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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

You know those optical illusions where, at first glance, they look like one thing, but then on closer inspection, they turn out to also be something else? The vase that is also two faces is one example. Once you see it as the other thing, it’s hard to refocus in order to see it the other way again. That’s how the topic of vaccination feels to me. My transition from a non-vaccinating to a vaccinating parent was a revelation; it was like being hit on the head by a frying pan. It occurred over the course of an intense few days. While I can still rattle off the usual concerns among vaccine hesitant parents, I have a difficult time putting myself back into that mind space, because all the usual reasons for not vaccinating are not based in reality, and I see that reality, like seeing the two faces instead of the vase, every time, and through every argument. When my story gained attention, one of the first things people wanted to know was why I didn’t vaccinate in the first place. What was my reasoning? I had a hard time answering the question, because I’m just not in that mental place anymore. Recently I dug around, trying to find some evidence of my reasoning beyond just, “scary sounding ingredients and potential side effects,” and found this from April 2010:

I am so horribly torn about what to do…I read everything I can get my hands on, and I’m still not feeling like I can make a good decision. There are passionate, informed, intelligent advocates on both sides, with convincing arguments in their favor. It just drives me nuts. As a new mother I wholeheartedly admit that I care about my daughter’s welfare above all else, but I also think that what is in her best interest is not separate from what is in the best interest of everyone. It’s a really tough position to be in, especially for an over-thinking person like me. It seems like whatever I end up doing will be wrong in some way. I guess that comes with being a mom and I’d better get used to it.

And this from August, 2011:

It’s such a tough thing – when I am really thinking about it and reviewing in my mind all I’ve learned about the topic, I feel reassured that I’m doing the right thing. At [my daughter’s] last checkup, the [anti vaccine] doctor said most kids these days have had several ear infections by her age, and the fact that she’s had none is a testament to her strong immune system. Things like this reassure me. But then I don’t think about it for a while, and I see that scary pertussis commercial and read articles in magazines and newspapers about how important it is to vaccinate, and I start to doubt all over again…it is an agonizing, ongoing, uncertain kind of decision. The funny thing is, I don’t truly believe that [my daughter] would suffer from terrible side effects if I did choose to vaccinate her. I’m more worried about subtle, little things that you can’t necessarily attribute to vaccinations, but then again can’t ever know for sure. Slight alterations resulting from something artificial introduced to an immature system. I’m also deeply suspicious of “the system,” of the funding sources behind the research, and of people with an economic stake telling me what to do (when is the government ever right about how we should live our lives?). All of it adds up to an uncomfortable, tentative decision that in this case, at this time, I’m more comfortable with passive risk than with active risk.

This sentiment still resounds deeply with me, even though it is no longer attached to vaccination. As parents, we feel like the stakes are so incredibly high, and we only have this one chance to do it right. We’re not birds – we don’t raise a clutch or two to adulthood each season, able to become better, more experienced parents from start to finish several times in a lifetime. It’s a one shot deal. As a new parent, I felt a heavy sense of responsibility to do everything right, to strive to be the perfect parent, to correct the perceived mistakes my parents made and do them one better.

However, I have always had a hard time taking an ideological stand on controversial, complex issues. I suffer from a chronic case of “analysis paralysis,” where my natural tendency to see things from many sides can hamper my ability to make a decision. In the case of vaccination, my default mode was to take no action and hope for the best. I learned, at my children’s and my own expense, that passive risk can be a much worse gamble than active risk. I was afraid of somehow altering my children, of cheating them out of some unquantifiable potential, by injecting them with substances I did not understand. And even though, as my comments above illustrate, I was nowhere near confident in my choice, I did feel a sense of defensive righteousness about that choice. “Gah, her kids are sick again,” I’d think to myself. “She should have researched the dangers of vaccination and how they can compromise the immune system.” Though flawed, it’s a human tendency to rationalize and rank superior our choices against the choices of others.

