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England Facing Coldest Winter in More Than 300 Years

Forecasters in the United Kingdom are saying that upcoming winter could be the most severe the nation has experienced since Charles II was King:

If you thought last week was as cold as you could bear it, brace yourself. Forecasters say the worst is yet to come, and this winter could be the harshest since the Thames froze over more than three centuries ago.

Temperatures for December are the coldest on record, with the average reading close to minus 1c – almost six degrees below normal.

And with forecasters warning that this winter’s ‘mini ice age’ might last until mid-March, this winter could be the worst since 1683-84 when a fair was held on the Thames.

Met Office figures show that the average temperature from December 1, the first day of winter, to December 28 was a bitter minus 0.8c (30.5f).

This equals the record December low  of 1890.

But, with the mercury traditionally at its lowest in January and February, and more bracing weather on the way, this winter could bring the biggest freeze in 327 years.

Forecaster Brian Gaze of The Weather Outlook said: ‘It’s very unusual to have a sub-zero month – the last one at any time of year was February 1986.

‘Dense cold air is just north of Britain and will never be far away. Once it is in place, it can stay for months.’

‘January and February are expected to be significantly colder than average, with further snow for most of the country, and it will be no surprise at all if this persists until mid-March.’

Forecaster Ian Michael Waite said: ‘We expect January to be colder than average – there’s no way we’re moving out of this mini ice age any time soon.’

During 1683-84, the coldest winter on record, average temperatures of minus 1.17c (31.7f) between December and February saw the frozen Thames turn into a winter wonderland of puppet shows, food stalls, horse races and ice bowling.

This follows a winter last year that was the coldest in over 30 years. It also brings to mind what climatologists now refer to as the Little Ice Age, a period that lasted from roughly AD 1250 until the early 20th Century and included cold temperatures in England and Scandinavia, rough winters in what would eventually become the northern United States, and which has been attributed to a combination of decreased solar activity, volcanic activity, and changes in ocean currents. This period had been preceded by another era now known as the Medieval Warm Period, and which lasted from AD 950 to AD 1250. These events remind us of a simple fact — the Earth’s climate is in a constant state of change and it is influenced by a wide variety of factors. The idea that whatever period we are currently in is solely attributable to human behavior, or that there is anything that we can do to control a process that has been ongoing for billions of years is really the height of hubris.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    “The idea that whatever period we are currently in is solely attributable to human behavior, or that there is anything that we can do to control a process that has been ongoing for billions of years is really the height of hubris.”

    No one has ever claimed that the climate in this period, or in the future is SOLEY attributable to human behavior. Why do you make up these absurd strawmen?

    Where do you get whatever insights you have as to the complexity of the factors that drive climate? You get them from the climate scientists who have told you everything you know about Medieval Warm Periods, or Little Ice Ages or Big Ice Ages, or the temperature regimes during the Devonian, etc. etc. These same scientists who take all that data and use it to build the climate models that lead to the predictions of climate change.

    The models take fully into account everything that is know about climatic cycles, be they on a yearly, decadal, millenial scale, or even larger. Human activities, especially carbon inputs, are fed into these models in order to predict consequences. Why the hell do you think these models are so complex?

    And what the heck does that last phrase in your comment mean? Who is trying to control the billions year old processes of climate? What we are trying to do is to control our own behavior, because it is an unambiguous fact that human activities can affect climate – not as the sole determiner of climate, but they can have a significant effect.

    Do you doubt the empirical evidence that CO2 levels have steadily increased? Do you doubt that that is a result of human activities? (If so, where the heck do you think the carbon that we burn goes?). Do you have coherent arguments against the fact that CO2 is a gas with greenhouse effects? What is your point exactly?

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  2. I didn’t say that, what I did say is that I don’t see any evidence that the solutions the activists are proposing would have any significant impact on a process that is influenced by numerous factors, most of which we have absolutely no control over. Also, the activists typically do not take any account of the cost of their proposed “solutions” on things like economic growth or — in the case of CF light bulbs — human health (and there I am referring to the dangers of mercury poisoning)

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  3. Tano says:

    “the solutions the activists are proposing would have any significant impact on a process that is influenced by numerous factors,”

    What solutions? Reducing CO2 emissions? How can that not have an impact? It will obviously halt the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere – assuming that you accept that the increases we have seen are driven primarily by our burning of fossilized carbon.

    Obviously there a many many factors that determine climate and its dynamics. But the elimination of these increases in CO2 can be expected to eliminate the consequences of constantly elevated amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And that would allow our future climate to be driven by all the myriad natural factors that have always driven it – factors that tend to play out on timescales that are far longer than the recent artificial temperature increases, and are slow enough for us, and other life forms to adapt to.

    “Also, the activists typically do not take any account of the cost of their proposed “solutions” on things like economic growth ”

    Well, everyone has their own particular expertise. What would be helpful is to have some smart economists work together with climate activists to devise solutions that actually do address the problem but also minimize the dislocations. There is a lot of that going on, but probably not enough. It would help if the those who are concerned primarily with the economic impact were to take the science seriously, rather than reflexively oppose it because they wish it werent so.

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  4. john personna says:

    You know, you can do a quick google and find places that had record HIGH temperatures this month. For instance, two temperature records were registered in Bulgaria on December 24. Phoenix had a record high temperature Sunday the 12th, breaking the old record set 60 years ago.

    If you have a fundamental misunderstanding about what global climate is, maybe those local temperatures will impress you too.

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  5. john personna says:

    Shorter: you have to be a complete idiot, or a complete troll, to post any local weather as proof or disproof of global warming.

    “NOAA reports 2010 hottest year on record so far, while Arctic sea ice extent hits a stunning December low”

    You know what NOAA stands for, right?

    … the guys who run the maths?

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  6. Tano says:

    What John said.

    But the irony is, of course, that a major prediction of global warming models is that rising ocean temperatures will weaken or disrupt those oceanic currents that now serve to disperse tropical heat toward the poles – especially the Gulf Stream that brings heat to Northern Europe (London, for instance, which is further north than Calgary, but has a milder climate than NY). Cutting off the heat conveyor to Northern Europe means colder weather on average for that part of the world.

