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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Future is Certain; Only the Past is Unpredictable on: October 08, 2013, 08:32:36 AM
The Computer says NO – The IPCC 2013 Summary for Policymakers
Posted on October 7, 2013    by Anthony Watts
By Tom Quirk

The IPCC use of computer models to predict temperatures, rain fall, sea level rises and other weather related events either global or regional has comprehensively failed to predict most of the observations made in the last twenty years and ignores any analysis that suggests natural variability as the main driver of climate. Ad hoc effects are put forward in order to explain why the model predictions parted company from the observations. This is most obvious in looking at the components of radiative (temperature) forcing (Figure SPM.5) where such effects as aerosols appear as contributions with 100% uncertainty. This is not a statistically derived uncertainty but rather an “expert” opinion on an effect that is needed to “balance the books”. Yet all the uncertainties are combined as if they are all well behaved statistical errors.

The report is best summed up by the classic Polish saying from Soviet times – The future is certain only the past is unpredictable.

There are a series of points that one can take immediate objection to:

The temperature plateau from 2000 to the present year is dismissed as of no consequence. The report has borrowed the reply of Chou En Lai who, when asked what he thought of the French Revolution, replied that “It was too early to tell”. Yet in 1988 James Hansen appearing before a Congressional committee said he was 99% certain that the temperature rise from 1977 was not a natural variation.

The oceans that have been ignored up to now have suddenly become centre stage as the lodging place for the heat that should have raised the global temperature. The extra infra-red radiation from the increasing atmospheric CO2 is absorbed in the top 2 millimetres of the ocean. This is then mixed by wave motion through the top 100 to 200 metres of the oceans. But the sea surface temperature is in equilibrium with the air surface temperatures so how has the heat energy achieved this avoidance. Of course the deep ocean from 1,000 to 4,000 metres is at 40C or less and any overturning of the deep ocean would cause no end of trouble. This looks like another ad hoc explanation.

Sea level rises are forecast to be as much as 1 metre by 2100 yet the measurements show quite different annual rises in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Indeed a good pair of gumboots should get our grandchildren through 2100 with the present measured annual increases.

Methane is referred to as reaching unprecedented levels in the atmosphere with no suggestion that its annual increases have fallen by a factor of eight since 1995[2]. Three of the scenarios (now called trajectories) have reasonable methane concentrations out to the year 2100 but the fourth (RCP 8.5) is an echo of the early extreme scenario A1FI and a little more borrowed from another earlier scenario of the IPCC 2007 report. The main justification for the more than doubling of the present methane level of 1750 ppb to 3750 ppb in 2100 may be to keep the highest temperature and sea level rise predictions in play. This last scenario is of course used by the CSIRO to predict the end of Sydney and Brisbane airports.

There is a reference (Figure SPM.4 (a)) to the long running time series measurements of atmospheric CO2 at the South Pole (black line) and Mauna Loa (red line). What has not been pointed out is that in 1958 to 1960, there is no difference in these measurements between the two stations but it remains unexplained. Also there is a modest bump in 1990 that had the Point Barrow measurements at latitude 710N been included would have shown a modest 2 year plateau in CO2 concentration. This, when properly analysed, shows that about 2.5 GtC of CO2 entered and left the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere in the space of 4 years when fossil fuel CO2 emissions were 6 GtC in 1990 with 90% occurring in the Northern Hemisphere.. Yet we are taught that fossil fuel emissions are absorbed with great difficulty by the land and oceans.. This is at the time of the Mount Pinatubo eruption but the CO2 output has been estimated at only 0.015GtC so volcanic activity is not the cause.

The temperature plateau from 2000 to the present has been variously explained by heat disappearing into the oceans, volcanic activity and a lessening of solar radiation (dismissed in this IPCC report). The failure to acknowledge the impact of the oceans that cover 70% of the surface of the earth not only on the temperature behaviour but also CO2 is extraordinary[3]. But the explanation may be that we do not understand what triggers the phase changes in the oceans where up-welling cold water displaces warmer water and of course the reverse. So it is not possible to model such events and this would be an admission of complete failure of the computer models.

Regional models should not be regarded as having any useful predictive power if the global models have been unsuccessful. There is a problem with regional modelling over land as the assumption that the mean temperature is the average of the minimum and maximum temperatures can increase temperatures by up to 0.50C. This distorts the heat load over the land and thus would cause a systematic error in computer modelling results.

This report from the IPCC should be its last. Not only has the climate science research community extracted billions of dollars from politicians but tens if not hundreds of billions have been invested in schemes to reduce CO2 emissions with little to show by way of reductions.

The last word should be left to Jonathon Swift who brilliantly satirized the Royal Society in Gulliver’s Travels[4]. Gulliver is taken to the country of Balnibarbi whose enlightened rulers have adopted new methods of agriculture and building but the country appears to be in ruins as “the only inconvenience is, that none of these projects are yet brought to perfection”.

[1] Catch phrase from Little Britain BBC TV series


[3] See

102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Scope of Surveillance on: September 29, 2013, 12:53:39 PM
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 28, 2013, 11:14:00 AM
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ice Yachting on: August 30, 2013, 01:28:32 PM
North West Passage blocked with ice - yachts caught


'North West Passage - showing ice blockages'    © Environment Canada

The Northwest Passage after decades of so-called global warming has a dramatic 60% more Arctic ice this year than at the same time last year. The future dreams of dozens of adventurous sailors are now threatened. A scattering of yachts attempting the legendary Passage are caught by the ice, which has now become blocked at both ends and the transit season may be ending early. Douglas Pohl tells the story:

The Passage has become blocked with 5/10 concentrated drifting sea ice at both the eastern and at the western ends of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. At least 22 yachts and other vessels are in the Arctic at the moment. Some who were less advanced have retreated and others have abandoned their vessels along the way. Still others are caught in the ice in an unfolding, unresolved drama.

The real question is if and when the Canadian Coast Guard(CCG) decides to take early action to help the yachts exit the Arctic before freeze-up... or will they wait until it becomes an emergency rescue operation?

The first blockage area is at Prince Regent Inlet in position 73.7880535N, -89.2529297W which became blocked on 27th August with 5/10 ice concentration with 7/10 ice pushing.

This effectively closes the 2013 Northwest Passage without Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker escorts for transit. The alternative is a very technical and risky southern navigation through Fury & Hecla Strait mostly blocked with sea ice.

Currently there is a commercial cruise ship on a west to east passage which will reach Prince Regent Inlet in another day. It is unknown if there is a CCG icebreaker in the area to provide assistance since government ships do not provide Automatic Identification Service (AIS) to public AIS websites.

Since one of the Canadian Coast Guard’s prime missions is to provide icebreaking for commercial shipping it will be interesting to see if Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Government views this as an opportunity for good public relations to help recreational yachts transiting the Northwest Passage.

Another choke-point stopping marine traffic is on the western Canadian Arctic at Cape Bathurst in position 70.6672443N, -128.2763672W which became blocked on 26th August with 2/10 ice concentration and quickly filled with 5/10 ice on 27th August and today has 8/10 ice pushing towards Cape Bathurst. Latest word is the ice is retreating at an agonizing 1 nautical mile per day northward.

Empiricus - one of the ice-blocked yachts, still smiling -  © Environment Canada 

There are a number of yachts known to be in the Cambridge Bay area heading west: ACALEPHE (CA), ISATIS (NEW CALEDONIA), LA BELLE EPOQUE (DE), LIBELLULE (CHE), NOEME (FRA), and TRAVERSAY III (CA). PAS PERDU LE NORD (DE) was ahead by 10 days and has already gone on to Arctic Alaska waters. While BALTHAZAR (CA) departed from Inuvik a month ago and is now on the hard in Nome Alaska.

The following yachts are enroute from the west to the east: ANNA (?), rowboat ARCTIC JOULE (CA), DODO'S DELIGHT (GBR), EMPIRICUS (USA). rowboat FAIRMONT's PASSION (USA), tandem-kayak IKIMAYIA (CA), in Russian sea ice is LADY DANA (POL), POLAR BOUND (GBR), rowboat ROWING ICE (FRA), in Russian sea ice is TARA (FRA), and a group of jetskis known as DANGEROUS WATERS (USA) reported east of Gjoa Haven.

Several updates on known others:
LE MANGUIER (FRA) is wintering over in the ice at Paulatuk. Motor Yacht Lady M II (Marshal Islands) was escorted by CCGS icebreaker HENRY LARSEN through Bellot Strait eastbound on 20130824. ARCTIC TERN (GBR) and TOOLUKA (NED) retreated to the east towards Greenland/Newfoundland away from Bellot Strait on 20130822 with the opinion that the Arctic ice was finished melting and freeze-up would prevent them from reaching the Northwest Passage finish line at the Arctic Circle in the Bering Strait.

Watch this space for ongoing news about the situation.

Douglas Pohl is a USCG licensed ocean master of motor and steam vessels, fifth issue, retired. Doug and Michelle now live their dreams cruising aboard their 55' steel motor yacht GREY GOOSE and provide yacht routing, satcom and wifi communications consulting. He can be contacted by e-mail at: douglas_pohl (at) yahoo (dot) com
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rooskie Evac? on: August 29, 2013, 11:47:46 AM
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / "Weather Cooking" on: August 27, 2013, 12:50:43 PM
Seeing how "global warming" seems to have lost some of it's lexicographic shizzle leaving a gap "climate change" doesn't have the spark to fill, perhaps the doomsayers should give "weather cooking" a whirl. Hey, not only has it worked before, but if we manage to dispense with modern follyswaddles we could inspire those rotten deniers to STFU:
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Quick Drive By on: August 12, 2013, 10:35:26 AM
State-Funded Science: It’s Worse Than You Think!

By Patrick J. Michaels
Response Essays
August 12, 2013
Terence Kealey’s insightful essay is likely to provoke a vigorous debate among libertarians on the utility of publicly funded science. He concludes that “the public funding of research has no beneficial effects on the economy.”  I will argue that the situation, at least in a prominent environmental science, is worse, inasmuch as the more public money is disbursed, the poorer the quality of the science, and that there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

This is counter to the reigning myth that science, as a search for pure truth, is ultimately immune from incentivized distortion.  In fact, at one time James M. Buchanan clearly stated that he thought science was one of the few areas that was not subject to public choice influences. In his 1985 essay The Myth of Benevolence, Buchanan wrote:

Science is a social activity pursued by persons who acknowledge the existence of a nonindividualistic, mutually agreed-on value, namely truth…Science cannot, therefore, be modelled in the contractarian, or exchange, paradigm.”

In reality, public choice influences on science are pervasive and enforced through the massive and entrenched bureaucracies of higher education.  The point of origin is probably President Franklin Roosevelt’s November 17, 1944 letter to Vannevar Bush, who, as director of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development, managed and oversaw the Manhattan Project.

Roosevelt expressed a clear desire to expand the reach of the government far beyond theoretical and applied physics, specifically asking Bush, “What can the Government do now and in the future to aid research activities by public and private organizations.”  In response, in July, 1945, Bush published Science, The Endless Frontier, in which he explicitly acknowledged Roosevelt’s more inclusive vision, saying,

It is clear from President Roosevelt’s letter that in speaking of science that he had in mind the natural sciences, including biology and medicine…

Bush’s 1945 report explicitly laid the groundwork for the National Science Foundation, the modern incarnation of the National Institutes of Health, and the proliferation of federal science support through various federal agencies.  But, instead of employing scientists directly as the Manhattan Project did, Bush proposed disbursing research support to individuals via their academic employers.

Universities saw this as a bonanza, adding substantial additional costs.  A typical public university imposes a 50% surcharge on salaries and fringe benefits (At private universities the rate can approach 70%.)

These fungible funds often support faculty in the many university departments that do not recover all of their costs; thus does the Physics Department often support, say, Germanic Languages. As a result, the universities suddenly became wards of the federal government and in the thrall of extensive programmatic funding. The roots of statist “political correctness” lie as much in the economic interests of the academy as they do in the political predilections of the faculty.

As an example, I draw attention to my field of expertise, which is climate change science and policy.  The Environmental Protection Agency claims to base its global warming regulations on “sound” science, in which the federal government is virtually the sole provider of research funding.  In fact, climate change science and policy is a highly charged political arena, and its $2 billion/year public funding would not exist save for the perception that global warming is very high on the nation’s priority list.

The universities and their federal funders have evolved a codependent relationship.  Again, let’s use climate change as an example. Academic scientists recognize that only the federal government provides the significant funds necessary to publish enough original research to gain tenure in the higher levels of academia. Their careers therefore depend on it. Meanwhile, the political support for elected officials who hope to gain from global warming science will go away if science dismisses the issue as unimportant.

The culture of exaggeration and the disincentives to minimize scientific/policy problems are an unintended consequence of the way we now do science, which is itself a direct descendent of Science, The Endless Frontier.

All the disciplines of science with policy implications (and this is by far most of them) compete with each other for finite budgetary resources, resources that are often allocated via various congressional committees, such as those charged with responsibilities for environmental science, technology, or medical research. Thus each of the constituent research communities must engage in demonstrations that their scientific purview is more important to society than those of their colleagues in other disciplines.  So, using this example,   global warming inadvertently competes with cancer research and others.

Imagine if a NASA administrator at a congressional hearing, upon being asked if global warming were of sufficient importance to justify a billion dollars in additional funding, replied that it really was an exaggerated issue, and the money should be spent elsewhere on more important problems.

It is a virtual certainty that such a reply would be one of his last acts as administrator.

So, at the end of this hypothetical hearing, having answered in the affirmative (perhaps more like, “hell yes, we can use the money”), the administrator gathers all of his department heads and demands programmatic proposals from each.  Will any one of these individuals submit one which states that his department really doesn’t want the funding because the issue is perhaps exaggerated?

It is a virtual certainty that such a reply would be one of his last acts as a department head.

The department heads now turn to their individual scientists, asking for specific proposals on how to put the new monies to use. Who will submit a proposal with the working research hypothesis that climate change isn’t all that important?

It is a virtual certainty that such a reply would guarantee he was in his last year as a NASA scientist.

Now that the funding has been established and disbursed, the research is performed under the obviously supported hypotheses (which may largely be stated as “it’s worse than we thought”).  When the results are submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, they are going to be reviewed by other scientists who, being prominent in the field of climate change by virtue of their research productivity, are funded by the same process. They have little incentive to block any papers consistent with the worsening hypothesis and every incentive to block one that concludes the opposite.

Can this really be true?  After all, what I have sketched here is simply an hypothesis that public choice is fostering a pervasive “it’s worse than we thought” bias in the climate science literature, with the attendant policy distortions that must result from relying upon that literature.

It is an hypothesis that tests easily.

Let us turn to a less highly charged field in applied science  to determine how to test the hypothesis of pervasive bias, namely the pedestrian venue of the daily weather forecast.

Short-range weather models and centennial-scale climate models are largely based upon the same physics derived from the six interacting “primitive equations” describing atmospheric motion and thermodynamics.  The difference is that, in the weather forecasting models, the initial conditions change, being a simultaneous sample of global atmospheric pressure, temperature, and moisture in three dimensions, measured by ascending weather balloons and, increasingly, by downward-sounding satellites. This takes place twice a day.  The “boundary conditions,” such as solar irradiance and the transfer of radiation through the atmosphere, do not change.  In a climate model, the base variables are calculated, rather than measured, and the boundary conditions—such as the absorption of infrared radiation in various layers of the atmosphere (the “greenhouse effect”) change over time.

It is assumed that the weather forecasting model is unbiased—without remaining systematic errors—so that each run, every twelve hours, has an equal probability of predicting, say, that it will be warmer or colder next Friday than the previous run.  If this were not he case, then the chance of warmer or colder is unequal. In fact, in the developmental process for forecast models, the biases are subtracted out and the output is forced to have a bias of zero and therefore an equal probability of a warmer or colder forecast.

Similarly, if the initial results are unbiased, successive runs of climate models should have an equal probability of producing centennial forecasts that are warmer or colder than previous one, or projecting more or less severe climate impacts. It is a fact that the climate change calculated by these models is not a change from current or past conditions, but is the product of subtracting the output of the model with low greenhouse-gas concentrations from the one with higher ones.  Consequently the biasing errors have been subtracted out, a rather intriguing trick. Again, the change is one model minus another, not the standard “predicted minus observed.”

The climate research community actually believes its models are zero-biased. An amicus brief in the landmark Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, by a number of climate scientists claiming to speak for the larger community, explicitly stated this as fact:

Outcomes may turn out better than our best current prediction, but it is just as possible that environmental and health damages will be more severe than best predictions…”

The operative words are “just as possible,” indicating that climate scientists believe they are immune to public choice influences.

This is testable, and I ran such a test, publishing it in an obscure journal, Energy & Environment, in 2008.  I, perhaps accurately, hypothesized that a paper severely criticizing the editorial process at Science and Nature, the two most prestigious general science journals worldwide, was not likely to be published in such prominent places.

I examined the 115 articles that had appeared in both of these journals during a 13-month period in 2006 and 2007, classifying them as either “worse than we thought,” “better,” or “neutral or cannot determine.”  23 were neutral and removed from consideration. 9 were “better” and 83 were “worse.” Because of the hypothesis of nonbiased equiprobability, this is equivalent to tossing a coin 92 times and coming up with 9 or fewer heads or tails. The probability that this would occur in an unbiased sample can be calculated from the binomial probability distribution, and the result is striking. There would have to be 100,000,000,000,000,000 iterations of the 92 tosses for there to be merely a 50% chance that one realization of 9 or fewer heads or tails would be observed.

In subsequent work, I recently assembled a much larger sample of the scientific literature and, while the manuscript is in preparation, I can state that my initial result appears to be robust.

Kealey tells us that there is no relationship between the wealth of nations and the amount of money that taxpayers spend on scientific research.  In reality, it is in fact “worse than he thought.”  At least in a highly politicized field such as global warming science and policy, the more money the public spends, the worse is the quality of the science.
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 11, 2013, 04:28:30 PM
109  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: March 8-10, 2013 DBMA Training Camp on: March 01, 2013, 08:59:02 AM
Excited to be signed up and attending. Trust my aging and out of shape carcass will manage to keep up.

Plan to stay at the hotel, but won't be able to book it until I'm sure a potential complication isn't going to sneak up on me. If worse comes to worse, got a couple of trees I can hang a hammock from? I backpack a lot and it's my preferred way of snoozing in the field.

More than happy to share my shower if I do manage to book a room. Look forward to training with y'all.
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Draft IPCC Report Leaked on: December 13, 2012, 09:26:51 PM
Hmm, a little sunlight goes a long way it appears:  

IPCC AR5 draft leaked, contains game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing
Posted on December 13, 2012 by Guest Blogger
UPDATE1: Andrew Revkin at the NYT weighs in, an semi endorses the leak, see update below – Anthony

UPDATE2: Alternate links have been sent to me, should go faster now.  – Anthony

Full AR5 draft leaked here, contains game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing

(Alec Rawls) I participated in “expert review” of the Second Order Draft of AR5 (the next IPCC report), Working Group 1 (“The Scientific Basis”), and am now making the full draft available to the public. I believe that the leaking of this draft is entirely legal, that the taxpayer funded report report is properly in the public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and that making it available to the public is in any case protected by established legal and ethical standards, but web hosting companies are not in the business of making such determinations so interested readers are encouraged to please download copies of the report for further dissemination in case this content is removed as a possible terms-of-service violation. My reasons for leaking the report are explained below. Here are the chapters:


Summary for Policymakers
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface
Chapter 3: Observations: Ocean
Chapter 4: Observations: Cryosphere
Chapter 5: Information from Paleoclimate Archives
Chapter 6: Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles
Chapter 7: Clouds and Aerosols
Chapter 8: Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing
Chapter 8 Supplement
Chapter 9: Evaluation of Climate Models
Chapter 10: Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional
Chapter 11: Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability
Chapter 12: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility
Chapter 13: Sea Level Change
Chapter 14: Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change
Chapter 14 Supplement
Technical Summary

Why leak the draft report?

By Alec Rawls (email) [writing at ]

General principles

The ethics of leaking tax-payer funded documents requires weighing the “public’s right to know” against any harm to the public interest that may result. The press often leaks even in the face of extreme such harm, as when the New York Times published details of how the Bush administration was tracking terrorist financing with the help of the private sector Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), causing this very successful anti-terror program to immediately collapse.

That was a bad leak, doing great harm to expose something that nobody needed to know about. With the UN’s IPCC reports the calculus is reversed. UN “climate chief” Christina Figueres explains what is at stake for the public:

… we are inspiring government, private sector, and civil society to [make] the biggest transformation that they have ever undertaken. The Industrial Revolution was also a transformation, but it wasn’t a guided transformation from a centralized policy perspective. This is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science.

So may we please see this “science” on the basis of which our existing energy infrastructure is to be ripped out in favor of non-existent “green” energy? The only reason for secrecy in the first place is to enhance the UN’s political control over a scientific story line that is aimed explicitly at policy makers. Thus the drafts ought to fall within the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Obama administration implicitly acknowledged this when it tried to evade FOIA by setting up private “backdoor channels” for communications with the IPCC. If NCAR’s Gerald Meehl (a lead author of AR5′s chapter on near-term climate change), has working copies of the draft report (and he’s only one of dozens of U.S. government researchers who would), then by law the draft report (now finished) should be available to the public.

The IPCC’s official reason for wanting secrecy (as they explained it to Steve McIntyre in  January 2012) is so that criticisms of the drafts are not spread out across the internet but get funneled through the UN’s comment process. If there is any merit to that rationale it is now moot. The comment period ended November 30th so the comment process can no longer be affected by publication.

As for my personal confidentiality agreement with the IPCC, I regard that as vitiated by the systematic dishonesty of the report (“omitted variable fraud” as I called it in my FOD comments). This is a general principle of journalistic confidentiality: bad faith on one side breaks the agreement on the other. They can’t ask reviewers to become complicit in their dishonesty by remaining silent about it.

Then there is the specific content of the Second Order Draft where the addition of one single sentence demands the release of the whole. That sentence is an astounding bit of honesty, a killing admission that completely undercuts the main premise and the main conclusion of the full report, revealing the fundamental dishonesty of the whole.

Lead story from the Second Order Draft: strong evidence for solar forcing beyond TSI now acknowledged by IPCC

Compared to the First Order Draft, the SOD now adds the following sentence, indicated in bold (page 7-43, lines 1-5, emphasis added):

Many empirical relationships have been reported between GCR or cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system (e.g., Bond et al., 2001; Dengel et al., 2009; Ram and Stolz, 1999). The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link. We focus here on observed relationships between GCR and aerosol and cloud properties.

The Chapter 7 authors are admitting strong evidence (“many empirical relationships”) for enhanced solar forcing (forcing beyond total solar irradiance, or TSI), even if they don’t know what the mechanism is. This directly undercuts the main premise of the report, as stated in Chapter 8 (page 8-4, lines 54-57):

There is very high confidence that natural forcing is a small fraction of the anthropogenic forcing. In particular, over the past three decades (since 1980), robust evidence from satellite observations of the TSI and volcanic aerosols demonstrate a near-zero (–0.04 W m–2) change in the natural forcing compared to the anthropogenic AF increase of ~1.0 ± 0.3 W m–2.

The Chapter 8 authors (a different group than the Chapter 7 authors) are explicit here that their claim about natural forcing being small compared to anthropogenic forcing is based on an analysis in which the only solar forcing that is taken into account is TSI. This can be verified from the radiative forcing table on page 8-39 where the only solar variable included in the IPCC’s computer models is seen to be “solar irradiance.”

This analysis, where post-1980 warming gets attributed to the human release of CO2 on the grounds that it cannot be attributed to solar irradiance, cannot stand in the face of the Chapter 7 admission of substantial evidence for solar forcing beyond solar irradiance. Once the evidence for enhanced solar forcing is taken into account we can have no confidence that natural forcing is small compared to anthropogenic forcing.

The Chapter 8 premise that natural forcing is relatively small leads directly to the main conclusion of the entire report, stated in the first sentence of the Executive Summary (the very first sentence of the entire report): that advances since AR4 “further strengthen the basis for human activities being the primary driver in climate change” (p.1-2, lines 3-5). This headline conclusion is a direct descendant of the assumption that the only solar forcing is TSI, a claim that their own report no longer accepts.

The report still barely hints at the mountain of evidence for enhanced solar forcing, or the magnitude of the evidenced effect. Dozens of studies (section two here) have found between a .4 and .7 degree of correlation between solar activity and various climate indices, suggesting that solar activity “explains” in the statistical sense something like half of all past temperature change, very little of which could be explained by the very slight variation in TSI. At least the Chapter 7 team is now being explicit about what this evidence means: that some mechanism of enhanced solar forcing must be at work.

