Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The NYT has found the immigration boogeyman -- and he is a Greenie!

The defeat of the U.S. Senate bill that would have given a huge amnesty to illegal immigrants was the result of a broad-based protest but Leftists like to find an evil boogeyman behind everything that thwarts them so the report from the NYT below focusing on just one group is the usual prescription. The amusing part, however, is that the organization they have "found" seems to be a Greenie one. That is of course not at all improbable. Greenies want to REDUCE the population so many do oppose ALL further immigration into the USA. Conservative bloggers all seem to be of the opinion that conservatives defeated the bill. Amusing if it was actually Greenies who delivered the fatal blow. Some excerpts from the NYT article:

When a comprehensive immigration bill collapsed last month on the Senate floor, it was a victory for a small group that had been lobbying Congress for a decade to reduce the number of immigrants - legal and illegal - in the United States. The group, Numbers USA, tracked every twist and turn of the bill. Its members flooded the Senate with more than a million faxes, sent through the organization's Web site. It supplied arguments and information to senators opposing the bill. "It was a David-and-Goliath struggle," said Roy H. Beck, the president of Numbers USA, who had been preparing for this moment since 1996, when he wrote a book titled "The Case Against Immigration."

"Numbers USA initiated and turbocharged the populist revolt against the immigration reform package," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy group. "Roy Beck takes people who are upset about illegal immigration for different reasons, including hostility to Latino immigrants, and disciplines them so their message is based on policy rather than race-based arguments or xenophobia." Representative Brian P. Bilbray, Republican of California and chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, said, "We're involved in weekly discussions with Numbers USA and other immigration-control groups as part of a team effort."

Numbers USA had fewer than 50,000 members at the end of 2004, but now counts more than 447,000, with an increase of 83 percent since January alone. Turning to the next phase of the debate, those members will push for enforcement of existing laws and new measures to curb the employment of illegal immigrants. "Our No. 1 legislative goal is to begin a system of mandatory workplace verification, to confirm that every employee is a United States citizen or an alien authorized to work in this country," said Rosemary E. Jenks, director of government relations at Numbers USA.

The organization wants to reduce immigration - as Mr. Beck says in the subtitle of his book - for "moral, economic, social and environmental reasons." He contends that immigrants and their children are driving population growth, which he says is gobbling up open space, causing urban sprawl and creating more traffic congestion. Moreover, Mr. Beck asserts that immigrants and temporary workers, by increasing the supply of labor, have depressed wages in industries from meatpacking to information technology. Numbers USA has worked most closely with conservative Republicans, but in recent weeks has built alliances with Democrats who share the concern.

Numbers USA objects to proposals that increase the number of legal or illegal immigrants. It steers clear of debates over the allocation of visas. "It does not matter to us whether a visa goes to a high-tech worker, a farm worker or the sibling of a U.S. citizen," Mr. Beck said. Numbers USA is one of many organizations fostered by John H. Tanton, an ophthalmologist from Michigan who has also championed efforts to protect the environment, limit population growth [A definite Greenie!] and promote English as an official language....

Mr. Beck said Numbers USA had been independent of Dr. Tanton since 2002. On the group's Web site, Mr. Beck cautions against "immigrant bashing" and says, "Even illegal aliens deserve humane treatment as they are detected, detained and deported." In the fight over the Senate bill, Numbers USA had daily conference calls with conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Eagle Forum.

For tax purposes, Numbers USA has two arms, an educational foundation and an advocacy group that lobbies Congress. Together, Mr. Beck said, they have a budget of $3 million this year, but will probably raise and spend $4.5 million. Mr. Beck said that in the past the group received about two-thirds of its money from foundations like the Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh and the Weeden Foundation in New York. Many of these foundations have an interest in conservation.