    Which is not in any way some sort of a contradiction to the notion of global warming – although I challenge you to find a wingnut who could figure that out….

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  7. Alvin says:

    Tano says:
    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 22:05

    Do you doubt the empirical evidence that CO2 levels have steadily increased? Do you doubt that that is a result of human activities?

    No, yes.

    Again, CO2 levels do not drive temperature. Why is it folks like you don’t comprehend this fact?

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  8. Tano says:

    “No, yes.”

    So where does that extra CO2 in the atmosphere come from?
    And where does all that fossil carbon that we burn go to?

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  9. Tano says:

    “Again, CO2 levels do not drive temperature. Why is it folks like you don’t comprehend this fact?”

    Again? Looks like this is your first comment in this thread….??

    Why don’t I comprehend your point? Because it is not a fact, thats why.

    That CO2 has greenhouse properties is not a controversial fact. That the greenhouse effect leads to heat trappng, and thus higher temperatures, is also not in dispute. I don’t know what kind of chemistry is found in your universe, but in ours, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lead to higher temperatures.

    I imagine that you might have heard that there are a few instances in the ice core record where temperatures started to rise before CO2 levels rose (and then continued to rise after CO2 levels rose). The clueless propagandists like to pretend that this is proof that CO2 doesnt drive temperatures. Since that is basically your charge, I guess you have subscribed to their talking points. But these cases merely demonstrate the obvious fact that there are others drivers of temperature. Yes, in these particular instances, CO2 did not cause the initial increase in temperatue, something else did. That in no way contradicts the claim that higher CO2 levels also contribute to warming. In fact, even in these specific cases where other factors initiated the warming, the later rise in CO2 most likely caused, or contributed to the further warming that is evident.

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  10. Herb says:

    “the Earth’s climate is in a constant state of change and it is influenced by a wide variety of factors.”

    Yes, I believe that’s what the environmentalists have been telling us for years. A wide variety of factors….including human negligence.

    “The idea that whatever period we are currently in is solely attributable to human behavior”

    Who are these people, though, who think climate change is “solely attributable to human behavior.” That strikes me as either a) a misrepresentation or b) a clever way to change the boundaries of the argument.

    Also this: “there is anything that we can do to control a process that has been ongoing for billions of years ”

    Um…..hate to say it this way, but climate science has less to do with “controlling a process that has been ongoing for billions of years” and everything to do with “understanding this process.

    As to your animus toward the “activists,” perfectly understandable. But why embrace the arguments of the activists on the other side? Mercury poisoning from CFLs? Seriously???

    How is that any less Henny Penny than Al Gore’s “the icecaps are melting!” hysteria? (To put your fears at rest, the concern about mercury in florescent lamps –a concern decades old and not just relegated to the compact variety– is that the mercury may be released from improper disposal……not that people will be poisoned when they turn the lights on.)

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  11. Axel Edgren says:

    Meanwhile, Doug, there are places outside of the UK that are seeing temperature highs.

    Not to mention you are ignoring Arctic Oscillation.

    So right when you are trying to mock the people you loathe (and you do loathe them – you fear them and you are bigoted towards them) for not taking climate historical variations into account (they do, but you don’t care to actually read their work before claiming it is lacking in scope) you are yourself ignoring a current variation.

    I remember when you “skeptics” tried to claim AGW was disproved by 1998 being hotter, while (consciously) forgetting that that was a big El Nino year.

    Yeah, sure, it’s those scientists who are ignorant about variations when thinking about the climate.

    Doug, you are being sad and unintelligent. I don’t know what you do for a living, but I don’t waltz into your workplace and start dictating what you do with an air of arrogance and bad faith. If I am concerned about what you are doing I will first actually learn enough to scrutinize and ask questions intelligently, rather than just come up with any ‘flaws’ I can find.

    You hat the idea of the government regulating greenhouse gases and second-guessing the wisdom of the Holy Entrepreneurs and Market Forces, which is why you are maliciously concern-trolling climate scientists. You are being a boy and a mediocre thinker.

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  12. Axel Edgren says:

    Also, the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warming Period were local variations while what we are seeing now is a global energy imbalance that can’t be sourced to any non-anthropogenic causes.

    You would know this if you actually care about society and voters being informed about the climate and the related issues. But you are more afraid of the correct solutions to the problem than the idea of getting the problem wrong, which is why you happily spout nonsense in order to seed doubt about the nature of the problem. Bad faith.

    Why are there no “skeptics” worthy of trust? Are they all indecent and insincere liars? from my exposure to them, the answer is yes.

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  13. Jay Tea says:

    1) The global warming/climate change hystericists have yet to put forward a computer model that can replicate what has happened historically without extensive “adjusting” and “massaging” the historical data (read: cheating).

    2) The very same evidence being cited as “proof” of climate change is exactly the same evidence cited in favor of global warming, and in the 1970′s as “proof” of global cooling — and, in many times, by the very same people.

    3) I’ve challenged global warming advocates many a time to cite what they would consider as evidence against their theory. I’ve never gotten an answer, which goes to show that to them, EVERYTHING is proof of their theory.

    4) Another question I’ve never had a satisfactory answer to is “what is the natural temperature of the Earth?” As Doug noted, climate is ALWAYS changing. It’s always in flux. We can’t arbitrarily decide that there’s a natural state of the climate and try to freeze it.

    5) Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. The claims of the global warming advocates are extraordinary, to put it mildly. And the demands they make on changes to our society are even more extraordinary. I want some serious, serious proof before they wreak their havoc on us. (Look at what they’re doing just to our light bulbs — our LIGHT BULBS, for god’s sake!)

    J.

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  14. Axel Edgren says:

    1) http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/pdf/TAR-12.PDF

    All the models are unable to predict recent warming without taking rising CO2 levels into account. Noone has created a general circulation model that can explain climate’s behaviour over the past century without CO2 warming.

    There are difficulties in predicting future climate. The behaviour of the sun is difficult to predict. Short-term disturbances like El Nino or volcanic eruptions are difficult to model. Nevertheless, the major forcings that drive climate are well understood. In 1988, James Hansen projected future temperature trends (Hansen 1988). Those initial projections show good agreement with subsequent observations (Hansen 2006).

