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Topic: Pathological Science (Read 226405 times)
November 03, 2007, 09:51:13 PM »
Having read today in an ever so earnest piece the global warming has caused a declining rate of circumcision in an area of Africa, I figured it was time to start a topic where rank foolishness cloaked in the gauze of pseudo "science" is exposed. This piece inaugurates the topic.
November 02, 2007
'Global Warming' as Pathological Science
By James Lewis
Trofimko Lysenko is not a household name; but it should be, because he was the model for all the Politically Correct "science" in the last hundred years. Lysenko was Stalin's favorite agricultural "scientist," peddling the myth that crops could be just trained into growing bigger and better. You didn't have to breed better plants over generations, as farmers have been doing for ages. It was a fantasy of the all-powerful Soviet State. Lysenko sold Stalin on that fraud in plant genetics, and Stalin told Soviet scientists to fall into line --- in spite of the fact that nobody really believed it. Hundreds of thousands of peasants starved during Stalin's famines, in good part because of fraudulent science.
There is such a thing as pathological science. Science becomes unhealthy when its only real question --- "what is true?" --- is sabotaged by vested interests, by ideological Commissars, or even by grant-swinging scientists. Today's Global Warming campaign is endangering real, honest science. Global Warming superstition has become an international power grab, and good science suffers as a result.
Freeman Dyson, one of the great physicists alive today, put it plainly enough in his autobiography:
"...all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. ... I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. ... They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."
When the scientific establishment starts to peddle fraud, we get corrupt science. The Boomer Left came to power in the 1970s harboring a real hatred toward science. They called it "post-modernism," and "deconstructionism" --- and we saw all kinds of damage as a result. Scientific American magazine went so far as to hire a post-modern "journalist" to write for it. John Horgan became famous for writing a book called The End of Science, but never seemed to learn much about real science. It was a shameful episode.
The explosive spread of AIDS occurred when the known evidence about HIV transmission among Gay men was suppressed by the media. The medical science establishment did not speak up. HIV is most easily transmitted through anal intercourse, because the anus bleeds far more easily than the vagina. So one Gay man simply passes blood products straight on to the next. Sexually transmitted plagues have been studied scientifically ever since syphilis arose several centuries ago. We know how to limit their spread, but many Gay men have died as a result of political suppression of scientific medicine. The spread of AIDS was partly a self-inflicted wound.
Pathological science kills people and ruins lives. Such fake science is still peddled by the PC establishment in Europe and America. Global Warming is only the most recent case. Rachel Carson's screed against DDT caused malaria to re-emerge in Africa, killing hundreds of thousands of human beings. Those human-caused disasters have never been discussed honestly in the media, and rarely if ever in science journals. The DDT scandal is still suppressed.
In Britain, much of the alarmism about Mad Cow disease was never justified scientifically. It was pure, math-model-driven science fiction, just like Global Warming. But it was pushed very vigorously by the British science establishment, which has never confessed to its errors, and is therefore likely to make the same ones again. In politicized science, public hysteria actually builds careers; in real science, it tends to ruin careers. Years after the Brits realized that Mad Cow was a false alarm, the French admitted that Oui, Messieurs, we had ze Mad Cow, naturally, but we are not hysterique, comprenez vous? Besides, cow brains are a great delicacy, and one only lives once. Vive la France! Right across the Channel in Britain, farmers were required by law to destroy and bury hundreds of thousands of sheep and cows. It was an economic disaster, and all because of wildly alarmist science.
Britain is even more vulnerable to politicized science than we are, because medicine is controlled by the Left. That is a huge chunk of all science in the age of biomedicine. But the British Medical Journal and even the venerable Lancet are no longer reliable sources. Their political agenda sticks out like a sore thumb. It was The Lancet that published a plainly fraudulent "survey" of Iraqi civilian casualties a few years ago --- the only "survey" ever taken in the middle of a shooting war. As if you can go around shell-shocked neighborhoods with your little clipboard and expect people to tell the truth about their dead and wounded: Saddam taught Iraqis to lie about such things, just to survive, and the internecine fighting of the last several years did not help. The whole farce was just unbelievable, but the prestigious Lancet put the fake survey into the public domain, just as if it were real science. It was a classic agitprop move, worthy of Stalin and Lysenko. But it was not worthy of one the great scientific journals. Many scientists will never trust it again.
Pathological science has erupted most often in the last hundred years in the field of education, where "whole-word reading" fraud undermined the reading abilities of whole generations of American kids. Young adults can no longer tell the difference between "it's" and "its," even though their grandparents learned it in grammar school. The field of education is gullible and fad-prone, and is very unhealthy as a result. That's why new teachers are taught to peddle PC --- ideology is all they have.
Pathological science has erupted in fields like psychology and medicine, but not often in the hard sciences. In physics, Cold Fusion claims were discredited very quickly. Now, Global Warming is a fraud simply because climatology is not a hard science. That's what Freeman Dyson, who knows what physics can do, meant by saying that the models "do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."
The climate is not "just basic physics," as some people claim. Basic physics is great for understanding CO2 in lab jars and planets in space, but it has no complete accounting for a wooden kitchen chair, because wood is far too complex a material. Nobody has a complete physical understanding of wood --- there are too many different cellular layers, molecules, and unknown interactions, all produced by a genetic code that is just beginning to be understood. We only know the genomes for a few plants, and we don't know how their genes are expressed in cells and proteins. So forget about applying basic physics and chemistry to kitchen chairs. Plants and trees are hypercomplex, like the climate.
Modern science fraud seems to come from the Left, which makes it especially weird because the Left claims to be all in favor of science. Marxism itself was a scientific fraud, of course. In 1848 Marx and Engels claimed to have a "scientific" (wissenschaftlich) theory of history. They predicted that communism would first arise in England, because it was the most advanced capitalist nation. (Not) They predicted that centralized planning would work. (Not) They predicted that the peasants and workers would dedicate their lives to the Socialist State, and stop caring about themselves and their families. (Not). They predicted that sovietization would lead to greater economic performance. (Not). And then, when seventy years of Soviet, Chinese, Eastern European, and North Korean history showed Marx's predictions to be wrong, wrong and wrong again, they still claimed to be "scientific." That's pathological science --- fraud masquerading as science.
(Current Marxists are more anti-scientific, because they've finally figured out that the facts don't support them, but they still haven't given up their fantasy life. Millenarian cults never give up, even when the facts go against them.)
Scientists love to cite the historic "martyrs of science" --- like Galileo Galilei, a great genius who was forced late in life to recant his views on the solar system by Pope Leo X. Or Giordano Bruno, who was actually burned at the stake. But the scientific establishment itself can be easily seduced by power, just like the Church was in Galileo's time. Science is just done by human beings. So we get plainly political editorials in magazines like Scientific American and Science. They jumped on Global Warming superstition before the facts were in.
Last year MIT Professor Richard Lindzen published an amazing expose in the Wall Street Journal editorial Page. It is called "Climate of Fear: Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence." Why are real scientists not speaking up enough against the Global Warming fraud? Well, some have been fired from their jobs, and others are keeping their heads down:
"In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions."
If scientists were totally honest, they would memorialize Trofimko Lysenko just like they celebrate Galileo. In some ways, Lysenko's name should be as well-known as Galileo, as a stern warning of what can so easily go wrong. There are wonderful scientists, who must be honest, or they will fail. And then there are some corrupt scientists who are not honest. It's really that simple. Scientists can be demagogues, too. We should not pretend that all are what they should be. They're not. Fortunately, healthy science has all kinds of built-in checks and balances. Pathological science circumvents those.
Some scientists rationalize this corruption of their vocation by saying that people can lie for a good cause. The record shows otherwise. Fraudulent science and science journalism has led to AIDS going out of control; to DDT being banned and malaria gaining a new lease on life in Africa; to decades of famines in Russia; to children being badly mis-educated on such basics as reading and arithmetic; to end endless slew of unjustified health scares, like Mad Cow; and to a worldwide Leftist campaign cynically aiming to gain international power and enormous sums of money, based on a simple, unscientific fraud.
When the truth-tellers in society begin to sell out and tell lies for some ideological goal, people end up dying.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/
Page Printed from:
at November 03, 2007
Eat Your Brussel Sprouts or you'll Destroy the Planet
Reply #1 on:
November 06, 2007, 11:49:44 AM »
The starving children in Asia, Africa, Europe etc. who were used to goad me to clean my plate when a child appear to have been replaced:
Spurning leftovers may hurt climate
Published: Nov. 3, 2007 at 5:45 PM
LONDON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- British Environment Minister Joan Ruddock has warned citizens that by not eating leftover food, they are effectively causing climate change.
Ruddock said that through food waste and excessive shopping, British citizens were paying a significant cost in both environmental and financial terms, The Independent reported Friday.
"At this rate we will not have a place to live which is habitable if we don't address climate change globally and the U.K. has to make its contribution," she said of such social problems.
The minister for climate change said that by eating leftovers and shopping more efficiently, British citizens could begin to help in the global fight against climate change.
Ruddock's comments come in the wake of a study by the Waste & Resources Action Program that found that one in every three bags of purchased food was essentially wasted by citizens.
To help citizens reach the lofty goal, Ruddock and the group launched the "Love Food Hate Waste" campaign Friday for more effective shopping and cooking tips.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #2 on:
November 07, 2007, 10:17:39 AM »
“Al Gore seems to have found a home at the peacock network. Both he and the network’s symbol like to strut a lot and frequently have their feathers ruffled. This week the peacock’s feathers are a solid green as NBC, among other activities, sends its ‘Today’ show stars, as the promo puts it, to ‘the ends of the earth’ to promote Gore’s agenda of saving the planet and repealing the Industrial Revolution... NBC began its Green Week with Sunday night’s Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles football game. Bob Costas solemnly intoned: ‘As part of NBC Universal’s Green is Universal initiative, we have turned out the lights in the studio to kick off a week that will include more than 150 hours of programming designed to raise awareness about environmental issues.’ Actually, the studio lights were off for about a minute, during which time you could see the giant stadium screen over his right shoulder and glowing video monitors all over the set. At halftime, Costas tossed it to Matt Lauer standing before some sled dogs in the Arctic, bathed in bright lighting flown in for the occasion. The folks at Newsbusters.org have calculated that flying Lauer and two crew to the Arctic Circle in Greenland—from New York to Thule AFB, a 2,487-mile distance—produced six tons of carbon emissions. That’s one ton each way per person. They used the carbon calculator found on Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ Web site. [Al] Roker’s journey from New York to Quito, Ecuador... produced another six tons of carbon emissions. Ann Curry’s trip to Antarctica—11,686 miles in all—produced a total of 12.9 tons of carbon. That’s a grand total of 24.9 tons of CO2 produced for a momentary photo-op while most people were up getting a beer or making a pit stop. According to Gore’s Web site, the average person produces 7.5 tons of CO2 in a year.” —Investor’s Business Daily
Pseudoscience on Parade
Reply #3 on:
August 29, 2008, 07:23:15 AM »
Undermining Scientific Credibility
Scientists Need to Step Up and Defend Their Turf—Now
Science is the knowledge of Nature and the pursuit of such knowledge. Scientists are generally held in high regard by laypeople. It is, after all, a noble and rewarding calling. Scientists span the political spectrum, come from every nation and race, and subscribe to any religious creed (or none).
The nonpartisan nature of the study of Nature has engendered the support of people worldwide, with scientists accumulating considerable political capital due to this broad spectrum of high regard. Unfortunately, most scientists, particularly those in academia, are politically naïve and unaware of the power of the wealth amassed. It is thus not surprising that others with less noble motives are arrogating the political capital rightly belonging to science and scientists.
Pseudoscientists come with various agendas—political, religious, and industrial are common examples. On the extreme left wing, when the overt political agenda fails to convince sufficient voters in the usual democratic exercise of elections, science is presented to gain support for the now-covert political agenda.
The typical guise here is any number of popular but scientifically questionable green or sustainable environmental initiatives. While there are certainly plenty of scientifically legitimate environmental issues, the left-wing pseudoscientists infiltrate easily, and readily convince the masses of the scientific credibility of their cause.
When the burning issue turns out to be wrong or grossly overstated, the credibility thieves slink back into the shadows, while science and legitimate scientists suffer the loss of credibility and respect. Meanwhile, legitimate environmental threats are pushed aside, and the thieves plan their next steps, financed again by inappropriate withdrawal of scientists’ political capital.
On the extreme right wing we find the religious pseudoscientists, who also illegitimately withdraw from the bank of scientists’ political capital in asserting what they call science to support what should be left to faith. Nowhere is this more evident than in the contentious debate of biblical creationism under the pseudoscientific guise of intelligent design.
The mere fact that this issue is under popular debate and even litigation proves that at least some people are convinced by the scientific content argued by the pseudoscientists representing a covert religious view. Of course many people hold beliefs in the absence of supporting evidence and even in the face of compelling counterevidence—that is, after all, the basis for religious faith.
Even many legitimate scientists hold religious beliefs, delegating and limiting their scientific beliefs to the natural world and their religious faith to the supernatural. But that is different from, and does not legitimize, the deceiving of people seeking scientific evidence before adopting beliefs.
For example, when family theme parks present “scientific evidence” purporting to support the notion that people walked the Earth with dinosaurs nearby, people are tricked into believing something that should be taken on religious faith as true scientific evidence contradicts the notion. This dishonesty undermines science, certainly, but also faith, as religious faith should stand on its own; it does not require the support of purloined and manipulated scientific evidence.
The industrialists also arrogate science when they present pseudoscience to sell questionable products. Nowhere is this more evident than in the healthfood market where organic foods are marketed and sold to naïve consumers based on the claimed superiority of the products. Food supplements and herbal remedies in reality are, at best, benign placebos or, at worst, malignant uncontrolled drugs of unknown purity and batch-varied potency.
Healthfood purveyors have convinced consumers that “science is on our side,” manipulating public support while shilling sales. Again, the price—loss of public credibility—is eventually paid when the scam becomes apparent, and not by the thieves responsible, but by the legitimate scientists who develop products with attributes backed by real and meaningful scientifically sound data.
In all these cases, thieves are squandering the political capital that properly belongs to the community of legitimate scientists. So far, the thieves have become wealthy, advanced their political agendas, and now enjoy an unearned status. Real scientists, the ones who have earned the social status and political capital, are too naïve to recognize that they are being robbed. The common assets are being stolen, eroded, and polluted from various sources claiming science as their own. When will real scientists start defending their property?
Alan McHughen is a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Email:
Damn Liars & Stats
Reply #4 on:
September 06, 2008, 08:27:20 AM »
Scientists, few of whom are trained statisticians, often start rummaging around the statisticians' tool boxes for gee whiz methods to beat spurious data into shape. Statistician William Briggs has a site (
) devoted to examining mis-applied statistical method. Below is a recent piece.
Do not smooth times series, you hockey puck!
Published by Briggs at 7:47 am under Bad statistics, Global warming
The advice which forms the title of this post would be how Don Rickles, if he were a statistician, would explain how not to conduct times series analysis. Judging by the methods I regularly see applied to data of this sort, Don’s rebuke is sorely needed.
The advice particularly relevant now because there is a new hockey stick controversy brewing. Mann and others have published a new study melding together lots of data and they claim to have again shown that the here and now is hotter than the then and there. Go to climateaudit.org and read all about it. I can’t do a better job than Steve, so I won’t try. What I can do is to show you what not to do. I’m going to shout it, too, because I want to be sure you hear.
Mann includes at this site a large number of temperature proxy data series. Here is one of them called wy026.ppd (I just grabbed one out of the bunch). Here is the picture of this data:
The various black lines are the actual data! The red-line is a 10-year running mean smoother! I will call the black data the real data, and I will call the smoothed data the fictional data. Mann used a “low pass filter” different than the running mean to produce his fictional data, but a smoother is a smoother and what I’m about to say changes not one whit depending on what smoother you use.
Now I’m going to tell you the great truth of time series analysis. Ready? Unless the data is measured with error, you never, ever, for no reason, under no threat, SMOOTH the series! And if for some bizarre reason you do smooth it, you absolutely on pain of death do NOT use the smoothed series as input for other analyses! If the data is measured with error, you might attempt to model it (which means smooth it) in an attempt to estimate the measurement error, but even in these rare cases you have to have an outside (the learned word is “exogenous”) estimate of that error, that is, one not based on your current data.
If, in a moment of insanity, you do smooth time series data and you do use it as input to other analyses, you dramatically increase the probability of fooling yourself! This is because smoothing induces spurious signals—signals that look real to other analytical methods. No matter what you will be too certain of your final results! Mann et al. first dramatically smoothed their series, then analyzed them separately. Regardless of whether their thesis is true—whether there really is a dramatic increase in temperature lately—it is guaranteed that they are now too certain of their conclusion.
There. Sorry for shouting, but I just had to get this off my chest.
Now for some specifics, in no particular order.
A probability model should be used for only one thing: to quantify the uncertainty of data not yet seen. I go on and on and on about this because this simple fact, for reasons God only knows, is difficult to remember.
The corollary to this truth is the data in a time series analysis is the data. This tautology is there to make you think. The data is the data! The data is not some model of it. The real, actual data is the real, actual data. There is no secret, hidden “underlying process” that you can tease out with some statistical method, and which will show you the “genuine data”. We already know the data and there it is. We do not smooth it to tell us what it “really is” because we already know what it “really is.”
Thus, there are only two reasons (excepting measurement error) to ever model time series data:
To associate the time series with external factors. This is the standard paradigm for 99% of all statistical analysis. Take several variables and try to quantify their correlation, etc.
To predict future data. We do no need to predict the data we already have. Let me repeat that for ease of memorization: Notice that we do no need to predict the data we already have. We can only predict what we do not know, which is future data. Thus, we do not need to predict the tree ring proxy data because we already know it.
The tree ring data is not temperature (say that out loud). This is why it is called a proxy. It is a perfect proxy? Was that last question a rhetorical one? Was that one, too? Because it is a proxy, the uncertainty of its ability to predict temperature must be taken into account in the final results. Did Mann do this? And just what is a rhetorical question?
There are hundreds of time series analysis methods, most with the purpose of trying to understand the uncertainty of the process so that future data can be predicted, and the uncertainty of those predictions can be quantified (this is a huge area of study in, for example, financial markets, for good reason). This is a legitimate use of smoothing and modeling.
We certainly should model the relationship of the proxy and temperature, taking into account the changing nature of proxy through time, the differing physical processes that will cause the proxy to change regardless of temperature or how temperature exacerbates or quashes them, and on and on. But we should not stop, as everybody has stopped, with saying something about the parameters of the probability models used to quantify these relationships. Doing so makes use, once again, far too certain of the final results. We do not care how the proxy predicts the mean temperature, we do care how the proxy predicts temperature.
We do not need a statistical test to say whether a particular time series has increased since some time point. Why? If you do not know, go back and read these points from the beginning. It’s because all we have to do is look at the data: if it has increased, we are allowed to say “It increased.” If it did not increase or it decreased, then we are not allowed to say “It increased.” It really is as simple as that.
You will now say to me “OK Mr Smarty Pants. What if we had several different time series from different locations? How can we tell if there is a general increase across all of them? We certainly need statistics and p-values and Monte Carol routines to tell us that they increased or that the ‘null hypothesis’ of no increase is true.” First, nobody has called me “Mr Smarty Pants” for a long time, so you’d better watch your language. Second, weren’t you paying attention? If you want to say that 52 out 413 times series increased since some time point, then just go and look at the time series and count! If 52 out of 413 times series increased then you can say “52 out of 413 time series increased.” If more or less than 52 out of 413 times series increased, then you cannot say that “52 out of 413 time series increased.” Well, you can say it, but you would be lying. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to chatter about null hypotheses etc.
If the points—it really is just one point—I am making seem tedious to you, then I will have succeeded. The only fair way to talk about past, known data in statistics is just by looking at it. It is true that looking at massive data sets is difficult and still somewhat of an art. But looking is looking and it’s utterly evenhanded. If you want to say how your data was related with other data, then again, all you have to do is look.
The only reason to create a statistical model is to predict data you have not seen. In the case of the proxy/temperature data, we have the proxies but we do not have temperature, so we can certainly use a probability model to quantify our uncertainty in the unseen temperatures. But we can only create these models when we have simultaneous measures of the proxies and temperature. After these models are created, we then go back to where we do not have temperature and we can predict it (remembering to predict not its mean but the actual values; you also have to take into account how the temperature/proxy relationship might have been different in the past, and how the other conditions extant would have modified this relationship, and on and on).
What you can not, or should not, do is to first model/smooth the proxy data to produce fictional data and then try to model the fictional data and temperature. This trick will always—simply always—make you too certain of yourself and will lead you astray. Notice how the read fictional data looks a hell of a lot more structured than the real data and you’ll get the idea.
Next step is to start playing with the proxy data itself and see what is to see. As soon as I am granted my wish to have each day filled with 48 hours, I’ll be able to do it.
Thanks to Gabe Thornhill of Thornhill Securities for reminding me to write about this.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #5 on:
September 06, 2008, 12:41:27 PM »
That was very interesting. I think I sensed the gist of it, but quite a bit of it went right over my head with nary a look back
Changing subjects abruptly, a couple of days ago I saw a seemingly serious piece about sun spots and their relation to temperatures here on earth. I would have posted it here, but I was on the road at a computer which wasn't mine and didn't have the time at the moment.
