Global Warming - A Logical Approach

This post is rather long; if you want to skip to the meat of it, I'd suggest starting with the paragraph immediately above the first set of bullet points.

What of global warming? It is true that in recent weeks the politics of health care have stolen the lime light which was previously shining gloriously on the thought of man-made climate change with the passage of the so called Cap And Trade bill (which was recently discredited by the original author of the idea).

However, it still comes up in the news and in politics from time to time (which begs the question, “Is this really a scientific concept or a political one?”).

As with my previous post, I would like to simply apply logic to the whole idea rather than mess with facts and figures. I would like to figure out specifically what the Al Gore argument is. Obviously, it puts forth the idea that the earth is warming. But this in and of itself is nothing significant, since the idea that earth's temperature would (or could) remain constant is absurd. So it must be that the earth is warming and it is doing so at an unusual rate, either too slowly or too quickly; of these two choices, it is obvious the argument is that the earth is warming too quickly.

Additionally, if it were simply that the earth were warming at an accelerated rate and nothing more, there would be little more to be said. After all, if we had no way to affect it, what would be the point of discussing it. We may just as well worry about the passage of time bringing an impending death.

It must be included in the argument then that mankind is the cause of the said warming through not just his carbon emissions, but rather, his excessive carbon emissions – after all, carbon emissions are essential to his life and thus (most would argue) cannot be eliminated altogether.

Beyond all of this though, in order for the above to be relevant it must further be asserted that the warming is a bad thing. I know this seems like such an obvious truth it needs no proof. Indeed it does seem irrefutable. But we cannot forget that the time we have existed on this planet is minuscule. And the time we have been measuring planetary temperature is an even smaller slice of that already tiny existence.

This is a key point; simply assuming warmer planet is a worse planet is illogical. Plant nursery greenhouses and the diversity of life in tropical regions propose that a warmer environment is beneficial to biota However, that is not to say that a warmer planet is necessarily better either. It is simply to say that, in addition to the earth warming at an accelerated rate due to mankind's excessive carbon emissions, the argument must state that the warming is harmful.

It is reasonable to state that if an argument is made, support for that argument must be provided. In a court of law this is the burden of proof; without it, the claim is worthless. Hence, the Gorian argument of global warming has, through its existence, the burden of proving the following:

  • The earth is warming

  • The above warming is at an unusual accelerated rate

  • Increased levels of carbon dioxide can have a warming effect on the planet

  • The aforementioned acceleration is being caused by the effect of carbon dioxide mentioned above

  • A significant amount of the increased levels of carbon dioxide can be attributed to mankind

  • The said warming is detrimental

  • (It is also worth mentioning that for any of this to be significant we must be able (best case scenario) to reverse the warming or (worse case scenario) to slow the rate of warming)

Now using this list of needed proofs, we can derive a list of items we must know for these proofs:

  • The current global temperature

  • Likewise, the correct global temperature

  • Whether the earth should or should not be warming

  • (And if so,) the correct rate at which the earth should be warming

  • The current total amount of carbon dioxide

  • Likewise the correct total amount of carbon dioxide

  • Some sort of knowledge as to how atmospheric carbon dioxide affects the global temperature

  • What proportion of the atmospheric carbon dioxide is attributable to mankind, which requires knowing

    • How much carbon dioxide comes from man and

    • How much carbon comes from other sources (both natural and biological)

  • How all nature responds and will respond to the different global temperatures

That's a lot on the proverbial plate.


Health Care - Macro View

There has been a lot of talk lately about health care. Obviously. Opponents of the current House Bill, HR 3200, cite various parts of it as atrocities on liberty and the economy, while proponents dismiss the claims as out of context or fabricated. But I'd like to look at the whole thing from a different angle through a macro-lens.

Suppose the many claims of those opposed to HR 3200 are indeed false and that this is indeed only another option for citizens and is, as President Obama states, a way “to keep insurance companies honest.” Let us hypothetically trace the ramifications of such a bill, were it to pass.

Suppose the government payer option is in place for all citizens; what do the demographics look like? As far as I can tell there will be, basically, two options: a government payer option of some sort and private insurance. Not much difference there. I can also see there being three groups of people: those already on some form of government based system (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, the VA etc.), those using private insurance and those using neither option. Let's see if we can trace this further, seeing what would happen to each group of people.

The first group mentioned, those already on some form of government payer system, would likely change very little, as their circumstance would have changed very little – they would not have any motivation to switch to private insurance as this would be an unnecessary cost to their budget. They might switch from Medicare to the general government based system, but this would not change their finances significantly.

Now let's shift our focus to the group that was on neither government funded health care nor private insurance. They are the people who either could not or would not afford private insurance – they are not likely to suddenly afford that option. However, notice that a free form of health care has presented itself as an option to them. Given the choice between not paying for insurance and paying all of one's medical bills and not paying for insurance yet being able to be covered by a government plan, which will they choose? The latter.

The last group is those on some form of private insurance, either a family plan or in a group policy (e.g. through their business). Most likely they will continue as they are for a time, after all they were getting along fine before the government option presented itself, they would get along fine afterward as well.

However, those people will start to notice they can take a slightly more extravagant vacation or pay off their car a little more quickly if they divert their funds from their private insurance to other areas. Businesses will notice that if they cancel their group insurance policy, they can similarly divert their funds into developing better products or could cut costs in other areas to undersell their competitors. Suddenly, the private option is dwindling.

It is in this manner that our system would inevitably become entirely government run and the concept of private insurance would become obsolete.

Ultimately, one must realize that when an individual is presented with a free alternative to services or goods for which he is already paying, that individual will invariably choose the free alternative.