    When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it provided an opportunity to test how successfully models could predict the climate response to the sulfate aerosols injected into the atmosphere. The models accurately forecasted the subsequent global cooling of about 0.5 °C soon after the eruption. Furthermore, the radiative, water vapor and dynamical feedbacks included in the models were also quantitatively verified (Hansen 2007)

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  15. Axel Edgren says:

    2) I don’t understand your first complaint because you are being an emotional toddler who writes poorly. As for your second complain, you are once again being an ignorant buffoon and blowhard. A minority of climate scientists predicted global cooling in the 70s.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/1970s_papers.gif

    3) Evidence against would be, for example, a separation between energy imbalances in the climate and what is now called greenhouse gases, via work in physics. I see a lot of work being done by scientists to defend their data and their findings – they have worked to show that weather stations are getting useful data and have shown that there is a tropospheric hot spot. So if you want to know about what could hurt their theory, look at what they are working on and how they are trying to pre-empt criticism, be it in good or bad faith.

    First, CO2 levels are rising.
    Second, CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    Third, during the last 30 years, global temperatures have been rising.
    Fourth, the things that ordinary cause temperatures to rise — such as increased solar activity — are not causing the current rise in temperature.
    Therefore, increased C02 is causing global warming.

    That is the general idea (I am a layman, so look around for a better, more detailed list if you truly are interested, rather than just an anti-AGW zealot like every other ‘skeptic’ I have ever encountered)

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  16. Axel Edgren says:

    4) There isn’t one. As we all know, change is the only constant. The problem isn’t that we are diverging from an ‘ideal’ temperature, but that we are changing the energy levels of the climate faster than we and the geographic stability we depend on can adapt. Once again, you are way too obtuse and malicious a thinker to actually grasp the argument and theory you rage against.

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  17. Axel Edgren says:

    5) What is this about light bulbs? Grow up. I know Americans are the most self-compassionate people in human history, but don’t be so pathetic as to make this awkward for us.

    As for how the onus is on the scientists, yes it is. However, the onus shifts over onto people like you when you complain about how their work is filled with inconsistencies, lies and even conspiratorial motives. You don’t want to be a hypocrite, right?

    However, when I read your spiels and rants (and Doug’s pathetic, pre-college concern-trolling) it would appear that you are completely incapable of matching your claims and grandstanding with sincere work and efforts to understand. So you are being hypocrites – you claim that the scientists have not done enough to shift the onus but you do so by coming up with idiotic or unfounded complaints where your work and study is insufficient to shift the onus.

    And this is why I support the climate scientists – those who lambast them are either idiots, neo-liberal fanatics, republicans, anti-left bigots or just plain simple and low people. You can tell a lot about people by looking at their enemies, and the enemies of the climate scientists are all very low, unpleasant, unintelligent or just easily duped and not very impressive people. Both you and Doug appear to be nothing but mediocre and easily manipulated Anglo-Saxon blowhards. You show bad faith and laziness. Disappointing men, in my eyes.

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  18. Axel Edgren says:

    If you are looking for the empirical part of effects of a warming world, then here you go: http://www.seaturtle.org/PDF/Parmesan_2003_Nature.pdf

    Some of that is summarized here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/Warming_Indicators_1024.jpg

    As to how there is a physical, provable link between more CO2 and measurable warming, here you are: http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect-advanced.htm

    This is where you show me some basic gratitude for trying to improve your understanding of a complicated issue.

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  19. john personna says:

    Jay Tea, you are a birther. Well it isn’t about ignoring birth certificates in this case, it is about ignoring NOAA and NASA, and building a bizarre conspiracy theory to support it

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  20. Axel Edgren says:

    john personna, isn’t it obvious that thousands of scientists the world over are all just making the problem seem worse so they will get research grants from governments et al.? As we all know, scientists are free to spend research grants on hookers and jacuzzis. It’s not as if that money only goes to institutions that can only allocate money to actual, regular work. You are so naive!

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  21. sam says:

    “hystericists ” ??

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  22. sam says:

    ” I’ve challenged global warming advocates many a time to cite what they would consider as evidence against their theory.”

    I think we ought to make some kind of distinction here. There are really two questions:

    1) Is climate change happening, and happening in such a way as to pose a real problem for us down the line?

    2) If climate change is happening, is there a significant human contribution to the change?

    Notice that one can answer Yes to 1, and No to 2. A lot of what I see is that folks arguing No to 2 also think they’ve successfully shown No to 1. That could turn out to be badly misplaced.

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  23. Dave Schuler says:

    There’s something that puzzles me. Why does whether human action is dispositive in producing climate change matter from a policy standpoint? This is a genuine question—I’d like to know the answer.

    Isn’t whether the Maldives disappear beneath the waves important whether it’s caused by human action or not? Or square miles of land along coasts being lost to rising ocean levels?

    I’d really like to understand the thinking on this.

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  24. Herb says:

    A lengthy response to Jay Tea’s humorous comment:

    1) So? Says a lot about the limitation of computer models but not much about climate change. Where’s your computer model, by the way?

    2) “The very same evidence being cited as “proof” of climate change is exactly the same evidence cited in favor of global warming”

    Again…so? You mean scientific ideas change based on new and better information? How….scientific.

    3) “I’ve challenged global warming advocates many a time to cite what they would consider as evidence against their theory.”

    What theory? That climates change? That human activity can affect climate? That the sea levels will raise X amount in Y number of years, destroying Z amount of coastline?

    You debunked the most general theory based on the most general evidence, and I think you’re celebrating too much for such a minor accomplishment.

    What, pray tell, is the evidence that your theory is bunk? Since you expect other people to engage in this mental exercise, I’m assuming you’re prepared to do it as well.

    Just remember, if you can’t answer…YOU’RE WRONG!

    4) “what is the natural temperature of the Earth?…..We can’t arbitrarily decide that there’s a natural state of the climate and try to freeze it.”

    Um…so it’s not exactly arbitrary, but for the purposes of discussion, let’s just say that the “natural state of the climate” should be one in which human survival is possible.

