People Unclear

This is number 40 of a long series

If you’re like me, you wonder where people like this come from:

GOP congressman asks if rocks are causing sea levels to rise

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I found it impossible to omit Representative Brooks’ affiliation with the Republican party. It’s not as though when you decide to run for office as a Republican you have to check the “global warming is a hoax” box. But it helps.

But let’s get serious for a moment. Representative Brooks may have a point there. The truth is that the world’s rivers daily deposit tons of soil, scourged from the continents, into the oceans. That has got to account for some sea level rise. Some Skeptical Analysis is in order. Take the Mississippi River as an example. All the stuff that gets washed down from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains eventually makes its way to the Mississippi Delta. A similar thing is going on with the Nile. This has been going on for millions of years. We should all be under water by now.

Not quite. Look at Florida. The state is bare inches (many inches) above water. It has an interesting geological history:

Sea levels have had a profound effect on both Florida’s geology and ecology. The fossil record indicates a mass migration of plants and animals occurred between North and South America approximately 2 million years ago, when sea levels were much lower and a land bridge connected North America. During the last ice age, Florida was as much as three times the current land area (red line on Figure 1).

Here is Figure 1:

The map shows what is now Florida and the shape of the coast line 5 million years ago (smaller) and during the previous ice age, when a bunch of the planet’s water was stacked up as ice on the continents (much larger). Melting of the continental ice shrunk Florida to its present day size.

And Florida is much the same shape as it was 500 years ago when Europeans began to explore it. All this while the Mississippi, the Nile, the Amazon, the Indus—all  these great rivers—have been dumping silt into the oceans. Only recently, the past 100 years, has human activity started to make serious changes to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. And Florida is finally beginning to experience the result:

Map Shows Which Miami Condo Buildings Are Most Threatened by Rising Sea Levels

Even as scientists continue reminding us that Miami is one of the most susceptible cities to the potential damages of sea-level rise, developers continue erecting shiny luxury tower after shiny luxury tower in the areas most threatened by rising tides. So EMiami Condos, a website that tracks condo development in the city, put two and two together to figure out which buildings are at the highest risk. 

The site gathered information from the FIU School of Journalism’s Eyes on the Rise app. The app allows you to key in your address and find out how many feet of sea-level rise it would take for your home to be underwater.

Another source provides additional history:

Although all the details are not well understood, the driving force behind these glacial/interglacial cycles are slow variations in Earth’s orbit as it circles the sun, which slightly decreased/increased the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface. For the current interglacial, the orbitally-driven warming eventually came to an end after the Holocene Climatic Optimum (HCO), and by 4-5000 years ago all the vulnerable land-based ice had disappeared. The volume of the global ocean was static until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, and by the 19th Century global sea level had begun to rise again. Despite undergoing short-term accelerations, and decelerations, globally-averaged sea level has undergone long-term acceleration up to the present day (Church & White [2006]Merrifield [2009]).

With some 60-70 metres worth of global sea level equivalent locked up in the vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and with global warming well underway, it raises the question of how much sea level rise we are likely to see this century (and beyond), and just how fast this might happen. Because the dynamics of ice sheet disintegration are only very crudely known, and ice sheet modelling is in its infancy, there is a large range of estimates of future sea level rise. Many now seem to converge on 1-2 metres of sea level rise by 2100 – much higher than current rates. But is this realistic? A recent paper, examining past ice sheet disintegrations, lends credence to these estimates.

Here is the pertinent graph:

Figure 2 – Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

All records I have seen show the sea level rising since 1870, about the time the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear, and we started burning fossil fuels in earnest. The rate of increase has, itself, been increasing during the time we have increased the burn rate. Here is what the current activity looks like:

Those measurements are millimeters.

Anyhow, Congressman Brooks lives in Alabama’s 5th District, approximately 600 feet above sea level. He has nothing to worry about regarding sea level rise, which is expected to be as much as 200 feet if all the polar ice melts. In fact, if he could stay around long enough he might be able to cash in on some of Alabama’s beach front property boom.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 17 in a series

I’ve been having too much fun with politics and Donald Trump. It’s time for me to get to some serious business requiring Skeptical Analysis. Facebook to the rescue.

Cody Knotts is a Facebook friend I sought out after taking in some of his divergent views. This blog would not be very interesting reading if it only pulled from sources that parallel to my own views. As an aside, Cody is a movie producer, currently involved in a film based on the Kecksburg Incident.

Anyhow, Cody posted a link to an opinion piece appearing in Forbes Magazine, and a quick reading reveals it to be worth some comment. Additionally, Cody’s followers on Facebook chimed in, and there is some interesting back and forth. Let me start with the original Forbes opinion piece.

Opinion  

To The Horror Of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling Is Here

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Around 1250 A.D., historical records show, ice packs began showing up farther south in the North Atlantic. Glaciers also began expanding on Greenland, soon to threaten Norse settlements on the island. From 1275 to 1300 A.D., glaciers began expanding more broadly, according to radiocarbon dating of plants killed by the glacier growth. The period known today as the Little Ice Age was just starting to poke through.

And more. The piece runs to two pages, and contributor Peter Ferrara makes a number of assertions, too many for me to address in this short post. I will touch on some highlights, beginning with the paragraph above.

Ferrara emphasizes the so-called “Little Ice Age,” and there is evidence of a global cooling during this period. Follow the link and read the article on Wikipedia. Ferrara may have a valid point, that there have been, and there likely will be, short term fluctuations in global temperature. The following plot tracks the Little Ice Age as described by Ferrara, and it also tracks the up-tick in global  temperatures since the exploding use of fossil fuels.

The plot is available on Wikipedia with the following caption, which should provide some explanation:

The original northern hemisphere hockey stick graph of Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999, smoothed curve shown in blue with its uncertainty range in light blue, overlaid with green dots showing the 30-year global average of the PAGES 2k Consortium 2013 reconstruction. The red curve shows measured global mean temperature, according to HadCRUT4 data from 1850 to 2013.

Ferrara points out observed changes in solar activity since the time people became able to quantize it, and he correlates this with observed climate change. He also discusses later trends.

Those ocean temperature cycles, and the continued recovery from the Little Ice Age, are primarily why global temperatures rose from 1915 until 1945, when CO2 emissions were much lower than in recent years. The change to a cold ocean temperature cycle, primarily the PDO, is the main reason that global temperatures declined from 1945 until the late 1970s, despite the soaring CO2 emissions during that time from the postwar industrialization spreading across the globe.

It will be interesting to examine what went on since the end of World War Two.

This shows the drop, which began before 1945. But then global  temperatures leveled off before beginning to rise in the late 1960s, a rise that continues to this day. Ferrara contends the rise does not track soaring use of fossil fuels following the war, but he does not provide any evidence concerning the increase in fossil fuel consumption and its timing. The Keeling Curve, which tracking began in 1958, shows levels of CO2 in the atmosphere since that time.

Volcanic activity can contribute to a decline is global temperatures, and this is considered as a possible contributor to the Little Ice Age. Volcanic activity is not currently in play.

Nor is solar activity.

However much success his readers believe Ferrara has obtained in convincing them that anthropogenic global warming is a myth, those readers will be amiss in taking his words at face value. That’s because historically his words have had little value.

National Review magazine published his essay “What Is An American?” in its September 25, 2001 issue, after the September 11 attacks. In the essay, he claims that “there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan”, although census numbers show Afghanistan has roughly ten to fifteen times as many Muslims as the United States. The essay was reproduced in a chain e-mail claiming that an Australian dentist wrote it. Ferrara, reflecting on that essay in 2007, still stood by it and supported “more selective immigration so that the U.S. gets a ‘better-educated class of Mexican immigrants.'”

Another indicator is his current employer. From Wikipedia:

Lawyer, policy analyst, and columnist who is an analyst for The Heartland Institute

Yes, we have had previous experience with The Heartland Institute:

Heartland Institute to the rescue. To counter the findings of researchers in the field Heartland engages in various practices to dissuade the voting public from accepting these findings. Desmoglog obtained pilfered internal Heartland documents and heartlessly exposed the contents:

Tue, 2012-02-14 13:13 BRENDAN DEMELLE

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

Of course, that is not the end of the story. I will leave it to readers to figure out for themselves whether Peter Ferrara is convincing. I will turn now to a collection of his readers, particularly people who participated in the discussion on Cody’s Facebook feed. Here are a few comments worth noting.

Sean Logue of course it was obvious… But people believed “science” versus historical evidence and observation.
Few realize that most public scientist are chasing dollars rather than truth. Having studied history and knowing the mini ice age and past cooling and warming trends this was elementary. It also appears in tree rings.

Rob Mudryk It was global cooling to start, the global warming, then climate change, then global climate disruption, then Global Species disruption, then Obama got his Peace Prize for the plan to get the media in line and it went back to Global Warming. But all along since 2000 we knew from actual scientists that there was going to be a 57 year solar minimum and a mini ice age was coming. The head of the Hurricane center said back in 2000 that Hurricanes are going on a 27 year minimum. Science knew what was going to happen, and it happened as they said. Not what the political propaganda of give us more money so we can fix it politicians story of doom and gloom. Even the CFC ban on the Ozone Layer is 100% false, it was found out long long ago that solar cycles control the hole in the ozone. Only in the USA is CFC’s banned.. Freon is still made in the USA and shipped all over the world.

Devin Montgomery Glad I bought new skis. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

Cody Knotts Whether it is cooling or warming, the idea that it is man made is the hubris and the center of the hysteria.

Sean Logue John Blanton, how many cars were there during the ice age, mini ice age, or medieval warming period?

Sean Logue How much CO2 did the dinosaurs put out to make their climate hotter and wetter than ours.

Rob Mudryk John Blanton there is also credible evidence that the warming is being caused by the scientists lowering historical data. The most damning thing to the CO2 claim is first is the increased CO2 is already doubled in plant life causing global greening. Second plant life goes extinct below 160ppm the earth peek plant life is around 1000-2000ppm per historical observations. The fact that the earth temp is not correlating to anything CO2 just show how towing the socialist line it is. 1000’s of scientists are now dropping their unwavering support for global warming now their career is not in jeapority. The climate cult is over, jump off the train before it goes over the cliff, the imperical evidence is no longer in the socialists side.

Rob Mudryk Sean Logue CO2 levels when the dinosaurs were ruling the planet was 1000-4000ppm when plant life and animal was 10 times larger from abundance of food.

Rob Mudryk John Blanton I’m sorry I’ve seen the wayback machines data and it changed. it is fact of the CO2 levels during the earths most green period. It is fact that peer review studies say the CO2 is being absorbed and the earth is getting greener. It is fact that Plants can not live below 150ppm of CO2 We have been at a CO2 famine for quite a long time. Dragging it back to the absolute minimum because politically motivated academics say we have to do it, give us money. It is fact that 10,000 confirmed relavent scientists signed documents to disagree with the global warming theory. It is fact that all the computer models that you base your “facts” on have never been back tracable let alone follow the actual climate over the past 20 years. It is fact that the scientific method does not allow for settled science, that is the realm of political propaganda. So I’ll stick with what I believe, what is actually happening in the world, vs. the chicken little stories of doom and gloom.. We’d be underwater already if your religion was correct.

John Blanton Sean Logue Regarding the number of cars in those historic times, there were none. And the relevance being?

Sean Logue Aren’t cars the number 1 man-made source of CO2?

And that pretty much illustrates the level of discourse this subject receives on Facebook.

Readers are invited to challenge or to expand on any of the points made on this post. My time is at your disposal.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 7 in a series

The way I got around to this book was another book I was reviewing by writer Stephen Moore and would-be political appointee Kathleen Hartnett White, titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy. That book makes a couple of references to another book: The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe by Sebastian Luning and Fritz Vahrenholt, and I purchased the Kindle edition to follow up. My original intent was to read the book and post a thorough diagnosis. After some reading I decided, “No way.” I will explain why.

Published by The Heartland Institute 3939 North Wilke Road Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004 phone 312/ 377-4000 fax 312/ 377-5000 www.heartland.org [link added]

That shows up on page 2, and it’s drop-dead indication this is not going to be a scientific treatment of the subject.

I forgot all about Heartland Institute. Yes I did. The last time I paid them any attention was back in 2012. What I stated then was that Heartland Institute appears to use money rather than actual science to counter inconvenient facts of science.

Yes, we have been down that road before. However, it is worth some examination to determine whether Luning and Vahrenholt (Heartland) have anything new to add to the discussion. Here’s what I was able to glean. Despite the title, the book does not appear to be about the neglected sun and why the sun precludes climate catastrophe. The book appears to be more an argument for avoiding “carbon-neutral” energy sources, a prime Heartland agenda. Before getting into several chapters discussing the sun, the book reveals its heart with a few paragraphs in the preface.

In 2011 Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would implement the Energiewende (energy turnaround) in an attempt to replace nuclear and fossil fuel power plants with renewable sources. At the same time, she promised that Germany would no longer need to import electricit y and that electricit y prices would not go up. Within less than a year this grand declaration proved to be little more than wishful thinking. 1 Today electricit y prices in Germany are soaring out of control due to unlimited subsidies given to renewable power, and the German power supply can be secured only through emergency decrees. Power companies also have to keep unprofitable power plants on standby and large power consumers may find their supply cut off in the event of unexpected supply bottlenecks. Within less than a year, Germany has gone from having a power supply that was one of the world’s most stable to one that is on the brink of collapse.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 43-49). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Yes, carbon-neutral sources are a bane on modern society, and the book is going to explain why anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is of no concern, even a hoax. The arguments are many, and after much reading you may begin to wonder: if these arguments are of any worth, why are there so many of them crowded into this book? If the the sun precludes climate catastrophe, then a single scientific finding should suffice, and the argument could have been put to  death in a few pages. From all appearances—I’m pulling from several excerpts—there is not a lot of sound science behind the sun argument, and those remaining arguments the authors do push are off-base and generally are not relevant to the case. Before I get into some of the arguments laid to the sun, let’s examine a few that make absolutely no sense in this discussion. Here’s one.

Scientists find themselves in a quandary. How are they to deal with the politically incorrect scientific results? Two American researchers, Jackson Davis and Peter Taylor, recently came across something astonishing. While studying an Antarctic ice core covering the past 12,000 years, they identified a total of forty-six strong natural warming events throughout the pre-industrial era. The mean warming rate of these events was approximately 1.2 ° C per century, more than the 0.7 ° C warming we have seen since 1900.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 101-105). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Assuming the above is correct, what does it have to do with the issue hand? Maybe a restatement of the issue at hand will be helpful. Here is mine:

Human activities are raising atmospheric levels of CO2 to levels not seen in thousands of years, and the expected, also observed, result is a rise in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures at a rate the world economy cannot accommodate.

If the authors want to talk about past disasters, they could bring up catastrophic asteroid impacts classified as extinction-level events. None of these arguments have relevance to the issue at hand. Besides that, the authors’ statement appears to be false.

This plot is labeled “Annual surface temperature compared to the 1981-2010 average from multiple, independent research groups. NOAA Climate.gov graph adapted from Figure 2.1a in State of the Climate in 2016,” and it appears to show about a 1.0° C rise since 1900. To be sure, the authors are citing the work of others, but this does not excuse the inaccuracy. Rather, their choice of references indicates they are picking sources that please them. There is more. The authors criticize what they contend is bias reporting by mainstream media.

Similar problems occur with the media coverage of new scientific climate studies. Interestingly, while new results inconvenient to the IPCC are often ignored, the latest climate scare stories – some paid for by insurance companies with a vested interest – are widely carried by the mainstream media. For example, how many of us have heard that winter temperatures at the Antarctic Ross Sea have significantly cooled over the past 30 years? [7].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 111-114). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

The footnote is to “Sinclair, K. E., N. A. N. Bertler and T. D. van Ommen (2012) Twentieth-century surface temperature trends in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica: evidence from a high-resolution ice core. Journal of Climate 25 (10), 3629– 36.”

First I will congratulate the authors on missing the irony of this statement. “[P]aid for by insurance companies with a vested interest.” From all appearances, their own reporting has been paid for by an organization with a vested interest in denying AGW. Considering this section’s topic, of what significance is the matter of winter temperatures at the Antarctic Ross Sea to the global temperature average? I am not sure the authors think this is significant, but it is clear they think it will be significant to their readers, the ones they were paid to impress. Here is a bit more along this line.

One might think that a study documenting that temperatures in southern Italy during the Roman Warm Period were slightly higher than they are today would be a worth reporting [9].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 115-116). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

The reference is given in the footnote indicated. Again, a local or regional event is called upon to  put the lie to an observed global trend. Where have we encountered this before? How about here?

Yes, somebody expanded a piece in The Washington Post from nearly 100 years ago to throw as evidence against AGW. Good for them, the authors of this book did not include this as part of their argument.

Turn now to the book’s main theme, the impact of solar activity on global temperatures. The authors saturate the remainder of the book with the solar argument. Here are a few samples:

Geological climate reconstructions exhaustively show that temperatures on earth have followed solar activit y for thousands of years. That is not surprising when we consider that 99.98 per cent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun. Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 577-580). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

I am especially fond of the appeal to logical deduction: “Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?”