My full submitted comments (which I will post later) elaborate several important points. For instance, note that the Chapter 8 premise (page 8-4, lines 54-57) assumes that it is the change in the level of forcing since 1980, not the level of forcing, that would be causing warming. Solar activity was at historically high levels at least through the end of solar cycle 22 (1996), yet the IPCC is assuming that because this high level of solar forcing was roughly constant from 1950 until it fell off during solar cycle 23 it could not have caused post-1980 warming. In effect they are claiming that you can’t heat a pot of water by turning the burner to maximum and leaving it there, that you have to keep turning the flame up to get continued warming, an un-scientific absurdity that I have been writing about for several years (most recently in my post about Isaac Held’s bogus 2-box model of ocean equilibration).

The admission of strong evidence for enhanced solar forcing changes everything. The climate alarmists can’t continue to claim that warming was almost entirely due to human activity over a period when solar warming effects, now acknowledged to be important, were at a maximum. The final draft of AR5 WG1 is not scheduled to be released for another year but the public needs to know now how the main premises and conclusions of the IPCC story line have been undercut by the IPCC itself.

President Obama is already pushing a carbon tax premised on the fear that CO2 is causing dangerous global warming. Last week his people were at the UN’s climate meeting in Doha pretending that Hurricane Sandy was caused by human increments to CO2 as UN insiders assured the public that the next IPCC report will “scare the wits out of everyone” with its ramped-up predictions of human-caused global warming to come, but this is not where the evidence points, not if climate change is in any substantial measure driven by the sun, which has now gone quiet and is exerting what influence it has in the cooling direction.

The acknowledgement of strong evidence for enhanced solar forcing should upend the IPCC’s entire agenda. The easiest way for the UN to handle this disruptive admission would be to remove it from their final draft, which is another reason to make the draft report public now. The devastating admission needs to be known so that the IPCC can’t quietly take it back.

Will some press organization please host the leaked report?

Most of us have to worry about staying within cautiously written and cautiously applied terms-of-service agreements. That’s why I created this new website. If it gets taken down nothing else gets taken with it. Media companies don’t have this problem. They have their own servers and publishing things like the draft IPCC report is supposed to be their bailiwick.

If the press has First Amendment protection for the publication of leaked materials even when substantial national security interests are at stake (the Supreme Court precedent set in the Pentagon Papers case), then it can certainly republish a leaked draft of a climate science report where there is no public interest in secrecy. The leaker could be at risk (the case against Pentagon leaker Daniel Ellsberg was thrown out for government misconduct, not because his activity was found to be protected) but the press is safe, and their services would be appreciated.

United States taxpayers have funded climate science to the tune of well over 80 billion dollars, all channeled through the funding bureaucracy established by Vice President Albert “the end is nigh” Gore when he served as President Clinton’s “climate czar.”  That Gore-built bureaucracy is still to this day striving to insure that not a penny of all those taxpayer billions ever goes to any researcher who is not committed to the premature conclusion that human contributions to atmospheric CO2 are causing dangerous global warming (despite the lack of any statistically significant warming for more than 15 years).

Acolytes of this bought “consensus” want to see what new propaganda their tax dollars have wrought and so do the skeptics. It’s unanimous, and an already twice-vetted draft is sitting now in thousands of government offices around the world. Time to fork it over to the people.


UPDATE1: Andrew Revkin writes in a story at the NYT Dot Earth today:

It’s important, before anyone attacks Rawls for posting the drafts (this is distinct from his views on their contents), to consider that panel report drafts at various stages of preparation have been leaked in the past by people with entirely different points of view.

That was the case in 2000, when I was leaked a final draft of the summary for policy makers of the second science report from the panel ahead of that year’s round of climate treaty negotiations. As I explained in the resulting news story, “A copy of the summary was obtained by The New York Times from someone who was eager to have the findings disseminated before the meetings in The Hague.”

Here’s a question I sent tonight to a variety of analysts of the panel’s workings over the years:

The leaker, Alec Rawls, clearly has a spin. But I’ve long thought that I.P.C.C. was in a weird losing game in trying to boost credibility through more semi-open review while trying to maintain confidentiality at same time. I’m sympathetic to the idea of having more of the I.P.C.C. process being fully open (a layered Public Library of Science-style approach to review can preserve the sanity of authors) in this age of enforced transparency (WikiLeaks being the most famous example).

I’ll post answers as they come in.

Full story at DotEarth


UPDATE2: Alternative links for AR5 WG1 SOD. At each page click on the button that says “create download link,” then “click here to download”:

Summary for Policymakers

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface

Chapter 3: Observations: Ocean

Chapter 4: Observations: Cryosphere

Chapter 5: Information from Paleoclimate Archives

Chapter 6: Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles

Chapter 7: Clouds and Aerosols

Chapter 8: Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing

Chapter 8 Supplement

Chapter 9: Evaluation of Climate Models

Chapter 10: Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional

Chapter 11: Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability

Chapter 12: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility

Chapter 13: Sea Level Change

Chapter 14: Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change

Chapter 14 Supplement

Technical Summary
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Carbon Sequestration Masks on: December 05, 2012, 08:12:52 AM
At climate talks in Qatar (something of an oxymoron to begin with) participants are duped into wearing a "carbon sequestration" mask. Critical thinking does not seem to be something the participants caught here are endowed with:
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Temporary Takings on: December 05, 2012, 08:08:36 AM
Supreme Court Rules That Temporary Government-Induced Flooding of Private Property Can Qualify as a Taking
Ilya Somin • December 4, 2012 2:51 pm

Today, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. United States. The case involved a claim by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission that the federal government’s repeated deliberate flooding of its property between 1993 and 2000 constituted a taking requiring compensation under the Fifth Amendment, which mandates that the government pay “just compensation” for takings. The flooding caused extensive damage to forest land owned by the Commission.

Today’s opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rules that temporary flooding can qualify as a taking at least sometimes, but tells us very little about how to determine whether a given case of flooding qualifies as a taking or not:

We rule today, simply and only, that government-induced flooding temporary in duration gains no automatic exemption from Takings Clause inspection. When regulation or temporary physical invasion by government interferes with private property, our decisions recognize, time is indeed a factor in determining the existence... of a compensable taking....

Also relevant to the takings inquiry is the degree to which the invasion is intended or is the foreseeable result of authorized government action.... So, too, are the character of the land at issue and the owner’s “reasonable investment-backed expectations” regarding the land’s use.... Severity of the interference figures in the calculus as well.

So far as it goes, I think the Court’s decision is clearly correct. For reasons I discussed here, there is no good reason to hold that temporary flooding can never count as a taking. This is especially true if the flooding was deliberate and inflicted permanent damage on the property owner’s land. Temporary physical invasions qualify as takings in many other contexts (e.g. – overflights by aircraft), and there is nothing special about flooding that should lead the Court to create a categorical exception. To the contrary, allowing the government to temporarily flood private property without paying any compensation whatsoever would severely undermine the purpose of the Just Compensation Clause, which is, as a 1960 decision puts it, to “bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.”

Unfortunately, the Court gives very little guidance on how to determine whether a given case of flooding is a taking or not. The opinion lists several factors that might be relevant, but does not explain how many need to be present before a taking can be said to have occurred, or what to do if some factors cut one way and some the other. It also says nothing about how much deference, if any, is due to the government in such cases. The Court does not even address the federal government’s extremely dubious argument that damage inflicted by flooding on downstream owners is categorically excluded from qualifying as a taking, even though the justices expressed great skepticism about this claim at the oral argument. These and other issues will have to be dealt with by the lower court on remand.

I suspect that the justices bought unity at the expense of clarity here. In the meantime, it seems clear that Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is going to result in further litigation in the lower courts, as property owners and government agencies advance competing interpretations of the Court’s vague standards for determing whether a temporary flood qualifies as a taking or not.

That said, the Court did take an important step in decisively rejecting the federal government’s extreme position that temporary flooding can never be a taking. The case is therefore joins Sackett v. EPA as a rare unanimous victory for property rights in the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: In this post, I explained why the Court is applying the Just Compensation Clause to this case despite the fact that it involves the flooding of government-owned land, while the text of the Fifth Amendment specifies that it applies only to “private property.” Under longstanding current Supreme Court precedent, the Takings Clause applies to both private and state-owned land. I have some doubts about the correctness of those decisions, but the Court is unlikely to overrule them anytime soon.

UPDATE #2: Brian Hodges of the Pacific Legal Foundation comments on this post here:

Professor Ilya Somin.... praised today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States as “a rare unanimous victory for property rights” and “an important step in rejecting the federal government’s extreme position that temporary flooding can never be a taking....”

Professor Somin highlights, however, a couple a paragraphs toward the end of the decision that injected unnecessary confusion into an otherwise clear opinion....

While I agree that the language is unclear, I am not so sure that the quoted passage will cause too much confusion in future litigation. The passage lists, without differentiation, various tests, developed over the years, to determine regulatory and/or physical takings. For example, the Court recites the “intent or foreseeability” and “character of the invasion” tests from Ridge Line, Inc. v. United States (2003) and Portsmouth Harbor Land & Hotel v. United States (1922)—both are tests that have never been applied to regulatory takings....

Although some may be tempted to argue that the Court created a chimera from blended regulatory and physical takings tests, the Court did not intend to do so. Instead, the Court stated that its decision was narrow, “We rule today, simply and only, that government induced flooding temporary in duration gains no automatic exemption from Takings Clause inspection.” And elsewhere, in Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (2002), the Court advised that it is “inappropriate to treat cases involving physical takings as controlling precedents for the evaluation of a claim that there has been a ‘regulatory taking’ and vice versa.” The upshot being that the tests that control physical invasion takings still control physical takings cases, and the tests that control regulatory takings still only apply in regulatory takings cases.

I continue to believe that the opinion is clear in rejecting the government’s extreme claim that temporary flooding can never be a taking, but unclear as to the standards that determine when temporary flooding is a taking. As Hodges notes, the Court lists a grab bag of relevant factors drawn from both regulatory and physical takings cases. So it is by no mean clear which set of precedents applies here. Of course one can argue that the language listing possible relevant factors is just dictum and that the sole holding is, as the Court puts it, “only... that government induced flooding temporary in duration gains no automatic exemption from Takings Clause inspection.” But if the list of factors is just dictum, that makes the opinion less clear, not more, as lower courts would have even less guidance on the question of how to figure out whether a given case of temporary flooding qualifies as a taking or not.

UPDATE: Robert H. Thomas of the Inverse Condemnation blog rounds up other reactions to the decision here.
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How Many are Too Many? on: November 28, 2012, 08:41:18 AM
You seem unfamiliar with the concept of deterrence. Using your logic, the razor wire and gun towers that guard the perimeters of medium/high security prisons are unneeded, as they rarely have prisoners try to escape that way.

Poor analogy. Razor wire demonstrably keeps felons in prison, security theater demonstrably does not keep box cutters out of secure airport areas.

Because the American public demands security and also demands convenience and the USG lunges for every high tech "solution" drug before it in an attempt to placate the citizens.

Correct, and thanks for making my security theater argument for me, though I wouldn't characterize the current autocratic regimen as "convenient."

You kind of gloss over how important it is to keep flammibles and explosives off of aircraft, as well as firearms.

While you gloss over how easy it's proven to get the same past the TSA. Is effectiveness not something we can demand, or is confusing gross and ineffective intrusions for security acceptable to you?

BTW, as I've already mentioned, a bomb placed up a person's rectum has been used in an assassination attempt, while rumors abound regarding explosive breast implants. By you logic shouldn't Americans be dropping trou, bending over, and coughing or getting mammograms before boarding an aircraft? Your security uber alles take on things would seem to necessitate those sorts of intrusions. Why are you not making arguments for those measures? You're not weighing the benefits and costs of doing so while taking me to task for suggesting the same, are you?

What's the libertarian solution to this threat?

Get the vast, ineffective, bumbling, autocratic TSA out of the picture and let private firms run security as they are all ready doing at other airports with measurably better results. I'd also start talking to the American people like adults, rather than treating them like sheep, telling them that we live in a violent world with violent people and that it is not possible to anticipate or address all possible threats, and indeed that attempts to do so in fact play in to the hands of our enemies as those measures create the exact kinds of disruptions our enemies intended. I would make the actuarial point that the amount of time currently spent in line awaiting security theater performances greatly exceeds the number of life hours lost in past attacks and so some sort of rational benefit/risk assessment has to come into play as it does in all other activities from driving to walking into a 7/11 at night.

I note, by the way, when we get into these exchanges you regularly disparage my Libertarian creed, and I confess that grates on me as it doesn't seem too far removed from denigrating someone's religion or heritage. You've made it abundantly clear that you feel the founding values of this nation are an inconvenience where security is concerned and that extra-constitutional end runs are therefor more than justified; as such I understand you view my embrace of liberty as a trifling thing to be dismissed with disdain, along with all those dead white guys who attempted to found a nation based on inexpedient principles of liberty. While doing so, however, it'd be nice if you could find a way to be dismissive based less on my creed and more on the issue at hand.

As that may be, is it safe to assume you have no issue with 250 Americans dying a month directly due to TSA's onerous and ineffective measures? If so, how many Americans are too many to kill to keep Americans safe?
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / High Sticking on: November 28, 2012, 07:32:23 AM
Nice overview of sundry hockey stick foolishness.

Doomed Planet

“Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives.”

Vaclav Klaus
Blue Planet in Green Shackles

Speak loudly and carry a busted hockey stick

by Walter Starck

November 19, 2012

The average temperature for the Earth, or any region or even any specific place is very difficult to determine with any accuracy.  At any given time surface air temperatures around the world range over about 100°C. Even in the same place they can vary by nearly that much seasonally and as much as 30°C or more in a day. Weather stations are relatively few and located very irregularly. Well maintained stations with good records going back a century or more can be counted on one’s fingers. Even then only maximum and minimum temperatures or ones at a few particular times of day are usually available.  Maintenance, siting, and surrounding land use also all have influences on the temperatures recorded.

The purported 0.7°C of average global warming over the past century is highly uncertain. It is in fact less than the margin of error in our ability to determine the average temperature anywhere, much less globally. What portion of any such warming might be due to due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions is even less certain. There are, however, numerous phenomena which are affected by temperature and which can provide good evidence of relative warming or cooling and, in some cases, even actual temperatures. These include growth rings in trees, corals and stalactites, borehole temperature profiles and the isotopic and biologic signatures in core samples from sediments or glaciers. In addition, historical accounts of crops grown, harvest times, freezes, sea ice, river levels, glacial advances or retreats and other such records provide clear indication of warming and cooling.

Recent Warming Nothing Unusual

The temperature record everywhere shows evidence of warming and cooling in accord with cycles on many different time scales from daily to annual, decadal, centennial, millennial and even longer. Many of these seem to correlate with various cycles of solar activity and the Earth’s own orbital mechanics. The temperature record is also marked by seemingly random events which appear to follow no discernable pattern.

Over the past 3000 years there is evidence from hundreds of independent proxy studies, as well as historical records, for a Minoan Warm period around 1000 BC, a Roman Warm Period about 2000 years ago, a Medieval Warm Period (WMP) about 1000 years ago and a Modern Warm Period now developing. In between were markedly colder periods in the Dark Ages and another between the 16th and 19th centuries which is now known as the Little Ice Age (LIA). The warmer periods were times of bountiful crops, increasing population and a general flourishing of human societies. The cold periods were times of droughts, famines, epidemics, wars and population declines. Clearly life has been much better in the times of warmer climate, and there is nothing to indicate that the apparent mild warming of the past century is anything other than a return of this millennial scale warming cycle.

Good News Unwelcome to Alarmists

This rather good news about a possibly warmer climate has not met with hopeful interest from those who purport to be so concerned about the possibly dangerous effects of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). On the contrary, their reaction has overwhelmingly been a strong rejection of any beneficial possibility. It is apparent that their deepest commitment is to the threat itself and not to any rational assessment of real world probabilities or the broader consequences of any of their proposed remedies.

Fabricating a Hockey Stick from Hot Air

This blanket rejection of any possibility other than the hypothetical threat of AGW has led to some strange behaviour for people who modestly proclaim themselves to be the world’s top climate scientists.  Not only have they ignored and dismissed the hundreds of studies indicating the global existence of a Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, they have set out to fabricate an alternate reality in the form of a graph purporting to represent the global temperature for the past thousand years. It portrays a near straight line wiggling up and down only a fraction of a degree for centuries until it begins an exponential rise gradually starting at the beginning of the 20th century and then shooting steeply up in the latter part of that century. This hockey stick-shaped graph was then heavily promoted as the icon of AGW. It appeared on the cover of the third climate assessment report of the IPCC published in 2003 and was reproduced at various places in the report itself.

Among the emails between leading climate researchers released in the Climategate affair were a number which revealed a concerted effort to come up with some means to deny the existence of the MWP. The implement chosen to do this became known as the Hockey Stick Graph.

The methodology used to construct the graph involved the use of estimates of temperatures from a very small sample of tree growth rings from the Yamal Peninsula in far northern Siberia and ancient stunted pine trees from near the tree line in the High Sierras of California. This data was then subjected to a statistical treatment later shown by critics to produce a hockey stick form of graph even when random numbers were used as raw input data. To make matters even worse, the same tree ring data also indicated a significant decline in temperature for the 20th century, but this was hidden by burying it in a much larger number of data points from instrument measurements. The resulting study was published in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature in 1998. Remarkably, this very small, highly selected and deceptively manipulated graph was proclaimed to be an accurate representation of global temperatures and the extensive body of contrary evidence was simply ignored.

Continuing the Game With a Busted Stick

 When serious shortcomings of the hockey stick study began to be exposed and questioned the climate alarmists closed ranks and proclaimed their preeminent authority and expertise but refused to engage in any genuine scientific debate with their critics. Instead, they appealed to a supposed consensus of experts, peer review, and personal denigration of any who dared to disagree.

All of the name calling, pissing contests over credentials and abstruse statistical manipulations made it difficult for the general public to come to any conclusion. Regardless of various provable errors and conflicting evidence, the alarmists could and did simply ignore it all and claim the HS graph as gospel truth.

Then came Climategate. Obvious scams, lies and connivance are something that doesn’t require a computer model or a PhD to recognise. In the Climategate emails discussion of things like things like “…Mike’s Nature trick…,”, manipulations to “…hide the decline”,  requests to destroy correspondence, efforts to supress publication of conflicting studies, vilification of critics, and abuse of peer review were matters anyone could see were not ethical. Certainly they were not the kind of behaviour we should expect from high level scientists whose advice we are being asked to accept in policies that could be expected to have major effects on the prosperity of our entire society.

The loss of public trust and credibility resulting from Climategate was immense and has been compounded by additional ongoing exposures of misconduct, repeated failures of alarmist predictions and the slow motion economic train wreck of green energy initiatives.

Although one might rationally expect that the obvious collapse of alarmist momentum would have them reassessing their approach and perhaps even the validity of their earlier assumptions, it seems that the idea that they may have been wrong in any respect must be be inconceivable to them. Instead, their response to conflicting reality and declining credibility has been only to declare still greater certainty and ratchet up the alarm to an even less believable level of hype.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Repeat the Failure

Introduction of the carbon tax in Australia was supposed to lead the world along the path of righteousness toward cheap renewable energy and environmental correctness. Unfortunately for the current government both economic reality and climate itself have not co-operated. The intended good example is becoming one of an obvious foolishness to be avoided and nobody is following. Ongoing exposure of scientific misconduct by alarmist researchers and repeated failure of their predictions haven’t helped either. The alarmist community is in disarray and becoming increasingly shrill in the tone of their pronouncements. The need for strong new scientific evidence to reinforce the shredded remnants of their discredited claims is becoming desperate.

CSIRO has tried to help with a series of increasingly dire predictions but having become a heavily bureaucratised and politicised institution they have been careful to cover their backsides with qualifiers and disclaimers which dull the sharp edge of hype, certainty and urgency needed by government. However, through generous grants government has also bought and paid for reliable cadres of university based academics whose funding and even whole careers are now based on research into Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW). Although science may aspire to value free objectivity, it is observable fact that when generous funding is provided to study a purported problem, one thing is certain. It will never be found that there really wasn’t one.

In early June this year a new research report announced the finding of a distinct hockey stick shaped graph for Australian climate over the past millennium. If correct, this would be of great value in supporting the faltering case for CAGW. As the original HS graph was based entirely on data from the northern hemisphere, finding the same pattern from the Southern Hemisphere would bolster the claim that the recent warming is indeed global and unprecedented. Based on different much more extensive data and free of the inappropriate statistical treatment of the original HS study, this new one would also greatly bolster the tattered credibility of the original study.

The new study appeared in Journal of Climate under the title, "Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium". It was authored by Joelle Gergis, Raphael Neukom, Ailie Gallant, Steven Phipps and David Karoly.   In mid-May 2012 it was made available online in preprint form, having been peer reviewed and accepted for print publication in an upcoming issue of the journal. In a number of key aspects what followed has been a rerun of the original HS story. Shortly after the online preprint appeared, the Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre pointed out that a statistical procedure which was stated in the Gergis et al. study to have been applied had not in fact been used.

Not coincidentally, it was McIntyre who exposed the statistical shortcomings in the original HS study.

Although advanced statistical analysis is widely used in science, very few researchers have a thorough mathematical understanding of what they are doing in this regard. Most are simply following a recipe. However, there is little risk of having to justify the validity of anything as their peers are not statisticians either. McIntyre has an unfair advantage in this. He is a genuine expert in statistics critiquing the work of researchers who are really not very skilled in his discipline.

What ensued in subsequent critical discussion on the Internet and in emails between the authors, their colleagues and the journal editors was a litany of shifting denial, obfuscation, excuses, trivialisation and denigration that could have been borrowed from the original HS script. Without going into the tedious and tawdry details (readily available on the net), the key points of the story are that in response to McIntyre’s finding of the statistical problem the authors announced they had already discovered it themselves the day before McIntyre pointed it out, and that it was really just an oversight in the data processing routine which could quickly be corrected and would have no effect on the overall findings of the study. The journal editors accepted this and gave the authors a deadline with sufficient time to rerun the data routine and make any necessary corrections to the MS.

After much speculation in the blogosphere and varying opinion among the authors and their supporters about what to do and how it might affect the outcome, the deadline passed without a corrected MS being received by the journal. The editors then asked for the study to be withdrawn. Such a request is the scientific equivalent of hara-kiri, a dishonour so great that the only honourable atonement is what amounts to ritual scientific suicide.

If, as publically maintained, all that was involved was a data processing error which could easily be corrected and would have no important effect on the outcome, surely the correction would have been made. However, email correspondence between the authors (which became available through an FOI request) revealed a concern that if properly applied the omitted data processing routine would not result in the desired HS graph or, if it did so, would at best yield only highly uncertain results.

The direct cost of this fiasco to taxpayers is reported to have totalled some $950,000 in research grants from 2009 to 2012. To further this failed work the latest Australian Research Council grants announcement also lists another $350,000 in funding to the lead author approved for 2013 – 2015.  The climate gravy train can provide a sumptuous ride for those whose work shows promise of producing what the government wants.

Climatology - Science or Ideology?

Climatology is no longer recognisable as a science but has morphed into a fundamentalist ideology of a millenarian nature. Science only serves it to enhance claims of authority and certainty. Scientific ethics and evidence are employed selectively in accord with the noble cause of saving the planet from the corruptions of humanity and capitalism. Any conflicting reason or evidence is never sufficient for doubt but is only a test of faith to be overcome. Any opposing argument is not simply incorrect but driven by wilful evil, in league with big business if not Satan himself.

For third rate academics CAGW has much to offer. One doesn’t need to be particularly capable to speculate about some dire consequence of warming, receive widespread publicity and be treated as an important expert. Unlike in real science, no colleagues will dispute them and the few sceptics willing to question anything will generally be ignored and denigrated by all their peers. The news media will describe them as experts and provide the public attention they know they deserve but somehow had never been recognised by anyone else until they climbed onto the climate bandwagon. Grants then flow and jetting off to attend important conferences in attractive places with all expenses paid provides frequent welcome breaks from the tedium of academia. Perhaps best of all, is a delicious feeling of importance and moral superiority over all of the high achievers striving so hard to discover something of consequence about the real world.  The only personal cost is to one’s own scientific integrity and that’s not worth much if one is just another unrecognised minor league academic no one had ever heard of before they joined into the climate alarm. In any case, saving the planet is the noblest of all causes and absolves any tinge of guilt in such regard.

Uncertainty and a Duty of Care

Recently an Italian court sentenced several scientists to jail terms in connection with a failed prediction regarding an earthquake. The court decision provoked widespread condemnation from the global scientific community because earthquakes are beyond the ability of current science to predict. However, the legal basis of their culpability was not in failing to predict the quake but in falsely asserting certainty in their own prediction. In this instance the scientists assured the local population that there was little risk of a dangerous event and that they should all go home, have a nice bottle of wine and not worry. A strong quake took place and several hundred people were killed.