    Other than that, who cares? I’m not familiar with the arguments that we need to find the “natural state of the climate.” Who’s making them? Are you picking on a straw man here?

    5) “Look at what they’re doing just to our light bulbs — our LIGHT BULBS, for god’s sake”

    I think the climate change skeptics underestimate how transparently political their arguments are. You don’t like Al Gore? I get it. He’s a big fat idiot. You’re not really a big fan of government regulation? Also understand. They don’t do it nearly well enough. You’re pro-business? Great, businesses are great things. But no where in any of that does it require you to be dumb.

    You mention the lightbulbs. How much of the resistence to CFLs comes from a preference for incandescents? Very little, I suspect. Indeed, I would put money that I can go out onto any street in America, ask someone if they like CFL bulbs and divine, like Kreskin, that person’s political affiliation based on their answer.

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  25. Jay Tea says:

    Answering shotgun-style:

    I chose the light bulbs as an example. We’re replacing a mature, safe technology that just plain works and employs Americans with an unproven, even dangerous replacement that we have to buy from China. And just as one example, I have a lamp that has a shade that clamps directly to the light bulb. It won’t work with a “curly-fry” bulb. I have to replace my five-dollar lamp that I use fifty-cent lightbulbs in for a new style of lamp and put far more expensive, toxic-laden bulbs into — FOR WHAT?

    I phrased my dispositive statement poorly. Let me try this: What would climate change advocates consider as proof that their theory was wrong? What sorts of things could happen that would cause you to challenge your own beliefs?

    As far as the constantly evolving arguments… my point there was yes, the arguments constantly evolve and change and adapt to new evidence — but the conclusions never do. It’s been my experience that when that happens, it’s because the conclusion is foregone, and it’s the evidence that has to be constantly adapted and massaged to continue to support the conclusion.

    Another aspect that makes me suspicious is that the solutions all have one common element — the shifting of political and economic power to governments and non-governmental agencies, and from first world nations to developing nations. I have to pay more for gas, buy new lamps and lightbulbs, and constantly report that I’m doing what has been deemed my part in fighting this crisis. And the US has to stop using so danged much energy, shut down coal power plants, and whatnot. Meanwhile, countries like China and India are granted license to dump even more greenhouse gases — far in excess of what we do.

    Further, look at the “cap and trade” principle. It sets up a system where the “rights” to pollute are limited and divided up among polluters. The polluters then can barter among themselves to see who can emit how much. And the whole thing is overseen by the federal government — meaning more government employees, more government power, and a whole new level of bureaucracy that has to be funded and staffed and supported.

    Most likely by the energy producers. Which will make energy even more and more expensive. For everyone.

    Right in the middle of the current economic mess.

    Oh, what the hell. The first Great Depression wasn’t THAT bad, I guess…

    J.

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  26. Axel Edgren says:

    “It won’t work with a “curly-fry” bulb. I have to replace my five-dollar lamp that I use fifty-cent lightbulbs in for a new style of lamp and put far more expensive, toxic-laden bulbs into — FOR WHAT?”

    So as to increase the longevity and long-term ecological and economical sustainability of your nation, whiner. You think oil is going to become *cheaper* over the years? You need to upgrade your infrastructure and household appliances, brah!

    “It’s been my experience that when that happens, it’s because the conclusion is foregone, and it’s the evidence that has to be constantly adapted and massaged to continue to support the conclusion.”

    Actually, all the scientific side is saying is that there is an absolute energy imbalance and the only plausible culprit based on physical calculations and modelling is human greenhouse gases, primarily CO2. There is no evidence alteration used to come to that conclusion.

    “Another aspect that makes me suspicious is that the solutions all have one common element — the shifting of political and economic power to governments and non-governmental agencies”

    Except this is not what most climate scientists are doing – and those who do are aware that when they venture into that area they have to contend with economics and societal factors.

    As for your whining about government – this is only because you are ignorant of ethics, philosophy and economics and have tethered yourself to libertarian religion. The libertarian movement is hopelessly idiotic when it comes to economics, philosophy or building functional societies.

    You see, the reason the government has to step in to raise the price of carbon (which is an EXTERNALITY – look that up on google) is because it is in the COMMON interest of all actors, present and future, to do so in the long term but they have no reason to think outside the short term.

    For example, if a corporation could dump waste in a lake that would only start doing damage 50 years from now, and there was no consumer backlash for doing so, would that corporation stop just to care for the people 50 years hence? No, of course not. And yet society needs that lake.

    What we are seeing is a sort of economic suicide pact between consumers and producers, at the expense of their own societies and most of all their children. Whenever we have a situation where future damage to society because of economic activity is not reflected in market prices, we get a tragedy of the commons. This is EXACTLY the kind of situation where government action is philosophically, economically and societally obvious. Of course, this is anathema to the libertarian cultists, who are emotional slaves to their ideology.

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  27. Axel Edgren says:

    “And the US has to stop using so danged much energy, shut down coal power plants, and whatnot. Meanwhile, countries like China and India are granted license to dump even more greenhouse gases — far in excess of what we do.”

    Another American who is not only ignorant of his current privileges (your capita CO2 is ridiculous, because you whiny, spoiled kids always come up with a reason to punt the issue of collective transit, improved mileage standards, better infrastructure and effectivity down the road) but also of historical facts (in comparison with other nations, the West has a MASSIVE head start on the amount of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. China and India should not have to pay for that. They can’t, actually)

    “And the whole thing is overseen by the federal government — meaning more government employees, more government power, and a whole new level of bureaucracy that has to be funded and staffed and supported.”

    You are assuming we have to somehow create an entire new paradigm to society rather than just let externalities be reflected in prices and let market forces readjust accordingly. The solution is not increase in government, but just USING it to make laws that MAKE SENSE.

    It might be true that conservatives have bigger fear centers – they see fascism in everything from higher gas prices to new lightbulbs to fighting against childhood obesity. You do realize that crying wolf all the time is not going to make anyone more prepared for actual vulpine assaults in the future, right?

