The Problem with the Global Warming Skeptics

Alexander Cockburn has been making waves with his recent series on global warming, which has been published in The Nation and online at CounterPunch.org where he serves as co-editor (and I contribute a weekly column). In them, Cockburn attacks the logic of those fear-mongering scientists and all of us uneducated “Greenhousers” who believe humans, and our industrialized economy, are negatively impacting the planet’s climate.

While I’m quite happy to be dubbed a dumb Greenhouser — make no mistake, I’m not an intelligent scientist. In fact I’m one of the few radical environmentalists I know who doesn’t believe global warming is the most immediate threat to life on Earth. Call me crazy, but that trophy, I’m afraid, is still firmly in the clutches of the world’s nuclear powers.

In his articles Cockburn bases much of his argument on the opinion of one retired chemist, Dr. Martin Hertzberg, who worked for the U.S. Navy and later as an explosions expert for the Bureau of Mines, which functions under the rubric of the Department of the Interior. Hertzberg’s reasoning goes something like this: global warming is caused by water vapor and not by CO2 emissions. In fact, according to Hertzberg, it’s never caused by CO2 emissions, no matter the amount. His belief relies on the largely contested thesis that oceans are “carbon sinks” which store excessive CO2 and other sediments.

By contrast, most climate scientists insist that CO2 concentrations are cumulative. So, after they are released, the gas remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years unlike oceanic water vapor, which precipitates rather quickly out of the atmosphere as snow and rain.

Scientific research also challenges the “carbon sink” theory. The most recent and extensive study to do so was written by eighteen scientists and published in Science in late April 2007. The research was conducted by two international scientific expeditions, which studied waters in the South Pacific near the equator. The work suggests that rather than sinking, CO2 is instead gobbled up by animals and bacteria and recycled in the “twilight zone,” a shadowy area 100 to 1,000 meters below the ocean’s surface.

“The twilight zone is a critical link between the surface and the deep ocean,” says Ken Buesseler, a biogeochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who was lead author of the study. “We’re interested in what happens in the twilight zone, what sinks into it and what actually sinks out of it. Unless the carbon goes all the way down into the deep ocean and is stored there, the oceans will have little impact on climate change.”

If true, Dr. Hertzberg’s position is in deep water. But there are far greater problems with this lone scientist than his sketchy position on global warming or his past history as an explosives expert for the Bureau of Mines. Indeed Hertzberg may have other reasons for not challenging the industry-line on climate change. Fact is, Hertzberg serves as an expert witness for Big Coal, and was even hired by Jim Walter Resources in a case where the large coal company paid a meager $3,000 in fines after an explosion in one of their Alabama mines led to the deaths of 13 miners. Jim Walter Resources, which pocketed over $100 million in profits that same year, surely cut Dr. Hertzberg a hefty check for his professional services. His testimony, which was cited by the presiding judge, likely decreased the fine levied at the company.

Hertzberg cannot be considered an unbiased scientist on the issue of climate change, as he is a paid consultant for an industry whose coal-burning power plants produce the single largest source of CO2 pollution in the U.S. This, to me, is proof positive that we ought to disregard Hertzberg’s climate science all together.

There are other blatant problems with some of the warming skeptics’ assumptions as well as their possible motivations. In his second piece on the matter Cockburn quotes the notorious doubter Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia, who spends a great deal of time critiquing global warming models. But Michaels, an Environmental Science professor, was long ago exposed as a pawn of industry. Writing for Harper’s in 1995, Ross Gelbspan explained, “Michaels has received more than $115,000 over the last four years from coal and energy interests. World Climate Review, a quarterly he founded that routinely debunks climate concerns, was funded by Western Fuels.”

Other holes exist in the skeptics’ logic as well. Cockburn correctly references a 1995 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that hastily slipped in the following language, which contradicted much of the original report: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”

However, it should be noted that since the IPCC’s second review of climate change research in 1995, there has been two additional IPCC papers, one in 2001 and another this year, both of which argue that the literature overwhelmingly show that humans are “likely” contributing to planetary warming.

Sadly, the aforementioned global warming skeptics are in one way or another on the fossil fuel dole. Aside from Dr. Hertzberg, the explosives expert who does consulting work for Big Coal, and Prof. Michaels who is funded by power companies that operate and own coal fired plants, the last, and worst, ‘scientist’ the skeptics, including Cockburn, so frequently cite is Fredrick Seitz.

For those of you who haven’t followed the climate debate over the years, sourcing the 96 year-old Seitz on global warming, as a friend of mine put it, is like quoting Judith Miller on Iraq’s WMDs. He’s a complete and utter fraud who has been exposed as such time and again. Seitz has argued that smoking doesn’t cause cancer while simultaneously pocketing mega-bucks from Big Tobacco. He even disputes the fact that CFCs damage the ozone layer. Seitz would probably tell you it’s okay to sprinkle DDT on your kid’s birthday cake if DuPont paid him enough.

