“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

From SBNation.com

Paul Romer of Stanford is credited with having said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”  However cynical this idea may seem it is very evident that people use the fears and challenges of others for their political gain all the time.  Nazi Germany came to power out of the “crisis” of the great depression, Mussolini similarly prospered in the “crisis” of post World War I Italy.  These may be extreme examples but a more commonplace one came in the New York Times dated July 20, 2008.

“America is in the midst of its worst energy crisis in years … President Bush is well on his way to being remembered as the leader who wasted not one but two crises: 9/11 and 4/11. The average price of gasoline in the U.S. last week, according to the Energy Information Administration, was $4.11.  After 9/11, Mr. Bush had the chance to summon the country to a great nation-building project focused on breaking our addiction to oil. Instead, he told us to go shopping. After gasoline prices hit $4.11 last week, he had the chance to summon the country to a great nation-building project focused on clean energy. Instead, he told us to go drilling.”

When I found this article I was shocked, here author Thomas L. Friedman, is actually arguing Bush needed to tie energy policy to 9/11 to profit off of the disaster that occurred.  Because a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

Max McKeown, is good to remind us, “a crisis is not the same as a disaster (although a disaster may prompt a crisis). It is as a ‘crucial or decisive point or situation’ or a ‘turning point’. Such turning points force a choice between inertia and innovation.” He is right; a disaster is less useful politically as it does not put people in a position of choosing anything other than to feel sorry for the people effected by the damage.  But a crisis can be used to get people to choose to do something that they would not do under normal circumstances.

Consider the words of beleaguered US Senator Robert Bennett (R-Ut), in defense of his voting for the first bailout package. He is quoted as saying he doesn’t regret his vote,

Because we were facing a very genuine crisis. And I would not want my career to be marked with shirking my responsibility to prevent the crisis from happening

Sen Bennett appears to be an example of one who seems to  justify a vote he would not have otherwise made.  It may be no wonder Sen Bennett finds his position in trouble.

With all this talk of crisis it is interesting that massive flooding in Tennessee until recently was receiving less media coverage than the gulf cost oil, or the Greek national debt.

Patten Faqua offered this very interesting opinion about why Tennessee has been left out.

“Does it really matter? Eventually, it will…as I mentioned, there are billions of dollars in damage. It seems bizarre that no one seems to be aware that we just experienced what is quite possibly the costliest non-hurricane disaster in American history. The funds to rebuild will have to come from somewhere, which is why people need to know. It’s hard to believe that we will receive much relief if there isn’t a perception that we need it.  But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment. A large part of the reason that we are being ignored is because of who we are. Think about that for just a second. Did you hear about looting? Did you hear about crime sprees? No…you didn’t. You heard about people pulling their neighbors off of rooftops. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. … Our biggest warning was, “Don’t play in the floodwater.” When you think about it…that speaks a lot for our city. A large portion of why we were being ignored was that we weren’t doing anything to draw attention to ourselves. We were handling it on our own.”

Rhonda Robinson took this idea one step further when she said of Nashville, “But what kind of story is that? The Left loves victims. Victims they can use, that is. Preferably, victims that depended on the government, but the system failed. Therefore, a call for more, bigger, and better government is the topic of choice in a disaster situation of any proportion”

I return to my original statement – A crisis is a terrible thing to waste and in fact they are not being wasted now.  The oil spill is already being sold as a sign of the need of more regulation on drilling.  The financial crisis is being used to create popularity for more financial controls.  A crisis does not justify poor choices, it does not make old standards obsolete.  Like Nashville we can just help are neighbors and take care of ourselves.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics Elevated

Why Debt is Dumb

There are some, including our representatives in Washington, that seem to believe that debt works differently in the White House than it does in our own houses.  Honestly, we should all take comfort in the fact that debt doesn’t work differently in the White House. If it did it would indicate that government has complete control over the economy and all financial matters. With the understanding that debt is the same whether it is for a business, a government, or a home it becomes easier to see dangers our nation is approaching.

A simple comparison may be of help.  Imagine a person who expends all of his income and has nothing in savings, and so turns to debt to obtain his wants and survive his emergencies.  He eventually comes to a point where he owes a significant portion of his income just to the minimum payments (interest) on his debt.  The time will eventually come when another emergency cannot be paid for because of a lack of creditors willing to extend the man further credit due to his inability to pay them back.  What is worse, the emergency may in fact be something that would not have required debt in the first place, but he can no longer afford simple turns of fate due to the staggering amount of interest he is now paying.  This comparison is to show the effects of debt in relation to the income of a person.  The same consequences are true for a business or government.