While I don’t have any evidence of this other than my own observations, I have a sense that there can be an inverse relationship between the stridence with which one expresses one’s opinion, and one’s confidence in that opinion. Statements like, “I have made up my mind and no amount of ‘evidence’ you throw my way will make me change it,” are the tenuous, defensive kinds of things I hear from anti-vaccine voices. I see an incredible distrust of “big pharma,” yet a suspension of disbelief when like minded peers claim from within the echo chamber that they have a vaccine injured child, or know someone who does. I hear loud anti vaccine voices adopting a faith based ideology that has allowed itself to be tricked into trusting quacks, malcontents, false whistle blowers, and self-interested manipulators of data, over working experts in the field. We all admire the lone voice of reason in the darkness, the underdog success story, but sometimes what sounds like reason is actually lone wolf obstreperousness for its own sake. I see these things because I was there, occupying that cognitive space, believing it and even identifying with it.

Once you get into something deeply, once you have made an all-or-nothing stand, you know you will break if you bend. You know you can’t give an inch. So, like old Procrustus, you’ve painted yourself into a corner of your making, and are forced to start chopping off the parts that don’t fit. This is why so many anti-vaccine voices threw back their heads and howled “fraud!” when they saw my story. It didn’t fit the narrative – I was the black swan that wasn’t supposed to exist. Like the story of “No True Scotsman,” they claimed that no one who was genuinely and truly anti-vaccine would ever switch course like I did. In one sense, they were right. It took a few years, but finally I was able to recognize I was in a bed that didn’t fit, and so I got out.

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Costello: I’m asking YOU who’s on first.

Abbott: That’s the man’s name.

Costello: That’s who’s name?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well go ahead and tell me.

Abbott: That’s it.

Costello: That’s who?

Abbott: Yes.

We all know the famous routine. But have we stopped to think about why it is so funny, and why we can all relate to this kind of humor? Abbott and Costello are talking about two different things. They have different images in their heads, different perceptions of reality. I think that is why the humor is so universal – we have all experienced this when we’ve had arguments that stem from a fundamental miscommunication.

I have been following the Creationism/Intelligent Design/Theory of Evolution issue for some time now, and was interested to learn about Ben Stein’s upcoming documentary titled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The premise of the film as I understand it is that “Big Science” has been working to suppress any questioning of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and that anyone with a dissenting viewpoint is blacklisted in the scientific community.

The problem that I have with the entire debate is not philosophical, not atheism (Science) vs. creationism (Religion). The problem I have is with the debate itself. The way I see it, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is an explanation for the question of how, and Intelligent Design is an explanation for the question of what. See the Abbott and Costello connection? We think we’re talking about the same thing, but in reality, the two sides are are not talking about the same thing at all. Related things, but not the same things.

We can observe evolution in action. Ask anyone who has bred domestic animals or fiddled with fruit flies in biology class. Evolution explains the process by which the earth went from a primordial soup of emerging proteins to a planet teeming with life forms of amazing biological complexity. It does not attempt to explain the creation or origin of the universe.

Scientists see evolutionary processes at work, and individually they may or may not believe that a creator, or some kind of universal intelligence, set those processes in motion. Creationism/Intelligent Design calls this intelligence God. Since we cannot prove the non-existence of something, there is little value, in my opinion, in debating the existence of God. Atheists see no evidence of God, and therefore believe that God does not exist. Creationists see evidence of God, and therefore believe that God does exist. These opposing views likely will never be reconciled even if empirical evidence one way or another is discovered. People can be stubborn creatures and will believe what feels right to them, what fits into their experience of the world.

Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that human beings are classified as apes, and share a common ancestry with chimpanzees and gorillas. They often incorrectly distill anthropological information into an indignant sound byte: “those scientists are trying to get me to believe that I evolved from apes.” It has emotional pull. We like to consider ourselves as special and somehow removed from the evolutionary process that drives life on earth. We wear shoes. We eat with forks and knives. We create art. We make love in private. Well, most of us.

Personally, I’m OK with my relationship with chimpanzees and all other creatures on earth. I don’t have an emotional stake in it, other than being continually amazed at the beauty and complexity of life, and feeling privileged to be able to observe and feel such wonder, such communion. On a human level, in terms of how we relate to one another, how we treat each other and how we interact with nature, religion can serve a valuable purpose. Ideally it can help us to understand that we need connections, that we need a moral code in order to live our lives in harmony so that we can sustain ourselves and our place in nature now and in the future.

