News And Comment

Most people have little idea of what is going on in Iraq. Here’s a small but useful reminder that it’s not the quagmire it never was: a slide show of soldiers on patrol, with text commentary by the photographer. Some of the shots are delightful, intriguing. The day will come sooner than most people expect: Baghdad, popular tourist attraction.

 

News of the struggle with the Mahdi Army in Sadr City is spotty, but at least one account is available. Not many newspapers are all that interested, of course. Which makes one wonder where in the world the AP got its information for this report. No, no cease-fire, it appears. We may know more in a week or two….

 

Lebanon. Again. The cyclical tragedy, an insane carnival of mayhem and ruined dreams. Perhaps the best testament to the essential incompatibility of a modern, cosmopolitan culture and the Islamic social system. From Commentary:

We have heard for many years from an array of journalists, scholars, and pundits that Hamas and Hezbollah are complicated social movements that employ violence in the service of their political goals, and that they are therefore susceptible to diplomatic engagement. Such tropes about Hamas have become standard … the magic elixir of political integration will dissuade Hezbollah from its traditional behavior, which is to terrorize and dominate any system in which it participates.

The Hezbollah rampage in Lebanon that we are witnessing should make it obvious to any sentient observer that Hezbollah’s claims to democratic political legitimacy have always been intended only to manipulate the credulous.

 

A leftist weblogger on Hillary and the mullahs’ atom bomb. Facts you might not have known. Then, much more on Iran — a thoughtful and informative column that provides much-needed perspective.

 

Evidently word has gotten out: the US Marine Corps is a tough outfit, demanding, close-knit, and very dangerous. The Corps recently more than met its monthly recruitment goal, which was set at 1,577. A total of 2,233 young men and women — that’s 142% of the hoped-for number — enlisted.

What is it that produces results like this? Those who ask that question will never understand the answer, no matter how simply it is put to them. It’s a realization below the level of thought that something is very wrong, and helping to set it right is a sacred pact with history.

All the armed services met their recruitment goals.

A lot of US politicians talk as if the enlistment figures were the result of poverty, unemployment, and despair imposed by an uncaring government. “You don’t get to go to college, so you wind up in Iraq.” Consider the tone of the article that reports the recruiting statistics, for example — see it here. This is an elitist mentality, snobbish and smug, out of touch with the people who make the USA work.

Yes, out of touch — and that is a very good thing indeed. We don’t want our kids choosing the wrong role models, and by the looks of things, a significant number of young people are clear on the concept.

 

Those who enjoy military history will want to look at the reading lists prepared by the various US armed services. Here they are, from theAir Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy. An additional list that is not service-specific is also available. For ancient military history, consider the works of Victor Davis Hanson.

 

China is up to its old tricks again: fake computer parts, and this time there are possible security issues, so the FBI is investigating. When are people going to realize that cheap stuff from China is vastly overpriced??

 

Speaking of China, let’s consider the Olympics. Or better still: let’s consider that after the Germans attacked Pearl Harbor, we would not letHitler hold the Olympics. That sure showed him. So let’s tell the Chinese not to hold anything in Berlin! — Berlin…wasn’t that the capital of Paris?

 

Some parts of the world deserve their misery, or they like it, or something…exactly what explains why it is all right for bad things to happen there but not somewhere else is not clear, though. Unless, of course, you happen to be a long-term subscriber to the New York Times, in which case you understand these subtle cultural differences. “Until recently, fake malaria drugs have been a problem largely confined to Southeast Asia, where a sampling two years ago found 53 percent of the drugs substandard….” And Gee Whiz, will you look atthat?? Now things are just in a mess! Those Southeast Asians are going to have to stop running all over the place, you know, spreading germs around….

 

“The principle of sovereignty is among the most prominent causes of avoidable suffering in the world today.” That’s a good point.

 

A British weblog, Samizdata, chooses a quote worth republishing:

To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture – to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques – it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers. As the killer of Theo Van Gogh told his victim’s mother this week in a Dutch courtroom, he could not care for her, could not sympathise, because she was not a Muslim.

The trouble with this disgusting arrogance and condescension is that it is widely supported in Koranic texts, and we look in vain for the enlightened Islamic teachers and preachers who will begin the process of reform. What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?

