Thursday, March 22, 2007

Typical Human Arrogance

Maybe I'm imagining things, but it seems to me that as the market for hardline climate denialism dwindles, “centrist” rhetoric is geting more irrational and petulant.

Consider Adri Mehra, who makes this odd argument in the course of his attack on “cultural alarmism”:

Apparently, since 1975, we've become more powerful than the sun.

Yes, compadres, even though the mass of the flaming center of our entire solar system is that of 332,946 Earths, it has become a near-religious commandment that the burning of our little humdrum underground liquid supply is somehow having more of an effect on our global temperature than the 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit star we revolve around.
What’s even more ridiculous, in my view, is that people actually spend money to heat their homes. How could a tiny furnace possibly compete with the blazing heat of the sun? It just doesn’t make sense.

Mehra goes on to establish his centrist street cred with a faux-evenhanded attack on “liberal scientists” and “neo-conservative shills.” The sane and responsible view of climate change, we learn, is represented by clever people like Mehra, whose lack of ideological blinders allows them to perceive that the sun is a huge ball of fire.
Let's start with the facts. The Earth is indeed getting warmer - a terrestrial rise of about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, leading to 2005 being the warmest year since records began in the late 1800s, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies….

The overriding myth, however, is that there is a scientific consensus condemning humanity as the main contributor to the warming of the Earth.
Like David Limbaugh, Mehra finds evidence of hubris in the presumption that human activity could change the earth’s atmosphere:
This is a shining example of typical human arrogance, and it smacks of the very hubris Aristotle rhetorically warned us about before the overconfidence of Oedipus became his own fatal flaw.

Asserting intellectual human supremacy over small woodland creatures is one thing, but lording ourselves over the central body of our universe as the prime mover of temperature is quite another matzo ball.
Aristotle warned us rhetorically? Duly noted.

But let’s get back to Science:
The prevailing public opinion on man-made global warming pays amazingly little attention to the simple cyclical nature of solar variation, or changes in the intensity and abundance of the sun relative to Earth.

"The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and might now be affecting global temperatures," reported Dr. Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, in 2004.
This is a breath of fresh air, wouldn’t you say? While the IPCC runs around shrieking like Chicken Little on meth, Mehra bemusedly invites us to consider whether the sun “might now be affecting global temperatures.” The “simple” (!) matter of cyclical solar variation has, you see, been overlooked by the scientific community throughout its multi-decade investigation of climate change. Fortunately, Mehra is here to instruct them on First Principles. (While chiding other people for arrogance, no less. A great day’s work, begob!)

As for Dr. Solanki, Mehra obviously got his information from a 2004 article in the UK Telegraph. Here’s the part he conveniently left out:
Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.
That minor detail didn’t stop the Telegraph from announcing that “global warming has finally been explained.” or Mehra from rewriting their article in an attempt to make himself seem scientifically literate.

Presumably because he’s writing for a college newspaper, Mehra goes on to complain about “the filthy industrial robber barons” who’ve polluted “our oxygen and water supply via chemicals and particulates in exhaust smoke,” as well as the lack of a living wage and universal healthcare, and “the bogus war on terror.” Then, with the exquisite comic timing of a young Carrot Top, he takes a delicious - and completely unexpected - swipe at Al Gore for being, like, totally fat.
If Al Gore wasn't slimming down now for a possible presidential run, we could have probably started to orbit around him instead.
Word, dawg. I read that shit, and I’m like “Yo Al, whussup? If you so smart, holmes, how come you got that big fat ass?”

If Mehra’s gnarly ‘tude doesn’t convince you to embrace the nonideological ideology of radical centrist antidenialist denialism, I don’t know what will.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and bone up on this whole “sun” thing. It sounds fascinating.


ntodd said...

What’s even more ridiculous, in my view, is that people actually spend money to heat their homes. How could a tiny furnace possibly compete with the blazing heat of the sun? It just doesn’t make sense.


Anonymous said...

This was really quite nasty to the poor denialist.

Well done.

- Lars

Daniel Brandão said...

We are probably the most developed species on the planet when it comes to intelligence. But apparentely, with more intelligence, comes more stupidity.