Political Angst In America

Location: Pantego, Texas, United States

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nancy Pelosi just returned from Greenland where she says she saw proof of Global Warming, and proof that it is caused by man, particularly Americans. I wonder what she saw? This seems to me to be a totally ignorant statement because local climate cannot possibly be any indicator of a global phenomena. For example most of Antarctica has been getting colder over the last 30 years. If Nancy had gone there would she have concluded that a new ice age is coming? And, what could she have seen that clearly shows that Americans are causing whatever climate change is actually happening? I wonder if she realizes that 1000 years ago Greenland was warm enough for there to be farming there?

Bill and Hillary Clinton enjoyed an Acapulco vacation that cost $146,000 and was paid for by the company InfoUSA. But Hillary complied with Senate rules and re-imbursed InfoUSA with the price of a First Class airfare, so there is no ethics violation here. I don't know what the airfare is, but I'll bet it is a lot less than $146,000. I suspect that Hillary is not the only person in Congress that enjoys such good deals. I'm amazed that politicians are able to keep a straight face as they say they are going to end corruption in Congress.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Today Neal Boortz had an article on Hillary Clinton in which he points out that Hillary Clinton is a fascist. I suspect that will be shocking to, and denied by most people. This is because people are accustomed to hearing Liberals and Democrats call Conservatives and Republicans fascists even though they are pretty much the opposite of fascists. Fascists are collectivists who believe that the individual has to be made subservient to society in general. Fascism featured central planned economies, opposed free trade, eliminated free speech, and assumed control of education. These are hardly characteristics of Republicans. Mussolini and Hitler co-opted the leaders of industry and elites rather than killing them as the communists did in Russia, China, and Cambodia, and this seems to be what Hillary Clinton desires. Her statements indicate that she wants to take control of industry and to set up a central planned economy, something she said she admired about Russia. She wants to establish state control of health care and education, and she wants to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine" in public broadcasting to restrict free speech. She says she wants to appropriate the profits of oil companies to put them to "better use." Thus, she certainly exhibits the primary features of fascism. The one characteristic of fascism that Republicans do have more than Democrats is nationalism. I think that Hillary may find that, just as Hitler and Mussolini did, that nationalism is useful in promoting the pre-eminance of the state over the individual.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Here is a site that has a history of Islam.


Islam is a scary religion to me. Our President and many others refer to Islam as "a Religion of Peace." They seem to call themselves "the Religion of Peace' like other religions have no legitimacy. As far as I can tell, there is not much about Islam that is peaceful. It mostly talks about killing or subjugating all non-believers. Islam is as much a political system as a religion, something that makes it extremely dangerous for a country like the US that guarantees freedon of religion since this makes it easier to sneak in the political aspects. The liberals seem particularly vulnerable to demands for special treatment for Muslims; concessions that they would agressively resist if requested by Christians. These requested concessions include things like teaching Islam in public schools, special arrangements and facilities for Muslims prayers, etc.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Recently in conversation with my Aunt Gladys, who is 88 years old, she mentioned that she had just renewed her driver's license by mail. Last year when I renewed my driver's license as I reached 70, I had to go to the Texas Driver's License Office and take an eye test. I also had to give fingerprints presumably so they could verify that I was who I said I was. I wonder why the inconsistency? Maybe they select people to take the eye test at random. Bureaucracy is wonderful.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Here is an interesting idea from Europe. France is offering to pay illegal immigrants about $10,000 to go home. Why don't we try that. If the illegals are really costing us $19,000 per year, estimated to eventually total $500,000 each by the end of their life, we could offer a nice sum to illegals to just go home. Of course we would have to effectively seal the border since many would take the money and leave, but would return after a few weeks.

