Sarah Palin: global warming convert?

You may recall Sarah Palin's curious approach to the science of climate change. Although while running for vice-president of the United States she insisted humans were not responsible, she nevertheless advocated doing something about it. This week Alaska's governor offered some details of just what we should do.

In a speech delivered on the occasion of a visit by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to her state, she said:

Some would have you delay exploration and development in the federal offshore of Alaska over concerns related to global warming and its effects in the Arctic. First of all let me make it clear that the State of Alaska understands the effects of climate change in the cryosphere. We Alaskans are living with the changes that you are observing in Washington. The dramatic decreases in the extent of summer sea ice, increased coastal erosion, melting of permafrost, decrease in alpine glaciers and overall ecosystem changes are very real to us.

This represents a relatively conventional opinion, not one commonly associated with mavericks. She continues on that vein:

Many believe that in order to mitigate these long term and systematic changes it will require a national and global effort to decrease the release of human produced greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, simply waiting for low carbon emitting renewable capacity to be large enough will mean that it will be too late to meet the mitigation goals for reducing CO2 that will be required under most credible climate change models, including the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) modeled scenarios.

In other words, we don't have to time to wait for clean renewable energy to step up to the plate because it's not sufficiently well developed or affordable. This is certainly a popular position. Among those "many" she references are Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, who told the New York Times a couple of months back that we need a revolution in such technology to adequately deal with global warming. There are many others who beg to differ (Joe Romm of Climate Progress is a good example of those who make a compelling case that we have the technology now.) But then Palin wanders down her own path:

Meeting these goals will require a dramatic increase, in the very near term, to preferred available fuels - including natural gas - that have a very low carbon footprint and that can be used within the existing energy infrastructure. These available fuels are required to supply the nation's energy needs during the transition to green energy alternatives.
Stopping domestic energy production of preferred fuels does not solve the issues associated with global warming and threatened or endangered species, but it can make them worse.

This logic might prove challenging for many to follow. First one has to figure out exactly what she means by preferred fuels. All we know about this new term is that it includes natural gas, a fuel that releases about half the CO2 of coal when burned, and a commodity that represents a singular obsession for the governor. One can also assume she's not talking about biodiesel, as Alaska's not exactly prime agricultural real estate. It reminds me of when reporters talk about "critics" or "experts" in the plural when they really mean just the one they talked to. So yes, natural gas is cleaner than coal, but I for one am unclear on how stopping burning any fossil fuel could make global warming worse.

Then there's her reference to everyone's favorite climate change poster species:

Some will tell you that responsible oil and gas development is not compatible with protection of species, such as the polar bear. However, the peer reviewed science conducted by the US Geologic Survey (USGS) that supported the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, identified the loss of sea ice, not oil and gas development, as the reason (USFWS, 2008).

Is she being disingenuous by appearing to not understand that the loss of sea ice is widely considered a consequence of global warming, which is in turn caused by the burning of oil and gas, among other things?

On the other hand, this speech represents progress toward that elusive goal of coherence, and I think it safe to assume she's not likely to get raked over the coals (so to speak) in the manner we grew accustomed to seeing during last year's campaign.

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On the other hand, this speech represents progress toward that elusive goal of coherence, and I think it safe to assume she's not likely to get raked over the coals (so to speak) in the manner we grew accustomed to seeing during last year's campaign.

Indeed. Reading those snippets, I was left wondering, "How can this possibly be the same woman who waffled about which newspapers she reads?" Those are actually coherent sentences there! With big words, and used correctly!

But, given that it's a press release from the Governor's office, well, maybe this is the speech as it was written, not the speech as it was delivered.

By Jason Dick (not verified) on 17 Apr 2009 #permalink

Good Stuff! Do another post bashing her kids too!! "We" can't get enough of this good science stuff.

Whenever I read quotes from Sarah Palin, her voice instantly fills my head. I can't NOT imagine her reading those out loud to me, and her voice drives me nuts!!

This is amazing, yesterday on The Oil Drum, I had to comment about something Palin said "The first time she has said anything sensible". In that case, she had stated that without ANWR, it won't be long before the flow of Prudhoe Bay oil will be too low to support the contined maintenence of the pipeline, stranding the remaining Prudhoe Bay oil. That seems to be a correct, and underappreciated thing, if we don't do ANWR (or some other new north slope oil) soon, the last several years of potential production will have to be abandoned.

Now she's speaking something sensible about energy?! Perhaps she wasn't as dumb as she looked, but was having to act that way in order to meet the expectations of the wingers???

