28 February, 2007

Would You Trust This Man With Your Planet?

"The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists... are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic." - Newsweek, April 28, 1975 (also the source for the 'inconvenient' chart we don't see anymore, at right, below)
Today, by contrast, a UN climate panel is recommending a global temperature ceiling, seeming to forget that agricultural productivity is closely correlated (in a positive direction) with both temperature and CO2 levels. And higher agricultural productivity means 1) reduced possibility of famine, all other things being equal and 2) less need to cut down forests for farmland--a practice that tends to make species go extinct, cause erosion and soil leaching, etc. Yep, we conservatives are all greedy, irresponsible, corporate, anti-environmental yahoos.

This all from same UN that brought you this.

UPDATE I: The point about Mr. Ban Ki-Moon (the new Secretary General of the UN, pictured above) is not that he's necessarily a bad man. (I know very little about him.) The conventional wisdom seems to be that a) he deserves a honeymoon period and b) it would be hard to be worse than either of the previous two UNSGs. The point is an institutional one. I didn't elect him and--unless you're one of a very select few appointed elites--you didn't either.

The process for his (or any other UNSG's) elevation necessarily averages out the opinions of all the governments in power the world today, regardless of their moral foundations. That's very different from democracy, even representative democracy. If that averaging process were to produce something enlightened, it would be purely by accident.

I've said this before (can't find the post at the moment), but try this mental exercise: pick a time in history--any time--when an average of the opinions of the leaders of all the nations (or tribes, or empires or whatever) in power around the world would have produced anything to be proud of--anything that would have drawn us upwards towards something greater. E.g., Rome plus Ghenghis Khan plus Persia plus Greece. You get the idea. The result is inevitably moral mush, not moral leadership. Moral leaders have invariably been iconoclast plain-speakers (think Jesus, MLK, Ghandi, Churchill), not bureaucrats elevated by institutionalized elites.

UPDATE II: The Anchoress has a most righteous post on global warming, weaving together Gore, Couric and the Clintons: "There is no consensus on global warming. There are only people who say there is consensus and tell everyone else to shut up, or be threatened with their jobs. Which is actually called fascism, not environmentalism..."

UPDATE III (Thurs. nite): Welcome Anchoress readers! Her post today is most righteous and I heartily agree. The only silver lining in the Gore escapade: he is having to switch justifications so frequently, his grandiosity is becoming more transparent. Now there's a truly renewable resource: lies. I've just posted more on an extraordinary contradiction in the moral case for global warming here.

27 February, 2007

In Cash We Trust

Why is it that so many persist in buying in to the illusion that the United Nations is a moral and effective venue for bringing peace, justice and sanity to the world when in fact it is a tarpit of corruption and a vehicle for thugocracies to 'average out' their values with those of the West and thus dilute them? Tireless UN watcher Claudia Rossett has the goods:

Tongsun Park, to whom Baghdad paid more than $2.5 million for his role in a conspiracy to convey bribes to the UN, is now doing five years in prison for his crime. We can be grateful to the U.S. system of justice that this much has been done. But one might have supposed that given all Park’s efforts, worth millions to Baghdad in bagman fees alone, there would have been someone at the UN on the receiving end of this particular connection; perhaps someone dining out well tonight on bribe money skimmed from the people of Iraq via a job of high public trust. But no one, not one person, has been named.
...
Digging deeper into this matter is difficult, because Volcker despite his initial promises to release the underlying documents of his investigation has instead turned them over to the UN’s own legal department, which refuses to release them to the public, or the press. [link added]
A theory: in a uni-polar world, with the U.S. as the only credible superpower, there is something in perverse human nature that pines for a counter-force no matter what it's moral foundations. We saw it with the Soviet Union.

UPDATE: Didn't get a chance to finish the thought yesterday when I got called away... This pining for an opposing force is something that's confounded me vis a vis the Star Wars movies (not surprising given their California/Hollywood liberal world-view). In one of the follow-on movies (I can never keep them straight), Yoda and the other Jedi talk about the need to find and nurture the one who will "bring back balance to The Force". Given that this was during a time of universally idyllic peace and prosperity, it never made a lick of sense. The only way to bring 'balance' to something that's already very good is to add evil to it... which is of course what happens with Darth Vader, the Empire, etc. I sense a similarly non-sensical desire for something anything to oppose the forces of good (i.e., free people, free markets, democratic governent, liberal, pluralistic, tolerant, Judeo-Christian institutions of Western Civilization) that on balance and not without exception, the U.S. represents in the world. Yesterday, when the headlines were all about Cheney almost getting blown up, my first thought was: was it a left wing kook or a jihadist? Call me unfair for thinking that, but since both have spewed the same kind of acidic invective at him, I think it's a legitimate question.

25 February, 2007

James Cameron vs. Jesus Christ - Who is the Greatest?

OK, I will admit to being momentarily shaken reading this before church this morning. Shaken, that is, until I thought about it for more than ten seconds. Another take on the same story here.

New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah. The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts — originally excavated in 1980 — open a potentially significant chapter in Biblical archaeological history.
Cameron is giving a press conference tomorrow (Monday, 2/26) in New York City with three of the caskets to announce his new film. Note the quasi-priestly garb, the angle from which the photo was shot, and the book in front of him. This all takes careful planning. Where to start? How about with who each "J.C." claims to be:

Jesus Christ (in John 8) says: "I am the light of the world... I am from above... I am not of this world."

James Cameron, speaking at the 1998 Academy Awards, where he won a small bushel of Oscars for a movie about a fornicating pretty boy who dies of hypothermia before his body is eaten by fish said: "I am the king of the world." Which isn't any better or worse than others who have made similarly grandiose claims, but the feeling can't have lasted long because it's been a rather long dry spell for Mr. Cameron in the fickle Hollywood spotlight after rising to such heights of adulation. Perhaps Mr. Cameron misspoke. Perhaps he should have said "prince".

Turns out Cameron is only six weeks into a campaign to re-make himself as Hollywood big-man with a sci-fi thriller called 'Avatar'. One doesn't need to be a PR professional to see the pending 'shocker' press conference (five days into Lent--hardly a coincidence) as part of that carefully orchestrated return to the limelight.

Let's switch gears. I've been watching a lot of CSI recently and while that hardly qualifies me as an expert on DNA testing, I do know that it can be fantastically difficult to obtain a valid sample from tissue dead only a few years, much less centuries, much less two millennia. Statistical confidence intervals expand with time. Assumptions must be made from fragmentary pieces. Presuming that some genetic material was indeed extracted from the bones, I suspect we will soon find ourselves in the same arena in which global warming is currently being debated, i.e., honest scientists who understand uncertainty getting shouted down by those who want this to be the lock-tight case that puts that pesky Jesus thing to rest once and for all.

But let's assume for a moment that the DNA is readable. What then? As Classical Values notes:
...tests? On what DNA? Jesus? Mary? Joseph? Mary Magdalene? Did any of them leave a sample somewhere unbeknownst to anyone until now? There has to be some known relative of the people found in that burial group for comparison purposes; otherwise all that can be shown IF any DNA material remains in the bones is that maybe the people in the burial group were all related to each other. (Hardly surprising in a family tomb.)
(The rest of the CV piece is worth reading for a discussion of anti-Christian versus anti-Islamic blasphemy and reactions to same. Short take: We blog and argue. They issue fatwas. James Cameron, like Dan Brown before him, made a choice at some point along the line: Hmm... should I try to write/film a huge, money-making blockbuster attempting to poke holes in a religion where they'll sneer at me and then pray for my immortal soul or one where they'll try to kill me--after not even bothering to buy the book or watch the film? Hmm... tough choice.)