Response to Comment by Ed,

I tried to respond with a comment, but failed for some reason. The illegal alien cost of $19,000 per year is mentioned a lot in opinion pieces and on talk shows. I have not identified the source. If you google "$19,000 illegal alien cost," you will get a lot of hits, including Congressional testimony. But I have not found the source. Obviously, people who favor amnesty for illegal aliens do not agree with the estimate. Regarding the Dallas Federal Reserve position, I think it is possible that a person could make a contribution to the economy, and still cost taxpayers money. One area of contention between the two sides is consideration of the children of illegal aliens, who are often US citizens. According to an article I read in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, the majority of babies born in Parkland Hospital in Dallas have illegal alien mothers, who pay nothing. There is some logic in attributing the cost of educating the child to the illegal alien parents. I suspect the $19,000 is an average cost that includes such things as crimes committed by illegal aliens, the cost of incarceration, etc. I don't think anyone suggests that college educated aliens are a drag on taxpayers, but very few of the illegal aliens from Mexico have any education.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The advocates of AGW do not normally talk about the fact that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide alone will not cause a significant increase in Earth's temperature. (Water vapor represents about 95% of the Greenhouse gas effect, with carbon dioxide accounting for 3 or 4%.) The AGW true believers but don't want to confuse the folks, but the increase in temperature predicted by the GCM's is the result of an increase in water vapor in the air resulting from a slight amount of heating due to an increase in carbon dioxide. It is obviously hard to determine the historical record of water vapor in the atmosphere. But, someone has now done a study of the recent history, and concluded that there has been no change. That indicates that the AGW theory is not valid. Here is a reference I got from American Thinker.

The new paper by Smith et al, suggests that there has been no global increase in water vapour content, and undermines the IPCC foundation stone of an enhancement of the increased warming effect of CO2 via increased atmospheric water vapour:

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L06705, doi:10.1029/2005GL025393, 2006 Variations in annual global precipitation (1979-2004), based on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5° analysis Thomas M. Smith et al

Abstract The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) has produced a combined satellite and in situ global precipitation estimate, beginning 1979. The annual average GPCP estimates are here analyzed over 1979-2004 to evaluate the large-scale variability over the period. Data inhomogeneities are evaluated and found to not be responsible for the major variations, including systematic changes over the period. Most variations are associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episodes. There are also tropical trend-like changes over the period, correlated with interdecadal warming of the tropical SSTs and uncorrelated with ENSO. Trends have spatial variations with both positive and negative values, with a global-average near zero.

Here is an interesting chronology of the Northern Hemisphere's climate.


One question I have for the believers in the AGW dogma, particularly the religious leaders, is what is the appropriate temperature for Earth? It seems to have varied a lot in the past rather than having been stable for centuries, as the IPCC has tried to say it has. Also, warmer seems to be better than colder based on history.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I was thinking about the immigration bill now under consideration in Congress. I got to wondering why we need a bill. Why do we have to give citizenshi to those here illegally. Why don't we just ignore them. We could tell them that they will never, ever get citizenship unless they go home and come in legally. They could apply in their home country while residing here illegally. There are probably some techniques we could apply that would make it less pleasant for illegals to be here. We can never seal the border effectively so we need another approach. Giving amnesty of any type to illegals will only encourage more people to enter illegally.

I read on the Fox web page about a badly injured woman who had been bludgeoned and left in her driveway, and later her daughter's burned body was found, along with the burned body of a man suspected to be the daughter's father. The article quoted a policeman as saying, "We suspect foul play." How about that for understatement. That sounds like something Joe Friday would have said. Maybe all Califronia policemen are that laconic.

Here is an interesting discussion of global warming written by a 15-year old high school girl named Kristen Byrnes for extra credit. It's a long and comprehensive discussion, and seems to be generally accurate. This is much better than Al Gore's ridiculous movie. I like that she has identified a previously un-named solar minimum interval, and named it after herself. (I suspect her Dad helped her write this.) I would definitely give her an A for this work, though I suspect that the typical high school teacher would judge it to not be "politically correct."


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Polls indicate that only about one-third of the young Muslim men in America think that being a suicide bomber is justifiable. That's great news isn't it. And 60% of the Muslims think that Arabs were not responsible for the 9/11 attack. I guess they don't believe Osama.

The debate on the immigration bill is interesting. I hear a lot of people arguing, saying that others haven't read the bill, so don't know what they are talking about. Then others say that the staffers haven't finished writing the bill yet. If that is true then no one has read the bill, so meaningful discussion is impossible. Our Congress has a habit of passing laws that no one has read, and no one knows how it will be interpreted. We have to wait for the Courts to do that, and often the Courts find things in the law that no one ever expected.