Seitz, who along with Edward “father of the atomic bomb” Teller, also founded the egregious “Atoms for Peace” program, which called for exploding nukes to excavate harbors, bring natural gas to the surface and run space ships to Mars. Seitz is certainly not an impartial source on global warming. He’s a hack.

Arguing the in and outs of global warming research is diversionary. I agree that we ought to be skeptical of Al Gore’s past, the carbon offset market, carbon credits and the eco-economy that’s spawned from our papal induced guilt. We should be aware that the Prius isn’t really all that ‘green’, with its copper loaded engines that are raping the hillsides of British Columbia. We should know that our eco-friendly Patagonia attire is made locally, in China. Yet climate change, as I noted earlier, is a symptom of industrialization. It cannot, and will not, be tamed until we acknowledge as much.

There is little risk in playing it safe — go ahead and consider the possibility that human industry is contributing to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. The only harm in calling for a dramatic curb in CO2 emissions, I see, is that large oil and gas companies will have to radically alter their destructive ways. But if global warming serves as a gateway for people to openly criticize our global economy, and God forbid, industrial capitalism — all the better.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in June 2008. Check out the Red State Rebels site. Read other articles by Joshua.

39 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 10:15am #

    Joshua: Nice work. Here’s something that bothers me. Water vapor is responsible for 95% of the CO2 emmited into the atmosphere. Active volcanos represent an additional 2%. Since the atmosphere is made up of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, that leaves depending on the source .038 to .045% for CO2 as an atmospheric gas. It seems to me that we are making a great deal of assumptions about a gas that represents less than 1/2% of the atmosphere and attributing the potential end of the world to it. My sources are available at http://globalwarminghysteria.blogspot.com Thanks, Jim

  2. dick said on May 31st, 2007 at 11:47am #

    You suggest that the skeptics and the frauds are being paid by various industries. “Global Warming” scientists must compete for grants provided by the government and other’s with their own political agenda. If they don’t come up with the desired results, their work is frequently not published in the “right journals” and they quickly find that their funding sources dry up. How can we believe either side? Why not use logic? I believe the Hockey Stick has been debunked, there was a midevil warming period, that’s probably why they call it Greenland, and there was a little ice age. No man made CO2 contributed to the warming period. I not now that the term Global Warming is being replaced with Global Climate Change. Isn’t that actually what we have going on? A normal cyclical event? Let’s get the politics out of this, step back and take some nice long breaths.

  3. G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan said on May 31st, 2007 at 12:29pm #

    I was a little concerned about the denunciation of Fredrick Seitz until I determined that “Frederick” is a different name from “Russell“.

    To be associated with Edward Teller is an honorable thing. It was he who ensured no country outside the former USSR ever risked a Chernobyl.

  4. david said on May 31st, 2007 at 2:07pm #

    I have a problem with the title and it’s affect on the discussion. Skepticism is critical to science, the scientific method requires that competing hypotheses be developed and tested, with objective deductive tests.
    It is clear one of the prime requisites for a theory to be taken seriously is for its predictions to be validated to within some precision. Global Climate Models are restricted in this regard due to the behavior of non-linear feedback systems themselves and so we continue to predict but do little to no validation, or at least it’s not published.

    Taking a breath is a good idea, also seriously examining the competing hypotheses as intelligent curious beings is also a good idea. Temperature, CO2 concentration, and CH4 concentration are all highly correlated, but correlations don’t imply causality. The lead lag argument (purportedly temperature leads CO2 concentration by 800-1200 years) would imply higher temps yield higher concentrations and yes, the feedback is an explanation for it working the other way. If Temp does lead, what causes the intial rise?

    Course the Danish National Research Center has proposed a competing hypothesis which I presume the author and bloggers have all investigated.

    I’m really concerned that we are all rolling over with very little pushing and that’s not good for science, it should be hard to prove a new theory, we’re still testing relativity.

    And to those who see a crisis because of a so-called “tipping point” I’d reference the multiple outcomes that can occur with highly complex and initial condition driven systems like the climate.

    Enough. OF me that is.

    david

  5. Dr F Coles said on May 31st, 2007 at 2:24pm #

    NASA Administrator Not Sure Global Warming A Problem

    Michael Griffin NASA Administrator has told America’s National Public Radio that while he has no doubt a trend of global warming exists “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.”

    In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that will air in Thursday’s edition of NPR News’ Morning Edition, Administrator Griffin explains: “I guess I would ask which human beings – where and when – are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

    The comments come at a difficult time for the Bush Administration which is under growing pressure from other members of the G8 club which under the current Chair of Germany is pushing for global action on Co2 emissions.

    NASA scientists have also been in the spotlight in recent years for research papers and public statements that did not sit well with the Bush White House. After several highly public disagreements over the right of NASA scientists to speak their mind a stalemate was reached.

