Friday, July 17, 2009

The Mother of All Cherries


AGW alarmism vs. skepticism is not about science vs. non-science; or science vs. religion; it is about sound science vs. unsound science. It is about what definite conclusions (and far-reaching actions) are warranted by the data vs. unwarranted.

It is also very much about the ideological barnacles that have attached themselves to the ship of science -- the "west is bad and must be punished", and "humans are a virus" assumptions that are now part of the AGW package that is shipped to schools and consumed by impressionable minds daily.

And a lot of ancillary things -- like the popular use of metaphor such as "the earth has a fever" and "the planet is on fire" to advance the AGW cause -- which is one reason I "cherry-pick" weather events to poke fun at the AGW messengers -- especially when events don't go according to script. But, unlike AGW alarmists, I use the cherry-picked weather events for satirical, as opposed to scientific, or pecuniary (hello Al Gore), purposes. This flies over the heads of AGW fundamentalists -- even when I point out this is what I am doing they still go nuts. (While their side, of course, continues to cherry-pick weather events when it suits them -- e.g., the iconic image of the stranded polar bear, and Katrina, the mother-of-all-cherries).

It's also about the social ramifications; not just the up-ending of western economies that is being advocated and the vast socialist enterprise (I use the word lightly) of redistributing earned wealth to disfunctional economies and governments, it's also about the fact of AGW alarmists advocating urgent measures such as civil disobedience and throwing ideological enemies in jail for the crime of disbelieving. Am I exaggerating? I am not.

And, of course, the fact that scientists that don't get on board the AGW ship are censured and lose funding, while those who are on board are awarded millions, resulting in skewed, built-in incentives to crank the alarmist message ever higher in the darwinian quest for continued funding -- an inconvenient truth, I'm sure.

And a generally compliant media because "scientists have spoken" and Madonna and Sir Richard are on-board.

And the AGW fundamentalist who thinks an important part of the solution is keeping African communities without electricity because, trust me, they're better off and happier without it. This reminds me of the, what, is it 20 or 30 million Africans who have died because western environmentalists demanded the withdrawal of the use of DDT as a malaria prophylactic. 20 or 30 million dead as a result of western environmentalist activism -- an inconvenient truth -- especially if you're one of Africans affected. Environmentalists had all the supposed science behind them but were still dead wrong on their last major cause, but they're really, really sure this time -- they've got computer models to prove it.

And what I regard as the sheer and utter hubris of mankind thinking that he alone is the cause of climate change and that he has the power to control the climate.

And the dangerous sub-text to all of this: world governance controlling populations and individuals in the name of urgent necessity.

And the tendency of AGW fundamentalists to see this as a black-and-white issue without nuance, subtlety, or doubt. Here's the way some of their thinking apparently goes. "Our side may be cherry-picking weather events, but, the science is in, and this may help persuade some people, so it's for a good cause", and, "the science may in fact turn out to be wrong, but, the actions we're proposing are good, so in the end, it doesn't matter if the science turns out to be wrong." That last one is not an invention of mine -- it was expressed by a high-placed U.S. government official.

So, we've got a science-driven ideology that no longer depends on the science for its continued existence and promulgation. Is this something that should be uncritically embraced? I think not. Should those who question it be denounced and threatened with imprisonment? I think not. Should entities that stand in the way of AGW enthusiasts face acts of civil disobedience and sabotage? Call me old-fashioned, I think not.

Am I skeptic? Yes, I am.

And that's the way the cherry-picking Ball bounces.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the, what, is it 20 or 30 million Africans who have died because western environmentalists demanded the withdrawal of the use of DDT as a malaria prophylactic. 20 or 30 million dead as a result of western environmentalist activism -- an inconvenient truth -- especially if you're one of Africans affected.

So ... perhaps you'd care to expound upon the moral and ethical implications of using a pesticide like DDT with known, serious implications both in the overall environment and on humans?

RkBall said...

Sure. It costs $5 a pop and can save your kid's life.

About one million African kids under age 5 die each year -- that's about 2,500 kids a day. Some African friends of mine have had their kids die.

I can guarantee that if this had been western, white kids dropping like flies the proscription on moderate, controlled use of DDT would have been lifted decades ago.

But it was just African kids -- didn't make the newspaper headlines.

If you want to make a donation, let me know.

http://tinyurl.com/hcmd7

Bitter Chill said...

Ball, I’m curious about what qualification you have to dictate what is “sound” science and what is not. Please don’t tell me it is your “common sense”, because I’m pretty sure your “common sense” would not agree with the particle-wave duality of light, or with quantum entanglement, or even the effects of both General and Special Relativity (accurate calculations for both, incredibly enough, required for something a ubiquitous as a GPS unit to operate).

I’m especially interested as you seem to regularly demonstrate your profound lack of knowledge on matters scientific. An example above is your repeating the myth of a “ban on DDT killing 20 or 30 million Africans”. DDT was not banned in Africa because of radical Western Environmentalist, nor was the use of DDT for malaria vector control banned anywhere, except by local authorities. In fact, vector control was specifically exempted from the agricultural DDT ban. Here is a good first step into the discussion of DDT in Africa , including links to numerous scientific articles on the topic, including the benefits and costs of its continued use… and the better (and cheaper) alternatives developed only because of the agricultural ban. The point: there is no "proscription on moderate, controlled use of DDT".

Ball, a skeptic doubts new information until convinced by a body of evidence, and resists changing their opinion until the body of evidence supports that change. A denier ignores new evidence once the decision is made. I am a skeptic, my friend, and am ready to be convinced that climate change is not happening, that would be good news for us all (except for Al Gore maybe, but he can take care of himself). However, any time I see evidence refuting the anthropogenic causes, it seems to be profoundly lacking.

Here is a test: I can list the evidence I would have to see to prove that Climate Change is not happening or is not anthropogenic (a reduction in atmospheric CO2 that coincides with increases in industrial output, evidence of a previously-unrealized cause for the observed warming, a global temperature drop through a complete el-Nino-la Nina cycle, historical record of rapid global temperature shift prior to industrialization, there are more, but any of those would be enough). Let me ask you, what evidence would you have to see to be convinced the other way? Be honest, Ball, are you a skeptic, or a denier?

RkBall said...

Bitter -- It is hard to respond to your comment, as I never mentioned a ban on DDT in my post. My understanding is that it was more like pressure, and the threat of the loss of aid monies -- either way, African kids would, and did, die.

And it was, I understand, banned in the US and I am suggesting that if white American environmentalists' kids had been dying from malaria, they would have been the first to demand the ban be lifted.

Thank you for the link.

RkBall said...

"Ball, I’m curious about what qualification you have to dictate what is “sound” science and what is not."

I'm not trying to dictate anything, and your remark only reinforces my concern about the intemperate language of AGW fundamentalists.

Joe said...

Bitter Chill you seem to lack a knowledge of logic because "You Can't Prove A Negative".

Therefore it is incumbent upon you to prove that AGW is happening.

In order to do that you would need to prove that the earth is warming at an unprecedented rate. Of course you can't do that because we do not have records for long enough periods.


You would have to prove that the Earth is warming while all the other members of the solar system are remaining the same or even cooling. You can't do that either.

You would need to prove that only CO2 is causing the warming. Clouds ocean currents, wind pattern changes etc have to be completely excluded. Of course there is no real hard evidence that additional CO2 actually absorbs additional infra red radiation simply because we have no idea how much infra red radiation is not being absorbed already. If the present level of CO2 absorbs all the infra red radiation then adding more CO2 changes nothing.

Finally if you have proven that:

There is unprecedented warming.
Only the Earth is warming.
Only CO2 is causing the warming.
You will have to prove that CO2 generated by mankind alone is causing the warming.

After all CO2 is a naturally occurring gas and as such is absorbed and released by phenomena beyond human abilities or control. How much CO2 is released by oceans, volcanoes, forest fires etc. How does such releases and absorptions change the climate.

You see Bitter Chill science is not fancy theories and higher mathematics. Science which by the way means OBSERVATION is a noticing a phenomena, explaining the phenomena, and duplicating the phenomena in such a way as to satisfy the explanation. Anything less is idle speculation based on prejudice and as such extremely harmful to sound public policy.

BTW I will wait for your proof of the four conditions I laid out. I will need hard data that I can duplicate and observe.

Please remember that I am old enough to have lived through similar nonsensical scares before. In the 1960's and 70's the winters were extremely cold and 'science' was assuring us all that we were entering a new ice age. In the 1970's science assured us that there would be mass cannibalism as the human species out grew its food source. Of course who can forget the great mass panic of the entire world coming to an end because our computers didn't know how to show 2000.

Bitter Chill said...

Joe, Thanks for the laugh. Your satire is brilliant.

The funniest part is your main point: “you can’t prove a negative”. Of course, you know that is the polar opposite of the scientific method. In Science, you can ONLY prove the negative. It is called the null hypothesis, look it up, or ask a kid who passed grade 9 science.

We do have the records, going back tens of millions of years, with decreasing resolution of course, as thermometers are more accurate than ice cores which are more accurate than dendrology, which is more accurate than coral growth, etc. etc. down the line, but we have the records. That is not a problem.

Proving the temperatures of the other planets, and changes over the last 100 years is easy, and can (has been!) done for more than 100 years (look up Stefan-Boltzmann, really cool stuff. All sciencey, with the higher mathematics and theories and stuff). So we have that data too.

The ability CO2 to absorb energy at one frequency, and emit it at another is not up for dispute. If you dispute this, you are disputing all accumulated knowledge of physical chemistry. It is fundamental. The radiative forcing of CO2 has been calculated . This is no “speculation”, it has been measured, in the lab and in the atmosphere. This is not up for dispute.

The amount of CO2 released is also not up for dispute, it has been measured by numerous different people, from numerous different sources. There is little contrary evidence. Currently, human production of CO2 is about 150x that of volcanoes .

There is an important distinction between the “ice age” scare of the 70’s and now. The mainstream scientific community did not take the ice age scare seriously, any more than they now take the Mayan Calendar 2012 scare now. Find me one scholarly article from the 70’s that talks of disaster from an impending ice age. Just one. Newsweek doesn’t count.

Joe said...

Actually Bitter ole boy the fact remains that most of the 'scientists' that study climate you know the real climatologists, not the guys who just play one on TV, reject the AGW theory.

Not that I want to appeal to authority.

The one thing that amazes me about your writing is the evident gullibility so evident. "We have the record".

LOL

We don't even know how to read it! For every explanation given there is another explanation just as plausible saying the opposite. No one has 'proved' anything!

Someone has used 'scientific language' and you think therefore it must be right. You're worse than the religious fundamentalist who believes every word that proceeds from the mouth of the deranged preacher because the deranged preacher uses a lot of thees and thous!!!!

As someone once said if you really want to con someone educate him first then use educated language. He'll believe you because it appeals to his vanity!

Bitter Chill said...

Kind of a desperate re-direction there, Joe.

You challenged me about the evidence, I provided a little basic information pointing out the flaws in your thinking, including links to more credible sources than myself, and you not only ignore my specific points, you delve into personal attacks on my credibility on motives. If you have a point to make about any of the specific criticisms I had of your earlier post, just make it.

One point you made did intrigue me, however: what did you mean by “we don’t even know how to read it”? What don’t we know how to read?

Looking back over it, I though I was pretty good at avoiding “scientific language”. It is hard to explain science without occasionally using the correct terms, just to avoid confusion, but nothing I wrote should pose any difficulty to any competent high school science student. If you need me to define something, please let me know.

Now onto Ball>
I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said “ban”, I should have said “proscription”. That’s the word you used. It means the same thing as “ban”, but I was afraid some of our other readers would think I was pulling out science jargon to confuse the matter.

DDT was banned for agricultural pest control globally; however, the use of it as a vector control was never banned. It was banned in the USA because the only non-banned use (vector control for malaria) was not a use in the USA.

Joe said...

Are you getting a little thick there Bitey ole boy? We don't know how to read the geological record because we can make it say what ever we want it to say! One scientist will look at item A and exclaim this proves XYZ. Another equally competent scientist will at that same item A and exclaim it proves anti XYZ.

I look at the 'record' and determine that climate is constantly changing. Sometimes it changes quickly and sometimes it changes slowly. Sometimes it warms quickly. Sometimes it cools quickly. Sometimes it warms slowly and sometimes it cools slowly.

The one thing I am convinced of is with all the factors that influence climate there is no one with more than one synapse firing that can believe that man generated CO2 is any more than a tiny tiny tiny bit player in climate change.

Bitter Chill said...

As someone who has spent a considerable amount of his lengthy professional career reading the geological record, I am afraid you are wrong. There are often disagreements about small details of the “geologic record” (in quotes, because it is actually numerous separate records, read in different ways be different people, and generally reinforcing each other), but the overall narrative is pretty well understood.

It appears you have also spent a lengthy amount of time examining the record, but you have come to a conclusion that differs from the generally accepted model. I suggest you provide some evidence of these rapid climate changes from your reading of the record, and perhaps we could publish!

Joe said...

Actually Bitey ole boy consensus is not indicative of anything except that a bunch of people agree.

Until you can duplicate the event you can't call it a fact. The workings of any event that we can not or did not witness or duplicate is speculation.

You may choose to believe it and millions of others may choose believe it but that does not make it fact. At best it is widely held opinion.

BTW where are those proofs I asked for? You will be posting them soon I hope. Your failure to offer proof is making you and your wild eyed speculation seem more than a little silly.

Bitter Chill said...

OK, Joe. You got me. You asked me to personally prove 4 points, but in providing those proofs, I may not use (all direct quotes of Joe): my science education (“scientific education is Foolishness”); books (“knitwits expect us to fall at their feet in awe of the number of books they have read”); any form of theory (“it is just a theory”); Mathematics (“science is not fancy theories and higher mathematics”); Any reference to 1000 years of physics and chemistry (“there is no real hard evidence that additional CO2 actually absorbs additional infra red radiation”); Anything that might include a null hypothesis (“You Can't Prove A Negative"); Anything previously proven (“No one has 'proved' anything!”); Any recorded data of any kind (“We don't even know how to read it!”); Any data that you, Joe, cannot personally collect, with an unknown list of the scientific instrumentation available to you, (“I will need hard data that I can duplicate”); Anything I and you have not both personally witnessed (“The workings of any event that we can not or did not witness or duplicate is speculation”); Anything that may cast doubt on any far-reaching crackpot theory that may pop into your head, such as the “flash freezing” of wooly mammoths (“My speculation is just as valid as any other speculation”); Anything that baffles you (“that anyone believes their theory baffles me”); Any use of scientific language (“Someone has used 'scientific language' and you think therefore it must be right”); Anything not accepted by the consensus (“most of the 'scientists' that study climate you know the real climatologists, not the guys who just play one on TV, reject the AGW theory”); Anything accepted by a consensus (“consensus is not indicative of anything”); or indeed anything that any two people may disagree upon (“One scientist will look at item A and exclaim this proves XYZ. Another equally competent scientist will at that same item A and exclaim it proves anti XYZ”); or, finally, any reference whatsoever to science (“science is 99% hubris 1% hot air.”).

You got me, Joe. You win. I guess Climate change is a hoax.

Joe said...

Well Bitey ole boy my intent wasn't to disparage all that you hold near and dear but rather to get you to get out of the 'We're all gonna die' cult that is known as AGW.

Science like all other human belief systems (religions) is prone to apocalyptic visions that inevitably are proven false.

Mankind shall bring about the end of the earth has been a constant refrain throughout mankind's history. AGW is simply the one most currently discussed in western society. That it is dressed up in scientisms shouldn't surprise you any more than the fact that those who are at least passingly immersed in science and take the greatest pride in their scientism are the ones most likely to be taken in by this whole hoax.

Those who took the greatest pride in their Christianity were the ones taken in by Hal Lindsy's hoax, The Late Great Planet Earth. Hal knew how to push all the Christian panic buttons.
The IPCC knows how to push all the scientism's buttons and pseudo scientists everywhere fall down in fear and trepidation.

Meanwhile 32,000 real climatologists are calling the hoax a hoax but everyone is making too much money or getting too many tingles as they re-tell the ghost story to themselves.

Ed Darrell said...

[quote]My understanding is that it was more like pressure, and the threat of the loss of aid monies -- either way, African kids would, and did, die.[end quote]

Not to be to great a pest about it, but, what pressure? What loss of aid monies? Does it make sense that Ronald Reagan would have told African nations they'd lose aid if they used DDT? Richard Nixon? Jimmy Carter? Who?

You confess you don't know the facts, but you claim they must be accurate whatever they are, so long as they support you claim.

Is that a rational process?

Ed Darrell said...

Sure. It costs $5 a pop and can save your kid's life.

Except, it costs on average about $12 a pop, twice a year, and it's only about 25% effective in saving your kid's life.

In contrast, bed nets cost about $10 for five years, and they are 50% to 90% effective.

Why wouldn't an African choose the cheaper, more effective solution?

RkBall said...

"Not to be to great a pest about it, but, what pressure? What loss of aid monies? Who?"

Who? WHO.

E.g., "Environmentalists have already had much success in thwarting the use of DDT. In Africa they have hounded chemical manufacturers so that they have been reluctant to make or sell DDT.... Most South American countries, under continuous pressure from lobby groups such as the International Pesticide Action Network, have also stopped using the pesticide."

If you have been to Africa, you will know that Africans are very susceptible to Western pronouncements and authority on such matters, as they are playing cultural catch-up.


Vs. this from the BBC:

"Proof of the job that DDT seems to be doing can be found at the Bethseda hospital in Ubombo.

Since DDT was reintroduced two years ago, malaria cases there have plummeted. The malaria ward presently has a calm, almost lonely air, with only the odd patient occupying the ranks of iron beds." BBC"

Nets are good and I support their use. I use nets myself when I am in Africa. They need to be sprayed as well -- with what, I am not sure.

The West only came out against the use of DDT after Malaria had been eradicated in the US and Europe -- thanks at least in part to DDT.

RkBall said...

Plus, if this quote is accurate, there's a more sinister possibility as well:

"DDT has suffered from environmentalists’ sincere concerns as well as the denunciations of eco-radicals, some of whom see disease outbreaks as cost-effective means of population control. In a museum-grade example of that mindset, the Environmental Defense Fund’s former chief scientist, Dr. Charles Wurster, once was asked if he worried that banning DDT in Sri Lanka might unleash a malaria epidemic.

“Probably—so what?” Wurster replied. “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.”"

Do a Google Search on DDT and foreign aid.

RkBall said...

Plus, if this quote is accurate, there's a more sinister possibility as well:

"DDT has suffered from environmentalists’ sincere concerns as well as the denunciations of eco-radicals, some of whom see disease outbreaks as cost-effective means of population control. In a museum-grade example of that mindset, the Environmental Defense Fund’s former chief scientist, Dr. Charles Wurster, once was asked if he worried that banning DDT in Sri Lanka might unleash a malaria epidemic.

“Probably—so what?” Wurster replied. “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.”"

Do a Google Search on DDT and foreign aid.

RkBall said...

"Some wealthier nations have demanded that poorer countries ban DDT as a condition for receiving foreign aid. According to environmental economist Richard Tren, the situation has precipitated a standoff that threatens to hold hostage the expansion of Mozambique's single largest industrial project—a $1.34 billion aluminum smelter. Tren directs Africa Fighting Malaria, a research group based in Sandton, South Africa.

Although foreign investors have lined up $800 million to double the plant's capacity, Tren says, backers are reluctant to release the money until the region's endemic malaria is controlled. Many of the foreign staff recruited to engineer the plant's construction have contracted malaria, and several have died. Local antimalaria programs, however, have been barred from using DDT by European aid donors and, in turn, the Mozambique government. Instead, the programs use pyrethroids. However, some local A. funestus mosquitoes are exhibiting resistance to them."

RkBall said...

"Carson's current heirs agree. Earth First! founder Dave Foreman writes: "Ours is an ecological perspective that views Earth as a community and recognizes such apparent enemies as 'disease' (e.g., malaria) and 'pests' (e.g., mosquitoes) not as manifestations of evil to be overcome but rather as vital and necessary components of a complex and vibrant biosphere."

RkBall said...

"But while the U.S. government is getting things right, most other donors are lagging behind. Few European donors will support indoor spraying and the European Union has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons in East Africa by suggesting that agricultural exports could be turned away from Europe if DDT is used in malaria control."

RkBall said...

"The United States, which banned DDT long ago, doesn't like giving foreign aid to any program that involves DDT."

This is a common comment, but I can't find anything more specific.

RkBall said...

"Not surprisingly, many environmentalists argue that, in the words of one: "It may be unkind to keep people dying from malaria so that they could die more slowly of starvation. [Malaria may even be] a blessing in disguise, since a large proportion of the malaria belt is not suited to agriculture, and the disease has helped to keep man from destroying it--and from wasting his substance on it.""

RkBall said...

Europe and North America have not harbored malarial mosquitoes since the 1940s. In one of the most miraculous public health developments in history, Greece saw malaria cases drop from 1-2 million cases a year to close to zero, also thanks to DDT. Meanwhile, in India, malaria deaths went from nearly a million in 1945 to only a few thousand in 1960. In what is now Sri Lanka, malaria cases went from 2,800,000 in 1948, before the introduction of DDT, down to 17 in 1964 — then, tragically, back up to 2,500,000 by 1969, five years after DDT use was discontinued there.

RkBall said...

American Council on Science and Health:

"Despite the cost in human lives, many groups stubbornly defend the ban. While the World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, and UNICEF have recommended continued DDT use, influential organizations such as the Norwegian Development Agency, the Swedish International Development Agency, the Swedish Aid Agency, and USAID — the sorts of groups from whom some poor nations such as Belize, Mozambique, and Madagascar receive the majority of their public health money — continue to insist that DDT be left out of malaria-control efforts.

Countries have found themselves faced with malaria upsurges due to pressure from such international aid organizations to avoid DDT use, according to a report in the March 11, 2000 British Medical Journal. The use of DDT in Mozambique, noted the Journal, "was stopped several decades ago, because 80% of the country's health budget came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT."

The WHO estimates that malathion, the cheapest alternative to DDT, costs more than twice as much as DDT and must be sprayed twice as often, while another mosquito-fighting chemical, deltamethrin, is over three times as expensive, and the highly effective propoxur costs twenty-three times as much. For countries with minimal public health budgets, dependent on foreign aid, such substitutes are impractical. More importantly, there is no compelling public health reason to substitute these chemicals for DDT, which as stated is harmless to humans.

ENVIRONMENTALISM VS. HUMAN HEALTH

There is evidence that overuse of DDT in the 1950s and 60s caused environmental harm in specific, unusual cases — such as fish kills from massive over-spraying of river insects — but no study has ever confirmed any human health problems linked to DDT. Low-dose indoor use could save many lives — and is highly unlikely to cause any environmental damage.

Why, then, the eco-maniacal insistence on maintaining the ban, even in the face of massive human suffering caused by the elimination of DDT?

Around the time of the DDT ban, Dr. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, may have revealed how some environmentalists really feel about human beings when he was asked if people might die as a result of the DDT ban: "Probably...so what? People are the causes of all the problems; we have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any." [UPDATE: Wurster later denied ever having made the statement, saying it was misreported by another EPA expert.]

Environmentalists —including the Sierra Club and National Audubon Society, who helped push the ban thirty years ago — have gotten better at public relations, but it isn't clear whether these groups have changed their priorities. As governments now debate broadening the DDT ban by enacting the POPs treaty, let's hope scientists who are more responsible prevail, scientists who side with humanity — not with mosquitoes and the deadly malaria parasite they carry."

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"