Similar irradiation maximums occurred 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period) and 2000 years ago (the Roman Warm Period). In both periods, pronounced climate warming took place. The Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and today’s Modern Optimum (since 1850) are well documented. Between those warm periods the sun’s activit y decreased and this led to distinct cold phases – the Vandal Cold Period and the Little Ice Age.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 583-586). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Solar magnetic field strength increased enormously, parallel to the increase in solar irradiation over the last 100 years, having more than doubled [133– 134] (Figure 3.8). The solar magnetic field protects the earth from cosmic rays because it forms a protective shield around it. As a result cosmic rays have decreased 9 per cent over 150 years up to 2000, when cosmic ray levels started to increase once again [135].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 1047-1050). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

I find this last bit most interesting. The magnetic field? Cosmic ray flux? Relevance, please. The authors need only a single scientific finding to make their case. If they have it, then they are holding it back and showering their readers with case studies. Figure 3.8 mentioned in the above has the following title:

Figure 3.8 Synchronicity of solar activity, temperature, sea level and Arctic Sea ice cover during the last 400 years. Sources: sunspots [136]; total solar irradiance [39]; visible light [39]; UV [39]; solar magnetic field, [134]; CO2 [51]; temperature (extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere) [109]; sea level [137]; Arctic sea ice cover [138].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 1050-1053). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Here is a screen shot from the Kindle edition, computer-enhanced to clarify details:

Here is another plot, not from the book.

This plot shows global warming with respect to solar flux. While solar flux has been more or less constant from 1880 to 2005, the planet’s warming has shown a persistent rise. Where is this graph presented, even in an effort at repudiation? Here is another interesting graphic.

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

Yes, this is what The Heartland Institute is all about, and it bears no resemblance to real science. Juxtaposed to Luning and Vahrenholt’s inferences of media bias and tilted research is the picture of two writers funded at least in part by The Heartland Institute to propagandize against anthropogenic global warming. This is the nature of the case being made against AWG, and it does not get any better than this.

The Hartnett Delusion

Continuing a review of the Kathleen Hartnett White book

I previously reviewed chapter 1, Energy at a Crossroads, subtitled Doomslayers vs. Doomsayers. That chapter, with a number of failings noted, is a determined argument, largely successful, that fossil fuels are a boon to modern civilization. Here I am going to cover chapters 2, 3, and 4 in a single posting, which about measures the limits of my endurance. I will post a some pertinent excerpts along with assessments.

Start with

Chapter 2, How the Shale Revolution is Changing Everything.

In fact, the shale revolution is changing everything. Forty years ago we were forecasting petroleum production to peak in the 21st century. We always knew there were vast stores of oil locked in stone—shale—impractical to extract. Advancing technology has turned that around. With liquid crude oil pumping at $40 per barrel and higher, oil from shale is now competitive.

Strangely enough, the energy bonanza has coincided with the presidency of a man hell-bent on eliminating fossil fuels to avert alleged global warming.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 602-603). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The writers (Moore and White) are, of course, speaking of liberal President Barack Obama, in office at the time the book was published. As I advance through the book, I recognize more and more the pen of writer Stephen Moore, his style and agenda coming to the surface. Here we see the calculated implementation of loaded phrasing with terms like “hell-bent” and “alleged” appearing close by in the same sentence. “Hell-bent” nods to mindless intent on the part of Mr. Obama, and “alleged” reminds us that the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is faulty, even devious. A stroll through the book will disclose that Moore and White string out a slew of true statements, which soon become undercut by a number of scientific misconceptions and blatant falsehoods. For the remainder of the book I will attribute the content to Moore for the sake of simplicity.

Yet after more than eighteen years without warming global temperatures, the president seeks to increase our dependence on these thuggish regimes and declares that global warming is a greater threat than ISIS.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 606-607). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Here Moore displays a couple of miscues:

  • His statement about global temperatures is wrong.
  • He published too early, his reference regarding ISIS now overcome by events.

This chart is “Global mean surface temperature change since 1880. Source: NASA GISS” Contrary to what Moore states, we do not seem to have experienced “more than eighteen years without warming global temperatures.” In the meantime, opposing forces, including the United States military, have driven ISIS from its world headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, and ISIS has ceased to  exist as a territorial entity. Also, contrary to Moore’s proclamations, ISIS will cease to  be an issue long before the effects of AGW have dissipated, if ever.

We know that ISIS terrorist networks are funded to the tune of $ 1 million a day through oil dollars.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 638-639). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I’m still trying to  figure out how that fact supports the intent of this book.

The oil and gas extracted in the shale fields began as small aquatic organisms in an ancient inland sea covering the central region of North America from the Great Plains to what we now call Pennsylvania. And by an ancient inland sea, we mean ancient— formed sixty million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 738-740). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

While I am prepared to concede that the vast body of oil being pumped today comes from the geological Cenozoic Period, I will not agree that 60 million years ago represents the Cretaceous Period, which ended about 66 million years ago. While this technical gaff does not bely Moore’s tale about the origin of these deposits, it does reflect on sloppy writing and a lack of deep understanding.

One presidential signature can deprive Americans of critical natural resources. In 1996, for example, President Bill Clinton designated 1.7 million acres of land in Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante as a national monument, putting the largest store of low-sulfur coal in the country off limits. This is the least polluting form of coal and in the highest demand.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 854-856). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Obviously this signals a disconnect of priorities. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a national treasure, which was given protection by President  Clinton. When George W. Bush became president he revoked that protection as one of his first actions. That action produced a backlash, especially from people in  the region, and President  Bush quickly rescinded his revocation. While I concur with Moore and White that our natural resources need to be exploited for the good of all, there is bound to be something that is too valuable to put on the block.

Bringing the narrative up to the present, President Trump was elected on the strength of his commitment to put business interests first, and his Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is proposing to again  reverse government protection of the area.

Over the last four decades, American industries have dramatically reduced air and water pollution.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Location 866). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, that is true. I hope Moore and White do not seek to convince us these reductions are being made voluntarily. The hard truth is that government regulations account for these reductions, which regulations, by the way, are now being lifted by the industry-friendly Trump administration.

Some of the book’s language is curious, even puzzling. Take this from the previous chapter:

Yet a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of this magnitude would mean curtailing the use of the carbon-rich fertilizers that have fed the world since the 1950s, putting the developing world at risk of famine.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 499-500). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I hope everybody agrees that fertilizers do not contain carbon or its compounds as active ingredients. Paging through the chapter I come to  this:

Eliminating fertilizer made from natural gas would reduce the food supply— increasing the chronic hunger now suffered by five hundred million human beings.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 897-899). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, natural gas is used in the production of nitrogen fertilizers, but what the authors possibly do not realize is that the process uses hydrogen from natural gas. In the production of ammonia, NH3, the hydrogen from natural gas, CH4, combines with nitrogen in the air. There are many examples like this, indicating the need for some technical assistance in writing the book.

In 2015, the ethanol mandate absorbed 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. Multiple studies now conclude the production of ethanol is a net energy loss and increases genuine pollution and carbon dioxide. Ethanol policy is a prime example of counterproductive, outdated, and ethically offensive federal energy policy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 932-935). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I’m tossing this bit out to illustrate the number of valid points made in the book. I’m not bothering to check the facts on this one, because, if the stated numbers are not completely accurate, they are closely enough accurate. Anybody having better information is invited to challenge me here. I look for someone to dig into this more deeply.

Any good points in the book are quickly blunted by statements such as the following:

However disappointing to some who have pledged their careers to politicized climate science, carbon dioxide is not a genuine pollutant capable of harming human health. Fossil fuels— abundant, affordable, concentrated and versatile— are superior to other energy sources at this time.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 944-946). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I am going to take that as saying that all the scientists concluding that AGW is a problem are politicizing climate science. Moore and White want us to know that AGW is not a problem and also that these scientists are lying.

Chapter 3: Saudi America, How Energy is remaking the U.S. Economy

Lots of numbers get thrown around here.

The oil wells of Williston seem to be bottomless. In 1995, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated there were one hundred fifty million “technically recoverable barrels of oil” in the Bakken shale. By 2013, geologists were estimating twenty-four billion barrels. Current technology allows for the extraction of only about 6 percent of the oil trapped one to two miles beneath the earth’s surface, so as the technology advances, recoverable oil could eventually exceed five hundred billion barrels.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1003-1007). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

And I  don’t know where Moore and White get these numbers.

In April 2008, a USGS report estimated the amount of recoverable oil using technology readily available at the end of 2007 within the Bakken Formation at 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels (680,000,000 m3), with a mean of 3.65 billion. Simultaneously the state of North Dakota released a report with a lower estimate of 2.1 billion barrels (330,000,000 m3) of technically recoverable oil in the Bakken. Various other estimates place the total reserves, recoverable and non-recoverable with today’s technology, at up to 24 billion barrels. A recent estimate places the figure at 18 billion barrels. In April 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey released a new figure for expected ultimate recovery of 7.4 billion barrels of oil.

Chapter 4: The Light of the World

Let’s start with this:

Steve Moore was once quoted in the New York Times as saying that “our oil supply is infinite. We will never run out,” a statement that provoked outrage. One high school science teacher wrote, “Mr. Moore: Even my fourteen-year-olds know that oil is finite.” That teacher probably became a top science advisor to President Obama.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1272-1275). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is good. The author quotes himself—which quote I was unable to locate—and steps outside his area of expertise. Moore’s NYT statement is technically untrue, as no material thing in this universe seems to be infinite. Whether we will ever run out of oil is another question. A number of things can make this true, including we could all die first. Another possibility is we could reduce our consumption rate to the point we are using oil at the rate the planet is producing it.

To become more prosperous over time, we don’t want to conserve energy, we want to use it.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1288-1289). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Again a bit of over-inflated rhetoric, and I am sure Moore and White did not intend this to come across the way it did. However, I am not inclined to give them a break. Yes, we want to conserve energy. Energy consumption costs money, and if you want more money in your pocket at the end of the day you will use energy wisely. I reviewed this topic a few years back.

Yeah, a conservative site posted this, presumably to poke fun at the foolishness of energy-saving electric lamps. Here’s a recap:

If only there were any substance to it. Let’s take a look at some reality. A quick visit to Home Depot reveals the following:

$6.97 / package:
$8.97 / case:

What happened to the $6.34 each for CFLs? Where did that price come from? How long did it take the person composing the little ditty above to come up with such a number? It could have taken a while. Writing fiction can be tedious. How about the $0.42 each for incandescents? Let me know where I can get them. Home Depot has its own price:

Model # 60A/RVL-6PK
$8.77 / package

Which brings us back to “I love using liberal clichés to illustrate the absurdity of liberal policies.” By now you are beginning to think what I’m thinking. This is a joke, right? I mean, nothing goes this far off the rails without a little nudge from somebody. I’m guessing this particular somebody was thinking, “I’m bored, so what I’m going to do is have some fun with dim-witted libruls.”

All right. I concede. It was fun. If this was somebody’s idea of a joke, the joke was well and truly joined. If it was not a joke, then… Then oops! Somebody’s got a problem, and it’s not the kind of problem I’m prepared to help with. Let’s all hope this was just a wall-laid spoof and let it go at that.

Whatever it was, let me describe a bit of the real world.

  • 2600 square foot all-electric residence in San Antonio, Texas
  • Compact fluorescents installed throughout
  • Lamps purchased at Home Depot as shown
  • April last year $61 electric bill
  • July last year $105 electric bill

Since then I have replaced maybe 26 CFLs with LED lamps equivalent to 60W incandescents but consuming only 9.5 Watts.

Stephen Moore, you are going to  have to start getting serious if you want people to take you seriously.

What do we use our energy resources for? That seems like a question with a patently obvious answer, but it’s shocking how few people know where energy comes from and how it is used. When we speak to high school and college kids, we ask, “Where does your electricity come from?” And most of the kids point to the outlet in the wall. Ah, the millennials. They know everything, don’t they? For those who are wiser and know what they don’t know, here are some energy basics.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1294-1297). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

To which I respond, “In your dreams, Stephen Moore.” Public school students are connected to the same sources of information Stephen Moore is, and his humorous characterization is a bit over-played. Reading through this book leaves the impression it is Stephen Moore who could benefit from technical education.

Compounds derived from fossil fuels are the raw materials for thousands of synthetic materials. How would a zero-carbon economy replace these goods and the services they provide?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1323-1324). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Wait. Wait! Moore is being deliberately deceptive here. Scientists say “zero-carbon,” and they are talking about zero introducing carbon (dioxide) from fossil fuels into the atmosphere. They are not talking about uses of carbon from petroleum to produce consumer products. Unless these synthetic materials are burned, their carbon (dioxide) hardly makes it into the atmosphere. True, the stuff might bloat our landfills, and it often ends up floating somewhere in the ocean, but that is not the same impact as burning fuel oil.

Moore and White venture into the world of physical science and beyond their area of expertise. Some results are amusing.

Damming the flow of rivers in order to generate hydroelectric power is an example of converting gravitational energy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1391-1392). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The truth be known, hydro-electric power is ultimately solar power.

The muscles of human beings and animals act as a kind of heat engine to generate mechanical energy for movement and work.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1399-1400). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

No. Just no. Muscle power is not an example of heat conversion to mechanical energy. Muscle action is direct chemical to mechanical conversion.

Chemical energy is the most pervasive form of energy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Location 1407). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I recognize this book is not intended as a technical treatise, but additional exactitude would be beneficial if sprinkled throughout. On this planet, chemical energy is not an ultimate source. The ultimate source of practically all chemical energy is the sun.

The egg stores almost as much energy as the barrel of oil!

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1433-1434). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Is there a proof reader in the house. Somewhere along the chain Moore has slipped a link. This brash statement is coupled to an external reference:

Vaclav Smil, Energy and Nature in Society (2007), Table A. 8 Energy Flows and Stores at 393.

I don’t have a copy of the book. It’s $38 for the Kindle edition, and I most recently spent my last thousand dollars on a vacation to the tropics. In any event, missteps such as this bolster the impression that precision is not Moore’s strong suite.

Throughout, Moore spells BTU as Btu. It’s BTU.

Moore takes great lengths to emphasize “power density.” For example:

Hydrogen has an energy density by weight far higher than that of any other fuel at 143 MJ/ kg,

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1465-1466). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

For the record, about ten years ago I had this discussion with another engineer, and I went so far as to write on paper, sign the paper, and hand over, my statement that the future of powered transportation, particularly automobiles, is hydro-carbon fuel. The high energy density of these fuels makes automobile transportation practical. If petroleum becomes problematic, we will need to manufacture something like gasoline from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Keep in mind that modern air transport relies 100% on hydrocarbon fuel. Since 100 years ago large military operations have been impossible without high-density fuels such as hydrocarbons. Destroy the enemy’s fuel supplies, and you win the war.

Moore gets around to attacking climate science directly.

The theories of man-made global warming and predictions of catastrophic climate change are based on assumptions about the earth’s climate system that are not confirmed by observational evidence. The empirical sciences have long understood that measurement, observation, and experiment are the essential means of validating a scientific hypothesis. Claims of consensus cannot trump physical evidence. As the renowned paleogeologist Ian Plimer, of the University of Adelaide, argues, “The theory of human induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures [climate models] are treated as evidence.”

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1496-1501). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I found this interesting, because I have prior (indirect) experience with Ian Plimer. From the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics:

Of course, the creationists have their embarrassments, as well, and this little pamphlet has been one of them. As reported by Chris Stassen in the talk.origins archive (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/gish-exposed.html) Ian Plimer debated Gish in Australia in 1988, and the topic of Brainwashed came up. Stassen quotes from a video tape of the debate. His transcript has Plimer talking about the pamphlet:

    There is a diagram there that says, “precambrian: void of fossils.” That is a lie. The Precambrian is not void of fossils; the Precambrian is extremely rich in fossils. He [Gish] has come to the country where there are many Precambrian fossils going back to 3 thousand 3 hundred million years ago.

Plimer has long been known as a champion of real science as opposed to creationism. Moore has quoted Plimer and has provided a footnote:

Alan Moran, Ed., Climate Change: The Facts, “Chapter 1: The Science and Politics of Climate Change,” Ian Plimer (Stockade Books, Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, 2015).

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 4637-4638). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The book is available in Kindle, and this morning I clicked a link and had it delivered to my computer. Plimer’s section in the book is succinct, and a quick analysis is in  order. His statement, “The theory of human induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures [climate models] are treated as evidence,” is worth some analysis.

I interpret the first clause as saying that research into AGW is aimed at confirming a conclusion. That statement hangs out there with no visible means of support. None is given here by Plimer, and evidence does not support the conclusion.

It would be helpful if Plimer  would cite some of the huge bodies of evidence that are being ignored.

And finally, no. Climate models are not treated as evidence. Climate models are matched against the evidence and corrected to better conform. Furthermore, when the evidence is examined we find the planet (oceans, atmosphere) is getting warmer year after year. See the above graph.

