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Unconfirmed: Al Gore doesn't pay for his own carbon credits??

Global Warming Al Gore Carbon Footprint 2007

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#61 Palisades

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:15 PM

Bravissima, Specs
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#62 Julianus

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:33 PM

Spectacles writes

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But I do know that if we didn't need the oil, we would no longer have the need to meddle, as Solar Wind says.
If for no other reason as long as Israel is where it is I think the US will be involved in the Middle East. How our involvement is perceived will depend on the skill and knowledge of our politicians and diplomats. The Bush administration has shown itself to be abysmal. The "ugly American" lives! :(
9/11 says to me that we have to stay engaged and involved, not just with the Middle East, but with the whole Islamic world. Those cultures are trying to cope with inescapable western influences even as we try to comprehend the varieties of Islamic cultures that are out there, both Islamic cultures and the Christian West having strong imperialistic roots. Consequently our involment is likely to be messy at times.
Pax,
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#63 tennyson

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:42 PM

As Orpheus as pointed out many times petroluem isn't just energy, it is a vital hydrocarbon feedstock that forms the basis for a broad spectrum of our technology and we will still need it for something for a very long time. Energy independence is a laudable goal but petroluem has a lot more uses than fuel that it will take many decades if ever to find replacements for. I dream of a hydrogen fueled future but we will still need petroleum even then for plastics and lubricants and as feedstock for hosts of other chemical processes.
As far as the oil rich nations of the Gulf are concerned, except for the glaring except of Saudi Arabia, they have made extensive plans and sunk development capital into diversifying thier economic base for when the oil becomes nonviable. Bahrain has been at work since the mid-1980s building ship yards and repair facilities, aluminium smelters and developing thier tourism and natural gas resources. Dubai has invested billions into making them the equivalent of the Switzerland of the Middle East in terms of international banking as well as developing extensive tourist infrastructure that caters to the wealthy of the world. Oman has also been seeking to develop its tourist industry by scouting out spelunking locations and organizing national parks. They are trying to make thier economies less dependent upon one product because they know it won't be king forever.
As far as American support of various nations in the Middle East is concerned, until 1991 the single overrriding factor that determined our relations was the conflict with the Soviet Union. Before the Soviet presence the US had very different goals there. It was the American president Eisenhower who forced the French and British to give back the Suez Canal after they colluded with the Isrealis to take it in the 1956 Suez War. Then the Soviets started arming Egypt, Syria, Iraq and after the 1968 revolution Libya. Saddam Hussien was never "our" strongman. We tried to pull his Iraq away from the Soviet sphere but it never happened. We supported the Shah because the Soviets had been coveting the warmwater ports and oil wealth of the Gulf since World War II. Every Soviet overflight of Iranian territory brought more orders for American military equipment from his vast coffers and more American support. When Sadat of Egypt decided to break with the Soviet sphere that Nassar had so gladly joined we welcomed him with opened arms and billions in aide because it meant Soviet influence was just that diminished. It didn't matter what the domestic situation was in the various nations as long as they were with us against the Soviets. The same in Latin America.  The Cold War defined our foriegn policy for decades, and that struggle led to support of people who were bad just because they would give us bases or influence the Soviets didn't have. Economics is only part of the story.
Moving to the modern era, Kharzi is no "strongman." He was chosen by a democratic process native to Afganistan in the form of thier own council. He didn't sweep to power at the head of his own army and he has not employed the tactics of dictators or the previous theocratic councilar government. He was also not made a leader by our mandate. Anyone could have been chosen by that council and it happened to be him.
As far as being run by strongmen, the nations of the Gulf have instituted a host of political reforms that I've mentioned here before. Just look at my Bahrainian military thread. Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrian, all have made democratic reforms or in Yemen's case is led by a democratically elected government. Even Saudi Arabia has begun the process at the local level. Jordan is already a consitutional monarchy. Turkey has had nearly continous democratic government since 1922. But nations like Syria, Libya and Pakistan and Egypt are still ruled by decree. Egypt is our fault for not pressing for reforms when the threat of the Soviets ended and Pakistan is an unfortunate case of the alternative being worse than the general in charge.
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5


#64 QueenTiye

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:58 PM

View Postscherzo, on Mar 9 2007, 12:24 PM, said:

It might also be helpful if people like yourself didn't gleefully feed their propaganda mill, with anti-American absurdity like the above. You sound like a potential recruit yourself Windy. Maybe you should attend a seminar. An explosive corset might look very becoming on you.