Anyway, I have been keeping an eye out for the sunspot hypothesis for a while now. I have seen articles which stated that Mars's temperatures have increased proportionately to earth's temperatures, which suggests a non-terrestrial cause of earth's variations i.e. the sun. The article the other day said that something very unusual had happened with the sun spots-- there were none for a certain amount of time and said that data seems to correlate this with prior cooling periods on the earth. Of all the people I know you are amongst the few likely to be aware of or able to track this down. If your readings bring it to your attention, would you be so kind as to bring it here and offer your comments?
Reply #6 on:
September 06, 2008, 05:16:31 PM »
Sure thing, Crafty. Click the link at the end to eyeball related graphs.
Sun Makes History: First Spotless Month in a Century
Michael Asher (Blog) - September 1, 2008 8:11 AM
The record-setting surface of the sun. A full month has gone by without a single spot (Source: Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO))
Sunspot activity of the past decade. Over the past year, SIDC has continually revised its predictions downward (Source: Solar Influences Data Center)
Geomagnetic solar activity for the past two decades. The recent drop corresponds to the decline in sunspots. (Source: Anthony Watts)
A chart of sunspot activity showing two prior solar minima, along with heightened activity during the 20th century (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Drop in solar activity has potential effect for climate on earth.
The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.
The event is significant as many climatologists now believe solar magnetic activity – which determines the number of sunspots -- is an influencing factor for climate on earth.
According to data from Mount Wilson Observatory, UCLA, more than an entire month has passed without a spot. The last time such an event occurred was June of 1913. Sunspot data has been collected since 1749.
When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop to near-zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins.
But this year -- which corresponds to the start of Solar Cycle 24 -- has been extraordinarily long and quiet, with the first seven months averaging a sunspot number of only 3. August followed with none at all. The astonishing rapid drop of the past year has defied predictions, and caught nearly all astronomers by surprise.
In 2005, a pair of astronomers from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson attempted to publish a paper in the journal Science. The pair looked at minute spectroscopic and magnetic changes in the sun. By extrapolating forward, they reached the startling result that, within 10 years, sunspots would vanish entirely. At the time, the sun was very active. Most of their peers laughed at what they considered an unsubstantiated conclusion.
The journal ultimately rejected the paper as being too controversial.
The paper's lead author, William Livingston, tells DailyTech that, while the refusal may have been justified at the time, recent data fits his theory well. He says he will be "secretly pleased" if his predictions come to pass.
But will the rest of us? In the past 1000 years, three previous such events -- the Dalton, Maunder, and Spörer Minimums, have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called a "mini ice age". For a society dependent on agriculture, cold is more damaging than heat. The growing season shortens, yields drop, and the occurrence of crop-destroying frosts increases.
Meteorologist Anthony Watts, who runs a climate data auditing site, tells DailyTech the sunspot numbers are another indication the "sun's dynamo" is idling. According to Watts, the effect of sunspots on TSI (total solar irradiance) is negligible, but the reduction in the solar magnetosphere affects cloud formation here on Earth, which in turn modulates climate.
This theory was originally proposed by physicist Henrik Svensmark, who has published a number of scientific papers on the subject. Last year Svensmark's "SKY" experiment claimed to have proven that galactic cosmic rays -- which the sun's magnetic field partially shields the Earth from -- increase the formation of molecular clusters that promote cloud growth. Svensmark, who recently published a book on the theory, says the relationship is a larger factor in climate change than greenhouse gases.
Solar physicist Ilya Usoskin of the University of Oulu, Finland, tells DailyTech the correlation between cosmic rays and terrestrial cloud cover is more complex than "more rays equals more clouds". Usoskin, who notes the sun has been more active since 1940 than at any point in the past 11 centuries, says the effects are most important at certain latitudes and altitudes which control climate. He says the relationship needs more study before we can understand it fully.
Other researchers have proposed solar effects on other terrestrial processes besides cloud formation. The sunspot cycle has strong effects on irradiance in certain wavelengths such as the far ultraviolet, which affects ozone production. Natural production of isotopes such as C-14 is also tied to solar activity. The overall effects on climate are still poorly understood.
What is incontrovertible, though, is that ice ages have occurred before. And no scientist, even the most skeptical, is prepared to say it won't happen again.
Article Update, Sep 1 2008. After this story was published, the NOAA reversed their previous decision on a tiny speck seen Aug 21, which gives their version of the August data a half-point. Other observation centers such as Mount Wilson Observatory are still reporting a spotless month. So depending on which center you believe, August was a record for either a full century, or only 50 years.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #7 on:
September 06, 2008, 05:46:19 PM »
Guinness, Thanks for the excellent post from Wm Briggs. I wasn't aware of his work. Just looking at the graph it is easy to see how any (crooked) statistician could measure temperature from a trough in the late 1800s or a peak in the early 1600s and (falsely) declare significant amounts of warming or cooling over an extended period. They not only filter the data statistically, but they also tweak the actual temp data collected with secret algorithms that are written and changed by mortals with biases.
By my calculation, the sea level at the beach in Florida or southern California goes up and down more in a day than it does in a century. I'm glad that scientists study it all and offer their judgments, but not on my dime.
$45 Trillion Counter Consensus
Reply #8 on:
September 06, 2008, 07:09:41 PM »
The 'consensus' on climate change is a catastrophe in itself
By Christopher Brooker
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 31/08/2008
As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher – such as the International Energy Council's $45 trillion – "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda.
As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards.
All this makes it rather important to know just why our politicians have come to believe that global warming is the most serious challenge confronting mankind, and just how reliable is the evidence for the theory on which their policies are based.
By far the most influential player in putting climate change at the top of the global agenda has been the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up in 1988, not least on the initiative of the Thatcher government. (This was why the first chairman of its scientific working group was Sir John Houghton, then the head of the UK's Meteorological Office.)
Through a succession of reports and international conferences, it was the IPCC which led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, soon to have an even more ambitious successor, to be agreed in Copenhagen next year.
The common view of the IPCC is that it consists of 2,500 of the world's leading scientists who, after carefully weighing all the evidence, have arrived at a "consensus" that world temperatures are rising disastrously, and that the only plausible cause has been rising levels of CO2 and other man-made greenhouse gases.
In fact, as has become ever more apparent over the past 20 years –not least thanks to the evidence of a succession of scientists who have participated in the IPCC itself – the reality of this curious body could scarcely be more different.
It is not so much a scientific as a political organisation. Its brief has never been to look dispassionately at all the evidence for man-made global warming: it has always taken this as an accepted fact.
Indeed only a comparatively small part of its reports are concerned with the science of climate change at all. The greater part must start by accepting the official line, and are concerned only with assessing the impact of warming and what should be done about it.
In reality the IPCC's agenda has always been tightly controlled by the small group of officials at its head. As one recent study has shown, of the 53 contributors to the key Chapter 9 of the latest report dealing with the basic science (most of them British and American, and 10 of them associated with the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office), 37 belong to a closely related network of academics who are all active promoters of the official warming thesis.
It is on the projections of their computer models that all the IPCC's predictions of future warming are based.
The final step in the process is that, before each report is published, a "Summary for Policymakers" is drafted by those at the top of the IPCC, to which governments can make input.
It is this which makes headlines in the media, and which all too frequently eliminates the more carefully qualified findings of contributors to the report itself.
The idea that the IPCC represents any kind of genuine scientific "consensus" is a complete fiction. A
gain and again there have been examples of how evidence has been manipulated to promote the official line, the most glaring instance being the notorious "hockey stick".
Initially the advocates of global warming had one huge problem. Evidence from all over the world indicated that the earth was hotter 1,000 years ago than it is today.
This was so generally accepted that the first two IPCC reports included a graph, based on work by Sir John Houghton himself, showing that temperatures were higher in what is known as the Mediaeval Warming period than they were in the 1990s.
The trouble was that this blew a mighty hole in the thesis that warming was caused only by recent man-made CO2.
Then in 1999 an obscure young US physicist, Michael Mann, came up with a new graph like nothing seen before.
Instead of the familiar rises and falls in temperature over the past 1,000 years, the line ran virtually flat, only curving up dramatically at the end in a hockey-stick shape to show recent decades as easily the hottest on record.
This was just what the IPCC wanted, The Mediaeval Warming had simply been wiped from the record.
When its next report came along in 2001, Mann's graph was given top billing, appearing right at the top of page one of the Summary for Policymakers and five more times in the report proper.
But then two Canadian computer analysts, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, got to work on how Mann had arrived at his graph.
When, with great difficulty, they eventually persuaded Mann to hand over his data, it turned out he had built into his programme an algorithm which would produce a hockey stick shape whatever data were fed into it.
Even numbers from the phonebook would come out looking like a hockey stick.
By the time of its latest report, last year, the IPCC had an even greater problem. Far from continuing to rise in line with rising CO2, as its computer models predicted they should, global temperatures since the abnormally hot year of 1998 had flattened out at a lower level and were even falling – a trend confirmed by Nasa's satellite readings over the past 18 months.
So pronounced has this been that even scientists supporting the warmist thesis now concede that, due to changes in ocean currents, we can expect a decade or more of "cooling", before the "underlying warming trend" reappears.
The point is that none of this was predicted by the computer models on which the IPCC relies.
Among the ever-growing mountain of informed criticism of the IPCC's methods, a detailed study by an Australian analyst John McLean (to find it, Google "Prejudiced authors, prejudiced findings") shows just how incestuously linked are most of the core group of academics whose models underpin everything the IPCC wishes us to believe about global warming.
The significance of the past year is not just that the vaunted "consensus" on the forces driving our climate has been blown apart as never before, but that a new "counter-consensus" has been emerging among thousands of scientists across the world, given expression in last March's Manhattan Declaration by the so-called Non-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
This wholly repudiates the IPCC process, showing how its computer models are hopelessly biased, based on unreliable data and programmed to ignore many of the genuine drivers of climate change, from variations in solar activity to those cyclical shifts in ocean currents.
As it was put by Roger Cohen, a senior US physicist formerly involved with the IPCC process, who long accepted its orthodoxy: "I was appalled at how flimsy the case is. I was also appalled at the behaviour of many of those who helped produce the IPCC reports and by many of those who promote it.
"In particular I am referring to the arrogance, the activities aimed at shutting down debate; the outright fabrications; the mindless defence of bogus science; and the politicisation of the IPCC process and the science process itself."
Yet it is at just this moment, when the IPCC's house of cards is crumbling, that the politicians of the Western world are using it to propose steps that can only damage our way of life beyond recognition.
It really is time for that "counter-consensus" to be taken seriously.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #9 on:
September 07, 2008, 02:40:42 AM »
Thank you BBG.
Hansen Excuses Eco-Terrorism
Reply #10 on:
September 08, 2008, 09:31:07 AM »
There is so much wrong with this picture I don't know where to start:
Published online 5 September 2008 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2008.1086
All fired up
American climate scientist James Hansen explains why he's testifying against coal.
James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, is well known for rattling his nation's political establishment. This week, the climate scientist was in London, UK, to testify on behalf of activists who defaced a coal-fired power station in Kent. Geoff Brumfiel caught up with Hansen at a London hotel to find out what has got him all hot and bothered.
Why did you come to testify?
Nothing could be more central to the problem we face with global climate change. If you look at the size of the oil, gas and coal reservoirs you'll see that the oil and gas have enough CO2 to bring us up to a dangerous level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
There's a potential to solve that problem if we phase out coal. If we were to have a moratorium on coal-fired power plants within the next few years, and then phase out the existing ones between 2010 and 2030, then CO2 would peak at something between 400 and 425 parts per million. That leaves a difficult problem, but one that you can solve.
Do you think that leaders like UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown have lived up to their promises on climate change?
It depends on whether they will have a moratorium on coal-fired power. I think that the greenest leaders, like German chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Brown, are saying the right words. But if you look at their actions, emissions are continuing to increase. All of these countries and the United States are planning to build more coal-fired power plants. And if you build more coal-fired power plants, then it is not possible to achieve the goals that they say they are committed to. It's a really simple argument and yet they won't face up to it.
So do you think that these activists were justified in doing what they did?
The activists drawing attention to the issue seems to me as justified. You should try to do things through the democratic process, but we really are getting to an emergency situation. We can't continue to build more coal-fired power plants that do not capture CO2 if we hope to solve the problem.
We need to get energy from somewhere. So if we're not getting it from coal, then where?
The first thing we should do is focus on energy efficiency. The fact that utilities make more money by selling more energy is a big problem. We have to change those rules. Then there is renewable energy — in order to be able to fully exploit renewable energy, we need better electric grids. So those should be the first things, but I think that we also need to look at next-generation nuclear power.
Some have said you are hypocritical for flying all the way from the US to the UK just to testify. How do you respond?
I like to travel as little as possible, not only because it uses less CO2 but because I prefer to do science. But sometimes there are things which are sufficiently important that I think it makes sense.
What do you think the roll of the scientist should be in the broader societal debate on climate change?
I think it would be irresponsible not to speak out. There is a clear gap between what is understood by the relevant scientific community and what is known by the public, and we have to try and close that gap. If we don't do something in the very near future, we're going to create a situation for our children and grandchildren that is out of control.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #11 on:
September 08, 2008, 10:22:26 AM »
Great post BBG. Dr. Hansen may be a scientist, but mainly serves as a politician and a bureaucrat. He represents the Bush administration and abhors it. He should have been fired for his politics. Problem was that the administration could not have removed him without looking like they are the ones being political. So instead we let warming over-hype run its course at taxpayer expense. These scientists can't remove agenda and funding from data IMO.
I'm curious, what does he mean specifically by: "I think that we also need to look at next-generation nuclear power". His wording indicates that he prefers wait over build. If he needs "to look" there, why hasn't he been looking there and reporting his conclusions - today! The sooner we expand our power grid, the sooner other uses can be plugged in, such as transportation or heating.
Nuclear is fairly unique for having zero CO2 emissions and such a large scale capacityl. No new plants approved since 1978? That's before Al Gore's first book. From what I can find, next generation nuclear means building smaller, safer, lower power intensity, gas cooled reactors. That's fine with me. Let's go. But what does it have to do with opposing clean coal?
Models Fall Off the Runway
Reply #12 on:
September 23, 2008, 11:50:37 AM »
Problems with the Climate Models
By Michael R.Fox Ph.D., 9/12/2008 8:59:42 AM
Recalling that people such as Robert F. Kennedy have called climate skeptics “traitors”, David Suzuki calls for their jailing, the Grist website called for Nuremburg trials for them, NASA’s Dr. Jim Hansen calling for their trials for treason, along with the habitual insults from Al Gore, its been difficult for anyone to respectfully dissent. It’s been difficult to stick to the rules of hard science, by demanding evidence and replication, both of which require questioning but are often followed by insults and threats.
The world owes a lot to many climate scientists who are closely studying and reviewing the claims of the global warming lobby. They are also attempting to replicate some of these findings without the traditional support of the originating authors. Ordinarily, in the world of hard nosed science, such scrutiny and replication has been historically welcomed. No longer. The well-known name calling, the dismissiveness, the ad hominem attacks, is regrettably now the standard level of discourse. Additionally, these include many laboratory directors, media editors, and Ph.D.s who for whatever reasons adopt the same low roads of discourse and the abandonment of science.
These are difficult times for traditional climate scientists who do practice good science, serious peer review, welcome scrutiny, replication, and the sharing of data. Thanks to the whole world of the global warm-mongers and indentured PhDs, the integrity of the entire world of science is being diminished, followed by a loss of trust and respect.
Among the giants challenging the global warming dogma has been Christopher Monckton. He has been a strong international leader, spokesman, and expert in unraveling the complexities of the man-made warming hypothesis.
The greatest drivers behind the hypothesis have not been the actual evidence, but computer models. Relative to the largely unknown climate complexities, these are still known to be primitive and incapable of replicating climate data as measured from observations. If a hypothesis can’t explain actual evidence and climate observations, it is wrong, and needs to be modified or abandoned.
In a recent exchange with an expert modeler and believer of global warming, Monckton responded in incredible detail by identifying many of the problems found with the computer models themselves. Monckton is impressively expert in the minutiae of computer modeling, a skill which applies directly to the analyses of the computer climate models. Monckton has performed a detailed analysis of the IPCC’s hypothesis of global warming and identified a long list of failings. They deserved much wider distribution, with an understanding of the serious implications. They and literature references can be found here (
Monckton is not alone in his concerns with computer modeling. Tens of thousands of scientists and engineers who have taken basic mathematics know of the problems and complexities with modeling even simple situations. This author has met a fellow scientist (a bit nerdy admittedly) who carried a long multi-variable multi-term equation on a paper kept in his wallet, which was the equation of the outline of his wife’s face. The modeling problem is delightfully defined by atmospheric physicist Dr. James Peden, who recently said Climate Modeling is not science, it is computerized Tinkertoys, with which one can construct any outcome he chooses.. And for my nerdy modeler above, it’s easy to change his wallet equation if he gets a new wife!
Monckton’s analyses are summarized in a number of points below, which are devastating to the hypothesis and computer modeling. These have profound implications for policy makers and the energy and economic future of our country. We’d better learn these: Point 1: There are… serial, serious failures of the computer models of climate
….the computer models upon which the UN’s climate panel unwisely founds its entire case have failed and failed and failed again to predict major events in the real climate.
a. The models have not projected the current multidecadal stasis in “global warming”:
b. no rise in temperatures since 1998; falling temperatures since late 2001; temperatures not expected to set a new record until 2015 (Keenlyside et al., 2008).
c. nor (until trained ex post facto) did they predict the fall in TS from 1940-1975;
d. nor 50 years’ cooling in Antarctica (Doran et al., 2002) and the Arctic (Soon, 2005);
e. nor the absence of ocean warming since 2003 (Lyman et al., 2006; Gouretski & Koltermann, 2007);
f. nor the behavior of the great ocean oscillations (Lindzen, 2007),
g. nor the magnitude nor duration of multi-century events such as the Mediaeval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age;
h. nor the decline since 2000 in atmospheric methane concentration (IPCC, 2007);
i. nor the active 2004 hurricane season;
j. nor the inactive subsequent seasons;
k. nor the UK flooding of 2007 (the Met Office had forecast a summer of prolonged droughts only six weeks previously);
l. nor the solar Grand Maximum of the past 70 years, during which the Sun was more active, for longer, than at almost any similar period in the past 11,400 years (Hathaway, 2004; Solanki et al., 2005);
m. nor the consequent surface “global warming” on Mars, Jupiter, Neptune’s largest moon, and even distant Pluto;
n. nor the eerily-continuing 2006 solar minimum;
o. nor the consequent, precipitate decline of ~0.8 °C in surface temperature from January 2007 to May 2008 that has canceled out almost all of the observed warming of the 20th century.
As Monckton states, the computer models are demonstrable failures.
Point 2: The IPCC’s method of evaluating climate sensitivity is inadequate and error-laden Monckton showed that the IPCC’s method of evaluating climate sensitivity can be reproduced by nothing more complicated than a few equations which, if the IPCC’s values for certain key parameters are input to them, generate the IPCC’s central estimate of climate sensitivity to a high precision. Nowhere else has this method been so clearly or concisely expounded before.
And, once the IPCC’s method is clearly seen for what it is, it is at once apparent that their method suffers from a series of major defects that render it useless for its purpose. The laboratory experiments that form the basis for estimates of forcings do not translate easily to the real atmosphere, so that the IPCC’s claimed “Levels of Scientific Understanding” for the forcings are exaggerated; its estimates of the feedbacks that account for two-thirds of total forcing are subject to enormous uncertainties not fairly reflected in the tight error-bars it assigns to them; the feedback-sum is unreasonably close to the point of instability in the Bode feedback equation (important in the study of circuit [and climate] feedbacks), which has in any event been incorrectly used for amplification in a chaotic system, when it was designed only for systems whose initial state was linear; the IPCC’s value for the no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter is the highest in the mainstream literature, and is inconsistent with the value derivable from the 2001 report; the value of this and other parameters are not explicitly stated; etc., etc.
Point 3: The IPCC’s value for climate sensitivity depends upon only four scientific papers Climate sensitivity is the central – properly speaking, the only – question in the debate about the extent to which “global warming” will happen. Monckton’s presentation of the IPCC’s method of calculating how much the world will warm in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration shows that the IPCC’s values for the three key parameters whose product is climate sensitivity are taken not from 2,500 papers in the literature but from just four papers. Had a wider, more representative selection of papers been relied upon, a far lower climate sensitivity would have resulted.
Point 4: Uncertainty in evaluating climate sensitivity is far greater than the IPCC admits The IPCC baselessly states that it is 90% sure we (humans) caused most of the observed warming of the past half-century (or, more particularly, the warming in the 23 years between 1975 and 1998: the remaining 27 years were in periods of cooling). However, the uncertainties in the evaluation of climate sensitivity are so great that any conclusion of this kind is meaningless. None of the three key parameters whose product is climate sensitivity can be directly measured; attempts to infer their values by observation are thwarted by the inadequacies and uncertainties of the observations depended upon; and, in short, the IPCC’s conclusions as to climate sensitivity are little better than guesswork.
Point 5: The published literature can be used to demonstrate lower climate sensitivity The second part of Monckton’s paper examines the literature on climate sensitivity. A surprisingly small proportion of all papers on climate change consider this central question. The vast majority concentrate on assuming that the IPCC’s climate-sensitivity estimate is right and then using it to predict consequences (though, as Schulte, 2008, has shown, none find that the consequences are likely to be catastrophic). Monckton demonstrates, using papers from the literature, that it is at least as plausible to find a climate sensitivity of <0.6 C as it is to find the IPCC’s 3.3C ( a factor of 5--- such a large uncertainty does not inspire confidence).
