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Global Warming: A New Caveat
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A new article to be published next month's issue of Geophysical Research Letters indicates weakness in the models of ocean warming. According to the article, taken from Argo measurements, show that ocean temperatures have cooled significantly over the past two years.

Climatologist Roger Pielke's take on the data:
This is a very important observational study of changes in climate system heat content. While the models predict a general montonic increase in ocean heat content (e.g. see (Figure 1) ), the new observations in Lyman et al 2006 show an important decrease. The explanation of this temporal change in the radiative imbalance of the Earth’s climate system is a challenge to the climate science community. It does indicate that we know less about natural- and human-climate forcings and feedbacks than concluded in the IPCC Reports.
A lot of people continue to claim a greater level of knowledge about global warming than can be reliably supported. It's not enough to know that global warming is happening. Before we begin to entertain policy suggestions to combat it, we need to know whether there is anything we can do to combat it. If we don't even know why it's happening to a high degree of certainty, and our observational data continues to confound the predictive models, then we can't say we know what to do to combat.

Or if it can be combated.
 
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Comments
... the article also confirms however that over the past 50 years the heat content of the oceans has increased significantly! The article can not be read as a dispelling the notion that global warming is happening. It only gives yet more data to be analysed and understood. The article talks also about only the upper ocean not the total ocean. Heat is redistributed to the deapth and perhaps some relative cooling at the places where it was sampled tells us not much about the actual heat content of the ocean propper.
With so many indicators clearly showing a strong global warming trend since civilisation has burned carbon fuels in significant quantities such a paper should not be used to undermine the international move to curb greenhouse gas emissions. There is probably much more uncertainty in the interpretation of this paper and its methods of measurement than in the observed global climate trends.
 
Written By: Thomas
URL: http://
Meh, there was an article out yesterday or the day before from Danish scientists that said the glaciers started meltin/shrinking 100 years ago. Throw that on the heap with the other info and BOOOM, we now have.....more information with little knowledge on how to use it but many claiming they can.
 
Written By: markm
URL: http://
This is something I’ve noticed more and more. I just went through it regarding the questions of whether the NSA domestic spying program is governed by, and violates, FISA. When people don’t want to believe something — for whatever reasons, party loyalty, economic philosophy, inconsistency with announced positions — they simply raise the level of proof required to prove a fact. You see this all the time where someone will conflate the criminal trial standard of proof — proof beyond a reasonable doubt — with the proof most people use to govern their political and private affairs, which I would describe as informed common sense. For shorthand, let’s call this logical fallacy the O.J. Game.

To be absolutely clear, the O.J. Game applies to all political partisans of all stripes. Indeed, it applies whenever a person is thinking uncritically, by which I mean motivated to a larger or lesser degree by non-logical concerns. It is probably obvious that this applies to most human thinking, and one might even argue that it is human nature to some degree. It is so ingrained that it probably often unconscious. And, also to be clear, I am as guilty of it as anyone else. But that doesn’t make it right.

On to global warming. I don’t see how any intellectually honest, open-minded person can deny at this point that global warming is occurring. Yet we have Dale writing this:
A new article to be published next month’s issue of Geophysical Research Letters indicates weakness in the models of ocean warming. According to the article, taken from Argo measurements, show that ocean temperatures have cooled significantly over the past two years.
Now I imagine that denying global warming altogether is simply too credibility-draining — though what other point could the above quote have? — so then we move on to the next level of denial: even if global warming is occurring, there is insufficient proof that human activity is it (though this objection is more implied than stated probably for the same credibility reasons I mentioned above):
A lot of people continue to claim a greater level of knowledge about global warming than can be reliably supported. It’s not enough to know that global warming is happening. Before we begin to entertain policy suggestions to combat it, we need to know whether there is anything we can do to combat it. If we don’t even know why it’s happening to a high degree of certainty, and our observational data continues to confound the predictive models, then we can’t say we know what to do to combat.

