Monday, July 31, 2006

Civilians and 'Sustainable Peace'

A great deal of hand wringing is going on over the civilian casualties in Lebanon recently. We are told that the conflict is resulting in the death of too many civilians. But this should not be a surprise. The jihad against the West is a war of civilians.

Usually, an aggressive government will employ a uniformed military to attack a neighbor and seize their wealth. The invaded nation's government will then respond with its military to try and defeat the aggressor.

Throughout the Middle East, the governments have reversed the normal structure of warfare. Today, all the governments from Syria over to Afganistan go out of their way to pretend to be uninvolved. The people in the government and the military do nothing, at least outwardly. Instead they recruit civilians to form terrorist groups who then go forth and kill the civilians of hated infidel nations. These terrorist groups are civilians. The people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon were not government or military people. They were civilians. No Middle Eastern nation attacked us on 9/11. We were attacked by civilians. Whenever Isreal conducts a sweep of Palistinian or Lebanese areas looking for weapons stashes, they find them in the homes and cellars of civilians.

This does not mean that we need to run around the ME killing only civilians. We must still remember that it is these governments that are sponsoring and financing these civilians. Destroy these governments (Iran and Syria) and it will help a lot.

But even that will not be enough. There is a very dangerous call going out right now by Western leaders for something called "sustainable peace." This demand requires Hezbollah to be completely disarmed. But ridding Hezbollah of weapons is not the same as ridding Hezbollah of the reason for those weapons--the will to destroy Isreal. The will to kill is what needs to be destroyed.

No matter how many times Hezbollah lays down its arms in a temporary truce or cease fire, Iran and Syria will simply supply them with more. The terrorists will then stage another attack on their own people and blame it on Isreal. The idea that disarming Hezbollah will work is based on the same warped thinking employed by the gun control crowd here in America, the notion that the reason Hezbollah is killing Jews is because they have guns and if we can take away their guns everything will be just lovey dovey.

The Jews have no desire to wipe Muslims off the face of the earth. The Muslims do want to wipe the Jews off of the planet. When this desire to kill is destroyed, sustainable peace will be possible, not before.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Should Have Expected This From The "Experts"

In Saturday's 07/29/06 Detroit News Nation & World section is an Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein titled "Experts: Get used to heat waves." The headline alone doesn't indicate global warming as the cause but the subtitle does. "Global warming causes warmer nights and drier days, leading to extreme temps, scientists say."

Guess who the scientist was who said that. Kevin Trenberth, the same guy who, in his capacity as an IPCC official, declared that global warming caused increases in hurricanes. This was in direct contradiction to the evidence documented by the IPCC's hurricane expert Chris Landsea. When the director of the IPCC sided with Trenberth, Mr. Landsea resigned in protest.

The article continues with:

"And in the long term, the world will see more killer heat waves because of global warming, scientists say."

followed by:

"The July burst of killer heat waves around the world can't be specifically blamed on global warming. And they aren't the worst ever. But the trend is pointed in that direction, experts say."

Translation: "We can't blame this on global warming but, oh what the hell, lets do it anyway."

Even Mr. Trenberth seems to say this: "The immediate cause of the California heat wave--and others--is day-to-day weather, he said."

This seems to be a new twist. "Specifically," "day-to-day", the "immediate" cause is not global warming, but the "trend" toward the general "long term" is caused by global warming. Or to put it another way, these heat waves are caused by natural variability but we don't want you to know that hence the use of obfuscators like "specifically" and "day-to-day" and so on. But we do want you to believe that this non-evidence of global warming is caused by global warming. We know, we're experts.

And when it comes to experts, I recently watched a 49 minute video interview of Richard Feynman and he had some things to say about the concept of *experts* with which I agree. (which is here)

Of course 'expert' is a valid concept. However, the way it is being used today reminds me of the way 'high priest' was used in more primitive times. The high priest was a person who simply declared what reality was. If you valued your life, you didn't argue with him either. His wisdom and knowledge came to him by way of revealations from some mystical source only he could understand.

Well, not much has changed since then. Today they are not called high priests but are *experts* and they are still getting their knowledge revealed to them from a mystical source called computer models that only they (the modelers) can understand.

This is what happens when science becomes a government establishment. The solution of course is to get science back into the hands of private enterprise.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Giving Back

In Friday's 07/28/06 Detroit News is a front page article extolling Motown Records creator Berry Gordy for creating an after-school program, funded by Gordy, for Detroit teens to develop music industry skills. It is a good news story and I commend any paper for reporting good news. However there is one negative thing about the article I didn't like. The headline praised Gordy for "giving back to Detroit." So I fired off this LTE the the News:

"I write to protest the shameful subtitle to the front page story Motown Magic of 7/28/06 which read: "Berry Gordy is giving back to Detroit with his after-school program..." The idea that Mr. Gordy is giving back inplies that he took something from Detroit. This is nonsense.

In fact, because he took advantage of the profit motive, he not only earned a living for himself and provided a living for those who worked at Motown, he provided all of us a value that was priceless--the Motown Sound. It is Detroit that owes him. He traded with us music for which we happily paid. He owes Detroit nothing. This is the morally inverted thinking that all American's should reject. If the News wants to praise him for giving to the City of Detroit, fine, but not giving back."