I hear on the talk shows that anyone opposed to the bill is a bigot. I suppose that makkes me a bigot.

I don't understand this"we're all immigrants" stuff. I have one great- grandmother who came from Ireland as a child in 1854. All of my other ancestors were in the US in 1776, so they were here when the US was born. One of my great-great-grandmothers was a Cherokee, but I suppose you could say that even that group immigrated 10,000 years ago. I just don't think there is anything useful about saying that America is a nation of immigrants. This seems to imply, as I once heard a Hispanic Congressman say on C-Span, that everyone in the world has a constitutional right to come to the United States. If that is true, we need to make a change since it is obvious that we cannot support everyone in the world.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One aspect of the proposed immigration bill, at least according to what I read, is that it would permit more legal immigration of Muslims. I think that would be a mistake. I don't see how people who are offended by ham sandwiches, piggy banks, and Porky Pig will be happy in America. Jews don't eat ham, but I've never heard of them being disturbed because I eat ham or to try to ban piggy banks. I gather Muslims don't like dogs either. There are a lot of dogs in America. Why would a devout Muslim want to come to America unless it is to force us to convert to their religion? Muslim nations don't allow Christian evangelists into their country. Why should we let them into ours?

In today's Ft. Worth Star Telegram there is an article that deplores that the experience level of school teachers in poor neighborhoods is less than those teachers in schools in more affluent neighborhoods. The article doesn't really get at the root causes of why this is true. It is possible that teachers in those poor neighborhoods get frustrated and quit or manage to get a transfer. We live in a free society, so we can't force teachers to work in environments they don't like. From what I have heard, the problem, particularly in elementary schools, is not the students, but instead is their parents.

The immigration bill is over 1000 pages long. I doubt that any member of Congress has read the entire bill. I doubt that any one staffer has read the entire thing.

I doubt that the future illegal aliens will follow the new law anyway more than the current law was obeyed.

There is a lot of speculation that granting the vote to the current illegal aliens will mean the end of the Republican Party as it currently exists. I suspect that will prove to be true. But, over time white people will no longer be a majority in America (white people are now a minority in Texas), and that may impact the Democrats as well as because htier currnt coalition oon minorities may fracture. A worst case will be if the Democrats evolve into a pure socialist party instead of just leaning toward socilaism as now.

The outlook for America is not good. The same thing that happened to Venezuela could happen here. In Venezuela poor immigrants from other countries came into the more prosperous Venezuela and voted in a socialist, who has now made himself dictator. (Some liberals such as Lincoln Chafee deny that Chavez is a dictator, but I say that disbanding the legislature and announcing that anyone who criticizes Chavez is a traitor makes him a dictator.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I keep up with the milage for my Lincoln LS. I just write down the mileage on the odometer and the amount of gas I pump in to fill the tank. The mileage I calculate for one fillup is not very accurate, given that how full the tank is varies, and the gauge on the pump is not highly accurate, but over a few months it is accurate. My average mileage has fallen about 0.5 mpg since the government has required that the fuel contain 10% ethanol. Ethanol contains less energy per gallon than does gasoline, so this result is what should be expected. This leads me to wonder if the Congress considers this when establishing the fleet mileage requirement. Obtaining an average mileage of 30 mpg for pure gasoline than it would be for 10% ethanol gasoline, to say nothing of E85.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The testimony of James Comey before Henry Waxman's inquisition was interesting I think. Regarding the NSA surveillance program, Comey says that President Bush didn't tell him what to do but said for Comey to do what he thought was right. It is hard to imagine Clinton not giving detailed instructions. No wonder the Democrats think Bush is an evil guy.