Hog On Ice has a very funny take that makes a major, serious point: in order for the Cameron splash to be true, hundreds and thousands of Jerusalem locals from Jesus' time would have had to have had their testimonies completely suppressed. (Jesus? Oh, he's buried over there. Didn't you know? Shut up! Shut up! Off with your head! Anyone else? Such a thing would not have been obscure or secret for such a celebrity figure. Yet there is no such story.)

The 'new' story of Jesus being dead begs the question: Why is there no concurrent documentation to back it up? Why did nobody write about it? Remember, in the first century, despite what Dan Brown et al would like to have us believe (evil, scheming, powerful, pedophile Catholic church!!) it was those who opposed Christianity (Rome, the Pharisees, etc.) who had both power and incentive to tell such a story. Where is it? Good bench science and archaeology dovetails with other forms of historical analysis. The do not trump it, especially when other sources (e.g., the Bible--yes, it does count) utterly contradict Cameron's 'evidence'. HOI writes:
Tomorrow [Cameron is] holding a press conference in New York, of all places. Not sure what New York has to do with Christianity. There are a lot of Teamsters there; maybe Cameron is going to announce that one of the coffins also holds Jimmy Hoffa...

Here is what we're supposed to believe. Jesus, who was a pretty popular and well-known guy ("Guy"? Do I capitalize that?) even in His own time, managed to marry, have kids, die, and be buried in the biggest city in Israel--WITHOUT ANYONE NOTICING. Oh, yeah, that's a good theory. That whole crucifixion thing...that was a hoax, made up years after Jesus died from old age, and the whole city of Jerusalem, including hostile Jews and Romans, was in on it, and they kept it quiet to this day. Because...okay, I haven't figured that part out yet. Probably because the Catholic church was already heavily into real estate and didn't want anyone messing with it.

Obviously, even to non-Christians I hope, Cameron is full of s**t. Why is he doing this? Hmm...I may know the reason. I just checked IMDB, and his career has been floating in George Clooney's septic tank since 1997. That's when Solaris--Clooney's answer to Ishtar--came out. Since then, he has only done one movie (the near-Oscar-miss Expedition Bismarck) and has even had to do TV.
Gerald Augustinus at 'Cafeteria...' is among many making another key point: the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph were incredibly common in the first century Middle East. If, two millennia from now, someone came out with a case for having discovered the bones of 'John' and 'George', with no sample against which to compare their DNA, would you assume that we were talking about Lennon and Harrison, about Kerry and Bush, or about two other random guys with those ultra-common names?

Weigh the evidence. Weigh it carefully. The case for Christ does not depend on faith alone. If you're inclined to buy the media versions however (and they are legion--Cameron's is just the latest), you will be swayed in whatever direction they think they can sell you at the moment.

UPDATE I: No sooner had I finished this post than I was called out to run an errand. Hopped into my wife's car with the radio set to a station I don't usually listen to. And what's on but Dido's 'White Flag'--a tune I haven't heard in at least a year. It took me a minute... and then I got it laughing heartily and delightedly, turning my eyes heavenward as I did so. God does have a sense of humor--and irony... and timing. Amazing.
I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be
If it isn't obvious, I won't be able to explain it. OK, I'll try anyway: "down with this ship"; the film Titanic; Cameron directed it; "in love and always will be"--with Christ.

UPDATE II: Cameron smugly sipping champagne, anticipating riches. Real scholars weigh in--and give the theory a great big raspberry.

23 February, 2007

The World in Black and White Through History

Here's Hillary's '08 campaign chair (and former DNC head), Terry McAuliffe, quoted in the LAT last month:

"Who's with Hillary?" he asks a small gathering of ultra-power brokers assembled for a dinner party at media mogul Haim Saban's palatial Beverly Hills estate Sunday evening [Jan. 28th]. "Come on!" he says... "This isn't the John Kerry campaign," he quips. "You are either with us or you're against us." [emphasis added]
Why is it that such oh-so-nuanced and inclusive big-tent coalition-building (ahem) is no big deal when it's about intra-party politics, but cause for deep and continuing derision when it's about something that ought be utterly black and white, namely terrorism? Or to put it another way, how can a party leader see the nomination of a particular individual as more of a black and white matter than giving aide and comfort to those bent on the goal of slaughtering non-believers vs. helping those opposing them?

Here's what the president actually said in his serious, logical and moving prime-time speech in front of a joint session of Congress on September 20th, 2001:
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. [emphasis added]
"Against us" never appears. I looked--in this speech and dozens of others. It's not there. The Bush-bashers assumed it later. That's important. The president's actual words are a much simpler and more elegant construction. They acknowledge that 1) we are at war and will be for quite some time, 2) in wars people are forced to take sides whether they set out to do so or not (e.g., Nazi gold stashed in 'neutral' Switzerland) and 3) as the only credible entity capable of projecting power globally, the U.S., must take the initiative or the job just won't get done. (The latter is hardly a Republican or a conservative idea; Democrat-realists like Tom Barnett use the concept of a U.S. leviathan as a starting point for discussion of making a better world.)

I've never understood how the president's statement was controversial, objectionable or unfair--unless one buys into the dangerous moral equivalency argument that "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist"... or disagrees with the three assumptions implicit in the 9-20-01 "with us" statement. (i.e., we are not at war; it is possible to equivocate on terrorism; there are other credible actors on the world stage who can oppose Islamic terrorism).

For Mr. McAuliffe to use a similar phrase (no doubt with temper-prone loyalty-conscious Hillary's encouragement) in a much less clear-cut context while heaping scorn on the idea that terrorism is objectively evil highlights the relativist depravity into which the Democratic party has sunk.

It's sad when one considers a great and Godly Democrat like Harry Truman, called upon to make some of the toughest (and in hindsight, most morally accurate) judgment calls that a president has ever faced (e.g., the use of nuclear weapons to bring WWII to a close, the use of U.S. military force to oppose Communist incursion in Korea and support for the nascent state of Israel in 1948). In international affairs at least, today's Democrats would deride Mr. Truman as being far far to the right of Mr. Bush... and they would be correct.

All of which is a roundabout, tangential way (speaking of Harry Truman) of pointing readers to this eye-opening segment of the Dennis Prager show in which he interviews Michael B. Oren about his new book, "Power, Faith and Fantasy" If you don't have a sense of God's hand in history and of there being nothing new under the sun, this will give them to you. Short takes: we've been fighting Islamic terrorism since August, 1776; but for the Civil War, Israel might have been formed 85 years earlier than it was; George Bush was active in these matters long before the current one was born; the copy of the Koran (from Thomas Jefferson's library) on which Keith Ellison swore his oath of office earlier this year contains an introduction from the translator stating that his purpose is to enable readers to better understand and fight the Islamic jihadist enemy. Go listen. You will not be disappointed.

Just to keep us grounded, here's the original use of the with us vs. against us idea--opposite to, and far more open-ended than the way most people recall it:
...whoever is not against us is for us.
H/T on the McAuliffe quote: Rush

21 February, 2007

Accepting the Gift of a Persian Horse

This post is not about global warming. It's about something that could harm us much more quickly and deeply. Great W$J op ed this morning ('Table Talk') by Michael Rubin and Danielle Pletka of the AEI, outlining all the ways in which the West's insistence on talk for its own sake is bolstering the contempt that Iran (and Islamists in general) hold for the West: we are weak, vacillating and ultimately willing to acquiesce to whatever they do. If a picture is worth 1000 words, this one does it for me (see right):

Excerpts from the subscribers-only piece:

Gholam Reza Aghzadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, has said that "Iran will not comply with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737."
...
Mr. Rafsanjani on Feb. 1, 2007, dismissing U.N. demands to throttle back nuclear enrichment: "We will break the [international] consensus through wisdom and bravery and foil U.S. conspiracies against Iran."
...
The 60-day deadline to comply with U.N. demands is up, so what next? Those eager to sit down with Tehran say that dialogue does not mean abandoning sanctions. This is hardly serious. Washington has already offered and delivered inducements to the regime -- a clear path to World Trade Organization accession and spare aircraft parts -- in exchange for behavior modification. In response, Tehran has offered no confidence-building measures. All that remains are direct talks, and even there, Washington has dropped the price from ending Iran's nuclear program to a temporary suspension of enrichment.

