Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I've decided that it's time to stop feeling guilty about my lack of recent posting activity on this blog.  I hereby declare a formal sabbatical of indeterminate length.

There are plenty of outstanding "skeptic" blogs out there operated by those who have much more time and energy than I have, and who are much more on top of the scientific aspects of the debate than I am.  Check out my "Fellow Heretics" blog list in the sidebar—in particular, some of the "A-List" blogs like Climate Audit, Watt's Up With That, JoNova, and others.

I will continue to devote effort to my politics and culture blog. In fact, AGW-related posts are likely to show up there from time to time, since in recent times the boundary between science and politics has grown quite fuzzy vis-à-vis the climate debate.  I believe that many of the same folks on the other side of the climate debate are also behind the current drive to remake America in their image.  So, in a sense, I’m not abandoning the battlefield—I’m doing a strategic redeployment.

I’ve kept the existing comments, but they’re no longer displayed.  Sorry about that.

I will continue to keep up with the debate, but, alas, you’ll need to read about the latest developments elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The science is settled!

For those who insist that a scientific viewpoint has little credibility unless it has been published in a respected peer-reviewed journal, I’d like to ask: How did the following study survive peer review?

Daily Mail (UK), February 7:

Boredom could be shaving years off your life, scientists have found.

Researchers say that people who complain of boredom are more likely to die young, and that those who experienced 'high levels' of tedium are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to die from heart disease or stroke than those satisfied with their lot.

More than 7,000 civil servants were studied over 25 years - and those who said they were bored were nearly 40 per cent more likely to have died by the end of study than those who did not.

The scientists said this could be a result of those unhappy with their lives turning to such unhealthy habits as smoking or drinking, which would cut their life expectancy.

Specialists from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, looked at data from 7,524 civil servants aged between 35 and 55 who were interviewed between 1985 and 1988 about their levels of boredom. They then found out whether they had died by April last year.

Researcher Martin Shipley, who co-wrote the report to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology this week, said: 'The findings on heart disease show there was sufficient evidence to say there is a link with boredom.

So, they polled 7,000 government employees 25 years ago to find out if they were experiencing boredom at the time, and then checked back last year to see if they had died yet.

Does this methodology strike anyone else as ridiculously absurd?  Nevertheless, what appears to be a manifestly unscientific study has been published in a prestigious peer-reviewed medical journal.

Of course, nothing like this would ever happen in climate research, but pardon me if I don’t automatically genuflect when AGW advocates play the peer-review card.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What was that they were saying about the science being settled?

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which didn’t seem to mind being seen as the final word on all things climate change, appears to have based some of their conclusions on information taken from the back of a cereal box.

Well, maybe not, but we now know of at least one instance where a major IPCC doomsday prediction was based on information taken not from the vaunted peer-reviewed literature, but rather from an organization whose stock in trade is exaggerating perceived environmental threats.

The Sunday Times (UK) reports today:

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.


The New Scientist report was apparently forgotten until 2005 when WWF cited it in a report called An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China. The report credited Hasnain's 1999 interview with the New Scientist. But it was a campaigning report rather than an academic paper so it was not subjected to any formal scientific review. Despite this it rapidly became a key source for the IPCC when Lal and his colleagues came to write the section on the Himalayas.

When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

So the WWF report didn’t even pretend to be an academic paper, but instead was a “campaign” report from start to finish.  Instead of following the trail to the source of the assertion, they swallowed WWF’s interpretation whole, and even went further by assigning a “very high” likelihood that the glacial disappearance would occur in the specified timeframe.  All ultimately based on a speculative remark in a phone conversation.

Given the fact that the IPCC’s conclusions have been used by organizations and governments to pursue a fundamental reordering of civilization, this is negligence and arrogance of the first order.  We skeptics can be forgiven for wondering how much of the IPCC’s assessments are fueled by incompetence or personal biases.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Global warming update

Times Online (UK), January 4:

Arctic air and record snow falls gripped the northern hemisphere today, inflicting hardship and havoc from China, across Russia to Western Europe and over the US plains.

