Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Global Warming: Back to the Drawing Board

If you are a devoted believer in man-made catastrophic global warming, this will be a hard post for you to read. They say sunshine is the best disinfectant, so know that this is written in an effort to help you. The latest news is that some global warming supporters are asking for the movement to start over.

There was a meeting yesterday of 150 climate scientists. At the meeting, Brittan's official Meteorological Office (also known as the Met Office) encouraged climate scientists to produce,"… a new common trove of global temperature data that is open to public scrutiny and 'rigorous' peer review." According to Fox News, this new effort would:

  1. "verifiable datasets starting from a common databank of unrestricted data"

  2. "methods that are fully documented in the peer reviewed literature and open to scrutiny;"

  3. "a set of independent assessments of surface temperature produced by independent groups using independent methods,"

  4. "comprehensive audit trails to deliver confidence in the results;"

  5. "robust assessment of uncertainties associated with observational error, temporal and geographical in homogeneities."

This sounds like a very good attempt to make global warming a legitimate science. The only problem is the Met Office is assuming the results of the data before it collects it. Fox News quoted the Met Office as saying, "…we do not anticipate any substantial changes in the resulting global and continental-scale trends." If that's true, then why go through the effort? Shouldn't the science go where the data leads it and not draw conclusions ahead of time?

The real problem, and the reason for the exercise, is that serious questions have been raised about global warming in the last few weeks and months. There are no good answers for these questions. The Met and other global warming supporters need something to make their favorite cause look real. There have been a number of black eyes given to the supporters of man-made global warming in recent months. Here is a partial list:

  1. Leaked emails from the University of East Anglia showed where prominent global warming scientists in the U.K. and the U.S. failed to comply with Freedom of Information requests.

  2. These same emails showed an effort on the part of these scientist to prevent any dissenting views from being published in peer reviewed journals. To be clear: this was a political tactic, and not one used to debate scientific findings.

  3. The Chief of East Anglia, Phil Jones, admitted that much of the data used to create the now infamous "hockey stick" graph shown in Al Gore's movie, and relied on in the IPCC report put out by the United Nations, has been lost.

  4. Phil Jones also is on the record admitting there is no "statistically significant" global warming in the last 15 years. This isn't my claim, this is the director of one of the largest bastions protecting the theory of man-made global warming. Mr. Jones admitted in the same interview that two previous periods (1910 to 1940 and 1975 to 1998) both showed similar warming trends.

  5. The 2007 IPCC report released by the United Nations has been exposed to have included un-reviewed claims and used the reports from activist organizations without reviewing their accuracy. The IPCC had to recently retract a statement from the report claiming that the Himalayan Glaciers would disappear by 2035 knowing the statement was false when it was placed in the report. The UN has claimed the statement was inserted,"…purely to put political pressure on world leaders."

  6. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has asked the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the activities of Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State and Dr. James Hansen of NASA. Senator Inhofe argues that recent revelations concerning global warming show that both of these individuals may be guilty of research misconduct and may have broken the law. I don't know if the Obama administration will pursue this, but it is one more strike against two of the leading supporters of global warming in the United States.

I can appreciate the predicament supporters of global warming are in. If any other theory had faced similar problems, it would have been rejected by now. I would support the effort the Met Office has suggested, provided it was done correctly. How? With the Scientific Method firmly in place. Don't use the data to prove your point, collect the data, and see what it tells you. Until they can do that, I will continue to believe man-made global warming is simply a political cause, and not science.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

President Ahab

According to the New York Times, President Obama, "...will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week...". According to Presidential aides, President Obama intends to get his bill attached to a budget bill so that it can pass the Senate under reconciliation. Reconciliation will allow it to pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of the filibuster proof 60 votes. The President plans on placing his bill on the White House website Monday morning. This will be four days before his meeting with Republicans to discuss health care reform, or the President's own personal whale.

