good thing.

    After all, as you point out, the success of such a campaing means an awful lot of money spent and an awful lot of jobs lost. It would be nice to know that we are reducing carbon emissions rather than giving just slighly over poverty line babies health care for a good reason. And so Muffti agrees. All he can say is the environmental scientists who work on this all seem to admit impartial information while agreeing that the amount of damage we do our environment is far below consequential. And, what’s more, its not jsut global warming that is of concern in this area. Drinking water is becoming scarce but until the 70s there were virtually no limitations on what you could dump in a lake. The air in countries like taiwan and china (in the cities) are so bad that people wear masks and respiratory problems are higher than in their city counterparts elsewhere. particulates in the air tend to cause higher cancer rates than cleaner air areas reducing life expectancy. Its not like the environmental problems go away when we note that Gore’s movies may have too much propaganda and not a broad enough spectrum of sceintific discourse.

    Muffti can’t abide by the explanations you give, however, with all due respect. Do you really think that as a group the left, especailly in america, needs to cobble together doomsday scenarios to regain moral high ground? Honestly? When high level republoican after republican falls to sex scandal, politically motivated attorney firing, CIA information leaks and lying before grand juries (even if Scooter’s punishment was over the top), voting down insurance extensions? There’s an awful lot of highgrounding the left can do…ensuring that people lose their jobs and that wealth is spent on operating costs rather than production is no way to go about it. And, for that matter, why would the left want to demonize the west on THIS issue? While the west is guilty of using an awful lot of energy based on its population, it is fairly good copared to other places that have had leftist governements: soviet russias’ record was abominable, China continues to be terrible, india is nighmarish…

    And besides, there’s so many other ways to demonize the west if you want to try. And any of them much more palpable than the possibility of weather change, some flooding and a shift of business focal points (Canada, Muffti’s home country, will finally have the northern passage!) You may not like them any better, but they are ot there. Read a Chomsky book if you need verification. Perhaps the desire to control trade and authority in a centralized government is most plausible. Muffti will have to think about that.

    But let Muffti finish with one (or two)question: is it really established, to your mind that we are not affecting climate or do you just think that hte infomration is currently sketchy and incomplete? And do you think that the people running the global warming dog and pony show are all either ideologicall motivated by more general freakish principles or do you think that at least some of them are just honestly concerned, even if misguidedly perahps, about climate?

  • GM asks, what would NOT be faith, in your opinion?

    Example of lack of faith, IMHO: fat and happy, stupid smile of animal satisfaction on face, when the person is pleased, or, if not pleased, megalomaniac rage, when crossed. “My way or the highway.” That is a person with an absence of faith. IMHO.

    (You can examine how they got that way, and be sympathetic, and fix them, but in the meantime, before being fixed, they are er… a little evil. We pray for their recovery, naturally. In theory.)

  • Sydney Morning Herald:

    One of the world’s foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize “ridiculous” and the product of “people who don’t understand how the atmosphere works”.

    Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth.

    “We’re brainwashing our children,” said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University. “They’re going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It’s ridiculous.”

    Dr Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures – related to the amount of salt in ocean water – was responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place.

    However, he said, that same cycle meant a period of cooling would begin soon and last for several years.

    “We’ll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was,” Dr Gray said.

    During his speech to a crowd of about 300 that included meteorology students and a host of professional meteorologists, Dr Gray also said those who had linked global warming to the increased number of hurricanes in recent years were in error.

    He cited statistics showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957 to 2006 when the earth warmed.

    “The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures,” Dr Gray said.

    He said his beliefs had made him an outsider in popular science.

    “It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong,” he said. “But they also know that they’d never get any grants if they spoke out. I don’t care about grants.”

    link:
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/gore-gets-a-cold-shoulder/2007/10/13/1191696238792.html

  • Muffti asked:
    But let Muffti finish with one (or two)question: is it really established, to your mind that we are not affecting climate or do you just think that hte infomration is currently sketchy and incomplete? And do you think that the people running the global warming dog and pony show are all either ideologicall motivated by more general freakish principles or do you think that at least some of them are just honestly concerned, even if misguidedly perahps, about climate?
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    I don’t think human activity can have the impact that is claimed – most people simply do not grasp the massive, dwarfing scale of things like oceanic salinity and other natural cycles.

    The people involved? In general the vast majority of folks are cajoled/jostled into liberal-leaning opinions due to media manipulation of their natural desires to be virtuous and socially accepted.

    So those who set the terms of the public debate subtly and not-so-subtly stack the deck, inducing people to embrace certain opinions – and reject others – without really thinking things through. In some cases, the language and imagery that is used is so obscuring as to preclude dispassionate thought. This is what Orwell was talking about.