In relation to government we can consider taxes as income. The yearly budget almost always exceeds anticipated tax revenue (deficit spending).  Still, government seems to feel okay when it incurs debt based on the fact that it knows that tax are usually a small portion of the countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP-total value of goods and services of the nation.) Think of this in our example as this individual feeling comfortable with a huge debt to income ratio because he has a huge summer estate he could sell if needed.

This large GDP allows some politicians to feel that the total debt burden could be relieved by dipping into the much larger potential revenue of the country.  The logic goes that they can always raise taxes to cover deficits in revenue to pay back debt.  But what could happen if the debt burden becomes too great for the tax revenue, and potentially too great for the GDP as a whole?

According to an article by Steve McCann of the American Thinker the national debt was at 40.2% of the GDP in 2008.  The author concludes that the United States remains fiscally responsible if it’s debt is less than half the GDP.  But, according to the Obama administration’s predictions for spending the debt will be near 72% of the GDP by 2012.

If we return to the comparison, while a person with a debt to Net Worth (income, and all sell-able goods) ratio of roughly 70% could continue making payments, and in fact eventually repay all his debts, that individual could not weather emergencies without incurring additional debt, and would not be giving money to aid the poor or rebuild his neighbor’s house.

The United States government has always been wealthy enough to give aid in domestic and international disasters.  But is it possible that as the debt approaches 3/4 or more of the GDP she’ll find the money harder to come by when disaster strikes?  Just as your neighbor who is struggling with debt finds it impossible to be as charitable as they would like, and begins making many decisions based solely on their financial ramifications; will government begin making decisions based on financial considerations?  Further, at what point in time does the government seek credit from another country or institution only to be told the interest rate is now extremely high, or worse, they do not qualify?

It is also not surprising that government policies favor inflation, since inflation makes it easier to repay debts incurred.  This has ramifications on our society as well, since it discourages savings and encourages debt.  People in our society are more likely to incur debt, therefore leading to an extremely consumerist society, which we see evidence of all around us.

It is my opinion that there are two ways to correct these trends as a people: first, be personally fiscally responsible (basically: stop using debt to get things you can’t afford) second, demand (by vote) that Washington not spend money that it has not already raised.

It’s easy to vote for the politician who promises to open the treasury halls of government for the benefit of his constituents.  But we must realize the future cost of giving away money that is not actually there.  We must practice restraint and be willing for even our favorite programs (military, health care, roadways, social security…) to take cuts; so that we may begin to pay down the national debt.  If we are not willing to do this we may come to a future day when needed money simply is not available.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics Elevated

CLIMATE WARS: KLEPTICS versus SKEPTICS Part 3

I have asked my good friend Steve Smith to share some of his research on Global Warming.  I have great respect for him as a thinker, I also love his unique perspectives.  This is the 3rd (to see part one, part two)in a series of three posts, look for the next installment soon.

Stephen Smith has a B.A. in Math from San Jose State University. During the day he is a Computer Systems Quality Engineer and programmer, so he understands well the ability of programmers to manipulate outcomes in computer models. In his spare time he researches and writes about issues related to maximizing individual and collective freedom, specializing in detecting manipulation, propaganda, and social engineering at various levels from interpersonal to international. Other areas of interest include history, music, linguistics, physics, “complex” systems, and chaos theory.

Part 3of 3 — Troubling Assumptions and Blatant Hypocrisy

The most troubling aspect of this particular subject is that many on both sides buy into government intervention to save us from ourselves. Even Skeptics who doubt any significant warming can be affected by humanity also believe that if humanity was significantly affecting temperatures then government action is necessary and moral. The problem I have with this assumption is that it hasn’t been thoroughly examined and dissected. While it is perfectly legitimate for someone to advocate change, It makes no sense that people who spit on the sidewalk should legislate against spitting on the sidewalk until they themselves have stopped. How odd for scientists to derive their ethics from non-scientific assumption.

Al Gore is like that charismatic preacher of dogma from the Southern United States, Jimmy Swaggart. Why do people believe these hypocrites? Is it because they have a serious demeanor, a southern accent, and an apocalyptic message? It amazes me as someone from the southern United States, that these two preachers continue to have any following at all, given their hypocrisy. But there is one significant difference between the two: Swaggart wasn’t trying to create a sex tax when he was found to be a hypocrite, but Al Gore is trying to tax us over CO2 when he has one of the largest carbon foot prints in the world and will hardly be impacted economically. Al Gore isn’t the only hypocritical Kleptic and Jimmy Swaggart is not the only hypocritical Christian. That does not excuse their hypocrisy.

