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Posts Tagged ‘George Will’

George Will Demands Clarity – Except from the Supreme Court

Wed ,28/06/2023

George Will started out his article, “The Supreme Court Votes for Clarity from Congress “ by citing a court case where the Supreme Court overruled the EPA – by muddying the water. He was referring to the case, Sacketts vs. the EPA. The Sacketts sued the EPA because it denied them a permit to, as George Will put it,” add a little sand and gravel to the land”.  The little sand and gravel he refers to would have filled in the wetlands adjacent to Priest Lake which is considered navigable water by the state of Utah.  The EPA cited their right to regulate navigable waters under the Clean Water Act. The Army Corps of Engineers analyzed the property and found that the EPA had jurisdiction.

The EPA successfully argued that, while the wetlands feed a non-navigable creek, that creek drains into navigable Priest Lake, and won a federal court battle in the 9th Circuit to continue blocking construction. The case was based on the Clean Water Act (CWA), which prohibits dumping pollution into “navigable waters . . . including wetlands adjacent thereto”, making it clear that the Clean Water Act includes adjacent wetlands. The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Sackett’s, but to do so they had to change the definition of adjacent.

Writing the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said that to be protected, there must be a “continuous surface connection” between the wetlands and navigable water. “The Court’s ‘continuous surface connection’ test disregards the ordinary meaning of ‘adjacent,’” wrote the dissenting justices. Alito and the conservative justices divorced the law from the legislators’ intent, essentially rewriting it in a way that fits the outcome they sought and contradicting the plain text of the law. The Clean Water Act was passed in the 1970s to restore and protect our Nation’s waters. The court overturned a 50-year precedent for the way the Clean Water Act has been interpreted. And, in doing so, they’ve exposed many of our wetlands and waterways to the threat of exactly the kind of pollution we had in the past that the Clean Water Act was meant to prevent. It is now estimated that the Clean Water Act keeps 700 billion pounds of pollutants out of US waterways every year .

The Supreme Court ruling also the means that as much as 90 million acres of wetlands in the U.S. are no longer protected by the Clean Water Act, embracing the decades-long demands of mining companies, the fossil fuel industry, reckless developers, and other big polluters. The court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA puts our communities, public health, and local ecosystems in danger. Wetlands are essential. They store water to prevent and mitigate floods, filter pollutants before they reach other bodies of water, support forestry, food and seafood production, and recreation, and more. “It doesn’t reflect reality, or the scientific understanding of how watersheds and the river networks within them function,” said Ellen Wohl, a river researcher and professor in the Geosciences Department at Colorado State University. 

She pointed out that wetlands eventually flow into navigable bodies of water, aquifers, and subterranean waterways. Allowing the pollution of those would also allow pollution of many streams, lakes, and wells we rely on for clean sources of water. It will do serious harm to the bodies of water most Americans obviously want to protect, as the Clean Water Act was designed to do. Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Sackett v. EPA is likely to hobble the law’s ability to protect several major waterways, including the Mississippi River and the Chesapeake Bay. He obviously did not allow for the fact that water runs downhill and that almost everyone lives downstream from someone.

To prevent an ecological disaster, Congress should rewrite the law to make it even clearer, although it is clear enough in its present form. And, states should beef up their own enforcement to ensure they protect their water and land. For now, that would be the best path forward, but it is not likely to happen soon, given the political makeup of Congress and many state legislatures.

As to George Will, he lacks clarity in the meaning of “conservative”. He applauded the decision by the conservative members of the Supreme Court which overturned 50 years of precedents and opened up over half of the United States’ wetlands to pollution and development. He distorted scientific work in the 1970s to discount the role of carbon dioxide in warming the earth, by claiming scientists then were predicting a New Ice Age. He seems to care little about conserving the earth and its ecosystems, and he rails about government regulations, even those meant to protect other human beings. Apparently, he doesn’t think claiming to be conservative means you support conserving the most important thing we have, the Earth.

