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 51 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uplifting Responses on: November 07, 2012, 08:08:24 AM QuoteDick 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.QuoteAll 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." QuoteSo, 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.QuoteWhat 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. QuoteWhat 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.QuoteWhat 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. QuoteIs 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.QuoteWhat 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.  52 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:http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/benghazi-blunder-obama-unworthy-commander-in-chief-176736441.html  53 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Department of Departments Department on: November 01, 2012, 12:40:47 PM Department of Cronyismfrom Reason Magazine by David HarsanyiYou 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?http://reason.com/archives/2012/11/01/department-of-cronyism
 54 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:http://nationalreviewonline.tumblr.com/post/34722632643/honoring-michael-manns-nobel-prize-to-mark
 55 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 guestsWomen and children perish in Eastern Province after celebratory gunfire brings down power line, local media say.Last Modified: 31 Oct 2012 12:33Women 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.http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/10/2012103192352586941.html
 56 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH on Benghazi on: October 30, 2012, 10:57:36 AM The Wages of LibyaBy Victor Davis HansonOctober 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.http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/332001/wages-libya-victor-davis-hanson?pg=2
 57 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Armed & Unionized on: October 26, 2012, 11:56:27 AM Police Union Intimidates California City Councilfrom Reason Magazine by Steven GreenhutMany 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.http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/26/police-union-intimidates-california-city
 58 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 Stockpilefrom Danger Room by Noah ShachtmanA U.S. Army chemical weapons crew takes samples from an M55 rocket. Photo: U.S. ArmyThe 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.PopoutExactly 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.http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/syria-chemical-weapons-2/
 59 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: http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=766615&version=769489&application=ACROBAT
 60 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 Electionfrom Reason Magazine by Andrew NapolitanoThe 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.http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/25/why-obamas-actions-in-libya-should-cost
 61 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Flip Off the Big Bird on: October 24, 2012, 07:27:51 PM Big BirdPosted by John Stossel | October 24, 2012 Print Email Share 0 CommentsTweetGive 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.http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/stossel/blog/2012/10/24/big-bird
 62 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 agofrom Watts Up With That? by Anthony WattsUPDATE: There’s a response from the Met Office hereA report in the UK Daily Mail reveals a Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it:By David RoseThe figures reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012 there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperaturesThis means that the ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996The 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: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2217286/Global-warming-stopped-16-years-ago-reveals-Met-Office-report-quietly-released–chart-prove-it.html#ixzz29E78OR9Hh/t to reader “Dino”regarding the significance of the period from 1997, recall that Dr. Ben Santer claimed 17 years was the period needed:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/17/ben-santers-17-year-itch/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 nostatistically significant warming since 1995.Bob Tisdale did a 17 and 30 year trend comparison hereHere’s the HADCRUT4 4.1.1. datasethttp://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/13/report-global-warming-stopped-16-years-ago/
 63 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.
 64 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Failure Graph on: October 12, 2012, 01:10:21 PM
 65 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 Herfrom Cato @ Liberty by Michael F. CannonBy Michael F. CannonSecretary 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 Bloghttp://www.cato-at-liberty.org/why-sebelius-campaigns-so-hard-for-her-boss-and-why-he-wont-fire-her/
 66 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 DenseIt’s time to stop wasting land and resources in the name of environmentalism.JIM RICHARDSON/CORBISThe 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.http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_1_environmentalism.html  67 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 WattsThe 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).rgbhttp://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/12/earths-baseline-black-body-model-a-damn-hard-problem/  68 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 CompiledPosted on January 21, 2012 by justthefactswuwtBy 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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotational_energyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_rotationhttp://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/6h.htmlresults in day and night;http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_does_rotation_cause_day_and_nightcauses the Coriolis Effect;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effectimparts Planetary Vorticity on the oceans;http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter12/chapter12_01.htmand manifests as Ocean Gyres;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_gyrethe Antarctic Circumpolar Current;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Circumpolar_Currenthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Conveyor_belt.svgArctic Ocean Circulation;http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455&tid=441&cid=47170&ct=61&article=20727http://www.john-daly.com/polar/flows.jpgcan result in the formation of Polynya;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynyaand causes the Equatorial Bulge:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equatorial_bulgeEarth’s Rotational Energy influences Atmospheric Circulation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_circulationincluding the Jet Stream;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_streamWesterlies;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WesterliesTradewinds;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_windGeostrophic Wind;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geostrophic_windSurface Currents;http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/ocean_currents.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_currentthrough Ekman Transport;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekman_transporthttp://oceanmotion.org/html/background/ocean-in-motion.htmRosby Waves;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rossby_wavewhich “are principally responsible for the Brewer-Dobson circulation”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewer-Dobson_circulationhttp://www.ccpo.odu.edu/~lizsmith/SEES/ozone/class/Chap_6/6_4.htmTropical Cyclones;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclonepossibly Tornadoes;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornadohowever, Windows To The Universe states that, “because there are records of anticyclonic tornadoes, scientists don’t think that the Coriolis Effect causes the rotations.”;http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/tornado/formation.htmland Polar Vortices;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_vortexhttp://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/polar-vortex/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.”http://www.universetoday.com/973/what-venus-and-saturn-have-in-common/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:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudden_stratospheric_warminghttp://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36972Earth’s Rotational Energy influences Plate Tectonics;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.http://www.livescience.com/9313-earth-core-rotates-faster-surface-study-confirms.htmlThe surface movement is called plate tectonics. It involves the shifting of about a dozen major plates and is what causes most earthquakes”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EarthquakeVolcanoes;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanoand Mountain Formation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_formationwhich can influence the creation of Atmospheric Waves:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_waveLastly, Rotational Energy is the primary driver of Earth’s Dynamo;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamo_theorywhich generates Earth’s Magnetic Field;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_magnetic_fieldand is primarily responsible for the Earthy behaviors of the Magnetosphere;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetospherewith certain secular variations in Earth’s magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation;http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/090622-earths-core-dynamo.htmlhttp://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/11/6/063015/fulltextthough 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.”http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/30/earths-climate-system-is-ridiculously-complex-with-draft-link-tutorial/#comment-707971Earth Core Changes:http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/42580appear “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 changesinfluence the Magnetosphere;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetosphereincluding movement of the Geomagnetic Poles:http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/GeomagneticPoles.shtmlhttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091224-north-pole-magnetic-russia-earth-core.htmlAlso of note, “Over millions of years, [Earth's] rotation is significantly slowed by gravitational interactions with the Moon: see tidal acceleration.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_lengthEarth’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.”http://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae695.cfm“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.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_rotation2. Orbital Energy, Orbital Period, Elliptical Orbits (Eccentricity), Tilt (Obliquity) and Wobble (Axial precession):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_orbital_energyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synodichttp://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/6h.htmlcreates Earth’s seasons;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonwhich drives annual changes in Arctic Sea Ice;and Antarctic Sea Ice;the freezing and melting of which helps to drive the Thermohaline Circulation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulationand can result in the formation of Polynyas:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PolynyaEarth’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:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_forceThis Tidal Force is influenced by variations in Lunar Orbit;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbit_of_the_Moonas seen in the Lunar Phases;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_phaseLunar Precession;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_precessionLunar Node;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_nodeSaros cycles;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saros_cycleand Inex cycles:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InexThe combined cycles of the Saros and Inex Cycles can be visualized here:http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/image/SEpanoramaGvdB-big.JPGOver longer time frames changes to Earth’s orbit, tilt and wobble called Milankovitch cycles;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cyclesmay be responsible for the periods of Glaciation (Ice Ages);http://www.homepage.montana.edu/~geol445/hyperglac/time1/milankov.htmthat Earth has experienced for the last several million years of its climatic record:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_ageAlso of note, over very long time frames, “the Moon is spiraling away from Earth at an average rate of 3.8 cm per year”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_distance_%28astronomy%29http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=1243. Gravitation:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GravitationThe 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:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_forceThis tidal force results in that result in Earth’s Ocean Tide;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidehttp://www.themcdonalds.net/richard/astro/papers/602-tides-web.pdfAtmospheric Tide;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_tideEarth Tide;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_tideand Magma Tide:http://www.springerlink.com/content/h7005r0273703250/Earth’s Gravity;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convection#Gravitational_or_buoyant_convectionhttp://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=205in concert with Tidal Forces, influence Earth’s Ocean Circulation;http://www.eoearth.org/article/Ocean_circulationwhich influences Oceanic Oscillations including El Niño/La Niña;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Ni%C3%B1o-Southern_Oscillationthe Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Decadal_Oscillationthe Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Multidecadal_Oscillationthe Indian_Ocean_Dipole (IOD)/Indian Ocean Oscillation (IOO) and;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Ocean_Dipolecan result in the formation of Polynyas:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PolynyaGravity Waves;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_wavewhich may be partially responsible for the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasi-biennial_oscillation“on an air–sea interface are called surface gravity waves or Surface Waves”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface_wave“while internal gravity waves are called Inertial Waves”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertial_waves“Rosby Waves;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rossby_wavesGeostrophic Currentshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geostrophicand Geostrophic Windhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geostrophic_windare 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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics“The Slab Pull;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slab_pullforce 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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridge_pushforce 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.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IsostasyPlate Tectonics drive “cycles of ocean basin growth and destruction, known as Wilson cycles;http://csmres.jmu.edu/geollab/fichter/Wilson/Wilson.htmlinvolving continental rifting;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riftseafloor-spreading;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seafloor_spreadingsubduction;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subductionand collision.”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continental_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”;http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ice/chill.htmla process called the Supercontinent Cycle:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercontinent_cycleEarth’s gravity is responsible for Katabatic Wind:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katabatic_wind4. Solar Energy;;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_energyresults is Solar Radiation/Sunlight;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_radiationwhich varies based upon 11 and 22 year cycles:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycleTotal Solar Irradiance (TSI);http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/stp/solar/solarirrad.htmlappears 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”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variationSolar Energy also drives the Hydrological/Water Cycle;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrological_cyclewithin the Hydrosphere;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrosphereas Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) causes evaporation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evaporationthat drives Cloud formation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloudresults in Precipitation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precipitation_%28meteorology%29that results in the Water Distribution on Earth;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_distribution_on_Earthcreates surface Runoff;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runoff_%28water%29which result in Rivers;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverand drives Erosion:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ErosionSolar 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.”http://www.scienceclarified.com/As-Bi/Atmospheric-Circulation.htmlAtmospheric Circulation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_circulationincludes Hadley Cells;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadley_cellFerrel Cells;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_circulation#Ferrel_cellPolar Cells;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_cellsall of which help to create Wind;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windthat influence Surface Currents;http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/ocean_currents.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_currentthrough Ekman Transport;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekman_transporthttp://oceanmotion.org/html/background/ocean-in-motion.htmand also cause Langmuir circulationshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langmuir_circulationSolar energy drives the Brewer Dobson Circulation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewer-Dobson_circulationwhich influences Polar Vortices:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_vortexhttp://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/polar-vortex/Atmospheric Waves;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_waveincluding Atmospheric Tides;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_tideevaporation and condensation that may help to drive changes in Atmospheric Pressure:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_pressurehttp://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/24015/2010/acpd-10-24015-2010.pdfand Atmospheric Escape;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_escapeSolar Ultraviolet (UV) radiation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultravioletappears to vary by approximately 10% during the solar cycle;http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/solarcycle-sorce.htmlhas been hypothesized to influence Earth’s climate;http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/05/courtillot-on-the-solar-uv-climate-connection/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)http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/2008ScienceMeeting/doc/Session1/S1_03_Kopp.pdf 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.http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/05/courtillot-on-the-solar-uv-climate-connection/#comment-636477Additionally variations in Ultraviolet (UV) radiation may influence the break down of Methane;(Source TBD)Infrared Radiation;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InfraredSolar – Wind;http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/ast13dec99_1/Solar – Coronal Holes;http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/chole.htmlSolar – Solar Energetic Particles (SEP);http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/sep.htmlSolar – Coronal Mass Ejection;http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMF75BNJTF_index_0.htmlhttp://www.ratedesi.com/video/v/8AuCE_NNEaM/Sun-Erupts-to-Life-Unleashes-a-Huge-CME-on-13-April-2010Solar Magnetosphere Breach;Solar Polar Field Reversal;http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast15feb_1/Solar Sector Boundary;http://science.nasa.gov/heliophysics/focus-areas/magnetosphere-ionosphere/Grand Minimum;Leif Svalgaard says: February 6, 2011 at 8:26 pmIf 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:http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009RG000282.pdfStatistical issues about solar–climate relationshttp://www.leif.org/EOS/Yiou-565-2010.pdf5. Geothermal Energy;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energyinfluences Earth’s climate especially when released by Volcanoes;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcano“which are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divergent_boundaryor converging”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convergent_boundaryhowever, “intraplate volcanism has also been postulated to be caused by mantle plumes”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantle_plume“These so-called “hotspots”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotspot_%28geology%29for example Hawaii, are postulated to arise from upwelling diapirs;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diapirfrom the core-mantle boundary, 3,000 km deep in the Earth.”Volcanoes have been shown to influence Earth’s climate;http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/how_volcanoes_work/climate_effects.htmlhttp://www.longrangeweather.com/global_temperatures.htmincluding in the infamous Year Without a Summer;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summerwhich was partially caused by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1815_eruption_of_Mount_Tamboraand is called a Volcanic Winter:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_winter“Volcanic Ash;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_ashparticles have a maximum residence time in the troposphere of a few weeks.The finest Tephera;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tephraremain 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;”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_dioxide“In the cold lower atmosphere, it is converted to Sulfuric Acid;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfuric_acidsulfuric 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.”http://volcanology.geol.ucsb.edu/gas.htmThere 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.”http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016%3C3525%3AAGSOVE%3E2.0.CO%3B2#h1Geothermic Energy can also warm the atmosphere through Hot Springs;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_springsor warm the ocean through Hydrothermal Vents;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrothermal_ventwhich can be a factor in Hydrothermal Circulations:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrothermal_circulation6. Outer Space/Cosmic/Galactic Influences;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_spacehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmoshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxyincluding Asteroids;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AsteroidMeteorites;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteoriteand Comets;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cometcan all significantly impact Earth’s climate upon impact.It has been hypothesized that Galactic Cosmic Rays;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_cosmic_rayhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_raymodulated by Solar Wind, may influence cloud formation on Earth:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/04/a-link-between-the-sun-cosmic-rays-aerosols-and-liquid-water-clouds-appears-to-exist-on-a-global-scale/http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/24/breaking-news-cern-experiment-confirms-cosmic-rays-influence-climate-change/Galactic Magnetic Fields also result in the;http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Galactic_magnetic_fieldsGalactic Tide;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_tidewhich may influence the hypothesized Oort cloud;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.”http://www.space.com/1484-source-cosmic-dust.htmlIn 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.”http://www.etheric.com/GalacticCenter/Galactic.html7. Earth’s Magnetic Field;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_magnetic_fieldis primarily responsible for the Earthy behaviors of the Magnetosphere;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetospherewith certain secular variations in Earth’s magnetic field originating from ocean flow/circulation;http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/090622-earths-core-dynamo.htmlhttp://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/11/6/063015/fulltextthough 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.”http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/30/earths-climate-system-is-ridiculously-complex-with-draft-link-tutorial/#comment-707971http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_magnetic_fieldEarth Core Changes:http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/42580appear “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 changesinfluence the Magnetosphere;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetosphereincluding movement of the Geomagnetic Poles:http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/GeomagneticPoles.shtmlhttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091224-north-pole-magnetic-russia-earth-core.htmlAccording 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.”http://www.spacedaily.com/2006/090112183735.ojdq7esu.html“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.”http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/content/37/1/71.abstractAlso, according to the 2008 European Space Agency article;http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMQ8LKRQJF_index_0.html“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 Compositionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_EarthNitrogen (N2) represents approximately 780,840 ppmv or 78.084% of Earth’s Atmosphere;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NitrogenOxygen (O2) represents approximately 209,460 ppmv or 20.946%;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OxygenArgon (Ar) represents approximately 9,340 ppmv or 0.9340%;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArgonCarbon Dioxide (CO2) represents approximately 390 ppmv or 0.039%;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxidecontributes to the Greenhouse Effect;http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_1.htmand influences the rate of Plant Growth;http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/CO2plants.htmNeon (Ne) represents approximately18.18 ppmv or 0.001818%;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NeonHelium (He) represents approximately 5.24 ppmv (0.000524%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium“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.