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#65 G1223

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 10:25 PM

Oy Scherzo. That was over the top. You need to make down a little bit to avoid getting banned.
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#66 Palisades

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 10:49 PM

tennyson, the US has 20 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, not counting what could be extracted with more advanced techniques. The US also has an estimated 800 billion barrels of proved recoverable oil in the form of oil shale. If we only used oil for feedstocks for polymers, mixing into asphalt, and ingredients in other such materials, then domestic sources should be able to meet our needs for quite some time. The problem with oil shale is that it is currently slow and uneconomic to process the kerogen into an oil-like substance and the current results are equivalent to medium-grade oil. It should be sufficient for use in asphalt, plastics, and rubber though, and the conventional oil can be kept in reserve in case we need it for something later.

ETA: According to this link Shell looks like it is making some breakthroughs in processing oil shale.

Edited by Solar Wind, 09 March 2007 - 11:22 PM.

"When the Fed is the bartender everybody drinks until they fall down." —Paul McCulley

"In truth, 'too big to fail' is not the worst thing we should fear – our financial institutions are now on their way to becoming 'too big to save'." —Simon Johnson

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#67 tennyson

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 12:28 AM

I know that, and that doesn't change the potential value of oil deposits anywhere in the world or deal with the full range of uses other than fuel that petroleum is used for. Eventually with concerted effort petroleum can be made a nonvital resource with less play on the world stage, but the need for it in some form will exist and our burning it as fuel right now means less of it for the future.
The fight in my own state over coal deposits is directly applicable to oil shale and tar sands because the same range of techniques are used to extract them. One arguement says that this is only shifting the environmental burden rather than eliminating it due to the invasive nature of the extraction techniques. Myself, I see it as a sign along the road but not the destination.

Edited by tennyson, 10 March 2007 - 12:35 AM.

"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5


#68 Palisades

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 01:03 AM

^ I sort of see your point, but if we stop needing oil for gas and fuel and we consequently have enough oil at home to meet our demand for manufacturing plastics, rubber, asphalt, and lubricants for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, what do we need the Middle East's oil for? Sure the oil still would have some value, but so would letting the friendly people in the Middle East have their deserts to themselves.

Edited by Solar Wind, 10 March 2007 - 01:05 AM.

"When the Fed is the bartender everybody drinks until they fall down." —Paul McCulley

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#69 tennyson

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 01:47 AM

You're still not grasping the full range of uses for petroleum that our civilization has or the sheer drain they make on our reserves. I wish I could find those Orpheus posts because they explained it much better than I.  There aren't thousands of years of reserves to supply people in the US and especially not if we move from raw material numbers to economic viability. All of the easily available reserves in the US have been tapped. We know where it is and have either extracted it or are in process.  All that remains is either offshore or in very hostile environments or on protected land. Without the inducement of high raw petroleum prices will companies build massive seabased drilling platforms to get at hydrocarbons thousands of feet down or will they rely upon much cheaper foriegn sources?
It's the same thing that developed this problem in the first place, foriegn oil that is easier to extract and therefore cheaper than our own reserves, except this time the scale and nature of the problem is different. We can develop alternative energy sources relatively easily, in most cases the development work has already been done and it's only making it economically viable that remains.  We've only barely begun to begin replacing paretoleum plastics with say corn polymers or develop alternative lubricants and there are some things like additives developed from it and its role as a chemical feedstock in so many different reactions that we just can't replace. But it doesn't have to be from the Middle East it's just unfortunate that major oil producers seem to have a lot of problems like Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Venezuela, Columbia, Russia and so on. As for the Middle East the time when we could afford to ignore any portion of the world is long over and its time people realized just how interconnected the world is now. Even the most isolated controlled nation in the World, North Korea can develop the capability to reach out and hurt us. Isolation is not the answer, rather it is engagement with the world, but in a different way than has been tried before. I've outlined a lot of plan details here on just what I think this should be to get us over this recent cycle of violence coming from radical Islam so I won't repeat myself.
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5


#70 Palisades

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 02:44 AM

^ The US currently gets one third of the oil it consumes from domestic wells so those wells already exist, but fair enough, US demand for oil is increasing so by the time oil is no longer needed in quantity for fuel and gas, our current oil wells might be depleted and drilling new domestic ones would be expensive. However, one should factor in the costs of military deployments to secure the regions where the oil companies want to drill for foreign oil. Maybe oil companies should help the federal government to defray the costs.