I don't know if they'll print it, I'll have to wait and see. This is the kind of thinking that needs to be opposed every time it's advanced.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Democracy, Elections Do Not Equal Freedom

At Capitalism Magazine, Peter Schwartz has an excellent article titled "Freedom vs Democracy: How the U.S. Government Created a Crises in the Middle East." He correctly points out that:

"The essence of democracy is unlimited majority rule. It is the notion that the government should not be constrained, as long as its behavior is sanctioned by majority vote. It is the notion that the very function of government is to implement the "will of the people." It is the notion espoused whenever we tell the Lebanese, the Iraqis, the Palestinians and the Afghanis that the legitimacy of a new government flows from its being democratically approved.

And it is the notion that was categorically repudiated by the founding of the United States."

Very true. Our founders had a distinct disdain for democracy. They knew that democracies, even those set up with protections for certain minorities, always devolve into unlimited majority rule. They have to. The method is always the same. The majority will complain "How does the minority get to dictate to the majority?" The majority will then 'vote' to change the laws gradually voting away the minority protections. That is why our founders wanted to establish a Constitutional Republic not a democracy.

An example of the above mentioned method is easily seen in the Sunday 7/23/06 editorial page of the Detroit Free Press.

The editorial properly criticizes President Bush for vetoing the Stem Cell Reasearch bill and it makes some good points why he shouldn't have. Unfortunately, the editorial also make the arguement from democracy or the majority will arguement. The third paragraph reads:

"The Bush veto, the first of his presidency, thwarted the will of Congress and a majority of the American public to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research with the informed consent of donor parents."

Aside from the fact that 'thwarting the will of congress' is what a veto is supposed to do and providing checks and balances is why our founders put it in the Constitution, the 'will' of the 'majority' is being invoked as a reason for passing the bill. No mention of the fact that peoples' rights are being violated by forbidding them to do such research. The closest the editorial came was to decry the unfairness of it all:

"There are 400,000 embryos left over at fertility clinics around the country. When frozen, they are mere days old, microscopic in size, have no brain waves and will never become human beings unless they are implanted in a woman's womb. Most of them will be discarded. How can that be OK while using them in research that could help millions of people is condemned as murder?"

A very good point. But nothing is mentioned about how it is unfair precisely because it is a violation of rights and therefore unconstitutional. The editorial then attacks the power of the minority.

"Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this debate is that it plays to an active, vocal minority that holds great political influence, as evidenced by Snow's contention that federal dollars should not go toward something some folks believe is murder."

What is being attacked here is the 'political influence' held by a minority. But this minority was democratically elected so whatever they do is OK right? The editorial then argues that the government violates our rights in thousands of ways so one more shouldn't hurt.

"The government spends all kinds of money on all kinds of things many taxpayers abhor -- including wars that some probably consider murder." True, but while this arguement is irrational on the grounds that 1000s of wrongs plus one more don't make a right, it has some merit from a different perspective. If the government funds all forms of medical research, then it would be wrong to exempt one. But it's obvious how such a bag of mixed premises can result from putting everything up for a democratic vote including peoples' rights.

The editorial then gets specific in its attack on minority power. "Why the religious right gets to hold sway on this issue when more than two-thirds of the country favors the research is mind-boggling."

Clearly, this is an appeal for majority rule and an example of the process by which 'democracy' devolves into unlimited majority rule.

When justice is no longer focused on rights, it will become focused on power. Democracy and elections do not create freedom. A society based on the protection of rights will provide freedom and justice.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Proportionality, a Mistake

Amit Ghate at Thrutch has a post on the proportionality doctrine now found in the "Just War" theory of warfare. This doctrine holds that the proper response to an aggressor is to inflict on him an amount of harm that is commensurate to the harm he inflicted on you. Or, that which you hope to gain by retaliation cannot exceed the damage done to you.

Of course this is a notion that is irrational in the extreme. As far as I can tell, proportionality is a concept of measurement and as such has no value outside that which is being measured or proportioned. Proportionality could be a very evil and dangerous thing.

For example, you are attacked by a virus and become ill. You go to a doctor and he identifies the virus. But then he tells you that he is not going to give you enough vaccine to kill the virus and return you to health. Instead, because he believes in proportionality, he is only going to give you enough vaccine to make the virus as sick as you are.

What would you think about that? Would you want this doctor to draw up your family health plan? Would you want to see doctors with this kind of thinking in charge of world health? And what do you think would happen to world health if they were?

Happily, we don't have such doctors in charge of world health--yet. Unfortunately, we have exactly those kinds of people and ideas in charge of America's military policy. And that is why cheap little thugs all around the world are attacking and challenging America daily--because they have nothing to fear.

There are a lot of things wrong with that nonsensical notion. Ayn Rand once advised us not to waste time examining a folly, but to ask what is it designed to accomplish?

Well, if you have a population of 100 and so does an aggressor, and he attacks you killing 10 of your people and you retaliate killing 10 of his people, and back and forth, you will wind up with 0 people and he will still have ten left. He wins. You lose.