Creationism is a human concept of what, or perhaps more specifically, who, is responsible for the origin of all things in existence. Who’s on first, so to speak. This is something that science can neither prove nor disprove; at least it can’t yet. This leaves us up to our own imaginations, our religions and our cultures to explain and debate. This is something that is part of the human experience, something that we can discuss in social studies classes, in church and around the table. Evolution is likewise part of the human, or really global, experience, something we can discuss and debate in science classes, in church and around the table. They are related topics, often leading into one another and twisting around each other. But they are also different ideas, answers to two different questions. We need to treat them as such.

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This blog really is going to be about more than climate change. Really, I swear. But it was the BIG THING on my mind (before the missiles started flying between Israel and Lebanon, anyway) when I started it. I’m going to attempt to put this topic to rest for now (at least for myself), with an examination of some of the myths and truths regarding the science of climate change, and what what the facts are (and are not).

As best as I can tell, these are the most common arguments against responding to climate change, each followed by critique and explanation:

1) We all know that the earth’s climate is cyclical in nature, and that it has been both warmer and cooler in the past than it is now.

Remember how in elementary school, your teacher told you that if a question contains even one false statement, you must mark “false” on the test? We must keep this in mind, and consider three important facts:

a) We are experiencing unprecedented warming, not just a routine incline on the graph. For instance, the “medieval warm period” is often cited as being warmer than it is today. This assertion has proved to be incorrect (and was based on such “observations” as Norwegians in Greenland and vineyards in England). It is warmer now than it was then. In fact, what has stood the test of rigorous science is the fact that the “Little Ice Age” of the 15th-19th centuries was cooler than the “cool” period of the mid-20th century.

b) The climate record of the past several thousand years shows a very small range of variability – a “warm” period can be distinguished from a “cool” period by less than a degree (think of your own body temperature – a couple of degrees is the difference between sickness and health), and both can have environmental impacts. The current warming trend is set to increase 1990 level temperatures by at least three degrees this century.

c) The climate does not change all by itself. It is changed by things. This is a common, yet flawed, understanding of the “cyclic nature” of our climate. The climate is a system that is influenced by what is happening globally – it is not some sort of moody character that changes its disposition on a whim. These occurrences and conditions that cause changes in the climate are called “forcings.”

2) Since the climate is cyclical in nature (see above), there is no way to prove that humans are causing global warming.

We should all know that “coincidence” means “the state or fact of occupying the same relative position or area in space.” When scientists and laypeople look at historic and current temperatures, and compare them to historic and current atmospheric CO2 levels, they will notice a startling thing: the graphs are nearly identical. We know that humans are responsible for this rise in carbon dioxide levels – this is fairly uncontroversial. So how do we know that more carbon dioxide causes higher temperatures, besides relying on coincidence? It’s actually pretty well established. However, if a record of 650,000 years of greenhouse gas concentrations doesn’t impress you, you can always research greenhouse gases, starting here and here.

3) CO2 is a naturally present gas, which can be absorbed in many ways by the planet. Heck, I read somewhere that more CO2 is good for plants, and will cause our agricultural yields to increase. Things will adapt.

This is one of my pet arguments “against” global warming, and the most obviously circular one that the title of this post refers to: 1) Global warming is not caused by humans (increased atmospheric CO2). 2) Even if it is, it’s probably a good thing. Which is it? We aren’t causing it, or we are?  

First off, I’m rather proud of my little analogy about human body temperature and variability. I’ll stretch it out a bit here. When you have a temperature of around 100F, you might not feel so good. “Low grade fever” is usually what we think of here. When you discover that you’re at 102, you generally feel pretty lousy. And when you are at 104 or above, it’s time to go to the hospital. Much higher than that, and the enzymes in your body will begin to denature. Can your body adapt to a 107F internal temperature? Can we just assume that plants and animals, which have evolved over many millennia of fairly constant temperatures, will be able to adapt to comparatively sudden changes in global temperature? Does this make sense, given what we know about evolution? The issue is not a very gradual warming over a very long time – that we could probably handle. It is the rate of warming that we need to be concerned about. Sudden changes are not so easily adapted to and, contrary to what it seems, three degrees in a century is sudden. Many of the mass extinctions in history have been attributed to rather sudden changes in climate (before you think, “See! You’re proving my point about the natural cycles of the climate!” please see here).