Point 6: Even if climate sensitivity is high, adaptation is more cost-effective than mitigation Monckton concluded as follows: “Even if temperature had risen above natural variability, the recent solar Grand Maximum may have been chiefly responsible. Even if the sun were not chiefly to blame for the past half-century’s warming, the IPCC has not demonstrated that, since CO2 occupies only one-ten-thousandth part more of the atmosphere that it did in 1750, it has contributed more than a small fraction of the warming.
Monckton’s analysis here is a major contribution to understanding a difficult subject. He has broken through the dense modeling processes, not to mention the ad hominem attacks, in such a way that many more can understand its weaknesses.
It is time to break the relationship between energy policy and computer forecasting. The models are not sources of climate information so badly needed to formulate rational energy policy without the threats of economic suicide. The economic and energy future of our nation should not rest so completely on such primitive modeling.
It is well beyond the time when the policy makers, the educators, and the media, demand evidence instead of scare stories. Glossy documentaries won’t do.
As Dennis Avery said recently, co-author of the book “Unstoppable Global Warming”, “We look forward to a full-scale exploration of the science. We have heard quite enough from the computers”.
Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., a science and energy reporter for Hawaii Reporter and a science analyist for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, is retired and now lives in Eastern Washington. He has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. He has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level. His interest in the communications of science has led to several communications awards, hundreds of speeches, and many appearances on television and talk shows. He can be reached via email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Food Fascism Looms?
Reply #13 on:
September 30, 2008, 11:26:31 AM »
Meat must be rationed to four portions a week, says report on climate change
• Study looks at food impact on greenhouse gases
• Return to old-fashioned cooking habits urged
All comments (33)
The Guardian, Tuesday September 30 2008
People will have to be rationed to four modest portions of meat and one litre of milk a week if the world is to avoid run-away climate change, a major new report warns.
The report, by the Food Climate Research Network, based at the University of Surrey, also says total food consumption should be reduced, especially "low nutritional value" treats such as alcohol, sweets and chocolates.
It urges people to return to habits their mothers or grandmothers would have been familiar with: buying locally in-season products, cooking in bulk and in pots with lids or pressure cookers, avoiding waste and walking to the shops - alongside more modern tips such as using the microwave and internet shopping.
The report goes much further than any previous advice after mounting concern about the impact of the livestock industry on greenhouse gases and rising food prices. It follows a four-year study of the impact of food on climate change and is thought to be the most thorough study of its kind.
Tara Garnett, the report's author, warned that campaigns encouraging people to change their habits voluntarily were doomed to fail and urged the government to use caps on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pricing to ensure changes were made. "Food is important to us in a great many cultural and symbolic ways, and our food choices are affected by cost, time, habit and other influences," the report says. "Study upon study has shown that awareness-raising campaigns alone are unlikely to work, particularly when it comes to more difficult changes."
The report's findings are in line with an investigation by the October edition of the Ecologist magazine, which found that arguments for people to go vegetarian or vegan to stop climate change and reduce pressure on rising food prices were exaggerated and would damage the developing world in particular, where many people depend on animals for essential food, other products such as leather and wool, and for manure and help in tilling fields to grow other crops.
Instead, it recommended cutting meat consumption by at least half and making sure animals were fed as much as possible on grass and food waste which could not be eaten by humans.
"The notion that cows and sheep are four-legged weapons of mass destruction has become something of a distraction from the real issues in both climate change and food production," said Pat Thomas, the Ecologist's editor.
The head of the United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change, Rajendra Pachauri, also sparked global debate this month when he urged people to have at least one meat-free day a week.
The Food Climate Research Network found that measured by production, the UK food sector produces greenhouse gases equivalent to 33m tonnes of carbon. Measured by consumption - including imports - the total rises to 43.3m tonnes. Both figures work out at under one fifth of UK emissions, but they exclude the indirect impacts of actions such as clearing rainforest for cattle and crops, which other studies estimate would add up to 5% to 20% of global emissions.
The report found the meat and dairy sectors together accounted for just over half of those emissions; potatoes, fruit and vegetables for 15%; drinks and other products with sugar for another 15%; and bread, pastry and flour for 13%.
It also revealed which parts of the food chain were the most polluting. Although packaging has had a lot of media and political attention, it only ranked fifth in importance behind agriculture - especially the methane produced by livestock burping - manufacturing, transport, and cooking and refrigeration at home.
The report calls for meat and dairy consumption to be cut in developed countries so that global production remains stable as the population grows to an estimated 9bn by 2050.
At the same time emissions from farms, transport, manufacturing and retail could be cut, with improvements including more efficient use of fertilisers, feed and energy, changed diets for livestock, and more renewable fuels - leading to a total reduction in emissions from the sector of 50% to 67%, it says.
The UN and other bodies recommend that developed countries should reduce total emissions by 80% by 2050.
However, the National Farmers' Union warned that its own study, with other industry players, published last year, found net emissions from agriculture could only be cut by up to 50% if the carbon savings from building renewable energy sources on farms were taken into account.
The NFU also called for government incentives to help farmers make the changes. "Farmers aren't going to do this out of the goodness of their hearts, because farmers don't have that luxury; many of our members are very hard pressed at the moment," said Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU's chief adviser on renewable energy and climate change.
Bad Publishing is better than None at All
Reply #14 on:
October 11, 2008, 07:02:44 PM »
Publish and be wrong
Oct 9th 2008
From The Economist print edition
One group of researchers thinks headline-grabbing scientific reports are the most likely to turn out to be wrong
IN ECONOMIC theory the winner’s curse refers to the idea that someone who places the winning bid in an auction may have paid too much. Consider, for example, bids to develop an oil field. Most of the offers are likely to cluster around the true value of the resource, so the highest bidder probably paid too much.
The same thing may be happening in scientific publishing, according to a new analysis. With so many scientific papers chasing so few pages in the most prestigious journals, the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves—to trumpet dramatic or important results that later turn out to be false. This would produce a distorted picture of scientific knowledge, with less dramatic (but more accurate) results either relegated to obscure journals or left unpublished.
In Public Library of Science (PloS) Medicine, an online journal, John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, and his colleagues, suggest that a variety of economic conditions, such as oligopolies, artificial scarcities and the winner’s curse, may have analogies in scientific publishing.
Dr Ioannidis made a splash three years ago by arguing, quite convincingly, that most published scientific research is wrong. Now, along with Neal Young of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and Omar Al-Ubaydli, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, he suggests why.
It starts with the nuts and bolts of scientific publishing. Hundreds of thousands of scientific researchers are hired, promoted and funded according not only to how much work they produce, but also to where it gets published. For many, the ultimate accolade is to appear in a journal like Nature or Science. Such publications boast that they are very selective, turning down the vast majority of papers that are submitted to them.
The assumption is that, as a result, such journals publish only the best scientific work. But Dr Ioannidis and his colleagues argue that the reputations of the journals are pumped up by an artificial scarcity of the kind that keeps diamonds expensive. And such a scarcity, they suggest, can make it more likely that the leading journals will publish dramatic, but what may ultimately turn out to be incorrect, research.
Dr Ioannidis based his earlier argument about incorrect research partly on a study of 49 papers in leading journals that had been cited by more than 1,000 other scientists. They were, in other words, well-regarded research. But he found that, within only a few years, almost a third of the papers had been refuted by other studies. For the idea of the winner’s curse to hold, papers published in less-well-known journals should be more reliable; but that has not yet been established.
The group’s more general argument is that scientific research is so difficult—the sample sizes must be big and the analysis rigorous—that most research may end up being wrong. And the “hotter” the field, the greater the competition is and the more likely it is that published research in top journals could be wrong.
There also seems to be a bias towards publishing positive results. For instance, a study earlier this year found that among the studies submitted to America’s Food and Drug Administration about the effectiveness of antidepressants, almost all of those with positive results were published, whereas very few of those with negative results were. But negative results are potentially just as informative as positive results, if not as exciting.
The researchers are not suggesting fraud, just that the way scientific publishing works makes it more likely that incorrect findings end up in print. They suggest that, as the marginal cost of publishing a lot more material is minimal on the internet, all research that meets a certain quality threshold should be published online. Preference might even be given to studies that show negative results or those with the highest quality of study methods and interpretation, regardless of the results.
It seems likely that the danger of a winner’s curse does exist in scientific publishing. Yet it may also be that editors and referees are aware of this risk, and succeed in counteracting it. Even if they do not, with a world awash in new science the prestigious journals provide an informed filter. The question for Dr Ioannidis is that now his latest work has been accepted by a journal, is that reason to doubt it?
Realities of Climate Science
Reply #15 on:
November 16, 2008, 10:01:14 PM »
Long piece with a lot of formatting I'm too lazy to replicate. What follows are the first several paragraphs:
The Futile Quest for Climate Control
Robert M. Carter
The idea that human beings have changed and are changing the basic climate system of the Earth through their industrial activities and burning of fossil fuels—the essence of the Greens’ theory of global warming—has about as much basis in science as Marxism and Freudianism. Global warming, like Marxism, is a political theory of actions, demanding compliance with its rules.
Marxism, Freudianism, global warming. These are proof—of which history offers so many examples—that people can be suckers on a grand scale. To their fanatical followers they are a substitute for religion. Global warming, in particular, is a creed, a faith, a dogma that has little to do with science. If people are in need of religion, why don’t they just turn to the genuine article?
Climate change knows three realities: science reality, which is what working scientists deal with every day; virtual reality, which is the wholly imaginary world inside computer climate models; and public reality, which is the socio-political system within which politicians, business people and the general citizenry work.
The science reality is that climate is a complex, dynamic, natural system that no one wholly comprehends, though many scientists understand different small parts. So far, science provides no unambiguous evidence that dangerous or even measurable human-caused global warming is occurring.
The virtual reality is that computer models predict future climate according to the assumptions that are programmed into them. There is no established Theory of Climate, and therefore the potential output of all realistic computer general circulation models (GCMs) encompasses a range of both future warmings and coolings, the outcome depending upon the way in which they are constructed. Different results can be produced at will simply by adjusting such poorly known parameters as the effects of cloud cover.
The public reality in 2008 is that, driven by strong environmental lobby groups and evangelistic scientists and journalists, there is a widespread but erroneous belief in our society that dangerous global warming is occurring and that it has human causation.
William Kininmonth (“Illusions of Climate Science”, Quadrant, October) has summarised well the nature of the main scientific arguments that relate to human-caused climate change. Therefore, I shall concentrate here a little less on the science, except as background information that relates to how we got to where we are today. My main aim is to explain the need for a proper national climate change policy that relates to real rather than imaginary risk, a policy position that neither the previous nor the present Australian government has achieved. Instead—in response to strong pressure from lobby groups whose main commonality is financial or other self-interest, and a baying media—our present national climate policy is to try to prevent human-caused global warming. This will be a costly, ineffectual and hence futile exercise.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #16 on:
November 17, 2008, 07:38:48 AM »
I just looked over the article mentioned "Illusions of Climate Science”, Quadrant, October.
Thanks that is good info!
If you anybody wants to see it it is located here.
I just googled the title.
Finding Only What You Seek Ain't Science
Reply #17 on:
November 17, 2008, 04:15:39 PM »
Thanks for chasing down that link, Freki. I meant to track it back, too.
More comment on the "hottest October" double data entry problem Goddard has confessed to. Think the author gets it right: the scary part about this error is not that an error occurred, but that a major anomaly went unnoticed because it fit so neatly into what global warming evangelists sought to find.
Lorne Gunter: Global warming numbers get a little help from their friends
Posted: November 17, 2008, 9:13 AM by Kelly McParland
Last week, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies – one of four agencies responsible for monitoring the global temperatures used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – released its statistics for October. According to the GISS figures, last month was the warmest October on record around the world.
This struck some observers as odd. There had been no reports of autumn heat waves in the international press and there is almost always blanket coverage of any unusually warm weather since it fits into the widespread media bias that climate catastrophe lies just ahead. In fact, quite the opposite had occurred; there had been plenty of stories about unseasonably cool weather.
London had experienced its first October snow in 70 years. Chicago and the Great Plains states had broken several lowest-temperature records, some of which had stood for 120 years. Tibet had broken snowfall records. Glaciers in Alaska, the Alps and New Zealand had begun advancing. Sea ice expanded so rapidly it covered 30% more of Arctic than at the end of October 2007. (Of course, you saw few stories about that, too, since interest in the Arctic ice cover is reserved only for when its melting reinforces hysteria over global warming and polar bear extinction).
So the GISS claim that October was the warmest ever seemed counterintuitive, to say the least.
Thanks, though, to Steve McIntyre, the Toronto computer analyst who maintains the blog climateaudit.org, and Anthony Watts, the American meteorologist who runs wattsupwiththat.com, we did not have to wait long to find out the cause of the GISS’s startling statistics: Data-entry error.
October wasn’t the warmest October ever, it was only the 70th warmest in the past 114 years – in the bottom half of all Octobers, not at the top of the list. So why the massive discrepancy between the published GISS numbers and the correct ones?
Um, some guy – not at Goddard, a GISS spokesman was quick to point out as he toed the ground and gazed downward sheepishly – had supplied the NASA branch with September figures for much of the globe, rather than October ones. September being typically a much warmer month than October (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), when the September temps had been entered into the October report they produced – heh, heh – an unprecedented spike upwards in last month’s temperature.
Yeah, no kidding, like when Santa’s bathroom scale readings are inadvertently entered into Paris Hilton’s weight diary and they produce an unprecedented upward tonnage.
I truly think there was simply a case of garbage in, garbage out.
There have been some in the blogosphere who have charged that GISS’s actions were deliberate; that the institute lied to cover up the fact that through most of 2008 global temperatures have been on a downward plunge. Since that’s bad news for an group that has been at the forefront of promoting climate-change hysteria, GISS manipulated the data to support its campaign.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s that nefarious. Still, I think a bigger problem – unscientific bias at GISS and elsewhere in the global-warming community – has been exposed by this incident.
September figures from scores of weather stations around the world seem merely to have been copied into the GISS October database. Temperatures from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, most of Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines, Finland, the U.K., Ireland and elsewhere seem to have been incorrectly duplicated.
The problem isn’t that this mistake occurred, but rather that no one at Goddard seemed to think a one-month temperature jump of nearly a full degree worldwide warranted a double-check. The keepers of one of the U.N.’s four primary temperature records are sure the globe is warming dangerously, so sure it never even occurred to them to check why or how October’s figures were so anomalous.
It took bloggers using little more than desktop PCs and Internet connections only a few hours to find the errors. The difference is, they were prepared to look. Their minds were not so clouded by bias in favour of the warming theory that they have stopped asking obvious questions.
Scientists and activists who support the warming theory often insist the science is settled and this incident proves it is settled – in their own minds. For too many, scientific inquiry has ceased.
Packaging the Apocalypse
Reply #18 on:
November 19, 2008, 11:53:24 AM »
Some of the most witless gibberish I've read in a while.
Hollywood ponders global warming
By DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer
Wed Nov 19, 8:38 am ET
LOS ANGELES – Hollywood insiders and climate change experts agree that they can't shove messages about global warming down audiences' throats.
They met at the Skirball Cultural Center on Tuesday to discuss how storytelling in film and TV can translate broad issues about climate change to everyday audiences.
"The storytelling has to trump everything," said "West Wing" actor Bradley Whitford.
During the Population Media Center's Climate Change Summit, Whitford, Bruce Davison and Scott Wolf performed "Shuddering to Think," a one-act play by Jon Robin Baitz about a playwright bemoaning an Earth Day play. Baitz and Lawrence Weschler, director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, joined the actors by webcam.
"I think this play is a good template for how to communicate these types of issues to people," said Wolf, who starred in Fox's "Party of Five." "If we render an audience a school assembly, they shut off. The way that this issue is so beautifully incidental in this story is exactly how to get big giant messages across in such a small way."
Howard Frumkin, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agreed that viewers are turned off by accusations and hectoring. He said dispensing incorrect information about climate change can also elicit depression and a "sticking-your-head-in-the-sand" attitude from the public.
"One thing we've learned is that apocalyptic stories don't work very well," said Frumkin.
David Rambo, a writer and supervising producer for CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," pointed to the eighth-season episode "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp," which explores the issue of water treatment contamination, as an example of how an environmental topic can be woven into a compelling story — and not offend advertisers or public officials.
"It is a challenge," said Rambo. "A lot of the industries that we point the finger at when we talk about climate change are the very ones that make our livelihoods possible, but there's so much pressure on the corporations that advertise to be responsible world citizens, at this point, they pretty much make their own case for the things they're doing."
Many attendees said the major studios have successfully gone green in recent years. They cited e-mailing scripts and call sheets instead of printing them on paper, employing reusable cups instead of plastic water bottles and using hybrid production vehicles for transportation on set instead of gas guzzlers.
Reply #19 on:
November 23, 2008, 11:04:22 AM »
Slouching Toward Fanaticism
Passionate intensity, but little rationality, in the anti-immunization movement
14 November 2008
Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, by Paul A. Offit (Columbia University Press, 328 pp., $24.95)
For some reason, the immunization of children has always aroused opposition of almost religious fervor. For example, a mass movement led resistance to smallpox vaccination in Britain for 70 years and was supported by intellectuals of the stature of George Bernard Shaw, who never believed in the germ theory of disease and thought that Pasteur and Lister were charlatans. Politicians have won or lost elections on their attitude to vaccination. And the extensive literature produced by the antivaccination movement attributed virtually every human ill, from general failure to thrive to the recrudescence of leprosy, to the practice. The movement also imputed the worst possible motives to vaccinators, including Edward Jenner himself, the developer of the smallpox vaccine.
Fears about immunization have reappeared with monotonous regularity. Perhaps it is the medical and social pressure to immunize that stirs up such opposition, especially in countries that pride themselves on their sturdy individualism. And while everyone agrees that prevention is better than cure, a single case of a complication wrought by immunization has more emotional impact than a million cases prevented. The former, after all, is a definite presence, the latter a ghostly absence.
The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is the latest to act as a lightning conductor for parental discontent. Paul Offit’s new book, as readable as a good detective novel, tells the story of how autism, a disorder of psychological development, came falsely to be blamed first on the MMR vaccine and then on thimerosal, a preservative found in several vaccines. It is a tale about bad science, worse journalism, unscrupulous political populism, and profiteering litigation lawyers.
In 1998, a young British surgeon named Andrew Wakefield published a paper in The Lancet suggesting an association between the measles component of the triple vaccine and the development of childhood autism. Though the paper stressed that no causative relationship had been proved, Wakefield took the most unusual (and self-promoting) step of calling a press conference, in which he suggested that the vaccine should be withdrawn. Panic ensued, immunization rates declined, and measles made a comeback in Britain. The panic spread across the Atlantic.
Wakefield’s paper, though, was a very bad one, and the editor of The Lancet—one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world—should never have countenanced publication of such rotten science. The ensuing uproar made necessary expensive and time-consuming epidemiological research that repeatedly failed to find any connection between the vaccine and autism. It seems likely, moreover, that Wakefield knowingly falsified some of his results. Those that he did not falsify were based on grossly deficient laboratory technique. An investigative journalist discovered a few years later that Wakefield had received payments from a serial litigation lawyer who hoped to mount a class-action suit against the vaccine’s manufacturers. Despite all this, Wakefield still has faithful followers, as do all false messiahs who survive their own predictions of the end of the world.
Closely allied with the MMR theory is the contention that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. There is not the slightest evidence in favor of this conclusion, but it, too, has devoted believers. Parents who first notice their children’s autistic traits soon after immunization with MMR are understandably difficult to persuade that their experience is of almost no value in deciding the question of causation. Where two events, such as MMR vaccination and the development of autistic traits, are common, it is inevitable that people will mistakenly associate them with each other. But it is shameful that politicians and journalists should fail to understand this fairly simple point. I cannot make up my mind whether it would be worse if the politicians were merely cynical or actually ineducable.
False theories of causation are apt to call forth absurd or even dangerous methods of cure, and so it was in this instance. Children have been assaulted—often at great expense—with a host of special diets and medicaments in the hope of cure. One can only sympathize with the desperate parents, eager to clutch at any straw to find a satisfying explanation for the misfortune that has befallen them. But for the false messiahs, at best self-deceived and at worst outright fraudulent (and sometimes, I suspect, a little of both), one can feel nothing but outrage.
Offit’s book raises questions much broader than his ostensibly limited subject matter would suggest. What is the place of scientific and scholarly authority in the modern world, and how is it to be institutionalized in a democracy? Is it inevitable that the best should now lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity? What is the relation between information, on the one hand, and knowledge and wisdom, on the other? Cranks are often oversupplied with the former and deficient in the latter, not realizing that there is a difference between the two. Autism’s False Prophets gives no easy answers, but it does provide a rich source of material for political philosophers and even epistemologists, who ought to assign it to their students.
A final note on the question of passionate intensity: Offit, a prominent public defender of child immunization (who recognizes that, as with any medical treatment, it can sometimes have harmful effects), has been persecuted and threatened by activists who disagree with him. He begins his book with the startling statement, “I get a lot of hate mail.” He has been branded on some websites as a terrorist, and he has sometimes needed police protection. I found out firsthand how deep the passions against him run when I published a positive review of one of his previous books and received abusive e-mails in reply. Readers accused me not merely of error, but of complicity in corruption and depravity. This is surely extraordinary.
Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Cost Effective & Out of Business
Reply #20 on:
November 27, 2008, 01:31:08 PM »
BHO take note: the claimed economic boon to be caused by green technologies isn't surviving scrutiny.
LAO to the rescue
It shreds claims climate policy will spur boom
November 27, 2008
For more than two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, leading California Democrats and environmentalists have insisted that AB 32 – a 2006 law requiring California businesses and residents to use cleaner but far more costly sources of energy by 2020 – would actually prove to be an economic bonanza. They asserted it would position the state to lead the world in green technology and reduce societal costs stemming from air pollution.