The Security Council has spoken. To change course now would signal the impotence of international institutions and multilateral diplomacy. History shows that when the supreme leader believes Western resolve is faltering, Iran will be more defiant and dangerous. Now is not the time to talk. If Washington and Europe truly believe in the primacy of multilateralism and diplomacy, now is the time to ratchet up the pressure.
None of this is unique to Iran, of course. History provides plenty of examples of one country using an opponent's naivete (plus time) to get what they want. Saddam and Hitler are just two of the more accessible examples.

In my conversations with liberal friends, there seems to be an assumption that as long as one is talking, then blood is not being shed and this is a good thing. Well, in the short term that can appear to be true--for awhile. In the long term it is patently silly (not to mention the fact that it tends to subtly maneuver the rest of us into appearing to be for bloodshed). If the other guy is arming up while you talk then one must weigh the cost of possible future carnage as well. Again, one need not speculate. History provides plenty of lessons.

In a brief e-mail exchange I had recently with a liberal neighbor related to one of the headline 'names' in some of the negotiations with a certain nasty nuclear-armed cognac-swilling Stalinist throwback, I expressed my tentative congratulations at what appeared to be a breakthrough in negotiations. I knew it was premature, but I have to live in this zip code and so an occasional olive branch can't hurt, right? Well, I should have taken my own advice.

His response: "So now we’re back to where Clinton left off... We’d better send [relative] over to Iran next!" Well, yes, we may be back to where Clinton left off and that frightens me because at least now we know they're trying to kill us. Back then we had worked hard to forget. What we certainly don't need right now is Madeleine Albright making further apologies to Iran for the U.S. 'bad' behavior and handing signed basketballs to tyrants. Sending the aforementioned individual (who is not Ms. Albright but can hardly be distinguished from her) over to Iran would send precisely the wrong message. It's a lesson the West should have learned at Troy.

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving Instead of Some Obscure Norse Viking Festival

Great op-ed by Pete DuPont in today's OpinionJournal laying out some of the commonsense reasons why attempting to engineer the climate to our liking (and/or to atone for our energy-consuming 'sins') is like attempting to engineer, well... the weather--something that used to seem fanciful, even deranged.

When Eric the Red led the Norwegian Vikings to Greenland in the late 900s, it was an ice-free farm country--grass for sheep and cattle, open water for fishing, a livable climate--so good a colony that by 1100 there were 3,000 people living there. Then came the Ice Age. By 1400, average temperatures had declined by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the glaciers had crushed southward across the farmlands and harbors, and the Vikings did not survive...

Many things are contributing to such global temperature changes. Solar radiation is one. Sunspot activity has reached a thousand-year high, according to European astronomy institutions. Solar radiation is reducing Mars's southern icecap, which has been shrinking for three summers despite the absence of SUVS and coal-fired electrical plants anywhere on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, a NASA study reports that solar radiation has increased in each of the past two decades...

The IPCC does not explain why from 1940 to 1975, while carbon dioxide emissions were rising, global temperatures were falling, nor does it admit that its 2001 "hockey stick" graph showing a dramatic temperature increase beginning in 1970s had omitted the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming temperature changes, apparently in order to make the new global warming increases appear more dramatic.
Unfortunately, a sane, fact-filled piece like this one will be received (or rather, blithely dismissed) by the global warming faithful in any/all the following ways:
  • Pete DuPont is a Republican corporate tool no doubt in the pocket of chemical industry interests in his home state (Delaware). Which may or may not be, but it begs the question: how does one deal with the damning facts he lays out?

  • It's the Wall Street Journal; what do you expect? Same response: if the venue is bothersome, then let's forget it's the WSJ for a moment and stick to the facts presented--how does one answer them?

  • This is cherry-picking; we have to look at the big picture; the IPCC put a lot of work into their document, don't you think we should respect their expertise? I'm not sure how much bigger a picture one can look at than the fullness of human history and a comparison with global warming on Mars. The cherry-picking is happening primarily on the other side via a process that has since its inception been grotesquely political.

  • This doesn't deny that warming is happening or that human-generated CO2 has some impact so we need to implement Kyoto anyway. To which there are several possible responses:

    1) what part of past warming being beneficial to humanity don't you understand? (e.g., ratio of cold:heat related deaths in any given year is 10:1; CO2 benefits plant growth, rejuvenating rainforests and increasing our ability to feed poor people; most species find it much much easier to adapt to warmth than to cold),

    2) Water is responsible for 3X as much warming as CO2; methane for 2X as much; shall our new socialist world government work to radically reduce those 'pollutants' as well?

    3) Hold yer horses there, pardner. Who ever elected the IPCC to govern the world economy? And when did a science debate slide over into politics? It's one thing to snipe about close elections and butterfly ballots and get all pouty about Supreme Court rulings that don't go your way. It's quite another to dispense with them altogether and insist on $553 trillion in spending on something that cannot be nudged, much less fixed.

  • But, but, but, but...
    Don't try to get away in that under-powered motorboat. You'll only create more CO2 emissions and bake us all like freakin' lobstas!!

20 February, 2007

Climate Change Quotoid (Rant) of the Day #4

My apologies for continuing to harp on this, but Avery and Singer's book is truly fascinating and I'm deep into it right now. (First time in a long time that I've delighted in using a highlighter). At times dry to the point of palpable thirst, it is nonetheless thorough, logical, calm in tone, heavily footnoted... and utterly devastating to the global warming zealots.

Today's mini-topic: How did this mass psychosis ever get started? Short answer: with the same philosophical (and theological) mistake that's leading to the Islamification of Europe.
Longer answer... I'll skim the surface:

Paul Ehrlich's influence, dating to the 1970's predated global warming hysteria. His world view is Malthusian--and entirely wrong: growing population will lead to mass famine and destruction of the earth's environment. It is a tremdously simplistic yet perennially appealing argument. Its view of humanity fails to acknowledge the uniquely human capacity for innovation, ingenuity and adaptation and the huge environmental positives of increasing wealth. Those are just few of its more prominent flaws--to say nothing of its gross moral oversights such as ignoring the specialness and sanctity of human life.

Ehrlich lost his bet with Julian Simon--and with history. Decisively. Nonetheless, tenure, fame and a liberal MSM have a funny way of preserving such zombie ideas. (Marx anyone?) Ehrlich's ideas helped to midwife (pardon the pun) the sub-replacement demographics that Mark Steyn notes will bring about the demographic fall of Europe and its socialist illusions under Islamism over the next few decades.

Global warming theory--and not just any aspect of it, but increasing C02--provided a convenient vehicle for Ehrlich's ideas in the 1980s. (Ironically, this was just as global cooling hysteria was starting to die down). Demonizing C02 was simply a convenient way to launch of a world-wide movement to reduce energy use and with it population growth--this despite CO2 having only a 20% role in even the most pessimistic climate models. (Guess which chemical plays a 60% role? Water. I haven't seen any move afoot to categorize that as a pollutant. Yet. Given the origins of the whole philosophy however, I wouldn't be surprised.)

It's essential to understand that the germ of the entire movement lies in an anti-Genesis culture-of-death notion that humans per se are bad for the 'health' of Gaia Mother Earth. That's a whole 'nother post.