Note: More detailed information about the value of wetlands, and this ruling are given in the High Country News: “Waterways are made up of more than what’s visible on the surface. Take Lapwai Creek, near Lewiston, Idaho: At a casual glance, it’s a ribbon of cool water, shaded by cottonwood trees and alive with steelhead and sculpin, mayfly and stonefly larvae. An adult could wade across it in a few strides without getting their knees wet. But that’s just the part people can see. Beneath the surface channel, coursing through the rounded cobbles below, is what scientists call the hyporheic zone: water flowing along underground, which can be a few inches deep, or 10 yards or more, mixing with both surface water and groundwater. Microbes that purify water live down there, and aquatic insects—food for fish and other animals—can use it as a sort of underground highway, traveling more than a mile away from a river.

A creek, in other words, is more than just the water in its channel; it’s also the water underground, and it’s connected to everything else in its watershed, including wetlands and channels upstream that might dry up during some years, or perhaps go years between getting wet. Whatever happens there—pollution or protection—happens to the entire creek. In the case of Lapwai Creek, which flows into the Clearwater River and then the Snake River, it’s a small but fundamental part of the complex ecosystem that salmon, humans and countless other creatures in the Pacific Northwest rely on.

But those ecological realities are strikingly absent from last week’s US Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA. The ruling strips federal protections from all ephemeral streams and, as reported by E&E News, more than half of the previously protected wetlands in the US. It limits Clean Water Act protections to “relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water.” That includes some wetlands—those that are “indistinguishable” from protected oceans, lakes, rivers and streams “due to a continuous surface connection.”

“It doesn’t reflect reality, or the scientific understanding of how watersheds and the river networks within them function,” said Ellen Wohl, a river researcher and professor in the Geosciences Department at Colorado State University. Wohl helped review the scientific evidence used to develop an earlier, and much more expansive, Obama-era definition of which bodies of water fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “The Court’s ‘continuous surface connection’ test disregards the ordinary meaning of ‘adjacent.’ … As a result, the Court excludes wetlands that the text of the Clean Water Act covers—and that the Act since 1977 has always been interpreted to cover.”

Weaker protections mean that more wetlands and temporary streams will be destroyed, filled in with dirt for houses or other development. Ecosystems and people alike will lose the benefits they provide: biodiversity and abundance of species; space to absorb extra water during storms, preventing deadly floods; natural storage of that same water, so it’s available later, during dry times; the natural purification that occurs when water is filtered through the ground.

Take, for example, a desert playa in the Great Basin, which might be dry for years at a time. When rainwater falls on it or snowmelt flows into it, it acts like “a big sponge,” Wohl said. A sponge that can store water for later, and clean it, too. But if you turn it into a parking lot by filling or building on it, as the Supreme Court ruling makes it easier to do, water will pour off it, rather than soak in. And what was once a playa—part of an intricate system changing across space and time—will become simply an asphalt wasteland.”

Newsflash: The Earth's Temperature Is Still Going up

Wed ,04/11/2015

Conservative politicians and columnists like to say,”The Earth’s temperature hasn’t gone up since 1998″. That is certainly wrong, and creates doubts about them actually being “conservative”. Just a few weeks ago my Congressman said in a letter, “The Earth’s temperature hasn’t gone up since 1997”, stretching it a bit. That’s his excuse for not supporting action on climate change.

That untruth about the Earth’s temperature was popularized by George Will when he used it to attack John McCain during the 10warmest2008 election. George Will was apparently upset that a conservative Republican was recommending action on global warming. When I contacted George Will for an explanation, he said that 1998 was the warmest year on record and no year since had been hotter. Actually 2005 was, destroying his argument. There have been several warmers years since – as shown in the graph at the right. And so far, 2015 is setting a new record.

Not willing to give up on a good excuse, the politicians and pundits now claim the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed their deception. That’s not right, either. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report  stated that the global surface temperature “has shown a much smaller increasing linear trend over the past 15 years [1998-2012] than over the past 30 to 60 years.” The apparent slowdown was termed a “hiatus” and cheered by the Skeptics, although a “smaller increasing linear trend” is not a hiatus. And it turned out that the “smaller increasing linear trend” was caused by a change in the way the Earth’s temperature was measured, not by an actual decrease in the rate of warming.