This claim falls apart under the slightest inspection. Sure, some well-positioned industries might thrive. But how could sharply increasing the operating costs of most businesses and reducing the disposable income of most individuals help the overall economy? Despite its illogic, Schwarzenegger's argument has largely gone unchallenged.
Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office released a study of the California Air Resources Board's “scoping plan” for implementing AB 32 and related measures. In low-key fashion, the study demolished the happy talk of the governor and his allies.
The LAO said the air board's report showing the “purported net economic benefit” of emission-reduction laws used “inconsistent and incomplete” methodology in which researchers ignored or downplayed evidence that countered the economic bonanza thesis.
Here's the most egregious example: Any measure that reduced a company's greenhouse gases in any way was deemed “cost-effective.” By this standard, it's cost-effective for a company to go out of business.
We asked the governor's staff to respond. What we got was a boilerplate statement repeating Schwarzenegger's happy talk and ignoring the LAO's conclusions.
This is unacceptable. In the governor's own words, the LAO has an “impeccable reputation” and has set a “high standard” with its analysis of state issues. When the LAO raises profound questions about the wisdom of a major state policy, state leaders are obligated to take these questions seriously.
We have no doubt Schwarzenegger sincerely believes that it is essential for California, the nation and the world to tackle global warming. But the rhetoric the governor employs to push his cause is devoid of candor.
This was underscored by recent news reports about the European Union, China and India – three of America's biggest trade rivals. All are rethinking recent commitments to cleaner fuels because of the likelihood that the added cost could make it more difficult for their already-reeling economics to rebound. In Europe and Asia, you see, there is a matter-of-fact acceptance that a shift toward cleaner energy has a downside.
The contrast with Schwarzenegger's pretend world could not be more striking. Perhaps we can import some honesty from Beijing, New Delhi or Brussels. On climate change, there's little to be found in Sacramento.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #21 on:
November 28, 2008, 09:16:00 AM »
All we need to do is open the US continental shelf to drilling. That will give us more time to develop green technology that is actually affordable. That will get us off the dependency of our enemies.
This will create jobs, bring in taxes.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #22 on:
November 28, 2008, 10:46:42 AM »
I'm not sure drilling in the outer continental shelf is the quick panacea that everyone would like it to be;
According to the US Energy Information Administration, oil production from drilling offshore in the outer continental shelf wouldn't begin until around the year 2017. Once begun, it wouldn't reach peak production until about 2030 when it would produce only 200,000 barrels of oil per day. This would supply a meager 1.2% of total US annual oil consumption (just 0.6% of total US energy consumption). And, the offshore oil would be sold back to the US at the international rate, which today is $106 a barrel. So, the oil produced by offshore drilling would not only be a "drop in the bucket", it would be expensive, which translates to "no relief at the pump".
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #23 on:
November 28, 2008, 02:57:43 PM »
And, the offshore oil would be sold back to the US at the international rate, which today is $106 a barrel.
Not sure what the "international rate" means, but all the price quotes I can find today have oil listed at $55/bbl more or less. I know there are some very perverse incentives in US tax code etc. that make convoluted oil shipment schemes profitable, but hadn't heard the doubled the price.
Be that as it may, solving problems in their entirety is a fairly rare thing; are we not to take what steps we can as we wait for the comprehensive solution to burst on to the scene?
Al Gore Kicks the Can Down the Road Another 5 Years
Reply #24 on:
December 13, 2008, 06:14:20 PM »
At the UN climate obfuscation conference currently being held in Germany, Al sez we'll be without a polar ice cap in 5 years. And in five years he'll say. . . .
Perhaps it's just jaundiced little me, but is Al making a last desperate stab at panic mongering before BHO learns the hard way that benefits and costs have to be scrutinized closely?
Guess no one has told him global temperatures have been holding steady or falling, depending on what dataset you read.
CARB Cools a Cold State Economy
Reply #25 on:
December 16, 2008, 11:53:47 AM »
Editorial: Much pain for little gain
State air-quality regulators approve hugely expensive, intrusive anti-emissions plan
An Orange County Register editorial
The California Air Resources Board approval last week of top-down micromanagement of industries and commerce, ostensibly to rid California of global warming, is a broad intrusion into the private sector that not only will be costly, but ultimately a solution for a problem whose dimensions have been defined more by politics than science and probably doesn't even exist.
The ARB's "scoping plan" details the regulations and costs to be imposed on nearly every facet of California economic life to implement 2006's presumptuously named "Global Warming Solutions Act." It's the last thing a struggling economy needs, and the last thing a nearly bankrupt state government should be undertaking.
Not only have the Earth's temperatures subsided and even reversed in recent years, but state officials disingenuously claim their mandates and regulations will boost California's economy. They base their rosy projections on their own self-serving studies, which have been widely and authoritatively criticized.
"I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the (state's) economic analysis is terribly deficient in critical ways and should not be used by the state government or the public for the purpose of assessing the likely costs of CARB's plans," commented Robert Stavins of Harvard, one of six highly regarded reviewers commissioned by the state to critique the economic projections. All six experts were harshly critical.
The state's own independent Legislative Analyst's Office came to similar negative conclusions about the Air Resources Board's hyped economic outlook.
What is certain is the $23 billion in taxes and fees even the state concedes the plan will cost the private sector.
The mountain of rules and regulations approved by the ARB now will go through more public hearings and workshops to fine tune the details of each mandate, all of which must be in place by 2012. Some measures, such as developing a requirement for "cool" vehicle paint to lessen interior heat and thus the need for auto air-conditioning, already are under way. Others, like creation of the complex "cap-and-trade" artificial market to allow greenhouse gas emitters to pay to continue emitting, and reward companies that cut back, will take longer to finalize.
Ultimate implementation may depend on how much pain the Schwarzenegger administration is willing to inflict on the economy. Costly environmental mandates are more accepted by the private sector when times are good. Times are tough today, which means added expenses and new costs will be felt sooner and more acutely. We hope the governor shows restraint in implementing these far-reaching mandates, which he can delay up to one year at a time if he finds they would inflict economic harm. Otherwise, the consequences could be severe, and felt soon.
Can Climate Science Currently Answer Questions?
Reply #26 on:
December 21, 2008, 01:44:37 PM »
Richard Lindzen is one of the folks most vilified by the anthropomorphic global warming crowd, mostly because he has the habit of going where the research leads rather than bending his findings to conform to the political dictates du jour. In this piece, the first two sections excerpted here, Lindzen explore the processes that lie behind the current AGW crusade.
Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?1
Richard S. Lindzen
Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
November 29, 2008
For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate
science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower
rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the
heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural
factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition
between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The
latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the
potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many
components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent
increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that
never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small
executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the
distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors
are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a
political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal
rather than a consequence of scientific research. This paper will deal with the origin of the
cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In
particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists
adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how
opposition to these positions is disposed of.
Although the focus of this paper is on climate science, some of the problems pertain to science
more generally. Science has traditionally been held to involve the creative opposition of theory
and observation wherein each tests the other in such a manner as to converge on a better
understanding of the natural world. Success was rewarded by recognition, though the degree of
recognition was weighted according to both the practical consequences of the success and the
philosophical and aesthetic power of the success. As science undertook more ambitious
problems, and the cost and scale of operations increased, the need for funds undoubtedly shifted
emphasis to practical relevance though numerous examples from the past assured a strong base
level of confidence in the utility of science. Moreover, the many success stories established
‘science’ as a source of authority and integrity. Thus, almost all modern movements claimed
scientific foundations for their aims. Early on, this fostered a profound misuse of science, since
science is primarily a successful mode of inquiry rather than a source of authority.
Until the post World War II period, little in the way of structure existed for the formal support of
science by government (at least in the US which is where my own observations are most
relevant). In the aftermath of the Second World War, the major contributions of science to the
war effort (radar, the A-bomb), to health (penicillin), etc. were evident. Vannevar Bush (in his
report, Science: The Endless Frontier, 1945) noted the many practical roles that validated the
importance of science to the nation, and argued that the government need only adequately
support basic science in order for further benefits to emerge. The scientific community felt this
paradigm to be an entirely appropriate response by a grateful nation. The next 20 years
witnessed truly impressive scientific productivity which firmly established the United States as
the creative center of the scientific world. The Bush paradigm seemed amply justified. (This
period and its follow-up are also discussed by Miller, 2007, with special but not total emphasis
on the NIH (National Institutes of Health).) However, something changed in the late 60’s. In a
variety of fields it has been suggested that the rate of new discoveries and achievements slowed
appreciably (despite increasing publications)2, and it is being suggested that either the Bush
paradigm ceased to be valid or that it may never have been valid in the first place. I believe that
the former is correct. What then happened in the 1960’s to produce this change?
It is my impression that by the end of the 60’s scientists, themselves, came to feel that the real
basis for support was not gratitude (and the associated trust that support would bring further
benefit) but fear: fear of the Soviet Union, fear of cancer, etc. Many will conclude that this was
merely an awakening of a naive scientific community to reality, and they may well be right.
However, between the perceptions of gratitude and fear as the basis for support lies a world of
difference in incentive structure. If one thinks the basis is gratitude, then one obviously will
respond by contributions that will elicit more gratitude. The perpetuation of fear, on the other
hand, militates against solving problems. This change in perception proceeded largely without
comment. However, the end of the cold war, by eliminating a large part of the fear-base forced a
reassessment of the situation. Most thinking has been devoted to the emphasis of other sources
of fear: competitiveness, health, resource depletion and the environment.
What may have caused this change in perception is unclear, because so many separate but
potentially relevant things occurred almost simultaneously. The space race reinstituted the
model of large scale focused efforts such as the moon landing program. For another, the 60’s
saw the first major postwar funding cuts for science in the US. The budgetary pressures of the
Vietnam War may have demanded savings someplace, but the fact that science was regarded as,
to some extent, dispensable, came as a shock to many scientists. So did the massive increase in
management structures and bureaucracy which took control of science out of the hands of
working scientists. All of this may be related to the demographic pressures resulting from the
baby boomers entering the workforce and the post-sputnik emphasis on science. Sorting this out
goes well beyond my present aim which is merely to consider the consequences of fear as a
perceived basis of support.
Fear has several advantages over gratitude. Gratitude is intrinsically limited, if only by the finite
creative capacity of the scientific community. Moreover, as pointed out by a colleague at MIT,
appealing to people’s gratitude and trust is usually less effective than pulling a gun. In other
words, fear can motivate greater generosity. Sputnik provided a notable example in this regard;
though it did not immediately alter the perceptions of most scientists, it did lead to a great
increase in the number of scientists, which contributed to the previously mentioned demographic
pressure. Science since the sixties has been characterized by the large programs that this
generosity encourages. Moreover, the fact that fear provides little incentive for scientists to do
anything more than perpetuate problems, significantly reduces the dependence of the scientific
enterprise on unique skills and talents. The combination of increased scale and diminished
emphasis on unique talent is, from a certain point of view, a devastating combination which
greatly increases the potential for the political direction of science, and the creation of dependent
constituencies. With these new constituencies, such obvious controls as peer review and detailed
accountability, begin to fail and even serve to perpetuate the defects of the system. Miller (2007)
specifically addresses how the system especially favors dogmatism and conformity.
The creation of the government bureaucracy, and the increasing body of regulations
accompanying government funding, called, in turn, for a massive increase in the administrative
staff at universities and research centers. The support for this staff comes from the overhead on
government grants, and, in turn, produces an active pressure for the solicitation of more and
One result of the above appears to have been the deemphasis of theory because of its intrinsic
difficulty and small scale, the encouragement of simulation instead (with its call for large capital
investment in computation), and the encouragement of large programs unconstrained by specific
goals4. In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory
and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and
where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special
This new paradigm for science and its dependence on fear based support may not constitute
corruption per se, but it does serve to make the system particularly vulnerable to corruption.
Much of the remainder of this paper will illustrate the exploitation of this vulnerability in the
area of climate research. The situation is particularly acute for a small weak field like
climatology. As a field, it has traditionally been a subfield within such disciplines as
meteorology, oceanography, geography, geochemistry, etc. These fields, themselves are small
and immature. At the same time, these fields can be trivially associated with natural disasters.
Finally, climate science has been targeted by a major political movement, environmentalism, as
the focus of their efforts, wherein the natural disasters of the earth system, have come to be
identified with man’s activities – engendering fear as well as an agenda for societal reform and
control. The remainder of this paper will briefly describe how this has been playing out with
respect to the climate issue.
Reply #27 on:
December 22, 2008, 06:33:07 PM »
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Cooling is 'not evidence that global warming is slowing'
My relatives in New England are fighting their way out from under a giant ice storm. Here in Las Vegas it's been snowing all week, several weeks earlier than our usual one-day-a-year photo op of snow and icicles sparkling one of our palm-bedecked golf courses before melting away by afternoon. The National Weather Service calls it "a rare snow event."
Why? It's getting colder. 2008 was the coolest year in a decade.
The American mainstream press seem to know "team players" don't mention such inconvenient developments, but in the U.K., the esteemed Guardian reports, "This year is set to be the coolest since 2000, according to a preliminary estimate of global average temperature that is due to be released next week by the Met Office. The global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, which is 0.14C below the average temperature for 2001-07."
How stupid does this make politicians such as Barack Obama and the other suckers who have fallen for the "global warming" hoax as they race to say, "Never mind"?
Actually, they haven't missed a beat. These guys are so "scientific" that the evidence of their own eyes and overcoats has become irrelevant. They now contend global cooling is just further proof of global warming. Honest.
So-called "climate scientists" insist "The relatively chilly temperatures compared with recent years are not evidence that global warming is slowing," The Guardian reports.
Um ... Earth's cooling doesn't mean the Earth is cooling?
"Absolutely not," responds Dr. Peter Stott, the manager of understanding and attributing climate change at the Met Office's Hadley Centre. "If we are going to understand climate change we need to look at long-term trends."
You might want to pause and savor that for a moment. This is the gang who keep telling us, "The Debate is over! Dissent no longer allowed! Man-made global warming is going to ruin the Earth!"
Yet they now say cooling "is not evidence that global warming is slowing," and that, "If we are going to understand climate change we need to look at long-term trends."
If we are "going" to understand climate change? Like ... in the future?
Sure, the mean temperature may still go up for a few more years before it plummets. So? None of the great climate cycles of the past needed us to burn coal in our power plants to make them happen, and there's neither evidence nor any intuitive reason to believe the tiny percentage of atmospheric carbon dioxide we now generate makes any substantial difference, either.
When will the "Let us take over and wreck your economy so we can save you from the climate boogey-man" gang admit the earth is cooling again, and when will they admit, "OK, since cooling is worse than warming, and our own theory is that mankind can impact global temperature by what we burn, it's now your duty to hold back the Big Freeze by going out there and burning all the fossil fuels you possibly can, as fast as you can"?
(Don't even get me started on "carbon trading," a weird scam in which the buyer acquires an invisible commodity of no earthly use to him, and both buyer and seller can benefit if they overestimate the amount being "transferred.")
Instead, on Monday, President-Elect Obama ("Delay is no longer an option; denial is no longer an acceptable response") appointed as Secretary of Energy (a position and an office not authorized in the Constitution) Steven Chu, the confirmed global warming lunatic from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who says coal -- the stuff that powered the industrial revolution, cheap coal which will last for centuries and which can be burned more cleanly now than ever before -- "is my worst nightmare."
This gang still intends to effectively ban both coal-fired and nuclear power generation. Do they believe they can meet our current demand with famously costly, unreliable, and toxic wind, solar and geothermal? (Look up the by-products of geothermal energy, some time. Then look up "battery farms.") Of course not. The gap can only be closed by "conservation," they'll admit when you take a pencil and start to work the numbers.
And what does "conservation" mean, precisely?
They'd like us to think they mean just turning out the lights in our empty rooms, that kind of thing. But they don't.
Mr. Obama has said it, straight out. He, the Chosen One, has had it Revealed to Him that we can no longer use 25 percent of the world's energy when we have only 5 percent of the world's population.
This is nonsense. All mankind uses less than 1 percent of the solar energy that streams past us every hour. Is it "unfair" that the Japanese eat "more than their fair per capita share" of the world's fish?
Are we now to be ruled by a depraved schoolchild obsessed with sharing the toys, granted the ability to carry forward that Ding-Dong School philosophy with powers reminiscent of the kid in the old "Twilight Zone" episode who could "wish people into the cornfield"?
We should be proud that we've learned how to capture and harness the lion's share of the available energy in this system. It's not like we refused to share with others "the secret of coal" or "the secret of oil," is it? They saw how good it was; they've been racing to catch up to us ever since; that's the main reason the world has escaped the life expectancies of the Stone Age.
There's a real world out there. Purposely, artificially impoverish the nation, force us to give up our competitive economic advantages, and we'll eventually go the way of the Carthaginians.
The Obama gang mean for us to learn to survive at 55 degrees in the winter; and to hope the tourists will still come to Vegas when our air conditioning only lowers the temperature to 87 in the summer (assuming we can afford even that.) They plan to unionize and thus close down most of our remaining factories -- the Chinese will make us everything we need, you see; we'll pay for it with the endless bales of green coupons printed by Ben Bernanke and the Elves in the Big Hollow Tree.
To see Mr. Obama admit "Under my plan, electricity costs will necessarily skyrocket" visit
In a Zogby exit poll, 88.4 percent of Obama voters expressed ignorance of the fact Obama said on the campaign trail that his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket. See the sample interviews at
Why did voters not know this? Because the mainstream press covered Wasilla, Alaska, like a glove, trying to dig up something on Sarah Palin's overdue library books. Meantime, when it turns out Barack Obama's Senate seat is for sale for a million bucks in Chicago, the press corps slaps their foreheads and exclaims in amazement: "More corruption in Chicago than there was in Wasilla?! Who would have thought to look there?! By the way, where is Obama from, anyway?"
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of "The Black Arrow." See
Find this article at:
Reply #28 on:
December 24, 2008, 09:56:17 AM »
S.F. fliers may pay their way in carbon usage
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
(12-23) 20:33 PST --
Environmentally conscious travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to assuage their guilt and minimize the impact of their air travel by buying certified carbon offsets at airport kiosks.
The experimental program, scheduled to start this spring, would make SFO the first airport in the nation - possibly the world - to offer fliers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets.
"We'd like people to stop and consider the impacts of flying," said Steve McDougal, executive vice president for 3Degrees, a San Francisco firm that sells renewable-energy and carbon-reduction investments and is teaming up with the airport and the city on the project. "Obviously, people need to fly sometimes. No one expects them to stop, but they should consider taking steps to reduce their impacts."
San Francisco's Airport Commission has authorized the program, which will involve a $163,000 investment from SFO, but is still working out the details with 3Degrees. Because of that, McDougal said, he can't yet discuss specifics, such as the cost to purchase carbon offsets and what programs would benefit from travelers' purchases.
But the general idea, officials said, is that a traveler would approach a kiosk resembling the self-service check-in stations used by airlines, then punch in his or her destination. The computer would calculate the carbon footprint and the cost of an investment to offset the damage. The traveler could then swipe a credit card to help save the planet. Travelers would receive a printed receipt listing the projects benefiting from their environmental largesse.
The carbon offsets are not tax deductible, said Krista Canellakis, a 3Degrees spokeswoman.
"While the carbon offsets purchased at kiosks can't be seen or touched, they are an actual product with a specific environmental claim whose ownership is transferred at the time of purchase," she said.
Mike McCarron, airport spokesman, said the projects offered will be chosen by the mayor's office, in conjunction with 3Degrees, from a list certified by the city's Environment Department. Airport Director John Martin told the commission that projects could include renewable energy ventures in developing countries, agriculture and organic waste capture, coal mine methane capture, and sustainable forestry.
Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said a portion of each offset purchase would go to the San Francisco Carbon Fund, which supports local projects such as energy-efficiency programs and solar panel installations for low-income housing, as well as efforts to convert waste oils into biodiesel fuels.
The cost of offsets for SFO travelers is still being negotiated, McDougal said, but figures on the company's Web-based "carbon calculator" suggest that a two-hour trip uses about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person, and the cost to offset that would be about $4. Offsetting a trip to Europe would cost $36.
"It's definitely not going to double your ticket or anything," he said. "It's going to end up being a small percentage of your total airfare."
Under the agreement, the airport will provide the kiosks and 3Degrees will supply the software and the certified carbon offsets being sold and will operate the program. Kiosks will be placed throughout the airport, with locations at the customer service desk in Terminal 3 and two wings of the International Terminal. 3Degrees will get 30 percent of each purchase, with the rest going to carbon-reduction projects. The agreement calls for a one-year program, with a possible extension.
"The carbon kiosks will not only reduce global warming," Ballard said, "they will serve an educational function. It's something interesting to do while you're killing time at the airport."
Given the innovative nature of the venture, airport officials said they don't expect 3Degrees will turn a profit - at least not at the outset. McDougal said it's impossible to predict how many passengers will want to make what is essentially a voluntary contribution to compensate for the impacts of their air travel. But he hopes the program takes off.
"Hopefully, it will be successful," he said. "But if we just have a lot of people stop and read the information and think about it, that's something we've accomplished."