Flash ahead to 1992 and the "Earth Summit" in Brazil. Hordes of unelected environmental activists, government 'representatives' and NGOs... and lots of media coverage. Not all that many scientists. Avery and Singer (p. 56) write:

Politicians naturally saw the world's hundred of thousands of earnest and energetic environmental activists as a movement to be co-opted. European politicians were especially eager, since the Green parties there were often key parts of their fragile governing coalitions, or soon likely to be. They wanted something to give the Greens that wouldn't cost money before the next election.
The Brazil Earth Summit resulted in the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) treaty, a precursor to Kyoto. Enter Al Gore. Avery and Singer (p. 59) note:
Nowhere in either the FCCC or in the Kyoto Protocol, is there any statement of what greenhouse gas levels mighte be "dangerous" to either humans or the environment. Or how. The Kyoto treaty was negotiated by the Clinton Administration in 1997, much of it personally by Vice President Al Gore in preparation for his unsuccessful run for the U.S. presidency in 2000. However the Clinton-Gore administration never dared to bring the treaty to a Senate vote. The U.S. Senate had already passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution on 21 July, 1997 during the run-up to the UN's Kyoto meeting--voting 95-0 against any such treaty.
Flash ahead to 2001. Gore has lost. The behemoth movement now called Kyoto needs new legs or it will soon fall apart under its own contradictions and flaws. Enter Michael Mann, the father of the dubious and now discredited 'hockey stick' graph. Avery and Singer note (p. 68):
Michael Mann, a young Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts... used several temperature proxies... for assessing past temperature changes... from 1000 [AD] to 1980. He then crudely grafted the surface temperature record of the twentieth century (much of it derived from inflated temperatures recorded by the official thermometers in urban heat islands) onto the pre-1980 proxy record. [emphasis added]
The result: panic... plus new 'legs' for Kyoto... and for a former Senator unlikely ever to be president--but still desirous of power. Also, a meteoric career boost for Dr. Mann. He was plucked out of virtual obscurity--based on since-discredited research--to become IPCC lead author and an editor of The Journal of Climate. The IPCC lead author bit makes more sense in the context of this--and vice versa.

The only problems: Mann's findings weren't peer reviewed, his data didn't lead to his conclusions (busted in 2004) and he failed to account for the beneficial effects of CO2 on plant growth (and therefore animal life, ecology and environmental resilience in general). Oh, and in order to be correct, the 'hockey stick' graph that provided such a stunning visual for Gore et al would have needed to obviate hundreds and hundreds of previous peer-reviewed research over many decades that documented quite dramatic climate swings over the last millennium or three. Sometimes being a lone wolf means being right. This time it didn't. The previous stuff was right. Man was wrong and admitted as much. But the hockey stick had already served its purpose and the political horse was away. Again, Marx anyone?

So, in summary: Malthus-->Ehrlich-->Brazil-->Gore/Kyoto-->Mann-->Gore Redux. All thoroughly discredited. But what is one to do once one has harnessed a powerful mass hysteria that can be manipulated to serve any number of leftist world government aims? Answer: whatever one wants.

What I find frightening the more I study this is how closely the philosophical underpinnings of the global warming movement dovetail with those of other populist/demagogic, anti-humanist, anti-religious, authoritarian movements throughout history--and today. Global warming hysteria is linked through anti-population-growth, culture-of-death assumptions to the same disease that is giving Islam a cultural foothold in a Europe no longer confident of its own cultural or religious heritage. They are linked at a very deep level. The hysteria will not soon die out.

18 February, 2007

Climate Change Quotoid of the Day #3

Earlier this month, the much-heralded IPCC summary report on climate change came out. What did not come out (and won't, until May) is the scientific report from which--one would think--the summary would be drawn. Not so, as I noted previously. The IPCC is currently revising the scientific findings to conform with the political headlines.

Turns out this is not a new approach for the IPCC (not that I'm terribly surprised). Avery and Singer note, on pages 9 and 10 of their book [emphasis added]:

What about the claim of the [UN IPCC]: that they've found a "human fingerprint" in the current global warming? That statement was inserted in the executive summary of the IPCC's 1996 report for political, not scientific reasons. Then the "science volume" was edited to take out five different statments--all of which had been approved by the panel's scientific consultants--specifically saying no such "human fingerprint" had been found. The author of the IPCC science chapter, a U.S. government employee, publicly admitted making the scientifically indefensible "back room" changes... under pressure from top U.S. government officials...

16 February, 2007

Climate Change Quotoid of the Day #2

If I were feeling really snarky, I'd title this one: "Whenever I Mix Gin & Tonics, it Gets Hot Outside!" If I were feeling snarky...

Avery & Singer (on pages 11, 36 & 37 of their book) cite peer-reviewed articles published by scientists George Taylor, Huburtus Fischer and Nicolas Caillon (among others). They write [italics in original; bold added]:

CO2 for at least 240,000 years has been a lagging indicator of global warming, not a causal factor. Within the last 15 years, the ice cores have revealed that temperatures and CO2 levels have tracked closely together during the warmings after each of Earth's last three ice age glaciations. However the CO2 changes have lagged about 800 years behind the temperature changes. Global warming has produced more CO2 rather than more CO2 producing global warming. This accords with the reality that the oceans hold the vast majority of the planet's carbon, and the laws of physics let cold oceans hold more CO2 gas than warm oceans... [thus] CO2 is not the forcing agent in recent global climate changes...

Oregon State Climatologist George Taylor recalls: "Early Vostok [Antarctic ice core] analysis... concluded (correctly) that there is a very strong relationship between temperatures and CO2 concentrations... This became the basis for a number of scary-looking graphs in books by... Al Gore, and others... [yet] CO2 changes are caused by temperature changes [not the other way around]..."
Previous climate change 'quotoid': #1

15 February, 2007

Climate Change Quotoid of the Day #1

After some longish essays recently speculating on what may be going on in the minds of those most fervently inclined to believe in global warming as a manmade phenomenon we can and should 'fix', I've begun to recognize that identifying the psychological underpinnings just won't do it. This post therefore, is the first in what will be a series of small factoids and quotes ('quotoids') that speak powerfully to the foundations of the global warming argument. Here goes. From Avery and Singer's book, pages 2-3 [emphases added]:

The Earth continually warms and cools. The cycle is undeniable, ancient, often abrupt, and global. It is also unstoppable. Isotopes in the ice and sediment cores, ancient tree rings, and stalagmites tell us it is linked to small changes in the irradiance of the sun...

The cycle shifts have occurred roughly on schedule whether CO2 levels were high or low. Based on this 1,500-year cycle, the Earth is about 150 years into a Moderate Warming that will last for centuries longer. It will essentially restore the fine climate of the Medieval Climate Optimum. [900-1300 AD] The climate has been most stable during the warming phases. The "little ice ages" have been beset by more floods, droughts, famines, and storminess.

14 February, 2007

World Upside-Down: Baby AIDS Funding Blocked

It seems like traditional party stereotypes are entirely reversed on this one:

[Federal] program authorized $30 million in funding to states with infant HIV testing... created just two months ago yet someone has already included language in the appropriations bill to prohibit funding for the “Baby Aids” program... Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) attempted to add an amendment to restore the funding. Unfortunately, Democratic Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) never allowed the amendment to be included before the bill reached the Senate floor for a vote.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but like global warming science (though far more urgently), this is an issue that should not be partisan in the least. Blog attention on this in the last 24 hours has been extremly scant. Here are the only two sources I could find other than the FRC link. They're just as confused as I am. Preventative healthcare for minority children. Should be a lead-pipe cinch, right? Wrong.

