Let’s Try for some Reading Comprehension, Folks

Elon Musk recently commented on the global warming debate with comments along the eminently reasonable lines of:

If you ask a scientist if they’re sure that human activity is causing climate change, they should say no, because we can’t be sure. But if you ask them if we should continue pumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, they should also say no, because we’re essentially running an experiment whose end result we don’t know. So we should lean towards sustainable energy production and consumption. We don’t need to cause people immediate suffering in their economic lives, but we’ll need sustainable energy in the future, so why not start in that direction now?

Note the refreshing lack of alarmism.

Dude on Google+ commented with a list of links to why current models that predict global warming are deficient in several areas. This is actually orthogonal to the entire point Elon’s statement and my reaction to it.

Herewith my response (it’s been a slow morning and I had a little snark to burn off):

Dude, lighten up. If you had bothered to do a little googling instead of mindless knee-jerking, you’d realize that you are in fact preaching to the choir. I have read through the CRU source code, you know.

A few problems with your comment:

First, you have wilfully ignored the actual, you know, CONTENT of my post, viz: the perspicacious reader reader must infer that Svensmark et al. are just as Kuhnian-ly challenged as Briffa, Mann, et al. And most crucially, my statement that there is no pressing reason for immediate economic hardship does seem to have a TINY BIT OF RELEVANCE to the concept of “opportunity costs”. LEARN TO READ before you waste your own time and mine in mindlessly regurgitating talking points that don’t actually address what I wrote.

Second, burning hydrocarbons for power is STUPID, STUPID, STUPID even if there is no effect from atmospheric CO2, because they are far better employed as feedstock for plastics.

Third, burning hydrocarbons SMELL BAD and are a HEALTH HAZARD. Or have you never met anyone in your obviously sheltered existence with asthma?

Fourth, hydrocarbons are going to run out sometime in geological time anyway, so why not get in on the market early? If we as a civilization are ever going to level up on the Kardashev scale, hydrocarbons are just not going to cut it.

Fifth, you seem to have misapprehended a just slightly important bit of context: Elon Musk wants to LIVE ON MARS. Last I heard, there’s not a whole lot of oil on Mars. If you want to freeze on Titan just so you can have your precious hydrocarbons, go right ahead.

Sixth, living in a stinky blue cloud of 19th-century tech is JUST NOT VERY GEEKY. I’ll be exploring the solar system in my polywell runabout — fuelled by a bottle of water and a cup of Borax — while you’re dying choking on the vomitous excrescences of your Victorian explodey-machine.

Seventh, I am by political inclination a minarchist, and hydrocarbon power tends to incentivize natural monopoly and hierarchical control, whether by cartels, multinational corporations or increasingly overreaching governments. I am in favour of the devolution of all kinds of power, whether political or physical.

So to sum up, in the future, please try to hold yourself back with the small-minded knee-jerk reactions to people and topics you obviously have never actually bothered to actually, you know, INVESTIGATE. Instead, please try to decide on the actual MERITS of the PARTICULAR SITUATION, viz. a particular post by a particular person, as opposed to lapping up and regurgitating the context-less self-serving propaganda of your favoured political team.

Even if everyone you link to is actually correct — and as I note above, I am in fact inclined to think that they are — their conclusions ARE NOT THE SUM TOTAL OF ALL FACTORS. There’s a bigger picture, dude. Try to keep that in mind in the future.