Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. Chu and the Great Whitewash Caper

Dr. Steven Chu, our new Energy Secretary, thinks we should all paint our roofs white to combat global warming.

Please don’t be cowed because this guy’s got a Nobel laureate in physics. After all, Al Gore and Yasser Arafat each have one in peace. And I think Al Gore won his for proving that the sun had nothing to do with global warming.

I’m willing to admit that Mr. Chu isn’t an idiot, but I’d also acknowledge that just because you know how to capture atoms doesn’t make you an expert on anthropogenic global warming. Even Einstein – who I think we can all agree was a decent theoretical physicist – didn’t profess to know why the earth moved back and forth through ice ages.

Anyway, the Energy Secretary wants to paint the roofs of the world white to save the equivalent of 11 years of driving per the UK Telegraph:

If you look at all the buildings and if you make the roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of colour rather than a black type of colour and if you do that uniformally, that would be the equivalent of... reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years – just taking them off the road for 11 years," he said.

Huh? You’re going to need a few good theoretical equations to make that one fly. And then there’s this comment from Dr. Chu in an address at the 2008 National Clean Energy Summit:

Consider this. There’s about a 50 percent chance, the climate experts tell us, that in this century we will go up in temperature by three degrees Centigrade. Now, three degrees Centigrade doesn’t seem a lot to you, that’s 11° F. Chicago changes by 30° F in half a day. But 5° C means that … it’s the difference between where we are today and where we were in the last ice age. What did that mean? Canada, the United States down to Ohio and Pennsylvania, was covered in ice year round.

So OK, he’s a Nobel laureate. But seriously, 3 degrees centigrade doesn’t convert to 11 degrees Farenheit. More like 5.4. But what do I know? I’m not a Nobel laureate.

Additionally, data gathered from land, sea and atmosphere has not shown any global warming since 1998. That’s 11 years, Doc, with no warming - despite the fact that CO2 has increased slightly in that same time frame. I guess that’s why we’re being coached to refer to it as “climate change” now instead of global warming. But tell me again why we should paint our roofs white?

I’ll admit that “theoretical physicist” sounds impressive, and I’m willing to give Dr. Chu points since his asinine proposal at least acknowledges that the sun might have something to do with the earth’s temperature. But if GWB’s Secretary of Energy suggested we all paint our roofs white, Keith Olberman wouldn’t just be peeing his pants, he’d be splitting them with laughter.

Dr. Chu has stepped out of the murky territory of theoretical quantum physics into the much murkier realm of politics. Here there’s no need for hypotheses or proofs. All the facts are in. The debate is over. We have consensus, people. We don’t need no more stinkin’ facts.