I have a hunch. It is only a hunch--entirely speculative on my part. I repeat: fiction. It is, I repeat, made up; whimsical. Very possibly invalid. Thus, no fair piling on if the theory turns out to be unfair/untrue. It is not without an intuitive basis however. It is this:
Funding is being held hostage by Senate Dems as part of a larger strategy (or, in their eyes, a defense against) Republican efforts to define life as extending prior to birth, applying federal funding allocations and other rules to the pre-born. In other words, Dem agendas revolve around the biggest field of gravity in liberal politics: preserving Roe. See this for example. It would be just like politicians (of both stripes) to engage in such a battle with little thought for the collateral damage that will result in human lives--both born and unborn. It wouldn't be the first time.

Privacy Is Essential!... Except When We're In Power

Last time I checked, Democrats were concerned that NSA wiretaps of incoming overseas phone calls from known terrorists were a violation of privacy. It seems that they're much less concerned when the privacy issue in play is about protecting the bullying potential of a group that's kept them in power (unions).

Currently, the most common method for determining whether or not employees want a union to represent them is a secret ballot election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB provides detailed procedures that ensure a fair election, free of fraud, where employees may cast their vote confidentially without peer pressure or coercion from unions or employers... Union bosses, however, find secret ballot elections to be an impediment to organizing. They prefer the card check process, where employees are forced to make their choice in front of union organizers and fellow employees who support unionization... H.R. 800, the misleadingly named “Employee Free Choice Act,”... [would be the] end of secret ballot union elections and the safeguards they afford...

Polar Bears, Snow Days and Snow Jobs

School is cancelled today. The kids are home. Mrs. Maru is home too. A belly full of pancakes (ordinarily a treat reserved for leisurely weekends) plus an extra cup of coffee has put me in an especially good mood. The rest of the world may be going about its business, but even in a money-never-sleeps, constantly connected world, there will always be something special about sitting in a warm house watching whatever may come through the window. The weather outside is frightful... but since we've not place to go... let it snow, let it snow...

OK, so this much hyped storm probably isn't going to amount to much by ordinary New England winter standards, but it's a major departure from the clear streets and strange brown frozen lawns that have characterized the past three months. Which is not to say that I draw any conclusions about global warming one way or the other from local, temporary weather patterns. If it's silly for the global warming zealots to posture about their case because it happens to be unseasonably warm, it would be hypocritical of me to posture about mine because it's unseasonably cold or snowy. Weather happens and it's been my position from the beginning on global warming that a perspective on geologic time (thousands if not tens of thousands, even millions of years) is critical to appreciating natural fluctuations and thus not getting overly excited about extrapolating trend lines from extremely short-term evidence. (In the span of geologic time, 135 years of direct weather observations counts for very little). All of which is a long-winded prologue to talking about polar bears.

Two California-based environmental groups (apologies for the redundancy)--'Earthjustice' and 'The Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Environment'--are suing the U.S. government...

...claiming marine mammal regulators are not doing enough to protect polar bears and walruses against the combined threat of oil and gas exploration and global warming.

The groups say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not fully consider the effects of global warming, such as diminished sea ice, as it wrote regulations allowing for incidental harassment of polar bears and walruses by the industry in the Beaufort Sea and nearby coastal areas.
AP 'storytorial' here. It's worth inserting a few "of courses" here (to borrow a Steynism). Of course its a bad idea to force a major species into extinction when there are reasonable ways of avoiding doing so. Of course we have to take into account our understanding of how ecosystems work and how knocking them out of balance causes unintended side-effects. Of course some externalities resulting from economic activity are worth taking into account. Of course it's unrealistic to return to an era where anybody could shoot anything that moves and isn't human just because they felt like it. Of course people have the right to organize into interest groups and file lawsuits--unless you're the new Democratic Congress and you almost manage to pass a bill that, as I noted a few weeks ago...
...would have forced all bloggers with "audiences" over 500 to report detailed information to the government. It would also have put onerous and invasive requirements on grassroots lobbying and information-providing groups, of which many of the most successful have been conservative
Here are a few more "of courses" that fewer people are likely to agree on: Of course humans are more valuable than animals. Of course it makes sense to work towards energy independence so as to avoid funding our ideological enemies in the Middle East. Of course a grand theory like global warming requires unassailable and logical proof before relying on it to resolve lawsuits.

We were talking about polar bears, weren't we? Me bad. Here are some facts, courtesy of a W$J article now unlinkable in archives that appeared on page A12 of the January 3, 2007 issue:

And here's what that piece had to say:
Unless you've been hibernating for the winter, you have no doubt heard the many alarms about global warming. Now even the Bush Administration is getting into the act, at least judging from last week's decision by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to recommend that the majestic polar bear be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. The closer you inspect this decision, however, the more it looks like the triumph of politics over science.

"We are concerned," said Mr. Kempthorne, that "the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting" due to warmer Arctic temperatures. However, when we called Interior spokesman Hugh Vickery for some elaboration, he was a lot less categorical, even a tad defensive. The "endangered" designation is based less on the actual number of bears in Alaska than on "projections into the future," Mr. Vickery said, adding that these "projection models" are "tricky business."

...most of the alarm over the polar bear's future stems from a single, peer-reviewed study, which found that the bear population had declined by some 250, or 25%, in Western Hudson Bay in the last decade. But the polar bear's range is far more extensive than Hudson Bay. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain concluded that the ice bear populations "may now be near historic highs." One of the leading experts on the polar bear, Mitchell Taylor, the manager of wildlife resources for the Nunavut territory in Canada, has found that the Canadian polar bear population has actually increased by 25% -- to 15,000 from 12,000 over the past decade.
But polar bears are cute and fuzzy! But, but, but... if they aren't endangered now, maybe they will be! Here, look at this computer model! Yeah, and I've got a spreadsheet I just cooked up that says that cows and pigs and sheep and chickens might be endangered too if we don't all see the light and become vegans and dispense with wool and leather clothing right this very minute.

Bottom line: the polar bear is a neat visual for the global warming crowd to put an emotionally appealing face on an otherwise abstract and speculative topic. Emotionally appealing that is, if you don't live in the growing territory the polar bears would like to inhabit--in which case you are very aware (even if you are a photographer) that the main thing they want to do is rip you apart and eat you. But if you live in a blue state where a 911 call is your main source of physical safety (rather than two shells in a cocked thirty-ought-six) then such things seem remote and theoretical, not to mention ugly, distasteful and base.

Which raises another question I was pondering on a brief foray out in the snow earlier this morning: Why is it that many on the left insist on empathizing with whatever or whomever is trying to kill them? Just askin'...

A Dark Lining to Every Silver Cloud

I'm generally not a big fan of the Associated Press. Most of the time they are slanted left. In comparison with the New York Times however, they look positively centrist and even-handed. Here's the headline and lede on Muqtada al-Sadr as reported last night by the AP:

Anti-American Cleric Flees Iraq for Iran
Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled Iraq for Iran ahead of a security crackdown in Baghdad and the arrival of 21,500 U.S. troops sent by President Bush to quell sectarian violence...
Here's how the New York Times is spinning the same story this morning:
U.S. Says Powerful Iraqi Cleric Is Living in Iran
The powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has left Iraq and has been living in Iran for the past several weeks... If Mr. Sadr had indeed fled, his absence would create a vacuum that could allow even more radical elements of the Shiite group to take power.
Let's review the bidding, shall we?

The AP identifies an avowed enemy of the U.S. as... an avowed enemy of the U.S.
This should not be terribly controversial. The guy is trying to oppose our interests. He's killing our troops. He's against our presence there. He's against the democratically elected government of Iraq. The NYT instead chooses to emphasize how 'powerful' he is--against all reason and common sense given what sparked the story in the first place: al-Sadr's retreat into exile.

