Friday, January 13, 2012

Evolutionary Psychology of Climate Change

Yet another attempt by the Green/Left to portray their opponents as mentally defective. That people who believe in unvalidated prophecies are the ones with a problem he does not consider

Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” argues that the human brain is poorly equipped to respond to global warming.

Our ability to mentally time-travel between the past, present and future and act in accordance with personal and shared goals is a result of the magnificent human-prefrontal cortex. Evolution, guided by natural selection, has tinkered with this brain region for millions of years, aiding us in the unrelenting pursuit of survival and reproduction. By learning from the past and imagining alternative futures, we perform complex cognition functions that inform decision making and allow us to respond to threats that endanger our well-being.

Among the many threats on our radar, it is evident from the political discourse in the United States that global warming is unique. Though scientific studies confirm that rising global temperatures and shifting climate patterns threaten human health, biodiversity, ecosystem sustainability, food security, water and air quality, and other ecosystem services on which we depend, less than half of adults worldwide see global warming as a threat to themselves and their families. Why aren’t we more worried about this looming disaster?

Daniel Gilbert argues that human brains evolved to respond to threats that have four features, ones that global warming lack.

Firstly, global warming isn’t tied to social intention or plotting. Our brains are highly specialized for thinking about the devious schemes of others because social interaction (both in terms of cooperation and detecting defecting) crucial to the survival of our species. Unlike anthrax and terrorism, climate change lacks agency, and is instead an emergent property of more nebulous interactions.

Secondly, global warming doesn’t violate our moral intuitions. Unlike dangers that are tied to emotional aversions, such as hurting an animal or burning a book, chemicals in the atmosphere do not make us angry or repulsed.

Thirdly, humans are masters at responding to immediate threats (such as a zooming baseball or a hungry predator), but are novices at acting to resolve worries of the distant future.

Lastly, Daniel Gilbert argues that global warming occurs so gradually that it goes undetected by the brain. Though the human brain is very sensitive to chemical and psychical changes such as light, temperature, pressure, sound, size, and weight, incremental differences largely go unnoticed.


Newly detected molecule 'could reverse global warming' say researchers

Once again, clouds are a major key to warming or cooling

A little-understood molecule in the atmosphere could play an important role in reducing pollution and global warming, scientists believe. The 'Criegee biradicals' could lead to aerosol formation - and ultimately to clouds, with the potential to cool the planet. The compounds react far more rapidly than scientists expected.

They were isolated using a hi-tech particle accelerator at America's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Criegee biradicals were first hypothesised in the 1950s but have only now been isolated and measured.

New research shows they act as powerful ‘clean up’ agents, neutralising atmospheric pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. A byproduct of the process is the creation of aerosol droplets that ‘seed’ planet-cooling clouds.

The molecules, known as chemical ‘intermediates’, should have a significant influence on climate. However, until now they have never been directly observed.

The new work involved watching simple Criegee intermediates react with various atmospheric molecules including nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

The detection of the Criegee biradical and measurement of how fast it reacts was made possible by a unique apparatus, designed by Sandia researchers, that uses light from a 'synchrotron' particle accelerator. The intense, tunable light from the synchrotron allowed researchers to discern the reactions.

The researchers found that the Criegee biradicals react more rapidly than first thought and will accelerate the formation of sulphate and nitrate in the atmosphere.

These compounds will lead to aerosol formation and ultimately to cloud formation with the potential to cool the planet.

The research is reported today in the journal Science. Study leader Dr Carl Percival, from the University of Manchester, said: ‘We have been able to quantify how fast Criegee radicals react for the first time.’ ‘Our results will have a significant impact on our understanding of the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere and have wide ranging implications for pollution and climate change.’

Co-author Professor Dudley Shallcross, from the University of Bristol, pointed out that chemicals released naturally by plants aided the production of Criegee biradicals. ‘Natural ecosystems could be playing a significant role in off-setting global warming,’ he said.


Please, Global Warming Alarmists, Stop Denying Climate Change - And Science

Gleick sets the tone for his blog post in the very first sentence, where he begins his column by stating, “The Earth’s climate continued to change during 2011….” Here, in the first eight words of his column, Gleick unwittingly reveals one of the primary reasons why he is so wrong in his dire warnings of a human-induced global warming crisis. Gleick and his fellow global warming alarmists are the ultimate climate change deniers.

They present changing climate as unprecedented and unavoidably harmful. They act as if the climate never changed before now. In reality, however, the earth’s long-term, mid-term and short-term climate history is defined by frequent and substantial climate change. Of course, as Gleick states, “The Earth’s climate continued to change during 2011”! When was the last time the Earth’s climate was not undergoing some change? Please, global warming alarmists, stop denying climate change!

Gleick finishes his opening sentence by asserting, “a year in which unprecedented combinations of extreme weather events killed people and damaged property around the world.”

That is quite a bold, unsupported statement. Just what were those extreme weather events? Gleick doesn’t say. Perhaps we can speculate.

It certainly wasn’t hurricanes, as Ryan Maue at the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies documents that global and U.S. hurricane activity has been remarkably quiet for the past few years. During 2009, global accumulated tropical cyclone energy reached a record low, and has remained abnormally quiet in the two-plus years since.

It certainly wasn’t tornadoes, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports 2011 continued a long-term trend in declining frequency of strong tornadoes. Yes, there were some strong tornadoes in 2011, but there are strong tornadoes every year. The only thing climatically remarkable about the 2011 tornado season is that the relatively few strong tornadoes that did occur happened to beat the odds and touch down more often in urban areas than is usually the case. Unless Gleick is arguing that global warming somehow causes hurricanes to wickedly target disproportionately urban areas, tornadoes like hurricanes are becoming less of a threat during recent decades as the planet has modestly warmed.

It certainly wasn’t drought, as multiple peer reviewed studies report global soil moisture has consistently improved during the past century as the planet has warmed. (See, for example, this study.) Yes, some droughts are going to occur somewhere on the planet each year, as they always have, but cherry-picking one of the increasingly less frequent droughts that still do occur does not constitute evidence that global warming is causing more extreme weather events.

Perhaps Gleick can identify some alternative candidates to tornadoes, hurricanes and droughts by which global warming allegedly caused “unprecedented combinations of extreme weather events [that] killed people and damaged property around the world.” But don’t hold your breath.

Gleick, like so many of his alarmist colleagues, believes that anybody who disagrees with his scientific theories is “anti-science.” Yet it is hard to imagine objective tornado data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be “anti-science.” But Gleick apparently believes it so.

It is hard to imagine objective tropical cyclone data compiled by Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies to be “anti-science,” but Gleick apparently believes it so.

It is hard to imagine objective soil moisture data compiled by several independent teams of scientists to be “anti-science,” but Gleick apparently believes it so.

The term “anti-science” most appropriately applies to those who refuse to consider competing evidence and scientific theories that raise doubts about their own theories. This term applies in spades to Gleick.

In the very same sentence that Gleick rants about people who disagree with him being anti-science, he accuses them of being financially bought off. Gleick asserts the people who disagree with him are part of a “concerted, well-funded, and aggressive anti-science campaign” [emphasis in the original] that is “focused on protecting narrow financial interests.” That is a very curious accusation, considering that environmental activist groups like Gleick’s Pacific Institute receive a great deal more funding than the free-market, sound-science groups that he claims are “well-funded” and overly concerned with the role of the federal government.

For example, Gleick twice directs his wrath at the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute does indeed receive approximately $7 million in annual funding (with relatively little coming from corporations and only a very small fraction coming from corporations having anything to do with the global warming debate). By contrast, the Natural Resources Defense Council receives close to $100 million in annual funding, Greenpeace receives close to $200 million in annual funding, the World Wildlife Fund receives approximately $600 million in annual funding, etc., etc., etc. Which groups, indeed, are the “well-funded” entities “focused on protecting narrow financial interests?”

Gleick continues his blog by venomously attacking by name people and groups with whom he disagrees on the science.

He begins by singling out everyone who is a candidate to lead the Republican Party. Whether one is a Republican, a Democrat or a member/sympathizer of any other political party should be irrelevant regarding scientific inquiry and truth, but prominent global warming alarmists such as Gleick seem obsessed with bringing political party affiliation into the discussion. Give us a break!

Curiously, Gleick claims some of these Republicans “intentionally distort science because it conflicts with deeply held political or religious ideology.” Yet in the very same paragraph Gleick praises a prominent global warming alarmist who “happens to be an evangelical and speaks regularly to conservative groups.” Well, which is it? Is it acceptable to view scientific issues through the prism of religious beliefs and political ideology or is it not appropriate? Gleick betrays his lack of objectivity and his agenda-driven worldview by imposing such a blatant double-standard on those who disagree with him.

Gleick follows up the imposition of his double-standard by writing about the evangelical alarmist, “She was also targeted by these activists for personal abuse – a tactic often pursued by climate deniers and contrarians.” As is the case throughout his blog post, Gleick fails to present any facts to back up his assertion. Specifically which activists targeted her for personal abuse, and specifically what personal abuse occurred? Also, specifically who, how and when was this “tactic often pursued by climate deniers and contrarians”? Furthermore, assuming any such personal abuse indeed occurred, how is it any different from the personal abuse heaped upon skeptics? Gleick, not surprisingly, provides no such examples or explanations.

Gleick then writes three predictable paragraphs targeting those few members of the national media who are not in the back pocket of global warming alarmists and environmental activist groups. Heaven forbid even a few media personalities or media outlets present anything other than Gleick’s side of the debate!

Gleick then pours his wrath out on scientists who oversee NASA satellite instruments showing little or no recent global warming. Gleick accuses the scientists, without presenting any facts or evidence to back it up, of presenting “misleading” testimony to Congress. He then says one of their papers “turned out to contain serious scientific errors according to experts working in this field.” Gleick conveniently forgets to mention that the so-called “experts” he describes consist almost entirely of Gleick and his cabal of outspoken, agenda-driven global warming alarmists. Talk about “misleading” statements!

After this, Gleick singles out several more people and groups for his wrath. To be honest, I started falling asleep at this point, as the blog post was becoming exceptionally redundant and predictable. Suffice it to say that I feel Peter’s pain and empathize with his anguish. At some point, however, one must either move on to more interesting topics or risk falling asleep in the midst of empathy.



Those Who Claim to Speak for the Future

Some people have a high opinion of themselves. I mean, what sort of personality type do you have to be to imagine that you, self-anointed you, are the voice of future generations?

What kind of ego trip do people embark on prior to concluding that, among the billions of souls inhabiting this planet, it’s their own special calling to speak on behalf of those who haven’t yet been born?

A long list of individuals with this exalted regard for themselves can be found on the website of the World Future Council. Actually, there are four lists. The first consists of those who are the Councillors and Honorary Councillors of this body. Among these self-aggrandizing mortals we find:

Then there’s the Supervisory Board of the World Future Council. This includes a gynecologist, the directors of two foundations (presumably these are bankrolling the venture), a benefactress, and what no self-respecting group of speakers-for-the-future can do without – a Middle Eastern expert.

List number three is the organization’s Board of Advisors. The bios of those folks are handily collected in this 7-page PDF (backup link here). It turns out that Cyril Ritchie, the chairman of that board, is also “serving his fourth term as Secretary of the Conference of UN NGOs (CONGO).”

I’ve never heard of this body, but evidently it spends its time “actively promoting the involvement of NGOs in the working of the United Nations.” Here are some of the other board members:

  • Reto Braun, whose day job involves working with the UN
  • Bo Ekman, a former adviser to a former UN Secretary General
  • Monika Griefahn, a co-founder of Greenpeace Germany
  • Anita Herrdum, who lives in a commune and serves as “chairwoman of a German speaking network of heiresses”
  • Beatrix Pfleiderer, a professor of anthropology who spent six years “involved in training with free dolphins on healing communication”

Oh, and let’s not forget Farhad Vladi. This gentleman is equipped to speak for future generations, apparently, because he’s president of three companies that “sell, develop and rent privately owned islands world-wide.” Moreover, he’s “very much involved in art and music” and is “interested in the subject of global warming and renewable energy.”

Finally we come to the last list of names. These people are responsible for the day-to-day activities of the World Future Council. Jakob von Uexkull is “a patron of Friends of the Earth International and a member of the Global Commission to Fund the United Nations.”

Alexandra Wandel used to work for Friends of the Earth before she became a spokesperson for a group of “major European environmental NGOs” that included the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace.

No doubt you’ve heard the term social justice before. Well the World Future Council is pushing future justice. It has a Director of Future Justice, a Campaign Manager for Future Justice, and two policy officers who also have that slogan in their titles.

Quelle surprise, the Director of Future Justice, Maja Göpel, has a history of working for NGOs. A link embedded in her bio takes us to an entire Future Justice page (backup link). Here one finds eyebrow-raising statements such as:

  • The world is warming dangerously. A quarter of our mammals face a high risk of extinction in the near future.
  • We need Future Justice because we need to overcome the obscene inequity between people.
  • Putting Future Justice into place means tackling head-on our culture, policies and laws…

In the new, improved world these people wish to substitute for our current one:

Fair treatment would be a basic human need, set out in law. Fair shares and fair burdens would be a matter of justice between all humans living, and those yet to be born.

Those who act without concern for the planet, and the human and non-human life upon it, would be pursued and prosecuted.

Notice the legalistic tone. These people imagine that fair burdens and fair shares is simply a matter of passing laws. And if you behave in ways they disapprove of – if you act without concern for the planet – you can look forward to being pursued and prosecuted.

The World Future Council, therefore, doesn’t use the term justice the way most of us do. Rather than simply advocating for certain improvements, these people would have us believe that their particular vision of the future is indistinguishable from justice itself.

In reality, the World Future Council is a collection of NGO brats, self-important rich folks, and UN bureaucrats who think everything would be just so much nicer if they were running the planet.

In my view, their analysis is both infantile and creepy. May future generations be spared their meddling.


Big windmill maker in trouble

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas will cut 2,335 jobs in a bid to restore profitability after rising costs wiped out its 2011 earnings.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S said the cuts, about a tenth of its workforce, would help reduce costs by more than 150 million euros ($190.3 mln) by year-end. Another 1,600 jobs could go at U.S. units later this year if a tax credit for renewable energy is not extended.