Mary Jackson quotes from a Spectator article by London’s newly elected mayor Boris Johnson written just after the July 7th attacks on London (but Boris backtracked during the recent campaign)

 

This would not normally rate mention in the PenPo, but the BBC has a well-deserved reputation for being staunchly anti-USA, so…. Scandal most foul: the propaganda outlet of the Oxbridge Axis ran a charity drive to help needy children, and now some say it kept too much of the money donated. Rotters! Knaves! Varlets!

 

How are things going these days in Canada, the Land of the Frigid Star Chamber? Have freedom of speech and press utterly failed to impress the locals, or might those alien notions mean beer will be cheaper, eh? Well, at least one newspaper has the right idea. Whoa! Maybe a campaign to thaw out yet more gray — oops, sorry, grey matter just might work, eh? Of course! Follow the example of the USA, Canada! Freedom! Common sense in — in, well, every area of governmental activity, such as education! Here, for example, we can see how Uncle Sam is taking the lead once again, and…and…. Oh, boy…. Never mind!

 

So does it really matter that Obama has worked with Ayers, the former assassin? Obama says Ayers was plotting murder and making bombs when Obama was eight, so No, it does not matter. But the candidate does not say how old he was when he found out Ayers was not the neighborhood’s Mr. Rogers clone.

 

What happens when a journalist misbehaves? Not much. There is no professional self-policing by journalists that is in any way comparable to that found in the medical and legal fields. Yet journalists have long sought elevated legal status, special privileges that set them apart from ordinary citizens. The arrival of the internet has complicated the issue.

Consider the case of Tim Townsend, a rascal who has no business pretending to be a reporter. Note as well how he is coddled by peoplewho should know better. Reform? It will never be undertaken by the existing journalistic establishment, but will have to be driven by the financial ruin of large numbers of newspapers. Some publisher may eventually found a new paper that has a proper code of ethics for editors and reporters — rules that militate against bias and the “spiking” of stories — and make them stick. He might make a lot of money. If journalism wants to be granted legal privileges and considered a profession, it will have to qualify ethically. That means refusing the roles of propaganda-monger and censor.

 

Be alert! Physicians may be on the loose in your community! Fox News reports, “The girl was treated for wounds to the head and neck, but was expected to survive.”

Now we have to find the villain who took her to be treated!

Just How Worried Should We Be About Global Warming, And What Can We Do To Stop It? Here Are Answers You Can Trust

A recent piece in the Los Angeles Times informs us that civilization as we know it is about to be destroyed — yes, soon — by devastating climate change, and that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the cause of the catastrophe. It’s a quintessential example of hysteria and apocalyptic prophesy.

It’s also nonsense.

Fact: a recent warming trend stopped ten years ago, and we have no way of knowing whether the next few decades will be cooler, pretty much the same, or hotter. We simply cannot predict.

Fact: those who claim they can predict do so on the basis of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. They believe CO2 drives temperature, which means that more CO2 causes a warmer climate, and less CO2 causes the climate to cool.

Fact: the self-appointed prophets are wrong. CO2 has little if anything to do with climate, and it is not the cause of either warming or cooling. It is not the or even a cause, because it cannot be: its physical properties make it only infinitesimally significant as a greenhouse gas.

Fact: we know these statements are true because the data exist to prove them, and the science that provides the explanation for how CO2 acts — and how it cannot act — is valid.

The answers to the questions asked in the headline above are, therefore, “Don’t worry,” and “Nothing.”

Of course you can’t accept those glib answers; you need more information. The next few paragraphs outline the facts, exposing the distortions and lies of terror-mongers like Al Gore and the author of the lunatic article in the LA Times. Those who wish to probe more deeply into the subject will come across more technical sources of information, along with comments on the true nature of the dispute, further down.

First we have to ask a simple question that the advocates of human-caused global warming hate: how much of the total production of CO2 comes from mankind’s activities? The answer, according to a website that preaches anthropogenic global warming, is right around five percent. Another website, this time one that argues against standard global warming cant, agrees. So everybody says that if we humans stopped all burning of coal, petroleum and plants — stopped it all — and emitted CO2 only when we breathe, all the natural (non-human) sources of CO2 would still produce 95% of the gas that is blamed for the impending catastrophe.

It’s unusual to see any agreement between the warmers and the deniers, and especially so on the proportions of natural and man-made CO2. The eco-freaks hate this question so much that they usually skip right over it, and give figures only for the CO2 humans produce. They sometimes even lie about the sources of CO2: this website says, for example, “The primary source of carbon dioxide is the burning of fossil fuels, which was increasing, said Pieter Tans, who studies greenhouse gases at the laboratory.”

