Science, Innovation, Politics
I watched it live; I was impressed by Stewart.Even considering Stewart's recent interview with Levitt, I don't think Gore understood what he was getting into...and I don't know if most diehards saw how tough the interview was...I have to give respect to Mr. Gore, though, in his role as an advocate. I watched him on Charlie Rose right before I watched this, and in spite whatever questions Stewart asked him, he managed to bring it around to his talking points more often than not.Probably 70% of this interview, while Gore is talking, is completely interchangeable with his responses to Charlie Rose.Mr. Gore knows how to stay on message.
It is good to let him ramble on unchallenged in his many untruths?This is a good interview only in comparison, I think, to the many even worse interviews he has had.
"We have all the tools that we need. What's lacking is political will. We have to make a choice."Exactly. (Though arguably the technology needs to be improved to make it cheaper and make deeper emission cuts possible.) It goes against your point nr 8 (open invitation thread), so presumably you don't fully agree on this?Bart
-3-BartI do not. It is backwards. We have the political will, we lack the technology.Don't you sorta admit this? "arguably the technology needs to be improved to make it cheaper and make deeper emission cuts possible"If it was cheaper, we wouldn't have a political issue!!
The great climate debate is turning into comedic entertainment. Humor and ridicule are more effective than rational arguments when one's opponents refuse to tolerate rational dissent.
Roger, Perhaps we just use different words, but when you say that "if it was cheaper, we wouldn't have a political issue", I understand that to mean that it indeed comes down to not being willing to pay even for the technology that we currently have. If one thing is clear in all of this, is that collectively, we lack the political (or econonical if you wish) will. I've said in the open invitation thread indeed that innovation is still needed, but more importantly in the short term is to actually start using the tools we currently have to a much larger extent. That could also spur more innovation, plus economies of scale would ensure the price to slowly go down.Bart
-6-BartYou are "affirming the consequent":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequentYou are saying:political will ==> action on climateand then concluding:no action on climate therefore implies a lack of political will.This is just fallacious reasoning. "Political will" is not measured simply by outcomes. By the variables that political scientists use to examine "political will" (e.g., public opinion, elite opinion, legislation passed, statements made, etc.) there is absolutely no lack of political will. What there is a lack of is effective policy. In the absence of effective policy all the political will in the world isn't going to get you anywhere.This is an important distinction as it gets to the core of our earlier discussion of scientists behaving badly. If scientists with the best of intentions think that the problem is "political will" and it is not, efforts to stir up political intensity (e.g.. by making overstated claims) and silence those with alternative policy views (e.g., me) are working two ways in the wrong direction. We need less political intensity and a more open policy debate.
Our changing climateI don't think anyone would argue with you that "we" need to use more of the technologies "we" already have. I 'm pretty sure my home state (Colorado) has some requirements around that. I also know that state and feds are funding a lot of innovation in technology.So I would agree with you, that "we" are probably not doing enough, but the question and probably what we disagree about is "what more should we do, through what mechanisms?".I would propose that this is fundamentally a political, economic and technological question, so climate scientists really don't have much or a role- except maybe to give us suggestions about what levels of greenhouse gases might be better to reduce to. But I'm not sure that beyond "less greenhouse gas is better" there is even a lot for climate scientists contribute there.I could be wrong.
Roger, Sharon, I think it is fundamentally a political and economic question, and neither scientific nor technological. The former two are lagging behind the latter two by decades. Roger, I'm not making the reasoning you accuse me of. I'm observing that we do far less than we can. (meaning, amongst others, that we don't make full use of the available technology.) Perhaps we define political will differently. Sure, everybody wants to solve the problem, but when the measures are perceived to hurt, nothing happens. I translate that as a lack of will. Perhaps it's not politico-speech, I really wouldn't know. Do you think that we currently do all we reasonably can? If not, why not?Bart
-9-BartAs a policy scholar I am not comfortable using inkblot terms like "doing all we can."We do "less than we can" in every policy area, e.g., smoking, public health, infant mortality, economic efficiency, and yes climate change. So creating an idealized standard of "all we can do" to measure "political will" is fairly meaningless I'd say.The question is not whether we hit some idealized vision, but what it is we actually do.