The AP draws the conclusion that al-Sadr fled in response to U.S. pressure.
This is still somewhat speculative (nobody has interviewed al-Sadr recently) however it's more than reasonable to conclude given the timing. The NYT instead gives the impression that al-Sadr just happened to be visiting his second home. (Just as Khadafi happened to give up his nuclear program after the U.S. toppled Saddam.) Hey, maybe everything in life is just a coincidence; maybe al-Sadr was just vacationing in Iran with his family when he heard the announcement that the most powerful fighting force on the planet would be conducting house-to-house searches and raining down fire and death. Maybe next he'll just happen to turn up in Paris for shopping or Gstaad for a little skiing. In the world of a NYT editor, the idea of flight in response to military pressure requires the concept of an enemy and the concept of victory against him. In the happy mythical world of sunflowers and soft little bunnies that the left often inhabits, the absence of those concepts makes the AP headline inconceivable.

The AP gives credit to the President's decision to send more troops, pointing out their critical role in maintaining security and reducing violence.
I've believed for some time that what we are witnessing post-2003 in Iraq is less a war than a police action. One could come out on either side of that semantic debate and still agree that our role is more one of peace-making and policing than the kind of conflict that characterized WWI, WWII, Vietnam or Korea 1950-1953. Has the Manhattan left ever seriously considered what life would be like in New York within 48 hours of the police standing down? When the U.S. military is seen as a bunch of thuggish baby-killers bent on burning villages and bayoneting women however, there is no scenario they can imagine in which U.S. troop presence would actually reduce violence and bloodshed. Thus, the NYT veers into wildly negative, defeatist speculation about even more violence resulting from the removal of the mastermind behind much of the violence of recent months. In the NYT newsroom, "Hitler Found Dead in Bunker" would today become something more like "Hyper-Radical Nazi Elements Poised to Renew Blitzkreig in Fuhrer's Absence".

The AP states what it knows and stands by it.
The NYT feels compelled--in this story and elsewhere--to couch everything in terms of "The U.S. Says" or "The Administration Claims", giving itself an 'out' in every case. That's not bad journalistic practice per se, but when overdone (as tends to be the case with the NYT) it reeks of two things: 1) a hyper-critical, hyper-skeptical Vietnam/Watergate generation in charge of editorial policy, bent on questioning every kind of authority... unless that authority is the UN, the EU, the IPCC, the DNC or George Soros and 2) a lack of independent on-the-ground sources to back up, contradict or color what it is told. Thus the NYT and other MSM outlets become a kind of anti-matter force out to negate anything a Republican administration says or does--a knee-jerk opposition loathe to add credibility to official information but ill-equipped to oppose it with fresh evidence or logical argument.

13 February, 2007

Ellen Goodman Equates Me With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ellen Goodman, in her Boston Globe column on Friday equated global warming denial to Holocaust denial: "...global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers..."

On any number of bases (offensiveness, nonsensicality, bad writing, gross lapses in reason) that statement--and the rest of the column--would be enough for me to cancel my subscription (if I hadn't already done so ten years ago) or to write a letter to the editor (if I didn't think they'd pitch it in the trash, laughing as they did so).

If we're going to combat this fantasy ideology however (global warming religion) it will help to deconstruct its larger frame and to avoid accusations of taking a quote out of context. So here goes, paragraph by paragraph (I've skipped the fluffy intro). Goodman writes:

By every measure, the U N 's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raises the level of alarm. The fact of global warming is "unequivocal." The certainty of the human role is now somewhere over 90 percent. Which is about as certain as scientists ever get.
Clever. Goodman speaks a narrow truth while creating a false impression. The IPCC does indeed raise the level of alarm. So does yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre. What it doesn't do is ensure that science has stayed separate from politics. Yes, the IPCC summary report uses the word 'unequivocal'--but inappropriately so.

Dictionary.com defines unequivocal as: "having only one possible meaning or interpretation... absolute; unqualified; not subject to conditions or exceptions... admitting of no doubt" Yet there are plenty of other possible meanings and interpretations that have not been and cannot be 'unequivocally' ruled out (measurement uncertainties and long-term sun cycles being merely two of them). And qualifications, conditions, exceptions and doubts are present if only because numerous reputable scientists have raised them. The only way to get to 'unequivocal' is to declare that a) they are not numerous, b) they are not reputable and/or c) that they are not scientists. In Goodman's piece, as well as folks like Heidi Cullen, we see a campaign to push on all three fronts. It is by its very nature a personal campaign: attacking the messengers rather than the arguments... which is a political, not a scientific approach (and an ugly one at that).

Goodman also doesn't reflect on what other things in history--both scientific and not--have been seen as 90% certain and not come to pass. In my field (scenario planning), 90% is the kind of figure that groups tend to bandy about when what they really mean is "we think the number is substantially more than 50%". It is in the nature of odds-making that putting a percentage on something requires either a) an open-ended group with the ability to put skin in the game based on their level of personal confidence or b) a track record of having made predictions of similar scope and magnitude and (in this case) having been correct nine times out of ten. Preferably both. Neither is present in this case. On to the meaty part. Goodman writes:
I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future. [emphasis added]
Never mind that she or her editors could have cut word count by 30% and lost absolutely nothing. Those who live in glass houses... ;-)

Goodman's sleight of hand here is equally clever. She takes the one plank out of ten in the global warming debate for which there is the most support and leverages that into perplexity about how the world hasn't gotten on board with the other nine--most of which are not scientific.

The really weird/nonsensical part (to say nothing of the really offensive part--which I'll get to in a moment) is to lump together denial of past, present and future. It's the same error the left made (deliberate or not--doesn't matter) in claiming that Bush "lied" when what he really did was to make a reasonably informed judgment based on incomplete knowledge. He admitted as much in making his claims--which is more than the left can say about its hysterical and 'unequivocal' claims about future global warming trends, consequences and policy prescriptions. Goodman is also guilty of sloppy thinking by making the past/present/future distinction--then dropping in the rest of her analysis.

An example may help here. Which of the following statements is closest to 'unequivocal'?:
- From February 6-8, 1978, Boston received over three feet of snow.
- As of this writing is not snowing in Boston.
- The Boston area will receive at least six inches of snow tomorrow.
- Next year, the Boston area will receive at least two feet of snow in February.
- Between 2075 and 2085, Boston area snow accumulations will average two feet.
I've widened the future statements just to be fair but even so, they are not and never can be on par with past and present statements of fact. And therein I detect an important, more generalized kernel of liberal psychosis, applicable well beyond global warming: the past is malleable; it is wholly dependent upon whatever larger societal narrative you happen to pick as a platform for interpreting it. The weather is unusually cold: global warming. The weather is unusually warm: global warming. Wet: global warming. Dry: global warming. Windy: global warming. Volatile: global warming. Unusually normal for several weeks but just you wait!: global warming. When the answer is always the same whatever may come, the diagnosis says more about the world view of the diagnoser than about the evidence.

In Goodman's world, there are no truths that can or ought to be self-evident to everyone. Relativism. There is no evidence that can penetrate pure faith. (Which is not to say that religion dispenses with evidence altogether. It doesn't; but that's another post.)

There is only one's perspective. The core assumption behind global warming is the same as that behind fascism, socialism and a pernicious breed of referenceless multiculturalism (that last bit is almost redundant). Whoever manages to grab hold of the reins of the social narrative, goes the thinking, can deny the empirically observable superiority of one set of values over another. They can make two plus two equal five as Goebbels once said about Hitler. And finally, they're bent on reversing the polarity and projecting their psychoses onto their opponents, insisting that it is the reality-grounded who guilty of relativism instead.

But I digress. Others have covered the great big stinking turd in the middle of Goodman's piece and one of the better ones is Dennis Prager, who writes of the Ellen Goodman editorial:
...it helps us to understand better one of the defining mottos of contemporary liberalism: "Question authority." In reality, this admonition applies to questioning the moral authority of Judeo-Christian religions or of any secular conservative authority, but not of any other authority. UN and other experts tell us that there is global warming; such authority is not to be questioned... the equation of global warming denial to Holocaust denial [also] trivializes Holocaust denial. If questioning global warming is on "a par" with questioning the Holocaust, how bad can questioning the Holocaust really be?
Exactly. The problem with Goodman's argument is not so much that she doesn't trust the skeptics or the administration (hey, we're a free society) but that she trusts the UN utterly. Short take for new readers: at what point in history has averaging the opinions of world leaders ever led to truth or justice?