The preceding paragraphs bring up two points I would like to emphasize:
1) In order for someone to have the right to penalize me for a behavior that I have, they themselves must be significantly better than I am with regard to that behavior. Since those trying to charge us higher fees and taxes for living average lives are some of the worst CO2 offenders, they lack moral grounds for limiting our own paltry CO2 emissions and for preventing cheap development in the third world.
2) Even if our accusers were truly more “righteous” than the rest of us when it comes to CO2 emissions, in the U.S., we are innocent until proven guilty. In order for there to be “due process”, we the accused are entitled to counsel, all of the data of the prosecution, and our own expert witnesses. These have been denied by the Kleptics, and only the “illegal” release of emails illustrating illegal and unethical behavior has made us aware of the extent of the problem.

Since it is highly unlikely that anyone is in immediate danger of developing AGW induced cancer, I think it is safe to take a personal, individual approach rather than a societal one driven by the force of law. If you believe in AGW/ACC, show the rest of us by your life style that you are living what you believe. Make significant changes to your life-style so that we can see your commitment. Go without many of the pleasures of life that you think everyone should do without. Honest Christians deny themselves many things regardless of what society does. So do many environmentalists. Show me, don’t tell me. How can anyone who does what I do, and what everyone in the community does, charge me a fine for some an offense everyone is guilty of, especially since the U.S. Constitution states that I cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process.

For these and other reasons I have chosen to join with the Skeptics until new significant data supporting AGW/ACC turns up. Perhaps this is a decision not entirely free of dogmatism on my part, but mostly it is because I have run out of time. After trying approach #3 and #4, I’ll have to revert to approach #1 and make my best guess based on the data I’ve collected so far. Based on the sticky notes on my wall and other data collected and organized from the reading I have done on many different subjects and from many different sources, some historical, some scientific, I believe that if I joined the Kleptics in demanding that the government act on the preliminary and tentative data presented in support of AGW/ACC I would have to overlook many more inconsistencies and accept many more unproven assumptions than I will have to as a Skeptic. The Skeptics aren’t without their faults. Many are dogmatic. But scientists can never use the dogmatism of dogmatists to justify their own dogmatic behaviors, because dogmatism is the opposite of science, not religion. The CO2 GHG model is about as advanced in relation to the complexities of climate change as Spontaneous Generation was to understanding why organic matter turns rotten, and is likely as useless in preventing it.

Scientists should know better than to set about their work with the goal of proving their assumptions correct. Science is about falsifying theories not falsifying data or guaranteeing outcomes. Those who demand my assent by way of their “authority” as scientists should have paid more attention in logic class in college. Appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. Without logic, science remains primitive. The only authority I answer to is Truth. I won’t reject innocently written histories or innocently discovered facts just to meet the demands of dogmatists out to prove pre-conceived notions and politically motivated ideologies. I’ve noticed that the Kleptics regularly use a divide and conquer strategy to deflect valid but small objections. After I put the multi-color sticky notes on wall, it became clear to me that there are dozens of legitimate but small objections to the data and models supporting AGW/ACC, to go along with many medium sized and large objections. There are simply too many to ignore.

For those readers who have sided with the Kleptics, please understand that I really don’t care if you believe in AGW/ACC or choose to live your life in a way so as to minimize your carbon foot print. I appreciate the example you are giving to the rest of us. But chances are there are many who don’t believe in AGW/ACC who have a smaller carbon foot print than you. Given than fact, don’t expect us who already conserve better than you do to put up with the nonsense of you trying to force us to live a life style you yourself are unwilling to live. By the way, those who claim we are in immediate danger would do well to recognize that the infamous Love Canal public endangerment from pollution turned out to be way over hyped, even false as reported by a tracking study done by the state of New York: “Overall, the number of cancers in residents was slightly less than in other New Yorkers.”

No matter what position you take, the scientific measurements will not always cooperate with your hypothesis. Dr. Roy Spencer has shown that the rise in temperatures shown in many graphs of global temperatures is largely related to population. But he also recently reported that January and February of this year are the warmest January and February with regard to satellite measurements of lower atmospheric temperatures since 1979 when the satellites were brought on line (http://www.drroyspencer.com). It is what it is. Earth’s climate is complex. It’s not going to always do what we want it to. Climage change is constant. Trying to calculate climate change based on generalized circulation models is like trying to calculate the volume of a box when the only measurement you have is the length of the shortest side of the box.