Proportionality is a doctrine of, by and for aggressors. If an aggressor wanted to attack a neighbor, how could he do it proportionally? Proportional to what? It's impossible to apply the concept to an aggressor. Thus proportionality is a concept designed to be applied only to the retaliatory use of force. It is a straight jacket placed on the attacked nation's right of self defense.

That is what 'proportionality' is designed to accomplish.

The proper response in the above example would be to retaliate not by trying to kill just 10 of his people but to destroy his ability to fight and his population's will to fight. It is never enough to try and destroy just his ability to fight. If the will is not destroyed, the population will find ways to keep fighting. If you destroy their will to fight, their ability to fight will evaporate.

An overwhelming first response in retaliation would be the proper response. You would have 90% of your population left and he would have more than 10 percent. Such a policy of overwhelming force is both the practical and moral thing to do. For their identification of this principle, I highly recommend the essay "Just War Theory and American Self Defense by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein here. (Hat tip the Objective Standard)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Roundup July 21

Gus Van Horn has an essay on how the religious right intellectuals are supporting the "Just War" theory of war. He does an insightful analysis of one of the right's leading intellectuals Professor Bainbridge.

Rule of Reason treats us to some valuable tips on fiction writing in an essay by Ed Cline author of the Sparrowhawk series of novels set at the time leading up to the American Revolution.

Jim Woods at Words by Woods has a interesting post on how the pragmatism of Mike Deaver has influenced modern events in Lebonon.

Amit Ghate at Thrutch has an essay on the "disproportionate response" condemnation Isreal has been getting for the way it's fighting against Hezbollah and Hamas. I've seen a lot of websites discuss this doctrine of "proportionality" in the last few days so I've decided to add my 2 cents in a day or so.

Principles in Practice links to a funny illustration of the bible--in Lego bricks.

Matt May critiques a LA Times column by perrenial Bush basher Johnathon Chait. Bush has his faults for sure but failing to meet the intellectual level of a Johnathon Chait should be comforting.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Global Cooling: What You Really Need To Know

On July 16th 2006 former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw hosted a documentary on the Discovery Channel titled Global Warming: What You Need To Know. I watched it. It presented only the pro-warming point of view. But the fact is that global cooling is far more dangerous and destructive than global warming. Here then are the things you really need to know.

"Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, some 70-95% of these glaciers were in retreat.)"

That, according to an article by Laurence Hecht, editor of Science and Technology Magazine titled "Is a New Ice Age Underway?" It is uncertain what is causing this sudden, abrupt turnaround.

According to the website 'help the aged' there is this ominous headline:

"Last winter, tens of thousands of older people in England and Wales died, simply because of the cold."

At the website of Timesonline we get this dire prediction:

"Britain has not had a particularly cold winter for ten years, but some experts believe that temperatures over the coming months could plummet as low as the winters of the 1970s."

According to this NOAA site Casper, Wyoming had these record lows in 2005:
January: 5 degrees on the 14th
April: 27 degrees on the 28th
May: 17 degrees on the 1st and 2nd.
June: 36 degrees on the 10th, 33 degrees on the 11th.
July: 44 degrees (tied) on the 18th, 45 degrees on the 27th

Why did the 1st two days of May plummet ten degrees colder than April 28th? And why are summer months of June and July setting record lows?

Then there is this troubling report from the BBC:

"Unusual Weather for New Zealand by Helen McKenzie
New Zealand has been experiencing an exceptionally cold start to winter this year. Record low temperatures, unusual amounts of snow, heavy rain and storms have all been witnessed across the two islands over the last few months."

The New Zealand Harold has this frightening article:

Glacier visitors ignore 'extreme risks'

12.01.06

"The Department of Conservation is worried someone will be killed as giant chunks of ice are falling from rapidly advancing glaciers in the middle of the peak visitor season.

Staff believe the risk of ice collapse at the face of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers is high and visitors are ignoring warning signs and putting themselves at risk.

Both glaciers are advancing at the rate of about a metre a week.

Fox is pushing up the sides of the valley, stressing the terminal face and causing rock falls and ice collapse."

And if that weren't enough we learn from the NZ Harold again that:

"Ageing icebreakers have put New Zealand and the United States' Antarctic programmes under threat, it was reported today.

National Radio said an unusual build-up of ice in McMurdo Sound meant the American icebreakers, which are nearing the end of their life span, were having trouble getting through."

What's going on here? Unusual build-up of ice, glaciers growing, people at 'extreme risk', some dying, predictions of record lows? Obviously our planet is cooling and cooling fast, and it isn't the Coors lite train doing it either.

Scientists agree that our planet has been warming for over one hundred years, that the climate works in cycles leading some to believe that we are now entering a new ice age. What would that look like? Well, in his documentary Global Warming: What You Need To Know, host Tom Brokaw showed us what New York City, Boston and London would look like under 30 or so meters of water. Now picture those cities under a mile of ice. That's global cooling!

