They can’t read very well, but they hate carbon emissions

Schools constantly complain about the pressure to meet actual academic standards, but they somehow always find time to beat the children over the heads with social or political issues — and always from the point of view of the Lefter side of the political spectrum:

Third-grade teacher Debbie Robles made her acting debut before a packed auditorium of youngsters at Rancho Elementary School in Novato. She bombed.

Playing the villain in a school assembly Wednesday aimed at educating the students about global warming, Robles – dressed in a witch’s black attire and prancing around the auditorium as “Queen Carbon” – drew the biggest response from more than 500 students who attended two “Curb Your Carbon” assemblies.

“My own daughter Hannah asked me, ‘Do you have to be my mother today?'” Robles said.

Teachers, parents and volunteers helped organize the assemblies and participated in the skits to help raise awareness about global warming and what people can do about it – exchanging traditional light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, for example.

School officials distributed more than 500 CFLs last week.

On Friday, Rancho students will be given bilingual “Cancel-a-Car” coupon books filled with ways they can fight global warming.

Once the coupons are returned to school, teachers will track what conservation efforts are made and the date. Teachers will help monitor the progress. As the carbon reduction increases, images of cars will be crossed out on a giant poster kept at school.

Another Novato school, Lu Sutton, joined the program last month, bringing to eight the number of Marin schools that have introduced the program that began earlier this year at Bacich Elementary and Kent Middle schools in Kentfield.

The program is being financed by a $200,00 donation from the Earth Day Every Day Fund of the Marin Community Foundation. Three nonprofits, the Marin Conservation Corps, Strategic Energy Innovations and Cool the Earth are implementing the program and hope to introduce it to 25 Marin schools by the end of the year.

Even if I accepted the urgency of this whole Climate Change shtick, which you know I don’t, I would still find irksome the time wasting in which the schools routinely engage, pursuing any agenda other than the Three Rs. How about if they put a temporary stop to all the preaching and go back to the good old-fashioned teaching, with an emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic.

Of course, after spending hours perusing the appalling document that our local school board prepared — with the help of teachers — to establish teaching goals for the next few years, I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that schools spend a lot of time not teaching because of the teacher’s and administrator’s own educational deficits, deficits that don’t appear so much in math, but that reveal themselves in reading and writing. At our local schools, the faculty are very well-intentioned and committed to their jobs, and they manage to churn out high test scores by sticking closely to the prepared curriculum but, with some sterling exceptions (and my kids are lucky enough to have those exceptions this year), they are an ill-informed crew.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Ophi for helping me find what was manifestly a late night typo.  Making typos, however, is distinguishable from obscure or semi-illiterate writing, filled with cant, jargon and buzzwords, and impossible sentence construction, all aimed at concealing meaning (or the lack of meaning).

63 Responses

  1. Ouch! If you’re going to criticize other people’s reading and writing, you have to make an extra effort to make your own writing above reproach:

    deficits that don’t appear so mucy in much, but that reveal themselves in reading and writing.

    “so mucy in much”??? What does that mean????

    OK, OK, I’m guilty of felonious nitpicking. But still, the irony of that error in that sentence was more than I could let pass.

    Good night!😉

  2. Perhaps some standards should be set. Before the kids can start nagging about bad carbon, they should be required to locate it as well as oxygen on the periodic table. They should also be able to identify at least ten things that contain carbon and show how these things can undergo chemical changes. Lets call it earning the right to nag.

  3. I have to agree with the snake-bearer. Bookworm seems to have fallen victim to the Iron Rule of the Internet: any online complaint about someone else’s spelling or grammar is bound to contain at least one howling error.

    In Bookworm’s defense, though, she isn’t teaching basic literacy to children, nor is her blog an official publication.

  4. What is important is how you feel about Carbon/ global Warming, not the ability to read the hundreds of documents debunking this big scam.

    ( this is sarcasm of course! )

  5. BTW, I’d like to add that I regard such efforts as are described here as fundamentally wrong-headed. They’re teaching the kids that carbon emissions are bad, but they’re not teaching them WHY they’re bad. This is demonization (almost literally, it appears). Thinking with our stomachs — either for or against — will not help us solve this problem and will likely get in the way. We’ve got to use our heads.

  6. I’m entirely with you, Ophi. Your core point is the best one: these are tremendously complex issues, and when ill-informed media people, politicians, Hollywood stars, or teachers, start a rush to judgment, they’re as likely to bollux things up as they are to help.

    Please understand, Ophi, that I often dovetail with the goals set by the Global Warming crew: I want to get off the oil standard. It’s bad for our economy, and it’s absolutely terrible for the Muslim world that we bankroll the tyrannies that degrade them and threaten liberty around the world. I also enjoy the benefits of cleaner air, since I live in a wealthy-ish community that can afford to be clean.

    Nevertheless, what irks me is the wild impracticality behind the politics of global warming. Even if the IPCC report is a model of temperate, intelligent analysis, that’s not how it’s being used.

    I’m also no friend of hypocrisy (despite what I’m sure is its occasional presence in my own life), and can’t resist baulking when bloated political and Hollywood plutocrats insist that I make changes that will affect me, but not them. You know, if they gave 50% of their money to stop Global Warming, they’d still be rich. When they take 50% of mine, whether in taxes or with ill-thought out schemes that freeze the economy (if not the climate), I’m poor.

  7. I certainly agree that we need to look past the PR shenanigans. Gore’s movie was not bad as pop science, but it was pop science: it overgeneralized, overhyped, and scaremongered. Our political culture revels in this kind of propaganda. Both sides love to use it, and the only way to counter it is to ignore it. You’d be much better off spending two hours browsing the IPCC report than watching Gore’s movie.

    As to your point about hypocrisy, I myself don’t care. If Al Gore is revealed to be an orphan-raping litterbug — or if a halo miraculously appears over his head — it wouldn’t affect my assessment of the issues. This is about ideas, not personalities.

    And on impracticality, I admit that the best means of tackling the problem involve economic costs. Throttling back our carbon emissions will be expensive. On the other hand, climate change will be expensive, too. So our task is to assess costs and benefits of different policies. What makes it especially difficult is the time delay between costs and benefits. What’s the value of spending $1 today if it saves us $100 fifty years from today? Many of us will be dead then. Here’s where I think we have lots of room for subjectivity. What do we owe our posterity?

    I myself would prefer a straight carbon tax. Indeed, I’d rather replace income taxes with taxes on the net injury one does to society through consumption. The rest of the developed world runs on gasoline prices double our own, and they seem to be doing OK. But that’s another discussion.

  8. So our task is to assess costs and benefits of different policies. What makes it especially difficult is the time delay between costs and benefits. What’s the value of spending $1 today if it saves us $100 fifty years from today? Many of us will be dead then. Here’s where I think we have lots of room for subjectivity. What do we owe our posterity?

    That right there is why I say that Global Warmism is inextricably linked with Babyboomer fear of mortality.

    Al Gore’s movie plays the same role in modern society that the “Danse Macabre” played in Medieval Society–It allows us to feel just enough guilt that we can enjoy our largess without feeling ‘unworthy’ of such abundance.

    These kind of amorphous, uncontrollable existential fears occur in times of plenty–it’s an artifact of a hunter-gatherer brain in an urban world.

    Notice that all of Ophie’s solutions have nothing to do with the environment and everything thing to do with taking money away from me and you.

    Any effect the Global Warmist tax schemes have are through the mechanism of the market–lowering consumption by using government power to punish consumers!

  9. Ophie…since I am blogging during the work day, my time is short. However, assuming that global warming (man-made or otherwise) is real and sustainable, I would like to ask you upon what you base your conclusion that the costs outweigh the benefits of global warming (i.e., that global warming even if true, would impose a net cost on society).

    The Danish statistician, Bjorn Lomborg, has researched and written extensively about this and other cost-benefit issues associated with Climate Change.
    http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2001/08/14/warming.pdf

  10. Danny, it’s true that there would be some benefits to some locales from climate change. For example, we will likely see the growing season extended in high latitudes. Heating costs in high latitudes will be reduced. We’ll also see some areas getting more rain.