Further Reading

Learn how real scientists reconcile differences in the case of the missing neutrinos. It took 35 years to resolve this relatively simple problem. Climate is 100 times more complex. Perhaps we should expect the climate debate to take 3500 years to resolve scientifically.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/neutrino/missing.html

Between 1250 and 1290, less than 800 years ago, the island town of (Old) Winchelsea, England was destroyed by incursions of the sea and floods. This time period was at the beginning of the slow transition from the Medieval Warm Period and the Medieval Cold Period (the mini ice age). The oceans had been warming for centuries without the help of CO2. What we can gain from this story is if Earth does in fact enter a cold period in the next few decades, we can expect increased storminess as warm oceans and cold air masses over continents collide.
http://www.villagenet.co.uk/rotherlevels/villages/oldwinchelsea.php4

Some Kleptics claim that Skeptics are merely religious fundamentalists who also deny the science of Darwinism. Ian Plimer, currently Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide, is a Darwinist who has debated creationists. He finds the Kleptics to be so dogmatic that he thinks that AGW/ACC is a new urban religion that arose among people who are separated from the natural world. (April 2009). Note that there are 5 parts to this video called “Human Induced Climate Change”, labeled 1 of 5, 2 of 5, 3 of 5, 4 of 5, and 5 of 5. There is another video titled “Environmentalism Is The New Religion” which may offend some traditional religionists as well. Personally I find it entertaining to hear him describe the dogmatism of the environmentalists as a religion … a new state religion.
http://www.wikio.com/video/1037942

Lord Monckton takes the Kleptics to task in Berlin, November 2009
http://www.vimeo.com/8023097
When did Lord Monckton become suspicious of IPCC?
http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/02/monckton-on-the-ipcc

Enviromentalist Lucy Skywalker bought into Al Gore’s global warming movie, but later did an about face. This web page offers an excellent overview.
http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Curious.htm
Here are some interesting videos collected by environmentalist Lucy Skywalker (mentioned earlier as one who started as a Kleptic and ended as a Skeptic):
http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Cinema.htm
Especially this one about how CO2 converts readily to calcium carbonate.
http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Cinema.htm#Christy

Perhaps one of the least dogmatic, least emotional debates on the subject can be found on the Rice University web site: Where is the physical science?” with Dr. Richard S. Lindzen (Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT and member of the National Academy of Sciences) and Dr. Gerald North (Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography at Texas A&M). Storms come from variability, so warming should bring fewer storms. Skeptic talks about processes and warmer talks about models.
http://webcast.rice.edu/webcast.php?action=view&format=win&title=The+Great+Climate+Change+Debate%3A+Where+is+the+Physical+Science%3F&uri=mms%3A%2F%2Fwmdp.rice.edu%2FCenters%2FCSES%2FClimateChg-27Jan10%2FClimateChg-27Jan10.wmv

What about the IPCC? Geologist Lawrence Solomon takes AGW to task, stating among other things that Abdussamatov who is collecting data via the international space station says that Mars is warming as well, and has been predicting a new Little Ice Age for some time, and his predictions are looking better with each passing year.
http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/commentaries/solomon_settled.pdf — Lawrence Solomon, 25 February2010

Earth is warming is Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, and Neptune because of the sun
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080512120523.htm — 12 May 2008
http://www.livescience.com/environment/070312_solarsys_warming.html
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html

Diverting aid from saving lives today to preventing future climate change is wrong. — Thomas Fuller, Environment Policy, Denver Examiner, February 3, 2010
http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2010m2d3-Open-letter-to-President-Obama-on-global-warming-and-call-for-signatures

Peter Taylor is another environmentalist (Science Policy Analyst) with concerns about the focus on CO2 and Global Warming. Initially didn’t doubt Global Warming theory. Realized solutions for Global Warming would be more damaging than the warming itself. There is NOT a scientific consensus! Doesn’t deny warming, but realizes electromagnetic energy from sun went up dramatically in the last century. Biofuels plus global cooling will drive up food prices because of speculating.
http://www.global-warming-and-the-climate.com/un-climate-change.htm

I have nearly 200 other Internet links on AGW/ACC and more are found every time I do any online reading of the subject for those who are interested.

SKSmith

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hypocrisy in Washington

I read a great quote recently, I want to share it with you.  I stumbled on it in a December 2009 article in the National Review online(NRO).

“…if moral hypocrisy is saying what values people should live by while failing to follow them yourself, intellectual hypocrisy is believing you are smart enough to run other peoples’ lives when you can barely run your own.”

