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A Climate Change Skeptic and Environmentalist’s Guide

Updated on January 6, 2019
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

I am a Climate Change skeptic when it comes to human activities being the primary cause. However, I am also an environmental conscious individual. I have always believed in conservation of our resources and protecting our water and air for our posterity. I just don’t buy into the claim that CO2 is a pollutant and must be controlled. I decided to write this guide for people like myself as a model to the way forward.

- Jan. 2019

Some Suggestions...

I have an issue with combining environmentalism with the climate change problem. To many climate change proponents, they believe it to be one and the same. They also think it would be an easier sell to the general public. Who could be against not saving the environment?

The truth is, these are two separate distinct issues. One can be for a clean environment and yet be a skeptic when it comes to the theory of human caused global warming.

Here are a few guidelines that I have adopted to follow.

1. Don’t be wasteful. This applies to all forms of resources like paper and plastic and various items we dispose of. For sanitary reasons and convenience, we have evolved into a throw away society. This is not a good way to manage our precious natural resources.

2. By all means, recycle products such as paper, plastic, glass and electronics where they make economic sense. Don’t try to recycle everything because somethings are just not effective.

3. Live modestly...in terms of housing and transportation and pleasure. That is to say, we don’t need to live in a 20,000 sq ft. house or mansion like some celebrities or drive a Hummer gas guzzler, or fly in a private jet when commercial airlines is readily available.

4. Try and be efficient in our energy usage. Common sense ideas like switching to LED lighting. Driving a hybrid vehicle when it is cost effective or an electric vehicle for daily commute. Insulate our homes and replacing appliances with high energy efficiency ratings.

5. Try to be educated on the science of climate change and any new developments.

6. Push our government for the development of a universal climate model. Current models are incomplete and is not a good predictor of future climate.

7. Look for adaptation and mitigation techniques of a long term nature. Remember that climate changes are measured on the order of multiple decades and not just a few years.

8. Push our government to adopt a neutral position with regard to green renewable energy sources. Each new energy source whether solar or wind or geothermal must be tested in the market place and proven to be competitive in price and usability. It is not the job of a government to pick winners and losers by providing tax credits to support one over another. If a new energy source is competitive, it will be adopted by the users and no government mandate or incentive is needed.

Summary

These are common sense approach to dealing with long term climate changes. If the science ever matured to the point where we can make accurate projections well into the future, then we can discuss as a global community a proper response. The same way we have dealt with the ozone hole, we can adopt a policy to address global warming due to the greenhouse effect. Our technology is improving day by day. Perhaps we will have developed a new method to counter the effects of CO2 emissions.

© 2019 Jack Lee

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    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jennifer, I'd like to return to your comments, and respond briefly (or anyway, as briefly as I can manage.)

      "...long-term climate science is incredibly complex, much more so than predicting atmospheric conditions a few days out..."

      Yes and no. Yes, because modeling long-term climate must consider issues that don't come into regular operational forecasting, such as the carbon cycle or oceanic circulation. No, in that for much of it, the 'law of large numbers' comes into play, making climate much less volatile and chaotic than weather.

      Consider the analogy of life insurance: it's based on the realities that 1) no-one knows how long any individual will live, but 2) it is relatively easy to calculate probable life spans for useful classes of individuals, provided that the classes are large enough. The individuals are analogous with weather; the insurance categories with climate.

      Put another way, the big physical picture is very, very simple indeed: if the Earth's radiative efficacy is systematically decreased (which is the effect of GHGs, known beyond any reasonable doubt), then Earth's energy balance shifts, because now more energy is coming in from the sun than is being radiated away. By definition, that means a warmer planet.

      That doesn't tell us everything we'd like to know, because of all those complicated details you refer to: exactly how big will the warming effect be, how it will be distributed in space and time, and so forth. But the big picture is not complicated (relatively speaking).

      "Many of the models being used are based on "if present trends continue" type assumptions for which it's impossible to determine their accuracy."

      A little bit of 'yes', but mostly 'no.' That is, the models are fundamentally based on physics and meteorology, not on statistics. So the warming projected in climate modeling isn't founded on past temperature trends or anything like that. But the models do require input data, including, obviously and importantly, future levels of greenhouse gases. Since those are dependent upon political and economic choices collectively made by human society, they aren't currently predictable with any real reliability.

      So climate modellers must model several possible emissions scenarios, in order that we consider the full range of possibilities. And those scenarios are based on existing trends as well as future choices, so in that sense your formulation is true. But fundamentally, the modelling is physics-based, just as the weather forecast models are (and using the same fundamental equations).

      One last point to consider when we think about weather vs. climate forecasting. In the former, it's important not only to get the general picture right, but also the details and especially the timing. The real-world weather has just one correct trajectory!

      Likewise, every distinct climate model run has its own internal 'weather.' For example, a good model will produce realistic El Nino oscillations that are entirely consistent with the measured long-term characteristics of the real thing. But the details will differ; maybe instead of the real world's monster El Nino in 1997-98, a given climate model has a slightly smaller one in 1999--or 1996.