The only other details that have been released about the President's bill is that it would attempt to cover 30 Million Americans by 2019 (thus still not providing health care insurance for everyone), would cost about $900 Billion, would require Americans to buy health insurance or be fined, would make it illegal for insurance companies to exclude pre-existing conditions, and provide tax subsidies to "moderate-income" people to buy insurance. The New York Times quotes "Officials" as saying the President's bill will also tax "high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance policies," and would also, "reflect a deal reached with labor union leaders to limit the impact tax on workers". Abortion has not been mentioned one way or another on in the details that have been leaked.

I think it is interesting that the President is working on a bill that is a compromise between House and the Senate Democrats ahead of his meeting with Republicans. The meeting with Republicans is supposed to be so that the President can listen to their ideas. How can anyone believe he is going to do this if he has already written his own bill that he is trying to get support for? Additionally, some Democrats are nervous about the bill because they haven't been consulted about it, and are a little uneasy about using the reconciliation process to pass such a huge, far reaching bill.

I think the President has shown his hand. The meeting next week is a show meeting to attempt to trick voters into believing he has listened to anything the Republicans have to say. I also think passing this bill under reconciliation is the very epitome of Washington Politics that Candidate Obama ran claiming to oppose. The President may also be surprised at how hard it is to use the reconciliation option after the recent Massachusetts elections with many Democrats nervous about their chances in November.

The President has taken his eye off the ball when it comes to the economy. He has become obsessed with passing a health care bill, any health care bill. Democrats would be wise to give up this white whale and try to deal with the problems that are really affecting our nation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let Them Eat Cat!

I have been traveling a lot over the last week, and the blog has suffered for it. I am back home now, and hope to resume a more normal posting schedule. However, I thought everyone might enjoy a more entertaining post. Something that has nothing to do with President Obama, Iran, or Global Warming. Eating cats...

I first stumbled across this story on the Drudge Report, and went to the Times UK article. I can't write a better intro than the the Times UK:

A top Italian food writer has been suspended indefinitely from the country’s version of the television programme Ready Steady Cook for recommending stewed cat to viewers as a “succulent dish”.

I really did laugh and laugh at this. The article goes on to explain that the Chef was raised in an area of Italy that was known to eat cat in time of economic hardship. The article tells of the terrible incident:

“I’ve eaten it myself and it’s a lot better than many other animals,” he [Chef Beppe Bigazzi] told viewers. “Better than chicken, rabbit or pigeon.” He said that for optimum flavour the meat should be “soaked in spring water for three days” before being stewed.

Personally, I think the story was just as funny as can be. I wish the Chef the best of luck as the network has placed him on indefinite leave. However, if my own cats don't mend their evil ways, I may have to write Chef Bigazzi for the recipe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

No More Diplomatic Solution to Iran.

I think we have finally reached a point where I feel there is no longer a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

I have written on here a number of times that I believe a nuclear armed Iran is a threat to U.S. interests and to the world. We must do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Fox News reports today that the United States has added new restrictions and sanctions on members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. This was in response to Iran's announcement that it has begun enriching a portion of its uranium to the 20% purity level. This level is high enough to be used in a nuclear weapon. Iran claims it wishes to create treatments for cancer patients in Iran.

Iran has used a stall and delay tactic for years now to continue to advance its nuclear program. The United Nations would make demands, Iran would ask for time to respond, or for clarification. The entire time, it continued down the path towards a nuclear weapon. At the same time, Iran has been developing longer and longer range missiles. President Obama has tried very hard to resolve this issue through diplomatic means. He has failed. President Bush tried to resolve Iran's nuclear quest by allowing the European Union to be the primary negotiators. That failed as well.

