Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Better Days Ahead

An op-ed in the Sioux City Journal reviews the current state of climate science, and finds that the earth may or may not be warming, and so what if it did? Views differ, teach the controversy, Algore's hockey stick is broken, et fucking cetera.

Given that what we don't know can't possibly hurt us, why on earth would anyone pursue so-called "renewable energy"?

[W]hat surprises me the most is that government and other opportunistic institutions are continuing to promote expensive cures for what might after all not ail us. They, for reasons of their own, preach the doctrine of renewable energy (windmills, solar panels, the tides, batteries, subterranean hot water, etc.)

None of these devices, singly or collectively, can deliver the power needed to keep us productive, fed, watered and reasonably comfortable. Yet plans for a renewable energy economy persist often with cooperation of traditional energy companies.
The word choices here are nothing if not judicious. "Hydropower" sounds like a serious occupation for square-jawed men with pick-axes; it might even conjure up images of Gavins Point Dam. But harnessing "the tides" sounds like something a filthy hippie would recommend while picking fleas from his beard (and how would it help landlocked Sioux City, in any case?). By the same token, geothermal heating might possibly be recognized as a good idea (good enough for Sioux City schoolchildren, at any rate). But exploiting "subterranean hot water"? That sounds highly speculative. And kinda gay.

Why go to all the trouble of reporting the basic facts accurately, when you can dream up subtle dysphemisms for widely used technologies, pretend that renewable energy is pointless unless it replaces fossil fuels next week, and establish an alternative history in which AGW threatens us with "fatal sunburn"?

On the bright side, the article does provide us with a handy checklist of logical fallacies:
  • Wind power is subsidized. (fallacy of exclusion)

  • A green energy program won't solve our unemployment woes. (false dilemma)

  • National Review says renewable energy is stupid, and the author likes National Review because it's "conservative and sensible," as evidenced by the fact that it says renewable energy is stupid. (petitio principii, genetic fallacy)
  • The Himalayan glaciers won't melt by 2035. Therefore, problems relating to AGW will occur so far in the future that there's no sense in worrying about them. (argumentum ad douchebaggium)
Just as you wouldn't serve someone a glass of raw sewage without adding a generous topping of whipped cream, the author takes pains to reassure us that Science is Good. AGW may be a hoax that'd make a cat laugh, but that doesn't mean scientists should stop studying the climate altogether.
No question, scientists should continue studying historical and current global temperatures to make sure we don’t delay needed remedial action beyond the time they cease to be effective and we resign ourselves to frying to a crisp.
See, that kind of research is perfectly reasonable, in theory. It's just that the scientists who are saying right now that we are delaying "remedial action beyond the time they [sic] cease to be effective" happen to be "opportunists" who seek "fat world subsidies for their studies." We know this is true because if they weren't, we'd be listening to them. QED!

So everything's fine. And therefore:
You don’t really have to buy an electric car and dim light bulbs, settle for turnips instead of steak, or even hope for better days ahead.
That's a load off my mind, I must say.

UPDATE: Advocates for renewable energy are hydrocarbon deniers. So there!

(Illustration by Gustave Doré.)


Rmj said...

The Himalayan glaciers won't melt by 2035. Therefore, problems relating to AGW will occur so far in the future that there's no sense in worrying about them. (argumentum ad douchebaggium)

I am SO teaching that fallacy to my students next fall!

Jazzbumpa said...

I'm gong to give up smoking as soon as the cnacer link is demonstrated with 100% certainty.


DanF said...

Dysphemism. What a fantastic word! With our political discourse ruled by Frank Luntz acolytes, how is it I haven't heard it before?

Argumentum ad douchebaggium Nice!

Phila said...

Argumentum ad douchebaggium Nice!

I merely paint what I see.