Other alarmist websites that totally ignore the natural sources of CO2 include these three: One, Two, Three. Note, by the way, that one of the disingenuous sites is the work of NOAA, an instrumentality of the US federal government.

Obviously there is no way mankind can tell volcanoes to stop erupting, plants to stop dying, and the oceans — which are the major source of atmospheric CO2 — to stop giving up the gas that causes global warming. There is no hope.

No hope…unless, of course, we don’t have to worry about atmospheric CO2 levels.

If CO2 can’t cause climate change, then perhaps we can find what does, and do something about that.

So we turn to the question of whether CO2 drives temperatures up and down. This requires that we look at a graph that appears on this web page and is also included as an attachment with this issue of the PenPo.

As you examine the graph, look for points on it where CO2 levels are rising, and see what temperature was doing at the same time. Then look for declining levels of CO2, and check out the behavior of temperature as CO2 fell.

Now try this: look for places on the chart where CO2 levels are falling, and temperature is either stable or rising. Finally, can you find any indications of sharply rising CO2 that match falling temperatures?

You decide. What does this graph tell us?

If the relationship between CO2 and temperature were cause-effect, such that when CO2 goes up, temperature waits a little while and then rises, we could assume that CO2 drives temperature. More hints at the truth of that assumption would be provided by instances of falling CO2 being followed by lower temperatures.

If it always happened that way, with no exceptions, we would be on solid ground to conclude that we had identified an effect and its cause.

Is that what you see?

Now some global warming fanatics insist that these old, old records of CO2 levels are not relevant. Look, they say, at current data — information collected since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

This dodge is typical of the activists who blame us all for being naughty. They claim — without actually putting it this way — that the CO2 that existed hundreds of thousands of years ago had different physical and chemical properties. The implication is that today’s CO2 is not the same stuff it once was. One can hardly imagine a more dishonest, deceitful and untruthful position.

Yet that absurd claim is literally what they mean when they reject clear, unambiguous evidence of the fact that CO2 literally can not cause global warming. We know it can’t because it never has.

For a good summary of the facts, see this report in an Australian newspaper.

In an attempt to put the actual role of CO2 into perspective, some scientists refer to the medieval warm period. This website, for example, uses historical data to clarify today’s questions.

It’s difficult to present the full story of the atmospheric physics, technology of ice core studies, chemical and geological work in ways that can be grasped by the public. Perhaps one of the best means of conveying information is in a conversation with a scientist who takes the time to answer questions without asking us to pore over formulae. There is an excellent transcript of such a conversation available aticecap.us. It’s in the Portable Document format (.pdf). Highly recommended: download it and save it for future reference.

Of course the folks on the other side of the issue have their arguments, even if they are evasive and sinuous. For examples, check out thesetwo pages put up by the folks at New Scientist.

If those pages introduce doubt and worry — horrors, perhaps there is such a thing as CO2-induced warming, and it looks as if we are going to drown in our beds — then the counter is at hand. Compare the logic and solid facts of this rebuttal and its companion piece to the alarmist obfuscations of the New Scientist. Finally, consider what www.sciencebits has to say about those disputed ice cores, the raw data that tell us so much about CO2’s inabilities.

While the earth is not heating up, the debate over climate certainly is. The shame of it is that children are being spoon-fed Gore-ishpropaganda — and told that if they don’t nag Mommy into giving up her SUV and make Daddy ride a bicycle to work, the family will die horribly. Note once again: yet another government agency, this time NASA, comes down on the side of junk science.

There is a dangerous confluence of propaganda and highly technical science here, and the result is not pretty. The scientists who study climate in all its aspects and implications are dealing with complexities so profound they appear chaotic, even random. One does not just measure gases in ice, or send up weather balloons, or count tons of coal burned; one deals with the most advanced computer hardware available, and uses software that can be created by only a tiny number of super-geeks. The challenges are not just daunting; they are bigger than anyone can estimate.

There is, to put it bluntly, plenty of room for blunders and fundamental errors. We humans look for what we perceive to be patterns, trends — for they tell us we not only understand something, but can exercise a degree of control over it. That implies prediction.

Some day the weatherman may be able to tell us what we can expect for an entire week. That would require total control of all the variables, a task about as difficult as predicting where each grain of sand will wind up after a desert storm. So how do we reduce the astronomical number of data to something intelligible? How can we study something so immense, so complex and so misleading that we cannot even store all of its quantitative properties in a computer?

