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12/18/2009
A WORLD GONE MAD

Hillary Clinton has apparently spurred world leaders to come to an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Was it the power of her personality? The moral suasion of her arguments? Her good looks?

More like her promise to help raise $100 billion a year to give to developing countries - in addition to the foreign aid we already are supplying - so that they can deal with the “effects” of climate change:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has promised the United States will help raise $100 billion annually by 2020 to assist poor countries in coping with climate change as long as America’s demands for a global warming pledge are met.

Clinton’s announcement, made during a packed news conference, represents a major breakthrough in the U.N.-led talks, which had all but ground to a halt last night. But Clinton emphasized that the money is only on the table so long as fast-growing nations like China and India accept binding commitments that are open to international inspection and verification. If other countries don’t bend, she warned, the poorest countries will suffer.

“In the absence of an operational agreement that meets the requirements that I outlined, there will not be that financial agreement, at least from the United States,” Clinton warned. And, she added: “Without that accord, there won’t be the kind of joint global action from all of the major economies we all want to see, and the effects in the developing world could be catastrophic.”

The pledged amount is less than what the European Union had laid out as necessary to help the poorest countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America prepare for climate disasters and develop low-fossil-fuel economies. Clinton said the funding would come from a mix of public and private financing, including revenue raised from the auctioning of emission allowances under a possible U.S. cap-and-trade system still under development on Capitol Hill.

There seems to be some confusion in the blogosphere over this figure of $100 billion. No, the US would not be paying all of it as many are reporting. But you can bet we’ll be paying a nice chunk of it, and that was music to the ears of the developing world.

President Obama arrived Friday morning and immediately went into a meeting with several dozen heads of state to try and save the conference by coming up with at least some kind of interim deal where the details could be worked out later:

A visibly angry Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet at China and other developing nations Friday, declaring that the time has come “not to talk but to act” on climate change.

Emerging from a multinational meeting boycotted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Obama warned delegates that U.S. offers of funding for poor nations would remain on the table “if and only if” developing nations, including China, agreed to international monitoring of their greenhouse gas emissions.

“I have to be honest, as the world watches us. … I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt and it hangs in the balance,” Obama told the COP-15 plenary session as hope faded for anything more than a vague political in agreement.

“The time for talk is over, this is the bottom line: We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be part of an historic endeavor, or we can choose delay,” he said.

He added, “The question is whether we will move forward together, or split apart. … We know the fault lines because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years.”

Back home, senators critical to getting a climate bill through Congress have stressed that developing nations must submit to international monitoring — particularly if they want the U.S. to pay hundreds of billions to help combat the destructive impact of climate change.

Rumors of a deal were greatly exaggerated. Evidently, everyone is hanging back until Obama commits the US to ruinous emissions targets. Obama is holding back until he gets China to walk the plank with him by agreeing to robust, on-site “verification” procedures. China won’t do it because, obviously, they want to cheat and don’t want anyone knowing it.

China will play the global warming game when they want everyone to believe they are being a good global citizen. But when it comes right down to it, any emissions targets would be ruinous to their coal-fired economy. Hence, they have not only been pushing for nebulous targets but for weak verification as well. And the US wants to deny China any of that climate change cash that great environmentalists and human righs champions like Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe are licking their chops over.

The kleptocrats of the world who have stolen hundreds of billions from their own people, as well as taxpayers in western countries as foreign aid has largely gone down a black hole of graft and corruption, are lining up for their cut of this bounty. And if you believe that much of this trillion dollar largess is going to be spent on efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, I have a bridge over the Chicago river I would like to sell you.

The world has gone mad and our president is in lock step with them as they approach the precipice. Even if you “believe” the science - and not all climate change advocates are frauds, or evangelists for warming, or commies wanting to take over the world - the reaction of the planet’s leaders to this problem is blown titanically out of proportion. It is the Precautionary Principle run wild.

Why believe those scientists who say we must act now to avoid catastrophe? Why is their work any more believable than those who say it’s already too late or those who say we have at least another century before we have to start worrying? There may be “consensus” that the world is warming and that man is at least party responsible. But there is nothing approaching scientific agreement on how much the earth will warm, how long it will take, and - most importantly - whether reducing emissions will help alleviate the problem at all.

Is Friedman right?

When I see a problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is “irreversible” and potentially “catastrophic,” I buy insurance. That is what taking climate change seriously is all about.

If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.

But if we don’t prepare, and climate change turns out to be real, life on this planet could become a living hell. And that’s why I’m for doing the Cheney-thing on climate — preparing for 1 percent.

Friedman’s scenario is a dream. First of all, there is nothing “gradual” about this switch. The president wants to cut our emissions 20% by 2030 and have 10% of our power output based in “renewable” sources by 2020. Currently, renewables account for around 3% - and most of that is nuclear which, as we all realize, is a no no in the environmental movement.

