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Greenhouse Gas Sources and Trends and California’s Response

I attended a lecture in the continuing lecture series on Climate Change, in Tolman Hall at UC Berkeley. The lecture was presented by Dan Kammen, Co-Director, Berkeley Institute for the Environment, UCB.

Dan Kammen

This was another general lecture on greenhouse gas emissions that was very well presented by an articulate and highly informed person to a university level audience. Thus it was very good, and it was similar in basic content to Michael Mastrandrea’s at Haas School of Business, and Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth. But once again, as with all of these other lectures which I have attended on this subject, there was essentially no mention of the root cause. Which is too many people. The overabundance of people causes the atmospheric pollution, and exhaustion of resources. If there was a small enough total population of people behaving, in aggregate, just as middle class Americans presently do, there would be no problem. The overpopulation problems are aggravated by nuclear proliferation, and economic confusion, and the overarching possibility of nuclear war. All of these basic factors must be considered together while discussing any one of them or a completely distorted concentration on a specific one will create unstable problems for the others. None of the lecturers embedded the CO2 pollution sub-problem in this larger complex matrix of problems.

Perhaps my overpopulation concerns are considered off topic from what these researchers are considering at this time. But, I would contend that if their topic is too narrowly defined then their results will be anemic, and will not be solving the problem but only propping up a single aspect of a failing complex system of problems. When those props reach their limits, become overstressed, and fail the entire system will come crashing down in a more catastrophic way that will be even more disastrous than if they had done nothing. What they are doing, with the best of intentions, will eventually bring humanity to an end position from which it will be unable to recover.

There is another fundamental problem with all of the “scientific presentations” which I have attended here at Berkeley, and that is that the very air of this city is redolent with bias. A true scientist must look at the facts which come from his carefully done objective research, and present these findings as clearly and objectively as is humanly possible. The reason that he as a scientist must be perfectly objective in his research, and in his findings is that once a scientist takes a political position he, being human, starts unconsciously fudging his data to fit his position. This becomes magnified when he is immersed in a community of like minded researchers, such as here in Berkeley, who because they are human will start to spin their findings to fit the community norm. This is a cascading process, and soon the data become so degraded as to become worthless or even worse than worthless, as that data becomes the seemingly reliable foundation for erroneous conclusions and improper actions.

If the public and the policy researchers and political decision makers are to make the best possible decisions they must have accurate information. Information which is biased at its source by the researchers themselves is compromised, and counter productive. It makes their findings suspect and the decision makers will ignore them, and their reports. Even the people hostile to some particular political action will wish to base their position on valid data. If they base their arguments on false or unreliable data they set themselves up for being made fools of, and failing in their quest. Therefore scientists must provide the most accurate information possible, and remain objective.