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeliumKrypton (Kr) represents approximately 1.14 ppmv (0.000114%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KryptonMethane (CH4) represents approximately 1.79 ppmv (0.000179%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanecontributes to the Greenhouse Effect;http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_1.htmHydrogen (H2) represents approximately 0.55 ppmv (0.000055%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HydrogenNitrous Oxide (N2O) represents approximately 0.3 ppmv (0.00003%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrous_oxidecontributes to the Greenhouse Effect;http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_1.htmOzone (O3) represents approximately 0.0 to 0.07 ppmv (0 to 7×10−6%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OzoneNitrogen Dioxide (NO2) represents approximately 0.02 ppmv (2×10−6%) (0.000002%);http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_dioxideIodine (I2) represents approximately 0.01 ppmv (1×10−6%) (0.000001%) and;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IodineAmmonia (NH3) represents a trace amount of Earth’s Atmosphere:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmmoniaAdditional atmosphere components includes Water vapor (H2O) that represents approximately 0.40% over full atmosphere, typically 1%-4% at surface.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_vapor;“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.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas#Role_of_water_vaporAerosols;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerosolthat “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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CloudsClouds 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.”http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/aerosol_cloud_nucleation_dimming.htmlParticulates;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particulatesincluding Soot/Black Carbon;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soothttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_carbonSand;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SandDust;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust“Volcanic Ash;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_ashparticles have a maximum residence time in the troposphere of a few weeks.The finest Tephera;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tephraremain 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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_dioxidewhich 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.”http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/index.php“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”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_winter1816 became known as the “Year Without a Summer”;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summerbecause 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.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tambora“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;”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_dioxide“In the cold lower atmosphere, it is converted to Sulfuric Acid;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfuric_acidsulfuric 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.”http://volcanology.geol.ucsb.edu/gas.htmThere 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.”http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016%3C3525%3AAGSOVE%3E2.0.CO%3B2#h19. 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 – CloudsSnow “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.”http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/processes/albedo.html“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.”http://www.asterism.org/tutorials/tut26-1.htm“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: http://snowdog.larc.nasa.gov/jin/albedofind.html“http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/21/the-ridiculousness-continues-climate-complexity-compiled/#comment-872099Also 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 UniversityPhytoplankton 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. Biologyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology“Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolism“Phototrophshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoautotrophare the organisms (usually plants) that carry out photosynthesis;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesisto 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.”Chemoautotrophs;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemotrophare “organisms that obtain carbon through Chemosynthesis;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemosynthesisare 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 – TBDFungi – TBDProtozoa – TBDChromista – TBDAnimal – Anthropogenic:Carbon Dioxide;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxidecontributes to the Greenhouse Effect;http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_1.htmandinfluences the rate of plant growth ;http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/CO2plants.htmMethanehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MethaneNitrous OxideOzoneSoot/Black_carbonAerosols/Icebreakers/Arctic Shipping/Fishing/Cruise-Line TransitsContrailsLand Use ChangesDeforestationReforestationCultivationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_cultivationReclamationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_reclamationUrban Heat IslandsRun Off From AsphaltSewage/Wastewater Treatment DischargeFossil Fuel Energy Generation and Waste HeatNuclear Power Generation – Including ShipsRenewables – 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).”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_resources_and_consumptionetc.“Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolism“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.”http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2009/VickieWu.shtmlAnimal – Non-Anthropogenic includingPlanktonBeaver (Genus Castor)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaveretc.11. ChemicalFossil Fuels:CoalOil shalePetrochemicals- Petroleum- Mineral OilAsphaltTar Pits/SandsMethanehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methaneetc.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 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; http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=34167Reactions:Combustion- Forest Fires- Fossil Fuels- Methanehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methaneetc.“Photosynthesis;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesisis a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight.”“Chemosynthesis;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemosynthesisis 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. PhysicsTemperaturehttp://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/01/a-big-picture-look-at-earths-temperature/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TemperatureVariations 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;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_length“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.”http://geology.about.com/od/tectonicsdeepearth/a/lodresearch.htmIn 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.”http://www.wbabin.net/files/4424_wilson.pdfIn 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, 2011http://arxiv.org/pdf/1103.4924.pdfThe 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.”Pressurehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PressureStates of Matterhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_matterHeat Conductionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_conductionConvectionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ConvectionThermal Radiationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_radiationThermodynamicshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamicsEntropyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy13. Known unknownsNon-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,https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B9p_cojT-pflY2Y2MmZmMWQtOWQ0Mi00MzJkLTkyYmQtMWQ5Y2ExOTQ3ZDdm&hl=en_GBExamples of this effect can be seen in the following examples of Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reactions:Phil Salmon argues in this article;http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/25/is-the-enso-a-nonlinear-oscillator-of-the-belousov-zhabotinsky-reaction-type/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:http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/etb58j1.gif?w=640http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/tlon_heat.gifhttp://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/sub_surf_mon.gifUncertaintyRandomnessEvolutionInfinite IterationsChaos?14. Unknown unknownsA lot of other things.General summaries of the potential variables involved in Earth’s climate system;http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7y.htmlhttp://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/climate/factsheets/whatfactors.pdfhttp://ioc3.unesco.org/oopc/obs/ecv.phphttp://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/21/the-ridiculousness-continues-climate-complexity-compiled/  69 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 FreePublished 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. citizensPresident 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 detentionUnder 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 justiceThe 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 searchesThe 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 evidenceThe 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 crimesThe 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 courtThe 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 reviewLike 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 citizensThe 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 renditionsThe 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, 2012http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/15/10-reasons-the-u-s-is-no-longer-the-land-of-the-free/  70 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 19, 2012, 11:29:26 AM Quoteslippery method of debateQuoteSlippery? 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.QuoteThat 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? QuoteOcean 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. QuoteAnd 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. QuoteI 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. QuoteWell 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.QuoteCO2 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:http://joannenova.com.au/2012/01/scripps-blockbuster-ocean-acidification-happens-all-the-time-naturally/  71 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 WhistleblowersImage by Getty Images Europe via @daylifeLegal 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 retaliationSlang 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 thesaurus.com 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: http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2011/12/07/inside-president-obamas-  72 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Global Cheeseification on: January 19, 2012, 08:32:29 AM Third postDaren Jonescu: Global Warming: The Evidence is EndlessWednesday, 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. Article continues below this advert: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 agoThe 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 changeGlobal 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 d_jonescu@yahoo.ca.http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=8986  73 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 ChinaReferenceZhou, XJ. 2011. The characteristics and regularities of the climate change over the past millennium in China. Chinese Science Bulletin 56: 2985.BackgroundThe 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 doneZhou 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 learnedIn 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 meansThese 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.http://www.co2science.org/articles/V15/N3/C3.php  74 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Attractors in Complex Systems on: January 19, 2012, 08:12:20 AM Pardon the data dump, getting ready to both teach and take classes while also keeping my day job nailed down. Thoughtful keyboard time is hard to come by.No new strange attractors: strong evidence against both positive feedback and catastrophePosted on January 9, 2012 by Anthony WattsThis is a comment by Dr. Robert Brown on the What we don’t know about Earth’s energy flow post. I thought it was so insightful on the topic of climate stability being “pushed” by CO2 forcing that I’ve elevated it to a separate post. – AnthonyIs it fair to say that the two systems would oscillate within the same parameters but the probability of them being synchronized is nil?Sadly, no, not over long times. The systems could be as different as a ferromagnet magnetized up and an “identical” ferromagnet magnetized down. Or in the case of the Earth, as different as Glacial Earth and Interglacial Earth. The point is that both of these latter possibilities can be “stable” states for exactly the same insolation, etc, because feedbacks in the global system can themselves reconfigure to make them stable.If you look at the link to chaos theory I provided, and look at the figure that shows two loopy braids of lines, that provides an heuristic picture of the kind of possibilities available to coupled nonlinear differential systems.A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values r = 28, σ = 10, b = 8/3 Image via WikipediaAt the heart of each loop is something called a “strange attractor”, which is typically a limit point. The x and y axes are coordinates in a generalized (phase) space that represent the state of the system at any given time, x(t),y(t). The lines themselves are the trajectory of the system over time moving under the influence of the underlying dynamics. The point of the figure is that instead of their being a single “orbit” the way the earth orbits a regular attractor like the sun, the system oscillates around one attractor for a time, then the other, then both. Instead of nice closed orbits the orbits themselves are almost never the same.Two trajectories that are started close to one another will usually start out, for a while, orbiting the attractors the same general way. But over time — often a remarkably short time — the two trajectories will diverge. One will flip over to the other attractor and the other won’t. After a remarkably short time, the two trajectories are almost completely decorrelated in that the knowledge of where one lies (in the general accessible phase space) provides one with no help at all in guessing the location of the other.It’s only in this final sense that you are correct. Either system has to be found in the space of physically consistent states, states that are accessible via the differential process from the starting points. There is no guarantee that the trajectories will “fill phase space”. So in this sense they are both going to be found within the phase space accessible from the starting points. If those two starting points are close enough, they will probably sample very similar phase spaces, but there is no guarantee that they will be identical — especially if there are (many) more than two attractors, and if some simple parameter. In stat mech, with different assumptions, there is a theorem to that regard, but in the general case of open system dynamics in a chaotic system, IFAIK no.If you are interested in this sort of thing (which can be fun to play with, actually) you can look up things like the “predator-prey differential equations”, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotka%E2%80%93Volterra_equationIIRC this is one of the simplest systems exhibiting an attractor and limit cycle, and illustrates many of the features of more complicated dynamical systems. The attractor/fixed point in this case is the population of e.g. foxes and rabbits that remains in perfect equilibrium from year to year. Note well that this equation is deterministic, but of course a real population — even being modelled — always has random (or at least, “unpredictable”) variations — a certain amount of noise — and is actually discretized and not continuous as one cannot have half a cheetah eating \pi baboons.A better continuous “kind” of differential equation for describing systems like this with noise is something called a Langevin equation in physics — a system with “fast” microscopic degrees of freedom that one accounts for on average with a stochastic term, and slower degrees of freedom one integrates out like the predator prey equation. In physics it is a special limiting case of something called a generalized Master equation, which is the full integrodifferential description of a many body open quantum system and is really, really difficult. The general approach, however, is not inapplicable here — and is a presumed part of most of the simplified climate models. When you “smooth” the temperature by e.g. doing a running average, you are giving up information (the short time variation) and trying to reduce the complexity of the system by focussing on the slower time scale dynamics.If the system really is simple — has a single attractor and is in a very regular oscillation around it where the “noise” one is smoothing out really is irrelevant and just adds small variation to a single trajectory — this is probably OK. If the system is multistable and has many locally stable points, or worse if some of the degrees of freedom are things like the Sun whose time evolution is completely outside of “the system” and whose future you cannot predict and whose effect you do not precisely know, so that the attractors themselves can be moving around as the system evolves locally — it is probably not OK.The symptom of the latter kind of multistable system where it is probably not OK is a series of punctuated equilibria, visible in the smoothed data. The 30 year satellite data and SST data fairly clearly shows this kind of behavior.One final very important point — systems that oscillate almost always have negative feedback. In fact, that is the fundamental thing that defines an oscillatory system — it has attractors in it. Attractors are themselves stable (equilibrium) points such that if the system is perturbed from them it is pulled back towards equilibrium, not pushed away from it. In the general case of attractors in high dimensional spaces, this leads to the (Poincare) cycles around the attractors visible in the predator-prey equations or the Chaos figure with two strange attractors, except that they can get very, very complicated (and difficult to visualize) in 3+ dimensional spaces (where I’m not talking about physical spaces, note well, but parametric “phase” spaces, state spaces). Within some neighborhood of an attractor there is generally a fair bit of local stability — trajectories in that neighborhood will oscillate tightly around the one attractor and will be relatively unlikely to switch over to other attractors. Hence glacial and interglacial periods tend to last a fairly long time (compared to all of the many shorter timescales available to the system.Moving a single underlying external parameter — e.g. anthropogenic CO_2 concentration, Solar state, geomagnetic state — can be thought of as moving the fixed points of the multistable system. If we linearize, we can often guess at least the direction of the first order direction of the movement. For example, more CO_2, given the greenhouse effect, should increase heat trapping, hence increase average global temperature. The stable fixed point should thus move a bit up in the warming direction.Nearly all of the argument “revolves” (in more ways than one:-) around two simple problems, and note that I’m presenting them in a very different way than usual:a) Is this linear response assumption valid? This is not a trivial question. Increased CO_2 in a multistable system doesn’t just move the local attractor, it moves all the attractors, and not necessarily in simple linear ways in a really complicated system with many negative feedbacks (there by hypothesis all over the place because the system is dominated by attractors). In many systems, there are conservation principles at work (not necessarily known ones) that act as constraints so that moving one attractor up moves another one down or increases the “barrier height” between two attractors and hence deforms all of the limit cycles.b) Is the response the order of the mean difference between attractors being predominantly sampled within the system already? If it is greater, then it is likely not just to move the current attractor but to kick the system over to a new attractor. And it may not be the attractor you expect, one on the warmer side of the previous one. More warming, as warmists state in more heuristic terms, can make the system oscillate more wildly and hence be both warmer at the warmest part of the oscillation and colder at the coldest part of the oscillation. If the new excursion of the oscillation is great enough, it can kick the system into oscillation around a new attractor altogether on either side of things.Note that this latter statement is still oversimplified as it makes it sound like there are only two directions, warmer and cooler. But that is not true. There is warmer with morewater vapor in the atmosphere, warmer with less water vapor in the atmosphere, warmer with the sun active, warmer with the sun not active, warmer with sea ice increasing, warmer with sea ice decreasing, warmer with more clouds, warmer with less clouds, and the clouds in question can be day side or night side clouds, arctic or antarctic clouds, in the summer, fall, winter or spring, really month by month if not day by day, with feedbacks everywhere — tweaking any single aspect of this cycle affects all of the rest, and I haven’t even begun to list all of the important dimensions or note that there are really important time scales with nearly periodic oscillation of many of these drivers, or noted that the underlying dynamics takes place on a spinning globe that generates airflow vortices as standard operating procedure that have lifetimes ranging from days to decades.I have argued in posts above that the punctuated quasi-equilibrium evident in the climate record makes it very likely that the answer to b) is yes. The anthropogenic CO_2 shifts the system by order of or more than the distance between attractors, simply because the system jumped around between attractors even during time periods when there was no anthropogenic CO_2. Furthermore, the excursion of the system as it wandered among the attractors was as great as it is today, and not qualitatively different.This strongly suggests that while the the linear response assumption made in a) may be valid (per attractor) — or may not, but it will be a huge problem to prove it — the effect is less than the natural excursion, not greater than the natural excursion, and the negative feedback factors that make the multistable attractors (locally) attractive also act as negative feedback on the CO_2 induced shift!The latter is the fluctuation-dissipation theorem, as I already