In government news, top Washington thinkers, looking for a way to goose the economy along, come up with the ``Cash for Clunkers'' program, under which the federal government provides a financial inducement for people to take functional cars, which are mostly American-made, to car dealers, who deliberately destroy these cars and sell the people new replacement cars, which are mostly foreign-made. This program, which was budgeted for $1 billion, ends up costing $3 billion and is halted after a month. The administration declares that it has been a huge success, which everybody understands to mean that it will never, ever be repeated. With this mission accomplished, the top Washington thinkers are free to train all of their brainpower on the nation's health-care system.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
My dog sleeps about 20 hours a day. She has her food prepared for her. She can eat whenever she wants, 24/7/365. Her meals are provided at no cost to her. She visits the Dr. Once a year for her checkup, and again during the year if any medical needs arise. For this she pays nothing, and nothing is required of her. She lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than she needs, but she is not required to do any upkeep. If she makes a mess, someone else cleans it up. She has her choice of luxurious places to sleep. She receives these accommodations absolutely free. She is living like a queen, and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever. All of her costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day.
I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit me like a brick in the head: Holy Shit, my dog is a liberal!
Naturally, Mr. Steyn has some opinions on the wisdom of this. Here's a taste:
That’s why Nebraska’s grotesque zombie senator Ben Nelson is the perfect poster boy for the new arrangements, and not just another so-called Blue Dog Democrat spayed into compliance by a massive cash injection. There is no reason on earth why Nebraska should be the only state in this Union to have every dime of its increased Medicare tab picked up by the 49 others. So either that privilege will be extended to all, or to favored others, or its asymmetry will be balanced by other precisely targeted lollipops hither and yon. Whatever happens, it’s a dagger at the heart of American federalism, just as the bill’s magisterial proclamation that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board can only be abolished by a two-thirds vote of the Senate strikes at one of the most basic principles of a free society — that no parliament can bind its successors.And here's where you can read the whole thing.
These details are obnoxious not merely in and of themselves but because they tell us the truth about where we’re headed: Think of the way almost every Big Government project bursts its bodice and winds up bigger and more bloated than its creators allegedly foresaw. In this instance, the stays come pre-loosened, and studded with loopholes. Because the Democrat operators — the Nancy Pelosis and Barney Franks — know that what matters is to get something, anything across the river, and then burn the bridge behind you.
She ascribes the difference to “work ethic” differences, but the actual examples cited seem to speak more to the lack of motivation and seriousness of the American students. To me, those imply cultural factors that are tough to pin down in any simple way. The sum of them, though, is this: it's ok for an American to be an uneducated git upon completion of high school or college. There are no unhappy consequences, other than certain careers being out of reach. This is not true in many other countries; there, first of all, you'd never graduate without actually having achieved certain measurable sets of knowledge or skill. Second of all, should you fail to reach these, you'd be greatly looked down upon.
How can we fix this? I'm afraid I'm not optimistic about it...
I pretty much dozed off after that, but then it was like "BING! Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. In twenty minutes we will begin preparations for our final descent into Detroit, so if you have to use the restrooms, blah blah blah." Crap, I had completely forgotten to blow up the plane, and the concierge was giving me the hurry up sign. So I walked back to the loo, and there was already a line of hippies. So I told them, "hey dude, do you mind? I really gotta pinch one bad." I guess my eyes were kinda dilated from the suicide relaxants, so they let me by.Read the whole thing here.
Lemme ask you: have you ever tried to inject a glycerin detonator syringe into some plastic explosives glued under your nutsack, while you were stoned out of your gourd, in an airplane bathroom, during Lake Erie turbulence, while some stupid hippie is pounding on the door? Take my word for this, it. is. a. mofo. I must have stabbed myself in the junk eight or ten times before I finally got it smoldering. So I stroll out of the loo, real casual-like, with my nuts on fire, and headed back to my seat to blow out the fuselage.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Reading this, I can't help thinking how much better it would be have an eyes-wide-open realist like Krauthammer determining our Iranian strategy, rather than Obama and his “engagement” policy that's so reminiscent of Chamberlain.
On the other hand, the New York Times yesterday published a commentary piece that essentially said it's time to bomb the crap out of Iranian nuclear facilities. That's about as expected (coming from the NYT) as a clean-shaven Santa. Obama's left reacted in a tiredly predictable way, insisting that military action can't work and only engagement can. The lessons of history apparently really can't be learned...
Meanwhile, as Krauthammer points out, Iran is another year closer to having the bomb that absolutely everyone knows they're trying so hard to make. If they obtain that bomb, the political dynamics of the Middle East will be changed in ways that are to the detriment of every other Middle Eastern nation, and they all know it. So my bet is that the most militarily capable nation in the Middle East (Israel) will mount the attack that the U.S. won't make – and that they'll be covertly aided by some countries we ordinarily think of as Israel's enemies. Candidates are Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq...