    On the other hand, other areas will suffer. Low-lying coastal regions will suffer greater flooding problems. These can be extremely expensive, as the case of Katrina demonstrates. (I am NOT attributing Katrina to climate change, I am using it as an example of the magnitude of the costs that can be incurred by coastal flooding.) A number of island nations, such as the Comoros, the Seychelles, and the Maldives, will be rendered uninhabitable. Some regions will suffer greater dessication and outright desertification, reducing agricultural output. The American Great Plains are considered a likely victim of such a development. And, believe it or not, some areas are likely to get colder!

    The real cost is the infrastructural cost. We have many trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure built for the climate that has prevailed for decades. Change that climate, and that infrastructure has to be replaced. I’d hazard the guess that not many buildings in North Dakota are equipped with air conditioning — think how much it will cost to correct that deficiency when things heat up. Right now, a lot of agriculture relies on a combination of rain and irrigation. If the rain diminishes, then the irrigation systems need to be expanded — how much do you think that will cost? We’ll need to build lots more flood control and drainage infrastructure in areas that will get more rain. Many port facilities will have to be rebuilt — remember, port equipment wants to be as close to the ship as possible, which means that they build it right at the top of the tideline. Raise the tideline by ten inches and much of your equipment is ruined.

  11. Long before the planet will be “too hot to handle”, either we will have run out of oil and charcoal or we will all be using electric cars, and most of our energy will come from solar power, wind power and probably a dozen new super efficient technologies developed by the so-called evil nations such as the USA.

    The situation is not as bad as the greenies want us to believe.

    There are already many very promising new technologies being tested out there but they just don’t make front page news.

    They gave the Nobel peace prize to Al gore but not to an American who found a way of making top soil in as little as two years instead of a hundred or more years.

    Everyone’s focus is at the wrong place.

    Great things are going on, we are definitely not all doomed.

  12. Danny, it’s true that there would be some benefits to some locales from climate change. For example, we will likely see the growing season extended in high latitudes. Heating costs in high latitudes will be reduced. We’ll also see some areas getting more rain.

    Oh, come on…. Such speculation!

    The only thing more fun than building a castle in the sky is flooding it ‘cuz the sky is warming….

    It pleases me greatly that I will likely live long enough to see all this is complete nonsense.

  13. Great things are going on, we are definitely not all doomed.

    I don’t think any of serious analysts believe that we are doomed due to environmental problems. Yep, there sure are a lot of wingers who claim that — but why would you want to waste your time debating wingers? The serious debate is so much more interesting!

    I agree that there are a lot of great technologies out there — but let’s not sit back and rest easy in the assumption that we have nothing to worry about. Most of those technologies have their own costs. Solar cells are still a lot more expensive than conventional technologies, and people have been claiming that a price breakthrough is “just around the corner” since at least the 1970s. The price has in fact declined substantially, but there’s still a long ways to go before they’re truly competitive. Thus, those new technologies will raise our net energy costs.

    My technology picks for the future are, in order:

    Conservation — there are still enormous gains to be had from reductions in usage.
    Solar heating
    Nuclear via standardized LWR designs
    Wind

    Below these we have lots of possibilities, but none of them have been developed far enough to give us a lot of confidence. In no particular order, they include:

    Deep geothermal
    Tidal
    Ocean thermal
    High-tech coal, such as fluidized bed
    Fusion (yeah, right…)
    Solar photovoltaic

    And I’m sure I’m leaving out quite a few interesting ideas.

  14. Ophi, the changes you describe, IF they happen, will all happen gradually and humans and nature will adapt, as they (we) always have. Fact is, nobody nor any computer model can predict what the earth will be like 5, 10, 25 or 50 years hence.

    As far as rising sea levels, even the most recent IPCC report has down-graded its predictions. For the record, Northern Africa was believed to be much wetter and more fertile at the time of the Roman Empire (about the same time that Greenland was still very green).

  15. Danny, the gradual nature of the changes does not reduce their costs. If I steal a penny out of your bank account every hour, in ten years I will have stolen about $8,000. These things add up.

    nobody nor any computer model can predict what the earth will be like 5, 10, 25 or 50 years hence

    That’s a blanket statement, and like all blanket statements, it’s technically false. There are plenty of things that I can predict about our planet in 50 years. For example, Swami Ophiuchus predicts that the continents will be in very much the same positions they currently are; that the earth’s rotational rate will be almost exactly one rotation in 24 hours; that it will take approximately 365.25 days to go around the sun, that it will be hotter on average in Brazil than in Antarctica, etc.

    The question is not WHETHER predictions can be made, but HOW ACCURATE those predictions might be. For example, suppose that Swami Ophiuchus predicts that the temperature at the park headquarters of Death Valley on August 15th, 2050, at 3:00:00 PM PDT will be 112 degrees Fahrenheit. That prediction will surely be wrong, because the actual temperature might be 112.0000001 degrees Fahrenheit. But how close do you think it will come? I’m very certain that my prediction will be within 20 degrees of the actual value; I’m pretty sure that it will come within 10 degrees. And, gee, I might get lucky and come with 1 degree. That’s the idea.

    So every single climate model, no matter how good or bad, will yield results that are TO SOME DEGREE correct and to some degree wrong. But how correct? If you read the IPCC report, at every stage they express their confidence in their predictions with words like “very likely”, “likely”, and so forth.

    Yes, the IPCC reports are downgrading the rise in sea level to about one foot by the end of the century. That’s still enough to do serious harm. Remember, we’re not talking about noticing that the water level at the dock is one foot higher. We’re talking about what happens when there’s a particularly high tide or when there’s a storm surge and the waters penetrate much further inland than previously. And yes, a difference of one foot can be huge in such circumstances. Much of the State of Florida could end up switching from swamp to something much saltier.

  16. That’s still enough to do serious harm

    The hubris inherent in Global Warming is present in the belief that human beings have godlike power to affect the planet earth. It is this belief in the universal lordship of humanity, or simply an elite cadre of humanity, that is problematic. If it was true, it would be one thing, but it isn’t true. Humanity hasn’t even broken past the shackles of the human condition nor of human instinct.

    People tend to see the ability of human beings to slaughter and dominate every other form of life that lives around humans as a testament to human power. What it is is a testament to human backwardness and parochialism. Lords of the Universe, humanity is not. Not even lords of the planet, for that matter.

  17. That’s a blanket statement, and like all blanket statements, it’s technically false.

    Hahaha! So then the above statement is technically false?

    It certainly is a blanket statement about blanket statements….

    C’mon, you’re ‘having us on’ now. Nobody can consistently make the logical and debating errors you do.

    OK, it was funny, but I’m on to you!

  18. …the belief that human beings have godlike power to affect the planet earth.

    I don’t care about whether humans are godlike. I just look at the science. We have affected the earth, and our impact is growing.

  19. Ophi, I enjoy your arguments because they are thoughtful. You are right, of course, that we can predict anything that we want and what ultimately matters is the probability of any event occurring.

    The problem with these statistical computer models is that each factor already carries pretty large probability of error and these errors compound. For your own edification, take a 5% error and compound it to the 10-th power (10 factors at 5% error) to see how rapidly the predictive power of such models is diluted. Thus do we end up with a highly diluted probability spectrum.

    Weather involves far fewer variables than climate, and yet our weather models cannot predict what the weather will be 1-year hence with any significant degree of accuracy. Ditto for the stock market: there are many models that try to predict what the stock market will do in the future, based on far fewer variables than affect climate. Many involving Monte Carlo simulations (i.e., gaming theory) similar to what the climate models. Fact is, though, these models don’t do very well.

    I stand by my statement: there is no model that can accurately predict what our climate will look like well into the future (we can’t even predict El Ninos and El Ninas very well, which affects climate only 1-year hence). All it can do is provide a broad range of possibilities. The Church of Global Warming, of course, has elected to focus only on the upper tail-end of the probability spectrum and cherry pick examples that support its doctine (e.g., melting glaciers in some parts of Greenland) while ignoring others (growing glaciers in other parts of Greenland).