The world's biggest wind turbine maker is battling fierce competition, including from Chinese rivals , as well as the threat of subsidy cuts for renewable energy by hard-pressed governments forced to tighten budgets.

Formerly a darling of investors, the wind industry has been hit in the crisis by overcapacity and sliding turbine prices.

Late in 2011, Vestas was hit by cost overruns in product development and delayed revenues which last week forced it to issue its second profit warning in just three months.

It will shut a tower factory with 350 workers in the town of Varde in Denmark, but 1,600 of the total redundancies would be salaried administrative workers and 735 hourly-paid employees.

"We have no plans to shut more plants," Engel told Reuters.

On Jan. 3, Vestas shocked the market by warning that increased product development costs and delayed revenues had wiped out its 2011 profit. It had expected an operating profit of 255 million euros.

It said 2011 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) would be zero while revenues would be around 6 billion euros instead of an already downgraded estimate of 6.4 billion euros.

Vestas said last week that it learned in the final days of 2011 that costs related mainly to ramping up manufacturing of its V112-3.0 MW turbine grew out of control. Analysts said this has stoked fears that the problems could spread.

Vestas stands atop a record backlog of orders but solar and wind power are facing possible subsidy cuts as many of their mature markets are weighed down by swelling public deficits and weak economies which have hit energy investment.

Vestas has warned that the possible expiry in the United States of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) at the end of 2012 could lead to a very difficult 2013 in the U.S. market.

The PTC gives a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour benefit for the first 10 years of a renewable energy facility's operation.

Vestas has invested $1 billion in its U.S. manufacturing and research operations, mainly four plants in Colorado.

"We are now preparing Vestas for the situation where one of our largest single markets, the USA, may be facing a tough 2013," Engel said. "This will have a huge impact on our business, if we do not act now."


Ben Stein Sues Ad Agency & Client Claiming Political Discrimination over his climate skepticism

Economist and writer and humorist and actor Ben Stein has filed suit against Kyocera Corp and advertising agency Seiter & Miller alleging that an agreement for him to appear in TV commercials was illegally breached because of his personal and political beliefs about global warming.

Stein’s memorable jacket-and-tie deadpan persona has figured in numerous TV commercials and appearances. Not to mention his iconic turn in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. According to Stein’s suit, Grace Jao of Seiter & Miller in December 2010 contacted his agent Marcia Hurwitz of Innovative Artists about appearing in commercials for Kyocera printer products and about speaking at a company function. Over the course of about five weeks, the suit claims, the parties reached an agreement on all significant deal points including payment of Stein’s fee of $300,000 for shooting the commercials and for the speaking engagement. The circumstances led Hurwitz to believe the deal was done, the suit says, and Stein planned accordingly.

Early in February 2011 Jao contacted Hurwitz, the suit says, to inform the agent that questions had been raised over Stein’s beliefs about global warming and the environment and whether they were “sufficiently conventional and politically correct for Kyocera,” according to language in the suit. Hurwitz told Jao that as far as she was concerned the deal was done, the suit said, and Stein’s political and scientific views were not part of his contract for extolling the company’s printers. Stein told Hurwitz to inform the defendants that he was extremely concerned with environmental issues but he was no means certain that global warming was manmade. He also told her to inform the defendants that it was a matter of his religious beliefs that God and not man controlled the weather.

On February 16, 2011, Livingston Miller, president of the ad agency, informed Hurwitz via email that the agency had decided to “withdraw its offer” even though negotiations had resulted in an acceptance of the offer and other stipulations. The reason? According to the suit, because of “Ben’s official positions on various policy issues that appear on the web of which we have only lately become aware.” Kyocera and the agency Seiter & Miller then hired a Ben Stein lookalike, the suit alleges, and dressed him with a tie, sport jacket and glasses and brazenly misappropriated Stein’s public persona for commercials — thereby intentionally inflicting emotional distress on Stein.

In addition to breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing, Stein’s suit charges Kyocera, Seiter & Miller and associated individuals of illegal religious discrimination and with wrongful discharge for political expression, which are illegal under California law. Stein seeks the sum of $300,000 for work he agreed to do, attorney fees and court costs and punitive damages.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Evolutionary Psychology of Climate Change"

Ha ha, simple mating advantage based status seeking turns the table on this very study! Successfully labeling oneself as being a world savior is a very ancient harem building strategy! This is especially true now that a form of Lamarckian behavioral inheritance is now recognized as having a meta-genetic mechanism via DNA methylation patterns that ride on top of and separate from the DNA base pair coding. Is there a shaman in the house? Gore's divinity school background and gilded palaces are a solid clue that here indeed we have in our own lifetimes witnessed some of Jung's archetypes trying to re-establish themselves in society at large.