Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When The World Crawls Through The Church Door


I don't often get to see my brother these days. He is still living in our home town of Marion, Indiana, and is an associate professor in the School of Business at Indiana Wesleyan University. He and I are very different when it comes to politics - I'm a liberal, he's a conservative. Anyway, I got to see him at his son's wedding up in North Carolina a couple of months ago and I really enjoyed the visit. This reminded me of a talk he had delivered at a church in Philadelphia. I'm not sure if I remember where or how I got the text but just this morning I was reading through it and decided I would like to post it here on our blog. As to why, I guess in the first place I thought you in particular would enjoy it. But another reason, possibly, is that there is so much in that talk which constitutes common ground for people at all points on the political spectrum. And after all, isn't that what this blog is all about? Enjoy...

When the legless man crawled through the front door of the church on his elbows, the preacher paused. When a scarred Rawandan woman and a wealthy Brit spontaneously jumped from their pews to lift him to his, the sermon was complete—lived out in front of the church. My friend Peter Rhetts relates this first-hand account in a speech from his years of travels as a lawyer for a missions organization. Regardless of our various religious backgrounds, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before Gandhi, we can all lean into his enduring passion for humanity’s crises and be better for doing so.

The following are excerpts from Peter’s speech to the Tasker Street Baptist Church in Philadelphia (September 29, 2007). When I caught a glimpse of these words from a humble, soft spoken man with an inviting sparkle in his eyes, they seemed deserving of a continued audience. With his permission, lean into a conversation from deep within this wonderful ambassador for both calculated and spontaneous acts of kindness.

The following is given from the pulpit in the place of a sermon. The congregation is African American. Peter is a tall slender Caucasian. If you’re reading this as a Christian, the many references are clear. For those who are from religions or are non-religious, I’ve tried to assist through edits and clarifications. The following is a glimpse of a Christian lawyer’s challenge to other Christians based on his lifetime of travels.

PETER RHETTS: . . . I ask among this crowd - who are the missionaries? How do we identify them? Where do we find them? Do we need to go to China or perhaps India to find real missionaries we can support? Do we go to Africa, or Honduras – then we will find real missionaries? . . . might we find that the missionaries are already here?

May I take a short detour?

Those of you who are parents - have you ever decided what your child was going to be when they grew up? Mine did. They wanted two things – they wanted me to be the musician in the family and a lawyer. I fulfilled both prophecies. My parents allowed me to take a detour in my music career. To this day, I don't think my father, who is still alive, knew what he did next. Because at age 15, he allowed me to play in rock 'n roll bands at parties, special events, and eventually taverns and bars around the northeast. For the next 16 years, I had a love affair playing music in taverns and bars. But that's really of no consequence. I did become an alcoholic, and did experiment with drugs. But even that is a mundane story in today's world. What is unusual are the settings in which I played and the fellow musicians I worked with. You see – for the majority of time I played in bars, I was the minority not only in the band, but in the bar. And for those many years of living in a world different than mine - one that much of white America doesn’t know exists - I learned a few things. I learned that the chances of me suffering discrimination in this country because of my color are about zero – and I learned that if I was not white, my answer may be different. I learned that whites know a lot less about blacks, than blacks know about whites. I must carefully say that many whites watched the Dianne Carroll show in the 1960s’ and thought they were learning about black America – they weren’t. Much more than that, I learned that in spite of what all the politicians have done, or say they have done, discrimination is very much alive. And I learned something which haunts me to this day – especially now as a Christian.

What I am about to say – may I say it with all due respect. I can’t say it because I am a member of a minority in the United States and have experienced discrimination, because I am not. But I can tell you because of my experience as an attorney running with the country club types – working for them as an attorney – that speak with some conviction. You see - I have learned that the corporate board rooms of today look very similar to how they looked when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The control of corporate wealth has not materially changed from what it was when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Even with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was meant to bring equality to the workplace, there is still a lot to do. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 30% of all the workers in the Unites States are minorities. While that number has risen steadily since the civil rights movement, the number of leaders and CEOs of major corporations has not. Only about 11% of all management and executive level positions in fortune 1000 companies are held by minorities. Nor have things really changed economically from when a small, diminutive lady on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, decided she wasn’t going to take orders from the bus driver – she was going to sit where she wanted in the bus. But friends, may God grant me favor in what I am about to say. You see – social discrimination – as evil as it is, is only one part of the sin. Having the ability to attend the school of your choice – travel where you want – eat in the restaurant of our choice – that is all very important. But the fact remains that corporate America to a large degree didn’t really care if Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus – because she was never going to be allowed to own the bus. Mrs. Parks had two things going against her – she was a minority and she was a woman. There are close to 20 million women in the workforce today. Of all those women, only 20 of them are CEOs of the top 1,000 corporations. I have learned the following as clear as clear can be - social advances mean very little to many of the wealthy – because they do not touch their pocket book and they do not diminish their power.

Have we been hypnotized into believing that social injustice ought to be the center of our attention by watching some of the wealthy occasionally throw some dollars that way. But watch the picture closely as people of wealth and influence appear on the talk shows emotionally pleading for the elimination of discrimination, then leave those very talk shows and go back to their rich neighborhoods and country clubs with no intention of ever materially helping a minority economically succeed. There are exceptions – but they are few and far between.

