I generally believe using energy more efficiently is a good thing. Economic, energy, health care or any other forms of efficiency are a good practice in business and society. I have really never had an opinion per se on global warming, because it is all about talk and no action. I think it makes sense for us to have alternative sources of energy so that international crisis does not threaten our nation, but trade with the middle east helps maintain influence. Everything is a balance.
So, you can say I sort of abstain from the climate debate. I have an engineering background and have worked on projects requiring massive analysis to get the right answer, an answer that often effects human life. So, within my trade I consider intellectual integrity a pretty important safety net. Also, as an engineer, I have a hard time believing that if CO2 is a harm to the environment that humans are the critical component to driving instability in the ecosystem. One eruption of a volcano emits more CO2 that the mankind has emitted over years. A slight shift in ocean temperature can emit large volumes of CO2. There are many components that contribute to the CO2 picture. None are "Settled"
I am troubled by the climate gate story. I hear politicians and commentators, none of whom could pass 1st year college physics, talk about how this was a "rouge group of scientist", "Their data was not used by others", or "One set of bad apples". Frankly, in reading the emails of these scientists, I am not sure what to call them. If the objective is to save the plane, a scientist or engineer seeks to maintain the integrity of their work so that it is not politicized. Politicized airplanes don't fly!
There is so much data now flying around, its hard to discern the integrity of any of it, and that is a by product of these so called climate scientists. I am reluctant to show more data, but did see some charts that troubled me (if they are accurate). In this first chart, showing temperature for the last 500 years, the famed "Hockey Stick" shows up in the late 1800s, circled in red. This jump in temperature of 0.4 degrees Celsius is the harbinger of our demise that is the predicate of climate concern.
Left alone, this jump does seem odd. As an engineer you want to learn more. For example, is the data accurate, is it relevant, and does it matter. When you think about accuracy, you wonder if our method of measuring temperature changed in the last 500 years? By relevant, you wonder if temperature rise is the result of, or the cause of, climate change? By does it matter, you wonder if this has happened before? So lets go further back in time say 1000 years back from today.
On a scale from 800 AD to today, you can see that the "Hockey Stick" has been seen before. It seems round the period of 800-1100 AD, the world was a warmer place. So the recent hockey stick could be the start of that same kind of cycle, or it could be the beginning of the end. So lets go back further.
When you go back to 3000 years BC, you see that the recent hockey stick in the late 1990s (in red) is one of many. It is hard to discern if the recent uptick is a precursor to a small peak like occurred in 1100 AD or a large peak that occurred in 1100 BC. It would seem however that the earth has gone through a temperature increase before the existence of coal plants and cars. It even was warmer before Christ was born (fire, brimstone, and all that). So, following the trend it draws your attention to what happened even longer ago.
Looking back to 8000BC, the recent hockey stick (Red circle on right side of chart) is dwarfed by periods of higher temperatures. Going even further back, lets say 40,000 years BC you start to see a pattern emerge.
I am not going to waste my time drawing a meaningless red circle in the 1900 period. What 40,000 years of data seems to show us is we have gone through periods of increases and decreases in planet temperature.
All this data comes from ice core samples that by some method offer a good indication of temperature over 40,000 years. I guess I won't debate that as a source (though someone maybe should). Looking at the long history of temperature, I would be surprised if we did not see global warming in our future. It appears in the last 8000 years we have had a bit of a lucky break in that it has been warm for a while. Interestingly, it could be because of that extended time frame that humankind has flourished.
Looking back helps temper our thinking. It does not say what will happen tomorrow. The past does not say these patterns will continue. But saying that the science is settled is really quite insane. F=MA is settled science. The principle of F=MA can be repeated time and again with the same result. There is no real test for humankind's impact on the climate. So, the science is not settled. Also, science is not a majority vote. Most true inspirations in science were breakthroughs by one or two people in opposition of all their peers. Einstein went against the views of others. Scientists thought it was impossible to fly faster than sound. Doctors, until just recently, thought Ulcers were caused by stress. One Australian doctor toiled for years proving ulcers are a result of bacteria.
I do not know what motivates politicians and Al Gore. Based on the data over 40,0000 years, they really don't have a good argument for human induced climate change. I am not sure Gore, Reid, Obama, or Pelosi could pass a college physics course if they tried. It is unclear to me they have an engineers mind or sense of analytical integrity. they have to listen to other 100% because they can't do these calculations alone. It is unclear to me that the folks in the climate gate memos are still using scientific method. We could be going into some form of climate change that is human induced, but of the causes for climate change I would list humans as #100 on a long list of possible causes.
Instead, we should probably think about what we need to do if temperatures rise (or fall). If it gets warmer or cooler than the past, we will probably need more energy and more food. Conflict is likely to rise as a result of human migration adapting to a changing climate. This all suggests more forms of energy, strong defense, more productive crops, and more innovation.