A recent study from California says that northern forests contribute to global warming but trapping sunlight under the canopy when covered by snow during the winter. (This reduces the reflection of the sun's energy. This reflection is called albedo, and overall an average of about 30% or so of the solar energy reaching earth is reflected back into space.) The study says that cutting down the northern forests in Canada, Siberia, and Alaska would reduce the Earth's temperature by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Wow. If that is correct, we don't need to cut carbon dioxide emissions to cool the earth. We cut just cut some trees in the northern forests. That would be a lot easier and involve a lot less expense than destroying the world's economy by draconian reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. Of course it is not a good idea to reduce the temperature by 10 degrees. I'm pretty sure the Canadians would probably not like to see a 10 degree reduction in the local temperature. Generally, human life has been better when it is warmer as opposed to colder. But, it seems like we could just hold this forest cutting in reserve in the unlikely event that average temperature does ramp up at a rapid rate. That could be done a lot faster than reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

I can't help but wonder how this is treated in the GCM's that are used to predict the catastrophic future warming. Do those models show such a fall in temperature if the northern forests were to be cut? Wonder why those in the IPCC are not considering other approaches to temperature reduction than just reduction in carbon dioxide emission? It is uncertain , and in fact unlikely, that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will affect average temperature much. But things like putting more aerosols in the air will definitely work. How do I know that? Because of the history of what happens after a major volcanic eruption. Personally I think it is because the UN, the IPCC, and socialists like the Democrat Party are seeking a rationale for imposing more regulations and reducing individual freedom.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Fox sponsered debate of announced Republican candidates for President of the US was on tonight. Fox put on a much better show than the earlier two debates. The questions were much better than the inane questions asked by Chris Mathews and his buddies.

Here is a discussion on the mission of the IPCC that I copied from the blog "Classical Values"

The IPCC Mandateby Simon
What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) statement of purpose? Is the organization supposed to find the cause of global climate change and report on what can be done? Why no.
The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.Hmmm. They already have their minds made up. Only human induced climate change is of interest to them.
So how do they go about their job? Do they do science? Why no.
The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature.OK so they pick the papers that go into their various reports. And the reports are mainly backed by peer reviewed science. Mainly. I wonder what is the minor component. Doesn't say. Voodoo? Phase of the moon? Politics? I have my suspicions.
Richard Lindzen has his suspicions as well.
So how is it that we don't have more scientists speaking up about this junk science? It's my belief that many scientists have been cowed not merely by money but by fear. An example: Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Joe Barton issued letters to paleoclimatologist Michael Mann and some of his co-authors seeking the details behind a taxpayer-funded analysis that claimed the 1990s were likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the last millennium. Mr. Barton's concern was based on the fact that the IPCC had singled out Mr. Mann's work as a means to encourage policy makers to take action. And they did so before his work could be replicated and tested--a task made difficult because Mr. Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to release the details for analysis. The scientific community's defense of Mr. Mann was, nonetheless, immediate and harsh. The president of the National Academy of Sciences--as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union--formally protested, saying that Rep. Barton's singling out of a scientist's work smacked of intimidation.
All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists--a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.
Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. 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.
And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest. However, even when such papers are published, standards shift. When I, with some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an "Iris Effect," wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2. Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as "discredited." Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming--not whether it would actually happen.Well, well, well. If you set out to look for man made climate change it seems as if you will find it.
Which brings up another ancient rule. The golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Regarding global warming, in a recent post I discussed how the temperature increase in the nineteenth century was about 1 degree Fahrenheit and the increase in the twentieth century was about 1.1 degree Fahrenheit. The GCM folks have assumed that the increse in the twentieth century was caused by increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. The models were "tuned" with this assumption. Thus it is a self-fulfilling prophesy that the GCM's predict dramatically increasing temperature with increasing carbon dioxide. In order for this position to be justifiable, it was necessary for there to have been a constant temperature for centuries prior to the twentieth, and for the carbon dioxide concentration to have been stable in the past. Regarding temperature, it was necessary to somehow get rid of the the medieval warm period, and the little ice age since no one knows what caused those temperature variations in the past. This was done with the temperature history "hockey stick" curve of Mann, et al. This analysis has been discredited as has been widely discussed. Regarding carbon dioxide, the IPCC relied on ice core samples that showed a carbon dioxide concentration of about 280 ppm. Thousands of direct measurements made in the nineteenth century were ignored. This situation needs to be resolved. The true believers in the Global Warming dogma are undeterred by the crumbling of the underpinnings of the carbon dioxide as the casue of global warming and the end of life as we know it.