noted in one thread or another (two tired of writing to go see if it was this one). In an open system in a locally stable phase, the oscillations (fluctuations) couple to the dissipation so that more fluctuation makes more dissipation — negative feedback. If this is not true, the locally stable phase is not stable.This is a strong argument against catastrophe! The point is that given that CO_2 is making only small, slow, local shifts of the attractors compared to the large shifts of the system between the attractors, if there was a point where the system was likely to fall over to a much warmer stable point — the “catastrophe” threatened by the warmists — it almost certainly would have already done it, as the phase oscillations over the last ten thousand years have on numerous occasions made it as warm as it is right now.The fact that this has not happened is actually enormously strong evidence against both positive feedback and catastrophe. Yes, anthropogenic CO_2 may have shifted all the attractor temperatures a bit higher, it may have made small rearrangements of the attractors, but there is no evidence that suggests that it is probably going to suddenly create at new attractor far outside of the normal range of variation already visible in the climate record. Is it impossible? Of course not. But it is not probable.I’ll close with an analogy. When physicists were getting ready to test the first nuclear bomb, there was some concern expressed by the less gifted physicists present that in doing so they might “ignite the Earth’s atmosphere” or somehow turn the Earth into a Sun (note that this was before there was any understanding of fusion — the sun’s energy cycle was still not understood). I’ve read (far more recently) some concern that collisions at the LHC could have the same effect — create a mini-black hole or the like that swallows the Earth.Both of these are silly fears (although offered up, note well, by real scientists, because they could see that these outcomes were possible, at least in principle) and here’s why.The temperature and pressure created by the nuclear bomb is not unique! Although it is rare, asteroids fall to the earth, and when they do they create pressures and temperatures much higher than those produced by nuclear bombs. A very modest sized asteroid can release more energy in a few milliseconds than tens of thousands of times the total explosive energy of all of the man-made explosives, including nuclear bombs, on Earth! In a nutshell, if it could happen (with any reasonable probability), it already would have happened.Ditto the fears associated with the LHC, or other “super” colliders. Sure, it generates collisions on the order of electron-teravolts, but this sort of energy in nuclear collisions is not unique! The Earth is constantly being bombarded by high energy particles given off by extremely energetic events like supernovae that happened long ago and far away. The energies of these cosmic rays are vastly greater than anything we will ever be able to produce in the laboratory until the laboratory in question contains a supernova. The most energetic cosmic ray ever observed (so far) was a (presumably) proton with the kinetic energy of a fastball-pitched baseball, a baseball travelling at some 150 kilometers per hour. Since we’ve seen one of these in a few decades of looking, we have to assume that they happen all the time — literally every second a cosmic ray of this sort of energy is hitting the Earth (BIG target) somewhere. If such a collision could create a black hole that destroyed planets with any significant probability, we would have been toast long, long ago.Hence it is silly to fear the LHC or nuclear ignition. If either were probable, we wouldn’t be here to build an LHC or nuclear bomb.It is not quite that silly to fear CAGW. The truth is that we haven’t been around long enough to know enough about the climate system to be able to tell what sorts of feedbacks and factors structure the multistable climate attractors, so one can create a number of doomsday scenarios — warming to a critical point that releases massive amounts of methane that heats things suddenly so that the ocean degasses all of its CO_2 and the ice caps melt and the oceans boil and suddenly there we are, Venus Earth with a mean temperature outside of 200 C. If we can imagine it and write it down, it must be possible, right? Science fiction novels galore explore just that sort of thing. Or movies proposing the opposite — the appearance of attractors that somehow instantly freeze the entire planet and bring about an ice age. Hey! It could happen!But is it probable?Here is where the argument above provides us with a great deal of comfort. There is little in the climate record to suggest the existence of another major stable state, another major attractor, well above the current warm phase attractor. Quite the opposite — the record over the last few tens of millions of years suggest that we are in the middle of a prolonged cooling phase of the planet, of the sort that has happened repeatedly over geological time, such that we are in the warm phase major attractor, and that there is literally nothing out there above it to go to. If there were, we would have gone there, instead, as local variations and oscillation around the many> minor warm phase attractors has repeatedly sampled conditions that would have been likely to cause a transition to occur if one was at all likely. At the very least, there would be a trace of it in the thermal record of the last million years or thereabouts, and there isn’t. We’re in one of the longest, warmest interglacials of the last five, although not at the warmest point of the current interglacial (the Holocene). If there were a still warmer attractor out there, the warmest point of the Holocene would have been likely to find it.Since it manifestly did not, that suggests that the overall feedbacks are safely negative and all of the “catastrophe” hypotheses but one are relatively unlikely.The one that should be worrisome? Catastrophic Global Cooling. We know that there is a cold phase major attractor some 5-10C cooler than current temperatures. Human civilization arose in the Holocene, and we have not yet advanced to where it can survive a cold phase transition back to glacial conditions, not without the death of 5 billion people and probable near-collapse of civilization. We know that this transition not only can occur, but will occur. We do not know when, why, or how to estimate its general probability. We do know that the LIA — a mere 400-500 years ago — was the coolest period in the entire Holocene post the Younger Dryas excursion; in general the Holocene appears to be cooling from its warmest period, and the twentieth century was a Grand Solar Maximum, the most active sun in 11,000 years, a maximum that is now clearly past.IMO we are far more likely to be hanging out over an instability in which a complete transition to cold phase becomes uncomfortably likely than we are to be near a transition to a superwarm phase that there is no evidence of in the climate record. The probability is higher for two reasons. One is that unlike the superwarm phase, we know that the cold phase actually exists, and is a lot more stable than the warm phase. The “size” of the quasistable Poincare cycle oscillations around the cold phase major attractor is much larger than that around the warm phase attractors, and brief periods of warming often get squashed before turning into actual interglacials — that’s how stable they are.The other is that we spend 90% of the time in glacial phase, only 10% in interglacial, and the Holocene is already one of the longer interglacials! There is dynamics on long timescales that we do not understand at work here. We have only the foggiest idea of what causes the (essentially chaotic) transition from warm phase to cold phase or vice versa — very crude ideas involving combinations of Milankovich cycles, the tipping of the ecliptic, the precession of the poles, orbital resonances, and stuff like that, but there is clearly a strong feedback within the climate cycle that enables cold phase “tipping”, probably related to albedo.It could be something as simple as a quiet sun; the LIA-Maunder minimum suggests that we should actively fear a quiet sun, because something in the nonlinear differential system seems to favor colder attractors (still in the warm phase major attractor) during Maunder-type minima. One has to imagine that conversion to glaciation phase is more likely at the bottom of e.g. the LIA than at any other time, and the Holocene is probably living on borrowed time at this point, where a prolonged LIA-like interval could tip it over.To be honest, even a LIA would be a disaster far greater than most of the warmist catastrophic imaginings. The population of the world is enormous compared to what it was in the last ice age, and a huge fraction of it lives and grows food on temperate zone land. Early frost and late spring could both reduce the available land and halve the number of crops grown on the land that survives, even before full blown glaciation. Cold (warm) phases are often associated with temperature/tropic droughts, as well, at least in parts of the world. IMO, the “rapid” onset of a LIA could kill a billion people as crops in Siberia and China and Canada and the northern US fail, and could easily destabilize the world’s tenuous political situation to where global war again becomes likely to add to our woes.We may ultimately discover that AGW was our salvation — the CO_2 released by our jump to civilization may ameliorate or postpone the next LIA, it may block cold-phase excursion that could begin the next REAL ice age for decades or even a century. In the meantime, perhaps we can get our act together and figure out how to live together in a civilized world, not a few civilized countries where people are well off and all the rest where they are poor and more or less enslaved by a handful of tyrants or religious oligarchs.Note well, this latter bit is itself “speculative fiction” — I don’t fully understand climate cycles either (it’s a hard problem). But at least there I can provide evidence for a lurking catastrophe in the actual climate record, so it is a lot less “fiction” than CAGW.rgbhttp://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/09/scripps-paper-ocean-acidification-fears-overhyped/  75 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Future of Gun Rights on: January 11, 2012, 01:58:41 PM An interesting look at what the future of gun rights might look like in the wake of Heller et al. What Will the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Mean in the Coming Years?Part One in a Two-Part Series on the Ways in Which Lower Courts and the Supreme Court Will Need to Flesh Out Second Amendment DoctrineOne of the big constitutional issues that will be discussed and litigated over the next decade, and one that may figure prominently in the election this fall, is precisely what leeway Congress, states, and localities have to regulate firearms ownership and use consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent declaration that the Second Amendment includes an individual constitutional right, at least under some circumstances, to keep and bear arms.In a series of columns beginning with this one, we explore and analyze some of the major Second Amendment issues confronting the lower courts—and soon the Supreme Court. In this installment, Part One of the series, we provide the background necessary to appreciate some of the cutting-edge questions that we will then take up in more detail in Part Two, here on Justia’s Verdict, in a few weeks.The Heller BombshellIn 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the United States Supreme Court determined, for the first time in over two centuries, that the Second Amendment protects an individual and fundamental right to keep and bear arms. In doing so, the Court struck down local gun control regulations in DC that prohibited the possession of a handgun in one’s home, and required any firearm in one’s home to be “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.” Two years later, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court concluded (as everyone expected it would, after the landmark Heller ruling) that the Second Amendment limited not only the federal government (as in DC), but also the states and localities, by way of the Fourteenth Amendment’s incorporation doctrine.Identifying the existence of a right is one thing. Developing doctrine to guide the resolution of cases involving alleged abridgements of the right is quite another. In its two recent cases, the Court—by its own admission—has done little to assist the lower federal courts and state courts in deciding Second Amendment disputes.Not surprisingly, there has been a flood of such disputes. Indeed, given the extraordinary ambiguity of the Heller opinion, it is difficult to understand why anyone convicted of a gun offense would not raise a Second Amendment defense to the charges against him. Courts have confronted challenges to laws that: prohibit the possession of firearms with obliterated serial numbers; ban persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing firearms; deny firearms to felons; prohibit the carrying of loaded handguns within a national park; prohibit the carrying of a loaded firearm outside one’s home or place of business; require the registration of firearms and require firearms training as a condition of registration; and prohibit gun shows in which firearms are sold on county property. And these are just a few of the claims raised to date.To put things mildly, constructing a legal framework for evaluating these and other claims has been a challenge to lower courts. Certainly, the reasoning and analysis of judicial opinions in this area have been varied and conflicting. Indeed, we think it is fair to say that at the current time, no one really knows how Second Amendment cases should, or will, be adjudicated. Doctrine in this area is a work in progress. Numerous issues remain unclear and unresolved.The Guidance Heller Does, and Does Not, ProvideThe Court in Heller was clear about a few things. It left no doubt that the Second Amendment right to bear arms was grounded in the self-defense of one’s person and one’s home. And it made clear that the language in the first clause of the Second Amendment about “a well regulated Militia being necessary being necessary to the security of a free State” has no bearing on the meaning of this constitutional provision. Thus, according to the Court, the utility of a weapon for militia or military purposes has no relevance to whether possession of the weapon is protected by the Second Amendment. Handguns are covered because of their utility for self-defense purposes. Machine guns are not covered, notwithstanding their greater utility for state security purposes.The Court was also adamant about the standard of review that would not apply to gun control regulations. Rational basis review—in which a law needs to be only minimally rational to be upheld—was inappropriate, because it is too deferential to protect a “fundamental” right.Further, in responding to Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion, the Court emphatically rejected the argument that restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms should be evaluated under a “freestanding ‘interest-balancing’ approach.” The “core protection” of other fundamental rights—such as the right to free speech—was not subject to such a case-by-case analysis. Indeed, the recognition of an interest as a fundamental right reflected the exact opposite understanding. In adopting the Second Amendment, the People had already engaged in a basic balancing of interests and concluded that the right to firearms deserved special protection from government interference. New attempts to rebalance the right’s value against competing state interests were foreclosed by this earlier constitutional determination.While the Court was somewhat clear in describing the wrong way to evaluate Second Amendment claims, it was much less helpful in discussing how Second Amendment cases should be correctly adjudicated. The Court explained that it did not need to discuss the various standards of review that might be applicable because the D.C. regulations before it were so obviously unconstitutional and inconsistent with Second Amendment guarantees that they would be struck down under “any of the standards of scrutiny” previously applied in fundamental rights cases.Perhaps the Court would have been better off stopping there and giving lower courts the first crack at the daunting task of developing Second Amendment doctrine from scratch. But it did not. Instead, it went on to make a number of observations about how the doctrine should unfold, and in doing so, it created considerable confusion—making an already difficult job for lower courts almost impossible.The Court started sensibly enough by acknowledging that “[l]ike most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” But then it proceeded to identify some, but not all, of those limits by way of a flimsy—indeed conclusory—summary of historically accepted restrictions on firearms: “[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of firearms.”Further, the Court indicated that this list of limits was neither complete nor absolute: “We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.” Indeed, in an isolated comment, later in its opinion, the Court casually added another limitation to its list, saying that its holding should not be understood to suggest that “laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents” were unconstitutional.While some of the limits the Court imposed related to the identity of the person being regulated, or the place being regulated, or the particular activity being engaged in, other limits that the Court recognized on the right to keep and bear arms pertained to the kind of weapons encompassed by the Second Amendment. This analysis too was predicated on an abbreviated historical discussion. The Court confirmed that the weapons covered by the right were those “in common use at the time” of the Second Amendment. Thus, according to the Court, the Second Amendment “does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.”In addition to identifying limitations on the right to bear arms, the Court also recognized particular circumstances and gun-user-motives where the right was at its zenith. The need to defend one’s person, family and property in one’s home was “most acute,” the Justices asserted, without providing further analysis. The importance of the right to defend one’s home was repeated several times, perhaps most notably when the Court insisted that “whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, [the Second Amendment] surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”One Reason Heller Provides a Shaky Foundation for Doctrine: The Lack of a Discussion of the Nature of the Permissible LimitationsIt would be difficult to overstate the confusion sown by Heller. To reiterate, the Court provides no guidance whatsoever as to the standard of review to be applied in Second Amendment cases. And, if that were not bad enough, the Court went on to provide a list of historically accepted restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms that the Justices explicitly admitted was incomplete.The Court’s reliance on history and tradition in this regard would not be so problematic if it had provided adequate background on the relevant history to enable lower courts to extrapolate from the list the Court provided. But here again, in response to dissenting justices’ demands for more information, the Court refused to provide additional background for its historical conclusions. Without a more detailed historical account, however, how can a lower court know, until the Supreme Court makes more transparent its approach to history in this context, when a specific gun control measure is sufficiently longstanding to limit the scope of the right?Heller raises other conceptual and doctrinal dilemmas too. Most importantly, in discussing the limits to the Second Amendment, it fails to explain the essential nature of the limits it is describing.Typically, rights might be limited in two ways. First, rights are limited in the range of activity—the scope—they encompass. Not everything that communicates a message, for example, such as an act of terrorism or the display of obscene movies, constitutes speech that is protected under the free speech clause of the First Amendment. Second, rights are also limited in that that they may be outweighed by countervailing governmental interests. The use of loudspeaker for a political message is clearly protected speech, but it may be prohibited in a residential neighborhood late in the evening to further the state’s interest in providing people quiet and repose in their homes at night.The Heller Court never explicitly identifies the kind of limitations it has in mind. One might reasonably read its emphasis on history, and its condemnation of interest balancing, as suggesting that the limitations it describes (and other unidentified traditional limitations) go to the scope of the Second Amendment right. That might support the development of doctrine that narrowly defines the scope of the right, but protects very fiercely—perhaps by the use of a strict kind of judicial scrutiny—what does fall within its coverage.If that is what the Heller majority opinion intends, however, why does it describe these longstanding regulatory measures as “presumptively lawful” rather than clearly constitutional? Presumptions are subject to rebuttal. The parameters of a right are not.Alternatively, the scope of the Second Amendment might apply far more broadly. The limitations recognized in Heller might reflect abridgements of the right that we tolerate because they are justified by overwhelmingly important state interests. Thus, felons may have a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense purposes, but their right to do so is outweighed by the state’s interest in preventing individuals who are prone to acting unlawfully from having access to firearms.The problem with this reading is that many of the limitations Heller identifies are not, in fact, narrowly tailored to serve important state interests. A felon who was convicted of a non-violent crime 15 years ago may have had an unblemished record for the last 14 years and may have a home and family today. If the state continues to deny him, and all others in the class of felons, the right to keep and bear a firearm for home defense purposes, then the state’s decision could only be upheld under fairly deferential review.One could also posit a doctrinal framework in which questions such as these are evaluated under some form of intermediate-level scrutiny requiring courts to evaluate and balance a felon’s likelihood of using a firearm unlawfully (and society’s interest in restricting his access to firearms) against the individual’s interest in possessing a firearm for defense of his or her home and family. That kind of a nuanced analysis, however, would seem to fly in the face of Heller’s emphatic rejection of ad hoc case by case interest balancing.In some places, the Court’s opinion in Heller seems almost to imply that calling a right “fundamental” will resolve all difficult disputes about how to protect it. But surely the Court is aware that the term “fundamental right” is no doctrinal talisman. There is no uniform approach to adjudicating cases that implicate laws that are alleged to infringe a fundamental right. Free exercise rights, free speech rights, the right to have an abortion, procedural due process rights, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures are all fundamental, yet they are protected under very different doctrinal frameworks.Another Limitation in Heller: The Imprecision About What Laws Burden Gun Ownership or Use Enough to Even Trigger the Second Amendment There is yet another important omission that magnifies the problems courts confront today: Heller says almost nothing about how courts should determine what constitutes an infringement of the right to keep and bear arms in the first place. Not all government activity that affects a right requires the state to justify its conduct. For example, a law requiring all healthcare providers to be registered with the state would not sufficiently interfere with the right to have an abortion, even though it affects access to abortion services to some extent, to warrant a due process inquiry at all. But what kinds of burdens count under the Second Amendment?We can derive some guidance from Heller on this question, but in the end, it is not very helpful. We know that banning the possession of handguns in one’s home violates the right to keep and bear arms because most people prefer handguns to long guns for home defense purposes and this preference can be rationalized on pragmatic grounds. Accordingly, the difference in cost and utility between handguns and long guns presumably constitutes a sufficient burden on a person’s ability to defend his or her home to warrant constitutional review. It is entirely unclear, however, what doctrinal standard might capture the magnitude of this burden, and thus enable courts to resolve infringement issues in other cases.Moreover, there is no way to know whether a burden that infringes the right to keep a firearm for self-defense purposes in one’s home would be sufficient to infringe the Second Amendment in some other context. The Heller Court’s emphasis on home self-defense purposes is largely unexplained. True, the home is a personal sanctuary. But for self-defense purposes, it is hardly the only location where a person might need a firearm to protect herself or her family. A family might be attacked while driving in a car, visiting a mall, or picnicking in a local park. Heller does not elaborate on what, exactly, leads the Court to deem the need to possess a firearm