[ExI] Is Global Warming Junk Science?

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Apr 21 15:54:36 UTC 2009

On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 7:58 PM, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at comcast.net> wrote:
> Keith Henson wrote:
>>> I just get so sick of the eternal over and over again claims on both
>>> sides
>>> of the story: Yes there is a consensus, no there isn't,
>> Who cares?
> I care desperately, for gazilions of what seems to me to be obvious and
> critical reasons.  I have always cared about knowing as much as possible
> what all other people think.
> It's shocking to me to find out how many people, at least claim they don't
> care at all what everyone else thinks.  Such just seems like a terrible,
> failing, and hateful philosophy to have, but I guess that's just me?  Am I
> the only one that thinks this "I could care less what everyone else in the
> world thinks" philosophy is destroying our society?

Let me try this by analogy.  Assume you live in a densely forested
village downstream from a large earth dam which is leaking and
expected to fail.  Upwind there is a huge forest fire sweeping in.
Rather than take steps to get out oft the mess, the inhabitants spend
all their time arguing about the reality of one or the other of the
upcoming disasters while moving out oft he valley will solve both

>> No matter where you come down on this controversy, a very
>> large, low cost source of energy to replace fossil fuels is a good
>> idea.
> This is obviously a very good idea.  And, because of your work, the people
> in the camp that think this way is likely growing very rapidly.  But
> wouldn't it be a great boon to society to know, concisely and
> quantitatively, just how fast such an idea is catching on amongst world
> leading experts, relative to previoius good ideas, and so on?  You've got
> some anecdotal evidence, such as the recent popular  news stories that the
> idea is progress in all of our minds, but wouldn't having a more rigorous
> measure of such be far more valuable?  And wouldn't it be great to know
> concicely and quantitatively who was in a different camp as a result of such
> news stories, and for what reasons, even if only to better know what you
> were up against, and so you could more powerfully see the mistakes that
> needed to be pointed out to everyone that held them?

If you have any ideas about how to measure the spread of these
concepts (most of which are decades old) please express them.

>> Unless, of course, you are among those who think a massive die off
>> back to one or two billion people is a good idea.
> Without knowing definitively who were in such camps, and knowing concicely
> all of their reasons for such, how can we ever work to correct such
> obviously terribly mistaken beliefs?

The belief "humans are a cancer on the earth" has religious aspects.
Religions (being xenophobic memes) become more intense when the
population perspective is for a bleak future.  We may think this is an
obviously terribly mistaken belief, but the people who hold such
beliefs think otherwise.  Converting them to a more optimistic outlook
may be possible or it might be as difficult as converting Islamic
believers into atheists.

> It seems to me like most of the problems in this world are simple
> communication problems.  There is no way for large groups of people to
> communicate concisely and quantitatively.

It has been my experience that very few can even think quantitatively.
 In recent days critics of power satellites have said the energy
payback will be terrible.  If you calculate it for rockets, which are
about as inefficient as you can get, the energy payback is around 100
days for lifting materials to GEO (at 5kg/kW).  By the usual measure
of such numbers (a number of years) that's extremely good.  But it's
possible I am the only one who has ever run that calculation and I
don't think anyone has checked it.


>And as long as people could care
> less about what everyone else is trying to say, this terribly destructive
> and war causing situation will remain.

Sometimes, as in the climate model debate, it really don't matter.  A
tiny fraction of the effort that has gone into those arguments would
be enough to work out how to solve the much more serious energy
problems, and with it the climate problem (if there is one) will be


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