Dr. Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information,  is the lead author of the  study published in the journal Science. He explained the discrepancy came from a change in how ocean temperatures were measured. “Global ocean temperatures are estimated both by thousands of commercial ships, which record the temperature of the water entering their engines and by thousands of buoys. The buoys tend to get cooler temperature readings than the ships, likely because ships’ engines warm the water. Meanwhile, in recent years, buoys have become increasingly common.”  The result, Karl says, is that the oceans did not appear to be warming as much because more buoys are now being used instead of ships. So Karl’s team adjusted the buoy data to make them line up with the ship data. The corrected data,  shows that since 1998, the rate of warming is about the same as it has been since 1950: about two-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit per decade.

That should settle the matter but some politicians just are not willing to accept science  and, interestingly enough, one of them is the chair of the Congressional Science Committee.  Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has spent much of the last few years pressuring the National Science Foundation to ensure that it only funds science he thinks is worthwhile and “in the national interest.” He certainly didn’t think that Dr. Karl’s research,  showing the Earth’s temperature was still going up an alarming rate, was in the national interest. So, he sent a request that Dr. Karl and NOAA provide his office with “[a]ll data related to this study and the updated global datasets” along with the details of the analysis and “all documents and communications” related to part of that analysis.

The request was meant to be burdensome, but apparently Congressman Smith does not understand how science publications work. NOAA responded to Rep. Smith’s request by pointing him to the relevant data and methods, all of which had already been publicly available. Undeterred, Representative Smith asked for even more data, explanations, and communications. NOAA did not respond to that request or the following subpoena, citing a “confidentiality interest”.   Committee Member Bernice Johnson (D – TX), intervened  with a letter sent to Rep. Smith revealing and criticizing his actions. In it, she noted that Rep. Smith was looking into a scientific study and not a Federal policy decision. “As such,” she wrote, “this is not an area of delegated legislative authority by Congress  (unless you are proposing that Congress should somehow legislatively overrule peer-reviewed scientific findings).” Of course that is what Rep. Smith would like to do, but he will likely have to content himself with just harassing Dr. Karl and NOAA.

(C) 2015 J.C. Moore


The Earth Hasn't Warmed in the Last "X" Years Myth

Wed ,30/01/2013

The title has an “X”, as the number of years varies from 10 to 16 depending on who said it and when. I first heard this myth from George Will when he was attacking John McCain’s stand on global warming during the 2008 presidential campaign. Mr. Will claimed that the Earth’s temperature had not gone up in the last 10 years. When I contacted him for an explanation, he said that it was because 1998 was hotter than any year after that. Strangely, Mr. Will referred to the data from the World Meteorological Organization rather than that from NASA. Mr. Will has no use for the UN, but his statement could only be true if he used the UN data which showed that 2005 was slightly cooler than 1998. NASA’s data shows that 2005 was slightly warmer than 1998, and also that 2007 and 2010 were warmer yet. It’s a little hard to explain how the Earth reached those higher temperatures without  going up, but logic and truth are mostly irrelevant to those who say this.

As the years have gone by, “X” has been increased accordingly and the erroneous statement has been repeated on Skeptic’s blogs, newspaper articles, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, sites like Yahoo!Answers, and by politicians such as Sen. Inhofe. The number “X” is now up to 16 and when I put “no global warming in past 16 years” in Google’s search engine, I got 114 million hits. It’s a great propaganda piece as it is simple, easily understood, and reduces people’s worry about climate change. Unfortunately, it is very comforting, and very, very wrong. The propaganda has been funded, circulated, and promoted by those who do not want us to address global warming as they have an economic interest in the issue.