I submit that we therefore have the most hypocritical set of politicians ever running Washington right now.  Now I will not place hypocrisy as a trait of only one party; honestly it is rampant in both parties in both its moral and its intellectual forms.  While the conservative element naturally attracts (yes I said naturally) accusations of moral hypocrisy due to their upholding morality more publicly, it does not mean they are not great practitioners  of  intellectual hypocrisy.  Similarly the “thou shalt not judge” attitude of the left does not excuse them from committing actions of  moral hypocrisy – tickle fight anyone.  The fact remains that both parties in different ways are guilty of both kinds of hypocrisy.

In C.S. Lewis’ fiction work “That Hideous Strength”  there is an interchange between characters Mark Studdock and Lord Feverstone.  Feverstone is trying to explain to Mark why is was important to align with him and his organization. He says,

“It does really look as if we now had the power to dig ourselves in as a species for a pretty staggering period, to take control of our own destiny.  If Science is really given a free hand it can now take over the human race and re-condition it: make man a really efficient animal . . . . .  Man has got to take charge of Man.  That means, remember, that some men have got to take charge of the rest.”

In this quote I see the reason why  intellectual hypocrisy in Washington is in the long run more damaging than moral hypocrisy.  My case rests on this one idea – I think pretty highly of my capacity to make correct choices for myself.  If a great society requires some men to take charge of the rest of us that means I have to trust the judgment of a bureaucrat or politician more than my own.

While there is certainly high pretension found in the idea that someone else knows better than I do what is good for me it is  worse when you consider the inability of those in Washington to run their own lives.  In the same NRO article there is this significant fact, “A J. P. Morgan chart… shows that less than 10 percent of President Obama’s cabinet has private-sector experience, the least of any cabinet in a century”  The significance simply stated is the people now wanting to run others lives have never run anything else before.

I will only cite one example here, Timothy Geithner, the current secretary of the treasury had one major problem getting confirmed.  He often misfiled his taxes.  How did we confirm a treasury head who was found short $42,000 short on his taxes?  Why do we believe him capable of helping the average American get his taxes right?  We don’t.

Here is the other key to this whole idea of intellectual hypocrisy – C.S. Lewis finishes the above interchange between Mark and Feverstone with this other little secret.  Says Feverstone, “you and I want to be the people who do the taking charge, not the ones who are taken charge of.”  In other words this intellectual hypocrisy is no accident; it is in fact the way it is supposed to be.  This is Intellectual hypocrisy, rules are for you and not for me.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics Elevated

Historic – in what way

It is so very important you understand the psychological warfare conducted in modern politics. Many things are said to try and manipulate you into something you may not otherwise agree with. Here is a recent example, quoting President Obama;

“And right now, we are at the point where we are going to do something historic this weekend. That’s what this health care vote is all about.”

Historic is a very ironic choice of words, it is been shown that people want to feel like they are making history.  President Obama’s campaign thrived on the popularity of seeing him as America’s first (historic) minority President.  Now he is doing all he can to cast the passing of his health care reform as historic.

The thing that is being misrepresented is the kind of history being made.  President Obama continued on about history,

“One thing when you’re in the White House, you’ve got a lot of history books around you. And so I’ve been reading up on the history here. Teddy Roosevelt, Republican, was the first to advocate that everybody get health care in this country.  Every decade since, we’ve had Presidents, Republicans and Democrats, from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon to JFK to Lyndon Johnson to — every single President has said we need to fix this system. It’s a debate that’s not only about the cost of health care, not just about what we’re doing about folks who aren’t getting a fair shake from their insurance companies. It’s a debate about the character of our country”

Do you see what he is saying here about the history of health care.  Every president since Teddy has wanted universal health care and now here we are about to actually enact this great idea of the last century.  He is building the case that tomorrows vote is historic only if it succeeds.

“When you hear people saying, well, why don’t we do this more incrementally, why don’t we do this a little more piecemeal, why don’t we just help the folks that are easiest to help — my answer is the time for reform is now. We have waited long enough. (Applause.) We have waited long enough.  And in just a few days, a century-long struggle will culminate in a historic vote.”

Could it have been said more clearly.  The underlying message again is clear.  History is on the side of reform, don’t stand in the way of progress.  He actually goes on to compare the health care vote to civil rights.  He than finishes with this line,

“Now, I don’t know how passing health care will play politically — but I know it’s right. (Applause.) Teddy Roosevelt knew it was right. Harry Truman knew that it was right. Ted Kennedy knew it was right. (Applause.) And if you believe that it’s right, then you’ve got to help us finish this fight”

Now with all that said tomorrows vote and America’s reaction to it will be historic but for a reason different than what the President has said.  It will be historic because it is a major choice being made by congress.  It is historic because passing Heath Care reform will change how the game is played, it will fundamentally change America.  Now president Obama knows this in his speech he said as much.  Reform means higher taxes, more government spending, it means the undercutting of private insurance, it means taking power from the states who no longer get to regulate insurance companies.