It's possible that you're right and there's a way to engage the Middle East that won't backfire on us, but the US's track record in the region doesn't make me optimistic. If you can provide links to the threads where you talk abut that, it would be nice.

In addition to making the alternative energy sources economically viable, we have to make them readily available. Once the enzymes and chemical processes that can economically produce cellulosic ethanol are developed, we still have to get farmers growing enough plants to convert into seven billion barrels of ethanol per year while still growing the plants that feed us. Alternatively, with regard to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, even when inexpensive catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells are found, we still need the infrastructure put in place to produce the hydrogen gas and distribute it to gas stations across the nation. Pipelines would be tricky since hydrogen is a gas rather than a liquid at room temperature. I think these issues can be overcome; I just don't think that alternative energy sources are as far along as your statement suggests. Personally, I think our best bet is cellulosic ethanol produced from switchgrass genetically engineered to contain higher quantities of cellulose.

Edited by Solar Wind, 10 March 2007 - 03:25 AM.

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#71 scherzo

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 03:31 AM

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As far as American support of various nations in the Middle East is concerned, until 1991 the single overrriding factor that determined our relations was the conflict with the Soviet Union. Before the Soviet presence the US had very different goals there. It was the American president Eisenhower who forced the French and British to give back the Suez Canal after they colluded with the Isrealis to take it in the 1956 Suez War. Then the Soviets started arming Egypt, Syria, Iraq and after the 1968 revolution Libya. Saddam Hussien was never "our" strongman. We tried to pull his Iraq away from the Soviet sphere but it never happened. We supported the Shah because the Soviets had been coveting the warmwater ports and oil wealth of the Gulf since World War II. Every Soviet overflight of Iranian territory brought more orders for American military equipment from his vast coffers and more American support. When Sadat of Egypt decided to break with the Soviet sphere that Nassar had so gladly joined we welcomed him with opened arms and billions in aide because it meant Soviet influence was just that diminished. It didn't matter what the domestic situation was in the various nations as long as they were with us against the Soviets. The same in Latin America. The Cold War defined our foriegn policy for decades, and that struggle led to support of people who were bad just because they would give us bases or influence the Soviets didn't have. Economics is only part of the story.
Moving to the modern era, Kharzi is no "strongman." He was chosen by a democratic process native to Afganistan in the form of thier own council. He didn't sweep to power at the head of his own army and he has not employed the tactics of dictators or the previous theocratic councilar government. He was also not made a leader by our mandate. Anyone could have been chosen by that council and it happened to be him.
As far as being run by strongmen, the nations of the Gulf have instituted a host of political reforms that I've mentioned here before. Just look at my Bahrainian military thread. Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrian, all have made democratic reforms or in Yemen's case is led by a democratically elected government. Even Saudi Arabia has begun the process at the local level. Jordan is already a consitutional monarchy. Turkey has had nearly continous democratic government since 1922. But nations like Syria, Libya and Pakistan and Egypt are still ruled by decree. Egypt is our fault for not pressing for reforms when the threat of the Soviets ended and Pakistan is an unfortunate case of the alternative being worse than the general in charge.
I've noticed that Tennyson often makes posts that carefully debunk a lot of the charges that are casually tossed around by the usual suspects here. It's particularly nice to see it happen on this thread, because I was actually planning to come back and chop Spec's post into so much flank steak. I wasn't really looking forward to explaining why it's absurd to characterize Saddam as "our strongman", or how it's a bad idea giving weight to Osama's irrational hostility to our presence in Saudi Arabia. That would have been, like...work, and I don't have hours upon hours to de-construct liberal nonsense on a message forum. Obviously since my previous posts were "over the top" I won't to respond to this subject anymore, but I honestly feel like there's little need to, thanks to the above quoted.

In spite of my warning, I thought this would be a particularly good time to mention that posts like this and others, are making a favorable impression on me Tennyson. I haven't mentioned it before, but you're adding a very strong contribution to the mix here. Well done.  :)

-scherzo
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#72 Spectacles

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:34 AM

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Tennyson: Saddam Hussien was never "our" strongman. We tried to pull his Iraq away from the Soviet sphere but it never happened.


OK. Then is it safer to say that he was a strongman we backed in the Iraq-Iran War in the 80's?

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We supported the Shah because the Soviets had been coveting the warmwater ports and oil wealth of the Gulf since World War II.


Right. The Cold War was an issue. Would you say that adding access to oil wealth amplified the issue? Also, it looks to me like unfortunately, the old realpolitik of putting the Shah back on the throne and supporting his staying there by any means necessary naturally bred enormous resentment.