We build models. A model is a simulation, a gross simplification. It is something that is very much like a real thing, but it is just an abstraction. The model will fit into a computer, and we can “run” it to see where it goes. It allows us to predict.

The truth, however, is that all models, because they are simplifications created according to what we believe are the proper criteria, are not just limited. They include disproportionate factors, elements that are given too much significance, and lacunae. They are inaccurate from the first.

Many of the people who believe in the dangers of global warming and think they understand its causes have arrived at their conclusions by modeling climate. Because the technique of using computer-generated and -operated models to predict is in its infancy, the probabilities for error are certainties. Only the most sophisticated statistical analysis can improve the usefulness of these crude simulations of Nature’s systems. We simply don’t know what we are doing, in other words.

That’s why it makes far more sense to ask fundamental questions than to immerse oneself in arcane computational technology and labyrinthine software.

We ask, for example: “Do we have any instances in history, both human history and geologic time, of CO2 causing changes in climate?” Answer: we do not.

We ask, “If we ended all production of CO2, utterly and immediately, what percentage of total CO2 would disappear?” We know that answer, as well, and we need only ponder its significance to understand just how absurd global warming hysteria is.

But scientists are wedded to their computers and analyses and models, and that union produces offspring that are just about as agreeable and productive as most ten year-olds who are going on thirty. In order to counter the madness, we must refer to research and publications that speak the language of the scientists. In spite of its opaque character, one such monograph is included here because it represents an attempt by some clear-headed people to correct procedural errors. Give it a quick look, even if the body of the article is impenetrable.

Need more? Another academic weighs in with a paper that may be a bit easier to read.

Well, sooner or later, someone is going to ask, “Why has this become such an emotional topic? The denunciations of Al Gore are scathing, but the man is getting rich off his crusade; the feud between warmers and skeptics is bitter, with the skeptics eager to absolve CO2 of its guilt…what is going on, really?”

The answer is definitely not that this is an issue about data analysis, or how best to conduct research. This is a religious dispute.

That has not quite been noticed yet. Those who look closely, however, will see a dim outline of a pattern: the global warming faithful have their bishop, Gore, and his doctrine. They believe the nonsense in Gore’s film, and heap awards on him for his zeal. Never mind that his theology is loaded with errors ( nine crucial ones in that film alone), the point is that Gore is telling us that we humans are sinners. We are defiling the Goddess — Gaia. We have been sinning for a long time, and now we must pay the price: we must don hair shirts, do penance, and try to redeem ourselves. The End Times are upon us, but if we strive boldly and sacrifice mightily, we may survive.

The parallels with Christian doctrine are remarkable. We can be saved by following the teachings of a savior who was condemned by an evil cabal (the federal supreme court), suffered a political death for us (“I used to be the next president of the USA”), has undergone (financial and social) resurrection and now reigns in (solar-powered) glory. He teaches that the meek (those with a tiny carbon footprint) shall inherit the earth, and demands that we render unto Caesar (as he gave in to the harebrained Supremes who denied him the top job). After catastrophic events brought about by our ancestors and us, he will presumably lead us to eventual redemption — which is what? “Every home off the grid”?

In the final analysis, this is not a scientific debate. It’s the clash of a Gore-papacy with a heretical, protesting minority. The Inquisitiondamns the academics who dare to insist that Galileo is right (that the CO2 myth is a mistake).

In this dispute, solid science will not drive out junk science. Effective propaganda will and already does matter more than reason, as Gore’s prattle about “consensus” shows; the warmers are not trying to demonstrate facts, they are assembling their minions to vote on truth. The absurdity reminds one of legislation to give the constant pi a new value: exactly three.

If we make the mistake of believing that mere logic and hard data will carry the day, we may suffer a lot more than we expect. The consequences of governmental attempts to stop and reverse global warming, however needless, will be painful in the extreme. You will recall that in two instances cited above, it is clear that the Powers That Be are at least partially in line with Gore’s preachments. This in spite of the Bush administration’s attempts to ignore the non-issue.

Regarding weather and climate, we can’t predict. But regarding foolishness, conceit, the ego-mania of men on white horses, the gullibility of a propagandized public and the block-headed determination of a moronic bureaucracy, we have to know that we are in trouble. However disgusted Gaia may be with us, we are the enemy we should fear the most.