Prager's second point is devastating and very much in line with what I was blogging last night: the left finds itself unable to see the pure evil in a man like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because to criticize him would be to criticize their own most fervently held positions, among them being Bush-loathing, expressed (disingenuous) pacifism, and a lack of confidence in American values and culture and their cumulative impact on the world versus any of the available alternatives.

In the intro to her piece, Goodman spent several paragraphs talking about how she felt guilty about her own energy impact but was trying to do her part by changing lightbulbs. As I read it I couldn't help thinking: this is a confession of 'sin'; this is an appeal to her own good works, this is a roundabout plea for forgiveness. What's perverse about it, of course is that her 'sin' in this case is self-constructed, her good works futilely misplaced and her plea not to God but to the opinion of her audience. I don't know what Ms. Goodman's religious beliefs are and don't really care. What's relevant here is that the structure of her story revolves around apparent feelings of personal guilt, inadequacy and shame in a wholly secular context. Goodman continues:
But light bulbs aside -- I now have three and counting -- I don't expect that this report will set off some vast political uprising. The sorry fact is that the rising world thermometer hasn't translated into political climate change in America.
Here we get at Goodman's leap from current/past data to future social policy. She is not alone in skipping the intermediate steps. What's interesting about this paragraph--and maybe I'm reading too much in here, but I sense it--is that the end (change in administration, change in political orientation) is so dear to her that the means are almost unimportant. It is assumed that if global warming hysteria gets us to political change then it's a worthwhile horse to ride and who cares if it still has legs ten years down the road when Hillary is running for her third term and Bill is Secretary General of the UN. She seems confused by the following though:
The folks at the Pew Research Center clocking public attitudes show that global warming remains 20th on the annual list of 23 policy priorities. Below terrorism, of course, but also below tax cuts, crime, morality, and illegal immigration.
My first thought: relief. I had not seen the Pew numbers. Yet there are two possible reactions to such numbers and Goodman takes the one I could have predicted by her political persuasion:
One reason is that while poles are melting and polar bears are swimming between ice floes, American politics has remained polarized. There are astonishing gaps between Republican science and Democratic science. Try these numbers: Only 23 percent of college-educated Republicans believe the warming is due to humans, while 75 percent of college-educated Democrats believe it.
Instead of assuming that adult Americans are reasonably intelligent and free to determine their own collective future through democratic government, she takes the liberal-elitist approach (the rest of the piece makes this more plain). I.e., those redneck, red-state, red-faced, red-baiting yahoos need to be educated and I'm the one to do it!

It's a familiar and thoroughly offensive line not only because it flies in the face of the Declaration of Independence (We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights...) but also because it leads inevitably to authoritarianism, either petty or grand--something we're seeing amply demonstrated as the EU extends its power over the details of Europeans' lives.

In observing the Republican/Democratic split over global warming, Goodman jumps to the conclusion that some nefarious, unnamed forces conspiring to prevent conservatives from seeing the truth about the future. What she should have asked instead is: If this is purely about science then why is there any political divide whatsoever? The answer of course is that on questions where the scientific evidence is truly settled, there is none.

Despite the science being less than a century old, I know of no political division say, around what happens when two hydrogen atoms are fused under intense pressure and heat or for that matter when sperm and egg come together in a woman's body. It's how the consequences of such things are dealt with where a process of moral discernment and political dialogue needs to take over. Until such time as a better one presents itself, I'm sticking with the one laid out by the Founding Fathers, based on, and in concert with the one laid out by the Founding Father.

12 February, 2007

Cabaret Time in Tehran

Driving around running errands today, I caught a snippet of Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the midst of yelling at my radio for the first time in I don't remember how long, it finally dawned on me: this guy is considerably smarter than we are. He's at least three or four steps ahead of us... and loving every minute of it. Here's how the interview began:

Sawyer: ...Are you sending weapons into Iraq to kill Americans?

Ahmadinejad: Let me first say good morning to the viewers all over the states and let me tell them we have spring weather in Iran. I hope it will be spring all over the world.

We shy away from any kind of conflict and any kind of bloodshed, and we will be sad by such. We are opposed to any kind of conflict and as we have said repeatedly we think the world problem can be solved through dialogue, the use of logic and a sense of friendship. There is no need for the use of force.
...
And our position for Iraq is very clear: We are asking for peace, we are asking for security, and we will be sad to see people get killed, no matter who they are. It could be Iraqis. We will be sad if we hear they are killed or anyone who is brought there by force and is put in the middle of the conflict.

Sawyer: But how is it possible to believe this? The Americans have been given evidence. They say they have rocket-propelled grenade launcher. It speaks for itself.

Ahmadinejad: Well it's very easy to make a judgment when you don't have good defense or making a one-sided judgment. I think that Americans have made a mistake in Iraq and unfortunately are losing, and this is a shame for Americans of course and that's why they are trying to point their fingers to other people and pointing fingers to others will not solve the problem.
The whole interview is must-read material. I'm not going to jump on Diane Sawyer for doing it. Others will do plenty of that. She asked reasonably hard questions and follow-ups. The fault lies with an uncritical left-leaning, Bush-hating media who will peel, boil, refine, season, sugar-coat, frame and package Ahmadinejad's words rather than pointing out the obvious lies crawling and wriggling all over practically every one of them--because do that would be to criticize themselves.

The brilliance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--and the depravity of the unmoored left--comes from their expressing virtually the same rhetoric. It is not merely that Ahmadinejad co-opted and studied what the left has been saying (though he certainly did some of that). The distance from one to the other has become so small he didn't have to work very hard to accomplish it. Who was first to start hating what America stands for? It almost doesn't matter anymore. They both do now. Read the interview and see how many left-wing arguments you can check off, featuring (you guessed it): Bush lied. And there's a strange tendency on the left--and to be fair, maybe in human nature itself--to side with the person who agrees with you on a few things even when you know that on another level he's a snake.

Five years from now--mark my words--this interview will be seen as a watershed event in history, not because Diane Sawyer is a great interviewer or because we learned anything particularly new or insightful but because of our own reactions to (or rather, our continued non-reactions to, and the MSM's diabolical complicity in) something so utterly brazen.

Of course..., we will say (if we're still around after the ongoing war with Iran finally escalates) ...it was all there. Fifty years from now, our grandchildren--if they're not living under sharia, but heck, maybe even if they are--will analyze it asking, "How could they not have known? How could they not have seen? All of the evidence was there! It was obvious!" Which is the privilege of the historian... and the burden of the prophet.

While the MSM concerns itself with whether the last thankfully dead racist anti-Semitic megalomaniac who carried out his sick death-cult ideas on a massive scale is being portrayed appropriately in a new theatre production, the current one makes a clear reference to picking up Hitler's legacy... and gets away with it: "...we have spring weather here in Tehran, and I hope it will be spring all over the world". That line alone is absolutely brilliant (demonically so, but nobody ever said Satan was stupid). It accomplishes at least four things all at once:

1) It unashamedly picks up on the song from Cabaret: "Springtime for Hitler and Germany", signaling that Ahmadinejad knows full well--even if the West does not--that it really is 1930-something all over again. Cabaret-level decadence, decay and debauchery mean, he believes, that his enemies are weak--and to a large degree, he is right. (Alas, lyrics are hard to find on the web. The Cabaret version of 'Springtime...' is not to be confused with Mel Brooks' 'Producers', which uses a variant.)