in one’s home particularly acute.Several answers are possible, but each has different implications for Second Amendment doctrine. Individuals are not especially subject to assault in their homes. Indeed, they are more likely to be attacked in other locations. But they may be uniquely vulnerable in their homes, because they are out of the public eye, so that third parties or the police would have less ability to intervene on their behalf. Alternatively, the state may have less of a justification for interfering with the right to have a firearm in one’s home because the discharge of the weapon in that location poses less of a risk of injury to third parties than would, say, a shootout in the mall or on the freeway. One answer goes to the strength of the right; the other, to the strength of the state’s interest in restricting the right. As is true of so many open issues related to the Second Amendment, Heller creates questions but provides no useful answer to them.In our next installment, Part Two in this series, we will take up the ways in which some recent and important lower court decisions are grappling with all this Second Amendment uncertainty.Vikram David Amar, a Justia columnist, is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis School of Law. He is a 1988 graduate of the Yale Law School, and a former clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun. He is a co-author, along with William Cohen and Jonathan Varat, of a major constitutional law casebook, and a co-author of several volumes of the Wright & Miller treatise on federal practice and procedure. Before teaching, Professor Amar spent a few years at the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.Follow @pro_amar on TwitterAlan Brownstein is a Professor of Law and the Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at the University of California, Davis, School of http://verdict.justia.com/2012/01/06/what-will-the-right-to-keep-and-bear-arms-mean-in-the-coming-years  76 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Carbon Fetishism on: January 11, 2012, 01:52:38 PM QuoteYou seem fixated on these gravitons. I'm not even convinced that they exist. We currently believe that gravity is instantaneous which makes it faster than light. If we have to postulate the existence of a particle that moves at instantaneous speeds, then I have a problem with that postulate. If we assume that these particles don't actually move terribly much but exist as a sort of ether that can propagate a gravity wave, then we are still saying that they can propagate this wave at near instantaneous speeds which is something that we don't have the ability to account for. I'm definitely allowing for the possibility that there is some completely different means by which gravity is propagated than a particle.I'm not fixated so much on gravitons as I am of your slippery method of debate. I came on scene noting a discussion you were involved in that "produced more heat than light." I snagged an analogy from that debate involving physics, where I had hoped to intimate much better minds than those shilling AGW had been working on fundamental questions of physics with far more rigor than that demonstrated by the AGW folks, for far longer, yet had not satisfactorily answered sundry fundamental question. I was hoping that would suggest that the high degree of confidence embraced by most on the AGW side of things might therefore be misplaced. My guess is that you are capable of grasping these sort of nuances, though it is not the ground on which you want to fight and so instead you have alternated back and forth between discussions of theory and discussions of laws, which lead me to allude to this movie scene:As that may be, my point stands: this stuff is too complicated and too poorly studied with too few geologically significant data sets for newly minted scientists in a newly minted discipline with neo-Malthusian roots to have their pronouncements taken as gospel when far wiser and more rigorous scientists haven't done the same within their disciplines. Do favor us with another deconstruction of physics laws or theories or other minutia if you must, but understand it has no bearing on the argument I'm making.QuoteIf we are going to hold a single variable accountable for some sort of coming conflagrationQuoteI still know of no one that is doing this.Well there's this fellow named Al Gore who made a move about it; perhaps you can look it up on IMDB. Day After Tomorrow, I think it was called. And then there is this organization called the IIPC that publishes doomstruck reports in which this is a major theme, though each version tends to get walked back a bit more than the previous. Perhaps you can google it. Quote3/4s of the planet is covered by water which warehouses huge quantities CO2, yet we do not understand how CO2 exchanges between the two media, particularly over time.QuoteI have already said that the concentration of CO2 in water which exists as one of the carbonates has a significant effect on the concentration of CO2 in the atmopshere. But that is largely irrelevant when I can simply go measure the atmospheric concentration of CO2. It used to be off the top of my head 280 ppm in the early 1900s. It is now again off the top of my head around 400. The ocean did whatever it did during that time and the concentration came up. These are facts. The increase in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere changed the manner in which the atmosphere absorbed infrared light. This is also fact. Perhaps it didn't change it much but it did change. This is all independent of where the CO2 goes.Uh huh. And then when it rains the H2O bonds with carbon on the way down, forming a mild form of carbonic acid that have others on your side of the argument lamenting ocean acidification. Despite the fact that water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 it is much less studied than CO2 the AGW folks fixate on, the carbonic acid cycle mentioned above is similarly poorly studied, though I read a report in the past week that some folks have noted as much as a 3.4 molar (IIRC) change in seawater through that acid cycle that the local fauna appeared to shrug off. All the while AGW folk who are looking at the heat that has been predicted but not found are beginning to suspect surface waters are heat sinks as they need a plausible explanation for where the heat they predicted is. All of which ought to confirm my point that climate systems are too complex and poorly understood to state with any confidence that a single variable, atmospheric CO2, is responsible for warming. QuoteYou want me to post that silly hockey stick graph with the temps and CO2 levels correlated over time, save for the Medieval Warming Period?QuoteInstead of posting someone's bad prediction, perhaps you could post a quotation by that person indicating that CO2 is the only factor governing the temperature of the planet. Considering that water vapor is obviously the more significant greenhouse gas and that aerasol particulates have a large effect (which is also well known), I'm guessing you cannot find this quote. If you can point me to a person that actually said that, then I will show you a fool.That's pretty slick, how you transition back and forth using the term I've embraced, "variable," and the one you respond with when some gray area wiggle room is needed: "factor." Variable has a very specific meaning in a scientific context and in the context we are discussing I am quite comfortable saying that CO2 atmospheric concentrations are the variable AGW proponents have seized on while evangelizing about how we must end our wicked ways lest we are smote by global warming, climate change, or whatever the flavor of this week Scary Thing is. Heck, you've done so in this thread repeatedly. Factor is a far more nebulous terms and certainly includes other elements AGW folk bandy, often in terms of "forcing" elements that will cause glaciers to recede, poles to melt, hurricanes to intensify, whatever.As that may be, I'm glad we agree that CO2 fetishism is foolish. Can we expect that realization to inform your future posts?  77 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Of Attractors and Glacial Phases on: January 11, 2012, 12:24:23 PM As someone intrigued by chaos theory, and in view of the fact that world-wide climate system are both chaotic and poorly understood, this piece resonated loudly for me:No new strange attractors: strong evidence against both positive feedback and catastrophePosted on January 9, 2012 by Anthony WattsThis is a comment by Dr. Robert Brown on the What we don’t know about Earth’s energy flow post. I thought it was so insightful on the topic of climate stability being “pushed” by CO2 forcing that I’ve elevated it to a separate post. – AnthonyIs it fair to say that the two systems would oscillate within the same parameters but the probability of them being synchronized is nil?Sadly, no, not over long times. The systems could be as different as a ferromagnet magnetized up and an “identical” ferromagnet magnetized down. Or in the case of the Earth, as different as Glacial Earth and Interglacial Earth. The point is that both of these latter possibilities can be “stable” states for exactly the same insolation, etc, because feedbacks in the global system can themselves reconfigure to make them stable.If you look at the link to chaos theory I provided, and look at the figure that shows two loopy braids of lines, that provides an heuristic picture of the kind of possibilities available to coupled nonlinear differential systems.A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values r = 28, σ = 10, b = 8/3 Image via WikipediaAt the heart of each loop is something called a “strange attractor”, which is typically a limit point. The x and y axes are coordinates in a generalized (phase) space that represent the state of the system at any given time, x(t),y(t). The lines themselves are the trajectory of the system over time moving under the influence of the underlying dynamics. The point of the figure is that instead of their being a single “orbit” the way the earth orbits a regular attractor like the sun, the system oscillates around one attractor for a time, then the other, then both. Instead of nice closed orbits the orbits themselves are almost never the same.Two trajectories that are started close to one another will usually start out, for a while, orbiting the attractors the same general way. But over time — often a remarkably short time — the two trajectories will diverge. One will flip over to the other attractor and the other won’t. After a remarkably short time, the two trajectories are almost completely decorrelated in that the knowledge of where one lies (in the general accessible phase space) provides one with no help at all in guessing the location of the other.It’s only in this final sense that you are correct. Either system has to be found in the space of physically consistent states, states that are accessible via the differential process from the starting points. There is no guarantee that the trajectories will “fill phase space”. So in this sense they are both going to be found within the phase space accessible from the starting points. If those two starting points are close enough, they will probably sample very similar phase spaces, but there is no guarantee that they will be identical — especially if there are (many) more than two attractors, and if some simple parameter. In stat mech, with different assumptions, there is a theorem to that regard, but in the general case of open system dynamics in a chaotic system, IFAIK no.If you are interested in this sort of thing (which can be fun to play with, actually) you can look up things like the “predator-prey differential equations”, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotka%E2%80%93Volterra_equationIIRC this is one of the simplest systems exhibiting an attractor and limit cycle, and illustrates many of the features of more complicated dynamical systems. The attractor/fixed point in this case is the population of e.g. foxes and rabbits that remains in perfect equilibrium from year to year. Note well that this equation is deterministic, but of course a real population — even being modelled — always has random (or at least, “unpredictable”) variations — a certain amount of noise — and is actually discretized and not continuous as one cannot have half a cheetah eating \pi baboons.A better continuous “kind” of differential equation for describing systems like this with noise is something called a Langevin equation in physics — a system with “fast” microscopic degrees of freedom that one accounts for on average with a stochastic term, and slower degrees of freedom one integrates out like the predator prey equation. In physics it is a special limiting case of something called a generalized Master equation, which is the full integrodifferential description of a many body open quantum system and is really, really difficult. The general approach, however, is not inapplicable here — and is a presumed part of most of the simplified climate models. When you “smooth” the temperature by e.g. doing a running average, you are giving up information (the short time variation) and trying to reduce the complexity of the system by focussing on the slower time scale dynamics.If the system really is simple — has a single attractor and is in a very regular oscillation around it where the “noise” one is smoothing out really is irrelevant and just adds small variation to a single trajectory — this is probably OK. If the system is multistable and has many locally stable points, or worse if some of the degrees of freedom are things like the Sun whose time evolution is completely outside of “the system” and whose future you cannot predict and whose effect you do not precisely know, so that the attractors themselves can be moving around as the system evolves locally — it is probably not OK.The symptom of the latter kind of multistable system where it is probably not OK is a series of punctuated equilibria, visible in the smoothed data. The 30 year satellite data and SST data fairly clearly shows this kind of behavior.One final very important point — systems that oscillate almost always have negative feedback. In fact, that is the fundamental thing that defines an oscillatory system — it has attractors in it. Attractors are themselves stable (equilibrium) points such that if the system is perturbed from them it is pulled back towards equilibrium, not pushed away from it. In the general case of attractors in high dimensional spaces, this leads to the (Poincare) cycles around the attractors visible in the predator-prey equations or the Chaos figure with two strange attractors, except that they can get very, very complicated (and difficult to visualize) in 3+ dimensional spaces (where I’m not talking about physical spaces, note well, but parametric “phase” spaces, state spaces). Within some neighborhood of an attractor there is generally a fair bit of local stability — trajectories in that neighborhood will oscillate tightly around the one attractor and will be relatively unlikely to switch over to other attractors. Hence glacial and interglacial periods tend to last a fairly long time (compared to all of the many shorter timescales available to the system.Moving a single underlying external parameter — e.g. anthropogenic CO_2 concentration, Solar state, geomagnetic state — can be thought of as moving the fixed points of the multistable system. If we linearize, we can often guess at least the direction of the first order direction of the movement. For example, more CO_2, given the greenhouse effect, should increase heat trapping, hence increase average global temperature. The stable fixed point should thus move a bit up in the warming direction.Nearly all of the argument “revolves” (in more ways than one:-) around two simple problems, and note that I’m presenting them in a very different way than usual:a) Is this linear response assumption valid? This is not a trivial question. Increased CO_2 in a multistable system doesn’t just move the local attractor, it moves all the attractors, and not necessarily in simple linear ways in a really complicated system with many negative feedbacks (there by hypothesis all over the place because the system is dominated by attractors). In many systems, there are conservation principles at work (not necessarily known ones) that act as constraints so that moving one attractor up moves another one down or increases the “barrier height” between two attractors and hence deforms all of the limit cycles.b) Is the response the order of the mean difference between attractors being predominantly sampled within the system already? If it is greater, then it is likely not just to move the current attractor but to kick the system over to a new attractor. And it may not be the attractor you expect, one on the warmer side of the previous one. More warming, as warmists state in more heuristic terms, can make the system oscillate more wildly and hence be both warmer at the warmest part of the oscillation and colder at the coldest part of the oscillation. If the new excursion of the oscillation is great enough, it can kick the system into oscillation around a new attractor altogether on either side of things.Note that this latter statement is still oversimplified as it makes it sound like there are only two directions, warmer and cooler. But that is not true. There is warmer with morewater vapor in the atmosphere, warmer with less water vapor in the atmosphere, warmer with the sun active, warmer with the sun not active, warmer with sea ice increasing, warmer with sea ice decreasing, warmer with more clouds, warmer with less clouds, and the clouds in question can be day side or night side clouds, arctic or antarctic clouds, in the summer, fall, winter or spring, really month by month if not day by day, with feedbacks everywhere — tweaking any single aspect of this cycle affects all of the rest, and I haven’t even begun to list all of the important dimensions or note that there are really important time scales with nearly periodic oscillation of many of these drivers, or noted that the underlying dynamics takes place on a spinning globe that generates airflow vortices as standard operating procedure that have lifetimes ranging from days to decades.I have argued in posts above that the punctuated quasi-equilibrium evident in the climate record makes it very likely that the answer to b) is yes. The anthropogenic CO_2 shifts the system by order of or more than the distance between attractors, simply because the system jumped around between attractors even during time periods when there was no anthropogenic CO_2. Furthermore, the excursion of the system as it wandered among the attractors was as great as it is today, and not qualitatively different.This strongly suggests that while the the linear response assumption made in a) may be valid (per attractor) — or may not, but it will be a huge problem to prove it — the effect is less than the natural excursion, not greater than the natural excursion, and the negative feedback factors that make the multistable attractors (locally) attractive also act as negative feedback on the CO_2 induced shift!The latter is the fluctuation-dissipation theorem, as I already noted in one thread or another (two tired of writing to go see if it was this one). In an open system in a locally stable phase, the oscillations (fluctuations) couple to the dissipation so that more fluctuation makes more dissipation — negative feedback. If this is not true, the locally stable phase is not stable.This is a strong argument against catastrophe! The point is that given that CO_2 is making only small, slow, local shifts of the attractors compared to the large shifts of the system between the attractors, if there was a point where the system was likely to fall over to a much warmer stable point — the “catastrophe” threatened by the warmists — it almost certainly would have already done it, as the phase oscillations over the last ten thousand years have on numerous occasions made it as warm as it is right now.The fact that this has not happened is actually enormously strong evidence against both positive feedback and catastrophe. Yes, anthropogenic CO_2 may have shifted all the attractor temperatures a bit higher, it may have made small rearrangements of the attractors, but there is no evidence that suggests that it is probably going to suddenly create at new attractor far outside of the normal range of variation already visible in the climate record. Is it impossible? Of course not. But it is not probable.I’ll close with an analogy. When physicists were getting ready to test the first nuclear bomb, there was some concern expressed by the less gifted physicists present that in doing so they might “ignite the Earth’s atmosphere” or somehow turn the Earth into a Sun (note that this was before there was any understanding of fusion — the sun’s energy cycle was still not understood). I’ve read (far more recently) some concern that collisions at the LHC could have the same effect — create a mini-black hole or the like that swallows the Earth.Both of these are silly fears (although offered up, note well, by real scientists, because they could see that these outcomes were possible, at least in principle) and here’s why.The temperature and pressure created by the nuclear bomb is not unique! Although it is rare, asteroids fall to the earth, and when they do they create pressures and temperatures much higher than those produced by nuclear bombs. A very modest sized asteroid can release more energy in a few milliseconds than tens of thousands of times the total explosive energy of all of the man-made explosives, including nuclear bombs, on Earth! In a nutshell, if it could happen (with any reasonable probability), it already would have happened.Ditto the fears associated with the LHC, or other “super” colliders. Sure, it generates collisions on the order of electron-teravolts, but this sort of energy in nuclear collisions is not unique! The Earth is constantly being bombarded by high energy particles given off by extremely energetic events like supernovae that happened long ago and far away. The energies of these cosmic rays are vastly greater than anything we will ever be able to produce in the laboratory until the laboratory in question contains a supernova. The most energetic cosmic ray ever observed (so far) was a (presumably) proton with the kinetic energy of a fastball-pitched baseball, a baseball travelling at some 150 kilometers per hour. Since we’ve seen one of these in a few decades of looking, we have to assume that they happen all the time — literally every second a cosmic ray of this sort of energy is hitting the Earth (BIG target) somewhere. If such a collision could create a black hole that destroyed planets with any significant probability, we would have been toast long, long ago.Hence it is silly to fear the LHC or nuclear ignition. If either were probable, we wouldn’t be here to build an LHC or nuclear bomb.It is not quite that silly to fear CAGW. The truth is that we haven’t been around long enough to know enough about the climate system to be able to tell what sorts of feedbacks and factors structure the multistable climate attractors, so one can create a number of doomsday scenarios — warming to a critical point that releases massive amounts of methane that heats things suddenly so that the ocean degasses all of its CO_2 and the ice caps melt and the oceans boil and suddenly there we are, Venus Earth with a mean temperature outside of 200 C. If we can imagine it and write it down, it must be possible, right? Science fiction novels galore explore just that sort of thing. Or movies proposing the opposite — the appearance of attractors that somehow instantly freeze the entire planet and bring about an ice age. Hey! It could happen!But is it probable?Here is where the argument above provides us with a great deal of comfort. There is little in the climate record to suggest the existence of another major stable state, another major attractor, well above the current warm phase attractor. Quite the opposite — the record over the last few tens of millions of years suggest that we are in the middle of a prolonged cooling phase of the planet, of the sort that has happened repeatedly over geological time, such that we are in the warm phase major attractor, and that there is literally nothing out there above it to go to. If there were, we would have gone there, instead, as local variations and oscillation around the many> minor warm phase attractors has repeatedly sampled conditions that would have been likely to cause a transition to occur if one was at all likely. At the very least, there would be a trace of it in the thermal record of the last million years or thereabouts, and there isn’t. We’re in one of the longest, warmest interglacials of the last five, although not at the warmest point of the current interglacial (the Holocene). If there were a still warmer attractor out there, the warmest point of the Holocene would have been likely to find it.Since it manifestly did not, that suggests that the overall feedbacks are safely negative and all of the “catastrophe” hypotheses but one are relatively unlikely.The one that should be worrisome? Catastrophic Global Cooling. We know that there is a cold phase major attractor some 5-10C cooler than current temperatures. Human civilization arose in the Holocene, and we have not yet advanced to where it can survive a cold phase transition back to glacial conditions, not without the death of 5 billion people and probable near-collapse of civilization. We know that this transition not only can occur, but will occur. We do not know when, why, or how to estimate its general probability. We do know that the LIA — a mere 400-500 years ago — was the coolest period in the entire Holocene post the Younger Dryas excursion; in general the Holocene appears to be cooling from its warmest period, and the