The situation was perhaps exacerbated by a conflicting opinion from an independent researcher who had detected a sharp rise in radon gas in the air and felt this was evidence of an impending temblor. The government experts disagreed and assured everyone they were the experts and they were confident there was little or no risk.

If scientists are going to claim high levels of expert authority they have a duty of care to make clear the level of uncertainty in their predictions. This is especially so where there are potentially major detrimental consequences from following their advice should it prove to be incorrect. The essential difference between belief and science, or between alarmists and sceptics, is that the former assert certainty while the latter admit room for doubt. False claims of certainty and expertise by alarmist researchers have been a major obstacle to any rational public debate of the matter.

Fantasies vs. Reality

In the meantime, while we have been indulging the fantasies of activists and academics vying for our attention on the threat of CAGW, the economies of the developed world have come to teeter on the brink of financial chaos.

Democracies everywhere have voted for more government and more benefits than their productive sectors can support. Deficits are now chronic and blowing out while productive activity struggles under the burden of ever more government imposed restrictions and demands. The climate-alarmist push to penalise and restrict the use of fossil fuels and force the premature adoption of expensive, inadequate, unreliable renewable energy is a dagger to the very heart of our society at a time of great vulnerability. Ironically, if the alarmist aim is achieved they themselves, the urban non-producers, will be among the first to become truly unsustainable. The next few years look to become a decisive reality test. 

In news just in (and curiously ignored in the mainstream Western media) it is reported that for the first time since it began The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not invited to attend an upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference. Could it be that in a global financial crisis nations have finally come to realise that climate hysterics are more of a problem than a solution?
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: November 27, 2012, 09:23:16 AM
Smoking rubble filled with body parts where towers once stood is part of the cost, which is ignored by the article you posted. How many 9/11 attacks a week can we absorb until we move back to trying to secure aviation ? Or did I miss out on the al qaeda surrender ceremony?

An appeal to emotion. What a surprise. Remind me again how many terrorist plots the TSA has foiled. Some number less than one, yes?

And did you read the news about how the nudie scanners were prone to breakdown and generally gumming up the flow through security so they've been removed from large airports and sent to smaller ones . . . that are too small to accommodate them and so now that critical piece of infrastructure that formerly was all that stood between us and more postulated smoking holes sit in warehouses across the country. Couple billion burnt on the altar of security theater. Lovely planning abilities shown by the folks in charge of airport security. Confidence inspiring.

Then there's the fact the TSA regularly fails security audits, is currently unionizing, and regularly produces nasty employees that make it into the news. Hardly inspires confidence in the organization and its management abilities, either. Add to that the smoking holes were created by a couple smuggled box cutters; do you have any doubt that a couple more box cutters could be smuggled past these clowns? The TSA appears to be of the opinion American citizens are sheep that need to be herded on to aircraft, yet the only instances where Al Qaeda was foiled in their attempts occurred when non-sheep stepped up and shut the attacks the fornication down. But hey, let's keep trying to cow Americans into meekly submitting to "security" measures that in fact would do little to slow a committed terrorist down.

The reason there have not been more smoking holes is because our enemies have opted not to commit the resources to creating them. They have in fact succeeded in creating ongoing disruptions having enlisted the petty and short sighted bureaucrats of the TSA to impose ham-fisted security theater measures that regularly fail when audited and no doubt would do so again when dedicated terrorists get around to attacking the air travel infrastructure. But hey, in the interim let's kill 250 Americans a month on roads while wasting countless man hours standing in dubious security theater lines so the TSA can conjure and illusion of security while practicing DC CYA along the way. The bad guys need a good laugh every now and then too; I've little doubt the TSA provides them.
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: November 26, 2012, 02:13:08 PM
Do the people in the buildings struck by hijacked aircraft get a voice in the matter?

No more voice than the 250 a month dying on the highways do as part of the TSA's ongoing production of Security Theater. Or are we in some sort of zone where benefits and costs aren't allowed to be weighed or even mentioned?
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 242 Per Month on: November 21, 2012, 08:42:02 PM
How TSA Kills People
from John Stossel by John Stossel
There are plenty of news stories this Thanksgiving about TSA incompetence. But having to deal with lines, groping, and rude agents may not be the worst thing about the TSA. The worst thing may be that, to avoid the TSA, some people drive instead of fly - and that is far more likely to get them killed.

As Bloomberg writer Charles Kenney points out:

"To make flying as dangerous as using a car, a four-plane disaster on the scale of 9/11 would have to occur every month, according to analysis published in the American Scientist. Researchers at Cornell University suggest that people switching from air to road transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an increase of 242 driving fatalities per month-which means that a lot more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than died from being on the planes that terrible day."

The trend towards driving instead of flying has grown since the TSA started. This Thanksgiving, AAA estimates that 4.5 million people will fly for the holiday and 31 million will drive. Before the TSA, on Thanksgiving AAA estimated there would be 6 million flyers and 28 million drivers.

Thanksgiving travelling


Flying.....6 million....4.5 million

Driving...28 million...31 million

Slate blogger Matt Yglesias is right to question whether the TSA is so bad that even having NO airport security might be better.

The best solution would be to allow airports and private companies to set their own security measures, as I reported in this segment.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Snowballing on: November 16, 2012, 08:48:30 PM
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No Percentage in Initiative on: November 16, 2012, 08:14:21 PM
Why the U.S. Job Market Remains Terribly Bleak
By John C. Goodman  |  Posted: Fri. November 16, 2012, 4:24pm PT
Also published in Forbes on Thu. November 15, 2012

Full time work is about to get scarcer. The reason? By hiring part-time workers who put in less than 30 hours per week, employers can avoid a mandate dictated by the new health reform law: either provide expensive health insurance or pay a fine equal to $2,000 per worker. Avoiding the mandate becomes even more attractive for low-wage employees, since they can get highly subsidized insurance in the newly created health insurance exchanges. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Darden Restaurants [parent of Red Lobster and Olive Garden] was among the first companies to say it was changing hiring in response to the health-care law.
Pillar Hotels & Resorts this summer began to focus more on hiring part-time workers among its 5,500 employees, after the Supreme Court upheld the health-care overhaul.
CKE Restaurants Inc., parent of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains, began two months ago to hire part-time workers to replace full-time employees who left.
Home retailer Anna’s Linens Inc. is considering cutting hours for some full-time employees to avoid the insurance mandate if the healthcare law isn’t repealed.
In a July survey, 32% of retail and hospitality company respondents told [Mercer] that they were likely to reduce the number of employees working 30 hours a week or more.
Clearly the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is a major factor holding back economic recovery. But it’s not alone. Other public policies enacted during the Obama administration’s first four years have been affecting the supply side of the market.

A new book by University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan explains that through a major expansion of the welfare state we are paying people not to work:

n the matter of a few quarters of 2008 and 2009, new federal and state laws greatly enhanced the help given to the poor and unemployed—from expansion of food-stamp eligibility to enlargement of food-stamp benefits to payment of unemployment bonuses—sharply eroding (and, in some cases, fully eliminating) the incentives for workers to seek and retain jobs, and for employers to create jobs or avoid layoffs.

Mulligan gives the example of a two earner couple—each earning $600 a week. After the wife gets laid off she obtains a new job offer, paying $500 a week. But after deducting taxes and work related expenses her take home pay would be $257. Since untaxed unemployment benefits total $289, clearly she is better off not working.

All in all, Mulligan estimates that about half the precipitous 2007-2011 decline in the labor-force-participation rate and in hours worked can be blamed on easier eligibility rules for unemployment insurance, food stamps and housing aid.

As Steve Moore writes in a review of Mulligan’s book:

The annual value in average benefits for not working rose to $14,000 per recipient in 2011—the high was $16,000 in 2009—up from $10,000 in 2007. Such increases were inversely related to changes in average hours worked. On average, Americans worked a stunning 120 fewer hours in 2009 than in 2007—the largest contraction in work effort of any recession since the Depression. Since 2009, work hours and labor-force participation have remained at record lows even though the recession officially ended in June 2009.

Mulligan notes that it was the collapse of the housing market that set off the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. But our problems are not confined to housing. They are systemwide. For every one job lost in construction, five others were lost is other sectors. One thing that affects all sectors, however, is overly generous incentives not to work.

Another frequently heard explanation for the slow recovery is the Keynesian idea that there has been a lack of consumer spending—which caused businesses to cut production and lay off workers. Yet:

Mulligan shows that, during the worst of the 2008-09 troubles, most sectors “outside of hard-hit construction and manufacturing…increased their use of production inputs other than labor hours.”…“Businesses perceive labor to be more expensive than it was before the recession began,” Mulligan writes. The reason for the added cost was that easier requirements for benefits—even as the government was pumping “stimulus” money into the economy— unwittingly reduced the supply of workers.

Meanwhile, health reform will require family coverage that is expected to average more than $15,000 a year. For $15 an hour employees, that sum equals more than half their annual wage. Unless they move to part-time employment or pay a hefty fine, employers of low-skilled workers are about to get hit with mandated benefit that will increase their labor costs by 50% or more.

To make matters worse, employers don’t really know what insurance they will have to provide or what it will cost. The $15,000 number I refer to is an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. And even though employers will have the option of paying a $2,000 fine, does anybody think the fine is likely to stay that low?

The uncertainty created by all this is possibly worse than the actual monetary burden.

John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and President and Kellye Wright Fellow in Health Care at the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other media, have called him the “Father of Health Savings Accounts.”
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Frack Fears on: November 16, 2012, 05:00:49 PM
Merrill on “Fear of Fracking”
from The Volokh Conspiracy by Jonathan H. Adler
(Jonathan H. Adler)
This morning, Columbia’s Thomas Merrill delivered the keynote address at the Case Western Reserve Law Review symposium on “The Law and Policy of Hydraulic Fracturing: Addressing the Issues of the Natural Gas Boom.” His talk, “Fear of Fracking,” sought to addressed four important questions about fracking: 1) Why did fracking technology emerge in the United States rather than somewhere else? 2) Does fracking present any novel environmental risks? 3) Insofar as there are novel risks from fracking, how could they be best addressed? 4) What should a citizen concerned about climate change think about fracking?

These are important questions about an important topic. As Merrill noted, fracking has rapidly emerged as intensely polarizing environmental issue, celebrated by some as an economic and ecological savior and decried by others as a threat to landowners, local communities, and the environment. The Wall Street Journal believes fracking heralds the rise of “Saudi America,” while some environmental groups fear fracking will further feed America’s addiction to carbon-based fuels.

Whatever its ultimate ecological impact, the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling promises to dramatically increase domestic oil and gas reserves, drive down energy prices and fundamentally transform the energy sector. North Dakota now produces more oil than any state but Texas and the oil and gas boom in this state is enriching landowners tremendously. Every president since President Nixon has called for energy independence. Fracking’s rise could make this possible within the next few decades. Beyond that, fracking and the proliferation of cheap gas, Merrill suggested, likely means the end of the nuclear power industry in the United States and has thrown the coal industry into a tailspin. Cheap gas is a bigger threat to coal than any alleged “war on coal” waged by the Environmental Protection Agency. It also threatens the future of alternative energy technologies dependent upon government subsidies for their economic viability.

[My write-up of the rest of Professor Merrill’s remarks is continued below the fold.]

Why did fracking arise in the United States? Contrary to some analysts, Professor Merrill does not believe it is attributable to federally funded research and development. What little funding for drilling technologies the federal government has provided has been fairly tangential. This does not mean federal policy has been irrelevant, however. The federal government has provided special tax credits for the drilling of unconventional natural gas which almost certainly facilitated the early development of the technology as early frackers developed and improved fracking techniques.

Professor Merrill also doubts industry structure has much to do with fracking’s rise either. However much major oil companies like to tout their commitment to innovation, the majors played a minor role in developing this technology. It was largely developed by smaller players in the industry.

A more likely factor is the way U.S. law treats subsurface rights. The U.S. is something of an outlier in that subsurface minerals are the property of the landowner, and not the government. This results in decentralized ownership and control over subsurface rights facilitates experimentation and innovation in figuring out how to exploit and manage subsurface resources.

Further decentralization, and experimentation, results from the federalist regulatory structure. Different states have different regulatory approaches than others, creating opportunities for further innovation and the opportunity for jurisdictions to learn from one another. The existence of a few jurisdictions that will allow a new technology to be tried provides a laboratory from which others may learn, whereas under a more centralized regulatory structure such innovation is unlikely to get off the ground.

The existence of a relatively open infrastructure network – a pipeline system that is subject to common-carrier rules – also plays a role in facilitating entry into the market. These factors have a common theme: decentralization. Taken together, Merrill suggests, they are the most likely source of fracking’s rise in the Unites

Now that fracking is here, does fracking present any novel environmental risks? Insofar as fracking presents the same risks as any sudden surge of production, the traditional regulatory framework would seem up to the task, but is this the case? The biggest environmental risk cited by fracking’s critics is the potential for groundwater contamination by fracking fluid. This may be different in kind from the risks already addressed by existing regulatory programs. Other concerns range from stresses on local infrastructure to increased pollution accompanying development to earthquakes. Fracking has a voracious appetite for water, but this would seem to be manageable, particularly in the eastern United States. Earthquakes, on the other hand, would seem to be a novel concern definitely worth more serious attention, even if it is not unique to fracking.

To Professor Merrill, the potential threat of groundwater contamination is the most serious, and potentially most distinct, environmental threat posed by an upsurge in fracking. While there is little empirical evidence confirming that such contamination has occurred thus far, and energy experts often downplay such risks, concerns about groundwater are understandable. The uncontrolled nature of the subsurface injection in fracking is a source of legitimate apprehension, particularly since many of the potential effects are not fully understood. This counsels the development of some regulatory structure to address these risks.

Accepting that the risk to groundwater posed by fracking is relatively novel, how should it be addressed? In many cases, ex ante regulation of potentially polluting conduct is advisable. In this case, however, the nature and likelihood of the risks in question are not sufficiently known to make such a regulatory approach effective. Over time, consensus views about best practices will likely develop, but they have not yet because not enough is known. Adoption of a precautionary regulatory strategy would likely stop fracking in its tracks, as the problem is lack of knowledge about the technology that will only come from experience.

Under the current circumstances, Professor Merrill thinks the best way to regulate and control the potential groundwater risks from fracking is through an ex post liability system. Professor Merrill would encourage the adoption of a strict liability regime combined with administrative measures to facilitate the identification of and compensation for harms, including mandated baseline testing, bond posting, and the like. Legislative adoption of such a regime is unlikely, Merrill notes, as legislatures are unlikely to enact such a regime absent greater evidence that fracking is, in fact, a meaningful threat, i.e. until real damage is done. Common law tort liability might do, however, particularly if courts impose strict liability, following the lead of Rylands v. Fletcher, and adopt a presumption of causation if producers don’t take adequate ex ante precautions, such as testing water prior to initiating development.

What then about climate change? Does fracking help or hurt efforts to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases? Over the past five years, GHG emissions in Asia (where coal is the dominant power source) have continued to rise. In Europe, GHG emissions have remained rather stable, despite substantial subsidies and inducement for the use of renewable fuels. In the U.S., by contrast, GHG emissions have fallen. Some of this is due to the economic slump and improvements in fuel efficiency. But some is also due to the dramatic increase in natural gas usage. Declining gas prices, largely due to fracking, have helped displace the use of coal. This is a positive development, but unless similar trends can be replicated elsewhere it will not matter. Unless gas can displace coal overseas as well, the fracking boom will not do much to reduce global emissions, particularly if lower gas prices make it more difficult for renewables to compete.

On the whole, however, Merrill thinks those concerned about climate change should support fracking. While it undermines reliance on nuclear and renewables, cheap gas is a bigger threat to coal, and the displacement of coal is more important to get GHG emissions under control. Further if the development of fracking in the U.S. can be exported to other nations, it could help stem GHG emission increases in other nations with large coal reserves (e.g. China). Ultimately, however, Merrill believes GHG control requires substantial technological innovation, and suggests that a fracking-driven drop in energy prices might facilitate the adoption of policies that could encourage needed innovation, such as the adoption of a carbon tax. Whatever political obstacles there may be to the adoption of such a tax, lower energy prices make such measures more likely, even if only on the margin.
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 13, 2012, 06:16:15 PM
Liberty and democracy are eternal enemies, and every one knows it who has ever given any sober reflection to the matter. A democratic state may profess to venerate the name, and even pass laws making it officially sacred, but it simply cannot tolerate the thing. In order to keep any coherence in the governmental process, to prevent the wildest anarchy in thought and act, the government must put limits upon the free play of opinion. In part, it can reach that end by mere propaganda, by the bald force of its authority — that is, by making certain doctrines officially infamous. But in part it must resort to force, i.e., to law. One of the main purposes of laws in a democratic society is to put burdens upon intelligence and reduce it to impotence. Ostensibly, their aim is to penalize anti-social acts; actually their aim is to penalize heretical opinions. At least ninety-five Americans out of every 100 believe that this process is honest and even laudable; it is practically impossible to convince them that there is anything evil in it. In other words, they cannot grasp the concept of liberty. Always they condition it with the doctrine that the state, i.e., the majority, has a sort of right of eminent domain in acts, and even in ideas — that it is perfectly free, whenever it is so disposed, to forbid a man to say what he honestly believes. Whenever his notions show signs of becoming "dangerous," ie, of being heard and attended to, it exercises that prerogative. And the overwhelming majority of citizens believe in supporting it in the outrage. Including especially the Liberals, who pretend — and often quite honestly believe — that they are hot for liberty. They never really are. Deep down in their hearts they know, as good democrats, that liberty would be fatal to democracy — that a government based upon shifting and irrational opinion must keep it within bounds or run a constant risk of disaster. They themselves, as a practical matter, advocate only certain narrow kinds of liberty — liberty, that is, for the persons they happen to favor. The rights of other persons do not seem to interest them. If a law were passed tomorrow taking away the property of a large group of presumably well-to-do persons — say, bondholders of the railroads — without compensation and without even colorable reason, they would not oppose it; they would be in favor of it. The liberty to have and hold property is not one they recognize. They believe only in the liberty to envy, hate and loot the man who has it.

H.L. Mencken, "Liberty and Democracy" in the Baltimore Evening Sun (13 April 1925), also in A Second Mencken Chrestomathy : New Selections from the Writings of America's Legendary Editor, Critic, and Wit (1994) edited by Terry Teachout, p. 35
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: November 13, 2012, 01:41:06 PM
Mitt Romney 59 million, Gary Johnson 1 million, for one example, or almost any race, any state, any year.  That's all I was saying there.

Meh, apples and oranges where statist and statist lite suck up most the oxygen. Call it 100 to 1 once both sorts of statist are combined. Seeing as the statist market is cornered, perhaps another approach is in order assuming a different outcome is preferred?

You didn't address my question, liberty for whom - meaning who protects the unborn, the most innocent among us.

While you had little in the way of response to the Judith Jarvis Thompson piece I posted quite some time back that spoke to many of these distinctions far more eloquently than I will.

Be that as it may, I am intentionally avoiding getting into a "most innocent among us" argument because doing so feeds into the current dynamic. I'm asking instead what can shatter the current paradigm and lead to less statist outcomes? I don't see a way of getting from here to there with the abortion issue as the primary grail.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: November 13, 2012, 10:30:14 AM
What he said ^^^.

Worry not, the panic mongers can always roll out the polar bears.
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Embracing what we want to Beat? on: November 13, 2012, 10:25:21 AM
Doug sez:

1) Gallup May 2012 (from further up the thread): Pro-choice 41%, Pro-life 50%.  Speaking in general terms about respect for life including the unborn is not bad politics and did not cost Republicans the election.  To BBG, pro-life conservatism defeats 'unadulterated liberty' by about 50-1 in the electoral marketplace.  The question comes back to liberty for whom?  Libertarians can choose which party generally supports more liberty.  Pro-lifers don't give up that view over budget issues or political advantage.  It is mostly hard-care liberals who fully deny any value to unborn life, while the politically successful ones utter things like personally opposed, safe, legal and RARE to satisfy their own constituents.

I'm assuming the "50-1" is a typo as it certainly isn't reflected in any polling I've encountered. And despite any national polling to the contrary, the "War on Women" meme--which was used as a placeholder for abortion--swung significant segments of some constituencies. As someone who lives in a swing state I can assure you that Romney's pronouncements on Planned Parenthood and abortion where a theme relentlessly hammered on the airwaves; I don't think the opposition would be doing so if they did not think it would bear fruit.

(An aside: correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Planned Parenthood a private organization that receives public monies? The Dem. campaign seemed to purposely elevate PP to some sort of entitlement status; the Repubs had no effective response. It galled me that all the PP vilification occurred in an unanswered vacuum).

With that said, 50/41 national polling data speaks to a simplistic view of the electoral process. Grass roots activists tend to nominate candidates that then have to swing to the middle to get elected. Though there is plenty of nuance here, broadly stated the Repubs tend to nominate folks the Dems can cast as right wing abortion zealots, and that ability costs elections. Do you imagine this dynamic will change in the future or had folks who want to send statists packing best game out solutions?

Indeed, here's where the game gets pretty grim from my perspective: much of what is wrong with this nation is the results of a decades long statist evolution that's becoming ever more entrenched, with the alternatives, if not being flat out statist lite, at least containing statist litmus tests at the activist/nomination level. Where abortion is concerned most who would make that a litmus test would require statist structure enough to then enforce the proscription. Where security hawks are concerned anything that does not include an internal statist security structure is a non-starter. For drug zealots, anything that does contain draconian statist prohibition strictures won't work. And so on. The net effect is that every electoral battle becomes one over the degree of statism, with the hard core statists seizing on statist lite aspects of the opposition and then thrashing 'em over it.

Perhaps the lame idealism I'm always trying to disavow is gumming up my thinking, but should today's statism really be that hard to fight? Described in all it's folly by folks unimpeded by statist lite banners it really shouldn't be difficult to provide stark contrasts. It took generations to get to the current statist mess, and will likely require a similar time frame to cast off statist vestiges, but if the fight is worth having it's worth beginning sooner rather than later, and if it's worth starting it's worth winning. I don't see a winning path that embraces statist lite impulses, as such I think statism needs to be rejected in all it's forms if we are to successfully move toward a national ethos the framers would recognize.
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Planetary Influence on Solar Activity on: November 10, 2012, 08:10:58 PM
Fascinating look at a new paper that charts planetary tidal influence upon the sun and then relates them to known terrestrial solar cycles. If true it ought to suggest to carbon fetishists that there are subtle and powerful influences on the earth's climate that transcend the single variable they obsess over.
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 09, 2012, 05:34:45 PM
The hispanics in the statist camp are there not because of immigration, but because class warfare and free stuff taken from others is cool with them. Just like the others in the statist camp.

I haven't read the exit polling directly, but several sources I've encountered of late have said that Bush pulled in substantially more Hispanics than Romney and that Catholic Hispanics have their share of conservative issues that are trumped by the perceived "deport 'em all" GOP policy.

127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Counterpoint on: November 09, 2012, 10:33:14 AM
Armchair doomsaying has been popular this week for understandable reasons, but those who train MAs ought to have a deeper perspective here, IMO. What do you when someone bites you in a street fight? Pull the impacted body part back as hard as you can causing flesh to rend, or do you drive it as deeply into the gullet as possible using your opponents gag reflex to create an opening?

Similarly I've had sundry gigs over the years where some sort of fiscal or organizational crisis occurred. I'm someone who embraces constant innovation, innovation that is often thwarted by the comfortably intransigent. A good crisis comes along, however, and all of a sudden even the hidebound will embrace change that appears more likely to preserve the status quo than the alternative. Guess who always has a plan to roll out when a crisis arrives?

America's current path is flat out unsustainable; a reckoning will occur. Think the hard core statist know this, with the worst of them hoping to force a new feudal order out of it, casting themselves as the lords and high priests. Think those of us on the other side need to be able to make forceful arguments for the antithesis: unadulterated liberty. Those favoring liberty will also need a plan for when all the unsustainable chickens come home to roost.

Watching the GOP prepare for the next election will be telling. Will it embrace a simple message of liberty or rather cater to its strident constituencies and then try to swing to the middle after an unelectable candidate is nominated once again? Will it drive unmarried women into the statist camp over abortion, or will it embrace liberty? Will it shed independent and libertarian votes by supporting the construction of a surveillance state that will surely be used by statists to enforce their ends, or will they embrace liberty? Will it drive Latinos and other immigrant groups into the statist camp or use the tactics posited by Krauthammer in the piece Crafty posted elsewhere and default to liberty?