We know that our current plants have evolved with a fairly constant level of atmospheric CO2. We also know that plants absorb CO2. Many people use this information (and a “more is better” mentality) to postulate that more CO2 is good for plants and will help them grow better, meaning a boon for agriculture. However, this is another case of things being more complicated than they seem, with recent studies indicating that increased CO2 levels will not increase crop yields, and will actually result in less nutrient-rich yields. 

4) Besides, it would be devastating to the economy to put measures in place to reduce CO2 emissions. The economy is more of an immediate concern than the environment.

This one, for me anyway, causes a dumbfounded, “Huh?!?” kind of reaction. But that, of course, is not very scientific, so let’s inject some common sense: Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource. Eventually we will need to develop an economy based on different sources of energy. How far away is “eventually”? I don’t have an answer for that, but given that we are nearing or have arrived at peak oil, I am inclined to think that it is necessary to immediately begin aggressively pursuing alternative fuel sources. I have used this quote in another post:

But in my view, tackling global warming is extremely unlikely to damage the American economy. What’s required is another industrial revolution. America is rather good at these. Britain led the first (coal and steam), but America has pioneered the rest (the internal combustion engine, telecommunications, computers). Each one only adds to our prosperity, and it will be the same once again.

But there is an important difference from previous industrial revolutions. This one requires political leadership; the market on its own won’t do it. As an Englishman I am often impatient with the notion of America as “the indispensable nation,” but on this occasion I think that it is. To combat global warming, the world desperately needs U.S. leadership.

While I am fairly pessimistic about our willingness to pioneer a new fuel revolution in time, I do think that if we had the will, we could accomplish it, to the benefit of the economy, the environment, and our health. Why do we so closely link consumerism and material wealth with happiness (more on that in another post)? How can the economy be more important than the health of the planet, our only viable address? Why do people think like this? Why can’t we see this as an exciting new challenge, rather than a foregone impossibility?

5) And, by the way, this whole global warming panic is being promulgated by a bunch of liberal commies who just want to scare people into adopting their anti-capitalist ideology. These people scared us in the ’70s, only that time we were facing another ice age.

I cannot speak for political ideology in this debate, as I attempt to steer clear of -isms. However, I do acknowledge that the implications of the science are sobering and yes, a little frightening, in their own right and without comment. I happen to believe that people tend to operate as crisis managers, resisting change until there is no other option. The “alarmists,” it seems to me, are not hoping that the earth will descend into environmental apocalypse – they are trying, as best they know how, to raise awareness to bring about change. What concerns me about people like Senator Inhofe and others who deny the reality and urgency of this issue, is that people who are looking for an excuse for complacency actively search out contrary “evidence” to put their minds at ease. It is interesting to note that much of the skepticism about global warming is reactionary, emotional and incredulous (I reference the the latter link as a common example of citing, in particular, two – and only two – climate scientists, John Christy and Richard Lindzen, in an attempt to downplay the reality of anthropogenic climate change). Interestingly, however, both Christy and Lindzen acknowledge that global warming is real, and is in part caused by human activity (oh, the power of agenda-driven quote mining!) The links above provide more information on this.

Finally, as for the “alarmists” of the 1970s, thankfully others  have taken on this task and you can read the piece below, and browse through contemporary scientific publications to see for yourself what the scientific community was saying.

The state of the science at the time (say, the mid 1970’s), based on reading the papers is, in summary: “…we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climate…” (which is taken directly from NAS, 1975). In a bit more detail, people were aware of various forcing mechanisms – the ice age cycle; CO2 warming; aerosol cooling – but didn’t know which would be dominant in the near future. By the end of the 1970’s, though, it had become clear that CO2 warming would probably be dominant; that conclusion has subsequently strengthened.