twentieth century was a Grand Solar Maximum, the most active sun in 11,000 years, a maximum that is now clearly past.IMO we are far more likely to be hanging out over an instability in which a complete transition to cold phase becomes uncomfortably likely than we are to be near a transition to a superwarm phase that there is no evidence of in the climate record. The probability is higher for two reasons. One is that unlike the superwarm phase, we know that the cold phase actually exists, and is a lot more stable than the warm phase. The “size” of the quasistable Poincare cycle oscillations around the cold phase major attractor is much larger than that around the warm phase attractors, and brief periods of warming often get squashed before turning into actual interglacials — that’s how stable they are.The other is that we spend 90% of the time in glacial phase, only 10% in interglacial, and the Holocene is already one of the longer interglacials! There is dynamics on long timescales that we do not understand at work here. We have only the foggiest idea of what causes the (essentially chaotic) transition from warm phase to cold phase or vice versa — very crude ideas involving combinations of Milankovich cycles, the tipping of the ecliptic, the precession of the poles, orbital resonances, and stuff like that, but there is clearly a strong feedback within the climate cycle that enables cold phase “tipping”, probably related to albedo.It could be something as simple as a quiet sun; the LIA-Maunder minimum suggests that we should actively fear a quiet sun, because something in the nonlinear differential system seems to favor colder attractors (still in the warm phase major attractor) during Maunder-type minima. One has to imagine that conversion to glaciation phase is more likely at the bottom of e.g. the LIA than at any other time, and the Holocene is probably living on borrowed time at this point, where a prolonged LIA-like interval could tip it over.To be honest, even a LIA would be a disaster far greater than most of the warmist catastrophic imaginings. The population of the world is enormous compared to what it was in the last ice age, and a huge fraction of it lives and grows food on temperate zone land. Early frost and late spring could both reduce the available land and halve the number of crops grown on the land that survives, even before full blown glaciation. Cold (warm) phases are often associated with temperature/tropic droughts, as well, at least in parts of the world. IMO, the “rapid” onset of a LIA could kill a billion people as crops in Siberia and China and Canada and the northern US fail, and could easily destabilize the world’s tenuous political situation to where global war again becomes likely to add to our woes.We may ultimately discover that AGW was our salvation — the CO_2 released by our jump to civilization may ameliorate or postpone the next LIA, it may block cold-phase excursion that could begin the next REAL ice age for decades or even a century. In the meantime, perhaps we can get our act together and figure out how to live together in a civilized world, not a few civilized countries where people are well off and all the rest where they are poor and more or less enslaved by a handful of tyrants or religious oligarchs.Note well, this latter bit is itself “speculative fiction” — I don’t fully understand climate cycles either (it’s a hard problem). But at least there I can provide evidence for a lurking catastrophe in the actual climate record, so it is a lot less “fiction” than CAGW.http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/09/strange-new-attractors-strong-evidence-against-both-positive-feedback-and-catastrophe/  78 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / If it Ain't Reproducible it Ain't Science on: January 11, 2012, 12:18:24 PM Scientists, Share Secrets or Lose Funding: Stodden and ArbesmanBy Victoria Stodden and Samuel Arbesman Jan 9, 2012 7:00 PM ET 9 Comments QThe Journal of Irreproducible Results, a science-humor magazine, is, sadly, no longer the only publication that can lay claim to its title. More and more published scientific studies are difficult or impossible to repeat.It’s not that the experiments themselves are so flawed they can’t be redone to the same effect -- though this happens more than scientists would like. It’s that the data upon which the work is based, as well as the methods employed, are too often not published, leaving the science hidden.Many people assume that scientists the world over freely exchange not only the results of their experiments but also the detailed data, statistical tools and computer instructions they employed to arrive at those results. This is the kind of information that other scientists need in order to replicate the studies. The truth is, open exchange of such information is not common, making verification of published findings all but impossible and creating a credibility crisis in computational science.Federal agencies that fund scientific research are in a position to help fix this problem. They should require that all scientists whose studies they finance share the files that generated their published findings, the raw data and the computer instructions that carried out their analysis.The ability to reproduce experiments is important not only for the advancement of pure science but also to address many science-based issues in the public sphere, from climate change to biotechnology.Too Little TransparencyConsider, for example, a recent notorious incident in biomedical science. In 2006, researchers at Duke University seemed to have discovered relationships between lung cancer patients’ personal genetic signatures and their responsiveness to certain drugs. The scientists published their results in respected journals (the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature Medicine), but only part of the genetic signature data used in the studies was publicly available, and the computer codes used to generate the findings were never revealed. This is unfortunately typical for scientific publications.The Duke research was considered such a breakthrough that other scientists quickly became interested in replicating it, but because so much information was unavailable, it took three years for them to uncover and publicize a number of very serious errors in the published reports. Eventually, those reports were retracted, and clinical trials based on the flawed results were canceled.In response to this incident, the Institute of Medicine convened a committee to review what data should appropriately be revealed from genomics research that leads to clinical trials. This committee is due to release its report early this year.Unfortunately, the research community rarely addresses the problem of reproducibility so directly. Inadequate sharing is common to all scientific domains that use computers in their research today (most of science), and it hampers transparency.By making the underlying data and computer code conveniently available, scientists could open a new era of innovation and growth. In October, the White House released a memorandum titled “Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High-Growth Businesses,” which outlines ways for federal funding agencies to improve the rate of technology transfer from government-financed laboratories to the private business sector.Technology TransferIn this memo, President Barack Obama called on federal agencies to measure the rate of technology transfer. To this end, agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation should require that scientists who receive federal funds publish full results, including the data they are based on and all the computer steps taken to reach them. This could include providing links to Internet sites containing the data and codes required to replicate the published results.Exceptions could be made when necessary -- some information might need to be kept confidential for national-security reasons, for example. But standard practice for scientific publication should be full transparency.Leaving this up to the scientific community isn’t sufficient. Nor is relying on current federal rules. Grant guidelines from the NIH and the NSF instruct researchers to share with other investigators the data generated in the course of their work, but this isn’t enforced. The NIH demands that articles resulting from research it finances be made freely available within a year of publication. But even if this policy were extended to all government-financed studies, the data and computer codes needed to verify the findings would still remain inaccessible.As Jon Claerbout, a professor emeritus of geophysics at Stanford University, has noted, scientific publication isn’t scholarship itself, but only the advertising of scholarship. The actual work -- the steps needed to reproduce the scientific finding -- must be shared.Stricter requirements for transparency in publication would allow scientific findings to more quickly become fuel for innovation and help ensure that public policy is based on sound science.(Victoria Stodden is an assistant professor of statistics at Columbia University. Samuel Arbesman is a senior scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The opinions expressed are their own.)http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-10/scientists-share-secrets-or-lose-funding-stodden-and-arbesman.html  79 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Failing at Prediction, Succeeding at Bias on: January 07, 2012, 02:12:04 PM Whups, one more:Failing at Prediction, Succeeding at BiasDate: January 6, 2012 | Author: Brian TrentIn Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, the future can be predicted through a new method known as psychohistory. It’s a concept that turns up quite a lot — not only in science-fiction but from every so-called analyst, expert, advisor, talking head, and pundit across the spectrum of armchair philosophers and industry insiders.We’re not talking about psychics here, but good old fashioned datahounds. Surely this suggests a more effective compass to predicting trends, right? Isn’t there a science to extrapolation that is more effective than reading the pattern of coffee grinds at the bottom of your Turkish coffee? Economics and technology and politics are not like trying to divine how many angels can stand on pinheads, after all.Michael Shermer has a fine and sobering article today in the Huffington Post on how economists and Nostradamus aren’t so different with their respective track records: QuoteAt Skeptic magazine we routinely publish articles about the failed predictions of soothsayers, astrologers, tarot-card readers, palm-readers, and psychics of all stripes. But frankly scientists are not much better, especially in the social sciences where we depend on predictions of psychologists, sociologists, and most notably economists. Shermer highlights the stealthy, insidious logical fallacy that is confirmation bias, as the gremlin in our would-be psychohistorical acumen:QuoteOne of the smartest and most deeply read historians of the 20th century, Arnold Toynbee, was spectacularly wrong in his blockbuster A Study of History, in which he thought he had identified a challenge-and-response cyclical pattern that all civilizations follow: birth, growth, expansion, empire, and disintegration. Starting with Greece and Rome, Toynbee dug through the historical record to find confirmatory evidence for his theory (culminating in his call for America to rise to the challenge of its alleged mid-century moral decline). You would think he would have taken heed from his inspiration, the German historian Oswald Spengler, who erroneously predicted the “decline of the west” in the 1920s. But that’s not how the mind works.Why did Toynbee believe his own theory in the teeth of contradictory evidence presented by other historians? Because of the confirmation bias, which our brains employ to reinforce what we already believe while ignoring disconfirming data. It isn’t merely the flashy discredited utopias that earlier ages expected — like flying cars or airships or lunar bases by 1999. The world is an astonishingly complex place, while our brains are constantly trying to simplify it into a distinct and candy-coated set of variables that will result in a conclusion ready-to-fit on a poster or soundbyte.Writes Shermer:QuoteBeing deeply knowledgeable on one subject narrows one’s focus and increases confidence, but it also blurs dissenting views until they are no longer visible, thereby transforming data collection into bias confirmation and morphing self-deception into self-assurance. Not bad advice for the new year.http://theness.com/roguesgallery/index.php/general-science/failing-at-prediction-succeeding-at-bias/  80 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Little British Humor on: January 07, 2012, 02:08:13 PM Quote of the day: Newcastle did not beat Manchester United today, because the long term trend is for Manchester United to beat Newcastle.Stephen Goddard, alluding to last night's footie results.Have a hot date with my wife tonight so I'll join fray again later, I expect with several drinks in me.  81 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Whoops, it wasn't AGW . . . on: January 07, 2012, 02:02:00 PM . . . but zombie parasite flies:http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/01/03/zombie-fly-parasite-killing-honeybees/Second post.  82 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bon Mots on: January 07, 2012, 01:59:56 PM List of 250 Climategate 2.0 emails that are particularly interesting. I've been enjoying the various "when did trees stop functioning as thermometer" threads:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/06/250-plus-noteworthy-climategate-2-0-emails/  83 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Interesting Chain of Events on: January 07, 2012, 01:56:44 PM Felon Steals Gun, Accidentally Kills Himself, Estate Sues Owner and Gun ManufacturerEugene Volokh • January 6, 2012 10:29 pmBut I’m happy to say that today’s Ryan v. Hughes-Ortiz (Mass. App. Ct. Jan. 6, 2012) throws out the lawsuit:In November, 2001, [Charles] Milot was released on probation from the Billerica house of correction after an incarceration of about eighteen months. [Thomas] Hughes testified in his deposition that he helped Milot to get reestablished by loaning him a small amount of money and giving him odd jobs to do around his house. [During the pendency of this action, Hughes died, and his daughter, Hughes-Ortiz, was substituted as a party defendant.] Hughes knew Milot through Milot’s sister, Deborah McConologue, and her husband, whom Hughes had known for twenty years. Hughes was aware of Milot’s history of substance abuse, prior depression, and the loss of Milot’s driver’s license.In his deposition, Hughes testified that he owned several firearms that he stored in a chest in a second-floor bedroom. The bedroom was kept locked and had been outfitted with barred windows. Hughes testified that he kept the keys to this bedroom in a vase on top of the fireplace.One of the firearms that Hughes owned was a Glock pistol. Hughes purchased the Glock pistol and its storage container in 2000 from the widow of a former Boston police officer. Hughes testified in his deposition that he stored the unloaded pistol as well as its magazine in its storage container in a chest drawer in the same bedroom where his other guns were stored....In her deposition testimony, McConologue reported that, at a family event held on February 23, 2002, Milot showed her two handguns and two loose cartridges ... [and] told her that he got them from Hughes’s house. She further testified that Milot told her that he found the key in Hughes’s house for the locked bedroom door, unlocked the door, and found the guns, ultimately taking them from Hughes’s home. McConologue testified that she advised her brother to call Hughes and return the pistols to him, that Milot did not want to tell Hughes that he had taken the guns, but that Milot agreed to put them back the way he had found them.On February 25, 2002, Hughes picked up Milot around 7:00 A.M. and brought Milot to his house. Once they were at Hughes’s house, Hughes showed Milot the front doorbell that he wanted Milot to repair. Hughes then left his house to run some errands, returning to check on Milot’s progress about two hours later. When Hughes returned home, he found Milot’s body covered with blood in the front doorway of his home. The police and an ambulance were called and upon their arrival, Milot was pronounced dead. An autopsy was performed, and it was determined that Milot had suffered a gunshot wound to his left thigh which severed the femoral artery and caused Milot to bleed to death.... Police speculated that “[a]pparently the victim was attempting to put the gun back in the container when the round was fired, striking the victim in the upper left leg.... The victim apparently walked out of the bedroom, down the front stairs, into the living room, used the telephone and walked to the front door where he collapsed and died.” ...Milot, through an affirmative act of theft in violation of G.L. c. 266, § 30, stole a firearm from the home of Hughes, the owner, who had placed trust in him. We conclude that public policy dictates that Milot’s criminal conduct acts as a bar to recovery. See, e.g., Flanagan v. Baker, 35 Mass.App.Ct. 444, 448–449 (1993) (“A ‘burglar who breaks his leg while descending the cellar stairs, due to the failure of the owner to replace a missing step’ ... could be denied recovery for public policy considerations”); Driscoll v. Board of Trustees of Milton Academy, 70 Mass.App.Ct. 285, 291–292 (2007) (student who committed statutory rape violated the law as well as “social values and customs” and “may not recover in tort against the school for his own sexual misconduct”)....Our conclusion is further buttressed by Restatement (Second) of Torts, and Milot’s criminal acts — stealth of the pistol, and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (2006), which bars the possession of firearms and ammunition by convicted felons.... Milot’s actions constitute the sort of conduct described in Restatement (Second) of Torts § 889 comment b (1977), whereby a plaintiff is “barred from recovery for harm caused by violation of [a] statute ... [where] the harm resulted from a risk of the type against which the statute was intended to give protection.” See § 889 comment b, supra, illustration 5.... n enacting the Gun Control Act of 1968 (which includes 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1], of which Milot was in violation), Congress sought to “curb crime by keeping ‘firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them because of age, criminal background, or incompetency.’ In order to accomplish this goal, Congress obviously determined that firearms must be kept away from persons, such as those convicted of serious crimes, who might be expected to misuse them.” See also Barrett v. United States, 423 U.S. 212, 218 (1976) (“Congress ... sought broadly to keep firearms away from the persons Congress classified as potentially irresponsible and dangerous”)....The plaintiff brought claims of breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, negligence, wrongful death, and unfair and deceptive acts and practices against Glock.... The judge granted summary judgment on all claims after finding that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901–7903 (2006) (PLCAA or Act) barred the plaintiff’s claims against Glock....The plaintiff alleges that the Glock pistol and gun case “were defective because the [gun] case caused the loaded Glock ... pistol ... to discharge through the case and because the pistol was likely to discharge unintendedly” and that “Glock so negligently and carelessly designed the Glock Model 17 pistol and storage case ... that the pistol discharged into the Decedent’s body mortally wounding the Decedent.” The plaintiff’s claims of breach of the implied warranty of merchantability and design defect are thus based on the interaction between the Glock pistol and the gun case. We now consider whether the claims, as formulated by the plaintiff, are barred by the PLCAA....[The PLCAA presumptively bars “any] civil action or proceeding ... brought by any person against a manufacturer ... of a qualified product, ... for damages, punitive damages, ... abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties, or other relief, resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party....” ... The parties do not dispute that the Glock pistol is a “firearm” and therefore a “qualified product” under the PLCAA .... [Plaintiff argues that] the gun case is not a qualified product, and thus the PLCAA does not bar her suit against Glock[, but a]s this argument was not made in the trial court in the first instance, the argument is waived. We express no opinion as to whether the PLCAA would preclude or permit a future plaintiff to bring claims involving the interaction between qualified and nonqualified products.The final element of the definition of a “qualified civil liability action” is that the civil action “result[ed] from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party.” The Act defines “unlawful misuse” to mean “conduct that violates a statute, ordinance, or regulation as it relates to the use of a qualified product.” The plaintiff argues that “[t]he PLCAA is inapplicable because there was no evidence supporting the conclusion that the gun was misused, whether criminally, unlawfully or otherwise.” ... [But] in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), Milot possessed a firearm and ammunition after having been convicted of a felony. Since the civil action at issue here resulted from Milot’s possession of the Glock pistol, which constituted “criminal or unlawful misuse” due to Milot’s prior felony conviction, this is a “qualified civil liability action.” ...http://volokh.com/2012/01/06/felon-steals-gun-accidentally-kills-himself-estate-sues-owner-and-gun-manufacturer/  84 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / For Those who Say it Can't Happen Here on: January 07, 2012, 01:54:35 PM FDR and Executive Order 9066Posted by Tim LynchGordon Hirabayashi died on January 2, at age 93.The Washington Post obituary notes that the federal government put him in a prison during the 1940s. President Franklin Roosevelt issued many decrees, but the one that would lead to Hirabayashi’s imprisonment, Executive Order 9066, said that thousands of Americans residing on the West Coast had to leave their jobs and homes and promptly report to certain prison camps (“relocation centers”). The feds said actual proof of wrongdoing was unnecessary.Hirabayashi refused to go along with the program, so he was prosecuted for disobeying the president and jailed. The courts rejected his argument that FDR had exceeded the powers of his office. In an interview in 1985, Hirabayashi looked back on his ordeal and said, “My citizenship didn’t protect me one bit. Our Constitution was reduced to a scrap of paper.”Even though there are written safeguards concerning due process, habeas corpus, and jury trial, presidents will sometimes assert the power to override all that. FDR did it. George W. Bush did it. And Barack Obama wants to reserve the option to do it.On January 17, Cato will be hosting a book forum about FDR’s war policies and civil liberties.For related Cato scholarship, go here and here.http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/fdr-and-executive-order-9066/  85 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Inform or Obfuscate? on: January 05, 2012, 06:54:30 PM @BBGQuoteDo we have experimentally verified gravitons that I missed?QuoteEinstein's Theory of Relativity (which is not a theory of gravitation) predicted bending of light which was later experimentally verified and also predicted the existence of black holes. The LAWS of gravitation are experimentally verified probably many times every day. There are a rather wide variety of experiments on gravitation that can be performed. I also specifically said why they don't answer the questions required to become a Theory of Gravitation although there are many aspects of the theories that are out there that can be verified. Perhaps I should use the word hypotheses but I was using the word that the authors of the "theories" used.Uhm, okay I think I understand. Gravitons have nothing to do with gravity, and we are both discussing and not discussing whether there is a comprehensive, verifiable theory for the stuff that keeps us from floating around. I guess there is some sort of Schrödinger's cat--wave/particle--Zen koan--sister **slap** daughter aspect of this I'm somehow missing. Whups, that last example is from Chinatown and hence is perhaps not germane to this discussion. QuoteEasily measure the concentrations of CO2 in all bodies of water on the planet? I guess Alvin has been busy. Just when did this occur? QuoteYou are going to have to remind me what this has to do with changing the absorption of infrared light by the ATMOSPHERE. I already said this governs some removal mechanisms in accordance with Henry's Law. It also has bearing on the analysis of potential damage to ecological systems.Sure thing. Proxies suggest there were times in the past when there were higher concentrations of of CO2 yet things were not warmer than they are now. They also suggest there were times in the past when concentrations were significantly lower yet things were warmer than they are now. 3/4s of the planet is covered by water which warehouses huge quantities CO2, yet we do not understand how CO2 exchanges between the two media, particularly over time. If we are going to hold a single variable accountable for some sort of coming conflagration we should likely understand that exchange mechanism, particularly as there hasn't been a linear relationship between CO2 and temp demonstrated in the geologic record. Or is there something in Henry's Law or the absorption of infrared that explains these anomalies? QuoteWell thank goodness then that whole "hockey stick" thing was some sort of grievous misunderstanding. Has Dr. Mann been informed?QuoteYou are going to have to remind me where one of them said that CO2 concentrations were the only factor that affected atmospheric temperatures.Whut? You want me to post that silly hockey stick graph with the temps and CO2 levels correlated over time, save for the Medieval Warming Period? Should I then recapitulate how Mann refused to release the source code he applied to his proxies until the Canadian statistician whose name eludes me at the moment backward engineered it, demonstrating processing errors along the way? Maybe I should Google "carbon dioxide & global warming" and then post the link so you can wade through the results yourself? Are you seriously going to argue that CO2 is not the single variable most AGW alarmists have seized on? If so I'm gonna have to ask if you are here to inform or obfuscate.  