2) It subtly appeals to the global warming crowd. Springtime? In February? That's not natural, some may think (not bothering to actually check to see if the man can be trusted and assess whether 33 degrees Fahrenheit can be considered Spring in any meaningful sense). And if it's literally springtime in Tehran, then greedy Western imperialists must be partly to blame and so whatever ugly consequences come of this, those Texas oil boys are just gettin' their due.

3) While it is laughable to think that shamelessly content-free imagery has any effect on smart, critical people, every speechmaker knows that it does (and that in addition, most people don't apply their smarts towards criticism because it's easier to go along with the crowd). "Now is the winter of our discontent" signals, from the first line of Shakespeare's Richard III, that we're dealing with a sour and nasty character. And so, if it's "springtime" and the interviewee is wishing us well, we smile despite ourselves, temporarily forgetting that he's the one ordering the slaughter of thousands, most notably including our own troops.

4) It clearly signals to the Islamic world (or at least the Shiia) that a major move is around the corner and that he is planning on keeping his promises. Whether 'springtime' means the coming of the 12th imam or the destruction of Israel or both I'll leave to the experts. But it doesn't take an Islamic scholar to figure out that he's talking to his allies and to his own people, demonstrating confident patience in front of the infidel he plans to destroy.

In sum, Mahmoud strikes me as a guy who is probably well aware of all of these cultural reference points and more (Cabaret, The Producers, Richard III... heck, maybe even Rachel Carson). He is using them to play us like a fine stringed instrument.

Meanwhile, Europe finally gets word that it's too late to stop him--something most readers of this blog knew at least a year ago and many probably had a hunch about back in 1979.

More critical analysis of the interview here.

Who's The Real Scientist?

Q: But you're not a climate scientist. Do you have a sufficient knowledge and enough information?
If you were to see the above question in a media interview on global warming and didn't know who the subject was, what would be your first guess?

A. Al Gore
B. Al Franken
C. Jacques Chirac
D. Any global warming skeptic
E. Czech president Vaclav Klaus

Answer: E (though it could just as well have been D)
President Klaus' response:
"Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate. Sadly, it has nothing to do with social sciences either. Still, it is becoming fashionable and this fact scares me. The second part of the sentence should be: we also have lots of reports, studies, and books of climatologists whose conclusions are diametrally [sic] opposite. Indeed, I never measure the thickness of ice in Antarctica. I really don't know how to do it and don't plan to learn it. However, as a scientifically oriented person, I know how to read science reports about these questions, for example about ice in Antarctica. I don't have to be a climate scientist myself to read them. And inside the papers I have read, the conclusions we may see in the media simply don't appear. But let me promise you something: this topic troubles me which is why I started to write an article about it last Christmas. The article expanded and became a book. In a couple of months, it will be published. One chapter out of seven will organize my opinions about the climate change. Environmentalism and green ideology is something very different from climate science. Various findings and screams of scientists are abused by this ideology."
Thank goodness for the Eastern Europeans! Without their relatively recent direct exposure to fantasy ideologies and thus their ability to recognize their mestastasization into tyrannical ones, we'd be completely off in la-la land.

Speaking of Eastern Europe...

I saw a great movie on DVD this weekend: "I Am David" (2003). I won't spoil it, but James Caviezel is awesome (as usual) the scenery is gorgeous, the cinematograpy is first rate, the story-line is gripping, the portrayal of life under Communism is unadorned, the core Christian themes are deep and clear without being overbearing and the plot has enough twists to keep it interesting to the very end. OK, so it's a little sentimental--but not sacharine.

Ben Tibber is haunting as the main character. One of his previous credits was as Tiny Tim Cratchett in the 2000 television version of 'A Christmas Carol'. Highly recommended. Our entire family enjoyed it.

French Fantasy-Land

One wonders why it's necessary to have a fantasy theme park (Euro Disney) near Paris when the entire country seems to have become one. Here's the increasingly popular Socialist Party presidential candidate speaking for two hours about her 100-point plan to an audience of 10,000 over the weekend:

Ségolène Royal... pledged to raise pensions, increase the minimum wage to €1,500, or about $2,000, a month and guaranteed a job or further training to every youth within six months of graduating... When she talked about France's volatile suburbs, where riots erupted in November 2005 and high unemployment rates continue to curb the opportunities of second-generation immigrants, the emotion was evident on her face and in her voice. [emphasis added]
Raise wages to increase employment. Hmm. Now there's an idea. The inescapable conclusion, of course, is that the government will need to become an even bigger employer than it is now. With birthrates persistently below replacement level in France overall, and especially so among non-Muslims (as Mark Steyn points out), this is akin to running the straight razor over one's wrist a second time because one is bleeding to death too slowly.

09 February, 2007

Global Warming Logic: Ten Yes/No Questions

One thing that strikes me as particularly absurd in the climate change 'debate' is the grand leap of logic those on the left tend to make. If they were to clearly lay out their logic in getting from data to specific policy prescriptions (a process requiring answering a handful of simple, logical questions--see below), one of two things would occur. Either a) their detractors would be much more easily convinced or b) their logic and/or assumptions would be shown to be faulty.

It has been my supposition for some time that if the global warming zealots had a hope of achieving the first, they would go ahead and do so (the MSM, Congress and higher education being firmly in their grasp). They would calmly spell out the logical steps they took in getting from a decade or two of observed warming to the biggest socio-economic experiment in the history of the human race and many of us would nod our heads and say: Hard to argue! It all makes sense! You've got us! I agree with each of your steps and so I have to agree with your conclusion. It's the essence of formal debate--something that's been sorely lacking on this issue. Some die-hard skeptics would never be convinced, of course, but such things are never perfect.

What we have instead is an attempt to skip over the logical argumentation altogether and deal in the realm of 'self-evident' truth: If the planet is shown to be warming right now... a massive socialist response is essential. Since they take other routes towards pre-emptively ending the evidential debate and skipping over the policy debates altogether, we can only assume that key elements of their logic are missing or faulty. Enough philosophy. Here are the questions.

Envision them as a sequential if-then-else tree of yes/no responses not unlike a computer program or a witness being cross-examined in court. Any 'no' or 'not sure' answer requires stopping to gather more evidence--or stopping the policy train altogether!:

  1. Is the planet warming up?
  2. Will this forecasted change cause more harm than good?
  3. Are we certain that this trend is a long-term one and that it will continue?
  4. Can non-human causes be entirely or substantially ruled out?
  5. Do we have the means to alter planetary climate?
  6. Can we do so significantly, precisely and predictably with current approaches?
  7. Will the proposed resources (and opportunity costs) devoted to reducing carbon emissions save more lives than if applied to other problems (e.g., malaria reduction)?
  8. Are we certain that investment in research (application of human ingenuity) will not yield more cost-effective means of addressing the problem in the future? (i.e., rather than attempting to tackle it with currently available knowledge and solutions)
  9. Should a collectivist solution be preferred over one that relies on free market forces?
  10. Should some nations or groups be exempt from contributing to fixing a global problem?
This series of questions was sparked by a friend and neighbor who asked me, in essence: On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you in terms of believing in global warming? I hesitated then blurted out "two". Looking at the questions above, I'd say I'm more like a skeptical one, maybe a three-quarters if that's possible. Others?

UPDATE: In doing some background research, I stumbled over this credulous climate change, pro-IPCC site. What's notable after perusing just a few posts is how much they fall into exactly the trap I outlined above: Because 'A' is true, 'Z' must be also... and you really must get with the program if you think you need an explanation of how we got from A to B to C, much less to Z. The other thing that's apparent is how much a site purporting to be an objective scientific voice slides into sarcastic, ad hominem attacks against the unfaithful. For example, this and this. Debating one's critics seems passe. Denying their legitimacy seems the preferred tactic.