Sunday, November 04, 2007

Captain Picard Meets Supermouse on a Hot Planet

In The Sunday Times I interview Patrick Stewart, I discuss Supermouse and I wonder why we still haven't done anything about global warming.
Negley Farson (right) was a slacker.
PS It looks as though an earlier incarnation of Captain Picard is going to be resurrected today.


  1. On global warming, you writes in The Times today: "There are three things nobody need argue about. First, global warning is a reality; secondly, it is largely caused by humans; thirdly, we know how to slow or reverse it."

    Really Bryan!

    However, I think you have identified the 3 key questions (which is actually not difficult, though your succinctness is an asset). Going further, to think that the answers are known is, at least in my view, three steps too far.

    That there is global warming, outside what has been seen in the thousand years before the industrial revolution, is not at all obvious. Previous warm and cold periods of similar or greater magnitude have occurred. Many of the measurements and calculations used in support of the extent of global warming have been criticised (with probable cause): some to the extent of incompetence and/or potential purposeful overstatement.

    That the cause is CO2, rather than some other (most likely solar) cause requires belief in computer models with thousands, if not millions, of parameters, the setting of which is, at my unkindest, purely imagination and the validation of which is purely dream-work. Even variations in received solar irradiance is something we have only had information on since 1978 or there-abouts. Without proper parameter tuning and validation, the models cannot be relied upon; we do not have a sufficient duration of sufficiently accurate measurements for that. Thus we remain ignorant of the contributions of various possible causes of global warming/cooling.

    As to us knowing what to do about it (that is reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere), the effectiveness of the schemes (in that direct effect) are highly questionable, the costs (in all realism) currently unacceptable, and the side effects pretty much unexamined (as to whether they would be worse than the hypothesises contribution of raised atmospheric CO2).

    Best regards

  2. Maybe we're not doing enough about it because we're all just chilling out on those extra lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

    C'mon, Bryan. We could easily all but end child mortality in the Third World by providing low-tech clean water for pennies. We could clean up the oceans, cure cancer, make obesity history, irrigate the deserts, halt the spread of AIDS, re-forest the rainforests, guide Africa to economic take-off, ensure England wins the World Cup and lots of other things. Choose your crisis; there are no end of promising solutions in the halls and labs of academia. What we can't seem to do is solve these problems without pushing people around (or worse), displacing them and making them poorer, all the while while ensuring a good living for the concerned beautiful people attending conferences on expense accounts.

    Some reasons we aren't doing what you want us to do are: A) There is no "we" and Heaven help us if there were; b)After thirty years of fear-mongering about how we are all going to fry/freeze/drown if we don't act NOW, we're now witnessing the horrors of shorter ski seasons and too many polar bears, but we aren't noticing much else. Call us when the Maldives finally go under; C)Take it from a Canadian--global warming has its charms; and D)As with the population explosion and mass famine, resource depletion, acid rain, the ozone hole, nuclear winter, SARS, etc. etc., the clever IPCC/Club of Rome/Bruntland Commission/UN New Millenium/EU Commission, etc. boffins have predicted one global disaster too many and wasted everybody's time. Folks just don't believe them and resent being told to redo the plumbing and cancel the family holiday because they have their knickers in a knot again.

    Besides, if things really got dicey, you know full well that while the world struck yet another international sub-committee to consider the matter, the United States would roll up their sleeves and do something fast and clever to solve it. They always do.

  3. Svante Arrhenius died in 1927. He published his theory of CO2 forcing global warming in 1896. It has proven to be uncannily accurate. He deserves to be better known.