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Our four dogs (seen here posing in front of our Christmas tree) and seven cats are quite happy today. The dogs got presents (tug toys that squeak – everything a dog could desire) and everybody got lots of yummy food. At right, the dogs are (clockwise starting with the black-and-white border collie): Racer, Mo'i, Lea, and Miki. The angelic-looking kitty framed by the wreath is Halala Pala, affectionately known as the “Ha”. He is the king of deception; his angelic looks conceal a devil on loan from Hades. Curled up asleep is Maka Lea, who also looks angelic and innocent – but who actually is a well-practiced bully that rules the feline hierarchy here with unrelenting claw and vigilance.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all 12 of my regular readers!
But I do know this: as an American who cares about his fellow humanity, presenting Mao – responsible for more human death and misery than any other person in all of history – in such a context is insulting, wrong, and outrageous.
I can't even begin to imagine what anyone involved was thinking...
I'm looking forward to more improvement by tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll be able to speak again!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There are several such rules changes embedded. The most egregious one is on page 1020 of the bill:
It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.They want to prohibit future Congresses from modifying or repealing this bill.
Of course, future Congresses can defund the bill, effectively repealing it.
What a bunch of clowns! Dangerous clowns, though...
Mr. Obama has revived the worst impressions of the Democratic party – profligate and undisciplined, arrogant, lovers of big government, increasers of taxes. The issues and narrative for American politics in the foreseeable future has been set — limited government versus exploding government, capitalism versus European style socialism, responsible and measured policies versus reckless and radical ones.I'm hoping he's right – that by shoving this corrupt, awful health care “reform” bill down our collective throats, the Democrats are committing political hari-kari.
Barack Obama is in the process of inflicting enormous damage to his presidency and his party. And there is more, much more to come.
Read the whole thing.
Monday, December 21, 2009
So just to recap: The Prince of Wales, a man who has never drawn his own curtains, ramps up a carbon footprint of 2,601 tons while telling us that western capitalist excess is destroying the planet. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the railroad engineer who heads the International Panel on Climate Change and has demanded that "hefty aviation taxes should be introduced to deter people from flying," flew 443,226 miles on "IPCC business" in the year and a half before the Copenhagen summit. And Al Gore is a carbon billionaire: He makes more money buying offsets from himself than his dad did from investing in Occidental Petroleum.Go read the whole thing.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
But that's not to say that I just stayed in bed or watched TV!
Friday night I replaced our kitchen sink's faucet. This is challenging mainly because it involves lying on your back under the sink, working overhead in a very tight space. The old faucet (a top-of-the-line Moen) had a piece of cast iron in its guts that had rusted and falling apart (after 8+ years of good service). I replaced it with a new top-of-the-line Moen – but one whose innards are entirely made of brass and stainless steel.
Saturday morning I assembled Debbie's Christmas present. Crazy woman that she is, a couple of months ago she announced that the only thing she wanted for Christmas was a barbeque grill. We've had a cheapie “baby” grill for the past year, and we've gotten much good use out of it – and I'm a frequent beneficiary of the good food resulting. So I had no objection to this notion. I did some research, asked some friends, and ended up selecting a Weber Genesis S-310. The best price (including free shipping in the equation) was from Amazon, so I ordered it about 10 days ago, and had it in just two days. I was a little shocked at its weight: 220 pounds.
Yesterday morning I finally had the time to open the box and see what I'd gotten myself into. Unpacking it carefully took the better part of an hour, and left our living room strewn with dozens of large metal parts and bags full of small parts. My first impressions were positive: the packaging was very well done, finished metal parts were covered with protective plastic film, and all the fabrication work looked to be top notch. There were a half-dozen or so large aluminum castings, all very well made. All but a few of the steel parts (and all of the exposed parts) were stainless steel, and heavy gauge (which is where the 220 pounds came from).
There was but a single sheet of instructions, which was a little worrisome given the quantity of (often mysterious-looking) parts littering the living room. But as I started in on the assembly, I found the instructions to be clear and complete. I had very little trouble finding the right parts and putting them together. About the only critique I can make of the instructions is that there were a couple of occasions when the size of the part I was looking for was so different than what I'd expected (based on the drawing) that I had trouble identifying it – but compared to most such assembly experiences, that is a trivial criticism. The fit of every single piece was literally perfect – I had no banging, sawing, filing, or “encouraging” to do. Best of all, when I finished (after about three hours), there wasn't a single part missing, or left over – and the resulting grill looked great and felt solid.