    Just for fun, you might want to visit this website and discern what is wrong with the very first paragraph in this story.
    http://www.livescience.com/environment/071030-tree-stumps.html

    Get it?

  20. I just look at the science. We have affected the earth, and our impact is growing.

    But that’s not what the science says. That’s what the alarmists say.

    The science says:

    “If humans could warm or cool the earth, and the observed effects are due to humans (if you trust our data and normalization techniques) then that effect is one of warming.

    The magnitude of this warming in the future is not well predicted by our models.

    The warming could be less than a degree or it could be up to 12 deg C depending on if our sensitivity models are correct.

    We have no way of determining if our sensitivity models are correct, but we like ’em.”

    Gray, making ‘science’ understandable….

    Personally I think they tortured the data like a Gitmo Prisoner on a Waterboard to lend a pseudo-scientific basis to boomer angst and new taxes….

  21. Getting back to the point of BW’s post, climate change, energy independence, and availabilty of resources in the future are complex subjects. Kids need to learn the 3 Rs if they are to cope with the future. They will have to assess costs and benefits of new technologies, and they will need to distinguish the facts from both ideological propaganda and fear-pandering advertising. The purpose of education is to prepare kids for the world they will face, not to indoctrinate lemmings to follow the next Oscar-winning guru. You can teach kids to be wise consumers without the hype. I fear that the program described by BW is more likely to produce self-satisfied spoiled brats.

  22. Danny, your pessimism about modeling is unjustified. There are all sorts of models that work very well. One example I’ll give is the modeling of stellar interiors. Nobody has ever been there, nobody has ever measured anything below the surface of any star, and in fact there is only one star in the entire universe that we can see as more than a pinpoint of light. Yet astronomers have produced models of stellar interiors that are astoundingly accurate in their predictions of what we can see.

    Yes, there are also problems that don’t lend themselves to modeling. The stock market is one because it has anticipatory feedback, something you don’t get in natural models. weather, as opposed to climate, is another because the level of precision required to be useful is very high. In climatology, we’re NOT trying to predict the weather, we’re trying to predict the climate, which is the average weather over a large area over a long time. Thus, I can’t accurately predict whether you or Bookworm or I will be alive on February 19th, 2027, but I can accurately predict that X% of Americans who are alive now will still be alive on that date. Predicting long-term statistical averages is much easier than predicting specifics. That’s why these models can work.

    But how to we know they can work? We have several ways of testing them. First, we take many different stabs at the problem. Different scientific teams take completely different approaches to the problem and then compare their results. If their results differ widely, then they conclude that none of their models are very good. If their results all match, then they conclude that their results are pretty reliable. Check out Figure 10.33 in Chapter 10 of the IPCC report. It presents the results of many different studies on predicted future sea rise. You’ll note that there’s a lot of uncertainty in those figures — but there’s also a lot of overlap. Combine them all and you can make a fairly accurate prediction along the lines of “The sea level at the end of this century is likely to be 20 and 40 cm higher than it is today.” Sure, it’s not a perfect prediction. But it’s a useful one for planning purposes. And the same thing goes for all the other predictions.

    Again, you are welcome to criticize the Church of Global Warming, whatever that may be — but I would prefer that we talk about something solid, like the IPCC report.

    Lastly, I didn’t understand your reference to the article about Canadian glaciers. Here’s the first paragraph:

    “Melting glaciers in Western Canada are revealing tree stumps up to 7,000 years old where the region’s rivers of ice have retreated to a historic minimum, a geologist said today.”

    What’s wrong with it?

    expat, I agree completely with you that we don’t want to treat complicated issues in such a childish fashion. Just as I chastise people here for blowing off hot air about global warming without actually reading the basic documentation, so do I condemn schoolteachers for teaching conclusions rather than thinking. They shouldn’t really tackle global warming until they have had some physics and chemistry. I don’t think the subject is appropriate for primary or secondary schools.

  23. RE: Stellar interior models–those models are anchored, as you point out, by actual data. That’s what make them good models.

    We can’t anchor climate models with future data!

    The problem with the climate models is that we can’t even anchor them by ‘predicting’ the current climate because we don’t have enough previous data to populate the model.

    It’s a specious comparison.

    You’ll note that there’s a lot of uncertainty in those figures — but there’s also a lot of overlap. Combine them all and you can make a fairly accurate prediction along the lines of “The sea level at the end of this century is likely to be 20 and 40 cm higher than it is today.”

    You can make an accurate prediction if the underlying theory is true! The models don’t prove anything, they just show the effects if the theory is true.

    Its more “begging the question”.

    ferinstance: I can come up with a highly accurate model to predict the effects of a giant radioactive lizard attack on a city, but that doesn’t prove the existence of giant radioactive lizards….

  24. Ophi,

    “I don’t care about whether humans are godlike. I just look at the science. We have affected the earth, and our impact is growing.”

    So you assert that humans’ impact on the earth is greater than the sun’s? And you assert that human actions can neutralize the effect of the sun?

    On another site I read the following exchange: Q” If human activity is causing Global Warming (etc) what is causing Global Warming on Mars? A: ” I don’t live on Mars!”

    Comment: What an on point response!

  25. So you assert that humans’ impact on the earth is greater than the sun’s?

    Wow, there’s a real non-sequitur. How do you get from:

    A. “Humans affect the earth.”

    To:

    B. “Human’s impact on the earth is greater than the sun’s.”

    ???

    Similarly, how do you get to:

    “human actions can neutralize the effect of the sun?”

    I certainly never said anything remotely like any of these things.

    On another site I read the following exchange: Q” If human activity is causing Global Warming (etc) what is causing Global Warming on Mars? A: ” I don’t live on Mars!

    Perhaps it would be more appropriate to discuss that comment over there than over here.

  26. Fine, then we agree: humans do not affect the Earth.

  27. I just look at the science

    Almost as if science was either omniscient or omnipotent. Not in this universe.

    We have affected the earth, and our impact is growing.

    That or you have passed the point of no return on the science: eventually getting close and closer to the cliff.

  28. The law of unintended consequences also applies here. Whatever that advocates want humanity to do to change the way we affect the earth, it will only result in further changes and harm. It is tne Endless Cycle. Very good for con artists and marketing/investment groups, but not so good for humanty as a whole.

  29. I stand by my statement: there is no model that can accurately predict what our climate will look like well into the future

    models are only as good as the assumptions and variables that went into the model. Even then, the model is not guaranteed to be able to figure out the relationships between known variables.

    There are always unknown variables in science, as undertaken by scientists. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle applies to weather models quite well.

  30. Nobody has ever been there, nobody has ever measured anything below the surface of any star, and in fact there is only one star in the entire universe that we can see as more than a pinpoint of light. Yet astronomers have produced models of stellar interiors that are astoundingly accurate in their predictions of what we can see.

    In this model, you are using observations to predict observations. It is a one to one relationship.

    The proper analogy to weather models used by the Global Warming Church of Ryback is using data from other stars in order to tinker with the life cycle of our star. If things go Nova, who can we blame?

  31. Ellie writes:

    Fine, then we agree: humans do not affect the Earth.

    I’m sorry, Ellie, but this is so irrational a conclusion that there’s no rational response to it. I’m not demanding that you be rational; I’m just saying that I cannot respond rationally to irrational statements. I didn’t come here to toss around random thoughts, but to discuss issues rationally with people with whom I disagree. I hope that you are one of those people.

    ymarsakar, I am in much the same position with you as I am with Ellie. You talk about the science but you still refuse to discuss the science as presented in the IPCC report. I do not require you to read the IPCC report, but if you want to discuss the science of climate change, the IPCC report is the best document available to us. If you’re prefer to discuss something else, that’s fine with me, but I can’t discuss the science with you if you refuse to discuss the science. And what science you do mention is inapropos. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle has no significant role to play in any climate model.

