Friday, March 13, 2009

Men of The West

What follows is from, a blog for climate change discussions in which those who believe man's activities are cooking the planet are taken to task by those of us who know better.  

An anonymous commenter, using the handle 'thefordprefect' regularly chimes in to needle the skeptics, spewing forth such stuff as 'skeptics never produce any evidence to show that AGW is false.'   This is generally met with the statement, and rightfully so, that it is the AGWers' burden to prove, not ours to disprove. 

My response:


Re “The problem with you skeptics is you value your current lifestyle (= wealth) over the needs of the planet.”

Hmmm…. sir, your ignorance is showing. You are way out of line.

I am a skeptic, as I have written before on WUWT, and I emphatically deny that which is demonstrably false in the AGW mantra. I do value my lifestyle, yet that is consistent with achieving the greatest good for the greatest number on the planet.

So, let me just state how my colleagues in various engineering fields, and I to a small extent, have made the globe a safer, healthier, less polluted place, extended life expectancies, and that sort of thing. First, I worked as a chemical engineer in the petroleum and petrochemical industry for 25 years. I am an attorney now, but that is another story.

During those 25 years, I worked first in the chlorine and caustic industry, manufacturing chlorine and sodium hydroxide and hydrogen from salt, water, and electricity. Chlorine is one of modern man’s most important manufactures, valued for its use as a bleach, a cleansing agent, a disinfectant for water, and it greatly improves health all around the world where it is used.

Chlorine is also a major ingredient in plastic, especially PVC and other types of plastic pipe. Such pipe has made plumbing cost-effective in much of the world, greatly improving health. A high-grade of PVC plastic is used extensively in medicine, as an example, to hold a fluid that is fed into a patient’s veins (the IV bag), and the plastic tubing itself. The other major component of plastic comes from petrochemical plants, usually ethylene or propylene.

I cannot even begin to describe the innumerable medicines, drugs, and pharmaceuticals that are made from the petrochemicals we create in the big refineries and petrochemical plants. None of those would be possible if not for the ingenuity of chemists, chemical engineers, and a host of other highly educated and trained professionals.

The overall clean air of this planet is entirely due to petroleum and natural gas. Without them, the population would have choked to death or wheezed in coughing agony during a very short life-span.

Prior to oil use and natural gas, energy was provided by burning coal, and from animal power such as horses, mules, and oxen. The coal smoke and soot, and huge piles of poop left by those animals was a very great problem in cities, and made obsolete by gasoline, diesel, and electric motors. The poop dried, attracted flies, and created toxic dust particles when the wind blew. People inhaled that toxic, polluted air with every breath. But no more, thanks to oil and natural gas.

I could go on and on, describing the very low cost of almost all goods and services due to the extremely cheap energy provided by oil men, the refineries, and power plants. Transportation costs dropped dramatically across the board as trains grew faster, longer, and used less fuel per ton-mile. The same is true for large trucks, and ships.

I could also mention the low cost of food, whether grain or beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or the myriad of fruits and vegetables, all of which are very low-cost as a result of chemistry and chemical plants that produce fertilizers and herbicides. Engineers also design, build, and operate the efficient food processing plants that place low-cost groceries in the stores.

So, I invite you to do some reading, do some research, and find out the facts about what wealth does to improve the plight of the common man. Find out which countries in the world have a long waiting list before being allowed to enter to work or live or become a citizen. Find out which countries have good medical care, have sanitary water and dispose of waste in a sanitary manner, have sufficient food to eat that does not make the population sicken and die, and sufficient affordable energy to heat and cool their homes to a comfortable level.

I should know. As a chemical engineer, I traveled and worked in more than a dozen countries, from first-world (USA, Europe, Canada, Japan) to third-world (China, East Germany, Poland (pre-demise of Soviet Union), Brazil, Indonesia). I have seen it all, and did my part to improve much of it, along with my colleagues. I have suffered many bouts of intestinal illness in third-world locales.

After you improve your education, then come back and tell me I value my current lifestyle, wealth, over the needs of the planet. As Dr. Thomas Sowell (no relation) of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution has written, increasing prosperity is the only sure and lasting solution to poverty.


More to be added, if and when other responses occur.  This should be good! 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.

Legal website is here

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