There were few precedents for the global sweep of extreme cold and ice that killed dozens in India, paralysed life in Beijing and threatened the Florida orange crop. Chicagoans sheltered from a potentially killer freeze, Paris endured sunny Siberian cold, Italy dug itself out of snowdrifts and Poland counted at least 13 deaths in record low temperatures of about minus 25C (-13F).

The article goes on with example after example demonstrating that we’re currently experiencing the worst winter in many decades.

The reason? Global warming, of course:

Guo Hu, the head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, linked this week’s conditions to unusual atmospheric patterns caused by global warming.

Folks, it doesn’t matter what kind of weather we have — it’s all because of global warming.  No evidence required, because the meme is firmly entrenched.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Obama administration intends to rule by fiat if Congress doesn’t submit?

According to a Fox News story today, administration officials acknowledge privately that the EPA’s newly-claimed powers allow the executive branch to function as a dictatorship if it so chooses.

The Obama administration is warning Congress that if it doesn't move to regulate greenhouse gases, the Environmental Protection Agency will take a "command-and-control" role over the process in a way that could hurt business.

The warning, from a top White House economic official who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity, came on the eve of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's address to the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jackson, however, tried to strike a tone of cooperation in her address Wednesday, explaining that the EPA's new powers to regulate greenhouse gases will be used to complement legislation pending in Congress, not replace it.

"This is not an 'either-or' moment. It's a 'both-and' moment," she said.

But while administration officials have long said they prefer Congress take action on climate change, the economic official who spoke with reporters Tuesday night made clear that the EPA will not wait and is prepared to act on its own.

And it won't be pretty.

"If you don't pass this legislation, then ... the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area," the official said. "And it is not going to be able to regulate on a market-based way, so it's going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty."

So.  Obama would prefer that Congress take the actions that the administration demands of it.  But if Congress fails to get its act together, the administration will publicly hold Congress responsible for the economic chaos that will follow.

And that economic chaos is a virtual certainty if the administration resorts to fiat rule through the EPA. Who would want to invest in an economy where regulations are changing suddenly and radically (and almost always to the detriment of businesses)?

Attack of the cannibal polar bears!

Did somebody mention polar bear cannibalism in Copenhagen this week?  I ask because so many people have arrived at this blog in recent days via a search on that topic.  Next to the acronym “AGW”, this is by far the most popular search that results in a visit here.  If you’re one of the folks that arrived in this manner… Well, HOWDY!

For the record, I blogged on the topic more than a year ago.  If any new information has arisen that enhances the then-dubious case for the [novelty of the] phenomenon, please let me know.

UPDATE: Inserted three words in final sentence (between the brackets).  I argued in the linked blog entry that there wasn’t necessarily anything new about polar bear cannibalism.

EPA declares plant food to be a public health threat

A bit late in reporting on this, but hey, this is a blog, not a news service.  But just for the record, here’s what happened on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press:

The Obama administration took a major step Monday toward imposing the first federal limits on climate-changing pollution from cars, power plants and factories, declaring there was compelling scientific evidence that global warming from manmade greenhouse gases endangers Americans' health.

Does anyone else see a logical disconnect here?  Not the Environmental Protection Agency, because they’ve consciously named carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.  A gas that occurs naturally, the existence of which is essential for plant life – is a dangerous pollutant.

And notice – only “manmade” carbon dioxide seems to be capable of causing global warming.  Oh, and how is it a danger to public health?  They don’t say here, but it’s obvious that they’re playing the Six Degrees game.

So, what kind of powers has the EPA amassed for itself by this “finding”?  The article gives us a taste:

The price could be steep for both industry and consumers. The EPA finding clears the way for rules that eventually could force the sale of more fuel-efficient vehicles and require plants to install costly new equipment — at a cost of billions or even many tens of billions of dollars — or shift to other forms of energy.

