Sunday, February 08, 2015

Overwhelmingly it's Leftists who reject science

For starters, they close their eyes to a whole scientific  discipline -- genetics. To Leftists, the only thing that is genetically determined is homosexuality -- but among many identical twins only one is queer

The New York Times claims that the vaccine controversy we’re all talking about raises important questions about “how to approach matters that have largely been settled among scientists but are not widely accepted by conservatives.”

Well, here’s another question: How do we deal with the false perception that liberals are more inclined to trust science than conservatives? Also, how do we approach the media’s fondness for focusing on the unscientific views of some conservatives but ignoring the irrational – and oftentimes more consequential – beliefs of their fellow liberals?

Though outing GOP candidates as skeptics of science may confirm the secular liberal’s own sense of intellectual superiority, it usually has nothing to do with policy. However, if you walk around believing that pesticides are killing your children or that fracking will ignite your drinking water or if you hyperventilate about the threat of the ocean’s consuming your city, you have a viewpoint that not only conflicts with science but undermines progress. So how do we approach matters that have been settled among scientists but are not widely accepted by liberals?

Take vaccines. There is little proof that conservatives are any less inclined to vaccinate their children than anyone else. If we’re interested in politicizing the controversy, though, there is a good case to be made for the opposite.

For starters, polls show that millennials (most of whom lean liberal) are far more skeptical about vaccines than older Americans. You’ll notice that laws with easier loophole exemptions from vaccination are most often found in blue states, where we also find the most outbreaks. You may also notice that leading anti-vaxxers, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., are writing in the mainstream Rolling Stone, not National Review.

As The New York Times itself already reported, half the children attending schools in Marin County, California, go unvaccinated by their enlightened parents. Unvaccinated children are clustered all over liberal counties in California. None of this is particularly surprising. Modern environmentalism perpetuates myths about the inorganic world and the evils of big pharma. Its adherents are just as likely to be in conflict with settled science as anyone else.

The perception that one political group is less science-savvy than another is predominately driven by the unwillingness of many conservatives to accept alarmism about global warming and the policies purportedly meant to mitigate it. But when it comes to climate change, volumes could be written about the ill-conceived, unscientific, over-the-top predictions made by activists and politicians.

We could start with our own Malthusian science czar, John Holdren, who once predicted that climate change would cause the deaths of a billion people by 2020 and that sea levels would rise by 13 feet. In 2009, James Hansen, one of the nation’s most respected climate scientists, told President Barack Obama that we have “only four years left to save the earth.” In 1988, he predicted parts of Manhattan would be underwater by 2008. If you don’t like high-speed rail, California Gov. Jerry Brown will let you know that Los Angeles International Airport is going to be underwater. And so on and on and on.

Undermining the future of genetically modifying crops – a process that, in one form or another, humans have been engaged in for about 10,000 years – probably hurts society (the poor, in particular) more than any global warming denial ever could. Across the world, almost every respected scientific organization that’s taken a look at independent studies has found that GMOs are just as safe as any other food. There is no discernable health difference between conventional food and organic food. There is a difference, though, in productivity, in environmental impact and in the ability of the world’s poor to enjoy more healthful high-caloric diets for a lot less money.

Yet while Republicans are evenly divided on whether genetically modified foods are unsafe, Democrats believe so by a 26-point margin. Liberals across the United States – New York, California, Oregon and Massachusetts recently – have been pushing for labeling foods to create the perception that something is wrong with them. Science disagrees.

Hydraulic fracturing is as safe as any other means of extracting fossil fuels. It creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. It provides cheaper energy for millions of Americans. It has less of an environmental impact than other processes. It means less dependency on foreign oil. It helped the economy work its way out of a recession. So 62 percent of Republicans support science, and 59 percent of Democrats oppose it. Numerous scientific studies – one funded by the National Science Foundation, which debunked the purported link between groundwater pollution and fracking – have assured us that there’s nothing to fear.

It doesn’t end there. What are we to make of people who mock religion as imaginary but believe an astrological sign should determine whom you date or are concerned that they will be whisked away in a flying saucer? According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, 48 percent of adults in the United States believe that alien spacecraft are observing our planet right now. Among those who do believe extraterrestrials are hanging around, 69 percent are Democrats. Democrats are also significantly likelier than Republicans to believe in fortunetelling and about twice as likely to believe in astrology. I won’t even get into 9/11 truthers.

For many conservatives, resolving issues of faith and science can be tricky. What excuse do Democrats have? Maybe someone at The New York Times can find out.


Snow traps over 200 motorists in Spain

Spain is where Europeans go for the warm weather -- so that global warming sure is pesky

Spanish emergency services have rescued at least 220 people trapped by snow on roads in northern Spain. Hundreds of cars were stuck for up to 17 hours overnight on roads between Cantabria and the province of Palencia.

Local media report temperatures of -15C (5F) and up 40cm (1.3ft) of snow.

Around 100 British expats and tourists were among those trapped. Spanish police rescued several stranded in their vehicles shortly after arrival in Santander by ferry from Portsmouth.

Many had come to Spain hoping for a warm-weather holiday, but ended up having to spend the night in the sports hall of a local school and the dining room of a hotel.

The country is in the middle of a cold spell that is expected to worsen over the next three days, with cold weather alerts issued for 20 provinces.

Local media report temperatures as low as -15C (5F) in some areas of northern Spain

Spain's national weather service said in a statement (in Spanish) that the unusually cold temperatures would last until next Tuesday.

The BBC's Tom Burridge in Madrid says that a large area of central Spain has seen an unusually high amount of snowfall in recent days.

One British woman, Jackie Elford of Margate, told the BBC she was driving to Marbella with her husband Roger when they were caught in heavy snow along with dozens of other motorists.

Abandoned cars and overturned lorries have piled up on main roads near Santander. Spanish police said that dozens of military vehicles and snow ploughs are being used to clear the area.

Local media said that many schools in northern Spain had been closed and that there had been numerous power cuts.

The coldest temperatures are expected on Saturday and Sunday
Meanwhile, in Catalonia, winds of over 120km/h (75mph) have disrupted railway services.

Snowfall has also closed roads as far south as Andalucia.

The freezing conditions are set to continue for several days, with the coldest temperatures expected on Saturday and Sunday, warned the national weather service.


Climate change drove Australia's record hot year, unofficial report claims

The usual suspects (Steffen, Flannery) are at it again.  Since there is no statistically significant evidence that there has been ANY global warming for 18 years, the claims of change below are simply false.  Steffen is a long-time Warmist extremist. A while back he  described the debate in the media over the basics of climate change science as ”almost infantile”, equating it to an argument about the existence of gravity.

Australia's hottest year on record would not have happened without climate change, according to a new report.

The country experienced its hottest day, month, season and calendar year in 2013, registering a mean temperature 1.2C above the 1961-90 average.

The Climate Council says recent studies show those heat events would have occurred only once every 12,300 years without greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

"In fact, we can say the 2013 record year was virtually impossible without climate change; it wouldn't have happened," Will Steffen, the author of Quantifying the Strong Influence of Climate Change on Extreme Heat in Australia, told AAP. "I mean, no one would bet on odds of one in nearly 13,000."

Based on analyses of data and model outputs, the report says climate change triples the odds that heatwaves of the 2012-13 Australian summer will happen as frequently as they do.

It also doubles the chances of them being as intense. "We're looking at pretty hard numbers on the odds of those things happening without the underlying warming trend due to greenhouse gases," Mr Steffen said.

"In my view, it's extremely powerful, conclusive evidence that not only is there a link between climate change and extreme heat, climate change is the main driver of it."

Mr Steffen found record hot days have doubled in Australia the last 50 years, and that during the past decade heat weather records were set three times more often than cold ones.

The report also claims heatwaves across Australia are becoming hotter, lasting longer, occurring more often and starting earlier.

2014 was Australia's third-warmest year on record behind 2013 and 2005, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.


How green and peaceful really is Greenpeace?

For the best part of half a century Greenpeace’s constant campaigning on environmental issues has been an almost unmitigated success. Its effectiveness has brought it both astonishing wealth and almost unimpeded access to decision-makers. During this time, it has had what amounts to a free pass from the media, its claims and methods rarely questioned by credulous environmental correspondents.

But are the wheels finally coming off? Looking back over the last few years it’s easy to get that impression: an organisation that once seemed untouchable has found itself having to answer some very sharp questions about the way it behaves and operates.

As far back as 2010, Gene Hashmi, Greenpeace’s boss in India, found himself at the centre of a worldwide uproar, after publishing what appeared to be a warning to the group’s opponents: ‘We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many. And you be few.’

Reasonable people might have waved it all aside as an aberration. But if they did, then their minds would surely have been concentrated by a disturbing incident a few days ago when somebody, writing in the comments section of the Guardian website, threatened the Conservative peer Lord Ridley with beheading. Subsequent inquiries suggest that the perpetrator was a Greenpeace activist and sometime Guardian writer.

But it is not just these hints of violent undercurrents that have started to take the gloss off Greenpeace’s reputation. Just a few weeks ago it hit the headlines again when some of its activists caused irreparable damage to the Nazca Lines World Heritage site in Peru as part of an extraordinarily irresponsible publicity stunt. And as Greenpeace’s leadership moved heaven and earth to keep the identities of the perpetrators out of the hands of Peruvian law enforcement officials, we could almost see the group’s reputation crumbling before our very eyes.

And it doesn’t stop there. Who can forget the uproar when it was discovered that these pillars of the anti-capitalist movement had lost a small fortune in foreign exchange speculation? Or that a Greenpeace director was commuting to work in Amsterdam by air from the tax haven of Luxembourg?

Hypocrisy among the green fraternity is nothing new, but word that Greenpeace is also willing to play fast and loose with the facts is now starting to get around. In January, Professor Anne Glover, a former chief scientific adviser to the EU, stood down from her role, after a number of groups, including Greenpeace, successfully lobbied for the post to be abolished. On Tuesday, Glover told Today programme listeners that many of those within the group know that the things they say about genetic modification of crops are untrue.

As if to emphasise the point, a former boss of Greenpeace UK recently admitted that in his time in office, while he was running campaigns against genetic modification of crops, he actually believed that a blanket ban was not appropriate.

While Glover was talking about the GM debate, her remarks would have applied equally well to many of Greenpeace’s other campaigns, such as those against the oil and gas industries.

It’s not as if the public hasn’t been warned that this is how Greenpeace (and, for that matter, many of the other major green NGOs) operate. As far back as 2007, after another Greenpeace publicity stunt, the science writer Martin Robbins described the group as:

‘an NGO that thinks it is acceptable to lie to the public, to lie to bloggers and journalists, and to then intimidate writers with threatening emails warning of legal action.’

Yet despite this, environmental groups like Greenpeace still enjoy privileged access to [British] ministers, with Ed Davey in particular having a regular slot in his diary to hear their views. One shudders to think what they are telling him.

And the unquestioning attitude towards green groups is not without cost. As I noted in a recent report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, environmental policies are having devastating unintended consequences, particularly on the poor and the developing world.

Perhaps if difficult questions had been asked before the world implemented some of Greenpeace’s cock-eyed policy ideas – biofuels for example – a great deal of human misery would have been avoided. Let’s hope that people in positions of power take notice of what Professor Glover is telling them.


Murkowski stuns with EPA surrender, McConnell to the rescue?

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) just made the strongest case for House Republicans to pass an EPA funding bill that rips the regulatory heart out of the rogue Agency.

Alaska’s Murkowski who has just seen the Obama Administration unilaterally attack her state’s economic viability through his ban on energy production for an immense 12,000 acre tract of land surrounding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge came out swinging when discussing the EPA’s budget saying, “We are going to be working aggressively every step of the way to put together a bill that is responsive and is something that we can gain support for passage — not a messaging bill, but support for passage.”

What?  Huh? This means Murkowski plans to leave the final decision on what can be passed to the six Democrats it takes to get to 60, assuming she has all 54 Republicans with her.

Murkowski, who ran as a write-in independent after losing in the Republican primary in 2010, has either adopted Neville Chamberlain as her personal role model, or is taking negotiating lessons from Secretary of State John Kerry.  After four years of being promised that things would change in D.C. if the people entrusted the Senate to Republicans, Murkowski’s white flag to the eco-regulators who are threatening our nation’s economic vitality through an onslaught of regulations is particularly galling.

Rather than being a Senator who will use her clout to force the rogue Agency to its knees, Murkowski worries about the public being upset if, due to a funding dispute, the EPA is shuttered for a few days?

Much of America would cheer if the EPA’s capacity to carry out President Obama’s fundamental transformation of America were neutered.  Yet, Murkowski opens up the funding process under the premise that her sole objective is to get a bill completed that Democrats can support.

Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has placed himself on the funding panel with a different vision.  McConnell from Kentucky has made it clear that he intends to use the power of the purse to stop Obama’s war on coal that is devastating workers in his state.

With the EPA in the midst of an end of Administration regulatory explosion with a focus on declaring every puddle a wetland, methane gas from cows an ozone threat and the continued implementation of rules that make burning coal to generate electricity economically unattractive, America better hope that McConnell asserts his authority and overrides Murkowski.

It is time the Democrats are forced to explain to American households why their regulatory policies have driven electricity prices up 17 percent with future increases to come in spite of an abundance of domestic energy.

And with the Senate Majority Leader determined to hold their feet to the fire, Senator Murkowski’s fiddling while Rome burns vision may be as lasting as last week’s newspaper in a home with a bird cage.


America is falling behind in the new cold war over Arctic oil and gas

President Obama’s newly announced plans to designate one of the largest oil fields in U.S. as “wilderness,” is foolhardy at best—and may be anti-American at worst. When you look at the bigger story, you have to wonder whose side he stands on in the new “cold war.”

In a YouTube video, Obama called on Congress to set aside all of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness — which would prohibit motorized access, road construction, and halt “any chance of oil exploration.” The January 25 announcement, according to the Washington Post (WP): “is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make.” It reports: “The Department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling … and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.”

The WP headline about the Obama Administration’s proposal states: “Alaska Republicans declare war.” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who chairs both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, has vowed to “Fight back with every resource at our disposal” and to “hit back as hard as we can.”

Other than ratcheting-up the rhetoric, not much will actually change with the new announcement, as ANWR is currently off limits to drilling — though the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act set aside the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain for possible future oil-and-gas development, and Alaska’s lawmakers from both parties have been trying to open it up to oil exploration for decades. Congress would have to approve Obama’s “wilderness” request and that has no chance of happening.

But it does bring the story to the forefront and, as Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum points out: ANWR is now “something that everyone has to take a stand on.” We now know (as if there were any question) where President Obama stands, he aligns with the environmental activists who delight in the “pro-protection stance.” “The administration’s proposal,” according to Politico, “reflects Obama’s shift to the left on environmental issues.”

But not only Alaskans and Republicans prepare for a battle over Arctic oil-and-gas resources.

The Russians are militarizing the Arctic and building bases near Alaska and reopening others that they closed at the conclusion of the cold war. The former-Soviet government introduced new nuclear attack submarines — the first of which joined the Northern Fleet in June — and has 25 icebreakers (compared to our 2) that are necessary to navigate Arctic waters.

The actions form part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to establish a strategic command in Russia’s “Arctic Zone.” The Moscow Times (MT) reports: “Putin sees control of the Arctic as a matter of serious strategic concern for Moscow. Below the Arctic lies vast stockpiles of largely untapped natural resource reserves.” The MT continues: “Russia is vying for control of the region’s oil, gas and rare metals with the other ‘polar nations’ — Canada, Denmark, Norway and the U.S. — leading many observers to point at the region as one of the world’s most volatile flashpoints.”

As ice has melted and drilling technology has advanced, Arctic reserves become more accessible. Companies from the five countries that border the Arctic rushed to secure rights to drill.

The countries also make their own claims. The Fiscal Times explains: “Putin’s military expansion was in direct response to a claim of additional land by” Canada. Russia, Denmark, and Canada have overlapping territorial claims and, despite international law that declares no country has sovereignty over the North Pole, each is claiming ownership of it — making the Arctic the potential new “cold war.”

In response to Russia’s Soviet-style military build-up, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has ‘determined that, for Russia’s neighbours, there shall be no peace,’ and said ‘because Russia is also Canada’s neighbour, we must not be complacent here at home.’”

While other countries race for the resources, the U.S., under Obama, backs away from ours — let alone any access to any additional claims. Last year, then Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) said: “The Obama Administration should make the Arctic more of a priority.” In an interview with Fox News, he quipped: “It’s like they’ve never heard of it.” Addressing Russia’s push to “protect oil-and-gas fields,” The Fiscal Times claims: “The Pentagon has fallen behind.”

Regarding Obama’s January 25 ANWR announcement, Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operation for the American Petroleum Institute, said: “It sends the wrong signal to Alaskans, the industry and the world. … These are strategic assets and the U.S. should be leading the way in the development of these resources.”

Now, you should be asking yourself: “What is Obama thinking? Why has he pulled America back and taken off the table an opportunity to protect us from a global oil market that remains beyond our control?” The answer: because as the MT states: “Arctic oil exploration is vehemently contested by environmentalists.”

Next, you should ask: “How have environmental activists been able to take control of American energy policy?” The answer: as the New York Times reports is apparently the case in Europe, “Lots of money from Russia.”

In a Washington Free Beacon story that reads like a spy thriller, Lachlan Markay reveals how Russian money in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars is laundered through Bermuda and doled out to anti-fossil fuel, anti-fracking groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Podesta’s Center for American Progress — which serves as an incubator for ideas that become Obama Administration policy. Markay cites a report from the DC-based Environmental Policy Alliance that details, with documentation, how it is all done.

The anti-American accusation may be a bit of hyperbole — but, then again, maybe not. When you connect the dots, it seems clear that President Obama is doing Russia’s bidding — through his environmental allies — at the expense of America’s economic and energy security. We find ourselves in a new cold war (pun intended) over Arctic resources, and our president appears to be on the side of the enemy.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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