So what is the truth of the matter? There are number of natural and man-made factors that affect the temperature of the Earth. The main factors are the amount of solar radiation we receive, volcanic activity, greenhouse gases, and ocean circulations such as El Niño and La Niña. Man’s main contribution falls in the area of greenhouse gases. We are now emitting 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has gone up about 40% in the last century. That increase and the ensuing feedback loops are the main factors that can be attributed to man. Though there are other contributions, most of the CO2 increase has come from burning fossil fuels.

Probably the best way to see man’s influence on the Earth’s temperature is to subtract out the factors that can be attributed to natural sources and to see what is left. That was done very nicely by climate scientist John Cook in a video which he produced and posted on YouTube. It’s only 2 minutes long, but it shows how the Earth’s temperature has responded to the increasing burden of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.



If the video doesn’t load, you may access it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W705cOtOHJ4

George Will's War on Regulations

Fri ,25/05/2012

                     “Good regulations make good citizens.”

 You would not think that if you read George Will’s article “Obamacare: Regulatory state’s war on business”. He tells how Carl Karcher built his hotdog cart business up to Carl’s Jr. Restaurants, now CKE Industries, a multibillion dollar business. However, Mr. Karcher passed on in 2008 and Mr. Will has written an anecdotal story based upon quotes from CEO Andy Puzder.  He claims that “CKE’s health care advisers, citing Obamacare’s complexities, opacities and uncertainties, said it would add between $7.3 million and $35.1 million to the company’s $12 million health care costs in 2010, unless CKE converted many of its full-time employees to part time.“ He felt it would be necessary to do that to avoid providing them with the health insurance required by Obamacare. The article goes on, blaming Obama’s policies for the poor economic climate, the high cost of fuel prices, and for creating “ multitudes of regulators who regard business as the enemy” and are conducting a “regulatory state’s war on business”.

 Although the healthcare bill is called Obamacare, Mr. Will should remember that what we have is not the universal health care that President Obama wanted. It is the half-a-loaf that remained after the compromises necessary to get the bill through Congress and overcome the Senate’s plan to filibuster it. Had universal care been enacted, CKE and other businesses would not be responsible for providing health care for their workers. Mr. Puzder apparently also missed the point that even now Obamacare requires that insurance companies use 80% of the premiums collected to pay for healthcare. In many cases, this will mean lower premiums and rebates to the insured *. The affordable health care act was passed requiring universal coverage, but Congress weakened the restrictions on what insurance companies can charge. The problems CKE has in covering employees with health insurance is more the fault of Congress than of the administration.

There is also an ethical problem that Mr. Will passed over. Most of CKE Industries’ employees work for near minimum wage and are covered by the company’s “mini-med health care program”. If that program does not meet the requirements of Obamacare, is it adequate to cover their needs if they have a serious health problem? Mr. Karcher is not here to speak for what he would do, but Mr. Puzder apparently sees it as a trade-off between job creation and providing adequate health care for his employees. He is apparently willing to convert many employees to part time in order to cut costs on their health care. In 2007, before the company went private, CKE Restaurants, Inc. earned revenues of approximately $1.5 billion. Is it possible that Mr. Puzder is making a trade-off between his employees’ healthcare and the company’s bottom line? Perhaps Mr. Will should look into that issue.

* Note: Under the Affordable Health Care Act, health insurers must pay 80% of the premiums collected for medical expenses or return the difference. Here is a list, by state of the amount expected be refunded under this provision.

George Will: The Earth Doesn't Care What We Do to It

Wed ,29/09/2010

And, of course, the Earth does not care if man becomes extinct.

George Wills latest excursion into climate science (1) was inspired by the American Scholar which had on the cover  “The Earth Doesn’t Care if You Drive a Hybrid” and  Robert B. Laughlin’s essay inside “What the Earth Knows.” (2) George Will likes to look at things in terms of geologic times as it obscures the damage man is doing to the Earth. He summarizes Laughlin’s article as:

“What humans do to, and ostensibly for, the earth does not matter in the long run, and the long run is what matters to the earth. We must, Laughlin says, think about the earth’s past in terms of geologic time.”