In a related development, Dr. Zichichi, the President of the World Federation of Scientists , in a meeting at the Vatican said that the GCM's are "incoherent and invalid from a scientific point of view." He estimates that only about 10% of the recent warming has been due to man's activities.

Recently Hillary Clinton has proposed making a college education a new entitlement for all children. This would require a significant change to our colleges since they would have to cope with over half of the students having an IQ of less than 100. At present some experts believe that an IQ of 115 is required to be successful in college. Based on that we have a significant nuber of people in college now who cannot succeed. That is probably borne out by the current college drop-out rate. Hillary Clinton may not have thought this through, but some fundamental change to colleges will be required to accommodate large numbers of people with double digit IQ's. Of course liberals do not accept that there is such a thing as IQ so maybe consideration of mental abilities may not be acceptable. Maybe Hillary is just going to re-name trade schools as colleges.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The latest IPCC Report says that 11 of the past 12 years have been the hottest on record, that is since the record started in 1850. That puts their spin on it. Another way to look at it is to say that the temperature hasn't gone up since 1998. The IPCC doesn't like that characterization since their computer models say that, barring volcanic eruption events, temperature should be going up at about 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, and that is not happening now.

There are some other questions about the IPCC predictions that have not been answered. For example, the IPCC results say that temperature should increase particularly at the poles. The arctic temperature has been increasing, but the temperature over 80% of antarctica has been declining. That is not what would be expected if an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is what is causing the warming. The temperature increase experienced has been confined almost entirely to continental regions at high northern latitudes, Alaska, Canada and Siberia in particular. The temperature of the southeastern United States has actually declined over the last thirty years.

Here is another question. Temperature went up about 1 degree Fahrenheit during the nineteenth century before significant amounts of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere as compared to about 1.1 degree Fahrenheit in the twentieth century. Why should we think that whatever mechanism caused the temperature increase during the nineteenth century stopped working at the start of the twentieth century and was completely replaced by greenhouse gas warming? Another question we should answer; what caused the temperature increase in the nineteenth century? For that matter, what caused the temperature decrease during the fourteenth century? If we can't answer those questions it is pretty arrogant to think we can predict future temperature.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Yesterday's Ft. Worth Star-Telegram had an article saying that my old company, Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, is laying off 50 engineers. That is probably to be expected, given the cost of the war in Iraq and the uncertainty in funding fron Congress. Sales of hardware increases during a war, but funding for RDT&E usually declines as the war winds down. (Or, in the case of Iraq, as our involvement winds down.) Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Harry Reid say that want to stop the war. It is not clear how they will accomplish that since it takes two sides to stop a war, and it seems unlikely that our leaving Iraq will cause the Jihadis to stop attacking us. Muslims have been at war with everyone else in the world since the seventh century, and it seems unlikely that our leaving Iraq would encourage them to cease their war on us.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I watched part of a Barrack Obama speech today. I think he is either the Manchurian candidate or Chauncey Gardiner, or maybe both. He is clearly a collectivist and probably a totalitarian. He is not a guy I would like to see in the White House.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Congress is trying to pass another hate crime law. President Bush will veto it if it gets to him, but I expect it will be put into law as soon as a Democrat is elected President. These laws don't make much sense to me. This is a "feel good" law of the type that liberals like. It is favored by people who run on emotion rather than logic.

I remember the James Byrd case. Byrd's daughter made an ad for Democrat's criticizing Bush for opposing hate crime legislation. As Bush said, two of Byrd's killers were quickly sentenced to death, and the other was sentenced to life in prison. What more can be done to them? One aspect of the law that disturbs me is that as a straight white male I'm not valued as much as one of the protected class. If someone assaults or kills me it's not as important to bring my attacker to justice as if I were in the protected class? I thought we were all supposed to be equal under the law. There seems to be a thought that people (presumably right-wing white people) are actively targeting the "protected classes." But in the cases I have read about recently of crimes against homosexuals and Muslims, it turned out the allegations were false. The people want to be victims. It appears that nowadays everyone wants to be part of a "victim class." That does not bode well for our society in my opinion.