86 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / False Positive at the Top of One's Voice on: January 05, 2012, 05:42:46 PM POSITIVE, adj. Mistaken at the top of one's voice.Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's DictionaryThe AGW establishment should heed this piece, particularly the statistics end of things, as that is where many feel their errors lie. When you make a habit of teasing out data from proxies using suspect statistical methods, false positives are sure to ensue.Publishing False PositivesPublished by Steven Novella under General Science Recently researchers published a paper in which their data show, with statistical significance, that listening to a song about old age (When I’m 64) actually made people younger – not just feel younger, but to rejuvenate to a younger age. Of course, the claim lacks plausibility, and that was the point. Simmons, Nelson, and Simonsohn deliberately chose a hypothesis that was impossible in order to make a point: how easy it is to manipulate data in order to generate a false positive result.In their paper Simmons et al describe in detail what skeptical scientists have known and been saying for years, and what other research has also demonstrated, that researcher bias can have a profound influence on the outcome of a study. They are looking specifically at how data is collected and analyzed and showing that the choices the researcher make can influence the outcome. They referred to these choices as “researcher degrees of freedom;” choices, for example, about which variables to include, when to stop collecting data, which comparisons to make, and which statistical analyses to use.Each of these choices may be innocent and reasonable, and the researchers can easily justify the choices they make. But when added together these degrees of freedom allow for researchers to extract statistical significance out of almost any data set. Simmons and his colleagues, in fact, found that using four common decisions about data (using two dependent variables, adding 10 more observations, controlling for gender, or dropping a condition from the test) would allow for false positive statistical significance at the p<0.05 level 60% of the time, and p<0.01 level 21% of the time.This means that any paper published with a statistical significance of p<0.05 could be more likely to be a false positive than true positive.Worse – this effect is not really researcher fraud. In most cases researchers could be honestly making necessary choices about data collection and analysis, and they could really believe they are making the correct choices, or at least reasonable choices. But their bias will influence those choices in ways that researchers may not be aware of. Further, researchers may simply be using the techniques that “work” – meaning they give the results the researcher wants.Worse still – it is not necessary to disclose the information necessary to detect the effect of these choices on the outcome. All of these choices about the data can be excluded from the published study. There is therefore no way for a reviewer or reader of the article to know all the “degrees of freedom” the researchers had, what analyses they tried and rejected, how they decided when to stop collecting data, etc.This is exactly why skeptics are not impressed when, for example, ESP researchers publish papers with statistically significant but small ESP effects, such as the recent Bem papers in which he purports to show a retroactive or precognitive effect. This is as impossible as music rejuvenating listeners and skeptics properly treated it the same way – the result of subtle data manipulation til proven otherwise. Researcher bias is one of the reasons that plausibility needs to be considered in interpreting research.Simmons, Nelson, and Simonsohn do not just describe and document the problem, they also discuss possible solutions. They list six things researchers can do, and four things journal editors can do, to reduce this problem. These steps mainly involve transparency – disclosing all the data collected (including any data excluded from the final analysis), making decisions about end points prior to any analysis, and showing the robustness of the results by showing what the results would have been had other data analysis decisions been made. Reviewers essentially make sure this was all done.They also discuss other options that they feel would not be effective or practical. Disclosing all the raw data is certainly a good idea, but readers are unlikely to analyze the raw data on their own. They also don’t like replacing p-value analysis with a Bayesian analysis because they feel this would just increase the degrees of freedom. I am not sure I agree with them there – for example, they argue that a Bayesian analysis requires judgments about the prior probability, but it doesn’t. You can simply calculate the change in prior probability from the new data (essentially what a Bayesian approach is), without deciding what the prior probability was. It seems to me that Bayesian vs p-value both have the same problems of bias, so I agree it’s not a solution but I don’t feel it would be worse.They also discuss the problem with replications. An exact replication would partially fix the problem, because then all of the decisions about data collection have already been made. But, they point out, prestigious journals rarely publish exact replications, and so there is little incentive for researchers to do this. Richard Wiseman encountered this problem when he tried to publish exact replications of Bem’s psi research.ConclusionScience is not only a self-corrective process, the methods of science itself are self-corrective. (So it’s self-corrective in its self-correctedness.) Simmons and his colleagues have done a great service in this article, highlighting the problem of subtle researcher bias in handling data, and also being very specific in quantifying the effects of specific data decisions, and offering reasonable remedies. I essentially agree with their conclusions, and their discussion about the implications of this problem.They hit the nail on the head when they write that the goal of science is to “discover and disseminate truth.” We want to find out what is really true, not just verify our biases and desires. That is the skeptical outlook, and it is why we are so critical of papers purporting to demonstrate highly implausible claims with flimsy data. We require high levels of statistical significance, reasonable effect sizes, transparency in the data and statistical methods, and independent replication before we would conclude that a new phenomenon is likely to be true. This is the reasonable position, historically justified, in my opinion, because of the many false positives that were prematurely accepted in the past (and continue to be today).Science works, but it’s hard. There are many ways in which errors and bias can creep into research and so researchers have to be vigilant, journal reviewers and editors have to be vigilant, and the scientific community needs to continue to self-examine and look for ways to make the process of science more reliable. Those institutions and professions that lack this rigorous self-critical and self-corrective culture and process are simply not truly scientific.http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/publishing-false-positives/  87 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / More Types of Non-Accountability than you can Shake a Stick at on: January 05, 2012, 01:33:16 PM 2nd post:Defund the IPCC NowPosted on January 5, 2012 by Willis EschenbachGuest Post by Willis EschenbachWell, I woke up to some bad news this morning. It turns out that the GAO, the US General Accounting Office, says US has been secretly hiding their funding of the IPCC for the last decade.They were already told not to do that by the GAO. In the 2005 GAO report with the swingeing title of “Federal Reports on Climate Change Funding Should Be Clearer and More Complete”, the GAO said … well, basically what the title said. But noooo, those sneaky bureaucrats didn’t do that at all.The latest 2011 GAO Report says the US government has not changed their ways. They have been clandestinely providing about half the operating funds for the IPCC for the last decade. In other words, the IPCC funding arrangements are of a piece with their “scientific” claims and their other actions—secretive, shabby, with a hidden agenda, and full of disinformation.The report says that the State Department provided$19 million dollars to the IPCC. Thanks, guys. Foolish me, I hadn’t realized that paying for bureaucrats to go party in Cancun and Durban was part of the function of the United States Department of State.I also found out that the IPCC got $12.1 million dollars from the US Global Change Research Program. That one really angrifies my blood. The IPCC flat out states that they do not do a single scrap of scientific research … so why is the US Global Change Research Program giving them a dime, much less twelve million, that was supposed to go for research? I could use that for my research, for example …The 2011 GAO report had some strong advice for the climate profiteers behind this secretive funding. They said:“Congress and the public cannot consistently track federal climate change funding or spending over time,”Oh, no, wait, that’s what the GAO said back in 2005. Unfortunately, they have no enforcement powers. What they said this time around was that the funding information:“… was not available in budget documents or on the websites of the relevant federal agencies, and the agencies are generally not required to report this information to Congress.”In other words … no change from 2005.Congressfolk, you are not paying attention. These guys are taking money for research and using it to party in Durban and other nice places around the planet. And the US has been secretly funding them for a decade.Can anyone name for me one valuable thing that the IPCC has done? Can anyone point to an accomplishment by the IPCC that justifies their existence? Because I can’t. They throw a good party, to be sure, their last global extravaganza had 10,000 guests … but as for advancing the climate discussion, they have done nothing but push it backwards.And the next Assessment Report, AR5, will be even more meaningless than the last. This time, people are watching them refuse to require conflict-of-interest statements from the authors. This time, people are watching them appoint known serial scientific malfeasants to positions of power in the writing of the report. This time, people are keeping track of the petty machinations of the railroad engineer that’s running the show despite calls from his own supporters to step down.As a result, the AR5 report from the IPCC has been pre-debunked. It will be published to no doubt great fanfare and sink like a stone, dragged down by the politicized, poorly summarized bad science and rewarmed NGO puff pieces that the IPCC is promoting as though they were real science.Folks … can we call a long overdue halt to this IPCC parade of useless and even antiscientific actions? Can we stop the endless partying at taxpayer expense? Can we “trow da bums out” and get back to climate science?Please?I say DEFUND THE IPCC NOW!w.PS—The GAO report is available here. And all is not lost, at least one Congressman is working to defund the IPCC:Wrapped into the many amendments recently passed by the House of Representatives — a total of$60 billion in spending cuts that the president called a “nonstarter” — was one by Republican Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer that would prohibit $13 million in taxpayer dollars from going to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group whose occasional missteps have been the source of countless confrontations among climate scientists over the past year.…A congressional aide told FoxNews.com that he plans to pursue the bill — regardless of whether it is passed in the larger Republican budget.“The congressman plans to continue his effort to stop taxpayer support of the IPCC and remains cautiously optimistic that the Senate will take the amendment,” said Keith Beardslee, a spokesman for the congressman. “Failing that, Blaine has reintroduced separate legislation he first introduced in the 111th Congress to halt funding to the IPCC.”GO MISSOURI! GO LUETKEMEYER!!http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/05/defund-the-ipcc-now/  88 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene on: January 05, 2012, 12:52:58 PM Misfiled, perhaps, but a breath of fresh air compared to the panic mongering, non-falsifiable norm. I think if the most ardent of "environmentalists" were to get on board with this perspective they'd be far more likely to achieve their putative ends. Alas, I suspect many of them find the sky-is-falling approach more congruent with their political ends.http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/04/postenvironmentalism-and-technological-aReason MagazinePostenvironmentalism and Technological AbundanceA review of Love Your Monsters, a collection of essays on a new kind of environmentalism.Ronald Bailey | January 4, 2012Environmentalists Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus famously proclaimed The Death of Environmentalism in 2004. Now they're back with an ambitious new collection of essays titled Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene. Their goal is to dismantle the neo-Malthusian environmentalism of sacrifice and collapse and replace it with a new environmentalism that celebrates human creativity and technological abundance. Hooray!In their introductory essay, Shellenberger and Nordhaus make the case that technological progress and economic growth is the road to salvation, not the highway to ruin. They acknowledge that global warming may bring worsening disasters and disruptions in rainfall, snowmelts, and agriculture. However, they add, there is little evidence it will end civilization. “Even the most catastrophic United Nations scenarios predict rising economic growth. While wealthy environmentalists claim to be especially worried about the impact of global warming on the poor, it is rapid, not retarded, development that is most likely to protect the poor against natural disasters and agricultural losses.” As welcome as their conclusion is, it's not a novel insight. As it happens, a new report by the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website), Misled on Climate Change, [PDF] points out that the United Nations scenario in which humanity burns the most fossil fuels over the next century is also the one in which global wealth is greatest. In that scenario “by 2100 GDP per capita in poor countries will be double the U.S.’s 2006 level, even taking into account any negative impact of climate change.” For the record, current U.S. GDP per capita is$47,000. As the Reason report concludes, sustained economic growth over the next century “would not only address all of the current problems that might get worse in the future but would also enable humanity to address more effectively any other future problems it encounters, whether climate-related or otherwise.”The title of the collection comes from French anthropologist Bruno Latour’s essay, "Love Your Monsters: Why We Must Care For Our Technologies As We Do Our Children." Latour argues the story of Frankenstein has been misinterpreted by modern environmentalists as a cautionary tale about the dangers of technological hubris. In fact, Latour correctly points out that Frankenstein’s creature only became a “monster” as a result of being rejected and abandoned by his creator. In a similar manner to Frankenstein, environmentalists reject many new and old technologies out of fear of their unintended consequences. Most parents love their children despite the inconveniences posed by the noxious emissions they discharge from time to time. Latour argues that we should similarly embrace and care for our technologies despite side effects like pollution. Through love and care, both children and technologies can be civilized in ways that ameliorate and reduce noxious consequences associated with them.The next essay, "Conservation in the Anthropocene: Beyond Solitude and Fragility" is by three practicing conservationists, Peter Kareiva and Robert Lalasz at The Nature Conservancy, and Santa Clara University environmental scientist Michelle Marvier. Anthropocene is a proposed term to describe the current geological age in which humans are having a significant impact on the ecosphere. The essay begins by pointing out that “the worldwide number of protected areas has risen dramatically from under 10,000 in 1950 to over 100,000 by 2009.” This amounts to as much as 13 percent of the world’s land area, an area larger than all of South America. And yet deforestation and species extinction continue unabated.The three urge environmentalists to drop “their idealized notions of nature, parks, and wilderness—ideas that have never been supported by good conservation science—and forge a more optimistic, human-friendly vision.” They cite evidence that local people are better at managing natural resources and landscapes than are the centralized government bureaucracies favored by most environmentalist organizations. They ask, “If there is no wilderness, if nature is resilient rather than fragile, and if people are actually part of nature and not the original sinners who caused our banishment from Eden, then what should be the new vision for conservation?” They answer that conservation must “embrace a priority that has been anathema to us for more than a hundred years: economic development for all [emphasis added].” Among other things, economic development means more people living in cities and fewer on the landscape; more productive crops grown on fewer acres; and cleaner technologies with fewer side effects. “Nature could be a garden—not a carefully manicured and rigid one, but a tangle of species and wildness amidst lands used for food production, mineral extraction, and urban life,” they argue.Geographer Erle Ellis asserts in "Planet of No Return: Human Resilience on an Artificial Earth" that Malthusian environmentalism has gotten it completely wrong when it claims that there are limits to growth. Human social and technological ingenuity creates more resources over time. Ellis suggests, “As populations, consumption, and technological power advance at an exponential pace, industrial systems appear to be evolving in new directions that tend to reverse many of the environmental impacts caused by agriculture and prior human systems.” For example, more people are moving from the landscape into cities where they have better access to health care, education, incomes, housing, markets, transportation, and waste treatment. Agriculture productivity modernizes and intensifies potentially sparing more land for nature.Next philosopher Mark Sagoff deconstructs ecological economics which asserted that the scope and scale of the human enterprise was overloading ecological systems and causing them to collapse. Ecological economists argued that there were such things as ecosystems in which organisms and physical resources were tightly bound and which evolved together as a community. Disturbing these tight linkages could result in a collapse of the whole system. Subsequent empirical research finds that plant and animal “communities” are a figment; plants and animals just show up and survive as best they can where they find themselves. There is no balance of nature to be upset. Of course, unintended consequences of technological and economic development must be dealt with, but there are no ultimate constraints on economic growth.A devastating critique of Malthusian environmentalism is offered by Daniel Sarewitz in his essay "Liberalism’s Modest Proposal, Or the Tyranny of Scientific Rationality." He begins by citing Jonathan Swift’s famous satirical essay, "A Modest Proposal," in which Swift suggested that the problem of Irish famine might simply be dealt with by eating Irish babies. Sarewitz argues that Swift’s goal was to show that “pretty much any position, however repulsive, could be advanced on the back of rationality.” Sarewitz argues with regard to the problem of climate change modern environmentalists have adopted a form of scientific rationality in which the fact that burning fossil fuels to produce cheap energy harms the climate suggests that solution is to “make energy more expensive.” Sarewitz then points out that the access to cheap energy is, in fact, “a basic requirement for human development and dignity.” He adds, “This fact is so blindingly obvious that nearly any large developing country has treated the idea of a global agreement to raise the price of energy as a joke of Swiftean character. The difference being, of course, that it was not a joke.”Sarewitz then identifies the political incoherence that lies at the heart of environmentalism. On the one hand, environmentalists want to avoid the risks of new technologies and on the other Malthusian hand they worry about declining stocks of natural resources. Consequently, environmentalists “find themselves, for reasons of risk, opposing new technologies that could help resolve issues of scarcity.” As an example of this political and scientific incoherence, Sarewitz cites the case of genetically enhanced crops which environmentalists oppose because of their alleged risks to human health although such crops would ameliorate environmentalist concerns about soil and water depletion, pesticide residues, and population growth. Sarewitz cuts through the current incoherence by rejecting the environmentalist scheme to raise energy prices by means of a global cap-and-trade regime on fossil fuels. Sarewitz instead argues for an intensive research effort aimed at developing cheap low-carbon energy sources.The collection ends with an essay by engineer Siddhartha Shome, "The New India Versus the Global Greens Brahmins; The Surprising History of Tree Hugging." Shome details the history of the Chipko movement in the 1970s in which Himalayan village women literally hugged trees in forests near their homes in order to prevent outside loggers from cutting them down. This story was retold as an ecological tale in which the women were cast as protectors of nature. As Shome makes clear, the villagers intended to preserve their traditional forest rights from outsiders. The villagers wanted to maintain local control over resources, not create a nature preserve. Research shows that in fact local people tend to be better stewards of natural resources than centralized bureaucracies.Malthusian environmentalists like to cite factoids like the average American child over the course of her lifetime will consume 35 times more resources than the average Indian child. Shome shows that villagers are now abandoning the countryside, flocking to India’s economically dynamic cities seeking a better life for themselves and their families. They have every intention that their children will catch up to American kids when it comes to material welfare. Instead of reconciling themselves to ascetic poverty as Mahatma Gandhi urged, Shome shows that India’s poor are following the lead of the father of India’s constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar. Ambedkar argued, “Machinery and modern civilization are thus indispensable for emancipating man from leading the life of a brute … The slogan of a democratic society must be machinery, and more machinery, civilization and more civilization.”One big problem with the collection is that it fails to recognize the context that enabled the technological progress of the past two centuries to occur—the rise strong property rights and market economies. There simply has been no appreciable technological innovation in countries that do not have these institutions. In addition, Shellenberger and Nordhaus assert that many ecological problems—global warming, deforestation, and overfishing—are the unintended consequences of human technological success.Obviously technology contributes to these predicaments, but the chief problem is that they (and nearly all other environmental problems) occur in open access commons. If there is no clear ownership of rights to a natural resource, the users of the resource will overexploit it. If they leave something behind, the next guy will simply take it. In general the best way to protect resources is to privatize them and put them into the market, but that’s a subject for another time.It turns out that the “monsters” feared by environmentalists are largely figments of their cramped Malthusian imaginations. Sure, there are unintended consequences to technologies, but the solution is not to abandon them, but to improve them. The way to protect and preserve nature is to make humanity more prosperous. In the end, given its failure to understand both ecology and economics, one is left wondering what the purpose of environmentalism was supposed to be anyway?Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.