But now that we owned a “real” grill, we had to wander down the hill to buy and fill a propane tank. We took the opportunity to stop by the Bravo Cafe to deliver our Christmas gift to Manoli (and to receive ours in return!). We had one of his delicious-but-gut-expanding breakfast burritos (which was the end of our eating for the day). Then we went home and tried out the new grill. Worked the first time, producing large quantities of heat with no effort at all.
We are now ready for serious grilling!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Until now, that is. I guess he's had enough...
Steve McIntyre has been suspicious of the Russian data (as used by CRU) for years.
See here for details from McIntyre and here for Delingpole's reaction.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The economy is so bad that:
I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked, "Can you afford fries with that?"
CEO's are now playing miniature golf.
If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.
Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.
McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.
Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.
A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico .
Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.
Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.
The Mafia is laying off judges.
Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.
Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh Great!! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!
I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.
December 14, 2009Read the whole thing here.
DOE Litigation Hold Notice
DOE-SR has received a “Litigation Hold Notice” from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) General Council and the DOE Office of Inspector General regarding the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. Accordingly, they are requesting that SRNS, SRR and other Site contractors locate and preserve all documents, records, data, correspondence, notes, and other materials, whether official or unofficial, original or duplicative, drafts or final versions, partial or complete that may relate to the global warming, including, but not limited to, the contract files, any related correspondence files, and any records, including emails or other correspondence, notes, documents, or other material related to this contract, regardless of its location or medium on which it is stored. In other words, please preserve any and all documents relevant to “global warming, the Climate Research Unit at he University of East Anglia In England, and/or climate change science.”
Sounds like litigation. I wonder who is suing who, and on what theory?
The gist of it is that Dr. Pachauri is one extremely well-connected man – well-connected with dozens of energy-related businesses, that is. As James Delingpole puts it:
Nevertheless, with the best will in the world, does the good Dr Pachauri not feel there might be certain potential conflict-of-interest issues between his role as head of the IPCC and his sundry business interests?To which I say...“Hmmmm...”
Yet how did the establishment respond? It said that this is how science is done in the real world. Initially, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defended the scientists and played down the significance of their correspondence. Al Gore said he had not read the e-mails (they were stolen, for heaven’s sake) and that they were reassuring.When you've lost the FT, what's left? Your dog?
When, inexplicably, that did not quell the scandal, the climate-science establishment argued that even if CRU’s work was excluded from consideration, plenty of other evidence supported its findings. Maybe so, thinks the fair-minded voter. But the independence of other big research groups is not entirely clear. In any case, many scientists had just called the e-mailers exemplars of best practice. Why should one expect other researchers’ standards to be any different?
Which leaves smearing the doubters as opponents of science itself. They are either stupid or evil; “flat-earthers” or “deniers” (akin, that is, to Holocaust deniers). Supporters of the consensus no doubt lap this up. The voters who need to be convinced are less likely to. On the whole, people object to being called ignorant or evil. That is not how you bring them round.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We can't even ask questions?
What irks the APS members circulating the petition are not claims that CO2 has been increasing for a century and that the Earth is warming; Lewis says the planet has been warming for thousands of years without our help, especially since the Little Ice Age a few hundred years ago. Instead, the physicists are concerned about the APS's claim that the science is settled on the question of the causal link between the two -- a claim that underpins the Copenhagen conference, the Democratic cap and trade proposals, and the EPA's announcement this week that CO2 is dangerous to human health.APS is the American Physical Society, the main American organization for physicists. I've posted about the internal debate there, which is mainly exhibiting the tension between the APS members support for good science (which ClimateGate revealed was not happening at the CRU) and other APS members inclinations for activism in support of AGW mitigation.
It is so good to see the sunlight shining on this issue...
You ever come across raccoons in the outdoor trash can at 11:30 or so at night? As soon as they're exposed by the beam of the flashlight (by the way, how much CO2 does the beam of a flashlight put into the atmosphere?), they turn on you with fangs and paws and let you know what follows will be a short conversation with very little talking involved.It's amazing to see this topic so out in the open now. Nice, too...
Currently, climate scientists are raccoons hip-deep in statistical garbage and you should approach them with caution because they are unarmed (with facts) and dangerous.
In lieu of having the facts (i.e., the thermometer!) bear out their hypothesis, they are now going to have to get creative. They are going to have to press the bet now and steer into the delusional skid, and that sort of desperation makes for a really unsavory individual no matter how much good they are ostensibly doing for their fellow man.
Deniers will be disparaged, data will be fudged and theories will be advanced that are, if possible, even more wing-nuttier than some of the claptrap currently out there. If heretofore depictions of Manhattan under water in the year 2057 were shown to sixth-graders, they're going to have to drop it down to preschoolers in deference to the Gullibility Expansion Joint.
