Friday, January 29, 2016

Warmists and the decline in trust of science:  The flat earth movement

The one thing that is clear about Warmism is that it is heavily politicized.  Most Leftists accept the theory as fact and most conservatives doubt it. Certainly, most GOP Congressmen are firmly against doing anything about it.  And almost all the scientific voices we hear in the media are Warmist.

So roughly half the population think the scientists are fooling us, which they demonstrably are.  So Warmism has clearly disrupted people's trust in science.

But Warmism is not the only disrupter of trust in science.  The way official food and diet recommendations periodically go into reverse must also incite cynicism about scientific wisdom. Many conservatives say that the government has no business trying to dictate what people should put in their mouths and, if that dictum had been followed, medical science might have been spared the ignominy it has suffered.

So what happens when large numbers of people mistrust science?  It throws everything into doubt.  People tend to look for what makes sense to them personally and go by that alone.

And there are two well established scientific facts that were once virtually unquestioned but which have recently gained many doubters:  The benefits of vaccinations and the shape of the earth.  The antivaxxers risk the lives of their children by refusing all vaccinations and there are now once again people who believe the earth is flat.

Of these, the anti-vaxxers are the big problem.  If there are enough of them they destroy herd immunity and thus take away the only protections newborns have from various serious and life threatening illnesses.  Anti-vaxxers kill not only their own children but also other babies too young to be vaccinated.

Leftists, of course, don't worry about killing.  They cry compassion but are happy to kill millions with "incorrect" beliefs and allow killing of unborn  babies with no compunction at all. Conservatives, however, tend to value life greatly -- so from a conservative viewpoint very stern measures against anti-vaxxers could be justified.

But how can we justify such measures when their only clear justification is a scientific one and people have good reasons to distrust science?  How can we ask people to trust science when science is so obviously flawed?  So distrust of science is in fact killing babies.

But the distrust of science becomes really stark when we find that there really is now a flat earth movement.  There are now an evidently considerable number of people who do believe the earth is flat. They are in no way as dangerous as the anti-vaxers but just by their existence they show how seriously the reputation of science has been damaged.

The flat earthers are sometimes called an Alt-Right movement but I can't see that they have much in common with mainstream conservatives.  They seem mainly to be believers in spirituality and the occult -- and such beliefs tend to be strongest among Leftist voters.  I reproduce below an excerpt from one of the more prominent flat-earthers, Makia Freeman.:

Socrates, the father of philosophy, showed that questions are more powerful than answers; indeed, his questions were so powerful that the leaders of Athens put him to death for them. So, let us never be afraid to ask questions – it is the only way we can learn and be truly sure of things.

Whatever the answer turns out to be, the idea that the Earth on which we all live could indeed be flat has ignited intense curiosity and healthy debate – and has already shaken people out of their apathy and generated some genuine critical thinking. This in itself is a victory for freedom, because once enough people start to question their reality in every way, the global conspiracy being only held up by deception and subterfuge will collapse.

It Sounds Crazy, But Open Your Mind …

Virtually everyone who first comes to the subject of flat earth (myself included) is thinking: “Flat earth? Are you serious? You must be kidding. That’s crazy! Don’t waste my time. That Makia Freeman guy has really gone off the deep end this time …” I know, I know. That’s how I first reacted to this topic. Let’s face it: we’re all conditioned to believe the world is arranged in a certain way. Right from the moment we go to school around age 5, we are shown miniature globes of the world and told the Earth is a ball. Our society makes fun of people we perceive to be crazy or behind the times by deriding them as “people who still think the world is flat.”

But how do you know the Earth is a globe? Only because you were told so by your teacher, who was told by someone else, who was told by someone else, who was told by someone else, who was told by some “authority” or “expert”. We already know the tendency humanity has for worshipping those outside of itself, for unquestioning obedience to authority, especially other people in uniform, white coats or black robes. Somewhere along the way as a child, you were probably shown some books with photographs, but as has been well exposed, space photos and videos are easily faked, as NASA knows very well. Those at the very top of the pyramid, who control the media, publishing houses and the education curriculum, do have the means to pull of such a grand deception.

Is the Flat Earth the Mother of All Conspiracies?

The question of whether we live on a flat earth or globe-shaped earth is not some passing fad of little importance. If we have been deceived into thinking the earth is a globe when it is really flat, it conclusively proves just how easily we can be hoodwinked into believing lies and absurdities on a colossal scale. If we have been massively fooled about the very planet on which we live, we could have been fooled on any other topic in existence.

Is the debate over the flat earth the “Mother of all Conspiracies”? Not quite, in my opinion. If it’s true, it’s huge: I’d call it the second biggest conspiracy. The biggest conspiracy, though, is forgetting Who We Are – infinitely creative, spiritual beings having a brief human journey – and allowing other entities to siphon off our life energy. This includes the issue of what happens when we die (ie. whether we are forcibly recycled at the point of death through a soul net?)

In my opinion, flat earth is a close second, but ultimately, the two issues are connected; authors such as James of the Wing Makers have joined the two in their work — by describing our world as the Hologram of Deception and describing the phenomenon of forced reincarnation. The notion that we are entrapped in some kind of holographic quarantine is highly disturbing, yet deserves our full attention.


NOAA: Global warming may affect your beer

Pure speculation. Hops are a cool climate crop but all that warming would do would be to shift the farms a bit further polewards.  And with warming opening up places like Siberia to crops, large new areas would become suitable for cool climate crops

As if the prospects of coastal flooding, hotter summers and species extinction were not enough to get your attention, the federal government recently reported that global warming may affect the taste and cost of beer.

No, we're not talking about warm beer.

Heat and drought threaten to increase the cost of hops, which give beer much of its flavor, reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website, and brewers in California have been scrambling to deal with water shortages that may or may not be related to global warming.

An article posted on earlier this month says almost all of the United States' hop production occurs in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, which saw a hotter and drier growing season in 2015 that threatened the size of the hops crop. June temperatures in the three states were the highest since the 1890s.

Hops production ultimately rose 11 percent last year over 2014 and the value of the crop jumped by a third, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. That doesn't sound so bad for growers until you notice that acreage planted in hops increased 14.8 percent, meaning growers had to work harder to produce the same amount of hops. USDA attributed the increase in value to a switch to varieties that are higher in value and increased demand from craft brewers.

Hops growers apparently came through 2015 in reasonably good shape, but it is not clear whether that will always be the case. Scientists at the University of Washington say the likelihood of dry summers with temperatures greater than some hops like will rise as global warming increases. The impact varies with the variety of hops.

CNBC reported in July that growers incurred additional expenses because of water shortages and quoted an investment banker as saying the long-term trend will be for higher hops prices.

"You have a shortage of water. You're going to have more demand from the craft breweries, and so you kind of pass the inflection point where the demand is greater for hops than the supply," said Michael Butler, chairman and CEO of Seattle-based Cascadia Capital. "The consumer will pay a higher price for beer. That is without question."

Ceres, a sustainability advocacy organization, said last March that hop prices had risen more than 250 percent over the previous decade because of increased demand and lower yields.

The future effects of warming on hops production are not completely known. Increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere boosts some plant growth, and it's possible hops growing could shift further north as temperatures rise, although the transition could create extra costs for growers.

Farther south in California, falling river levels related to a historic drought have pressured some brewers, reported.

National Public Radio said in 2014 that some were concerned by the prospect of having to switch to groundwater, which often has high mineral content.

NPR quoted Jeremy Marshall, head brewer at Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, as saying brewing with groundwater there "would be like brewing with Alka-Seltzer."

These worries help explain support for action on global warming from a number of brewers, including at  least a couple with breweries in the Asheville area, New Belgium Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing.

More than 42 signed a "Brewery Climate Declaration" last March to bring attention to climate change issues and many have taken steps to decrease their environmental impact. It will be interesting to see how many push for government action on warming as well.


Ethanol Is a ‘Complete Ripoff, a Complete Boondoggle’

On his nationally syndicated radio show last Wednesday, Mark Levin set the record straight on ethanol subsidies calling them a "complete ripoff, a complete boondoggle."

"In the end, even the most generous analysis estimates that it takes the energy equivalent of three gallons of gasoline to make four gallons of [ethanol]," he said. "It is a complete rip-off, a complete boondoggle. It is exactly the opposite of what we demand of our government. It is as establishment as it gets; it is as big government as it gets; and it is as anti-consumer as it gets.”

Here is a transcript of what Mark Levin had to say on his program:

    “As ethanol and other biofuels require corn, sugar cane, additional crops to produce blends of gasoline, these essential crops are diverted from food production to energy production, and as demand for corn and sugar cane increases more farmers around the world respond by converting their fields from rice and wheat and soy to more profitable government-subsidized products like biofuels, like ethanol.

    “Government policy played a significant role in driving up demand and prices, not only for fuel, but food, which has actually caused enormous damage to the Third World. And as for demand for corn increased in the United States, and since corn is one form or another is fed to most livestock, the price of beef, fowl, dairy products, all went up. A ripple effect occurs across the economic and global landscape.

    “This isn’t ideology, this isn’t purism. This is fact. This isn’t an abstraction. This isn’t theory. This is economic reality. That’s why we’re conservatives. That’s why we talk about free market capitalism. Are we supposed to abandon it this election cycle? Well, if we abandon it, nobody’s going to defend it.

    “Now here’s what even the Associated Press wrote several years ago. Ready for this?

    “The AP:

    “‘Ethanol is [much,] much less efficient [than gasoline], especially when it is made from corn. Just growing corn requires expending energy: plowing, planting, fertilizing and harvesting all require machinery that burns fossil fuel. Modern agriculture relies on large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, both of which are produced by methods that consume fossil fuels. Then there’s the cost of transporting the corn to an ethanol plant, where the fermentation and distillation processes consume yet more energy. Finally, there’s the cost of transporting the fuel to filling stations. And because ethanol is more corrosive than gasoline, it can’t be pumped through relatively efficient pipelines, but must be transported by rail or tanker truck.

    “‘In the end, even the most generous analysts estimate that it takes the energy equivalent of three gallons of gasoline to make four gallons of the stuff.

    “It is a complete rip-off, it a complete boondoggle. It is exactly the opposite of what we demand of our government. It is as establishment as it gets; it is as big government as it gets; and it is as anti-consumer as it gets. The statists created this. The statists created this and all the detriments and unintended consequences that go along with it.”


Ethanol politics

By John Stossel

Cars run on fuel. Politicians run on votes, and they’ll do almost anything to get them. That includes supporting mandates that force us to use ethanol, a fuel made from corn that Iowa farmers grow.

They support ethanol because Iowa is the first state to vote on presidential candidates. Candidates want to look strong at the start of the race, so every four years they become enthusiastic ethanol supporters. Even those who claim they believe in markets pander to Iowa’s special interests.

Donald Trump, who doesn’t seem to have a consistent political philosophy aside from bashing critics and foreigners, now has joined the ethanol-praising club. In fact, Trump says regulators should force gas stations to increase the amount of ethanol they use. It’s a convenient way to attack his Iowa rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who courageously says the mandate should be phased out.

Cruz is right. Legally mandating that a certain percentage of fuel used be ethanol is a bad idea for several reasons:

First, mandating ethanol means more land must be plowed to grow corn for fuel. The Department of Energy estimates that if corn ethanol replaced gasoline completely, we’d need to turn all cropland to corn — plus 20 percent more land on top of that.

Second, requiring ethanol fuel raises the price of corn — bad news for consumers who must pay more for food.

Third, although ethanol’s supporters claim burning corn is “better for the environment,” that’s not true. Once you add the emissions from growing, shipping and processing the corn, ethanol creates more pollution than oil. Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force now oppose its use.

Finally, because corn is grown in America, promoters said ethanol would make us more energy independent. Even if the “independence” argument were valid, fracking accomplishes much more. (Anyway, it isn’t a valid argument. Trade with Mexico and Canada is just fine. We don’t need total independence.)

Since Trump is a businessman, I assume he realizes that ethanol is an expensive boondoggle that wouldn’t survive in a competitive market. But in Iowa Trump says, “Ethanol is terrific.”

Dr. Ben Carson didn’t go that far but according to the Washington Examiner said that it would be wrong to end the subsidies. “People have made plans based on those kind of things,” he says. “You can’t just pull out the rug out from under people.”

It sounds like most politicians want to get rid of subsidies in principle, but never right now — certainly not in the middle of their campaigns. Sen. Marco Rubio says he’d support ending the mandate — after another seven years.

At the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Chris Christie sounded annoyed that President Obama hasn’t been more supportive of ethanol subsidies, saying, “Certainly anybody who’s a competent president would get that done!”

Bernie Sanders, I-Ver., criticized subsidies in the past, but on Iowa public radio he sounded as if he loves the boondoggle: “We have to be supportive of that effort — and take every step that we could, and in every way we can, including the growth of the biofuels industry.”

Of course, big-government Democrats always want to subsidize more. Hillary Clinton says ethanol “holds the promise for not only more fuel for automobiles but for aviation … and for military aircraft; we could be fueling so much air traffic with biofuels. We have just begun to explore what we can do.”

Sure. Explore away! That’s what market competition does. Entrepreneurs constantly explore options in search of profit. But that’s very different from government forcing taxpayers to fund one particular fuel.

Only Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) have consistently said that the market, not politicians, should choose fuels. Unfortunately, that principled stance hasn’t brought them much support. Presidential-race betting at has Cruz dropping and Paul tied for last.

Energy expert Jerry Taylor is right to say that running for office in Iowa not only means you must praise Christianity; it means being “willing to sacrifice children to the corn god.”


What's More Dangerous Than VW Emissions? The EPA

Remember the Volkswagen emissions scandal? It’s evaded the headlines of late, but last fall the auto manufacture was busted for installing software in its diesel-fueled vehicles designed to skirt environmental tests. VW is facing billions of dollars in fines as a result along with a scolding from EPA officials — which is rather ironic, observes Robert Bryce, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Here’s why. Writing in Bloomberg View, Bryce says, “The vehicles in question produced 10 to 40 times more nitrogen oxides than the law allowed. And those increased emissions will cause about 60 premature deaths a year in the U.S., according to a study by researchers at MIT and Harvard University.”

However, five years ago the EPA conducted its own study on the Renewable Fuel Standard, a law that forces refiners to combine ethanol with gasoline. According to Bryce, “Ethanol-blended fuel also increases ‘emissions of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and other pollutants,’ the EPA found, and that will ‘lead to increases in population-weighted annual average ambient PM [particulate matter] and ozone concentrations, which in turn are anticipated to lead to up to 245 cases of adult premature mortality.’” Do the math. The ethanol mandate is far more lethal.

That raises two questions. First, why is the EPA exempt from its own standards? Bryce points out that late last year the EPA “actually increased the amount of ethanol that must be blended into domestic fuel supplies each year by more than 1 billion gallons” despite the science that’s clearly against it. The reason the agency gets away with it, however, is because there is virtually no accountability in government; in other words, laws are for the little people. Secondly, why are some presidential candidates — including Republicans — continuing to support this failed experiment? Bryce has a simple answer: “The reason for their fealty to Big Corn is obvious: No presidential candidate has ever won the Iowa caucuses while opposing corn ethanol.”

What VW did was wrong, even if the standards it has to meet are absurd. But, concludes Bryce, “If the federal government is going to fine Volkswagen billions of dollars for knowingly increasing air pollution, it should take similar action against the corn ethanol industry. Better yet, the EPA should eliminate the ethanol mandate.” That starts by nominating someone who will stand against the ethanol lobby.


GOP Senators Push Attorney General to Investigate EPA Over WOTUS

Two Republican senators opened up a broadside assault against the Environmental Protection Agency last week in the ongoing battle over President Barack Obama’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), a regulation that extends federal authority over smaller waterways.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Ben Sasse of Nebraska pushed the Department of Justice to investigate whether the EPA “knowing and willfully violated” federal law.

The call for oversight comes as Republicans complain of ongoing executive overreach, fearing that without a push, the administration will continue to turn a blind eye on internal misconduct.

The letter follows a December 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office that found that the EPA violated anti-lobbying provisions by spending tax dollars to persuade Congress and the public to support proposed WOTUS regulations.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

That conclusion stems from EPA activity during their blitz to crowd source support for the rule. The government agency launched Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube campaigns to counter Republican opposition to WOTUS, the New York Times reports.

In addition, the EPA also employed a social media platform called Thunderclap to solicit comments favorable to the rule.

Later, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy used this solicited support in an attempt to sway Congress back in March of 2015. Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she testified:

    "We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments…are supportive of this rule. Let me repeat: 87.1 percent of those one-plus million are supportive of this rule"

According to the GAO, the activity violated the Anti-Deficiency Act—which prohibits the use of tax dollars without Congressional authorization—and therefore constituted illegal “covert propaganda.”

The Anti-Deficiency Act stipulates that any violating agency must conduct its own internal investigation to identify those responsible—individuals who could be subject to a $5,000 fine and 2 years in prison.

But the EPA insists their activity was all a regular part “of a far reaching effort to educate the American public.”

The senators charge that the EPA hasn’t been sufficiently responsive and are asking that the Department of Justice open their own investigation “to determine if any crime has occurred.”

In a joint statement, Sasse criticized the EPA for thinking “it can stonewall” and Inhofe blasted the agency for thinking “it can break the law and illegally spend taxpayer dollars.” Sasse continued:

    "Despite the fact that the Government Accountability Office found that they broke federal law by running a covert propaganda campaign to support their sweeping WOTUS rule, the EPA has doubled down on their lawlessness. It’s time for the Department of Justice to investigate".

The letter represents the latest Republican volley in an ongoing battle over the WOTUS rule.

Advocates contend it would ensure clean water for public and environmental health. Opponents criticize the measure for expanding the federal government and threatening private property rights.

Last week, Obama vetoed a proposal passed under the Congressional Review Act that would have scrapped the measure altogether. Republicans also tried, and failed, last December to gut funding for rule during the end of the year spending bill.

The rule still isn’t in effect, however. In October, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the WOTUS rule.



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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