Henry R. Savage: Politics dangerous for science


I am delighted that my recent letter on the IPCC summary has generated some dialogue and serious thinking about the subject. Mr. Carley and Mr. Wallace make some good, valid points. I surely hope the IPCC will produce technical reports that are adequately truth-squaded this time. That has not been the case in the past. It is very dangerous when problems of daunting scientific complexity become politically driven.

I remind Mr. Carley that the most damaging and embarrassing chapter in the history of science occurred when "most of the world's scientists" and the American Association for the Advancement of Science got behind the eugenics movement. It had gathered a huge head of steam in society and government. It was responsible in no small way for the Holocaust.

I also remind Mr. Carley that in earlier letters on this subject I have proposed positive work. I believe man's efforts to mitigate global climate change will be futile. If that has even a small chance of being correct (many scientists think so) we should be devoting some effort to development of adaptation strategies. By the time the need is obvious, it's likely to be too late. I also support pursuit of non-draconian mitigation strategies and ongoing research to understand the many questions remaining in this area.

Bill Wallace and I have discussed this subject on several occasions. I value his thinking. I remind Bill, though, of the "hockey stick fiasco" which so badly contaminated the 2001 IPCC work, and still does apparently based on the recent summary. That resulted from scientific work on paleo climate analysis of earth's temperatures which was in error and was not reviewed in an objective, rigorous way. We need to avoid early conclusions which are not well founded leading to poor public policy. The scientific literature on both sides of this issue is vast and only one side gets any significant airing in the public press. Let's leave this to the scientists and quit contaminating the scientific process of investigation with huge sums of money from government which are agenda driven.

Henry R. Savage

Steamboat Springs


id04sp 10 years, 2 months ago

You bunch of environmental yo-yos have eliminated soot from combustion exhaust systems by forcing us to have catalytic converters which promote 100% combustion, and result in higher CO2 emissions. A lot of the carbon going into the atmosphere as a gas would be laying on the ground as soot if it wasn't being burned completely up in the catalytic process.

Make up your minds.

What you really want is for us to stop burning carbon fuels altogether, and I think you really do understand that hundreds of millions of people would suffer and die as a result. You cannot produce food for 300,000,000 Americans using solar power alone. You cannot produce enough elemental hydrogen to power vehicles to move food and necessary items around using only solar, wind, tidal and hydro power.

You want hundreds of millions of us to freeze to death in the winter, burn up in the summer and starve all year-round. That's what WILL happen if we don't burn carbon based fuels.

This whole enviro-Nazi movement is about wanting to commit mass suicide and put an end to human suffering.

No thanks. I can live by hunting, fishing, farming and chopping wood if necessary. You go ahead and do what you want, but please, if you're intent on suicide, keep it to yourself.


techdubb12 10 years, 2 months ago


Have you ever considered that producing a surplus of food might be the reason we're experiencing over-population?

Just my $0.02.


clancyc 10 years, 2 months ago


after your first comment, I wanted to kiss you. I saw in your writing a perfect amount of both sides of reality. after your second comment, my lips dried up. I didn't see the balanced thought that I believed you to possess.

So, as a devil's advocate, I ask: Do you think that energy conservation techniques coupled with augmentation of energy production through non-carbon sources could allow for provision of life's necessities?

I mean, I'm with you, we're doomed as a species. We were since the moment bacteria started crawling (sorry god fearings). But don't you think we can prolong the inevitable....or do you just want to "adapt" (careful there, we could become something else(sarc))


clancyc 10 years, 2 months ago

words words words....Mr. Savage I really am intrigued by your idea about 'adaptation strategy.' I agree with that thinking and believe that we should pursue that scientific philosophy. As for the remainder of the article, I think that you use a lot of words to say nothing productive. I love when an ostentatious lexicon is employed in an effort to confound. Alas, you have played on our utter incapacity to comprehend. RighteeO, my boy! Confuse us and you shall win the day. I would rather you have tried to say something that would cause me to think long enough to consider discussing with my children. But that doesn't seem to be the case, because apart from 'adaptation strategy', I have already forgotten what you said. Oh the longevity of a windy diatribe. Have you forgotten mine yet?