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  28. Jay Tea says:

    Axel, if we see fascism in these things, it’s because it’s there. Michelle Obama actually said that determining what children should eat is “too important’ to be left up to parents.

    Let her set the example. Let her subcontract out her parental responsibilities to someone else.

    And you betray your own bias with one rather lengthy paragraph:

    Another American who is not only ignorant of his current privileges (your capita CO2 is ridiculous, because you whiny, spoiled kids always come up with a reason to punt the issue of collective transit, improved mileage standards, better infrastructure and effectivity down the road) but also of historical facts (in comparison with other nations, the West has a MASSIVE head start on the amount of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. China and India should not have to pay for that. They can’t, actually)

    If it’s really a crisis, then “historical facts” shouldn’t matter. What should matter is the present and future — reducing carbon emissions NOW. That the US has a “head start” is irrelevant; it’s “suicidal” to allow other nations to “catch up.”

    The obvious conclusion there is that reducing carbon isn’t the goal, but punishing the US and the West for getting too far ahead. The carbon reduction is merely the mechanism to redistribute wealth and resources in a more “equitable” and “fair” fashion.

    And, in the process, we happen to wreck the light-bulb industry, the auto industry (forcing nigh-impossible mileage standards on makers), the coal industry, the offshore oil drilling industry, and all the supporting businesses that are tied to them… and the millions of employees who get their paychecks from them?

    Screw ‘em. Serves ‘em right for their labors on behalf of Big Carbon.

    That about right, Axel?

    J.

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  29. Herb says:

    Jay,

    “We’re replacing a mature, safe technology that just plain works and employs Americans with an unproven, even dangerous replacement that we have to buy from China.”

    Well, all I can say is that I converted all my lightbulbs to CFLs about three years ago. (They even have little ones for your little lamp!) While I have not noticed any change in my electric bill, nor do I feel like I’m saving the planet, I haven’t had to change a light bulb since.

    How many fifty cent lightbulbs have you replaced in the last 3 years? If the answer is even “Just 1,” that’s fifty cents that you wasted and I didn’t.

    As for the toxic mercury…unless I’m huffing broken light bulbs or working in the Chinese factory where they are being made, I’ll be getting my mercury poisoning from eating fish. (And we all know where the fish get the mercury, right?)

    “What would climate change advocates consider as proof that their theory was wrong?”

    As to your question, I’m not sure what it would take to be honest. I’ll tell you one thing that makes me consider there might be something to this “climate change could be bad for our species” idea.

    Seeing the bones of extinct sea creatures fossilized in the Colorado Rockies.

    We have one distinct advantage those extinct fossils don’t. We have the faculties of reason. We should use them.

    “It’s been my experience that when that happens, it’s because the conclusion is foregone”

    You mean, like the conclusion that “climate change is a hoax?” That seems to be more of what you’d call a “foregone conclusion” in certain circles, don’t you think? Climate change? That’s an observation based on objective data.

    “the shifting of political and economic power to governments and non-governmental agencies, and from first world nations to developing nations.”

    Yeah, this is kind of my point: This is a political argument. Not a scientific one. And that’s fine.

    If you want to argue why such-and-such policy sucks, just do that. All this science denialism doesn’t help make your case.

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  30. Jay Tea says:

    Or, to steal a line from Glenn Reynolds, “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who say it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.”

    J.

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  31. Jay Tea says:

    Herb, I’m glad CFL bulbs work for you. I’d rather not use them, for most purposes — they’re not so great in the cold, they take too long to get going, and disposing of them is a pain in the butt. I also don’t care for the kind of light they shed But feel free to continue to use them. Why do you insist that I should adopt them, under penalty of law? What makes your experience with them so wonderful that you want everyone to follow your path, regardless of their personal preferences? Why do you want to give your opinion the force of law?

    I also drive a very inefficient vehicle. It suits my needs — I occasionally need the four-wheel drive, and it’s old, so it’s paid for. I can’t afford a new one, and would rather not have something that would not get me to work in bad weather. I accept the trade-off in crappy mileage. It’s my choice. Why can’t I have that choice here, either?

    I’m not saying any of these things are bad ideas. I’m saying I don’t like the government — or anyone — looking at a situation and saying “there’s a good choice, and there’s a bad choice, by our standards. We’re going to make it illegal for you to make what we consider a ‘bad’ choice.”

    Enjoy your curly-fry bulbs, Herb. Just leave me my round ones that I like.

    If for no other reasons, then think of the cartoonists who will have to find a whole new way of expressing “I’ve got an idea!”

    J.

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  32. JKB says:

    Well, first off, while the phrase is quite buzzworthy, CO2 in no way acts in the manner of a green house. We know this because a gas cannot provide a physical barrier to convective heat currents, which is how a green house works. I suppose they went with “green house gas” misnomer since “radiant heat barrier gas” is emotionally cold. “Green house gas” seems to really animate the hot house flowers.

    As for the claim the “models” take into account all the many things that impact climate, well, most of them left out space, i.e, they assume an infinite atmosphere leaving out the atmosphere/space boundary and all that heat the Earth radiates into space.

    And just to animate this conversation, here’s an antithesis that hypothesizes that the CO2 may be our hope to stave off the glaciers.

    As for what NOAA stands for? I can tell you from the inside it was often, No Organization At All. But then most bureaucracies could be called that.

    Dave – Man is evil, nature is pure. It is not nice to fool with Mother Nature. Not to mention, frame it as attacking the natural process and the skepticism goes off the charts. I remember back in ’97-98, the media and the mouthpieces were trying to gin up support to stop the evil El Nino. But it didn’t fly. People are naturally skeptical of “scientists” ability to alter fundamental processes of the Earth and not kill us all. Note how the man-made damage is always presented as altering some natural process which is why “they” must control the man-made process.

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  33. john personna says:

    It would be easy to discount NOAA if … actually it isn’t easy, but go with me here for a second … if they were one organization with a pipe-threat. It isn’t though.

    You’ve got to work the British Royal Society, the same folk experiencing this blizzard, into your conspiracy. And the Japanese.

    That’s what’s really astounding. You’ve got scientists all around the world living in very different cultures and with very different funding mechanisms all coming up with the same answer.

