Slightly depressing

This idea that we can cut or delay climate change by painting the roads and the roofs white.

No, the idea isn\’t depressing. It\’s actually rather good.

What is depressing is that it is a good idea but when it was floated by Bjorn Lomborg everyone said it was a bad idea. Now it\’s being floated by someone who is not Bjorn Lomborg, people seem to think it a good one.

Depressing that people don\’t look at the idea rather than the person presenting it.

11 comments on “Slightly depressing

  1. This is definitely one case where the NewSpeak “climate change” needs to be replaced by “global warming” in your first sentence — the verbs become “reinforce” or “expedite” when applied to a change that happens to be a cooling trend.

    But it is a sad fact of human nature that some people only consider ideas when they emanate from an approved source — hence the usual persuasive technique of getting the other party to think that they came up with your idea first.

  2. Depressing that people don’t look at the idea rather than the person presenting it.

    Indeed it is, but it’s probably also unavoidable.
    If you remember a climate change debate video I mentioned to you some time ago, reactions to it from people I know who’ve seen it revolved mainly around the (perceived) character of the speakers and their background rather than the ideas they put forward.

  3. 1 – The only ‘NewSpeak’ use of “climate change” has not arisen due to those concerned about it, but due to those who sought to downplay its importance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz#Global_warming

    See also: Steven Poole’s Unspeak, which recounts efforts by major oil producing nations (then, the USSR, the US, Saudi Arabia and China) in the early 90s to have the phrase introduced in international agreements.

    This is not to say that “climate change” is not now a preferable term, given that “global warming” may suggest an unambiguous warming effect in all places.

    Furthermore, his blog post is misleading (I do not doubt that this is inadvertent): Lomborg did not initially “float” this idea. Akbari et al – the source quoted in the Guardian article – have published research on this going back to 1997, which predates Lomborg’s Project Syndicate article (the earliest I can find him referring to it) by a mere ten years. The Guardian article is similarly misleading by referring to it as “a new way to fight global warming”.

    I also fail to see the evidence for this ill-defined group called “people” saying Lomborg’s idea was bad and these (same?) “people” now saying that this idea is good.

    The idea might be cost-effective; it might not. Akbari et al are talking about it as ‘not intended to replace efforts to cut carbon emissions, but to work alongside them’ (note: this is the journo’s paraphrase, not a quote from Akbari himself).

    I am also quite surprised that Tim doesn’t pick up on “I just don’t see a downside to this idea. It benefits everybody and you don’t have to have hard negotiations to make it happen”. Akbari seems to be claiming to have discovered a free lunch, something which is obviously not true. White paint isn’t free and it doesn’t get applied for free: it isn’t costless either in CO2e emissions terms or monetary terms in itself, it doesn’t stay white for very long, and it doesn’t last forever anyway.

  4. I repeat for the umpteenth time.

    There is no global warming. If there is it is minimal, not caused by man and will have little or no effective impact on us or our economy.

    We can deal with warming. We cannot deal with cooling. Glaciers are not to be argued with. If you lot are wrong you have killed a lot of people. If we warming ‘deniers’ are wrong a few people will have to move a few miles in 100 or 200 years and over a time span of 100 or 200 years at a negligible present value.

    Is simple risk analysis beyond the warmeners?

  5. “Is simple risk analysis beyond the warmeners?” ‘course not; they can see the risk of losing political influence, fame, travel and cushy jobs.

  6. Hmmm. Painting stuff white might combant global warming.

    I wonder if they accept the opposite – more dark stuff makes for higher (measured) temperatures. We’ve certainly been building more roads and homes and ploughing more fields as time has passed.

    Of course it doesn’t help that the measurements have been comprehensively diddled, the weather stations are limited in number and quite a few are badly sited, and better reflect Northern hemisphere climate than global climate.

  7. Several decades ago, in the 70s I believe when the Global Cooling meme was around, the late G Harry Stine pointed out that the heat generated by the merely mechanical increase in friction caused by modernity would eventually require more cooling.

    He also pointed out that you could could the entire world by a couple of degrees if you were willing to cover Texas with aluminum paint.

    I don’t know if he was the first one to ‘float’ the idea, but it’s been around a while.

  8. What’s not to like about Bjorn Lomborg for the lefty? He’s engaging, smiley, reasoned and, crucially, personally quite diversity-compliant (he’s both gay and a foreigner).

  9. Be careful what you wish for.

    It’s widely believed that if the icecaps spread a bit, there’s a point at which the albedo causes the temperature to fall enough for them to spread a bit more, and so on and on until you (probably) get another ice age.

    Which can happen remarkably quickly, once it gets going: there’s some evidence that last time, the South coast of England went from subtropical forest to thirty feet of ice in less than a hundred years.

    It might not be such a great idea to meddle too much which things that in the end we actually know very little about. Such as the climate.

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