      These differences arise because weather is mathematically 'chaotic'--that is, very small differences in inputs--they can be smaller than the resolution or error in the real observational data!--result in large differences in output. Climate scientists call this 'unforced variation.' Statistically, it 'looks' much like the random noise from 'static' on an analog radio--and like that, it averages out over time.

      Similarly, in projecting future climate change, the best way to arrive at the most accurate trend estimate is to average many model runs. In this way, the effects of the 'weather' in each average out.

      There is a 'catch' here, though: since the real world has just one 'weather trajectory'--that is, it does not have all its variability 'averaged out'--*it will never be an exact match for the ensemble mean*. Its warming trend will be (and is, for past and current data) a match. But the 'ensemble mean' will be much more 'plain vanilla' than the real-world record, with fewer extreme ups and downs over the years.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Here's one take on the "Green New Deal":

      "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/opinion/green-n...

      Jack, did you know that United is currently using a biofuel mix to reduce its carbon emissions by 60%? (Currently, it's limited to flights originating at LAX, but they want to scale up). Two other airlines are working on similar measures. "Fuel" does not always have to mean fossil fuel. Is it more expensive? I'm not sure about the United blend--they didn't release that information in the story I saw--but that was the case with the bio jet fuel the Navy has developed. But it's not a technical problem; it's a problem of making the economics work. Often, that is a problem of scale, as Friedman says.

      Jennifer, thanks for your comments. I'll have more to say later, but for now, I don't think there's any reason to fear that a Green New Deal would crash the economy. By the very nature of the case it would be a sustained, complex effort, which means that commitments and expenditures would be subject to ongoing assessment anyway. Clearly, if the economy showed any signs of distress, adjustments of some sort would be made.

      I think that the worry probably should be financing a GND without *overheating* the economy--it would function, fundamentally, as a large stimulus. As I've said previously to Jack, financing it would be key. Currently, though, we'd like to see a bit more growth, rather than less.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      7 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Jennifer, you are right. This new green propoal is too extreme and even major Democrats are not supporting it. They want to be free of fossil fuel by 2030. This is an impossible goal. For example, jet fuel is totally relying on fossil fuel. If we stop using them, we won’t be able to fly anymore.

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 

      7 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Jack Lee ... I was very worried recently to hear about a "Green New Deal" being proposed. It sounded like, if this were actually made into law, it would cause an economic collapse that would crush people like me.

      Doc Snow ... Like you, I am also not in the scientific community. But based on what I understand from my reading, long-term climate science is incredibly complex, much more so than predicting atmospheric conditions a few days out. Many of the models being used are based on "if present trends continue" type assumptions for which it's impossible to determine their accuracy.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      7 months ago

      You have offered common sense solutions to environmental issues. Once climate proponents start talking about taxing governments, I lose interest. Climate concerns have nothing to do with money. Punishing richer countries is disgusting, and will accomplish nothing.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Excellent practical suggestions, Jack.

      Of course, you know I think we need to go farther. There just isn't time to continue dawdling over action to mitigate our climate-warming carbon emissions.

      With respect, that's where Jennifer's comments stray into error a bit. The causes of climate change are not "obscure", even if the details of exactly how that change plays out in every place and every time may be, at least in some cases.

      We--'we' being the relevant bits of the scientific community, to which (in the spirit of full disclosure) I personally do *not* belong--understand very well how various components of the atmosphere--and emphatically including the various greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide and water vapor--work.

      If we didn't, numerical weather forecasting models wouldn't be possible. You can't make good forecasts without understanding radiated heat in the atmosphere. (And that would have meant , to take a recent practical result for example, that I wouldn't have known last Thursday that Saturday would be a perfect day to dry our clothes on the line outside, and therefore decided to do our laundry Friday night!)

      Oh, and by the way, I could very reasonably be classed as a "rural working-class person", yet I am not afflicted by self-loathing just because I am a climate realist!

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      7 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Jennifer, thanks for checking my hub. I wrote this to show we can all do our small part to help.

      I especially want to point out the hypocrisies of some celebrities who fly around tell us to save the planet due to global warming but live with a giant carbon footprint.

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 

      7 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

      I agree.

      I am all for a more natural, less wasteful and less technology-dependent lifestyle. This is because it's better for people both mentally and physically, teaches valuable life skills, and is more sustainable in the event of a disaster that would cause a power outage.

      I try to adopt such a lifestyle, but I admit I'm a hypocrite at times. It takes time, retraining, and yes, money to move yourself over to sustainability. It can be hard to live that way if you live in a city and are just struggling to survive economically.

      As for moving large numbers of people into such a lifestyle, suddenly, over the next ten years ... I don't think it could be done without forcibly relocating people, completely wrecking the economy, or both. Both scenarios would cause a lot more suffering and death than if the sea levels rise by a meter over the next 100 years. I think of when Mao tried to move all the educated classes onto collective farms. It didn't go well.

      And the causes of climate change are so obscure that it could well happen that we forcibly change everyone's lifestyle, causing suffering and death, and the climate continues to warm anyway.

      You know who lives a lifestyle where they hunt and fish, garden, reuse and repair things a lot? Rural working-class folks, the very ones who are often most despised by the same voices that are loudest about the dangers of climate change.

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