Much Ado About Climate

If you haven’t been under a rock for the last few weeks you might have noticed a very angry girl showing up in your news feeds. If you have been under a rock, meet Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish “climate activist” who somehow went from relative obscurity to an audience with the United Nations apparently without any help from anyone else.

This post is not about her.

No. I want to address three premises advocated by Greta and others of her persuasion.

  • Premise A: The climate changes.
  • Premise B: Human activity is a major cause of climate change.
  • Premise C: Climate change is going to have catastrophic effects on humanity

Premise A is common sense, like anything in nature, climate is variable and dynamic. Study it long enough and you are bound to see it changing. We know the climate has changed in the past, and we know it continues to change. There aren’t many people who disagree with this premise.

B and C are really the only debatable ones here.

Those who advocate for B like to use data from the past century or two to assert that the pollution begun during the Industrial Revolution has ravaged the climate and started us down a spiral of doom. But that dataset is too small in my opinion. Especially if you claim, as they do, that the earth is six billion years old. Two centuries of precise or semi-precise data is hardly a speck in the vast atmosphere that is geological time (see what I did there?).

Even if a correlation can be made between pollution and temperature change, a causation cannot be established. Weather and climate predictions contain many many variables. Miss a variable or put too much importance on one and you can skew the results dramatically. There is no way to accurately know how much impact human activity has on climate without establishing how much impact human activity has on climate. They are chasing themselves in circles.

We know that there are many variables affecting climate. Why place so much emphasis on human activity?

Well for starters, if you accept premise C, premise B offers you a speck of hope. If climate change is going to be destructive, isn’t it comforting to know that we can do something about it?

Unfortunately the people who accept all three premises don’t seem to be comfortable at all. They are terrified. Terrified people are easily manipulated by the political classes. This is why we see people like Miss Thunberg advocating that the politicians “do something about it.” They truly believe that coercion by governments is the only way to stop the coming “crisis”.

Those who believe the world is quickly approaching its demise would be better off getting out of politics and getting into engineering or environmental jobs like forestry or ecology.

Climate change-fearing engineers could invent products to replace what they deem environmentally destructive. They could make those products better than what is currently in use. They need to understand that people respond better to good products in the marketplace than to having guns pointed at their heads and being forced to change their every day behavior.

If they are concerned about carbon in the atmosphere they should be using wood for everything. Plant trees, let them grow, cut them down, plant more. Trees are one of the best carbon sinks out there and the younger they are the more carbon they suck up. Instead of yelling about deforestation they ought to get a job in forestry and learn how to sustainably manage forests.

I know I said this post isn’t about her, but let’s get back to Greta. What’s truly awful about this whole debate is that we have gotten to the point in human history where instead of discussing data, facts, ideas, opinions etc. we’d rather lob insults and labels or mock the physical or mental traits of certain people on the other side.

Stop making fun of this girl for her looks, her diagnoses, and her emotions. Instead, point her to more effective uses of her time than lobbying people who are only interested in keeping their own power.

Accept premise D: if A, B, and C are true, the market can and will find a way to solve the crisis. And people like Greta Thunberg have the perfect amount of passion to flourish in that market.

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It’s a zTrap!

Ever hear of something too good to be true? Everyone has. More often than not, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

Such is the case it seems for a company I was told about last night. While making my rounds for Uber I was told by a rider that there was this great new ride sharing company in Jacksonville. She said this company is just like Uber, but unlike Uber where you bring your own vehicle, this company provides you with a car that you keep 24/7. On top of that, they provide you with insurance and pay all maintenance on the vehicle. And the most enticing thing: you keep 100% of the fares.

This definitely sounded wayyyy to good to be true. So of course I went home and looked it up. Sure enough, their website had a handy comparison chart demonstrating that, unlike their competition, they provide insurance and maintenance.

The other differences between the two are pretty vague.

Uber has just started providing 24/7 driver assistance so that point is moot.

Keeping 100% of “Your” fares seems to be word play to me. There is no way a company could survive without income while providing insurance and maintenance (and vehicles?). They must be taking some portion of the charges to the costumer, which is exactly what Uber does. I assume what is “yours” to keep is determined by the company.

Build repeat clientele? Honestly? Meh. My zTrip informant also described an Uber driver who basically drove a school bus route every day. She picked up the same kids every morning and took them to school. Then she picked them up in the afternoon. You don’t need a parent company to help you build repeat costumers, you just have to be in the same place at the same time every day. Where there is a will there is a way.

Still intrigued, mostly because I was thinking they might actually provide a vehicle (nothing on the site to confirm nor deny it), I decided to sign up. All I had to do was fill out a small form, then I was taken to a “Thank you” page which said they would be in contact. This was definitely different from Uber, which in the initial sign-up phase asked about my vehicle type as well as information like driver’s license number.

With Uber, I signed up and was driving less than 48 hours later. zTrip is already feeling like it will take a lot longer. If I recall correctly, the lady last night said she had to go in for an interview. That sounds suspiciously like an employee gig and not an independent contractor gig like Uber or Lyft.

So after signing up I decided to do some research (I know, typical me, wait until after to read the fine print). It appears zTrip is really just a re-brand of Yellow Taxi.  This made me recoil. I don’t like clever cover ups which just change the name of an old crappy service.

Have you ever heard anyone say “Man, I had this great taxi driver the other day, really nice person, and they were so cheap!”? No one ever hears that. I hear it all the time about Uber drivers though. Not to say we are perfect (as a driver I hear horror stories) but we do seem to be better on average.

After a bit more searching I found this page:

Ignoring the typo, this page is ambiguous. It doesn’t say you do get a car, but it doesn’t say you don’t.  The best I can figure is they offer specials on leasing vehicles, but you don’t get to pick exactly what you want, just what they want you to want. Judging by the cars in the first picture above, there is branding involved.

I’m all for competition. I’d rather taxi companies offer a better service at a better price than go whine to legislators. Before re-branding they attempted to have the draconian laws the local government puts on them enforced on the new rideshare companies. Taxi companies in other cities have been more successful at this.

Why don’t they instead fight to have those laws relaxed? Why must they use government to stifle the market? Obviously people like the other companies, otherwise they wouldn’t be so successful. Do taxi companies care about the consumer?

I applaud ZTrip for at least trying to be more like it’s successful rivals. I hope the competition drives the pay up for all of us drivers (and the fares down for the consumer) as the companies fight it out for customers. I just don’t know if I want to be stuck as an employee with a branded car, I’m not ready to give up my freedom as an independent contractor.

I awai

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