As far as the Precautionary Principle is concerned, Rand Simberg applies the necessary realism in his response to Friedman’s desire to “buy insurance” against his 1% probability of warming:

Well, I do that, too. But I buy insurance that has a price commensurate with the expected value (i.e., the cost of the disaster times the probability that it will occur). For instance, I’ll pay a few hundred bucks for a million-dollar policy against the small chance that I’ll kick off tomorrow. Presumably, Friedman assumes that the proposed palliatives of cap’n’tax or carbon taxes meet that criterion, but he doesn’t do the calculations for us, because he can’t. Warm mongers like him propose to spend trillions of dollars now to prevent an unknown amount of cost later, in defiance of the basic economic principle of discounting the value of future expenditures.

There is a variation on this fallacy, in fact. It goes: There is a crisis; something must be done! What we propose to do is something. Therefore, it must be done!

This invalid argument is otherwise known as false choice, of course, because the alternative to the particular something being proposed is not nothing (even if one accepts the initial premise that there is a crisis about which something must be done) — it is a variety of other somethings, some of which may be the something that is actually key to solving the problem, even if their own is not necessarily.

So in the next decade, we are going to ostensibly replace coal fired generating plants with either a massive program to put solar panels on tens of millions of structures, or simply do without power. That would mean frequent brown outs and perhaps even blackouts - you know, kind of like they have in the third world. Those coal plants will simply become too expensive to run and the electricity generated would be too expensive to buy.

Subsidy loving liberals will step in to solve the problem. Hey! Let’s give money to folks so they can make the changeover to solar! Or help the poor folks pay their massively increased electric bills! Or both!

Secondly, the massive dislocations caused by the precipitous changeover to a “green” economy are ill understood. Certainly there are millions of jobs in the coal, oil and gas, utility, and other fossil fuel industries that would be lost for good because of these goals. And to say they would be “replaced” by green jobs is idiotic. Is anyone seriously trying to make the point that a 40 year old coal miner in West Virginia could simply show up at a solar panel manufacturing plant and get a job? Or a roughneck find employment on a wind turbine farm?

Get real. Friedman will find out what a “living hell” looks like if the kinds of draconian measures being advocated in Copenhagen actually become reality. And it’s hard not to believe that literally destroying the capitalist economies of the west so that we just don’t feel sympathy for third world countries but actually become just like them isn’t part of the plan as the reaction to Hugo Chavez in Copenhagen made clear:

President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell….let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.

Note to Chavez; the most polluted places on this planet are in Russia and eastern Europe; nations where socialism reined supreme for decades and where profit was a dirty word. And Communist China is the second largest emitter of CO2 on earth.

This is not about the earth warming. It is not about temperature. It is not about saving the earth.

This is about control. And if you can’t see that after what has gone on in Copenhagen this week, then you deserve the absolute worst fate that these thugs and autocrats have in store for you.

By: Rick Moran at 11:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

12/8/2009
WHAT’S SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT CLIMATEGATE? EVERYTHING

We humans like things nice and simple. If we have to expend any more than minimal brain power to understand something, we get all cranky and upset. This is especially true if something that we thought we understood goes against our preconceived notions of the truth once we internalize more information.

I envy the technically inclined. They seem to be able to grasp difficult concepts with an ease that escapes me. And I’m not talking about those who might be educated in the sciences or other technical fields. It is much more basic than that. There are some people who are simply better at understanding complexities than the rest of us. It probably has something to do with the way their minds are organized.

No doubt in 10,000 years, their DNA will have survived while mine and the other technically challenged humans will see our DNA go the way of the Neanderthals. Such is the relentless logic of evolution that favors the problem solvers, the adapters.

I bring this up because the more I read about Climategate, the less informed I become. I have to really work at understanding even the basics of what people like Mark Sheppard, Charlie Martin, and this fellow at Watts Up With That blog Willis Eschenbach seem to understand intuitively.

All three of these gentlemen are telling me that Climategate contains revelations so profound that they call into question a quarter century of scientific observations and theory about climate change. I have no reason to doubt their anaylses or conclusions. That’s because I barely have a clue of what they are writing about.

Distilling basics from this trio of very smart, accomplished people is difficult. But what I can gather is that something is very wrong with the temperature data, not just for CRU, but for the entire knowledge base on which the very idea of rising temperatures above what would normally be expected rests.

If true, this would be a flabbergasting turn of events. The theory of global warming rests on the observation that rising levels of CO2 corresponds directly with rising temperatures. The inference to be drawn from the data is that the rise in CO2 is the result of industrialized economies spewing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Correlation in both sets of data is necessary for the the theory to hold water. If you remove the rise in temperatures from the equation, all you have is increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and a theory that eventually, this will lead to a warmer planet. But without that temperature data showing a rise, it would be impossible to construct a viable model of how fast and how much warming would take place. It would be pure speculation if a climatologist tried to model future temperatures if what the record showed were normal fluctuations that could be accounted for by other indices (lack of solar activity, “Little Ice Age” warming, etc.).