 89 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 04, 2012, 09:41:44 PM Quote from: Chuck B on January 04, 2012, 04:14:11 PM@BBG,QuoteChuck is right that there are many theories that explain gravitation, though none that are experimentally verifiable.Actually many of them are experimentally verifiable but they fail to account for all instances and they fail to tell us what gravity is although they can tell us what it does.  Accordingly many people do not consider them to be theories but rather are laws.Hmm, that's a mishmash of qualifications. Do we have experimentally verified gravitons that I missed? Moreover, you seem to be contradicting your original point "THAT THEIR IS NO THEORY OF GRAVITY." Which is it?QuoteDo we understand the CO2 absorption cycle of the water that covers three quarters of the planet?QuoteBut we can easily measure atmospheric concentrations of CO2 so this unit is only related to removal mechanisms but not instantaneous estimates of the heat trapping ability of the planet's atmosphere.Easily measure the concentrations of CO2 in all bodies of water on the planet? I guess Alvin has been busy. Just when did this occur? QuoteDo we have geologically significant data sets that correlate the sun's cycles to climate fluctuations?QuoteBut we can measure solar energy striking the planet, we can determine the spectrum of light that strikes the planet and we can determine the spectrum of light that leaves the planet which puts us well on the way toward calculating energy accumulation.Guess you missed the "geologically significant" part of the question.QuoteBottom line there are a huge number of variables that we've barely begun to catalogQuoteAnyone that ever claimed otherwise was a fool and I have met few people that would make such claims.Well thank goodness then that whole "hockey stick" thing was some sort of grievous misunderstanding. Has Dr. Mann been informed?QuoteTo claim a settled science comprised of a single variable is the iron clad truth is silly.Perhaps it is a single variable, but the only way that energy enters or leaves this planet is as electromagnetic radiation so it seems rather important.And why isn't that single variable water vapor, methane, O3, volcanic sulfides, or myriad other possibilities? Methinks the doomstruck seized on a single variable, trumpeted it to the point they couldn't back away even when 50 million climate refugees failed to materialize, yet find themselves so invested in a simplistic explanation of a complex phenomena that they have little choice to double down on the bet.
 90 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2000 Guns to Cartel? See HR on: January 04, 2012, 09:17:34 PM Hmm, so it looks like the next act will have the DOJ treating Gunwalker as a personnel issue rather than a criminal one. Be interesting to see if the sacrificed take issue with the coming passion play:Breaking: ATF reportedly relieves Fast and Furious managers prior to OIG reportDavid Codrea, Gun Rights ExaminerJanuary 4, 2012 - Like this? Subscribe to get instant updates.Gun Rights Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars  received information this evening that three of the prime Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives players in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal have been relieved of duties.William Hoover, ATF's Deputy Director during Fast and Furious, who was recently reassigned as Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office, Assistant Director in Charge of Field Operations Mark Chait, likewise reassigned as head of the Baltimore Field Office, and Deputy Assistant Director of Field Operations William McMahon have reportedly been sidelined pending the outcome of the anticipated report from the Office of Inspector General. Debbie Bullock a mid-level manager has reportedly been advised that she is now the acting SAC for Baltimore, and will assume Chait's functions.These three were the recipients of a January 20, 2011 email from ATF Associate Chief Counsel Barry Orlow, advising them and other Bureau attorneys of Gun Rights Examiner's “Open Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee staff on 'Project Gunwalker',” which put Senator Chuck Grassley's office on notice that ATF employees want d to come forward to provide testimony and documentation about gunwalking to Mexico. They were also prominent in a position issued by the CleanUpATF webmaster:Whereas overwhelming evidence establishes that substantial acts of wrongdoing may have been committed by senior Officials of the United States Government, including persons such as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Ronald H. Weich, Dennis Burke, and others acting for or on behalf of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Kenneth E. Melson, William J. Hoover, Mark Chait, William G. McMahon, William D. Newell, George Gillett Jr., and others of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and possibly other officials within the Obama Administration, CleanUpATF.org hereby respectfully requests that Congress should enact and empower, on behalf of the American people and pursuant to 28 C.F.R. PART 600, one or more Special Prosecutors...Disciplinary actions could take momentum away from that. Sources tell Gun Rights Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars that "ATF is going to follow the long-awaited OIG report to a 't':  If OIG says XX gets terminated, they are going to terminate." That this would be treated as a personnel matter, subject to disciplinary procedures, as opposed to a criminal matter, subject to prosecution was the topic of a recent post in this column.Left unsaid is why these three have been singled out prior to the OIG report being submitted, particularly since their sharing findings with the Department of Justice and ATF subjects of their investigation would violate all principles of independence from influence. If that did not happen, a fair conclusion to assume would be that the process of the investigation itself led those answering questions and providing documentation to an inevitable conclusion. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa wrote a December 7 column claiming Attorney General Eric Holder, scheduled to testify again on February 2, was "protecting staff over 'Fast and Furious'."This latest reported development lends itself to the observation that Holder is protecting something else, and that this is a tactical move in anticipation of the report's release and his next trip to the Hill.http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-national/breaking-atf-reportedly-relieves-fast-and-furious-managers-prior-to-oig-report
 91 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Gravity of Global Warming on: January 04, 2012, 11:50:46 AM Yet we are supposed to spend trillions of dollars to remediate CO2 to a barely observable degree, Doug. Go figure.I've scanned some of the recent posts here and see the debate is certainly spirited, though producing more heat than light to my mind. There has been an analogy raised, however, that I feel lends some focus to the debate, specifically the science of gravitation v. climate science. Chuck is right that there are many theories that explain gravitation, though none that are experimentally verifiable. Whether you are a string theorist, more of a quantum kind of person, or look at things through Einstein's lens the strings, god particles, gluons, weak forces, whatever that have to be postulated to make one theory more or less fit can not be experimentally verified, much less replicated.The same applies to AGW. Do we have a data set for deep ocean current temperature fluctuations over a geologically significant period? Nope. Do we understand the CO2 absorption cycle of the water that covers three quarters of the planet? Nope. Are the effects of cosmic rays on cloud formation well understood? Nope. Do we have geologically significant data sets that correlate the sun's cycles to climate fluctuations? Perhaps in some limited sense if proxies are used, but certainly not to a degree that the issue would be called settled in any other science. Bottom line there are a huge number of variables that we've barely begun to catalog, much less understand, and much much less have clean data sets for over a geologically significant period of time, that will all have to be replicated and verified before their impact on other barely understood variables can be studied and understood. To claim a settled science comprised of a single variable is the iron clad truth is silly, particularly in view of the less than settled nature of gravitation, a phenomenon we grapple with daily but still have no experimentally verifiable theory for.
 92 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Climate Summit Podcast on: January 04, 2012, 09:00:57 AM Interesting podcast from a Walter Cronkite-type figure working for the BBC. Synonymous to Cronkite's "the Vietnam War is lost" moment, IMO:Friday, December 16, 2011MICHAEL BUERK ON THE CLIMATE SUMMITSo why no debate on the assumptions behind the more apocalyptic forecasts?Example: the UN forecast 50 million climate refugees by 2010 – where are they? Agitator/Climate summit The latest so-called Climate Summit, that’s been taking place in Durban, hasn’t made many waves. It could be because global warming seems less daunting if you can no longer afford heating bills. It could also be that we’re getting fed up with the bogus certainties and quasi-religious tone of the great climate change non-debate.Now, I don’t know for certain that man’s activities are causing the planet to heat up. Nobody does. We simply cannot construct a theoretical model that can cope with all the variables.For what it’s worth, I think anthropogenic warming is taking place, and, anyway, it would be a good thing to stop chucking so much bad stuff into the atmosphere. What gets up my nose is being infantilized by governments, by the BBC, by the Guardian that there is no argument, that all scientists who aren’t cranks and charlatans are agreed on all this, that the consequences are uniformly negative, the issues beyond doubt and the steps to be taken beyond dispute. You’re not necessarily a crank to point out that global temperatures change a great deal anyway. A thousand years ago we had a Mediterranean climate in this country; 200 years ago we were skating every winter on the Thames.And actually there has been no significant rise in global temperatures for more than a decade now.We hear a lot about how the Arctic is shrinking, but scarcely anything about how the Antarctic is spreading, and the South Pole is getting colder.Droughts aren’t increasing. There are fewer of them, and less severe, than a hundred years ago. The number of hurricanes hasn’t changed, the number of cyclones and typhoons has actually fallen over the last 30 years.And so on.There may be answers, I think there probably are - to all these quibbles – I would like to hear them.I don’t want the media to make up my mind up for me.I don’t need to be told things by officialdom in all its forms, that are not true, or not the whole truth, for my own good.I resent the implication that the exercise of my reason is “inappropriate”, an act of generational selfishness, a heresy.I want a genuine debate about the assumptions behind the more apocalyptic forecasts.As recently as 2005, for instance, the UN said there would be 50 million climate refugees by 2010.That was last year.OK – so where are they?I would like to hear a clash of informed opinion about what would actually be better if it got warmer as well as worse.Where do you see reported the extraordinary greening of the Sahel, and shrinking of the Sahara that’s been going on for 30 years now – the regeneration of vegetation across a huge, formerly arid swathe of dirt poor Africa. More warming means more rainfall. More CO2 means plants grow bigger, stronger, faster. I would like a real argument over climate change policy, if only to rid myself of the nagging feeling that sometimes it’s a really good excuse for banging up taxes and public-sector job creation. It’s not happening. It’s a secular issue but skepticism is heresy. They talk the language of science, but it is really a post-God religion that rejects relativist materialism.Its imperative is moral.It looks to a society where some choices are obviously, and universally held to be, better than others.A life where having what we want is not a right and nature puts constraints on the free play of desires.To reinvent, in short, a life where there is good and bad, right and wrong.As with all religions, whether the underlying narrative is true, has become beside the point. ends http://www.thefifthcolumn.co.uk/the-agitator/michael-buerk-on-the-climate-summit/
 93 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: December 23, 2011, 06:40:48 PM Yes, settled to protect the children from the very dysfunctions we're imposing to "protect" them. But hey, if you have any quibbles with the data Neurobonkers presented, perhaps  stating them may prove more productive than again embracing the snarky ad hominem. Me, I thought the charts spoke for themselves, particularly where the current meth boogieman was concerned.
 94 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Meaning of "Militia" when Militias were Founded on: December 23, 2011, 06:35:19 PM Exhaustive look at the meaning of the second amendment in the context of the militias formed prior to the revolution and the Federalist/Antifederalist debates during the Constitution's ratification. Probably second only to Halbrook's "That Every Man be Armed" in scope:http://www.secondamendmentinfo.com/Journal/index.html
 95 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / UK Drug Death Data on: December 23, 2011, 12:48:49 PM BD: But when was the last time you were smacked by an iron lung?Lotsa charts, graphs, and interesting ways of visualizing UK drug death data here:http://neurobonkers.com/2011/12/22/the-year-in-drug-deaths-and-data-fraud/Difficult to view this info and come to any conclusion other than drug enforcement efforts are not based on consistency or a rational assessment of sensible criteria. Interesting to note: more people died from helium exposure in the UK than from cannabis. Time to declare was on lighter than air balloons, for the children, eh?