    But in recent weeks a new squabble over NASA has broken out in Washington with the new Democrat dominated Congress passing an increasingly critical eye over NASA and it’s operations, where budget pressures are building against a backdrop of competing programs, centers and agendas.

    The transcribed excerpts were released by NPR on May 30 as a teaser to what will prove to be a an interview of much note in the next few days.

    STEVE INSKEEP: One thing that’s been mentioned that NASA is perhaps not spending as much money as it could on is studying climate change, global warming, from space. Are you concerned about global warming?

    MICHAEL GRIFFIN: I am aware that global warming — I’m aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we’ve had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent.

    I’m also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is manmade. Whether that is a long term concern or not, I can’t say.

    INSKEEP: And I just wanted to make sure that I’m clear. Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

    GRIFFIN: I have no doubt that global — that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.

    First of all, I don’t think it’s within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown, and second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings – where and when – are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.

    INSKEEP: Is that thinking that informs you as you put together the budget? That something is happening, that it’s worth studying, but you’re not sure that you want to be battling it as an army might battle an enemy.

    GRIFFIN: Nowhere in NASA’s authorization, which of course governs what we do, is there anything at all telling us that we should take actions to affect climate change in either one way or another. We study global climate change, that is in our authorization, we think we do it rather well. I’m proud of that, but NASA is not an agency chartered to quote “battle climate change.”

    Full transcription and audio available Thursday morning at http://www.npr.org

  6. CH said on May 31st, 2007 at 2:27pm #

    The Hockey Stick chart has not been discredited, but rather reinforced. Check out these links:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0130-27.htm
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0623-03.htm

  7. Kim Petersen said on May 31st, 2007 at 2:56pm #

    RE comment by Coles, I would reply to Steve Inskeep:
    “I guess I would ask why Big Oil and Big Industry — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of exploiting fossil fuels with the consequent warming of the planet that is happening right here today, will result in the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

  8. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 4:08pm #

    To CH: Dream on…..I can provide 10 references, fact is you are wrong! Jim

  9. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 4:14pm #

    Kim: take some time to study the issue before you reply. Big oil wasn’t around in the 1900’s, when all the glacier melters upset about. Ask big oil, how you would eat, work, get to work, and what type of economy you would be living if we hadn’t been burning fossil fuels. You have absolutely no proof other than the politico’s at the UICC that they agree that this is a cause. Answer the question at the top of this post or go spend some time in the corner reading. :-)

  10. Kim Petersen said on May 31st, 2007 at 4:40pm #

    Jim: “Big oil wasn’t around in the 1900’s.”

    Reply: Standard oil was founded in 1870. British Petroleum (BP) was founded under the name Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909.

    Jim: “Ask big oil, how you would eat, work, get to work, and what type of economy you would be living if we hadn’t been burning fossil fuels.”

    Reply: You mean people did not eat, work, and move about before the most recent global warming? Nevertheless, you ask me to speculate. How about a world with cleaner air, cleaner seas, less pollution, cities without traffic jams, and an economy not dominated by Big Oil and car giants?

    Jim: “You have absolutely no proof other than the politico’s at the UICC that they agree that this is a cause.”

    Reply: The comment is non sequitur. I never discussed this. If you read my post clearly, I was responding to the attribution of arrogance by Mr. Inskeep as to who is determine which global climate is best. My response was to ask whether it was not arrogant for Big Oil and big industry to experiment.

    As for taking time to study … :-)

  11. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 4:46pm #

    Kim: Well said…when was the industrial revolution and how does that coorlate with warming and CO2? The UICC admits the point that I state and have left the hockey stick out of the most recent report. The air is cleaner, and it has nothing to do with CO2 it has to do with getting sulfur out of our emissions. I’d love to get out of oil, but Global Warming is a scam to get our attention. Notice how it has been changed to “Global Climate Change” Not get back to your corner:-)

  12. atheo said on May 31st, 2007 at 5:24pm #

    Congrats all for discussing this issue in a relatively civil manner. That speaks well for DV. I find Cockburn, Monbiot, and many others far too strident in their coverage of this matter.
    I’m no climate scientist either ( and I can tell Frank isn’t) but there are some basic problems with Frank’s piece:

    1) when you claim your critics ought be either ignored or denigrated because they receive money for their work, especially oil-industry money, you commit the logical fallacy of poisoning the well. This invalidates your argument.

    Speaking to those who dismiss out of hand, or simply despise at first encounter, critics of anthropogenic global warming who have received remuneration from the oil industry, the point above has an even more devastating consequence than rendering your argument against those critics void: you open yourself up to having the tables turned on you. If mention of a critic’s receipt of oil-industry money is “allowed” into the debate, a gigantic case can be made against all taxpayer-funded-institution, academia-based conclusions on the grounds of the billions of tax money that has been poured into your sector, in amounts that make ExxonMobil grants of a few thousands look like a tip at the car wash. I will not go down that road, except to say you should fear the argument being turned against you. I will make one last reference, a paraphrase of Upton Sinclair, a hero of the progressives:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his government contract, research grant, tenure, publishing deal, reputation as an anti-capitalist, collegiate prestige or tax funding depends upon him not understanding.”