Plimer has more to say, part of which I will excerpt:

Point (ii) has shown to be invalid on all time scales. There is no doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. However, the main greenhouse gas is water vapour. The first 100 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 have a significant effect on atmospheric temperature, whereas any increase from the current 400 ppm will have an insignificant effect. Furthermore, because CO2 has a short residence time in the atmosphere, it is naturally sequestered into the oceans, life, or rocks in less than a decade. In fact, only one molecule of every 85,000 in the atmosphere is CO2 of human origin, and yet we are asked to believe that this one molecule drives hugely complex climate change systems. We are also asked to believe that the 32 molecules of CO2 of natural origin in every 85,000 molecules play no part in driving climate change.

Abbot, Dr John; James Delingpole, Dr Robert M. Carter ~ Rupert Darwall ~; Donna Laframboise, Dr Christopher Essex ~ Dr Stewart W. Franks ~ Dr Kesten C. Green ~; Dr Richard S. Lindzen, Nigel Lawson ~ Bernard Lewin ~; Dr Patrick J. Michaels ~ Dr Alan Moran, Dr Jennifer Marohasy ~ Dr Ross McKitrick ~; Nova, Jo; Dr Willie Soon, Dr Garth W. Paltridge ~ Dr Ian Plimer ~; Steyn, Mark; Watts, Anthony; Andrew Bolt; Dr J. Scott Armstrong. Climate Change: The Facts (Kindle Locations 201-208). Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

“However, the main greenhouse gas is water vapour.” Yes! What of it?  Water vapor in the atmosphere contributes immensely to keeping the planet warm. The effect of carbon-dioxide is an add-on.

“The first 100 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 have a significant effect on atmospheric temperature, whereas any increase from the current 400 ppm will have an insignificant effect.” This statement would be helped if some substantiation were provided.

“Furthermore, because CO2 has a short residence time in the atmosphere, it is naturally sequestered into the oceans, life, or rocks in less than a decade.” [Emphasis added] This is contrary to known facts. The life span of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is in the order of 200 years.

“In fact, only one molecule of every 85,000 in the atmosphere is CO2 of human origin.” I don’t get the same number that Plimer does. Starting with 280 ppm CO2 we are now at 400 ppm, due to human activity. That’s a 120 ppm human contribution, or one molecule for every 8333 in the atmosphere. Where did the 85,000 come from?

The remainder of Plimer’s statement is an argument from incredulity, something Plimer must have seen a lot in his debates with creationists. You don’t believe something, so it must be false.

Anyhow, Moore and White choose citations from sources that fit their purpose, apparently with little regard for fact.

To oversimplify, it is said that the relatively small increment of man-made carbon dioxide added to the natural atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution disrupts the natural dynamics of climate. Adding more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere could lead to some warming, but could the relatively small additional increment of man-made carbon dioxide overpower the natural variables of climate, leading to planetary catastrophe?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1502-1505). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, the rise in temperature due to  AGW is small, something in the order of 1 – 3 C. People, that’s  the problem we are talking about. That is only through the end of  the 21st century, and it assumes additional concentrations of CO2. Take another look at the graph above. I see a rise of 1 C since I was born. The effects are already noticeable. Please let me know if you do not think this is a problem.

In a 2009 scandal popularly known as “Climategate,” e-mails between key authors of the IPCC’s 2008 assessment report revealed an even darker side of the IPCC: active efforts to suppress, destroy, and manipulate data, to exaggerate temperature records and to prevent the publication of works by dissenting scientists in academic journals. 32 Several investigations followed, and some leading scientists called for a dissolution of the IPCC, but the UN-driven process limped on.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1520-1524). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Really? A deeper look at the supposed scandal is worthwhile.

Eight committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct. However, the reports called on the scientists to avoid any such allegations in the future by taking steps to regain public confidence in their work, for example by opening up access to their supporting data, processing methods and software, and by promptly honouring freedom of information requests. The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remained unchanged throughout the investigations.

AGW skeptics continue to cite this story, indicating this is one of their best arguments going. My take: a good argument must be made of stronger stuff.

For instance, the way the human body burns the chemical energy contained in food is similar to the way the internal combustion engine of an automobile burns the chemical energy in gasoline.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1544-1546). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Again, no.

This makes the concentration of carbon dioxide in human expiration about forty thousand parts per million (ppm)! The current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now about four hundred ppm, including man-made contributions from the combustion of fossil fuels. 39 Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide in 1850 are thought to have been about 280 ppm.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1562-1565). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is a strange argument. I wish somebody would explain what Moore is getting at.

The earth’s location in our solar system is also essential to its ability to support life.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1565-1566). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Really, again. And this has what to do with the discussion?

“That the sun influences our climate should not be surprising . . . when we consider that 99.98 percent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun.”

Oddly, the UN’s IPCC, whose “science” is the authoritative support for climate policy to supplant fossil fuels, largely dismisses the sun’s effect on climate. The IPCC assumes that the increased man-made emissions of carbon dioxide over the previous two centuries overpower the influence of the sun— and of all other natural climactic variables, such as water vapor, clouds, and aerosols— on climate.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1574-1579). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The reference is to a book by Luning and Vahrenholt, and this seems to be the quote of interest.

What makes us so sure that the sun, which is dismissed by the IPCC, plays a central role in climate events? That is relatively easy to answer. Geological climate reconstructions exhaustively show that temperatures on earth have followed solar activit y for thousands of years. That is not surprising when we consider that 99.98 per cent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun. Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 576-580). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

What is odd is that Moore is telling us the IPCC discounts the sun’s effects on global warming. Actually, all of AGW is due to the sun. Somewhere it has gotten lost that AGW results from the action of additional CO2 trapping additional heat from the sun.

What is not odd is the publisher of the Luning and Vahrenholt book is the Heartland Institute.

Human Activity Trumps the Power of the Sun?

To get a sense of the power of the sun, consider that it burns over six hundred million metric tons of hydrogen every second.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1592-1593). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Moore and White continue to impress us with the power of the sun, deliberately missing the irrelevance of this argument.

Major advances in the scientific understanding of energy and its engineering applications have occurred only within the past two centuries. Although we know more about how energy operates in the natural world and how it can be harnessed for human purposes, we still lack a clear understanding of what energy is. Is it a particle or a wave?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1603-1605). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yikes! Is there a physicist in the house? Energy is a particle or a wave? Does Moore want to take another cut at that statement? Reading through the book, I get an indication of why the Kansas City Star no longer prints Moore’s contributions.

And the agent is the most fundamental natural energy conversion on the earth, commonly known as photosynthesis catalyzed by atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1617-1618). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Now we need help from a chemistry major. Strictly speaking, carbon dioxide does not catalyze photosynthesis. It is consumed in the process.

Many machines, or “prime movers” as engineers call them, that convert energy from one form to another, like the turbines used by modern thermal power plants, can convert 99 percent of the turbine’s mechanical energy into electricity.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1645-1646). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

While likely true, also irrelevant. The conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy is a notably efficient process. The turbine turns a generator rotor, driving an electric current through the coils. What is critical to the operation of a turbine generating system is the efficiency of converting available energy from the coal (oil, natural gas) into mechanical energy. This is much less than 98%. And none of it matters to the topic under discussion.

Many senior scientists in the field conclude that it is time to declare the IPCC’s methodology and computer models a failure. A portion of the federal research funds should be allocated to those highly credentialed scientists— now marginalized as skeptics— to assess the IPCC’s work over the last several decades and to offer alternative theories and evidence.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1657-1660). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, get rid of the scientists who are coming up with conclusions you disagree with and get in  some of your own people. Changing the researcher is the best way to change the facts. Except, it does not work that way. The facts are going to remain the same.

Natural carbon dioxide accounts for a minuscule 0.039 percent of the atmospheric gasses we actually breathe at the tropospheric level.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1668-1669). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, I know. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” However, is it too much to ask Moore not to state the concentration of CO2 is 400 ppm and then a few pages later state it’s 399? And wait! He’s calling the 399 ppm “natural CO2,” when 120 ppm of that is due to human activity. Forget about consistency.

Governments and the private sector have already directed hundreds of billions of dollars to ridding the world of carbon. Betting on the success of this effort would be a highly risky investment. Carbon, after all, is defined as “the chemical basis of all known life.” 55 Have people forgotten this fact?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1686-1688). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I know of one household where this is not forgotten. What seems to be forgotten by Moore is that the conversation is supposed to be about carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2 produced by human activity.

The global warming alarmists and many educated elites have lost their faith in man’s ability to adapt and to tame his natural surroundings. Making carbon the enemy of the planet means that mankind is the enemy of the planet. Our bones, blood, and flesh are made of carbon.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1710-1712). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

My impression: this is the level of thinking that went into  the writing of this book.

Am I allowed to take a small victory lap and then head off for a nap? No, I still have to read chapters 5 through 11. It promises to be fun. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Hartnett Delusion

Continuing a review of the Kathleen Hartnett White book

As mentioned previously, I was so taken by a video featuring Kathleen Hartnett White‘s confirmation hearing that I felt compelled to  purchase her book. White and also Andrew Wheeler appeared at the same senate hearing,. In White’s case, she had been submitted by President Donald Trump to head the Council on Environmental Quality. From Wikipedia:

The CEQ produces an annual report for the president on the state of the environment, oversees federal agency implementation of environmental impact assessments, and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments. NEPA tasks CEQ with ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act, granting the body a significant role in environmental protection. Through inter-agency working groups and coordination with other EOP bodies, CEQ also works to advance the president’s agenda on the environment, natural resources, and energy.

One would hope the person filling that slot would have some background related to environment (nature) or possibly human physiology as the matter relates to air and water quality. White seems to  have none of that, her academic exposure being in the humanities and religion with an emphasis on religion, spotlighting some time spent in a comparative religion doctoral program at Princeton University. She also completed a year of law school at Texas Tech University. Her previous work experience included Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a period of six years, acting as chairwoman for part of that  time. None of this seemed to have prepared White for the grilling she was destined to receive before the Senate panel, which panel eventually declined to approve her appointment.

The book is an item to itself. The title is Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy, and it is co-authored by Stephen Moore, about whom we will learn more in due time. The title is a dead giveaway to the tone of the book. This is going to be about fuel (fossil fuel) and an off-kilter war on energy, the term used here to mean the production and consumption of energy. The cover art is suggestive.

I covered the book’s introduction in the previous posting. This is going to be an ankle-deep look at chapter 1, Energy at a Crossroads, subtitled Doomslayers vs. Doomsayers. Summarizing, White extols the benefit fossil fuel has heaped on humanity since its rise to prominence 200+ years ago, beginning with coal and going forward to include petroleum and natural gas. And she makes a passel of good points. We would not be where we are today without the advent of these cheap and accessible sources of energy. She also decries extremists on “the left,” many of whom demolish their own case by foolishly mishandling the facts.

White seeks to use the first chapter to lay out the benefits of fossil fuels and to expose the unthinking attacks on the fossil fuel industry. And this she does, but in a clumsy manner that damages her case. I will post some excerpts and add some discussion of my own. Start with this:

Emissions of carbon dioxide resulting from human activity are here used as a surrogate for consumption of energy derived from fossil fuels.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 202-203). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

My interpretation: energy derived from fossil fuels equates to additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, to be sure, but a sinister implication is detected.

Throughout history, a small group of privileged persons, of course, could afford expensive energy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 206-207). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I want to say, “Really?” That is one strange perspective. Let’s look back at energy sources and usage in the centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution. Just prior to 1800 there were these sources of energy available:

  • Muscle (human)
  • Muscle (animal)
  • Water moving under the influence of gravity
  • Wind

And that was it. How did the elite benefit more than the common worker? A serf working on the estate of his master was essentially a slave, and his muscle power drew the water from the well and hoisted the bricks to build his master’s house. If there was a horse, it likely was the master’s horse, and the serf used the horse to plow the master’s fields. If there had been a gasoline-powered tractor, it would still have been the master’s tractor and the master’s fields. It is hard to imagine how available mechanical energy sources would have changed the serf’s position.

Except… Except if they wanted to go into to town the master rode his horse, and the serf likely walked. Most likely the serf did not get to ride in the master’s coach.

Anyhow, whichever point White is attempting to make will need to be supplied by the reader’s imagination.

White brings up Malthusian economics and the foolish statements of Paul Ehrlich. Thomas Robert Malthus is noted for an economic model that influenced Charles Darwin. In a given environment, living things will increase in population until resources necessary to sustain life are exhausted, and then the increase will halt. More so, and this is what caught Darwin’s attention, a living organism that has an advantage over others would continue to increase in population to the detriment of the others.

White wants us to know that a failure of Malthusian economic model is that people have the advantage of managing their environment and have therefore been able to increase their population far in excess of what would have been imaginable 200 years ago.

Paul Ehrlich is famous for his book The Population Bomb. Some predictions in the book turned out to be outrageously wrong, making him the punching bag for anti-environmentalists.

Throughout this chapter, White states the obviously true.

Never before has mankind been better nourished. As we shall show, you can thank fossil fuels for a global food supply that exceeds the demand of more than seven billion mouths.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 246-247). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

As Michael Kelly, a fellow of the Royal Society, reminds us, “A decarbonized global economy is going to have to outperform the achievement of fossil fuels.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 263-264). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

A number of statements appear to have either no basis or else no relevance:

Most green energy policies undermine human progress. They are regressive, disproportionately hurting low- and middle-income families by driving energy prices higher, thus eroding their standard of living.

As the Obama administration was drawing to a close, the lower end of middle-class income in the United States appeared to be sliding toward the poverty level. Numbers released by the Social Security Administration in the fall of 2015 revealed that 51 percent of all U.S. workers were making less than $ 30,000 a year— only twenty-five hundred a month after taxes. Income for middle-class families declined by 3 percent on Obama’s watch, and the average worker went ten years without a raise.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 289-294). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

She starts out stating that green energy policies are detrimental to low-income citizens, but then she attempts to lay this on President Obama’s environmental policies. No. Just no. A quick reading of history discloses the actual circumstances.

Statements are made in complete absence of corroboration.

For the Obama White House, it has been full speed ahead with this destructive agenda.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 296-297). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

To conclude that the Obama administration’s agenda was destructive you would have to accept that which White is attempting to demonstrate. Statements such as this do not stand alone.

Some of what is said requires unraveling.

Even before the Clean Power Plan took effect, many coal-fired power plants had closed and major coal companies had declared bankruptcy, at a cost of thousands of jobs. In response, President Obama, by executive action, froze coal production on federal lands, where 40 percent of total U.S. production is located.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 301-304). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The statement seems to be that coal-fired plants were closing already due to unprofitability and were not affected by the Clean Power Plan. I have no formal training in economics, but it would appear that if the government restricts the available source for mining coal, competition would increase for those not affected. These places would more likely become profitable. It’s difficult to figure out where White is going with this.

In addition to killing Americans jobs and raising utility bills by hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars a year per family, shutting down the U.S. coal industry will actually harm the environment. Clean coal technologies have sharply reduced emissions of lead, sulphur, soot, and carbon monoxide. The air we breathe today is much cleaner than in previous decades. More importantly, U.S. coal is much cleaner than Chinese coal and that produced in other nations. The Clean Power Plan will reduce consumption of clean coal and increase the burning of dirty coal.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 309-313). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

If there is some rationale for the first part of this statement, it does not show prominently in the text or in the references. For the second part, we are left to  conclude that shutting down the American coal industry would boost the Chinese coal industry, which is multiply more polluting. No rationale is given for this conclusion.

Modern societies remain utterly dependent on fossil fuels. See Figure 1.2. The climate crusade is indeed a mad war on human welfare.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 315-316). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Again hyperbole has supplanted rational discourse. Climate management is not a crusade with people heading off to do battle. It is a reasoned approach to forestall a future calamity. Yes, modern society is dependent on fossil fuels. What White will not acknowledge is that this dependence is about to have consequences far in excess to any benefit. Throughout the chapter she reminds us that human ingenuity has been our ultimate salvation and that we should continue to apply it. The problem is, she puts her commitment to the fossil fuel industry ahead of any obligation to the truth, and the truth is that human ingenuity will be applied to  resolve our future energy needs while avoiding the destructive effects of fossil fuel consumption.

Here’s a statement that should convince readers of the nefarious intent of environmental regulation.

The Clean Power Plan is not merely another heavy-handed, expensive environmental regulation. It is nothing less than a federal take over of our nation’s entire electric sector.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 337-338). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The problem is, this statement is made without substantiation. There is a link to a reference. It is reference number 18. Here is the refrence:

Laurence Tribe, “The Clean Power Plan Is Unconstitutional,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2015.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 4416-4417). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, the justification for saying the Clean Power Plan is a federal take over of the nation’s electric sector is a commentary piece in The Wall Street Journal:

As a law professor, I taught the nation’s first environmental law class 45 years ago. As a lawyer, I have supported countless environmental causes. And as a father and grandfather, I want to leave the Earth in better shape than when I arrived.

Nonetheless, I recently filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to withdraw its Clean Power Plan, a regulatory proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s electric power plants. In my view, coping with climate change is a vital end, but it does not justify using unconstitutional means.

Although my comments opposing the EPA’s proposal were joined by a major coal producer, they reflect my professional conclusions as an independent legal scholar. I say only what I believe, whether I do so pro bono, or in this case having been retained by others. After studying the only legal basis offered for the EPA’s proposed rule, I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.

