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As I See It: Dilbert and climate change

The Dilbert strip last Sunday was focused on the issue of climate change and featured a climate scientist predicting gloom and doom based on observations and predictions from various models. Screen grab from

I am an ardent fan of the comic strip Dilbert, written by Scott Adams.

Following my Air Force career, I worked for a high-tech engineering services company supporting weapons, electronic warfare, training and command, and control systems development. While being a pilot provides a fairly decent level of exposure to many technical disciplines, it didn't quite prepare me for the average electrical, structural, aeronautical or software engineer - most of whom had one or two masters' degrees with more than a few Ph.D.s rounding out the company population.

Adam's comic strip so fully captures the clashes between the technical world and the managers who do not understand technology and engineers. It also captures many of the personality traits that literally set most engineers apart from the rest of society.

The Dilbert strip last Sunday ( ) was focused on the issue of climate change and featured a climate scientist predicting gloom and doom based on observations and predictions from various models. In it, the scientist mentioned they ignored the models that looked wrong to them. They then used that output in economic models "that have never been right."

When Dilbert questioned the economic models, the scientist asked, "Who hired the science denier?" The tone of this question is heard more and more often every day.

I am not a science denier, although some folks would rather label me and others as that instead of listening to those of us who believe we are making too many decisions without understanding all the issues. The phrase "proven science" is frequently used as a club instead of as a point in the debate and as a way of ending debate so as not having to answer legitimate questions.

Rallies and marches in favor of science are fine and make the participants feel good, but applying science to the world without rational thought and understanding the impact can be dangerous.

A person would have to be virtually comatose to not notice the change in the weather patterns over the last years. Of course, they would also have to be wearing blinders not to understand that earth's climate has been changing since the atmosphere first formed. The rate of changes and the causes and effects are all considerations and aspects that impact the atmospheric models and can be open to interpretation if one is really interested in the truth.

Why those changes are occurring, and more importantly, what can or should be done to address the real or imagined problems is where the conflicts get heated. If human activity is the tipping point that has pushed us all over the edge, how can we have any real, substantial effect in reversing these problems?

All people deserve to have clean water, food and other creature comforts so as to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Will we who have enjoyed all of this demand that those who follow us will not?

As with so many other problems, we start discussions with absolute positions and proclamations. We are told we must significantly reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Do farmers in California really pay a methane tax on the emissions from their cattle herds?

Minnesota will receive millions of dollars as its share or settlement with Volkswagen over the diesel engine fiasco. This will somehow offset pollution over the next several decades? Incredible! How is that going to happen? Or will the dollars be spent on more worthy things like public education for infants?

We now get to the crux of the matter, which is as it always has been - money. You can pay a fine, tax or fee based on your production of gases or you can get paid to reduce or eliminate their production. Brokers are lined up to trade energy and carbon credits and who knows what else in this scheme.

We are told we must do this or there will not be any incentive for businesses and other nations to the follow the rules. I guess the good of humankind doesn't matter.

I always go back to this inescapable point. God's nature is bigger than all of us; He will give us the last word.

Well, that's the way I see it.