E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at
The Rising Ocean & Falling Sky
Reply #29 on:
December 30, 2008, 01:23:38 AM »
Climate Report Downgrades Ice Loss; Media Reports Opposite
Michael Asher (Blog) - December 29, 2008 3:30 AM
Varying sea levels since the last ice age (Source: Global Warming Art Project)
Environmental reporting adheres to adage: "bad news sells better than good"
A new scientific report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program has sharply reduced earlier estimates of global ice loss. The CCSP, which coordinates the efforts of 13 different federal climate agencies, has released updated figures estimating combined ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland at 48 cubic miles per year, a figure the Washington Post dolefully reports as "accelerated" ice loss.
But is it?
In 2006, a widely-reported study estimated ice loss from Greenland alone to be over 57 cubic miles per year. Another the same year reported Antarctic ice loss of 36 cubic miles -- a combined annual total of over 93 cubic miles. The new estimate, however, is only about half as high. In most rational circles, this would be cause for celebration.
Not for the Washington Post, however. Ignoring earlier estimates, it casts the figure in a threatening light by noting it's twice the amount of ice locked in the Alps. It fails to mention, though, that those 48 cubic miles, when spread out over the planet's 139 million square miles of ocean, works out to a sea level rise of only 2.1 inches per century. For you metric types, that's about half a millimeter a year. Even factoring in an additional increase for thermal expansion, the value is far too small for concern.
Glossing over all this, the Washington Post instead reports a potential rise of four feet by the year 2100. The figure is based on the assumption of unforeseen positive feedback effects which might accelerate ice loss, despite the fact that no evidence exists that this is happening, and even the report's own authors considered such a scenario "unlikely".
When one considers sea level has been rising for the last 18,000 years, at an average of about 25 inches a century, one sees even less cause for alarm. The rate of increase has actually slowed in past 4,000 years; before this, it often rose by as much as several meters per century.
The Post article also fails to point out the report doesn't include data for 2008, a colder year in which sea ice increased sharply, and preliminary estimates indicate that land-based ice sheets may have as well.
Some positive notes in the report are that "no clear evidence" for global-warming induced hydrologic changes (drought or floods) are being seen in the US, and that catastrophic events such as a shutdown of sea ocean currents ("thermohaline circulatory shutdown" ) or dramatic releases of methane (the "clathrate gun" hypothesis) seem increasingly unlikely.
To be fair to the Washington Post, 48 cubic miles/year is indeed larger than some estimates from the 1990s. But those figures were arrived at before the launch of advanced systems such as NASA's GRACE satellite. It's unclear how much of the difference in estimates is due simply to today's more accurate monitoring.
The report also indicates that current IPCC modeling doesn't accurately capture lubrication effects that may increase ice thinning and loss. However, a model prediction is not the same thing as actual measurements and observations.
The new figures obviously don't prove whether or not CO2 is warming the planet. However, they do strongly indicate that sea level rise isn't something that we -- or even our great-grandchildren -- need to worry about.
Covering all the Bases
Reply #30 on:
January 02, 2009, 01:48:32 AM »
Anyone care to wager if this warming causes cooling bon mot is associated with the recent unfortunate cooling that's been occurring?
Greenhouse gases could have caused an ice age, claim scientists
Thu, 01 Jan 2009 04:14 UTC
Filling the atmosphere with Greenhouse gases associated with global warming could push the planet into a new ice age, scientists have warned.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that 630 million years ago the earth had a warm atmosphere full of carbon dioxide but was completely covered with ice.
The scientists studied limestone rocks and found evidence that large amounts of greenhouse gas coincided with a prolonged period of freezing temperatures.
Such glaciation could happen again if global warming is not curbed, the university's school of geography, earth and environmental sciences warned.
While pollution in the air is thought to trap the sun's heat in the atmosphere, causing the planet to heat up, this new research suggests it could also have the opposite effect reflecting rays back into space.
This effect would be magnified by other forms of pollution in the earth's atmosphere such as particles of sulphate pumped into the air through industrial pollution or volcanic activity and could create ice age conditions once more, the scientists said.
Dr Ian Fairchild, lead investigator, said: "We came up with an independent test of a theory that the earth, like a baked Alaska pudding, was once hot on the outside, surrounding a cold, icy surface.
"It happened naturally in the past, but the wrong use of technology could make it happen again."
The limestones studied were collected in Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, which is covered in ice and snow.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #31 on:
January 02, 2009, 08:35:50 AM »
"If it gets warmer, it's climate change." "If it gets colder, it's climate change".
Hansen to BHO
Reply #32 on:
January 03, 2009, 02:48:49 AM »
Wow, more fodder here than I can wrap my head around at the moment, but AGW High Priest James Hansen lets slip his desire for massive income redistribution amon other bon mots. The single minded zeal herein is pretty darn scary. I've included only the letter to BHO, but there is other info that helps demonstrate the scope of his obsession here:
29 December 2008
Michelle and Barack Obama
Chicago and Washington, D.C.
United States of America
Dear Michelle and Barack,
We write to you as fellow parents concerned about the Earth that will be inherited by our
children, grandchildren, and those yet to be born.
Barack has spoken of ‘a planet in peril’ and noted that actions needed to stem climate change
have other merits. However, the nature of the chosen actions will be of crucial importance.
We apologize for the length of this letter. But your personal attention to these ‘details’ could
make all the difference in what surely will be the most important matter of our times.
Jim has advised governments previously through regular channels. But urgency now dictates
a personal appeal. Scientists at the forefront of climate research have seen a stream of new
data in the past few years with startling implications for humanity and all life on Earth.
Yet the information that most needs to be communicated to you concerns the failure of policy
approaches employed by nations most sincere and concerned about stabilizing climate.
Policies being discussed in national and international circles now, which focus on ‘goals’ for
emission reduction and ‘cap and trade’, have the same basic approach as the Kyoto Protocol.
This approach is ineffectual and not commensurate with the climate threat. It could waste
another decade, locking in disastrous consequences for our planet and humanity.
The enclosure, “Tell Barack Obama the Truth – the Whole Truth” was sent to colleagues for
comments as we left for a trip to Europe. Their main suggestion was to add a summary of the
specific recommendations, preferably in a cover letter sent to both of you.
There is a profound disconnect between actions that policy circles are considering and what
the science demands for preservation of the planet. A stark scientific conclusion, that we
must reduce greenhouse gases below present amounts to preserve nature and humanity, has
become clear to the relevant experts. The validity of this statement could be verified by the
National Academy of Sciences, which can deliver prompt authoritative reports in response to
a Presidential requesti. NAS was set up by President Lincoln for just such advisory purposes.
Science and policy cannot be divorced. It is still feasible to avert climate disasters, but only if
policies are consistent with what science indicates to be required. Our three recommendations
derive from the science, including logical inferences based on empirical information about
the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of specific past policy approaches.
(1) Moratorium and phase-out of coal plants that do not capture and store CO2.
This is the sine qua non for solving the climate problem. Coal emissions must be phased
out rapidly. Yes, it is a great challenge, but one with enormous side benefits.
Coal is responsible for as much atmospheric carbon dioxide as the other fossil fuels
combined, and its reserves make coal even more important for the long run. Oil, the second
greatest contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide, is already substantially depleted, and it is
impractical to capture carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles. But if coal emissions are phased
out promptly, a range of actions including improved agricultural and forestry practices could
bring the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide back down, out of the dangerous range.
As an example of coal’s impact consider this: continued construction of coal-fired power
plants will raise atmospheric carbon dioxide to a level at least approaching 500 ppm (parts
per million). At that level, a conservative estimate for the number of species that would be
exterminated (committed to extinction) is one million. The proportionate contribution of a
single power plant operating 50 years and burning ~100 rail cars of coal per day (100 tons of
coal per rail car) would be about 400 species! Coal plants are factories of death. It is no
wonder that young people (and some not so young) are beginning to block new construction.
(2) Rising price on carbon emissions via a “carbon tax and 100% dividend”.
A rising price on carbon emissions is the essential underlying support needed to make all
other climate policies work. For example, improved building codes are essential, but full
enforcement at all construction and operations is impractical. A rising carbon price is the one
practical way to obtain compliance with codes designed to increase energy efficiency.
A rising carbon price is essential to “decarbonize” the economy, i.e., to move the nation
toward the era beyond fossil fuels. The most effective way to achieve this is a carbon tax (on
oil, gas, and coal) at the well-head or port of entry. The tax will then appropriately affect all
products and activities that use fossil fuels. The public’s near-term, mid-term, and long-term
lifestyle choices will be affected by knowledge that the carbon tax rate will be rising.
The public will support the tax if it is returned to them, equal shares on a per capita basis
(half shares for children up to a maximum of two child-shares per family), deposited monthly
in bank accounts. No large bureaucracy is needed. A person reducing his carbon footprint
more than average makes money. A person with large cars and a big house will pay a tax
much higher than the dividend. Not one cent goes to Washington. No lobbyists will be
supported. Unlike cap-and-trade, no millionaires would be made at the expense of the public.
The tax will spur innovation as entrepreneurs compete to develop and market low-carbon
and no-carbon energies and products. The dividend puts money in the pockets of consumers,
stimulating the economy, and providing the public a means to purchase the products.
A carbon tax is honest, clear and effective. It will increase energy prices, but low and
middle income people, especially, will find ways to reduce carbon emissions so as to come
out ahead. The rate of infrastructure replacement, thus economic activity, can be modulated
by how fast the carbon tax rate increases. Effects will permeate society. Food requiring lots
of carbon emissions to produce and transport will become more expensive and vice versa,
encouraging support of nearby farms as opposed to imports from half way around the world.
The carbon tax has social benefits. It is progressive. It is useful to those most in need in
hard times, providing them an opportunity for larger dividend than tax. It will encourage
illegal immigrants to become legal, thus to obtain the dividend, and it will discourage illegal
immigration because everybody pays the tax, but only legal citizens collect the dividend.
“Cap and trade” generates special interests, lobbyists, and trading schemes, yielding non
productive millionaires, all at public expense. The public is fed up with such business. Tax
with 100% dividend, in contrast, would spur our economy, while aiding the disadvantaged,
the climate, and our national security.
(3) Urgent R&D on 4th generation nuclear power with international cooperation.
Energy efficiency, renewable energies, and a “smart grid” deserve first priority in our
effort to reduce carbon emissions. With a rising carbon price, renewable energy can perhaps
handle all of our needs. However, most experts believe that making such presumption
probably would leave us in 25 years with still a large contingent of coal-fired power plants
worldwide. Such a result would be disastrous for the planet, humanity, and nature.
4th generation nuclear power (4th GNP) and coal-fired power plants with carbon capture
and sequestration (CCS) at present are the best candidates to provide large baseload nearly
carbon-free power (in case renewable energies cannot do the entire job). Predictable criticism
of 4th GNP (and CCS) is: “it cannot be ready before 2030.” However, the time needed could
be much abbreviated with a Presidential initiative and Congressional support. Moreover,
improved (3rd generation) light water reactors are available for near-term needs.
In our opinion, 4th GNPii deserves your strong support, because it has the potential to
help solve past problems with nuclear power: nuclear waste, the need to mine for nuclear
fuel, and release of radioactive materialiii. Potential proliferation of nuclear material will
always demand vigilance, but that will be true in any case, and our safety is best secured if
the United States is involved in the technologies and helps define standards.
Existing nuclear reactors use less than 1% of the energy in uranium, leaving more than
99% in long-lived nuclear waste. 4th GNP can “burn” that waste, leaving a small volume of
waste with a half-life of decades rather than thousands of years. Thus 4th GNP could help
solve the nuclear waste problem, which must be dealt with in any case. Because of this, a
portion of the $25B that has been collected from utilities to deal with nuclear waste justifiably
could be used to develop 4th generation reactors.
The principal issue with nuclear power, and other energy sources, is cost. Thus an R&D
objective must be a modularized reactor design that is cost competitive with coal. Without
such capability, it may be difficult to wean China and India from coal. But all developing
countries have great incentives for clean energy and stable climate, and they will welcome
technical cooperation aimed at rapid development of a reproducible safe nuclear reactor.
Potential for cooperation with developing countries is implied by interest South Korea
has expressed in General Electric’s design for a small scale 4th GNP reactor. I do not have
the expertise to advocate any specific project, and there are alternative approaches for 4th
GNP (see enclosure). I am only suggesting that the assertion that 4th GNP technology cannot
be ready until 2030 is not necessarily valid. Indeed, with a Presidential directive for the
Nuclear Regulator Commission to give priority to the review process, it is possible that a
prototype reactor could be constructed rapidly in the United States.
CCS also deserves R&D support. There is no such thing as clean coal at this time, and it
is doubtful that we will ever be able to fully eliminate emissions of mercury, other heavy
metals, and radioactive material in the mining and burning of coal. However, because of the
enormous number of dirty coal-fired power plants in existence, the abundance of the fuel, and
the fact that CCS technology could be used at biofuel-fired power plants to draw down
atmospheric carbon dioxide, the technology deserves strong R&D support.
An urgentiv geophysical fact has become clear. Burning all the fossil fuels will destroy the
planet we know, Creation, the planet of stable climate in which civilization developed.
Of course it is unfair that everyone is looking to Barack to solve this problem (and other
problems!), but they are. He alone has a fleeting opportunity to instigate fundamental
change, and the ability to explain the need for it to the public.
Geophysical limits dictate the outline for what must be donev. Because of the long lifetime of
carbon dioxide in the air, slowing the emissions cannot solve the problem. Instead a large
part of the total fossil fuels must be left in the ground. In practice, that means coal.
The physics of the matter, together with empirical data, also define the need for a carbon tax.
Alternatives such as emission reduction targets, cap and trade, cap and dividend, do not work,
as proven by honest efforts of the ‘greenest’ countries to comply with the Kyoto Protocol:
(1) Japan: accepted the strongest emission reduction targets, appropriately prides itself on having the most
energy-efficient industry, and yet its use of coal has sharply increased, as have its total CO2 emissions. Japan
offset its increases with purchases of credits through the clean development mechanism in China, intended to
reduce emissions there, but Chinese emissions increased rapidly.
(2) Germany: subsidizes renewable energies heavily and accepts strong emission reduction targets, yet plans to
build a large number of coal-fired power plants. They assert that they will have cap-and-trade, with a cap that
reduces emissions by whatever amount is needed. But the physics tells us that if they continue to burn coal, no
cap can solve the problem, because of the long carbon dioxide lifetime.
(3) Other cases are described on my Columbia University web site, e.g., Switzerland finances construction of
coal plants, Sweden builds them, and Australia exports coal and sets atmospheric carbon dioxide goals so large
as to guarantee destruction of much of the life on the planet.
Indeed, ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ on carbon emissions are practically worthless, if coal emissions
continue, because of the exceedingly long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the air. Nobody
realistically expects that the large readily available pools of oil and gas will be left in the
ground. Caps will not cause that to happen – caps only slow the rate at which the oil and gas
are used. The only solution is to cut off the coal source (and unconventional fossil fuels).
Coal phase-out and transition to the post-fossil fuel era requires an increasing carbon price. A
carbon tax at the wellhead or port of entry reduces all uses of a fuel. In contrast, a less
comprehensive cap has the perverse effect of lowering the price of the fuel for other uses,
undercutting clean energy sources.vi In contrast to the impracticality of all nations agreeing
to caps, and the impossibility of enforcement, a carbon tax can readily be made near-global.vii
A Presidential directive for prompt investigation and proto-typing of advanced safe nuclear
power is needed to cover the possibility that renewable energies cannot satisfy global energy
needs. One of the greatest dangers the world faces is the possibility that a vocal minority of
anti-nuclear activists could prevent phase-out of coal emissions.
The challenges today, including climate change, are great and urgent. Barack’s leadership is
essential to explain to the world what is needed. The public, young and old, recognize the
difficulties and will support the actions needed for a fundamental change of direction.
James and Anniek Hansen
United States of America
Huff Po Author Declares AGW a Scam
Reply #33 on:
January 03, 2009, 07:46:20 PM »
Wow, if stuff like this is showing up in the Huffington Post then perhaps the days of AWG scare mongering are indeed numbered.
Posted January 3, 2009 | 11:36 AM (EST)
Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted
You are probably wondering whether President-elect Obama owes the world an apology for his actions regarding global warming. The answer is, not yet. There is one person, however, who does. You have probably guessed his name: Al Gore.
Mr. Gore has stated, regarding climate change, that "the science is in." Well, he is absolutely right about that, except for one tiny thing. It is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind.
What is wrong with the statement? A brief list:
1. First, the expression "climate change" itself is a redundancy, and contains a lie. Climate has always changed, and always will. There has been no stable period of climate during the Holocene, our own climatic era, which began with the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago. During the Holocene there have been numerous sub-periods with dramatically varied climate, such as the warm Holocene Optimum (7,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C., during which humanity began to flourish, and advance technologically), the warm Roman Optimum (200 B.C. to 400 A.D., a time of abundant crops that promoted the empire), the cold Dark Ages (400 A.D. to 900 A.D., during which the Nile River froze, major cities were abandoned, the Roman Empire fell apart, and pestilence and famine were widespread), the Medieval Warm Period (900 A.D. to 1300 A.D., during which agriculture flourished, wealth increased, and dozens of lavish examples of Gothic architecture were created), the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850, during much of which plague, crop failures, witch burnings, food riots -- and even revolutions, including the French Revolution -- were the rule of thumb), followed by our own time of relative warmth (1850 to present, during which population has increased, technology and medical advances have been astonishing, and agriculture has flourished).
So, no one needs to say the words "climate" and "change" in the same breath -- it is assumed, by anyone with any level of knowledge, that climate changes. That is the redundancy to which I alluded. The lie is the suggestion that climate has ever been stable. Mr. Gore has used a famously inaccurate graph, known as the "Mann Hockey Stick," created by the scientist Michael Mann, showing that the modern rise in temperatures is unprecedented, and that the dramatic changes in climate just described did not take place. They did. One last thought on the expression "climate change": It is a retreat from the earlier expression used by alarmists, "manmade global warming," which was more easily debunked. There are people in Mr. Gore's camp who now use instances of cold temperatures to prove the existence of "climate change," which is absurd, obscene, even.
2. Mr. Gore has gone so far to discourage debate on climate as to refer to those who question his simplistic view of the atmosphere as "flat-Earthers." This, too, is right on target, except for one tiny detail. It is exactly the opposite of the truth.
Indeed, it is Mr. Gore and his brethren who are flat-Earthers. Mr. Gore states, ad nauseum, that carbon dioxide rules climate in frightening and unpredictable, and new, ways. When he shows the hockey stick graph of temperature and plots it against reconstructed C02 levels in An Inconvenient Truth, he says that the two clearly have an obvious correlation. "Their relationship is actually very complicated," he says, "but there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others, and it is this: When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer." The word "complicated" here is among the most significant Mr. Gore has uttered on the subject of climate and is, at best, a deliberate act of obfuscation. Why? Because it turns out that there is an 800-year lag between temperature and carbon dioxide, unlike the sense conveyed by Mr. Gore's graph. You are probably wondering by now -- and if you are not, you should be -- which rises first, carbon dioxide or temperature. The answer? Temperature. In every case, the ice-core data shows that temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide by, on average, 800 years. In fact, the relationship is not "complicated." When the ocean-atmosphere system warms, the oceans discharge vast quantities of carbon dioxide in a process known as de-gassing. For this reason, warm and cold years show up on the Mauna Loa C02 measurements even in the short term. For instance, the post-Pinatubo-eruption year of 1993 shows the lowest C02 increase since measurements have been kept. When did the highest C02 increase take place? During the super El Niño year of 1998.
3. What the alarmists now state is that past episodes of warming were not caused by C02 but amplified by it, which is debatable, for many reasons, but, more important, is a far cry from the version of events sold to the public by Mr. Gore.
Meanwhile, the theory that carbon dioxide "drives" climate in any meaningful way is simply wrong and, again, evidence of a "flat-Earth" mentality. Carbon dioxide cannot absorb an unlimited amount of infrared radiation. Why not? Because it only absorbs heat along limited bandwidths, and is already absorbing just about everything it can. That is why plotted on a graph, C02's ability to capture heat follows a logarithmic curve. We are already very near the maximum absorption level. Further, the IPCC Fourth Assessment, like all the ones before it, is based on computer models that presume a positive feedback of atmospheric warming via increased water vapor.
4. This mechanism has never been shown to exist. Indeed, increased temperature leads to increased evaporation of the oceans, which leads to increased cloud cover (one cooling effect) and increased precipitation (a bigger cooling effect). Within certain bounds, in other words, the ocean-atmosphere system has a very effective self-regulating tendency. By the way, water vapor is far more prevalent, and relevant, in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide -- a trace gas. Water vapor's absorption spectrum also overlays that of carbon dioxide. They cannot both absorb the same energy! The relative might of water vapor and relative weakness of carbon dioxide is exemplified by the extraordinary cooling experienced each night in desert regions, where water in the atmosphere is nearly non-existent.
If not carbon dioxide, what does "drive" climate? I am glad you are wondering about that. In the short term, it is ocean cycles, principally the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the "super cycle" of which cooling La Niñas and warming El Niños are parts. Having been in its warm phase, in which El Niños predominate, for the 30 years ending in late 2006, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation switched to its cool phase, in which La Niñas predominate.
Since that time, already, a number of interesting things have taken place. One La Niña lowered temperatures around the globe for about half of the year just ended, and another La Niña shows evidence of beginning in the equatorial Pacific waters. During the last twelve months, many interesting cold-weather events happened to occur: record snow in the European Alps, China, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Rockies, the upper Midwest, Las Vegas, Houston, and New Orleans. There was also, for the first time in at least 100 years, snow in Baghdad.