George Will is also afraid that environmental regulations will inconvenience him, so he loved the quote from the article:

“Buy a hybrid, turn off your air conditioner, unplug your refrigerator, yank your phone charger from the wall socket—such actions will leave the end result exactly the same.”

I can imagine Mr. Will beaming as he was able to quote  a Nobel Prize winning physicist, albeit in theoretical physics, who agreed with him. Yet, you might wonder, what will that “end result” be?

And, Laughlin says:

“Someday, all the fossil fuels that used to be in the ground will be burned. After that, in about a millennium, the earth will dissolve most of the resulting carbon dioxide into the oceans. But most models, even pessimistic ones, envision a thousand-year carbon dioxide pulse followed by glacially slow decay back to the pre-civilization situation.”

Oops! Wait. Do we want to return to “pre-civilization”? There must be more that Mr. Will missed.  Oh yes, Mr. Will would never quote this:

“Carbon dioxide from the human burning of fossil fuel is building up in the atmosphere at a frightening pace, enough to double the present concentration in a century. This buildup has the potential to raise average temperatures on the earth several degrees centigrade, enough to modify the weather and accelerate melting of the polar ice sheets. Governments around the world have become so alarmed at this prospect that they’ve taken significant, although ineffective, steps to slow the warming. “

Laughlin offers a reason for the ineffectiveness:

“Experts are little help in the constant struggle in this conversation to separate myth from reality, because they have the same difficulty, and routinely demonstrate it by talking past each other. Respected scientists warn of imminent energy shortages as geologic fuel supplies run out. Wall Street executives dismiss their predictions as myths and call for more drilling. Environmentalists describe the destruction to the earth from burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Economists ignore them and describe the danger to the earth of failing to burn coal, oil, and natural gas. “

He left out columnists like Mr. Will who help spread the myths and some of our politicians who  spread misinformation and  refuse to take timely action – while somehow finding time to take large donations from those who are profiting from the status quo.

Laughlin goes on:

”And the damage to the environment is exacerbated by the real problem, which is human population pressure generally – overharvesting, habitat destruction, pesticide abuse, species invasion, and so forth. Slowing man-made extinctions in a meaningful way would require drastically reducing the world’s human population. That is unlikely to happen”.

So, Robert Laughlin says that the Earth will likely get warmer, the oceans more acidic, and we will exhaust our fossil fuel supplies – and then the Earth will return to the equilibrium upset by man’s activities. Man’s effect will be but a mere blip in the geological history of the Earth. The Earth will not care if we return to pre-civilization or even if  man becomes extinct. The only lasting change we may leave in Geologic time may be the loss of the species we take with us. Still, shouldn’t we try to preserve civilization and as many species as we can? Especially, ours?

(c) 2010 J.C. Moore

(1) http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/12/george-will-earth-doesn-t-care-what-is-done-to-it.html?gt1=43002

(2) http://www.theamericanscholar.org/what-the-earth-knows/

Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame 2009 Awards

Mon ,08/03/2010

Your votes have been tabulated for the person who has most affected the environment through word or deed. The 2009 winner in the in the Environmental Hall of Fame category is Benno Hansen. He is  a ThinkAboutIt Blogger from Copenhagen who recently was a winner of the the European blogging competition for his articles on the environment.  He will receive the “Most Noble Prize in Environmental Science” and a years subscription to Science News.

The winner in the Environmental Hall of Shame category is SpaceGuy, a Newsvine Blogger. He has seeded the most articles about the stolen CRU e-mails and has been a strong critic of climate change research. He has designed a Moon colony and  says he  “Is totally dedicated to getting us off this planet”.  He will  receive the “Ignoble Prize in Environmental Science” and a copy of the movie Wall-E, which characterizes his view of the future of Earth.