Or if it can be combated.
The conclusion, evidently, is that we do not have the quantum of proof required to make global warming policy decisions (so we should do nothing). What is unstated is the degree of proof demanded, other than as "a high degree of certainty". Well, just how high? Informed common sense? Reasonable scientific consensus? Beyond a reasonable doubt? Beyond all doubt? In my experience, that is often the most important question. And it is generally the most revealing of the writer’s actual position. In any event, I think that recognizing the degree of proof demanded is a prerequisite for intellectual honesty.

Using the standard of informed common sense (which incorporates reasonable scientific consensus), I am convinced by the evidence that global warming is occurring and that humans are the prime contributors to it. The really difficult questions concern the complex policy initiatives required to combat global warming on an international level. Of course, we can just do what Dale recommends: Nothing. Indeed, that is precisely what this Administration has done. Insisted that the proof is inadequate. Played the O.J. Game. Abdicated its responsibilities to the American people and to the world, and to future generations. Sometimes the O.J. Game has real consequences.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
On to global warming. I don’t see how any intellectually honest, open-minded person can deny at this point that global warming is occurring.
No one is.

What’s being debated is how much or how little a hand man has in it. And Dale’s point is, given the flaws pointed out in the model by the article, we may want to get better information before we charge off and develop policy to combat it. Or said another way, we need to figure out definitively if this is natural warming or man made warming (or both).

If it is a natural warming cycle it would be foolish to put together policy to combat it, don’t you think? And even if it is mostly man or a combination of both, I’d assume you’d agree that a determination needs to be made whether anything we do will improve the situation before we decide to commit time and resources to such a policy decision.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
No one is.
Then what is the point of this statement?
A new article to be published next month’s issue of Geophysical Research Letters indicates weakness in the models of ocean warming. According to the article, taken from Argo measurements, show that ocean temperatures have cooled significantly over the past two years.
I am all for developing a coherent, efficacious and cost-effective approach to combating global warming on an international scale. I am all for logical, reasonable, and informed discussions as to what those measures might entail. What I am against is denying that global warming is occurring, denying that we (human beings) are the primary cause of it, and pretending that, therefore, it is OK for us (the U.S.) to do nothing, all under the cover of insufficient proof. As I mentioned earlier, the quantum of proof demanded often provides the answer even before the question is posed.

Here’s how I approach global warming questions: Air pollution is bad, but unavoidable to some degree in an industrialized world. The recurrent goal should be to minimize it within a framework that accounts for possible economic dislocation. According to the majority of scientific sources, air pollution, i.e., greenouse gases, contribute significantly to global warming. It is beyond question that global warming is potentially catastrophic. Because global warming is potentially catastrophic, if we must err it should be on the side of preventive over-caution. Putting all this together suggests to me that we should have long ago begun serious measures to curb greenhouse gases on an international scale.

Now what is the primary objection to the preceding analysis? Economic. It will cost too much, damage the American economy, etc. Sometimes you will hear that stated explicitly and it is a fair point to consider (though erroneous, in my view), but more often it comes out as a complaint that global warming and/or man’s contribution to it has not been proved to "a high degree of certainty." That, to me, merely avoids the real question and is an implict assertion of a pre-conceived conclusion.

Got to run for now.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
McQ-
No no no, spend money to stop things that might be causing it, now!

Legislate against, um
cigarette lighters!,
air conditioners transferring heat from inside buildings to the outside!
Cars! Especially cars! Force everyone to ride bikes or horses!
Factories!
Power plants!
Glass buildings (greenhouse heat traps!)
Paved roads and concrete buildings! (more heat traps!)
Urban sprawl! (Heat islands!)

We’re not sure exactly what we’re doing that’s causing it, or in what quantity, or if it’s even us at all! But start stopping those things! Spend! Spend!

We’ll figure out what’s actually causing it as we go along!
Oh, one more thing, please don’t change my life style. The rest of you, you will need to change, but not me, okay?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
These things I know regarding Global Warming:

1) The world has been whole lot hotter and and a whole lot colder without the influence of man. (example: Multiple Ice Ages and the warming periods between)
2) We generally do not know why these cooling and warming trends occurred. There are theories but none that are generally accepted.
3) The world is warming. You cannot completely ignore the records available.
4) That man is contributing to this warming is very clear.
5) But we are no more knowledgeable today as to the basic cause of this warming than other periods in our planet’s history.
6) To follow the dictates of those who would counter this "Man Made" approaching disaster would devastate the world economy.
7) We do not know if these actions would reverse the effects of warming or even slow it down.
8) We cannot with any real certainty determine if it is going to rain next Tuesday.

Questions?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Then what is the point of this statement?

A new article to be published next month’s issue of Geophysical Research Letters indicates weakness in the models of ocean warming. According to the article, taken from Argo measurements, show that ocean temperatures have cooled significantly over the past two years.
David,

My guess is the point is that the oceans have not been warming over the last two years, but cooling. I am not trying to snark, but that seems a rather key fact. It doesn’t disprove that global warming is a threat, nor does it disprove that man’s burning of fossil fuels is the primary component. What it does do is show we are still a bit away from understanding this matter. Pielke’s site does have a nice discussion of this paper in the comments.
It is beyond question that global warming is potentially catastrophic. Because global warming is potentially catastrophic, if we must err it should be on the side of preventive over-caution.
This is a statement I have more of a problem with. Lots of things are potentially catastrophic. The question should be, is it likely to be catastrophic. I believe far too little research has been done there, and part of the problem is that the climate models are too far off (as in this case) to tell us what the pattern of climate change will look like and what the effects might be. In fact, there is no apriori reason to believe it will not be a net benefit.

By benefit I mean to we humans, the environment as a whole will certainly adapt, temperatures have been much higher and lower in the past. This is not an environmental issue except as it affects us. Therefore the costs are pretty darn important, not just economic, but the taking away of our liberty in order to control our behavior. Determining if the cost of adapting, combined with whatever benefits we might realize from warming are less than the cost of whatever ameliorative measures we might take is only the first step. We also have to assess how much of a difference the changes would make, because then we will still have the costs of adaptation. There is still more to consider. What are the opportunity costs? What projects that have a huge effect on human life will go undone because of the effort? I could go on, but these are huge questions, and they are questions that the present consensus, if you wish to take it as is, is not close to being able to provide the data for us to act upon. This paper is a perfect example of that.

 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
"...indicates weakness in the models of ocean warming."

Perhaps to say that the models are not adequate and need more work? That’s one of the things scientists do. They take new data and use it to verify other scientists work. Experiments are routinely repeated by different people. Sometimes flaws are found, sometimes they aren’t. Is cold fusion an accepted thing now? No, because the experiment that alledgedly proved it was duplicated by other people.

"air conditioners transferring heat from inside buildings to the outside!"

At last! A fellow believer! Don’t forget the massive quantities of heat that are transferred from ice makers and freezers. Do your part to prevent GW, keep your freezer door open, let your cubes melt!
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
David S., what Lance said, with an emphasis on the notion that our models of what is going on are so cr@ppy that it would be foolish to form any political goals based on them.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
What I am against is denying that global warming is occurring, denying that we (human beings) are the primary cause of it, and pretending that, therefore, it is OK for us (the U.S.) to do nothing, all under the cover of insufficient proof.
Wow. That’s OLD SCHOOL crazy, David. Were human beings the primary cause of global cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s? What was that, a half-degree?
Now we’re dickering over another half-degree?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the sun burning hotter now? Might that not have an effect on our climate, and if so, how are we responsible for that?

I also believe I heard something about the ice caps retreating on Mars. That rover must be belching out some serious fumes.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
BTW, for all you backyard climatologists, just what temperature is the earth supposed to be?

Obviously, you have some ideal temperature in mind from which we are deviating through our reckless capitalism - so what temperature is the global thermostat supposed to be set for?

