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An opinion piece at the Buffalo News today starts off :

It appears that, in the incoming Obama administration, it will be hard to tell the difference between the people making energy policy and the people making environmental policy. 

With a lede like that, I was sure the article would have been at least a little apprehensive about conflating energy policy with environmental policy. I proven wrong with the very next sentence:
Which means that we will be fortunate to be governed by people who know that the two are one and the same.

One and the same? Really? I don’t think anyone denies that the environment is important and that we should do what we can to protect it. Using up our natural resources without any thought of the future is a sure shot in the foot.

The problem, however, is that the article implies that the real environmental issue of the day—the issue that we should be most worried about—is human-caused global warming. As President-elect Obama said in November, “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

Well, whether or not the denial of human-caused global warming is “an acceptable response,” the voices of dissent are growing louder everyday. As Bob Carter at the Australian wrote quite bluntly last Friday:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model of dangerous, human-caused climate change has failed. Independent science relevant to supposed human-caused global warming is clear, and can be summarised in four briefpoints.

First, global temperature warmed slightly in the late 20th century and has been cooling since 2002. Neither the warming nor the cooling were of unusual rate ormagnitude.

Second, humans have an effect on local climate but, despite the expenditure of more than 50 billion US dollars (70 billion Australian dollars) looking for it since 1990, no globally summed human effect has ever been measured. Therefore, any human signal must lie buried in the variability of the natural climate system.

Third, we live on a dynamic planet; change occurs in Earth’s geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans all the time and all over the world. No substantive evidence exists that modern rates of global environmental change (ice volume; sea level) lie outside historic natural bounds.

Last, cutting carbon dioxide emissions, be it in Australia or worldwide, will likely result in no measurable change in future climate, because extra increments of atmospheric CO2 cause diminishing warming for each unit of increase; at most, a few tenths of a degree of extra warming would result from a completion of doubling of CO2 since pre-industrial times.

To me, Mr. Carter’s arguments sound like pretty “acceptable responses” to the scientific situation as we know it. But Obama and the editorial staff of the Buffalo News obviously disagree. Why? Well, as it turns out, they’re just plain smarter than people like Mr. Carter:
While one Clinton administration official — Vice President Al Gore — was awarded a Nobel Prize seven years after leaving office, Obama’s team will begin its administration with a Nobel Laureate in the Cabinet . . . .

On resume paper, at least, Chu recalls the statement by President John F. Kennedy, who greeted a gathering of Nobel Prize winners by saying it was the most brain power ever assembled at the White House, except for the days that Thomas Jefferson dined alone. That doesn’t mean Chu, a Washington outsider with no political background, will be a success in running the bureaucracy of a Cabinet department. But he won’t be dining alone.

Hmm . . . The Best and the Brightest all over again? Let’s hope not.



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