Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is Global Warming Real or a Hoax? Yes.

The fact is, there has been global warming, but the contribution of human-generated carbon dioxide is necessarily so minuscule as to be nearly undetectable. Here's why:
Carbon dioxide, considered the main vector for human-caused global warming, is some 0.038% of the atmosphere[1]- a trace gas. Water vapor varies from 0% to 4%[2], and should easily average 1% or more[3] near the Earth’s surface, where the greenhouse effect would be most important, and is about three times more effective[4] a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So water vapor is at least 25 times more prevalent and three times more effective; that makes it at least 75 times more important to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide[5]. The TOTAL contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect is therefore 0.013 or less. The total human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution has been estimated at about 25%[6]. So humans’ carbon dioxide  greenhouse effect is a quarter of 0.013, works out to about 0.00325. Total warming of the Earth by the greenhouse effect is widely accepted as about 33 degrees Centigrade, raising average temperature to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. So the contribution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or under 0.1 degree Centigrade. Global warming over the last century is thought by many to be about 0.6 degrees Centigrade.

But that's only the beginning. We've had global warming for more than 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age, and there is evidence temperatures were actually somewhat warmer 9,000 years ago and again 4,500 to 8,000 years ago than they are today[7]. Whatever caused that, it was not human activity. It was not all those power plants and factories and SUVs being operated by Stone Age cavemen while chipping arrowheads out of bits of flint. Whatever the cause was, it melted the glaciers that in North America once extended south to Long Island and parts of New York City[8] into virtually complete disappearance (except for a few mountain remnants). That's one big greenhouse effect! If we are still having global warming - and I suppose we could presume we are, given this 10,000 year history - it seems highly likely that it is still the overwhelmingly primary cause of continued warming, rather than our piddling 0.00325 contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Yet even that trend-continuation today needs to be proved. Evidence is that the Medieval Warm Period centered on the 1200s was somewhat warmer than we are now[9], and the climate was clearly colder in the Little Ice Age in the 1600s than it is now[10]. So we are within the range of normal up-and-down fluctuations without human greenhouse contributions that could be significant, or even measurable.

The principal scientists arguing for human-caused global warming have been demonstrably disingenuous[11], and now you can see why. They have proved they should not be trusted. 

The idea that we should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars and hamstringing the economy of the entire world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is beyond ludicrous in light of the facts above; it is insane. Furthermore, it sucks attention and resources from seeking the other sources of warming and from coping with climate change and its effects in realistic ways. The true motivation underlying the global warming movement is almost certainly ideological and political in nature, and I predict that Anthropomorphic Global Warming, as currently presented, will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Ponzi and Madoff look like pikers by comparison.

[1] Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition
by Michael Pidwirny
Concentration varies slightly with the growing season in the northern hemisphere.  HYPERLINK "http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html" http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html
[2] ibid.
[3] HALOE v2.0 Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor Climatology Claudette Ojo, Hampton University; et al..  HYPERLINK "http://vsgc.odu.edu/src/Conf09/UnderGrad%20Papers/Ojo%20-%20Paper.pdf" http://vsgc.odu.edu/src/Conf09/UnderGrad%20Papers/Ojo%20-%20Paper.pdf. See p. 4.The 0 - 4% range is widely accepted among most sources. This source is listed for its good discussion of the phenomena determining that range. An examination of a globe will show that tropical oceans (near high end of range) are far more extensive than the sum of the earth’s arctic and antarctic regions and tropical-zone deserts (all near the low end). Temperate zone oceans are far more extensive than temperate-zone desert.  This author’s guess of an average of 2% or more seems plausible. I have used “1% or more” in an effort to err on the side of understatement. 
[4 NIST Chemistry Webbook, Please compare the IR absorption spectra of water and carbon dioxide. ]  HYPERLINK "http://webbook.nist.gov/" http://webbook.nist.gov/
[5] Three quarters of the atmosphere and virtually all water vapor are in the troposphere. Including all the atmosphere would change the ratios to about 20 times more prevalent and 60 times more effective. However, the greenhouse effect of high-altitude carbon dioxide on lower-altitude weather and the earth’s surface seems likely to be small if not nil.
[6] National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.  HYPERLINK "http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html" http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html. The estimated 90ppm increase in carbon dioxide, 30% above the base of 280  ppm, to a recent reading of 370 ppm, equates to just under 25% of present concentration, the relevant factor in estimating present contribution to the greenhouse effect.
[7] History of Earth’s Climate. http://www.dandebat.dk/eng-klima7.htm This account was written by someone for whom English was a second language and focuses on Scandinavia, but it draws together evidence from around the world, and provides insight into the challenges of judging temperatures in earlier geological times.
[8] New York Nature - The nature and natural history of the New York City region. Betsy McCully http://www.newyorknature.net/IceAge.html
[9] Global Warming: A Geological Perspective John P. Bluemle  HYPERLINK "https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/Newsletter/NL99W/PDF/globlwrmw99.pdf" http://www.azgs.az.gov/arizona_geology/archived_issues/Winter_1999.pdf This article, published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, is drawn from a paper by the author in Environmental Geosciences, 1999, Volume 6, Number 2, pp. 63-75. Note particularly the chart on p.4.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Wikileaks: Climatic Research Unit emails, data, models, 1996-2009  HYPERLINK "http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_emails,_data,_models,_1996-2009" http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_emails,_data,_models,_1996-2009
See also  HYPERLINK "http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246661/New-scandal-Climate-Gate-scientists-accused-hiding-data-global-warming-sceptics.html" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246661/New-scandal-Climate-Gate-scientists-accused-hiding-data-global-warming-sceptics.html and
 HYPERLINK "http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704075604575356611173414140.html" http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704075604575356611173414140.html and, more diplomatically:  HYPERLINK "http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01tier.html" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01tier.html. Et al.