That’s right. Not a court ruling or a finding of fact. Instead, an opinion piece published in a newspaper and supported by “a major coal producer” gives truth to the statement that the Clean  Power Plan “is nothing less than a federal take over of our nation’s entire electric sector.” We are beginning to see what was behind Kathleen Hartnett White’s faltering testimony at her Senate confirmation hearing.

Even the architects of these schemes admit that the green plans don’t work. According to the calculations of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the so-called national pledges at the heart of the Paris climate agreement of December 2015 don’t add up to enough reduction of carbon dioxide to control warming.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 340-343). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes. Yes! The best we can do right now is not good enough. I think I have mentioned this before. We have gone too far down the road, and we cannot avoid the coming consequences. We are screwed, and the best we can  do is to begin to extricate ourselves from the hole at the same time we make preparations for the consequences. White appears to believe we should increase our reliance on fossil fuels.

By now I’m coming to believe this is a book written for the enjoyment of believers needing to  confirm what they already know. And those believers may not include Kathleen Hartnett White and Stephen  Moore.

There are additional indications this is an incestuous work, not to be confused with an objective treatment of a serious subject. Here is an interesting excerpt from the chapter.

Even the architects of these schemes admit that the green plans don’t work. According to the calculations of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the so-called national pledges at the heart of the Paris climate agreement of December 2015 don’t add up to enough reduction of carbon dioxide to control warming.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 340-343). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

There is a reference cited to  bolster this claim, whether true or not. Here’s the reference:

Stephen Moore, Washington Times A Times, November 8, 2015.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 4411-4412). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, to back up what he says in his book, Stephen Moore cites something he previously penned for The Washington Times.

Founded on May 17, 1982, by Sun Myung Moon, the Times was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the Unification Church, until 2010, when Moon and a group of former executives purchased the paper. It is currently owned by diversified conglomerate Operations Holdings, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the church.

I’m going to have to move on to chapter 2, “How the Shale Revolution is Changing Everything.” That will be sometime late tomorrow. Keep reading.

People Unclear

This is number 39 of a long series

Sunday morning, and I was catching a video on YouTube, and all I can say is, “Holy shit!” Somebody is totally unclear, and that person would be Kathleen Hartnett White:

Kathleen Hartnett White is a Republican American government official and environmental policy advisor. Currently serving as a senior fellow at the free-market think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation. She was nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the Council on Environmental Quality; the nomination was later withdrawn.

I watched the clip—you should, as well—and was astounded. I know it’s a favorite pastime of liberals to paint all Republicans as scientifically illiterate and environmentally backward, but I need to remind readers this is most unfair. There are many in the ranks who see what is for what it is and might deserve your vote. Others, whether real or not, may be pretending to be illiterate and backward. White appears to be neither of these. She scorches the Earth to establish an absence of clarity.

Another in the video, which depicts a Senate confirmation hearing, is Andrew Wheeler:

Andrew R. Wheeler is an American lawyer and lobbyist who specializes in energy and environmental policy. Since 2009, he has been a co-leader of the energy practice at the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels. Wheeler was previously an aide to U.S. Senator James Inhofe and a staffer on the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Wheeler is a critic of nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions and has supported the continued use of fossil fuels.

In October 2017, Wheeler was nominated by President Donald Trump to become Deputy Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His nomination was returned to the White House on January 3, 2018 under Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6.

Passing over Wheeler for the moment, White’s performance before the Senate committee led me to purchase her book, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy. I obtained the Kindle edition, deciding not to wait for a price drop, and took a few minutes to read through the introduction. The book is co-authored with Stephen Moore, a writer credited with a famous body of nonsense:

Stephen Moore (born February 16, 1960) is an American writer and economic policy analyst. He founded and served as president of the Club for Growth from 1999 to 2004. Moore is a former member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board. In 2014, The Heritage Foundation announced that Moore would become its chief economist. In 2015, Moore’s title at The Heritage Foundation changed from Chief Economist to his current title, Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Moore is known for advocating free-market policies and supply-side economics. In 2017, he left Fox News Channel to join CNN as an economics analyst.

His Wikipedia entry also notes a lack of candor, leading to The Kansas City Star to quit using stuff he writes.

Whether White or Moore wrote the book’s intro, I am going to lay it all on White. A few passages are worth some Skeptical Analysis and some comment. Start with this. She kicks off the intro with the tale of a liberal family beset by a black out, a loss of electrical power, for several days. For a while they enjoy the experience, knowing their carbon footprint has been reduced. The situation soon becomes tiresome as electric power in modern day life is not only a convenience but a necessity. She warns of dire consequences coming out of renewal energy.

But we are convinced that rolling brownouts are coming— especially in states like California, which are trying to rely on unreliable green energy sources— thanks to the radical environmentalists who have achieved a choke-hold on our politics.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 88-90). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

White is alluding to times when the sun does not shine, and the wind does not blow. It turns out (my analysis) that such outages will become vanishingly small with the scaling up of the renewable energy industry. Dark days in one region will be offset by sunny days elsewhere, and guess what, wind turbines work on as little as three mph wind, besides which, wind is a given and is constant all over.

White discusses the “war on coal.”

Technological progress is making this cheap and domestically abundant energy source cleaner all the time. Yet the global-warming alarmist James Hansen, a scientist at NASA, has compared the railroad cars carrying coal across our country to the “death trains” that transported Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 92-94). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Actually, no. Coal is not becoming less clean. Early environmental pressures required (some) coal fired plants to reduce particulate emissions, and that progress has since bottomed out. No improvement is currently being experienced. What White does not let on is that burning coal, a fossil fuel, continues, unrelenting, to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Appearances are that the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump will be relaxing emissions regulations for coal-fired plants. Whatever scientist James Hansen said about “death trains,” assuming he did say such, has no relevance to the argument against eliminating the use of coal.

White writes unknowingly about greenhouse emissions.

Natural gas is our second major source of electrical energy. The technological miracle of hydraulic fracturing—“ fracking”— has given us hundreds of years’ worth of this clean-burning fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 94-96). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

To be clear, natural gas is a fossil fuel, and burning natural gas puts extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. White seems to take the point that, when burned, natural  gas produces less carbon dioxide than does coal for the same amount of usable energy, and then she runs with it, much too far.

Watch the video. White concedes at her (non-) confirmation hearing that she is not a scientist. She reassures us of that fact in the following statement.

If global warming is a threat, we will be saved not by building windmills or riding our bicycles to work, but by applying advanced technology and electrical power to find ways to keep the planet cool.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 103-104). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes. Yes! Advanced technology and electrical power to keep the planet cool. Lady, the way to keep the planet cool is to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Please do not laugh. Here is this.

Almost all other inventions— the steam engine, the printing press, life-saving medicines, the microchip, the iPhone, you name it— are derivatives of electric power. Where electricity is in wide use, there is prosperity. Where electricity is lacking, poverty and deprivation are the norm.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 115-117). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Technically, no. In most cases, absolutely no.

  • The invention of the steam engine came many decades prior to the development of electric power.
  • The printing press was developed in the 15th century, perhaps 300 years prior to the advent of electric power.
  • Life-saving medicines, e.g., the small pox vaccine, were developed independently and often in advance of the advent of electric power.
  • The microchip and the iPhone typically run off 5-volt supplies, obtainable from chemical batteries, and not really part of the electric power grid. True, you will not have a cell phone grid without an electric power grid to support it.

White is correct on one point. I will not cite the source, but I will simply state that quality of life roughly tracks energy consumption. Energy consumption moves goods to market, performs the heavy work in factories, and keeps us warm and safe in our homes. The electrical power grid has turned out to be the best way to support most of this activity. We need electrical power, and the cheaper and the more reliable the better for all concerned.

White makes this point.

And the data recently gathered by economic historians surveyed in this book show that wind and water wheels never provided much power. It wasn’t until man harnessed fossil fuels— predominantly oil, gas, and coal— that industrialization achieved unprecedented productivity.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 119-121). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Duh, yes. She is talking about the pre-industrial days, and there was not much in the way of available power, wind, water, anything back then. The advent of the steam engine, burning wood or coal, made the industrial revolution. White wants to impute that we cannot go back to wind and water as a source of power. Actually, hydro-electric power is about maxed out in this country. We may have tapped all the available rivers for that purpose. However, the Dutch windmill has been replaced by giant wind turbines that produce mega watts.

Every now and then she gets something right.

Energy, in short, is the wellspring of mankind’s greatest advances.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 125-126). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

What she fails to acknowledge is that proponents of renewable energy are not against energy production. They are against energy production that produces damage to the environment. Coal, for instance.

Barely correct:

Today, hundreds of years after the Industrial Revolution began, most of the human population is dependent on fossil fuels for 80 to 90 percent of its energy supply.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 130-131). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The industrial revolution started in England a little over two hundred years ago, so technically it is hundreds of years since the advent of the industrial revolution.

She appeals to the masses, supposedly her working-class base.

Throughout history, elites, of course, have enjoyed comfortable wealth. They were rich; they could afford expensive energy. They weren’t the ones who did without light or heat or transportation or enough food and leisure time. Someone else did the back-breaking and time-consuming work for them.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 133-135). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So, it’s the elites who want renewable energy at whatever price. Actually, you might want to review Senator Cory Booker’s comments made in the video. He discusses the particulate pollution that plagues those in his state, New Jersey. They are poor and also working class constituents, who often have to endure the lower quality of life and the health damage wrought by industrial pollution. These people are definitely not “elites,” and they would appreciate having cleaner sources of energy.

As the close of the intro approaches, White prepares to escalate the rhetoric.

The inherent limitations of wind and solar are physically intractable.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 140-141). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

No. Simply no.

She closes with a flourish.

Green energy policies assume centralized control of the sources, production, and consumption of energy, and that means centralized control over all economic activity and consumer choice. Name a product that doesn’t depend on affordable and reliable energy. United Nations bureaucrats talk about “wisely planned [energy] austerity,” guided by apparently omniscient “planetary managers.” Not only is our material prosperity in peril; freedom itself is at stake.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 145-148). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Actually, a following paragraph urges us to read the book to get the full story, but those are her closing remarks, laced with fabrication and hyperbole. She seems to agree that if you say it often enough and loudly enough, then it will become true.

No it does not, and I am hoping this sets the stage for the remainder of the book, because I will be reading it and applying some analysis.

It is difficult to reconcile the flamboyant and straight-forward language in the book with White’s performance before the Senate committee. Watch the video. Asked a straight question, she seems unable to find the answer, any answer. For example, when asked whether she believes scientists are lying about global warming, all she needed to do before the committee was to  repeat the language from the book. Yes, those scientists are a bunch of self-serving liars, and maybe they should be put in jail. At every point she pivots and equivocates, leading senators to wonder what they are doing wasting their time watching this spectacle. The only thing I found recently more painful to watch was Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos floundering through her (barely) confirmation hearing. From Wikipedia again:

At White’s Senate confirmation hearing in November 2017, she stated that her top three environmental concerns are air quality, the potential failure of waste water and drinking water systems, and climate change. During her hearing she said: “I am not a scientist, but in my personal capacity I have many questions that remain unanswered by current climate policy. We need to have a more precise explanation of the human role and the natural role.”

In February 2018, the White House confirmed their intention to withdraw their nomination of Hartnett White as a senior advisor on environmental policy.

Yes, we could stand more clarity from the people we hire to work at the highest levels in our government.

The Government You Paid For

Number 13

This one could be the real deal.

As we all know, Congressman Lamar Smith, representing Texas District 21, has been embarrassing people of right mind for long enough. Now he is retiring, and the field is open to fresh faces. Thursday late I drove over to The Pod restaurant on Redland Road in San Antonio to attend a political gathering/rally.

Derrick Crowe is  campaigning to fill the District 21 slot, beginning January 2019, and he met a gathering of enthusiasts, exchanged words, and presented his policies. I made a video, here posted without editing.

The Pod is the definition of laid back, and I ordered nachos and a draft and exchanges a few words with the candidate and with a few others. I also picked up some campaign literature, including a list of the candidate’s ten talking points, which I will now analyze. First the points, which I have numbered:

  1. Fight income inequality and stop Wall Street’s attack on working class Americans.
  2. Pass Medicare for All.
  3. Act on climate change and invest in the green  economy.
  4. Defend DACA and end mass deportation and incarceration.
  5. Stand with our LGBTQIA neighbors.
  6. Get money out of politics and bring back trust-busting.
  7. Defend women’s control of their own bodies.
  8. Protect American jobs and incomes from  automation.
  9. Make public colleges and universities free to attend.
  10. Pass a $15/hour minimum wage, euqal pay for women, and paid family leave.

I think the wording is verbatim from the handout, including capitalizing the word All in “Pass Medicare for All.” Now for some analysis.

These are grand and glorious goals, and like most campaign slogans they are full of promise and short on particulars. Knowing there was neither the time nor was this the place to milk this of complete detail, I specifically asked the candidate to spell out what would be done to fight income inequality. With some coaxing, what it boiled down to was that Congress could enact a national minimum wage of $15 per hour, which is already addressed in his tenth point.

But continuing with number 1, we need to clarify what is meant by “income inequality.” I am currently unemployed, but when I was working I noticed there were many making more than I was. I don’t think this is what Derrick Crowe has in mind. He needs to clarify. He also needs to spell out Wall Street’s attack on working class Americans, because I am sure those Wall Street people arrive at their offices in the morning with the intent of  making a lot of money for themselves, any attacks on working class Americans being number two or lower on their list.

Number 2 makes a lot of sense. The Affordable Care Act is really an expansion of Medicare in disguise. Actually, it is socialized medicine in disguise, but in this country antipathy toward socialized medicine is so vehement you would not be able to get it east of the Mississippi, forget about getting it to the steps of Congress. Good luck with that one.

Number 3 is another broad concept with no clear course of action. The fact is, before I got into my dialog with candidate Crowe I unloaded on all present the bad news I had been holding back. The truth is, we can stop pumping oil, and we can stop digging coal this weekend, but it’s too late. We have already screwed ourselves, and doom is coming. The atmosphere recently passed 400 parts per million carbon dioxide, and that’s enough to do in the polar ice. Before we close the coal mines and before we shut down the oil pumps, we need to begin now budgeting to protect infrastructure from rising sea levels. We can protect now, or we can rebuild later.

Number 4 sounds like a good idea. Congress can do that. This idea needs to be pushed on pragmatic terms, because compassion does not sell. The fact is nothing of any practical value is to be obtained by deporting people who have lived their adult lives in the United States, and mass incarcerations/deportations leave a bad odor.

For number 5 I had to look up the letter combination LGBTQIA. Here it is. Yes, this is a proper thing for Congress to address. Equal treatment for all citizens under the law is a must for a modern society.

Number 6 wants to get money out of politics. Good luck with that. Politics has been about money for about 220 years in this country. Trust-busting is something that became popular 110 years ago with Teddy Roosevelt, but the candidate is going to need to explain how this fits today’s discussion. He may be thinking of this.

Number 7 can be more specifically stated as ending government interference with human activities related to reproduction. People, human reproduction has gotten us where we are today. Does anybody want the government to mess with the process?

Number 8 may be a little harder to pin down. The candidate elaborated, specifically invoking the need for massive retraining of the American work force—30% will be thrown out of work by automation. As a person who spent a career eliminating manual labor by designing automated processes, I need to remark I have not observed any disaster of this magnitude. This point will require expansion in a separate post.

Number 9 is the kind of thing that killed Bernie Sanders’ campaign. It’s a grand goal without practical merit. Specifically, it needs to be nuanced, if that is a verb. Yes, there are a bunch of people who want to get a college education and can benefit from a college education, but a college education is beyond their reach due to  rocketing costs. I’m going to wait for the candidate to develop that concept more fully, but in the meantime I’m going to propose the goal should be to make a college education more affordable.

Number 10 is a mixed bag. Yes, a $15 minimum wage would provide more benefit than harm, and equal pay for women is a laudable goal. However, that should be equal pay for equal work. I am one of those who agree that it should be criminal to pay a woman less for the same work solely because she is a woman. How Congress can address this matter is yet to be seen. Regarding paid family leave, that’s where the bag becomes really mixed. Acknowledging fully that a number of countries have laws requiring paid family leave, I have this observation. If I am a person working at a job, and I see a co-worker getting six weeks extra paid vacation just because he decided to add to his family, and I also realize this benefit will never come my way, because I have no intention of having children, then I’m going to feel some injustice. Politicians should know that for every vote they get requiring paid family leave, they are going to receive push back from others affected adversely. Paid family leave is one of those items designed to make civilization more palatable, but if you can’t sell it that way, then you are going to have to lay out some obvious practical benefits.

I’m sending a copy of this post to candidate Crowe and asking him to expand and to respond. When I get something I will  pass it on to you. Keep reading.

This is your President speaking.

Number 5 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!

Back then we should have seen this coming. Oops! We did see it coming.

People Unclear

This is number 24

Somebody posted this on Facebook, and I thought it was kind of cute, so I stole a copy.

These come at me at such a rate, it’s getting hard to keep up. To avoid papering over this site with the stuff, I’m spreading them out at one a day, at the most. I may get behind if this keeps up.