And, yes, natural gas, being roughly 2x as carbon efficient as coal, is a way to make near term progress on emissions -if it displaces coal. I also claim that since natural gas is useful for peaking power plants (those that are only run part time, to cover peak needs, or cover shortfalls in other generation), it perfectly compliments time varying renewables such as wind and solar. Of course what Sarah is really trying to do is get funding the the Alaska Nat gas pipeline, to bring currently stranded North slope natural gas to market. Alaska has been unsuccesfully pushing this project for years, but the financial risks of the project are substantial and it hasn't been able to get of the ground.

Meanwhile, GAZPROM, the Russian energy company has entered into an agreement to supply the USA with liquid natural gas.

So glad, because they need the USA's money and we don't.

Whenever I think of Sarah Palin, I think of Tina Fey, her much improved doppelganger. I'm surprised she even cited Alaska's extra-sensitive climate, a canary-in-the-coal-mine region that is the first to feel the perturbations of climate change.

But what of the skeptics? They claim that CO2 isn't the greenhouse gas it's chalked up to be, that it doesn't hold enough radiation to pose a significant concern. That more of it only benefits the biosphere and hydrosphere. The more CO2 the better plants and crops will grow. And that there is a point, in the logarithmic sense, where the amount of CO2 reaches a saturation point and no longer has any discernible effect on climate, like pulling down window shade after window shade, each cutting the light passing through in half until no light passes at all and you can pull down as many shades as you want. Photons are a little different than a gas, but that's alright. The analogy, on some level, works. But, they also claim the greenhouse effect isn't what it is, that more terrestrial radiation escapes into space than what we are told. And that the oceans are far better carbon-sinks than we believe them to be. And that the negligible contribution of human derived CO2 is not only not going to have any effect what so ever, but that the world isn't warming at all. At least not at an alarming rate, not at a pace other epochs in the past haven't seen. The hockey stick is an instrumentally derived fallacy that skews the perspectives of many to believe in the correlation between the Industrial world's spewing and temperature change. A global cooling is in effect, rather than a warming. Most scientists disagree with AGW, as evidenced at a New York convention where hundreds and hundreds of scientists signed a petition stating that there is no conclusive evidence supporting a definitive state of human-induced climate change, after the IPCC claimed that nearly every scientist on the planet agrees there is.

So, who has the right answers?

The nay-sayers claim that AGW proponents (Al Gore, Leo DiCap, Redford, Obama, the NRDC president, Sheryl Crow, Amory Lovins, The Dali Lama, and Rachel Carson [if she were alive, what side do you think she'd be on?]) are just trying to fulfill some collective hidden agenda through the use of PC rhetoric and coercion. Al Gore's fancy Inconvenient Truth Power Point is no more than a gimmick aimed at converting enough people to become oblivious to the underlying motives of abolishing the current fossil fuel cronies, a corporate domain, a state unto themselves. And through their destruction comes the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs at the expense of modifying our society to reduce the impact of our lifestyle on the environment (a comprehensive measure, necessary to our survival, planet warming up or not).

I recently visited a site that urge the belching of 100,000,000 tons of CO2 in rebellious opposition to the warm-lubbers as it will only increase vegetation, promote personal vehicular use (because public transit is obviously a Euro-centric puppy project reserved for French and German yokels), and put a real shit-stain of gasified ire on the eco-pups of the world.

So, is CO2 all it's cracked up to be? Or are AGW proponents just a group of lackeys following an elite who are the only competition to the oil-bank-pharma-men-behind-the-curtain set to establish a monstrous New World Order? Is Al Gore really just not a nice man at all, and is a graying, non-bald Lex Luthor in disguise? Will his Legion of Groom (that's Green and Doom combined, if you were wondering) circumvent even the evil machinations of the other MBTC fellas and turn us all into environmentally conscious yokels that eat organic croissants while touring the autobon on electric scooters before we jump on a high-speed loco (that Obama apparently envies) and laugh all the way to the bank that is run on renewables?

I know this is a long comment, but I've just spent the last few days reading blogs and articles on both sides of the debate, both touting supposedly equally valid scientific backing to their conclusions. Some say prepare for the worst, even if it isn't coming. Others say, don't bother, there's nothing to worry about, bring back worldwide use of DDT because thirty million people have died of malaria and other insect borne infectious diseases since it was banned (for the most part), and Rachel Carson is a eco-twit because all the birds aren't dead yet from our still promiscuous use of chemicals.

So, who is right?

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Global Warming is a new Communist movement.

Andrew claims to have read "both sides of the debate", so why does he sound like he's merely throwing out talking points and straw men from the climate inactivists?

-- bi