Unlike the fiction movie Day After Tomorrow where water fills NY to the brim then freezes, global cooling doesn't work that way. Giant mountains of ice move from the poles downward flatening everything in thier path. All the northern forests and cities would be crushed. Nothing will survive unless it can migrate towards the equator. Can you imagine 6 (maybe 9 by then) billion people trying to divy up less and less land and what that will look like? Even the landscape will be changed. For more on the devastating nature of a glaciation I recommend the Paleoclimatology site here. I also recommend this website article and Roger Peilke reports that the 2nd conference on global warming and the next ice age is in session this week.

The bottom line is that a look at climate history shows that warmings have been generally very good for life on earth while coolings have not.
What can we do to prevent a glaciation? Probably nothing. But maybe, just maybe a little extra CO2 will hold it off a tad.

(Some of the sources above were linked to via the web site iceagenow.com which I recommend and is here.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Global Warming Doc. pt 1

A few years ago there was a commercial on TV. It showed a very old man sitting with legs folded, a long beard, holding a cup of yogurt and crying. Someone sticks a microphone in his face and says something like "Oh ancient one, why are you crying?" He responds "For 125 years I have been eating that other yogurt."

Yes it was a cutsie-pie commercial but when one sees something like that one should try to look upon it with at least a slightly critical eye. You might even say if something had kept you alive for 125 years, there is no way you would switch. But is that a valid line of reasoning?

It's obvious that the commercial did not claim that the 'other' yogurt kept him alive for 125 years. That is an assumption I made based on two side by side facts, a certain brand of yogurt and longevity. Should I have inferred that one caused the other? Of course not. There was no direct connection, only circumstantial evidence.

That is what Mike's Eyes were looking at tonight, July 16th, as I watched the Discovery Channel's documentary "Global Warming: What You Need To Know" hosted by Tom Brokaw, a lot of circumstantial evidence but no direct connection as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I settled in and focused a critical eye on the major talking points which are in angle brackets. My comments follow those.

>Global warming is the gradual rise of the earth's surface temperature, thought to be caused by increased emissions of greenhouse gases (the "greenhouse effect"), specifically from human activities.<

I would agree with that, especially the phrase "thought to be caused" for that is where the state of the science is. Not proved but thought to be caused by man. In April of this year 60 scientists sent a letter to the Canadian PM asking for a review of the science behind the Kyoto treaty. They said in part:

"The study of global climate change is, as you have said, an "emerging science," one that is perhaps the most complex ever tackled. It may be many years yet before we properly understand the Earth's climate system."--from National Post article Via the Enviro-Truth website.

>The sun provides the Earth with the heat it needs to support life, but a drop of only 1/10th of 1% of the amount of the sun's energy reaching the earth can spawn an ice age.<

If this is true, and since ice ages mean death while warmings do not, shouldn't we be trying to warm the planet in some way so as to at least postpone the next ice age a little longer? Just a thought.

>The average temperature in the U.S. in 2005 was almost one degree above the 1895-2004 mean, which will make 2005 one of the 20 warmest years on record for the country. This was from preliminary data from NOAA<

What is meant here by "on record"? Does that mean 1895-2004 as previously mentioned? If we go back to 1895, that is only 15-45 years after the estimated end of the Little Ice Age 1850-1880. So naturally the planet is going to warm as it pulls out of an ice age with subsequent years being warmer than previous ones. Each new high of course a new 'record.'

>Of the top 20 hottest years on record, 19 have occured since 1980.<

This is probably true and not surprising. The planet started warming around 1880, cooled from 1940 to 1975 and has been warming since 1976. That's 30 years. So it's no mystery that 19 of the 20 hottest years occured then.

>Computer models suggest that average global surface temperatures will rise between 2.5 deg F and 10.4 deg F by the end of this century, a rate much larger and faster than any climatic changes over the past 10,000 years.< From NAS.

This I take issue with because I don't think the science has evolved enough where we can attribute predictive powers to computers just yet. They are not crystal balls and cannot see into the future. I think the temptation for some scientists to treat models as an automatic form of knowledge is great. Senarios coming out of computers are not hard evidence and should not be treated as such. In my op-ed "Models of Doubt" at Opinion Editorials.com I wrote in part:

**At the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) their section on global warming said "There is much need to refine our understanding of key natural forcing mechanisms of the climate, including solar irradiance changes, in order to reduce uncertainty in our projections of future climate change." (3)

One paragraph later "Climate models are constantly improving based on both our understanding and the increase in computer power, though by definition, a computer model is a simplification and simulation of reality, meaning that it is an approximation of the climate system."**

Yes the models are getting better but we've only been using the technology we have for about 35 years now. That is just not long enough to accumulate sufficient knowledge about our climate system. New info and studies are coming in every day virtually faster than modelers can feed it into their computers. The botton line, we don't know enough about our climate to give computers predictive powers of any import.

>There was the claim that many scientists believe that temps are rising so fast, the earth's climate may reach a threshold--the tipping point--when there will be nothing we can do to 'undo' global warming.<

The words 'believe' and 'may' indicate pure conjecture and we need to treat that claim as such. In other words, ignore it. In my amaturish studies of climate change I have learned that the Earth has been warmer than now before and came back to ice.