For my readers who aren't familiar with such things, the issue here is that historical raw data (in this case, temperature readings) should never change. If a thermometer at some site read a particular temperature on a particular date and time, then that should be that. That historical temperature reading can't be 70° last week and 72° this week – but that's exactly what Watts caught GISS doing.
That's a big, big red flag for anyone whose research depends on this data – and the timing of the change, occuring in the midst of ClimateGate, just raises that red flag even higher.
Said another way: just what in the hell is going on with these climate researchers???
Even if you already understand, on an intellectual level, what the CRU did this is still an interesting exercise to see how it's done at a practical level. It's also a bit surprising how easy it actually is.
Also interesting is who came up with this tutorial: David Burge, better known to most people as IowaHawk, the master of satire!
Congratulations to the folks who worked so hard to put this thing together!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Here McIntyre summarizes the progress to date in reverse-engineering the cookery used in the notorious “hockey stick” graph from the IPCC report. The progress is both numerical and contextual – that is, McIntyre and others have made great strides at understanding both the mathematics of the cookery and the human context of how it came about.
The story is fascinating.
Steve McIntyre seems to be (at last!) getting some well-deserved recognition for his tireless efforts to understand the data underlying the AGW hypothesis...
Thursday, December 10, 2009
And what meaning do you expect your delusionally self-important statements of unknowing, inexperienced opinion to have with us? What fantasy do you hold that you would believe that your tiny-fisted tantrums would have more weight than that of a leprous desert rat, spinning rabidly in a circle, waiting for the bite of the snake?Go read the whole thing. But put down your morning beverage first...
But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes. We can say, however, that any potential benefits of proposed emissions reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs. And those costs are real.How refreshing!
From Sarah Palin's Facebook...
Then my common sense kicks in, and I realize that most likely they are beclowning themselves somehow.
The results as of this writing are shown at right (click on the image to enlarge). See the current results yourself here.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Yikes again, double yikes! What on earth justifies that adjustment? How can they do that? We have five different records covering Darwin from 1941 on. They all agree almost exactly. Why adjust them at all? They’ve just added a huge artificial totally imaginary trend to the last half of the raw data! Now it looks like the IPCC diagram in Figure 1, all right … but a six degree per century trend? And in the shape of a regular stepped pyramid climbing to heaven? What’s up with that?Go read the whole thing...
Those, dear friends, are the clumsy fingerprints of someone messing with the data Egyptian style … they are indisputable evidence that the “homogenized” data has been changed to fit someone’s preconceptions about whether the earth is warming.
One thing is clear from this. People who say that “Climategate was only about scientists behaving badly, but the data is OK” are wrong. At least one part of the data is bad, too. The Smoking Gun for that statement is at Darwin Zero.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Except now we’re told that CRU disposed of the raw data some 20 years ago after it was manufactured into “homogenized” and “value added data.” The manufacturer 20 years ago? Another Climategate star, Tom Wigley, who was then the head of CRU.The National Post has heretofore been a consistently credulous AGW supporter. Read the whole thing here.
But what of Phil Jones’s argument, that the Hadley and CRU datasets are nothing special. “Our global temperature series tallies with those of other, completely independent, groups of scientists working for NASA and the National Climate Data Centre in the United States, among others,” he says. “Even if you were to ignore our findings, theirs show the same results. The facts speak for themselves.”
The answer to Phil Jones comes from the Hadley Centre itself, through another fact that speaks for itself. “The datasets are largely based on the same raw data,” the FAQ page at the Hadley Centre website states, in explaining that NASA, the National Climate Data Center and Hadley-CRU all use the same data. The different results these organizations sometimes obtain, it elaborates, stems not from the data but from its absence — where the data is poor or non-existent, the different agencies employ different types of guesswork.
There is no unimpeachable raw data in which we can have confidence. There is a large cast of impeachable characters in the Climategate drama with an evident appetite for cooking the books.
And there are but two honest options for our governments to now employ. They can choose to redo the studies, with data, scientists, and a peer-review process that can be trusted. Or they can recognize that the IPCC process has been politicized from the start, and that the prima facie evidence for dangerous global warming does not meet the threshold required to prolong the scientific sham of the generation.
Our power was knocked out at 4 pm yesterday, and didn't come back on for 9 hours (1 am this morning). As I drove out of Lawson Valley and through Jamul, I saw that the power was out for long stretches until I got to Rancho San Diego. I passed a fleet of SDG&E (the local electric company) trucks along state 94. Going through the intersection of state 94 and Steele Canyon Road was kind of eerie – all the bright lights there at the 7-11, Cafe Bravo, etc. were out, and the traffic signal was completely out.
