Thursday, September 27, 2007

Global Warming Stupidity

Just read an interesting post on the Dilbert Blog on cognitive dissonance. In it, he mentions an interview Bill Maher did with Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg who has written a book called "Cool It". In typical bonehead fashion, Maher and his guests (Salman Rushdie, Rob Thomas (!?!?), and Jeanine Garofalo cut apart Lomborg's statements after Maher interviews him via satellite.

Maher starts off by baiting the author:
However…scientists, almost down the line, condemned your first book. And I noticed that on the blurbs on the back of your book, you don’t – you have two authors, an editor and an economics professor. If the scientists are not saying you’re cool, why should we believe anything you say about this?

Lomborg responds with:
Well, you should not believe what I say. You should believe what I’m actually quoting, namely, the U.N. Climate Panel. When we look at all these things that we’re talking about; for instance, climate change is real; it’s happening; and I’m trying to take us away from that very unproductive dichotomy of saying “It’s a hoax”/ “No, it’s a catastrophe.” It’s neither. It’s a problem.

And let me give you just one example. When we look, for instance, at temperatures rising, it means we’re going to see more heat deaths. That’s absolutely true, and everybody points that out. But, of course, with increasing temperatures, we’re also going to see fewer cold deaths, and we need to know both.

For instance, for Britain, it’s actually estimated that we’re going to see 2,000 more heat deaths in 2050. But 20,000 fewer cold deaths. It seems to me that we’re not going to make good judgments unless we know both things.

Take a look at the transcript, and you will see what I mean. Lomborg offers reasoned points, and Maher and company basically "pretend" to not understand...or they are really that stupid. You decide.

Essentially, Lomborg says "Yes, Global Warming is a problem, but it won't be the catastrophe everyone says. We need to do something about the problem, but at what cost?"

For example, if I could spend a 10th of the money being spent to combat global warming on anti-malaria programs I could save thousands of more lives. Lomborg says we should spend money on research and development of alternative fuel sources. Right now, the rich can afford the extremely expensive solar paneling and hybrid cars, but the poor can't. People in China and India can't. Those people (i.e. the large bulk of the world population) have to be given something they can use as an alternative before we can affect change, otherwise we are trying to empty a lake by using a thimble.

Global Warming is simply the Cause célèbre. The rich and famous will spout off about it, do documentaries on it, perform charity benefit concerts to "raise awareness" about it, and then the whole fad will fade away when the fickle stars move onto the next cause. I mean, Ethiopians are still starving, Africans are still dying of Aids, but those aren't "in" right now. Global Warming is "hot", to paraphrase Paris Hilton.

In any event, Bill Maher and friends need to be rudely awakened.