Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bailing Out (by Phila)

It's amazing how swiftly we can act when important things are at stake. We were able to pass an $800 billion bailout bill without a multidecade debate on the precise nature and severity of the catastrophe we hoped to avoid, and whether or not the solution would work. We don't require unanimity from our economists, as we do from our climatologists; God knows His own.

Meanwhile, "ten of the world's richest countries have pledged 6.1 billion dollars to help poor countries deal with the effects of global warming."

Talk soberly about carbon isotopes, satellite data, and the volume of sea ice and you're a fuzzy-headed alarmist or a closet Marxist. Make the rounds of the cable news shows spouting words like "meltdown," "depression," and "investor optimism," and you're a gimlet-eyed positivist with an exquisite grasp of cause and effect.

One of the things that fascinates me about all this is that it's apparently still good to be "decisive." Lest anyone think we've learned anything in the last eight years, taking swift and decisive action in a crisis of one's own making still trumps thinking ahead, or acknowledging facts you don't like hearing. If a flood of ungrateful climate refugees ever inconveniences us as they travel between "a past place of expulsion, and a future one of denial," I'm sure we'll very decisively throw money at that problem too, in the form of bigger and better border walls, killer drones, mass surveillance, and detention camps. The important thing is that the solution must always reaffirm the worldview that justified the behavior that caused the problem.

All of which is a preamble to the fact that "the 2008 season strongly reinforces the thirty-year downward trend in Arctic ice extent":
NSIDC Senior Scientist Mark Serreze said, “When you look at the sharp decline that we’ve seen over the past thirty years, a ‘recovery’ from lowest to second lowest is no recovery at all. Both within and beyond the Arctic, the implications of the decline are enormous.”
Absolutely. And this calls for decisive action!

In other news, Christof Rühl, chief economist at BP, explains oil markets in terms that anyone can understand:
There will never be a moment when the world runs out of oil because there will always be a price at which the last drop of oil can clear the market. And you can turn anything into oil into if you are willing to pay the financial and environmental price.