Then when I pulled into the parking lot at work (in Solana Beach), when I opened my door the wind ripped the door out of my hands and slammed it open. I thought it had broken, but so far as I can tell it's ok.
Driving in, I heard on the radio that yesterday there were 476 accidents recorded, presumably mostly related to the rain and wind. I also heard that over 100,000 people were without power at some point during the storm, and at that hour (around 2 am) there were still 10,000 people without power (and I was driving through one such area as I heard that report).
That's violent weather to us!
J. Storrs Hall has a terrific example of this, wherein he looks at just one of the temperature data sources (ice cores) and demonstrates the importance of perspective – and the perils of carefully selected data (as the CRU folks did). You really need to read it from the top down; don't jump around or you'll miss the impact...
Monday, December 7, 2009
Today he posts some very different impressions. He's feeling downright optimistic now that Obama has committed to the surge.
In my own experience, Yon is the most competent, sober, and best-informed source of information on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reading his words today, I'm feeling very relieved. I sure hope he's right (again)...
But most interesting to me are the two graphs at the bottom of the page. The top graph is the famous “hockey stick” graph, showing precipitous rises in measured and modeled temperatures. This is the graph that was published in the IPCC reports, and has been used very widely by AGW promoters. The bottom graph is the same data, but “uncorrected”. In other words, the raw data with no fudge factors and no tricks.
Those two graphs tell one of the essential revelations of ClimateGate, and here, for the very first time, the CRU is 'fessing up.
I suspect we'll be seeing more like this.
Just once, several years ago, I actually had the chance to meet and talk with one of these Pearl Harbor survivors, as we both climbed out of our cars in a grocery store parking lot. The fellow I met was 17 years old at the time of the attack, and was a “plane wrangler” at one of the air bases. His job was to move the fighter planes from hangers to the flight line and vice versa. He could do little on that day except to hide from the attacking Japanese planes, and to help clean up afterwards.
Today I read that historians believe they have found the missing fifth Japanese mini-sub – and that they have evidence that it actually participated in the attack (unlike the other four). If this is proven, a little re-writing of history will be required...
While 9/11 looms much larger in my mind these days, the Pearl Harbor attack still holds many lessons for us. I've read extensively on World War II in general, and the Pacific theatre in particular, and yet still every time I read a new book I run into new information. The most useful things, I think, are the illustrations about how people actually behave under extreme circumstances. Our society rests in large part on assumptions about good behavior by people all over the world – and Pearl Harbor teaches us that it ain't necessarily so. The whole period has been so thoroughly mined by historians that one can quite easily get an understanding about how and why both sides acted the way they did. This is not yet possible with 9/11.
Anyway, take a few moments today to reflect on the meaning of the Pearl Harbor attack. If you have the opportunity, by all means do your bit to honor those who served there – both those who died, and those who survived...
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Science is alive and well in the individual scientists who are not caught up in gaming the system for bigger grants. I call it small science. Many of them are doing very unfashionable things, and are happy to get no recognition for it.Go read the whole thing.
That is where you can find the real scientists. That is where the future will be.
"Ten countries ruled by nasty people control 80 percent of the planet's oil reserves -- about 1 trillion barrels, currently worth about $40 trillion," writes energy expert Peter Huber in City Journal. "If $40 trillion worth of gold were located where most of the oil is, one could only scoff at any suggestion that we might somehow persuade the nasty people to leave the wealth buried. They can lift most of their oil at a cost well under $10 a barrel. They will drill. They will pump. And they will find buyers. Oil is all they've got."The “Dudley Do-Right” of the international community. Heh!
It's not just the nasty countries. Canada, the Dudley Do-Right of the international community, insists on exploiting its vast and dirty oil reserves in the "tar sands" under Alberta. The intro to an article by British eco-scold George Monbiot declared: "Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling." If Canada, which has long been the UN's Richie Cunningham, won't play ball, does anyone think the Chinese, Indians or Brazilians will?
The graph at right is just one randomly chosen example. This one shows the variations in sea ice coverage in the Antarctic over the past 30 years. This is the period for which satellite-borne instruments give us reliable coverage data. If you've been listening to a lot of the AGW hype, what you see on that graph may surprise you...
I recommend taking an evening to peruse this document yourself. It reminds me a bit of the Skeptical Environmentalist, in a sort of Reader's Digest form...
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Some interesting bits from my reading today:
- The UK Meterology Office (their equivalent of our NOAA) is going to re-examine all 160 years of their temperature data. They are no longer confident of their own data, because of the ClimateGate revelations. This is quite significant, as the UK Met's data is one of the three primary sources of data used in the IPCC report that is in turn driving much of the policy movement toward AGW mitigation. What heartens me about this development is that I'm pretty sure the result will be greatly increased transparency on the data collection and analysis, which means some wonderful sunlight on the foundations of the AGW claims.