    My suggestion to any pro-AGW activists for whom the above shoe fits vis a vis attacks on critics: resist demagoguery. Slay us with your data and methods, since you hold them to be irrefutable.

    2) the proposed “solutions” are all environmentally bogus.
    Nuclear plants (more harmful than global warming)
    Ethanol (just plain counterproductive)
    CFL lightbulbs (an environmental nightmare)

    We seem to run the risk of attempting to dominate nature in fixes such as aforestation, which has already been questioned. We need to assess the motives of people like Gore, Christine Todd Whittman, and Ted Turner (the population cull fanatic who financed the IPCC report).

  13. atheo said on May 31st, 2007 at 5:36pm #

    “The only harm in calling for a dramatic curb in CO2 emissions, I see, is that large oil and gas companies will have to radically alter their destructive ways. ”

    This is Franks fundamental mistake, he fails to recognize the fact that this is leading directly to a new generation of nuclear power plants. All because of a report that states: ” humans are “likely” contributing to planetary warming”. No deal, sorry. “Contributing” doesn’t even suggest that we wouldn’t have warming if there were no industrialisation at all. The Earth has survived many serious climate changes. How many episodes of nuclear contamination has it survived?

  14. David Alan Smith said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:08pm #

    Why are there so many apologists for global capitalism posting here? Don’t you understand that this is suppossed to be a forum for progressives? Sure, I find it a little odd that Cockurn has taken the position he has, but he has been, as long as I’ve known of him, more a liberal than a progressive. But these conservatives showing up and posting their drivel… don’t you have anything better to do? Like watch FoxNews or something?

  15. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:11pm #

    TO ATHEO: How many episodes of nuclear contamination has it survived? Actually all of them. We shouldn’t be so afraid of nuclear power. France is powered by 70-80% yet’s wants to tax the U.S. on global emission of CO2. Go figure. I’m serious, Japan is still doing well, chernobyl, 3 mile island? The earth is still in orbit.

    Contributing” doesn’t even suggest that we wouldn’t have warming if there were no industrialisation at all. Total agreement! J.C.

  16. Joshua Frank said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:12pm #

    Fuck nuclear power. Calling for a reduction in CO2 emissions does not mean we are automatically calling for nuclear power as an alternative. Perhaps the Big Oil companies are, and will. And we’ll do our best to stop it. Of course these mega-corporations should be dismantled and taken off the Federal subsidy bankroll. The IPCC report does not call for a switch to nuclear power and away from coal etc. Sure, it’s a political document, but it’s a scientific one as well. If the oil thugs use it to their advantage, that’s a different question. That is not the fault of the IPCC or enviros, that’s the fault of capitalism and the lack of opposition on the ground. It’s the natural progression of things, and I’m sure the CO2 producers will be quite happy to jump on the nuke plant bandwagon, perhaps even with Al Gore’s blessing.

  17. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:16pm #

    To David Alan Smith: What? You want this to be like a Greenpeace debate, only argue with those that agree with your beliefs? Why the labels, progressives, liberals? You are apparently under the assumption that conservatives don’t believe in conservation. Quit talking and reading the blather of your own ilk and you may develope some perspective.

  18. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:22pm #

    Woooo Joshua! Fuck nuclear power? Well it’s your website and this probably won’t make the cut, but dude open your mind. I wasn’t calling for nuclear power, it’s a viable we know it works option. Tilting at wind mills, solar power, and ethanol are a joke. But then again, so is “Global Warming”. As William Jefferson Clinton once said, “it’s not reality that’s important but the perception of reality that is”. That would be referring to the Government looking like they are doing something.

  19. David Alan Smith said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:31pm #

    Jim, I will congratulate you on figuring out that I was speaking about you. But, you didn’t seem to get that I was calling you out as a troll. If you were really interested in engaging people on ideas, you wouldn’t use the language you do. So, I invite you once again to go away.

  20. atheo said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:37pm #

    @ Joshua

    It’s simply not going to happen. Even if solar and wind are competitive in cost, they simply can’t replace the amount of energy we consume from carbon sources. Sure we could drastically cut back consumption, but that’s not realistic I’m afraid. It does look like all of the proposed taxes and cap and trade schemes are just designed to make nuclear competitive. Don’t hold your breath waiting for renewables.

    By the way, Jim, it can get a whole lot worse than Chernbyl.

    Check out this UPI report:

    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/64019.html

    Analysis: Nuclear resurrection on horizon

    By ROSALIE WESTENSKOW After a long lapse in growth, the U.S. nuclear power industry seems ripe for revival, particularly as the simmering climate-change debate reaches a boil.

    More than 30 nuclear power plant proposals are in the approval process, and in early March the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission authorized the first new site in 30 years that could potentially host a nuclear power reactor.