The votes are tabulated below:

Votes for Hall of Fame

  • Al Gore (10)
  • Senator Barbara Boxer  (2)
  • Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger ( 11)
  • Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger (1)

Votes for Hall of Shame

  • George Will (2 )
  • Senator James Inhofe (7)
  • SpaceGuy, Newsvine Blogger  (14)
  • Arthur B. Robinson (0 )

George Will: Blinded by Science of Climate Change

Tue ,23/02/2010

When we were kids, we used to spin ’round and ’round until, when we stopped, the horizon would appear to keep spinning. That is how I felt after I read George Will’s article “Blinded by science on climate change” (1). He thinks scientists are bad guys, selling cars is more important than clean air, polluters are good guys, and global warming is a religion. The Washington Post once had an ombudsman to handle complaints from scientists about George Will’s cherry-picking, misconstruance of data, spinning of facts, and ignorance of science. The opinion of most scientists is that George Will is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.

Mr. Will does not get quotes right, either. He claims that Phil Jones, in his BBC interview, admits there has been no statistically significant global warming in the last 15 years. However, what Jones said was “I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level.” Jones also presented data to show that from 1975-2009 ( the last 15 years) the Earth warmed by a statistically significant +0.16 0C per decade and said “most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity. “(2) Mr. Will apparently misquoted Jones in an attempt to back up one of his mistaken and much criticized claims. He keeps saying that there has been no global warming since 1998 even though a number of scientists, the author included, have written him to tell him he is misconstruing the data. (3)

Mr. Will started his good guys are bad guys diatribe by criticizing Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change, for denouncing those who deny the effects of climate change on the planet. Dr. Pachauri earns very substantial consulting fees by advising governments on environmental issues but he takes only a $49,000 salary and donates the rest to those less fortunate. Does he sound like a bad guy? For his work, Dr. Pachauri shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, a great honor- except to George Will who, by comparison, has been nominated for a Newsvine Environmental Hall of Shame award. Mr. Will also criticizes California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger for participating in the Western Climate Initiative and “trying to fix the planet on his own”. The WCI is made up of seven Western states and four Canadian provinces and their goal is to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.

Not to be inconsistent, Mr. Will then praises Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer for suspending participation in the WCI agreement because “she is afraid that strict emission rules may raise the cost of new cars”. It apparently is more important to sell cars than it is to have clean air and water. He also thinks it’s great that the Utah State Legislature, who wishes to exempt Utah from Federal emission standards, is considering a similar action. Mr. Will also praises BP America, Conoco/Phillips, and Caterpillar for withdrawing from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of companies and environmental groups. Mr. Will claims they withdrew because the cap-and-trade legislation is stalled and they are no longer worried about restrictions. Oops, wrong again. Those companies helped draw up the blueprint for Congresses’ cap-and-trade legislation and they still support the original cap-and-trade legislation. They withdrew because they felt the amendments added to the bill would unfairly penalize the petroleum industry. (4) Perhaps they object to the huge financial incentives added to the bill for the coal industry to develop the oxymoronic “clean coal”.

Mr. Will also ignores qualifiers. In his BBC interview, Phil Jones said that the Medieval Warm Period (circa 800 to 1300 A.D.) “may” have been warmer than today. Mr. Will apparently ignored the word “may” in Jones’ response as he claims Jones admitted to the MWP and went on that the MWP “complicates the task of indicting contemporary civilization for today’s supposedly unprecedented temperatures”. Jones said “may” as there is anecdotal evidence of a MWP in Europe but there is little evidence in the proxy data that it was worldwide. It is recorded that the Nile froze over in 1010 A.D., right in the middle of the MWP.(5) Mr. Will wants to save the MWP as he thinks he has a potent argument, but even if the MWP existed, his argument is mostly irrelevant to the documented environmental changes that have occurred in the last century.

Finally, Mr. Will claims (half seriously, he says) that Tom Stern, America’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, has violated the First Amendment which forbids the government from undertaking the establishment of religion. Mr. Will can say that because he claims, “a religion is what the faith in catastrophic man-made global warming has become.” Perhaps Mr. Will is unaware that there is a Christian environmental movement, sponsored by the National Council of Churches and made up of practicing Protestants and Catholics, that promotes good stewardship and respect for the Earth.