At the website of Paleoclimatology is this: "So far we have had around 15 to 20 individual major advances and subsequent retreats of the ice field in our current glacial epoch. The last major advance of glacial ice peaked about 18,000 years ago and since that time the ice has generally been retreating (albeit with some short term interruptions)." So we've had 15 to 20 coolings followed by warmings. In other words, the climate works in cycles, back and forth like a pendulum. The small amount of CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere isn't going to stop this pendulum. According to The National Center for Public Policy Research's website The Global Warming Information Center:

"There are many indications that carbon dioxide does not play a significant role in global warming. Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the 11 scientists who prepared a 2001 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on climate change, estimates that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would produce a temperature increase of only one degree Celsius. In fact, clouds and water vapor appear to be far more important factors related to global temperature. According to Dr. Lindzen and NASA scientists, clouds and water vapor may play a significant role in regulating the Earth's temperature to keep it more constant."

The documentary devoted time to presenting anecdotes from around the world as evidence of global warming. Of course anecdotes are not proof of anything. At best their value is only that of circumstantial evidence. Regional events cannot and should not be extrapolated to the entire globe. Besides, these only show that the planet may be warming a bit, something I'm not disputing. They do not show that said warming is all man's fault. But lets focus on a few of these.

>In 1980, sea ice covered nearly 1.7 billion acres of the arctic, about the size of the United States. In the last two decades alone, the Arctic has lost an area roughly the size of Texas. If the melting continues at this rate, computer models predict that by 2060 there will be no ice at all during the Arctic summer.<

It's the last sentence: "If the melting continues at this rate.." Is there any evidence the warming will continue? No. Just those future-predicting computer models. Is there any evidence the melting will eventually stop? Yes. The historical record.

It is true that the melting could keep going until all the ice on the planet is gone. But so what? It has happened before and did not result in a cataclismic disaster for living things. From the Paleoclimatology website:

"For much of Earth's history, the world has been ice-free (even at the poles) but these iceless periods have been interrupted by several major glaciation periods (called glacial epochs) and we are in one now. Each glacial epoch consists of multiple advances and retreats of ice fields. These ice fields tend to wax and wane in approximate 100,000, 41,000, and 21,000 year cycles. Each advance of ice is popularly known in the press as an "ice age" but it is important to note that these multiple events are just variations of the same glacial epoch. The retreat of ice during a glacial epoch is called an inter-glacial period and this is our PRESENT DAY CLIMATE system.."

>One hundred years ago, there were more than 150 glaciers at Glacier National Park in Montana. Today there are fewer that 30.<

Well, 100 years ago was 20 to 50 years following the Little Ice Age so it stands to reason that as the planet warms up (from natural forcings) there will be fewer glaciers today than back then. Yes the planet is warming up ever so slightly. That's what it is supposed to do when coming out of a little ice age.

>The Patagonian glaciers at the Southern tip of South America have lost 10% of their ice in the last seven years.<

Again, anecdotes like this mean little. What happens regionally is not evidence of global happenings. So glaciers are melting. So what? Others are growing. From the editor of the Science and Technology Magazine, Laurence Hecht, is this article in which he says in part:

"Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, some 70-95% of these glaciers were in retreat.)"

According to Mr. Brokaw's logic, this should be evidence of global cooling. Of course it isn't and neither is warming of Patagonian glaciers evidence of global warming.

Also, the idea that this warming is "unprecedented" and faster than before is in error. The historical record is replete with evidence of sudden and abrupt climate change. From this NOAA website:

"Abrupt changes in climate can occur at many time scales, and while usually they are abrupt warming events, sudden cooling can occur as well."

To be continued.

Global Warming Doc. Pt 2

>If just the Greenland icesheet melts into the ocean, it could raise global sea levels by 23 feet over the next few hundred years. Coastal cities, including New York and London,would be completely flooded. Low lying countries such as Bangledesh-with much of its land mass at sea level-would be nearly wiped out.<

Again, more conjecture. Sure, it could happen and if so people will have a few hundred years to move to higher ground. But if warming doesn't happen and cooling does, New York and London will be under a mile of ice and so will the higher ground.

>Every year, nearly a thousand square miles of farmland in China turns to desert. Since the 1950s, that rate has doubled.<

Well, this article at the Pittsburg-Tribune Review by Dennis Avery says:

"China's weather records show four major floods per century during the Medieval Warming, and eight per century during the Little Ice Age. China also had three times as many droughts during the Little Ice Age as during the warmings."

Obviously, China's climate is much better off under a warming shift.

>In a study of polar bear population in the Arctic town of Churchill, Manitoba, along Canada's Hudson Bay,the number of bears has declined from about 1200 back in the 1980s to less than 950 today. This 22% delcine is directly related to early break-up of sea ice in the region.<

Yes the bears are in decline in Hudson Bay. Evidentally though, not anywhere else. According to Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com via Fox News.com:

"A Canadian Press Newswire story earlier this year reported that, in three Arctic villages, polar bears "are so abundant there's a public safety issue." Local polar bears reportedly increased from about 2,100 in 1997 to as many as 2,600 in 2004. Inuits wanted to kill more bears, which are "fearsome predators."