Al Gore dodged the geo-engineering question and promoted his preference for cap and trade. To understand the relationship between the cap and trade policy that Al Gore is advocating and the science of global warming it helps to understand that James Hanson is opposed while Ban Ki-Moon is supportive.If I were forced to take a wild guess it would be that James Hanson is opposed to cap and trade on the basis of the science while Ban Ki-Moon is in favor because of the politics.Watch Al gore talking about the linkage between cap and trade and global governance here.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es6q18kaTS4
"You are saying:political will ==> action on climateand then concluding:no action on climate therefore implies a lack of political will."If that ==> is the arrow of material implication, then the reasoning you just described is perfectly valid; the latter follows from the former by the rule of contraposition. Or, if you used the antecedent of your concluding conditional as a premise (no action on climate) to derive lack of political will as a conclusion, it's just the rule of modus tollens.From what you go on to say, it's clear that you're simply denying the truth of that material conditional, not criticizing the logical inference. Your argument is:(Political will & effective policy) -> action on climate changeIn which case lack of action tells you either there's a lack of political will or a lack of effective policy.
-12-JimIn a few more words to explain the arguments a bit more. I characterized Bart's argument as follows:Political will is necessary to have effective climate policy.I critiqued this as affirming the consequent because Bart appears to be arguing that:Because we don't have effective climate policy, we must therefore not have political will.This is a fallacy.Your argument is a bit different. You are saying:If we have political will, then we have will effective climate policy.So if we don't see climate policy this must indicate a lack of political will. But my argument is that effective climate policy requires more than just political will, in fact I argue that we have the political will, it is good policy we are lacking.Hope this makes sense, more later!
I don't go along with the catastrophe message and I don't think Gore really believes it either. But in fact Gore is correct that to a large extent the technology is here now. It's just too expensive!For example, simple insulation and heat pump technology would reduce energy consumption between 50 and 75 percent on most homes. Similarly home solar energy also works well and is here already. But currently you'll pay from 15,000 to 50,000 euros/dollars for a normal house depending how far you go.Electric cars are available now that would soak up the energy wasted during night-time base load at practically zero actual energy cost. These cars are still expensive just now. Range isn't really an issue because for longer trips (for most of us that's just at holiday-time) anyone could easily hire a diesel car, which are also now phenomenally fuel efficient.Factories can however easily use solar air heating wall panels that are probably the most effective green tech available.Making new power plants gas-powered would also be sensible and would save at least 50% energy presuming sufficient gas is available, which apparently it now is. Obviously a new grid is needed just now so replacing it with a smarter supergrid makes perfect sense.The irony is that all these home energy-saving measures would come down in price if people start buying them in decent quantities. How exactly to cause that to happen should be the real issue. However we are spending time arguing about a useless carbon tax, a worse than useless cap and trade bill, and idiotic talks about CO2 limits which is little more than kicking the ball into the long grass. Likely the natural gas power will happen on it's own mind you. Some zealots might not be happy that Exxon and other large energy companies will be controlling it so they'll continue to argue for more unrealistic ideas such as widespread wind-power.
"Political will is necessary to have effective climate policy.I critiqued this as affirming the consequent because Bart appears to be arguing that:Because we don't have effective climate policy, we must therefore not have political will."If P is a necessary condition for Q, that can be expressed as a material conditional, Q -> P (as opposed to P being a sufficient condition, which would be P -> Q). A necessary condition is an "only if."So your construction of Bart's argument would be:Effective climate policy -> political willWe don't have effective climate policyTherefore we don't have political willThat is indeed fallacious, though it's actually denying the antecedent rather than affirming the consequent.
Roger,I did put the word "reasonably" in there (well, the second time at least) for a reason. But I'll rephrase then. Do you think we're doing relatively as much to mitigate climate change as we do to work on other problems in other policy arena's? If not, why not? (Since we're doing close to nothing on climate change, I doubt the answer will be "yes")Bart
-15-JimThanks, very helpful-16-BartMore later!
BartWhat do you mean by "we're doing close to nothing". In fact many venture capitalists are funding many greentech projects, many uni's are receiving grant money (even from Exxon) towards the development of alternative energies. Solar panel production is burgeoning and tumbling in price so that even Walmart is buying them. Fluorescent bulbs have been banned, which will lead to LED's dominating (already available as xmas lights). Electric cars have been built and are getting cheaper. I could go on and on about the real progress we are actually making and every bit adds up.Or do you mean that you and your friends have done nothing and you are all waiting for big government to make fuel too expensive before you actually go and buy some green tech. Some of us aren't waiting that long you know. Not that I personally perceive any real climate change (assuming climate is long term weather trends) but it's only smart to get on board the efficiency train.
Bart:What are you doing about climate? Rather than talk about what others should do, shut up, pick up a hammer and make clean energy that poor people can afford. It must be easy because we only lack political will. Since the science and engineering of cheap clean energy is solved it will be easy for you and you will be rich and famous.We need a work for climate alarmists who refuse to enlist in the great cause of making clean cheap energy. The AGW version of a chickenhawk.