 What do I make of all of this? Honestly, I’m not sure that drastically reducing CO2 emissions will be the great cure-all for our environmental problems. I think the fundamental issue is how we view our environment – right now, with few exceptions, it’s simply a moneymaker, something to be exploited. I also think that, deep down, we have a collective sense of guilt, but aren’t sure how to reverse a centuries old mentality – it is madness to deny that human beings have had a detrimental effect on the planet. One of my favorite lines concerning our relationship with the earth is, “woe to the creature that soils its own nest” (author unknown). Here are a few more:

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope” ~Wendell Berry

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. ~Albert Einstein

After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager.’ ~William S. Burroughs

Environmentally friendly cars will soon cease to be an option…they will become a necessity. ~Fujio Cho, President of Toyota Motors

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. ~Cree Proverb  

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ~Aldo Leopold

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. ~Benjamin Franklin

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On a July 28, 2003 senate floor speech, Senator John Inhofe suggested that global warming is “[t]he greatest hoax perpetuated on the American people.” This became an assertion on his January 4, 2005 “Climate Change Update” in which he relies partly on Michael Crichton’s fictional novel, State of Fear, in an attempt to debunk the reality of climate change. For critical analysis of this speech, click here and here.

I’ll leave the science itself aside for now. What I would like to point out is Inhofe’s clear lack of objectivity and respect for science on this subject. He has done what I most detest in debate: he has formed his opinion first, and then looked for the “science” to back him up. He was “happy to report” that Chrichton’s book was on the NY Times bestseller list. He judges from the “welcome success” of the book that the “real story” behind global warming is reaching the American public. He consideres man-made global warming to be “an article of religious faith,” and dismisses the “scientific consensus” as “alarmist.” Inhofe turns on its head the idea of people historically questioning (and murdering) scientists who reject a religious worldview:

This is, it seems to me, highly ironic: aren’t scientists supposed to be non-conforming and question consensus? Nevertheless, it’s not hard to read between the lines: “skeptic” and “out of the mainstream” are thinly veiled code phrases, meaning anyone who doubts alarmist orthodoxy is, in short, a quack.

This is strangely out of synch with the reality that the idea of global warming was unpopular years ago, and only fairly recently have the “quacks” become the “mainstream” in terms of support within the scientific community. This is a case of people finally coming around, of advances in science supporting what the “quacks” have been saying all along. Inhofe has it backward.

More recently, Inhofe has responded with press releases to both Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and to the Discovery Channel’s special, “Global Warming: What You Need to Know,”  hosted by Tom Brokaw. In the former release, Inhofe ignores the overall scope of the documentary, and instead picks at details. He refers to Dr. Michael Mann’s “now discredited ‘hockey stick,'” a record of past temperatures that has been controversial, but is far from discredited. Other independent studies have produced nearly identical results. Interestingly, in every Inhofe document I’ve read, Michael Mann is the only scientist he targets by name who supports the theory of global warming (everyone else in the non-skeptic scientific community is labeled as “alarmists” and purveyors of “bad science”). I’m not sure what to make of this.

In his release responding to Tom Brokaw and the Discovery Channel special, Inhofe challenges Brokaw’s objectivity because of his “reliance on scientists who openly endorsed Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and who are financially affiliated with left wing environmental groups.” Scientific American’s blog has this to say about that:

These few remaining skeptics, led by Senator James Inhofe, impugn Mr. Brokaw’s objectivity by noting in a press release that he nearly got a job in the Clinton cabinet and that two of the scientists he interviews actively supported John Kerry in the last presidential election. He also points to James Hansen’s article in our March 2004 issue as a confession of just such a manipulation. Unfortunately that confession seems to be missing from the actual article.

I would like to point out that while in office Inhofe has received over one million dollars in contributions from the energy and natural resources sector. Hm.

Science is very different from journalism. The American public has come to demand a certain level of objectivity in news reporting – it wants both sides of the story. The problem with this is that, in science, there often aren’t two sides. The earth really is round, and to give print space to, say, the Flat Earth Society, would be a waste. In science, the line between objectivity and subjectivity is in a different place than it is in journalism. The “we don’t know how this works” pile is separate from the “we know this for sure and we can prove it” pile. While there are still questions about the effects and severity of global warming, the fact that it is happening, and that human activity is a factor, goes in the “we can prove it” pile. It’s time to use what we know to take action. 

James Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Judging from the majority press releases, it’s pretty clear that the committee is hostile to the reality of global warming. However, digging a little deeper, one can see that the ‘majority’ does not necessarily mean ‘majority opinion.’ The following statements have been made by fellow committee members:

Along similar lines, in an effort to protect the public from the dangerous trend of global warming, I have actively supported initiatives to cap carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, and legislation to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation, industrial, and commercial sectors. ~Senator Lincoln Chaffe (R-RI)

In their June 30 letter accepting the invitation to join the Dialogue, Lieberman and McCain wrote: “We believe it is important for legislators, business leaders and public interest organizations from the G8 and +5 nations to come together outside of formal negotiating structures to discuss a post-2012 International agreement to curb global warming.”

“It is with great pleasure we accept your kind invitation to join the Legislators Forum of the G8+5 Climate Change Dialogue,” they continued. “We will support the Forum’s efforts to generate productive ideas and exert a positive influence on the inter-governmental negotiations over a global response to climate change. We look forward to the Dialogue’s February 2007 meeting here in Washington D.C.”  ~July 7, 2006 press release.

It is high time to stop relying on technicalities and finger pointing to avoid action on climate change. Science tells us we must begin to act soon if we are to have a chance of minimizing the growing effects of climate change. ~Excerpt from Senator Jim Jeffords’ (I-VT) reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to review the Clean Air Act case regarding CO2 emissions.

As the ranking member of the Clean Air, Climate Change and Nuclear Safety subcommittee, I have advocated for stronger clean air laws and have urged Congress to do something about global warming which stands as probably our greatest environmental challenge of the 21 st Century. ~Senator Tom Carper (D-DE).

Click here for a full list of committee members.

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In my ongoing search for a logical explanation as to why some people continue to debate the reality of global warming, I found this at Nova’s website:

There is a third reason why people reject the idea of man-made climate change. It is my observation that on the whole people tend to believe what is convenient to them. Faced with a choice between an awkward fact and a comforting fiction, most people will take the fiction any day. And global warming is certainly inconvenient. Just when we have finally freed ourselves from the tedium of tilling the earth and gotten nice and comfortable with a big TV, central heating, cheap flights to exotic destinations, and an armor-plated all-terrain vehicle for nipping down to the mall, along come some bloody scientists to tell us that we can’t go on as we are and as we like doing.

I have a sneaking sympathy for those conservatives who seem to regard the greenhouse effect as an unwarranted interference with the workings of the free-market economy. But as a bit of a political conservative myself, I have always thought that the guiding spirit of conservatism was the determination to see the world as it really is, to cast away the rose-tinted spectacles. Global warming is nothing less than a fact, and it has to be faced.

In my experience, these skeptics of the third kind are much more prevalent in the USA than in Europe. I think this may be partly to do with a particularly American attitude to money. American rhetoric tends to present prosperity as the natural consequence of political freedom. Like democracy, it becomes a moral good in its own right. Anyone who seems to question the wisdom of unconstrained economic growth risks appearing un-American, if not downright immoral.

Taking the lead

But in my view, tackling global warming is extremely unlikely to damage the American economy. What’s required is another industrial revolution. America is rather good at these. Britain led the first (coal and steam), but America has pioneered the rest (the internal combustion engine, telecommunications, computers). Each one only adds to our prosperity, and it will be the same once again.

But there is an important difference from previous industrial revolutions. This one requires political leadership; the market on its own won’t do it. As an Englishman I am often impatient with the notion of America as “the indispensable nation,” but on this occasion I think that it is. To combat global warming, the world desperately needs U.S. leadership.

I am optimistic enough to believe that we won’t have to wait much longer. The pace of global warming is now quickening to the point where it will soon be obvious to everyone. When you can discuss the question sitting at a pavement café in London in November in your shirtsleeves, you just know something is up, and all skepticism becomes moot.

For more on the science of global warming, click here.

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