- The London Globe and Mail has a nice summary of the current ClimateGate situation, with this bit that I quite liked:
Unusually, even sympathetic scientists and some activists have concluded that the credibility of climate science has been seriously harmed.The whole piece is nicely even-handed, and not so credulous of the AGW proponents claims as we've seen in the past. It's very refreshing to see this sort of reporting in the mainstream media – even thought it's only in the British media so far, and not in the U.S...
“We should not underestimate the damage caused by what has happened, either for the science or for the politics of climate change, and potentially it could have some very far-reaching consequences,” said Mike Hulme, a climate scientist at East Anglia whose e-mails were among those included in the pirated files and who has been critical of the secrecy and lack of impartiality in his colleagues' work.
- Speaking of sunshine... Here's a great example – a fellow blogging under the pseudonym of AJStrata has done some nice, independent analysis on the raw data revealed in ClimateGate. Unlike the CRU folks, he's placed his methods and results out in public view for the sun to shine on them. He's an amateur, but he's looking far more professional than CRU. I have no idea how correct his analysis is, and that's not the point. The point is that this is how science ought to work.
- Finally, there's this quite well-done summary of ClimateGate by Steven Hayward in the Weekly Standard. The entire piece is balanced and sober; a good example of the kind of journalism I wish we had been seeing for the past few years regarding AGW. And, alas, while the Weekly Standard is an American webzine, by no means can I call it “mainstream” – they're a struggling little site that truthfully isn't far removed from a blog, except that the often well-known writers (presumably) are paid. Read the whole thing...but here's the conclusion:
The distinction between utterly politicized scientists such as Jones, Mann, and NASA's James Hansen, and other more sober scientists has been lost on the media and climate campaigners for a long time now, and as a result, the CRUtape letters will cast a shadow on the entire field. There is no doubt plenty more of this kind of corruption in other hotbeds of climate science, but there are also a lot of unbiased scientists trying to do important and valuable work. Climate alarmists and their media cheerleaders are fond of warning about "tipping points" to disaster, but ironically this episode may represent a tipping point against the alarmists. The biggest hazard to serious climate science all along was not so much contrarian arguments from skeptics, but rather the damage that the hyperbole of the environmental community would inflict on their own cause.
Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s--as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil (such as the forced sterilizations of thousands of Indian men in the 1970s, much of it funded by the Ford Foundation). Today the climate campaigners want to forcibly sterilize the world's energy supply, and until recently they looked to be within an ace of doing so. But even before Climategate, the campaign was beginning to resemble a Broadway musical that had run too long, with sagging box office and declining enthusiasm from a dwindling audience. Someone needs to break the bad news to the players that it's closing time for the climate horror show.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Policy decisions require real science and real solutions, not junk science and doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood that capitalizes on the public’s worry and makes them feel that owning an SUV is a “sin” against the planet. In his inaugural address, President Obama declared his intention to “restore science to its rightful place.” Boycotting Copenhagen while this scandal is thoroughly investigated would send a strong message that the United States government will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices. Saying no to Copenhagen and cap and tax are first steps in “restoring science to its rightful place.”Can't disagree with that, though some of the other things she says I might quibble with...
Maybe he's busy reassessing his positions in the face of the ClimateGate evidence. Or maybe he's just afraid of the questions the crowd will be asking...
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So you can probably imagine how I've been anticipating his (inevitable) column on ClimateGate (which he calls “Warmergate”). And the column doesn't disappoint. A sample:
Phil Jones and Michael Mann are two of the most influential figures in the whole “climate change” racket. What these documents reveal is the greatest scientific scandal of our times—and a tragedy. It’s not just their graphs but their battle lines that are drawn all wrong. Science is never “settled,” and certainly not on the basis of predictive models. And any scientist who says it is is no longer a scientist. And the dismissal of “skeptics” throughout the Jones/Mann correspondence is most revealing: a real scientist is always a skeptic.You won't want to miss Steyn's first draft of a comprehensive statement on the state of AGW evidence. Read the whole thing here.
It may well be that Warmergate has come along too late. I won’t pretend to know the motivations of Jones, Mann and their colleagues, but judging from recent eco-advertising their work appears to have driven worshippers at the First Church of the Settled Scientist literally insane. A new commercial shows polar bears dropping from the skies onto city streets and crushing the cars below. To those of us who still quaintly recall 9/11, it evokes grotesquely those poor souls who chose to jump from the Twin Towers and die in one last gulp of air rather than perish in the fireball within. But who cares? Their plight is as nothing next to that of the polar bear. Why are they plummeting to their deaths from the heavens? As the ad explains, “An average European flight produces over 400 kg of greenhouse gases for every passenger. That’s the weight of an adult polar bear.”