I think the argument can be made and needs to be made that ultimately it means the end of health insurance and the beginning to state medical welfare.  It ultimately means the nationalization of 16% of our economy.  Just look at what is being said,

SEN. TOM HARKIN, D-IOWA: “As I said before, this bill is not complete. I’ve used the analogy of a starter home in which we can add additions and enhancements as we go into the future. But like every right that we’ve ever passed the American people, we revisit it later on to enhance and build on those rights and we will do that here surely.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Now, you keep on repeating the notion that it’s one-sixth of the economy. Yes, it’s one-sixth of the economy, but we’re not transforming one-sixth of the economy all in one fell swoop.

This is why it is historic – make no mistake we can still win by fighting for our beliefs.  Call you congressman today and tell them to say no.  If he votes yes get him out of office, if this passes prepare to fight it on the state level, in the courts and in the next elections.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics Elevated

Part 2 CLIMATE WARS: KLEPTICS versus SKEPTICS

I have asked my good friend Steve Smith to share some of his research on Global Warming.  I have great respect for him as a thinker, I also love his unique perspectives.  This is the 2nd (to see part one)in a series of three posts, look for the next installment soon.

Stephen Smith has a B.A. in Math from San Jose State University. During the day he is a Computer Systems Quality Engineer and programmer, so he understands well the ability of programmers to manipulate outcomes in computer models. In his spare time he researches and writes about issues related to maximizing individual and collective freedom, specializing in detecting manipulation, propaganda, and social engineering at various levels from interpersonal to international. Other areas of interest include history, music, linguistics, physics, “complex” systems, and chaos theory.

Part 2 of 3 — Scientists say “dramatic effects (such as a runaway greenhouse effect) are very unlikely.”

The Kleptics claim the earth is warmer now than at any time in the last 2000 years, that it is because of human generated green house gases (GHG) building up in the atmosphere, and that if we do not stop releasing GHG (mostly CO2) then the earth could cross over into a new climate state leading to a runaway green house that will drastically warm the planet. These predictions are based on generalized circulation modeling (GCM) done on computers, using data obtained from direct instrumental measurements and numerous temperature “proxies” such as ice cores, tree rings, stalactites, sediment cores, etc. Using proxy data from carefully selected tree ring samples, they have eliminated the medieval warm period and made the Roman warm period appear less likely. In their view, changes in solar activity account for only 30% of the warming.

According to the GCMs, CO2 is the main culprit, and if we don’t control it there were be catastrophe and war. Human contributions to GHG are changing difficulties into disasters. They speak with great certainty, claiming the debate is over. Even if they turn out to be wrong, the Kleptics believe we should take preemptive actions because we cannot afford for them to be right and have done nothing. The science is complete and the debate is over. Humanity is guilty until proven innocent.

The Skeptics claim the earth is no warmer, and possibly less warm, than either the medieval warm period (700 to 1200 years ago) when the Vikings thrived in Greenland, or the Roman warm period (1600 to 2200 years ago) when wine grapes grew in England. All of the warming can be explained by natural variability, including increased solar activity (more active than any time in the last 11000 years, and 2.3 times more active than 130 years ago). All of the planets appear to be warming, which further implicates the sun and its interaction with the planets and the galaxy. There’s a fair chance that the Earth is entering a cooling period. Given that the ocean is slow to warm and slow to cool, we can expect stormy weather. The primary measure of the goodness of a scientific model is the ability to predict new events and discoveries with regularity, which the GCM have proven to be week at. Aside from the warming, many conditions predicted by the climate models are not appearing.

Skeptics believe that the Kleptics plans are too expensive for the expected return on investment (ROI), and that the Kleptics know this. Skeptics claim that the Kleptics will keep asking for tighter and tighter restrictions until we are living in the stone age or new technologies make the Kleptics rich. Besides, plants like CO2, proxies are not entirely proven, the Kleptics regularly splice together datasets from different sources, the Kleptics try to prevent standard scientific reviews, and the Kleptics disregarded tens of thousands of data points about CO2 fluctuations in the past 150 years so that they can establish a false “stable” pre-industrial CO2 level of 280 parts per million. Science is never complete, and debate is never over. Humanity is innocent until proven guilty. Climate change has happened in the past and it will happen in the future.