    Amid the controversy of capping carbon emissions, many of the technology’s proponents push nuclear as the only viable alternative to fossil fuels, especially when faced with the increasing demand for energy.

    In the past three decades the U.S. population grew 40 percent, while energy demand surged 47 percent. Within the next 25 years experts predict energy consumption will increase 34 percent, while production grows 27 percent.

    “When you look at projected growth and where we are today, you get the feeling we need to be do something besides standing still,” Christine Todd Whitman, co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and former New Jersey governor, said at a CASEnergy-sponsored event Tuesday. “Conservation alone will not supply the energy needed.” Neither will renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric, wind, solar or geothermal, others say.

    “Renewables have to be a big part of the picture, but in our world today, with the exception of hydroelectric, only half a percent of our nation’s energy is coming from renewables,” said Patrick Moore, CASEnergy co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace. “If we are really going to make a serious dent in fossil fuel consumption, nuclear has to be part of the mix. … Otherwise there’s no hope of decreasing fossil fuel consumption.” Currently, fossil fuels provide 85 percent of the world’s energy, nuclear power constitutes 7 percent, hydroelectric power another 7 percent and the remaining 1 percent comes from a mix of renewable energy sources, according to most estimates. Despite hydroelectricity’s relatively high contribution to the mix, Moore and others argue it has nearly reached its potential in most countries and cannot provide the large-scale energy production needed to replace coal.

    While the initial cost of a nuclear power plant exceeds that of a coal plant, if the current energy dichotomy stays stagnant and fossil-fuel prices continue to rise, American businesses may find nuclear power more economically attractive.

    “As the prices of natural gas rise, so do the costs of doing business in the U.S.,” said Keith McCoy, vice president of energy and resource policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. Soaring energy costs have driven companies to set up shop elsewhere, causing 3 million lost jobs in the country, NAM estimates.

    And while a carbon tax or cap on emissions might be environmentally counteractive if it increases the business emigration rate, encouraging nuclear power development could entice companies to stay and clean up the atmosphere at the same time.

    “The nuclear power industry needs a victory in the United States,” McCoy said. Although the U.S. nuclear rebirth is progressing slowly, officials have responded on several levels with pro-nuclear policies.

    Under President Bush’s fiscal 2008 budget, the Office of Nuclear Energy receives a 38-percent boost in spending, or an extra $875 million. Several legislators have nudged the nation to catch up with the liberal nuclear power policies in many other countries and advocate its use.

    One appealing aspect of the technology to Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., is its potential to decrease dependence on foreign oil.

    “(Our energy supply) aught to be homegrown and American-owned,” said Clyburn, majority whip. Another legislative proponent of nuclear power, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., actually published a book on the subject, “A Brighter Tomorrow: Fulfilling the Promise of Nuclear Energy.” Domenici sponsored the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that established several incentives to invest in nuclear power, including $500 million of risk insurance for the first two power plants. “We now have 30 new power plant applications at one stage or another and before this act we had none — zero — for a period of 27 years,” Domenici told UPI. What we ‘ re doing right now is watching the process unfold.” The technology has gained greater acceptability in many circles. For instance, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pointed to nuclear power as a possible path toward decreasing greenhouse-gas emissions in a report released earlier this month.

    “It’s less controversial now than it was,” said Matthew Letourneau, Domenici ‘ s spokesman. “But that doesn’t mean everyone likes it.” Nuclear waste raises concerns for many, including Mark Brownstein, managing director of business partnerships for Environmental Defense, a non-profit environmental organization.

    “It’s foolish to move forward with a nuclear reactor if you haven’t addressed what to do with the waste that’s left over,” Brownstein said at Tuesday ‘ s conference. Safety has also been an issue, particularly as power plants pop up around the globe.

    “What happens as this technology becomes more common in the rest of the world?” Brownstein asked. “We have to be really concerned about how this technology gets commercialized in the developing world.”

  21. jim said on May 31st, 2007 at 6:39pm #

    David Alan Smith: O.K. Me a troll, the language I use to engage people? What have you said that has enlightened the discussion?

  22. atheo said on May 31st, 2007 at 7:19pm #

    @ David Allen Smith

    Your comment seems to be an attempt to stiffle debate.
    Shutting down discussion simply leads to dogmatic nonsense.

    “Why are there so many apologists for global capitalism posting here? Don’t you understand that this is suppossed to be a forum for progressives?”

    This is not an ideological issue. If Chavez sells petroleum, does that make him a global capitalist? Should this forum be limited to “progressives” that hew to the foundation funded neo-liberal rhetoric? I thought this forum was for dissidents. I would suggest that you take a look at the interview by the Socialist Worker’s Maas posted yesterday at DV.