Oooookay. It’s A Warmerful Life: every time they call your flight, a poley bear loses its wings.
At the hearing, West testifed that “I know the method I used was not right, but I wanted to take care of my soldiers.” After that, West was asked if he'd act differently now under similar circumstances, and he said:
“If it's about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can.”Now that's the kind of leader I'd want to have, if I were in a combat group. Come to think of it, that's the kind of leader I'd like to have as an American.
Awesome, Lt. Col. West, just absolutely awesome...
Thanks, Jon. Now some more:
- Kate says the ClimateGate genie is out of the bottle on Canadian mainstream media.
- Ann Coulter applies her usual wit (which generally involves knives and other edged instruments of evisceration) to ClimateGate.
- Ken Green gives us the meaning of Motley CRU.
- Chris Horner says “Gimme my data, NASA!”
- Inhofe is trying to getting Congress into the ClimateGate business.
- Roger Simon takes Barbara Boxer to task.
- It's certainly no literary masterpiece, and I suspect she'd be quick to agree with that. I had no problem staying awake while reading it, but I wasn't riveted by either the prose or the content.
- She's very quick to use her religious beliefs instead of thinking. By this I mean that you'll find her quite casually attributing an event to God's will (and not thinking it out any further), or justifying a position with by invoking God's desire instead of a thought-out ideology. Palin invokes Reagan frequently in the book, but Reagan was in fact a very different kind of political animal – he was religious, of course, but his religion was the foundation for his ideology, not the ideology itself. Palin comes across as having very little ideology beyond her religion and a vague, general sort of Alaskan independence, libertarianism, and scrappiness. I like the latter elements; the first one scares me.
- The last ten pages or so were the most interesting part of the entire book. In this section, she comes closest to offering a vision of what we might expect from her in the future. I read it closely, as I strongly suspect that Palin will be a factor in our nation's future politics. I was disappointed, not so much by what's there, but by what's not there. There is no clear vision, no clear agenda, no clear ideology. I still know only vaguely what Sarah Palin believes in (other than God) – and I suspect the same thing is true of her. I don't see a Ronald Reagan or Maggie Thatcher here, but rather a cartoonish copy, without foundation, wrapped in an attractive package. I wish I could say otherwise.
- I'm less likely to vote for her now (for any office) than I was before reading the book. I can still imagine circumstances where I might vote for her as the lesser of two evils. For example, if one could imagine (say) a 2012 ticket of Obama/Pelosi vs. Palin/Romney, I might well hold my nose and vote the Republican ticket – not so much because I was attracted to it, but because the alternative was so much worse. But I would certainly not be an enthusiastic supporter of hers.
- It seems to me unlikely that Palin would actually be able to clinch the Republican ticket in 2012. Not impossible, but unlikely. More likely is that she could make a robust run as an independent, like a modern Ross Perot. I can easily imagine her forming a strong third party with the “tea party” folks as her base. I can imagine any number of partners for her (Glenn Beck came immediately to mind, though the thought sends shivers of fear through me). Would such an independent ticket have a chance? The probabilities are against it; a more likely outcome is a badly split vote on the right, and a unified vote from the liberal opposition – not a pleasant outcome for me.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This much we have learned from the Climategate scandal: the computer models used to justify the policy proposals are for crap.Excellent!
Anyone who invokes Richard Feymann has my ear <smile>.To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer models were invoked to add weight to a conclusion: "These results are derived with the help of a computer model."
But now, large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in themselves. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world-increasingly, models provide the data.
As if they were themselves a reality. And indeed they are, when we are projecting forward. There can be no observational data about the year 2100. There are only model runs. This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well.
Richard Feynmann called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands. Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future?
Stepping back, I have to say the arrogance of the model-makers is breathtaking. There have been, in every century, scientists who say they know it all. Since climate may be a chaotic system-no one is sure-these predictions are inherently doubtful, to be polite. But more to the point, even if the models get the science spot-on, they can never get the sociology. To predict anything about the world a hundred years from now is simply absurd.
Go read the whole thing – it's still fresh and relevant after six years...
- Phil Jones is temporarily stepping aside as director of the CRU. This could be the start of a whitewash, or it could be the only way East Anglia could get Jones out of the way without a public fight – can't tell a darned thing from the skimpy press release. But one thing's for sure: this wouldn't have happened if the university didn't believe there were problems revealed in the ClimateGate data.