An aerial survey of Alaskan polar bears published in Arctic (December 2003) reported a greater polar bear density than previous survey estimates dating to 1987.

If polar bears are getting skinnier as the 1999 study suggested, it may be due to greater numbers subsisting on the same level of available food. After all, harvesting Alaskan polar bears has been limited by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and international agreements since 1972." And this article from the Toronto Star by Dr. Mitchell Taylor via Arctic Net:

"Climate change is having an effect on the west Hudson population of polar bears, but really, there is no need to panic. Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."

The documentary then focuses on greenhouse gases. It points out how much carbon dioxide humans are puting into the air and how fast. One of the claims is;

>More than 5 million acres of Amazon rainforest are lost every year to loggers and farmers.<

All the more reason to bring modern technology and modern agriculture techniques (i.e. capitalism) to that region ASAP so they won't have to burn so much wood for fuel and clear so much land for inefficient agriculture.

>The United States pumps more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country in the world. And the U.S. makes up only five percent of the world's population, yet we are resposible for a staggering 25% of the carbon dioxide that's released into the atmosphere.<

As far as I know those numbers are plausible. But did you know that the conterminous USA (the lower 48) is a net carbon sink? From what I've read, a net carbon sink is an area on the planet that draws more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than it emits into the atmosphere. In other words, the USA pulls out all the CO2 it emits and some of someone else's as well. This paper from Princeton University says they estimate the US carbon sink to end around 2100 probably as reforestation slows or stops.

As for the amount of CO2 and the speed with which we emit it, I for one am not worried. It seems that there has only been two times in Earth's history that carbon dioxide levels and temperatures have been as low as they are today: the Carboniferous and Ordovician periods. The Ordovician was an ice age. According to this website, today's climate, when compared to the rest of Earth's history, is carbon dioxide deficient!

The end of the documentary had some commen sense suggestions on what an ordinary citizen could do to reduce CO2 emissions. Personally I don't see anything wrong with them except that I would do them for reasons of saving money and not to reduce emissions.

A summary.

The Documentary Global Warming: What You Need to Know was well done from a professional delivery viewpoint. But the content left a lot to be desired. It was all one sided presenting only the pro-warming position as if there were no other view. No direct connection was established showing CO2 as causing temperature rise. There are studies that show the relationship of CO2 to temp. rise is backwards. In other words, the climate warmed then CO2 went up. Why did Mr. Brokaw think his viewers didn't need to know this?

End of review but a follow up is in the works.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Notice update for Undercurrent

I see when I cut and pasted the last notice I left out a few sentences. So here is the email again. Sorry.
***

Dear Objectivist blogger and Ayn Rand fan,

The Undercurrent, a national Objectivist campus publication, is now accepting submissions for its back-to-school issue, due to hit the presses in the first week of September. The article draft submission deadline is July 28th.

Please send all submissions and inquiries to mail@the-undercurrent.com .

You are welcome as always to send us your article ideas, or an outline to review, if you would like feedback from our editors in advance of the deadline. Please visit our website, the-undercurrent.com , for a review of submission guidelines and to peruse our past issues.

Whether or not you choose to submit an article for this issue, we encourage you to please post this announcement to your blog.

Thanks,
_The Undercurrent_ staff

Notices

I just recieved this request for submissions to The Undercurrent and thought that my readers may like to check it out and respond to it.
***

The Undercurrent, a national Objectivist campus publication, is now accepting submissions for its back-to-school issue, due to hit the presses in the first week of September. The article draft submission deadline is July 28th.

Please send all submissions and inquiries to mail@the-undercurrent.com .

You are welcome as always to send us your article ideas, or an outline to review, if you would like feedback from our editors in advance of the deadline. Please visit our website, the-undercurrent.com , for a review of submission guidelines and to peruse our past issues.


Thanks,
_The Undercurrent_ staff
Which is here.

************************************************

I also recieved an email asking if I would mind doing a review of a two hour documentary on the Discovery Channel called "Global Warming: What You Need To Know" hosted by Tom Brokaw This Sunday night at 9 PM. I agreed. I am not a scientist of any kind so I will be reviewing the doc. strictly from a laymans's perspective. It will probably appear on my blog Monday or Tuesday at the latest.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Unity

On Sunday 7/09/06 The Detroit Free Press's editorial page editor Ron Dzwonkowski ran his second editorial calling for unity in politics.

"I heard from a surprising number of people after writing recently about Unity08, the nascent political movement that is trying to depolarize this divided land.

I do not hold out great hope for the effort, but extrapolating the level of
local interest in it tells me that there are millions of Americans who are fed up and frustrated with the state of politics in this country and looking for an alternative to bickering, conniving Democrats and Republicans."

I think that bickering and conniving will always be part of politics. But bickering and conniving are not evil in and of themselves and have no value apart from that about which one is bickering and conniving. Mr. Dzwonkowski goes on to present a few anecdotes of people upset with the status quo then says:

"That's not what Unity08 wants. The Internet-based organization is trying to channel all this disaffection into support for a presidential ticket in '08 that would be pledged to really do something about important issues -- global terrorism, dependence on foreign oil, the spread of nuclear weapons, dealing with the emerging economic power of China and India and shrinking our national debt. Way down on the agenda would be such divisive issues as gun control, gay rights and abortion."