To better understand climate modeling I skimmed through all of the articles in the nearly 300 pages of Monograph 126 of the American Geophysical union, titled “The Oceans and Rapid Climate Change, Past, Present and Future”, edited by Dan Seidov, Bernd J. Haupt and Mark Maslin, 1993. This activity gave me great respect for the climate modelers. I enjoyed drinking from the proverbial fire hose. Naturally I wasn’t able to swallow as much as I would like, but what I did swallow was far more pure than the muddy water found on many of the comment threads on climate blogs, where opinions are declared as facts and accusations are made with impunity. What I found in these studies were many statements displaying the classic uncertainty found in legitimate scientific studies. This was very different from reading the declarations of certainty and so called “fact” of AGW/ACC found in the pro-AGW blogs, news media and government web sites.

The most telling of these declarations stated that “the model also shows that dramatic effects (such as a runaway greenhouse effect) are very unlikely.” [Stocker, et al, 2001, p. 289]. Notice how the title of this section includes the words “scientists say”. All you need is two scientists to say it for it to be true. This article was written by at least two scientists. It is the standard approach of the main stream media to make statements like that with regard to science. But science is more complex than that. Still, this was from a valid, peer reviewed study and carries is more valid than statements from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that referenced anecdotal sources (mountain climbers), student masters thesis, and environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund.

These oceanic circulation studies illustrate how complex the systems are. They also illustrate how inadequate computer models are when it comes to modeling something as complex as the climate: “… as with the ocean simulations, one should emphasized that those results are still highly uncertain. Nevertheless they indicate that significant, but not catastrophic positive feedback mechanisms are associated with them.”

In 1993Van Loon and Labitzke showed a strong correlation between solar flux and the behavior of the stratospheric (high altitude) cyclone and anticyclone in the arctic, depending upon the phase of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (direction of air flow from the equator). Hundred year running averages of monthly sunspot numbers indicate an increase to 33% above the relative high and 53% above the relative low between 1849 and 1899. From looking at graphs of Earth’s changing orbit around the sun it would seem we can expect fewer extremes in weather (because of less eccentricity), smaller differences between the Northern and Southern hemispheres (because of reduced obliquity), and warmer Springs and cooler Falls in the Northern Hemisphere (as perihelon moves from Winter to Spring), over thousands of years.

Despite the reasonableness of the presentation in the scientific literature, this topic of AGW/ACC is one of the most contentious I have ever seen. Scientists who should be the most immune to conflct from being challenged by alternative research have actually taken steps to shut down scientific inquiry and discourse. Such intellectual cowardice is the hallmark of a dogmatist, and is anathema to scientific progress. This has given many legitimately skeptical scientists no alternative but to turn to the Internet as a publication mechanism, where peer review is non-existent (which isn’t necessarily worse than incestuous and corrupt peer review which gives the appearance of propriety and verifiability when none exists). Dogmatism has the effect of creating an emergent, subconscious, de facto “conspiracy”, which exists in every practical sense of the word, but which can be denied on technical and legal grounds.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

CLIMATE WARS: KLEPTICS versus SKEPTICS Part 1

I have asked my good friend Steve Smith to share some of his research on Global Warming.  I have great respect for him as a thinker, I also love his unique perspectives.  This is the first in a series of three posts, look for the next installment soon.

Stephen Smith has a B.A. in Math from San Jose State University. During the day he is a Computer Systems Quality Engineer and programmer, so he understands well the ability of programmers to manipulate outcomes in computer models. In his spare time he researches and writes about issues related to maximizing individual and collective freedom, specializing in detecting manipulation, propaganda, and social engineering at various levels from interpersonal to international. Other areas of interest include history, music, linguistics, physics, “complex” systems, and chaos theory.

Part 1 of 3 — The Burden of Proof Lies with the Kleptics

After nine months of intermittent research and another three months of focusing on trying to make up my mind about Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming / Climate Change (AGW/ACC), I am calling it quits for a while. I’ve got other things to do. This morning I was still adding to my rainbow collection of sticky notes on the subject to a 33 inch by 34 inch work area pinned to my wall. But by the end of the day it will be taken down or covered up. The smaller collections of note cards and papers will be filed away, including the three sheets I have before me containing time lines covering 1000, 10,000, and 100,000 years of climate change. My spreadsheet containing sunspot number analysis will be ignored. It has been a challenging activity because the science has become politicized by both “believers” and “deniers”.