 What initially troubled me was the aberrant behavior of the climate research unit at East Anglia University, which has been the main data source for AGW arguments. They initially refused (!) to reveal their algorithms and data on the grounds that they were proprietary(!!). They responded to critics with ad hominem attacks and efforts to block their publication in scientific journals. Now, as I am sure you know, this is not how one does honest science, in which you PUBLISH your data and methodology and invite critical comment to ferret out error or oversights. It took the now-famous Wikileaks "Climategate" to pry loose the data and expose their machinations. Yet despite the devastating blow these revelations should have to their credibility, the AGW "cause" has taken on a life of its own. 
Fundamentally, the argument seems to rest on a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc - after this, therefore because of this. We see a rise in temperature and a rise in (principally) carbon dioxide, and therefore conclude one must have caused the other. It does not necessarily follow at all. There can be other causes entirely behind both phenomena, and as you see above, almost certainly there are. Beyond that, I have encountered numerous assertions of fact that cannot add up given the physical properties of water vapor and carbon dioxide that go unchallenged. One-sided arguments proliferate and people arguing the other side are frequently denounced as being employed by business interests rather than rebutted on the merits. 
In sum, I have not come lightly to the conclusion that the AGW argument as it applies to carbon dioxide is largely untrue and certainly does not account for more than a very small, nearly negligible part of the phenomena we are seeing. The implications of widespread assertions of and belief in such an untruth are staggering, and potentially enormously destructive. It is unwise indeed to let oneself be stampeded in this matter, and stampede is clearly what many have been and are trying to induce.

I can understand politicians behaving this way; a carbon tax or carbon trading regime would allow enormous revenues to fall into their hands. I can understand "Progressive" ideologues; it logically leads to enormous expansion of government power over industry, the economy, and the daily life of individuals, which they regard as a good thing. I understand the environmentalists; they want to shrink the size and impact on the environment of modern civilization. But responsible citizens need to put aside such considerations.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Does Obama Lose the 2012 Election? It;s Up to the GOP

Compare 2008, when Obama won, with today.

In 2008, Obama had everything going for him. People were mesmerized by his oratorical ability. The left was wildly enthusiastic. The first-black-President thing excited blacks and liberals even more. Supporting Obama became cool among the college set. The absence of a substantive record was actually an advantage because it allowed people to project onto Obama their own hopes and desires; that's what made "Hope and Change" a viable platform. People were already unhappy about Iraq and the housing bubble burst. The Republican ticket turned out to be weak. Then the financial crisis hit - the ultimate October Surprise. I believe many people concluded things were going to hell under the Republicans and rushed to vote for the Democrats.

Talk about a perfect political storm. Yet even under all these circumstances, Obama polled just 53% of the popular vote. That is a solid majority in American politics, but it is far short of a landslide.

Now things have changed dramatically. The energy and enthusiasm on the left is visibly gone. Electing the first black President has been done. He is widely reported as not cool any more among the college kids. Now he has a record, and it is a divisive and extremely disappointing one. People have been discovering that this is not their fathers' Democratic Party, but one that has been captured by its ideological left wing, and many of them don't like that. Iraq is winding down and the economy is working against him. While the left is dispirited, polls show independents are shifting rightwards, and the right is energized like I have never seen it before. There is a palpable shift in the country; just consider all the governorships and state legislatures that flipped to the GOP in 2010, along with the House of Representatives and solid gains in the Senate.