    For example, you wrote:
    And, for that matter, why would the left want to demonize the west on THIS issue? While the west is guilty of using an awful lot of energy based on its population, it is fairly good copared to other places that have had leftist governements: soviet russias’ record was abominable, China continues to be terrible, india is nighmarish…
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Why on earth is the world “guilty” in there?

    After all “the West” also outproduces the rest of the world, outperforms these other areas in generating wealth and benefitting mankind.

    That world “guilty” indicates that you have accepted a framing story, and its vocabulary.

    (Something similar happens in discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The “frame” of “colonial oppressor vs. innocent brown skinned native” is relentlessly reinforced by the language of most reporting, and used to give the Palis a perpetual pass for even the most atrocious actions.)

    So there is a closer knot of ideologically motivated people who are coming up with the linguistic/emotional/imagery framework for this issue.

    When it comes to global warming, those people are almost entirely from the Left end of the spectrum.

    And as we say in the Talmud – Zeh Omer Darsheni. This invites questioning. What are their motives?

    I think the motives are as I (and others) have stated.

    I don’t think Republican political peccadillos come near to redressing the loss of ideological and moral high ground that has come from the failure/dismantling of the welfare state – and the even more degrading success of the free-market approach.

    And your observation that 3rd world environmental offenders are excused from responsibility in the rush to make Westerners guilty for their consumption only underscores the fact that this is not a rational attempt to form policy in response to a scientific dillemma – it is a campaign driven way ahead of the facts by ideological considerations and political agendas.

  • B-D:
    1) Muffti hopes that Gray is correct!
    2) The word ‘Guilty’ is there because, Muffti was taking it as common ground that the energy sources we are currently using are non-renewable. Which means that short of alternatives, we are going to be facing price hikes, greater reliance on oil from sources we find reprehensible…all that bad stuff. It’s already profitable to burn mud in Canada at the cost of a 1/3 of a unit of energy for every unit created. We could use other sources, and we will, but right now we don’t because the coal miners need jobs, beacuse we don’t really know how to get rid of our reliance on oil, because hte corn lobby is ridiculously strong. We could go on but Muffti thinks its worth making a distinction:

    1) Is global warming (assuming it is happening) the product of human (or in large part human) activity?
    2) Is the enivornment, or aspects of it, getting ruined on account of human activity.

    We are debating (1), Muffti supposes, but do your really think that we can deny (2) in teh face of all the evidence at our disposal? Muffti sees no one whatsoever disagreeing that parts of our envinronment have been and continue to be ruined by human activity (deforestation comes to mind, overfishing…). But maye you think that is also part of a politicized agenda.

    So, yeha, we are guity of over-using a source that is non-renewable while we could be using other sources that aren’t as politically viable right now. The french have anaged to transfer most of the power in their country to nuclear power sans toxic waste. We can do it and keep power cheap. But coal miners need job as do oil executives.

    3rd world environmental offenders aren’t excused. So far as Muffti can tell, they come in for a hard drubbing. The only reason that people don’t work as hard is the standard answer: you can’t change China but you can change your home.

  • You are shifting the terms of the discussion.

    There was an environmental movement – which produced considered, rational policy decisions that have had positive impact on everything from auto efficiency to landfill safety to insecticide use to plastics recycling to power-plant emissions – before there was a global warming hysteria.

    I’m not aware of a particularly left-wing orientation among the pioneers of that movement. But anti-establishment lefties certainly tried to co-opt it for their own political ends.

    Again, it is instructive to actually look at the difference – methodological/factual and stylistic – of the two movements (or the two phases of the environmental movement, if you will).

    Such a comparison reveals the hyped-up nature of the current global warming panic, and its much more overt political agenda.

    I am always suspicious when people shift the terms of the discussion – it often means that a left-leaning person feels cornered by rational argument, feels their pet opinions (not that you have any Muffti!) are threatened.

    In that line… it’s amusing to see how your attempt to explain away your use of the word “guilty” segues right into a lecture that confirms my original assertion – that use of the word is an artifact of co-option by the PC framers of the topic.

    Remember how I (and the other scientifically-based voices) mentioned the large scales of natural phenomena? Well guess what, Muffti – “non-renewable” in this context means centuries.

    Centuries!

    And that’s a conservative estimate based on currently available technologies. The rather minor and artificial “Oil Shortage” of the past 30 years has already generated technology improvements that have vastly increased the resources available to us.