  32. All,
    I just want to weigh in a little bit on this issue, then I will depart.
    The U.S. has an efficient and safe model for nuclear power; this system could be harnessed to provide electrical power sufficient to replace petroleum-based fuel needs for transport in an approximately 20-25 year period if the permits for the plants would be approved (I don’t have the study; it was done by a friend at the University of Missouri a couple years ago, using the Callaway Nuclear Plant as a baseline reactor for safety/output). The plan also dealt with nuclear waste re-use, purification, and disposal.
    Both plans were rejected wholesale because of the environmental impact, even though the heat/waste footprint of the system would be smaller than current vehicle systems for replacement and the by-product disposal from petroleum refining.
    The current refining capacity in the U.S. is at least one generation old; the people screaming about environmental impact won’t allow new, cleaner, and environmentally safer plants to be built. I would prefer to see them further inland, eliminating the hurricane-season fuel bump.
    The “greens” are currently the primary contributors to the death of the environment. I can’t buy solar-collecting roofing materials for a similar cost to asphalt shingles that actually have similar (within 12%) production costs. Why? Because the solar shingles aren’t produced in an “eco-friendly” manner and contain dangerous chemicals. As if the asphalt shingles were not made from industrial petroleum waste.
    A friend had to pay $5K for a wind generator permit in a rural area that has a university in the same county. It was a penalty for “contributing to the destruction” of the “aesthetic” natural beauty of the area. He figures it added about ten years to the payoff for going to green energy. The reason for the $5K permit? The local Sierra Club and the Greens convinced the conservation department that wind generators would kill local wildfowl and damage pollinization patterns in the state.
    Many of the people weighing in on the climate change/global warming situation are unwilling to deal with the necessary steps to alleviate the situation in an economically sustainable fashion. As with my friend’s study on elecrification of motor travel in the U.S., the people demanding the conversion are preventing the necessary infrastructure from being put in place. Until electrical power is sufficiently plentiful and inexpensive those carbon-belching vehicles will remain on the road. Sorry, that’s life. You have to choose one or the other; people will not change unless there is an incentive, even very disciplined people have problems taking a position that does not return on the investment of time or treasure.
    I am tired of people claiming global warming as the danger of not changing our ways – this argument has become the cop-out of individuals unable to provide a reasonable, cogent, and AFFORDABLE solution to the energy crisis. The biggest problem is that we have most of the tools needed; it remains politically and socially unacceptable to use them. Nuclear power, re-processing plants, and simple NiCad recovery plants could, in approximately 20 years, allow us to replace all the petroleum-based vehicles (except for collector/antique vehicles) if we would be willing to build the infrastructure. However, NiCad recovery deals with dangerous chemicals, so the greens do not want it built (despite safeguards that are better than required). Nuclear plants are “bad”. ‘Nuff said. Nuclear reprocessing plants deal with nuclear stuff. Again, despite proof of safety in face of all except the most extreme circumstances (a nuclear explosion or 747 crashing into the building) the plans are safe. And yes, I did mean to invoke that image regarding safety; there is nothing that is impenetrable or indestructable.
    We need to get past the past of protesting progress. (Wow, that was alliterative!)
    Time to move forward; I hope to see the first electric HMMWV’s in service before I retire; I hope electric Bradley/Striker/Abrams are not far behind. Silent tanks make this old soldier smile a very, very evil smile.
    Time to end the rant; be well.
    SGT Dave
    “Way too much time on my hands in the Balkans.”

  33. SGT Dave, I agree with you that nuclear power is a major avenue to exploit. However, I will take you to task for your conspiracy theory approach to the problem. You write that both of your friend’s proposals “were rejected wholesale because of the environmental impact”. WHO rejected the proposals? Was it “them” — those evildoers lurking in the shadows bent upon the destruction of the human race? Of course not. Whoever did the rejecting, they were real people who had reasons, not part of some international conspiracy. What were those reasons? You state that they were environmental, almost as if any environmental objection is perforce nonsense. Perhaps they were very good reasons. We can’t know without evaluating both the proposals and the objections. I will point out, however, that nuclear power plants are not verboten in this country. The regulatory environment has softened. The primary resistance now is coming from the utility companies, which are reluctant to take the risks involved because they don’t trust the political environment. That’s the problem we need to address.

    I think you’re being unfair when you blame “the greens” and the Sierra Club for our environmental problems. They don’t control this country — the government does. They have influence, and so do many other factions. Surely you won’t claim that, in the money-driven political regime we have today, the greens have greater political clout than industry. If you have criticisms to make of policy decisions, then let’s zero in on the specifics. But these vague accusations with their conspiracy theory overtones just don’t impress me.

    On some specifics: what are solar shingles? Are you referring to photovoltaic systems?

    The $5K permit for the windmill — remember, the decision was made by the county, not the Sierra Club. It appears that there was some sort of deliberative process in which various parties were permitted to present their cases, and the result of that deliberative process was a decision unfavorable to the windmill owner. Do you object to the deliberative process? Do you believe that he didn’t get a fair hearing? If so, then there’s a case to argue. But if you have no objections to the deliberative process, how can you object to its result?

    Many of the people weighing in on the climate change/global warming situation are unwilling to deal with the necessary steps to alleviate the situation in an economically sustainable fashion.

    Let’s not get carried away. You’re speculating about the internal thought processes of others. That’s fair if you have a solid logical basis for doing so, but I don’t see that solid logical basis. Moreover, it’s a “lumping” argument: you’re lumping together a whole bunch of people into one homogeneous group. I’ll agree that there are plenty of idiots in the environmental movement. There are also plenty of idiots opposed to the environmental movement. So do you want to spend your time arguing about idiots, or getting to the meat of the issues?

    I am tired of people claiming global warming as the danger of not changing our ways – this argument has become the cop-out of individuals unable to provide a reasonable, cogent, and AFFORDABLE solution to the energy crisis

    So are you asserting that there is no danger?

    Oh, and I searched for those papers you recommended but they are all “pay to read” — at least the ones I found. They look very interesting but I’m too cheap.

  34. You’re being a bit disingenuous there, Ophi. The Sierra Club and other greens may not make the rules directly, but they have set an agenda that others are blindly following. They are organized groups with coherent messages, and until they change their tone, various civic and political groups will look to them for guidance in making these decisions.

  35. “Melting glaciers in Western Canada are revealing tree stumps up to 7,000 years old where the region’s rivers of ice have retreated to a historic minimum, a geologist said today.”

    What you couldn’t see in that statement, Ophi, is that obviously the trees were thriving there before the ice retreated to its “historic minimum”. It’s a perfect example of how global warmenists and other acolytes of Gaia selective parse information to build their case. Just as in Greenland, they focus on those glaciers that are retreating rather than those that are expanding, or on an Arctic ice cap that is shrinking rather than an Antarctic ice cap that is today at its largest recorded size. It’s a bit like the story about the three blind men and the elephant.

    Ellie’s point about the sun, by the way, refers to my earlier point about the principle of “Occam’s Razor”. Have you looked that up, yet?

  36. Bookworm, I don’t disagree with you that the Sierra Club is a pressure group — but there are lots of pressure groups out there. I don’t blame the oil industry when Congress passes some law favorable to the oil industry — I blame Congress. Similarly, if SGT Dave has a complaint about a governmental decision, he shouldn’t blame the victorious partisans, he should blame the government. And perhaps, just perhaps, the government’s decision in any particular case involved more than just the arguments made by the Sierra Club. Let’s evaluate each case on its own merits rather than engage in broad-brush condemnations.

    Danny, I now understand why you thought there was something odd about that paragraph — it appears that you are unaware of recent climate history. The last Ice Age started to end about 15,000 years ago. There was a slow warming until roughly 10,000 years ago (my numbers may be off by a bit, I’m going from memory). Then there was a sudden cooling called the Younger Dryas period. There’s lots of fascinating debate about what caused the Younger Dryas — a new thesis involving a small comet strike somewhere in North America has been presented that certainly looks interesting. Anyway, when the Younger Dryas ended about 8,000 years ago, there was a warm phase which would perfectly explain the tree stumps in Western Canada. And the fact that it subsequently got colder in that region is no particular surprise. Thus, there’s nothing surprising or contradictory in that story, no selective parsing, no deception — just scientific complexity that can easily confuse non-scientists.