More on the recent solar influence on climate

Prof. Brignell has taken up the cudgels in looking at the recent Royal Society paper by Lockwood & Froehlich that claimed to debunk the Durkin "Swindle" film. Prof. Brignell specializes in mathematical analyses of physical data and finds a number of infelicities in the paper. I excerpt below the most pointed part of his comments, which, I am pleased to say, largely echo my own comments. See the full article for some interesting links:

So let us take their findings at face value. They say that solar studies fail to predict a claimed sharp rise in global temperature. Well that is precisely what others of a more sceptical disposition have been saying, most recently for example David Archibald. The authors of this paper claim to be dealing with recent times, so they have the advantage of satellite data, which are more credible than the earthbound sort. Indeed the satellite data suggest that there has been no significant global warming since the strong El Nino year of 1998. From Archibald:

But the paper in question chooses to ignore the satellite data and to show as its final figure the usual ground station data with a strong upward slope for recent years. For an explanation of that see How not to measure temperature. Number Watch has been frequently pilloried for item 6 in its ten facts about global warming, yet now that surface stations are actually being systematically investigated it is clear that there is a great deal of dubiety in those records.

So what does it all boil down to? They have gone round the houses with a great deal of razzamatazz to tell us something that appears to be generally agreed, that solar activity is in decline. They then contrast this with the dubious totem graph of surface temperatures and end up with the complete non sequitur that the CO2 sceptics must be wrong, which was the point seized upon with great relish and hysteria by the establishment media, led of course by the BBC. Fortunately, there is still the odd isolated cool head among the overheated mass.

Thus the Royal Society, which has throughout its glorious history received and published a significant proportion of the great discoveries of world science, finds itself hosting a cheap, opportunistic gibe at an honest attempt to popularise a return to traditional scepticism in science.

Let's fight back against the new Model Army

Like voodoo forecasts, computer models of climate change are being used to stifle political discussion and resign man to his Fate. Given the sad state of history education these days, I guess I should note that the original New Model Army was mostly comprised of Christian fundamentalists, was in part led by Oliver Cromwell and ultimately brought about the beheading of Charles I. So the heading above is basically a pun

Everybody models nowadays. Nothing gives a new forecast, policy or strategy more weight than knowing that it is, in some way, the product of a computer model. The world's top capitalists use models to perform `what if?' exercises on crises and disasters, and to simulate future business growth. Governments bow down to models on all sorts of issues: right now, Britain's chief scientist is modeling the future of UK obesity. Yet computer models are not all they're cracked up to be. They remain based on a host of untested assumptions; worse, they tend to reduce human beings simply to the role of passive victims - helpless spectators in front of unfolding Great Events.

In no other arena has modeling gained so much kudos as in climate change. Back in 2005, spiked forecast that forecasting itself was due for a boom, because of the growing sense of uncertainty suffered by government and business (see All eyes on the future, by James Woudhuysen). This prediction has proved right, but the trend has been reinforced by the way in which models of climate change have become the gold standard upon which all decision-making must be based.

The rise of models has coincided with the evaporation of the concept of human agency, of human beings consciously gaining and applying new insights through struggle. While we're supposed to realise that climate change demands the most profound spiritual and lifestyle revolution for each and every person on the planet, in computer models of the future we are consigned to a fate that is pretty much pre-ordained. Such a view demeans the capabilities of people, distorts policy, and is also simply unrealistic. In the real world, human beings do not wait for things just to happen to them; we react, adapt and innovate around problems as they arise.

Just a third of a century ago, when politics actually meant something, highly regarded analysts derided vapid computerisations of the future. When the Club of Rome published its epoch-making bestseller The Limits to Growth in 1972, reaction was sharp. Christopher Freeman, then director of the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex and doyen of the world's technology policy gurus, satirised the Club's approach as `Malthus with a computer'. The Fall of Man into a world of depleted resources, it was felt, could not be verified by the movement of electrons and punched cards around an IBM mainframe (1).

Things have changed. In October 2006, when Sir Nicholas Stern published his 700-page UK Treasury report on the economics of climate change, he referred more than 500 times to models of climate change and its monetary cost; models of hydrology, crop growth, risk and uncertainty; and models of innovation, technology and energy. Yet rapture, not criticism, was the main reaction to his argument (2).

Why have models taken on such importance in policymaking today? Whatever happened to the healthy scepticism that accompanied the portentous conclusions of models in the past?

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Pentagon notoriously corralled emerging, mathematics-based disciplines - cybernetics, game theory - into the cause of the Cold War. Particularly after the development of the integrated circuit in 1957, computers were also used, in practice and in propaganda, to lend a veneer of respectability to the campaign. Since those years, the prestige of IT has grown. Today's Unbearable Rightness of Foreseeing, then, is the product of both climate catastrophism, and revived chutzpah on the part of those promoting IT.

Even before the dot.com boom of the late 1990s, Shoshana Zuboff's seminal In the Age of the Smart Machine claimed that IT didn't just automate industrial processes, but gave rise to new insights `into functional relationships, states, conditions, trends, likely developments and underlying causes' (3). Today, with the rise of the supposedly all-conquering technologies of Web 2.0 and their dramatic use in Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic Party nomination, only a few detractors are on hand to sniff about IT's deficiencies.

As solutions to the problem of seeing into the future and providing a vision for it, IT-based methods have gained in credibility. At the same time, the past 20 years have also seen the decline of politics as a vehicle for change. In place of the clashing ideas of left and right have come neutralising, anaesthetic diagnoses and cures. We had think tanks and audits in the 1980s, going on to balanced scorecards and Key Performance Indicators in the 1990s. Until the demise of his government-by-sofa, former UK prime minister Tony Blair had Lord Birt, ex-boss of the BBC and all-round management Dalek, to perform `blue skies' thinking for him on everything from transport to the prison system.

Alongside this managerial approach to every political issue, a New Scientism has sprung up in relation to global warming, converting questions of economic and technological development into matters of physics or climatology - perfect for number-crunching modelers. The main thing about this approach is that it looks hip, modern, cool and unanswerable. But if more people now turn to expose the emperor's new clothes, the profound fatalism that informs the modeler's prognoses about the future will finally come out.

For proof, let's look at the two most recent summaries for policymakers produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In a previous article, we took up the ideas in the summary produced by IPCC Working Group I, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (see A man-made morality tale, by James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky). Now whatever its faults, this summary at least confined itself to the physical science of climate change. But the IPCC's subsequently published Working Group II summary, on the impacts of climate change, adapting to it, and mankind's vulnerability to it, is a very odd document. So is the Working Group III summary on how to mitigate climate change. Each of these summaries is, in fact, an eclectic mish-mash of monolithic computer simulations. Each uses computer models to predict social phenomena - developments quite different from those covered by climatology. (4)

The Working Group II summary runs to 22 pages. Interestingly enough, however, it only deals with how human beings might respond to the impact of climate change on page 17. Most of the summary is devoted to repeating the forecasts of climate science. We learn that sea defences might be a good idea; but then again `altered food and recreational choices', `altered farm practices' and more regulation are also part of the IPCC's oh-so-scientific approach.

The bad news, according to Working Group II, is that climate change itself can slow progress toward sustainable development. We learn, too, that there are `formidable environmental, economic, informational, social, attitudinal and behavioural barriers to implementation of adaptation'; indeed for developing countries, a principal barrier blocking adaptation to climate change is - wait for it! - the fact that they have yet to build the capacity to adjust to climate change. How brilliant is that?

The Working Group II report puts forward six different Emission Scenarios, describing six different possible worlds of the future. The `A2 storyline and scenario family', for example, projects rapid population growth resulting in problems of food supply, coastal flooding and water scarcity for particularly large numbers of people. Here, more population means that the effects of global warming will hit more people. These kinds of banalities have nothing to do with climate science. They are waves of the arm about the economics, psychology and fertility of the future. Broadly, the suggestion is that there is little that the world can do to adapt to climate change.

A similar insouciance marks the Working Group III summary on mitigation, which runs to 35 pages. Economic and political assumptions are there, yet precisely what these are is never made clear, even in the fuller versions of the reports available to date. For example, we are reassured to learn that, by 2030, average CO2 emissions in the Third World are projected to remain substantially lower (2.8-5.1 tonnes of CO2 per head) than those in First World regions (9.6-15.1 tonnes). But where is the natural science in that `projection'?

Working Group III is adamant that changing its projections of population, or using market exchange rates rather than purchasing power parities to compare the GDPs of different countries, are adjustments that conveniently make no difference to the level of greenhouse gas emissions it projects for 2030. On the other hand, we are made to understand that most models of mitigation assume `universal emissions trading. transparent markets, no transaction costs, and thus perfect implementation of mitigation measures throughout the twenty-first century'. These are quite extraordinary assumptions to make.

To conclude, about the only time the IPCC's Working Group III admits the case for human agency is when, on page 16, it acknowledges that the macroeconomic costs of mitigation might be lower if the human species were to engage in technological change. But it is quick to admonish: `However, this may require higher upfront investment in order to achieve costs reductions (sic) thereafter.'

Instead of raising technology to a higher level, the IPCC seems to prefer that motorists adopt what it calls an `efficient driving style'. So while technologies to save the planet are held to be a bit expensive, we're told that changes in lifestyle and behaviour, by contrast, can mitigate climate change `across all sectors'.

Such a view fits in nicely with the low horizons of modern politics. With the IPCC, the modern computer modeler's work is complete. The conclusions are already there in the premises; but the presentation as the product of cold, logical number-crunching ensures that this work will brook no counter-argument.

But there is a counter-argument. We can uphold humanity's talent for taking the future into its own hands. And we can mount our own, humanistic critique of voodoo forecasts. Computer models of the future are both products and producers of political muddle. It's time they were held up to the light, then given the searing interrogation they deserve.



German power firms are frustrated that a government-organised meeting on energy issues next week is likely to avoid what they see as a key issue -- the future of nuclear power. Chancellor Angela Merkel is bound to a seven-year old deal to phase out nuclear energy by the early 2020s and risks a serious crisis with anti-nuclear forces in her coalition government if she reneges on it. But utilities, which say they need longer nuclear operations to win time to meet increasingly ambitious environmental goals, are fed up with the prospect of a third such high level meeting taking place without an open discussion of the nuclear issue. They are also baulking at proposed efficiency targets which the government wants to push through at the July 3 meeting.

The results of the gathering will form the basis for a national energy plan in the autumn, which utilities fear will be unrealistic. "We need the dialogue for business reasons but it has deteriorated to a climate meeting which knocks nuclear and discredits coal -- away from an objective energy debate," an executive at one of Germany's big four utilities, who asked not to be named, said.

Merkel, a conservative whose views on nuclear power generation clash with those of her Social Democrat coalition partners, must reconcile the energy industry's needs with her climate protection policies. The energy sector is about to invest billions of euros in renewing ageing power stations, mainly with coal-fired units, but says it needs stable policies to make this sustainable.


Oil rigs are good for wildlife!

Oil rigs are tiny outposts of the manmade world in the massive wilderness of the open ocean. So at the end of their working lives should they simply be dismantled and removed? A Sydney academic has weighed into the debate over the future of dozens of rigs around the Australian coast, arguing that in certain cases it may be better for the environment to keep decommissioned oil facilities in place as breeding grounds for fish and other marine life.

David Booth, a researcher with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and a professor with the University of Technology, Sydney, says scientists have found what appear to be new species living around the rigs. ``There's 50 or 60 rigs that will be decomissioned in the next decade or so,'' Booth said. ``Some of them are in areas that are biological deserts and they act as little oases. ``In other cases, removing the rig could be damaging to the environment. ``In other cases total removal may be the way to go.''

His opinion comes as the federal government prepares to hand down an issues paper on the future of the rigs which is likely to spark further debate. There are scores of rigs around the Australian coast, with most located off Western Australia's coast and in Bass Strait. Some companies are looking at establishing new rigs off South Australia. Typically rigs in Australian waters rest in between 50 and 1000 metres of water. Below 30 metres is considered by scientists to be the deep sea.

Booth is involved in a project called SERPENT under which international researchers are able to use the facilities aboard oil rigs to study life on the ocean floor. Funding comes jointly from the federal government and oil companies.

Researchers use rig cameras to study the sea floor and remotely-operated vehicles to deploy instruments and traps. Booth said scientists in locations in the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia had located a host of new creatures, some of which appeared to belong not only to new species but whole new families of life.

With many Australian rigs now reaching the end of their life span, Booth said there were tough decisions to me made about the future of the facilities. While requiring oil companies to completely remove their rigs and return the ocean floor to its previous state might seem to be the most environmentally-friendly option, he said a case by case approach was more appropriate. One option might be to leave the rigs in place in their entirety so as not disturb fish life. They could also be used for commercial purposes such as fish farms.

Another option might be to remove all fittings and push the rigs over, allowing them to be used as artificial reefs. However, this would impact on fish living on the upper reaches of the rigs. If total removal was the preferred option, rigs could be towed away and scrapped.



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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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