Let me remind you Mr. Savage, that we once avoided 'draconian', bureaucratic regulation and let our sewage flow into creeks, rivers, and oceans. In some places, this is still the case. However, we found a way to treat our human sludge and can now virtually drink right from the treatment plant outflow. As for me then, I guess I support unmitigated, economy-killing governance in the hope that someday I can stand at the top of a smoke-stake or behind your internal-combustion engine and breath easy.


id04sp 10 years, 2 months ago

Well, clancyc,

Somebody is going to have to figure out how to obtain energy without combustion in order to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. Anybody who knows anything about basic chemistry can tell you that when a carbon compound burns (that's wood, petroleum, natural gas, etc.) the primary products of combustion are water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Period. This is why you sometimes see water dripping from the exhaust of a vehicle before it warms up. This is why you see vapor coming out of the exhaust when it's cold outside -- it's water vapor.

Plants take in CO2, capture the carbon, and release the oxygen (O2) as a waste product. The reason Earth is habitable for all us living things that breathe oxygen is that primitive bacteria produced it as a waste product and, over hundreds of millions of years, put enough O2 into the atmosphere to fundamentally change its composition. Oh, and they poisoned themselves in the process, and died out, allowing a new order of carbon-based life to arise.

Plants use photosynthesis to drive this process. The carbon is captured in the physical structure of the plants and the oxygen is liberated into the atmosphere.

The thing you need to do is figure out how to construct some sort of catalytic device (or whatever) to remove the carbon from the carbon dioxide and liberate the oxygen at a low enough temperature so that the carbon doesn't automatically recombust in the presence of that oxygen you just liberated.

Lithium hydroxide (LiOH) and calcium oxide (CaO, also known as "lime") both absorb CO2 to produce Lithium carbonate ( Li2CO3) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3, limestone).

Lithium hydroxide is a corrosive alkali, and when mixed with water, gives off hydrogen and enough heat to cause the hydrogen to burn. Calcium oxide is also a caustic material which, ironically, is produced by heating calcium carbonate to liberate the CO2 into the atmosphere (DOH!). In the forms that absorb CO2, they are both toxic and hazardous substances, i. e., something you would complain about as a "pollutant."

The original idea behind putting catalytic converters on cars was to remove nitrogen compounds and unburned carbon fuel, etc., and produce ONLY water and CO2 coming out the tailpipe. Wouldn't it be ironic if that's responsible for extra CO2 in the atmosphere (instead of other, nastier carbon compounds that would fall out of the sky in rain and snow)?

There's hope that a hydrogen fuel cell powered by liquid fuel (gas, diesel, etc.) could liberate the hydrogen for use in the fuel cell and capture the solid carbon as waste. That carbon could then be used in manufacturing or other non-combustion processes. The only other byproduct would be pure water.

My bet is that such a thing will happen, and it will be one of those evil oil company scientists in search of a profit who makes it happen. If so, GOOD FOR HIM!


RouCou 10 years, 2 months ago

"Politics are dangerous for science". I couldn't agree with you more. The bush administration appointed Phillip A Cooney as the chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Studies. A council that shapes much of what America's environmental policy will be. Prior to this position Mr. Cooney an attorney, was a lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute. In a government funded study conducted in part by Dr. James Hanson (head of NASA's institute studying the climate and considered by many scientists to be one of the world's leading researcher on global warming) was submitted to the white house. He (Cooney) proceeded to cross out and delete significant information contained within the climate report before being released to Congress and the general public. The acting committee head took out his authoritative pen and literally doctored the data.
Phillip A Cooney no longer at the Whitehouse, is now employed elsewhere. He has flown home to Exxon mobile. The audacity of placing an individual with complete ties to the American petroleum Industry in this position is quite unbelievable. So yes I would agree with you. Politics are very dangerous for science, especially when the science or scientist has past or present ties to American Petroleum Industry.


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