Monday, December 19, 2005


Imagine that an emergency made the need for blood transfusions especially urgent but Jehovah Witnesses were in charge. That's what we are experiencing now, only not with blood but oil supply. In that case the Jehovah Witnesses are the environmentalists....

The country has been terribly dependent on imported oil and that would not be so bad if the oil were owned by reasonable people abroad, people who, like reason would guide one to do, wished to earn a decent living off their good fortune and hard work. That would make for healthy trade between, say, the oil rich Saudi Arabians or Venezuelans and the rest of the world.

Sadly, however, as things are, the oil abroad is under the control of a bunch of rouge states that (a) use it to make the population addicted to free lunches that can only last so long and (b) play geopolitical games instead of conduct trade with people outside their borders. This makes is especially crucial that the rest of the world institute rational economic policies when it comes to oil exploration, extraction and refinement.

No, of course oil will not last forever. But it could do us a lot more good without irrational restraint of production and trade that's often brought about by the irrational exuberance of too many environmentalists who haven't found an oil rig they didn't hate or an oil refinery they didn't want to ban.

Even in a time of emergency, such as many Americans had and are still reeling from involving the hurricanes, instead of retreating in shame of how little they care about human well-being, both the environmentalists and their political pawns in Washington prefer dragging a bunch of oil company executives in front of pontificating Congressional committees and subjecting them to various attempts to humiliation, as if their duties were first to appease the politicos rather than enrich all those who own oil stocks (which, by the way, includes millions of people who are far from "fat cats," whoever that insulting term is supposed to refer to).

Oh, yes, about that gauging issue-no doubt some folks love to exploit other people's dire needs, but it is simply impossible to know from afar who is doing this as opposed to taking reasonable advantage of having prudently saved up (horded) resources while others gave not a fig about a rainy day. If one thinks charging high prices for goods and services in short supply is a bad thing, we might as well shut down all labor unions which flourish by advocating that policy, or doctors who actually live by it (given how they are mostly needed and diligently charge for this when their patients are in dire need of their expertise).

Anyway, I look at environmental opposition to oil exploration in, say, Alaska, or offshore, or anywhere, as rank obstructionism and the cause of much misery, especially to those who can least afford or cope with it.

This is just what you get when people's value systems have become so warped that they are willing to put trees, snail darters, and rare frogs ahead of human lives and well-being on their list of priorities. But, like the Jehovah Witnesses or Christian Scientists, if they do it to themselves, that can only be argued with in a free country. But if they inflict their perverse notions on us all, they should be stopped.

More here


Which could go a long way to explain the recent slight warming, despite the denials

Sunspots have been more common in the past seven decades than at any time in the last 8,000 years, according to a new historic reconstruction of solar activity. Many researchers have tried to link sunspot activity to climate change, but the new results cannot be used to explain global warming, according to the scientists who did the study.

Sunspots are areas of intense magnetic energy. They act like temporary caps on upwelling matter, and they are the sites of occasional ferocious eruptions of light and electrified gas. More sunspots generally means increased solar activity. Sunspots have been studied directly for about four centuries, and these direct observations provide the most reliable historic record of solar activity. Previous studies have suggested cooler periods on Earth were related to long stretches with low sunspot counts. From the 1400s to the 1700s, for example, Europe and North America experienced a "Little Ice Age." For a period of about 50 years during that time, there were almost no sunspots. But a firm connection between sunspot numbers and climate remains elusive, many scientists say.

The new study, led by Sami Solanki of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, employed a novel approach to pinning down sunspot activity going back 11,400 years: Cosmic rays constantly bombard Earth's atmosphere. Chemical interactions create a fairly constant source of stuff called carbon-14, which falls to Earth and is absorbed and retained by trees. But charged particles hurled at Earth by active sunspots deflect cosmic rays. So when the Sun gets wild, trees record less carbon-14. While trees don't typically live more than a few hundred years or perhaps a couple thousand, dead and buried trees, if preserved, carry a longer record, "as long as tree rings can be identified," said Manfred Schuessler, another Max Planck Institute researcher who worked on the study.

The study's finding: Sunspot activity has been more intense and lasted longer during the past 60 to 70 years than at anytime in more than eight millennia. Sunspot activity is known to ebb and flow in two cycles lasting 11 and 88 years (activity is currently headed toward a short-term minimum). Astronomers think that longer cycles -- or at least long-term variations -- also occur. Scientists in other fields have shown that during the past 11,000 years, Earth's climate has had many dramatic shifts. "Whether solar activity is a dominant influence in these [climate] changes is a subject of intense debate," says Paula Reimer, a researcher at Queen's University Belfast who wrote an analysis of the new study for Nature. Why? Because "the exact relationship of solar irradiance to sunspot number is still uncertain."

In general, studies indicate changes in solar output affect climate during periods lasting decades or centuries, "but this interpretation is controversial because it is not based on any understanding of the relevant physical processes," study member Schuessler told Translation: Scientists have a lot to learn about the Sun-Earth connection.

More here

Unsustainable Climate Research

"The environmental debate in recent years has centered on the concept of `sustainability'. The basic idea is that our use of natural resources (or the production of greenhouse gases that are infamously blamed for global warming) should be at a slower rate, one that is sustainable. There are two main shortcomings I see with `sustainability' arguments. First, for a truly irreplaceable resource (lets say petroleum) for which there is only a finite supply, any rate of use will be unsustainable. Eventually, we will run out. Similarly, if indeed global warming turns out to be a real problem, no rate of increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases is sustainable. Second, the sustainability argument neglects the proven role of technological advances that, historically, make sustainability a moot point.

Nevertheless, there are a few areas where sustainability looks like a useful concept. For instance, assuming humans will always need food, the organic matter that is removed from the ground to make food should be replaced with compost, to rebuild the soil. This practice is now widespread, especially in the U.S. But quite often, worries over sustainability end up being unfounded. At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States had a major pollution problem in its cities -- horse manure. An estimated 175,000 horses in New York City caused such a stinking mess (especially in summer) and threat to human health that even the daily removal and disposal of hundreds of tons of manure could not fix the problem. I'm sure that, if the government had funded research into the horse manure problem back then, environmental researchers would have predicted that by the year 1930, New York City streets would be covered to a depth of six feet in manure on a daily basis. For a very real problem that citizens actually experienced on a daily basis, this must have seemed like an inescapable fate for society. Yet, the automobile came along, solving the horse manure problem.

Fifty years ago we had enough known petroleum reserves to last about another thirty years. I remember in the early 1970's there was widespread concern, made worse by the oil embargo, that the world was running out of oil. Yet, fifty years later, we still have thirty years supply left. How can this be? The reason, of course, is that it costs money to discover new oil, and there is no economic incentive for the petroleum industry to find more than is necessary. Surely there is only so much oil left to be found, though, and so our use of petroleum is, ultimately, unsustainable. But does this mean we should worry about running out of oil?

It is more than a little ironic in this era of environmental sustainability issues that environmental researchers in the United Kingdom have recently found their jobs to be unsustainable. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is slated to close four research centers, consolidating operations at four remaining centers, with up to 200 of 600 researchers losing their jobs. A spokeswoman for the Centre explained, "The council has recognized for some time that the current structure of the center is unsustainable..". While I'm sure that this development holds no humor for those affected, couching the problem in terms of sustainability sure brought a smile to my face.

The United States government has spent over $18 billion since 1990 on climate change research. Since zero research dollars would have led to zero environmental problems to report in scientific journals, it is easy to see that the number of sustainability issues we face is roughly proportional to how much money we put into finding them. Not that I'm against climate research, since that's how I make a living. I sure don't want my job to be declared unsustainable.

And yet, some day my job will be gone, and a new societal issue will arise that requires different research skills to tackle. Global warming is the current fashion, leading to dire predictions about what will happen 50 or 100 years down the road. In science, it is a truism that it is dangerous to extrapolate a current trend far into the future. Similarly, we continue to ignore the historical evidence that beyond 20 or 30 years, we really can't know what the future holds, simply because we can't predict the technological advances that will eventually make the old problems evaporate.

But lessons from history don't keep professional hand-wringers from predicting gloom and doom, and the media from reporting the same. (I sometimes wonder, if there were no bad news to report, would the media still exist in order to report good news? Or would their jobs be found unsustainable as well?)

Entire organizations have been renamed to include `Sustainable' as part of their title. For instance, the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development; the Sustainable Development Networking Programme; the U.S. Department of Energy's Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development; the International Institute for Sustainable Development; and so on. I predict that the use of the word `sustainable' in the names of organizations will soon be found to be unsustainable.

Just as the deepening horse manure crisis was alleviated by the introduction of the automobile over a century ago, I suspect that our current worries over global warming will evaporate in the coming decades. Of course, it will be in part the concern over global warming that will help to usher in new energy technologies, and so the tension created by environmental problems helps to motivate eventual solutions.

But current policy proposals that create economic harm and do little to solve the problem (for instance, the Kyoto Protocol) don't help to facilitate this process. Even though the United States' position that technological advancement should be the focus of global warming solutions, much of the rest of the world considers the U.S. to be obstructing progress on the global warming issue. The insistence that command-and-control approaches like Kyoto must be adopted are starting to sound suspiciously like excuses for wealth redistribution, increasing control over countries by the UN, and increased tax rates.

Even though it is fashionable for now, `sustainability' is not a very useful concept. In the final analysis, only change is sustainable. I just hope that, in the climate research arena, my job remains sustainable until I retire".


Ethical quagmire for environmentalists: Choosing a tree: "The cultural minefield of December has another politically loaded question to tiptoe around: Will you purchase a real tree or an artificial one? And then, what will you call it? Your answer will speak to your commitment to protecting American jobs, reducing the trade deficit, preventing environmental destruction, helping us breathe and, of course, showing where you stand on the Rev. Jerry Falwell's efforts to counter what he calls the anti-Christian 'war on Christmas.' The choice between real and not real is especially painful for some environmentalists. Either they desecrate the Earth and chop down a tree or buy a fake one that's full of landfill-clogging polyvinyl chloride, which is kryptonite to greenies. Salting a tree with pesticides, then chopping it down for a mere two weeks of display time isn't a great option."


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 to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

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