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It didn't matter what the domestic situation was in the various nations as long as they were with us against the Soviets. The same in Latin America. The Cold War defined our foriegn policy for decades, and that struggle led to support of people who were bad just because they would give us bases or influence the Soviets didn't have. Economics is only part of the story.

We're in total agreement on the above. (And apparently Scherzo agrees, too.)  It's sometimes necessary in world affairs to cast your lot with a despicable leader to avoid worse consequences down the line. And I think it's damned near impossible to know when it's wise to do that and when it's foolish. One thing that's certain is that there will be some cost, some unpleasant consequence, down the line. We seldom know if the cost is worth the gain. It's a gamble. But in the Cold War, we did support dictators who we thought were more likely to side with us over the Soviets. Circumstances pretty much called for us to do that. Same thing happens today as we buddied up with the Butcher of Krzygystan (sp) to have bases north of Afghanistan. (I think we've since had a falling out.)

However, economics did (and do) play a role. And on some occasions, most notably in Guatemala, we would accuse a democratically-elected president of being a communist-sympathizer if his reforms cost American multinational companies too much money.

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Moving to the modern era, Kharzi is no "strongman."

Right. And I don't think anyone has accused of him of that--but I may have missed something. The point I tried (evidently poorly) to make is that Karzai's influence does not extend far beyond Kabul and he is in fact dependent on the cooperation of other strongmen--the regional warlords--to an uncomfortable degree.


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As far as being run by strongmen, the nations of the Gulf have instituted a host of political reforms that I've mentioned here before.


Absolutely. Just look at Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon. All have begun to institute more legitimate elections. The problem is, democracy is not simply an automatic byproduct of elections. If it were, we would be well on our way out of Iraq and Afghanistan right now. If it were, terrorist organizations would not win representation in the governments that hold elections because the majority of voters would understand that electing hardline militants is a recipe for civil conflict, not good governance. But as society currently stands in the Mideast, it seems to me that the political reforms have not yet displaced the strongmen, the jihadists, the radical Sunnis and radical Shiites, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc etc etc. It's still very much a tribal society. And a virulent strain of Islamism seems to be growing and infecting it.

Turkey, by the way, which is as you say one of the longest-running democracies, also is afflicted with its share of Islamists. Even more alarmingly, so is England--which is far, far away from the Mideast culturally and geographically but has nevertheless seen an alarming rise in radical Islamist philosophy. My point is that, yes, there have been political reforms and that's good. But Islamism is an ideology that continues to grow. And that's the real threat. We need to find out what feeds it and how to stop it. Obviously, killing us some Islamists isn't working. How can it? After all, the afterlife is their goal.

From what I've read, Islamism is in part a reaction to Westernization. It's part fear of change and it's part resentment. If our need for oil is removed from our contact with the Mideast, if we have no compelling economic interest at the root of our interaction, then maybe some of the fuel would be taken out of the jihadists fires. Maybe not. But even if not, we wouldn't then have to worry so much about being held hostage by our need for oil. It seems to me, then, that it's in our longterm self-interest to follow former CIA director Woolsey's advice and work like the devil toward energy independence. We should have begun it in earnest thirty years ago. But we sure need to get busy at it now.

(Julianus, good point about Israel.  I'm outta gas right now, but I just wanted to say yep, you're right about that.)

Edited by Spectacles, 10 March 2007 - 09:37 AM.

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#73 tennyson

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 01:24 PM

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Then is it safer to say that he was a strongman we backed in the Iraq-Iran War in the 80's?
I'd go a little less with that but still on the same spectrum. He was seen as a counterwieght to the resurgent Iran at the time and we tried to buy influence with intelligence data, electronics and economic offers and were willing to overlook things like his military's accidental attack on the Stark. As far as Iraq's military machine was concerned his equipment came from the Soviet Union, China, France, Italy, Brazil and the former Yugoslavia in roughly that order and he was also supported by massive loans from the Gulf states who also saw Iran's brand of radical Shiism as a threat to themselves. Kuwait alone loaned Iraq $53 billion in the 1980s. Then he turned around and betrayed them with the international equilavent of a mugging on Kuwait. Our own influence was pretty light by comparison but still there.
We didn't really get involved in the situation in earnst until both sides started attacking oil tankers. Then the Soviet Union offered to escourt Kuwaiti tankers and we got involved in a big way to counter that which escalted into open if limited conflict with Iran.