    Just as in Greenland, they focus on those glaciers that are retreating rather than those that are expanding,

    I don’t know who “they” are (perhaps they’re hiding under your bed?) but the scientific studies I have seen on the Greenland ice sheet take into account both increases and decreases. Like a bank account, you can be making deposits and withdrawals, but the question is whether the deposits exceed the withdrawals. In the case of the Greenland ice sheet, the withdrawals exceed the deposits. Here’s something from the IPCC executive summary:

    New data since the TAR now show that losses from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have very likely contributed to sea level rise over 1993 to 2003 (see Table SPM-1). Flow speed has increased for some Greenland and Antarctic outlet glaciers, which drain ice from the interior of the ice sheets. The corresponding increased ice sheet mass loss has often followed thinning, reduction or loss of ice shelves or loss of floating glacier tongues. Such dynamical ice loss is sufficient to explain most of the Antarctic net mass loss and approximately half of the Greenland net mass loss. The remainder of the ice loss from Greenland has occurred because losses due to melting have exceeded accumulation due to snowfall.

    Yes, Danny, I am quite aware of Occam’s Razor. I didn’t understand your reference to it because you misapplied it. Occam’s Razor is really a one-sided version of the more complex ideas subsequently developed in probability theory, such as Bayesian reasoning. It’s basic concept is that, in choosing between two competing hypotheses, we give preference to the hypothesis that requires fewer special assumptions. It is difficult to apply when it is not possible to establish which assumptions are simpler. I’m guessing here as to your thought process, but my hunch is that both you and Ellen were engaging in black-and-white thinking, assuming that the sun is the only factor influencing the earth’s temperature. The earth’s temperature is affected by a great many factors, with the sun’s being the far and away the most important factor. However, you have to think about this arithmetically, not in boolean terms. The equation for the earth’s temperature is most emphatically NOT this:

    Earth’s temperature = Solar radiation * proportionality constant

    It is more like this:

    Earth’s temperature = A + B + C + D…

    Where A is the solar radiation component, B is the blackbody radiation formula, C is the greenhouse effect, and so on. Now, suppose that A and B are constant but C is increasing. What happens to the Earth’s temperature? It increases. Now, here’s the point where you could conceivably apply Occam’s Razor. If you didn’t know anything about the values of A, B, C, D, and so on, and you noticed that the Earth’s temperature increased, then Occam’s Razor could correctly be used to infer that A increased. But this applies only in the case when you have no data about A, B, C, and so forth. The fact is, we have mountains of data on all the primary terms in the formula. We have been measuring the solar constant (how much radiation the sun emits) since the 1970s, and we have decent proxies for the time before that. Guess what? The data clearly show that changes in the solar constant don’t come anywhere near close enough to explain the increase in earth’s temperature. We also know that the blackbody radiation law hasn’t changed. Which brings us to our third term: the greenhouse effect. Guess what? We have measured the greenhouse gases, and the CO2 component has definitely increased, and it has increased by an amount sufficient to explain the increase in temperature. Ergo, we infer that the CO2 component is the most likely cause of the problem.

    Now, this is merely a preliminary evaluation. To be sure, we have to examine all the other terms D, E, F… and so forth. And that’s what all the research has been about. And what all the research has established is that none of those terms can explain the increase in temperature as well as the C term (greenhouse gases).

  37. Argghh!! I misspelled the possessive neuter pronoun:

    “It’s basic concept is that”

    I am covered in shame!

    And while I’m micro-editing, I’d like to replace

    ” just scientific complexity that can easily confuse non-scientists.”

    with

    ” just scientific complexity that can easily confuse those unfamiliar with the details.”

  38. Ophi,
    Sorry about the pay pages; a good chunk of the FMSO items should be available for free, if not all of them. I access via government NiPR most of the time, so I don’t deal with many of the firewalls/permissions.
    I do not assert that there is no danger from climactic change; rather, that the current science is not sufficient to forecast and far too much is being spent on advertising the possible problems rather than formalizing, analysing, and creating solutions for the problem that will not wreck society.
    Yes, the solar shingles are a rooftop photo-voltaic system made for installation in place of standard shingles on residential homes. The hazardous materials fees levied on the production company are outrageous ( I read the prospectus in preparation for an investment).
    As to the Sierra Club my friend ran into; the action was not taken via the county commission or planning board. The action for the “permit” cost was driven by a group of SC individuals belonging to the conservation department with jurisdiction on the area. The permit cost was not remitted to the county, but to the conservation department. There was no impact investigation, just a single memo under letterhead that resulted in the permit fee.
    And while I am glad the greens and SC are not in control, their actions (re the expansion of the Iatan coal fired plant and protests at the King of Callaway project) directly cost the state of Missouri over 5 MILLION dollars in court costs, appeals, and fees. That, my friend, is money out of my pocket. The Iatan plant (soon to be plural) are among the cleanest in the nation, producing less than half carbon per Kw/h than the next plant design. Not to mention the amount of money UE and the electrical co-op I hold interest in would have made over the past 12 years from a completed plant. (It would have been able to cover the shortfalls caused by ENRON in California during that time period by a factor of two).
    I dislike lumping, but often have to use a blunt spoon to cover the bases. When I write for publication or formal analysis papers I tend to have more of a scalpel (along with all my references!).
    In any case, thank you for pointing out my weak points on arguments. I enjoy the exercise for that all-too-easily atrophied muscle, the brain.
    SGT Dave
    “Death is light as a feather; Duty heavier than lead.”

  39. However, I will take you to task for your conspiracy theory approach to the problem. ,/b>-Op to Dave

    I’m sorry, Ellie, but this is so irrational a conclusion that there’s no rational response to it. I’m not demanding that you be rational; I’m just saying that I cannot respond rationally to irrational statements.-Op

    Assuming the worse of your opponents in order to put their arguments in the worst possible light is a very interesting method to defend a position.

    ymarsakar, I am in much the same position with you as I am with Ellie. You talk about the science but you still refuse to discuss the science as presented in the IPCC report.

    Since when did I talk about the “science”? I don’t use informal logic, which is the domain of science. I use deductive logic, which is properly of a more philosophical orientation than scientific.

    It is comparing nuclear weapons and a match. The purpose of informal logic is not to disagree with formal logic or vice a versa, nor can one set of logic be used to “disprove” the other. Deductive logic has little to no use concerning whether science is accurate or not. It just so happens that the vice a versa is true as well.

    Since deductive logic is far more accurate in terms of predicting long termed trends, I favor it as opposed to inductive logic, which is what science uses primarily. Except in the case of pure theoretical mathematics of course.

    I do not require you to read the IPCC report, but if you want to discuss the science of climate change

    My position is the same as Bookworm’s. The “science” of Climate Change doesn’t matter at all. It could be accurate or it could be inaccurate; it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is the politics of Climate Change, because that controls people’s lives.

    but I can’t discuss the science with you if you refuse to discuss the science.

    You have plenty of people to discuss the “science” with. Why do you need me, unless you somehow feel that the science provides you a better terrain from which to argue? Do I then allow my opponent to select the terrain on which we will battle? I don’t think so: not recommended, by Sun Tzu or Clausewitz.

    Arguing the deductive logic I have used, Op, would save you much on time, given your other discussions on this thread.

    The biggest problem is that we have most of the tools needed; it remains politically and socially unacceptable to use them. -Dave

    My analysis, Dave, is that politically it is far better to create a problem than to solve that problem ASAP, when you have the means to solve the problem kept as a secret. Then, you can tout up the dire danger and then position yourself as the man or woman to save the people. Coincidentally, from a problem that you prevented the solution to from being known or used.

    those evildoers lurking in the shadows bent upon the destruction of the human race?-Op

    I’m not exactly sure why anyone would think SGT Dave to be hysterical or conspiracy minded, or anything of that sort mentally speaking. It is just bad intel analysis, specifically psyche profile analysis.

    You’re being a bit disingenuous there, Ophi.-Book

    Moderate and polite as always, Book.

    When I write for publication or formal analysis papers I tend to have more of a scalpel (along with all my references!).-D

    I prefer the synopsis over the specific scalpel references. A good analysis of the conclusions is far more efficient than the various discontinuous pieces of data floating around. The problem is finding good analysts, in my view. The best information in the world, in the hands of a bad user, is nothing but junk data.