So this is what has me flummoxed. Are the leaked documents from CRU a closing of the coffin for the AGW theory? This from Eschenbach would seem to make a strong case for it:

People keep saying “Yes, the Climategate scientists behaved badly. But that doesn’t mean the data is bad. That doesn’t mean the earth is not warming.”

Let me start with the second objection first. The earth has generally been warming since the Little Ice Age, around 1650. There is general agreement that the earth has warmed since then. See e.g. Akasofu . Climategate doesn’t affect that.

The second question, the integrity of the data, is different. People say “Yes, they destroyed emails, and hid from Freedom of information Acts, and messed with proxies, and fought to keep other scientists’ papers out of the journals … but that doesn’t affect the data, the data is still good.” Which sounds reasonable.

There are three main global temperature datasets. One is at the CRU, Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, where we’ve been trying to get access to the raw numbers. One is at NOAA/GHCN, the Global Historical Climate Network. The final one is at NASA/GISS, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The three groups take raw data, and they “homogenize” it to remove things like when a station was moved to a warmer location and there’s a 2C jump in the temperature. The three global temperature records are usually called CRU, GISS, and GHCN. Both GISS and CRU, however, get almost all of their raw data from GHCN. All three produce very similar global historical temperature records from the raw data.

OK - this I understand. But after examining a recent controversy in Australia where the raw data was, in fact, released for the temperature stations, what Eschenbach finds, is that those “homogenized” adjustments appear to be…biased in favor of warming:

YIKES! Before getting homogenized, temperatures in Darwin were falling at 0.7 Celcius per century … but after the homogenization, they were warming at 1.2 Celcius per century. And the adjustment that they made was over two degrees per century … when those guys “adjust”, they don’t mess around. And the adjustment is an odd shape, with the adjustment first going stepwise, then climbing roughly to stop at 2.4C.

Of course, that led me to look at exactly how the GHCN “adjusts” the temperature data.

[...]

They pick five neighboring stations, and average them. Then they compare the average to the station in question. If it looks wonky compared to the average of the reference five, they check any historical records for changes, and if necessary, they homogenize the poor data mercilessly. I have some problems with what they do to homogenize it, but that’s how they identify the inhomogeneous stations.

OK … but given the scarcity of stations in Australia, I wondered how they would find five “neighboring stations” in 1941 …

So I looked it up. The nearest station that covers the year 1941 is 500 km away from Darwin. Not only is it 500 km away, it is the only station within 750 km of Darwin that covers the 1941 time period. (It’s also a pub, Daly Waters Pub to be exact, but hey, it’s Australia, good on ya.) So there simply aren’t five stations to make a “reference series” out of to check the 1936-1941 drop at Darwin.

Yikes, indeed. Half a world away from CRU and we apparently have a similar situation where the scientists solve their “problem” with falling temps by simply massaging the data until it says what they want it to say.

But the thought gnaws at me; am I missing something here? Surely the way they massaged the data has some scientific basis, right?

Yikes again, double yikes! What on earth justifies that adjustment? How can they do that? We have five different records covering Darwin from 1941 on. They all agree almost exactly. Why adjust them at all? They’ve just added a huge artificial totally imaginary trend to the last half of the raw data! Now it looks like the IPCC diagram in Figure 1, all right … but a six degree per century trend? And in the shape of a regular stepped pyramid climbing to heaven? What’s up with that?

Those, dear friends, are the clumsy fingerprints of someone messing with the data Egyptian style … they are indisputable evidence that the “homogenized” data has been changed to fit someone’s preconceptions about whether the earth is warming.

If this, as we are told, is “how science is done in the real world,” lemme outa here.

But is it?

In reaching its conclusion, the climate panel relied only partly on temperature data like that collected by the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, whose circulated e-mail correspondence set off the current uproar. It also considered a wide range of data from other sources, including measurements showing the retreat of glaciers in mountain ranges around the world, changes in the length and character of the seasons, heating of the oceans and marked retreats of sea ice in the Arctic.

Since 1979, satellites have provided another check on surface temperature measurements. Strong disagreements about how to interpret the satellite data were largely resolved after the Bush administration began a review in which competing research groups worked out some of their differences.

Science is about probability, not certainty. And the persisting uncertainties in climate science leave room for argument. What is a realistic estimate of how much temperatures will rise? How severe will the effects be? Are there tipping points beyond which the changes are uncontrollable?

Even climate scientists disagree on many of these questions. But skeptics have been critical of the data assembled to show that warming is occurring and the analytic methods that climate scientists use, including mathematical models used to demonstrate a human cause for warming and project future trends.