Concurrent with the switchover of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to its cool phase the Sun has entered a period of deep slumber. The number of sunspots for 2008 was the second lowest of any year since 1901. That matters less because of fluctuations in the amount of heat generated by the massive star in our near proximity (although there are some fluctuations that may have some measurable effect on global temperatures) and more because of a process best described by the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark in his complex, but elegant, work The Chilling Stars. In the book, the modern Galileo, for he is nothing less, establishes that cosmic rays from deep space seed clouds over Earth's oceans. Regulating the number of cosmic rays reaching Earth's atmosphere is the solar wind; when it is strong, we get fewer cosmic rays. When it is weak, we get more. As NASA has corroborated, the number of cosmic rays passing through our atmosphere is at the maximum level since measurements have been taken, and show no signs of diminishing. The result: the seeding of what some have taken to calling "Svensmark clouds," low dense clouds, principally over the oceans, that reflect sunlight back to space before it can have its warming effect on whatever is below.
Svensmark has proven, in the minds of most who have given his work a full hearing, that it is this very process that produced the episodes of cooling (and, inversely, warming) of our own era and past eras. The clearest instance of the process, by far, is that of the Maunder Minimum, which refers to a period from 1650 to 1700, during which the Sun had not a single spot on its face. Temperatures around the globe plummeted, with quite adverse effects: crop failures (remember the witch burnings in Europe and Massachusetts?), famine, and societal stress.
Many solar physicists anticipate that the slumbering Sun of early 2009 is likely to continue for at least two solar cycles, or about the next 25 years. Whether the Grand Solar Minimum, if it comes to pass, is as serious as the Maunder Minimum is not knowable, at present. Major solar minima (and maxima, such as the one during the second half of the 20th century) have also been shown to correlate with significant volcanic eruptions. These are likely the result of solar magnetic flux affecting geomagnetic flux, which affects the distribution of magma in Earth's molten iron core and under its thin mantle. So, let us say, just for the sake of argument, that such an eruption takes place over the course of the next two decades. Like all major eruptions, this one will have a temporary cooling effect on global temperatures, perhaps a large one. The larger the eruption, the greater the effect. History shows that periods of cold are far more stressful to humanity than periods of warm. Would the eruption and consequent cooling be a climate-modifier that exists outside of nature, somehow? Who is the "flat-Earther" now?
What about heat escaping from volcanic vents in the ocean floor? What about the destruction of warming, upper-atmosphere ozone by cosmic rays? I could go on, but space is short. Again, who is the "flat-Earther" here?
The ocean-atmosphere system is not a simple one that can be "ruled" by a trace atmospheric gas. It is a complex, chaotic system, largely modulated by solar effects (both direct and indirect), as shown by the Little Ice Age.
To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.
So, let us indeed start a Manhattan Project-like mission to create alternative sources of energy. And, in the meantime, let us neither cripple our own economy by mislabeling carbon dioxide a pollutant nor discourage development in the Third World, where suffering continues unabated, day after day.
Again, Mr. Gore, I accept your apology.
And, Mr. Obama, though I voted for you for a thousand times a thousand reasons, I hope never to need one from you.
P.S. One of the last, desperate canards proposed by climate alarmists is that of the polar ice caps. Look at the "terrible," "unprecedented" melting in the Arctic in the summer of 2007, they say. Well, the ice in the Arctic basin has always melted and refrozen, and always will. Any researcher who wants to find a single molecule of ice that has been there longer than 30 years is going to have a hard job, because the ice has always been melted from above (by the midnight Sun of summer) and below (by relatively warm ocean currents, possibly amplified by volcanic venting) -- and on the sides, again by warm currents. Scientists in the alarmist camp have taken to referring to "old ice," but, again, this is a misrepresentation of what takes place in the Arctic.
More to the point, 2007 happened also to be the time of maximum historic sea ice in Antarctica. (There are many credible sources of this information, such as the following website maintained by the University of Illinois-Urbana:
). Why, I ask, has Mr. Gore not chosen to mention the record growth of sea ice around Antarctica? If the record melting in the Arctic is significant, then the record sea ice growth around Antarctica is, too, I say. If one is insignificant, then the other one is, too.
For failing to mention the 2007 Antarctic maximum sea ice record a single time, I also accept your apology, Mr. Gore. By the way, your contention that the Arctic basin will be "ice free" in summer within five years (which you said last month in Germany), is one of the most demonstrably false comments you have dared to make. Thank you for that!
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #34 on:
January 04, 2009, 08:34:18 AM »
Thanks BBG. Each study and each story that questions the myth that humans have played the central role in climate change seems like it should be categorized a media issue more than a scientific breakthrough, always begging the question: why won't NY Times etc. cover this? Now the Huffington Post actually prints it and my reaction again is to wonder about the site - are they in search of honesty and balance or did this slide through on a weekend by accident?
The reaction of course should be that this is further evidence of great news. The planet is alive and well. There is no warming where I live and no warming on Antarctica. Everytime we find alarming temperature data we also find that someone with an agenda has tweaked the data.
As the author indicates, when propogandists alarm at ice melting in one place, they neglect to mention record ice masses at another. It's refreshing to read a straight story.
Exposing a False Premise
Reply #35 on:
January 07, 2009, 01:02:53 PM »
Falsifying the Global Warming Hypothesis
By Michael R. Fox Ph.D., 1/6/2009 2:01:57 AM
Consider the working hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It states "man-made CO2 causes global warming". The question now is does this hypothesis work? Is it true? Is it valid? Does it explain the climate observations and the data that are found in the real world?
First we need some crucial evidence. The Earth’s climate has always been warming and cooling. Singer and Avery discuss this in their book “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years”. Over the past one million years there have been a nominal 600 periods of warming. We can surmise that there also have been 600 periods of cooling in between them. Why wouldn’t we expect these obviously natural cycles to continue? Obviously these warming periods result from variations in natural forces having little to do with human activities.
Atmospheric CO2 has varied as well during these times. The periods between the many ice ages were “interglacial periods”, when natural warming took place. We are currently in one of those interglacial periods and should expect slight warming. We also know that humans are currently putting about 8 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. What is not widely known is that there are a nominal 40,000 billion tons of CO2 dissolved in sea water and captured in the biomass. The human contribution is negligible relative to what is available from natural sources.
We also know that as the sea water is warmed, it releases billion ton quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere. As it cools it absorbs tonnage quantities of CO2. During the warmer interglacial periods CO2 releases from the oceans would dominate. Warmer water can’t hold as much CO2 as cold water, a fact well known from Henry’s Law that we learned in basic chemistry. During those interglacial periods, as the warming progressed, more CO2 was released. It seems clear from Henry’s Law, that the warming sea water causes the CO2 increases, not the reverse, as is currently claimed.
A crucial part of serious science is the proposing and testing (by observations from the real world) of given hypotheses. The initial stage of the science includes the formulation of a hypothesis, then making observations and collecting data to determine if the hypothesis can explain the observations. This is a simple step, and is crucial. It is essential in the validation of any hypothesis, yet it is easily forgotten and sometimes deliberately overlooked.
This process was explained by Nobel physicist Richard Feynman who said this about the basis of science:
”In general, we look for a new law by the following process. First, we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience; compare it directly with observation to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. It’s that simple statement that is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is---if it disagrees with experiment (observation) it is wrong." - Dr. Richard Feynman, “The Character of Natural Law”, the MIT Press, 1965, p. 156.
Notice that Feynman points out that if the hypothesis cannot explain real world observations, then the hypothesis is wrong. There are many examples of where the AGW hypothesis cannot explain the real world observations. The hypothesis clearly is wrong since it fail to explain real world observations, and needs to be modified or abandoned. So let’s test the AGW hypothesis, and ask “Is the Hypothesis True?”
First we must recognize the total atmospheric inventory of all greenhouse gases. Of the greenhouse gases, water vapor represents about 95% of the total. This is usually ignored for unexplained reasons. This also presents a major problem for the AGW people. If water vapor is 95% of the total greenhouse gas inventory, why isn't it involved with the hypothesis as stated above. It occurs in many forms from water vapor, rain, snow, and clouds. These all involve changes of state, transfers of huge amounts of energy, great reflectivity of huge sums of solar energy from the white tops of clouds. Why is this ignored? Does it make sense to ignore 95% of the greenhouse gases?
CO2 makes up most, but not all, of the rest of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory. We also notice that of the total CO2 inventory, about 97% of this comes from natural sources (volcanoes, oceans, decaying biomass, changes in land use, and others), and about 3% is man-made. This is rarely pointed out, and is another major problem for the AGW people. If 97% of the total CO2 inventory is from natural sources, why choose to focus on just the man-made fraction of 3%? On what basis can we ignore 97% of the CO2 that is natural, and claim catastrophe is imminent based upon only the 3% that is man-made? Could politics be involved?
Examine the actual surface temperature data, and see there are many other serious problems. One of these is the impressively low quality of data, mainly caused by poor station placements and management, little or no data quality control, poor maintenance, poor data collection practices of the temperatures collection stations, and the measuring devices themselves. If one is looking for temperature changes of 0.5 deg C per century, one had better have some very good temperature measuring devices, well maintained temperature stations, high quality devices, and wide use of temperature standards, such as from NIST (National Institute for Science and Technology). We have seen little of this in the stations involved with collecting the surface T (temperature) data.
Consider some of the observed data from these stations. We find that many surface stations around the world have shown no actual warming for decades. Interestingly, and more importantly, many stations have shown cooling for decades. The global warming hypothesis does not predict either constant temperatures or cooling for decades. In other words man-made CO2 warming that is claimed to be global is not global at all. A hypothesis which predicts that man-made CO2 causes global warming, and we yet either no warming or actual cooling is observed, forces us to conclude that the hypothesis is wrong and needs to be modified.
For an example for some cooling locations, see the temp. data below from the Amundson base at the South Pole showing cooling since 1957. There are many other such stations, which show cooling as well.
Notice that the CO2 increases while the temperatures have slowly declined. The data are from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
Below is the temperature chart from Spokane, Washington where cooling has been observed for more than 60 years.
We also know that atmospheric CO2 has increased during this time. In fact during the period between 1940 to about 1975, a famous period of observed cooling (where we also observed hysterical global cooling scientists), the use of fossil fuels (and CO2 production) increased more than 4-fold. But we observed cooling, the hypothesis was proven wrong again.
In the chart above there are a number of observations. You will see that:
1. There is little correlation between fossil energy use and global temperatures.
2. The chart shows that for nearly the past 120 years there has been a stunning correlation between Arctic air temperatures and solar activity, yet until now the global warming lobby has ignored the sun, the oceans, and the many other natural cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillations.
3. The chart shows that global temperature increases (from 1880 to 1940) PRECEDE the use of fossil fuels and the related increases in global CO2 (from 1940 to 1975). CO2 increases, manmade or otherwise, could have little to do with such earlier temperature increases. The excellent research paper by Oerlemans (
) who studied glacier growth and shrinkage showed that the current warming period is simply a continuation of the warming which began at the end of the Little Ice Age 2 centuries ago.
4. While some apparently believe that man-made CO2 is a source of warming (which the temperature evidence does not consistently support), the actual temperature data in many parts of the world show either cooling or no change at all. We can conclude that other natural and variable forces must dominate such man-made-warming forces, relegating man-made CO2 to a very minor role.
There has been no warming over the past 10 years and a slight cooling for the last 6 or 7 years. In the meantime the CO2 emissions have continued to increase. The hypothesis predicted warming over the last 10 years, while no warming and even cooling has been observed. The AGW hypothesis again is falsified.
1. If one is to believe that man-made CO2 is a major source of warming, he is also obligated to prove that the natural sources of CO2 (97% of the total), are NOT involved.
2. If one is to believe that man-made CO2 is a major source of global warming, he is also obligated to show why water vapor (95% of the total inventory of greenhouse gases) is not involved.
3. There is general agreement that the earth is slightly warmer than the grim famine-filled centuries of the Little Ice Age. There are no longer Frost Fairs held on the frozen Thames River in London. Armies can no longer be marched across the frozen Baltic Sea for purposes of invasion. The Delaware River rarely freezes anymore as it was during Washington’s Crossing in the Revolutionary war. These climatic warming and cooling processes are natural, not man-made, and most likely involve variations in the Sun’s energy and magnetic variations.
4. If one is to believe that man-made CO2 is a major source of global warming, he is also obligated to show why the sun is NOT involved with the warming cycles, (this is not limited to considerations of solar irradiance, but to the additional solar forces such as solar winds, solar magnetic fields, and sunspots). These forces in turn can impact the cosmic radiation flow entering the atmosphere as well, with climatic effects likely.
5. The ice caps are also receding on Mars and other “uninhabited” planetary objects in our solar system, indicating warming there as well. The current warming trends on Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Neptune's moon Triton, and Pluto may result, in part, from similar relations to the sun and its activity – just like those that are naturally and slowly warming the Earth.
Our climate is so complex and chaotic that it may never be fully understood. At the current level of understanding it is beyond human capabilities to describe such complexities in computer models. It is also very dangerous to our nation, our freedom, and our prosperity to formulate restrictive government energy policies based upon such a flimsy understanding of global climate and the causes of its long history of climate variations.
Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., is a nuclear scientist and a science and energy resource for Hawaii Reporter and a science analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, is retired and now lives in Eastern Washington. He has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. He has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level. His interest in the communications of science has led to several communications awards, hundreds of speeches, and many appearances on television and talk shows. He can be reached via email at mailto:email@example.com
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #36 on:
January 08, 2009, 11:51:26 AM »
While we wait for Al Gore's apology and while my email fills with cold weather warnings for my daughter's ski race this weekend- must take note that the dog sled races are canceled due to too much snow, lol. Not just that it's too much snow, but it has been so cold that the snow is too cold, too light, and too fluffy to pack on the trails. I don't remember that prediction in the movie...
How's this for odd? Minnesota sled dog race canceled because of too much snow
Patrick Springer, Forum Communications, Bemidji Pioneer
Published Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Here’s another entry for the annals of noteworthy winter weather: The dogsled race near Frazee, Minn., has been canceled because there’s too much snow.
Too much fluffy snow that keeps drifting and therefore made it impossible to maintain a groomed trail.
That poses a safety risk to the dogs, supercharged canines whose mushers need a groomed trail to drop a hook to stop when necessary.
“We can’t pack it,” race organizer Eddy Streeper said Monday. “We just can’t get it packed. We had to speak up on behalf of the dogs.”
The Third Crossing Sled Dog Rendezvous, slated for Jan. 23-24, would have been the ninth annual running of the sprint races, which twice were canceled for lack of snow.
This winter, as anyone with a driveway knows, has been a season of prodigious snows.
The Frazee area has received about 3 feet of snow, but winds keep creating drifts of 4 feet or more over the course, which was to host races of four to 14 miles.
“The drifting aspect is just unbelievable,” said Streeper, a native of Canada who has been involved with dogsled racing for 25 years. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The National Weather Service doesn’t tally snow accumulations and moisture content for Frazee. But snowfalls in Fargo, 54 miles to the northwest, have totaled 39.3 inches since October, with 2.37 liquid inches. That translates into a moisture content of 6 percent – snow is considered wet at around 30 percent to 35 percent. That dry, fluffy snow is just too deep.
Cancellation of the dog races is a blow to Frazee, population 1,374. Last year’s two-day event drew 2,000 to 3,000 spectators, and contestants come from as far as Alaska, five Canadian provinces and five or six states. “This is the NASCAR of sled-dogging, the sprint ones,” said Gale Kaas, Frazee Sled Dog Club secretary.
Corn Ain't Green
Reply #37 on:
January 09, 2009, 05:09:49 PM »
Even greenies are beginning to notice the damnfoolishness that is corn to ethanol production.
Published on Environmental Working Group (
Ethanol’s Federal Subsidy Grab Leaves Little For Solar, Wind And Geothermal Energy
Published January 8, 2009
As Congress and the incoming Obama administration plan the nation’s next major investments in green energy, they need to take a hard, clear-eyed look at Department of Energy data documenting corn-based ethanol’s stranglehold on federal renewable energy tax credits and subsidies.
Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have struggled to gain significant market share with modest federal support. Meanwhile, corn-based ethanol has accounted for fully three-quarters of the tax benefits and two-thirds of all federal subsidies allotted for renewable energy sources in 2007.
A little noticed analysis buried in an April 2008 report from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA)1 shows that the corn-based ethanol industry received $3 billion in tax credits in 2007, more than four times the $690 million in credits available to companies trying to expand all other forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal power.
Ethanol Got 76% ($3 Billion) of All Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credits in 2007
The federal bill for ethanol subsidies grows with every gallon of ethanol produced. By 2010, ethanol will cost taxpayers more than $5 billion a year -- more than is spent on all U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs to protect soil, water and wildlife habitat.
Now the ethanol industry wants even more. In recent weeks, the corn ethanol lobby has pushed for billions in new federal subsidies as part of the economic stimulus package. Corn growers and ethanol companies are also pressing for dramatic increases in the amount of ethanol Americans will be required to put into their gas tanks—even if it results in worse fuel economy and more engine repairs. Once touted as the energy equivalent of a free lunch, corn ethanol has proved to be an over-hyped and dubious renewable energy option. Ethanol made from corn has extremely limited potential to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil, and current production systems likely worsen greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover, despite billions in federal subsidies on top of a government mandate that forces motorists to buy ethanol, the industry’s financial outlook remains highly unstable. A fleeting few years of windfall profits and breakneck construction of ethanol plants gave rise to talk of “sheikdoms” springing up in the Midwest to rival those in the Middle East and a “rural renaissance" featuring hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
But that was last year. Today, a glut of ethanol, abruptly lower gasoline prices and wild swings in the corn market have caused the ethanol industry's profit margins to evaporate, hammered its stock values, triggered major bankruptcies and shredded ambitious plans to construct dozens of new plants.
Hence the latest burst of special pleadings from the ethanol lobby. Its spokesmen have floated a proposal for billions more in taxpayer handouts via the economic stimulus bill, and they want an expanded government fiat that would require drivers to use as much as twice the ethanol that Washington currently dictates.
Even if Washington rejects the industry’s latest wish list out of hand, the nation will still be saddled with a lopsided incentive structure that has rewarded politically powerful, subsidy-dependent ethanol producers at the expense of a diversified and sustainable energy future. America can do better.
The changes we need to make sustainable energy a reality:
Phase out tax credits for corn ethanol and subsidize other biofuels only if they show clear promise to meet strict climate and environmental protection standards.
Rebalance the U.S. renewable energy and energy conservation portfolio to favor options that do the most to reduce fossil fuel use, safeguard the environment, spur more widely-shared economic development and increase energy security.
1 Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy. Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007. SR/CNEAF/2008-01. April 2008.
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #38 on:
January 09, 2009, 06:37:06 PM »
What of ethanol not made of subsidized corn?
Re: Pathological Science
Reply #39 on:
January 09, 2009, 06:56:33 PM »
Quote from: G M on January 09, 2009, 06:37:06 PM
What of ethanol not made of subsidized corn?
Not sure the two can be separated out. Companies like ADM have their tendrils so deeply involved with federal farm policy that I don't think all the perverse incentives can be ID'd, much less taken out of the equation.
Rainy Day for AGW
Reply #40 on:
January 09, 2009, 07:03:34 PM »
With humorous pieces showing up in the MSM wherein AGW zealots and their panic mongering is made fun of, I am cautiously optimistic that the days of AWG teeth gnashing are numbered.
Peter Foster: Climate rains on Aussie drought
Posted: January 08, 2009, 7:11 PM by NP Editor
Peter Foster, climate changeTim Flannery’s apocalyptic global warming projections have proved way off
By Peter Foster
There are signs that some climate change skepticism — or at least greater objectivity — is at last stirring within the CBC, although the corporation still has a long way to go.
On Monday and Tuesday, as part of its “Watershed” series, CBC Radio’s The Current aired two documentaries, one on the decade-long Australian drought, “the Big Dry,” and the other on the alleged plight of the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, which might be dubbed “the Big Wet.”
The Australian segment gave a good deal of airtime to Down Under’s foremost alarmist, Tim Flannery, author of the best-selling Weather Makers and 2008 “Australian of the Year.” It suggested that the current drought, unlike many previous ones, “doesn’t seem to be ending.” Professor Flannery indicted government inertia and even suggested analogies with Alberta, where the locals were allegedly proving slow to realize they shouldn’t be digging up the tar sands.
All depressingly typical so far. But then, yesterday, The Current returned to the issue after a correspondent informed them that many parts of Australia had recently, and joyfully, been inundated with rain! Meanwhile, the program also acknowledged a recent column titled “Top 10 dud predictions,” by an Australian journalist, Andrew Bolt, which pointed out that Professor Flannery’s apocalyptic projections had proved way, way, off.
Last March, Mr. Flannery pronounced that “The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.” Last month, Adelaide’s reservoirs were up to 75% full. In June, Professor Flannery opined that Brisbane might need desalinated water within 18 months. Brisbane has in fact just had its wettest spring in 27 years. Professor Flannery had previously made similarly off-base doomsterish forecasts for reservoirs in Sydney and Perth.
The Current’s host, Anna Maria Tremonti, got Mr. Bolt on the line to repeat his indictments of Mr. Flannery, whom Mr. Bolt described as a “professional panic merchant.” Deliciously, Mr. Bolt also suggested that Mr. Flannery equated to Canada’s David Suzuki.
It was not a compliment.
Ms. Tremonti then asked Mr. Flannery to respond.
Mr. Flannery, although Mr. Bolt had done nothing but quote Mr. Flannery’s own words, called the journalist a liar and proceeded to waffle mightily round the swelling billabong. He said that cities had spent money on dealing with the situation. But then didn’t that mean that adaptation works?