Working for him: The blacks will still turn out big, though possibly he might lose a point or two even there. The labor unions will increase their support of him frantically, because they can see the handwriting on the wall and they will be desperate to get him reelected. Afghanistan might just work for him by election time. He still gives a great speech, though people have become accustomed to that. He does have the advantage of incumbency. Most of all there is the risk, as others have noted, that the GOP can manage to defeat itself.

But add it all up, and a shift of four percentage points or more, maybe much more, does not look hard to achieve at all. It looks harder to not achieve it.

Suppose the GOP plays to win for once. With a viable candidate with general appeal. They will then have a historic chance to build a coalition of conservatives, moderates, independents, and Reagan Democrats that could isolate and marginalize the left.

Who might that be? At this moment, there are four, conceivably five, Republican candidates who I think could beat Obama: Rick Perry, the as-yet undeclared conservative governor of Texas; Jon Huntsman, a moderate who won election as governor of Utah, arguably the most conservative state in the Union; Tim Pawlenty, the successful former governor of Minnesota; and current frontrunner Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, despite his handicap among conservatives as the architect of RomneyCare. A possible dark horse (no pun intended) I am not prepared to eliminate: Herman Cain. It seems likely that any one of them can appeal to the center and to Reagan Democrats while keeping conservatives on board and excited about beating Obama. I think any two of these candidates, in any order, would add up to a winning ticket.

The winning platform would include: Cutting spending, holding down taxes, repealing Obamacare, opposing Cap -and-Trade and similar antigrowth policies, deregulating economic behavior wherever that will encourage economic growth and hence jobs, respecting the Constitution and the checks and balances principle in government, rejecting the European-stye welfare state, and a non-scary foreign policy. "Social issues" are divisive and should be downplayed.

Dear readers, make up your minds to work for such a candidate and platform because 2012 will be a watershed election that determines what kind of country the US is going to be. Your country needs you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Palestine "Peace Talks" Are a Waste of Time

Recent attempts to get the peace talks going again in Palestine seem likely to meet with failure, again. I predict each principal will pretend to cooperate while finding ways to torpedo them and trying to pin the blame for failure on an opponent.

The reason is simple: The present “cold war” and resulting stasis serves the current interests of the principals, and successful peace talks would not.

Consider: Israel continues to fill in settlements in the portions of the West Bank it controls behind its Barrier, even if at a slower pace than it might like. Fatah and others in control of events in the West Bank continue to benefit handsomely from mostly Western aid - $1.7 billion in the most recent year I’ve seen – as do West Bank Arabs to some degree: The West Bank’s economy grew an estimated 4-5% per annum amid worldwide financial crisis and recession and its population is also growing rapidly. Hamas continues to tighten its grip on the Gaza strip, giving it a territory next to its hated enemy from which it can attempt further violence and a local economy to feed on.

If “real peace” were to break out in Palestine, all that would be in jeopardy. Israel would almost certainly have to give up at least some West Bank land. The West and Persian Gulf states might be much less likely to continue funding the West Bank and tolerating its endemic corruption at anything like the same levels. And Hamas would surely have to go back to being a territory-less terrorist group under more or less strict control; possibly even evicted, as their Gaza guests, the Muslim Brotherhood, was from Egypt. Of course a real peace would be of inestimable long-term benefit to all, but the long term is uncertain and far away, and the tangible benefits of stasis are very much here and now. So all sides are likely to continue making non-negotiable demands on the others that they know are impossible to grant.

Forcing them to end their gridlock seems likely only to reduce what leverage the West and the Persian Gulf states have in the situation, and greatly increase the danger of new civil violence and perhaps outright war, so it does not look as though anyone has the stomach to risk upsetting these several apple carts. The likely outcome: Outside powers continue to kick the can further down the road, at Western taxpayers’ expense; Israel’s Barrier will become ever more like a permanent border, de facto if not de jure; Mercedes Benzes in the West Bank will remain in good repair, and the politicians and upper class there will have ever fatter bank accounts safely outside Palestine; and Hamas and its fellow terrorists will continue to scheme about renewed violence and cozening more outside resources for Gaza they can commandeer. Unfortunately, all status quos eventually end; the continued Hamas-Iran presence in Gaza, in particular, makes this status quo both unstable and quite likely to end badly.

Friday, May 02, 2008

To Solve the Subprime Mortgage and MBS problem for good...

