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Climate Change – Fact or Fiction: Global Warming?

February 26, 2011

Based on the level of interest generated by the recent postings on Global Warming, there may be some value in posting the results of a survey I ran last year in LinkedIn. The survey addressed “Climate Change” rather than “Global Warming.” Climate Change is broader in scope since it includes precipitation and ocean variations in addition to alterations in the atmosphere which is generally referred to as “Global Warming.”

The survey was designed to better understand how members felt towards Climate Change. For the purpose of the survey, “Climate Change” was restricted to that induced by human activities only. Also, as used in the survey, “Remediation” was understood to include governmental controls taken through regulations and laws. Readers had to select one of nine statements ranging from (all nine choices are listed at the end of this posting):
• (1) “Climate Change” is a problem that requires immediate remediation by all countries only if a worldwide accord has been reached.
to:
• (9) “Climate Change” is an illusion and should be taken out of the vocabulary.

General Information relating to the survey includes:
• Restricted to 50 LinkedIn Groups
• Approximately 80% of the LinkedIn groups sampled were “Energy” related
• 38 (66%) of the 50 Groups had members responding
• 1107 comments were received over a period of two months
• 16 (5%) members created a choice  >9
• 53 members responded by private Emails
• Additional Responses Received as Private Emails from LinkedIn Member: 53
• Comments filled 369 pages, Arial (10 pt), Single Spaced.
Results:

Nearly forty-nine (49%) percent of the respondents reported that they believe “Climate Change” is a problem that requires immediate remediation by each individual country, independent of a worldwide accord. Choice #2

As a distant second, fifteen (15%) percent of the respondents felt that Climate Change”  lacks evidence, not a problem and requires no action by any country including the U.S. and China. Choice #8.

Thirteen (13%) percent of respondents indicated “Climate Change” is an illusion that should be taken out of the vocabulary. Choice #9 

Combined, about fifty-nine (59%) percent of respondents felt that “Climate Change is a problem that requires immediate action. Choices 1,2,3 and 4.

Combined, nearly forty (40%) percent of respondents felt that “Climate Change” is possibly not a problem and no action is required within the next 10 years. Choices 7, 8 and 9.

Combined, less that 2% of the respondents felt that “Climate Change” is a problem and some action should take place within the next 10 years. Choices 5 and 6.

Similar percentages of 60% and 40% were given by respondents when choices were combined into two groups consisting of those that consider “Climate Change” “IS” and “IS NOT” a problem, respectively. Choices 1, 2, 3 ,4 and 5 (IS) verses Choices 7, 8, and 9 (IS NOT).
Personal Comments:

The most obvious conclusion of this survey is the extreme polarization of people into two camps of about equal size (60 % vs. 40%)

Reflecting of more scientifically structured polls on this subject, this survey showed a similar trend that a large number of people believe that Global Warming is a natural cycle of the Earth rather than the result of human activity.
See Gallup Poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/126560/Americans-Global-Warming-Concerns-Continue-Drop.aspx).

With strong and unwavering beliefs on both sides, the challenge is not to change beliefs but to find a uniform path that achieves separate goals for a collective win-win solution. One away is move from “Climate Change – Fact or Fiction,” to “Economics. – Strength or Weakness.” It is useless to argue whether anthropogenic GHG emissions cause climate changes or global warming. However, agreement can be reached by looking at the economics of exporting dollars for foreign oil. The answer is plain dollars and cents and not El Niño, La Niña, unseasonable climate conditions, hurricanes, melting ice, non-attainment zones, etc. For the most part, how much is spent, how much is owed and how much is in the bank is undisputable. Just, “Follow the Money.”

To the extent  that the U.S. uses petroleum and other oil derived products, the nation exports about $2 million a minute, $117 billion a month and more than $1 trillion a year for foreign oil (all countries: Persian Gulf, OPEC and Non OPEC).  Since viable alternate energy options exist, why is it so difficult for the U.S. to expand usage. Europe and other countries are able to do so. Without exception, continuing this path is economic suicide. Significant reductions in the amount we spend on foreign oil will: stimulate the economic landscape; keep dollars in the U.S. for job creation, R&D, development and manufacturing; and by the way reduce GHG emissions.

This is not to imply that the transition from foreign oil to renewable and sustainable forms of energy has not started. It has but at a snail’s pace. With the abundance of affordable (with a little help from Uncle Sam) and reliable alternative solutions, the U.S. should be moving much faster.

For the most part, no technological breakthroughs are needed to use the vast supply of natural gas under our feet, nuclear energy, domestically made solar panels, wind turbines and adopting across the board energy efficiency measures. The lack of infrastructure keeps coming up as a reason for the freeze on using natural gas as a fuel for vehicles. Had the U.S. allocated $15 billion from the ARRA for natural gas fueling station, at least 15,000 natural gas filling stations could have been built across the nation. By design this would create jobs for land developers, civil engineers, architects, local equipment manufacturers, construction companies, station owners and workers.