    “Death is light as a feather; Duty heavier than lead.”

    Where’s the science in that, Dave? ; )

  40. SGT Dave, on the matter of the reliability of predictions of the future: read the IPCC reports and tell me where you think their predictions are unjustified. Let’s not go on gut instinct. We can accurately predict things like eclipses thousands of years into the future; climatology is not as easy but the temporal extent of a prediction is not a measure of its unreliability.

    On the matter of hazardous materials fees: were the fees levied against the manufacturer commensurate with similar fees levied on other manufacturers? If not, then there’s a legal case to prosecute. If so, then what is there to complain about?

    In like fashion, I believe that, in most counties, any unique fee can be appealed all the way to the board of supervisors. If the fee required of your friend was in any way inordinate, he would have had a good case for an appeal. If it was normal and commensurate with similar projects, then again, what basis for complaint is there?

    I don’t know anything about the coal plant case you cite, so I have nothing specific to comment on. However, I will note that litigation costs can SOMETIMES be justified if those litigation costs are considerably less than the potential economic losses associated with the operation of the plant. In other words, if Joe wants to build a factory and that factory MIGHT have a problem which could lead to economic losses to the community amounting to, say, $10 million, then I think it appropriate to spend as much as $1 million in litigation fees to explore that danger. Remember, too, that legal costs are seldom highly asymmetric. If the State of Missouri had to pay $5 million to get the project through the courts, somebody else had to pay (most probably) $5 million to push it through the courts. And if somebody else was willing to spend $5 million to oppose the plant, then there was clearly some rational basis for an objection. There’s plenty of room for disagreement on complex issues like this, and sometimes we just have to thrash it out in court. And if — IF — the legal action obviates a danger that could have cost the citizens of the state more than $5 million, then it was money well spent.

    I hasten to add that I am not defending the Sierra Club. I feel that they go too far in many cases. I am particularly displeased with their official opposition to nuclear power, which I believe to be wrong. In my neck of the woods, the Sierra Club has been instrumental in reducing logging on public lands, which in most (but not all) cases has been a good thing. If you fly over Oregon, you can easily distinguish the public lands (forested) from the private lands (stripped and bare).

  41. OK Opi-Snake, what is your idea of the effect of the Sun on global warming — on our globe and all others in our solar system?

    If you postulate that the sun is causing global warming, what is the remedy (if in fact warming is bad)?

  42. Once again WordPress is getting snippy, so once again I must present my post in pieces. Here’s part 1:

    Ellen, you misunderstand what I wrote. I am not saying that the sun is causing global warming. Solar radiation is the first factor that enters into any calculation of the earth’s temperature. But if the solar radiation is constant, then the earth’s temperature should be constant. The fact that the earth’s temperature is increasing when the solar radiation is constant indicates that something else is causing the increase in temperature. That something else is very likely to be the increase in greenhouse gases.

  43. Part 2:

    Now, the previous paragraph involves some simplifications, so just to cover my rear end, I’m going to present a more thorough explanation. The solar radiation reaching the earth is about 1300 watts per square meter. If you treat the earth as a perfect blackbody at equilibrium, then it must be radiating away the same amount of energy as it is receiving from the sun — otherwise the earth would just get hotter and hotter indefinitely. A black body radiates energy according to the Stefan-Boltzmann formula:

  44. Part 3:

    F = sigma * (T**4)

    where F is the power released per unit area, sigma is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, and T is the absolute temperature. Hence, if the incoming solar radiation were to increase by, say, 1%, then the earth’s temperature would increase by approximately 0.25% (one quarter as much).

    This is what we call a first order model. It’s the model based on the simplest level of analysis. We go to the second order by taking into account the albedo (reflectivity) of the earth. We go to third order by taking into account different albedos at different wavelengths — the greenhouse effect. From there, the following steps involve taking into account the facts that the earth does not have infinite thermal conductivity, the atmosphere and oceans can carry heat in different ways, the earth is rotating, thermal transport through water vapor, and so on and on and on into ever more minute considerations. But here’s the key point: the greenhouse effect is definitely “high order” — it comes into play at an early stage of any calculation and is therefore considered to be more important than lower order factors. Of course, the sun is the very highest order factor, and that dominates all considerations. But as I wrote earlier, we have good measurements of the solar constant, and it just hasn’t changed by enough to be the cause of the increases in temperature that we have observed. Moreover, we have corroborating in the form of temperature distributions in the oceans. If the increase in temperature were due to increased solar radiation, then we would expect to see the temperatures in the ocean to decrease as you go deeper according to a certain pattern. But the pattern that we see is in fact characteristic of greenhouse factors, not solar radiation.

  45. Part 4:

    I’m sorry to dump all this scientific jargon on you, but I want you guys to realize that this science is not something that is just slapped together on a Saturday afternoon. What we know about global warming is based on decades of work from tens of thousands of scientists gathering enormous amounts of data about a highly complex phenomenon. There’s plenty of room for argument about many of the details, but the criticisms I usually read about this science are rather like first graders trashing Shakespeare — when they’ve never even read Shakespeare!😉

    To answer your question about what the remedy is, I can say this: clearly, we need to start reducing our carbon emissions. We also have to start spending money on protection against the now-inevitable effects of climate change. We’ll have to spend more money on seawalls, irrigation systems, water systems, and a variety of other things. Precisely how we do it, how much money we spend, and what we spend it on are political decisions, not scientific ones, and these must be made by political deliberations, not scientific ones. The scientists can only tell us what the effects of our actions will be. We must decide what actions to take.

  46. Ophi, solar radiation isn’t constant.

  47. Danny, you’re correct that solar radiation isn’t constant — but what do you mean by “constant”? Never changes by more than 0.000000000000001% per microsecond? Never changes by more than 50% per megayear? Never changes by one photon per 10**-77 seconds? Is your mass constant? Is the speed of a photon constant? IS ANYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE CONSTANT????

    If you want to be picayune, the technical answer is no, everything is changing. But if you want to be pragmatic, you worry about whether the inconstancy has any effect on the problem you’re tackling. And for the question of solar radiation and its effect on earth’s climate, the answer is in the IPCC report which apparently you still haven’t read.

  48. By the way, using secret information available to me, I can tell you that Ophi does have a solid scientific background, so he’s not making up the tech talk. I leave it to others to determine whether they agree with the conclusions he draws from the data. I’m not of a scientific turn myself, which may be why I have such deep disdain for the media and Hollywood types who presume to pronounce on these things — they know no better than I do.

  49. Actually, good point Ophi…I have read only excerpts of the IPCC.

    I believe that where you and I part company is as follows: for you, a scientist, the computer models and the IPCC represent objective reality. I come from a different branch of the sciences – the life sciences – where the only certitude about such “objective models” is that they eventually break down (the exceptions make the rule) to give way to “new and improved” models, which in their own turn, break down in time.

    Consequently, based upon my own experience, I lack your faith in the ability of humans to accurately model enormously complex (dare I say “chaotic”) systems. The IPCC, by its own admission, has had to amend its models several times already. That beings said, I greatly appreciate that your arguments have been thoughtful, well-documented and articulate, albeit somewhat lacking in intellectual humility.

    Only time will tell which (if any) of us will prevail in identifying the objective truths in this specific debate on global warming. It is a monumentally important discussion, because in my view and that of many others, the proposed remedies will be enormously costly and harmful to real human real human beings in real life…and more-than likely ineffectual. The people that will pay the greatest price will not be people like me and thee that live within the rarefied atmospheres of modern economic society but, rather, the weakest and most helpless societies in the world (I channel Bjorn Lomborg, again).

    Nonetheless, you have very eloquently convinced me that I really should read the IPCC report in its entirety, and for that I thank you. You might want to follow-up on the links that we sent you as well. We’ll all be better off for it.

  50. Umm…and if I may, Ophi, just one last question: just what did happen to the famed “hockey stick” effect that graced earlier versions of the IPCC report? Just wondering, is all.