This is where my personal conundrum ensues. There are literally dozens of studies showing that glaciers are retreating. And yet when one study comes out showing the opposite, the global warming deniers latch on to it with the fervency of a recent convert to a religion. Arctic ice is another measurement that features a host of studies showing it is shrinking and getting thinner while far fewer observations reveals the opposite.

They can’t all be frauds. They can’t all be hiding data, cooking the books, just for grant money. They can’t all be far left commies out to set up a one world government. Many of these observations must be accepted based on the idea that there is widespread agreement across several scientific disciplines that these observations reflect the facts. And if that’s true, then global warming as a theory has not been “debunked” but rather called into question - something the Al Gores of the world don’t want to do but which science, with its infinite capacity to be skeptical, must do if the scientific process itself is to remain a viable part of our civilization.

My point is that you have to look at the big picture. Picking and choosing which scientific evidence you wish to acknowledge is simply not acceptable. The raw temperature data looks flawed to me but what do I know? There are at least two instances of scientists massaging data to achieve a desired result. Does that destroy the entire theory of AGW?

What it should do is knock some sense into the fools who are gathering in Copenhagen. If this were truly about saving the planet, there would be no talk of requiring the kinds of draconian, economy destroying measures being contemplated by world leaders. But global warming is now out of the scientist’s hands and is in the political realm. And since politics is ultimately about control, government action to curb emissions will be the order of the day.

There will never be “certainty” about global warming. The question I have is, after we are finished pulverizing industrialized civilization and the climate doesn’t warm, where do we go to get our money back?

By: Rick Moran at 11:42 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

12/6/2009
WARMIST ADVOCATES REFUSE TO DIFFERNIATE BETWEEN ‘DENIERS’ AND ‘SKEPTICS’

It doesn’t help their case any when warming advocates deliberately (or ignorantly) refer to climate change skeptics as “deniers” of global warming.

The deniers fall into the Luddite camp; those who reject any notion that man made climate change is even possible and indeed, harbor delusions that there is a world-wide conspiracy of thousands of scientists across several disciplines who are manipulating data to garner more grant money and enslave them. They see Climategate as a vindication of this view and believe the entire science of global warming has been “debunked.”

The skeptics are, for the most part, willing to examine all relevant data while attempting to keep an open mind about the conclusions reached regarding global warming. Their criticisms are confined to specific aspects of the debate and do not generally tail off into conspiracy theories or conclusions that AGW is a complete fiction.

There are indeed some skeptics who have reached the scientific conclusion, buttressed by their own evidence, that the science of AGW is flawed and is not “settled” in any sense of the word. Are they deniers because their criticisms of warming evidence like “the hockey stick” or the even more problematic ice core temp studies seek to debunk what is now “established” AGW science? Or are they responsible scientists seeking the facts?

Warming advocates do not even try to separate the two which can lead to idiocy like this from the Guardian today:

Attempts have been made to break into the offices of one of Canada’s leading climate scientists, it was revealed yesterday. The victim was Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and a key contributor to the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In one incident, an old computer was stolen and papers were disturbed.

In addition, individuals have attempted to impersonate technicians in a bid to access data from his office, said Weaver. The attempted breaches, on top of the hacking of files from British climate researcher Phil Jones, have heightened fears that climate-change deniers are mounting a campaign to discredit the work of leading meteorologists before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit tomorrow.

“The key thing is to try to find anybody who’s involved in any aspect of the IPCC and find something that you can … take out of context,” said Weaver. The prospect of more break-ins and hacking has forced researchers to step up computer security.

Fears of further attacks by climate-change deniers have also put Copenhagen delegates under increased pressure to reach a comprehensive deal to limit carbon emissions, with Britain’s chief negotiator, energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband, warning last week that there was no certainty that a deal would be reached. “We need to have our foot on the gas all the time,” he said on Thursday. “We should not be complacent about getting a deal.” It was crucial that Britain, and Europe, showed ambition in setting an agenda for a tough, binding agreement and not let the efforts of climate sceptics derail negotiations, he added. “Our children will hold us in contempt if we fail now.”

The poor scientists are not familiar with a media feeding frenzy. Everyone and their brother is out to make a name for themselves by scooping the world and proving that warming advocates are cooking the books. Breaking and entering is a serious matter as is purloining personal papers and emails. This kind of nonsense should be punished. But stunts like impersonating workers are as old as newspapers and is hardly evidence that anyone is out to “smear” prominent climate scientists.

And talk about conspiracy nuts! To ascribe this competitive activity on the part of bloggers, writers, and press to get dirt on climate scientists as to “climate-change deniers” who “are mounting a campaign to discredit the work of leading meteorologists before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit tomorrow,” is balmy. If this is organized in any way I will eat my Bears hat. Positing a conspiracy to discredit Copenhagen is as loony as saying the entire AGW movement is one gigantic, organized conspiracy to force One World Government down our throats. It doesn’t track that way if you know anything about how the modern media works.

Nevertheless, Climategate deniers - those who are whistling past the graveyard believing that the scandal doesn’t change anything - have sought to lump both deniers and skeptics together in an effort to counter the growing perception that these are scientists with something to hide. It doesn’t help AGW science or their case against the CRU hack when so many of their colleagues are fighting tooth and nail against FOIA requests to reveal the underlying data that supports their theories.

On that subject, Jim Lindgren of the Volokh Conspiracy has a great post on the quest of Steve McIntyre to get the authors of the hockey stick graph to release their data so that their conclusions can be duplicated. What McIntyre found without that data was shocking, as Lindgren’s link to Bishop Hill’s post on the subject shows:

[In 2005, Steven] McIntyre discovered that an update to the Polar Urals series had been collected in 1999. Through a contact he was able to obtain a copy of the revised series. Remarkably, in the update the eleventh century appeared to be much warmer than in the original — in fact it was higher even than the twentieth century. This must have been a severe blow to paleoclimatologists, a supposition that is borne out by what happened next, or rather what didn’t: the update to the Polar Urals was not published, it was not archived and it was almost never seen again.

With Polar Urals now unusable, paleclimatologists had a pressing need for a hockey stick shaped replacement and a solution appeared in the nick of time in the shape of a series from the nearby location of Yamal.

The Yamal data had been collected by a pair of Russian scientists, Hantemirov and Shiyatov, and was published in 2002. In their version of the data, Yamal had little by way of a twentieth century trend. Strangely though, Briffa’s version, which had made it into print before even the Russians’, was somewhat different. While it was very similar to the Russians’ version for most of the length of the record, Briffa’s verison had a sharp uptick at the end of the twentieth century — another hockey stick, made almost to order to meet the requirements of the paleoclimate community. Certainly, after its first appearance in Briffa’s 2000 paper in Quaternary Science Reviews, this version of Yamal was seized upon by climatologists, appearing again and again in temperature reconstructions; it became virtually ubiquitous in the field: apart from Briffa 2000, it also contributed to the reconstructions in Mann and Jones 2003, Jones and Mann 2004, Moberg et al 2005, D’Arrigo et al 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006 and Hegerl et al 2007, among others.

Read the whole post on McIntyre’s tireless efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery. It wasn’t until years later when the Royal Society published a paper using Yarmal data and was he able to hold the Society to their longstanding policy of requiring authors to archive the underlying data to make it publicly available. Finally, nearly 10 years after his first request, McIntyre got a hold of Briffa’s data and was able to destroy the hockey stick graph.

The lesson? The snoops who are digging for a smoking gun at the Canadian climate facility are misguided for engaging in illegal activity. But they wouldn’t be tempted if there was more transparency in the AGW community. The same holds true for any lab in the world and one would expect that the same standards these scientists would hold skeptics to would be honored.

That said, lumping “skeptics” in with “deniers” is a transparent smear and should be abandoned.

By: Rick Moran at 11:41 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

11/27/2009
WARMING ADVOCATES: ‘REMAIN CALM! ALL IS WELL!

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The human mind is an extraordinary organ, isn’t it? Perhaps one of its greatest fetes is its ability to compartmentalize information so that one side of the brain can ignore what the other side is trying to tell it. In extreme cases, this results in psychosis where the ignored memory is buried deep in the subconscious but still manifests itself in the outward behavior of the patient.

In the case of warming advocates, the logical side of the brain is being shut down so that the emotional part of the brain can continue as if nothing has happened recently that challenges their deeply held views toward climate change. It is a classic dissociative response, as Wikpedia describes it:

Dissociation is an unexpected partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s conscious or psychological functioning that cannot be easily explained by the person. Dissociation is a mental process that severs a connection to a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity.[1] Dissociation can be a response to trauma, and perhaps allows the mind to distance itself from experiences that are too much for the psyche to process at that time.[2] Dissociative disruptions can affect any aspect of a person’s functioning.

Now, a rational response to Climategate among warming advocates would be to examine the document dump from the CRU hack, and realize at the very least that serious questions about data on which much of the temperature theories regarding AGW are based need to be answered. There is no need to abandon one’s overall belief in AGW to do this. All that is needed is to challenge one’s basic assumptions about what we think we know.

But that isn’t happening - at least, not by most AGW believers. What is ironic is that perhaps the least rational warming advocate (and political commentator) George Monbiot (whose name became synonymous with “Moonbat”), has penned the most rational response among the promoters of AGW.

I have seldom felt so alone. Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial. The emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, they say, are a storm in a tea cup, no big deal, exaggerated out of all recognition. It is true that climate change deniers have made wild claims which the material can’t possibly support (the end of global warming, the death of climate science). But it is also true that the emails are very damaging.