Don't think for a second that the economic disparity that exists in this country will be solved politically either because it won't. Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Mayor Guliani, and Mitt Romney will never eliminate the problem. They may champion the cause, they may even lead the cause. But know this – they need the cause to exist because without it, the cause doesn’t need them. In plain English, politicians at times show little interest in helping others and more interest in helping themselves. If the problems of this country are solved, whatever they are, we won’t need politicians anymore and my friends, that’s just not going to happen. . . .

White America has been effected as well. What social advances have been achieved have hypnotized much of white mainstream America into thinking we have really advanced and we are good - it has almost become a whimsical bedtime story - it makes us feel good about each other and ourselves. It has served to perpetrate the greatest sin - turning away from God.

What is the answer? How does one address the incredible economic disparity that exists in not just this country, but around the world? Why is it that when I go to Central America, I see abject poverty among 80% of the population? Why is it I see a wealthy man drive his brand new Mercedes Benz by men, women, and children who are near death and yet does nothing about it other than drive up the mountain to his palatial estate to live a life of luxury. Why is it when I go to Kenya, I see suffering in the slums of Liberia that should not be tolerated by civilized people anywhere. Where conditions are so horrific, we are incapable of even imagining what it's like to live in such a place.
It is a fact – until Christ returns [a Christian belief about the latter days of human existence], African children will die of AIDS unless we do something.

At the Mexico City dump – perhaps the biggest garbage dump in the world – children will continue to live and die in the garbage unless we do something. And perhaps within a short distance of where I am standing today, there are homeless men, women and children who have no way out – unless we do something. Do we focus on ourselves or do we focus on them. Perhaps the sociologists are right – for some, it is easier to be concerned with self instead of the needs of others – that’s what we are taught, it’s hypnotic and causes blindness – it’s almost as if it is easier to be sick than to be well. Perhaps it is easier to need than to give. But if we buy into that, we have opened the door to the evil one to take over [a Christian reference to Satan] – and to hypnotize us to believe that we are the center of attention – that it is all about us. Don’t believe it.

I plead today for liberty – liberty from you and liberty from God. For what I am going to say – you may never have heard from anyone in this church, let alone a white man. But I am going to say it and take the risk it may bring with it. You see – until Christ returns, social injustice will never end – it will never go away. All the marches, picket lines, political causes, demonstrations – you name it – they may very well bear fruit. But if you allow the cause of racial injustice to consume you, you could very well miss out on the only true way to help yourself. And that is to deny yourself and help others who are in greater need than you. . . .

I was in Nairobi, Kenya, during a Sunday morning service at Good Shepherd Church. One of our missionaries was the pastor at the time. Well along in the service, and right after the pastor began his sermon, the front door of the church opened right by the platform. Everyone saw the person who came in. I will never forget it. It was a man who appeared to be in his 30s. He had shriveled arms and no legs. He crawled on his elbows and looked awful. Unfortunately, he could not raise himself to get in the pews. He tried and tried but just couldn’t do it. Almost on cue, two ladies from the congregation, one from war torn Rwanda and the other from the affluence of England, left their seats, went to the man, lifted him in the pew and then returned to their seats without uttering a word. The service progressed and then ended – but when those two women who did not know each other – who were from totally different parts of the world – one a refugee – one from property and affluence – when they saw the need and responded as one – for me, the service was over. And the service was over because in my heart, I had just witnessed Jesus in that place through those two, very different, but very obedient, women. Other than my family, and my salvation, that experience, that day in Nairobi, is one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced.

I have in my hand a picture of an 8 year old boy named Melvin. He lives in the garbage in a very large garbage dump in Central America. He lives in the garbage – and if he is fortunate, he will see tomorrow. He lost two brothers in one month – one who drank poison, thinking it was a Pepsi and the other, who was crushed by a garbage truck. Melvin can’t drink the water in the dump because if he does, it is full of so much bacteria and parasites that he may die. But he has to drink the water because without water, he will die of dehydration. If you feel a tug on your heart, it may very well be Melvin - what will your answer be for Melvin, and for so many millions of people around the world like him?

My friends – the world tells us to look out for ourselves and we will find happiness. It’s a lie. Deny yourself – take up His cross – and follow Him [a reference to Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of the Bible]. Belief in Christ and denial of self for the benefit of others is the true path to Heaven. With all that is going on in this country, I don’t know if we live in a true democracy. But I know this – our relationship with Christ is not a democracy. He has given us the way – now will we obey - do we really have any choice?

What do we have to offer? We have ourselves and the bounty God has given us as His stewards. What will we do with it? Who will receive its benefit? Philadelphia’s own Tony Campolo tells this story. A group surveyed an area of Haiti and decided to build a hospital for children. Their survey showed that the area needed a 100 bed facility. The day they opened, 400 seriously ill children showed up. Tony knew that the hospital could only take 100 kids – but that meant he had to turn away 300 and the chances of those 300 living was remote. Tony cried out to God asking Him how could He let this happen? How could He let 300 children be turned away and possibly die? God answered his plea – His answer? I didn’t let this happen, you did.

In Paul’s last letter – II Timothy [in the New Testament]– right before Paul was executed, he said this: “I have run the race – I have fought the good fight. May He [Jesus] say, when I see Him, well done my good and faithful servant – well done.” Earlier I asked you a question – who are the missionaries – and where are they? The missionaries . . . are you. You are – right this very moment – writing your letter – you are writing your story. When you see Christ – when your record is laid before you – what will Christ say about you? Right now, this very day, someone in need waits. They wait for a missionary – God’s ambassador – to help them – to bring them Jesus. As a missionary, you have a choice – how long will they wait?

Monday, January 25, 2010


I'm not sure if I'm going to get anywhere with this, but here goes...

I was at first particularly annoyed with your list of "environmentalist quotes", chiefly because they are a perfect example of the straw man argument, with which I am sure you are familiar. Like any other endeavor, you can be sure environmentalism has its share of oddballs and extremists. Added to this, otherwise reasonable individuals have contributed to a huge body of speeches, interviews and writings - from which it is no doubt possible to select an odd observation or two which, taken out of context, can be used to make it seem they are extremists themselves.

Since several of the quotes you cited are not properly sourced, I decided to find out for myself the context in which they appeared. One quote in particular stood out. It was this doozy, by Dr. Stephen Schneider:

“We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

Wow! Inasmuch as Dr. Schneider is quoted as a "lead author of many IPCC reports", this looks for all the world like the absolute mother lode for conspiracy theorists. You can in fact google this quote* and it brings up over 8 million hits (and by the way, our little blog is now one of them).

And the quote seems clear enough. In this case, Dr. Schneider is admitting that climatologists like him are creating "scary scenarios" - no doubt just to frighten people - then making choices between honesty and "being effective", which in turn means that scientists of his kind consider honesty and dishonesty to be interchangeable.

And it really makes you think. In the first place, since Stephen Schneider is in fact a well known climatologist, one wonders what a priceless ass he must be to let the cat out of the bag in so direct a fashion. You then wonder, who exactly was he talking to when he made this comment - and where? You get the image of Dr. Schneider discussing his deceptive game plan (surrounded perhaps by his fellow conspirators) in a secret meeting - all the while unaware that some wag had thought to bring a tape recorder - then oops! ...there goes the egg money.

You also wonder what all the little dots in the quote stand for. Let's see if we can find out.

The quote itself is from an interview with Dr. Schneider with Discover magazine in October, 1989. Here is the quote in its entirety (with my emphasis):

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

Now when you unpack the whole quote (not just the edited version) you find that what Dr. Schneider was talking about in that interview was the ethical dilemma which all scientists, particularly those involved in controversial research, must face when dealing with the media. Most importantly, he is not admitting to anything, let alone deception. In fact, he specifically states his hope that scientists will choose to be effective and honest - which dramatically changes the meaning of the whole quote.

Dr. Schneider's website has a thorough and lucid discussion of this under the heading, "Mediarology". And Steve, since you posted the edited quote, I think you owe it to yourself to have a look at that discussion. I'll just condense it for you here...

The field of climatology is a huge and complicated field. In this field, scientists are sure of some things and not so sure of others. What they have developed over many years is a fairly complete picture of the the causes behind climate change. In fact, most qualified scientists involved in the field have reached a point of consensus on the effect of the human contribution. However there remain a number of gaps in that picture.

But since the science of climate change has so many important social, economic and political implications, scientists are invariably drug into the ongoing debate over these issues. For their part, when covering the subject of climate change, news media seek to balance coverage by giving equal time to skeptics.

It all sounds reasonable on the surface. But when you look closer, you find the skeptic's approach is almost always to identify some gap in the picture (or some misrepresentation of the data) to falsify the overall body of theory and evidence.

I should point out here that this mis-quote by Dr. Schneider is a perfect case in point. Someone lifted a quote from the Discover interview and edited it to make it sound like Dr. Schneider was admitting to deception. As I said earlier, when googled, the quote gets over 8 million hits.

Now I'm not about to go and review every one of those hits, but by adding a few filters, I found that it appears at all the usual websites: Science and Public Policy Institute, NewsMax (big shock there), Canada Free Press, The Heartland Institute , just to name a few. It also appears at any number of fringe right wing sites - not to mention as a citation in virtually millions of individual comments. Ironically, this very post of mine here will be just one more.

Let's do a little math here. Dr. Schneider's point was that scientists involved in controversial research are often confronted by a hostile, unscrupulous community of skeptics - many of whom have no problem distorting what they say. Is he right?

I think so. As evidence, I would offer 8 million citations of a plainly distorted quote.

Now you say as a comment on your post you are convinced these quotes "clearly define where THEY stand." Really? If this is the case, then what you are saying is that you believe an altered version of a quote clearly defines Dr. Schneider. For this reason, I suggest you are believing whatever you believe about Dr. Schneider - not because of any rational or objective consideration of the facts - but only because it is what you want to believe about him. You want to believe leading climatologists like Dr. Schneider are manipulating the evidence, so you accept without any genuine skepticism of your own, this obvious distortion of what he had to say. Moving on...

Some of the quotes you posted were made by individuals with whom I am somewhat familiar. For instance, I remember very well many of the appearances (it turns out there were 20 of them!) by Dr. Paul Ehrlich on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson back in the late sixties and early seventies. I always liked the guy. His specialty then, as I suppose it is now, was Malthusian theory. As I'm sure you are aware, almost 300 years ago Thomas Malthus developed a theory regarding population and resources which has furnished fertile grounds for debate ever since. Dr. Ehrlich was clearly an alarmist and I am not surprised some of his comments reflect that. However the debate over Malthusian theory which continues to this day is mostly about the sustainability of human populations and is only tangentially connected to the accepted definition of environmentalism.

Some of the quotes you posted were made by individuals I have never heard of - and, I am sure, neither have you. Are you willing to document how individuals like Lester Brown, David Brower, Judi Bari, "Sir James Lovelock" etal are setting the agenda for modern day environmentalism? Surely these people might have said things with which you and possibly even myself disagree. So what?

Some of the quotes are just plain crap. For instance, the quote attributed to Christine Stewart is a "he said, she said" reference from a short article in a Canadian newspaper from several years ago. There appears to be no context for this quote because the writer of the article doesn't produce any. How then you can stipulate that this quote represents Ms. Stewart's views is an absolute mystery to me.

Finally, some of the quotes, frankly, make sense:
"We are close to a time when all of humankind will envision a global agenda that encompasses a kind of Global Marshall Plan to address the causes of poverty and suffering and environmental destruction all over the earth." - Al Gore

Steve, what on Earth is so scary about that?


*note: You must google only the first phrase of the quote to bring up all 8 million hits.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Your Slip Is Showing


For one who claims to advocate science over ideology, this last post of yours is a stunning step backwards.

Since I was certain you yourself had not read through the writings and speeches of those you quoted, I challenged myself to find out where you acquired them. Not surprisingly these quotes appear (with slight variations in the order), at several websites: "Free State Project", "Information Liberation", and "Sodahead", to name a few, all of which have everything to do with politics and virtually nothing to do with science.

Quote mining is a dicey business and I don't think I should have to explain to you why. But it only makes matters worse when you allow others to do the quote mining for you. What happens in that case is you surrender your intellectual independence to someone else. Or to put it more simply, you allow someone else to do the thinking for you.

I was at first inclined to go and find whacked out quotes by climate change denialists and post them as a response. Believe me, this isn't hard to do. I soon realized however that this is a path which leads absolutely nowhere. So I'm going to continue to put up posts on the science instead of the politics, which I find a great deal more worthwhile. How about you?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Agenda behind the Environmental Movement (and Climate Change)

We should be careful stewards of this wonderful planet God has blessed us with as our home.

It can be argued that, generally, we are wasteful with our natural resources and (sometimes unintentionally) limit the diversity of the biosphere. As a result, there are many, many groups and organizations calling for a 'green revolution'. This mantra has been repeated to such a great extent that it has started to appear in every walk of life and every segment of society, even to the point of being included as an integral part of television advertisements for petroleum companies.

With such a noble sounding cause as 'protecting the planet', it is easy to agree with the basic and obvious principles behind such an concept. However, the modern environmental movement (e.g., the last twenty years or so) have many stated goals that have nothing to do with protecting the environment. You don’t have to dig very deep to discover the true beliefs of the influential leaders who are using genuine concerns about the environment to promote an agenda of fear and control over the population of the human race - THEIR CONTROL. (A close look also reveals their own self-hatred, which they arrogantly assign to themselves and the world at large.)

Review the implications of the publicly stated opinions listed below. (Source References for these statements are easily found on the 'net.) Recognize that these individuals so passionately, so openly and freely believe in 'their cause', they do not hesitate to express these views...

* * * * *

= "The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself." - Club of Rome, premier environmental think-tank, consultants to the United Nations

= "We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public's imagination... So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." - Prof. Stephen Schneider, Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports

= "We've got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy." - Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation

= "No matter if the science of global warming is all phony... climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world." - Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

= “The data doesn't matter. We're not basing our recommendations on the data. We're basing them on the climate models.” - Prof. Chris Folland, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research

= “The models are convenient fictions that provide something very useful.” - Dr David Frame, climate modeler, Oxford University

= "I believe it is appropriate to have an 'over-representation' of the facts on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience." - Al Gore, Climate Change activist

= "It doesn't matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true." - Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace

= "Unless we announce disasters no one will listen." - Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC

= "The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe." - emeritus professor Daniel Botkin

= "We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis..." - David Rockefeller

= "By the end of this century climate change will reduce the human population to a few breeding pairs surviving near the Arctic." - Sir James Lovelock, Revenge of Gaia

= "We are close to a time when all of humankind will envision a global agenda that encompasses a kind of Global Marshall Plan to address the causes of poverty and suffering and environmental destruction all over the earth." - Al Gore, Earth in the Balance

= "In Nature organic growth proceeds according to a Master Plan, a Blueprint. Such a ‘master plan’ is missing from the process of growth and development of the world system. Now is the time to draw up a master plan for sustainable growth and world development based on global allocation of all resources and a new global economic system. Ten or twenty years form today it will probably be too late." - Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point

= "We need a new paradigm of development in which the environment will be a priority. World civilization as we know it will soon end. We have very little time and we must act. If we can address the environmental problem, it will have to be done within a new system, a new paradigm. We have to change our mindset, the way humankind views the world." - Mikhail Gorbachev, founder of Green Cross International

= "The concept of national sovereignty has been immutable, indeed a sacred principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation." - UN Commission on Global Governance report

= "Democracy is not a panacea. It cannot organize everything and it is unaware of its own limits. These facts must be faced squarely. Sacrilegious though this may sound, democracy is no longer well suited for the tasks ahead. The complexity and the technical nature of many of today’s problems do not always allow elected representatives to make competent decisions at the right time." - Club of Rome, The First Global Revolution

= "The emerging 'environmentalization' of our civilization and the need for vigorous action in the interest of the entire global community will inevitably have multiple political consequences. Perhaps the most important of them will be a gradual change in the status of the United Nations. Inevitably, it must assume some aspects of a world government." - Mikhail Gorbachev, State of the World Forum

= "I envisage the principles of the Earth Charter to be a new form of the ten commandments. They lay the foundation for a sustainable global earth community." - Mikhail Gorbachev, co-author of The Earth Charter

= "Nations are in effect ceding portions of their sovereignty to the international community and beginning to create a new system of international environmental governance as a means of solving otherwise unmanageable crises." - Lester Brown, WorldWatch Institute

= "A keen and anxious awareness is evolving to suggest that fundamental changes will have to take place in the world order and its power structures, in the distribution of wealth and income. Perhaps only a new and enlightened humanism can permit mankind to negotiate this transition." - Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point

= "We require a central organizing principle - one agreed to voluntarily. Minor shifts in policy, moderate improvement in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change - these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary." - Al Gore, Earth in the Balance

= "Adopting a central organizing principle... means embarking on an all-out effort to use every policy and program, every law and halt the destruction of the environment." - Al Gore, Earth in the Balance

= "Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level." - UN Agenda 21

= "The goal now is a socialist, redistributionist society, which is nature's proper steward and society's only hope." - David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth

= "If we don't overthrow capitalism, we don't have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecologically sound society under socialism. I don't think it is possible under capitalism" - Judi Bari, principal organiser of Earth First!

= "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" - Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme

= "The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can't let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." - Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

= "We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of acres of presently settled land." - David Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

= "Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it." - Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

= "The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet." - Jeremy Rifkin, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation

= "Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun." - Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

= "The big threat to the planet is people: there are too many, doing too well economically and burning too much oil."Sir James Lovelock, BBC Interview

= "My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world." -Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

= "Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs." - John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

= "The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man." - Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point

= "A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.'' - Prof Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb

= "A reasonable estimate for an industrialized world society at the present North American material standard of living would be 1 billion. At the more frugal European standard of living, 2 to 3 billion would be possible." - United Nations, Global Biodiversity Assessment

= "A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal." - Ted Turner, founder of CNN and major UN donor

= "One America burdens the earth much more than twenty Bangladeshes. This is a terrible thing to say. In order to stabilize world population,we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say,but it's just as bad not to say it." - Jacques Cousteau, UNESCO Courier

= "If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, patron of the World Wildlife Fund

= "I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems." - John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

= "The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing." - Christopher Manes, Earth First!

= "Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing." - David Brower, first Executive Director of the Sierra Club

= “The extinction of Homo Sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species. Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on Earth - social and environmental.” - Ingrid Newkirk, former President of PETA

* * * * *

--- These are the words of the leadership of the Modern Environmental Movement... I choose to let them speak for themselves.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Climatology 2 - Response #1

Nice post. Interesting. I'll look into it. Here are a few notes after a quick (NOT in depth) review of the IPCC chapter 8.pdf you referenced...

1. “Some models used for projections of tropical cyclone changes can simulate successfully the observed frequency and distribution of tropical cyclones.”

Really? Then why have they missed the boat in the number and severity of Atlantic hurricanes for the last several years? Or are cyclones and hurricanes really that different (from a climate model perspective)?

2. “The possibility that metrics based on observations might be used to constrain model projections for climate change has been explored for the first time... a proven set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate projections has yet to be developed.”

Am I reading this wrong - aren't they admitting they DO NOT use Real World observations to refine the models? If they haven't been doing this (i.e., “explored for the first time”), just what criteria have they been used to validate the models? And just who defines what is “plausible”?

3. “Eighteen modelling groups performed a set of coordinated, standard experiments, and the resulting model output, analysed by hundreds of researchers worldwide, forms the basis for much of the current IPCC assessment of model results.”

What's wrong with just comparing the model predictions against observed Real World data? And as for noting it was reviewed by "hundreds", how many folks does it take to disprove a theory? (answer: ONE) Were these folks TRYING to find problems, or looking justify the conclusion?

4. “The response to global warming of deep convective clouds is also a substantial source of uncertainty in projections... and it is not yet possible to determine which estimates of the climate change cloud feedbacks are the most reliable.”

Doesn't this say they DO NOT fully understand - and the models do not agree on - what they admit is a key component of accurate climate change prediction?

5. [section]

This appears to be a caveat claiming that if there are differences between the models and observations, the differences are 'insignificant' and can be ignored. It also explicitly avoids doing one of the tests I suggested, e.g., predict the 20th century based on the preceding 500 years of raw data. Is that such a bad idea? Why?

* * * * *

It's a long report, but I'll continue looking in depth - I've looked at others from IPCC and was not impressed with the science, but was stunned at the numerous justifications for why I should accept the conclusions anyway.

The graph you supplied is impressive, but I don't see a disclosure on where the models got their raw data, e.g., if you're predicting 1965 based on 1964 (or 1920!) measurements, that's one thing. But to 'simulate' 1965 based on 'estimates' is something completely different. To properly evaluate the process that defines where you finished, you need to know precisely where you started.

*sigh* I cannot concede your point (yet), but I am open to the idea. Caveat: I must admit that - given the nature and scope of the manipulated data by CRU - I have doubts about the accuracy of models used by the IPCC report, simply because the integrity of the DATA is now in question. And I'm less concerned about the content of the CRU emails than I am about the accuracy of the raw data that has been made available to researchers. My simplistic review of source code segments *clearly* shows the input to the underlying model code was 'tweaked' in order to generate a specific result. Not good.

BTW - According to the IPCC, carbon dioxide causes 1.1 degress C of warming if it DOUBLES. The real key to defining the cause of climate change is feedback based on water (vapor) - and as I pointed out in #4 above, they admit they don't have a good handle on it.

More to come.

- Steve

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It is my pleasure to inform the teeming millions of the followers of LRA&H that just this last Tuesday, our own Mr. Green visited his oncologist for his 5 year check-up and was officially declared cancer free. At this time I should like to add, on their behalf, the voices of his friends here at Luna City to the multitude of those now rejoicing in his good fortune back on Earth.

And if I may, a personal note. I've always considered the character of a man, when confronted by great challenges, to be more a matter of conduct than of outcome. Men are not considered great because they survive these trials, but for their examples of courage and dignity which strengthen all of us when we ourselves are called upon to confront the same challenges.

To my mind, the result of the test he reviewed last Tuesday was far less important than that of a more crucial test he had already passed. Steve, its good to have you with us.

But don't for a second think you can use this experience to gain a single grain of my favor as a referee in your endless quarrels with Mr. Rhetts. En garde, Mr. Green. And sharply!


(Note: this a post that has been languishing forgotten in an 'in-work' status for several weeks. I am posting it only to clear the backlog before moving on...)

First, as I've stated, I do not dispute that the climate changes over time - What I question is the proposition the actions of mankind is primarily and directly responsible for these changes.

Second, I challenge the conclusions of AGW alarmists (predominately due to the efforts of political organizations, who have a non-science agenda) who content it is necessary to totally revamping the world economy as described by current proposals in order to have a measurable impact on climate. IMHO, We simply don't know enough to base critical decisions on what some 'experts' suspect causes climate change to radically alter the economic foundations of modern society.

Third, I am intensely angered by the CRU fiasco because of the damage they have caused to the founding principles of scientific integrity with the (apparent) goal of justifying a pre-determined ideological position. While it may not be clear precisely WHY they have taken the steps they most certainly took, it wasn't to advance objective science. Individuals who have been placed in positions of authority have failed in their scientific duty. Politically, however, they've done exactly what was asked.

Do I wish to discard or discredit of *all* climate researchers? No, of course not. Like, you, I admire the detailed, complex, and sometimes mind-numbing work the vast majority of serious climate researchers are doing. They are pursuing research and science to expand the scope of human knowledge: they should congratulated, honored, respected and rightly so. We have a lot to learn. There are others who have created and manufactured a 'crisis' to advance their own agendas. That is not SCIENCE (but par for the course when it comes to politics).

Fourth, I'm both curious and concerned about the nature of the response to the fiasco by many in the climate community. For the anti-AGW forces, there is *way* too much of the “Ah-ha! WE CAUGHT YOU!” stuff going on - they need to let go of the 'we won' attitude and get back to studying the issue and figuring out where to go from here.

The response of many of the pro-AGW forces surprises me for 2 reasons... One, if the raw data has been corrupted and improperly manipulated (it has), they should be outraged and calling for people's heads on a platter (that's what they've been demanded against people who dared to challenge the conclusions before the CRU dump was made public). Strangely, many seem to be more concerned about going after 'whistle-blowers', than going after those guilty of 'hiding the decline'. Why?

Two, if the raw data shows that global warming is NOT a crisis-level problem - it may be an issue worthy of research, but NOT a signal of an impending catastrophe - they should be relieved. All too many seem content to refuse to re-visit their conclusions-of-doom in the light of revelations that the underlying data was not accurate to begin with. In fact, they should be frantically trying to find (or at least recover) the original raw data so they can start over. It may take a little extra time - isn't important to make *sure* we get the answer right? - but surely they can plug in the (correct) data back into their models, re-run the test, and then re-evaluate the results, right? As I said, it's curious... it's almost as if many on the pro-AGW side (but not all) are more concerned with protecting the justification of existing proposals - i.e., We Must Do Something NOW - rather than in making sure the theory is accurate and the proposals themselves are the appropriate response.

Do we need to economically viable energy alternatives? Absolutely. However, the pursuit of such alternatives should not be primarily driven by ideologically-based political agendas. Can there be Government (taxpayer) assistance? Perhaps, in certain cases and carefully controlled and limited cases. Should there be massive societal changes mandated with the force of law? NO. Historically, IMHO, more advancements have come from private research pursuits than from publicly-driven ones (there are exceptions, but you get my point). The capitalist system has produced the greatest standard of living the world has known. Let it work. (Have those benefits reached absolutely every last person? No. But, dang it!, those of us with honest humanitarian concerns are definitely trying!)

Now... Yes, NCAR is a valuable site. But allow me to point out a few things, and challenge a conclusion: “These models work.”

Q1: Is there a comprehensive and independent study which runs the available measurements for 1850-1950 as input variables through the model to predict the conditions for 1951-2000? If so, compare said prediction against the measurements taken during that period. If there is no more than a 2% error, I'll agree the models 'work' and are reasonably accurate.

Q2: Use the available data for at least 500 years (say 1300-1799, or 1400-1899), and, using the models, predict atmospheric conditions for a subsequent 100 year time frame (say: 1800-1899 or 1900-1999). Compare the model prediction against the available Real World measurements. If there is no more than a 2% error, I'll agree the models 'work' and are reasonably accurate.

The NCAR site only claims to create a “simulation with hypothetical conditions based on the current-day atmosphere remaining unchanged. The results: CCSM-2 produced realistic climate patterns” (my emphasis). Forgive me for picking nits, but note that “realistic” and REAL are *not* the same thing. It's highly subjective, to say the least.