So who is it who’s unclear today? How about we go with Kathleen Hartnett White, previous chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under Governor Rick Perry and now President Trump’s pick for senior adviser on environmental policy? And an interesting selection this appears to be. The President’s choice to advise on the environment is, from all appearances, a person with great disregard for the environment:

Like other members of the Trump administration, she has long questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus on human-fueled climate change and has criticized the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a volunteer group of climate scientists whose findings are considered the gold standard of climate science. And she has described efforts to combat global warming as little more than an attack on the fossil fuel industry.

I will get back to White’s disdain for the environment shortly, but first I need to address her unclear concept regarding how the universe works. Here is more from the Washington Post item:

She has displayed similar contempt for international climate efforts, calling scientific conclusions from United Nations panels “not validated and politically corrupt.” Hartnett-White has also questioned the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant at all, calling it “an odorless, invisible, beneficial, and natural gas.”

The last part illustrates how to say a bunch of true stuff while pushing a false notion. Specifically:

  • Carbon dioxide is odorless.
  • Carbon dioxide is colorless, virtually invisible when viewed using certain wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Carbon dioxide is what feeds all the green plants, providing them the carbon they need to make sugar to power their processes.
  • Although people produce a bunch of carbon dioxide on purpose for industrial use, most of it occurs naturally.

What White wants readers to think is that putting a bunch more COinto the atmosphere is harmless. All related science has demonstrated this is not harmless. I have covered this in prior postings. You can follow the link, or you can search this site for “age of embarrassment” to locate a collection of associated postings.

About “scientific conclusions from United Nations panels” being “not validated and politically corrupt,” there is more to be said. Let’s start saying:

While working at TPPF, Hartnett-White also directs the Fueling Freedom project, which seeks to “Explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels” while “building a multi-state coalition to push back against the EPA’s unconstitutional efforts to take over the electric power sector by regulating CO2 via the Clean Power Plan” as well as “End the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.”

Most interesting is the nature of the TPPF, the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a conservative think tank based in Austin, Texas, and a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). The think tank’s funders from 2010 were inadvertently made public a few years ago. According to Al Jazeera America, “A 2010 donor list from the IRS shows the Texas Public Policy Foundation receives funding from groups long associated with big oil, gas, and coal, such as Koch Industries, the electric utility Luminant, and the oil and gas investment company the Permian Basin Acquisition Fund.”

A 2013 report by Progress Texas and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) found that TPPF received over 3 million dollars from the Koch brothers or organizations they fund. For example, the Koch family foundations and Koch Industries sent $733,333 to TPPF, and $2,581,258 has been donated from the dark money groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. In 2015, the Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute contributed a total of $199,697.

Another interesting entity is The Heartland Institute. From their Web site:

Kathleen Hartnett-White is a distinguished senior fellow and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Honorable Kathleen Hartnett White joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation in January 2008. She is a distinguished senior fellow-in-residence and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment.

I have discussed The Heartland Institute in previous posts, starting over five years ago:

So, what do people do? They do what people always do. They shoot the messenger who brings the bad news. It’s as though if the message goes away then the problem will go away. As with all problems there is a profit to be made solving the problem. Which brings us to the matter of Heartland Institute.

A quick trip to their home page reveals their message in a circulating marquee:

HEARTLAND FIGHTS BACK

Left-wing groups commit fraud, but we’re fighting back! Join our legal defense fund and remove false and defamatory materials and prosecute the true criminals.

The site also mentions a number of these “left-wing” groups:

NCSE (National Center for Science Education)
Greenpeace
Desmogblog
Huffington Post
Thinkprogress
Pacific Institute

There is much to read, but there is no escaping Heartland’s political investment. Nor White’s. Some additional fun:

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

And this:

Anyhow, White’s assertions regarding the political nature of the NATO science panel pale with some insight.

As an open advocate for fossil fuels, White has taken some bizarre stands:

Fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery. When the concentrated and versatile energy stored in fossil fuels was converted to mechanical energy, the economic limits under which all societies had formerly existed were blown apart. A life of back-breaking drudgery was no longer the inescapable condition of the overwhelming majority of mankind.  The productivity made possible by fossil fuels led to the institutionalization of compassion and respect for the inalienable rights of each human individual.

So, fossil fuels provided a means to replace human muscle power with mechanical power. I  think not. Looking back, when industrialists wanted raw power they did not turn to human sources, paid or enslaved. They turned to (surprise) wind power, water power, and—lower down—animal power. On very rare occasions was human power ever sufficient to supplant those other sources. In this country’s prior slave industry slaves were used where human dexterity and intellect were required. On this matter, White is decidedly unclear.

Twisting the knife, suppose slaves had been used as an industrial power source. Eradicating slavery in this country was accomplished by changing laws and fighting a civil war. Where did fossil fuel enter into the picture?

But what this is about, from all appearances, is a desire on the part of major industries to unfetter themselves of government regulation. Regulations so cramp industrialist’s style, it’s hard to get anything done. Regulations—prod me if I am wrong—make industrial concerns uncompetitive. This can be true in the case where a company that complies with the regulations is forced to compete with one that does not. Where have we seen this before?

On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, eighteen miles (29 km) north of Waco, while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility. Fifteen people were killed, more than 160 were injured, and more than 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Investigators have confirmed that ammonium nitrate was the material that exploded. On May 11, 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated that the fire had been deliberately set.

Passing over whether the fire was deliberate, what is at issue is a facility such as this being allowed near human habitation. Among the facilities heavily damaged was a school building. In this case it was not so much of there not being a regulation, it was a case of the regulation not being enforced. Also, people were too stupid to notice a dangerous situation developing.

And there is this:

The Elk River chemical spill occurred on January 9, 2014 when crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) was released from a Freedom Industries facility into the Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, in Charleston in the U.S. state of West Virginia.

The chemical spill occurred upstream from the principal West Virginia American Water intake and treatment and distribution center. Following the spill, up to 300,000 residents within nine counties in the Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area were without access to potable water. The areas affected were portions of Boone, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam, and Roane counties and the Culloden area of Cabell County.

Crude MCHM is a chemical foam used to wash coal and remove impurities that contribute to pollution during combustion. The “do-not-use” advisory for drinking water from West Virginia American Water’s system began to be gradually lifted by West Virginia state officials on January 13 based upon “priority zones.”

On Tuesday, January 14, the company revealed that the tank, which leaked about 7,500 gallons into the ground by the Elk River, had also contained a mixture of glycol ethers known as PPH, with a similar function as MCHM.

The chemical spill was the third chemical accident to occur in the Kanawha River Valley within the last five years. On June 12, 2014 another spill of containment water occurred at the same site.

I have had conservative friends tell me that these matters can be handled through direct action, without resorting to job-killing regulations. Somebody does something bad, then you sue them, and that serves as a lesson to others who might be considering to indulge. No, it does not. In this case the culprits slipped neatly out of reach of any consequences of their actions. More from the Wikipedia entry:

By January 13, a Kanawha County judge had granted a temporary restraining order against Freedom Industries, and the number of lawsuits filed in the Kanawha County Circuit Court had risen to 19. On January 17, 2014, Freedom Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, requiring a court–appointed trustee to run the company.

However, according to the Charleston Gazette, a company “whose characteristics are strikingly similar to Freedom Industries,” Lexycon LLC, registered as a business with the West Virginia secretary of state about two months after Freedom Industries filed for bankruptcy. The company is registered at the same addresses and phone numbers as the former Freedom Industries, and is founded by a former Freedom executive.

And that appears to be the order of drill for the Trump administration. Take on as chief executives for the various agencies the very people determined to undo the purposes of these agencies:

  • Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary
  • Rick Perry as Energy Secretary
  • Ben Carson has Housing and Urban Development Secretary
  • Scott Pruitt in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
  • Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury
  • Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary
  • And finally Kathleen Hartnett White as the President’s senior adviser on environmental policy

Looks like a dream team in some perverse sense. We are going to experience consequences.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 16 in a series

This takes some telling. Bear with me.

Start with a paper published in the journal Science 26 June 2015. It’s by Karl Thomas and others, and it carries the title “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus.” Here’s the abstract:

Much study has been devoted to the possible causes of an apparent decrease in the upward trend of global surface temperatures since 1998, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the global warming “hiatus.” Here, we present an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than those reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a “slowdown” in the increase of global surface temperature.

That was a couple of years ago. Now come forward to September of this year:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), an early and loyal supporter of President Donald Trump, likes to make noise about the liberal media’s coverage of climate change, often dismissing it as “fake news.”

In February, however, this vocal denier of near-universally accepted climate science promoted a story about a climate data manipulation scandal that is about as flawed as they come.

The representative of Congressional District 21, just up the road from me, has, from all appearances, a mental block regarding aspects of modern science:

Smith publicly denies global warming. As of 2015, Smith has received more than $600,000 from the fossil fuel industry during his career in Congress. In 2014, Smith got more money from fossil fuels than he did from any other industry.

Under his leadership, the House Science committee has held hearings that feature the views of climate change deniers, subpoenaed the records and communications of scientists who published papers that Smith disapproved of, attempted to cut NASA’s earth sciences budget, and “the committee has earned a reputation for questioning climate scientists and environmental groups that say human activity, like burning fossil fuels, is the main cause of rising temperatures.” In his capacity as Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Smith issued more subpoenas in his first three years than the committee had for its entire 54-year history. In a June 2016 response letter to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Smith cited the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s as valid legal precedent for his investigation. On December 1, 2016 as Chair on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, he tweeted out on behalf of that committee a Breitbart article denying climate change.

Smith has been criticized for conducting “witch hunts,” a “campaign of intimidation,” and “a direct attack on the rights of scientists and others to conduct research independent of government interference” against climate scientists. Smith has a lifetime score of 6% on the National Environmental Scorecard of the League of Conservation Voters. Smith is an “outspoken climate naysayer in Congress”, according to Scientific American magazine. Smith has been described as a “climate change denier” by Vice Media and by Organizing for America and as “Congress’s preeminent climate change denier” by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

As a life-long Texas, this brings a small lump in my throat. Such notoriety and so little merit.

It is worth linking to the Breitbart posting at issue:

Global land temperatures have plummeted by one degree Celsius since the middle of this year – the biggest and steepest fall on record.

But the news has been greeted with an eerie silence by the world’s alarmist community. You’d almost imagine that when temperatures shoot up it’s catastrophic climate change which requires dramatic headlines across the mainstream media and demands for urgent action. But that when they fall even more precipitously it’s just a case of “nothing to see here”.

Yeah, let’s chase that down. Breitbart links to a story that ran in MailOnline, an organ of the British Daily Mail.

Global average temperatures over land have plummeted by more than 1C since the middle of this year – their biggest and steepest fall on record.

The news comes amid mounting evidence that the recent run of world record high temperatures is about to end.

The fall, revealed by Nasa satellite measurements of the lower atmosphere, has been caused by the end of El Nino – the warming of surface waters in a vast area of the Pacific west of Central America.

Obviously there is much more, and you need to read the complete posting. So, what happened next?

IPSO adjudication upheld against MoS climate science article

Following an article published on 5 February 2017 in the Mail on Sunday, headlined ‘EXPOSED How world leaders were duped over global warming’, Bob Ward complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the newspaper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. IPSO upheld the complaint and has required the Mail on Sunday to publish this decision as a remedy to the breach.

The article reported on claims made by Dr John Bates, a climate scientist formerly employed at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about a paper published in the journal Science that suggested that there had been no ‘pause’ in global warming in the 2000s. Dr Bates had published a blog criticising the way the data used for the paper had been analysed and archived. The article detailed at length the complainant’s concerns with the data; it then characterised them as demonstrating ‘irrefutable evidence’ that the paper had been based upon ‘misleading, unverified data’.

And more. Read.

So, MailOnline published an item based on faulty information, and IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organization, called them down on it, and the item had to be disclaimed. On a side note, IPSO is a UK institution that oversees press standards. Ever wonder whether American outlets could use some oversight?

And the total of all this is that MailOnline published what was essentially a baseless claim, leading readers to conclude anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a hoax.

Next, Breitbart, that stellar exemplar of journalistic integrity, regurgitated the item, I’m guessing much to the delight of their readership, said readership being the cream of American conservatism.

Finally, the Republican chair of the House Science Committee, tweeted out the gist of the Breitbart posting, apparently considering it justification for his anti-science position.

Get this, readers. A fatally flawed item in a British on-line journal worked its way into shaping this country’s science policy. I’m thinking the Brits have never gotten over Yorktown.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 15 in a series

From the journal Science

 

There was a time we now call the Age of Enlightenment, centered in the 18th century. It was a time of scientific awakening, a time from which sprang many of our modern scientific principles. That was so three centuries ago. We may now have entered the Age of Embarrassment:

Science Teaching Guidelines Trigger Criticism in New Mexico

Sept. 19, 2017, at 5:09 p.m.

By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists and educators raised new objections Tuesday to proposed changes to teaching standards for science in New Mexico that substitute references to rising global temperatures and climate change with statements about climate “fluctuations.”

The New Mexico Public Education Department has suggested several custom additions and deletions as it moves forward with adopting a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences.

Additions that highlight the study of New Mexico’s unique natural history are being overshadowed by several deletions of references to evolution, the 4.6 billion-year age of the earth and climate change.

My goodness! Is it time to ride that old dinosaur into ground again?

The story, featured in The Washington Post yesterday, further describes idiotic themes promoted by the Mercer Counter public school system. According to the Post report, a lesson contained the following language: “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.” It continued: “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur!” Additionally: “He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”

The Associated Press story, running in U.S. News and World Reports, has more to say. Issues such as this are often advanced by politicians who have personal stakes. Apparently one such is Representative Jim Smith, who is also a retired school teacher. He is quoted as saying:

“I think it’s better to take the middle ground where people in all those different areas of the state can accept standards that they can teach within,” he said. “You give students the opportunity to come to their own conclusions. I as a science teacher certainly don’t deny that there is global warming happening. I think ‘fluctuations’ is a better term for it.”

An inch-deep Google search does not reveal a lot about Representative Smith’s personal life, and his record in Santa Fe shows a genuine concern for good government. However, statements such as “You give students the opportunity to come to their own conclusions,” are indicative of the creationist movement’s approach to public school encroachment. Laws enacted in other states to promote “teaching the controversy” have demonstrated to be thinly-disguised fronts to enable teachers desiring to promote creationism and other biblical teachings. One effect of such laws is to provide cover for teachers who go outside the curriculum and introduce religious concepts.

From all appearances, Dr. Smith finds fault with the idea that human activity is mainly responsible for global warming. He likes the term “fluctuations” to give the idea the climate has always been changing, and there is no need to take action to forestall any calamitous consequences. He takes this stance in defiance of the best conclusions of modern science.

A story appearing in the Albuquerque Journal further highlights attempts to dilute the teaching of biological evolution:

 

The plan was criticized Friday by Stephanie Ly, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, who called it a “perverted, watered-down vision” of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Ly accused Ruszkowski in a written statement of proposing standards “that question climate change, deny evolution, promote the fossil fuel industry, and even question the age of the Earth – all areas of consensus among the scientific community.”

One proposed addition to the high school curriculum asks students to use a model to describe the effects of energy flows on Earth “that were caused by natural occurrences that are not related to human activity.”

Another omits the word “evolution” and replaces it with the phrase “biological diversity.”

Nothing has to date been signed off, and science teaching in New Mexico remains safe for the present. The continued actions by fact-deficient public employees remains a concern to a population still possessed of a healthy respect for fact-based governance. Though it may never come to pass, we continue to look forward to that day when creationists ride the dinosaur into the sunset.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 14 in a series

First of all, take note of the meme posted above. I used that in the previous edition of this series, The Age Of Embarrassment. I didn’t create it. I stole it from my Facebook feed, where some “friend” posted it. Or somewhere else. Rapidly becoming moot.

The post in question apparently caught the attention of a few. Somebody read it. Erik read it. Go back to the previous post and read the comments section:

A million dollars for a two-year health study is peanuts, in terms of government spending, and I imagine the aforementioned Committee costs even less. I wonder if this is mostly penny-pinching based on the principle of “small government” or simply an attempt to silence inconvenient voices. Personally I think it’s the latter in disguise of the former.

Thank you, Mr. Blanton, for this write-up on the Trump administration’s latest ventures. It’s much appreciated.

All right. That made my day. As much as I enjoy receiving your scathing comments:

This author is your typical Deceitful and Dishonest DemonRat. Regardless of labels changing, it makes no difference on his word play on Liberals and Conservatives, the simple Truth is you can’t change the simple FACT DemonKKKrats have always been the Party of Racists with their KKK Wing, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, and today with their Black Racial Arsonists and Poverty Pimps. Yes, the lone good Democrat in history in JFK called himself a Liberal, bit today he’s be a Far Right Wing NeoCon Teabagger by today’s Leftist DemonRats. It doesn’t change the FACT he was an aberration within the Dems Criminal Organization. JFK of course was murdered by sociopath LBJ, or at least those of US educated on the subject. But like this misleading opionion piece article, he tries whitewashing the Democrats shameful history of RACISM and Corruption that is the Dems past and present history….

[Pardon me for a moment while I recall with fondness that loving embrace from the far right.]

As much as I appreciate responses like this, I do feel a twinge of the heart when somebody says thanks.

So much for that, because it’s not what this post is all about. Here’s what it’s about.

Take another look at the meme. I did, after I posted it and after I basked in the glory. The meme is most totally fabricated. How did I figure that out? I figured it out the same way readers should have figured it out. I checked the facts. I cheated. I used Google. I Goggled “Will McAvoy.” There is no Will McAvoy. He’s a fictional character in a fictional TV series that ran on HBO starting in 2012 and titled The Newsroom. It was created and (so far) mostly written by Aaron Sorkin, the same person who wrote the script for A Few Good Men , previously reviewed, from 1992. Sorkin, an apparent liberal who has contributed consistently to Democratic candidates, also created and contributed much writing for The West Wing, a TV series that ran on  NBC for seven  seasons from 1999. The West Wing was a follow-on of The American President, a 1995 movie scripted by Sorkin and that glorifies a Democratic President.

So, you can see where Sorkin is coming from, and you have to wonder why he cast Jeff Daniels in the starring role as cable news anchor McAvoy, a registered Republican. In The Newsroom McAvoy is Republican, but he disavows the right wing nuts who seem to be tearing his beloved party to shreds, the above meme representing one such revelation.

But there is more that’s wrong with the meme in question. Look at what McAvoy says about hurricanes and gay marriage. People, hurricanes are created by low barometric pressure, not high barometric pressure. And certainly not by gay marriage. And by the way, here is the scene containing the famous quote. The screen shot is from Amazon Prime Video, where the TV series is currently streaming.

That’s Jeff Daniels as McAvoy saying the famous words:

First of all I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.

(To the left side of the screen that’s Sam Waterston as McAvoy’s boss Charlie Skinner, president of Atlantis Cable News (ACN).)

And nobody called me on it. I’m ending this for now, and I am going to some secluded corner for a quiet cry. May Jesus have mercy on your soul.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 13 in a series

There was in the 18th century a period now called the Age of Enlightenment. It was marked by intellectual and philosophical advance, noted predominantly in Europe, but not denied to others. There was born the notion that authority and legitimacy should be founded on reason rather than on social standing and political power. I state this because this series is my argument that we may have entered in this country into the Age of Embarrassment. People at the highest levels are acting contrary to reason, and we are beginning to embarrass ourselves. There is evidence:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal advisory committee on climate change.

Members on the 15-person committee tell CNN they learned the news by email Friday. CNN has obtained a copy of the email sent from acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Benjamin Friedman.

As the meme posted above would indicate, the Republican Party seems to have passed through the Age of Enlightenment without catching on. We now have a President of the United States who previously declared:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Considering whether Donald Trump ever backed down from that claim, the core concept has never left him:

They changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” after the term global warming just wasn’t working (it was too cold)!

Another freezing day in the Spring – what is going on with “global warming”? Good move changing the name to “climate change” – sad!

It’s 46º (really cold) and snowing in New York on Memorial Day – tell the so-called “scientists” that we want global warming right now!

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

We should be focusing on beautiful, clean air & not on wasteful & very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit! China & others are hurting our air

I’m running out of room here. I will just skip over some of these and print one more:

Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!

So we elected Donald Trump President, and we got what we asked for:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

You will note that in his speech President Trump is no longer denying anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He’s just saying it’s bad for business. Except…

Except, the city he named, Pittsburgh (not Paris), does not considered itself to be represented by Donald Trump. The voters of Pittsburgh went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the November election, and the city of Pittsburgh is all in for combating AGW. Again we are reminded we are no longer in the Age of Enlightenment.

So, has President Trump, rather the Department of Commerce under the command of Donald Trump, decided he can go it alone without the benefit of reason, previously provided by those scientists, now dismissed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the Department of Commerce, and the following is now posted on the NOAA site:

Per §102-3.55 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment (Committee) charter expired on August 20, 2017. The Department of Commerce and NOAA appreciate the efforts of the Committee and offer sincere thanks to each of the Committee members for their service.

Please note this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority for the Department and NOAA. 

Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is responsible for climate assessment activities and the quadrennial National Climate Assessment (NCA) report. The NCA integrates and evaluates the findings of the USGCRP in the context of current and projected global climate change trends, both human-induced and natural, and analyzes the effects of current and projected climate change on: ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, and social systems. USGCRP is implementing a sustained National Climate Assessment process that will ultimately facilitate continuous and transparent participation of scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors, enabling new information and insights to be synthesized as they emerge.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Advisory Committee consists of 15 experts that advise on the engagement of stakeholders and on sustained assessment activities and the quadrennial NCA report.

The diverse membership of the Advisory Committee assures expertise that reflects the breadth of the NCA activities, including: communications, engagement, and education; risk management and risk assessment; economics and social sciences; technology, tools, and data systems; and other disciplines relevant to the sustained NCA process. These non-federal eminent experts also reflect the NCA regional and sectoral interests, as well as the ethnic and gender diversity of the United States. Members are appointed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.

For a concise overview of the Advisory Committee, please view our fact sheet.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is seeking public input on a draft outline of Near-term Recommendations on Sustained Assessment. Comments can be sent to snca.advisorycommittee@noaa.gov. Comments received by August 14, 2017 will be incorporated into the initial draft recommendations.

For further information contact:
Dr. Cynthia Decker, Designated Federal Officer
Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 734-1156
FAX: (301) 713-1459

Lest you imagine fifteen highly invested scientists and other professionals are being dumped on the street, take note: this is not a paid position:

Members will be selected for appointment on a clear and standardized basis in accordance with Department of Commerce guidance. Each member shall be appointed for a term of one, two, or three years and shall serve at the discretion of the Under Secretary. Thereafter, members may be reappointed for successive terms of two years. To the extent possible, not more than one-third of the total membership shall change in any one year. Members will be appointed as special government employees (SGEs) and will be subject to the ethical standards applicable to SGEs. Members are reimbursed for actual and reasonable travel and per diem expenses incurred in performing such duties, but will not be reimbursed for their time. As a Federal Advisory Committee, the Committee’s membership is required to be balanced in terms of viewpoints represented and the functions to be performed as well as the interests of geographic regions of the country and the diverse sectors of U.S. society.

[Emphasis added]

The CNN item above additionally noted:

The Trump administration’s dismissal of the advisory committee on climate change, first reported by The Washington Post, will not affect the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, according to NOAA, which says the report remains a key priority.

Scientists who discussed this with CNN expressed concern the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), due for release next year, will be suppressed:

A not-yet-released federal report on climate change finds that humans are already witnessing the effects of a warming globe — and the report’s authors are fearing that the White House will intervene before it’s published. CNN’s Rene Marsh reports.

This concern has motivated the unauthorized release of an early draft of NCA4:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

The New York Times has made a copy available online:

A final draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. AUG. 7, 2017

A related Times article elaborates:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

In other news, the Trump administration has decided to hold off pursuing the study of the health effects of surface coal mining:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has halted a study of the health effects of a common mining technique in Appalachia, which is believed to deposit waste containing toxic minerals in ground waters.

letter from the Interior Department directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to “cease all work” on a study of the potential health risks of mountaintop removal mining for people living near surface coal mine sites in central Appalachia. The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that it had “put on hold” $1 million in funding for the two-year project as part of a review of its grants, which is focused on “responsibly using taxpayer dollars.”

I’m guessing, bad for business. Are you embarrassed yet?

 

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 12 in a series

Somehow it has come to pass that conservative politics and science don’t fit together in the same sentence. I’m guessing I first noticed this decades ago when scientists connected tobacco use with a big risk for cancer. Conservative politicians, needing to protect their base in tobacco-growing  regions, pushed back mightily. It’s been sort of downhill from there. Additional examples abound.

Sitting in on a television panel discussion I took notice of a panelist from the Cato Institute. Cato attributes to itself a libertarian philosophy, but that’s conservative enough for our purposes. The topic of discussion was a holding by a government agency (could have been the Environmental Protection Agency) that the allowable limit for arsenic in drinking water should be lowered from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10. The Cato guy (I do not recall  his name) argued against that. His position was the proposed limit was arbitrary and had no scientific basis. At the time I was inclined to think Mr. Cato’s concern was not so much with what was proper for public health, a subject beyond his area of expertise, but rather a matter of government intrusion. He did not go so far as to say that public health is no business of the government, but conservative thinking has reached into that dark region.

A few decades back some scientists noticed that chlorinated fluorocarbons, produced and used in industry, tend to not break down  until they reach the stratosphere. There ultraviolet radiation breaks down the molecule, releasing atomic chlorine. The free chlorine then proceeds to catalyze the decomposition of ozone in the stratosphere, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to  flood through. The obvious fix was to quit making and using these chemical compounds.

This was an obvious violation of people’s rights and an unwarranted government intrusion. Besides, the science behind it was flawed and also politically motivated. A previous editor of The North Texas Skeptic was Pat Reeder, who professed conservative (and anti-environmentalist) views. He had occasion to comment:

Of course, this could be connected to changing rainfall patterns, etc., but it seems a stretch to blame Chicago’s killer heat wave on that one degree uptick. Having lived for awhile in the northeast, I think I have an idea of why so many people died from the heat in Chicago, and the concerned citizens in the environmental movement have it in their power right now to prevent it from happening again. They don’t even have to lobby Congress or drive one of those dorky electric cars.

Most of the victims of the Chicago heat wave were elderly people in poor health, living alone, without air conditioners or the money to buy them. They weren’t acclimated to the heat, they weren’t able to overcome it, and they had nobody to look in and help them (many of the victims were buried by the city because nobody claimed the bodies). It wasn’t so much ozone breakdown that killed them as it was societal breakdown.

All right. I still have not figured out the ozone connection, but I do recall that Pat came out against it at the time.

Wouldn’t you know it? The scientists who figured out the ozone connection moseyed on up to Stockholm in 1995 and picked up the Nobel Prize for their findings. And that pretty much put the kibosh on claims of flawed science, except (trust me on this) winning a Nobel Prize doesn’t count with most conservatives. Anyhow, the governments of the world squelched CFC production and its use, the presence of these compounds in the stratosphere dwindled, and the ozone layer repaired itself with the production of more ozone up there.

But recall Pat’s remarks concerning heat deaths back in 1995. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) remains in  dispute by conservative politicians. I will just call it global warming for convenience. It’s science. It has global human impact. The resolution requires drastic action. Therefore it must be politically-motivated and seriously-flawed science. Conservative politicians and conservative pundits have spoken.

Not only that, now that the Republican (conservative) party is in power, they have acted and have plans to continue to do so. Their standard bearer is currently Donald Trump, the Commander-in-Chief. He has the ball, and he is running with it. Things are happening. A bit of history:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!

It’s hard to back down from that, not saying that Donald Trump could not do it if he wanted to. He has shown signs of waffling:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

All right. The President missed a beat on that last note. The citizens of Pittsburgh voted predominantly for Hillary Clinton, and the city government has a positive position on combating global warming. But I did mention waffling:

Last week, President Trump announced that the United States wouldwithdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is Nov. 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump’s current term, and it could still try to influence the climate talks during that span.

The item appearing in The New York Times back in June has more to say about the matter:

So the next four years will be a busy time for climate policy. Mr. Trump’s aides plan to keep working to dismantle domestic climate programs like the Clean Power Plan. And the world’s nations will meet regularly to hash out details of the Paris agreement, even as the United States’ exit looms. Here is what comes next.

And there is more, obviously. What speaks most loudly is not what the Trump administration is saying but what it is doing. For one, President Trump nominated former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head up the Department of Energy, a department he swore to abolish back when he was running for the Republican nomination. Now that he is Secretary Perry, his words have weight. An opinion piece appearing in The Hill, penned by Ross McKitrick, a noted critic of global warming, has the intent of casting doubt on the science. To wit:

Policy makers and the public need to understand the extent to which major scientific institutions like the American Meteorological Society have become biased and politicized on the climate issue. Convincing them of this becomes much easier when the organizations themselves supply the evidence.

That was the first shot out of the box in a piece titled, “In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists, Perry is winning.” Interestingly, McKitrick went on to say:

This happened recently in response to a CNBC interview with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. He was asked “Do you believe CO2 [carbon dioxide] is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate?”

It was an ambiguous question that defies a simple yes or no answer. Perry thought for moment then said, “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” He then went on to acknowledge the climate is changing and CO2 is having a role, but the issue is how much, and being skeptical about some of these things is “quite all right.”

It is on this point McKitrick appears to have given away the game. First of all, the question is not ambiguous. It is straight-forward. Is our major concern CO2? Yes, or no. I’m going to answer for the Secretary and say it is yes. CO2 is the item people are putting into the atmosphere, it is the constituent within the atmosphere that is rising. It is something that humans have the ability to control.

And Secretary Perry whiffs the ball: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” No. The primary control knob is not the ocean waters. Nothing we are doing to the ocean waters is affecting global warming, especially to the extend that CO2 is. And the environment we live in is the thing that we are affecting. It is a symptom, not a cause. Professor McKitrick is not a physical scientist. His area of expertise is “environmental economics and policy analysis.” Tellingly, he is a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, a conservative think tank, and he is a member of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, of which he is a member of the academic advisory board. From Wikipedia:

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation is a conservative Christian public policy group that promotes a free-market approach to care for the environment that is critical of much of the current environmental movement. In particular, the Cornwall Alliance rejects claims of detrimental global warming. Originally called the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance” it was founded in 2005 in reaction to the efforts of evangelical leaders (such as Rick Warren) to fight global warming. The name Cornwall come from the 2000 Cornwall Declaration. The organization’s views on the environment have been strongly influenced by the wise use movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

I don’t want to make a big deal of this, but McKitrick, from all appearances, holds religious commitments that put him in the same boat with those who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, snakes and donkey’s can talk, and people can  come back to life after they have been well and truly killed. He has shed a quantity of intellectual rigor along the way.

But then, his is an opinion piece. No deep, scientific introspection is claimed here. McKitrick’s The Hill piece is significant here because it reflects the thinking of the people making science policy decisions within the Trump administration. Much of this deciding is at odds with government scientists doing the actual work. Some bonds are becoming frayed:

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report

The item appearing in The Times yesterday provides additional analysis of the draft report. Of interest is any perceived connection between global warming (for real) and specific episodes. People should be cautious attempting to attribute specific events to global warming. What is most pertinent are trends directly attributable to increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere:

In the United States, the report concludes with “very high” confidence that the number and severity of cool nights have decreased since the 1960s, while the frequency and severity of warm days have increased. Extreme cold waves, it says, are less common since the 1980s, while extreme heat waves are more common.

Water vapor in the atmosphere is a major greenhouse gas. It interacts with infrared radiation, keeping heat from escaping by that route. Go to a place like Tucson, Arizona, where there is little moisture in the air, and when the sun goes down there is a noticeable drop in temperature. If you could remove all the air above you, then you would obtain a more dramatic effect. You would be like an astronaut in space, without the protection of the atmosphere. Heat would be radiated from your body, and if you were shaded from  the sun and other sources of radiation, you would frost up very quickly.

As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase, any specific place on  planet will experience less cooling when the sun goes down. That’s global warming in  action. The long range effects will be profound.

The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” in the near future. It projects increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the late century, depending on the level of future emissions.

The ability of political power to shape the narrative is evident. Some examples:

At the Interior Department, a climate scientist who has shared his thoughts on global warming was recently reassigned — to accountant. At the Agriculture Department, the man Trump has chosen to head science as undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics has no formal hard sciences background. At the Environmental Protection Agency, where the administration has successfully delayed a number of regulations drafted under President Barack Obama, Administrator Scott Pruitt is aiming to get more industry voices into the scientific process.

You should read the complete item posted by CNN. Those in power are enlisting the support of global warming opponents to accommodate interests of business groups that will be affected. The idea trotted forth is that these groups have a vested interest in the outcome and must be heard. Apparently the truth is negotiable.

We are presently deep into the Age of Embarrassment, and there will be more. Keep reading.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 11 in a series

When newly-elected President Donald Trump announced he had picked former Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, I was suitably impressed. As governor of Texas, Mr. Perry had shown extraordinary interest in science education. I know. I was around when Governor Perry nominated Bryan, Texas, dentist Don McLeroy to be chairman of the Board of Education. In turn, McLeroy’s appreciation for sound science education has been viewed by many as without equal:

In 2003, McLeroy led efforts by proponents of creationism and intelligent design to de-emphasize discussion of evolution in proposed new biology textbooks. He was one of only four board members who voted against biology textbooks that year that included a full account of evolution.

Over objections by his critics in 2004, McLeroy voted to approve health textbooks that stress “abstinence-only” in regard to instruction about pregnancy and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2005, McLeroy conducted a sermon in his church, in which he said naturalism is “the enemy” and questioned: “Why is Intelligent Design the big tent? Because we’re all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of Intelligent Design.”

According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, “Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. ‘I believe a lot of incredible things,’ he said, ‘The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the God that created the universe.'” McLeroy’s statements regarding science have been criticized. McLeroy and other Board members who want to challenge evolution have received criticism from more than fifty scientific organizations over an attempt to weaken the currently-accepted science standards on the theory of evolution. In particular, biologist Kenneth R. Miller called McLeroy’s statements on science “breathtakingly” incorrect.

While it became clear to all that McLeroy’s appreciation for science is not all that high, none have lower.

Fortunately for us who enjoy a good light show, Governor Perry was re-elected, and when his subsequent re-appointment of Don McLeroy stalled in the Texas Senate, Mr. Perry was wise enough to appoint as DOE chair Barbara Cargill, whose scientific acumen scrapes close to McLeroy’s. I was there to enjoy the spectacle:

I struck up a conversation with Ide Trotter and reminded him of our meeting, nearly ten years previous. He remarked on my keen memory, but he should not have been amazed, because I had taken his photo at the time, so my memory was quite fresh. Dr. Trotter is a noted creationist, and I was very interested in talking to him about any progress his movement has made with Intelligent Design in the past ten years. He assured me Intelligent Design is on solid ground.

Also, Barbara Cargill joined us in our conversation. Dr. Trotter and I were discussing Intelligent Design when she walked up, and I am afraid she was confused and thought I was a creationist. She remarked “I’m one of you,” and gave us a reassuring clap on the shoulder. She conferred for a moment with Dr. Trotter over some notes, and she went off to visit other volunteers.

After Ms. Cargill left us I felt a little embarrassed, and I hoped I had not given the wrong impression. I reminded Dr. Trotter that I had previously headed up The North Texas Skeptics, and we were strongly supportive of the teaching the science of biological evolution in public schools. Dr. Trotter assured me that he, too, wanted evolution taught, only he wanted the correct facts to be taught.

Anyhow, that is water under the bridge. Rick Perry ran for president and came hard up against logic and reality, making him a prime choice for Secretary of Energy. Which brings us to our present Age of Embarrassment:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says CO2 is not the main driver of climate change

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC on Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the main driver of climate change, joining the EPA administrator in casting doubt on the conclusion of some of the government’s top scientists.

Asked whether CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, Perry told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

“The fact is this shouldn’t be a debate about, ‘Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?’ Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?” he said.

Allow me to interpret what the Secretary just told us. The primary driver behind climate change is the ocean waters and the environment. By environment we can assume the Secretary means the natural  environment, because if it’s not the natural environment, then it must be that human activity is the cause. So he means the natural environment. That is to say, the natural environment that has been around for millions (billions?) of years. The natural environment that has not seen fit to raise global temperature averages for hundreds (thousands) of years, and just waited until people started raising the CO2 concentration  in  the atmosphere from 300 parts per million to 400 ppm.

Or else it’s the ocean waters. Yes. The ocean waters are getting warmer. Ocean waters getting warmer is a manifestation of climate change (global warming), and that’s what’s causing global warming. Global warming is causing global warming. We needed former Texas Governor Rick Perry to tell us this.

And now I am embarrassed.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Tenth of a series

I may have mentioned this before, but as a way of supporting real news I obtained a digital subscription to The New York Times, for which I am being pleasantly rewarded. I get to read prior issues, going back to 1851. That was before most of us were born. Anyhow, I consider the NYT to be a reliable news source, certainly compared to a raft of other spigots adorning the wires these days.

Conservatives, and also the newest President, consider the Times to be a liberal fire hose. Many liberals, as well, claim to notice a leftward slant. My thinking is this appearance is due to the paper’s contrast with concerted right wing outlets. Readers should look to a source’s editorial section to pick up any scent of tip to one direction, and in this respect the Times asserts some balance. We see, or have seen:

  • David Brooks
  • Maureen Dowd (an equal opportunity agitator)
  • Mark Shields
  • Paul Krugman
  • Thomas L. Friedman
  • George Will

Now there is Bret Stephens, and his first column appeared today, 28 April. He opens with the following:

When someone is honestly 55 percent right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60 percent right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God.

But what’s to be said about 75 percent right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100 percent right? Whoever says he’s 100 percent right is a fanatic, .

— An old Jew of Galicia

We soon learn he is talking about the scientific consensus supporting anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and he is cautioning against certainty. In fact, the headline of his opinion piece is “Climate of Complete Certainty.”

My first take on his column’s epigraph is that it is overly general. Supposing the old Jew of Galicia is right, in which case I am “a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.” And so is columnist Stephens. And I added my comment to that effect to the on-line piece. I (Stephens, as well) am 100% certain the Earth rotates counterclockwise as viewed from above the North Pole. Equally certain are we that the sun rises in the east. So, the old Jew notwithstanding, 100% certainty is not a mark of thuggery.

But Stephens spreads his message thinner:

There’s a lesson here. We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. From Robert McNamara to Lehman Brothers to Stronger Together, cautionary tales abound.

We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous. Ask Clinton.

The Clinton reference is thought to be regarding Hilary Clinton’s strong stand on AGW during her campaign, a factor that cost many votes in conservative areas.

But surely certitude does beget hubris, and if you want to appear warm and fuzzy (as when you are seeking somebody’s vote) it may be better to be less certain. In politics.

I’m not a politician, and I have no need to please anybody. At this I am immensely successful. Take the screen shot gracing the head of this column. That’s from a Facebook dialog I had with a friend named Dan. He opened with:

I guess Algor is coming out with a sequel to his “Inconvenient ‘Truth'” film.

I hope the film will answer these questions:

  1. How does CO2, which is 1.4x the weight of air get up above the Troposphere to  form a greenhouse? What is its density there, given that CO2 is less than 004 of 1% (= four ten-thousandths or 40 PPM) of all gasses in the atmosphere?

Followed by items 2 through 8 in a similar vein. Others chimed in, including Mark. As one who studied some science in college (also high school) I have to say Mark’s understanding of science does not bode well for the American educational system. Details on request.

Again, forgetting the politicians, Bret Stephens can forgive scientists for some hubris if he will pause for a moment to examine the complaints made by the AGW deniers. These arguments generally boil down to something like those of Dan and Mark. Many are steeped in a gross misunderstanding of basic science plus ignorance (or denial) of available data.

Stephens attempts to avoid this trap with qualifying language:

Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.

He’s not disputing the data. The problem is what are advocates for remedy postulating. On this point Stephens and I are in agreement. A sweltering summer day in Chicago (people dying). A devastating tornado rips through a Mississippi town. It’s the doom of global warming! There is no doubt boosters for remedy are overstating the case.

Let them. Put them in their place. The science still stands. Human activity is producing increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (CO2 concentration currently exceeds 400 ppm). Global temperature averages are increasing in correspondence with increasing concentrations of  CO2. Polar ice is melting. The mean sea level is rising. Coastal areas are being affected. All else is bull shit. The need for human intervention is manifest on this issue alone.

The cadre of politicians and vocal citizens may like to take heart from Stephens’ analysis, but they need to appreciate that he is only showcasing their own agenda. Attacks on the science may not be successful, but the political ploy of gaming the statements by AGW fanatics is a quiver full of ammunition for the deniers. In the end it will not matter.

Stephens quoted a (mythical?) old Jew of Galicia. Another quote from way back goes, “Man proposes. Allah disposes.” Think what you want, Nature will have its way.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Ninth of a series

I’ve been a serious skeptic since 1988, at which time I joined up with The North Texas Skeptics. It’s been a lot of fun. We looked into claims made by astrologers, graphologists, faith healers, psychics, and ultimately creationists. It has been skepticism well spent We continually found the claims of these groups to be baseless at best and fraudulent on the extreme side. Generally, rational skepticism has been based on the following:

  • You have to follow the facts.
  • Assertions made in the face of vast experience are worth a very close look.
  • Loyalty and personal bias are often the basis for false belief.
  • Verify, verify, verify.

A lot of bad science has come and gone in recorded history. The four basic elements—fire, water, earth, air—have been superseded by more useful concepts. Phlogiston turned out to be a useless idea for describing the flow of heat. N-rays turned out to be a figment of an experimenter’s expectations, and Nobel chemist Irving Langmuir figured the same thing was happening in experiments carried out at Columbia University.

More recently, some valid science has come under scrutiny. First the correlation between tobacco smoking and lung cancer was strongly denied by companies that marketed tobacco products. Executives even lied under oath at congressional hearings. Then rigorous studies demonstrated the relationship was causal. Smoking in this country decreased dramatically since, and so have new cases of lung cancer. Scientists determined that chlorinated fluorocarbons released into the atmosphere were contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer in the stratosphere, and laws were passed to restrict the use of these chemicals. There was much push back against this science—it was viewed as supporting government meddling and therefor bad science. Some members of The North Texas Skeptics were among those who spoke out against the science. Then two chemists won the Nobel prize for their studies related to the destruction of the ozone layer, and restricted use of CFCs has correlated with a healthier ozone layer.

One bit of science that has been around for decades is global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect in the atmosphere is likened to the way a planter’s greenhouse works. The transparent covering allows in energy from sunlight in but traps the resulting heat. Calculations projected a rise in average atmospheric and ocean temperatures, the result being melting of land ice and significant rise in ocean levels, among other consequences. Again there is vocal resistance. This resistance has come from both genuine disbelief that human activities can have a significant effect and from political resistance to any actions taken to curb the use of fossil fuels.

That brings us to the current discussion. Dan, a friend on Facebook, from time to time posts items hostile to the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW). From interchanges with Dan, I know he has a free-market bent and is a champion of personal liberties. Government action to combat AGW is anathema to Dan, and an ignorance toward some basic science teams up to make for some interesting exchanges. This is about one of them.

It kicks off with a posting by Dan. He’s talking about an opinion piece that ran in the 3 November 2013 issue of Forbes:

Blood And Gore: Making A Killing On Anti-Carbon Investment Hype

I write about aerospace, environment, energy, Second Amendment policy

Here is what Dan posted:

I guess Algor is coming out with a sequel to his “Inconvenient ‘Truth'” film.

I hope the film will answer these questions:

1. How does CO2, which is 1.4x the weight of air, get up above the Troposphere to form a greenhouse? What is its density there, given that CO2 is less than 0.04 of 1% ( = four ten-thousandths or 40 PPM) of all gases in the atmosphere?

2. If Global Warming is really happening, why have the central researchers of it (East Anglia Univ.) been caught at least three times faking the statistics?

3. If GW is really going to flood the seacoasts in another 2 years, why did Algor buy TWO ocean-side mansions, one on the East Coast and one on the West?

4. If Global warming is real, why have the purveyors of it changed their warnings from “Global Cooling” in the 70s, to “Global Warming” in the 1990s – 2010s, to “Climate Change” in the Obama years, to now, “Climate Disruption?”

5. If Global warming is real, why is one of the temperature stations atop a building near an air conditioner’s WARM air outflow, and another atop an ACTIVE volcano which spews heat and CO2 (Moana Loa).

6. Since we’re still emerging from an Ice Age, what is the PROPER temperature for the world, and how do you arrive at that number?

7. How will paying a tax which largely benefits a firm owned by Algor* save us from the alleged Global Warming? Is he going to use the money to save the world? How?

(* Gore & Blood is the only approved “Carbon Exchange” mentioned in the proposed US legislation. formerly, the Chicago Carbon Exchange was the official repository, until Barack Obama was found to have a material stake in the firm)

8. If Humans cause Global Warming, why and how are our neighboring planets warming, and how was this variable removed from your secret climate model?

That takes some digesting. I exchanged a few comments with Dan and hoped to elicit his acknowledgement he was serious, and this was not some kind of spoof. What alarmed me was a lack of knowledge and logic. I will get to some of the additional exchanges, but first the forgoing needs some analysis. Start with Dan’s point 1, if you will pardon the repetition:

1. How does CO2, which is 1.4x the weight of air, get up above the Troposphere to form a greenhouse? What is its density there, given that CO2 is less than 0.04 of 1% ( = four ten-thousandths or 40 PPM) of all gases in the atmosphere?

His first question, “How does…” is an example of begging the question. This is manifest when a question is asked, but the wording of the question presumes a premise, something the speaker wants to assert. There are two parts here.

First, asking how CO2, being denser than air, makes it into the stratosphere and beyond. The implication loaded into the question is that it does not. This is not true. The gases in the atmosphere are well mixed below 90 kilometers altitude, and that is close to the fringes of the atmosphere. The second implication is CO2 must reach into the stratosphere before it produces a greenhouse effect. There is no basis for this. In fact, CO2 close to the Earth’s surface absorbs infrared radiation as effectively, just closer to the surface. The answer to Dan’s question, “What is it’s density there…” is answered by any reference to the composition of the atmosphere. There is little variation, and the concentration of CO2 above the troposphere is still approximately 400 parts per million.

2. If Global Warming is really happening, why have the central researchers of it (East Anglia Univ.) been caught at least three times faking the statistics?

Dan is going to need to elaborate on this. Again, it’s a loaded question. The question presumes the East Anglia University researchers were caught faking the statistics.

3. If GW is really going to flood the seacoasts in another 2 years, why did Algor buy TWO ocean-side mansions, one on the East Coast and one on the West?

Really. Really? Global warming is going to flood the seacoasts in another two years? Get serious. I will address one of Dan’s concerns here. Purchasing a house on a cliff overlooking an ocean would be a safe investment. By “Algor” I presume Dan means Albert Gore, former Vice President of the United States. Al Gore is not a young man, and by the time the land ice melts and the oceans rise 200 feet, he, plus Dan and I, will be long dead.

4. If Global warming is real, why have the purveyors of it changed their warnings from “Global Cooling” in the 70s, to “Global Warming” in the 1990s – 2010s, to “Climate Change” in the Obama years, to now, “Climate Disruption?”

The science behind global warming has not changed. Based on history, the Earth is due for another ice age in the northern hemisphere in the next few thousand years. AGW is another issue, and it is AGW. Climate change will be an offshoot of AGW, and you may want to call it climate disruption if you want.

5. If Global warming is real, why is one of the temperature stations atop a building near an air conditioner’s WARM air outflow, and another atop an ACTIVE volcano which spews heat and CO2 (Moana Loa).

Dan is going to need to provide some facts to back this up. Again there is a loaded question—the presumption being that these vital measurements are made at inopportune locations. In case Dan is confused about one item, the station at Mauna Loa Observatory is a major location for taking measurements of CO2 concentration. Great care is taken to ensure that CO2 from the volcano does not contaminate the measurement. It is obvious Dan is pulling his information from unreliable sources. It would have been better had he done some on-line research before posting some of this stuff.

6. Since we’re still emerging from an Ice Age, what is the PROPER temperature for the world, and how do you arrive at that number?

Dan should have been able to answer this one for himself. The answer is there is no “proper” temperature. The Earth has, in the past, been hotter, and it has been colder. Evidence is that at one time the oceans were frozen over. That is, perhaps, why the terms climate change and climate disruption are used. We have built our cities where they are, we live where we do, and our crops flourish as they do because the global average has been stable for thousands of years. Relatively stable. People did experience the previous ice age. The problem is that some cities, Miami and New York City being two examples, were constructed very close to the level of the current ocean. Miami is already combating ocean level rise, and New York City is making preparations for ocean rise. A rise in the order of 50 feet within the next 100 years would be very disruptive. Bottom line—it would be best for world economies if the global average stayed about where it is right now.

7. How will paying a tax which largely benefits a firm owned by Algor* save us from the alleged Global Warming? Is he going to use the money to save the world? How?

Dan has me on this one. Maybe he can answer that, either in the affirmative or in the negative.

8. If Humans cause Global Warming, why and how are our neighboring planets warming, and how was this variable removed from your secret climate model?

It would be nice if I could treat this one as some kind of joke. However, Dan has refused to disavow his comments, so I must take him seriously. Venus, as is well-known, is an extreme case of greenhouse warming. The planet’s atmosphere is a different composition from the Earth’s, and it has created a furnace, compared to Earth. Also, Venus is 20 million miles closer to the sun. Mars, not so much so. It’s farther from the sun and barely has an atmosphere. If Mars is warming, Dan will need to give me some evidence.

Dan posted an additional comment:

John: You told me the Periodic Table was irrelevant. That CO2 was denser at Sea Level than the average of air. That didn’t refute my statement, only attempted to muddy it.

A balloon filled with CO2 would not rise, on Earth, correct?

I told you I’m not going ’round with you. It’s your religion and you are stuck with it. I’m sticking with facts as we know them, e.g. molecular weight of air vs CO2 means CO2 won’t rise by itself at normal conditions on Earth.

But… we both know where each other stand.

Yes, the periodic table is not relevant to this. The periodic table only associates elements according to their similar chemical characteristics, which characteristics having been determined to be predicted by quantum theory. No properties of individual elements (atoms) are involved in the greenhouse process, since only argon and helium are the atomic gases that exist in quantities in the atmosphere.

Yes, CO2 and all other gases are denser at sea level, this being due to greater atmospheric pressure at sea level (than higher up), that coupled with Boyle’s Law.

True, a balloon filled with CO2 will not rise. What does this have to do with the discussion at hand?

Dan continues to insist, in defiance of all known facts, that CO2 does not mix in the atmosphere.  CO2 is about equally represented in the stratosphere as it is at lower altitudes. Dan needs to read some basic science.

Mark, apparently a Facebook friend of Dan’s, added the following bit of wisdom:

Chemistry 101: CO2 is not a Greenhouse Gas, nor is it a “pollutant”, nor has the quantity of CO2 changed on Earth for many hundreds of millions of years. Water vapor in the atmosphere is many times (close to 100X) more capable of capturing the Sun’s ion radiation than CO2. One single volcano spews more CO2 in one day than all of the CO2 emitted by Human activities in their ENTIRE existence. Finally, it’s the weather, which is constantly changing in reaction to the Sun spot activities. That is the end of the class kiddies.

Yes, that’s weird. CO2 is a greenhouse gas due to it’s molecular structure, which causes it to absorb long wave infra red radiation. Details on request. This can get lengthy.

The quantity of CO2 has changed significantly within the past few decades. Here is the Keeling Curve, the concentration of CO2 since about 1958:

Yes, water vapor is a major greenhouse gas. Without the water vapor we presently have in the atmosphere, temperatures would be about 20C lower. The difference is that water vapor was already built in when humans first appeared, and we have done nothing to change that. Nor could we likely. Water vapor has a mechanism for removal that CO2 does not have, and that mechanism is called “rain.” Rain continually cycles water from the atmosphere back to the surface, maintaining a steady state condition, globally.

Mark further says, “One single volcano spews more CO2 in one day than all of the CO2 emitted by Human activities in their ENTIRE existence.”

No. Look at the Keeling Curve. This time period includes several major volcanic eruptions, and these do not show up on the graph. Here is another graph:

No, it is not volcanoes.

Nor is it solar activity. Here is another graph:

Mark concludes, “That is the end of the class kiddies.” Yes, it is the end of the class for Mark. I suggest somebody read a science book.

Peter is another of Dan’s friends. He posted:

This area of science is not my specialty but I would speculate that C02 is distributed in the upper atmosphere by airplanes. I know some fly as high as 60K ft. and their exhaust contains C02. The upper jet stream can carry it higher. It can account for it with all the military and commercial planes up there.

Peter, read the above. CO2 is distributed naturally.

Dan has asked me why I am not skeptical of AGW. The interchange I just analyzed illustrates why I am skeptical of assertions made against AGW. They are all of this quality. Nobody, even any serious scientists, has ever made arguments against AGW that did not have a level of prevarication or misinterpretation of the facts.

It’s up to Dan and his friends to provide some kind of realistic argument, of which the ones so far presented are not. Fetching imaginary facts out of the air will not do. It would help if these people would research the subject and verify assertions they are about to post. There seems to be little to no evidence any of them are doing that. Scientific explanations concerning the greenhouse mechanism and details of the nature of the atmosphere abound on the Internet. Even a brief check before posting would have avoided the failures manifest in these postings.

Dan, Mark, and Peter are charged with heading to a library or at least to the Internet and coming back to me with something to back up what they have posted. This is the end of class, kiddos.

The Dumbest Kind

You wanna embrace the golden calf?
Ankle, and thigh, and upper half?
Here it is!
I mean, here it is!

That’s one way to get it started. Here’s another way.

 

Yes, that’s Texas’ own Congressman Joe Barton, representing District 6, just south of Dallas. He’s been in place for 32 years and appears to be well-entrenched. Something about Congressman Barton’s district favors his odd mentality, and he’s likely to stick around for awhile. The topic of the featured meme epitomizes his thinking:

At a 2009 hearing on renewable energy, Barton asserted that large-scale wind power projects could slow down God’s method for cooling the earth and possibly contribute to global warming.

 

A reference to the source comes from Newsweek, as reported 17 June 2010:

Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.

Forget for a moment that Congressman Barton has just referenced a mythical being, what does the remainder of his statement say about the thoroughness of his thought processes? Some diagnosis:

  • Regarding wind being a finite resource, like many things, it is. Also, Barton made his relevant comment in a Congressional sub committee hearing. He started by citing university research that asserted wind is a finite resource, and he ended by summarizing in his own words, invoking God. Snopes has a complete discussion.
  • Regarding wind being a way of balancing heat, this is essentially true. It gets hot somewhere, the wind blows, heat gets distributed. Fact is, heat is what makes the wind blow.
  • Regarding less wind contributing to global warming, university research may or may not make this claim, but my own authority, being a certified physicist, is that less wind will amount to less global warming. The reasoning is this. If less wind causes heat to remain accumulated in a spot, the rise in  temperature at that spot will increase radiative loss of heat. The affected spot will lose more heat, while unaffected regions will not accumulate additional heat to make up the difference. Run the numbers for yourself.

Notably, Barton has also stated he does believe there is global warming, but he attributes this to natural causes. For Joe Barton, natural causes are documented in the Bible:

“I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that climate is changing,” he added. “I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence.”

Barton then cited the biblical Great Flood as an example of climate change not caused by man.

“I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

Hint: Congressman Barton receives considerable campaign support from the petroleum industry. A video uploaded to YouTube on 25 March 2009 elaborates on his thinking. People, he says, should be prepared to adapt to global warming as they have adapted to climate change in the past. He proposes we cease useless attempts to forestall efforts at ameliorating non-existent human causes and devote our immediate attention to accommodating the inevitable.

Congressman Barton is likely correct in thinking we will not be able fix global warming in time to avoid its impact on our lives. In his talk, presented in the video, he does not specify any steps we need to take to accommodate global warming. Among steps he fails to address is the need to protect coastal areas from the rise in sea level, already being observed. Miami, Florida, is a city currently dealing with sea level rise, and its projected cost to mitigate the problem is impressive:

From his sunny corner office on the sixth floor of Miami Beach City Hall, the engineer has spent the past two and a half years working on one of the hardest jobs in the country: trying to keep this city of 90,000 above water.

This is, of course, Miami Beach, which is strictly not Miami. I visited the area a few weeks ago and can attest the city is situated on a barrier island, separated from Miami and the mainland by a lagoon. These barrier islands exist all along the east and Gulf coasts, from New Jersey to Brownsville, Texas. They are not now and never have been permanent, being continually obliterated and reformed by wave action over cycles that last in the order of a thousand years. It was foolish for people to build facilities on these islands and expect them to be permanent.

Miami is on the mainland, on the coast of a state whose highest point is around 300 feet above sea level. It would not take much of a rise in sea level to erase much of Florida’s present coast line. Is this the kind of global warming problem Congressman Barton expects us to accommodate as though it were a hot summer day? The dumbness is strong in this one, Master.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Eighth of a series

politics-scienceglobalwarminghoax

I’m sure I saw this coming.

politics-trumpglobalwarmingchinesehoax

That was during the campaign. Donald Trump is now President of the United States. This has consequences:

Leading candidate for Trump’s science advisor calls climate change a cult

In January, the Trump transition team arranged for two scientists to meet with Trump. Since then, both have been considered front runners to become the new presidential science advisor, a position that typically heads the Office of Science and Technology Policy. While the two—Princeton’s William Happer and Yale’s David Gelernter—have radically different backgrounds, they have a couple of things in common: strong support for science in general and extreme skepticism of climate science in particular.

The above appeared in Ars Technica on 15 February, written by John Timmer. The subtitle is Both picks support science, doubt its conclusions. I keep getting  the idea that Professor Happer has the lead here, and I’m going with that for the time being. Either way, what we are likely to have is a presidential science advisor who does not consider anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to be a serious concern.

To be sure, Professor Happer is a legitimate scientist. From Wikipedia, “He is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, and a long-term member of the JASON advisory group, where he pioneered the development of adaptive optics. From 1991-93, Happer served as director of the Department of Energy‘s Office of Science as part of the George H. W. Bush administration.” That he may soon lend his opinions on AGW at the highest levels of government science is worrisome. Some background is worth a notice.

politics-sciencewilliamhapperinterview

YouTube has a short interview, and it illuminates the core of his thinking:

Published on Oct 26, 2012

Professor of Physics at Princeton, William Happer debunks, then destroys global warming alarmism & hysteria in 7 minutes.

This appears to show testimony at a government hearing. Some of Happer’s remarks are worth noting. From the video. These are not verbatim quotes:

  • Global warming has been going on for the last 200 years.
  • There have been periods, like the last ten years when warming has ceased. In fact there’s been a little bit of cooling the past ten years.
  • We have experienced substantial cooling from the period 1942 to 1970.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased from about 280 to 390 parts per million over the past 100 years.
  • The combustion of fossil fuels has contributed to this increase in the atmosphere.
  • Increases in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause some warming of the Earth’s surface.
  • The key question is whether the net effect of the warming and any other effects of  CO2 will be good or bad for humanity.
  • I believe the effects of CO2 will be good.

That covers the first minute of a seven-minute clip. At this point Professor Happer has conceded that AGW exists, and he takes the assumption that he has proved his case against the dangers and forges ahead. He now transitions out of the field of physics, in which he holds a Ph.D. from Princeton.

He leaves the scientific realm entirely and begins by comparing the movement against AGW with the temperance movement of 100 years ago. Prohibition, we learn seemed like a good idea at the time, and we passed the 18th Amendment to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. That resulted in massive resistance to the laws that were put in place, and it led to an unprecedented crime wave, the beginning, he says, of organized crime in this country.

Professor Happer’s retelling of American history is accurate on that point, but it stretches a point to compare environmental activism with the Prohibition Era. In sum total, he advocates that attempts at government regulation, as it relates to AGW, will have adverse effects with no redeeming benefit. Again, this is an area where his training in physics is of little use.

He touts the benefits of increased CO2 concentration in  the atmosphere. Green plants receive a boost when more CO2 is available, which seems logical and which is borne out. The obverse is also true. Too much CO2 can kill green plants. What Professor Happer fails to tell is one of the downsides of this increased greening.

He rightly refers to a side effect of CO2 concentration in  the atmosphere, but he does not completely elaborate. With additional warming, the atmosphere will take up more water, and water vapor is a significant greenhouse gas. One concern of climate scientist is the possibility of runaway warming due to water vapor. The warmer the air, the more water vapor the more warming the more water vapor and so on. This is likely ameliorated by increased cloud formation, which will reflect sunlight, increasing the Earth’s albedo, keeping warming under control. He cites satellite data.

The Happer video was published in 2012, when his remarks regarding satellite data would have had more credibility in some circles. Not so much anymore:

Climate change doubters may have lost one of their key talking points: a particular satellite temperature dataset that had seemed to show no warming for the past 18 years.

The Remote Sensing System temperature data, promoted by many who reject mainstream climate science and especially most recently by Sen. Ted Cruz, now shows a slight of about 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit since 1998. Ground temperature measurements, which many scientists call more accurate, all show warming in the past 18 years.

“There are people that like to claim there was no warming; they really can’t claim that anymore,” said Carl Mears, the scientist who runs the Remote Sensing System temperature data tracking.

In that regard, Happer’s more recent thoughts may be more pertinent:

In July 2014 Happer said, during a CNBC interview, that “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

In December 2015 Happer was targeted in a sting operation by the environmental activist group Greenpeace; posing as consultants for a Middle Eastern oil and gas company, they asked Happer to write a report touting the benefits of rising carbon emissions. Concerned that the report might not be trusted if it was known that it was commissioned by an oil company, Happer discussed ways to obscure the funding. Happer asked that the fee be donated to the climate-change skeptic organization CO2 Coalition, who suggested he reach out to the Donors Trust, in order to keep the source of funds secret; hiding funding in this way is lawful under US law. Happer acknowledged that his report would probably not pass peer-review with a scientific journal.

In February 2017 Happer said “There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult … It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

This excerpt from Happer’s Wikipedia entry contains links to the sources.

Jews under Hitler:

“The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” said Princeton University professor William Happer while being interviewed on “Squawk Box” on CNBC. Before host Andrew Ross Sorkin could respond in incredulity, Happer went on to say, “Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

There is scientific objectivity, and then there is scientific objectivity. Sometimes more. Sometimes less.

The Greenpeace sting:

The proposed report for the fake consultant was intended to highlight the negative aspects of the climate agreement being negotiated in Paris, he was told in the email approach. The physicist was receptive to the commission, and asked to donate his fee to the CO2 Coalition, a group founded this year to “shift the debate from the unjustified criticism of CO2 and fossil fuels”.

“My activities to push back against climate extremism are a labor of love, to defend the cherished ideals of science that have been so corrupted by the climate change cult,” he wrote in an email. He did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

This is not a case of a scientist selling his soul for grant money. Taking Happer at his word that he did not pocket the payment.

Regarding climate science as a cult, a Guardian article says much the same as the excerpt at the top of this post, and it says more:

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

Trump has previously described global warming as “very expensive … bullshit” and has signalled a continued hardline stance since taking power. He has nominated the former Texas governor Rick Perry, a staunch climate sceptic, as secretary of energy and hopes to put the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who has been one of the agency’s most hostile critics.

John Holdren, Barack Obama’s science adviser, said Happer’s outspoken opinions would be a “substantial handicap” for a job that has traditionally involved delivering mainstream scientific opinion to the heart of policymaking.

“Every national academy of science agrees that the science is solid, that climate change is real,” he said. “To call this a cult is absurd and … an insult to the people who have done this work.”

Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

Jesus, I am so glad he’s not blaming the Chinese.

The National Center For Science Education

The NCSE is the premier organization in this country promoting legitimate science in public schools and in the public forum. They are a 501 (c) (3) organization, deserving of your contributions. I give money to the NCSE. You should, too.

Following is a recent notice from the NCSE:

1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612-2922

510.601.7203 • www.ncse.com

With the unprecedented 2016 election finally behind us, we can all turn our attention back to issues that haven’t been in the spotlight lately. Like science education. As you’ll read below, there’s plenty to be concerned about. But NCSE has not taken its eye off the ball, and our new programs are really starting to pay off. I hope that you’ll consider joining our effort to help teachers cover evolution and climate change confidently and completely.

When you consider the state of science education today, it’s easy to be disappointed, disturbed, and dismayed. Consider the following recent incidents.

  • In Alabama, the state board of education voted to continue to mandate a disclaimer about evolution in the state’s textbooks. Such disclaimers date back to 1996. But even after Alabama adopted a new set of state science standards in 2005, that described evolution as “substantiated with much direct and indirect evidence,” the board disappointingly voted to retain the scientifically unwarranted and pedagogically irresponsible message.
  • A national survey conducted by NCSE with researchers at Pennsylvania State University, which asked 1500 science teachers in public middle and high schools about their attitudes toward and practice in teaching climate change, found disturbing gaps in their knowledge. For example, less than half of the teachers realized that more than 80% of climate scientists agree that recent global warming is caused primarily by human activities.
  • In Kentucky, a young-earth creationist ministry opened a Noah’s-ark-themed amusement park. The truly  dismaying aspect of Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter was its invitation to local public schools to flout the principle of church/state separation by bringing students there on field trips, at a special discounted rate. Judging from reports received by NCSE over the years, public school excursions to creationist attractions are dismayingly common.

Dealing, and helping people to deal, with such assaults on science education is all in a day’s work for us at NCSE.

But as you know, that’s not all that we’re doing. A suite of innovative new programs is aimed at reinforcing the confidence of teachers, recruiting scientists to help, and rallying communities to support science education locally:

  • NCSEteach (http://ncseteach.com/), NCSE’s network to support climate change and evolution educators, now includes nearly 6,000 teachers, each of whom receive regular advice and resources from NCSE aimed at improving their scientific knowledge and pedagogical confidence. And they now know that NCSE will have their backs when they encounter challenges to the teaching of evolution or climate change!
  • NCSEteach’s “Scientists in the Classroom” program is bringing eager and energetic early career research scientists into middle and high school classrooms across the country to enrich students’ climate change and evolution learning experiences. Over one hundred teacher—scientist partnerships have already been formed, to the great and continuing benefit of all involved. More are in the works.
  • NCSE’s Science Booster Club project, piloting in Iowa, has provided fun, hands-on, and accurate educational activities on evolution and climate change to over 50,000 participants at local events in the last year, and raised funds to purchase science equipment for the benefit of over 3,000 local students. In 2016, the project not only exhibited at county and state fairs but also hosted a free summer science camp to provide rural low-income students with evolution education.

Are these programs working? Judging from the heartfelt expressions of thanks from teachers who have participated in NCSEteach, from teacher/scientist partners who have participated in Scientists in the Classroom, and from thousands of Iowans involved with a Science Booster Club, yes!

But to science fans like you and me, what’s even more convincing than testimonials is data. The Science Booster Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, administered a twenty-four-question science literacy survey at its public events throughout the year. And voilà:

scienceliteracycedarrapids

That’s significant—literally (p = 0.03) and figuratively. Working with a low budget but a high degree of enthusiasm, the science boosters in Cedar Rapids—and elsewhere in Iowa—are making a measurable difference.

I’m excited about these efforts, and I hope that you are, too. We want to extend these programs to communities across the country. To do so, we need your support. Your gift to NCSE will help us help teachers to present science properly.

You can donate on-line at ncse.com/join. A gift of only $500 will allow us to provide a new booster club with all the materials needed to provide hands-on evolution or climate change activities to 10,000 participants! Or consider a recurring gift of $10 or $20 per month; such donations help make our budget more predictable so we can start new projects with confidence. A gift of any size will go directly to improving science education.

By reinforcing the confidence of teachers, recruiting scientists to help, and rallying communities to support science education locally, NCSE is helping to ensure that science will be taught honestly, accurately, and confidently. Please help us to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Reid

Executive Director, NCSE