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Tuesday, April 06, 2010
The Shape of Fears to Come

Now that global warming seems to cooling off as our environmental panic du jour, the WSJ's Bret Stephens opens it up to his readers to speculate on what sky will be the next to be claimed to be falling:

Given the inescapability of weather, it's no wonder global warming gripped the public mind as long as it did. And there's always some extreme-weather event happening somewhere to be offered as further evidence of impending catastrophe. But even weather gets boring, and so do the people who natter about it incessantly. What this decade requires is a new and better panic.

Herewith, then, I propose a readers' contest to invent the next panic. It must involve something ubiquitous, invisible to the naked eye, and preferably mass-produced. And the solution must require taxes, regulation, and other changes to civilization as we know it. The winner gets a beer and a burger, on me, at the 47th street Pig N' Whistle in New York City. (Nachos for vegetarians.) Happy panicking!

At first blush, this may seem like an invitation to take candy from a baby (although usually getting beer from a journalist is more like blood from a turnip). After all, a good part of the public seems increasingly willing to buy into whatever environmental catastrophe is being peddled at the time.

However, when you think about all the scares that have already been foisted on us, you realize there aren't that many options still out there. In addition to the weather, we've also been told to worry about rain (acid), the sun (harmful UV rays), the sky (ozone depletion), the air (polluted), the water (contaminated), and the ground (radon gases). And then there's the unseen dangers posed by power lines, cell phones, TV/radio antennas, and microwaves that have been a boon for Big Tinfoil. Fertilizer, genetically modified crops, carbon dioxide, pesticides, lead paint, DDT, artificial sweeteners, irradiated meat, charcoal grills, and pretty much every chemical ever identified? Bad, bad, bad! We've also been regularly told that we're on the verge of running out of oil, water, land, trees, food, and minerals. Because we've got too many people and the population of the earth in ___ (insert year) will become unsustainable for humanity.

Given all that we've been told to fear already, what else is there for environmental scare-mongers to throw at us next? Nothing immediately comes to mind, but the lure of a burger and beer on Bret Stephens should provide some powerful motivation.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Hang Your Freedom Higher

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change:

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.

It follows a tumultuous few months in which public opinion on efforts to tackle climate change has been undermined by events such as the climate scientists' emails leaked from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.

"I don't think we're yet evolved to the point where we're clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change," said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. "The inertia of humans is so huge that you can't really do anything meaningful."

One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is "modern democracy", he added. "Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

This is just the latest example of one of our utopian betters who--in the name of saving ourselves from ourselves--is more than ready to sacrifice your freedom for you. Like Thomas Friedman pining to be "China for a day," it's actually refreshing when you see them so openly admitting how they really feel about their fellow citizens and this whole pesky democracy thing. If we stupid peasants would just shut up, get out of the way, and do what our self-appointed smart set tells us to do the world would be so mych better off.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010
We Don't Know What We Don't Know

David Harsanyi asks Who Doesn't Trust Science Now?:

It is true that most reasonable people concede there has been warming on the planet and that most concede they can't possibly fully understand the underlying science. I certainly can't, despite my best efforts.

The problem is that reasonable people also understand economic trade-offs. Many don't like intrusive legislation. Others can sniff out fear-mongering for what it is. Some even trust in humanity's ability to adapt to any changes in climate trends.

In the end, though, the burden of proof is on the believers. And if they're going to ask a nation -- a world -- to fundamentally alter its economy and ask citizens to alter their lifestyles, the believers' credibility and evidence had better be unassailable.

This is a good summary of the reasons for my skepticism from the beginning on both the existence of and dangers posed by anthropogenic global warming. I don't deny that there is evidence of a warming trend in the earth's climate, although it appears that warming has leveled off in the last decade or so. I don't pretend to know what caused this warming and whether it?s been brought about by one particular factor or a combination of several. I also don't know exactly how this warming would impact the world were it to continue in the future. There's a lot about climate that I don't know.

But I also have never been convinced that there was irrefutable evidence that this most recent warming has been caused largely by man. Anthropogenic global warming is a theory that explains the warming, one of several. But there simply is not enough proof to say with conviction that it is THE ONLY explanation. And even if one were to accept that it was, there is even less irrefutable evidence that the impacts of the warming would be catastrophic enough to require drastic action to mitigate it now. Warmists argue that we need to apply the "precautionary principle." That even if the evidence is not irrefutable, we need to act as if it is to prevent harm. But most versions of the precautionary principle involve some form of cost-benefit analysis and while evidence of the cost of the proposed "solutions" to global warming are clear, the benefits of preventing it are dubious at best and based far more on fear than fact.

And when the "solution" that we're talking about is moving away from carbon based energy--literally the fuels that allowed us to build the modern world that we know today--we better damn well be absolutely sure we're doing it because we have no other choice. Warmists like to argue that even if it turns out that, aw shucks I guess we were all wrong about the whole global warming danger--our bad, the steps taken to mitigate it are ones that we should take anyway. This might be true if the proposed actions were prudent, reasonable, and cost effective. The reality is that they aren't and what they really want us to do is alter lifestyles, impose harsh economic burdens, and curtail not only the continuing advancements in already developed countries, but the advancements that less developed countries will need to make to raise the standards of living for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Such sacrifices are not to be undertaken lightly and should not be made unless we KNOW that they will in fact reduce global warming and avoid environmental catastrophe. The truth is the we--including all the scientists who make up the "consensus" on global warming--simple do not know enough about the earth's complex climate system today to make that claim with certainty. Until we do, reasonable skepticism would seem to be in order.


Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Judge & Jury All In One

The Audi "Green Police" ad that debuted during the Super Bowl generated a lot of discussion. Some found it amusing, others a frightening portend of what may lie ahead. A front page story in today's WSJ on what the city of Boulder, Colorado is doing to "promote" energy conservation will likely provide more fodder for those in the latter camp:

"Everyone needs to do something," says Councilman Matthew Appelbaum.

Unless the city does it for them. Recognizing that, as Mr. Appelbaum puts it, "it's a real pain to do all that work," Boulder plans to spend about $1.5 million in city funds and $370,000 in federal stimulus money to hire contractors to do basic upgrades for residents.

In the program, dubbed "Two Techs in a Truck," as many as 15 energy-efficiency teams will go door-to-door. They'll ask home and business owners for permission to caulk windows, change bulbs and install low-flow showerheads and programmable thermostats--all at taxpayer expense. The techs will set up clothes racks in laundry rooms as a reminder to use the dryer less often. They'll even pop into the garage and inflate tires to the optimum pressure for fuel efficiency.

Well, isn't that nice of them? They'll just "pop" into my garage and inflate my tires for me? Only if you agree to this level of government intrusion into your lives of course. At least for now. When you're facing a crisis like global warming, extremism in the defense of the environment is no vice.

Jeff Hohensee, a sustainability consultant, invested $125,000 in home-energy upgrades--though with rebates, his cost was $35,000--so his home uses only as much energy as solar panels on his roof produce. To spur neighbors to follow suit, he suggests the city measure every home's carbon footprint and publicize the results.

Now you're on to something. Publicize the results. Publicly shame your neighbors. Maybe start marking their homes with a sign so everyone knows that they're not doing their part. Organize neighborhood block committees to keep an eye on these anti-social elements and report their activities to the authorities.

City officials aren't willing to go that far. But they are hoping to leverage peer pressure. They plan to post congratulatory signs outside homes that have let the "two techs in a truck" change the light bulbs. They'll offer prizes to churches and schools that get commitments from, say, 100 families to insulate their attics. They'll host energy-efficiency block parties and plan to hire a consultant to create a conservation buzz on Facebook and Twitter.

If your city, township, municipality, or whatever basic level of local government levies taxes on you, EVER starts talking about hiring a consultant to "create a conversation buzz on Facebook and Twitter" it's time to get the pitchforks and torches out.


Thursday, January 07, 2010
Cold Comfort

Tonight in Minnesota we head into another dark abyss of below zero temperatures and falling snow. For those of you for whom this already feels like a long and cold winter, I offer this to warm your hearts. From October 15, a word from your government and the monopoly newspaper in town on what you had to look forward to this winter. Headlines:

Winter may be on the warm side, NOAA says

Warm side? Don't tell me the government weather experts blew the call and our newspaper printed it. Couldn't be. Maybe they meant warm side, like the warm side of Pluto or something.

If you've had trouble dealing with the abnormally cold October so far, you might like the coming winter better.

No! They were wrong. My faith in science and journalism has been shaken. But thanks for reminding us that October was abnormally cold too. I forgot we were working on three monts months of negative global warming now.

This winter in Minnesota could be warmer than normal, according to a long-range outlook released Thursday by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.

Well, there's the problem. As global warming fundamentalists keep shouting at us, weather isn't climate. According to that rule of thumb, the US Climate Prediction Center has no business telling us how warm the winter will be. Climate prediction is all about the hazy, unspecified future. A time line at least some time after the economy shattering legislation has been passed and signed into law.

The outlook for the months of December, January and February was noncommittal on rain and snow, though, meaning chances are about the same for anything from a brown Christmas to snowmobile bliss.

Nobody can say they blew that one! As a government agency, that's how you do a prediction. The Star Tribune could learn something from this, as this speculation passed-off as news attests:
High supplies and lower demand -- results of the recession, more aggressive conservation and now a key seasonal weather forecast -- mean that natural gas bills should be 15 percent lower this winter than last, said Becca Virden, spokeswoman for CenterPoint Energy. That means a decline in the average monthly bill from $137 to $110.

Hope you didn't already spend that $27, Star Tribune subscribers.

The Prediction Center began long-range seasonal forecasting in the mid-'90s, meaning the process is "in its infancy," said Deputy Director Mike Halpert. Its temperature forecasts have been accurate more than half the time, and
precipitation forecasts "somewhat less than that. "

[University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark] Seeley said he's inclined to trust the Prediction Center's outlook. Somewhat.

"If it's between their suggestion and a coin flip, I'll take their suggestion," he said.

When reached for comment, officials from the US Coin Flip Weather Prediction Center responded: Ha ha!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Frowning All The Time

Paul Chesser notes the latest example of the "heads we win, tails you lose" logic of AGW supporters who can cite any weather event as proving their theory:

Climate Progress's Joe Romm says the massive weekend snowstorm in the East was exactly what alarmist climate scientists said would happen:

In any case, I have previously discussed the scientific literature, which makes clear that we have seen an increase in intense precipitation in this country, just as climate science predicted we would.

But as the Washington Examiner's David Freddoso reminds us, a year ago Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., wrote about the global warming-caused lack of precipitation in the DC area:

Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today's anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled...

Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy.

Chesser closes with a YouTube song clip that fits these folks perfectly.


Friday, December 11, 2009
Gold In Them Thar Alps

Okay, technically it was posted yesterday, but since I just caught it this morning I'm going with this quote from Vox Day's imagined discussion between British climate scientists as today's line of the day:

Our climate models suck so completely that Tiger hit on them at the last British Open.

Seamlessly combining two of the hottest topics de jour--Climategate and Tiger Woods--in one simple sentence Now, that's good writing.


Monday, November 16, 2009
What A Country!

French intellectual Guy Sorman speaking with Russian economic advisor Arkady Dvorkovitch on global warming (from Sorman's book Economics Does Not Lie:

The growth potential of China and India has convinced them that oil prices can only further rise, to Russia's great benefit. When I raise the specter of global warming and the policy response to it, which could result in lower oil and gas consumption, my Russian interlocutors laugh. This is a debate fabricated in the United States, they explain, and is not taken very seriously by the Indians and Chinese--and in any case, Russian climatologists do not subscribe to the global warming theory. "Hasn't Russia ratified the Kyoto Protocol on the limiting of greenhouse gases?" I ask. Dvorkovitch is dismissive: It was merely a political gesture.

We can expect more such empty gestures from countries like Russia when the next round of talks on climate change agreements kick off in Copenhagen. The problem is that for the Obama Administration such agreements aren't merely political gestures, they're commitments that they're going to enforce upon America to our economic detriment. No wonder the Russians are laughing.

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Monday, October 12, 2009
Chill In The Air

Minnesota Free Market Institute Welcomes Lord Christopher Monckton, October 14th:

The Minnesota Free Market Institute will host Lord Christopher Monckton--Special Advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Chief Policy Advisor to the Institute of
Science and Public Policy; Lord Christopher Monckton is well known in climate realist circles as the man Al Gore refused to debate on the floor of Congress--Wednesday, October 14th at the Benson Great Hall on the campus of Bethel University. The evening starts at 7:00 pm with the national premiere of the Cascade Policy Institute documentary, "Climate Chains." Lord Monckton will give the keynote after the documentary.

The event is FREE and open to the public, view the flyer here.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Green Pee Soup

Tim e-mails with a story that is too strange to possibly have been made up. Airline goes green by asking passengers to use the toilet before boarding:

A Japanese airline has started asking passengers to go to the toilet before boarding in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) claims that empty bladders mean lighter passengers, a lighter aircraft and thus lower fuel use.

Airline staff will be present at boarding gates in terminals to ask passengers waiting to fly to relieve themselves before boarding, The Independent reported.

What's next, bladder scans as we go down the jetway to make sure we've complied? A mandatory pre-boarding enema to make sure our systems are all cleaned out? The Onion can't compete with reality.


Thursday, July 02, 2009
When Rich and Famous Writers Publish Things You'd Be Embarrassed to Read On a Crappy Blog

The pride of St. Louis Park MN, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times on the opposition to the Democrats recent carbon credit cap and trade bill:

What are Republicans thinking? It is not as if they put forward a different strategy, like a carbon tax. Does the G.O.P. want to be the party of sex scandals and polluters or does it want to be a partner in helping America dominate the next great global industry: E.T. -- energy technology? How could Republicans become so anti-environment, just when the country is going green?
And the Western suburbs weep.

Awaiting former St. Louis Park resident Chad The Elder's statement on this disturbing incident.

The Elder Adds: I'll cede my time to another rich and famous writer whose work is actually deserving of said fame and fortune. George Will's words are from a piece on health care reform, but I think they're fitting for cap and trade as well:

Regarding reform, conservatives are accused of being a party of "no." Fine. That is an indispensable word in politics because most new ideas are false and mischievous. Furthermore, the First Amendment's lovely first five words ("Congress shall make no law") set the negative tone of the Bill of Rights, which is a list of government behaviors, from establishing religion to conducting unreasonable searches, to which the Constitution says: No.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Obama Administration Idea Resembles Dystopian Science Fiction Movie

Barack Obama's science advisor's idea to combat the threat of global warming:
John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month that the idea of geoengineering the climate is being discussed. One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays. Holdren said such an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort.
Some future president's science advisor's idea to combat the threat of global machine tyranny. From The Matrix:
What is known is that it was the humans who "scorched the sky", blocking out the sun's rays, in an attempt at machine genocide -- since the machines needed solar power to survive. In response and retaliation the machines subdued the humans and made them into sources of energy -- batteries, in effect. Each human now floats in his or her own personal vat, a warm and womblike environment, while the machines feed in essential nutrients, in exchange for the energy they need.
Why do I get the feeling that this outcome wouldn't be all together awful as far the current Administration is concerned? It's the ultimate in nanny statism! And think of the health care savings.

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Friday, March 27, 2009
Another Sham Election

Tomorrow the simpleton population of this planet will be taking part in the incredibly asinine exercise known as Earth Hour after which they will bask in the glow of their elevated social consciousness and will crawl off to bed with the warm fuzzy feeling that they really made a difference. The Earth Hour event is described below but, and I cannot stress this enough, please refrain from eating or drinking anything while reading it as you may run the serious risk of blowing the contents of your mouth through your nose.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote -Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome's Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you?re from, but instead, what planet you're from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

So these nutburgers are trying to convince people that by simply switching off their lights they are standing up and taking control over the future of the planet? Talk about an exercise in futility. And this "raising awareness" nonsense has become an absolute joke. The global warming doctrine has been shoved down our throats so much that it's really becoming nothing more than background noise.

