George Bush's "Wager"
Pascal argues that it is always a better "bet" to believe in God, because the expected value to be gained from believing in God is always greater than the expected value resulting from non-belief.
Portrait of Blaise Pascal
Well President Bush doesn't believe in Global Warming. He is making the "big wager" with all of the world's future. His administration has stated one thing (6/11/01):
There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.And yet the actions of this Administration has been to interfere with the investigation of Global Warming, to suppress international dissemination of information about Global Warming and to work with Big Oil to suppress science.
Yet, the Academy's report tells us that we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming. We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future. We do not know how fast change will occur, or even how some of our actions could impact it.
In 2002, Exxon-Mobil successfully pressured the White House to undermine support for Dr. Robert Watson, who was then the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1996.
And it was just a few months ago that it was revealed how Philip Cooney, the former chief of staff to President Bush's Council on Environmental Quality, was let go after it was revealed that he had deleted and watered down references to global warming. Just days later, it was announced he had been hired by Exxon Mobil. You just can't make up this stuff!
More recently, it was reported that the United States exerted pressure to tone down references to global warming in the G-8 statement on climate change. The Christian Science Monitor noted:
The draft statement shows that the Bush administration is engaged in an "extraordinary effort" to "undermine completely the science of climate change and show that the US position has hardened during the G-8 negotiations. They [the leaked documents] also reveal that the White House has withdrawn from a crucial United Nations commitment to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions."This news story summarizes:
The documents show that Washington officials:This President and his cronies are acting once again against the public interest. And now we have Katrina, a hurricane that has devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.
Removed all reference to the fact that climate change is a 'serious threat to human health and to ecosystems';
Deleted any suggestion that global warming has already started;
Expunged any suggestion that human activity was to blame for climate change.
Among the sentences removed was the following: 'Unless urgent action is taken, there will be a growing risk of adverse effects on economic development, human health and the natural environment, and of irreversible long-term changes to our climate and oceans.'
Photo from NOLA.com "An Elderly resident is rescued from chest-high floodwaters by two New Orleans police officers."
Graph of Category 4-5 Hurricanes
Dr. Peter J. Webster, Professor, Joint Appointment with School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
And experts are reporting that these violent hurricanes are not a coincidence. As reported in USA Today, about an article published in the magazine "Science":
While studies have not found an overall increase in tropical systems worldwide, the number of storms reaching categories 4 and 5 grew from about 11 per year in the 1970s to 18 per year since 1990, according to a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.Kerry Emanuel, professor at MIT's Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences thinks there is a link between serious hurricanes and global warming. He published on this subject in "Nature Magazine" last month.
Peter J. Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology said it's the warm water vapor from the oceans that drives tropical storms, and as the water gets warmer the amount of evaporation increases, providing more fuel for the tempests. Between 1970 and 2004 the average sea surface temperature in the tropics rose nearly 1°F.
Co-author Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said the researchers can't say rising sea-surface temperatures caused Hurricane Katrina. But their study shows the potential for more Katrina-like events to occur, he said.
Katrina was a category 5 storm at sea and was category 4 when it made landfall. The increase in storms they found is for category 4 and 5. Category 4 storms have wind speeds of 131 mph to 155 mph and Category 5 is for storms with sustained winds of 156 mph and over. (Related graphic: Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.)
Co-author Judith Curry of Georgia Tech said the team is confident that the measured increase in sea surface temperatures is associated with global warming, adding that the increase in category 4 and 5 storms "certainly has an element that global warming is contributing to."
Kerry Emanuel photo
On the "Living on Earth" television show, he stated:
GELLERMAN: When you look at the planet globally and you're looking at hurricanes, what is the effect of man-made warming upon the intensity and duration of the hurricanes we have now, and may have in the future?Emanuel knows that global warming is real and the effect on hurricanes is obvious. He is a scientist who studies this stuff.
EMANUEL: We think we're seeing a signal that the intensity of hurricanes is going up owing to global warming, and their duration is increasing, as well. And this has us worried. In terms of the influence of this on the rest of the world, I think it can't be stressed enough that in the United States we have been enormously successful in reducing the loss of life. As horrible as Katrina has been – and it is horrible, sort of a worst-case scenario – so our problem is economic. That's our big problem.
But in the rest of the world, in the developing world, the problem is loss of life. You know, tropical depression Jean last year – it was just a depression – killed almost 2,000 people in Haiti. Hurricane Mitch in 1999 killed 11,000 people in Central America. And a decade before that, a hurricane in Bangladesh killed 100,000 people. Now, this is really, really terrible, and our suffering ought to be weighed against that.
And meanwhile the Arctic ice is melting, likely to lead to elevation of the levels of the oceans and further climate change As reported:
A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.But in the face of all of the evidence what do the conservatives do? Just deny. Say it isn't so. Stick their head in the sand and tell all the liberals to go away. Anything else would smack of environmental protection, and that might cost business some profits. As the right-wing Charles Krauthammer has just written:
They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.
The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.
Satellites monitoring the Arctic have found that the extent of the sea ice this August has reached its lowest monthly point on record, dipping an unprecedented 18.2 per cent below the long-term average.
Experts believe that such a loss of Arctic sea ice in summer has not occurred in hundreds and possibly thousands of years. It is the fourth year in a row that the sea ice in August has fallen below the monthly downward trend - a clear sign that melting has accelerated.
This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period.But can we really be surprised?
What about Senator John Kerry? Way back in 1998 he wrote:
We must be clear: The scientific community is overwhelmingly confident of the reality and seriousness of greenhouse gas-induced global warming. Legitimate scientists rely upon peer-reviewed international scientific reports such as the interparliamentary Panel on Climate Change, which cites 150 years of direct measurements of land and ocean temperatures; evidence from tree rings and ice cores extending back for millennia; and on analyses demonstrating that observed changes are the result of human activities and that these activities pose a serious threat to our future.Thank you Senator Kerry! We need that thinking in America today! Global Warming threatens our nation and our world. Deadly hurricanes, flooding of coastal cities, extinction of species, and possible our own destruction is nothing to scoff at. This President just doesn't get it! Science is mocked, and we are asked to pray instead of using our God-given brains! America deserves better!
Self-professed experts financed by fossil-fuel producers, conservative think tanks, and partisan interest groups, unable to dispute these findings, have decided instead to rewrite science. Their findings don't add up - but then again, they were never meant to. Their goal is to confuse the issues, to trade sound bites for substance, and to convince the American people that global climate change is a left-leaning fantasy. They're wrong.
I am not ready to join President Bush on this "wager". The risk of being wrong is the death of mankind on this planet. Not just risking a soul, but all souls. It is time for new leadership in America!