 96 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lieberman Expands the Scope? on: December 22, 2011, 04:07:31 PM Lieberman directs staff to examine Fast and Furious coordinationBy Matthew Boyle - The Daily Caller   12:13 AM 12/22/2011ADVERTISEMENTConnecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman has directed the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which he chairs, to examine miscommunication between law enforcement agencies related to the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious.A spokesperson told The Daily Caller Wednesday that Lieberman “believe(s) that the lack of interagency coordination along the border merits further examination, and as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he has directed his staff to follow up with the relevant federal agencies on that topic.”Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Holder’s DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchase guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown.Some reports suggest that the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were also involved in some manner or another with the operation.For instance, Pajamas Media reported that the night Terry was killed, an FBI informant was in the drug cartel rip crew that used Fast and Furious weapons to murder him. Rip crews are armed groups of bandits who work for specific drug cartels and try to rob rival cartel shipments and illegal immigrants as they’re crossing the border.Pajamas reports that the DEA also had some knowledge of that drug cartel rip crew’s whereabouts. Assuming the reports are true, the DEA and the FBI failed to “deconflict,” or warn other agencies including the Border Patrol about potentially deadly risks.With Lieberman’s committee now examining Fast and Furious details, that means two Senate committees are probing the matter — the homeland security committee and the judiciary committee.On the House side, the oversight and judiciary committees are investigating the DOJ’s role in Fast and Furious and the homeland security committee’s subcommittee on oversight has launched an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s role in Fast and Furious, a spokesperson for subcommittee chairman and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul confirmed for TheDC.Sixty-one congressmen, two U.S. senators and two sitting governors have called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation over Fast and Furious.  Lieberman has not called on Holder to resign.http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/22/lieberman-directs-staff-to-investigate-fast-and-furious-coordination/
 97 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bonjwa Voyage on: December 22, 2011, 07:46:17 AM First time I've encountered this source; his CV is certainly interesting. I'm no slouch when it comes to making a desktop computer do my bidding, but my kids multitask digitally in manners that amaze me: they keep a lot of different balls in the air while still working on a primary task, often gaming. This gent thinks they might have what it takes to be a next generation war fighter:The Future of Drone WarfareOver half of Air Force UPT (undergraduate pilot training) grads are now assigned to pilot drones rather than a real aircraft.*  The big question is why are drone pilots, guys that fly robots remotely from a computer terminal, going to a very expensive year of pilot training?  I can understand why the Air Force has chosen to send drone jockeys to pilot training:  A shift to piloting drones rather than real aircraft is an assault on organizational culture of the Air Force.  In the Air Force, pilots do the fighting and as a result take most of the leadership positions.  A transition to robotics upends that arrangement, and is why the USAF has strenuously resisted taking control of the drone mission until recently.  In this light, sending these drone jockeys to a very expensive year of UPT is an attempt to ease the cultural transition.  However, culture aside, is it the best training?  Drone Pilots TodayI suspect it isn't.  Here's why.  The assumption that combat with drones is going to be the same as combat without them is flawed.  It's going to be VERY different.  So far, it's hard to see that.  Most engagements today involve:a drone flying leisurely over a village in Pakistan controlled by a pilot at a terminal in Las Vegas/Nellis, waiting for five or more armed men to assemble in a single house (which is a terrorist "signature" that green lights authorization to eliminate the threat), and then pushing a button and holding a cursor over the house until it disappears.  That's not going to last long.  Drone CombatHow does the addition of drones change the nature of combat/conflict?  Why?  The tech is moving too fast.  Here are some of the characteristics we'll see in the near future:Swarms.  The cost and size of drones will shrink.  Nearly everyone will have access to drone tech (autopilots already cost less than $30). Further, the software to enable drones to employ swarm behavior will improve. So, don't think in terms of a single drone. Think in terms of a single person controlling hundreds and thousands.Intelligence. Drones will be smarter than they are today. The average commercial chip passed the level of insect intelligence a little less than a decade ago (which "magically" resulted in an explosion of drone/bot tech). Chips will cross rat intelligence in 2018 or so. Think in terms of each drone being smart enough to follow tactical instructions. Dynamism. The combination of massive swarms with individual elements being highly intelligent puts combat on an entirely new level. It requires a warrior that can provide tactical guidance and situational awareness in real time at a level that is beyond current training paradigms.Training Drone BonjwasBased on the above requirements, the best training for drones (in the air and on land) isn't real world training, it's tactical games (not first person shooters). Think in terms of the classic military scifi book, "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. Of the games currently on the market, the best example of the type of expertise required is Blizzard's StarCraft, a scifi tactical management game that has amazing multiplayer tactical balance/dynamism. The game is extremely popular worldwide, but in South Korea, it has reached cult status. The best players, called Bonjwas, are treated like rock stars, and for good reason:Training of hand/eye/mind. Speeds of up to 400 keyboard mouse (macro/micro) tactical commands per minute have been attained. Think about that for a second. That's nearly 7 commands a second.Fight multi-player combat simulations for 10-12 hours a day. They live the game for a decade and then burn out. Mind vs. mind competition continously.To become a bonjwa, you have to defeat millions of opponents to reach the tournament rank, and then dominate the tournament rank for many years. The ranking system/ladder that farms new talent is global (Korea, China, SEA, North America, and Europe), huge (millions of players), and continuous (24x7x365). Currently, the best Starcraft bonjwa in the world is Flash. Here's his ELO rating. Nearly all of the above would likely apply to cyber warfare too. http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2011/12/drone-bonjwas.html  98 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dreaded Equasty & Déjà Vu All Over Again on: December 21, 2011, 11:17:18 AM A book review: http://reason.com/archives/2011/12/20/modern-day-prohibitionReason MagazineModern-Day ProhibitionThe eternal temptation to ban things that give people pleasureJeff Stier from the January 2012 issueThe Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition Since 1800, by Christopher Snowdon, Little Dice, 246 pages,$19.99The new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary Prohibition is a five-and-a-half-hour missed opportunity to demonstrate why bans on substances are doomed from the start. Fortunately, for those who want to understand the irresistible lure of all types of prohibitions, there is Christopher Snowdon’s The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition Since 1800. Although Snowdon’s comprehensive history will never reach as many people as the PBS series, The Art of Suppression makes the case that Burns seems to go out of his way to avoid: that prohibition of products that people desire, whether alcohol a century ago or Ecstasy today, is bound to fail miserably.Deploying a colorful cast of characters, Snowdon, a British journalist whose first book, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist (2009), documented the history of anti-tobacco campaigns, tells the story of prohibition’s broader context. He brings to the task the stinging humor reminiscent of H.L. Mencken, whom he quotes in describing one of the book’s central villains, the Anti-Saloon League lawyer Wayne Bidwell Wheeler: “He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits.” Wheeler was a prototypical activist, Snowdon says, “the undisputed master of pressure politics…no one was more skillful or less scrupulous in applying pressure to wavering politicians.”Just as it is today, Ohio was a battleground state in the early 1900s, when Wheeler targeted popular Republican Gov. Myron T. Herrick, who had the audacity to challenge provisions of a prohibitionist Anti-Saloon League bill. Wheeler, Snowdon writes, held hundreds of dry rallies in favor of Herrick’s opponent and “scurrilously accused Herrick of being in the pocket of the drinks industry.” Seeking to make an example of the governor, Wheeler marshaled tens of thousands of churchgoers, who flooded into the polls and bounced Herrick out of office. The result? Practical political hypocrisy on the issue of alcohol. Wheeler’s effort, Snowdon explains, was “a bleak warning to wet politicians that it was safest to drink in private and support prohibition in public.…Politicians knew that they could placate their tormentors by supporting dry laws, but they also knew they could placate drinkers by failing to enforce them.” The wet/dry debate was a key issue in American politics for the quarter centuries before and after 1900. Issues as varied as women’s suffrage, race relations, urban vs. rural life, and religious tensions all played out in the context of alcohol prohibition. Wheeler’s mad female counterpart was known as “Christ’s bulldog,” the “hatchet-wielding vigilante” Carrie Amelia Moore, whose 1877 marriage of convenience to David Nation gave her a “striking name that she viewed as a sign of providence.” Arriving in officially dry Wichita, Kansas, on January 21, 1901, Carrie A. Nation assumed leadership of the militant wing of the so-called temperance movement, declaring loudly, “Men of Wichita, this is the right arm of God and I am destined to wreck every saloon in your city!” Together with three Woman’s Christian Temperance Union colleagues, Snowdon writes, “she set to work on two ‘murder shops’ with rocks, iron rods and hatchets, only stopping when the owner of the second saloon put a revolver to her head.” Vandalizing illegal saloons didn’t get Nation arrested, but attacking a policeman in a hotel lobby eventually did. “Showing considerable leniency, the chief of police released the teetotal delinquent on bail on the condition that she smash no more saloons until noon the following day. Nation’s first act as a free woman was to stand on the steps of the police station and inform the waiting crowd that she would recommence her reign of terror as soon as the clock struck twelve.” As it turned out, she could not wait even that long.Nation, who was widely believed to suffer from mental illness, may not have been a typical prohibitionist, but her antics made her one of the more conspicuous ones. Her visibility allowed outlets such as The New York Times to position themselves as moderate by condemning her tactics but not her underlying stance. Today’s prohibitionists are less colorful but no less determined. Consider the sad story of psychopharmacologist David Nutt’s brief term as chairman of the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Shortly after he was appointed to the position in May 2008, the Sun reported that Nutt thought Ecstasy and LSD should be removed from the legal category ostensibly reserved for the most dangerous drugs, kicking off a Fleet Street frenzy.Instead of backing down, Nutt doubled down. In a satirical article published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology in January 2009, he analyzed “an addiction called ‘Equasy’ that kills ten people a year, causes brain damage and has been linked to the early onset of Parkinson’s disease.” Nut added that Equasy “releases endorphins, can create dependence and is responsible for over 100 road traffic accidents every year.” Had Nutt not revealed that Equasy was simply the time-honored sport of horseback riding, activists certainly would have rushed to introduce a ban. Nutt pointed out that since Equasy causes acute harm to one out of 350 riders, it is far riskier than Ecstasy, for which the fraction is one out of 10,000. His point, of course, was that prohibition has less to do with risk than with the importance society attaches to a risky activity. As Snowdon puts it, “If the cultural baggage is put to one side, and activities are assessed on the basis of mortality rather than morality, there are glaring inconsistencies in the way laws deal with different hazards.” In October 2009, British Home Secretary Alan Johnson fired Nutt for failing to recognize that “his role is to advise rather than criticise.”While The Art of Suppression does not include a chapter on marijuana legalization, Snowdon leaves no doubt about his position on the issue. “Legal highs may not be as good as the real thing,” he writes, “and they are often more dangerous, but at least users don’t have to worry about being arrested.” Snowdon describes a cycle in which so-called “killer drugs” receive an inordinate amount of tabloid media attention, driving up consumer interest until the substance is finally banned based on sensationalistic claims about its dangers. Yet as soon as one chemical is banned, a newer one—often more dangerous—is created to elude the ban. “In the restless pursuit of hedonistic diversions,” Snowdon writes, “human beings will try almost any substance if more appealing avenues of pleasure are closed off.” In addition to sardonic humor, Snowdon offers new reporting on how distorted science and unfounded health claims are driving lesser-known prohibitions in the modern world, such as the 1986 European ban on all oral tobacco products, including Swedish snus. Snowdon documents in detail how a 2003 scientific report funded by the European Commission and the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, intended to provide legal and scientific justification for the ban, was altered after leaving the hands of the scientists who wrote it. Among the many questionable editorial changes in the report was one that glossed over the fact that snus, unlike less refined oral tobacco products, does not cause oral cancer. While the original version said “there can be no doubt that the current ban on oral tobacco is highly arbitrary,” that phrase was missing from the published report. In response to accumulating evidence supporting the use of snus as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes, supporters of the E.U. ban have become more brazen. Based on information from Asa Lundquist, the tobacco control manager for the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, the Swedish press reported that snus (which remains legal in Sweden) causes impotence and infertility. Luckily, Swedes, who have suffered through decades of similar scares, insisted on seeing the study behind the allegations. As it turns out, the scare itself was impotent. The supposed source, the Karolinska Institute, admitted “there is no such study.” Rather, “we have a hypothesis and plan to conduct a study among snus users after the new year.”     Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to exercise its authority to ban menthol cigarettes, even though studies repeatedly have found that they are no more harmful than non- mentholated cigarettes. Drunk with power, regulators and those encouraging them are using catchy slogans such as “Menthol: it helps the poison go down easier.” Prohibitionists ignore or belittle concerns that a ban on menthol cigarettes would turn citizens into criminals, increase unregulated youth access to cigarettes, and even encourage people to make their own mentholated cigarettes (all it takes is a regular cigarette, a cough drop, and a ziplock bag). It is hard to miss the similarities between current prohibition campaigns and their historical predecessors. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s “stated desire was to ‘reform, so far as possible, by religious, ethical, and scientific means the drinking classes.’ ” Likewise today, says Snowdon, self-righteous activists and their allies in government do not seek to improve public health by following the dictates of science but rather use pseudoscientific arguments and “subtle deceit” to advance laws that dictate how we live.It is easy now, as Ken Burns has masterfully done, to ridicule the prohibition of alcohol. But Snowdon does the heavy lifting of catching modern-day Carrie Nations in the act. Despite a long history of failure, the public always seems ready to enlist in prohibitionist campaigns, perhaps believing, as Snowdon puts it, that “utopia is only ever one ban away.”Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.
 99 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 21, 2011, 11:13:27 AM Sigh. Arming the most violent and criminal gangs in the hemisphere resulting in hundreds of deaths with no rational means of interdiction available = nothing to see here, move along in JDN land. Agent testimony that they were specifically instructed to ignore standard investigatory procedures for this case and no other = a random case of directed incompetence in JDN land. Moving all the supervisors into into cushy, high paying desk jobs while firing or harassing all the whistle blowers and others who testified off the talking points = some sort of crazy coincidence in JDN land. Arming foreign entities engaged in hostilities against your nation that then kill your citizens and law enforcement officers with those arms would be construed as an act of war by numerous nations and leaders going back thousands of years, except in JDN land where it is no doubt an invitation to engage in meaningful dialog or some other twaddle. You, sir, are a troll. There is no point in engaging you. Quote that in a manner that turns it's meaning around 180 degrees and insert my moniker in it to cement your trolling credentials.
 100 Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can't Track what you Aren't Watching on: December 21, 2011, 09:11:41 AM Hmm, very interesting memo that was written the day before the DOJ withdrew its false letter to Grassley. JDN's equivocations aside (by the way, dude, quit citing me as the source when in fact you are [inaccurately] referring to source material I posted) the "no surveillance teams" info strikes me as incredibly damning:U.S. Department of JusticeBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,Firearms and Explosiveswww.atf.govFebruary 3, 2011MEMORANDUM TO: Special Agent in Charge, Dallas Field DivisionTHRU: Resident Agent in Charge , Lubbock Field OfficeFROM: Gary M. Styers, Special Agent, Lubbock Field OfficeSUBJECT: Contact with Congressional InvestigatorsOn February 2, 2011, at approximately 1500 hours, ATF Special Agent Gary Styers was contacted telephonically by Robert Donovan and Brian Downey, representing United States Senator Chuck Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Downey and Donovan after identifying themselves asked Special Agent Styers if he would be willing to answer some questions regarding the time Special Agent Styers spent on a detail to the Phoenix Field Division, Phoenix Group VII Office. Special Agent Styers said he would be willing to answer questions to the best of his knowledge.Special Agent Styers was asked if he was familiar with the large firearms trafficking case in Phoenix Group VII and Special Agent Styers said he was. Downey and Donovan asked if Special Agent Styers knew the name of the case and he responded that it was "Fast and Furious". Downey and Donovan then asked if Special Agent Styers knew who the case agent was and Special Agent Styers said it was Special Agent Hope McAllister. Special Agent Styers was also asked who the supervisor of the group was and Special Agent Styers said it was Group Supervisor David Voth. Downey and Donovan also asked who helped Special Agent McAllister, Special Agent Styers said that Special Agent McAllister had a CoCase Agent from hnmigration and Customs Enforcement CICE) as well as an agent from Group VII. Downey and Donovan asked who was the Agent from ICE and Special Agent Styers told them it was Lane France.Downey and Donovan asked Special Agent Styers ifhe knew what the agents were assigned to do on the investigation. Special Agent Styers explained that a group of agents were assigned to the case and that since the case was in the stage of an active wiretap, some agents were working within the group and others were working at various functions related to the wire. Special Agent Styers further said that he did not specifically know the role of each individual agent.Downey and Donovan inquired as to the role that Special Agent Styers had in this case and Special Agent Styers advised that he had assisted with some surveillance operations with the case. Special Agent Styers was asked to describe the operations and relayed that one of the operations was a suspected transaction that was to occur at a gas station and detailed agents were asked to cover the transaction. While positioning to observe the suspects, Special Agent Styers and other detailed agents were told by Special Agent McAllister that agents were too close and would burn the operation. Special Agent McAllister told all the agents to leave the immediate area. While the agents were repositioning, the transaction between the suspects took place and the vehicle that took possession of the firearms eventually left the area without agents following it.Downey and Donovan asked Special Agent Styers ifhe ever saw guns actually go into Mexico. Special Agent Styers said he did not see any firearms cross the border to Mexico. They also asked if Special Agent Styers had worked with any agencies in Mexico, Special Agent Styers relayed that he had not, but had knowledge that other agents within Group VII spoke of communication with other ATF Special Agents assigned in Mexico.Downey and Donovan then asked if Special Agent Styers had any knowledge that Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) were reporting suspected straw purchasers. Special Agent Styers explained that FFLs were indeed reporting such situations and that Special Agent Styers had numerous contacts with FFLs in the Phoenix area and had also worked inside of an FFL in an undercover capacity, while an individual attempted a large scale straw purchase. Special Agent Styers told Downey and Donovan that in speaking with the FFL holder and owner of the gun shop, he told Special Agent Styers that he had asked ATF to install cameras inside his shop and to have an undercover agent inside on a more regular basis. Downey and Donovan inquired as to what the procedures were and who handled the calls from the FFLs when they reported such suspected transactions. Special Agent Styers told them that he had no knowledge of any special procedures. If the FFLs called during normal business hours, Special Agent Styers assumed that, if they called the office number, their call was handled by the Group Supervisor.Special Agent Styers also told Downey and Donovan that if the FFLs were calling individual agents within the group, he had no direct knowledge of those calls and what the ATF response was to those reports. However, Special Agent Styers did tell Downey and Donovan that he had heard from within the group that FFLs were calling case agents.With regards to statistics and reporting, Downey and Donovan, questioned Special Agent Styers as to whether he had any knowledge of "padding of statistics or inconsistent reporting". Special Agent Styers advised them that he had no knowledge of a wide scale effort to skew statistics. However, Special Agent Styers relayed that he did question the Group Supervisor as to why he wanted Special Agent Styers to trace firearms that had not been recovered. Special Agent Styers was assigned to the investigation and provided the ATF Form 4473s, the Firearms Transaction Record, and told to trace said frrearms. Special Agent Styers asked as to why, when ATF has the Suspect Gun Database, which is designed for such firearms that have yet to be recovered by law enforcement. Group Supervisor Voth said he wanted them traced so that if someone else traced the firearms, they would know the firearms were connected to the case Special Agent Styers was assigned. Special Agent Styers relayed that even though he disagreed with the requested procedures, he follow the request of Group Supervisor Voth. Special Agent Styers also informed Donovan and Downey that he asked several agents also assigned to Group VII if they had to submit similar firearms traces and they replied that they in fact also were told to trace all firearms in a similar fashion.Special Agent Styers was then asked about his general impression of the Fast and Furious case. Special Agent Styers stated that the case had systematically divided and isolated agents from the group. The case agent had solicited the advice of numerous experienced agents, inclucding Special Agent Styers, regarding how to conduct and end the wiretap operations and case overall. Special Agent Styers gave the case agent his honest opinion and advice since Special Agent Styers had worked two wiretap investigations in his career. Special Agent Styers felt that his advice and opinions, as well as other agents' advice and opinions were widely disregarded. Along with other agents within the group, Special Agent Styers explained that he was no longer asked to assist with Fast and Furious and concentrated on his assigned cases and provided necessary assistance to fellow agents within the detail and group.Downey and Donovan asked Special Agent Styers what he felt was incorrect about the way the Fast and Furious case was conducted. Special Agent Styers explained that first and foremost, it is unheard of to have an active wiretap investigation without full time dedicated surveillance units on the ground. Special Agent Styers relayed that no agents in the group were assigned to surveillance on the Fast and Furious case. Special Agent Styers said that other agencies or task force officers may have been used to conduct surveillance and respond to calls of FFLs, but it seemed that either the case agent or Group Supervisor would poll the office for agents who were available to respond at short notice.Secondly, Special Agent Styers said that it appeared odd to have a majority of ATF Agents working on a wiretap investigation, who had never worked such a case. Especially, when numerous, permanent Group VII agents and detailers had previous wiretap experience.Special Agent Styers was provided with contact information for Downey and Donovan and the conversation was ended. Special Agent Styers contacted the Lubbock Resident Agent in Charge, Jim Luera at 1545 hours after the conversation with Downey and Donovan ended, to inform him of the contact. Special Agent Styers was later asked to document the conversation herein and attempted to do so to the fullest extent possible.Respectfully,Gary M. StyersSpecial Agent, ATFOriginal here:http://www.grassley.senate.gov/judiciary/upload/ATF-12-14-11-Styers-memo.pdf
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