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Would you say that adding access to oil wealth amplified the issue?
I'd say it did. It made the Shah's Iran more important and blinded a lot of people to the ground truth in Iran.

As for the other comments, I don't see any problem there although I think engagement with the Middle East not withdrawl from it will help the most in the long run. The ideas of achieving energy independence and working for postive change in the Middle East are not exclusory. We can support moderate influences in Islam quietly without all the storm and stress of the recent times. Supporting less radical interprations of Islam is in our own long-term best interests and will pay the most fruit in better relations. This has to be fought in the realm of ideas as well as in the realm of armies and intelligence operations. Isolate the general population from its more radical elements then either destroy them if they still are a threat or let them wither.
The violent core is a very tiny minority that wants to recieve the attention it gets from each act of violence. One of Al-Queda's central tenants is the use of apocalyptic violence for achieving political ends. Once you engage people with how many Muslims have died at the hands of Al-Queda and show them the truth of what they do then thier support base among Muslims drops.
Another issue is that each radical group is not the same and the sorts of things neeed to deal with each one is different. Iran can be engaged and contained like the Soviet Union until internal political change renders it less dangerous and without its support Hezbollah looses enough strength to force it to become a political player among equals again rather than trying to dominate Lebanon.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict I have no immediate answers for other than any solution has to affirm Isael's right to exist.
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5


#74 Lin731

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:48 PM

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As for the other comments, I don't see any problem there although I think engagement with the Middle East not withdrawl from it will help the most in the long run. The ideas of achieving energy independence and working for postive change in the Middle East are not exclusory. We can support moderate influences in Islam quietly without all the storm and stress of the recent times. Supporting less radical interprations of Islam is in our own long-term best interests and will pay the most fruit in better relations. This has to be fought in the realm of ideas as well as in the realm of armies and intelligence operations. Isolate the general population from its more radical elements then either destroy them if they still are a threat or let them wither.

I guess that depends on your interpetation of "engagement" as well as "withdrawl". For me, our engagement in battle with them has been a futile effort and only led to increased hatred for America, and improved recruiting of more terrorists in the middle east. You can't kill an idea with a smart bomb. My definition of "withdrawl" is phasing our troops out of what clearly is a civil war. Their presense there seems only to make matters worse. For me, the engagement part of the equation is all about ideas, dialogue etc.... We will never have any real dialogue or understanding as long as we're fighting wars (in large part) to keep the oil spiggot open. My main fear is what I believe will happen when we do leave...an Iraq dominated by Iran, something of a regional super power structure that further destablizes the region. You have Russia providing aid in Iran's nuke program. You have Iran and Syria monkey wrenching everything we do...All in all it's a no win situation. We don't have the military and financial resources to control the country and even if we did, for how long? If we stay, we continue to send our soldiers home in body bags trying to contain a civil war that our invasion promoted. Our presense their is viewed as an occupation which leads to easy recruiting rhetoric for the terrorist groups (again very bad for our troops). We simply can't sustain this with the size of our military. We've been pouring billions down a rathole for how many years now and for what? Is Iraq stable? Will it become stable? Sure the Iraqi's vote now but look at what they vote FOR.
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#75 Pywacket

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 11:24 AM

View Posttennyson, on Mar 10 2007, 10:24 AM, said:

As for the other comments, I don't see any problem there although I think engagement with the Middle East not withdrawal from it will help the most in the long run. The ideas of achieving energy independence and working for positive change in the Middle East are not exclusory. We can support moderate influences in Islam quietly without all the storm and stress of the recent times. Supporting less radical interpretations of Islam is in our own long-term best interests and will pay the most fruit in better relations. This has to be fought in the realm of ideas as well as in the realm of armies and intelligence operations. Isolate the general population from its more radical elements then either destroy them if they still are a threat or let them wither.
Unfortunately that type of engagement seems to be beyond the scope of our present administration.   And as long as we're militarily involved in Iraq I'm not sure that bilateral talks are possible.  

We may have better luck getting other countries involved and taking the lead in multilateral talks where we can throw our weight behind proposals we like.  


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The violent core is a very tiny minority that wants to recieve the attention it gets from each act of violence. One of Al-Queda's central tenants is the use of apocalyptic violence for achieving political ends. Once you engage people with how many Muslims have died at the hands of Al-Queda and show them the truth of what they do then thier support base among Muslims drops.

