Thursday, April 14, 2005

Living in Harmony with Nature

Post lifted from Cafe Hayek

During our time in Orlando, my family and I visited Sea World. At the manatee exhibit we were shown a brief film whose opening scene showed an American Indian paddling his canoe through pristine waters while the announcer informed the audience that the Indians "lived in harmony with nature." Of course, the film implies that we moderns don't live in harmony in nature, and one consequence of our inharmonious existence is the manatees' near-extinction.

I'm not here to comment upon the manatee. I'm here to do my part to make extinct the notion that modern, civilized human beings live less harmoniously with nature than did pre-Columbian Indians. We moderns live more harmoniously - much more harmoniously - with nature than did our primitive ancestors. To live harmoniously with nature is to understand and accept natural forces. The greater this understanding and acceptance, the greater the harmony. Because we know so much more today than we did before about physics, chemistry, meteorology, biology, physiology, metallurgy, and on and on with our ologies and urgies, we live so much more harmoniously with nature.

Pre-Columbian peoples lived simply, to be sure, but let's stop mistaking ignorance and poverty with harmony. It's an utter myth - we might say an urban myth - that primitive peoples lived with nature harmoniously. Nature devastated them. Nature battered them into early graves. Their ignorance of nature prevented them from achieving much material wealth. To dance to imaginary rain gods or to chant and pray for a child dying of bacterial infection is not to live harmoniously with nature; it is to live most inharmoniously. Nature is doing its thing - failing to water the crops, growing bacteria within a child's lungs - while human beings who are as ignorant of nature as nature is of human beings, moan, chant, pray, dance, build totems, burn leaves and twigs, all in fruitless, inharmonious efforts to solve the problems.

It is we today, with our knowledge of how to irrigate fields using science and engineering, and how to make and administer antibiotics, who live harmoniously with nature. We don't demand miracles. We don't expect nature to change its logic simply because we arrogantly wish it to do so. We accept nature's logic and work with it. Natural forces are what they are. Praying for miracles is fruitless; these forces will do what they do. Only people who understand these forces and how to counteract or reinforce or sustain or alter them with other natural forces can be truly said to live harmoniously with nature. It is science - rational thought, skepticism, critical inquiry - that furthers greater harmony with nature.

A Global Warming Debate Down Under

Last week the post-Kyoto future was debated in Australia during three conferences. The British Government and the US-based Pew Centre supported conferences urging extension of the Kyoto model to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Energy companies backed the third conference which contrasted the strategy of development of low emission technologies favored by the Bush Administration and the Howard Government in Australia with the Kyoto-style model. Science featured prominently in the discussions. For the first time in Australia, Australia's leading advocates of the Kyoto model were required to publicly defend the "official" UN science supporting Kyoto to their peers. They were not successful. Doubts about the UN science are increasing in Australia.......

Undeterred, pro-Kyoto advocates reverted at the conference in Melbourne to threats of cataclysm from global warming. The British aired a report which the Hadley Centre, an arm of the official British meteorology bureau, released recently arguing that we now face "dangerous" climate change. The argument is similar to the claims made by the World Wildlife Fund a few months earlier that "trigger points" are emerging where small increases of CO2 in the atmosphere will "trigger" major shifts in the climate. There is little scientific about either concept, except that scientists signed off the Hadley report. And for that conference yet another Pacific Island Leader was produced who warned that global warming will deluge their territories.

The debate at the Canberra conference was far more significant. Three of Australia's most prominent supporters of Kyoto-style regulation made the case in front of peers. No room for cataclysmic pronouncements here. It revealed serious doubts about the "official" science. Dr. John Zillman, former head of Australia's meteorology bureau and Australia's leading scientific member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argued its processes were as good as you would get and its science sound. Ross McKitrick from the University of Guelph, Ontario, took the conference through the detail of research which demonstrated as unsupportable the analysis which produced the famous "hockey stick" chart. This chart demonstrated the twentieth century is the hottest on record. It was endorsed by the IPCC which headlined it to support the case that human activity was causing global warming. McKitrick's analysis that the modeling was fundamentally flawed and the data unrepresentative is now regarded as correct. The work behind the chart was not checked before the IPCC endorsed and headlined it.

The case made by IPCC also depends on results from several climate models. Professor Garth Paltridge from the University of Tasmania argued the models were skewed to show warming. They depended on artificially constructed inputs which would just as easily produce a negative result. Another former official of the meteorology bureau, Bill Kininmonth, pointed out the models disregarded the transfer of energy between the poles, a major determinant of climate change, and focused solely on radiation in and out of the atmosphere.

Dr. Roger Beale, the former head of the Australian federal environment department, conceded the IPCC numbers for possible increases in global temperature (the notorious range of 1.4 C degrees to 5.8 C degrees by 2100) were numbers from scenarios, not predictions. He contended that a "probabilist" projection of temperature increase was 2 C degrees. He drew this conclusion from a couple of studies. Dr. Brian Flannery, ExxonMobil's chief environment and safety advisor observed in passing that there was little basis for probabilist numbers and observed that there was a great deal more we needed to know about the science. He cited several leading US institutions as sharing that view.

Professor Bob Carter, a geologist from the University of Townsville, then put the discussion over the IPCC climate change science into an Earth science framework. He considered it suspicious that the IPCC work only used the last 1000 years as the frame of reference. He demonstrated that in a million year timescale we were in one of the few interglacial warming periods and the next expected long term development in climate should be a cooling possibly leading to an ice age. He also produced analysis which showed that the historical pattern is that levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rise after temperature increases, not the other way around, as is supposed in the "official" science of greenhouse warming which presumes increases in carbon dioxide are causing global warming. In passing he debunked the conventional claim that most scientists are agreed on the "official" science......

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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