If either of those requests are too 'global' in scope, then - based on an example from NCAR - run the available measurements for the entire 20th Century (1900-1999) and, using the model, predict the time, length, location, strength and duration of an El NiƱo event in the first decade of the 21th Century (2000-2009). Compare the model predictions against data from that recent Real World event. If there is no more than a 2% error, I'll agree the models 'work' and are reasonably accurate. What I'm asking for is NOT what they report to have done - they only claim to create “simulations that closely resembled known climate data” (my emphasis). The point: 'simulations' are not reality.

Do you see what I'm diving towards? Compare these “models that work” against the Real World... in other words: TEST THE MODEL for accuracy and precision. You cannot rely on a 'simulation that produces realistic results' - you have to test against the Real World. If it's been done on the scale of the examples I've given - where are those reports? (I've seen plenty of 'simulations' but nothing successfully comparing model predictions against Real World data.) In fact, from what I've seen, the climate models DO NOT accurately predict events just ten years ahead (e.g., 2000-2009)! And we're to believe the model can produce an accurate 100-year forecast which justifies turning the world economy upside down? Please.

And to address these 'appeals to authority' that keep coming up... whether particular individuals associated with UCAR and NCAR support or disagree with the IPCC's position papers doesn't matter. Whether the IPCC uses UCAR / NCAR data doesn't matter. Whether a particulat author, expert or collection of researches has credentials and peer-reviewed articles as long as my arm doesn't matter... Science is not about following ideology, or about counting noses: Its about developing a theory and trying to falsify it (not try to support it). And it only takes ONE researcher to DISPROVE a theory - It doesn't matter about the researcher's degree of study, how much experience in field they have or how many peer-reviewed papers they've published... if he can disprove ANY key component of the theory using accepted scientific processes, then the theory is Wrong. Period.

As a computer professional for over 40 years, I can speak based on experience ('authority') that a computer program will do just exactly what you tell it to do. If YOU make an error in coding, you can say the program 'worked', but the results may be useless. If I want to generate a particular result from a defined set of data, I assure you it can be done. That does NOT mean my carefully crafted 'model' will accurately reflect REALITY (but I'll produce something showing the result you want).

I spent 20 years programming cash registers among other systems. If I want to simulate a series of transactions that reflect a activity for a retail store, I can do it (and did it more times than I can count). I even used actual historical store data to generate that simulation. (I even had to 'tweak' the raw data so that it would work in my environment! I made dozens of notes in the source code where I made adjustments and why - sound familiar? And I *never* made an adjustment on the scale done in the CRU data.)

I was able to simulate years of transactions and produce graphs and reports which estimated cash flows, work loads, financial profit and loss, even 'shrinkage' (theft). However, they were only estimates - not Reality. I worked long and hard to get to a 10% error rate when compared with Real World, and eventually worked into into the 2%-5% range, which was more than good enough to make business decisions.

My simulations were compared against real-world store operations. I was challenged numerous times to determine why the simulation missed the target (high or low). The assumption was always - as it should be - that my MODEL was wrong; not that the Real World data was somehow inadequate because it did not produce the expected result. Frequently (most of the time), the estimates were off due to factors that simply were not included or considered as part of the starting data set. Many of those factors could not have been predicted.

Example 1: a store missed its target sales by almost 20% for a one-year period. I eventually discovered that a very large local manufacturing plant had closed during the previous year and about 30% of the area population had moved away... naturally, local sales for *all* business in that area were affected - and my model couldn't predict that Real World event.

Example 2: a store missed its target profit/loss by less than 0.1%. I must have an incredibly accurate model, right? Upon further review - to verify the results - I discovered that prices in that specific store for the most frequently sold items (but not all items) had been mistakenly modified by an improperly trained employee. This was an unintended error, but an error nonethenless. The result yielded higher item-level profit margins on the most popular items, even though the total number of sales transactions were lower by almost 15%. If I had been satisfied with the accuracy of the model's prediction (because it showed what was predicted), we would have missed detecting an (innocent) error in the Real World data.

Example 3: A significant amount of shrinkage (inventory loss) happens as an inside-job (by employees) than by customer theft. The model predicted a certain amount of shrinkage, based on the volume of sales. A store showed 3% variance on the financial side, and a 2% variance on the transaction count side, but the expected shrinkage was nearly ZERO. This was a Good Thing (less theft is good), but I didn't understand why it was happening. I discovered the employee turnover in that store was almost nil. In effect, they had retained the 'good' employees: the ones that stayed knew if they stole merchandise, they would be caught and prosecuted. I updated the model to include an evaluation of employee turnover which was a previously unknown factor in calculating shrinkage. Focusing on the more important elements (base profit level, number of transactions) while ignoring the missing shrinkage would have prevented a useful - and important - update to the accuracy of the model.

Do you see the parallels to these simple situations to falsification testing of AGW theory? The planetary climate - as we both admit - is MUCH more complex than my 'model' for estimating store activity. Further, the driving factors of the socio-economic world economy is virtually JUST AS COMPLEX. There are a lot of factors. We don't know enough about *all* the factors affecting climate and how they interact which each other.

And I'm glad we agree, when you said, “I don't think it is wrong for private citizens to ask questions about the stability of the science behind an assessment which will have important consequences for just about everyone on the planet.” However, I take issue with your claim of “largely unproven flaws” - I think the flaws are pretty obvious, and despicable in their origin. I do not insinuate that the whole process should be negated. Instead, I flatly propose that the scientific process should be upheld and aggressively applied to climate mechanisms and climate research. And it should be done in a manner that is 100% devoid of ideological agendas.

To insist we 'know the answer', especially because 'there is a consensus', when we cannot and have not clearly defined the scope of the problem itself - to say nothing our being completely unable to accurately measure the effects of any efforts we choose to make - is *really* where folks are being “a little presumptuous“... as well as being incredibly arrogant.

- Steve

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Climatology 1


It seems to me the national debate over climate change has become for many people an issue of politics rather than science. As part of my personal effort to reverse this trend, I'm going to start putting up regular posts on the actual, nuts and bolts research which is going on all over the globe aimed at understanding climate change - both as to its underlying causes and effects.

As you read these posts, I would ask you to bear in mind that there is a world of difference between going out and doing the hard work of collecting and analizing data - or just sitting in front of a computer screen and spinning conspiracy theories.

Dr. Igor Semiletov is a visiting scientist to the International Arctic Research Center located at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. From his bio:

"Dr. Igor Semiletov has joined the IARC as the visiting scientist from the Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences. His primary research interest is Carbon Cycling in the Arctic atmosphere-land-shelf system. While his earlier research emphasized sources and sinks of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) in the Arctic and their relationships to atmospheric maximums of both major greenhouse gases over the Arctic..."

Dr. Igor Semiletov leads the International Siberian Shelf Study (ISSS), the most important work of which is to study the release of methane from the (undersea) Siberian Shelf.

And why is this important? The BBC has a fairly readable account. An excerpt:

"Scientists have uncovered what appears to be a further dramatic increase in the leakage of methane gas that is seeping from the Arctic seabed. Methane is about 20 times more potent than CO2 in trapping solar heat."

"The findings come from measurements of carbon fluxes around the north of Russia, led by Igor Semiletov from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

"Methane release from the East Siberian Shelf is underway and it looks stronger than it was supposed [to be]," he said.

Professor Semiletov has been studying methane seepage in the region for the last few decades, and leads the International Siberian Shelf Study (ISSS), which has launched multiple expeditions to the Arctic Ocean.

The preliminary findings of ISSS 2009 are now being prepared for publication, he told BBC News.

Methane seepage recorded last summer was already the highest ever measured in the Arctic Ocean."

Why is this so important? Well, scientists believe that as a result of global warming, the layer of permafrost which acted as a "cap" on the seabed of the Siberian Shelf is gradually melting and allowing the methane trapped beneath to escape - often in plumes (called "methane chimneys") which were readily observable from the expedition ships.

From another article in "The Independent":

"The amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic is calculated to be greater than the total amount of carbon locked up in global coal reserves so there is intense interest in the stability of these deposits as the region warms at a faster rate than other places on earth."

Further evidence of the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming on permafrost comes from a study by Sergei Kirpotin of Tomsk State University in Siberia, and Judith Marquand of Oxford University. From an article in The New Scientist on that study:

" THE world's largest frozen peat bog is melting. An area stretching for a million square kilometres across the permafrost of western Siberia is turning into a mass of shallow lakes as the ground melts, according to Russian researchers just back from the region.

The sudden melting of a bog the size of France and Germany combined could unleash billions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

The news of the dramatic transformation of one of the world's least visited landscapes comes from Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist at Tomsk State University, Russia, and Judith Marquand at the University of Oxford...

"Siberia's peat bogs formed around 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. Since then they have been generating methane, most of which has been trapped within the permafrost, and sometimes deeper in ice-like structures known as clathrates. Larry Smith of the University of California, Los Angeles, estimates that the west Siberian bog alone contains some 70 billion tonnes of methane, a quarter of all the methane stored on the land surface worldwide.

His colleague Karen Frey says if the bogs dry out as they warm, the methane will oxidise and escape into the air as carbon dioxide. But if the bogs remain wet, as is the case in western Siberia today, then the methane will be released straight into the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide..."

In addition, the Columbia Daily Tribune (Canada) carried an article on the accelerated melting of Canadian permafrost:

"Permafrost, tundra soil frozen year-round and covering almost one-fifth of Earth’s land surface, runs anywhere from 160 to 2,000 feet deep in this region. Entombed in that freezer is carbon — plant and animal matter accumulated through millennia.

As the soil thaws, these ancient deposits finally decompose, attacked by microbes, producing carbon dioxide and — if in water — methane. Both are greenhouse gases, but methane is many times more powerful in warming the atmosphere.

Researchers led by the University of Florida’s Ted Schuur last year calculated that the top10 feet of permafrost alone contain more carbon than is now in the atmosphere."

Now Steve, it seems to me that broadly there are two levels of global warming denialism. The first is that "It isn't happening" and the second is "It is happening, but humans aren't responsible for it".

In this post I've referenced, with helpful links, three areas of study regarding the melting of the Arctic permafrost: one on the Siberian (undersea) Shelf, one on Siberia itself and one on the situation in Canada. Go to the links I gave you and you can see the evidence with your own eyes. Significantly, none of these studies were authorized or conducted by the IPCC or the CRU.

Steve, the reason why we call it permafrost in the first place is because it is supposed to be permanent. If the Arctic permafrost is melting, a fact which you can confirm with your own personal eyes, isn't it entirely rational and logical to conclude that this is because the Earth is, well, um, getting warmer? And, assuming you are not willing to deny the testimony of your own eyes, wouldn't this mean that the first assertion of global warming denialism, that is, that it isn't happening, is invalid?

Unless you have some other, scientifically plausible reason why the Arctic permafrost is in the process of melting, can we now move on to the denialist's fall back position - that humans aren't making significant contributions to it?