Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Will global warming alarmism undermine the authority of science?

This is a must read article from Forbes magazine about a new paper in an Australian journal by Garth Paltridge. Dr. Paltridge is an Australian atmospheric physicist who holds a BSc from the University of Queensland, a PhD from University of Melbourne and a DSc from the University of Queensland.

The article introduces the author and his thesis:

Will the overselling of climate change lead to a new scientific dark age? That’s the question being posed in the latest issue of an Australian literary journal,Quadrant, by Garth Paltridge, one of the world’s most respected atmospheric scientists.

Paltridge was a Chief Research Scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).  The latter is Australia’s equivalent of the National Science Foundation, our massive Federal Laboratory network, and all the governmental agency science branches rolled into one.

Paltridge lays out the well-known uncertainties in climate forecasting. These include our inability to properly simulate clouds that are anything like what we see in the real world, the embarrassing lack of average surface warming now in its 17th year, and the fumbling (and contradictory) attempts to explain it away.

Paltridge writes:

“The trap was fully sprung when many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the Royal Society in the UK, the National Academy of Sciences in the USA and the Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. The reports were touted as national assessments that were supposedly independent of the IPCC and of each other, but of necessity were compiled with the assistance of, and in some cases at the behest of, many of the scientists involved in the IPCC international machinations. In effect, the academies, which are the most prestigious of the institutions of science, formally nailed their colours to the mast of the politically correct.

[…]“In the light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem—or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem—in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour.”

None of this is a surprise to Christian apologists, because we’ve been through this before with Darwinism. Yes, it really can happen that science is hijacked by religious people who want to support their ideologies. Science is wonderful, but it’s not immune to being abused.

Forbes also posted an excellent long article re-capping how climate scientists manipulated data in order to prove what they wanted to prove. This article takes about the Climategate scandal, which is useful  to show how far these scientists will go.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

My conversation with a leftist friend about basic economics and rent control

My conversation with a leftist friend about “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, 4th Edition“, by Thomas Sowell.

Him: I remember why I stopped reading that book when you asked me to read it.

Me: Why did you stop reading it?

Him: Because of the chapter on rent control.

Me: Chapter 3 is the chapter on price controls. It talks about rent control.

Him: I expect an economist to present both sides of rent control. He has to present the arguments for and against rent control.

Me: There are not two sides to rent control. There is only one side to rent control. He chose that because it is a clear cut example of the problems caused by price controls. Economists universally condemn rent control, across the ideological spectrum.

Him: No they don’t.

Me: The chair of the Department of Economics at Harvard University, Greg Mankiw, reports in his economics textbook that 93% of professional economists agree that rent control reduces housing supply and housing quality. It is the most agreed upon position among economists across the ideological spectrum, number one in his list of facts on which professional economists agree. And obviously they have reasons for agreeing on that, specifically the experience of trying rent control policies in different times and places. It has always failed.

Him: Somebody must like rent control, because they have it in New York city.

Me: Politicians and low-information voters support rent control. It makes politicians feel good, and it gets them elected, too – if the voters are economically illiterate enough, as they are in New York city.

Him: But what about global warming then? Isn’t the consensus against you there?

Me: There has been no global warming in the last 17 years, according to the New York Times. They were reporting on findings by the UN IPCC in 2013.

Him: The UN never said that. The New York Times never wrote that.

Me: Yes, they did. And I have the sources I can send them to you.

Him: I’ll bet you do. (walks away in a huff)

This is the relevant quote from the Greg Mankiw post from his survey of economists that appears in his textbook:

  1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
  2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
  3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
  4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
  5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
  6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
  7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
  8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
  9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
  10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
  11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
  12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
  13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
  14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

And this is the relevant quote from the New York Times article, dated September 2013:

The global warming crowd has a problem. For all of its warnings, and despite a steady escalation of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, the planet’s average surface temperature has remained pretty much the same for the last 15 years.

As you might guess, skeptics of warming were in full attack mode as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gathered in Sweden this week to approve its latest findings about our warming planet. The skeptics argue that this recent plateau illustrates what they always knew — that complex global climate models have no predictive capability and that, therefore, there is no proof of global warming, human-caused or not.

The author of the NYT article (a leftist) goes on to attempt to explain he is not concerned by the 17 year period of no significant warming, but the point is that the 17 year (not 15 year) period of no significant warming is A FACT acknowledged by the UN IPCC that has to be explained by those who believe in catastrophic man-made global warming. The IPCC may not like the temperature measurements, but those facts are not in doubt. The global warming crowd might make predictions about the future, but they made predictions about the past before, and we now know for a fact that those predictions (polar ice caps melting, Himalayans melting, significant global warming, etc.) were FALSE. They have been falsified by evidence, and that’s not in doubt.

Economic illiteracy is the problem

When people on the left voted for Barack Obama in 2012, they did not know based on evidence that they could keep their doctors and keep their health plans and that insurance premiums would drop $2500. They did not know it because the economic studies contradicted Obama’s words. They even believed Obama when he said that the Benghazi incident was caused by a Youtube video. Obama-supporters had a sincere belief in the words of his passionate speeches. They were impressed by the visuals of him talking to large crowds of young people. They believed him because they had feelings about him. And voting for him made them have good feelings about themselves. They felt that they were going to achieve good things by voting for this good man. They meant well, but they did not know. They did not have evidence.

Before the 2012 election, people on the right pointed to evidence from studies (like this one) showing that Obama was lying, but his supporters were apparently not interested in economic studies. They want to preserve the feelings of being good people. They want to preserve the belief that you can embrace policies that sound good, and that words that sound good will necessarily lead to good results for people who are at a disadvantage. I don’t question the motives of people on the left – they mean well. But meaning well doesn’t produce good results without knowledge of economics. In economics, policies that sound appealing to well-meaning liberals (rent control, tariffs, protectionism, minimum wage, trillion-dollar deficits) actually produce bad results for poor people. And we know this for a fact from our experience across different times and places.

If we can get people to accept the authority of our observations of policy experimentation in different times and places over and above their feelings and intuitions, then we can save this country.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Republicans will introduce bill to de-fund the pro-abortion UNFPA

Rep. Renee Ellmers

Rep. Renee Ellmers

From Life News.

Excerpt:

Legislation that would cut federal taxpayer funding for the pro-abortion UNFPA agency will get a hearing in a House committee next week, after Republicans put forward the bill following a vote from people saying they wanted it.

Spurred on by a public vote in which pro-life advocates said cutting funding for the pro-abortion UNFPA agency was their top desire, Congressional Republicans filed legislation over the summer to yank millions from the UN organization.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, of North Carolina, introduced the bill and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a pro-life Florida Republican, has announced a markup of H.R. 2059 will take place Wednesday.

“This is going to save American taxpayers $400 million dollars over a 10 year period and it’s just another part of what we’re doing here in Washington to cut wasteful spending that we see happening,” Ellmers said in a video introducing the bill. “And I am very excited to be part of this program and each week we will have more cuts coming forward.”

The legislation would result in cutting the funding President Barack Obama put in place for the UNFPA, an agency that promotes abortion and works hand-in-hand with family planning officials in China enforcing the one-child, forced-abortion policy.

After Obama restored the funding, Rep. Chris Smith tried to offer an amendment to revert the language back to the original ban on such funding, but House Democrats blocked him from doing so. Then, pro-life Sen. Roger Wicker offered a similar amendment but the Senate defeated it.

[…]Since fiscal year 1985, a policy known as “the Kemp-Kasten Amendment” has been included in every foreign aid appropriations bill.  Kemp-Kasten specifies that funds may not be “made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” Citing Kemp-Kasten, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush cut off funding to the UNFPA from 1986 to 1993.

President Bill Clinton resumed funding for UNFPA at the beginning of his presidency, but signed a foreign aid appropriations bill for FY99 that zeroed out funding for UNFPA.

Citing Kemp-Kasten, President George W. Bush cut off funding to UNFPA for fiscal years 2002-2008.  In 2008 Secretary of State Colin Powell explained the reason for withholding funds saying, “UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion. Therefore, it is not permissible to continue funding UNFPA at this time.”

Republicans aren’t giving up on the the twin goal of reducing spending AND protecting the unborn from violence.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

New edition of British atlas exaggerates global warming effects by 1500%

From the radically leftist New York Times. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

The news release promoting the latest edition of Britain’s influential Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World hailed it as “the Greatest Book on Earth.”

Not the way climate scientists see it.

“Fiasco” was the word chosen by one scientist in an e-mail to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., alerting his colleagues to erroneous claims made by the publishers of the atlas (whose name derives from The Times of London) about the speed at which Greenland’s glaciers are melting.

He also feared that a map in the atlas, along with news accounts repeating an error in the news release, could pull climate scientists into another vortex of damaging controversy.

The news release, echoed by the news media, claimed that Greenland had lost 15 percent of its permanent ice cover from 1999 to 2011. That translates to 125,000 cubic miles, according to a rough calculation by Etienne Berthier, a glaciologist with the University of Toulouse, enough melted ice to raise sea levels three to five feet.

The corresponding map in the atlas itself indicated that significant portions of Greenland’s coastline had become ice-free.

Glaciologists, previously bruised by an exaggerated claim about the melting of Himalayan glaciers in a 2007 United Nations report that became fodder for global warming skeptics, mobilized as a truth squad.

On blogs, on radio programs and in newspaper columns, they stated emphatically that Greenland has not lost 15 percent of its ice cover in recent years. The retreat, they said, is more like one-tenth of 1 percent. They were quick to add that nobody at the atlas had consulted them.

“It was a case where, really, the community came together really fast with both barrels blazing,” said Mark Serreze, director of the snow and ice center in Colorado. “Everyone had some real bad memories of this whole fiasco that had to do with Himalayan glaciers. No one wanted to see that again.”

The glaciers error in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Climate Change, although just a footnote, led to a torrent of criticism focused on climate scientists after it was identified early in 2010.

I blogged about the Himalayan fraud here.

I also wrote before about how Greenland used to be much less cold during the Medieval Warming Period.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New study finds that cosmic rays and the sun cause global warming

Is ManBearPig to blame for global warming?

Is ManBearPig to blame for global warming?

From the Financial Post.

Excerpt:

The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.

[…]Yet this spectacular success will be largely unrecognized by the general public for years — this column will be the first that most readers have heard of it — because CERN remains too afraid of offending its government masters to admit its success. Weeks ago, CERN formerly decided to muzzle Mr. Kirby and other members of his team to avoid “the highly political arena of the climate change debate,” telling them “to present the results clearly but not interpret them” and to downplay the results by “mak[ing] clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.” The CERN study and press release is written in bureaucratese and the version of Mr. Kirkby’s study that appears in the print edition of Nature censored the most eye-popping graph — only those who know where to look in an online supplement will see the striking potency of cosmic rays in creating the conditions for seeding clouds.

Well, this is no surprise to me. We’ve KNOWN that the planet was warmer in the Middle Ages than it is now. We’ve KNOWN that the surface temperatures on Mars increased when ours was increasing.

Why do secular socialists have to insist on believing what they want to believe against the scientific evidence, and then lie to everyone else, using taxpayer money? If they want to propagate their myths, why do they have to get the government involved? Why can’t they just have a global warming church and go to that, and leave government to serious people who don’t believe in myths and superstitions?

We really need to get leftist ideology out of the business of government. I don’t mind if they want to teach their flat-Earth myths to each other with their own money, but why do I have to pay for it?

If you are curious about this story, James Delingpole has more on it in the UK Telegraph.

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