As Others See Us

O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!".
(I wish that some Power would give us the little gift of seeing ourselves as other see us.)
Let's be honest, both poles of the American political spectrum fear the same thing about each other; that if the other gets control a lot of oppressive weird stuff will happen.
Hank Campbell

The phrase 'rational politics' is so often an oxymoron.  Political wrangling is all too often about each side denying the truth of anything and everything that the other side says.  It is very refreshing to find a balanced and reasonable article about global warming in which the two major political protagonists seem able to see both sides of the debate by each seeing through the other's eyes.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research - the AEI - is a lobbying organisation.  It follows that it is agendist - how can a lobbyist not be an agendist?  Although 'agendist' is most often used as a derogatory term, we must always remember some key agendists from history: Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi and  Nelson Mandela spring readiily to mind.

The AEI is often associated with the global warming denier lobby.  In fairness, in an application of the aude alteram partem principle, I think, in all seriousness,  that the AEI deserves a wider audience.  Rational debate is good for science.

Note: in the following quoted article from the AEI, 'pure' should be taken as meaning 'unsullied by politics'.
Climate Change E-mail Scandal Underscores Myth of Pure Science
By Samuel Thernstrom, Daniel Sarewitz  |  Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The inaccurate perception of science as "pure" and therefore able to inform policy decisions by rising above politics has created an important obstacle to successfully addressing global climate change. Individuals and groups on both ends of the political spectrum have pursued agendas that do not acknowledge the fact that divisive politics and complex science can blur the line separating one from the other. Even in light of the East Anglia e-mail scandal, scientific evidence still warrants prudent action to offset the negative effects of climate change, though the uncertainties1 surrounding climate change and climate policy remain crucial.

Many Republicans have been too reluctant to acknowledge strong evidence of human-caused warming and the need for prudent policies that could reduce its harmful effects. Democrats have let their own political judgments and values infect climate science and its interpretation, often understating the uncertainties1 about the timing and scale of future risks, and the tremendous costs and difficulties of effective action.

We do not believe that climate change is merely a Trojan horse for a Democratic dream of destroying global capitalism. Nor do we believe that Republicans are so bent on maximizing the profits of the fossil fuel industry that they are choosing to consign their grandchildren to a ruined world. Yet these are only slight caricatures of the fantasies that each side cherishes about the other because the true complexity of the climate debate has been camouflaged by the myth of pure, disinterested science.

[1] - I would fault the authors for their unqualified use of the term 'uncertainties'.  The IPCC provides its authors with guidance notes which include seven terms covering a scale of probabilities of 1 - 99%.

Source: IPCC Guidance Notes ... on Addressing Uncertainties.pdf

Pollution and certainty

Waste products can be chemical or physical.  The most ubiquitous biochemical waste product is heat.  Living things can produce waste directly, through metabolism, or indirectly by their effect on their environment.  Single celled organisms excrete waste directly into their biome.  If this waste builds up in the biome the organisms die.

Multicellular organisms have mechanism to either make use of their cells
'waste', e.g. as bile, insulin, or they have mechanisms to excrete it
into the greater environment: the biome.  Humans have mechanised, automated and optimised these waste disposal processes.

It seems to be a part of the human psyche that we do not treat the waste products of our industry in the same way as the waste products of our own metabolism.  The machine is an extension of our physical powers, the computer an extension of our mental powers.  Industry is an extension of our metabolic powers.

It is virtually certain that the current experiment by 7 billion humans in attempting to fill their biome with the chemical and physical waste products of industrial scale metabolism without detriment to the species as a whole has no possibility of falsifying a universal scientific observation:

No cell, organism or species can ultimately survive in its own waste products.