I entertain no illusions: most who oppose abortion will be unable to support a message of unadulterated liberty. Those who posit an existential threat so vast that construction of a surveillance state infrastructure which will be usurped by statists must proceed despite its threat to liberty will continue to believe so. All who want illegals rounded up and booted out will not drop that cause in support of a message of liberty. That's okay. It will all become a part of the great big gag reflex headed this nation's way.

The Republican party arose out the crucible of the Civil War, a war caused by the unsustainable institution of slavery. The Republican party will join the Whigs and Tories on the ash heap of history if it does not develop an effective response to the unsustainable institutions looming today. It ought not be a difficult task. The statist would dictate everyone's energy consumption if they could; they would tell you what your child is allowed to learn in school; they would limit speech deemed hurtful to their ends; they would disarm us and leave us dependent; they would determine who was fit to heal, what was fit to eat, where one is permitted to live, how one pursues happiness, and tell us why doing so is good for us.

Ends such as those should not be hard to battle; creating a 51 percent constituency favoring liberty ought not be a Herculean task, unless we burden ourselves with issues congruent with statist ends. Perhaps there's another grail out there, another straightforward message I've missed, a means to get the citizenry to rally around founding virtues and surmount the unsustainable. If you have one please spit it out. If you don't have a method by which to move forward, however, you are part of the Great Big Gag that's looming and will be unprepared to take any advantage of the openings it brings.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uplifting Responses on: November 07, 2012, 08:08:24 AM
Dick Morris is a blowhard. I've taken him to task elsewhere, but I hope others can see that his credibility at this point is shakey.

But his hair is so telegenic, his loyalties so expedient, and his scruples so lacking that it makes for great TV, assuming you enjoy the sound of fingernails on a blackboard muted by an unctuous grin.

All the talk of unscientific polls, liberal bias in those polls, etc., etc., etc. There IS a method to the polls. They aren't perfect (hence the margin of error), but they consistently went for Obama. Even in the wake of the terrible Obama showing in the first debate, 538 had Obama with a 70% or so chance at reelection. It was at 90% yesterday morning. Not quite the conservative narrative. And statistical methods won the day. This will increasingly be the case, as the scientific method is improved with technology and the skill of the practicioner. The days of Dewey defeating Truman are gone.

Well kinda. As a second amendment guy I have seen all sorts of dubious polling. The term "assault weapon," for instance, is essentially meaningless yet anti-gun politicians with MSM collusion have worked long and hard to make it appear that black guns are full up automatic weapons. They are not. Hence, when pollsters ask questions about assault weapons they tend to be furthering a false narrative as much as they are gathering data. Indeed, I wonder if all these late season MSM polls had asked "Do you approve of the President's handling of Benghazi," with the MSM explaining why the question is germane, would we have seen a shift in the polls? At the risk of going all McLuhan on you, perhaps we've transcended the "medium is the message" stage and are now on to "the measurements we create and then choose to report are the message."

So, given the president's victory, how do we heal as a country and as a people?

Heal what exactly? $16 trillion in debt and rising? Easy, stop borrowing money to spend. Is that likely to happen? No. Heal concerns over a vast system electronically monitoring Americans? Doubt we'll be shutting down the NSAs facility in Utah any time soon. Cease herding all Americans toward a socialized health care system? I suspect yesterday's result will be seen as an endorsement of that vast intrusion. And so on. First step toward healing is to stop picking at the wound. Fat chance.

What can be done, constructively, by us and others to assist in this process?

Ibid. What needs to be done is for freedom loving Americans to quit worrying about who sleeps with whom, put aside concerns about at what point a fetus becomes viable, and unite to toss statist off all stripes out. Alas, I think that what's coming to be known as the Free Sh!t Army comprised of statists and their charges have a leg up on the kind of organizing that will be required to surmount those of a statist bent.

What does the fact that all of the "rape" congressional candidates lost (Mourdock and Akin, the latter decisively in an election that he once had 7-9% lead in)?

That saying stupid stuff is ill advised, particularly in an environment where the MSM endlessly replays and inflates the gaffs on one side while averting their gaze from the gaffs of those they favor.

What does it say that many Tea Party candidates lost or nearly lost?

Relentless vilification works, particularly when forums where one can effectively respond to two-dimensional claims are so hard to come by. 

Is the Brown loss in Massachusetts a referendum for the Tea Party in the same way his victory was pitched as such for Obama in 2010?

Hmm, despite the fact Brown worked relentlessly to change his Tea Party stripes and repackage himself in a manner he thought MA would find more progressively palatable? Think it's more of a tea leaves issue: Repubs don't often win national offices out of states as blue as MA, regardless of packaging effort.

What does it say that the GOP retained the House? Is it simple incumbency or other?

Incumbency for the most part. But at least it allows the hope that statist brakes might be applied every now and then.
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strong Terms for a Weak President on: November 02, 2012, 03:18:15 PM
Editorial excoriating the administration and lapdog media over the handling of Libya:
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Department of Departments Department on: November 01, 2012, 12:40:47 PM
Department of Cronyism
from Reason Magazine by David Harsanyi
You know what could really help the economy? A huge new bureaucratic department in Washington, that’s what.

President Barack Obama, a man who recently asserted that the “free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known,” intimated that once he secures a second term in office, he would appoint a Secretary of Business to manage a newly-merged, but still unnamed, agency that would offer Americans that top-down guidance they never asked for—a homeland security for cronyism, if you will.

“We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA or helping companies with exports,” Obama explained in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There should be a one-stop shop.”

The Department of Business promises to do to business what the Department of Education has done for education. It’s the sort of idea that sounds like it adds efficiency but actually offers the opposite. The larger context of the idea comports well with the president’s belief that a healthy private sector is healthiest when relying on the dedicated technocrats.

But as a political matter, it promises results. If Mitt Romney, for instance, loses the election over Ohio and the president’s auto bailouts, a handout that allegedly saved one in eight jobs in the Buckeye State, politicians will surely have re-learned an invaluable lesson: the more taxpayer money you spend, the more votes you earn.

And if winning elections means funding busy work at a union-run money pit or keeping a pleasing sunflower-logoed company afloat via a stimulus package, imagine what an entire agency giving out favors could accomplish? On the surface, a consolidation of a bunch of agencies sounds like a bright idea, but there is, as you know, plenty of room for mission creep in the pretending-to-do-good business. With 54 former lobbyists (according to Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner) in the Obama Administration, it, no doubt, has a keen sense of what the business world is looking for — handouts.

But the most obvious pitfall of a Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, or whatever it’ll be called, is that it would further institutionalize the absurd notion that government can foresee what consumers desire and then “invest” accordingly. When Obama talks about “jobs of the future” he means jobs the government will subsidize because people who vote for him like the sound of it. The more they fail, the more it will have to “invest.” It’s not about what you want, it’s about you need.

If the Obama Administration was an investment house, it would have tanked long ago. Its record on green energy is horrid. It has heaped federal loans and subsidies onto coal-powered electric cars—an “investment” that “will not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil,”Obama said in 2009, but “put Americans back to work.” Hardly. The Chevy Volt’s been a tepid seller, at best, and without taxpayer subsidizes few could afford a $100,000 compact car. Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, has stopped mass production of a new sub-compact iQ plug-in. Toyota executive Takeshi Uchiyamada recently explained that, “current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars run, or the costs or how it takes a long time to charge.”

Does government care if ethanol or a windmill meets society’s needs? Does it care about cost? Uchiyamada risks stockholder investments—real investments—while politicians’ decision-making rests on political and ideological pressures. So how could a Department of Business be a good idea?
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Now That's Cold Treatment of a Warmist on: October 31, 2012, 08:08:19 PM
Oh my goodness. Several months back National Review Online published a piece excoriating Michael Mann of Hockey Stick statistical manipulation fame. Mann claimed he would sue NRO for the piece, and indeed did so in a DC court recently, claiming, among other things, to be a Nobel laureate. Some called BS on the claim, and the Nobel committee stated Mann in fact was not a winner. As such NRO took a full page ad out in Penn State's student newspaper:

Ought to be amusing to see what sort of hyperventilation this inspires in Mann. Might want to set up a wind farm in his office. . . .

Whole piece here:
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Know Your Target & What's Beyond on: October 31, 2012, 06:32:13 PM
Blaze kills Saudi Arabia wedding guests

Women and children perish in Eastern Province after celebratory gunfire brings down power line, local media say.

Last Modified: 31 Oct 2012 12:33

Women and children perished in Tuesday night's fire in Ain Badr village of Eastern Province.
At least 25 people have been killed by electric shock in a wedding in eastern Saudi Arabia, civil defence officials and local media say.

Celebratory gunfire brought down an electric cable at a house in Ain Badr village where the wedding was held on Tuesday night, Abdullah Khashman, an Eastern Province official, said.

Thirty others were injured in the incident near Abqaiq, a centre of the Saudi energy industry.

Some Saudi media reports said the blaze erupted inside a tent, killing at least 23 women and children. The kingdom's conservative codes require genders to be separated at most public events, including weddings.

The media cited civil defence officials as saying that celebratory gunfire brought down a power line that touched off the fire.

However, Reuters news agency quoted Khashman as saying: "At the wedding, the cable fell on a metal door and the 23 people who died were all electrocuted."

The victims were reportedly trying to escape through the door, the only exit from the courtyard, when they were killed.

All those killed were from the same tribe, Khashman said.

Saudi Arabia last month banned the shooting of firearms at weddings, a popular tradition in tribal areas of the country.

Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, Eastern Province's governor, ordered an investigation into the incident, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

In July 1999, 76 people died in a similar incident in the Eastern Province.

Forty-three women and children were killed at a wedding in neighbouring Kuwait in 2009 when a fire engulfed a tent.

The ex-wife of the groom said she started the fire to avenge her former husband's "bad treatment" of her.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH on Benghazi on: October 30, 2012, 10:57:36 AM

The Wages of Libya
By Victor Davis Hanson
October 30, 2012 4:00 A.M.
We have had ambassadors murdered abroad before, but we have never seen anything quite like the tragic fate of Chris Stevens. Amid all the controversy over Libya, we have lost sight of the human — and often horrific — story of Benghazi: a U.S. ambassador attacked, cut off and killed alone, after being abused by frenzied terrorists, and a second member of the embassy staff murdered, as two American private citizens rushed to the rescue, heroically warding off Islamist hit teams, until they were overwhelmed and also killed.

Seven weeks after the tragedy in Benghazi, new government narratives just keep appearing, as various branches of government point the finger at one another. Now the president insists that “the minute” he “found out what was going on” he gave “very clear directives” to “make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to.” The secretary of defense argues that he knew too little to send in military forces to save the post. Meanwhile, we are hearing from other sources that the beleaguered compound in extremis was denied help on three separate occasions, and there are still more contradictory accounts.

When the government systematically misleads and cannot establish a believable narrative, almost everyone involved is eventually tarred. The final chart of those officials in the Nixon White House who were devoured by Watergate was vast — and so it is becoming with the disaster in Libya. If we have learned anything from Watergate and Iran-Contra, it is that the longer officials deceive and obfuscate, the greater the number of wrecked careers and reputations.

Most likely, the political wing of the White House almost immediately made a decision that the attack on our Benghazi consulate should not endanger the conventional narrative of a successful commander-in-chief — ahead in the polls in part because he had highlighted a supposedly successful foreign policy. Key to that story was the notion that the hit on bin Laden and the drone attacks on other Islamists had rendered al-Qaeda all but impotent. In addition, the administration’s supposed lead-from-behind strategy in Libya had served as a model for energizing a democratic Arab Spring. Commander-in-Chief Obama was intent on reminding the country of his competence and toughness as an international leader, and especially of his wise reluctance to rush into areas of instability.

In such a landscape, Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were brutally murdered. And almost immediately it was clear that the ambassador had earlier warned that Libya was descending into chaos and that Americans were not safe there — only to have his requests for further protection rejected.

During the actual assault on the consulate, a real-time video, streams of e-mail exchanges, and surveys of Islamist websites confirmed that al-Qaedists were carrying out a preplanned assassination — and over the next seven or eight hours it became clear that our staff was in dire need of military assistance that was somehow never sent. Then for nearly two weeks, the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Press Secretary Jay Carney, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice advanced a counter-narrative that simply could not have been true: A spontaneous demonstration over a two-month-old video — just happening to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11 — got out of hand as some disruptive protesters showed up with machines gun, mortars, and RPGs and began killing Americans. Since it was an American religious bigot who had prompted such terrible but “natural” riots with his video that ridiculed and injured Islam, we should apologize for the uncouth among us in the strongest terms.

Obama, Clinton, Clapper, Rice, and Carney strove to outdo each other in damning the obscure video maker — to such an extent that he was summarily arrested on a supposedly outstanding probation charge. The message? Ambassadors die and careful U.S. foreign policy is undermined when right-wing bigots abuse their free-speech rights.

Yet almost all of that story is untrue, and it will come back to haunt all those who either by intent or through ignorance engaged in the cover-up. Review the following spinners.

President Obama still does not grasp the significance of Libya. When he calls the attacks there and in Egypt “bumps in the road” or “not optimal,” and asserts that they will not play much of a role in the final weeks of the campaign, he sounds either callous or naïve or both. Collate the administration’s statements over the two weeks following the attacks, and they simply cannot be true. The months-old video proved just too much of a temptation for the president to resonate the themes of his Cairo speech in damning uncouth Americans for offending Muslims. When the president claims that he ordered everything to be done to save the compound, he must be aware that subordinates who did not in turn give orders that relief be sent will eventually come forward to either affirm or deny his statement. His further problem is that lax security, administration misdirection, and hesitancy to aid the beleaguered all feed into the earlier attitudes framed by “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” “workplace violence,” promises to try KSM in a civilian court, the al-Arabiya interview, the Cairo speech, and other efforts to contextualize and airbrush radical Islam’s terrorist assault on the West. In other words, fairly or not, we can discern a logic to why the president would not be candid and accurate about Benghazi.

Secretary Clinton will have to explain why the State Department did not heed requests for greater security, both before and during the attack. And she is beginning to grasp — and so especially is her husband — that the administration is hanging the disaster around her neck. She crudely blamed the attacks on our embassies in the Middle East on the video (with caskets of our dead as backdrop), reminding us that a few months earlier she had crudely giggled about the murder of Qaddafi (“We came, we saw, Qaddafi died”). All in all, her performance during this disaster has been disappointing, and more so with each new disclosure.

Then we come to Ambassador Rice, who apparently was being groomed to succeed Secretary of State Clinton. As part of that trajectory, she was to be point woman for the administration’s spontaneous-mob narrative. That meant that on at least five different occasions Rice hit the Sunday talk shows, apparently to showcase her rhetorical skills, insisting that the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi were ad hoc assaults that had nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy, anti-American animosity, or mistakes in American security preparation. Whether through ignorance or by design, Ambassador Rice repeatedly told an untruth, and did so with energy and dogmatic insistence. Her problem, then, is not just that what she insisted was true was clearly not, but also the unambiguous and forceful manner in which she wove her story. That she suddenly appeared from obscurity to play the sophist, and then retreated back into anonymity, suggests that her diplomatic career will be soon coming to an end.

Next is the matter of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. His insistence that a mob had caused the mayhem is one untruth or mischaracterization too many — and a wrong assessment that trumps even his earlier absurdities, such as that the Muslim Brotherhood is largely a secular organization or that Qaddafi would not fall from power. Politicians and bureaucrats err all the time; but when intelligence officers do not appear to have intelligence, then they too usually quietly disappear into comfortable retirement.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey at some point supposedly received information about the attack in real time. Why — given the supposed directive of the president to do “whatever we need to” to save our people — he did not order military assistance will have to be explained. Uncertain conditions will not do, because that is what militaries do: go into uncertain conditions to save lives and defeat the enemy. Armchair tacticians will argue that planes and teams could have been sent and then called off near arrival time if that was what circumstances seemed to warrant; that option would have been wiser than sending no one and thereby ensuring that the compound and annex would be overrun. And because General Dempsey has not been shy in weighing in on matters political by warning retired servicemen not to comment on contemporary politics (General Wesley Clark apparently excepted), and because he has phoned a Florida pastor to tell him to tone down his anti-Islamic rhetoric, the public will all the more expect an explanation. If the chairman can lecture both civilians and retired officers on proper behavior, then he should be able as well to explain why he did not heed the president’s order to do “whatever we need to do.”

CIA Director David Petraeus is now by implication being faulted. A brief communiqué that the CIA did not refuse pleas for assistance was prompted by anonymous administration officials’ allegations that it was our intelligence agencies, not the State Department or White House officials, that prevented assistance to our diplomatic mission. At some point Petraeus will probably have to use all his influence and power to correct the administration’s narrative, which is apparently intended to shift culpability to him and his agency. General Petraeus, by his singular record, probably should have been made either chairman of the Joint Chiefs or NATO supreme commander; he apparently received neither offer. After pulling off the surge in Iraq, he was redeployed into Afghanistan under far different — and more difficult — circumstances that limited his range of options, and he had to give up his nominally superior billet as CENTCOM commander. When he took on the CIA job, he apparently was asked to retire from the military. There is a pattern here: selfless service to the United States, but recently in the context of a politicized administration that has used the enormous prestige of Petraeus in ways that have reduced his influence. Directing responsibility away from the administration to the CIA is more of the same, and it puts a historic figure like Petraeus in an unfair predicament.

Benghazi was a disaster, whose graphic details most Americans do not fully know and, in some sense understandably, do not wish to relive. Still, we await two simple clarifications: an administration timeline of exactly who was notified, in what manner, and when on the night of the attack, and a full release of all information detailing the administration reaction to the murders, from the hours in which the attack occurred to the present day.

Without that honesty, those responsible will only continue to weave their tangled Libyan web.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Armed & Unionized on: October 26, 2012, 11:56:27 AM
Police Union Intimidates California City Council
from Reason Magazine by Steven Greenhut

Many people were outraged this summer after a private investigator, with ties to a law firm that represents 120 police unions in California, made an apparently false report to the cops claiming that a councilman in the Orange County, California, city of Costa Mesa stumbled out of a bar drunk and was weaving all over the road as he drove home.

The clear goal was to embarrass a councilman who had been leading the charge in his city for pension reform, outsourcing, and other reforms. Evidence showed that the councilman, Jim Righeimer, had nothing to drink and did not stumble. Subsequently, other officials revealed similarly disturbing tactics from police in their cities.

Despite the revelations, police unions continue to behave as if nothing has changed, as they intimidate council members who refuse to go along with their demands for ever-higher pay and benefits, and protections from oversight and accountability.

Two councilmen in Fullerton, Bruce Whitaker and Travis Kiger, are experiencing disturbing attacks similar to the ones that Righeimer experienced. The Fullerton police union is angry at the role those men played in demanding reform in the wake of the horrific 2011 beating death by officers of a homeless man named Kelly Thomas.

The unions also dislike Whitaker’s and Kiger’s call for pension reform, their consideration of a plan—common in Orange County and elsewhere—to shift police services to the more cost-efficient and professional sheriff’s department.

The private eye mentioned above had ties to the Upland law firm of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. The Orange County Register had reported on the political “playbook” which the lawyers had published on their web site until the ensuing bad publicity. The playbook detailed how police unions should bully elected officials into giving in to their demands. Although the Fullerton union uses a different firm, it is following a similar blueprint.

As the firm explained, the union “should be like a quiet giant in the position of, ‘do as I ask and don’t piss me off.’” It detailed the “various tools available to an association to put political pressure on the decision makers.” The firm advises police to “storm city council” and have union members and supporters chastise targeted council members “for their lack of concern for public safety,” even though the issue is about pay rather than safety.

The playbook even calls for the police to engage in dubious behavior—calling in sick (Blue Flu) even if officers are not sick and using the color of authority to scare residents (i.e., calling for unnecessary back-up units) into thinking there is a crime problem in their neighborhood. The scared residents will then, presumably, give the police more money.

In Fullerton, union members have repeatedly stormed the city council. The union has handed out free T-shirts and free hamburgers for those residents who went into the council chambers to support them.

Supporters have yelled at council members and leveled unsubstantiated charges designed to scare Fullerton residents into electing pro-union wastrels.

They have sent out one hit mailer after another. For instance, the union claims that the council’s failed vote to get a bid from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for the provision of police services amounts to “putting our families at risk,” something that would be news to the sheriff and her deputies.

Reminiscent of those “reefer madness” efforts from the 1950s, the union has transformed the council members’ irrelevant support for a statewide marijuana initiative into something ominously portrayed in mailers that proclaim, “Our neighborhoods could be full of marijuana dispensaries.” Even if the initiative passes, Fullerton’s law bans such dispensaries. And there is no evidence dispensaries “jeopardize our families’ safety,” although I understand why police are addicted to the federal cash that funds the drug war.

Kiger and Whitaker are freedom-oriented conservatives who oppose Fullerton’s DUI checkpoints on constitutional grounds, which has led the union to claim yet another assault of Fullerton’s tranquility. I’ve been driving through Fullerton during those infuriating checkpoints, forced to wait in lines on public streets as cops randomly poke around everyone’s cars, so I am glad some council members question this intrusion.

These are standard campaign efforts, perhaps, but these tactics don’t stop there. Kiger talks about a police officer who makes a “repeated false assertion to the public that I smoke marijuana.” Kiger also relayed an incident in which an officer followed him in a patrol car around town in what he viewed as a clear act of intimidation.

The officers claim the council race is all about “public safety,” but the union is backing a liberal candidate with no obvious commitment to actual safety issues, but who seems willing to support the pay and pension packages the union demands, and who was mostly silent during the Thomas incident.

“If I wasn’t able to contribute money, these councilmen wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against these union attacks,” said Tony Bushala, a local businessman and blogger who was the main supporter for a recall effort over the summer against three union-allied council members. “The unions put out a hit mailer every day, which explains the importance of Proposition 32.” That is the statewide paycheck-protection initiative that would stop unions from using automatic payroll deductions to fund political campaigns.

Last week, I wrote about a new study revealing that between 2005-2010 pension costs to the state government have soared by 94 percent for “public safety” officials. People often ask me why the state is in such a fiscal mess, why council members don’t implement reasonable reforms, and why so many localities are considering bankruptcy.

The answer can be found in Costa Mesa, Fullerton, and elsewhere. Most council members don’t have the courage or resources to stand up to the union fusillade. Until the public rejects these despicable union efforts, neither public services nor public finances will improve.
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chemical Ba'thist on: October 25, 2012, 05:26:15 PM
Exclusive: U.S. Rushes to Stop Syria from Expanding Chemical Weapon Stockpile
from Danger Room by Noah Shachtman

A U.S. Army chemical weapons crew takes samples from an M55 rocket. Photo: U.S. Army

The regime of embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is actively working to enlarge its arsenal of chemical weapons, U.S. officials tell Danger Room. Assad’s operatives have tried repeatedly in recent months to buy up the precursor chemicals for deadly nerve agents like sarin, even as his country plunges further and further into a civil war. The U.S. and its allies have been able to block many of these sales. But that still leaves Assad’s scientists with hundreds of metric tons of dangerous chemicals that could be turned into some of the world’s most gruesome weapons.

“Assad is weathering everything the rebels throw at him. Business is continuing as usual,” one U.S. official privy to intelligence on Syria says. “They’ve been busy little bees.”

Back in July, the Assad regime publicly warned that it might just use chemical weapons to stop “external” forces from interfering in its bloody civil war. American policy-makers became deeply concerned that Damascus just might follow through on the threats. Since the July announcement, however, the world community — including Assad’s allies — have made it clear to Damascus that unleashing weapons of mass destruction was unacceptable. The message appears to have gotten through to Assad’s cadre, at least for now. Talk of direct U.S. intervention in Syria has largely subsided.

“There was a moment we thought they were going to use it — especially back in July,” says the U.S. official, referring to Syria’s chemical arsenal. “But we took a second look at the intelligence, and it was less urgent than we thought.”

That hardly means the danger surrounding Syria’s chemical weapons program has passed. More than 500 metric tons of nerve agent precursors, stored in binary form, are kept at upward of 25 locations scattered around the country. If any one of those sites falls into the wrong hands, it could become a massively lethal event. And in the meantime, Assad is looking to add to his already substantial stockpile.

“Damascus has continued its pursuit of chemical weapons despite the damage to its international reputation and the rising costs of evading international export control on chemical weapons materials,” the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, a leading think tank on weapons of mass destruction issues, noted in an August profile of Syria’s illicit arms activities.


Exactly why is unclear; Assad is perfectly capable of mass slaughter with more conventional means, like tanks and cluster bombs. Perhaps his chemical precursors are relatively unstable, and he needs fresh supplies; perhaps this is a late shopping spree before the international noose tightens completely; perhaps he wants to send a warning to potential adversaries in Jerusalem and Washington.