    … and you’ve got folk here who can’t deal with that, who use a few newspaper headlines or a home-grown conspiracy to explain … not all of it. Not by a long shot.

    (Dave, re. doing something about it, I think it comes down to distant and not easily visualized threats not being perceived as pressing. We can understand why the British don’t feel a hurry this week. It’s in the numbers. You don’t see it with your own eyes. If the Thames needs bigger flood gates, that will come later.)

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  34. john personna says:

    Here’s one for you Jay Tea, China believes in global warming:

    http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/newsrelease/P020070604561191006823.pdf

    Now, they make a great effort to balance belief in it against their development needs, but wouldn’t it be easier for them, if it was just a conspiracy of those western “scientists” to call it false?

    Occam’s Razor, right? If it was false, it would be in China’s interest to call it false.

    They would not pretend, for whatever BS reason you invent.

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  35. john personna says:

    Russia, of all nations, signed on:

    http://www.nationalacademies.org/includes/G8Statement_Energy_07_May.pdf

    They (1) could use some heating, and (2) are major fossil fuel exporters.

    Insert birther theory about why they chose to pretend, right?

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  36. Axel Edgren says:

    “Michelle Obama actually said that determining what children should eat is “too important’ to be left up to parents.”

    Apparently it is. Children receive permanent damage from bad parenting – and a little government aid or even just a voluntary movement can help them, even if it means second-guessing parents. Are you aware that the relationship between child and parent should only be one of obeisance and ordering as long as this arrangement is to the benefit of the CHILD more than the PARENT?

    “If it’s really a crisis, then “historical facts” shouldn’t matter. What should matter is the present and future — reducing carbon emissions NOW. That the US has a “head start” is irrelevant; it’s “suicidal” to allow other nations to “catch up.””

    So this is how Americans take responsibility – create a problem so large everyone have to pitch in despite their lack of contribution to the problem. I guess seeing as you allow your own banks to act that way, your lack of spines is evident. It’s a good thing Hitler is gone – if he had surfaced today you would have been a pushover.

    Anyway, you show total ignorance of how important the US is for other nations to act. You see, the leaders of China and India won’t be allowed to take even a fair share until American citizens stop being so infantile and lazy. The people of India and China might have to recognize that they have to cut carbon in order to make up for the excesses of the sickening Americans, but actually forcing them to do so rather than do the right thing is the OPPOSITE of what the US is about. Maybe these people should take up part of the burden the US should carry, despite the unfairness of that situation, because it is in their best interests. But this is not going to happen, because they have problems of their own, problems that make you Americans’ pathetic whining about unemployment or housing crises seem even more despicable and weak.

    “The obvious conclusion there is that reducing carbon isn’t the goal, but punishing the US and the West for getting too far ahead.”

    LOL. Sure. It’s all about us. All those other countries are so envious of us.

    Actually, the problem here is that our production and consumption is causing damage to others. If you understood basic economics and philosophy you would recognize the connotations of that situation. But you are an American, so philosophy is not in your blood. And you are a right-winger, which means you know nothing about economics.

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  37. Jay Tea says:

    Axel, I had a response half done, then I got to this:

    If you understood basic economics and philosophy you would recognize the connotations of that situation. But you are an American, so philosophy is not in your blood. And you are a right-winger, which means you know nothing about economics.

    Sod off, you git.

    J.

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  38. Jay Tea says:

    Or, if you prefer, undisputably American P. J. O’Rourke:

    Americans hate foreign policy. Americans hate foreign policy because Americans hate foreigners. Americans hate foreigners because Americans are foreigners. We all come from foreign parts, even if we came here ten thousand years ago on a land bridge across the Bering Strait. We didn’t want anything to do with those Ice Age Siberians, them with the itchy cave-bear-pelt underwear and mammoth meat on their breath. We were off to the Pacific Northwest — great salmon fishing, blowout potluck dinners, a whole new life.

    America is not “globally conscious” or “multicultural.” Americans didn’t come to America to be Limey Poofters, Frog-Eaters, Bucket Heads, Micks, Spicks, Sheenies, or Wogs. If we’d wanted foreign entanglements, we would have stayed home. Or — in the case of those of us who were shipped to America against our will, as slaves, exiles, or transported prisoners — we would have gone back. Events in Liberia and the type of American who lives in Paris tell us what to think of that.

    Being foreigners ourselves, we Americans know what foreigners are up to with our foreign policy — their venomous convents, lying alliances, greedy agreements, and trick-or-treaties. America is not a wily, sneaky nation. We don’t think that way. We don’t think at all, thank God. Start thinking and pretty soon you get ideas, and then you get idealism, and the next thing you know you’ve got ideology, with millions dead in concentration camps and gulags. A fundamental American question is “What’s the big idea?”

    Americans would like to ignore foreign policy. Our previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan. Evil is an outreach program. A solitary bad person sitting alone, harboring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park. In the big geopolitical trailer park that is the world today, he does.

    America has to act. But, when America acts, other nations accuse us of being “hegemonic,” of engaging in “unilateralism, of behaving as if we’re the only nation on earth that counts.

    We are. Russia used to be a superpower but resigned “to spend more time with the family.” China is supposed to be mighty, but the Chinese leadership quakes when a couple of hundred Falun Gong members do tai chi for Jesus. The European Union looks impressive on paper, with a greater population and a larger economy than America’s. But the military spending of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy combined does not equal one third of the U.S. defense budget. The United States spends more on defense than the aforementioned countries — plus Russia plus China plus the next six top defense-spending nations. Any multilateral military or diplomatic effort that includes the United States is a crew team with Arnold Schwarzenegger as coxswain and Nadia Comenici on the oars. When other countries demand a role in the exercise of global power, America can ask another fundamental American question: “You and what army?”

    ‘Nuff said.

    J.

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  39. john personna says:

    What are you trying to do now, Jay? Just pad out the thread with filler?

    Adding “‘Nuff said.” Priceless.