- Malcom Turnbull (leader of Australia's Liberal party and a vocal proponent of AGW mitigation measures) has been replaced by Tony Abbott (an AGW skeptic). This happened because of resistance within the Liberal party to Turnbull's aggressive promotion of anti-AGW measures – and that resistance was almost certainly solidified because of the ClimateGate revelations. Further, at least one observer believes that it's likely elections will result from this change – and that ClimateGate-driven skepticism is likely to be a major issue in the campaigning.
- Reason has a great summary piece (by Ronald Bailey) on the scientific tragedy ClimateGate represents. Reason is on the leading edge here (as they tend to be), but I expect to see a lot more relatively sober analysis like this – including in the mainstream media. I'm starting to be cautiously optimistic that the AGW debate is going to get back onto a sound scientific basis...
- Scientists are starting to speak out about ClimateGate, like Peter Keleman in this Popular Mechanics piece and Derek Lowe on his blog. It's safe for them to do so now, thanks to the ugly revelations of ClimateGate. Others can now find a platform, where they couldn't before, like Doug Keenan writing at Pajamas Media. Expect more like this.
- AGW skepticism has become politically correct. Unapologetic commentary can now be found all over the place, not just on fringe blogs (like this one!) and “crank” web sites (examples here, here, and here). Awesome!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
This won't close the case for science. There will have to be much more evidence for living creatures on Mars before it becomes a generally accepted notion. But if life did in fact exist on Mars (and possibly still does today), then this leads naturally to a couple of very intriguing lines of thought. First, that possibly life is far more common than we have heretofore believed (if it arose independently on two planets in a single star system, then surely it will have arisen commonly in other star systems). Second, that possibly life has been “seeded” by something completely outside our star system – perhaps something as simple as chirally-sorted amino acids being distributed by junk floating around in space, or cosmic rays turning out to be the key to amino acid formation. And of course that latter line of thought will lead some to immediately assume intervention by alien civilizations or deities...
The WSJ is now taking up that notion:
Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he'd been awarded in the 1990s.While I am totally disgusted and disappointed by the revealed behavior in the CRU trove, there is one very good thing resulting from this: it's going to be very hard for corrupt science to prevail in the AGW debate going forward...
Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?
Thus, the European Commission's most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that's not counting funds from the EU's member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA's climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA's, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.
And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls "green stimulus"—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.
Remember that this is not an academic exercise. We contemplate outlays of trillions of dollars to fix this supposed problem. Can I read these emails and feel that the scientists involved deserve to be trusted? No, I cannot. These people are willing to subvert the very methods--notably, peer review--that underwrite the integrity of their discipline. Is this really business as usual in science these days? If it is, we should demand higher standards--at least whenever "the science" calls for a wholesale transformation of the world economy. And maybe some independent oversight to go along with the higher standards.My general reading through the lamestream media picks up many hints of this, though not usually so forthrightly stated. My sense is that even the sheep in the lamestream media are beginning to have doubts.
The IPCC process needs to be fixed, as a matter of the greatest urgency. Read David Henderson or the Wegman report to see how. And in the meantime, let's have some independent inquiries into what has been going on.
The notion that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedbacks is intuitively implausible, and the history of the earth's climate offers some guidance on this matter. About 2.5 billion years ago, the sun was 20%-30% less bright than now (compare this with the 2% perturbation that a doubling of CO2 would produce), and yet the evidence is that the oceans were unfrozen at the time, and that temperatures might not have been very different from today's. Carl Sagan in the 1970s referred to this as the "Early Faint Sun Paradox."Many observers, including me, have pointed out that Mother Nature seems to abhor positive feedback systems – they very rarely occur, and where they do, the lifetime of the affected system is very short. The Earth has been around for something like 4 billion years; if a positive feedback system actually existed in our climate, common sense says it would have led to a horrible result long before now – such as during one of the many past periods when carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are now...
For more than 30 years there have been attempts to resolve the paradox with greenhouse gases. Some have suggested CO2—but the amount needed was thousands of times greater than present levels and incompatible with geological evidence. Methane also proved unlikely. It turns out that increased thin cirrus cloud coverage in the tropics readily resolves the paradox—but only if the clouds constitute a negative feedback. In present terms this means that they would diminish rather than enhance the impact of CO2.
There are quite a few papers in the literature that also point to the absence of positive feedbacks. The implied low sensitivity is entirely compatible with the small warming that has been observed. So how do models with high sensitivity manage to simulate the currently small response to a forcing that is almost as large as a doubling of CO2? Jeff Kiehl notes in a 2007 article from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the models use another quantity that the IPCC lists as poorly known (namely aerosols) to arbitrarily cancel as much greenhouse warming as needed to match the data, with each model choosing a different degree of cancellation according to the sensitivity of that model.