In our urgency to deal with really urgent stuff over the past few weeks, we have been piling up news articles regarding what some regard as a universal urgency. That would be global warming or Global Warming or GLOBAL WARMING, depending on one's perspective, provided that one has a perspective.
Bill Clinton, speaking last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that mother of all junkets for rich folks who take themselves very seriously, said that GLOBAL WARMING bothered him a bunch. "It's the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it, and make a lot of the other efforts that we're making irrelevant and impossible," Clinton was quoted as saying.
Since that pronouncement came only one week after it was announced that Al Gore is publishing a new book on GLOBAL WARMING in April, it could have simply been Boss Clinton putting Mr. Earthtones in his place, which is down.
Several weeks earlier, Reuters published a story that got infinitely less notice but is ever so much more important. That story concerned observations by German scientists at the Max Planck Institute (where scientific rather than political credentials are generally preferred). The scientists found "a new source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on climate change. The culprits are plants. They produce about 10 to 30 percent of the annual methane found in the atmosphere," sayeth the Reuters story.
The story went on. "David Lowe, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, said the findings are startling and controversial." Why? Because scientists had previously believed that "plants could only emit methane in the absence of oxygen....[T]he story also poses questions, such as how such a potentially large source of methane could have been overlooked and how plants produced it."
How indeed? It's 2006. We have been led to believe that scientists know so much about global warming that we should abandon our SUVs on the streets and immediately stop heating our abodes. Now they find that live plants are a culprit, producing "incredibly large plumes of methane" above rainforests?
Another recent study, involving clouds and sunlight reflected by the earth back into space (something called albedo), raises additional, complicated questions about retained atmospheric heat, "a fundamental, unmet challenge for all scientists who wish to understand and predict the Earth's climate," in the words of Philip R. Goode, the study's leader at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Interviewed by Robert Roy Britt for Livescience.com, Goode also said, "No doubt greenhouse gases are increasing. No doubt that will cause a warming. The question is, are there other things going on?"
Ah, yes, "scientists who wish to understand and predict the Earth's climate," of which there seemingly are some, as opposed to those already pronouncing Modern Man as murderer of the planet.
With those real-questions-about-real-science stories in mind, we were not at all shocked to see the following headline in the February 2 Washington Post: "Evangelicals Will Not Take Stand on Global Warming."
Here's the first paragraph of Alan Cooperman's story: "The National Association of Evangelicals said yesterday that it has been unable to reach a consensus on global climate change and will not take a stand on the issue, disappointing environmentalists who had hoped that evangelical Christians would prod the Bush administration to soften its position on global warming." (Emphasis added)
Thus did Evangelicals - frequently derided as delusional, obsessed whackos by those who disdain their beliefs - acknowledge exactly what "scientists who wish to understand and predict the Earth's climate" are acknowledging. Despite environmentalist political pressure, propagandistic distortions and a media juggernaut, we simply do not yet know enough about "global warming" to be undertaking radical, costly, global public policy positions. Perhaps we should put a little high octane speed on our understanding, but while waiting we leave you with yet another science story in the making.
Since you were a wee tyke, you have been assured that our solar system has nine planets. Well, as it turns out there may be 10, depending on how scientists decide to categorize a space blob discovered last year. It's bigger than Pluto, but is awaiting the culmination of scientific deliberation as to what actually constitutes a "planet," as also reported in the February 2 Washington Post.
Currently designated 2003 UB313, it's an ice dwarf, 1800 miles in diameter covered with water and methane ice. Come to think of it, 2003 UB313 seems like the perfect place to send those who make scientific pronouncements before the science is sure. While there, they could read Michael Crichton's State of Fear, the bestselling polemic-as-novel against environmentalist extremism.February 3, 2006