On the one hand are those I will call the Kleptics who are portrayed by their opponents as power mongers looking for any excuse to force human society to fit their particular vision of perfection. Government and university scientists who believe in AGW are portrayed by their opponents as being in the service of big brother or motivated by big government environmentalism. Those government scientists and university professors who don’t believe are sometimes threatened with a loss of funding and tenure. A lot of believers are associated with “green” industries and that is seen as okay by the Kleptics. Some Kleptic scientists, like Wallace Broecker who advises Global Research Technologies, are not paid, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t tied to a money trail. A lot of government money funds those who support AGW. The scientific consensus is based on coercion. Power can motivate as much or more than wealth. Global Warming is a government funded growth industry. Kleptics want to save the world from humans.

On the other hand are the Skeptics who are portrayed by their opponents as under-responsible hedonists and anti-science religionists looking for any excuse to continue with the status quo. Industry scientists are portrayed by those on the other side of the debates as motivated only by desire for profit, as if wanting a place to live and food to eat are somehow unique to those in the private sector. The Skeptics are called names, marginalized by the media, and threatened with a loss of funding for research that questions AGW. Some skeptical scientists, like Dr. Roy Spencer of NASA, retire early so that they can speak the truth as they see it without having to worry about workplace intimidation. Skepticism can be a choice of convenience but is is just as often an act of courageous defense of the principles underlying science.

Each side portrays themselves and their own supporters as the only rational systems thinkers in the debate. Both sides have their share of dogmatists who ironically are inadvertently doing their level best to prove true the stereo types that their opponents have about them. Among the dogmatists on both sides are very capable scientific technicians posing as scientists (dogma is the opposite of science). Both sides are supported by real scientists who are often dismissed by their opponents using the clever trick of lumping the scientists together with the dogmatists who agree with them. On the whole, it is the Kleptic scientific technicians who have acted the least scientific and the most dogmatic, all the while supposing themselves to be the true scientists and their opponents the dogmatists. Perhaps it is the least informed among the Skeptics that sound most dogmatic, but, ironically, the slightly superior arguments of the Kleptic dogmabots eventually do fall apart under scrutiny.

Those who are thoughtfully undecided face the serious problem of determining which side to support. We are told that the consequences of a poor choice are climate catastrophe on the one hand, and economic collapse on the other. It does seem to be a subject of great importance, one where the consequences of a bad solution are fairly significant. But making up one’s mind is hardly a walk in the park. Here are some of the more obvious options available for going about making a determination on the matter:

1) Preemptively choose one side or the other and look no further. On the surface it appears that this choice allows you a 50% chance of being correct with a minimum of effort, and is a reasonable choice as long as this guess isn’t then thrust upon others using government do-gooders as a proxy for personal tendencies toward oppressing others. Many people have little choice but to make a guess, given the demands placed upon them by prior commitments. The Kleptics may very well be counting on the fact that this is the case with many people and that most people will side with them given their “authority” as government scientists. This is what environmentalist Lucy Skywalker did, until she did her own research and became a Skeptic. Her web page provides an excellent overview of the subject matter. http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Curious.htm

2) Attempt to achieve the best of both extremes through a “moderate”, “balanced” approach (as if being in the middle of a false dichotomy is moderate or balanced, which it certainly isn’t). No matter which side of the debate is correct, this turns out to be a losing proposition.
3) Devote your life to first gathering enough data to allow you to decide which side to follow, and then defending that position until your position changes. (Be very glad that there are honest and intelligent people out their on both sides who are more willing and able to do this than you are. I know I am grateful for the vast amount of work being performed by others in this important area, especially those who volunteer their time to sorting this all out.)
4) Take a higher level philosophical approach that attempts to identify underlying assumptions, persistent behavior patterns, and over-riding facts, without denying verifiable facts (produced by those who chose option 3 above), to increase the chances of choosing well.

If you are going to try to take approach #3, then you can begin with the following web sites, and then go from there. Good luck. You can sleep when you are dead because there is an ocean of data on this subject that is both deep and wide.
Kleptics –
http://www.realclimate.org
http://www.skepticalscience.com
http://co2now.org/
Skeptics –
http://climateaudit.org/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/
http://anhonestclimatedebate.wordpress.com/

Having tried option #3 for hundreds of hours over the last 14 months, most of it since November 2009, I see now the difficulty of coming to any definitive conclusion that way. Option #4 is legitimate if the claims of both sides are taken seriously. For this blog entry series, only a few topics will be lightly touched upon. By now you are very likely able to see that I lean Skeptic. It isn’t easy to be balanced when the Kleptics act as if it is the Skeptics job to prove AGW/ACC wrong, when in fact they have it reversed, and it is the Kleptics that carry the burden of proof in a complex problem space where the science is very young.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized