Monday, December 25, 2006


The excerpt below is from a review by an atheist of "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. The closing quote is from Karl Marx

The most curious feature of Dawkins' crusade against religion is that it is mounted at a time when the social influence of religion is at a low ebb. In the USA, Dawkins follows liberals in grossly exaggerating the influence of the religious right as a way of avoiding any reflection on the lack of popular appeal of their own agenda. In the UK, Dawkins concentrates his fire on one school in Gateshead where creationism has crept on to the curriculum (allowing him to sneer at Peter Vardy, the vulgar `car salesman' millionaire who has bankrolled the school). Yet, while he happily tilts at windmills, Dawkins ignores much more influential currents of irrationality - such as the cult of environmentalism - which has a far greater influence on the national curriculum than notions of `intelligent design'.

While Dawkins can readily identify common features between South Pacific cargo cults and the Christian churches, he seems oblivious to the religious themes of the environmental movement. Just like evangelical Christians, environmentalists preach a `repent, the end is nigh' message. The movement has its own John the Baptist - George Monbiot - who has come out of the desert (well, Oxfordshire) to warn us of the imminent danger of hellfire (in the form of global warming) if we do not repent and embrace his doctrines of austerity and restraint. Beware - the rough beast of the apocalypse is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born!

Far from challenging the pervasive influence of this bleak outlook, Dawkins goes so far as to endorse the abjectly anti-humanist theories of Peter Singer, one of the movement's most fundamentalist apostles. Though this movement's promotion of the anti-scientific `precautionary principle' constitutes a greater threat to scientific experimentation than the pathetic attempt of a few evangelicals to return the teaching of biology to the Old Testament, it is entirely ignored by Oxford's professor `for the public understanding of science'. While university theology departments are in decline, courses in various schools of `alternative health' (which share only a foundation in pre-scientific thought) have grown apace in recent years - but Dawkins is too busy berating the bishops to notice.

In the turbulent years before the First World War, Jewish anarchists in London's East End provoked riots by picketing the synagogue in Brick Lane on holy days, baiting the faithful while they fasted, by publicly eating ham sandwiches. In a similarly self-indulgent fashion, Dawkins seems to revel in causing offence to the devout. But this sort of posturing against religion does nothing to challenge the roots of religious faith. The Brick Lane synagogue was built as a Christian church and is now a mosque: while much else has changed around it, it is clear that the need for religious worship endures. `Religion is only the illusory sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.'


The toxicity of environmentalism

Recently a popular imported mineral water was removed from the market because tests showed that samples of it contained 35 parts per billion of benzene. Although this was an amount so small that only 15 years ago it would have been impossible even to detect, it was assumed that considerations of public health required withdrawal of the product. Such a case, of course, is not unusual nowadays. The presence of parts per billion of a toxic substance is routinely assumed to be a cause of human deaths. And whenever the number of projected deaths exceeds one in a million, environmentalists demand that the government remove the offending pesticide, preservative, or other alleged bearer of toxic pollution from the market. They do so, even though a level of risk of one in a million is one-third as great as that of an airplane falling from the sky on one's home.

While it is not necessary to question the good intentions and sincerity of the overwhelming majority of the members of the environmental or ecology movement, it is vital that the public realize that in this seemingly lofty and noble movement itself can be found more than a little evidence of the most profound toxicity. Consider, for example, the following quotation from David M. Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service, in his prominently featured Los Angeles Times book review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature:

This [man's "remaking the earth by degrees"] makes what is happening no less tragic for those of us who value wildness for its own sake, not for what value it confers upon mankind. I, for one, cannot wish upon either my children or the rest of Earth's biota a tame planet, be it monstrous or-however unlikely-benign. McKibben is a biocentrist, and so am I. We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value-to me-than another human body, or a billion of them.

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line-at about a billion years ago, maybe half that-we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.

It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

While Mr. Graber openly wishes for the death of a billion people, Mr. McKibben, the author he reviewed, quotes with approval John Muir's benediction to alligators, describing it as a "good epigram" for his own, "humble approach": "'Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouth-fill of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty." Such statements represent pure, unadulterated poison. They express ideas and wishes which, if acted upon, would mean terror and death for enormous numbers of human beings.

These statements, and others like them, are made by prominent members of the environmental movement. The significance of such statements cannot be diminished by ascribing them only to a small fringe of the environmental movement. Indeed, even if such views were indicative of the thinking only of five or ten percent of the members of the environmental movement-the "deep ecology," Earth First! wing-they would represent toxicity in the environmental movement as a whole not at the level of parts per billion or even parts per million, but at the level of parts per hundred which, of course, is an enormously higher level of toxicity than is deemed to constitute a danger to human life in virtually every other case in which deadly poison is present.

More here

Earth's Climate Changes in Tune with Eccentric Orbital Rhythms

Ocean sediment reveals the pattern behind the rise and fall of ice ages and the shape of Earth's orbit

The useless shells of tiny ocean animals--foraminifera--drift silently down through the depths of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, coming to rest more than three miles (five kilometers) below the surface. Slowly, over time, this coating of microscopic shells and other detritus builds up. "In the central Pacific, the sedimentation rate adds between one and two centimeters every 1,000 years," explains Heiko Palike, a geologist at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, England. "If you go down in the sediment one inch, you go back in time 2,500 years."

Palike and his colleagues went considerably further than that, pulling a sediment core from the depths of the Pacific that stretched back 42 million years. Limiting their analysis to the Oligocene--a glacial time period that lasted between roughly 34 million and 23 million years ago--the researchers found that global climate responds to slight changes in the amount of sunlight hitting Earth during shifts in its orbit between elliptical and circular. "Of all the records so far, this is both the longest and, also, the clearest that most of the climatic variations between glacial and interglacial at that time [were] most likely related to orbital cycles," Palike says.

The researchers pulled specific foraminifera samples from the core and then dissolved the shells in acid. They pumped the resultant carbon dioxide gas into a mass spectrometer and determined exactly what elements comprised the shells. This allowed them to distinguish between shells composed of the relatively lightweight isotopes of carbon and oxygen versus those made with a higher proportion of heavier isotopes.

The isotopes, in turn, reveal a picture of the climate eons ago. Oxygen (O) with an atomic weight of 16 evaporates more readily than its heavier counterpart 18O. Thus, when ice caps form, ocean water bears a higher ratio of the heavier isotope. Because the tiny creatures build their shells from materials in seawater, their calcium carbonate homes reflect the ratio of the two isotopes in the seas of that time. "They are a recorder of how much ice is present on the earth at any given time," Palike notes.

The same is true for the various isotopes of carbon, 12C and 13C. Because plants preferentially use the lighter isotope, its scarcity is a record of how much life the oceans supported. By matching these isotope ratios to the astronomical cycle--Earth's orbit oscillates between an elliptical and circular path on a roughly 400,000-year cycle--the researchers found that patterns of glaciation and ice retreat followed the eccentricity of our planet's orbit, they report in the December 22 Science.

But the eccentricity of Earth's orbit does not cause that much of a flux in the amount of sunlight the planet receives; that energy budget is much more strongly impacted by variances in the degree ofEarth's tilt toward or away from the sun, which would lead one to expect glaciation to occur on a shorter cycle. Instead, the long times required to move carbon through the oceans apparently acts as a buffer. "Each carbon atom that you put in the ocean stays there for about 100,000 years," Palike explains. "The climate system accentuates very long periodic variations and dampens shorter term variations."

Earth is currently nearly circular in its orbit and, if this Oligocene pattern were to be followed, would next be headed into another ice age in about 50,000 years. But the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached levels not seen for millions of years prior to the Oligocene. Thus, to get an accurate picture of what the climate might be like in coming years, scientists will have to continue back even farther in history to a period known as the Eocene.

It is already clear, however, that the effects of the carbon released now will affect the oceans for years to come. "Another effect of this residence time of carbon in the ocean is that it takes a long time to flush the system out," Palike says. "It will take a very long time to go back to the level that existed before a large excursion of CO2. It's not going to be doomsday, end of the world, but a rise in sea level would affect a very large percentage of humankind." Not to mention the shells laid down today on the deep ocean floor of the Pacific.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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