Whatever the rationale, Assad is continuing his attempts to buy the building blocks of nerve agents like sarin. The CIA and the U.S. State Department, working with allies in the region, have recently prevented sales to Syria of industrial quantities of isopronol. Popularly known as rubbing alcohol, it’s also one of the two main chemical precursors to sarin gas, one of the deadliest nerve agents in existence. The other precursor is methylphosphonyl difluoride, or DF. The Syrians were also recently blocked from acquiring the phosphorous compounds known as halides, some of which can be used to help make DF.

At a recent meeting of the Australia Group, an informal collection of international government officials dedicated the stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, participants “discussed the extensive tactics – including the use of front companies in third countries – [that] the Syrian government uses to obscure its efforts to obtain [regulated equipment], as well as other dual-use items, for proliferation purposes.” Bottom line: “Syria continues to be a country of proliferation concern, with active biological and chemical weapons programs.”

In June, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that North Korean engineers were spotted in Syria working on Scud-D short-range ballistic missiles, which can carry chemical warheads. Two months later, witnesses tell the German magazine Der Spiegel, Syria test-fired several of its chemical-capable missiles at the al-Safirah research center east of Aleppo.

To Leonard Spector, deputy director of the James Martin Center, these reports are signs that “Syria has not stopped the weapons of mass destruction program.”

Among American policy-makers, there’s a growing sense (perhaps a bit wishful) that Damascus will eventually fall to the rebels — despite Assad’s brutal crackdown on the uprising, and despite an often-haphazard international campaign to help the rebellion. On Thursday, rebel group announced that they had seized two more districts in the city of Aleppo. U.S. intelligence agencies are believed to be helping with the training of opposition groups, while the Pentagon denies shipping arms to the rebels. In public, American aid has largely been limited to organizational advice (Washington is trying to set up a council of opposition leaders in Doha in the next few weeks, for instance) and technical assistance. Several hundred Syrian activists have traveled to Istanbul for training in secure communications, funded by the U.S. State Department. The rebel leaders received tips on how to leapfrog firewalls, encrypt their data, and use cellphones without getting caught, as Time magazine recently reported. Then they returned to Syria, many of them with new phones and satellite modems in hand.

In the background, the U.S. is also starting to strategize for how it should operate in a post-Assad Syria. And that includes scoping out plans for disposing of Assad’s stockpiles of nerve and mustard agents. It won’t be easy: Iraq’s former chemical bunkers are still toxic, a decade after Saddam’s overthrow. The U.S. recently said it won’t be done disposing of its Cold War chemical weapon arsenal until 2023.

Disposing of chemical weapons might not be as touchy a political issue in Syria as it is in America. But Assad’s nerve agents will still be tricky to render (relatively) safe — or “demilitarize,” in weapons jargon. DF, for example, can be turned into a somewhat non-toxic slurry, if combined properly with lye and water. The problem is that when DF reacts with water, it generates heat. And since DF has an extremely low boiling point — just 55.4 degrees Celsius — it means that the chances of accidentally releasing toxic gases are really high. “You could easily kill yourself during the demil,” one observer tells Danger Room.

Naturally, this process could only begin once the DF and the rubbing alcohol was gathered up from Assad’s couple dozen storage locations. Then, they’d have to be carted far, far out into the desert — to make sure no bystanders could be hurt — along with the enormous stirred-tank reactors needed to conduct the dangerous chemistry experiments. And when it was all done, there would the result would be a whole lot of hydrofluoric acid, which is itself a poison. In other words, even if the U.S. stops every one of Assad’s chemical weapon shipments from here on out, the legacy of his illicit weapons program will linger on for decades.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / F&F Whistleblower Reinstated on: October 25, 2012, 11:51:07 AM
Those who have been following Fast and Furious know that much of the original reporting was developed by sources at Clean Up ATF. ATF officials have been gunning for an ATF investigator who is also a founder of CUATF, Vincent Cefalu, and terminated his employment in a Denny's parking lot several weeks back. Cefalu just one a stay on his termination and has been ordered reinstated. With luck future hearings and law suits will bring the ATF house of cards down.

Order of reinstatement here:
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libya should Sink BHO on: October 25, 2012, 11:18:47 AM
Why Obama's Actions in Libya Should Cost Him the Election
from Reason Magazine by Andrew Napolitano

The final presidential debate earlier this week was a tailor-made opportunity for Mitt Romney to rip into President Obama's inconsistent, value-free and at times incoherent foreign policy. And it was also an opportunity for the president to explain his administration's material misrepresentations on the murders of our ambassador and others in Libya. Instead, we heard silence from both of them on this topic.

One can conclude from this that the president uttered a silent sigh of relief when he dodged a bullet. And one can conclude that Romney wanted to look and sound presidential and emphasize his economic credentials and allay fears that he wants another war. Whatever the gain and whatever the strategy, this matter of American deaths in Libya is of vital importance to American voters.

It is important because it shows how far the American government has drifted from the confines of the Constitution and how far we as a people have drifted from the rule of law. The president bombed Libya last year in a successful effort to remove Col. Gadhafi from power. Gadhafi was a monster, but he kept the streets safe, the mobs from foreign embassies and consulates, and the terrorists in jail.

In 2005, President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised Gadhafi as a partner in the war on terror because he disposed of his nuclear weaponry and he arrested and resisted al-Qaida operatives. Obama, who last year claimed he did not have the time to seek authorization from Congress to bomb Libya as the Constitution requires, but did have the time to seek approvals from NATO and the Arab League, also claimed at the time and as recently as last Monday night that there were no American boots on the ground during the bombing. That, of course, is patently false and is known to be false.

American fighter planes (boots in the skies) would not be sent to bomb a foreign land without guidance from troops on the ground. I suspect that by "boots," Obama meant "uniforms." We know that American intelligence agents and American Special Forces -- neither of whose personnel wear uniforms, but most of whom no doubt wear boots on their feet in the Libyan desert -- were there, are still there and were providing intelligence about Gadhafi and his military to aid the assault by U.S. warplanes.

The assault was devastating not only to the Gadhafi government, but also to the Libyan people. It destroyed much of Libyan authority structures as they then existed. Not only were Libyan government personnel and buildings and equipment destroyed, but so were Libyan intelligence agents and assets, police stations, roads and bridges, and innocent civilians, as well. This resulted not only in the death of Gadhafi and the destruction of his government, but also in a vacuum into which moved the roving gangs of militias who reign there today. The militias opened up Gadhafi's jails and released many of the prisoners Bush and Blair had praised Gadhafi for incarcerating.

Fast-forward to September 11th of this year, and some of these al-Qaida-led and populated gangs murdered our ambassador and his colleagues. The Obama administration -- which knew of the al-Qaida role in all this and knew that the president's unconstitutional behavior facilitated that role -- denied what it knew and dispatched the American ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, to deliver lies to the American public. Rice claimed on five TV shows that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed by the spontaneous reaction of ordinary Libyans to a cheap Hollywood-made YouTube clip about Mohammed -- not by an organized terrorist gang.

Shortly after Stevens' murder, European newspapers began to speculate that though Stevens was the bona fide U.S. ambassador to Libya, he was also a member of the U.S. intelligence community, as were his now-murdered colleagues. Earlier this week, my colleagues at Fox News discovered that the building in which they were killed was and was known locally to be a CIA facility, and that the future Ambassador Stevens had used that facility to meet with Libyan rebels during the Gadhafi years.

Now we can connect some dots. If Stevens was a CIA agent, he was in violation of international law by acting as the U.S. ambassador. And if he and his colleagues were intelligence officials, they are not typically protected by Marines, because they ought to have been able to take care of themselves. And if Rice knowingly lied to the American public about a matter as grave as this, she should be fired, no matter who asked her to lie. And 14 days before a crucial presidential election, when both major-party candidates have an audience of 60 million voters, why were they mysteriously silent about all this? Might U.S. intelligence agents who routinely brief Romney have whispered the same instructions into his ear that they received from the president when they briefed him?

I still think Romney has a far better understanding of economic forces and a far superior appreciation for the free market than does Obama. But I had hoped he could demonstrate a better understanding of the proper role of the U.S. in foreign lands than has the president.

On this from Romney, thus far we have heard only silence; from the president, only boasts.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Flip Off the Big Bird on: October 24, 2012, 07:27:51 PM
Big Bird
Posted by John Stossel | October 24, 2012
 Print Email Share 0 CommentsTweet

Give me a break.

The left screams because Romney says he'll cut PBS.

A Huffington Post writer says that would be "a cultural and spiritual disaster for the nation."

Please. America is going broke! If we can't cut PBS, what can we cut?

Public broadcasting costs taxpayers "only" $420 million per year, but that's real money, and even if it weren't, the price is not the point. Government should not fund any broadcast networks.

As for news programs, government funding means taxpayers pay for lefty propaganda like Bill Moyers and most of NPR. We need separation of News and State. Thomas Jefferson warned that it is wrong to force citizens to pay for "the propagation of opinions which [they] disbelieve." He was right, but now I have to fund NPR.

As far as children's programming, Big Bird doesn't need the money! Sesame Street has assets of $355,858,257! Sesame Workshop makes $46M in licensing fees. The company is such a gold mine, it paid its recent president $929,629. Big Bird will do fine without taxpayer subsidies.

PBS once asked, "If not PBS, then who?" Cato's David Boaz points out that now the answer is: HBO, Bravo, Discovery, History, Science, C-SPAN, The Learning Channel ... and so on. I'm told that kids' programs like Noggin (Nick Jr.) are like pre-school on TV.

Yes, you have to pay for cable, but 63.7% of people below the poverty line have cable or satellite TV.

Those who don't have cable still get education programs on free TV. NBC alone has The Wiggles, Noodle and Doodle, and LazyTown (get up & go, eat healthy).

Funding public broadcasting is welfare for rich people. PBS viewers are richer than average Americans.

NPR even bragged about its listeners' wealth to potential advertisers: "152% more likely to have a home valued at half a million or more ... 194% more likely to travel to France."

It's fine that they appeal to rich people. But you shouldn't have to fund it.
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Past 16 Years of Panic? Nevermind. . . . on: October 15, 2012, 04:01:57 PM
Report: Global warming stopped 16 years ago
from Watts Up With That? by Anthony Watts
UPDATE: There’s a response from the Met Office here

A report in the UK Daily Mail reveals a Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it:

By David Rose

The figures reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012 there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures
This means that the ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.

The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued  quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.

This stands in sharp contrast  to the release of the previous  figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.

Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.

Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.

Others disagreed. Professor Judith Curry, who is the head of the climate science department at America’s prestigious Georgia Tech university, told The Mail on Sunday that it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’.
Read more:–chart-prove-it.html#ixzz29E78OR9H

h/t to reader “Dino”

regarding the significance of the period from 1997, recall that Dr. Ben Santer claimed 17 years was the period needed:

They find that tropospheric temperature records must be at least 17 years long to discriminate between internal climate noise and the signal of human-caused changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

MIT Professor Richard Lindzen said something similar in a WUWT guest post:

There has been no warming since 1997 and no
statistically significant warming since 1995.

Bob Tisdale did a 17 and 30 year trend comparison here

Here’s the HADCRUT4 4.1.1. dataset
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 12, 2012, 01:12:59 PM
I expect my appearances will be fairly erratic as I've pretty much sold out on internet argument. With that said, 'tis nice to be back.
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Failure Graph on: October 12, 2012, 01:10:21 PM
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Healthcare Hand and Whitewashing on: October 11, 2012, 07:31:48 AM
Why Sebelius Campaigns So Hard for Her Boss — and Why He Won’t Fire Her
from Cato @ Liberty by Michael F. Cannon
By Michael F. Cannon

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has been campaigning so enthusiastically for President Obama that she — whoops! — broke a federal law that restricts political activities by executive-branch officials. Federal employees are usually fired for such transgressions, but no one expects that to happen to Sebelius. Heck, she got right back in the saddle.

Every cabinet official (probably) wants to see the president reelected, and no president relishes dismissing a cabinet official. But in this case, there’s an additional incentive for Sebelius to campaign for her boss and for Obama not to fire her.

ObamaCare creates a new Independent Payment Advisory Board that — “fact checkers” notwithstanding — is actually a super-legislature with the power to ration care to everyone, increase taxes, impose conditions on federal grants to states, and wield other legislative powers. According to legend, IPAB will consist of 15 unelected “experts” who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Yeah, good one.

In fact, if the president makes no appointments, or the Senate rejects the president’s appointees, then all of IPAB’s considerable powers fall to one person: the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The HHS secretary would effectively become an economic dictator, with more power over the health care sector than any chamber of Congress.

If Obama wins in November, he would have zero incentive to appoint any IPAB members. The confirmation hearings would be a bloodbath, not unlike Don Berwick’s confirmation battle multiplied by 15. Sebelius, on the other hand, would not need to be re-confirmed. She could assume all of IPAB’s powers without the Senate examining her fitness to wield those powers. If Obama fired her, or the voters fire Obama, then the next HHS secretary would have to secure Senate confirmation. Again, bloodbath. That makes Kathleen Sebelius the only person in the universe who could assume those powers without that scrutiny.

No wonder she’s campaigning so hard. No wonder Obama won’t fire her.

Why Sebelius Campaigns So Hard for Her Boss — and Why He Won’t Fire Her is a post from Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute Blog
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Green Density on: January 30, 2012, 08:00:23 AM
Perhaps misfiled, but a look at how some of the shibboleths of the environmental crowd fail to stand up to real world examination.

Get Dense
It’s time to stop wasting land and resources in the name of environmentalism.

The opposite of dense: windmills in Kansas.
More than three decades ago, the British economist E. F. Schumacher stated the essence of environmental protection in three words: “Small is beautiful.” As Schumacher argued in a famous book by that title, man-made disturbances of the natural world—farms, for example, and power plants—should have the smallest possible footprints.

But how can that ideal be realized in a world that must produce more and more food and energy for its growing population? The answer, in just one word this time, is density. Over the course of the last century, human beings have found ways to concentrate crops and energy production within smaller and smaller areas, conserving land while meeting the ever-growing global demand for calories and watts. This approach runs counter to the beliefs of many environmental activists and politicians, whose “organic” and “renewable” policies, as nature-friendly as they sound, squander land. The real organizing principle for a green future is density, which not only provides the goods that we need to survive and prosper but also achieves the land-preservation goals of genuine environmentalists.

Food cultivation is an excellent example of the virtues of density. During the second half of the twentieth century, hybrid seeds and synthetic fertilizers, along with better methods of planting and harvesting, produced stunning increases in agricultural productivity. Between 1968 and 2005, global production of all cereal crops doubled, even though the amount of cultivated acreage remained about the same. Indur Goklany, a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of the Interior, estimates that if agriculture had remained at its early-sixties level of productivity, feeding the world’s population in 1998 would have required nearly 8 billion acres of farmland, instead of the 3.7 billion acres that were actually under cultivation. Where in the world—literally—would we have found an extra 4.3 billion acres of land, an area just slightly smaller than South America?

There is an important exception to the historical trend of ever-denser agriculture, however: the production of organic food, which doesn’t use many fertilizers and pesticides. Various recent studies have found that land devoted to organic farming produces 50 percent less wheat, 55 percent less asparagus and lettuce, and 23 percent less corn than conventionally farmed land of the same acreage does.

A large-scale transition to organic production therefore makes little sense. In a 2011 essay in Slate, James McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University and a fearless debunker of the hype over organic food, pointed out that the global population was likely to increase by some 2.3 billion people over the next four decades. So many people, combined with an emerging middle class in developing countries like China and India, would require the world’s farmers to grow “at least 70 percent more food than we now produce.” The latest figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which showed that the world had little unused arable land, led to an obvious conclusion, McWilliams wrote: “Skyrocketing demand for food will have to be met by increasing production on pre-existing acreage. . . . Ninety percent of the additional calories required by midcentury will have to come through higher yields per acre.” That is, agriculture must become even denser, producing still more food from the available land. Organic farming would do the reverse.

Inefficient organic production would also undoubtedly increase the cost of food. That’s a particular concern at a time when global food prices are near record highs: last February, the FAO reported that its Food Price Index, a basket of commodities that tracks changes in global food costs, hit its highest level since the organization began documenting prices in 1990. Though food prices have fallen somewhat since then, the Food Price Index throughout 2011 was roughly 60 percent higher than it was back in 2007. Adopting low-density agricultural techniques could also increase deforestation, as farmers desperately seek more farmland—a result that should disturb true environmentalists.

Yet we are continually bombarded with arguments for organic agriculture. In 2010, Maria Rodale—the chairman and CEO of the Rodale Institute, a pro-organic organization—wrote an essay arguing that organic farming was “the most effective way to feed the world and mitigate global warming.” Organic-friendly grocers, like Whole Foods Market, have seen huge increases in their market share, and industry groups like the Organic Trade Association point out that global sales of organic food and beverages more than doubled, to some $51 billion, between 2003 and 2008.

A related crusade against density is the push for biofuels, which are supposed to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions but will divert huge blocks of arable land away from food production and into the manufacture of tiny amounts of motor fuel. The leading biofuel at the moment is corn ethanol, whose “power density”—the amount of energy flow that can be harnessed from a given area of land—is abysmally low. Some energy analysts put it as low as 0.05 watts per square meter of farmland. By comparison, a relatively small natural-gas well that produces just 60,000 cubic feet of gas per day has a power density of 28 watts per square meter; the power density of nuclear plants is even higher.

The power density of ethanol is so low that in 2011, to produce a quantity of motor fuel whose energy equivalent was just 0.6 percent of global oil consumption, the American corn-ethanol sector had to convert a mind-boggling 4.9 billion bushels of grain into ethanol. That’s more corn than the combined outputs of the European Union, Mexico, Argentina, and India. It represents 40 percent of all the corn grown in the United States—about 15 percent of global corn production and 5 percent of all the grain grown in the world. The EU, too, is pushing to produce motor fuel from farmland.

These efforts have, unsurprisingly, driven global food prices upward. In a June 2011 article in Scientific American, Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School at Prince- ton University, observed that “since 2004 biofuels from crops have almost doubled the rate of growth in global demand for grain and sugar and pushed up the yearly growth in demand for vegetable oil by around 40 percent.” We need to consider the moral impact of our actions, Searchinger continued: “Our primary obligation is to feed the hungry. Biofuels are undermining our ability to do so.” Yet each year, Congress lavishes some $7 billion worth of subsidies on the ethanol industry, and in his January 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama declared that “we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels.”

Biofuel enthusiasts, recognizing the moral problems with converting food into fuel, have long promoted cellulosic ethanol, which is derived from inedible biomass, such as switchgrass and trees. In 1976, Amory Lovins, cofounder of the Rocky Mountain Institute and a darling of the Green Left, wrote in Foreign Affairs that “exciting developments in the conversion of agricultural, forestry and urban wastes to methanol and other liquid and gaseous fuels now offer practical, economically interesting technologies sufficient to run an efficient U.S. transport sector.” Three decades later, not a single company in the United States was producing significant quantities of cellulosic ethanol—yet in 2004, Lovins and several coauthors wrote Winning the Oil Endgame, still clamoring for cellulosic ethanol and even claiming that it would “strengthen rural America, boost net farm income by tens of billions of dollars a year, and create more than 750,000 new jobs.”

Will it? Cellulosic ethanol’s power density, though higher than corn ethanol’s, is nevertheless very low. Even the best-managed tree plantations achieve power densities of only about 1 watt per square meter of cultivated area. That means you need gargantuan quantities of biomass to produce meaningful volumes of motor fuel. Let’s say that you wanted to replace just one-tenth of U.S. oil consumption with ethanol derived from switchgrass. That would require you to produce about 425 million tons of switchgrass per year, which would mean cultivating some 36.9 million acres of land—an area roughly the size of Illinois. Put another way: to replace 10 percent of the country’s oil needs with cellulosic ethanol, you’d need to plant switchgrass in an area equal to 8 percent of all American cropland currently under cultivation.

Nevertheless, in May 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi helped pass a subsidy-packed $307 billion farm bill, declaring it an “investment in energy independence” because it provided “support for the transition to cellulosic ethanol.” Under Pelosi’s leadership, Congress also mandated that fuel suppliers in the United States blend at least 21 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the American gasoline pool by 2022. To reach that standard, Congress set production targets: in 2011, for instance, domestic distilleries would supposedly produce some 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. But the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol remains so insignificant that the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the government’s renewable-fuel rules, was forced to slash the production target to just 6.6 million gallons.

Over the past decade, global energy consumption has increased by about 28 percent. Today, the world’s inhabitants are consuming the equivalent of 240 million barrels of oil per day. We cannot depend on the planet’s farmland to provide the enormous quantities of energy needed by countries like China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil as millions of their citizens move into the modern economy. We must rely on forms of energy that have the highest density and, therefore, the smallest footprints.

Biofuels aren’t the only renewable sources of energy whose low power densities make them impractical. Wind turbines have a power density of about 1 watt per square meter. Compare that with the two nuclear reactors at Indian Point in Westchester County, which provide as much as 30 percent of New York City’s electricity. Even if you include the entire footprint of the Indian Point project—about 250 acres—the site’s power density exceeds 2,000 watts per square meter. To generate as much electricity as Indian Point does, you’d need to pave at least 770 square miles of land with wind turbines, an area slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island. Further, few people could live on that great expanse of land because the low-frequency sound that wind turbines generate can cause health problems.

Until now, we’ve examined density chiefly as it relates to area: how much food or energy can be produced on a certain quantity of land. But wind projects defy density in a second way, eating up not just huge tracts of land, relative to their poor performance, but enormous quantities of steel as well. Installing a single wind turbine requires about 200 tons of steel. The newest turbines have capacities of about 4 megawatts. Divide four by 200, and you’ll find that such a turbine can produce about 0.02 megawatts of electricity per ton of steel. Compare that with a conventional natural-gas-fired turbine—say, General Electric’s LM6000. The LM6000 weighs nine tons and can generate nearly 43 megawatts, meaning that it produces about 4.7 megawatts per ton of steel—more than 230 times as many as the wind turbine does.

These numbers are only ballpark figures, of course, and they don’t account for the other resources needed to produce electricity. For instance, wind turbines are generally located far from urban areas and require the construction of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines, while gas turbines must be supplied by long steel pipelines carrying methane from distant wells. But even if the calculations are off by a full order of magnitude—and gas-fired generation uses steel merely 23 times as efficiently as wind generation does, rather than 230 times—it remains clear that wind energy production is an enormously resource-intensive process.

Fortunately, opposition to wind projects is growing rapidly. The United States has seen the rise of about 170 anti-wind groups over the past few years. Ontario in Canada alone has more than 50, the European Platform Against Windfarms has 505 signatory organizations from 23 countries, and in the United Kingdom, some 250 anti-wind groups have formed to fight industrial wind projects in Wales, Scotland, and elsewhere. The resistance is easy to understand: people don’t want to look at 400-foot-high industrial turbines all day, or at flashing red lights all night, or at unsightly transmission lines.

Environmentalists themselves have begun to recognize the inefficiency of wind turbines. In 2009, the Nature Conservancy, one of America’s most conservative environmental groups, issued a report condemning the “energy sprawl” that comes with large-scale wind-energy projects. Even hard-core environmental groups like Earth First! have sprung into action. In November 2010, five people, several of them from Earth First!, were arrested for blocking a road leading to a construction site for a 60-megawatt wind project in Maine. According to the Portland Press Herald, one of the protesters carried a sign: STOP THE RAPE OF RURAL MAINE. But politicians have been slower to object to energy sprawl. In March 2010, governors from 29 states implored Congress and the White House to install more wind turbines across the country, arguing that wind energy would “reduce electric-sector greenhouse gas emissions by about 25 percent.”

The virtues of density can be seen even in nuclear waste. The American commercial nuclear-power industry, over its entire history, has produced about 60,000 tons of high-level waste. Stacked to a depth of about 15 feet, that would cover an area the size of one football field. Coal-fired power plants in the United States, by contrast, generate about 130 million tons of coal ash, much of it contaminated with heavy metals, in a single year. Yes, radioactive waste is toxic and long-lived, but it can be stored safely. France produces about 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear fission, and all of its high-level waste is stored in a single building about the size of a soccer field.

Perhaps the most familiar example of environmentally friendly density, though, is the way humanity has concentrated itself by moving from the country to cities, a process that is happening especially rapidly in the developing world. The opposite process, suburbanization, requires far more land area per resident—and therefore more miles of streets, electricity cables, and sewer lines (see “Green Cities, Brown Suburbs,” Winter 2009). In a 2009 essay for the Atlantic, architect and author Witold Ryb- czynski wrote that “being truly green means returning to the kinds of dense cities and garden suburbs Americans built in the first half of the 20th century.”

The greenness of density leads to two conclusions. First, those who make environmental policy should consider density a desirable goal in nearly all the issues that they confront. And second, the real environmentalists aren’t headline-seeking activists and advocacy groups; they’re farmers, urban planners, agronomists, and, yes, even natural-gas drillers and nuclear engineers.

Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute.
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Black Body Baseline on: January 30, 2012, 07:56:54 AM
2nd post.

And the problem of establishing a planetary baseline upon which all the confounding variables would then be added:

Earth’s baseline black-body model – “a damn hard problem”
Posted on January 12, 2012 by Anthony Watts

The Earth only has an absorbing area equal to a two dimensional disk, rather than the surface of a sphere.

By Robert G. Brown, Duke University (elevated from a WUWT comment)

I spent what little of last night that I semi-slept in a learning-dream state chewing over Caballero’s book and radiative transfer, and came to two insights. First, the baseline black-body model (that leads to T_b = 255K) is physically terrible, as a baseline. It treats the planet in question as a nonrotating superconductor of heat with no heat capacity. The reason it is terrible is that it is absolutely incorrect to ascribe 33K as even an estimate for the “greenhouse warming” relative to this baseline, as it is a completely nonphysical baseline; the 33K relative to it is both meaningless and mixes both heating and cooling effects that have absolutely nothing to do with the greenhouse effect. More on that later.

I also understand the greenhouse effect itself much better. I may write this up in my own words, since I don’t like some of Caballero’s notation and think that the presentation can be simplified and made more illustrative. I’m also thinking of using it to make a “build-a-model” kit, sort of like the “build-a-bear” stores in the malls.

Start with a nonrotating superconducting sphere, zero albedo, unit emissivity, perfect blackbody radiation from each point on the sphere. What’s the mean temperature?

Now make the non-rotating sphere perfectly non-conducting, so that every part of the surface has to be in radiative balance. What’s the average temperature now? This is a better model for the moon than the former, surely, although still not good enough. Let’s improve it.

Now make the surface have some thermalized heat capacity — make it heat superconducting, but only in the vertical direction and presume a mass shell of some thickness that has some reasonable specific heat. This changes nothing from the previous result, until we make the sphere rotate. Oooo, yet another average (surface) temperature, this time the spherical average of a distribution that depends on latitude, with the highest temperatures dayside near the equator sometime after “noon” (lagged because now it takes time to raise the temperature of each block as the insolation exceeds blackbody loss, and time for it to cool as the blackbody loss exceeds radiation, and the surface is never at a constant temperature anywhere but at the poles (no axial tilt, of course). This is probably a very decent model for the moon, once one adds back in an albedo (effectively scaling down the fraction of the incoming power that has to be thermally balanced).

One can for each of these changes actually compute the exact parametric temperature distribution as a function of spherical angle and radius, and (by integrating) compute the change in e.g. the average temperature from the superconducting perfect black body assumption. Going from superconducting planet to local detailed balance but otherwise perfectly insulating planet (nonrotating) simply drops the nightside temperature for exactly 1/2 the sphere to your choice of 3K or (easier to idealize) 0K after a very long time. This is bounded from below, independent of solar irradiance or albedo (or for that matter, emissivity). The dayside temperature, on the other hand, has a polar distribution with a pole facing the sun, and varies nonlinearly with irradiance, albedo, and (if you choose to vary it) emissivity.

That pesky T^4 makes everything complicated! I hesitate to even try to assign the sign of the change in average temperature going from the first model to the second! Every time I think that I have a good heuristic argument for saying that it should be lower, a little voice tells me — T^4 — better do the damn integral because the temperature at the separator has to go smoothly to zero from the dayside and there’s a lot of low-irradiance (and hence low temperature) area out there where the sun is at five o’clock, even for zero albedo and unit emissivity! The only easy part is to obtain the spherical average we can just take the dayside average and divide by two…

I’m not even happy with the sign for the rotating sphere, as this depends on the interplay between the time required to heat the thermal ballast given the difference between insolation and outgoing radiation and the rate of rotation. Rotate at infinite speed and you are back at the superconducting sphere. Rotate at zero speed and you’re at the static nonconducting sphere. Rotate in between and — damn — now by varying only the magnitude of the thermal ballast (which determines the thermalization time) you can arrange for even a rapidly rotating sphere to behave like the static nonconducting sphere and a slowly rotating sphere to behave like a superconducting sphere (zero heat capacity and very large heat capacity, respectively). Worse, you’ve changed the geometry of the axial poles (presumed to lie untilted w.r.t. the ecliptic still). Where before the entire day-night terminator was smoothly approaching T = 0 from the day side, now this is true only at the poles! The integral of the polar area (for a given polar angle d\theta) is much smaller than the integral of the equatorial angle, and on top of that one now has a smeared out set of steady state temperatures that are all functions of azimuthal angle \phi and polar angle \theta, one that changes nonlinearly as you crank any of: Insolation, albedo, emissivity, \omega (angular velocity of rotation) and heat capacity of the surface.

And we haven’t even got an atmosphere yet. Or water. But at least up to this point, one can solve for the temperature distribution T(\theta,\phi,\alpha,S,\epsilon,c) exactly, I think.

Furthermore, one can actually model something like water pretty well in this way. In fact, if we imagine covering the planet not with air but with a layer of water with a blackbody on the bottom and a thin layer of perfectly transparent saran wrap on top to prevent pesky old evaporation, the water becomes a contribution to the thermal ballast. It takes a lot longer to raise or lower the temperature of a layer of water a meter deep (given an imbalance between incoming radiation) than it does to raise or lower the temperature of maybe the top centimeter or two of rock or dirt or sand. A lot longer.

Once one has a good feel for this, one could decorate the model with oceans and land bodies (but still prohibit lateral energy transfer and assume immediate vertical equilibration). One could let the water have the right albedo and freeze when it hits the right temperature. Then things get tough.

You have to add an atmosphere. Damn. You also have to let the ocean itself convect, and have density, and variable depth. And all of this on a rotating sphere where things (air masses) moving up deflect antispinward (relative to the surface), things moving down deflect spinward, things moving north deflect spinward (they’re going to fast) in the northern hemisphere, things moving south deflect antispinward, as a function of angle and speed and rotational velocity. Friggin’ coriolis force, deflects naval artillery and so on. And now we’re going to differentially heat the damn thing so that turbulence occurs everywhere on all available length scales, where we don’t even have some simple symmetry to the differential heating any more because we might as well have let a five year old throw paint at the sphere to mark out where the land masses are versus the oceans, and or better yet given him some Tonka trucks and let him play in the spherical sandbox until he had a nice irregular surface and then filled the surface with water until it was 70% submerged or something.

Ow, my aching head. And note well — we still haven’t turned on a Greenhouse Effect! And I now have nothing like a heuristic for radiant emission cooling even in the ideal case, because it is quite literally distilled, fractionated by temperature and height even without CO_2 per se present at all. Clouds. Air with a nontrivial short wavelength scattering cross-section. Energy transfer galore.

And then, before we mess with CO_2, we have to take quantum mechanics and the incident spectrum into account, and start to look at the hitherto ignored details of the ground, air, and water. The air needs a lapse rate, which will vary with humidity and albedo and ground temperature and… The molecules in the air recoil when the scatter incoming photons, and if a collision with another air molecule occurs in the right time interval they will mutually absorb some or all of the energy instead of elastically scattering it, heating the air. It can also absorb one wavelength and emit a cascade of photons at a different wavelength (depending on its spectrum).

Finally, one has to add in the GHGs, notably CO_2 (water is already there). They have the effect increasing the outgoing radiance from the (higher temperature) surface in some bands, and transferring some of it to CO_2 where it is trapped until it diffuses to the top of the CO_2 column, where it is emitted at a cooler temperature. The total power going out is thus split up, with that pesky blackbody spectrum modulated so that different frequencies have different effective temperatures, in a way that is locally modulated by — nearly everything. The lapse rate. Moisture content. Clouds. Bulk transport of heat up or down via convection. Bulk transport of heat up or down via caged radiation in parts of the spectrum. And don’t forget sideways! Everything is now circulating, wind and surface evaporation are coupled, the equilibration time for the ocean has stretched from “commensurate with the rotational period” for shallow seas to a thousand years or more so that the ocean is never at equilibrium, it is always tugging surface temperatures one way or the other with substantial thermal ballast, heat deposited not today but over the last week, month, year, decade, century, millennium.

Yessir, a damn hard problem. Anybody who calls this settled science is out of their ever-loving mind. Note well that I still haven’t included solar magnetism or any serious modulation of solar irradiance, or even the axial tilt of the earth, which once again completely changes everything, because now the timescales at the poles become annual, and the north pole and south pole are not at all alike! Consider the enormous difference in their thermal ballast and oceanic heat transport and atmospheric heat transport!

A hard problem. But perhaps I’ll try to tackle it, if I have time, at least through the first few steps outlined above. At the very least I’d like to have a better idea of the direction of some of the first few build-a-bear steps on the average temperature (while the term “average temperature” has some meaning, that is before making the system chaotic).

145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Climate Complexity Compiled on: January 30, 2012, 07:48:10 AM
Some of the "factors" so easily dismissed by those who prefer to focus on a minuscule percentage of atmospheric CO2.

The Ridiculousness Continues – Climate Complexity Compiled
Posted on January 21, 2012 by justthefactswuwt
By WUWT regular “Just The Facts”

With the help of an array of WUWT reader comments on this thread and several others documented within, I’ve been compiling a summary of all potential climatic variables in order to build a conceptual map of Earth’s climate system. The goals of this exercise include; To gain a bigger picture understanding and perspective of Earth’s climate system. To demonstrate that Earth’s climate system is a ridiculously complex, continually evolving and sometimes chaotic beast, with the plethora of variables, many interdependencies and an array of feedbacks, both positive and negative. To highlight the challenges associated with accurately measuring the current state, as well as predicting the trajectory and likely future state of Earth’s climate system many decades into the future. To build the WUWT Potential Climatic Variables Reference Page. To lay the conceptual groundwork for the WUWT Likely Climatic Variables Reference Page.

Your help in completing this exercise would be most appreciated. Please take a look through the list below and let me know if you have any additions, suggestions or corrections. For those of you who’ve already read this list, it has grown significantly, especially the later portions. Please pay particular attention to Section 9. Albedo, as most of the content is new, thus it may need more work, and I’m also trying out a different linking/reference format. Your input on preferences between the linking/reference format in Section 9, versus the rest of the document would be most appreciated.

Note: The list below is an evolving document that continues to undergo significant revisions and improvements based upon crowdsourcing input of an array of WUWT contributors. Additionally, this list was posted in a prior article and in comments on WUWT a few times previously, receiving input from a vast number of contributors. This thread, along with these precursor threads will serve as the bibliography for the forthcoming WUWT Potential Climatic Variables Reference Page.

Wikipedia Note: The list relies heavily upon Wikipedia, due to the fact that it is the only source that offers reasonably coherent content on such broad range of subjects. However, there are know issues with Wikpedia’s content, especially biases in their climate articles. As such, please take care to view any Wikipedia articles with a critical eye and check Wikipedia’s references to evaluate the credibility of their sources. Additionally, in comments, please provide your suggestions of articles from alternate sources that can be added to this list in order to help readers to easily verify the veracity of the Wikipedia articles within.

1. Earth’s Rotational Energy;

results in day and night;

causes the Coriolis Effect;

imparts Planetary Vorticity on the oceans;

and manifests as Ocean Gyres;

the Antarctic Circumpolar Current;

Arctic Ocean Circulation;

can result in the formation of Polynya;

and causes the Equatorial Bulge:

Earth’s Rotational Energy influences Atmospheric Circulation;

including the Jet Stream;



Geostrophic Wind;

Surface Currents;

through Ekman Transport;

Rosby Waves;

which “are principally responsible for the Brewer-Dobson circulation”;

Tropical Cyclones;

possibly Tornadoes;

however, Windows To The Universe states that, “because there are records of anticyclonic tornadoes, scientists don’t think that the Coriolis Effect causes the rotations.”;

and Polar Vortices;

which “are caused when an area of low pressure sits at the rotation pole of a planet. This causes air to spiral down from higher in the atmosphere, like water going down a drain.”

Here’s an animation of the Arctic Polar Vortex in Winter 2008 – 09:

When a Polar Vortex splits or breaks down it can cause a Sudden Stratospheric Warming:

Earth’s Rotational Energy influences Plate Tectonics;

“By analyzing the minute changes in travel times and wave shapes for each doublet, the researchers concluded that the Earth’s inner core is rotating faster than its surface by about 0.3-0.5 degrees per year.

That may not seem like much, but it’s very fast compared to the movement of the Earth’s crust, which generally slips around only a few centimeters per year compared to the mantle below, said Xiaodong Song, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an author on the study.

The surface movement is called plate tectonics. It involves the shifting of about a dozen major plates and is what causes most earthquakes”;


and Mountain Formation;

which can influence the creation of Atmospheric Waves:

Lastly, Rotational Energy is the primary driver of Earth’s Dynamo;

which generates Earth’s Magnetic Field;

and is primarily responsible for the Earthy behaviors of the Magnetosphere;

with certain secular variations in Earth’s magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation;

though Leif Svalgaard notes that these are minor variations, as the magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation “is 1000 times smaller than the main field generated in the core.”

Earth Core Changes:

appear “to be generated in the Earth’s core by a dynamo process, associated with the circulation of liquid metal in the core, driven by internal heat sources”. “Molten iron flowing in the outer core generates the Earth’s geodynamo, leading to a planetary-scale magnetic field. Beyond this, though, geophysicists know very little for certain about the field, such as its strength in the core or why its orientation fluctuates regularly. Researchers do suspect, however, that field variations are strongly linked with changing conditions within the molten core.” These core changes

influence the Magnetosphere;

including movement of the Geomagnetic Poles:

Also of note, “Over millions of years, [Earth's] rotation is significantly slowed by gravitational interactions with the Moon: see tidal acceleration.

“Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite (e.g. the Moon), and the primary planet that it orbits (e.g. the Earth). The “acceleration” is usually negative, as it causes a gradual slowing and recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, and a corresponding slowdown of the primary’s rotation. The process eventually leads to tidal locking of first the smaller, and later the larger body. The Earth-Moon system is the best studied case.”

“The presence of the moon (which has about 1/81 the mass of the Earth), is slowing Earth’s rotation and lengthening the day by about 2 ms every one hundred years.”

Length of Day;

Earth’s rotation is slowing “due to a transfer of Earth’s rotational momentum to the Moon’s orbital momentum as tidal friction slows the Earth’s rotation. That increase in the Moon’s speed is causing it to slowly recede from Earth (about 4 cm per year), increasing its orbital period and the length of a month as well.” “The slowing rotation of the Earth results in a longer day as well as a longer month. Once the length of a day equals the length of a month, the tidal friction mechanism will cease. (ie. Once your speed on the track matches the speed of the horses, you can’t gain any more speed with your lasso trick.) That’s been projected to happen once the day and month both equal about 47 (current) days, billions of years in the future. If the Earth and Moon still exist, the Moon’s distance will have increased to about 135% of its current value.”

“However some large scale events, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, have caused the rotation to speed up by around 3 microseconds.[21] Post-glacial rebound, ongoing since the last Ice age, is changing the distribution of the Earth’s mass thus affecting the Moment of Inertia of the Earth and, by the Conservation of Angular Momentum, the Earth’s rotation period.”

2. Orbital Energy, Orbital Period, Elliptical Orbits (Eccentricity), Tilt (Obliquity) and Wobble (Axial precession):

creates Earth’s seasons;

which drives annual changes in Arctic Sea Ice;

and Antarctic Sea Ice;

the freezing and melting of which helps to drive the Thermohaline Circulation;

and can result in the formation of Polynyas:

Earth’s orbit around the Sun, Earth’s tilt, Earth’s wobble and the Moon’s orbit around Earth, Earth’s Rotation, and the gravity of the Moon, Sun and Earth, act in concert to determine the constantly evolving Tidal Force on Earth:

This Tidal Force is influenced by variations in Lunar Orbit;

as seen in the Lunar Phases;

Lunar Precession;

Lunar Node;

Saros cycles;

and Inex cycles:

The combined cycles of the Saros and Inex Cycles can be visualized here:

Over longer time frames changes to Earth’s orbit, tilt and wobble called Milankovitch cycles;

may be responsible for the periods of Glaciation (Ice Ages);

that Earth has experienced for the last several million years of its climatic record:

Also of note, over very long time frames, “the Moon is spiraling away from Earth at an average rate of 3.8 cm per year”;

3. Gravitation:

The gravity of the Moon, Sun and Earth, Earth’s rotation, Earth’s orbit around the Sun, Earth’s tilt, Earth’s wobble and the Moon’s orbit around Earth act in concert to determine the constantly evolving Tidal Force on Earth:

This tidal force results in that result in Earth’s Ocean Tide;

Atmospheric Tide;

Earth Tide;

and Magma Tide:

Earth’s Gravity;

in concert with Tidal Forces, influence Earth’s Ocean Circulation;

which influences Oceanic Oscillations including El Niño/La Niña;

the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO);

the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO);

the Indian_Ocean_Dipole (IOD)/Indian Ocean Oscillation (IOO) and;

can result in the formation of Polynyas:

Gravity Waves;

which may be partially responsible for the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO);

“on an air–sea interface are called surface gravity waves or Surface Waves”;

“while internal gravity waves are called Inertial Waves”:

“Rosby Waves;

Geostrophic Currents

and Geostrophic Wind

are examples of inertial waves. Inertial waves are also likely to exist in the core of the Earth”

Earth’s gravity is the primary driver of Plate Tectonics;

“The Slab Pull;

force is a tectonic plate force due to subduction. Plate motion is partly driven by the weight of cold, dense plates sinking into the mantle at trenches. This force and the slab suction force account for most of the overall force acting on plate tectonics, and the Ridge Push;

force accounts for 5 to 10% of the overall force.”

Isostasy also exists whereby a “state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth’s lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates “float” at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density.”

Plate Tectonics drive “cycles of ocean basin growth and destruction, known as Wilson cycles;

involving continental rifting;



and collision.”:

“Climate change on ultra-long time scales (tens of millions of years) are more than likely connected to plate tectonics.”

“Through the course of a Wilson cycle continents collide and split apart, mountains are uplifted and eroded, and ocean basins open and close. The re-distribution and changing size and elevation of continental land masses may have caused climate change on long time scales”;

a process called the Supercontinent Cycle:

Earth’s gravity is responsible for Katabatic Wind:

4. Solar Energy;;

results is Solar Radiation/Sunlight;

which varies based upon 11 and 22 year cycles:

Total Solar Irradiance (TSI);

appears to fluctuate “by approximately 0.1% or about 1.3 Watts per square meter (W/m2) peak-to-trough during the 11-year sunspot cycle”:

Solar Energy also drives the Hydrological/Water Cycle;

within the Hydrosphere;

as Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) causes evaporation;

that drives Cloud formation;

results in Precipitation;

that results in the Water Distribution on Earth;

creates surface Runoff;

which result in Rivers;

and drives Erosion:

Solar energy is also “The driving force behind atmospheric circulation is solar energy, which heats the atmosphere with different intensities at the equator, the middle latitudes, and the poles.”

Atmospheric Circulation;

includes Hadley Cells;

Ferrel Cells;

Polar Cells;

all of which help to create Wind;

that influence Surface Currents;

through Ekman Transport;

and also cause Langmuir circulations

Solar energy drives the Brewer Dobson Circulation;

which influences Polar Vortices:

Atmospheric Waves;

including Atmospheric Tides;
evaporation and condensation that may help to drive changes in Atmospheric Pressure:

and Atmospheric Escape;

Solar Ultraviolet (UV) radiation;

appears to vary by approximately 10% during the solar cycle;

has been hypothesized to influence Earth’s climate;

however Leif Svalgaard argues that,
This is well-trodden ground. Nothing new to add, just the same old, tired arguments. Perhaps a note on EUV: as you can see here (slide 13) the energy in the EUV band [and other UV bands] is very tiny; many orders of magnitude less than what shines down on our heads each day. So a larger solar cycle variation of EUV does not make any significant difference in the energy budget.

Additionally variations in Ultraviolet (UV) radiation may influence the break down of Methane;
(Source TBD)

Infrared Radiation;

Solar – Wind;

Solar – Coronal Holes;

Solar – Solar Energetic Particles (SEP);

Solar – Coronal Mass Ejection;

Solar Magnetosphere Breach;

Solar Polar Field Reversal;

Solar Sector Boundary;

Grand Minimum;
Leif Svalgaard says: February 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm
If L&P are correct and sunspots become effectively] invisible [not gone] it might mean another Grand Minimum lasting perhaps 50 years. During this time the solar cycle is still operating, cosmic rays are still modulated, and the solar wind is still buffeting the Earth.”
“It will lead to a cooling of a couple of tenths of a degree.”

Solar Influences on Climate:

Statistical issues about solar–climate relations

5. Geothermal Energy;

influences Earth’s climate especially when released by Volcanoes;

“which are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging;

or converging”;

however, “intraplate volcanism has also been postulated to be caused by mantle plumes”:

“These so-called “hotspots”;

for example Hawaii, are postulated to arise from upwelling diapirs;

from the core-mantle boundary, 3,000 km deep in the Earth.”

Volcanoes have been shown to influence Earth’s climate;

including in the infamous Year Without a Summer;

which was partially caused by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora;

and is called a Volcanic Winter:

“Volcanic Ash;

particles have a maximum residence time in the troposphere of a few weeks.

The finest Tephera;

remain in the stratosphere for only a few months, they have only minor climatic effects, and they can be spread around the world by high-altitude winds. This suspended material contributes to spectacular sunsets.

“The greatest volcanic impact upon the earth’s short term weather patterns is caused by sulfur dioxide gas;”

“In the cold lower atmosphere, it is converted to Sulfuric Acid;

sulfuric acid by the sun’s rays reacting with stratospheric water vapor to form sulfuric acid aerosol layers. The aerosol remains in suspension long after solid ash particles have fallen to earth and forms a layer of sulfuric acid droplets between 15 to 25 kilometers up. Fine ash particles from an eruption column fall out too quickly to significantly cool the atmosphere over an extended period of time, no matter how large the eruption.

Sulfur aerosols last many years, and several historic eruptions show a good correlation of sulfur dioxide layers in the atmosphere with a decrease in average temperature decrease of subsequent years. The close correlation was first established after the 1963 eruption of Agung volcano in Indonesia when it was found that sulfur dioxide reached the stratosphere and stayed as a sulfuric acid aerosol.

Without replenishment, the sulfuric acid aerosol layer around the earth is gradually depleted, but it is renewed by each eruption rich in sulfur dioxide. This was confirmed by data collected after the eruptions of El Chichon, Mexico (1982) and Pinatubo, Philippines (1991), both of which were high-sulfur compound carriers like Agung, Indonesia.”

There is also some evidence that if “volcanic activity was high enough, then a water vapor anomaly would be introduced into the lower stratosphere before the anomaly due to the previous eruption had disappeared. The result would be threefold in the long term: stratospheric cooling, stratospheric humidification, and surface warming due to the positive radiative forcing associated with the water vapor.”

Geothermic Energy can also warm the atmosphere through Hot Springs;

or warm the ocean through Hydrothermal Vents;

which can be a factor in Hydrothermal Circulations:

6. Outer Space/Cosmic/Galactic Influences;

including Asteroids;


and Comets;

can all significantly impact Earth’s climate upon impact.

It has been hypothesized that Galactic Cosmic Rays;

modulated by Solar Wind, may influence cloud formation on Earth:

Galactic Magnetic Fields also result in the;

Galactic Tide;

which may influence the hypothesized Oort cloud;

“Besides the galactic tide, the main trigger for sending comets into the inner Solar System is believed to be interaction between the Sun’s Oort cloud and the gravitational fields of near-by stars or giant molecular clouds.”

Also Cosmic Dust;

“is a type of dust composed of particles in space which are a few molecules to 0.1 µm in size. Cosmic dust can be further distinguished by its astronomical location; for example: intergalactic dust, interstellar dust, interplanetary dust (such as in the zodiacal cloud) and circumplanetary dust (such as in a planetary ring).”

“Depending on their size and overall number, cosmic dust and other particles in the atmosphere have the potential to change Earth’s climate. They can reflect sunlight, which cools the Earth, absorb sunlight, which warms the atmosphere, and act as a blanket for the planet by trapping any heat it gives off. They can also facilitate the formation of rain clouds.”

In addition, “a study of astronomical and geological data reveals that cosmic ray electrons and electromagnetic radiation from a similar outburst of our own Galactic core, impacted our Solar System near the end of the last ice age. This cosmic ray event spanned a period of several thousand years and climaxed around 14,200 years ago. Although far less intense than the PG 0052+251 quasar outburst, it was, nevertheless, able to substantially affect the Earth’s climate and trigger a solar-terrestrial conflagration the initiated the worst animal extinction episode of the Tertiary period.