The response of the greens and most of the scientists I know is profoundly ironic, as we spend so much of our time confronting other people’s denial. Pretending that this isn’t a real crisis isn’t going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We’ll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.

[...]

Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the university’s handling of it, which has been a total trainwreck: a textbook example of how not to respond. RealClimate reports that “We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.” In other words, the university knew what was coming three days before the story broke. As far as I can tell, it sat like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting for disaster to strike.

The tack of AGW advocates seems to be to concentrate solely on the release of the emails to make their case that the evidence can be construed different ways by different people.

Just for fun, let’s concede that point to AGW advocates. Their problem is that the emails only constitute 5% of the released documents and the real meat of the hack - so far - has been the revelations about computer codes used to power the models on which so much of the temperature evidence is based. In a word, they are “buggy” - and thus, other scientists would find it impossible to replicate their experimental results.

Even beyond that, is the little reported, and perhaps even more disturbing news from New Zealand where the scientists working for the government’s climate lab were stupid enough to attempt to put one over on the public via the release of a climate graph along with the raw data from temperature stations around the country. To make a long story short, while the graph showed an alarming increase in temperature over the past century - ostensibly due to human activity - the raw data on which the graph was based tells another story:

What did we find? First, the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections. But we were astonished to find that strong adjustments have indeed been made.

About half the adjustments actually created a warming trend where none existed; the other half greatly exaggerated existing warming. All the adjustments increased or even created a warming trend, with only one (Dunedin) going the other way and slightly reducing the original trend.

The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming, as documented below. There is nothing in the station histories to warrant these adjustments and to date Dr Salinger and NIWA have not revealed why they did this.

One station, Hokitika, had its early temperatures reduced by a huge 1.3°C, creating strong warming from a mild cooling, yet there’s no apparent reason for it.

We have discovered that the warming in New Zealand over the past 156 years was indeed man-made, but it had nothing to do with emissions of CO2—it was created by man-made adjustments of the temperature. It’s a disgrace.

Why would a temperature graph supposedly based on raw data readings from stations around New Zealand show a different result when others attempt to apply the same data points to their own graph?

I am not a scientist so I don’t know if there is a logical explanation for this. There may be. The scientist in charge - David Wratt - gave this explanation for the discrepancy:

The NIWA climate controversy took a new twist tonight with the release of new data from the government run climate agency.

Reeling from claims that it has massaged data to show a 150 year warming trend where there isn’t one, NIWA’s chief climate scientist David Wratt, an IPCC vice-chair on the 2007 AR4 report, issued a news release stating adjustments had been made to compensate for changes in sensor locations over the years.

While such an adjustment is valid, it needs to be fully explained so other scientists can test the reasonableness of the adjustment.

And Wratt is refusing to release the data so that other scientists can duplicate his results - except for one temp station:

Wratt is refusing to release data his organisation claims to have justifying adjustments on other weather stations, meaning the science cannot be reviewed. However, he has released information relating to Wellington temperature readings, and they make for interesting reading.

Here’s the rub. Up until 1927, temperatures for Wellington had been taken at Thorndon, only 3 m above sea level and an inner-city suburb. That station closed and, as I suspected in my earlier post, there is no overlap data allowing a comparison between Thorndon and Kelburn, where the gauge moved, at an altitude of 135 metres.

With no overlap of continuous temperature readings from both sites, there is no way to truly know how temperatures should be properly adjusted to compensate for the location shift.

So it’s back to square one with the onus of proof squarely on the government scientist to release the data so that his work can be verified.

One would think that before we employ methods like cap and trade or other draconian carbon reducing gimmicks to cut our emissions, that we make sure it is, 1) necessary, and 2) that it will actually save the planet. As for the latter, there is no reliable information that drastically cutting CO2 emissions will do anything to slow warming. It’s not even clear that it will reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. As for the former, I agree somewhat with Eugene Robinson:

The fact is that climate science is fiendishly hard because of the enormous number of variables that interact in ways no one fully understands. Scientists should welcome contrarian views from respected colleagues, not try to squelch them. They should admit what they don’t know.

It would be great if this were all a big misunderstanding. But we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and we know the planet is hotter than it was a century ago. The skeptics might have convinced each other, but so far they haven’t gotten through to the vanishing polar ice.

Well, that last by Robinson depends on what you read. Antarctica’s ice is growing, while the Arctic ice seems to be shrinking.

Is the planet hotter than it was a century ago? If it is - and the thrust of Climategate revelations would seem to indicate that this is once again, an open question - is it a statistical fluke, a natural hiccup in the gradual warming we have seen for the last 10,000 years made more pronounced by a measured lack of solar storms? Or has it been caused by industrialized civilization?