There is some indication that President Bush's strategy in Iraq is beginning to have some success. The chance for avoiding a war of civilizations between the West and Islam is to cause a civil war inside Islam between the radicals and the moderates, not a war between Sunni and Shia. This is a tricky business because about two-thirds of Muslims think they have a duty to subjugate the entire world. But there are only about 10% who really want to fight. And time is running out because Iran is getting closer to having a nuclear bomb every day. Iran already has religious approval to use nuclear weapons against Israel and the US. We are running out of time, and the political situation in the US is not helping, with the Democrats gambling with the safety of the country to gain political power.

The Chinese and the Russians wouldn't mind seeing the US severely damaged by Islam, but they may be beginning to realize that if the Muslims destroy America, they will be the next target. An interesting question is how will Russia and China react when Iran tests a nuclear device?

Friday, May 04, 2007

There is a lot of discussion now about what to do to prevent nuts from shooting a lot of people. Some think outlawing guns would be a good approach. But that hasn't worked in other places, since criminals and nuts don't follow the law, and if their is a demand, there will be a supply. Anther approach is to let people carry guns. That at least would limit the damage when a nut starts shooting people at random. Some people think that the presence of guns would lead to more violent confontations. That has not been the case in Texas since the law was changed to allow people to get permits to carry concealed weapons. I suppose one argument against using Texas as an example is that many people carried weapons when it was against the law. I always think of what happened in Israel a few years ago. Terrorists would carry out gun attacks against the Israeli's. The Israeli's armed themselves and started shooting back. I recall one case where three Palestinians opened fire, and Israeli civilians returned fire killing two of the Palestinians and wounding the third. The wounded man complained loudly to the news media. He said he and his friends were carrying out a legitimate attack, and the Israelis had no right to fight back. I recall he was quoted as saying, "what kind of country is this where people are carrying submachine guns." The Palestinians have shifted to suicide bomb attacks since their victims started shooting back. I suppose if we started letting everyone carry a gun, sort of like what Archie Bunker suggested to stop airliner highjacking, then the nuts might well switch to using explosives. This might slow them down to some extent since they would have to learn how to make explosives. But, I expect that there is ample information on the internet so that inteligent nuts could learn how to make explosives. Maybe it would stop the ones who are not so smart. It is also possible that nuts might switch back to swords. People no longer realize how lethal a madman with a sword can be in a crowd. I suspect there is no perfect solution to stopping someone who is determined to kill a lot of people.

Some Academics have conducted a study of professional basketball officiating that concludes there is a racial bias. The white officials call more fouls on black players than on white players. I am surprised that there are enough white players to get a large enough sample for accurate statistics. Recently I had dinner with ny son in a Sports Bar, and the Mavericks game was on TV. The Mavericks do have a white player, who I think is a German. I don't often watch basketball, and the first thing I commented on regarding the game was the rules seem to have changed since I played. I noticed that the players were cupping the ball when they dribbled, and traveling was happening a lot, and the officials were not calling these infractions. I also saw a lot of lane violations that were not called. My son thought the rules were the same, but the officals allow a certain amount of "showmanship" now. So, I got to thinking, maybe the white guys and the black guys aren't playing by the same rules. This may also explain why the US doesn't dominate international competition in basketball any more, since the US players are accustomed to more generous interpretation of the rules, particularly for the more famous players.

Time magazine has printed a list of what they perceive as the 100 most influential people in the world. President Bush didn't make the list. But Paris Hilton, Rosie O'Donnell, and the actress on the TV show "Ugly Betty" (I've never seen the show, so don't know her name) did. I don't know if the list is a joke, or if Time has such a low regard for the intelligence of their audience. Perhaps Time should check with Nancy Pelosi and Harry reid to see if the President has any influence with them. It is scary to think that Paris Hilton influences a lot of people.

A segment of a speech by the Queen of England was just shown on TV. The Queen is easy to understand; she doesn't have much accent. I suppose she was taught that way so all of her subjects from the old empire could understand her.