The effects on the Sun and on the Earth’s climate were not due to the Galactic cosmic rays themselves, but to the cosmic dust that these cosmic rays transported into the Solar System. Observations have shown that the Solar System is presently immersed in a dense cloud of cosmic dust, material that is normally kept at bay by the outward pressure of the solar wind. But, with the arrival of this Galactic cosmic ray volley, the solar wind was overpowered and large quantities of this material were pushed inward. The Sun was enveloped in a cocoon of dust that caused its spectrum to shift toward the infrared. In addition, the dust grains filling the Solar System scattered radiation back to the Earth, producing an “interplanetary hothouse effect” that substantially increased the influx of solar radiation to the Earth.”

7. Earth’s Magnetic Field;

is primarily responsible for the Earthy behaviors of the Magnetosphere;

with certain secular variations in Earth’s magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation;

though Leif Svalgaard notes that these are minor variations, as the magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation “is 1000 times smaller than the main field generated in the core.”

Earth Core Changes:

appear “to be generated in the Earth’s core by a dynamo process, associated with the circulation of liquid metal in the core, driven by internal heat sources”. “Molten iron flowing in the outer core generates the Earth’s geodynamo, leading to a planetary-scale magnetic field. Beyond this, though, geophysicists know very little for certain about the field, such as its strength in the core or why its orientation fluctuates regularly. Researchers do suspect, however, that field variations are strongly linked with changing conditions within the molten core.” These core changes

influence the Magnetosphere;

including movement of the Geomagnetic Poles:

According to a 2009 Danish study “Is there a link between Earth’s magnetic field and low-latitude precipitation?” by Knudsen and Riisager, Geology, 2009. “The earth’s climate has been significantly affected by the planet’s magnetic field”

“Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth’s magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics,” one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.”

“Intriguingly, we observe a relatively good correlation between the high-resolution speleothem δ18O records and the dipole moment, suggesting that Earth’s magnetic field to some degree influenced low-latitude precipitation in the past. In addition to supporting the notion that variations in the geomagnetic field may have influenced Earth’s climate in the past, our study also provides some degree of support for the controversial link between GCR particles, cloud formation, and climate.”

Also, according to the 2008 European Space Agency article;

“Oxygen is constantly leaking out of Earth’s atmosphere and into space. Now, ESA’s formation-flying quartet of satellites, Cluster, has discovered the physical mechanism that is driving the escape. It turns out that the Earth’s own magnetic field is accelerating the oxygen away.

8. Atmospheric Composition

Nitrogen (N2) represents approximately 780,840 ppmv or 78.084% of Earth’s Atmosphere;

Oxygen (O2) represents approximately 209,460 ppmv or 20.946%;

Argon (Ar) represents approximately 9,340 ppmv or 0.9340%;

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) represents approximately 390 ppmv or 0.039%;

contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;

and influences the rate of Plant Growth;

Neon (Ne) represents approximately18.18 ppmv or 0.001818%;

Helium (He) represents approximately 5.24 ppmv (0.000524%);

“In the Earth’s atmosphere, the concentration of Helium by volume is only 5.2 parts per million.[66][67] The concentration is low and fairly constant despite the continuous production of new helium because most helium in the Earth’s atmosphere escapes into space by several processes.[68][69][70] In the Earth’s heterosphere, a part of the upper atmosphere, helium and other lighter gases are the most abundant elements.”

Krypton (Kr) represents approximately 1.14 ppmv (0.000114%);

Methane (CH4) represents approximately 1.79 ppmv (0.000179%);

contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;

Hydrogen (H2) represents approximately 0.55 ppmv (0.000055%);

Nitrous Oxide (N2O) represents approximately 0.3 ppmv (0.00003%);

contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;

Ozone (O3) represents approximately 0.0 to 0.07 ppmv (0 to 7×10−6%);

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) represents approximately 0.02 ppmv (2×10−6%) (0.000002%);

Iodine (I2) represents approximately 0.01 ppmv (1×10−6%) (0.000001%) and;

Ammonia (NH3) represents a trace amount of Earth’s Atmosphere:

Additional atmosphere components includes Water vapor (H2O) that represents approximately 0.40% over full atmosphere, typically 1%-4% at surface.;

“Water Vapor accounts for the largest percentage of the greenhouse effect, between 36% and 66% for clear sky conditions and between 66% and 85% when including clouds.”


that “act as cloud condensation nuclei, they alter albedo (both directly and indirectly via clouds) and hence Earth’s radiation budget, and they serve as catalysts of or sites for atmospheric chemistry reactions.”

“Aerosols play a critical role in the formation of clouds;

Clouds form as parcels of air cool and the water vapor in them condenses, forming small liquid droplets of water. However, under normal circumstances, these droplets form only where there is some “disturbance” in the otherwise “pure” air. In general, aerosol particles provide this “disturbance”. The particles around which cloud droplets coalesce are called cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) or sometimes “cloud seeds”. Amazingly, in the absence of CCN, air containing water vapor needs to be “supersaturated” to a humidity of about 400% before droplets spontaneously form! So, in almost all circumstances, aerosols play a vital role in the formation of clouds.”


including Soot/Black Carbon;



“Volcanic Ash;

particles have a maximum residence time in the troposphere of a few weeks.

The finest Tephera;

remain in the stratosphere for only a few months, they have only minor climatic effects, and they can be spread around the world by high-altitude winds. This suspended material contributes to spectacular sunsets.

The major climate influence from volcanic eruptions is caused by gaseous sulfur compounds, chiefly Sulfur Dioxide;

which reacts with OH and water in the stratosphere to create sulfate aerosols with a residence time of about 2–3 years.”

“Emission rates of [Sulfur Dioxide] SO2 from an active volcano range from 10 million tonnes/day according to the style of volcanic activity and type and volume of magma involved. For example, the large explosive eruption of Mount Pinatubo on 15 June 1991 expelled 3-5 km3 of dacite magma and injected about 20 million metric tons of SO2 into the stratosphere. The sulfur aerosols resulted in a 0.5-0.6°C cooling of the Earth’s surface in the Northern Hemisphere.”

“The 1815 eruption [of Mount Tambora] is rated 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, the only such eruption since the Lake Taupo eruption in about 180 AD. With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 cubic kilometers, Tambora’s 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.”

“The eruption created global climate anomalies that included the phenomenon known as “volcanic winter”;

1816 became known as the “Year Without a Summer”;

because of the effect on North American and European weather. Agricultural crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century.”

“In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent “dry fog” was observed in the northeastern US. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight, such that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Neither wind nor rainfall dispersed the “fog”. It has been characterized as a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil.”

“The greatest volcanic impact upon the earth’s short term weather patterns is caused by sulfur dioxide gas;”

“In the cold lower atmosphere, it is converted to Sulfuric Acid;

sulfuric acid by the sun’s rays reacting with stratospheric water vapor to form sulfuric acid aerosol layers. The aerosol remains in suspension long after solid ash particles have fallen to earth and forms a layer of sulfuric acid droplets between 15 to 25 kilometers up. Fine ash particles from an eruption column fall out too quickly to significantly cool the atmosphere over an extended period of time, no matter how large the eruption.

Sulfur aerosols last many years, and several historic eruptions show a good correlation of sulfur dioxide layers in the atmosphere with a decrease in average temperature decrease of subsequent years. The close correlation was first established after the 1963 eruption of Agung volcano in Indonesia when it was found that sulfur dioxide reached the stratosphere and stayed as a sulfuric acid aerosol.

Without replenishment, the sulfuric acid aerosol layer around the earth is gradually depleted, but it is renewed by each eruption rich in sulfur dioxide. This was confirmed by data collected after the eruptions of El Chichon, Mexico (1982) and Pinatubo, Philippines (1991), both of which were high-sulfur compound carriers like Agung, Indonesia.”

There is also some evidence that if “volcanic activity was high enough, then a water vapor anomaly would be introduced into the lower stratosphere before the anomaly due to the previous eruption had disappeared. The result would be threefold in the long term: stratospheric cooling, stratospheric humidification, and surface warming due to the positive radiative forcing associated with the water vapor.”

9. Albedo “or reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface. It is defined as the ratio of reflected radiation from the surface to incident radiation upon it. Being a dimensionless fraction, it may also be expressed as a percentage, and is measured on a scale from zero for no reflecting power of a perfectly black surface, to 1 for perfect reflection of a white surface.”Wikipedia – Albedo

“The role of Clouds “in regulating weather and climate remains a leading source of uncertainty in projections of global warming.” “Different types of clouds exhibit different reflectivity, theoretically ranging in albedo from a minimum of near 0 to a maximum approaching 0.8.” Wikipedia – Albedo#Clouds

“Cloud Albedo varies from less than 10% to more than 90% and depends on drop sizes, liquid water or ice content, thickness of the cloud, and the sun’s zenith angle. The smaller the drops and the greater the liquid water content, the greater the cloud albedo, if all other factors are the same.” Wikipedia – Cloud Albedo

“On any given day, about half of Earth is covered by clouds, which reflect more sunlight than land and water. Clouds keep Earth cool by reflecting sunlight, but they can also serve as blankets to trap warmth.” Live Science

“Low, thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation and cool the surface of the Earth. High, thin clouds primarily transmit incoming solar radiation; at the same time, they trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the Earth and radiate it back downward, thereby warming the surface of the Earth. Whether a given cloud will heat or cool the surface depends on several factors, including the cloud’s altitude, its size, and the make-up of the particles that form the cloud. The balance between the cooling and warming actions of clouds is very close although, overall, averaging the effects of all the clouds around the globe, cooling predominates.” NASA Earth Observatory – Clouds

Snow “albedos can be as high as 0.9; this, however, is for the ideal example: fresh deep snow over a featureless landscape. Over Antarctica they average a little more than 0.8. Wikipedia – Albedo#Snow

“The albedo for different surface conditions on the sea ice range widely, from roughly 85 per cent of radiation reflected for snow-covered ice to 7 per cent for open water. These two surfaces cover the range from the largest to the smallest albedo on earth.” GRID-Arendal – United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

“Sea ice has a much higher albedo compared to other earth surfaces, such as the surrounding ocean. A typical ocean albedo is approximately 0.06, while bare sea ice varies from approximately 0.5 to 0.7. This means that the ocean reflects only 6 percent of the incoming solar radiation and absorbs the rest, while sea ice reflects 50 to 70 percent of the incoming energy. The sea ice absorbs less solar energy and keeps the surface cooler.

snow has an even higher albedo than sea ice, and so thick sea ice covered with snow reflects as much as 90 percent of the incoming solar radiation. This serves to insulate the sea ice, maintaining cold temperatures and delaying ice melt in the summer. After the snow does begin to melt, and because shallow melt ponds have an albedo of approximately 0.2 to 0.4, the surface albedo drops to about 0.75. As melt ponds grow and deepen, the surface albedo can drop to 0.15. As a result, melt ponds are associated with higher energy absorption and a more rapid ice melt.”

“It should be pointed out that these planetary albedos are averages. Taking Earth as an example, clouds vary from 0.4 to 0.8, snow varies from 0.4 to 0.85, forests vary from 0.04 to 0.1, grass is about 0.15, and water varies from 0.02 with the Sun directly overhead to 0.8 at low levels of incidence. So the Earth’s albedo varies, and depends on the extent of cloudiness, snowfall, and the Sun’s angle of incidence on the oceans. With an average albedo of 0.37, 63% of incoming solar energy contributes to the warmth of our planet.”

“Ocean albedo varies not only with zenith angle, as above, but also tides, clouds, spindrift, plankton, other particulates, and temperature, Wind direction and velocity also have a major effect on waves and chop, affecting reflectance. At high zenith angles, the reflectance of still water, as in small ponds, etc., is close to 1.00. Choppy seas can have fairly high albedo.
See also:

Also Particulates such as Soot/
Black_carbon warm “the Earth by absorbing heat in the atmosphere and by reducing albedo, the ability to reflect sunlight, when deposited on snow and ice. Black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only several days to weeks, whereas CO2 has an atmospheric lifetime of more than 100 years.”

“Estimates of black carbon’s globally averaged direct radiative forcing vary from the IPCC’s estimate of + 0.34 watts per square meter (W/m2) ± 0.25, to a more recent estimate by V. Ramanathan and G. Carmichael of 0.9 W/m2.” Wikipedia – Black Carbon

“Blooms of snow algea can reduce the surface albedo (light reflectance) of snow and ice, and largely affect their melting (Thomas and Duval, 1995; Hoham and Duval, 2001). For example, some glaciers in Himalayas are covered with a large amount of dark-colored biogenic material (cryoconite) derived from snow algae and bacteria (Kohshima et al., 1993; Takeuchi et al., 2001). The albedo of the intact surfaces bearing the cryoconite was substantially lower than that of the surface from which the cryoconite was artificially removed (5% versus 37%). The melting rates of the intact surfaces were reported to be 3 times larger than that of the surfaces without the cryoconite. Thus, snow algal activity possibly affects heat budget and mass balance of glaciers.” Department of Earth Sciences – Chiba University

Phytoplankton may influence Earth’s climate. A recent study used “a synergistic analysis of satellite observations (MODIS, SeaWiFS, AIRS, SSM/I and CERES)” to try to show that “dimethylsulfide (DMS) and isoprene emissions by marine phytoplankton” “into the atmosphere strongly influences cloud properties within a broad latitude belt in the Southern Hemisphere during the austral summer.” They “detected indirect aerosol effects over the Southern Ocean from 45°S to 65°S, especially in regions with plankton blooms, indicated by high chlorophyll-a concentration in seawater. The strong increase in cloud condensation nuclei column content from 2.0 × 108 to more than 5.0 × 108 CCN/cm2 for a chlorophyll increase from 0.3 to about 0.5 mg/m3 in these regions decreases cloud droplet effective radius and increases cloud optical thickness for water clouds. Consequently, the upward short-wave radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere increases.” There analysis found “reduced precipitation over the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone during strong plankton blooms.” Krüger and Graßl, Geophysical Research Letters, 2011

“Even small shear rates can increase backscattering from blooms of large phytoplankton by more than 30 percent,” said Roman Stocker, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT and lead author on a paper about this work. “This implies that fluid flow, which is typically neglected in models of marine optics, may exert an important control on light propagation, influencing the rates of carbon fixation and how we estimate these rates via remote sensing.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

10. Biology

“Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life.”


are the organisms (usually plants) that carry out photosynthesis;

to acquire energy. They use the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into organic materials to be utilized in cellular functions such as biosynthesis and respiration.” “In plants, algae, and cyanobacteria, photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide and water, releasing oxygen as a waste product.”


are “organisms that obtain carbon through Chemosynthesis;

are phylogenetically diverse, but groups that include conspicuous or biogeochemically-important taxa include the sulfur-oxidizing gamma and epsilon proteobacteria, the Aquificaeles, the Methanogenic archaea and the neutrophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria.”

Bacteria – TBD
Fungi – TBD
Protozoa – TBD
Chromista – TBD

Animal – Anthropogenic:
Carbon Dioxide;
contributes to the Greenhouse Effect;

influences the rate of plant growth ;


Nitrous Oxide
Icebreakers/Arctic Shipping/Fishing/Cruise-Line Transits
Land Use Changes

Urban Heat Islands
Run Off From Asphalt
Sewage/Wastewater Treatment Discharge
Fossil Fuel Energy Generation and Waste Heat
Nuclear Power Generation – Including Ships
Renewables – Wind Farms, Solar Arrays, Dams and Ethanol
“In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J=132,000 TWh). This is equivalent to an average energy consumption rate of 15 terawatts (1.504×1013 W).”
“Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life.”

“The basal metabolic rate of a human is about 1,300-1,500 kcal/day for an adult female and 1,600-1,800 kcal/day for an adult male.”

Animal – Non-Anthropogenic including
Beaver (Genus Castor)

11. Chemical
Fossil Fuels:
Oil shale
- Petroleum
- Mineral Oil
Tar Pits/Sands

Iron Fertilization “occurs naturally when upwellings bring nutrient-rich water to the surface, as occurs when ocean currents meet an ocean bank or a sea mount. This form of fertilization produces the world’s largest marine habitats. Fertilization can also occur when weather carries wind blown <a href=”“>dust long distances over the ocean, or iron-rich minerals are carried into the ocean by glaciers,[3] rivers and icebergs. Iron Fertilization can result from Geo-engineering;

- Forest Fires
- Fossil Fuels
- Methane


is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight.”


is the biological conversion of one or more carbon molecules (usually carbon dioxide or methane) and nutrients into organic matter using the oxidation of inorganic molecules (e.g. hydrogen gas, hydrogen sulfide) or methane as a source of energy, rather than sunlight, as in photosynthesis.”

Conversion of Methane, CO2, etc.

12. Physics

Variations in atmospheric and oceanic temperature can have significant impacts on Earth’s climate, including cloud cover, rainfall, Flora, Fauna, Ocean Circulation and Marine Biology. These variables can in turn affect Albedo and Transpiration.

Length of Day;

“The length of the day varies when any mass on or in the Earth moves, affecting the state of its angular momentum. Take weather in the atmosphere, for instance. The seasonal changes in the trade winds and monsoons have a well-known effect on the length-of-day over the course of the year. The IERS calculates the angular momentum of the whole atmosphere every six hours, allowing the signal of large-scale weather systems to be detected.

The tides of the ocean have the long-term effect of slowing the Earth down and speeding up the Moon (which thus moves away from Earth a few centimeters per year). They also have short-term effects that are being modeled more accurately all the time. Changes in ocean currents change the length-of-day. Our computer models of ocean circulation are getting good enough, thanks to centimeter-precise measurements of the sea surface, that we can analyze this signal too. The National Earth Orientation Service has a page explaining this stuff in clear detail. (These are also the people who announce leap seconds.)

Other factors affecting the LOD data include rises and subsidences of the land surface, the buildup of glaciers, large earthquakes, large-scale pumping of groundwater and construction of reservoirs, and the shape of the ocean’s surface in response to air masses above it.

Each of these can be estimated and their signals extracted from the raw data, untangling the many mixed threads of information in the LOD record. One by one, the sources of variation can be determined and subtracted out, leaving another level to be analyzed.

The last level of variation, a slow drift on the decade scale, seems to be related to the motion of liquid iron in the Earth’s core. This layer allows the solid inner core to rotate freely with respect to the outer mantle and crust. Thus every twist and torque exerted by the atmosphere, oceans, Moon, Sun, other planets and the rest of the universe stirs that inner iron ocean, affecting the great dynamo that drives the Earth’s magnetic field.”

In this paper, “Are Changes in the Earth’s Rotation Rate Externally Driven and Do They Affect Climate?”, by Ian R. G. Wilson, the General Science Journal, 2011, “evidence is presented to show that the phases of two of the Earth’s major climate systems, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), are related to changes in the Earth’s rotation rate. We find that the winter NAO index depends upon the time rate of change of the Earth’s length of day (LOD). In addition, we find that there is a remarkable correlation between the years where the phase of the PDO is most positive and the years where the deviation of the Earth’s LOD from its long-term trend is greatest.”

In this paper, “On the correlation between air temperature and the core Earth processes: Further investigations using a continuous wavelet analysis” by Stefano Sello, Mathematical and Physical Models, 2011

The authors main results are: ”…the detection of a broadband variability centered at 78 yr (common variability ranges from 67 to 86 yr from SSA method). Oscillations in global temperatures with periods in the 65-70 yr are well known. Our work suggests that the same core processes that are known to affect Earth’s rotation and magnetic field may also contribute to the excitation of such modes, possibly through geomagnetic modulation of near-Earth charged particle fluxes that may influence cloud nucleation processes, and hence the planetary albedo, on regional as well as global scales.”


States of Matter

Heat Conduction


Thermal Radiation



13. Known unknowns
Non-Equilibrium Pattern Systems, aka “nonlinear pattern formation in far-from-equilibrium dissipative systems” and “pattern formation in dissipative systems” “The spontaneous formation of spatio-temporal patterns can occur when a stationary state far from thermodynamic equilibrium is maintained through the dissipation of energy that is continuously fed into the system. While for closed systems the second law of thermodynamics requires relaxation to a state of maximal entropy, open systems are able to interchange matter and energy with their environment. By taking up energy of higher value (low entropy) and delivering energy of lower value (high entropy) they are able to export entropy, and thus to spontaneously develop structures characterized by a higher degree of order than present in the environment.” PhD thesis – “Controlling turbulence and pattern formation in chemical reaction” Matthias Bertram,

Examples of this effect can be seen in the following examples of Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reactions:

Phil Salmon argues in this article;

that ENSO is a Non-Equilibrium Pattern System. “Of the class of known attractors of nonlinear oscillatory systems, the Lorenz and possibly Roessler attractors bear similarities to the attractor likely responsible for the alternating phases of La Nina and el Nino dominance that characterise the ENSO and constitute the PDO.” Here are several visualizations of Pacific Ocean Temperatures:

Infinite Iterations

14. Unknown unknowns

A lot of other things.

General summaries of the potential variables involved in Earth’s climate system;
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ten Perplexing Reasons on: January 19, 2012, 11:42:33 AM
10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free
Published 1, January 15, 2012    Academics , Columns , Congress , Constitutional Law , Free Speech , International , Media , Politics , Society , Supreme Court 295 Comments
Below is today’s column in the Sunday Washington Post.  The column addresses how the continued rollbacks on civil liberties in the United States conflicts with the view of the country as the land of the free.  If we are going to adopt Chinese legal principles, we should at least have the integrity to adopt one Chinese proverb: “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”  We seem as a country to be in denial as to the implications of these laws and policies.  Whether we are viewed as a free country with authoritarian inclinations or an authoritarian nation with free aspirations (or some other hybrid definition), we are clearly not what we once were.

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.

Assassination of U.S. citizens

President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)

Indefinite detention

Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While Sen. Carl Levin insisted the bill followed existing law “whatever the law is,” the Senate specifically rejected an amendment that would exempt citizens and the Administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal court. The Administration continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)

Arbitrary justice

The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)

Warrantless searches

The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)

Secret evidence

The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.

War crimes

The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)

Secret court

The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)

Immunity from judicial review

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)

Continual monitoring of citizens

The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. It is not defending the power before the Supreme Court — a power described by Justice Anthony Kennedy as “Orwellian.” (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)

Extraordinary renditions

The government now has the ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers — including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

These new laws have come with an infusion of money into an expanded security system on the state and federal levels, including more public surveillance cameras, tens of thousands of security personnel and a massive expansion of a terrorist-chasing bureaucracy.

Some politicians shrug and say these increased powers are merely a response to the times we live in. Thus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) could declare in an interview last spring without objection that “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, terrorism will never “surrender” and end this particular “war.”

Other politicians rationalize that, while such powers may exist, it really comes down to how they are used. This is a common response by liberals who cannot bring themselves to denounce Obama as they did Bush. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), for instance, has insisted that Congress is not making any decision on indefinite detention: “That is a decision which we leave where it belongs — in the executive branch.”

And in a signing statement with the defense authorization bill, Obama said he does not intend to use the latest power to indefinitely imprison citizens. Yet, he still accepted the power as a sort of regretful autocrat.

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

The indefinite-detention provision in the defense authorization bill seemed to many civil libertarians like a betrayal by Obama. While the president had promised to veto the law over that provision, Levin, a sponsor of the bill, disclosed on the Senate floor that it was in fact the White House that approved the removal of any exception for citizens from indefinite detention.

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

Washington Post (Sunday) January 15, 2012
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 19, 2012, 11:29:26 AM
slippery method of debate

Slippery?  I am asking you to provide facts and quotes.  I am striving for the opposite of slippery.

By excising a sentence fragment, ignoring the pieces, facts, and quotes I have provided, and then taking a high moral tone? Let me know how that works out.

That is exactly the ground I want to fight.  I want to go back and talk about the actual underlying science and work from there.  You seem to want to prove ad infinitum that it is difficult to quantify temperature changes on the earth and other large physical systems.  Why don't you go prove that boxers punch people in the face while you are at it?

What a silly comparison. When a punch lands there is a concrete result, which is why I prefer sparring to internet debate as when I smack someone there is an immediate impact disingenuous debate does not alter. They can then claim that concrete result should not be taken at face value, but the welt remains. Where AGW is concerned, alas, the books are cooked, the single variable most latch on to has failed to produce applicable, replicable results despite hyperventilation unprecedented in science, and exclusive focus on that variable has eclipsed myriad other factors impacting heating/cooling/climate/whatever, while anyone who points out the nekid emperor aspects of this foolishness is called mean names.  I understand you want to thrum on IR absorption rate of CO2, but doesn't the complexity of the various systems and the impact of the near exclusive focus on the single variable have critical places in the conversation? Or are we only allowed to tangle on the ground you have staked out?

