Thursday, 24 January 2008

Global Warming hysteria = Y2K hysteria

One thing I keep running into when wading into the masses of the willfully uninformed...

Many climate change deniers use the rationale that there was mass hysteria about the "Y2K bug" and nothing happened. Therefore Y2K bug was actually no big deal. Since people are hysterical about Climate Change, it is no big deal either. The equation they use is (If "event" causes "mass hysteria" therefore "event" is false).

Leaving aside the complete lack of logic in that conditional assessment, lets address the "Y2K was no big deal" assumption.

It is true, when clocks changed to January 1, 2000 mass computer melt-down did not happen. Do you want to know why not? It isn't because the issue didn't exist, it is because there were thousands of IT geeks scrambling for the previous 1-5 years testing and fixing all of there systems. How do I know? I was one of them.

Us IT geeks fixed an awful lot of systems leading up to Jan1, 2000. But we didn't get them all. To ensure everything I managed was running, I had to come in New Years Day, 2000 to make sure all of our systems were operational. Guess what? Not all of them were.

Example 1) Our e-mail system was down. The server wouldn't even boot to the OS. The server had a system monitoring module. This module was supposed to monitor the hardware and software and alert me when the system had issues. This monitoring card failed when the clock rolled over, and wouldn't allow the system it was monitoring to boot. (The irony of this still make me laugh to this day). Ripping the card out fixed the problem.

Example 2) Our computer room has a magnetic swipe lock on it. I swipe my card and I'm allowed into the computer room. Except, it wouldn't let me in Jan 1st, 2000. The system had reset to a point in time before my card was added. Fortunately, another tech lived close by, was able to come in and use his card. Otherwise I would have been ripping through drywall to get in. And the mail system would have stayed down.

Example 3) A shipping system had a clock that was not capable of rolling over. We had to reset it to an older date to allow it to function. Invoices printed (with a wrong date), but at least they printed. But the reports to reconcile shipping. Ugh. They just wouldn't run. We spent many thousands of dollars rewriting that system from scratch.

Example 4) Similar to 2). An employee entrance required employees to punch in to unlock the door. This entrance failed completely, no employee codes were accepted. Fortunately, we had other doors.

Each of these problems (and other minor ones, like cell phones that outright died etc.) were at most an inconvenience. But that was because we had fixed the vast majority of our systems. If we hadn't, well, I'd just rather not think about that thank-you very much.

But one key reason why so many systems were fixed? Mass hysteria focused energies on the problem. Hmmmmmm, makes you wonder eh?

So, the next time someone throws the Y2K hysteria-no-big-deal excuse at you when you discuss Climate Change (or anything else) you have my permission to punch that person really, really hard.


Raphael Alexander said...

I believe in anthropogenic global warming, but not to the extent they're claiming in the media. Obviously it is unhelpful the way that both sides shriek so willfully.

A few things we don't hear enough about is the radical differences in climate throughout history, including an era when trees grew in the Arctic circle, and giant beavers roamed where Polar Bears do now. We should keep in context the historical importance of climate change. I suspect part of our obsession with climate change is based on our narcissistic belief everything is related to mankind.

Catelli said...

All true. But where are the giant beavers and arctic trees now?

Even the most ardent denier agrees the climate is changing. Which means we still have to account for it and adapt to it.

When Halifax loses its shoreline, does it really matter if it was man or nature that caused the sea level to rise?

Raphael Alexander said...

I agree, and I am frankly surprised at conservative objections to doing something about GW. I mean, it makes sense from a business standpoint to safeguard against that which challenges your livelihood. Climate change certainly does that.