The Democrats refuse to participate in a debate with Brit Hume as the moderator, but the Republicans were willing to have a debate last night with Chris Matthews as moderator. Chris is a rabid partisan Democrat who literally goes berserk on the air from time to time, and doesn't seem to be rational. Hume may also be a partisan, but is a professional newsman, and seems to be intelligent. As others have mentioned, if the Democrats are afraid of Brit Hume, why should we expect them to face the Islamists?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Global Warming has taken on a life of its own. Politicians, Corporate CEO's and journalists have accepted the idea, and are embracing it as a way to profitin their respective fields. They are no longer interested in where actual science is leading. Here is an interesting peice by one who has become a skeptic. (I'll confess that I have been a skeptic for more than 20 years based on somewhat different reasons than those given in the article.)

A climate skeptic's guest post: Why David Evans bet against Brian Schmidt over global warming

(Editor's note: I invited David Evans from Science Speak to write the guest post below explaining his viewpoint and why he is betting against me over global warming. David welcomes a substantive debate in the comments. Obviously, we don't agree on all the issues, but I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone the value of civil debate with someone like David, who is genuine enough to put his money where his mouth is.)

I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry (Google on "FullCAM"). When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

In the late 1990's the evidence suggesting that carbon emissions caused global warming was basically:

1. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Proved in a laboratory a century ago.

2. Global warming has been occurring for a century, especially since 1975, and concentrations of atmospheric carbon have been rising for a century, especially since 1975. Correlation is not causation, but in a rough sense it looked like a fit.

3. Ice core data, starting with the first cores from Vostok in 1985, allowed us to measure temperature and atmospheric carbon going back hundreds of thousands of years, through several dramatic global warming and cooling events. To the temporal resolution then available (data points were generally more than a thousand years apart), atmospheric carbon and temperature moved in lock-step: there was an extremely high correlation, they rose and fell together. Talk about a smoking gun!

4. There weren't any other credible suspects for causing global warming. So presumably it had to be carbon emissions.

This evidence was good enough: not conclusive, but why wait until we are absolutely certain when we apparently need to act now? So the idea that carbon emissions were causing global warming passed from the scientific community into the political realm, and actions started to happen.

Research increased, bureaucracies were formed, international committees met, and eventually the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 -- with the aim of curbing carbon emissions.

And the political realm in turn fed money back into the scientific community. By the late 1990's, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too. I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming. And so were lots of people around me; and there were international conferences full of such people. And we had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet!

But starting in about 2000, the last three of the four pieces of evidence outlined above fell away or reversed. Using the same point numbers as above:

2. Closer examination of the last century using better data shows that from 1940 to 1975 the earth cooled at about 0.1C/decade while atmospheric carbon increased. But any warming effect of atmospheric carbon is immediate. By 2003 or so we had discovered global dimming, which might be adequate to explain this 35-year non-correlation. But what had seemed like a good fit between recent atmospheric carbon and global warming now looks shaky, in need of the recently-discovered unquantified global dimming factor to explain 35 years of substantial cooling. I reckon the last century of correlation evidence now neither supports carbon emissions as the cause nor eliminates it. Further quantitative research on global dimming might rescue this bit of evidence, or it might weaken it further.

3. As more ice core data was collected, the temporal resolution was improved. By 2004 or so we knew from the ice core data that in the warming events of the last million years the temperature increases generally started about 800 years *before* the rises in atmospheric carbon started. Causality does not run in the direction I had assumed in 1999 -- it runs the opposite way. Presumably temperature rises cause a delayed rise in atmospheric carbon because it takes several hundred years to warm the oceans enough for the oceans to give off more of their carbon.

It is possible that rising atmospheric carbon in these past warmings then went on to cause more warming ("amplification" of the initial warming), but the ice core data does not prove that. It could just be that the temperature rose for some other reason, that this caused the oceans to raise the atmospheric carbon levels, and that the increased atmospheric carbon had an insignificant effect on the temperature.

