Barack Obama, Stephen Harper, climate change, and Herbert Hoover

Anyone with a keen interest in American history will want to pick up this month's issue of Harper's magazine.

Writer Kevin Baker has written an amazing article called "Barack Hoover Obama: The Best and Brightest Blow It Again", which compares the U.S. president not to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but to Herbert Hoover.

Hoover was considered a brilliant candidate when he was elected  as president at the head of the Republican ticket in 1928. As the Great Depression unfolded following the October 1929 stock market crash, Baker writes that  Hoover was aware of the magnitude of the problem and tried to mobilize a global response.

In the end, however, Hoover was a captive of the thinking of the previous decade, relying heavily on business leaders who humoured him. But those executives didn't follow through with actions that would have alleviated the suffering of tens of millions of Americans.

Baker argues that Obama is a captive of 1990s thinking--an era that also celebrated business leaders as great problem solvers.

Witness his appointment of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers--two great financial deregulators trapped in 1990s thinking--as his main economic gurus.

And Obama's incrementalism, infused by the ideology of the Clinton White House, will prevent the types of radical changes necessary to cope with  today's monumental problems, including climate change.

During the recent G-8 summit in Italy, Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and other world leaders made a big deal out of funding the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

This is precisely the type of initiative that will warm the hearts of the oilsands developers, who can tell everyone that we're studying how to solve the problem of excessive carbon emissions. It's a Hooverian response.

The reality, according to a 2006 Parliamentary Information and Research Service paper, is that carbon capture and storage will cost between $30 to $91 per tonne, which is "a comparatively high cost for mitigating carbon emissions".

In order to prevent millions of deaths linked to climate change, the industrialized countries will have to do a lot more than invest a few dollars into researching carbon capture and storage.

Obama and Harper could start by refusing to  divert any more  tax dollars to bail out troubled automobile companies, whose products have been a major contributor to the problem. Then they could try to raise global awareness of the consequences of peak oil--and develop appropriate policies in response to this reality.

Only then will Obama and Harper avoid comparisons to Herbert Hoover, who flubbed one of the greatest challenges of the 20th century.

Comments (3) Add New Comment
There has been atmospheric cooling the last 8 years, and no new high global annual temperatures in the last 11 years. Anthropogenic (or man caused) global warming is not proved. None of the computer models replicate this fact.

The global warming adherents base their argument of proof on more than 20 different computer models called general circulation models (also known as global climate models or GCMs). Each computer model is composed of dozens of mathematical equations representing known scientific laws, theories, and hypotheses. Each equation has one or more constants. The constants associated with known laws are very well defined. The constants associated with known theories are generally accepted but probably some of them may be off by a factor of 2 or more, maybe even an order of magnitude. The equations representing hypotheses, well, sometimes the hypotheses are just plain wrong. Then each of these equations has to be weighted against each other for use in the computer models, so that adds an additional variable (basically an educated guess) for each law, theory, and hypothesis. This is where the models are tweaked to mimic past climate measurements.

The SCIENTIFIC METHOD is: (1) Following years of academic study of the known physical laws and accepted theories, and after reviewing some data, come up with a hypothesis to explain the data. (2) Develop a plan to obtain and analyze new data. (3) Collect and analyze the data, this may even require new technology not previously available. (4) Determine if the hypothesis is correct, needs refinement, or is wrong. Either way, new data is available for other researchers. (5) Submit results, including data, for peer review and publication.

The output of the computer models run out nearly 90 years forward is considered to be data, but it is not a measurement of a physical phenomenon. Also, there is no way to analyze this so called data to determine if any or which of the hypotheses in the models are correct, need refinement, or are wrong. Also, this method cannot indicate if other new hypotheses need to be generated and incorporated into the models. IT JUST IS NOT THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

The worst flaw in the AGW argument is the treatment of GCM computer generated outputs as data. They then use it in follow on hypotheses. For example, if temperature rises by X degrees in 50 years, then Y will be effected in such-and-such a way resulting in Z. Then the next person comes along and says, well, if Z happens, the effect on W will be a catastrophe. “I need (and deserve) more money to study the effects on W.” Hypotheses, stacked on hypotheses, stacked on more hypotheses, all based on computer outputs that are not data, using a process that does not lend to proof using the SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Look at their results, IF, MIGHT, and COULD are used throughout their news making results. And when one of the underlying hypotheses is proven incorrect, well, the public only remembers the doomsday results 2 or three iterations down the hypotheses train. The hypotheses downstream are not automatically thrown out and can even be used for more follow on hypotheses.
Rating: -1
It's easy to hide behind "SCIENCE" and use complicated language and clever argument to discredit something you don't want others to agree with. But to claim that there are no consequences to burning fossil fuels, destroying topsoil and soil humus, and removing forests (and replacing them with tree farms, which are NOT forests and DO NOT serve the same ecological functions -- sorry treeplanters, but you're not helping) at many thousands of times the rates that they take to form on the biosphere simply defies common sense.

Hiding behind the "there's no proof" argument because you're afraid to make changes is like waiting until your house falls down to repair it.
Rating: -1
Interesting arguments. Cite your sources. Scientific method is also subject to peer review and reproducibility. And I don't have to SHOUT THAT AT YOU for you to know what I mean.
Rating: -1
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.