It is not so surprising that a key impediment comes from our own government and regulatory agencies, such as the EPA. In some cases, the regulations make it so costly and difficult to adopt alternatives, that cheap foreign oil, remains the best option.

The question comes up “What is the true cost of petroleum?” In simple terms, the everyday price of oil does not reflect many hidden costs, such as the escalating trade deficit, decline in foreign investment in T-Bills, added health-care and protection of our overseas oil supply lines by the DoD. There is also the duality of purchasing oil from petro-oligarchs with regimes, which may conflict with U.S. interests. One can argue with credibility and certainty that our government is subsidizing the oil industry and other sovereign nations.

Finally, in terms of GHG emissions, there is no question that carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride are GHGs.  However. water vapor, which is a more abundant and effective greenhouse gas is not generally discussed in the context of regulations. The EPA characterizes water vapor as a strong GHG. However, it is removed from the regulated list on the pretext that water vapor results from climatic feedbacks related to the warming of the atmosphere rather than a direct result of industrialization.

In closing, whether GHGs are the cause of climate change or global warming, is therefore questionable but the simple fact remains – WHY GAMBLE ON THE FUTURE when alternatives exist that result in economic and environmental vitality.

Choices:

___ 1. “Climate Change” is a problem that requires immediate remediation by all countries only if a worldwide accord has been reached.
___ 2. “Climate Change” is a problem that requires immediate remediation by each individual country, independent of a worldwide accord.
___ 3. “Climate Change” is a problem that requires immediate remediation through a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China, only.
___ 4. “Climate Change” is a problem that requires immediate control by the U.S., independent of a worldwide accord.
___ 5. “Climate Change” is a problem that needs a worldwide accord before any remediation is taken, even if takes another 5 years.
___ 6. “Climate Change” is a problem that needs a worldwide accord before any remediation is taken by any country including the U.S. and China, even if takes 10 years.
___ 7. “Climate Change” maybe a problem that should be watched over the next 10 years before any debate is taken by any country including the U.S. and China..
___ 8. “Climate Change”  lacks evidence, not a problem and requires no action by any country including the U.S. and China.
___ 9. “Climate Change” is an illusion and should be taken out of the vocabulary.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2011 2:38 PM

    Americans don’t believe that climatic change is due to mankind’s contribution. Rather, most Americans probably believe that climate change occurs regardless of the actions of mankind.

    The rants and representations of those who really are working personal agenda fail to sway most Americans. As Abe Lincoln once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. Those working their personal agenda pray on the goodness inherent in most people. Eventually, however, good people take a deep breath, realize that the earth goes through cycles of cooling and warming which we have yet to fully understand (sun activity, volcanic activity, rifting in the oceans, etc.) – and realize that this is not the hottest period in the history of the earth, but rather somewhere in the cycle between ice ages. It may get warmer…it may get cooler. In the 70′s the same scientific community that Chicken Littles global warming was warning of an imminent ice age. If you predict all possibilities, of course you will eventually be correct.

    Al Gore as the personalization for global warming also does the proponents no long term good. He is a self-promoter, who profited from the tobacco settlement he shepherded through Congress, and is poised to profit from carbon credits, etc., that he is promoting today. The spirit of P.T. Barnum lives in Al Gore.

    As far as “not taking any chances” – if we have a major volcanic event and the earth’s temperatures cool 15 degrees – what then? Krakatoa, Yellowstone, Santorini…etc. all have as likely a probability of occurring as a continuation of the trend in global warming cited by proponents.

    Even the trend in global warming is suspect because of the data’s preponderence from heat island effect areas. I’d like to see summary data from upstate New York and other areas that have not experienced explosive human population growth – and the concomitant temperature impact from asphalting what was green pasture, etc.

    As regards the cost of petroleum – that is more a function of monetary policy than supply and demand. That is fact, not fiction. Just try some curve fitting analysis – going back 20 years and you’ll find a 100% fit other than moments of political unrest spiking the value briefly (Gulf War, Yukos nationalization, etc.). And we do have alternative sources of cheap energy with known and proven technologies: natural gas and coal. Natural gas trades at a 70% discount (dollar per BTU) from crude. It is in such abundance that our reserves can be measured in centuries or millenia. It is also a “cleaner” alternative to the other abundant energy supply, coal.

    Let’s not ignore the fact that we have a third abundant source, too: hydropower. But Luddites want to remove our dams while the Chinese build new ones.