  51. Danny, it is fundamental to all science — including the physical sciences — that we deal in models, not objective reality. The models are only an approximation of reality. We seek not to establish The Final and Ultimate Truth of Reality — that is hubris. We seek instead to produce models of reality that yield useful results. We still haven’t figured out all the details of dynamics (the forces that influence the motions of objects), but what we have figured out is good enough to send a vehicle to orbit Saturn. Now, climatology is a much more difficult problem than dynamics, but the models are capable of yielding useful results. How accurate are they? One of the best indicators is their consistency. Take the mean and standard deviation of the predicted temperatures from lots of models and you have a pretty good idea of the future temperature. The problem is that the standard deviation is still pretty high. That’s why the IPCC report gives so many confidence intervals — those confidence intervals are a numeric measure of the utility of the numbers.

    BTW, the IPCC doesn’t have models of its own. There are several dozen models being built by different research groups. The IPCC simply presents the results of those different models. And yes, the models are always undergoing revision as the research groups seek to improve their performance. That’s what science is all about — steadily improving your models.

    As to the hockey stick, there’s an excellent explanation of the confusion regarding that concept at RealClimate.org, but WordPress won’t let me include the link. The IPCC doesn’t use that term in its reports because it’s “unscientific”. But in fact the IPCC report presents the concept quite clearly. For example, look at Figures SPM-3 and SPM-4 in the Executive Summary. Those graphs sure look just like a hockey stick, don’t they?

    Lastly, I’d like to offer a thought on the matter of intellectual humility. Where there is good reason for confidence in the results, the assertion of that confidence is not indicative of a lack of intellectual humility. True intellectual humility is a recognition of genuine uncertainty. You perceive uncertainties that I do not perceive. So, how do we determine the nature and magnitude of the different uncertainties? Answer: we study the research results (most conveniently presented in the IPCC reports).

  52. This is why people can argue the science all they want, but it still won’t give them any answers to the practical question of what the policies should be. Policies have to deal with humans, not solar particles and changes in the solar system.

    It isn’t a far leap to go from thinking that mankind can change the temperature of the earth (let alone Mars, we won’t even mention that) to thinking that humanity has ultimate power over global, system wide, or universal situations.

    The problem provides its own answer. Even if greenhouse gases are being increased by human activity, what can anyone do about it without running over humans, literally? And if greenhouse gases are not being affected or increased by human activity, then you also run into the problem of dealing with humans that want to change the environment.

    Either way, somebody is going to get run down while the earth watches the antics.

  53. It has been more than 30 years since I studied the history of science (in pursuit of a degree in Philosophy) so I forget was it Collingwood or Whitehead that said “scientists” never change their worldview (“paradigm”) — it dies with them and the new orthodoxy begins with the next generation?

    Science itself, no matter its claims, is more faith-based than any “Religion.” And far less tolerant of dissenters than the Spanish Inquisition.

  54. Ellie, your statement is reprehensible. You have no rational basis on which to make it — it’s just pure prejudice. You could just as well have used “blacks”, “homosexuals”, “Irish”, or “Baptists” in that statement.

    Please, let’s raise the standard of discussion above that kind of hateful talk.

  55. Sorry, Ophi – I’m with Ellie on this one, even if tongue-in-cheek! She offers a legitimate criticism of scientific orthodoxy, of which we have seen much over the ages (Galileo’s critics, Lysenko, eugenics, etc.). I agree that there are many good scientists remain open-minded and not overly invested in their own theories. However, there are far too many (more, perhaps?) that are not this way.

    Besides, being a “scientist” is neither a religious faith (or is it?) nor is it an accident of birth, so it should be amenable to criticism as any other philosophy or “lifestyle choice”, shouldn’t it? Don’t be so sensitive!🙂

  56. You know not of what you speak — neither of you. Let’s walk through your cases, shall we?

    Galileo wasn’t persecuted by other scientists, he was persecuted by the Church. He was well-regarded by the intellectuals of Northern Europe.

    Lysenko was never accepted by scientists — he was regarded as a laughingstock. His patron was Stalin, and that’s all that mattered in the Soviet Union.

    Eugenics was a racist movement that had a couple of scientists behind it. It was never scientific orthodoxy.

    So, you’re batting zero for three. You write “there are far too many (more, perhaps?) that are not this way [open-minded].” OK, if there are so many, name five respectable scientists, and explain why you think that they are not open-minded.

    Besides, being a “scientist” is neither a religious faith (or is it?) nor is it an accident of birth, so it should be amenable to criticism as any other philosophy or “lifestyle choice”, shouldn’t it?

    OK, then I’m sure you have no objection to any of these statements:

    “Far too many lawyers are venal shysters.”
    “Far too many preachers are hypocritical sinners.”
    “Far too many Republicans hate the poor.”
    “Far too many Democrats hate America.”
    “Far too many housewives are featherheads.”
    “Far too many househusbands are emasculated wimps.”
    “Far too many male hairdressers are gay.”
    “Far too many blacks are criminals.”
    “Far too many Republican Senators are secret gays.”
    “Far too many radio talk show hosts abuse drugs.”

    This is the kind of thinking your endorse? I think you’re practicing base prejudice. I am a rationalist; I denounce such thinking.

  57. Wow, Ophi…you certainly are sensitive. I gave you a few examples in jest. You’re proving my point that too many scientists take themselves way too seriously. Chill out!

    With regard to just one example: Instead of relying on Berthold Brecht’s version of events with Galileo, you might want to delve more into the real history. Galileo upset the (intensely jealous) scientific establishment of that time over a number of things. Academia, at the time, was mostly affiliated with the Church universities. Many academics were priests. Galileo was actually on very good terms with Pope Urban VIII, who tried to protect him and allowed him to publish his Copernican findings, as long as they were termed “theoretical”. However, Galileo made the mistake of publicly embarrassing the Pope, which caused the Pope to withdraw his protection of Galileo from his academic enemies.

    As far as your laundry list is concerned, let’s consider the facts:

    1) “Far too many blacks are criminals.” Hmm – as opposed to “just about the right amount” or “not enough”?

    2) “Far too many Republicans hate the poor”. I think that you either meant “poverty” or you meant “Democrats”. Republicans want the poor to be self-empowered to help themselves and life themselves. Democrats want the poor to stay poor and compliant. As evidence, I place Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and the destruction of African-American families by the welfare state on the table.

    3) Far to many Democrats hate America. And…?

  58. Danny, Ellie’s remarks were certainly not offered in jest. I can take a joke, and I’ve been known to crack a few of my own. But you’re defending a mean-spirited condemnation of an entire class of people offered only because you and Ellie don’t like the political implications of the work these people do. I have zero tolerance for such intellectual dishonesty. If you don’t like the politics, argue the politics. Denying the science is dishonest, and attacking the scientists is reprehensible.

  59. Honing in on just one of Danny’s points — professional jealousy.

    Danny is absolutely right about that one. Usually institutions, whether they be the government or the church, don’t have the specialized knowledge to understand or care about what’s going on in the scientific community. It is the business rivals or know and care deeply. On a very small scale, I worked on a case where our client had figured out a way, a very effective way, to defeat a disease that is killing oak trees. The local government went after him and destroyed him. But the reason the local government did so was because his competitors initiated his destruction — they figured out the regulation he could be said to have violated and created a case around that regulation against him. They then presented the case, signed, sealed and delivered, to the local government, along with some campaign donations, and that was the end of our client.

    To the objective observer, it was a case of government regulations destroying someone with a different scientific idea. To those in the know, though, it was a case of business sabotage, pure and simple.

  60. The argument that Danny makes in reference to professional jealousy is way off the mark. By Galileo’s time, the Renaissance was long over and Italy was an intellectual backwater, largely because of the stultifying effects of the CounterReformation. The Italian universities had been eclipsed by those in northern (Protestant) Europe. The academics at the Italian universities were chosen because of their Catholic orthodoxy. To compare that group of academics with modern scientists is absurd. The real scientific action was taking place elsewhere.

    Still, the modern scientific community has its jealousies, rivalries, and silliness. There was an excellent study recently on in-groups versus out-groups in small specialties, and it demonstrated some enforcement of orthodoxy in such small specialties. However, we’re talking about climate change science, which is being pursued by tens of thousands of scientists. Condemning this group is ignorant, ugly, and devoid of intellectual integrity.