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  40. Steve R says:

    Why northern Europe is experiencing a prolonged cold snap——–Eyjafjallajokull. Why has no one else picked up on this? Maybe I’m just a genius :)

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  41. Axel Edgren says:

    LOL

    LOOOOL

    So old Jay Tea says the US wants to stay out of other nations’ business and vice versa (fine with me) and that this would be a great idea. Well, the problem is that American CO2 is causing damage elsewhere. It is the equivalent of some other nation (let’s say – France or Venezuela, you know, those nations all little wingnuts are taught to hate) taking its trash and dumping it in the US.

    Now, if JT saw that happen he would be ticked off and would demand that the US stood up for itself and demanded that this other nation took care of its own trash. And yet he is too weak and self-compassionate to consider lowering his own carbon output despite the fact that more CO2 in the atmosphere will create economic damage in other nations. Then again, what else can be expected?

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  42. Herb says:

    ” Why do you insist that I should adopt (CFL bulbs), under penalty of law? What makes your experience with them so wonderful that you want everyone to follow your path, regardless of their personal preferences? Why do you want to give your opinion the force of law?”

    This is ridiculous. The law is phasing out incandescent lightbulbs. It’s not making them illegal. Tell me, under what “penalty of law” will you be held for possessing an incandescent lightbulb when they’re “illegal?”

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-110hr6enr/pdf/BILLS-110hr6enr.pdf

    Section 321.

    I can imagine people a hundred years ago saying, “Why are you insisting I use electric lights under penalty of law? These gas lamps have such a lovely glow.” It’s new technology. It’s somewhat better and of a different quality than the old technology. Adopting it as a standard will help it catch on. That’s all.

    I guess at the rate you’ll be going through the old school bulbs, you should stock up now.

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  43. Trueofvoice says:

    JKB,

    In an atmosphere without greenhouse gases, infrared energy from the planet’s surface goes directly into space.

    Enter the CO2 molecule.

    It absorbs that photon on it’s way back to space, then re-radiates it in a random direction. Add more CO2 and more photons are absorbed then re-radiated. Some of it is radiated up into space, some sideways where it interacts with other greenhouse gas molecules, and some goes right back down to the planet’s surface. So yes, CO2 does act as a barrier to radiative heat transfer between earth and space.

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  44. Ken Bob says:

    “Climate Change” activists are all whacked!!! We got 7 billion plus people to feed. Burning carbon is the only way to do it or we all starve. BTW: warm is good, cold is bad. End of Ice Age good, beginning of new Ice Age bad. (Civilization was only able to take hold because the last Ice Age ended) New Ice Age equals global starvation. Another BTW: for the idiots who cry about how much Co2 goes into the air when we burn it, do they have any idea how heavy a tree is? Or any idea how heavy all the algae in the oceans is (Weight mostly carbon?? Duh, now stop bothering us with you pseudo-intellectual bull crap and lets us go about trying to feed our families: i.e. find a job. Third BTW Tano (idiot): Jobs are created by economic activity, which is fostered by creating things of use (not by blogging useless blogs thinking they are socially important i.e. liberal arts degrees are over-rated), which takes energy, which takes power, that comes from burning carbon. At least for now, until another source as energy dense can be developed economically.

    Okay I’m done.

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  45. Trueofvoice says:

    Ken Bob. We are in an ice age now. We have been for a very long time. Ice ages start on rather predictable schedules, so your assertion that we need more CO2 in the atmosphere to keep Earth from turning into an ice box is stupid.

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  46. Ken Bob says:

    Trueofvoice:

    I didn’t say we need more CO2 in the atmosphere to stop an Ice Age (where do you see that). The last Ice Age had ice covering Canada all the way down to half of the current U.S. There were glaciers that created Yosemite etc. I don’t see glaciers there now. How are we in an Ice Age now? But if we are entering one, the human race is in trouble. It will take lots of energy to keep us warm and fed if the Northern Hemisphere is covered in glaciers. The equator will look like a good place to be. Or maybe burning fossil fuels will actually keep us alive.

    Thanks for reading and replying.

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  47. Trueofvoice says:

    If you would take a few minutes to study the issue, you would know that what we are currently experiencing is called an “interglacial period” of the current ice age, during which the planet is not dominated by glaciers.

    You also stated that “Warm is good, cold is bad” (by the way, I’d really like to know where you get that from), then state that the beginning of a “new” ice age would be bad, while arguing that we need to be producing CO2.

    Where in your post are you NOT advocating using CO2 to prevent an ice age?

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  48. Jay Tea says:

    This is ridiculous. The law is phasing out incandescent lightbulbs. It’s not making them illegal. Tell me, under what “penalty of law” will you be held for possessing an incandescent lightbulb when they’re “illegal?”

    Difference without distinction, Herb. When they can’t be manufactured or imported any more, they’re de facto banned. And I have heard of quite a few people who are stockpiling on incandescent bulbs.

    And I don’t recall gas lamps ever being outlawed. In fact, I just did a quick Google search and — hey, you can still buy them!

    It’s about CHOICE, Herb. And it seems that the only time that term means anything to the left is in regards to abortion. Pretty much everything else? You don’t get to choose — we’ve decided what is the best option, so deal with it.

    J.

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  49. JKB says:

    @Trueofvoice – a fine description but greenhouses don’t work that way. Greenhouses work by restricting convection due to a physical barrier. This traps the air which increases in heat content during the day, losing heat overnight by conduction and radiation.

    BTW, all matter absorbs radiative energy then radiates that energy in all directions dependent on the temperature differential between the matter and matter surrounding it. Therefore, CO2 in the atmosphere will radiate more energy into space that toward the warmer earth. This does not take into account the convective rising of the lower CO2 after it is warmed by the earth’s thermal radiation.

    Just so you know, there are laws that govern this and they are not subject to looking the other way if you have friends in government.

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  50. Herb says:

    “And I don’t recall gas lamps ever being outlawed. In fact, I just did a quick Google search and — hey, you can still buy them!”

    Gas street lamps? I’m not sure you got my point, which was more about the march of technological progress rather than the availability of gas lamps on the internet.

    “It’s about CHOICE, Herb. And it seems that the only time that term means anything to the left is in regards to abortion. Pretty much everything else? You don’t get to choose — we’ve decided what is the best option, so deal with it.”