Trillions of dollars, the health and vibrancy of the world’s economies, and perhaps the future of life on the planet depends on the answer. I don’t think it too much to ask that we get it right. And those AGW advocates in denial over this growing scientific scandal - perhaps the biggest since Piltdown Man was shown to be a hoax - need to reunite the two sides of their brains that are in conflict and get to work.

By: Rick Moran at 10:57 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

4/21/2009
WHY DO CONSERVATIVES SEE RED WHEN OBAMA TALKS GREEN?

I used to be as much of a frothing at the mouth, anti-EPA, anti-environmental regulation ideologue as the next fellow. Back in the early 1980’s when I was but a young buckaroo, I could rail against the anti-business, anti-free market bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency and the anti-people environmentalists with the best of them.

But at that time, one must recall that the Reagan administration represented the first push-back against some of the really silly and stupid — not to mention draconian and illiberal — regulations that had contributed to the decline of the steel and other industries as well as placing an unnecessary burden on farmers, ranchers, loggers, and other small businessmen who became targets of the regulators.

So what happened? I’d like to say I grew up and opened my eyes but that would presuppose that somewhere in my conservative soul I wasn’t concerned about the environment all along. Rather it was the gradual realization brought about by my own life experiences that the industrial age and free market capitalism had brought us wondrous riches and allowed for a lifestyle unknown anywhere else on the planet but that it had come at a cost. We have always known of this cost to the environment. Even in my dotage I can recall Lake Michigan beaches in Chicago being closed due to excess pollution, and a small stream near where I grew up becoming a frothing, foamy cesspool of smelly brown sludge from some business or other dumping waste upstream. Driving through Gary, Indiana in the 1960’s after spending 4 weeks in the pristine wilderness of northern Michigan made us all gag from the stench of the belching steel mills running 24 hours a day, turning white laundry a soft shade of brown on backyard clotheslines.

Knowing all this, I still resisted the idea that government could tell business what to do. I just never made the connection between pollution and the polluters until I had traveled enough and lived long enough to see the impact on ordinary people’s lives.

Later, it was concern about suburban sprawl that affected me directly and all the attendant environmental problems and quality of life issues that came with it. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that environmental protection was necessary and even desirable, and that only the federal government was a big enough entity to take on giant corporations and powerful interests who were acting in an irresponsible manner toward the natural world.

And therein lies the conservative dilemma about the environment and why, to this day, conservatives are uneasy about getting too excited about going “green.”

In a perfect world where the free market was truly “free,” environmental protection would be fairly easy. “You break it, you pay for it,” would be the sentence for polluters who damaged the air and water that Americans breathe and drink. There might even be incentives for business to be good stewards of the land. But that notion supposes that all businesses will act with some degree of responsibility toward the environment. History has proved otherwise which made federal intervention a necessity.

In the early days of the federal environmental movement, there was much support from more moderate Republicans for measures like the creation of the EPA, the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, and the original efforts to cut down on lead in gasoline emissions.

But when EPA regulations began to cut into profits and pose a burden on businesses large and small, conservatives saw an agency out of control and uncaring about economic growth. The fervent beliefs and self-righteousness of environmentalists didn’t help matters either. In the end, it was enough to simply oppose anything the EPA tried to do, branding it as government overreach and injurious to wealth creation.

This view became even more pronounced during the 1990’s as the Global Warming debate heated up. As climate change advocates became more and more accusatory of skeptics, conservatives recoiled from what they saw as the almost religious nature of AGW beliefs. Kyoto, a treaty so obviously flawed that the senate wouldn’t even consider it, proved to conservatives that the global warming argument was less about climate change and more about massive transfers of wealth from rich nations to poor.

But why should conservatives look upon environmental issues in such a way? Environmentalism was invented by a “progressive” conservative, Teddy Roosevelt. TR was in love with nature — especially that part of which he could shoot — but he also realized that unless action was taken, some future generation of Americans would lose the legacy of our wilderness. The almost incomprehensible vastness of the land is one of the things that makes us an exceptional nation and TR saw a day when almost all the empty spaces would be filled up. Thus was born the conservation movement by government (it had existed for 50 years previous to that as private citizens bought up more than 20 million acres to save the wilderness).

What happened to that legacy? Post World War II conservatism became entranced and then captured by the idea that untrammeled growth and unregulated free markets was the ticket to paradise. Somehow, the notion that bigger was better married with a semi-religious belief in corporatism to unbalance the traditional conservative belief in “conserving” the past. When the reality of choking smog and filthy rivers became an issue, conservatives balked, believing it was a “cost of economic growth” or more incoherently, a question of “keeping the government out of the business of business.”

That view held by many conservatives has matured since the 1960’s but not by much. Conservatives are still apt to make fun of “tree huggers” and others who go overboard in professing their love of nature while believing that global warming is a “hoax”. In this, the right has been content to allow the left to claim the mantle of “Protectors of the Earth” despite the fact that there are few issues that are more conservative than conservation.

Conservative thinkers for the last century have embraced conservation and environmentalism as a natural outgrowth of one of conservatism’s most cherished principles. Political theorist Russell Kirk:

“True conformity to the dictates of nature requires reverence for the past and solicitude for the future. ‘Nature’ is not simply the sensation of the passing moment; it is eternal, though we evanescent men experience only a fragment of it. We have no right to imperil the happiness of posterity by impudently tinkering with the heritage of humanity.”

The “heritage of humanity, or as he put it later in life, the “concept of society as joined in perpetuity by a moral bond among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born—the community of souls. . . .”

Prudence, piety, a regard for the world around us and the people in it; you can’t get much more conservative than that. We see this ideal slowly being resurrected among younger conservatives especially. Perhaps the last two decades of materialism and the celebration of capitalism has affected younger conservatives who seek more meaning in their lives. This is part of the crunchy-con beliefs of Ron Dreher and embodied politically by Mike Huckabee. Environmentalism to some younger righties is very much a concern that is tied into an overall critique of American capitalism.

Kirk decisively rejects the “practical conservatism [which has] degenerated into mere laudation of ‘private enterprise,’ economic policy almost wholly surrendered to special interests.”28 He “Indignantly denie[s] . . . that his conservatism could or should be identified with businessmen.”29 Other leading traditionalists concur. Peter Viereck admonishes conservatives to “conserve the humane and ethical values of the West rather than the economic privileges of a fraction of the West.”30 Stephen Tonsor contends that the traditionalist conservatives “are not now, nor will they be, identified with the American business community. They are clearly identified with natural law philosophy and revealed religion.”

From a traditionalist perspective, just as we have inherited our culture and must preserve it for future generations, so have we inherited this earth, and we have to take proper care of it as good stewards. As Margaret Thatcher stated when she announced her conversion to environmentalism, “No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease.” The principle of stewardship, and consequently of “sustainable development,” should lead conservatives to accept their duty to design our economy so that we produce our goods in a way that does not impair the planet’s ability to provide for future generations.

The question, then, of why conservatives have abandoned environmentalism and ceded the issue to the left is more political than philosophical. The rationale has always been there. It’s just that in the heat of political combat — and thanks to a Republican party that would rather be in bed with the polluters than regulate them — conservatives have ultimately taken the position that whatever the liberals want to do with regard to the environment is wrong and must be opposed as a matter of principle.

I would say to my friends on the right that we’re missing the boat when it comes to the environment. President Obama’s top down solutions will be costly, inefficient, and in the end, won’t work very well. The liberals have left a huge political hole that conservatives could drive a truck through if they would begin to think more than superficially about how to protect the earth. Obama wishes to mandate which technologies will win out in the competition to develop alternative energies, reduce carbon emissions, and develop clean coal plants. One wonders what kind of mandates the government will force on auto manufacturers to develop “green” cars now that they have The Big Three by the short hairs. And cap and trade may prove to be one of the biggest boondoggles in the history of government - without reducing carbon emissions by one molecule.

But does that mean that these goals are unworthy? Or is it that the “solutions” are wrongheaded? Being dismissive of global warming is one thing; not promoting the idea of reducing carbon emissions is quite another. There are good reasons beyond “saving the earth” from what may be catastrophic climate change to reduce our carbon output. First of all, there’s a chance that ruinous changes in climate might actually occur unless we do something. The problem is that global warming has partnered so many odious ideologies and movements that the “solutions” being offered are thinly disguised power and wealth grabs by the United Nations, anti-globalists, anti-capitalists, radical environmentalists who put nature above human beings, and “sustainable development” freaks who actually wish to rid the world of 80% of its human population.

Making the reduction in carbon emissions a goal in and of itself would make more sense. Lessening our carbon footprint saves energy and helps us along the road to energy independence - a worthy goal all by itself. And devising laws and regulations that maximize market input into what kind of technologies will win out to help with the development of new, cleaner systems (and old ones like fast-tracking new nuclear power plants).

Resistance by conservatives to the idea of “going green” is, in the end, self defeating. Issues such as what is happening to our forests and national parks where over logging has denuded the land of millions of acres of trees (at bargain basement prices), as well as the systematic plunder of western lands where companies have purchased mineral rights for a song while reaming the taxpayer thanks to the stupidity of Congress and bureaucrats should be cause for reproachment of the Democrats by conservatives and not a reason to brand those who advocate protecting these resouces as kooks.

This state of affairs should rend the soul of any good conservative who agrees with Kirk that we are not leaving a decent “heritage to humanity” by our silence and non-engagement on environmental issues. If we continue to allow Democrats the run of the house and not challenge them with good, solid, conservative alternatives to their collectivist notions of paternalism and government control, we will be missing a huge opportunity.

By: Rick Moran at 8:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (30)