  61. I am not sure if your point on Galileo supports or counters my contentions regarding who did Galileo in and why. It reads as a non sequitur. While the northern universities were thriving, Italy certainly wasn’t an intellectual backwater if it was generating and supporting people like Galileo, even if he was relatively old at the time.

    However, Ophi, in bringing this to a close, I can’t help but have detected on your part a very clear diminishing and condemnation of the many credentialed and respected scientists who have opposed Climate Change orthodoxy. What’s good for the goose…

    http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p37.htm

    Cheers.

  62. My point, Danny, is that Galileo was NOT oppressed by the scientific community. He was oppressed by the Church which had blocked the development of science in Italy by putting people into academic positions based on their religious orthodoxy, not by their academic merits. The other academics who participated in the abuse of Galileo were by no stretch of the imagination scientists — they were the same kind of people that Stalin put into place in his universities, and who embraced Lysenkoism.

    Yes, Galileo was an exception to the rule — but Galileo was one of the great geniuses of Western Civilization. Lightning can strike anywhere.

    I can’t help but have detected on your part a very clear diminishing and condemnation of the many credentialed and respected scientists who have opposed Climate Change orthodoxy.

    Not at all. Whatever makes you write that? Please provide a quote from my writings in which I disparage credentialed scientists who oppose the mainstream on this. Indeed, I was the one who linked to ClimateAudit, a blog that presents contrarian arguments.

    That link you present — it appears you have been taken in by a fraud. All those people who signed the petition — did you bother to check them out? A few years back I selected one letter of the alphabet and went through the first 100 names in that list. Many of the names I could not track down. However, of those whom I was able to identify, there was only one credentialed and reputable scientist — and his last publication was on some species of insect in the Amazon rainforest 25 years ago. Among the others, I found a manager of an oil facility in Alaska, his wife, a state legislator in Alaska, a forestry guy, and a number of other non-credentialed people. You call yourself a skeptic but you fall for the most obvious of frauds. You can find a detailed discussion the paper these guys wrote here.

    It’s obvious that I have gotten a little hot under the collar about this. I don’t mind explaining the science to people who are willing to consider the facts. But I do not enjoy butting heads with people who simply refuse to consider the issues in an open-minded way. And I get especially angry when people start attacking scientists for utterly fallacious reasons. I think I have stayed within the bounds of civil behavior, but if you think I have crossed those bounds, I apologize.

  63. Wow, Ophi…you certainly are sensitive. -D

    Watch out, Op might put you two on the list, if you folks keep bringing up objections. Simply agree, or simply play on his pre-chosen field, and things will be a okay.

    He was oppressed by the Church which had blocked the development of science in Italy by putting people into academic positions based on their religious orthodoxy,-Op

    Without a clear understanding of why humans behave the way they it do, it patently does not matter whether someone thinks it was the Church or some other institution; that person would be wrong on both accounts.

    Yes, Galileo was an exception to the rule — but Galileo was one of the great geniuses of Western Civilization.

    I don’t know where people pick up this scientific dogma. Real historians are required to look at people as they lived, not as modern biases would wish them to be.

    The censure of the astronomer Galileo (1564-1642) in 1616 and 1633 may be the most notorious and famous Catholic error ever made, and the favorite (myth-filled) tale of those who believe religion and science are inexorably opposed. Catholic dogma had never enshrined geocentrism, and Galileo (a faithful Catholic) had been supported by many notable churchmen, including three popes. Indeed, his biographer Giorgio de Santillana stated that “It has been known for a long time that a major part of the church intellectuals were on the side of Galileo, while the clearest opposition to him came from secular ideas” (The Crime of Galileo, University of Chicago Press, 1955, xii-xiii). But the scientist (though basically correct) was overconfident and quite obstinate in proclaiming his scientific theory as absolute truth, and this was a major concern. Accordingly, St. Robert Bellarmine, who was directly involved in the controversy, made it clear that heliocentrism was not irreversibly condemned, and also that a not-yet proven theory was not an unassailable fact. Bellarmine actually had the superior understanding of the nature of a scientific hypothesis. Galileo was scientifically fallible, too. He held that the entire universe revolved around the sun in circular (not elliptical) orbits, and that tides were caused by the rotation of the earth. True heliocentrism wasn’t conclusively proven until some 200 years later. Pope John Paul II apologized for the Church’s mistake, but the Holy Office had done so in 1825, and Galileo’s written works were permitted in 1741.

    Minor facts, even if re-interpreted over and over, still have limitations on what truth may be squeezed from them.

    Greatest genius of Western Civ? A scientific dogma concerning a dead saint if I have ever heard one. Hero and mythological worship taken into the modern world and repainted over with modern sentiments.

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/05/galileo-myths-and-facts.html

    A scientific way of dealing with these “facts” would be to try to get more of them, or re-interpret them, or massage them in such a way that it eventually supports a scientist’s conclusions. Someone using deductive logic, which is mandatory in situations in which data and information are extremely limited (such as spycraft or warcraft), would leave such data alone and only look at what sets of data are consistent with each other and what sets of data are not consistent with the others.

    Here we have Book’s comments about rivalries as being an integral part to human competition and vices. We also have the fundamental human understanding that no one is 100% correct, not even after the fact from historical perspectives. Churchill faced disasters and mistakes before WWII and after, when the people of England fired the Prime Minister. FD Roosevelt had judgment problems with Stalin and Communism. Truman had disagreements with MacArthur over dropping nukes on China. For every additional set of data used, deductive logic is able to narrow down the most probable truth further and further from many to few, and then fewer. In science, for every additional set of data used, more questions are simply created instead of answers.

    I don’t mind explaining the science to people who are willing to consider the facts.-Op

    That really translates as Op not minding that he argues from the advantage of being right while you two argue from the disadvantage of being wrong, Ellie and Danny.

    Who would mind having the advantage in an argument of being right and having to explain their rightness to others? Some, but certainly not most.

    But I do not enjoy butting heads with people who simply refuse to consider the issues in an open-minded way.-Op

    Which can be translated as “people who can and do think outside the box of scientific orthodoxy”. Or even just any box, for that matter.

    When you don’t do things Op’s way, then that is butting heads. When you do do things his way, then things are calmer and more agreeable. Simple, really.

    so I forget was it Collingwood or Whitehead that said “scientists” never change their worldview (”paradigm”) — it dies with them and the new orthodoxy begins with the next generation?-Ellie

    You don’t need those two for such truths as this. Simple sociology, or the study of human behavior, would tell us that. People become enamored of certain beliefs, and then they won’t let them go because a mind is a difficult thing to change (according to Neo-Neocon). Look at Vietnam, certainly psychological shock is very effective at etching a permanent spot in someone’s psyche for the rest of their lives. It either takes a psychological shock or death to make people accept something new. WWII did it for segregation in the US military and the death of previous generations made way for the end of racism in 1990s America.

    Besides, being a “scientist” is neither a religious faith (or is it?-Danny

    Aside from the sainthood of the greatest genius in Western Civilization, Galileo, it can go either way I suppose. Every scientist believes in something different, or at least slightly different from their fellows. There are factions and groups, of course, given how humanity loves and requires hierarchies when cooperating with each other.

    Scientists, when you strip the pretensions and illusions away, are true believers in the scientific method. They have faith that hypothesis, the gathering of facts, and the testing of theories can lead to truth or at least more truth than before. Regardless of whether scientists discover new truths, certainly scientists discover new “somethings”, very useful somethings for that matter. This belief is based upon faith, faith that the scientific method will not fail them the next time or faith that the scientific method will protect them, if it failed to deal with certain human problems in the modern day. Thus, just like religions, the act of having faith and believing creates the reality.

    A man in need of faith can pray and obtain that strength. Whether it came from god or his own actions, is uncertain. A scientist that keeps faith to the scientific method will eventually figure things out, but whether this is because of the certainty of the scientific method or the maintenance of faith is also uncertain. Thus is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle allied to human affairs and activities.

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