    Well, I’ll grant that the left can be jerks. But I’m not so sure you can pin this lightbulb thing on “the left.” Maybe instead of looking at this as a communist attempt to limit choice, you should look at is as a technologically advanced society’s attempt to embrace new and better technology. Because that’s what it is.

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  51. Jay Tea says:

    Maybe instead of looking at this as a communist attempt to limit choice, you should look at is as a technologically advanced society’s attempt to embrace new and better technology. Because that’s what it is.

    Newer, I’ll grant you. Better is certainly debatable.

    CFLs work for crap in cold environs — like outside in New England.

    CFLs don’t work in fixtures that have dimmer switches.

    CFLs contain highly toxic mercury, requiring exceptional care in disposing of them — and if you should accidentally break them.

    CFLs don’t handle being turned on and off repeatedly, for short periods of time, well. Such as how we treat most bathroom lights, refrigerator lights, etc.

    CFLs take between half a minute and three and a half minutes to reach full brightness.

    CFLs emit a lot more UV light, which can cause health problems in people sensitive to that.

    But I’m not interested in debating their merits with you. Because that’s irrelevant now. Your side has declared victory, and made your preference law.

    You like them. Good for you.

    I don’t like them. Tough shit for me. In a relatively brief time, I will have no choice but to start using your choice — because my choice has been made illegal. Because you know what’s best for me better than I know myself, and I need to be protected from myself.

    Here’s another example: car safety equipment. I’m a seat belt militant — I buckle up backing out of garages. You ride with me, you buckle up. Period.

    But I know someone who’s short. She’s five-foot nothing. She has to sit very close to her steering wheel in order to drive.

    In an accident, her air bag is going to go off. She will be sitting so close to it, it will very likely break her neck. And she will not be able to move out of the way or be shoved aside, because her seat belt will be holding her securely in place.

    By federal law, she can not disable either safety device. Nor can she have someone do it for her. Instead, she has to get into her car every time knowing full well that it very well will kill her should she get into a nasty head-on collision.

    In order to protect us all from making “bad” choices, we’ve engineered things to directly put her life in danger. And we have written the law where she has to choose between breaking the law or risking death at the hands of so-called “safety” equipment.

    So no, Herb, it isn’t about simply adopting the “new and improved” thing. It’s about being so convinced of the superiority of the new thing, and so morally convinced of the rightness and righteousness of the change, that you will use the full force of the law to say to those people who say “no, thanks, I’ll stick with the old stuff for my own personal use,” “no, you won’t. You WILL use the new stuff, because we’re going to take away the old stuff.”

    That’s my point on the CFLs, Herb. Don’t try to persuade me why they’re better. Tell me why your side has the moral right to force me to adopt them, and why I have no right to respectfully decline your “new and improved” to stick with the old.

    Because that’s how it’s played out. My choice is being banned. And you’re cool with that.

    J.

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  52. Axel Edgren says:

    If you supported more expensive gasoline or better mileage standards, then perhaps they would not have to go after the lightbulbs.

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  53. Jay Tea says:

    Axel, utterly irrelevant. We got those without my support.

    And nice to have you confirm your inner fascist. What you believe is right MUST become mandatory for everyone.

    J.

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  54. Axel Edgren says:

    “What you believe is right MUST become mandatory for everyone.”

    Sometimes what one believes is actually correct and should be imposed.

    You expose your post-modern ignorance – it’s not that I am judging you, you are actually upset over the idea that one person can judge what another should and should not do.

    Basic economics and ethics being what it is, judging that you should be forced to reduce your carbon footprint is as obvious as the fact that A=A.

    Also, no one is impressed when you lot drag out the big scary labels (fascist, statist etc.).

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  55. Bob Guy says:

    Trueofvoice:

    Okay, you got me. “Interglacial Period”. Whatever. Fact is it isn’t as freakin cold as it was 60 thousand years ago. And if it gets that cold again we better have something to keep us warm. Carbon, Nuclear, thermonuclear fusion, whatever. Fact, lefty whack jobs won’t allow new nuclear in this country, fusion is not ready, may never be, and all the other alternatives are not economically viable oe energy efficient. Great! Go for it, develop them but they must work and be able to be profitable.

    Oh, to answer your question: cold bad cuz that’s what you are when you’re dead. Warm good, cuz it feels good and 98.6 F takes energy to keep it there. Don’t need college for that one now do we. Gee I can’t source that one……….

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  56. Axel Edgren says:

    “And if it gets that cold again we better have something to keep us warm.”

    Malenkovitch cycles etc. Since the 70s (where a few scientists said they feared cooling) there have been no signs of the sun’s activity dampening. And actually being prepared for a double-Krakatoa whammy is insane.

    “Oh, to answer your question: cold bad cuz that’s what you are when you’re dead. Warm good, cuz it feels good and 98.6 F takes energy to keep it there.”

    Well finally we get some thing approaching reasoning.

    Well surey-doo I wouldn’t mind some of that warmth business. I’m always envious of southern climes. BUT.

    Water is good for you, right? Well, if you drink too much you kinda die. Same principle here – you seem to think that the difference between one global average of X Celsius and one of X+3 Celsius is comparable to the difference between a day of 16 Celsius and one of 19 Celsius. Well it’s really really not. You can’t use the human experience as a proxy to what is good for the environment we utterly depend on – not to mention how there are places in the world that is troubled by droughts, heat waves, monsoons, precarious crops and rising water levels AS IS. Especially not since the increase of the energy imbalance increases with more CO2, as we start getting positive feedback.

    Now, I know you are not mentally handicapped, so what the hell are you trying to pull here?

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  57. Jay Tea says:

    Previously, I quoted my fellow New Hampshirite P. J. O’Rourke. Now, I think it’s time for a quote from Granite Stater Robert Frost:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    J.

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  58. Axel Edgren says:

    ““Faith” as an imperative is a veto against science—in praxi, it means lies at any price. ”

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    Is it any wonder that a Christianist party that peddles creationism and ID denies even the existence of global energy excess? Any wonder that only 6 % of scientists are in their ranks?

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