Speaking of models - bang-up job on predicting this year’s hurricane season. I’m sure it doesn’t weaken your argument at all.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
"It is beyond question that global warming is potentially catastrophic. Because global warming is potentially catastrophic, if we must err it should be on the side of preventive over-caution."

This is a statement I have more of a problem with. Lots of things are potentially catastrophic. The question should be, is it likely to be catastrophic.
Preventing global warming (assuming we have the power to do so) is potentially catastrophic as well.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Now what is the primary objection to the preceding analysis? Economic. It will cost too much, damage the American economy, etc. Sometimes you will hear that stated explicitly and it is a fair point to consider (though erroneous, in my view), but more often it comes out as a complaint that global warming and/or man’s contribution to it has not been proved to "a high degree of certainty." That, to me, merely avoids the real question and is an implict assertion of a pre-conceived conclusion.

Written By: David Shaughnessy


Talk about pre-conceived conclusions! I guess if you don’t care how much harm you cause, you can be flip about the US economy.

What is required is proper cost-benifit analysis, showing how much we can reduce global warming and how much it will cost us.

And we should also consider potential effects like ruining the US economy while countries like China push their economy to the hilt. In other words, there are lots of complexitites to consider.


 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Sorry for the brevity of my repsonse to all the points raised above but such is life.

1. Global warming is real. For those who don’t believe this, well I don’t know what to say so I’ll say nothing (other than what I put in my original 2 posts).

2. Unless I’m misinterpreting (and Lance will undoubtedly correct me) there seems to be a suggestion that though global warming is real it may be benign. Now I live in Boston and I’d sure like a longer summer but this argument completely escapes me otherwise. If global warming means nothing else it assuredly means that the ice caps are melting, which in turn means that the oceans are getting higher, and our coastal areas will be threatened. As in New York, Miami, Boston, etc. How much is it going to cost to move them? Or repair them? Or rebuild them. A lot. That is economic catastrophe.And that’s just the east coast! Of the U.S.! Not to mention, becaause admittedly, this is more speculative, the impact on the severity of storms, altered weather patterns, etc. This highly-developed country is based on an assumption of relative climatic stability. It doesn’t do to say, well, the climate has change in the past. Yes, but at what rate? And what was the infrastructure that needed to be removed, rebuilt or repaired? And at what cost?

3. Man’s contribtution to global warming through greenhouse gases. See Point 1.

4. What to be done about it? Well, if I haven’t already made it clear I will: this must be done on an international level and the U.S. must take the lead role. Why? Becaause a) we generate the most air pollution; and b) because we are — whether we like it or not sometimes — the leader of the world. Of course economics must be considered. Solving this problem is difficult, very difficult, but that doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and say forget it. It means you work harder to find solutions.

5. Economic dislocation of solving the problem. Obviously this must be considered but frankly I don’t see it as insurmountable. Capitalism is pretty flexible and adaptable. My strong suspicion is that there will be plenty of money to be made in the process of curtailing greenhouse gases if we just stopped complaining about how impossible it is and got on with it.

Sorry to give short shrift to the many objections but got to run again.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Spending money to fix or minimize the effect of a problem nature (or man, if you insist, but may not be able to prove with the models) is causing, fine.
Example - Oceans rising,
need to move or protect city from encroaching ocean - okay

Spending money to try and fix a problem which man isn’t causing in the first place, not fine.
Example - Regulate the snot out of things that may have no effect on global warming, raising costs of living or ’dislocating’ millions of people without making one iota of difference in the global temperature - not okay.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
David,

Before you can claim that man can affect global temperatures, you would need to come up with a model that can, when run, reproduce the observed temperatures for the last 50 years. No one has. You would also have to account for the increasing temperature of Mars, where there are no greenhouse gas producers (unless you want to believe that the Face on Mars is exhaling CO2). No one has. Until you can produce a model that explains all these facts, AND involves something that every country will be expected to sign on to, I’m not going along with wrecking the American economy.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
"When people don’t want to believe something — for whatever reasons, party loyalty, economic philosophy, inconsistency with announced positions — they simply raise the level of proof required to prove a fact."