(1) http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/02/21/blinded_by_science_104494.html
(2) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm
(3) http://que2646.newsvine.com/_news/2009/10/11/3372180-george-wills-climate-deception
(4) http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/politics/stories/oil-firms-drop-out-of-group-lobbying-for-us-climate-bill

(5) Lamb, H. H. (1977) Climate: Present, Past and Future: Climatic History and the Future. Vol 2, Methuen and Co. Ltd

Vote for the Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame

Wed ,20/01/2010

The Nominating Committee has reached its decisions. Please vote for the person you think has most affected the environment through word or deed. The2009 winner in the in the Environmental Hall of Fame category will receive the “Most Noble Prize in Environmental Science” and a suitable gift. The winner in the Environmental Hall of Shame category will receive the “Ignoble Prize in Environmental Science” and a also suitable gift.

If you wish, please post a reason for your vote and a suggestion for a suitable gift for your favorite candidate. The author will buy the gifts from his Newsvine earnings so please don’t worry about the expense. Your votes may be given at http://que2646.newsvine.com/_news/2010/01/20/3783801-live-poll-vote-for-candidates-for-the-environmental-hall-of-fameshame

Nominees for Hall of Shame

  • George Will
  • Senator James Inhofe
  • SpaceGuy, Newsvine Blogger
  • Arthur B. Robinson

Nominees for Hall of Fame

  • Al Gore
  • Senator Barbara Boxer
  • Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger
  • Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Top 10 Reasons Real Scientists Will Not Debate …….Dissident Scientists

Mon ,18/01/2010

It is fashionable of late for some columnist and bloggers to call real scientists “alarmists” and to challenge them to a debate. George Will did so in his column, ”Generating heat over global warming” where he blasts “Anonymous scientists’ unspecified claims about the column’s supposedly myriad inaccuracies”. I do know of two scientists who had sent him e-mails pointing out some of his myriad inaccuracies but he keeps saying them. Maybe a debate is needed.

Cal Thomas, in “John McCain has joined the global warming cult”, claims McCain – and most of the world’s scientists – have been brainwashed by the charismatic Al Gore. Al must be good at it as he also mesmerized the Noble Prize Committee. Cal then issued a challenge for Al Gore and his global warming alarmists to debate Cal’s group of dissident scientists.

But, who are those dissident scientists? Years ago, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed “Science has spoken, global warming is a myth”. Wondering who spoke for science, I tracked the authors to a “think tank” where their job was to manufacture “scientific doubt”. The group was a little short on scientific credentials but they probably didn’t have much time for research, anyway. Most of them spent their time moonlighting for energy companies. However, I was amazed to find that they had discovered a number of “little known facts of science” using Lucy’s method:

Lucy: Charlie Brown, do you want to hear some little known facts of science?

Charlie Brown, looking puzzled: Wait a minute, if they are so little known, how do you know them?

Lucy: Because I’m the one who made them up.

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for the debate, here are the top 10 reasons it won’t happen. Admittedly, some of the fault lies with the real scientists.

10. Real scientist do not want their cult exposed. They have a secret ritual called “research” which they are trying to keep from dissident scientists and columnists.

9. Real scientists don’t like to be labeled as “alarmists”. They are certainly alarmed but they just don’t like the columnists’ tone. They should remember that Paul Revere was an “alarmist”.

8. Real scientists feel outnumbered. Supposedly, 31,000 outraged scientists signed a petition denouncing global warming. The data was collected by a power company lobbyist and was analyzed using Lucy’s method. Many of the ” scientists” were undergraduate students in Bachelor of Science (BS) programs. One may get a BS degree in fields such as journalism, sociology, education, philosophy …. Still, no real scientist wants to debate an outraged philosophy major.

7. Real scientists are miffed. They have to work for years to discover nature’s secrets while think tank scientists can discover “little known facts of science” in minutes by using Lucy’s method.

6. Real scientists are really miffed. Think tank scientists, with their moonlight pay, earn waaay more than real scientists.

