Thursday, June 21, 2007

Neal Boortz is a moron: Pt 1

I'm doing this in two parts because I'm feeling too drowsy to write the whole thing at once, so I'll just quickly respond to one of the typical idiot things that I saw on Boortz's website yesterday, then tomorrow I will respond to another bit of militant idiocy from Boortz.

Here's it is:

"China is now the world's biggest polluter. Well, at least when it comes to CO2. Interesting, isn't it, that China is exempted from the liberal's favorite pact, the Kyoto Accords? "

When it comes to talking about global warming, Neal Boortz is possibly one of, if not the, dumbest pundits that I have heard speak on the subject. Boortz talks about global warming the way creationists talk about evolution, and will say something like "it's warming on Mars" smugly as if that someone how refutes the work of the world's climate scientists, much like a creationist might tell you that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.

Even though from listening to Boortz it is clear that he has not the slightest rudimentary understanding of the subject, he routinely pontificates about global warming being some big fraud/hoax. Again, like the creationist, Boortz "knows" that global warming is false because it conflicts with his ideological beliefs (i.e. his "free" market orthodoxy) and is incapable of accepting the reality of warming and instead conceives that global warming is a socialist conspiracy against capitalism, much like the creationist considers evolution to be an atheist conspiracy against Christianity.

Which is why Boortz routinely says things like what I've quoted above that are plainly stupid. They are stupid, but they support the "knowledge" that he derives from ideology, which saves him the trouble of actually having to think about too deeply about any given subject.

So what is so stupid about what I've quoted? It's simple: CHINA IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE KYOTO PROTOCOL. The Kyoto Protocol sets a cap on per capita emmission. Every nation that signs the treaty is bound by that cap. If you're above the cap, then you have to reduce your emissions; if you're below, then you can raise emissions until you reach the cap limit.

That's pretty simple to understand, right? I mean, Major League Baseball has a salary cap ... would you say a particular team was exempt from the cap because it's salary was below the set limit and thus unfair because a team that was over the cap would have to reduce its salary while the other team could increase its? No, of course not.

The other bit of stupidity contained in the Boortz quote is the bit about Kyoto being pointless because China is the world's leading producer in CO2 emmissions. Boortz fails to consider that China's population is four times larger than ours, and fails to tell his audience that the United States per capita emissions are four times greater than China's.

Peter Singer responded to this very common conservative movement myth about Kyoto in The President of Good and Evil, noting "The Bush administration's position [that Kyoto "exempts" China and India and is unfair because the US would have to reduce emissions] amounts to saying that the poor nations of the world should commit themselves in perpetuity, to much lower levels of greenhouse gas production per head of population than the rich nations have. There is no way in which that principle can be defended as ethical."

But Boortz is not capable of understanding that. His ideological orthodoxy inhibits his ability to think. Which is why he's also unable to understand that the Bush administration's failure to commit the US to own up to it share of pollution acts as an incentive for nations like China to disregard emissions control. Once again, we see where the Bush adminstration has rendered the US impotent on the world stage by taking away our moral authority on a given issue - how can we ask developing nations to work towards limiting their emissions when we ourselves have no intent of doing so?

Update: Commenter Tony brings up another excellent point.

People keep forgetting that annual carbon emissions need to be into the context of cumulative carbon emissions, since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for centuries.

A full 29% of the carbon released by human activity into the atmosphere from 1900-2002 is from the US, which produced almost double the carbon emissions of Russia and China combined.
The anthropogenic warming that we are currently experiencing is the result of pollution that the already industrialized nations have put into the atmostphere during the 20th century. This further illustrates the unethical nature of President Bush's and Boortz's expectation that developing nations be required to reduce their total CO2 emmissions on par with industrialized nations.

What's more troubling to me, is that China has begun to adopt President Bush's bullshit tactic of "addressing" CO2 emmissions by creating goals to reduce CO2 emissions "intensity" as a percentage of economic output. This is a form of Enron'ing environmental data, as improved emissions "intensity" says nothing about the total amount of CO2 emissions that are released. Indeed, CO2 emissions have risen while CO2 emission "intensity" dropped in the US.

1 comment:

Tony said...

People keep forgetting that annual carbon emissions need to be into the context of cumulative carbon emissions, since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for centuries.

A full 29% of the carbon released by human activity into the atmosphere from 1900-2002 is from the US, which produced almost double the carbon emissions of Russia and China combined.

China often uses the moral argument to deflect attention from its burgeoning coal plants, but when the US and Europe have been the main benefactors of the industrial revolution, you've gotta admit they've got a point.