    I certainly can’t speak for anyone but myself. But I cannot be convinced that public funds should be used to continue to subsidize technologies that have not progressed to become market competitive. In fact, the green energy movement has become a welfare child – so accustomed to welfare (subsidies) for its existence that the existence of the subsidies have probably served to retard the development of truly market-competitive technologies.

  2. February 28, 2011 9:30 AM

    I’m sorry, but I’ve seen the numbers. I’ve talked to the analysts. I’ve examined their methodologies. Irrespective of whatever it is that “Americans don’t believe”, it’s happening and it’s real and we are contributing. This view is based, not on data from one place or another, but on the integration of all the climate data from across the world that’s available to us. Whatever climate data from upstate New York might show, that will not reflect the situation globally.

    But let’s pretend, for one minute, that climate change doesn’t have a large human component. Is that any reason to stop trying to mitigate against its effects? Or is a whole nation going to throw up their hands in horror, say “There’s nothing we can do” and continue to consume their way to destruction?

    The forecast energy crash of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t happen because enough people and companies took individual steps to make their products more energy-efficient. On it’s own, one solar-powered calculator had no effect. When multiplied across the entire economies of Western – and Eastern – manufacturing and production, energy usage dropped and the crunch never happened. The same must apply to climate change. If everyone deals with the effects and does what they can, then hopefully we can avoid disaster. Only then we can indulge in the luxury of arguing over the causes.

  3. February 28, 2011 12:38 PM

    To Robert Day:

    Saying things doesn’t make them true.

    Please provide me with your data sources.

    1. Energy Efficient Devices: You claim that there was a decline in energy consumption in the 1980′s and 1990′s. The EIA (US Department of Energy) data indicates that there was no significant reduction in per capita energy consumption as you represent. In fact, per capita consumption in the US was 75% higher during the 80′s and 90′s than it was in the 50′s. Total consumption in the US in trillion BTU increased from 78,122 in 1980 to 84,944 in 1989 to 96,812 in 1999.

    Excuse me, that doesn’t appear to support your contention. Maybe you were the only one with a solar powered calculator. Most everyone else bought computers – PC’s when they became available – and maybe you have a solar powered PC, but I sure don’t. Let me know where you got yours.

    By the way, what energy crash was forecasted? You mean the forecasts that we would use up our energy reserves? Perhaps you don’t understand how reserves get reported, the dynamics of ad valorem tax and such reporting and its influence on deflating reserves estimates. That is why doomsayers constantly are saying we are running out of energy – yet when the appointed day arrives we have more reserves in the world than on the day that the dire prediction was made.

    If you think US Department of Energy data is wrong and your opinion is right, perhaps you can provide everyone with your source of data – including those “energy crash” forecasts.

    2. Regarding global warming data: Also I’m interested in knowing your data sources. Please cite them for everyone. Additionally, since you have the data readily at hand, kindly let everyone know the formulaic interactions of the variables – the priority and degree of factors both independent and dependent. I’m especially interested in the solar radiation and geothermal data.

    I look forward to learning your sources of data. The E.I.A. is one of my sources. As for global warming, I have seen one regression analysis done in Japan and the data could not support the contention of the global warming proponents (that mankind has any significant influence). The study also was limited to greenhouse gases, solar radiation and volcanism (surface), and ignored many potential variables.

    So I am eager to learn of an actual statistically valid analysis that considered dozens of variables over decades of data – what you apparently think you have in your possession or have personally reviewed.

  4. March 2, 2011 8:23 AM

    I am a statistics geek. I get very frustrated with the lack of credible scientific support for much of what is published about “climate change”. I use the word “credible” deliberately.

    Having investigated for myself the public health impact claims made by the EPA for banning greenhouse gasses, I find that many sources are not only undocumented, but those that are used are extrapolations from studies done by sources that are funded by the “green-anti-nuke-global peace” movement with little peer review. For example, EPA Assistant Adminstrator Gina McCarthy promotes the EPA’s control of greenhouse gasses (carbon) by claiming a public health emergency of preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. This is not true. The CDC reports mortality figures which are totally at odds with her claims.

    We need a lot more serious questions about sources – particularly when those sources are themselves based on extrapolations of other sources. In the case of the EPA health claims – the ultimate source behind their claims was from the Physicians for Social Responsibility quoting a study of rats whose lungs were injected with pollutants. I wasn’t able to view the rat study since the footnote did not provide a link. Whatever the quality of the rat study – a single study should hardly be the trigger for a national climate policy that will cost trillions.

    As a word of caution to everyone – whatever claims are made that begin with the word “Belief” – lets assume that hard facts and logical thought are not in evidence.

  5. March 2, 2011 8:54 AM

    Very well said. It is unfortunate that it appears so many people no longer can distinguish between propaganda and facts.

  6. March 16, 2011 1:34 PM

    forget u all u are some lonly basters saveing on your walfare cheeks

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