  23. Michael Donnelly said on May 31st, 2007 at 10:28pm #

    It’d obvious to me that the Earth is definitely heating up. Perhaps there is an uderlying natural warming going on and that’s the cause. But, why risk increasing it thru added human CO2 emmissions? I’m certainly not going to accept Alexander Cockburn’s blind spots at face value – after all, he admitted he got his info from a prof met over cocktails on a cruise ship! Now, that’s some scientific process. Not to mention, cruise ships are notorious pollutors and about as First World a habitat as one could find.

    And, I’m not about to canonize Gore et al. Gore had plenty of chances to do something about it – he famously stood by as Bill Clinton resumed old growth logging, yet now he wants to . What has he and Maurice Stroing (google him)done? Well, Al formed a carbon trading firm (selling CO2 indulgences)and has made a bunch of money. He produced a movie andmade a lot of money. He wrote (or at least has his named attached) a book and made a lot of money. And, yes, Gore has always been an apologist for Nuclear power and hydro dams, as was his dad – he was “a Senator’s son” and assumed his father’s mantle as Senator from the TVA.

    On the other hand, at one time ALL the world’s scientists agreed that the Sun revolved around the Earth. I never take anything for dogma just because many others are doing so.

    So, I’m into reducing carbon-emitting activities, for sure, as most of them are harmful in other ways, as well. Another reason to do so is that all these activities also degrade habitats (for humans as well as other species) – a serious injury to Earth (like those copper Prius engines) even if our CO2 contribution to warming ends up being neglible.

    And, oh yes, I also distrust industry-paid scientists and PR flacks. Josh is correct to be skeptical of their input. Cockburn may be wrong, but at least he’s independent.

  24. atheo said on June 1st, 2007 at 8:15am #

    Another interesting recent UPI story, does the MIC require new nuclear plants for their enriched uranium, the current generation is nearing the end of it’s lifespan?:

    Analysis: Why Whitman wants nuclear power
    By BEN LANDO

    WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) — Former New Jersey governor and federal environmental chief Christine Todd Whitman is heading one of a growing number of coalitions urging the United States to keep — and increase — nuclear energy as part of its energy mix. She’s touring the country with the new mantra that nuclear power is safer and more efficient than ever before — and, thanks to federal subsidies and potential climate-change legislation, economically competitive.
    “It’s 20 percent of our energy now and I think we ought to make sure it stays at least at 20 percent if not 25,” Whitman said during an interview with United Press International.

    “It’s not going to be the answer for everything and the be-all-end-all only form of power,” she said. “But if you care about climate change and you care about air quality, nuclear power is really the only form of base power that doesn’t produce some of the regulated emissions and doesn’t contribute to global climate change.”

    Fossil fuels are burned to mine, process and transport uranium to the plants. But they are also burned to build and dismantle plants, thus sending such emissions into the atmosphere. Opponents would rather see renewable energy and energy conservation become a bigger part of U.S. consumer culture, fearing the repercussions of a nuclear accident or an attack on a nuclear plant.

    Whitman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator from 2001 to 2003 after serving seven years as New Jersey governor, is now co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, CASEnergy. The organization, also co-chaired by activist-turned-capitalist Patrick Moore — co-founder and ex-member of Greenpeace — has launched a public relations and education blitz to convince the nation “how nuclear power can contribute to America’s energy security and economic growth,” according to its Web site.

    The goal, Whitman said, is “getting people to start to talk about this and think about this … try to build the public support for this kind of power.”

    A UPI/Zogby Interactive poll taken in January found the support is there: 62.7 percent polled said it was safe and 61.8 percent said more nuclear plants should be built — though only 63.1 percent of those supporters want a reactor in their community. The poll of 6,909 U.S. adults had a margin of error of 1.2 percentage points.

    There are 103 operating nuclear reactors in the United States now — more than any other country. Accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, cost overruns during the last buildup, and the once low and stable price of natural gas led to the three-decade freeze of the U.S. nuclear industry.

    But energy legislation in the 1990s and two years ago streamlined the licensing process and gave the industry subsidies to grow. It costs between $3 billion and $4 billion to build a plant now.

    The United States hasn’t licensed a new nuclear plant since 1978, so coal and natural gas combined have a majority stake in electricity production. The growing clamor to address climate change has led some states, and possibly in the future the federal government, to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. That wouldn’t affect nuclear’s pricing but could make it more competitive with polluters like coal, a main target of such measures.

    As the global industry prepares to increase the number of nuclear plants, supporters in this country have become more visible, and CASE is only one of the players.

    “It seems like new and varied groups are coming out in support of nuclear energy just about every week,” said Scott Peterson, vice president of communications for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade arm in some form or name since 1953 and sole funder of the CASE Coalition. The latest, Third Way, a center-left think tank, endorsed nuclear power last week.

    “Others look at it from the lens of climate change, the lens of economic development in their communities … and clean, reliable and low-cost electricity,” Peterson said.

    Opponents aren’t going to just step aside, though. Anti-nuclear and environmental groups alike want sources like wind, solar and other renewable energy to be given the government backing nuclear has received.