The fact that northern Australia wasn’t as drought-ridden as models predicted was due, he said, to “brown cloud pollution” in Asia that was cooling the ground and causing monsoons to shift south. But then didn’t this undermine climate change theory, asked Ms. Tremonti? Ah, declared Mr. Flannery, that theory is “complex.” We shouldn’t look at particular weather incidences.
But then isn’t that exactly what Mr. Flannery and his ilk constantly do, quoting Hurricane Katrina or the 2007-08 loss of Arctic sea ice (since reversed) as “conclusive proof” of their beliefs?
Mr. Flannery warned Ms. Tremonti against “any simplistic view.” After all, Australian industry was trying to mislead the public because it had just been lumbered with an emissions trading scheme. So they were “stirring the pot” when, presumably, it was only alarmists who should be allowed spoons.
One’s faith in the CBC’s objectivity was somewhat restored by this display of skepticism. But that, unfortunately, still left Tuesday’s segment on Vanuatu, in which Mother Corp returned to form.
Vanuatu, according to alarmists, is threatened by rising sea levels, but the actual threat was — strangely — never clearly indicated. The only figure given was in the Australian segment by Mr. Flannery, who suggested a Biblical four meters.
But what does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the alleged fount of scientific knowledge, have to say on the issue? According to the latest IPCC estimates, the rise over the next century will be between 18 and 59 centimetres. So Mr. Flannery’s projection, like that of Al Gore, apparently gratuitously increased the official estimate by 10, echoing a famous Monty Python skit.
Moreover, sea levels have dropped over the past two years. All this has to leave you wondering about the CBC’s claims of Vanuatu culture being swept away, based on interviews with the islands’ one climate change bureaucrat, a toothless wood carver and a guy who had built a bungalow too close to the sea, thus making him a “victim of climate change.”
Why — as claimed by the documentary — fishermen might be forced into the highlands to become farmers rather than moving their facilities and homes up a few inches, or building sea walls, was never explained.
The disappearance of local fish was brought up, although this was clearly due to overfishing, which has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change. Still, it’s another problem, so throw it in the pot of worry.
The answer to Vanuatu’s problem, if problem there be, is surely obvious: adapt, and at least the bureaucrat admitted that he wanted “adaptation assistance” rather than holding out for a post-Kyoto agreement to turn back the waters.
The CBC reporter described the island as “once idyllic.” But why was it less idyllic now? Was it because the local populace had been corrupted by the thought of UN-laundered cash?
Killer Rabbits 1, Environmentalists 0
Reply #41 on:
January 14, 2009, 03:17:32 PM »
It never ceases to amaze me that global warming zealots can take a system as incredibly complex as the planet's environment, isolate a single variable, namely carbon dioxide, and ascribe numerous catastrophes to it's (slight) increase despite numerous examples of greater increases in the geologic record when anthropomorphic causes are ruled out, and then, armed with that single variable and insanely linear theory, propose to take over the world economy lest their boogieman broil us.
In this instance environmental scientists take a much smaller system and eliminate a minor, introduced variable, and manage to screw things up royally. And Al Gore can't understand why we don't want to hand the world economy to his tender ministrations?
January 14, 2009
Was there a 'scientific consensus' on this?
Nature is a lot more complex than many supposed scientists realize. Even in relatively simple systems like the ecology of an island, not to mention the global climate system. The latest example comes from Macquarie Island, declared a "world heritage island" between Australia and Antarctica. The must-not-be-quoted AP reports that brilliant scientists decided to "save" native sea birds by eliminating the population of feral cats which were devouring the avian population.
Sounds great, except that removing the cats allowed rabbits to multiply, devastating the local vegetation. Now the island is described as an environmental catasptrophe, requiring an expensive rescue. An untested model yielded an 'unintended consequences' disaster.
Modeling the ecosystem of an isolated island is child's play compared to modeling the global climate. And the scope of the catastrophe possible when intervening to wreck the world economy based on questionable, unverified models dwarfs the damage done to Macquarie Island.
"Nature bats last," as the old bumper stickers used to read. When Al Gore or an editorial writer claim they understand the world's climate future well enough to tank the world economy to prevent a hypothetical disaster, remind them of this incident.
Rachel Nowak of The New Scientist writes:
... the newly rampant rabbits have devastated vegetation over 40% of the island. Clearing up the mess is expected to cost at least $16 million, and it remains unclear whether the island will ever fully recover. (See a live webcam of Macquarie Island.) A landslip in 2006 that badly damaged a penguin colony has been blamed on rabbit destruction of the vegetation.
Granny Gets CO2 Neutraled to Death
Reply #42 on:
January 14, 2009, 08:16:22 PM »
Woman, 91, dies 'after becoming stressed over £16,000 council bill to make her home eco-friendly'
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:00 PM on 14th January 2009
Bed-ridden grandmother Dorothy Hacking had to pay £16,000 to meet government regulations to reduce CO2 emissions
A family have expressed their fury after the death of their disabled 91-year-old mother who 'was forced to take out a second mortgage to foot an unnecessary £16,000 council bill' .
The family of bed-ridden grandmother Dorothy Hacking blame Thanet Council for 'disgusting treatment' after the pensioner became overstretched trying to pay for work to meet government regulations to reduce CO2 emissions.
They say she was beset by stress and health problems after being left with no option but to take out a second mortgage for the stone-cladding repairs to make her home compliant with the Home Energy Conservation Act in Ramsgate, Kent.
The law requires councils to reduce their CO2 emissions by almost a third within the next decade.
Her local paper took up Mrs Hacking's case but sadly she died last Friday - the day the story was published.
Daughter Rosemary, 53, said: 'I think it is disgusting that a disabled 91-year-old should be faced with the fear of negative equity when the council insists on doing work over which she has no control.
'She was financially stretched to the limit, worried about putting the heating on in case she couldn't pay the bills and had no idea what to do if another big bill arrived from the council.
'The council maintained the work was essential to comply with the Home Energy Conservation Act which requires it to reduce its CO2 emission by 30 per cent within 10 years.
'As Mum was no longer a tenant, she had to find the money - under their agreement with Thanet council, leaseholders are responsible for a variable annual service charge which can include larger sums for major works.'
Age Concern said: 'If only we had known we could have tried to help.
'It's such a shame - pensioners 30 years ago never had all these pressures.
'There's no care now, no heart.'
Problems started last year when council inspectors sent the £16,000 bill - and an appeal to benefits agency the Department for Work and Pensions failed.
In the week of her death, Mrs Hacking had told how she was left 'petrified' by the spiralling costs - after having to find an extra £112 a month for her mortgage to cover the cost of the bill.
And Mrs Brown said her mother had been 'financially stretched to the limits'.
The deaf and half-blind grandmonther - who relied on pensions credits to survive - had bought her flat from local authority Thanet District Council under a 'buy your council flat' scheme.
Thanet Council has defended its decision to charge Mrs Hacking the £16,000.
Councillor Zita Wiltshire, the local housing chief, said leaseholders were consulted on charges in 2006 and made aware of how much they would have to pay.
Cllr Wiltshire said: 'We are sympathetic to the concerns of our leaseholders but the council does spell out the detail of the financial obligations imposed upon a lessee in the terms of each right-to-buy lease.'
Big Oil's Big Pocket?
Reply #43 on:
January 15, 2009, 12:21:34 PM »
Most AGW zealots are prone to claiming that anyone who doesn't walk in lockstep with them are in the pocket of big oil and then quickly roll out 6 degrees of separation arguments to prove their claim. I've been reading lately that BP and other oil companies have been contributing to various ecological groups with with strong AGW ties and this piece documents how all parties are pulling for cap and trade schemes. Does this mean that AGW zealots are all in the pocket of of big oil and we no longer have to listen to their mewlings?
Climate Change Baptist & Bootlegger Coalition Tells Congress Today They Want Free Money
Ronald Bailey | January 15, 2009, 10:33am
As economist Bruce Yandle explained more than 25 years ago, sometimes Baptists and bootleggers find it their mutual interests to cooperate in advocating regulations, e.g., Blue Laws banning the sale of liquor on Sundays. Baptists want to outlaw booze because its from the devil and promotes sinful activities. Bootleggers favor them too because they cut out their legal competitors and enhance their profits.
The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) is just such a Baptist and bootlegger coalition and its representatives are going up to Capitol Hill today to testify in favor of a cap-and-trade proposal to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Its 31 members include such leading producers and users of energy (bootleggers) as General Motors, Duke Energy, ConocoPhillips, Ford, General Electric PG&E Corporation, and Shell. The Baptists in the coalition include the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, and the World Resources Institute. Both sides claim that they want to do something about the pressing issue of man-made global warming. To that end, they are promoting a cap-and-trade system:
In a cap-and-trade system, one allowance would be created for each ton of GHG emissions allowed under the declining economy-wide emission reduction targets (the “cap”). Emitters would be required to turn in one allowance for each ton of GHG they emit. Those emitters who can reduce their emissions at the lowest cost would have to buy fewer allowances and may have extra allowances to sell to remaining emitters for whom purchasing allowances is their most cost-effective way of meeting their compliance obligation. This allows the economy-wide emission reduction target to be achieved at the lowest possible cost.
It's pretty clear what's in it for the environmental lobbyists--if the system works, the U.S. will progressively emit ever lower amounts of greenhouse gases like the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. But what's in it for the users and producers of energy? One benign interpretation is that they are just bowing to the inevitable and want a predictable, stable regulatory regime so that they can get on with their long-range energy and technology planning. Hmmm. Perhaps. But just in case that's not enough, there's a big sweetener.
As USCAP acknowledges:
Emission allowances in an economy-wide cap-and-trade system will represent trillions of dollars in value over the life of the program.
So how to divvy up these trillions of dollars? Well, USCAP wants to give away a sizeable portion for free:
USCAP recommends that a significant portion of allowances should be initially distributed free to capped entities and economic sectors particularly disadvantaged by the secondary price effects of a cap and that free distribution of allowances be phased out over time.
Make no mistake, issuing emissions allowances is like coining money. Handing them out to companies for free is adding directly to their bottom lines. How this would work was explained in a 2007 Congressional Budget Office report. It's a bit lengthy but well worth reading:
A common misconception is that freely distributing emission allowances to producers would prevent consumer prices from rising as a result of the cap. Although producers would not bear out-of-pocket costs for allowances they were given, using those allowances would create an "opportunity cost" for them because it would mean forgoing the income that they could earn by selling the allowances. Producers would pass that opportunity cost on to their customers in the same way that they would pass along actual expenses. That result was borne out in the cap-and-trade programs for sulfur dioxide in the United States and for CO2 in Europe, where consumer prices rose even though producers were given allowances for free.
Thus, giving away allowances could yield windfall profits for the producers that received them by effectively transferring income from consumers to firms' owners andshareholders. The study of the hypothetical 23 percent cut in CO2 emissions concluded, for example, that if all of the allowances were distributed for free to producers in the oil, natural gas, and coal sectors, stock values would double for oil and gas producers and increase more than sevenfold for coal producers, compared with projected values in the absence of a cap.
Stock prices doubling? Seven-fold? What climate bootlegger could resist? And consumers will just love higher utility and gas prices!
I suspect that the USCAP Baptists have agreed to this because they see it as a bribe to get the bootleggers on board with carbon rationing.
Interestingly, President-elect Barack Obama has proposed that all of the emissions permits would be auctioned off. It would function like a variable carbon tax, which would mean no profits for bootleggers. Ah, such charming political naivete!
Go here for my analysis of carbon cap-and-trade vs. carbon taxes. Hint: If we must ration carbon, carbon taxes are better, especially if they are used to offset and lower income and payroll taxes.
Reply #44 on:
January 26, 2009, 10:06:50 PM »
Greens' War Against All Chemicals Will Do Little To Reduce Our Risks
By HENRY MILLER | Posted Monday, January 26, 2009 4:20 PM PT
A report from a panel appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says that California should expand pollution prevention initiatives, add "green chemistry" to public school curricula and offer public access to comprehensive information about the chemicals in consumer products.
The report, part of a plan by the California Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate many supposedly toxic materials, is more appropriate for a wish list sent to Santa Claus than an attempt at serious public policy.
It recalls H.L. Mencken's observation that for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.
For starters, the governor and members of his panel seem oblivious to the fact that we live in a sea of chemicals — and that, in fact, our bodies are actually comprised of them — and also to the toxicologists' credo, "the dose makes the poison."
Many of the alarms raised recently about chemicals, from those in rubber duckies and plastic bottles to pesticides used in agriculture, are completely bogus, while most of the others represent only negligible risks.
Pseudo-scares and the wrongheaded (and often very costly) responses to them — as in these latest recommendations from the governor's panel — are wasteful, if not actually harmful.
For example, the federal EPA forced General Electric to remove trace levels of chemicals called PCBs from the Hudson River, although this massive project will have prodigious costs but no benefits. The EPA's assertion that PCBs in fish pose a human cancer risk is based solely on observations that high-dose, prolonged PCB exposure causes tumors in laboratory animals.
An example of misperception of risk is acrylamide, a useful industrial compound formed naturally in high-carbohydrate-containing foods cooked at high temperatures, such as in frying or broiling. It has thus been part of the human diet since humans learned that cooked foods taste better than raw ones.
Yet because we only learned of acrylamide's existence in foods recently, and because very large amounts fed to animals cause cancer, there have been calls to require warning labels on fried foods and other products — in spite of the fact that acrylamide in food has never been shown to harm human health.
Yet another example of a poorly substantiated health threat is the current scare about bisphenol A (BPA) — a chemical used to make certain plastics clear and shatterproof.
Again, because animals fed huge doses of the chemical experienced ill effects, and because minuscule amounts can leach into the contents of plastic cups and bottles when they are heated, warnings about an effect on infants and children (guaranteed to have the most potent effect on parents) have been trumpeted in the media. ("Is your baby exposed to carcinogens with every feeding? Story at 11.")
Controversy over chemicals rages on the other side of the pond as well. In 2003, the European Union's Institute for Health and Consumer Protection concluded in a risk assessment of DINP, a chemical commonly used in a variety of consumer products:
"The end products containing DINP (clothes, building materials, toys and baby equipment) and the sources of exposure (car and public transport interiors, food and food packaging) are unlikely to pose a risk for consumers (adults, infants and newborns)."
In spite of the reassuring risk assessments, politicians overruled them, and the EU instituted a permanent ban on DINP and related chemicals in children's toys in 2005.
But these risks aren't real — or to be more accurate, they haven't been substantiated. If we followed through by banning all the chemicals we read about that supposedly cause (pick one) cancer, birth defects, low sperm counts, autism, Alzheimer's disease, etc., we'd have to ban most of the chemicals in the world — including "natural" ones.
Unfortunately, the scares are real attention-grabbers; they sell papers and attract our attention on TV spots and Internet blogs. And many journalists and editors — to say nothing of politicians — seem not to care whether the science supports the hype.
How can we know what we should worry about?
There is a remarkable new interactive Web source that helps consumers answer that question — to understand what poses significant health risks, and what does not.
The New York-based American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has produced and manages what it calls a "Riskometer" (
), which allows visitors to compare health risks.
It informs us that exposure to cigarette smoking is far and away the leading cause of cancer deaths: In 2002 the odds of dying from smoking were 1 in 771. ("Odds of dying" is defined as the number of people expected to produce one death from a particular cause.) The odds of dying from obesity or from unintentional injuries (including traffic accidents, falls and others) are each about 1 in 2,800.
Far less likely is death from exposure to the dry cleaning fluid perchloroethylene (PERC) or from arsenic in water (about 1 in 6,000,000). In spite of this infinitesimal risk, laws were passed restricting the use of PERC — because "everyone knows" it's a serious health risk.
The data on the ACSH Riskometer show that many of the hyped "threats" that we hear and read about daily occur very far down on the list.
The media's "pseudo-scare mode" is a disservice to its readers and viewers because people have only so much time to pay attention to health issues, and if most stories focus attention on minor (or virtually nonexistent) threats, greater risks that individuals may be able to control get short shrift.
The bottom line: Be skeptical, be informed, consult the Riskometer.
Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He was at the NIH and FDA from 1977 to 1994. His most recent book is "The Frankenfood Myth."
Coldest Warming, Not
Reply #45 on:
January 27, 2009, 10:24:24 AM »
Despite the hot air, the Antarctic is not warming up
A deeply flawed new report will be cited ad nauseam by everyone from the BBC to Al Gore, says Christopher Booker.
By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 8:29AM GMT 27 Jan 2009
Comments 73 | Comment on this article
The measures being proposed to meet what President Obama last week called the need to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet" threaten to land us with the most colossal bill mankind has ever faced. It might therefore seem peculiarly important that we can trust the science on which all the alarm over global warming is based, But nothing has been more disconcerting in this respect than the methods used by promoters of the warming cause over the years to plug some of the glaring holes in their scientific argument.
Another example last week was the much-publicised claim, contradicting all previous evidence, that Antarctica, the world's coldest continent, is in fact warming up, Antarctica has long been a major embarrassment to the warmists. Al Gore and co may have wanted to scare us that the continent which contains 90 per cent of all the ice on the planet is heating up, because that would be the source of all the meltwater which they claim will raise sea levels by 20 feet.
However, to provide all their pictures of ice-shelves "the size of Texas" calving off into the sea, they have had to draw on one tiny region of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula – the only part that has been warming. The vast mass of Antarctica, all satellite evidence has shown, has been getting colder over the past 30 years. Last year's sea-ice cover was 30 per cent above average.
So it predictably made headlines across the world last week when a new study, from a team led by Professor Eric Steig, claimed to prove that the Antarctic has been heating up after all. As on similar occasions in the past, all the usual supporters of the cause were called in to whoop up its historic importance. The paper was published in Nature and heavily promoted by the BBC. This, crowed journalists such as Newsweek's Sharon Begley, would really be one in the eye for the "deniers" and "contrarians".
But then a good many experts began to examine just what new evidence had been used to justify this dramatic finding. It turned out that it was produced by a computer model based on combining the satellite evidence since 1979 with temperature readings from surface weather stations.
The problem with Antarctica, though, is that has so few weather stations. So what the computer had been programmed to do, by a formula not yet revealed, was to estimate the data those missing weather stations would have come up with if they had existed. In other words, while confirming that the satellite data have indeed shown the Antarctic as cooling since 1979, the study relied ultimately on pure guesswork, to show that in the past 50 years the continent has warmed – by just one degree Fahrenheit.
One of the first to express astonishment was Dr Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a convinced believer in global warming, who wryly observed "it is hard to make data where none exists". A disbelieving Ross Hayes, an atmospheric scientist who has often visited the Antarctic for Nasa, sent Professor Steig a caustic email ending: "with statistics you can make numbers go to any conclusion you want. It saddens me to see members of the scientific community do this for media coverage."
But it was also noticed that among the members of Steig's team was Michael Mann, author of the "hockey stick", the most celebrated of all attempts by the warmists to rewrite the scientific evidence to promote their cause. The greatest of all embarrassments for the believers in man-made global warming was the well-established fact that the world was significantly warmer in the Middle Ages than it is now. "We must get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period," as one contributor to the IPCC famously said in an unguarded moment. It was Dr Mann who duly obliged by getting his computer-model to produce a graph shaped like hockey stick, eliminating the mediaeval warming and showing recent temperatures curving up to an unprecedented high.
This instantly became the warmists' chief icon, made the centrepiece of the IPCC's 2001 report. But Mann's selective use of data and the flaws in his computer model were then so devastatingly torn apart that it has become the most comprehensively discredited artefact in the history of science.
The fact that Dr Mann is again behind the new study on Antarctica is, alas, all part of an ongoing pattern. But this will not prevent the paper being cited ad nauseam by everyone from the BBC to Al Gore, when he shortly addresses the US Senate and carries on advising President Obama behind the scenes on how to roll back that "spectre of a warming planet". So, regardless of the science, and until the politicians finally wake up to how they have been duped, what threatens to become the most costly flight from reality in history will continue to roll remorselessly on its way.
Not the least shocking news of the week was the revelation by that admirable body the Taxpayers Alliance that last year the number of "middle managers" in Britain's local authorities rose by a staggering 22 percent. Birmingham City Council alone has more than 1,000 officials earning over £50,000 a year. All over Britain senior council officials are now earning salaries which 10 years ago would have seemed unthinkable.
Future historians will doubtless find it highly significant that just when Britain's economy was about to collapse, an already hopelessly bloated public sector was expanding faster than ever. One of the more dramatic changes in British life over the past two decades has been how, aided by their counterparts in Whitehall and Brussels, the officials who run our local authorities have become separated from the communities they used to serve. Floating free of political control, they have become a new privileged class, able to dictate their own salaries and extend their own empires, paid for by a public to whom they are no longer accountable.
But if this gulf has already become wide enough, how much more glaring is it going to become now that the private sector is shrinking so fast? Already last year an astonishing 2.5 million people were in court for failing or being unable to pay ever soaring council taxes. Tellingly, the only response of the Local Government Association to these latest revelations was plaintively to point out that as many as "2,700" council jobs have already been lost in the economic downturn. But outside those walls three millon may soon be out of work. Who will then be left to pay for those salaries and pensions that our new privilegentsia have arranged for themselves?
How appropriate that Kenneth Clarke should become "shadow" to Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. As fervent "Europeans", both men know that almost all the policies of the ministry laughably renamed the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform are now decided at "European level". There is therefore hardly any job left for them to do. Mr Clarke will be free to continue advising Centaurus, one of the largest hedge funds in Europe. Lord Mandelson can carry on running the Labour Party, But the last thing either will want to admit is that all the powers they claim or seek to exercise have been handed over to Brussels.