    It’s also based on current consumption patterns – but it’s likely we shall wring even more efficiency out of many consumer goods Refrigeration and transport have become almost twice as efficient as they were in the 1960s. So has burner-based energy generation itself – while getting cleaner. And the computer/internet boom has drastically reduced the need for more costly communication methods such as “snail mail” and shipping.

    Didn’t the “experts” tell you that we’re talking about centuries? Why not? What is their agenda?

    That’s more than enough time to develop/perfect many alternative technologies. Including fusion energy.

    More than enough time to deforest and reforest large tracts of this earth several times over.

    So what’s the agenda?

  • Muffti wasn’t explaining ‘away’ his use of guilty. He was explaining it.

    He also thought that he was not changing the terms of the debate but separating out two things that should be separated: global warming and general environmental protection. So where is the change in terms? Muffti didn’t get it.

    Muffti is gratified to see that you agree that rational policy has a positive impact and he agrees. But he disagrees that it wasn’t lefties that were at the roots of the movement: the sierra club (and John Muir) always had a left wing bent. Silent Spring was written by notable leftie Rachel Carson…of course, the thing is these people were primarily environmentalists and you will probably claim that we only see them as lefties as a result of the supposed leftie hi-jacking. So it’s a bit tough to tell. They were certainly people who weren’t willing to condone unrestrained free market activity and thought government intervention was key adn vital to protecting the environment and resources.

    Muffti hopes you are right about the centuries claim – Muffti should point out that all these advances in oil use (i.e. transport) is the result of worries regarding oil price and availability in the coming years. But Mufti is confused why you think there are centuries of oil left for us to tap (affordably)? PRoduction has plateaued or declined for most oil producing nations, which has lead to fears of a passed or soon coming ‘peak’. HEre’s a GAO report confirming what Mufti says. You can also see the EIA report here for official government projections. Coupled with this is the fact that oil consumption shows a steady rise along with population rise.

    So Muffti hopes he is wrong but where are you getting your rosy outlook from? The growing efficiency of products is wonderful and is the off-putting of mail to electronic format, but can it keep up with the ever increasing number of cars homes and the like that all depend on oil?

    You’re the engineer so please enlighten. Muffti only knows what he’s been reading from the experts you are disparaging as thinly veiled politicians. as the case iwth Prof Gray you mentioned above, Muffti is happy to be proven wrong on this one.

    Muffti isn’t sure that counts as an agenda.

  • Oh brother…. you are a Peak Oil believer? Malthus lives!

    People have been touting this doomsday scenario for almost 50 years.

    There were predictions that US and/or world production would peak in the mid-50s, in the 70s, and in 2005.

    None of these peaks happened!

    Regarding your citations: the GOA report bases itself on the preponderance of studies – the same dodge that can be used to “prove” global warming. This is garbage. Take a look at the graphs in the document – every single one shows both production and proven reserves consistently growing over time.

    The EIA slide show is no better. Take a look at slide 5 – the estimates of world reserves continue to expand. Elsewhere they come out with whoppers such as “King Hubbert (a major peak-oil prophet) successfully predicted that US oil production would peak in the 1950s”. That’s news to me – America’s proven reserves have grown, and if production has slowed, it’s been due to regulation and the economics of running oil refineries in the First World.

    Let me remind you of the famous Simon-Erlich wager. The two policy wonks made a bet on the future price of some strategic metals. The Malthusian bettor lost – ten years on, the price of all these “non-renewable resources” had dropped. Demand had spurred increased exploration and reclamation, and the price had actually fallen.

    From Wired magazine:
    This is the litany : Our resources are running out. The air is bad, the water worse. The planet’s species are dying off – more exactly, we’re killing them -at the staggering rate of 100,000 peryear, a figure that works out to almost 2,000 species per week, 300 per day, 10 perhour, another dead species every six minutes.We’re trashing the planet, washing away the topsoil, paving over our farmlands, systematically deforesting our wildernesses, decimating the biota, and ultimately killing ourselves.

    The world is getting progressively poorer, and it’s all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. There’s a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we’re fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we’re living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death.

    Time is short, and we have to act now.

    That’s the standard and canonical litany. It’s been drilled into our heads so far and so forcefully that to hear it yet once more is … well, it’s almost reassuring. It’s comforting, oddly consoling – at least we’re face to face with the enemies: consumption, population, mindless growth. And we know the solution: cut back, contract, make do with less. “Live simply so that others may simply live.”

    There’s just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection:

    every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false. Incorrect. At variance with the truth.

    Read the whole thing:
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html

  • … and here are some more links debunking Peak Oil – I’ve tried to get a diversity of political opinion, but the lefties are quite tightly wed to these theories.