It almost certainly goes beyond this.  If human generated carbon dioxide emissions are as dangerous as the EPA says they are, there is no logical or moral reason why the EPA shouldn’t extend its regulatory tentacles into every aspect of our lives.

In other words, this finding will serve as the greatest mechanism ever devised for state control of American people and resources, all in complete, deliberate mockery of the constitutional limits on the powers of the federal government.

It’s almost as if that was the plan.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do I REALLY think that the environmental left is on a QUEST to destroy the world’s economy?

Someone asked me this question in the comments section of a recent post, and I thought it deserved a high-profile answer.

In the banner of this blog I refer to the “quest by the environmental left to destroy the world’s economy” through various means. I was asked: Why would they want to do that? What’s their motivation?

For me to call this the "quest" of the entire environmental left is a bit of hyperbole -- but IMO the characterization is justified because, whether consciously or unconsciously, the environmental left is aggressively pursuing an agenda that can have no logical end other than the destruction of the world economy.

On one hand, I accept at face value their claim to be motivated by concern for the environment. So much of modern civilization is based on customs, technology, etc. that the environmental left feels are harmful to the environment. AGW, real or not, is to them the golden opportunity to remake civilization into a form more to their liking.

On the other hand, many now marching under the banner of environmentalism would in a previous generation have been classified as good old-fashioned Marxists. Their true motivations are economic, not environmental. But overt Marxism is a bit out of fashion in the west, and environmentalism is quite fashionable, so what better cover can one find for one’s war against capitalism? Just think about how many people out there are saying that the only way to lick the climate crisis is to shift more and more of the economy to state control.

So, agree or not, that is why I used these pointed words in the blog banner.

UPDATE: I almost forgot the following point about how AGW is a good cover for Marxists... Think also about how many out there are preaching that the greatest moral imperative of "rich" countries is to transfer increasing amounts of their wealth to poor countries -- with no strings attached.

Monday, December 7, 2009

There was a time when erosion was just erosion

The media are quite deft at taki ng some phenomenon that has been occurring since time immemorial and suddenly attributing it to some alleged climate change consequence that hasn’t even happened yet.

AFP tells the sad story of  Thai fishing villages that are slowly falling into the sea.  This much is real. But what could be causing this?

She is one of 25 million people under threat in Thailand's vast Chao Phraya river delta, which is sinking because of river damming and the clearing of mangrove forests, as climate change pushes up sea levels.

Which of these things doesn’t go with the others?  River damming, forest clearing, rising sea levels: which of these isn’t actually happening today?

The article doesn’t bother to present evidence that the sea levels are actually rising. Every reference to this afterwards is speculation about future sea level increases. 

In other words, there was no legitimate reason to mention climate change at all – except as part of a drip-drip-drip campaign of public scaremongering, most likely coordinated with the ongoing Copenhagen Chicken Little Confab.

Memo to the AGW boosters in the scientific community: you’d get a lot more respect from the skeptics if you would lift a finger now and then to denounce such fraudulent reporting on this issue that is so dear to you.

Then again, as we dig deeper and deeper into the muck of CRU correspondence, we get the impression that the AGW boosters in the scientific community might be too ideologically (or financially) invested in the world they’ve created.  There’s too much at stake – they can’t let the truth get in the way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

They’re really thinking about a different kind of green

These days, countless businesses spare no effort reminding us how much they care about planet earth. 

Have these companies really become true believers in global warming, or is something else at play here?

I suspect that in most cases, what we see in this July 14 Dilbert comic is a little closer to the truth.

(Click for full size)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They were okay with the statue, but they drew the line at including an altar and incense

The Tennessee State Senate has, thankfully, rejected a Democrat lawmaker's attempt to have a statue erected in honor of Al Gore's Nobel "Peace" Prize. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports:
A resolution urging that the state Capitol Commission erect a statue on the Capitol grounds in honor of former Democratic Vice President Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize failed on the Senate floor today.