The Government last week announced that in March it is to sell off 25 million "carbon credits". These European Union Allowances permit industry and electricity companies to continue emitting CO2, ultimately paid for by all of us through our electricity bills. Last summer, when these permits were trading at 31 euros each, this sale might have raised more than £500 million pounds, Today, however, thanks to the economic meltdown creating a surplus of credits no longer needed, their value is dropping so fast that Mr Darling will be lucky to get £100 million. That should help reduce our electricity bills – even though Mr Darling will merely have to extract the cash from us in other ways.
"What's the Harm?" Web Site
Reply #46 on:
February 06, 2009, 05:13:45 PM »
Interesting web site that tracks problems arising from sundry pseudoscience beliefs. URL here:
Blurb from off the site here:
What is this site?
We are all confronted with new information daily. It comes to us via newspapers, radio, television, websites, conversation, advertising and so on. Sometimes it seems like a deluge.
Not all information is created equal. Some of it is correct. Some of it is incorrect. Some of it is carefully balanced. Some of it is heavily biased. Some of it is just plain crazy.
It is vital in the midst of this deluge that each of us be able to sort through all of this, keeping the useful information and discarding the rest. This requires the skill of critical thinking. Unfortunately, this is a skill that is often neglected in schools.
This site is designed to make a point about the danger of not thinking critically. Namely that you can easily be injured or killed by neglecting this important skill. We have collected the stories of over 670,000 people who have been injured or killed as a result of someone not thinking critically.
We do this not to make light of their plight. Quite the opposite. We want to honor their memory and learn from their stories.
We also wish to call attention to the types of misinformation which have caused this sort of harm. On the topics page you will see a number of popular topics that that are being promoted via misinformation. Many of them have no basis in truth at all. A few are based in reality, but veer off into troublesome areas. We all need to think more critically about these topics, and take great care when we encounter them.
Many proponents of these things will claim they are harmless. We aim to show that they are decidedly not.
Please check out the list of topics and read what interests you.
Why All Science Should be Privately Funded, I
Reply #47 on:
February 10, 2009, 08:32:54 AM »
Original piece is extensively documented via linked text.
FEBRUARY 09, 2009
Separating science and state
Government should have no role in funding scientific research. I say this as a person who not only greatly admires scientific research and its accomplishments, but as a person who believes strongly in the scientific enterprise in general—by which I mean, someone who believes that reason is the only proper means of knowledge and who has no truck with religion and tradition and authoritarianism. Just to get my bona fides out of the way, I am seriously devoted to and interested in all forms of science, particularly biology, and have written at great length in defense of science and the material and intellectual—indeed, spiritual—progress it has brought us. Of all the kinds of corporate welfare, I am least opposed to science welfare.
Nevertheless, I do not believe in corporate welfare of any sort. I believe scientific research should not be funded by government. I believe the two ought to be separate for the same reasons as I believe in the separation of church and state, and that’s an instructive analogy in many ways. Here, briefly, are my reasons for believing government should not fund scientific research:
1. It is immoral
It is morally reprehensible to use government’s coercive power—which, like it or not, means government’s power to imprison people, and to do other violent acts to them—to take away people’s earnings for projects that someone else considers worthwhile. It violates people’s right to their earnings—which is to say, their right to property—and since that property is created through the efforts of their minds and bodies, that means it violates their right to their liberty. I don’t believe in taking people’s earnings by force, for any motive, no matter how noble (and, again, I certainly do consider scientific progress a noble motive). My life and the fruits of my labor are mine, and it is wrong for others to force me to give up part of my life and the fruits of my labor to support them, whether those people happen to be slavers and robbers, or biologists and physicists.
2. It’s unconstitutional
Of course, the moral objection is obviated, sort of, maybe, by the consent of the governed. In theory, we have (tacitly) agreed through the Constitution to allow the government to tax us for certain purposes. Those purposes are set forth in Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution, which lays out all of Congress’ powers. Funding science projects (except insofar as they might serve, say, military purposes) is not among them.
Unless we are prepared to ignore constitutional scruples (something most Americans do most of the time, but are generally loath to admit), this is at least a serious concern. Of course, one can find lawyerly ways of justifying such projects, and I recognize that the courts have done just this over the years; the most common one is to torture the commerce clause for this reason. But I find this justification implausible, for reasons explained at length in other, more detailed works on the meaning of the commerce clause.
3. It ignores government's lack of qualifications and incentives
As public choice theory has so effectively demonstrated, any time government can impose burdens on, or grant benefits to, private interest groups, those groups will use their time and effort to persuade government to do that in their favor. Legislation then gets enacted for the private benefit of political insiders, rather than for the “genuine public good.” This is just as true in science as it is in public contracting, occupational licensing, or any other endeavor. I believe it corrupts scientific integrity for investments and grants to be made on the basis of personal favoritism and political influence. I do think that this happens less often in the field of science than in other fields, but it still happens; it’s inevitable, and it’s nasty. Craig Venter’s recent autobiographydetailed some pretty sickening examples of it. Whenever government is in the position to decide what scientific projects get funded, it’s going to abuse that power, and political interest groups are going to try to persuade it to abuse that power.
It’s essential to remember that government cannot create wealth. It can only distribute wealth—after taking it away from those who did create it (and after keeping a portion for itself). In other words, government can only engage in assembling and directing capital into various channels. The question, therefore, is whether we have any reason to think that government is wiser when it comes to distributing capital to scientific research than private industry would be. And to answer that question, we have to look at their expertise and their incentives.
As for qualifications, government officials have only the qualification that they got themselves elected—by saying the right things to the right people in the right way. Case in point, George W. Bush. Like other politicians, he had no particular expertise in anything whatsoever, and although he might appoint experts to advise him, the experts he chose were often not actually experts, but just people who persuaded him to think they were experts. Also, in cases where there are genuine scientific controversies, politicians will choose those whose views are politically useful to them, thereby distorting actual controversies in the eyes of the general public and making it more difficult to resolve those debates scientifically. It’s not a mistake that Leon Kass got a prominent role as Bush’s bioethics advisor.
Second, what incentives do government officials face when deciding what projects deserve to be funded? Generally speaking, a private actor making that decision faces the discipline of the marketplace: if he makes bad decisions, he pays for them, and if he makes good decisions, he enjoys the rewards. Politicians, on the other hand, do not pay for bad decisions, and are skilled at making bad decisions look like good ones. If the military, for example, devotes money to researching ridiculous claims of psychic phenomena—nobody loses his job over it. You cannot sue politicians for making bad decisions with your money. If a corporate CEO throws your money away like that, you can sell your shares, sue the company, or even have the CEO thrown in jail. You can’t do that to government officials. In some cases, you can vote them out of office, but since most of these decisions are not made by elected officials, but by unelected administrative agencies, you cannot even do that. They are insulated from every incentive except one: to make their power and their budgets grow over time.
Those who are elected face the incentive of pleasing noisy interest groups—not of making objectively good decisions about science research. Remember when Clinton created yet another commission to prove the existence of Gulf War Syndrome? What about the British National Health Service allowing patients to spend taxpayer money on homeopathy? And the politicians who today truckle to the anti-vaccination movement, just because they’re loud, even though there is no scientific basis whatsoever for their claims?
The question is not whether there is some hypothetically perfect way of deciding which research projects to fund and how; there is not. The question is whether there is any reason to believe that politicians are more skilled at making those decisions than are private individuals and private organizations. Given their expertise and their incentives, I see no reason to believe that government officials are more qualified to make those decisions, and good reason to believe they are less qualified.
4. It ignores the dispersed nature of knowledge and needs
But even aside from questions of expertise and incentives, there is a more fundamental problem: political institutions are structurally incapable of making the “right” decisions about investing money in research. When politicians distribute wealth, they will not distribute it in ways that you and I—actual people who actually face real needs—want it distributed. Instead, politicians will distribute it in ways that the politicians want to see it distributed. Those are two very different things, and the difference between them grows over time.
If a working class man needs to buy a new car to get to his job, by what standard can it ever be “the correct” decision to take his money from him and spend it on a Mars mission instead? The federal government pledged (although it later recanted) to spend $12 billion on the Superconducting Supercollider in Texas—money that could have gone instead to AIDS or cancer or heart disease research; that might have been spent to teach kids to read, or to buy up forest land and preserve it against destruction, or to clean up oil spills. By what criterion do we determine which use of this money is the “right” use? There simply is none. The only way to see what people actually value is to see what decisions they freely choose to make with the assets they own. And there is no other sense in which the word value has any meaning. Information about economic needs is inherently dispersed; it cannot be aggregated into a central planning mechanism.
You may think a person is superficial for wanting to spend his money on a new television set or a video game instead of donating it to a scientific enterprise; that is your right, (and an easy accusation to make against other people’s spending decisions). But to say that there is such a thing as a “correct” decision about how he should spend his money, other than, or without regard to, what he actually wants and is willing to pay is a senseless and dangerous undertaking. No government should ever adopt the proposition that there is a “correct” use of money other than what actual people actually want and need in their lives. As I wrote recently on Freedom Politics,
When politicians take money from people for projects that they think they nation “ought” to have, without regard to what consumers want, need, and are willing to pay for, the stage is set for the farcical tyrannies we’ve seen in other nations.
Consider the House of the People in Bucharest, Romania—the world’s second largest building. Under the direction of Nicholae Ceausescu, construction on the 696,000 square foot palace began in 1983. Today, it contains 1,100 rooms, 480 chandeliers, and over 35 million square feet of marble, and it remains unfinished. It was built by a political leader who decided to spend the nation’s money on an ornate castle—while the people suffered shortages and sat on three-year waiting lists for washing machines or televisions.
This is an extreme example, but the principles are the same as in the case of the Supercollider, or other expenditures of government funding. In each case, what (a) people actually would choose to do with their money and what (b) political leaders decide is the “better” use of their money, are two different things. And over time, (a) and (b) separate and grow farther apart. The farther they get from each other, the more you see distortions in the market, inefficiency, corruption, waste, and abuse, and eventually you have two classes: the political insiders who live well and decide what the nation “truly” needs, and the workers who do not get what they want and need, and who generate the wealth taken to fund the insider’s plans. The existence of nomenklatura is not an accident or a coincidence.
The point is that it is senseless to say money “ought” to be spent on research when the people who earned that money would have chosen to do something else with it—but have lost that money to the government through taxation instead.
Why All Science Should be Privately Funded, II
Reply #48 on:
February 10, 2009, 08:33:13 AM »
5. It distorts science
Closely related to the corrupting effects on the economy caused by government “investments” is the corruption of science that inevitably results from government interference. Probably the most well known problem caused by government intervention in science is the effects it has on science itself. Chris Mooney’s book about the Republican War on Science made an effective argument that the Republican party was abusing and perverting scientific findings and manipulating scientists themselves for their own political ends. But, as he (quietly) admitted, the Democratic party has often done exactly the same thing. (One recent example from just this week, in the more extreme hysteria about global warming).
The bottom line is: when government writes the checks, it will make the rules, and those rules will interfere with scientific independence and scientific integrity. Political leaders will, of course, use science for their own ends—for the same public choice reasons I mentioned above. There are some very disturbing examples of where this trend leads in extreme cases—Lysenko, for example. As Jacob Bronowski wrote,
Government is an apparatus which exercises power and which is bent on retaining it, and in the twentieth century more than ever it spends its time in trying to perpetuate itself by justifying itself. This cast of mind is flatly at odds with the integrity of science, which consists of two parts. One is the free and total dissemination of knowledge: but since knowledge leads to power, no government is happy with that. The other is that science makes no distinction between means and ends: but since all governments believe that power is good in itself, they will use any means to that end…. [Lysenko] was able to falsify biology on a grand scale, to bring up his students in ignorance and deceit, and, incidentally, to do lasting damage to Russian agriculture. These are the consequences of the manipulation of science for the sake of political conformity and power. Yet to my mind Lysenko did a greater ham than all these: by being able to silence those who tried to argue with him, he destroyed the trust of other Russian intellectuals in their scientists.
The Disestablishment of Science, in A Sense of The Future 242-43 (1977).
The respectability of scientists in the United States has been earned through extremely patient hard work, and it should not be squandered. But if scientists ally themselves too closely with the state, they will squander that reputation, no matter how respectable their motives. I believe scientists must preserve their independence and respectability, and that means separating themselves as much as possible from policy making. They should advise, certainly, but when they wield power, they don’t just undermine their own personal objectivity, they threaten the public image of science, and the influence of science in general in modern society.
6. It gives government cover for its projects
Similarly, when government can wrap itself in the mantle of scientific respectability, it can get away with many abuses. Throughout the twentieth century, we saw some truly shameful actions perpetrated by government claiming (with plausibility, at the time!) to represent scientific progress. Eugenics and segregation in this country were often justified on scientific grounds, and by people who were then at the very top of their scientific professions. When government claims the allegiance of scientists, it can use that allegiance as a pretext for doing awful things to people.
7. It's not necessary
Probably the most common objection to ending government subsidies for science research is that it’s necessary because private industry won’t make the investments for pure science, or is too insistent on immediate returns on investments so that private investors will not devote money to research that lacks an obvious commercial application.
There are two problems with this objection. Terence Kealey has pointed out that scientific research is already largely funded by private industry, and that funding tends to be dramatically more efficient in making a real difference in the lives of real people. (See, for instance, his book The Economic Laws of Scientific Research). Private philanthropic organizations devote a tremendous amount of private money to scientific research, and it is good quality research. The March of Dimes, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society receive boatloads of money from non-government sources. The Hughes, Keck, Rockefeller, and Carnegie Foundations have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into top-notch scientific research. David Packard of Hewlett Packard gave $4 billion to his research foundation. And a lot of this research is long-range research into sciences that may not have practical application for a long time. There cannot be serious doubt that private industry is very capable, and until the rise of the Military-Industrial Complex in the 1950s, was by far the leader, of investment in scientific research.
The second problem is hidden in the argument that private persons or organizations are only interested in immediate commercial applications. This is usually said in such a way as to suggest that private investors are vulgar materialists, too faithless to be patient for the long-term rewards for research or too ignoble to approve of knowledge for its own sake. But in fact it is a good thing for people who make investments—whether private industry or government—to consider the time element and avoid investments that, although they might pay off someday, are too unlikely to make a difference in the short range to make that investment worthwhile. It’s just this choice that makes the difference between wise investing and foolish investing. If I have $100 and I can choose either to invest it in research that might (or might not) increase crop yields for African farmers over the course of two decades, or in a simple device that can protect them against getting malaria tomorrow, it is not foolish or shortsighted to choose the latter over the former. Being short-range is sometimes a wise thing. And no system is more capable of weighing costs and benefits of short-term or long-term investments, than the system of private enterprise.*
What’s more, take a more skeptical look at some of the alleged payoffs of government-funded research. It’s true that government-run science projects have sometimes created great new innovations (as well as some pretty awful ones). But a lot of these discoveries would have been made by private research institutions, for less cost, and with less bureaucratic interference. And much of the time, these alleged benefits are wildly exaggerated. My favorite is NASA’s website trying to sell people on the benefits of the space program, which says that, to name just one example, cordless power tools were created for the Apollo program. But, as a different NASA website admits, that just ain’t so. (Neither were Tang, or Velcro, or Teflon, or the smoke detector, or quartz clocks…) Even if it were, was that really the cheapest, most efficient way to invent battery-powered drills? Meanwhile private industry invented everything from the airplane to the baby incubator.
What about “pure research”? To say government ought to invest taxpayer money in technologies with no obvious commercial applicability is to say that the government should force us to invest in projects that might never pay off, or might pay off too far into the future to do people much good—that is, that the government should force us to make risky investments. And to say that the government should invest in pure research with no real-world application at all means that the government ought to force a person to give up her money to projects that will do her absolutely no good whatsoever—money she might have devoted to something she actually really needed or wanted. This is indefensible morally and practically. It is not “anti-science” to say that a single mom working late in a nightclub in Houston should not be forced to give up part of her earnings to the search for the Higgs boson.
Finally, I return again to the real question. It’s not whether we can devise some perfect means of investing in research. It’s whether there’s any reason to think government is better at it than private industry. Obviously it’s true that wise investing in research requires a long-range mindset and sometimes a willingness to devote time and money to projects without an obvious payoff. But that’s true whether the investor is private industry or government—and do we have any reason to believe government has more patience or more insight, or is less subject to trivial pressures and changes of mind than is private industry? I see no reason to think so. We know all too well that government is very likely to make bad long-range plans, or no long-range plans at all, in the pursuit of short-term prestige and popularity.
Note that these seven objections are basically the same objections raised by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison against the unity of church and state. Their opponents, of course, argued that private industry could not possibly support churches—that religion needed government funding, else people would not choose to donate their money to religious causes. But Jefferson and Madison rightly argued that religion would be immeasurably strengthened by separating the two: it would increase the integrity and respectability of religion, weed out religious movements that deserved to fade away, and ensure greater safety to the rights of dissenters while respecting the freedom of mainstream believers and eliminating the tendencies to abuse.
Again, I enjoy and applaud science and admire scientists more than I can say. I think nothing is more noble. But science welfare is still corporate welfare; money taken by force away from people who have earned it, and distributed by government in ways that inevitably lead to waste and corruption. For science’s sake and for the sake of individual rights, government and science should be entirely separated.
*--As Hayek said in his Nobel lecture,
Into the determination of…prices and wages there will enter the effects of particular information possessed by every one of the participants in the market process—a sum of facts which in their totality cannot be known to the scientific observer, or to any other single brain. It is indeed the source of the superiority of the market order, and the reason why, when it is not suppressed by the powers of government, it regularly displaces other types of order, that in the resulting allocation of resources more of the knowledge of particular facts will be utilized which exists only dispersed among uncounted persons, than any one person can possess. But because we, the observing scientists, can thus never know all the determinants of such an order, and in consequence also cannot know at which particular structure of prices and wages demand would everywhere equal supply, we also cannot measure the deviations from that order; nor can we statistically test our theory that it is the deviations from that ‘equilibrium’ system of prices and wages which make it impossible to sell some of the products and services at the prices at which they are offered.
Posted by Timothy Sandefur on February 09, 2009 at 08:30 AM | Permalink
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Warming or Cooling = Warming
Reply #49 on:
February 13, 2009, 09:14:28 AM »
Climate scientists blow hot and cold
Antarctic warming isn't evidence of climate change – despite what scientists would have us believe
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 February 2009 11.00 GMT
Just about every major outlet has jumped on the news: Antarctica is warming up.
Most previous science had indicated that, despite a warming of global temperatures, readings from Antarctica were either staying the same or even going down.
The problem with Antarctic temperature measurement is that all but three longstanding weather stations are on or very near the coast. Antarctica is a big place, about one-and-a-half times the size of the US. Imagine trying to infer our national temperature only with stations along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, plus three others in the interior.
Eric Steig, from University of Washington, filled in the huge blanks by correlating satellite-measured temperatures with the largely coastal Antarctic network and then creating inland temperatures based upon the relationship between the satellite and the sparse observations. The result was a slight warming trend, but mainly at the beginning of the record in the 1950s and 1960s. One would expect greenhouse effect warming from carbon dioxide to be more pronounced in recent years, which it is not.
There's actually very little that is new here. Antarctic temperatures do show a warming trend if you begin your study between 1957, when the International Geophysical Year deployed the first network of thermometers there, and the mid-1960s. Studies that start after then find either cooling or no change.
Steig and his colleagues didn't graph the data for the continent as a whole. Instead they broke it into two pieces: the east and west Antarctic ice sheet regions. A naïve reader would give equal weight to both. In fact, in the east, which is much larger, there is clearly no significant warming in the last several decades. When the results are combined, the same old result reappears, namely that the "warming" is driven by years very early in the record, and that the net change since the early 1970s is insignificant.
The reaction to this study by Steig and his co-authors is more enlightening than its results. When Antarctica was cooling, some climate scientists said that was consistent with computer models for global warming. When a new study, such as Steig's, says it's warming, well that's just fine with the models, too. That's right: people glibly relate both warming and cooling of the frigid continent to human-induced climate change.
Perhaps the most prominent place to see how climatologists mix their science with their opinions is a blog called RealClimate.org, primarily run by Gavin Schmidt, one of the computer jockeys for Nasa's James Hansen, the world's loudest climate alarmist.
When studies were published showing a net cooling in recent decades, RealClimate had no problem. A 12 February 2008 post noted: "We often hear people remarking that parts of Antarctica are getting colder, and indeed the ice pack in the southern ocean around Antarctica has actually been getting bigger. Doesn't this contradict the calculations that greenhouse gases are warming the globe? Not at all, because a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict … and have predicted for the past quarter century."
A co-author of Steig's paper (and frequent blogger on RealClimate), Penn State's Michael Mann, turned a 180 on Antarctic cooling. He told Associated Press: "Now we can say: No, it's not true. … [Antarctica] is not bucking the trend."
So, Antarctic cooling and warming are both now consistent with computer models of dreaded global warming caused by humans.
In reality, the warming is largely at the beginning of the record – before there should have been much human-induced climate change. New claims that both warming and cooling of the same place are consistent with forecasts isn't going to help the credibility of climate science, and, or reduce the fatigue of Americans regarding global warming.
Have climate alarmists beaten global warming to death? The Pew Research Centre recently asked over 1,500 people to rank 20 issues in order of priority. Global warming came in dead last.
We can never run the experiment to see if indeed it is the constant hyping of this issue that has sent it to the bottom of the priority ladder. But, as long as scientists blog on that both warming and cooling of the coldest place on earth is consistent with their computer models, why should anyone believe them?
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