Another issue is that each radical group is not the same and the sorts of things needed to deal with each one is different.
Which IMO makes it all the more important that we use the available resources.  No matter how much some dislike the United Nations, engaging them is an option, as is using any leverage we have to get/keep the other middle east governments engaged in finding solutions.  They, as well as we, have a stake in a stable Iraq.  This type of interaction with other governments and creating bi- and multilateral talks is more difficult when the public US stance is to decry such talks and issue ultimatums.  

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#76 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 11:53 AM

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Mar 9 2007, 01:49 PM, said:

I don't understand the concept of people being unable or unwilling to embrace theidea that they are or can be a cause of changes in climate.  It is (or should be) obvious that human beings have been impacting their environment from the get go.
It is a matter of extent and the fact that scientists have been wrong so many times before about it.  What amazes me is the concept that that some people are so willing to embrace science with the certainty that religious fundamentalists have.  It scares me just as much as the religious fundamentalist do when people stand up and say "global warming" or whatever must exist because they say so.  It discounts the number of times that scientists have been so wrong that they couldn't find their own butt with both hands in direct sunlight.  I put a lot of faith in science but I also put more faith in the fact that scientists are human and very fallible and are wrong as much as they are right.  They are lucky when they managed to predict the weather this afternoon much less tell us what it will be in 20 years.  Many of them jumped dramatically on board the theory of Global Cooling during the 1970s.  Many of the claimed that we would see dramatic drops in the world's tempature and that the next ice age would be coming.  Now suddenly we are supposed to be warming up when we were supposed to be freezing before.

Then during the 1980s the same scientific community jumped on board the bandwagon of nuclear winter and prophetically claimed the end of the human race if their was a nuclear war.  The end result of all that was it has been pretty much concluded that the Doomsday Scenarios of nuclear winter were totally off base and models for it were wrong.  A global nuclear war would drop the temperature down several degrees, last for several years, and end up killing off millions from famines but be nowhere near the scale that Sagan and other scientists predicted during the 1980s.  Then you have that whole thing with Carl Sagan and others standing up and prophetically stating the end of the world because Saddam was threatening to set the Kuwaiti Oilfields on fire.  Sagan really shoved his foot in his mouth there because he actually said something that someone could dramatically disprove within a year by looking at the temperature rather than sticking to vague models or theories that may never happen (nuclear war) or are decades away.  Much of Sagan's and his disciples nonsense mirrors what I see today with Global Warming and people flock to the idea with the same level of faith.

So call me an idiot if you want for viewing the world through the eyes of a skeptic but the scientific community has been wrong too many times before for me to place my devote worship on their altar.  I'll listen to their results and buy into them when I think they have reached the burden of proof and erased my doubts but blind faith and fanatics in anything scares me.  Now something is going on with the world's temperatures if we are doing it or if it is nature I don't think we know even if we blow smoke that we do.  I think it could very well reverse itself next year and leave the scientific community scrambling to cover their rears again or it could prove true.  

But to call a skeptic stupid, naive, or whatever because they won't believe in a theory with rigid faith shows the same type of fanaticism that is displayed by people who try to shove intelligent design down our throats in my opinion.  Science has been wrong too many times for me to put my total faith in them.

And this is coming from a person who would love to see a Hydrogen based economy for out ecological concerns that are readily apparent.  I've seen entire lakes devoid of life in the Adirondack Park because of acid rain.  I've seen and had to deal with the damage sulphur dioxide on historic building and collections.  I've had to deal with that in professional field quite often.  I've walked outside in Albany in conditions where the smog nearly makes you wheeze.  I've nearly smacked my head into the wall before when people talk about how great solar and wind power would be in NY but it will take decades.  When we have hundreds of dams preexisting and ready to be converted over to small scale hydroelectric generation.  I have no doubt about the negative impact of people on the regional scale and that gives me enough facts to say we need to change our ways without having some doomsday scenario to fall to my knees and worship.  Yet we need to think before we race into changing our ways.  We need the technology to be up to speed to meet our needs to replace fossil fuels as our source of energy.  

Myself as much as I like the idea of an Ethanol based economy because I grew up on a farm and realize what a boon it would be for the farmers I don't think it is practical.  In the long term while ethanol burns cleaner than fossil fuels you are still essentially burning a substance that gives off gases into the atmosphere.  All you are doing is creating another problem that we will have to deal with down the road.  I think ethanol has a place as a additive to put into gasoline to dilute it out heavily until hydrogen is ready but the idea of replacing gasoline with it is a sour idea for me.  That will just give credence to the idea that "hey we are using ethanol now everything is ok no need to switch to hydrogen".  If we did switch from gasoline, to ethanol, and then to hydrogen you are creating an expense that the common person can't afford that only the Al Gores of the world could afford.  