5. Dissident scientists won’t share their microphone. A debate almost occurred at a public forum on climate change sponsored by Prosperous Americans for Prosperity for their favorite Congressional candidate. A number of dissident scientists attended but, when a real scientist was discovered there, the moderator took the microphone to the other side of the room and ignored the scientist standing on his chair and waving.

4. Dissident scientists are not punctual The real debate took place in the 1980’s but the dissident scientists are just now showing up.

3. Dissident scientists don’t want real scientists to criticize their ideas. When 60 climate skeptics sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada denouncing global warming alarmists, Canada’s top climatologist pointed out: “by and large the skeptics are not climatologists, they do not come to our meetings, and they do not submit their studies to be peer reviewed”.

2. Dissident scientists won’t follow the normal rules of logic. A Senate hearing by Senator Jim Inhofe, using testimony from dissident scientists, found that the media was biased in reporting climate change. Therefore, it was concluded, global warming was a hoax. Hmmm?

And, number 1. Dissident scientists really want to debate just Al Gore. Al has refused, as he doesn’t think it’s fair to have a battle of facts with a group of unarmed men.

Science, Polar Bears, and the "Coming Ice Age" Story

Mon ,26/10/2009

Those who do not believe the Earth is warming have promoted the “Global Cooling” and the “Coming Ice Age” stories to discredit the scientific evidence. George Will in “Can Bears Survive Ice Age and Global Warming?” 1 champions these stories but his article has a number of flaws- besides the awkward title. How can you trust science, he asks, when in the 1970s the scientists were predicting the coming of a new Ice Age  but now scientists claim that the Earth is warming. To prove his point, George will quoted an article in the February 1973 Science Digest that said “the world’s climatologists are agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age”. Case closed. 

 Well, perhaps not.  The Science Digest published excerpts of articles from other sources. Like in the game of “Gossip”, George Will quotes Science Digest who quotes the Christian Science Monitor who quotes ….   Clearly, the world’s climatologists had not agreed  as there is an article in the same issue that quotes  Dr. Cesare Emiliani, a noted American geologist who warned, “If the present climate balance is not maintained, we may soon be confronted by runaway glaciation or runaway deglaciation.”  Why would Mr. Will quote one article and ignore the other?

Mr. Will’s story is “Not true.” also says climatologist Thomas C. Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C..  To prove it, he and his colleagues surveyed all major journal papers on climatology published between 1965 and 1979.   They report that in that time period “only seven articles predicted that the global average temperature would continue to cool, 44 journal papers indicated that the average temperature would rise and 20 were neutral or made no climate predictions.” 2 Mr. Will’s quote is clearly wrong but he has persisted in using it. Ignorance is no excuse as John Fleck, one of the authors of the survey, reported he sent Mr. Will an advance copy of the article in May of 2008.

The bears entered into this story because the Department of Interior had just put the polar bear on the threatened species list. That was simply a decision made by scientists who study bears and climate. The polar bear is uniquely adapted to live and hunt on sea ice and there is ample evidence that the polar sea ice is disappearing.3 Satellite photos of the Artic region taken in 1979 and in 2003 clearly show that 30% of the sea ice has disappeared. But to George Will, this was a conspiracy between scientists, litigious environmentalists, federal judges and government officials to control everything in his life.  Using polar bears as a lever, he claims, the Endangered Species Act could be used to prohibit the building of a power plant in Arizona, driving a SUV, or leaving your cell phone charger plugged in overnight. Well, the bears are a threatened species, not an endangered species, and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne pointed out that the Endangered Species Act could not be used to limit greenhouse gases. However, George Will apparently believes in the power of exaggeration and the “slippery slope” theory.

 (1)  http://www.tulsaworld.com/TWPDFs/2008/Final/W_052308_A_18.

 (2)  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2008

 (3)  See, for instance, the before (1979) and after (2003) satellite pictures in National Geographic (September 2004, page 21). The pictures show about a third of the polar sea ice disappeared between 1979 and 2003.