The toughest sanctions we could possibly use against Iran would be to target their gasoline imports. Iran has very little refinery capabilities, and has to import roughly 40% of its refined petroleum. However, Russia and China have stood in the way of this sanction for some time. Even with the announcement of Iran's increased enrichment a Reuters UK report says that Russia has "...sent its strongest signal yet on Tuesday that it could back a fourth set of U.N. sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme"{emphasis mine} and China is "determined to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear weapons." However, in this same article, China is said to be nervous that talk of sanctions might harm the diplomatic process.

Iran has shown it has no desire to give up its nuclear quest through the typical diplomatic process. China and Russia continue to be roadblocks to the toughest sanctions against Iran. The world has tried the diplomatic solution, including, "... five U.N. Security Council resolutions -- and three sets of U.N. sanctions -- aimed at pressuring it to freeze enrichment, and [Iran] has instead steadily expanded its program." If our goal is to slow down, freeze, or remove Iran's nuclear program, we have failed under both a Democratic and a Republican administration. President Obama has been the picture of diplomacy with Iran. Iran responds to this open hand by seting new enrichment targets. At some point, we have to acknowledge our failures, and try something different. If we don't, Iran will get a nuclear weapon.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Waste of Money at the Census

I just saw the "controversial" 2010 Superbowl ad. If you missed it, you can view it here. I had read a little about this before tonight. A number of people (including me) are upset that the government is spending $2.5 Million on a Superbowl ad to tell people about the Census. Does our government really have the money to blow on a project like this? The Census is required by law, and I don't disagree with it. I do disagree with the multi-million dollar PR ad for the Census. I also disagree with the $133 Million ad campaign as Fox News reports:

The bureau is spending $133 million between January and May -- or, more than $13 million for each of 10 questions, one of which reads: What is your telephone number? -- to publicize the national head-count. Part of that effort is the Super Bowl ad, which Kendall Johnson, a spokeswoman for the bureau, confirmed Wednesday to FoxNews.com cost $2.5 million to air. The ad, produced by actor and director Christopher Guest, also will appear in other media, Johnson said.

If you have seen the ad (which you should do. You paid for it.), you might be a little confused. It looks like the census is some sort of reality movie, or perhaps a giant prank. The ad does very little to inform anyone about the census, or to convince you to let the census counters talk to you.

Early in this piece, I called the ad "controversial". In truth, it shouldn't be. We should all be outraged at the $133 Million waste of money our government has embarked on, and the worthless $2.5 Million Superbowl ad.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Is North Carolina History?

North Carolina has made a bold decision that history began in 1877. You may think they have lost their mind, but Fox News reports:

Right now, {North Carolina} high school students learn world history in the ninth grade, civics and economics in the tenth and the entirety of U.S. history in the eleventh grade. Under the proposed change, all ninth graders wouldn't study world history. Instead, they''ll have to take a course called Global Studies focusing on the modern issues like the environment.

Tenth graders will still get Civics and Economics, while the junior year U.S. history class would start in 1877. State officials say events prior to that year will be taught before high school and also incorporated into the sophomore year Civics class.

Education officials acknowledge this is a big change but believe it will allow them to connect with a standard of teaching based on a new national initiative called called Common Core which emphasizes standards to help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers and to be prepared to compete globally.

"The whole notion of the common core is fewer, clearer and more in depth standards. So that our students remember what's important," Garland said.

North Carolina had signers at the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution. It was here at the founding of our nation, and now it has decided that it's history, and that of the United States, isn't really that important. I guess we should feel privileged that they are keeping history after 1877. The rest of the world has no history at all according to North Carolina officials.

I have often heard history teachers complain that it's hard to squeeze all of U. S. History into the time they are allowed to teach it. However, I don't believe many of them would vote to simply not teach anything before 1877.

Our history makes us who we are. We have made mistakes, but we have also been a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. How do you argue against ideas that could be destructive if you have no concept of the context of our government, our nation, our history, or our values?

School officials in North Carolina have lost sight of what they are suppose to do. Teaching our children math, english, AND history is important. Global "Environmental" studies can be important, but not at the expense of our own identity. Without our identity, what are we?