Works both ways, doesn’t it David? You can equally raise the level of proof required to change your firmly held opinion ["Using the standard of informed common sense (which incorporates reasonable scientific consensus), I am convinced by the evidence that global warming is occurring and that humans are the prime contributors to it."], can’t you?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"When people don’t want to believe something — for whatever reasons, party loyalty, economic philosophy, inconsistency with announced positions — they simply raise the level of proof required to prove a fact."

Works both ways, doesn’t it David? You can equally raise the level of proof required to change your firmly held opinion ["Using the standard of informed common sense (which incorporates reasonable scientific consensus), I am convinced by the evidence that global warming is occurring and that humans are the prime contributors to it."], can’t you?
Yes, it does work both ways, which is why I said this in my earlier post:
And, also to be clear, I am as guilty of it as anyone else. But that doesn’t make it right.
I do my best to listen to other people’s opinions and to reassess my positions based upon new information. It is a very difficult thing to do, for me, as well as for most other opinionated people (which plainly includes the vast majority of people who participate in poltical blogs like this one). But, you see, when I hear people bringing up Mars, or a study that shows that the ocean actually is cooling, or that hurricane season has been benign so far this year to raise doubts about global warming it is clear to me that many people would prefer to play the O.J. Game — it hasn’t been proved to "a high degree of certainty"— instead of using their informed common sense, and probably motivated by the reasons that I suggested and that you quoted.

For those who argue economic cost-benefit, I would appreciate a link to study or two that shows it will cost more to ameliorate global warming than it will to address its consequences. I have never claimed that solving global warming will be free (or politically easy), but I argue that the costs of not solving it will be far greater. And that those costs will increase exponentially the longer we wait to do what must be done.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
David
Since we don’t know exactly what’s causing it, how can we do a study on the cost benefit of preventing "we don’t know what" or letting "we don’t know what" continue?

The problem I see is precisely that our level of contribution is not determined, and yet people are running around perfectly prepared to restrict all sorts of things, reduce all sorts of things and trade "air", an item which used to be free, setting up some kind of new crazy quilt economy.

I have enough problem with future’s traders who are constantly ’afraid’ of the oil supply and knocking the price up. Try to pretend there wouldn’t be futures in the ’permission to create greenhouse gases’ certificates the underdeveloped nations would trade with the developed nations if you will, and try and tell me the traders wouldn’t find something to be ’afraid’ of there too.
Retooling, relocating, upgrading and modernizing won’t be the only costs in such a crazyquilt scheme.

You’re proposing, effectively, that I spend money to stop doing things that may have no effect on global warming. I’m suggesting, I may squander money that would be far better spent dealing with the problems arising from global warming which I could perhaps never have prevented in the first place.

Show me that we CAN stop it, and then I’ll believe the cash will be well spent preventing it.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
But, you see, when I hear people bringing up Mars, or a study that shows that the ocean actually is cooling, or that hurricane season has been benign so far this year to raise doubts about global warming it is clear to me that many people would prefer to play the O.J. Game — it hasn’t been proved to "a high degree of certainty"— instead of using their informed common sense, and probably motivated by the reasons that I suggested and that you quoted.
David,

I don’t see how you can’t understand the desire for "a high degree of certainty." YOU ARE ASKING THE ENTIRE DEVELOPED WORLD TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR AND SUFFER ECONOMIC PAIN BASED ON WHAT YOU THINK IS HAPPENING.

THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON YOU.

According to you, I have to prove you wrong. Incorrect, sir. You have to prove yourself RIGHT.

Quit bandying about O.J.’s name. O.J.’s actions didn’t affect more than a few families. It’s the wrong analogy. You’re proposing a course of action that will cost enormous amounts of time, money, and yes - lives. So if you want everyone to go along, you better damn well prove the sky is falling TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE PEOPLE YOU NEED TO CONVINCE. Which is everyone. And by everyone, I mean "on the planet."