    “Renewable energy coupled with energy efficiency and conservation is the energy source of the 21st century,” said Paul Gunter, director of the reactor watchdog project at the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

    Nuclear technology has advanced over the years, bolstering plants against accidents and attacks — though not foolproof if the human hand either errs or seeks violence — and enabling more efficient electricity production. And the United States is far from an answer for storing or disposing nuclear waste.

    “None of the questions have been answered,” Gunter said of the nuclear opposition’s concerns. “It’s fair to say: ‘Let’s take another look.’ But when you look, nothing has really changed.”

    Whitman says she thinks other energy sources are important — though she doubts the role renewables can play and says coal needs to be cleaned up but is too big a player now to go away — in weaning the country from the foreign oil that makes up 60 percent of U.S. consumption.

    “Nuclear can certainly help us reduce that foreign dependence,” she said.

  25. Stephan Geras said on June 1st, 2007 at 8:57am #

    yikes this is a goooood debate, except for the brief lapses of religious fervor. I ride a bicycle as a commitment….that commitment has affected every aspect of my life. The arguments about global warming are, to a great extent, in my opinion, facetious and misleading. I don’t mean the science, I mean the arguing. There’s no question that we can no longer safely swim in, safely drink or eat what is of the earth without some human intervention. The arguments in my opinion, aren’t anthropogenic vs natural. We’ve compromised everything with a linear mechanistic world view geared for profit. Is there any equivocation about the fact that byproducts from industrial processes motivated by profit, not sustainability, have intervened in natural processes? As I walk or ride in cities that have greening as a project and policy, I can’t imagine that having to breathe and ingest waste gases from burning fossil fuels in clogged streets where anger and death rule, is really what humans need from or intended with industrialization. Some of these arguments remind me of the celtic tale of the little cobbler; in your wandering in the forest you suddenly come upon the tapping of a hammer, so you sneak around carefully until you catch the little guy working under a tree, and demand to know where all the gold is. But in your zeal to get the prize, forget to keep your eyes on him so he and the gold simply disappear.

  26. CH said on June 1st, 2007 at 9:37am #

    Alright, Jim. Can you kindly show your 10 references? I’m willing to take a look.

  27. atheo said on June 1st, 2007 at 10:49am #

    @ Stephan

    ” I can’t imagine that having to breathe and ingest waste gases from burning fossil fuels in clogged streets ”

    A good point would be that new studies have concluded that ethanol is in fact more harmful to humans in urban settings than normal gas, dur to increased ozone which does not rise and dissipate as readily. Thus a “solution” to global warming harms human health on top of starving the non-chosen.

  28. jim said on June 1st, 2007 at 12:41pm #

    CH: Do some home work: check my post as the first one on this blog. Also the UICC didn’t even mention the hockey stick in the most recent 4th edition.

  29. David Alan Smith said on June 1st, 2007 at 7:09pm #

    To atheo: Do not always read as if the meaning is on the surface. I have no desire to shut down debate. But neither do I have any interest in seeing another good website ruined by trolls spouting the Fox news line with no real interest in discussion, only in trying to provoke people.

    Oh, and if you really believe this isn’t an ideological issue… well, I guess I’ll just encourage you to look again.

  30. atheo said on June 1st, 2007 at 7:50pm #

    To David Alan Smith,
    Please keep up to date. Murdoch et al are now pushing anthropomorphic global warming as a crisis. Many have flipped on this issue, in both directions. I don’t think it’s appropriate to jump to the conclusion that anyone that voices skepticism is a troll. The provocation seems to be coming from your direction.

  31. jim said on June 2nd, 2007 at 2:27pm #

    To David Alan Smith: You have yet to add anything of consequence to this debate. Call me a troll? Hurting the website by mentioning FOX news lines? Maybe you could learn a few things by going here.
    http://globalwarminghysteria.blogspot.com/

    Bring out your guns big boy, there is more information on this site than you have probably read in your lifetime. I’m amazed the owner of this site lets you post. You and zip! J.C. Cheers :-)

  32. jim said on June 2nd, 2007 at 3:36pm #

    To Atheo: David Alan Smith is sucking his thumb while hiding under his bed. He is incapable of intelligent debate, and for that matter thought. This is a very divided issue, but name calling, and adding no thoughts the the discussion is sad!

  33. atheo said on June 2nd, 2007 at 8:14pm #

    Now we have provocation coming back. There is no point in flaming and I must say that it’s disappointing to see this discussion break down. This is certainly no way to disseminate news and oppinion. Take the high road.

  34. atheo said on June 2nd, 2007 at 8:16pm #

    @ Jim

    He called you a troll, so what? Brush it off. This is a controversial subject, expect defensive reactions.