The resolution, which also urged a statue be erected for Nobel Peace Prize winner Cordell Hull, failed on a 15-14 vote with most Republicans voting no. It needed 17 votes to pass.

Earlier, the sponsor, Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, said the measure had “broad bipartisan support in the House.”
I say "thankfully", because we wouldn't want Gore to start thinking that his Nobel Prize actually meant something.

I am generally opposed to permanent public honors (statues, building/street/park names, etc.) of people who are still living. People -- especially politicians -- have a knack of doing things later that make us want to withdraw the honor.

Just as I believe that people will some day regret naming their kid after Barack Obama, so also I believe that some day -- as the alleged global warming "consensus" collapses like the West Antarctic Ice Shelf is predicted to do -- people will regret holding Al Gore in such high esteem.

(Photo credit: National Post)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Soy burgers: Ban them! (#3)

Where were the soybeans grown?

Food miles, people. Food miles!

(Explanation of the "Ban Them" series here)

Reusable grocery bags: Ban them! (#2)

Reusable grocery bags are an indispensable accessory for the eco-conscious shopper. But perhaps the true believers should reconsider the virtue of using them.

Not only do they increase your risk of food poisoning, I'd be willing to bet that your bag was not manufactured locally.

Vendors such as ECOBAGS like to trumpet the fact that their products are manufactured in the USA, but how many miles did the bag travel before it reached the store where you got it?

This very argument is used to discourage the consumption of food that is not locally grown, so aren't you being hypocritical when you use a shopping bag made who knows where?

There ought to be a law.

(Explanation of the "Ban Them" series here)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Water fountains: Ban them!

Yesterday I was taking a walk near my office to shake off my traditional midafternoon drowsiness. My route took me past this fountain, which is part of a retail development.

Somehow, I began to wonder how the global warming true believers would view this fountain. It occurred to me that if they were consistent with their stated beliefs, their reaction might be something like this:
This fountain is an outrage! What a waste of water, just to provide a little selfish enjoyment for people.

And the electricity! Every minute the pumps are running brings us another step closer to the destruction of the polar bear's habitat. I will find out who owns this shopping center and DEMAND that they shut the fountain down IMMEDIATELY.

Come to think of it... the problem is much bigger than this. There are fountains in towns and cities all over the country. If banning incandescent bulbs makes a difference, think about what we'll gain if we can ban water fountains!

I'll call my city council. No, wait. Local governments are a little too sensitive to the voters, and might be reluctant to take an action that is unpopular. Heck, they own a lot of the fountains. Going after this at the local level will yield spotty results.

We need a federal law. The environmental organization I'm a member of has a lot of pull in Washington. I'll give a call to the president of our local chapter and see if he can send my idea up the chain.

But what would we do with the old fountains once they're shut off? We can't let the space go to waste. Oh, wait -- we can let it go to waste! We should dedicate the fountain sites to community composting!
And so on. Absurd, perhaps, but my point is that if the true believers are going to follow their ideology to its logical conclusion, many things we take for granted in our society will have to go.

They might actually agree with the suggestion that water fountains are a wasteful extravagance, but we can go a lot further with this idea, and it's a matter of time before we come across something that even the true believers will be unwilling to surrender.

From time to time I will post candidates for things that should be banned. Look for the BAN THEM label.

Let's take the CoGW at its word and show its adherents what they need to do to avoid being called hypocrites.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hoaxing the media: A parable

If you are inclined to believe whatever the mass media tells you about global warming, it might be worth your while to ponder this May 11 AP story:
When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.

His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.

The sociology major's obituary-friendly quote-which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer's death March 28-flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India. They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia twice caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it.

A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets they'd swallowed his baloney whole.

"I was really shocked at the results from the experiment," Fitzgerald, 22, said Monday in an interview a week after one newspaper at fault, The Guardian of Britain, became the first to admit its obituarist lifted material straight from Wikipedia.

"I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn't come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up," he said. "It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact."