Relative or Absolute?

The National Snow and Ice Data Center has detailed graphs and charts showing the extent of Arctic sea ice. They’ve recently noted that they were suffering from a short-term problem called “sensor drift” that gave false readings on Arctic ice coverage. It happens from time to time and they try to adjust for it. This seems to be a responsible way to manage scientific data collection. The problem comes with some shifting claims made later in the article.

You see there are two major methods for measuring ice coverage. There is the SSM/I sensor and the newer AMSR-E sensor. The AMSR-E is more accurate, but has only been collecting data since 2002. The SSM/I is less accurate, but has a longer track record. This leads to a scary sentence at the end of the article:

Some people might ask why we don’t simply switch to the EOS AMSR-E sensor. AMSR-E is a newer and more accurate passive microwave sensor. However, we do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data.

This can lead to cries of “they’re using the data they like and ignoring the more accurate sources” which isn’t quite true. Actually, what they claim is that they want to continue to use the less accurate data because they have a longer history and, therefore, it is easier to determine trends. The argument is that recognizing trends is more important than the actual measurements.

I’m willing to buy that, but that’s not what they were saying last May:

Taken together, an assessment of the available evidence, detailed below, points to another extreme September sea ice minimum. Could the North Pole be ice free this melt season?  Given that this region is currently covered with first-year ice, that seems quite possible.

So, here’s a claim that the NSIDC can predict actual measurements of ice coverage (namely, a prediction of zero or near-zero levels). So, despite the fact that their recent sensor drift problem was off, at times, by over 193,000 square miles and they knew that the AMSR-E data was more accurate, they were willing to make absolute measurement predictions last May. Now, they play down any concerns with their data collection by falling back to the “trends” argument.

Sure sounds like they want to have it both ways.

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

At what point in a discussion do you give up attempting to make your opinion clear because the other side has given up the logical framework necessary for debate? I may not be there, yet, but when the other side begins to make simple claims that are clearly non sequiturs, I have to think about it.

My near-exasperation is triggered by a Reuters article with the headline “Global warming seen worse than predicted”. In reading such an article, you would expect to hear some scientific claim that new evidence has shown how the planet is warming faster than originally thought. You would expect to see some charts and data that explain how recent temperature data has been wrong. The  first paragraph even leads you to this expectation.

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

But, it’s not until the end of the article that you realize that there is no new data about temperatures. There are no new techniques showing that we’ve calculated global averages wrong. No, what is new is a larger-than-expected amount of greenhouse gas being pumped into the atmosphere by the rapidly growing industrial sectors of China and India.

So, if there is more greenhouse gas and, yet, the temperatures haven’t changed or corrected, how exactly does that show that global warming is worse? In fact, it seems pretty clear that, over the last decade, global temperatures have cooled. Not that you’d read that widely. Therefore, I come to the following conclusion (and, maybe this is too convoluted for those scientists mentioned above): Greenhouse gas generation by human enterprise is increasing faster than we thought. Global temperatures are cooling, or at least, leveling off. Therefore, greenhouse gas generated by human activity has little or no effect on global temperatures. Did I lose you?

Greenhouse gas: I do not think it means what you think it means.

More, Not Less

At various times in 2008, I read stories about how polar bears were endangered because Arctic ice was disappearing. We were even told that entire North Pole could melt entirely. Once again, a funny thing happened on the way to doomsday. The ice came back.

The level of sea ice in the Arctic finished the year at the same level as 1979 when satellite measurements were first taken. Why? Well, according to this DailyTech article, it got really cold and the wind was weaker (wasn’t global warming supposed to cause higher temperatures and more hurricanes?). The writer asks the obvious question:

Why were predictions so wrong? Researchers had expected the newer sea ice, which is thinner, to be less resilient and melt easier. Instead, the thinner ice had less snow cover to insulate it from the bitterly cold air, and therefore grew much faster than expected, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Wait. So, experts in their field were incorrect in predicting whether ice would get thinner or thicker? They couldn’t sort out the complex dependencies between insulating snow, ice break-up, and cold temperatures? They weren’t just slightly off-base, but had predicted precisely the opposite of what happened?

I’m comfortable saying this out loud now: Anthropogenic global warming is a hoax based on bad science that has been politicized for the express purpose of imposing wide-ranging controls over the global economy and personal freedoms. It has snowballed to the point that well-meaning scientists and public servants were caught up in fighting for a fraud.

Let 2009 be the year the truth is stated and believed by those who know better.

Undeniable

It’s undeniable. Infinite thanks to the men and women of the US Armed Forces that made this happen. We couldn’t be more proud of you all and we will never forget the sacrifice of those heroes that didn’t come home.

 

Baffled

This may be a very geeky cultural reference, but I’ll go with it anyway. In the movie Highlander, there’s a quick scene where the cops trying to find the hero and the villain are buying a hot dog at a street vendor. The vendor is ribbing the cops for their lack of success as he reads the newspaper by mockingly asking them to help him understand words from the story like, “What does ‘baffled’ mean?” followed by a laugh or, “What does ‘incompetent’ mean?” with another cackle.

I’m reminded of that scene when I read stories like this one about scientists being “baffled” about some new atmospheric data and how it doesn’t fit the models. Here’s the lede:

Scientists at MIT have recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels. This is the first increase in ten years, and what baffles science is that this data contradicts theories stating man is the primary source of increase for this greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. However, since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature – and not the direct result of man’s contributions.

Huh. So, the natural cycle of the earth has produced a dramatically noticeable change in the atmosphere that we couldn’t predict nor could we stop? Who would have thunk it?

We cannot afford to attempt to remake the economy of the world based on the current climate models. They clearly aren’t ready for prime time and, I suspect, the truth is that we have much less control over the climate than we think.

Skepticism for Anthropogenic Global Warming is Snowballing

Okay, that was a long way to go for a clever title, but you get my drift.

I thought it was just me, but apparently one Lorne Gunter of Canada’s National Post has noticed the same thing I have. Namely that there have been a string of stories about new skeptics of the AGW theory. These seem to have synced up with a string of stories about record low temperatures, record snowfall, and other indications that Global Warming is cooling off. Read the article for the details, but he leads in with this:

Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures — they’re going down, not up.

I’ve heard this and seen some small graphs to imply this to be the case, but the graph included in the article is the clearest yet. I’ve included it here to reinforce the point.

Troposphere Global Temperature: 1979-2008

So, tell me again, folks. What exactly were we supposed to be worried about? Is it time for me to sell my SPF 100 lotion and buy a parka?

Where Have I Heard That Before?

So, Senator Obama made a much-ballyhooed appearance at Waterfront Park in Portland over the weekend. Chances are the most likely news story you will hear will be about the large number of people and the very pretty pictures of large crowds along the riverbank in the sunshine.

What caught my eye, however, was a quote Drudge mentioned on his front page today. He refers to this news story that quotes the senator thusly:

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

“That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,” he added.

Wow. Read that again if it didn’t strike you as an amazingly clueless statement.

Let’s take this apart piece by piece. First, Senator Obama refers to driving, eating, and temperature control in a way that clearly implies that we are guilty of doing too much of something. I presume he’s critical of our consumption of gas, food, and power. It strikes me as incredibly arrogant for someone to wag his finger at me and tell me that I’m driving too much, eating too much, and using too much air conditioning. I’m sorry, but if I can afford all of those things, what exactly am I guilty of? Not living how you like? Isn’t this a free country? Or is he proposing a different style of government where the rules are a little more restrictive. Please take note that if they can’t guilt you into compliance, they will find other ways.

Then, he continues on to say that other countries may disapprove of our legal consumption. Once again, if we’ve paid for it, what exactly are we doing wrong? If we’re indirectly funding terrorism, we should find another way. But, if the criticism is that the rest of the world is unhappy with our consumption, my response is blunt: “So what?” Why should any other country have one sliver of influence over how I live my life or how my country governs itself? This is the déjà vu the title of this post refers to. Anyone remember John Kerry and his “global test”? After reading many a book about the Founding Fathers, I’m always amazed when an American politician suggests that we should let foreign opinion of any kind influence our internal decisions. This is really outrageous.

But, then he throws in the kicker. He declares that letting Americans do what they want within legal limits and letting us decide our own fate is not leadership. His kind of leadership, evidently, means not letting Americans do what they can afford or letting us, as a country, chart our own course. His kind of leadership means giving strong suggestions or even compelling us to drive less, eat less, and use less power. His kind of leadership means consulting non-citizens when deciding on domestic policy.

I don’t want that kind of change, thank you very much. That’s a change that scares me.

False Prophets

William Miller was a Baptist minister who went off the rails a bit and became known as the founder of the “Millerites”. He predicted that Christ would return sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He later adjusted his prediction to April 18, 1844. Finally, he adjusted one more time to October 22, of 1844. Miller died in 1849.

Ellen White, a founder of the Seventh Day Adventists, predicted in June of 1850 that only a few months remained until the end of the world. During an 1856 conference of the Adventists, she predicted that some of those at the conference would witness Christ’s return. The church now has the dilemma of reconciling her predictions to the reality that none of those attendees are still living.

The Watchtower society predicted that Christ would return in 1914. When He did not, they changed their prediction to say that He had in fact returned, but invisibly. They went on to predict Armageddon would occur in 1925, 1941, 1975, and 1994.

The one that made me chuckle, though, was a meteorologist named Albert Porta who predicted that the conjunction of six planets would generate a magnetic current that would cause the sun to explode and engulf the earth on December 17, 1919. I would venture to say that this was not the last time a prophet of meteorology was wrong.

Do you notice a pattern in the other cases I’ve presented? Each time a prophecy was incorrect, the prophet simply recalculated and came up with a new date. When that one failed, more calculations were done and explanations were made to show that the original ones weren’t exactly wrong, but just incomplete or misunderstood. The fact is that doubt about these prophets is well-deserved.

So, imagine my skepticism when I read the opening paragraphs of this article at the BBC News Website:

The Earth’s temperature may stay roughly the same for a decade, as natural climate cycles enter a cooling phase, scientists have predicted.

A new computer model developed by German researchers, reported in the journal Nature, suggests the cooling will counter greenhouse warming.

However, temperatures will again be rising quickly by about 2020, they say.

Let me get this straight. Back in the 70s, you told me we’d be living in an ice age by now. Al Gore has been telling me we have “ten years left” for a while. And, now, when it becomes clear that the temperature graph isn’t going your way, you want me to believe that it’s just a lull? I’m sorry, but I think the time has passed.

I’ll add global warming to the long list of failed prophecies.

Seriously, though…

For those who didn’t figure it out, my previous endorsement of Senator Obama was simply my celebrating the holiday (April 1). The truth is that this man scares me. Not simply because he stands for just about everything I’m not for, but because he’s starting to believe his own hype. I keep waiting for the press or Hillary or someone to pop his balloon of promises. He is a lightweight and whenever he has to explain the details of his ideas, he stumbles. Originally, I figured he just wasn’t ready for prime time, but now I fear he believes this messianic tone his campaign has taken on.

I think his mask is beginning to slip. Note this comment from an April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco (you can read and watch it all here and a hat tip to Powerline):

[T]he truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Did you catch that? All of you living somewhere other than California or the Northeast that don’t want to vote for Obama are just bitter. You have a psychological defect that leads you to cling to these concepts like the Second Amendment or your faith or the sovereignty of your country. I’ve long felt that most liberal elitists feel this way about most of America, but it takes either a real nitwit or a serious egotist to blurt it out at a campaign event. That’s a seriously contemptuous attitude toward the Americans that pay the taxes, populate the military, and drive the economy.

Then, I happened to come across a speech Michelle Obama gave at UCLA some weeks ago (hat tip again to Powerline). You’d think this would scare people a bit, but only Hugh Hewitt has been bringing it up. You can read a transcript of the entire speech here. Here’s the spooky part:

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your division. That you come out of your isolation. That you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual; uninvolved, uninformed.

Um, remind you of anything? I can think of at least four other political leaders who said similar things during their careers in the last hundred years. None of them were Americans and none of them would be considered to have had successful eras of leadership. Mindless obedience to a benevolent government happens to be a place where communism and fascism overlap. I would venture to say that it’s significantly out of place in this republic.

I really, really don’t like the Clintons, but at least they are predictable. They will do and say anything to gain power and grow that power. They don’t seem to have deep moral beliefs that drive them upstream even when the majority is against them. The Obamas, however, seem to be on a crusade to save our souls. They are still human, though, and not saviors. He seems more concerned about growing government to fix problems when less government would work better (health care, education, tax rates) than using government to fix external problems that need focused attention (radical Islamic terrorism, illegal immigration, a nuclear Iran). I fear he’ll make some things worse by meddling and other things worse by ignoring. I’m just not buying what he’s selling.

I will admit that I’m not the biggest fan of John McCain. But, when you consider the importance of fighting the war against radical Islam, the importance of naming constructionist judges to all courts, and the importance of keeping a sane tax policy, I can’t trust either of the Democrat candidates. McCain doesn’t carry the standard I’d like to follow, but he’s the one who is liable to hurt this country the least.

Beware you Obama supporters. The press isn’t doing you any favors by playing down his weaknesses. Either he’ll get hammered during the general election or, worse for all of us, he’ll stumble at critical moments during his presidency.

A New Hope

I have written much here about our family, our faith, my love of sports and technology, and even some opinion. I’ve tended to focus on the area of anthropogenic global warming due to it’s highly scientific discussions (at least by those who want to stick to the science, but that’s another blog entry).

I have not written much about my political leanings. It’s no secret to those close to us that I’m what you would call a very conservative Republican. I think Ronald Reagan is easily in the top five best presidents this country has had. We can debate about whether he’s second, third, or fourth, but he’s clearly the kind of leader I would love to see again.While I have been a strong supporter of the current President Bush, I do think he has slipped in some areas and incorrectly assessed the right path for this country. Still, I think he has been far better than the alternatives that ran against him in 2000 and 2004. What may surprise you all is that my association with the Republican party is not automatic. I have strong opinions about what is right for this country and I’ll go with the best opportunity to see that happen.

So, it is with some surprise in myself that I announce my enthusiastic support for Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election. I have no love for the Clintons or their ilk. They only believe in whatever will get them into office. They have no morals. Senator McCain, likewise, has burned his bridges with me with some ill-advised compromises on campaign finance reform and judge approval. Senator Obama, however, clearly has some strong beliefs in how best to help this country continue on into the next decade. I haven’t felt the hope and faith in a politician since what I witnessed with Reagan before I could vote. I want to be part of a new dawn in America. I want to support the candidate most likely to make the sweeping changes that this country doesn’t even know it needs.

So, I ask you to open your minds and hearts and join with me to support the candidate that gives the United States the best opportunity to stay safe and premeire on the world stage for decades to come.

Join me in supporting Barack Obama.