The pre-2000 ice core data was the central evidence for believing that atmospheric carbon caused temperature increases. The new ice core data shows that past warmings were *not* initially caused by rises in atmospheric carbon, and says nothing about the strength of any amplification. This piece of evidence casts reasonable doubt that atmospheric carbon had any role in past warmings, while still allowing the possibility that it had a supporting role.

4. A credible alternative suspect now exists. Clouds both reflect incoming radiation (albedo) and prevent heat from escaping (greenhouse), but with low clouds the albedo effect is stronger than the greenhouse effect. Thus low clouds cause net cooling (high clouds are less common and do the opposite). In October 2006 a team led by Henrik Svensmark showed experimentally that cosmic rays affect cloud formation, and thus that
Stronger sun's magnetic field

=> Less cosmic rays hit Earth

=> Fewer low clouds are formed

=> Earth heats up.

And indeed, the sun's magnetic field has been stronger than usual for the last three decades. So maybe cosmic rays cause global warming. But investigation of this cause is still in its infancy, and it's far too early to judge how much of the global warming is caused by cosmic rays.
So three of the four arguments that convinced me in 1999 that carbon emissions caused global warming are now questionable.

The case for carbon emissions as the cause of global warming now just boils down to the fact that we know that it works in the laboratory, and that there is no strong evidence that global warming is definitely *not* caused by carbon emissions. Much the same can be said of cosmic rays -- we have laboratory evidence that it works, and no definitely contradictory evidence.
So why did I bet against global warming continuing at the current rate?

Let's return to the interaction between science and politics.

By 2000 the political system had responded to the strong scientific case that carbon emissions caused global warming by creating thousands of bureaucratic and science jobs aimed at more research and at curbing carbon emissions. This was a good and sensible response by big government to what science was telling them.

But after 2000 the evidence for carbon emissions gradually got weaker -- better temperature data for the last century, more detailed ice core data, then laboratory evidence that cosmic rays precipitate low clouds. Future evidence might strengthen or further weaken the carbon emissions hypothesis. At what stage of the weakening should the science community alert the political system that carbon emissions might not be the main cause of global warming? None of the new evidence actually says that carbon emissions are definitely not the cause of global warming, there are lots of good science jobs potentially at stake, and if the scientific message wavers then it might be difficult to recapture the attention of the political system later on. What has happened is that most research effort since 2000 has assumed that carbon emissions were the cause, and the alternatives get much less research or political attention.

(BTW, I quit my job in carbon accounting in 2005 for personal reasons. It had nothing to do with my weakening belief that carbon emissions caused global warming. I felt that the main value of our plant models was in land management and plant simulation, and that carbon accounting was just a by-product.)

Unfortunately politics and science have become even more entangled. The science of global warming has become a partisan political issue, so positions become more entrenched. Politicians and the public prefer simple and less-nuanced messages. At the moment the political climate strongly supports carbon emissions as the cause of global warming, to the point of sometimes rubbishing or silencing critics.The integrity of the scientific community will win out in the end, following the evidence wherever it leads. But in the meantime, the effects of the political climate is that most people are overestimating the evidence in favor of carbon emissions as the cause of global warming. Which makes it a good time to bet the other way :)

Liberals are now saying that Islamophobia is worse than anti-semitism, and the liberal Rosie O'Donnell says that the religious right is more dangerous to America than Islamic terrorists. Regarding Islamophobia, it seems to me that I have more to fear from people who declare they want to subjegate or kill me if I won't convert to Islam; for example, recently the leader of the palestinian Parliament called for the death of Americans and Jews "to the last one." I've never heard of Jews calling for the death of all gentiles, and as for converting, they don't seem to want us. I'm not sure I'm a right wing Christian, but I am a Baptist which is probably close enough for Rosie. Some Baptists tell those who don't believe in Jesus that they are going to hell. That may seem harsh to hypersensitive liberals, but doesn't seem as frightening as, say, beheading non-believers.

A Canadian MP named Mike Lake wants to put Big Foot on the endangered species list. I don't know if this is a joke or not. I suppose we would have to agree that Big Foot is rarely seen so if there are any, their numbers are small. From news reports Big Foot is seen less often than alien spacecraft.