Please join me on Saturday evening as I turn on every switch I can find at my house. I may even fire up the Christmas lights and let our two cars idle in the garage. With a little help, we can make Minneapolis look like this for an hour.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Day The Earth Stood Still

Today, I received an e-mail from Al Gore on behalf of In the midst of his plea for Obama volunteers was this gem:

But the stakes this year are too great for any of us to sit it out. We're facing two wars and an economic meltdown. The climate crisis, in particular, is worsening more quickly than predicted and without strong leadership from the next president, we could face consequences right out of a science fiction movie.

No one knows science fiction movies like Al Gore.

UPDATE-- At the Ranting Room, Bruce wonders which sci-fi movies Gore had in mind:

Perhaps so, but the all-important and thus far unasked question is: which science fiction movie? Silent Running? Soylent Green? Lord of the Flies? Godzilla vs The Smog Monster?

Personally, my money is on The Manchurian Candidate.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Missed It By That Much

You may recall a few weeks ago, the breathless report distributed by the Associated Press, from the National Snow and Ice Data Center about the plummeting of the crucial sea ice:

New satellite measurements show that crucial sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has plummeted to its second lowest level on record.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., announced Wednesday that the extent of sea ice in the Arctic is down to 2.03 million square miles. The lowest point on record is 1.65 million square miles set last September.

With about three weeks left in the melt season, the record may fall, scientists say.

At the time I pointed out that the increase over last year actually represents a positive trend. And, if the drama of their story depended on the level of crucial sea ice being lower than last year, maybe they ought to wait until it happens before hitting the panic button headlines. They would only have to wait a few short weeks.

Flash forward a few weeks, breaking news from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

The Arctic sea ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the second-lowest extent recorded since the dawn of the satellite era.

Second-lowest? Ouch. Sorry about that boys.

If you lean in close to your computer screen, you can almost hear their mournful sighs of dejection. I think that impression comes from the lack of emotional ACTION words like "crucial" and "plummet" in this statement. Something tells me there hearts weren't in it as much this time.

To put this increase over last year in perspective, there's this from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

The total sea ice extent in the Arctic at this time was about 0.5 million square kilometers (0.2 mission square miles) larger than that at the same time last year. That difference in sea ice extent amounts to an area the size of Spain.

The size of Spain? That ain't exactly chopped chorizo.

Say what you will about the National Snow and Ice Center, they are chillingly tenacious. Despite this setback, they're prepared to keep up the fight:

While above the record minimum set on September 16, 2007, this year further reinforces the strong negative trend in summertime ice extent observed over the past thirty years. With the minimum behind us, we will continue to analyze ice conditions as we head into the crucial period of the ice growth season during the months to come.

All it takes is getting the focus back on global warming to bet the fire back in their bellies. The return of multiple emotionally charged terms, including our old friend "crucial." (Although I'm not sure if two uses of "crucial" -- the crucial growth period of the crucial sea ice -- cancel each other out or not).

To paraphrase my thoughts the first time they pulled this, when a text relies on emotionally charged terms, the intent is to persuade and motivate behavior rather than inform. On that I was right.

But I also assumed that if they failed to reach their goal in setting a record new low for crucial sea ice, they'd have to go away for at least another year. Incorrect! I did not foresee that for every crucial test passed, there's another crucial opportunity lying in wait in which to attempt to scare/motivate public opinion.


Thursday, September 11, 2008
Beginning To See The Light?

Brad at the Think Progress Wonk Room (a favorite hangout for Atomizer) is disturbed to report that Tim Pawlenty is chilling on the impact of man-made global warming:

Appearing on the Glenn Beck radio show yesterday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) denigrated the science of climate change, saying the human impact on global warming was only "half a percent." He implied mandatory programs to reduce global warming emissions--like the cap-and-trade programs he has previously called for--would "wreck the economy." And he said that it's "understandable" that plans to fix global warming have "faded into the background" because of the "energy crisis":

But, you know, in my view is this: you can argue that the world, the globe is warming as it always has for natural reasons. But I think the weight of the science indicates that at least some of it--you could argue it's half a percent or something more substantial--is caused by human behavior... But, in the wake of this energy crisis, where people are struggling to pay the bills, that debate on cap and trade has fallen to the background for understandable reasons.

Last week, he was "lashing out" at RNC protesters. This week, he's "denigrating the science of climate change." Now this is the T-Paw that I could get used to having around. Welcome back.

You have to wonder if Pawlenty's evolving views on global warming are a sign that other prominent GOP backers of cap and trade may also be moving toward a more reasoned view on the matter. If T-Paw can turn toward the light, there's still hope for J-Mac.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Better Early Than Never

Something crucial is plummeting and the press is panicking!

Barack Obama's poll numbers? Well, yes.

But, something else is plummeting and the press is panicking!

Via CNN, an AP article (also picked up in the Star Tribune and around the country) on the latest developments in the Arctic:

New satellite measurements show that crucial sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has plummeted to its second lowest level on record.

If you lean in close to your computer screen, you can almost hear the panting and whimpering from the reporters who wrote this.

I humbly submit to you that when the opening sentence of any text contains two emotionally charged terms, the intent is to persuade and motivate behavior rather than inform. (Or you happen to be reading the Weekly World News.)

Call me old-fashioned, but when I'm reading the news, I like my information the old fashioned way, informational. Leave the high pressure sales job to the circulation department telemarketers.

More from the Plummeting Crucialness Crisis Center:

The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., announced Wednesday that the extent of sea ice in the Arctic is down to 2.03 million square miles. The lowest point on record is 1.65 million square miles set last September.

Hmmm. The lowest ever recorded was just last year. And we have more crucial sea ice this year than we did last year. More than just a few ice cube trays full. According to my calculations, 380,000 square miles of it. To put that in perspective for the layman, that's enough ice to chill the Atomizer's Gin Rickies for about 3 months. Stunning, isn't it?

In light of this positive trend, the opening of this article could instead, quite factually, be written as:

"New satellite measurements show that CRUCIAL sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has EXPLODED by 23% over the last year."

Side bar stories about how this cooling is bound to kill off rare pink flamingo flocks in Bolivia and the spike in sales of Ice Age Home Insurance would be perfect.

I know, I know (/ty coughlin), the summer ain't over yet. The plummeting of the crucial sea ice could continue to unprecedented depths. In the AP's words:

With about three weeks left in the melt season, the record may fall, scientists say.

Hope springs eternal! Good luck with that AP.

However, if a new record low for crucial sea ice is indeed news, shouldn't you wait until that record is achieved before writing about it? Why do we need the scream headline preview of what might happen in just a few weeks?

Whatever the reason, it seems to be a press standard. Harkening way back to June of 2005, when American resolve to win the Iraq war was something the press could still erode, the Pioneer Press printed an article speculating that the month could be among the deadliest so far, based on mid-month totals.

My reaction then, as now:

If reporting the month end casualties for June as a barometer of the success for our efforts in Iraq is so damned important, why not wait until the facts actually present themselves before guessing about them in print?

My conclusion on motive, it's best to get the story out now, in case the hoped for scenario doesn't actually occur. It can be harder to scare/motivate people with the news if you wait for the facts.


Monday, August 11, 2008
Leave The Preachin' To Him, The Practicin' To Us

At some point in the future we may well look back on 2008 as--to quote Churchill--"the end of the beginning" of global warming hysteria. In addition to all the contradictory scientific evidence that has emerged this year, we are also seeing leading proponents of the anthropogenic warming theory appear increasingly hypocritical in practice even as their rhetoric becomes increasingly shrill, illogical, and fear-based.

The latest such example is the revelation that Al Gore himself is tooling around in a massive new houseboat:

And now, in order to complete his hypocrisy trifecta, Al Gore may now be extending his excessive consumption to the water as well. In an amazing display of conspicuous consumption, even for Al Gore, his new 100-foot houseboat that docks at the Hurricane Marina in Smithville, Tennessee is creating a critical buzz among many of his former congressional constituents. Dubbed "Bio-Solar One," which may reflect some latent Air Force One envy, Gore has proudly strutted the small-town dock claiming that his monstrous houseboat is environmentally friendly. (Only Al Gore would name his boat B.S. One and not get the joke. Or perhaps the joke is on us?)

The houseboat's maker is attempting to defend its carbon footprint:

"This boat is going to be the Toyota Prius of the houseboat business," Austin proclaims. "It is the most eco-friendly houseboat anywhere in the country and is going to revolutionize the houseboat industry."

Saying that this is the most eco-friendly houseboat ever made is like saying this is the most family friendly gang bang porno ever shot. At the end of the day, it's still obscene.

But it wasn't the houseboat itself that has really sunk Gore's credibility on the issue. It was this picture. Dude's got a jet ski.

A jet ski. Think about it. Is there anything less necessary, more superfluous and a better symbol of meaningless energy consumption than a jet ski? NO ONE needs a jet ski. If tomorrow there was to be some sort of divine water craft rapture and every jet ski in the world suddenly disappeared, the human race would not be impacted in any negative way whatsoever.

The only reason to have a jet ski is to have fun. Now, I'm all for having fun and am no way saying that jet ski owners should be deprived of that opportunity. But if the fate of the planet REALLY is in the balance, if the future of mankind REALLY hinges on our willingness to move away from carbon based energy, and if we REALLY only have ten years left to make a difference, don't you think that maybe, just maybe Al might have had second thoughts about picking up a jet ski?

You can see how people could excuse Gore for the immense carbon footprint he generates by jet setting around the globe to attend conferences or keeping his limo idling while he's making appearances so he won't have to sweat the ride. After all, that's all part of serving the greater cause. But a jet ski?

From this point forward, I won't be able to listen to anything Gore says about global warming without having an image of his jet ski pop up in my head.

So when he says:

We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.

I'll think, "Dude, you have a jet ski."


But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait.

Dude, you have a jet ski.

We should feel a great sense of urgency because it is the most dangerous crisis we have ever faced, by far.

Dude, you have a jet ski.

If we did not take action to solve this crisis, it could indeed threaten the future of human civilization.

Dude, you have a jet ski.

The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis.

Dude, you have a jet ski.

I drive a hybrid. Tipper and I got a Lexus hybrid. And we have a couple of Priuses in the family with our children. And I encourage people to make environmentally conscious choices because we all have to solve this climate crisis.

DUDE, you have a frickin' JET SKI! Are we to seriously believe that when it came down to an "environmentally conscious choice" between saving the planet and having a jet ski, you went with the jet ski but yet we're still supposed to heed your advice anyway? Dude...


Monday, August 04, 2008
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

In the most recent civic newsletter, we learned that the city that we now call home has signed on to the climate change bandwagon:

This past winter, the City of Golden Valley signed the US Climate Protection Agreement. Participants in the agreement are encouraged to work toward meeting the 2005 Kyoto Protocol initiatives as well as educate the public about green practices.

Golden Valley is one of about 40 Minnesota cities to sign the Climate Protection Agreement so far. Under the Agreement, participating cities commit to take the following three actions:

* strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns

* urge their state governments, and the federal government, to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol--7 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012

* urge the US Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system

Golden Valley has already started to make changes, says Al Lundstrom, environmental coordinator. As building improvements are made, the City has installed energy efficient lighting when possible, improved insulation during roof replacement projects, installed energy efficient air conditioning units when replacement is necessary, retrofitted energy efficient bulbs in traffic signals, and installed an energy efficient tankless hot water system in the utility maintenance shop. The City also implemented an idling policy (see sidebar on the Police Department's idling policy).

"As we have opportunities to make capital improvements, we're looking to see where we can go greener," Lundstrom says.

I don't have problem with the City taking steps to conserve energy. In fact, I commend them for it, especially since it saves money. What troubles me however is the idea that my taxes would be used for public information campaigns on climate change. Or in any way be used as part of this effort to "urge" state and local governments to "meet or beat" Kyoto targets or even worse to "urge" the Congress to pass "bipartisan" greenhouse gas legislation. It hardly seems like an appropriate role for local government to be playing.

You can see the complete list of participating cities mayors here. The bright side is that when the temps do go up and those poor bastards in New Hope and Crystal are sweating it out, we'll be nice and cool down in the Valley.


Monday, July 21, 2008
In between the bright lights and the far unlight unknown

Since the beginning of their existence liberals have yearned to destroy the suburbs. The idea of people freely choosing to live in safe, spacey neighborhoods in homes with trees, yards, and (gulp) driveways is an affront to much of what they hold dear.

For the most part, they haven't been able to come out and say this directly of course. Instead, they've couched their plans in seemingly innocent terms like "smart growth" and "sustainability." But no matter what the wording, the end goal has always been to limit people's freedoms to decide for themselves what kind of community they would like to live in. Much better to have the "experts" in planning and government decide for them where they should reside.

Now, as Joel Kotkin related in Saturday's WSJ, in California the planner class--in the form of Attorney General Jerry Brown-- has latched onto global warming as the latest excuse to drive this suburb destroying agenda forward:

In the meantime, Mr. Brown is taking aim at the suburbs, concerned about the alleged environmental damage they cause. He sees suburban houses as inefficient users of energy. He sees suburban commuters clogging the roads as wasting precious fossil fuel. And, mostly, he sees wisdom in an intricately thought-out plan to compel residents to move to city centers or, at least, to high-density developments clustered near mass transit lines.

Mr. Brown is not above using coercion to create the demographic patterns he wants. In recent months, he has threatened to file suit against municipalities that shun high-density housing in favor of building new suburban singe-family homes, on the grounds that they will pollute the environment. He is also backing controversial legislation -- Senate bill 375 -- moving through the state legislature that would restrict state highway funds to communities that refuse to adopt "smart growth" development plans. "We have to get the people from the suburbs to start coming back" to the cities, Mr. Brown told planning experts in March.

Because he knows better and he's not above using the full force of the government to make it happen. Whether the people want to or not isn't his concern.

The problem is, that's not what Californians want. For two generations, residents have been moving to the suburbs. They are attracted to the prospect, although not always the reality, of good schools, low crime rates and the chance to buy a home. A 2002 Public Policy Institute of California poll found that 80% of Californians prefer single-family homes over apartment living. And, even as the state's traffic jams are legendary, it is not always true that residents clog roads to commute to jobs in downtown Los Angeles or other cities.

Neither is whether these plans would actually help reduce global warming.

Ali Modarres, associate director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University Los Angeles, believes the density-first approach is ill-suited for areas like L.A. County, where most residents and jobs are dispersed among subregional "nodes." Research by Mr. Modarres, co-author of the powerful book "City and Environment," demonstrates that people living in nodes -- Pasadena, Torrance, Burbank and Irvine -- often enjoy considerably shorter average commutes than do a lot of inner-city residents. Many of these people commute through tangled traffic to get to jobs on the periphery.

"I have no problem trying to find solutions on global warming," Mr. Modarres told me, "but I doubt these kinds of solutions are going to do anything. The whole notion that through physical planning you can get a lot of people to abandon their cars is pretty iffy."

Mr. Modarres also points out that forcing developers to build near transit lines, a strategy favored by "smart-growth advocates," does not mean residents will actually take the train or bus. A survey conducted last year by the Los Angeles Times of "transit oriented development" found that "only a small fraction of residents shunned their cars during rush hour."

There is also little punch behind the science used to justify the drive to resettling the cities -- and plenty of power behind the argument that suburbs are better for Mother Earth. Several prominent scholars -- including University of Maryland atmospheric scientist Konstanin Vinnikov, University of Georgia meterologist J. Marshall Shepard and Brookings Institution research analyst Andrea Sarzynski -- have found there is little evidence linking suburbanization to global warming, pointing out that density itself can produce increased auto congestion and pollution.

The antisuburbanites also ignore evidence that packing people together in cities produces "heat islands." Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles sometimes reach as much as three degrees centigrade higher than outlying areas. Recent studies in Australia have shown that multistoried housing generates higher carbon emissions than either townhomes or single-family residences because of the energy consumed by common areas, elevators and parking structures, as well as the lack of tree cover.

None of this matters because the real goal of all this has little or nothing to do with global warming. It's about telling you where you can and can't live. What you can and can't drive (if you're allowed to drive at all). What you can and can't eat and drink. Where you can and can't smoke (pretty much everywhere now). How much you can heat and cool your home. Etc, etc.

Oh and by the way, these rules only apply to the people not the planners.

A report by the Los Angeles Weekly's Dave Zahniser -- entitled "Do as We Say, Not as We Do" -- found that a lot of prominent "smart growth" advocates in Los Angeles live in large single-family homes, some of them long hikes from mass transit. Mr. Brown himself, not long ago, moved from a loft in crime-ridden downtown Oakland to a bucolic setting in the Oakland Hills.

What, you don't expect HIM to live in the city do you?


Saturday, July 19, 2008
Indoctrinate Your Children Well

Matt e-mails to pass on a tempting invite:

The Will Steger Foundation is hosting its third annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education!

The Institute will take place August 11-13 at the Science Museum of Minnesota and is a great opportunity to enhance your own understanding of climate change. Dr. James Hansen, renowned NASA climate scientist, will be the keynote speaker to discuss the latest on climate science in addition to Andrew Revkin (NY Times Science Reporter) and WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby.

Institute participants will receive a resource binder with new climate change curricula, expedition supplements and action resources. The theme of the Institute is "Changing School Culture" with a focus on reducing a school's carbon footprint, from classroom to community. Learn more and download the application at

Hansen, Shelby, AND resource binders? Right here in our back yard? This is too good to be true. Get your application in today!!!


Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Chicken Little Religion For The Sick Soul

In today's WSJ, Bret Stephens looks at the three motives for belief in global warming:

The first is as a vehicle of ideological convenience. Socialism may have failed as an economic theory, but global warming alarmism, with its dire warnings about the consequences of industry and consumerism, is equally a rebuke to capitalism. Take just about any other discredited leftist nostrum of yore--population control, higher taxes, a vast new regulatory regime, global economic redistribution, an enhanced role for the United Nations--and global warming provides a justification.


A second explanation is theological. Surely it is no accident that the principal catastrophe predicted by global warming alarmists is diluvian in nature. Surely it is not a coincidence that modern-day environmentalists are awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society: "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." That's Genesis, but it sounds like Jim Hansen.


Finally, there is a psychological explanation. Listen carefully to the global warming alarmists, and the main theme that emerges is that what the developed world needs is a large dose of penance. What's remarkable is the extent to which penance sells among a mostly secular audience. What is there to be penitent about?

As it turns out, a lot, at least if you're inclined to believe that our successes are undeserved and that prosperity is morally suspect. In this view, global warming is nature's great comeuppance, affirming as nothing else our guilty conscience for our worldly success.

In "The Varieties of Religious Experience," William James distinguishes between healthy, life-affirming religion and the monastically inclined, "morbid-minded" religion of the sick-souled. Global warming is sick-souled religion.


Thursday, June 19, 2008
Some Like It Caliente

Here's a depressing observation to start your day. While there are signs here in the United States that those of us who remain skeptical of the anthropogenic global warming religion appear to have made some progress in slowing the runaway train toward panicked action, whenever I travel to other parts of the world or speak to people from other countries on the topic, I find that they have bought in to Al Gore's "consensus" hook line and sinker. Whether it's in Russia, the Philippines, China, the Netherlands, or Mexico, as far as global warming is concerned the debate is over (if it had ever even begun). Any change in or unusual occurrence of weather is instantly and unquestionably attributed to man-made climate change.

The latest such incident occurred yesterday when one of my Mexican coworkers informed us that he had recently watched "An Inconvenient Truth" with his family and was now trying to figure out ways to conserve energy to prevent global warming. He was so earnest and serious that I just didn't have the heart to raise any objection or perhaps point out that his middle-class Mexican family was probably responsible for as much CO2 emissions in a year as Al Gore was in a day jet-setting around the globe. It's going to take a lot of work and many a year to turn back this global tide.

UPDATE-- Nathan e-mails to add:

A century ago, any weather event would have been a sign from Jesus, the One True God.

A few centuries ago, any weather event would have been a sign from The Gods.

In this century, any weather event is a sign of Global Warming.

So...Global Warming is the new name for God? No wonder unbelievers are treated like heretics.

When people lose their faith, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything.


Saturday, May 24, 2008
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Defrost the Freezer

As we eagerly await tomorrow's world premiere of Shark Swarm! on the Hallmark Channel, word reaches us from Canada that enviro-horror films may be the next big thing coming out of Hollywood:

Anagram Pictures will be shooting The Thaw, which features super-celebrity Val Kilmer, from Batman Forever, the Salton Sea, Top Gun and many other motion pictures.

The Thaw is about a young woman who heads to the Arctic with a group of students on a research mission, headed by Dr. Kruipen (Kilmer). The students discover that a melting polar ice-cap has released a deadly prehistoric parasite on the world after the remains of a wooly mammoth are released from the ice and thawed. The students must then find a way to save the rest of the world from the deadly parasite before it reaches the rest of civilization and causes a potentially global epidemic catastrophe.

"It's a wooly mammoth that's been preserved in a polar ice-cap. Global warming is causing the polar ice-cap to melt," says co-producer Mary Anne Waterhouse.

A polar bear then starts eating the mammoth's remains, becoming infected with the deadly parasite.

If only the US Department of the Interior wouldn't have barged in to prevent us from exterminating those white devils once and for all, we'd be safe from the prehistoric parasite menace! Thanks a lot, Al Gore.

(Via Tim Blair, at his new location.)

UPDATE: Chad P. finds a potentially fatal plot flaw in The Thaw:


What stood out was the idea of a wooly mammoth frozen in the "polar" ice cap.

"The students discover that a melting polar ice-cap has released a deadly prehistoric parasite on the world after the remains of a wooly mammoth are released from the ice and thawed."

How and why did a warm blooded "plant" eating mammal end up at the polar ice cap? pretty strange, don't ya think? Did it pack a vegan lunch on it's detour to the wilds of .... pure ice!

I cannot answer that. I'm hoping this issue will be addressed in the sequel: The Thaw II: Flash Freeze.


Friday, May 23, 2008
You Don't Need a Media Critic to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

October 22, 2007 - Media critic Brian Lambert, on the importance of TV weathermen speaking their minds on global warming:

Not that I look to TV weather people for any great depth of science, much less a political point of view. But the perhaps sad fact is that for a lot of folks the TV weather anchor is their most frequent interface with meteorological science. With that in mind, and with climate change as profound an issue to everyone as it is (with or without Al Gore, although Gore's knee-jerk adversaries seem incapable of separating the two), it seems valid to me that those charming, glib people clicking through the weather maps offer a clue to their, uh, educated opinion on climate change.

I've mentioned this before, but here in the Twin Cities, WCCO's Paul Douglas is, for all intents and purposes, alone in his unconditional view that climate change is upon us, it is serious and human activity is a key component. This is to Douglas's eternal credit and, to my mind anyway, greatly enhances his credibility.

May 20, 2008, media critic Brian Lambert condemning a TV weatherman for speaking his mind on global warming:

The fundamental issue in this "debate" is, of course, politics, not science. Fringe groups such as the OISM, to which Mike Fairbourne lent his name, are invariably politically conservative --deeply conservative-- and attack "consensus science" of actual experts, as opposed to TV weathermen, bio-chemists, and whatever from a partisan political perspective much more than one based in science. (Their "science" is usually laughably mangled.)

Before you email Lambert recommendations for a good whiplash specialist, he does have a thread of consistency to his work. It's OK for local news personalities get out front of controversial issues, as long as they agree with the stridently liberal perspective. If not, prepare to be slimed.

I suppose this kind of standard makes for an effective liberal media watchdog and groupthink enforcement column. I just wish his would have been promoted as such in the Twin Cities for the past several decades, instead of as objective media criticism.