...Supply the one essential ingredient that disappeared from the mortgage industry and thus produced the recent financial crisis, the one ingredient that can restrain even the greediest of the greedy: Cold Fear. The key fact that drove this disaster was that in many ways no-one was responsible. Make everyone in the picture responsible in some manner, really responsible, and the problem goes away.

Mortgage originators were in many cases among the most irresponsible. Too many foisted off adustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) or interest-only mortgages or no-means-test mortgages on naive homebuyers who were immediately in over the heads, but could carry the payments long enough for the originators to get them off their books, disguised as prime-quality mortgages, and onto the books of the next step in the food chain, the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) packagers. The bigger the principal amount of the loan, the better - bigger fees and profits from selling it on. They didn't care that many of the mortgages would eventually fail because the mortgages would be out of their hands when that happened; someone else would be holding the bag and the originators would have banked the profit. They would not be responsible. Doesn't sound like prime-quality, you say? That's where their friends, the real-estate appraisers came in. There was always someone who would pocket some baksheesh and in return put the value of the house serving as collateral so high it could back almost any conceivable mortgage.

What about those Wall Street wizards the MBS packagers? Didn't they perform due diligence? Sure they did: They read (or pretended to read) the crooked appraisals, took the assertions of the originators about creditworthiness at face value, folded the plague-carrier mortgages into fancy interest-bearing paper that could pay a high yield and get a double-or-triple-A rating because it was partly backed by those nice, juicy "prime-quality" mortgages and collateralized at least in part by all those houses shooting up in value. They weren't responsible either. Times were good, credit was easy, house values really were going up, after all; no problem getting the radioactive paper off their books too - by selling it to the ultimate, typically institutional investors. And what about the security-rating agencies? There's no accounting for them putting their multiple As on this stuff; I'll be kind and assume no malevolent intent, only staffs of blind clerks and bureaucrats who didn't care about the reality of what they rated as long as they could prove they followed their companies' internal rules well enough that their own butts were covered.

Well what about those ultimate investors? Didn't they ever hear of caveat emptor? Sure they did; they couldn't be expected to drive around checking up on all those individual houses themselves, could they? So they made sure everything they bought had ratings with multiple As stamped all over them - and wow, look at those juicy yields! Made their income statements look good. So everybody was happy until, inevitably, the roof fell in.


Suppose any originator who sells a mortgage has to guarantee it - for the life of the mortgage? Either back it himself or buy good mortgage insurance for it? Think they'll be so quick to shovel piles of road apples into bags marked "prime-quality", hold their noses, and pass them along? Suppose packagers of mortgage-backed securities had to do the same thing? Think those oh-so-ripe bags would go on up to ultimate investors - or ever be put on the financial conveyor belt in the first place?

There were irresponsible homebuyers too: Some speculators planning to flip their properties, others with no down payment invested in the property or a minuscule one, who were willing to walk away and abandon the property to foreclosure if things went wrong. Suppose they had to put up a good, old-fashioned 20% down payment into the property first? Think they'd be so ready to mail in the keys?

The ultimate investors - the banks and investment community at large - have had a collective near-death experience, and for some it passed beyond near-death to the real thing. The survivors will take care to protect themselves from a repetition - and those who don't will deserve to die. And the rating agencies? Perhaps the world needs new, hungrier ones willing to do the job right.

Will all this raise the cost of mortgage finance? Of course it will. But raised compared to what? How expensive is it compared to the financial disaster much of the developed world just went through? From society's point of view, it's got to be a bargain. Or would everyone really rather have a full-fledged financial panic and concomitant depression the next time?

Hopefully, the banking and investment world, who can find ways to impose discipline if they have the will, will see the importance of this self-government. They had better. If they don't, there are plenty of politicians, regulators, bureaucrats and big-government-anti-business ideologues ready and eager to force far worse solutions on them.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gay Marriage Or Civil Union?

So now New Jersey is becoming the third state to legalize civil unions as an alternative to marriage. Looks like a good thing. Here is why: Society has an interest – a big interest – in encouraging monogamous relationships among gays (especially male homosexuals), because in this country homosexuals (and bisexuals) have been a major vector for AIDS. Meaning, the less gays screw around, the better for dealing with the AIDS pandemic.

It is also good because it is retaining a distinction between such unions and marriage, because that has an entirely different social purpose. Marriage is about creating a permanent bond between a (prospective) father and mother for the sake of protecting family life and reproduction, which are fundamentally necessary for the continuation of not only society but also human existence.