  35. jim said on June 3rd, 2007 at 8:40am #

    @ atheo: I don’t care what he calls me, I’d like him to add something to the discussion rather than tell folks that don’t agree with him to leave.
    Jim

  36. Sunil Sharma said on June 3rd, 2007 at 9:36pm #

    Ok folks, let’s keep it somewhat civil and not resort to name-calling –especially accusing commenters of being trolls. We’ll happily delete posts that don’t stay on topic. DV may be a progressive website, but we try and not be doctrinnaire and preach only to the choir. It’s a GOOD thing if people who disagree with the content on Dissident Voice are at least taking the time to read the articles. To be honest, I often wish more leftists and progressives would be open-minded enough to read differing perspectives than their own. The comment section is open to folks of all political persuasions as long as posts are relevant to the article at hand and make an effort at being respectful. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.

    — Sunil Sharma
    Dissident Voice Editor and Publisher

  37. Max Shields said on June 4th, 2007 at 9:54am #

    Most here aren’t scientist – including yours truly – I’m interested in the environment as a living being who thinks we must pay attention to what provides all of us with the sustenance for life.

    Jim you present no facts. Some opinions which seem to give rise to your need to provoke.

    I agree with an earlier post that our consumption is really the problem. We consume energy at ever increasing rates that make almost any “solution” non-sustainable. Nuclear energy is a a commitment to 25,000 years of toxic waste and prolonged security risks and astronomical costs – and at best it would produce a tiny fraction of the energy required to keep pace with our pathologically induced consumptive habits.

    We define the problem too narrowly when we frame it strictly around global warming. Yes, it is a problem, and perhaps it will provide the impetus for action. But if the actions are to be truly effective then we need to understand the array of humanly designed systems which interact with one another – social/culture, political, and economic to mention three critical human design (and thus changeable) and integrated sub-systems.

    The solution is a combination of societal changes, re-channeling our economics around a comprehensive set of indexes that make consumption a relatively small part of the economic metric; and a mix of renewable energy sources and intermediate technologies aligned to what we know allows human existence to continue. We need, as is so frequently the case, to debunk myths and understand root causes and the dynamics of our ever changing ability to conceptualize, understand and apply sustainable solutions. For too long we have bought into Western notion of endless “progress” through growth and hence consumption. Like so many things, we come to believe that this is not a human designed system, but that it is somehow devined. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The politics of war and peace, the complexities of understanding tribal and regional conflicts, and specially nuclear war are all of a piece with the environment. The engines that fuel our destructive actions (Think: global preditory capitalism, an economics of needless consumption for starts) should be the focus of our efforts to resolve our systemic problem.

  38. Manuel Guzman Lopez said on March 31st, 2008 at 11:20am #

    As of to date {March31 2008} I fullly agree with this article. Thanks for your efforts against the corporate media.

  39. Paul Widdecombe said on April 22nd, 2008 at 3:40am #

    “But if global warming serves as a gateway for people to openly criticize our global economy, and God forbid, industrial capitalism — all the better. ”

    …and here we have the real motivation behind the siren voices of the AGW alarmists; pure handwringing self loathing. Bitterness at failure to succeed in our free world, combined with lack of will to survive in it.

    The great irony is that it is BIG OIL who have most to gain from AGW alarmism. The panel of the IPCC is dominated by BIG OIL. What makes me laugh is how the dissidents get smeared by association, when the whole thing is bankrolled by the oil giants.

    Do you not remember how before the GW panic we had the “millenium bug” panic, “nuclear armageddon” panic, then “running out of oil” panic? Havent you noticed that oil reserves are now predicted to run well into the future? Not because of discoveries of major new “gushers” of the type found in Texas & the Magic Kingdom of S.A., but through use of EOR (enhanced oil recovery) techniques which use, wait for it…

    CARBON DIOXIDE GAS!

    I am a big believer in using AGW as a “Noble Lie” in order to wean us off Arab oil, which I see as an essential component of the W.O.T. (which we are still winning), but I just cannot bear the idiocy of those among us who use it as a rallying cry for the end of their own existence.

    Sequestration techniques & cheap CO2 supplies are essential to continued oil supplies – as evidenced by OPEC’s threats to cut production if the decadent west continues to work on alternative energy technologies. It will be our liberation from the blathering socialist despots & the “Gott Mitt Uns” paleofascists of the world.

    When I say “Noble Lie”, I do not mean that I think that there is no truth in AGW; it may indeed be true. I dont believe the Hockey-Stick-Tipping-Point-End-Of-The-World-Hell-And-High-Water stuff. I’m not even saying that BIG OIL created the myth, merely that their relative silence creates the space for the carefully sown seeds of this nonsense to flourish. If they put the megabuck PR wheels in motion against, AGW would have been off the menu years ago.

    I am in favour of treading lightly, keeping our planet tidy. I have doubts about the environmental impact of this technology, but we will solve the problems as they arise, proving again that capitalist industry in democratic society, owned by hard working, honest, responsible people works progressively in an imperfect world towards improving our lives and security.