Ocean acidification is a separate and worthy discussion.  Let me know if you want to have it.  I'm currently working on a nitrification water treatment plant and the relevant bacteria do not shrug off minor pH changes.  They go dormant.  Not all organisms behave the same way.  I personally don't take a cavalier attitude towards poorly understood systems.

And what precisely is this mild form of carbonic acid that you are referring to?  CO2 is known to dissolve in water.  Not exactly a great mystery.  But if I want to know the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere I don't go grab the Encyclopedia Brittanica and start researching photosynthesis.  I just grab an oxygen meter and and take a measurement.  So again, I fail to understand why you are talking about KNOWN CO2 sinks when I can simply look at the old number and then look at the current number.  Do you want to talk about predicting future CO2 concentrations?  If so, what you are talking about is of relevance.  I didn't realize we were trying to figure that out.

I'm a lay cave scientist, hence my fascination with carbonic acid infiltration of sandstone microlineaments in Karst formations. We cavers have a really lame joke:

Q: What's worse than caving w/ a geologist?

A: Caving w/ two geologists.

The joke doesn't have to be explained to cavers or most scientists: the only thing worse that spending 12 to 30 hours underground with a droning know-it-all is doing the same with two know-it-alls who argue interminably about every aspect of cave geology. And that experience isn't unique to caving or geology: there is vigorous, conflicting debate in just about every branch of science, except the newly minted branch of climate science where unanimity is demanded and, as evidenced by the Climategate emails, schemed for in a manner that would make Madam Defarge proud.

Be that as it may, I will cede that your science training is likely far more formal than mine, and were I silly enough to fight on that ground I'd likely take a drubbing. That does not mean, however, that I have to accept the premise that rising CO2 levels are causing warming many vocal folks consider catastrophic, particularly as there are so many articulate "deniers" better trained than I taking issue with that premise, with many of those pieces being posted here. In view of the trillions of dollars AGW remediation would cost, the dubious results that remediation would likely bring, and the energy and development strangling politics embraced by many on the left who just so happen to be big AGW boosters, I think there is plenty of reason to question the unanimity this infant discipline pretends.

An aside: I note you embrace DBMA affectations, but don't appear to have much of a handle on its ethos. I expect Marc will chime in if I veer too far from my lane, but as I understand it he likes his discussion sites to be extensions of the tribe strengthening through progressive, realistic contact ethic he favors on the martial arts side of the house. What I've seen in this thread doesn't much reflect that, having a much more traditional martial arts flavor instead: in a horse stance with fists on the hip you marched across the floor throwing IR absorption rate of CO2 punches. Physics theory gets raised and replied to with snap kicks marching the other way. It becomes more convenient to talk about laws of physics so things switch over to outer crescents thrown as the mat is crossed again. Scintillating stuff.

Looks to me like you want to maneuver folks on to very specific scientific ground you have staked out upon which you can recreationally beat them to jelly with the tools you've been trained in, knowing they haven't the same skill set. Whatever floats your boat, I guess, but I suspect that's not the way Crafty wants business conducted around here. I'm certainly not stupid enough to tangle on your terms on your turf and think there are enough credible sources cited on these pages and elsewhere challenging CO2 doomsaying there is very little point in recapitulation.

I do have strong suspicions, however, that scientists with political ends and politicians in need of scientific means have found a window amid the current interglacial interlude during which they can present a non-falsifiable scenario meant to stampede the unwashed masses toward their authoritarian ends. Think one side of the debate had a lot in common with Trofim Lysenko, Piltdown Man, Pons and Fleischmann, Michael Bellesiles, et al, that it's not very difficult to identify where those commonalities lie, and that you can only cry "wolf" while the sky is falling so many times before the doomstruck message loses its thrall. If you'd like to engage on that topic in lay terms, by all means, bring it.

And this is the discussion that we WOULD have had if you had bothered to look at the underlying science.  BTW water vapor is already fully accounted for and is the reason why this planet is livable.  Thanks water.  CO2 seems to be changing hence the interest.

Yeah, "settled science" as they just get the tools to study the effect of cosmic rays on cloud formation. All roads lead to the carbon dioxide fetish, I guess.

I want you to provide a quotation indicating that someone thinks that CO2 is the only reason why the climate is changing.  That is the quote, or something close to it, that I want.  You seem to think that these scientists completely discount all other reasons why the climate could be changing.  Well if one of them truly said it, then you should be able to provide that quotation.  And way to pick a movie made by a non-scientist to prove a point and then not even provide a relevant quote.  BTW I have never seen the movie in question so you will have to get me a quote from it to make your point.

The fight I am picking is with the settled science crowd that has been echoed by the media and exploited by Al Gore. You seem to be a member of that crowd, except when it's expedient to disavow them. Are you seriously suggesting that CO2 doomsaying has not been hyped by scientists to the media to ends that are dubious at best?

As that may be, don't ask the question if you don't want it answered, particularly as you'd have to be living under a rock not to have been bombarded by "global warming is gonna doom us all" foolishness.

Well I guess my education never ceases

And your non-responsivness knows few bounds. Don't change the terms of debate and I won't call you on it.

CO2 seems to be of particular interest to me and others because it is the variable that we have some control over.  Last time I checked we didn't much control over the amount of water vapor in the air, the wavelengths and intensity of sunlight, or the ability of various molecules to transmit or absorb various wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.

No foolin'? We capping volcanoes? Interdicting asteroid strikes? Ending wildfires? Interrupting Ice Ages and their impact on the CO2 cycle? Who knew?

PS: I did indeed misremember the ocean acidification factor: it was 1.4 molars. More details here:
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Whacking the Whistleblowers on: January 19, 2012, 08:36:51 AM
Inside President Obama's War On The Fast & Furious Whistleblowers

Image by Getty Images Europe via @daylife

Legal Dictionary: Whistleblower: an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law-enforcement agency and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation

Slang Dictionary: Whistleblower: n. 
someone who calls a halt to something; an informer; an enforcer; a stool (pigeon): I don’t know who the whistle-blower was, but a good time was really ruined.

The synonyms gives for “whistleblower” are even less charitable than the word’s definition: canary, nark, rat, snake, snitch, squealer, stoolie, tattletale, weasel…. But none of these labels seem harsh enough to federal bureaucrats. They’ve left whistleblowers in legal limbo; they’ve barred whistleblowers from offices and forced others to transfer to backwater districts; they’ve mined records to publically disparage at least one recently (more on him in a moment); they’ve deemed a few to be “traitors” and had them shunned by colleagues … and this is just the beginning of what they’ve been doing to the few courageous squealers who exposed Operation Fast and Furious, the once-secret operation that, by design mind you, let thousands of guns “walk” from U.S. gun stores to the arsenals of Mexican drug cartels.

To find what is being done to protect these and other government whistleblowers, I sat down with Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). He’s the Obama administration’s gadfly on this topic. Grassley was one of the original authors of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. Thanks to this legislation, if authorities in a federal agency take (or threaten to take) retaliatory action against a whistleblower, then they’ve broken the law. Nevertheless, the bureaucrats who often make life difficult for whistleblowers have had little to fear from this law.

The quasi-judicial agency that adjudicates government whistleblower complaints (called the Merit Systems Protection Board) uses appointed judges to hear whistleblower cases. These judges have more often than not sided with the government; in fact, since 2000, this board has ruled in favor of whistleblowers only about 5 percent of the time (just three times in 56 cases) according to a Government Accountability Project study.

Senator Grassley has criticized this board for allowing the federal bureaucracy to have its revenge on those who uncover corruption. More recently, he’s been working to update the Whistleblower Protection Act and he’s written multiple letters to Attorney General Eric Holder telling him not to punish whistleblowers.

As Senator Grassley is clearly passionate about this topic, I said, “Just speak your mind Senator Grassley. Don’t let me stop you.”

He smiled warmly and leaned over his Capitol Hill desk as he said, “Whistleblowing ruins people professionally. I’d say there’s more retaliation out there than you and I know about. Because of this, though people want to do right, by golly they can’t because they know they’re going to get hurt. This is why I’ve always advised presidents, going back to President Ronald Reagan, that we need a Rose Garden ceremony celebrating a whistleblower now and then. That way they’d know there is some support for standing up against corruption.”

Senator Grassley then pointed out that the first whistleblower to come forward about Fast and Furious (ATF Agent John Dodson) had recently been attacked by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). According to Senator Grassley, “Someone in the Justice Department leaked a document to the press along with talking points in an attempt to smear [Dodson.]” The letter insinuated that Dodson went rogue and started a gun-walking operation on his own. This was easy to prove false; however, if Republicans hadn’t taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2010 election (meaning an opposing political party wouldn’t have had the power to do an investigation) then Dodson would have been left dangling in these political winds, as records giving the complete picture would likely not have been available.

Senator Grassley pointed out that the documents DOJ released to smear Dodson were actually supposed to be so sensitive that the DOJ wouldn’t provide them to congressional investigators. But then, to harm a whistleblower, someone from the DOJ provided these specifically selected documents to the press. In fact, the name of the criminal suspect in the documents was redacted, but Agent Dodson’s name was left for all to see. “This looks like a clear and intentional violation of the Privacy Act as well as an attempt at whistleblower retaliation,” said Grassley.

In a subsequent letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Grassley said, “In a private phone conversation with me, you already told me that someone has been held accountable for this. But your staff refused to provide my staff with any details. Who was held accountable and how?”

No one at DOJ is known to have been held accountable for this attack on Dodson. Meanwhile, the whistleblowers who blew the top off Fast and Furious are paying the price.

Agent John Dodson, after nearly a year of harassment, including being given menial assignments and being barred from areas of the ATF building in Phoenix, is in the process of trying to sell his home in Arizona so he can transfer to South Carolina.
Agent Larry Alt transferred to Florida. He still has unresolved legal claims against the ATF.
Agent Pete Forcelli was demoted to a desk job after he testified before Congress. He has requested an internal investigation to address retaliation targeting him.
Agent James Casa took a transfer to Florida.
Agent Carlos Canino, who was a deputy attache in Mexico City, was moved to Tucson.
Meanwhile the officials who went along with the operation and its subsequent cover up have mostly been rewarded. “These transfers/reassignments have never been described as promotions in any of the documents announcing them,” said an ATF statement after journalists noted that those who didn’t become whistleblowers profited from their silence. The ATF says that because these officials pay didn’t go up they weren’t promoted; however, in many cases their titles and positions have inarguably been enhanced.

Former Acting ATF Chief Ken Melson, after refusing to be a scapegoat for this operation, became an adviser in the Office of Legal Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Acting Deputy Director Billy Hoover is now the special agent in charge of the D.C. office.
Deputy Director for Field Operations William McMahon—he’d received detailed briefings Fast and Furious—is now at the ATF’s Office of Internal Affairs.
Former Special Agent in Charge of Phoenix William Newell—he oversaw Fast and Furious and lied by saying guns hadn’t been allowed to go south of the border—is now at the Office of Management in Washington, D.C.
Phoenix Deputy Chief George Gillette is now in to Washington, D.C., as ATF’s liaison to the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
ATF Group Supervisor David Voth—he managed Fast and Furious out of the Phoenix office—is now in a management position in Washington, D.C.
Agent Hope McCallister—she had management duties on the team that ran Fast and Furious—was given a “Lifesaving Award” after it came to light she’d ordered agents to stop tailing suspects who the ATF had allowed to buy guns.
In light of all of this, Senator Grassley pivoted and said, “With regards to Operation Fast and Furious, we want the person at the highest level of government who approved Fast and Furious to be fired. We want justice for Brian Terry’s family—they still don’t know what happened that night when Brian was killed. And we want to know that this stupid program will never happen again.”

Then Senator Grassley highlighted a related issue that hasn’t made the headlines. This issue puts the politics behind the cover up of Fast and Furious in perspective. In November internal documents showed that the DOJ was considering changing existing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations (this is a process that allows citizens to seek and obtain unclassified documents) to allow agencies responding to a FOIA request to answer the person by saying “no records exist,” even if the records do, in fact, exist. This way when someone makes a request for government documents, the agency would be able to fib and thereby work to discourage other such requests. The idea was that agencies could do this whenever someone requested a document that the law allows the government to keep from the public, such one that has a “top-secret” rating.

“They were giving themselves a license to legally lie,” Senator Grassley deadpanned. “This was supposed to be the most transparent administration we’ve ever seen. Well, they’re not.”

After Senator Grassley’s staff made this attempt to give themselves a “license to legally lie” public the DOJ was “so embarrassed they withdrew the proposal right away,” said Senator Grassley.

So whistleblowers who’d been ordered to let guns “walk” in Operation Fast and Furious—and those federal employees who find themselves in other misguided programs or corruption—either can keep their mouths shut or they can come forward and be crushed by the bureaucracy as they attempt to reform the system. This isn’t a decision citizens in a country with the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Bill of Rights should have to contend with.

Just when did the federal bureaucracy get so strong that it lost its fear of the people? Just when did the people become more afraid of the bureaucracy? Given the gauntlet whistleblowers now face, it isn’t surprising that Americans have become cynical about Washington; however, perhaps instead of deciding all politicians are tainted, we should instead realize it’s the growing bureaucratic swamp that needs to be drained.

In fact, saying all of Washington’s politicians are corrupt is too convenient a philosophy; such fashionable cynicism can even be self-fulfilling, as deciding all politicians are crooked doesn’t allow a Senator Grassley, for example, to now and then be a shining example of what a statesman should be.

This article is available online at:
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Global Cheeseification on: January 19, 2012, 08:32:29 AM
Third post

Daren Jonescu: Global Warming: The Evidence is Endless

Wednesday, January 18th 2012, 9:46 AM EST Co2sceptic (Site Admin)

If I believed the Earth was slowly turning into cheddar cheese, I could invoke this theory to explain a lot of things. Why is the rat population in our major cities growing so quickly? Earth cheesification is providing more rat food. Why have there been so many earthquakes lately? The cheesification of the tectonic plates has made them less resistant to sudden shifts. Why are glaciers melting? The freezing point of cheddar cheese is lower than that of water; as the Earth at the poles undergoes cheesification, the unfrozen cheese is causing a slight warming of the ice sheets from below, resulting in unusual levels of melting.

I could go on like this for a long time, I suppose. At some point, however, you would confront me with some natural fact that I could not logically account for by means of my cheese theory. In other words, even the greatest faith in this underlying assumption could never withstand all possible evidence.

If, however, we could devise a theory that might literally be able to repel absolutely any possible counterevidence, then we would have accomplished something truly diabolical: an unfalsifiable theory. If we could indeed devise such a theory, then we could run wild explaining anything and everything, and absorb absolutely any eventuality, without ever needing to question our faith in the underlying hypothesis.

Then we would be at liberty to publish headlines such as this: “Research suggests warmer summers could be causing colder winters.” This conjecture, brought to you via the magical theory of global climate change, is reported as though it is the most plausible explanation of the peculiar fact that Canadian winters do not appear to be getting any warmer.

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Question you aren’t supposed to ask: Why is the non-warming of recent winters a peculiar fact in need of an explanation? After all, did anyone in the past harbor any presumption that winters ought to be getting warmer? Why should they? The difference, of course, is that in the age of global warming, everyone is supposed to know, beyond any doubt, that the Earth is indeed getting significantly warmer. Thus, every time someone casually observes that the weather is pretty chilly, or that there has been a lot of snow, all hearers in the room look at their hands awkwardly, smirk bemusedly, or display some other symptom of that feeling familiar to anyone who has had to face doubts about a deeply held religious belief: “But this just can’t be true, because if it is, then my world is about to crumble.”

The world of anthropogenic global climate change crumbled a long time ago

The world of anthropogenic global climate change crumbled a long time ago. That, in fact, is why we have a theory called “anthropogenic global climate change” in the first place. Thirty-five years ago, it was called global cooling. When the temperature records made minced meat of that “theory,” it was put on ice for a few years, as it were. Finally, on the principle that if you can’t beat Mother Nature, you must join her, the wizards who brought us global cooling conveniently revised their models to prove beyond any doubt that the newly discovered global warming trend was a man-made phenomenon. Then, around 1998, the temperature records began to flat-line. Carbon dioxide, the Enemy, was reaching ever-higher levels in the atmosphere; and yet it was no longer having the desired – er, I mean “anticipated” – effect of warming the planet as it should (oops, I mean “as the models predicted”).

For several years, the global crusaders against carbon dioxide mocked, ridiculed, and/or ignored anyone who dared to ask why, if rising CO2 levels cause global warming, temperatures were not rising at accelerating rates, as CO2 levels continued to rise exponentially. Oh, but temperatures are indeed rising, the faithful said. In fact, each year, they produced annual temperature record analyses, garnered through the official scientific records center, the UN, showing that that year had been the warmest ever recorded. Then, a little later, some fine print would appear somewhere explaining how the report had slightly overestimated the warming for the year in question.

Hedging their bets, the global warmers began offering arguments to account for the stalled warming trend, even while they continued to deny that the trend had stalled – a method equivalent to saying, “I didn’t kill my wife, but if I did, it was in self-defense.” Their main argument was a condescending appeal to the big picture that the skeptics were allegedly too narrow-minded to see: Global temperature change, they said, is a process that develops over a very long period of time. Therefore, they harrumphed, claiming that a broader trend has ceased because temperatures have not changed for a few years shows an unscientific short-sightedness.

Of course, if one were to accept this bet-hedging argument, one could turn it back on the global warmers: Eighty years can hardly be called a “big picture,” in planetary terms. The Earth is believed to be more than four billion years old. If five years without warming is too short a period to call a trend, then why is eighty years of net warming a long enough period to call a trend? From the point of view of four billion years, eighty looks an awful lot like five, does it not? (To be precise, as a percentage of four billion, 5 is 0.000000125%, while 80 is 0.000002%.) So how sure can we be that the period during which this unnatural warming is alleged to have happened is a long enough period to indicate a “long-term trend”? Will they be forced back to frightening us about global cooling again in twenty years?

Perhaps dimly recognizing this little problem, the global warming advocates – um, I mean “researchers” – finally hit upon the perfect modification of their theory, namely to say that it doesn’t matter what happens to the temperature; the cause, in any case, is man. Thus, along about the middle of this century’s first decade, we suddenly had John Kerry and Hillary Clinton exiting a Senate hearing and taking to the microphones to discuss “global climate change.” No one officially announced this name change, of course. It just sort of happened. And with it came the lovely new premise that what our CO2 emissions are causing is neither warming nor cooling, per se, but rather “change.” “What kind of change?” you ask. Invalid question. Just “change.” Change from what? From some previous year’s “climate”? From some objective standard of what would have happened “naturally,” had we icky humans not spewed the by-product of so much life-sustaining productivity into Gaia’s aura? It makes little difference; no need to fuss about what exactly the “changers” are claiming is changing, since the particular changes that might occur from here on out are of no consequence to the theory. Any change will do – including no change at all, which can also be interpreted as a change, if you tilt your head a bit to one side.

The unanimous, settled scientists and their masters, the unanimous, settled proponents of global governance, have continued to act as though they still want you to accept that temperatures are rising every year, ice caps are shrinking, polar bears are drowning, and so on. “Global climate change” is, for most practical purposes, still “global warming.” This is necessary, since global regulation requires global panic, and it would be much more difficult to stir panic over the idea – which is, officially, the theory of the moment – that “temperatures, and their effects, may or may not change in one way or another over any given period of time.”

Global warming is indispensable as a political tool, even if it can only be preserved through a fuzzy bait-and-switch operation with global climate change

Global warming is indispensable as a political tool, even if it can only be preserved through a fuzzy bait-and-switch operation with global climate change. Nevertheless, the name change provided good backside protection. “Global climate change” takes a perfectly good bit of crackpot neo-religiosity and elevates it to the level of unfalsifiable pseudo-theory – unfalsifiable, as in nothing you could possibly present to the nutters by way of facts can ever be evidence to the contrary. Why not? Because there is no contrary.

If cooling, warming, and stasis are all evidence of anthropogenic global climate change, then science has finally followed the rest of the modern world into that realm of inescapable self-incrimination dubbed the Kafkaesque. We are guilty of global climate change. There is no proof. There is not even anyone to talk to by way of defending ourselves. Having been inexplicably accused, we will simply be sent on a dreamlike quest through a never-ending maze of inhuman obfuscation until, gradually, we come to accept that the accusation against us must be true, or else it would not have been made. At this point, we must desire our own demise, as the only “just” resolution, given the undefined crimes of which we have convicted ourselves.

At last, as the fight to defend global warming reached fever pitch over some e-mails seeming to discuss evidence-alteration – remember, this defense of warming took place years after the official line was that it didn’t matter whether the temperature was rising or not – one of the main players in the scandal, and one of the most prominent and respected defenders of the cause-without-any-definable-effect, stepped forward to concede that there has been no warming since 1995. When asked whether he thought natural causes could account for the warming from 1975-1998, and if so, to what extent, he answered, “This area is slightly outside my area of expertise. When considering changes over this period we need to consider all possible factors (so human and natural influences as well as natural internal variability of the climate system).”

So let’s get this straight: Dr. Phil Jones, one of the world’s foremost authorities on global climate change, says that the question of the possibility and degree of natural climate influences is outside of his area of expertise. Translation: I don’t do climate change; I do man-made climate change. His expertise is in trying to show the existence of an influence on climate that no one prior to 1970 thought was possible, and he thinks that looking at other influences which everyone has always known were real is outside of his area. In other words, looking at known facts of nature would get in the way of his career-advancing conjectures, so, as a matter of professional policy, he doesn’t look at them.

Notice that when Jones lists “all possible factors” of warming from 1975-1998, he lists “human influences” first, as though this were the obvious first place to look for an explanation of a variation in global temperatures over a 23-year period – as though no 23-year period has ever shown a variation in temperatures before. His default assumption is the furthest one from common sense, namely that humans did it.

Likewise, in our latest contribution to unfalsifiability, in which cold winters have been interpreted as a symptom of global warming – in spite of the fact that until recently, the party line was to deny that winters are still cold at all – the research project undertaken to reach this conclusion is described this way: “Cohen and his co-authors began by asking themselves why winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere aren’t going up as quickly as in the spring, summer and fall.” Once again, the default assumption is anthropogenic global warming. The task the researchers set for themselves was to explain away falsifying evidence. For example, why were they not trying to explain how the cold winters might be causing warmer summers? Because the paradigm they are working in demands that all apparent exceptions to global warming be explained away. Thirty-five years ago, they would indeed have been making the opposite argument, in order to salvage global cooling.

Recently, a former Korean student of mine made a typical unquestioning reference to global warming. Constitutionally averse to letting smart people say stupid things, I briefly offered some of the usual arguments against anthropogenic climate change. My student answered, diplomatically, that the issue seemed to be a “mystery,” but that as she was unable to verify my facts in her first language, and as so many intelligent people were working on this issue at the UN, she was obliged to stick to her position. In other words, she was assuming, as we are all meant to do, that the burden of proof is on the “denier.”

I asked her this question: If I went to the police and told them you were a murderer, should they arrest you? Why not? Because we put the burden of proof on the accuser, which is to say, on the person proposing something that falls outside of normal assumptions. Why do we do the opposite with man-made global climate change?

Daren Jonescu has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He currently teaches English language and philosophy at Changwon National University in South Korea. He can be reached at
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / China Proxies on: January 19, 2012, 08:30:06 AM
Second post.

A Summary of Climate Change over the Past Millennium in China
Zhou, XJ. 2011. The characteristics and regularities of the climate change over the past millennium in China. Chinese Science Bulletin 56: 2985.
The author - who is with the State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences in Beijing - writes in an introductory editorial in a special issue of the Chinese Science Bulletin (October 2011) that "research on global climate change has been at the frontier of the contemporary sciences," and within this context he further states that "debate has focused on whether the greenhouse effect produced by human activities is a major factor responsible for modern climate warming."

What was done
Zhou reports that "in 2009, the major project 'Research on tree-ring and millennium climate change in China' was implemented under the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China." Noting that eight articles published in this special issue of the Bulletin "present partly preliminary results obtained by the project over the past two years," he then goes on to summarize, in the broadest possible sense, their findings.

What was learned
In the words of Zhou, the eight articles "reveal some characteristics and regularities of changes in temperature and precipitation in China and in East Asian monsoons over the past 1000 years," and he says that "notable conclusions," of which he lists only two, are that (1) "temperatures in the Medieval Warm Period are comparable to those in the current warm period over China," and (2) "the effect of solar activity on climate cannot be neglected in any period of the millennium."

What it means
These two findings stand in stark contrast to what is generally claimed by the world's climate alarmists, which is no small matter, as they apply to a significant portion of the planet. Hence, they should give everyone reason to reconsider the climate-alarmist claim that modern warming has been unprecedented over the past millennium or more, which claim is also refuted by many additional scientific studies described in our Medieval Warm Period Project.
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