On top of that we need to realize our own domestic sources of oil are severely depleted.  We are still going to need fossil fuels for various lubricants, plastics, and a host of other synthetic materials that modern life revolve around.  Some cite the  oil shale as a domestic alternative to our oil needs.  Well I'm not really willing to level the Rocky Mountains and cause untold additional environmental damage in the US to get at that oil.  I'd be much more willing to run on a hydrogen economy using our easy to attain fossil fuel sources and foreign oil to supplement our oil needs for lubricants and synthetics.   Then devote that money that would be used trying to extra oil shale into research on producing compounds to replace oil in those uses.
"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
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#77 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 12:12 PM

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Lin: You can't kill an idea with a smart bomb.
No but you can kill the people who believe in the idea and once the people are dead the idea will largely die with them.  The people who say you can't kill an idea with force have history against them.  We killed National Socialism in Germany by bombing them until the rubble bounced and then thrashing their armies on the ground.  Then by occupying their country.  We largely killed the idea of secession and slavery in the United States by trashing the Confederates States by turning Grant and Sherman loose on them.  Idea will fade away or die when they no longer have followers who will adhere to them.  I think the lesson for our enemies is that the United States no longer has the will to fight the type of war when we have to that that will accomplish those tasks.  

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Lin: For me, the engagement part of the equation is all about ideas, dialogue etc.... We will never have any real dialogue or understanding as long as we're fighting wars (in large part) to keep the oil spiggot open.
The type of engagement you speak of is never going to work in the Middle East.  You have a ruling class who is between us and the people who control what the people receive and what they see of the world.  You have a ruling body who is interested in keeping the population uneducated or educating them as fanatics because it makes them easier to control. Disengaging from the Middle East is not going to solve the problem even if we aren't getting a drop of oil from them and all the oil wells are capped off.  Right now the regimes and fanatics that breed hatred against us are still propped up and in power because of our need for oil.  If we no longer need oil then their base for keeping in power will start to teeter.  They will resort to a renewed push for the other thing that keeps them in power hatred and fanaticism.  All it will do is create a situation where you have a even poorer region breeding hatred to a greater and greater extent.  We are locked in a vicious cycle and running from it will only accelerate it.  Our current actions are only maintaining the status quo.  The fact is that we need a comprehensive plan for engagement including economical aide, diplomatic, and educational aide to sway the moderates.  And the military option to stomp out the diehards who refuse to be swayed by the other options.  

Otherwise we will be back in the Middle East in a decade or two for a real war.  It would be one that would kill tens of millions.  I don't see it ending either until the United States or Israel ends up nuking a large amount of the middle east into a parking lot.  So either we stay engaged today and get smarter and more comprehensive about our engagement or we get ready for the day when we have to level the Middle East because they unleashed a Pandora's box on us.
"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
        -Fleet Admiral Nimitz
"Their sailors say they should have flight pay and sub pay both -- they're in the air half the time, under the water the other half""
        - Ernie Pyle: Aboard a DE

#78 QueenTiye

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 12:47 PM

^^The thing is, CJ - so far as I've understood - the hard science proving that global warming is a human factor that did not exist in previous ages is starting to come in.  It may not be as extreme as some doomsday prophets predict - but look at your claims about nuclear winter?  

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A global nuclear war would drop the temperature down several degrees, last for several years, and end up killing off millions from famines but be nowhere near the scale that Sagan and other scientists predicted during the 1980s.

Um... that's horrible.  So now that we know that global warming is a problem (we always knew it would be) and now that we know that we ourselves are accelerating it - what does it actually matter if we know for sure that the scales are right or not?  The science at least confirms that there is indeed a problem - and we indeed should solve it - especially since we can.

And while global warming is perhaps not as urgent as some may feel it to be (and it might be just that urgent, but let's set that aside for right now), we know that petroleum dependence is a huge problem - an immediate problem with an urgency that is indeed immediate.  Ought we not move with all expediency to deal with that one?

QT

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#79 Jid

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 01:04 PM

View PostCJ AEGIS, on Mar 11 2007, 10:53 AM, said:

It is a matter of extent and the fact that scientists have been wrong so many times before about it.
Begging pardon if this sounds somewhat flip, but speaking as a scientist?  That's a better reason to keep a more open mind about global warming than anything.  Science is often better served by being wrong several times - the more mistakes we make, the more we learn about what we're trying to do, and the more accurate we get.