From this I get the impression that the problem really isn't divisiveness but lack of action, no one wants to "do something" about the issues. It's as if the politicians are paralyzed by a ritual of humming and hawing over trying to get the approval of a sufficient number of people, a consensus, before one lifts a finger to do anything. This fact is alluded to in the next sentence:

*"This government just doesn't know or is unwilling or unable to address what is really important," said Joe Alam, 68, a financial consultant from Grosse Pointe and formerly an active Republican.*

I would have to say Mr. Alam is right on all counts. The government is unable to do what is right because it is unwilling to justify its actions on the proper moral grounds and that is because it doesn't know what those grounds are. It is impossible to solve problems of rational self-interest while trying to justify them on grounds of self-sacrifice.

Let's take a look at the specific problems enunciated above by Mr. Dzwonkowski. It is in our rational self-interest to fight global terrorism and when Bush defended his plan to take out Afganistan and Iraq as matters of self defense, the nation was pretty much united behind him. But now he seems to have stopped half way and is leaving Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia intact while justifying military operations on the grounds that we must make sacrifices to bring freedom and prosperity to these two nations. Also, the policy of leaving those three above mentioned nations alone to send in an unlimited supply of jihadists to keep killing our soldiers and Iraqi ones too is a policy of self-sacrifice, of sacrificing coalition and Iraqi troops to the enemy and the civilian populations that support them.

It is in our rational self-interest to have a secure supply of oil at reasonable prices. To drill in Anwar and to open up the 85% of offshore land presently off limits to drilling is in our self-interest. But Americans are asked to make sacrifices to the Caribu and things swimming offshore. They are also asked to sacrifice their standard of living by giving up our desire to drive, stay cool in the summer and generally enjoy life with labor saving devices. Bush tried to achieve drilling in Anwar and offshore on the grounds that we need to lessen our dependency on foreign oil. But when congress cried that we must sacrifice for the Caribu and fishes, he didn't know how to answer them. He was paralyzed. He can't go against sacrifice because he believes in it himself.

It is in our self-interest to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons. It was not in our self-interest to negotiate with N. Korea in the 90's or with Iran now. But we are doing so on the grounds that their right to self-determination is just as valid as ours. In other words, by negotiating, our right to live is being sacrificed to their right to kill us. The proper rational self-interest thing to do with Iran and N.Korea is and would have been, to take them out. But such action cannot be justified on the grounds of self-sacrifice. Thus, no action is taken, just talks and more talks. This pattern holds true of the rest of 'important issues' as well.

I agree with Mr. Dzwonkowski that more unity would be a good thing, but only if that unity is around or about some good idea or ideal. Unity as such has no value apart from that which one seeks to unify. There is unity in a lynch mob. Is that a good thing? Of course not. In the 1930's, the German people were united behind the idea that Hitler and his Nazi party would be good for Germany. Look what that unity achieved.

There was a time when Americans were more united than today, but that unity was around a set of principles we call our Constitution. Over time we have abandoned or compromised those principles until today we are being pulled apart by those who want America to stand up for itself and do what is in its rational self-interest, and those who want America to sacrifice its interest to the interests of everyone and everything else. As Ayn Rand pointed out, the two competing moralities of self-interest and self-sacrifice cannot exist for long in the same man or the same nation. I would only add, nor the same policy.

(For those interested, the Unity08 website is here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Nation of Men...

I know almost nothing about new Mexican president-elect Filipe Calderon except that he is supposed to be a conservative, and I'm not sure what that means in Mexican politics. But I think this short article in the Detroit News of 7/07/06 by AP writer Will Weissert demonstrates one way a nation becomes a nation of men and not of laws: by intellectuals focusing on things like charisma instead of substance, appearence instead of ideas. Mr Weissert begins:

"MEXICO CITY -- Charisma is not Felipe Calderon's strong suit.

But the balding, bespectacled lawyer and technocrat proved to be a confident campaigner while steadily raising doubts about his wildly popular rival."

Mr. Weissert doesn't provide any evidence of Calderon's lack of charisma, unless balding, being a lawyer who wears glasses and is adept with technology somehow disqualifies one from having charisma. If Calderon was a confident campaigner, why didn't the headline say "Mexico's next boss confident campaigner"--a positive reference rather than the negative one he used? If his opponent was so wildly popular, why did he lose? Notice how he emphasizes the emotional--wildly. I assume that gives him charisma. See what's going on here? We are being encouraged to evaluate people by their outward appearence rather than their ideas. More appearences:

"Poised to become one of the youngest presidents in Mexican history, the 43-year-old Calderon won the official count in Mexico's disputed presidential race Thursday. He in many ways represents the new middle class that has burgeoned during the pro-business government of Vicente Fox.

But while he belongs to what many consider the party of the rich, he drives a 1993 Volkswagen Golf and is one of the country's few prominent politicians who hasn't amassed a personal fortune during a career in government."