    Can you not see how the Malthusian doomsday scenarios of scarcity dovetail with the post-Marxist Left’s catechism?

    How it legitimizes their (barely-cloaked!) desire to control the reins of production – and therefore is clung to like a magic talisman in a world in which free markets – and the human capacity to create wealth – has made a mockery of their focus on dividing a static/shrinking pie?

    These are pseudo-scientific fantasies, publicized by people deeply invested in denial of the past 30 years of socio-economic reality – and desperate for a handle on which to hang their socialist claims, desperate for a way to scare voters back into giving them control.

    Here are the links:

    NY Times debunks Peak Oil!
    http://www.reason.com/blog/printer/118984.html

    http://www.reason.com/news/printer/36645.html

    http://www.cera.com/aspx/cda/public1/news/pressReleases/pressReleaseDetails.aspx?CID=8444

    http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns/060718-williams-running-out-of-oil.php
    http://www.mises.org/story/1717

  • Maybe people have a built-in instinct to focus on negatives, as a survival mechanism? Maybe there is less, or no, survival payoff for focusing on positives? An accident gets more spectators than a wedding. “If it bleeds it leads”.

    And, people have to make a living!

    You can get paid to solve a problem, real or imagined, but how are you going to get paid if there is no problem? Nobody needs you. “Everything’s fine. Hire me. Give me a grant.” “Go away.”

  • Very interesting, B-D. Muffti is confused about 2 points: (1) Slide 5 in the eia was an over view slide…did you mean a different one? (2) Muffti isn’t sure hwat you mean by a ‘preponderance’ of studies…do you mean they are choosing selectively? Eveyrone in the game acknowledges that peaks are awfully hard to judge, and as such some say its happened, some say there is a plateau at the top…Muffti genuinely hopes you are right.

    Anyhow, thank for the article and some healthy skepticism about things muffti clearly knows little about.

  • Wow! I like this Ben-David guy. Very thorough.

    Here’s another point I caught from GM:

    “PRoduction has plateaued or declined for most oil producing nations”

    At least, in the US, thanks in part to all of the environmentalist movements that stopped us from building any oil refineries in the last 25+ years. And then stopped people from building more nuclear power plants to answer the first problem. These people, like Rand alludes to, are the enemies of Progress. And at the very minimum, they’re definitely NOT pro-human.

  • Muffti
    1) There’s a slide with a vertical bar chart that shows estimates of reserves steadily increasing with time…. yet all their estimates of “how much time we have left” suddenly back away from the highest numbers for estimated (currently discovered) reserves.

    In normal statistical projection, there should be some attempt to take into account the established trend – especially since there is strong evidence that we’ve just begun to plumb the potential of some new locations. Yet the doomsday scenario is based on old numbers for reserves, and old rates of consumption.

    2) I mean that the GAO did not undertake any studies, or deeply critique the studies that they based themselves on.

    They did “meta-research” – surveying current research to find a trend, then calling that “proof”. This is an iffy approach in the best circumstances, obviously subject to bias in selecting the “primary” sources, and to additional error in trying to compare studies with differing parameters of measurement and statistical certainty.

    Again – pseudo-science, an abstraction twice-removed from actual physical measurement.

    In a politicized field such as this, such a study is guaranteed to propagate the prevailing bias.

    Sorry – asking “how many studies concluded that global warming is true” is not the same question as “has global warming been shown to be true”.

  • Eric – good point.

    America’s production has declined while it’s proven reserves have increased.

    In addition to restricting oil refineries, the greens are preventing drilling in the Arctic and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Who is creating this panic and what is their agenda?

  • B-D fair enough, though Muffti thinks that you are being awfully harsh on meta-studies. THOSE are totally common in scientific research and are vitally useful since one has to compare the results of vairous studies to make them relevant to one antoher. But it can be done well or badly, Muffti agrees. He’s not sure why we should doubt this particular one.

    n other words, if (and this is an ‘if’!) every study showed global warming to be true, you woujld have pretty good evidence that global warming was true (assumign enough studies had been done etc.)

    That is a good poitn, eric. But Muffti thought the greens lost on alaska (see here) and Bush raised the Reagan (!) imposed natural habitat status.

  • ……..siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhhh.

    Muffti: it is the WORDS of the greenies that are hysterical – as in “the sky is falling”.

    unless maps of Alaska do it for you – hey I don’t want to be judgemental or anything….

    Oh, by the way – Gore got a D in Natural Sciences. Quote:

    For all of Gore’s later fascination with science and technology, he often struggled academically in those subjects. The political champion of the natural world received that sophomore D in Natural Sciences 6 (Man’s Place in Nature) and then got a C-plus in Natural Sciences 118 his senior year.