Notice I am not defending the usual PC arguments for gay “marriage.” Those arguments are not relevant to society, and the continuation of human existence. The arguments revolve around the convenience or financial benefit of the persons in the homosexual relationship, as if that mattered compared to such important matters as the continuation of society and of human existence itself.

It is quite possible that, as time goes on, we will find that it is important that there be a distinction between encouraging reproduction and the protection of children on the one hand and the ability of people to inherit property from each other or have power of attorney or such because they have a nonreproductive but sexual relationship.

In future, it might well make sense that heterosexual couples who have no interest in children be put in a class of civil union, not a class of marriage intended to protect families and children.

In the meantime, what is to be said of people who equate such matters as whether people are included on each other’s health insurance policies with the fundamental question of how the procreation of future generations is to be encouraged and protected? In my opinion, not much. They seem to be into narcissism, not social responsibility. The world deserves better.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

About Iran, Israel, Europe, and nuclear weapons…It’s beginning to feel like 1936

Today, Iran obviously if disingenuously drives toward nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them – and much of Europe pretends not to see it happening. In the 1930s, Hitler obviously drove toward his vision of Greater Germany and military domination of his region – and much of Europe pretended not to see that happening, until the occupation of Czechoslovakia finally made it impossible to ignore. Today, Iran (and much of the Arab world) is viciously anti-Semitic and calls for the destruction of Israel, and except for Iran’s ludicrous Holocaust-denial conference, much of Europe does not care. In the 1930s, Hitler was viciously anti-Semitic and called for the destruction of “International Jewry,” and much of Europe did not care. Today, it is fashionable among much of the political left to be anti-Israeli and excuse or approve its enemies, even including open terrorists. In the 1930s, it was fashionable among much of the political left to be anti-Semitic and excuse or approve anti-Semites, at least until Krystal Nacht, and for some, thereafter. Today, Russia has a de facto alliance of convenience with Iran. In the 1930s, Stalin signed a nonaggression pact with Hitler, under the circumstances a de facto alliance of convenience with Germany. Today, Iran is controlled by religious fanatics who despise democracy and freedom and think the West is morally corrupt and weak-willed and think themselves right and strong. In the 1930s, Germany was controlled by ideological fanatics who despised democracy and freedom and thought the West was corrupt and weak-willed and thought themselves right and strong. Today, politicians and self-styled intelligentsia call for negotiating, compromising with and appeasing these fanatics to gain peace when the fanatics plainly are not interested in either compromise or peace except as a deception adopted to pursue long-term conflict. In the 1930s, politicians and self-styled intelligentsia called for negotiating, compromising with and and appeasing fanatics to gain peace when those fanatics plainly were not interested in either comporomise or peace except as a deception adopted to pursue long-term conflict.

In the 1930s, people at last finally woke up when Hitler invaded Poland. What will it take this time? Fanatics actually carrying out their final solution – again? Some of these people have argued publicly that in the event of a nuclear war with Israel there would be 5 million Israeli dead and 50 million Muslims dead, that then there would be no more Israelis and there would still be over 1 billion Muslims – the Muslims would win.

What is needed here is a price certain Iran would have to pay that even the regime in Iran will think is not worth paying. There seems no-one in sight who is prepared even to define, let alone impose, such a price.

The means to carry out this death wish are being assembled. I fear for the Israelis. I fear for the world. And I fear to hear the excuses Europe will make if and when it happens.

And what of us, The United States? Today, there are voices calling on us to withdraw from engaging the world “over there,” in the name of protecting the homeland and avoiding war. In the 1930s, there were voices calling on us to withdraw from engaging the world at all, in the name of protecting America and avoiding war…

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Liberal Politics? Conservative Politics? Nah: Chinese Restaurant Politics

Conservatives were right about free-market economics. Liberals were right about antiracist social policy. Shrill Conservative blogs litter the Internet. Shrill Liberal blogs litter the Internet. The media slants left or slants right depending on which part of the media you’re looking at. But where are the Chinese Restaurant blogs and media? That is the kind of political thinking the country needs.

You know: Take the best from Column A and the best from Column B, maybe add a little mustard or soy sauce at the table, and leave the rest in the kitchen. The stuff that stays in the kitchen long enough eventually gets thrown out.

When ideologically fraught issues finally get down to the voters, this is what they often do, and in reasonably practical fashion, if they can see the issues clearly. But not always; sometimes the air is too thick with smoke and confusion to sort things out, which is not a good way to run a proper kitchen, or a country.

If your thinking has a red or blue label, chuck the label and rethink. And don’t hesitate to leave a lot of the stuff in the kitchen.