So make your case, but you better make it damn good, because your "informed common sense" argument has got so many holes in it that it’s putting us all in risk of UV damage.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
Sorry, I just can’t help myself. From the OC Register:
The world’s oceans cooled suddenly between 2003 and 2005, losing more than 20 percent of the global-warming heat they’d absorbed over the previous 50 years. That’s a vast amount of heat, since the oceans hold 1,000 times as heat as the atmosphere. The ocean-cooling researchers say the heat was likely vented into space, since it hasn’t been found stored anywhere on Earth.
DUDE, WHERE’S MY HEAT? It evaporated, just like your predictions.


 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
"And that those costs will increase exponentially the longer we wait to do what must be done."

You are well practiced in the art of hyperbolic alarmism.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Jeff and Looker:

Thankfully, it is not my job to convince anyone here of anything. But let me ask you this: What "proof" would satisfy you that:

a) global warming is occurring;

b) man is the primary cause of global warming; and/or

c) unless checked, global warming will have devastating consequences?

Or try it the other way if you prefer: What "proof" do you have that any of those propositions is false?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Thankfully, it is not my job to convince anyone here of anything.
And that is why you fail... [/yoda voice]
But let me ask you this: What "proof" would satisfy you that:
You tell me, David. You’re the one telling me I have to change my life. I was convinced to quit smoking, so it’s not like I refuse to act in my own self-interest. What kind of proof do I need? How about unassailable? That would be a good start and I’m afraid your "informed common sense" doesn’t meet that standard.
Or try it the other way if you prefer: What "proof" do you have that any of those propositions is false?
You sure you want to play that game? Okay: You are a child molester. What proof do you have that the preceding statement is false?

If I’m accusing you of child molestation, wouldn’t you expect ME to prove it’s true? After all, being branded a child molester would have life-changing consequences for you, wouldn’t it?

On the other hand, I have children of my own to protect and I don’t know if I can take the risk of having you live near me. After all, you COULD be a child molester. It would be safer in the long run to ruin your reputation and run you out of town. I’m doing it FOR THE CHILDREN.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
Seriously, though, David.

If it’s truly global warming, doesn’t that mean every place on the globe is getting warmer? If you google "record low temperature 2006" you might find some data you don’t like, so don’t do that.

I will stipulate that the average global temperature may have risen less than a degree in the last 100 years. If it’s within the margin of error for a data set that purports to cover the entire globe, then so what?

If it’s true, then so what? The earth has been both cooler and hotter than it is now absent any possible human intervention, and you’re stressing over half a degree? But that’s not all, is it? It’s the computer models everyone points to. How can you model a planetary weather system absent the ability to mathematically express that system?

My proof? The constant string of meteorological predictive failures. Try Hurricane Season 2006, for starters. Try the ARGO temperature measurements. You can’t have GLOBAL warming if places are getting cooler. That seems to fit the definition of "informed common sense" to me. It doesn’t matter how much you read up on the minutiae of climatology or weather modeling.

Let’s say you’re right, and the average temperature rises another degree in another 100 years. Again, so what?
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
David -
I’m with you on A, I’ll buy it’s getting warmer.

b) man is the primary cause of global warming; and/or

c) unless checked, global warming will have devastating consequences?

The next two cause me the problem.
b) The models aren’t good enough to predict accurately what the cause is!

C) - this is an entire argument unto itself!
What makes you think it CAN be stopped? What if it’s a global action outside of man’s hands completely, and C-A-N-N-O-T be stopped?
Consider that.

It’s like a speeding train approaching a car on the track....
If you can’t stop it,( and since I don’t think we caused it in the first place, I don’t see how we can stop it, just so you know where I’m coming from) then
any money you piss away trying stop the train from hitting the car is money you wasted. What you should have been spending money on was moving the car off the track.


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Just testing.
Nevermind.

???
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/

 
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