    (endquote)

    He didn’t break 500 on his Acheivements Test in Physics, and barely got over 500 in his Chemistry Acheivment.

    This is Mr. Science Man?

    Washington Post:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A37397-2000Mar18

  • BD, but what if reputable natural scientists agree with Gore or at least state there is a high possibility of him being right?

    But nevermind, there’s just as much proof for than against global warming (which, BTW, isn’t the only environmental issue we face). The question is what we are willing to risk for future generations. I wouldn’t want to tell my grandchildren some day, “Yeah, there were news about global warming, but I could never bring myself to believe them, ’cause that seemed so far off my own political platform. Besides, I was busy arguing on the internet in those days.”

  • Most likely, I’ll be telling my grandchildren:

    “Don’t worry about Global Freezing! Back in my day, they used to brainwash children your age into shaming their parents for driving them to soccer games in SUVs and scaring them about “Global Warming” which as you can see, never quite panned out, even with the pseudo-environmentalists like Laurie David, Sheryl Crow, Kate Blanchet, and Al Goracle flying around in private jets, powering their many mansions, floating around in their yachts, and all the time making themselves feel better about it by buying ‘carbon credits’ and drinking their own piss. Hey, how is my stock in Goracle’s many ‘green businesses’ doing by the way you young rascal?

    By the way, your green nuclear glow hasn’t quite diminished and you keeping growing new fingers and toes at alarming rates. Sheesh, maybe if we spent as much time worrying about Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the 2000’s as we did about our environment, we’d have one right now to take care of! Hey, did you hear that the NAACP is actually considering the Chinese as blacks now that the ‘perma-soot’ has become their official color? Funny, but hey, regime and environmental changes start at home!!!”

  • ““Yeah, there were news about global warming, but I could never bring myself to believe them, ’cause that seemed so far off my own political platform.”

    In all seriousness, if you think people who don’t believe that global warming (I don’t know anyone who can deny that the world is warming) is caused by humans, only do so because of politics, than the ‘debate is truly over indeed’.

    Personally, I don’t believe that humanity is the cause of global warming, not because of my politics, but because of my research of the science involved.

    If the most vocal Warm Mongers and Global Warming Alarmists happen to be died-in-wool limousine liberals, well that just makes it all the more silly and meaningless to me. I’m not disagreeing with them that the earth is warming (I’m quite certain it will warm, cool, warm, cool at least twice before I die), I’m just disagreeing that humanity is the cause of all environmental change on earth. And furthermore, I disagree that, as Leonardo Decraprio says “the debate is over”. It’s not, nor will it ever be, because Al Goracle goes to visit the world’s moral barometer, Oprah, and says so..

    He and all the other “fake greens” can kiss my Hemi.

  • GRANDCHILDREN?? You rang? Did somebody mention grandchildren? Who has those? Sarah? Sweetheart? You?

    Let’s start a rumor! Grandchildren are the new black!

  • Ah!

    But are you on stage one toward them, young Jew-di?

    Is there pudding on your silk blouse? Any warm small bodies sprawled unselfconsciously on your neck, drooling contentedly and murmuring?

    I don’t mean your husband.

  • You are at an age where horsing around is not in order.

    I wonder how a JM version of Yoda would look.

    Not like me. I am taller than Yoda.

  • “Hello, my name is David”
    “Are you coming to the Bris?” = Five years.
    Years:
    1) hang out
    2) talk to parents. They need a year to worry.
    3) decide to marry. Reserve the right venue. That always takes a year. It’s only once, right? Should be nice.
    4) see how we like it. It’s different from 1)
    5) pregnancy takes a year, approx.

    Careful.

    Or: Two year version:

    1) use brain. Hang out a year. Size appropriate person up at a cheap lunch with awful lighting, not an expensive dinner with flattering lighting. Inform parents this is it. Marry locally, cheaply, get busy. Tell parents to put money aside for house.
    2) Year later, “Are you coming to the Bris?”

    Cheaper and faster. It’s the American Way.

  • Play around??? You?? With all that china???

    Only concern might be, that you are dutifully tending an unfruitful cucumber patch, and wasting your sweetness on the desert air, like the flower in the poem.

    You can perish from mis-appliedvirtue just as well as from vice.

    But I really should shut up.

    The JM mother ship is signalling. Good gardening. Beam me up, Yoda! And stop wearing my clothes!

  • Cook? What do you mean? You mean no need to cater it? Cool.

    Only cook for the right people. But you knew that. I wish you sunshine and yellow towels.

Leave a Comment