Bart approvingly quotes Al Gore, "We have all the tools that we need. What's lacking is political will. We have to make a choice."Roger responds, "It is backwards. We have the political will, we lack the technology."Bart comes back, "Perhaps we just use different words, but when you say that "if it was cheaper, we wouldn't have a political issue", I understand that to mean that it indeed comes down to not being willing to pay even for the technology that we currently have. If one thing is clear in all of this, is that collectively, we lack the political (or econonical if you wish) will."Bart, the "current technology" Al Gore specifically referred to in his interview were photovoltaics combined with a "super grid." Photovoltaics aren't simply "more expensive"...they are (presently) RIDICULOUSLY expensive. No developed country in the world even gets 1% of its electricity from photovoltaics.What's lacking is not the "political will." Photovoltaics currently cost about 30 cents a kilowatt-hour, versus coal/natural gas at 5-10 cents a kilowatt hour. That's not "political will." It's that photovoltaic technology simply needs to advance...substantially. Maybe in 20-30 years, photovoltaics will be competitive with coal and natural gas. Right now, photovoltaic technology is simply not competitive.
Mark, Roger,Quoting David Keith:We can make near-zero emissions power todayCost: a few % of GDP. In the rich countries that is:- Similar to the cost of all other environmental controls- A bit more that current military spending- Many times smaller than the cost of health care- A good years GDP growth(end quote)Expensive? Yes. Prohibitively so? No; it’s a choice. Why are we not doing it? It’s NOT because we don’t have the technology. People in general, and politicians in particular, downplay long term risks at the costs of short term gain (e.g. it’s difficult for people to quit smoking). I translate that freely as a lack of (political) will. (not in poli-sci speak, but in daily language speak)Bart
-21-BartSure, it is absolutely true we could go a long way toward decarbonizing economies simply by massively expanding nuclear power. However, it turns out that people have very different views about nuclear power and its risks. Some see it as a solution to emissions of greenhouse gases, and others see nuclear power as an extreme risk in itself.What you see as a lack of political will (to decarbonize), others will define as an abundance of will (to prevent the risks of nuclear power).Just because people aren't acting in line with your preferences does not mean that there is a lack of political will. It means that there is a lack of will given the alternatives. For me that suggests expanding the scope of alternatives. I see that as a much more tractable option than expecting that everyone will suddenly convert to your or my policy preferences.
Roger,Your reply hinges on Keith having only nuclear power in mind. In fact, he writes "Technologies that are ready to go at reasonable cost now:- Wind power (with backup & long distance transmission)- Nuclear power- Coal with CO2 capture and storage- Central-station solar thermal (with long distance transmission)"And I guess you can add to that list efficiency improvements.
Roger,Forgot to add:With those aditions (see my previous comment), I guess your first sentence could be amended to read:"it is absolutely true we could go a long way toward decarbonizing economies simply by massively expanding currently available low carbon technologies and efficiency measures"This has nothing to do with my or your policy preference (I have never claimed as much, so I'm wondering why you interpret my comments that way), but with searching for reasons why hardly anything meaningful is done at all to reduce emissions. Bart
-23, 24-BartYes, I was using nuclear power as a "for example" -- sorry for any confusion.The same issues as exist for nuclear exist with wind and for the others on your list CCS doesn't exist nor does scaled solar thermal with a new grid. They might in the future, but they will require massive investments in innovation, as I have argued. Political will is not going to make these technologies real. The answer to your question is that people are in fact doing a lot in many places to try to reduce emissions. You are confusing an observed outcome (emissions) with effort and suggesting the lack of the former means there is a lack in the latter. To get back to the original question, it is not a lack of will that is the problem, but challenges in deployment and implementation of existing technologies and promising technologies that don't yet exist at scale (or otherwise).
Roger, Those challenges are mainly monetary in nature, and as a society, we don't seem willing to pay for it (hence I call it a lack of will). Your mentioning that there is plenty of effort, just no observable outcome yet, is a little reminiscent of a smoker trying to quit smoking, so far without succes, and who then sais, perhaps truthfully, "but I'm really trying!". If you really wanna quit, try harder.Bart
-26-BartMoney is a part, but technological systems are deeply embedded in society and have a lot of other factors that keeps them in place besides money.But you are correct that people do have values for using resources besides those that you hold dear.Poverty is still with us, do wish to claim that we haven't tried to deal with that issue? Malaria? Crime? War?I think that you oversimplify the issue by saying we just need to try harder. There is much more to it than that!
Society has at least tried, with limited succes, to address those other issues. With climate change, it's only nice words, but no real effort has been made. Or would you claim that society has tried as hard to deal with climate change as with poverty, crime, health, etc?Bart