Monday, June 09, 2008

Global warming, conservation, and other stuff

Other stuff first:  bike is scheduled to be out of the shop this weekend.  I’ll likely get one of those kiddie trailers and drag my kid around for the second half of the summer (post vacation biking).  Maybe he’ll be a big enough boy to come with me to Corpus Christi in October.  That’d be a fun father-son trip.  Plus, I can blame him and his dead weight for a crappy ride, not the big fat roll on my gut.

 

Global warming:  I’m what you’d call an agnostic.  Sure, I see the severe weather and what some could consider to be erratic weather patterns, but I only see them within the scope of a few years or months.  Just like I don’t believe that little white blonde girls are being preyed upon across the country just because the news readers are focusing their reporting on that particular soup of the day, I can’t buy into the “fact” that the weather is changing just because the news readers are gearing all of their stories to suggest that climate change is the root cause of everything.  “Ship Sinks due to Climate Change”.  No…  “Tornadoes Smash the Mid West due to Climate Change”…  technically, every weather pattern is tied to climate change.  I’m not buying it.  I also don’t believe what Al Gore says that every smart person believes global warming is a fact.  I think he has a tremendous economic stake in a future Kyoto-esque economic system and he’s trying to bring that about by alternative means since the treaty collapsed.  Every smart person should know that he’s got several commas at stake with the investment he’s made.

That’s not to say that I don’t think the climate COULD be changing.  I just think that periodically the climate changes and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  After all, the great state of Texas that I live in (and most of the central states) used to be under water.  Most people would agree that it’s not such a bad thing that the climate changed all those many years ago.  And if it’s just a natural swing of the climate we’d be desperately trying to swim against geological and atmospheric currents by trying to reverse or stem that change.  In short, the research has not convinced me that man is solely at fault, especially since the climate has changed before man was pumping garbage into the atmosphere.  Could we be having some impact?  Sure, maybe, possibly, I could even go as far as certainly.  But the scope and severity of that impact is debatable.

 

Conservation:  that brings me to conservation.  Assuming we are having some impact, even if it’s a small one, there is no good reason not to try to mitigate that impact.  Driving through Pasa-get-down-dena on a hot summer day should be evidence enough that the stuff we put into the air is bad for us.  Breathing deeply should not cause your lungs to burn and constant coughing attacks.  Breathing should be an inherent, God given right, that shouldn’t be taken away in pursuit of the almighty dollar.  You can commit suicide by locking yourself in the garage and running your car.  Can you honestly say that stuff isn’t bad for you?

Darth Cheney says that conservation is an admirable personal quality, but shouldn’t be regulated.  That’s probably true.  I’m not convinced that running up the price of oil or gas is necessarily a good thing, nor is artificially driving down the cost of hydrogen or other alternatives without organizing the finances in such a way to make them permanently viable (and tax credits and give aways are not symptoms of “permanently viable”).  In the 70, during the fuel crisis, conservation was promoted heavily.  Why not now?  Why (other than cheap oil) did that go out of favor?  Sure, recycling programs cost money, but the government shouldn’t be in the game of making money—they should be in the game of spending as little as possible to get as much done as possible.   And if a recycling program (that includes glass, a very recyclable product) costs a buck here, but saves a buck at the landfill (or air quality, or water quality, or soil quality), does it really cost a buck?  The problem, I guess, is that actual conservation will require a bit of reordering our lives and civil infrastructure.  Closed-loop water systems that utilize very little fresh water because the water in the system is continually recycled costs a lot of money.  Separate potable and non-potable water systems are also risky, though pouring drinking water into a bucket to wash your car doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Growing vegetables in the yard isn’t for everyone and getting into the habit of tossing recyclables in one bin, compostables in another, and still real garbage into a third is a hard habit to get into.  So too is home generated power (windmills, thermal exchange, etc).  It’s so much easier to just sit back and let someone else generate the power, let someone else grow vegetables, let someone else recycle, or compost, or pretty much make decisions that affect our life directly because, you know…  whatever.  Seinfeld reruns are on, which means for the next hour and a half, I don’t have to think. 

I have my priorities, you know.

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