More from Lambert on why it's OK for Douglas to insert his global warming beliefs into the 5-day weather forecast, but not OK for Fairborne to sign a document testifying to his beliefs as a private citizen:

the critical difference here is between reputable climatologists -- professionals who have submitted their work to other professionals for review and independent study -- and those who aren't, like this Oregon Institute bunch, who are all too typical of what passes for "science" on the other end of this dispute. Yes, Paul Douglas lent credibility to the former, while Fairbourne has to the latter. It's the flat out difference between credible and ... bullsh*t.

Failure to recognize that some of the foremost experts in climate related science are skeptical of the agenda people like Lambert and Douglas are peddling is evidence that you're dealing with a fool or a con man. Generously assuming the former, here's a place the uninformed can start educating themselves on the science of the opposition:

Scientists Opposing the Mainstream Scientific Assessment of Global Warming


Thursday, April 10, 2008
Fever Dreams

Add malaria to the ever growing list of problems blamed on global warming with little or no actual evidence to support such a connection. Paul Reiter--director of the Insects and Infectious Diseases Unit of the Institut Pasteur, Paris--and Roger Bate debunk the latest Global Warming Nonsense in today's WSJ:

The concept of malaria as a "tropical" infection is nonsense. It is a disease of the poor. Alarmists in the richest countries peddle the notion that the increase in malaria in poor countries is due to global warming and that this will eventually cause malaria to spread to areas that were "previously malaria free." That's a misrepresentation of the facts and disingenuous when packaged with opposition to the cheapest and best insecticide to combat malaria ? DDT.

It is true that malaria has been increasing at an alarming rate in parts of Africa and elsewhere in the world. Scientists ascribe this increase to many factors, including population growth, deforestation, rice cultivation in previously uncultivated upland marshes, clustering of populations around these marshes, and large numbers of people who have fled their homes because of civil strife. The evolution of drug-resistant parasites and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes, and the cessation of mosquito-control operations are also factors.

Of course, temperature is a factor in the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases, and future incidence may be affected if the world's climate continues to warm. But throughout history the most critical factors in the spread or eradication of disease has been human behavior (shifting population centers, changing farming methods and the like) and living standards. Poverty has been and remains the world's greatest killer.

Serious scientists rarely engage in public quarrels. Alarmists are therefore often unopposed in offering simplicity in place of complexity, ideology in place of scientific dialogue, and emotion in place of dry perspective. The alarmists will likely steal the show on Capitol Hill today. But anyone truly worried about malaria in impoverished countries would do well to focus on improving human living conditions, not the weather.

As Bjorn Lomborg has argued for years, spending billions (trillions?) of dollars to try to prevent something that may not actually be all that bad and that we may have little or no real ability to impact at all seems ridiculous when that money could otherwise be spent solving real problems that we know we can correct.

UPDATE: Those of you always looking for the local angle (like JB), will appreciate this:

Minnesota has developed into the nation's state-level combat zone on global warming, where groups and individuals have aligned to oppose what their state's climate commission is trying to sell them. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who many political observers perceive is angling for the vice presidential nomination, has invested his credibility and stature heavily in the issue, especially as chair of the National Governors Association. The blowback began in February when fellow executives from other states took him behind the woodshed.

The resistance elevated last month when one of the state's free-market think tanks, the Center of the American Experiment, brought in economist Dr. Margo Thorning of the American Council for Capital Formation to discuss the staggering costs that would result from federal and state proposals to reduce greenhouse gases

Yesterday another bomb dropped in St. Paul: a coalition of free-marketers, property rights, social conservatives, state legislators, and disaffected members of the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group held a press conference at the legislature and released two separate reports criticizing the junk economics, alarmist climate forecasts, and nonexistent feasibility study of the proposals coming from MCCAG. Minnesota Majority, the social conservatives, and the American Property Coalition joined forces to commission the Beacon Hill Institute to critique the MCCAG's recommendations (PDF). The Minnesota Free Market Institute also did their own study. For once local mainstream media outlets were virtually forced to report that more than just a small, dissenting group of "deniers" or "skeptics" oppose dramatic increases in energy costs that will come from these global warming "solutions."


Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Answer Me These Questions Three

Roy Spencer--principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville--has some questions for the IPCC:

As a climate scientist, I would like to see some answers to a few basic global warming science questions which I'm sure the U.N.'s Ministry of Global Warming Truth (also known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC) can handle. After all, since they are 90% confident that recent global warming is manmade, they surely must have already addressed these issues.

Dr. Spencer goes on to lay out three challenges on global warming, none of which involve the IPCC's favorite color.

We'll be interviewing him on the NARN on Saturday, April 12th at noon to discuss his new book "Climate Confusion."

Dr. Spencer also has put together a good primer on the issue called Global Warming and Nature's Thermostat.


Thursday, February 14, 2008
Man Wasn't Meant To Fly

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal had an article about eco-conscious travelers who, because of concerns over global warming, were opting for The Stay-at-Home Vacation (sub req). Although this piece is a bit dated, it's just too good to pass up.

Some travelers are deciding that saving the world is more important than seeing the world.

As concerns over global warming grow, some people think giving to a carbon-offset program or staying at a "green" hotel isn't enough to compensate for an airline flight. The most eco-conscious vacationers are forgoing long-distance trips, trading treks to Europe for walks around the neighborhood -- and sometimes angering family members in other cities.

Hmmm...this could come in handy. Yeah JB, I'd love to come down and help you install that new septic system, but what with global warming and all I better stay home.

Spurring the movement on are environmentalists who implore the public to stop burning unnecessary fuel and stay closer to home. It's the next step for commuters who have already swapped cars for bikes and attend out-of-town meetings by videoconferencing.

Sev and Nina Williams are swearing off flights and long drives in 2008 -- which will mean missing Ms. Williams's sister's September wedding in Spain. (Her sister is "disappointed," says Ms. Williams, a 33-year-old public-policy analyst.)

Her sister thinks she's a freakin' nut. And if her wedding "gift" is a certificate for carbon offsets, it will take years for them to get back on talking terms.

Last year, the Santa Barbara, Calif., couple took five airplane trips. This year, they plan to spend their 20-odd vacation days around town, at most driving their hybrid car the 120 miles to Disneyland with their 2-year-old son. "We just really looked at our whole life and said, what can we do to make an impact?" says Mr. Williams, 38, who owns a marketing company.

We just looked at our lives and said, what can we do to really feel smug and superior? The hybrid was a good start, but how can take it to the next level?

The Web site for Global Cool, a campaign to fight global warming, offers advice on how to "be cool," including, "Hey hotshot, do you really need to holiday abroad?"

Hey eco-freak, who asked you anyway?

Web site manager Richard Kilgarriff says visitors to the site have pledged so far to cut out enough air travel to reduce carbon emissions by a combined 2,205 tons -- the equivalent of about 1,770 round-trip New York-to-Los Angeles passenger flights. A member of AlterNet, an online community and news site, recently told readers, "Stop traveling. Don't fly in a plane. Just don't."

Yes! Don't fly at all. Don't drive. Stay home and feel good about yourself. More room for me on the plane and the roadways.

Although a single long-haul flight can generate more than half the emissions of an average annual commute -- a New York-to-Singapore flight on Virgin Airlines (stopping in London) results in about 8,600 pounds of carbon emissions per passenger -- some people figure skipping flights won't help. Michal Strahilevitz, a 43-year-old business administration professor in San Francisco, sold her car and cut back on leisure flying to reduce her carbon footprint, but she still flies for work. "Chances are you are just taking a seat, not adding flights to the schedule," she says.

Bingo. Logic rears its head. At least momentarily.

Because of cuts she has made, she says, "I feel nowhere nearly as bad about all the long showers I take."

Well bully for you. So is it really about saving the planet honey or just enjoying your long showers guilt free?

Peer pressure helped persuade Kim Teplitzky, a regional organizer for the Sierra Club's student coalition, to cancel a holiday trip to Guatemala and Belize that she'd been planning for months. During a visit to Venezuela a year and a half ago, a friend pointed out that the carbon footprint for each of their flights was close to some people's footprint for a whole year. "There's a stigma around flying so much when we're working so hard to get our lawmakers to reduce global-warming emissions," says Ms. Teplitzky, 23, who lives in Pittsburgh.

A stigma that I hope grows and spreads within her peer group.

Sharon Astyk, a 35-year-old mother of four who owns a farm in Knox, N.Y., says she used to travel a lot, especially internationally, but hasn't flown in two years. She says she became even more determined to avoid air travel after reading a 2007 book, "Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning," by Guardian columnist George Monbiot.

The world must reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 to avert an ecosystem collapse, the books says, and achieving the cut will mean "the end of foreign holidays -- the end of shopping trips to New York, parties in Ibiza, second homes in Tuscany." Ms. Astyk says painful as the decision may be, she won't send her father in Bellingham, Wash., plane tickets to visit his grandchildren anymore, although she might send a train ticket.

Dear Dad, thanks for raising me and devoting all those years and tears for my benefit. But I'm afraid that I have to say no to your request to come out and see the children. You see, the planet is burning...

Not everyone is buying in of course:

That's misguided, says Kelsey Timmerman, a 28-year-old Muncie, Ind., scuba-diving instructor and author. If he'd never been to the Great Barrier Reef, he wouldn't care as much that it is dying from rising ocean temperatures. Decisions he makes as a consumer and a voter offset emissions resulting from his travels, says Mr. Timmerman, who visited Bangladesh, Cambodia and China last year. "Travel helps us care more about our world."

You gotta love that justification. How does one determine if one's "decisions as a consumer and a voter" offset your emissions? How many pounds do you get for voting for Obama? Hillary? McCain? Or is it all just a bunch of crap that you make up to feel better about yourself?

One thread that runs through the story is that the people who are the most concerned about this aren't exactly what you call underprivileged:

Jamie Henn, 23, who graduated from college last spring, has promised himself he'll stop flying. He studied in northern India and has been to Africa and Europe several times. But after he moves to San Francisco this winter -- driving with friends in a hybrid car -- Mr. Henn says he plans to stay put. His parents in Boston are "begrudgingly" supporting his decision, although his mother says she plans to visit. "Maybe I'll find a friend to carpool out with my mom," he says.

So this precious little twenty-three year old twit is ready to give up flying, eh? After he's been to India and Africa and Europe several times? My what an inspiration his sacrifice is.

Of course, most Americans aren't willing to give up air travel. The number of passengers boarding domestic flights rose 14% in the 12 months that ended in October, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. John Heimlich, chief economist at the Air Transport Association, says more foreign tourists traveling within the U.S. and more discount fliers are behind the increases.

To retain eco-minded customers, Continental, Delta, Virgin and other airlines last year launched carbon-offset programs, which help counteract emissions somewhere else in the world. The Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group last year started offering discounted room rates and parking for guests who arrive in hybrid cars. Amtrak's Web site has a carbon calculator for comparing annual emissions from rail travel with air travel.

The programs don't go far enough for Steve Rypka, a 55-year-old Henderson, Nev., consultant. He has stopped flying to business meetings and contributes $90 a year to carbon-offset programs to compensate for his lifestyle. Now, he wants to limit his vacations to within a one- or two-day drive in his Toyota Prius. "Buying carbon offsets isn't a license to pollute," he says. "Plus, it's not exactly punishment to cut back on air travel, with all the security issues."

These are the kinds of people who scare me. You can laugh at the utter insanity of these folks, but you have to wonder how long they'll be willing to just do their own part to save the planet. Pretty soon they're going to look around and realize that just because they're selflessly making sacrifices in a noble effort to reverse global warming, the rest of us greedy fools are still flying, driving, and taking long showers to our heart's content. At that point, believing as they do that the very future of the planet is at stake, it wouldn't be hard to imagine them demanding that the government step in and impose limits on all such earth destroying activities.

Travel would restricted and rationed. You would need a permit to take trips. Or there might be a lottery to win the right to travel. Only the important people (like Al Gore) would be allowed to freely jet around the world. The rest of us proles would have to stay close to home, perhaps being allowed to take a trip every five years or so if we were fortunate. It would be for our own good of course. And more importantly, the planet's.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008
That Explains It

Big news out of China is the havoc being wrought by winter storms and unseasonably low temperatures. Some parts of the country are experiencing the coldest temperatures recorded in fifty years.

Enough to give one pause when thinking about global warming, right?

Of course not. From an article in yesterday's The Straits Times (not available online):

Another newspaper, the 21st Century Business Herald, interviewed a chief meteorologist who said "the extreme weather was caused by global climate change."

"In my 26 years at the meteorological services, I have never come across such weather," the paper quoted Mr Yang Guiming as saying.

And if China had been experiencing one of the driest warmest winters in years, what would the explanation be? Global climate change of course.


Saturday, January 26, 2008
Talk About The Weather

Free The Groundhog Day Rally!

Miinnesotans For Global Warming Is having a rally at the Minnesota Capital on the South Side Capital Steps on Saturday February 2, Groundhog Day from 12 -2PM.

The Rally is called "Minnesotans For Global Warming--Free The Groundhog Day - Don't Tax Our Breath Rally!".

The purpose of the rally is to gather and inform Minnesotans of upcoming legislation being proposed by the "Minnesota Environmental Partnership", and all the other Federal and international CO2 taxes that are being proposed and signed into law. It is our contention that these taxes will serve only to put a further burden on the Minnesota taxpayer and have no effect on the climate.

We also will ask participants to go to their caucuses and propose legislation fighting these draconian laws. We will also provide a list of how the presidential candidates stand on this issue. We will hand out this act to be read at the caucuses and to be added to the parties? platform.


Thursday, January 24, 2008
Kumbaya Al Gore, Kumbaya

Pawlenty joins global-warming radio ad:

Deepening his involvement in the global warming debate and in national affairs, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is lending his voice to a nationwide radio ad sponsored by the activist Environmental Defense Action Fund. In the ad, Pawlenty teams up with Arizona's Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano to scold Congress for not doing more to combat climate change.

Against a background of inspirational, New Age-style music, the two tout state-level achievements and urge Congress to pass national curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Quick action could spur thousands of 'enviro-friendly' jobs, Pawlenty and Napolitano say in the ad. Foot-dragging, they warn, could push job-yielding innovations overseas.

Remember the days when T-Paw's name was seriously being floated as a potential VP choice? Even if McCain is the nominee, I can't imagine that he could afford to have someone with less than solid conservative cred like Pawlenty as his running mate.


Thursday, November 01, 2007
Our Present Level Of Ignorance

John R. Cristy is another one of those pesky scientists who refuses to accept the "consensus" that global warming is chiefly man-made and that it will be a disaster for our planet. He's the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville so he brings considerable cred to the matter. He also happens to have claimed a share (however miniscule) of Al Gore's Noble Peace Prize by virtue of his membership on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In today's Wall Street Journal, he pens a piece explaining why he isn't buying the hype (sub req):

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

The hubris of man in the modern world--especially those who view science as the ultimate and only source of truth--seems to know no bounds. In our age of reliance on expert opinion and cause and effect analysis of everything in life, it's refreshing to hear someone admit the reality that there is still so much that we simply don't know.

Cristy also knocks down a couple of recent examples of global warming hysteria:

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.

Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate. For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily.

There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide. If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts. The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry. The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West. A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

And concludes by urging people to consider the true cost and dubious benefits of attempting to "stop" global warming:

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.

But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

Not that I would expect the Nobel Committee to consider it, but which course of action would really do more to promote world peace?


Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Wilder lower wolves

Daniel B. Botkin--president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of "Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century"--pens a piece for today's Wall Street Journal on Global Warming Delusions gone wild (sub req):

The key point here is that living things respond to many factors in addition to temperature and rainfall. In most cases, however, climate-modeling-based forecasts look primarily at temperature alone, or temperature and precipitation only. You might ask, "Isn't this enough to forecast changes in the distribution of species?" Ask a mockingbird. The New York Times recently published an answer to a query about why mockingbirds were becoming common in Manhattan. The expert answer was: food -- an exotic plant species that mockingbirds like to eat had spread to New York City. It was this, not temperature or rainfall, the expert said, that caused the change in mockingbird geography.

You might think I must be one of those know-nothing naysayers who believes global warming is a liberal plot. On the contrary, I am a biologist and ecologist who has worked on global warming, and been concerned about its effects, since 1968. I've developed the computer model of forest growth that has been used widely to forecast possible effects of global warming on life -- I've used the model for that purpose myself, and to forecast likely effects on specific endangered species.

I'm not a naysayer. I'm a scientist who believes in the scientific method and in what facts tell us. I have worked for 40 years to try to improve our environment and improve human life as well. I believe we can do this only from a basis in reality, and that is not what I see happening now. Instead, like fashions that took hold in the past and are eloquently analyzed in the classic 19th century book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," the popular imagination today appears to have been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naďve. "Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?" one said to me recently. Therefore, biologically, he said, we are justified in exaggerating to get society to change.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the debate over global warming, is the notion that THE SCIENCE (as John Kerry calls it) has all come down conclusively on one side and that anyone who remains skeptical of the coming catastrophe if we don't ACT NOW is merely a denier of reality or in the pay of Big Oil. The reality is that there are plenty of rational, thoughtful people who have looked at the THE SCIENCE and have concluded that the facts don't justify the doom saying and scaremongering. You won't see them winning awards from Norwegian politicians, hobnobbing with Hollywood stars, or being lauded by an adoring media. Their only solace will be being able to look back at some point in the future--after the global warming hysteria bubble bursts--with the satisfaction of knowing that they didn't buy the hype.


Thursday, October 11, 2007
Peace In Our Time

Excitement continues to build for tomorrow's announcement of the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fresh off his Oscar, and soon to receive an Emmy, Al Gore is rumored to be a front runner for this award as well. Then all he'll need is the Tony to achieve his dream of becoming the Rita Moreno of his generation. (Suggestions for the Broadway treatment of his masterpiece: The Inconvenient Truth of Being Earnest. Or, The Music Man.)

It is difficult to properly handicap Gore's chances of winning since, by Nobel Committee rules, the nominations are kept under strict secrecy for half a century:

The statutes of the Nobel Foundation restrict disclosure of information about the nominations, whether publicly or privately, for 50 years. The restriction concerns the nominees and nominators, as well as investigations and opinions related to the award of a prize.

No reasons are given for this Nixonian level of paranoid control. I suspect it has something to do with never having to say you're sorry for granting a "peace" award to the likes of Yasser Arafat (1994) instead of some poor less prominent nominee slaving away to feed the hungry or cure the sick, or just not facilitating suicide bombing of innocent women and children.

However, I must salute the Nobel Foundation for their fresh air and sunshine approach once the five decade interim has passed. Right here, a complete database of all nominees and their nominators, updated to the minute, circa 1955. (Come to think of it, they're still two years behind. What are they trying to hide about their actions in 1956!?)

It is interesting to plug in some names from the pre-War era to see who the august Nobel Committee was considering in the past. For example, you may have heard of this Peaceful gent, Hitler.

According to some reports, that nomination in 1939 was actually a protest against a flood of nominations submitted for appeaser extraordinaire, Neville Chamberlain.

However, I see Hitler's ideological paisano Mussolini was also nominated, back in 1935, well before the world new him as the junior partner in Euro Fascists Inc. And nominated by no less an authority than the "Professors at the Faculty of Law at Giessen University". I image in GU's alumni fundraising newsletter, sometime around 1945, there was an article entitled something like "File that one under whoops!"

Alas, we won't know the full extent of the whoops factor for this year's vote until around 2057. But we do know Al Gore is there as a nominee.

If the Nobel Foundation won't tell us who the other contenders are, we'll turn to the second most prestigious judging authority of peace prize legitimacy, Irish book maker

Interestingly, they see Gore as only the third most likely winner (at 9-2 odds). Perhaps he's splitting the global warming hysteria vote with the person trailing him, climate change activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier. No she doesn't have an Oscar, Emmy, or Tony for her efforts. But she does have it all over Gore in the diversity star power department, being female, Inuit, anti-American, and suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (I'm assuming that last one). I fear her presence may sink the both of them.

Who then would dare take this award away from our champion Al and his planet saving crusade? According to Paddy Power, shortest odds are on some conniving little snip named Irena Sendler (at 10-3).

OK, she did rescue 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis' clutches back in 1942. But come on Irena, what have you done for Peace lately? I doubt she's even purchased one-one hundredth the carbon offsets Al Gore has. And if Gore wins, no doubt he'll be happy to purchase even more to balance off the estimated 1.2 tons of carbon his round trip flight to Sweden to pick up the award will produce. Can you say the same, Ms. Sendler?

We'll find out tomorrow who the deserving Peace laureates REALLY are. Stand by, announcement at 4 AM Central Standard Time.


Friday, October 05, 2007
Happy To Pay More For Better Ice?

Nate from St. Paul e-mails on his city's plans to combat global warming:

Last March, Mayor Coleman said the greatest threat to the City was not the fact that we're broke and need to raise taxes 15%; instead, the greatest threat was global warming, apparently because it meant winters warm enough that some ice on outdoor rinks was soft.

If we have to wait for the ice to re-freeze after a thaw, an entire generation of St. Paulites might grow up not knowing the joy of uninterrupted outdoor skating. Imagine the disappointment on the urchins' faces when they find out that sometimes, outdoor ice melts in the winter. The horror!

What to do? Drive to Roseville and skate on the indoor ice? Build an indoor ice arena in St. Paul (maybe on some of the reclaimed "brownfields" lands)?

No. The City is closing 6 outdoor rinks to pay for 3 new refrigerated outdoor rinks. Yes, each will have a giant chiller to keep the ice frozen all season. I just got the flyer last night...we're getting one at Northdale Rec, across the street from me. The giant chiller will run at 100 decibels whenever the temperature is above freezing -- day and night, apparently. And there will be new stadium lights, too!

Interestingly, the flyer doesn't mention how the chiller and lights are powered without contributing to global warming. Pixie dust? I've attached a a JPG of the flyer.

Actually I'm a big proponent of these outdoor artificial ice rinks. Especially when they're not anywhere near my house and I don't have to pay for them. Heh heh.

What's that? St. Paul still receives FIFTY-THREE MILLION DOLLARS IN LGA from the State every year, so in reality I am helping to subsidize these rinks? D'oh!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Warming Trend

A couple of notable events coming up locally on the global warming front.

First up, is this Friday's Cooling the Panic Over Warming Event sponsored by Senate District 42. The evening will feature former U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Jason Lewis, and Dennis Avery. Avery is the co-author of Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years and we interviewed him on the NARN last March. Tickets are still available.

Last Spring, the City of St. Louis Park showed Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" at the City's Westwood Hills Nature Center. You may remember that this raised my dander a might and I lobbied city leaders to offer an alternative point of view on the matter (you may also remember that local media verified beyond doubt that "Chad Doughty is hot" at this time).

Now, the efforts have finally paid off. Next Saturday, October 13th the Westwood Hills Nature Center will present:

Movie: The Great Global Warming Swindle

Ages 12 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Westwood Hills Nature Center will continue its conversation with the community about global warming this fall by presenting the film, "The Great Global Warming Swindle." The film shows an alternate viewpoint to the one presented in the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth" earlier this year. The city hopes the films will foster a balanced community dialogue on the topic of global warming. This documentary was produced by Martin Durkin and argues against the scientific opinion that human activity is the main cause of global warming. The movie is 90 minutes long with a discussion to follow the movie.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Westwood Hills Nature Center, 8300 W. Franklin Ave.
Activity # 3731
Registration deadline: when programs is filled

I'd strongly encourage people to turn out for the showing even if you have seen the movie before. Reports said that the turnout for the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth" was quite modest and it would be great to have a decent sized crowd on hand to see an alternative viewpoint presented. They say politics is all about showing up and the debate over global warming has a huge political component to it. Show up if you can.


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