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What amazes me is the concept that that some people are so willing to embrace science with the certainty that religious fundamentalists have.  It scares me just as much as the religious fundamentalist do when people stand up and say "global warming" or whatever must exist because they say so.
What scares me more is what actual religious fundamentalists have to say on the matter ;)

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They are lucky when they managed to predict the weather this afternoon much less tell us what it will be in 20 years.  Many of them jumped dramatically on board the theory of Global Cooling during the 1970s.  Many of the claimed that we would see dramatic drops in the world's temperature and that the next ice age would be coming.  Now suddenly we are supposed to be warming up when we were supposed to be freezing before.
Of course, the difference being that scientific models have have had 30 years of refinement since the 1970's, not to mention have benefited greatly from the several hundred-fold increase in computing power available for the earth.

First, climate models have refined from 600km x 600km areas on the globe, with 5 levels of stratification to model the atmosphere, to 135km x 135 km areas, with 38 levels of modelling for the atmosphere.  1970's models didn't incorporate the effects of oceans, modern models model the ocean in 40 vertical "levels".  1970's models included rain, but not cloud cover.  Modern models include cloud cover, which differentiates between high and low altitude clouds, along with atmospheric aerosol concentrations (something definitively proved to be important, interestingly enough, during the few days of grounded flights immediately following 9/11).

Modern climate models also benefit from 30 years worth of collected data, refinements to physical models, and perhaps most importantly, the computational power to repeat models with variance in key parameters to gauge model sensitivity to such things, and get a picture of just how accurate the models are.  Most modern models can accurately reproduce the last 150 years of macroscale climate, and then carry forward an to an estimate.  Interestingly enough, global temperature changes still remain in the 1-5 centigrade increase over the next hundred - two hundred years.

(And regarding weather forecasts and climate models, we're comparing apples to oranges.  Weather predictions are usually extrapolated from satellite feeds of cloud cover, wind patterns, and so on, for a region of the world.  And generally speaking, they're pretty good these days, out to a couple of days.  Five day forecasts generally bat in the 40-50% range.  It also helps that most government weather services are able to refine their predictions at least once a day based on new satellite data.)

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So call me an idiot if you want for viewing the world through the eyes of a skeptic but the scientific community has been wrong too many times before for me to place my devote worship on their altar.
I don't think you're an idiot, I just don't think you're thinking like a scientist.  History is simply, for most scientists, a poor reason to discount modern data.  (In fact, as I said above, if anything, it's a strong reason to pay closer attention to modern data, to make sure history's lessons have been incorporated.)

You haven't seen a burden of proof, and I suppose that's fair enough.  I have seen enough proof to be convinced that action is required, but I admittedly have excellent access to not only the journals (bless university science libraries, and their -relative to me- fantastic budgets) but some of the people who do such research.  Despite what opponents to the notion of global warming may claim, I've yet to meet a climate scientist who's chicken-littleing their way around the issue.  

But I guess my question to a skeptic is this:  given that there is mounting evidence that there is at least a non-zero chance that both current models may be right, and the consequences they have could be very difficult for us as a species to deal with, does it not make more sense to move towards a "greener" way of living now?

Worst case, if we do start such a move, and the science proves to have errors again, what have we lost?  Well, perhaps some money in the short term.  In the long term, we may have just extended the lifetime of recoverable petrochemicals, shifted the economy to a more sustainable long-term model, and created jobs through the development of such a new way of working.  And that's just if there's no environmental benefit.

On the other hand, if the science is right, and we do nothing, we're going to have far more to worry about than some short term budgetary concerns.  Like it or not, right now, the earth is our test tube.  Our grand experiment.  And unlike most experiments - we don't get a do-over.  We don't have other planets to try to do better on, some other time.

I think that may be why global warming advocates stress their point with more urgency than even I find tasteful.  

But in the grand scheme of things, whatever doubts I have about the current (and constantly improving) accuracy of climate models, I find it most prudent that we err on the side of caution, rather than the side of convenience.

(As to things like carbon credits, I'll leave that for another post.  The ins and outs of the emissions trading market is far beyond the scope of what I've been trying to get at here.)
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#80 Spectacles

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 01:30 PM

What Jid said, especially this:

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But in the grand scheme of things, whatever doubts I have about the current (and constantly improving) accuracy of climate models, I find it most prudent that we err on the side of caution, rather than the side of convenience.

"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman



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