While it may be interesting to some that he drives an old car and hasn't amassed a fortune and is only 43 years old, these are still non-essentials. Notice also how he refers to "the pro-business government of Vicente Fox." In other words, policy is just naturaly tied to the man and not a set of constitutional principles.

The only mention of ideas is in this paragraph:

"Raising his open palms at every rally to show he has "clean hands" and isn't corrupt, Calderon preached free-market values and financial stability, striking a chord with undecided middle-class voters weary of financial meltdowns that rocked Mexico throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s."

If true about the free-market ideas, I might like Mr. Calderon. But on net balance I don't think Mr. Weissert intended to do any slanting. I think he was just doing what comes natural considering the culture today and its emphasis on the emotional rather than the conceptual. That's why I think, he focused on charisma.

My Webster's New World college dictionary isn't very helpful. Under charisma it gives the non-religous usage as "A special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires unswerving allegiance and devotion." But what is the nature of this 'special quality'? No mention. Unswerving allegiance and devotion to what? An attitude? I think this is it.

My same dictionary says an attitude is "a bodily posture showing or meant to show a mental state, emotion, or mood." Mental state could mean ideas here but that doesn't change the fact that the object of the allegiance and devotion is the outward display of attitude, not its source.

Of course there can be a charisma of a rational nature. A person can integrate his values and emotions in such an automatized way that he projects an exuberance, an excitement. But the rational observer will focus his critical attention on the source of the excitement. That source could be ideas, feelings or some combination of these. That is what needs to be discerned. But to focus only on the charisma, as if it had value independent of its source, is a mistake.

When a culture evaluates its leaders based on non-essentials like charisma, it will eventually become a nation of men and not of laws. The government will then take on the personality of a man and not a set of constitutional principles. The pro-business government of Jones, or the pro-union government of Smith, or the tax and spend government of Brown, or the fiscally conservative government of White, are the kinds of choices such a culture will face. How can people tell which way to go? By who has the most charisma. No principles involved, just charm.

For example, Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm had lots of charisma when she was first elected. Michigan's economy is in the tank and while much of it is not her fault, she has done almost nothing to effectively fix things. Charisma cannot solve problems. Competence can.

One has to wonder why people find charismatic leaders appealing. Philosopher Ayn Rand in her essay Philosophical Detection (Philosophy: Who Needs It p18) writing about rationalization wrote "Men do not accept a catch phrase by a process of thought, they seize upon a catch phrase--any catch phrase--because it fits their emotions."

It makes sense then that such people will be easily swayed by those who are expert at formulating the right catch phrases and placing them in the most effective emotional context. There are other ways a nation becomes a nation of men. Focusing on non-esentials is just one.

(For more info on Ayn Rand go to ARI here.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Something Special

Steve Yzerman has retired. It's sad but inevitable I suppose. Like Al Kaline of the Tigers, Yzerman was a class act. When he became captain he didn't go around getting in teammates' faces. He led by example. Want to see how to score on these guys? Like this. Want to see how teamwork wins by assisting on a goal? Like this. And he would go and do it.

When you turned on a Red Wing game whether tv or radio, you knew you would be treated to something special, the play of Steve Yzerman, and you could see how that play often elevated the play of his teammates.

I will of course still watch Red Wing games even though that something special is gone now. But for all those awesome moments and great memories,

Thanks Steve!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Senate Candidates

On Aug 8th Michigan voters will vote in a Republican U.S. Senate primary to see who gets to run against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow this November. The candidates are Michael Bouchard and Keith Butler. According to the Detroit Free Press today 7/05/06, Mr. "Bouchard is a former Beverly Hills police officer and council member who served in the state legislature from 1990-99, when he was appointed sheriff. He has twice been elected to that position."

Mr. "Butler was elected in 1989 to a 4-year term on the Detroit City Council and remains the only Republican to have served on the council in more that half a century. He is the founding pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Church."

As an aside, I would venture to say that if you're wondering why Detroit City is in bad shape, could it be that the Democrats have had almost exclusive control of council for 50 years? In a Detroit News article in its Metro section of June 21st titled "In population, Mich. a loss leader" By John Wisely and Amy Lee, there is a quote by mayoral spokesman James Canning: "For the past 50 years, people have been leaving in large numbers, and we're cutting into that. Our goal is to stabilize, if not add to, the population."

While it is true that Detroit is experiencing a housing growth, most of it in single family homes and downtown lofts, it can't last as long as jobs keep fleeing the state. But to get elected to anything in Detroit you had to be a strong pro-union democrat, which means you had to be anti-corporation. And 50 years of that attitude simply chases jobs out of the state. And that brings us to the job killing policies of most Mich. politicians like Debbie Stabenow.

Personally, if either of these guys beat Sen. Stabenow in Nov. I'll be happy if for no other reason than they both are in favor of drilling in Anwar. Sen. Stabenow voted against Anwar and voted for windfall profits tax on oil companies.

At the moment, I tend to favor Keith Butler because he said the following on immigration. "It's too hard to get into this country, and it takes too long. So that needs to be reformed so that legitimate people-people we want-can get here, and it doesn't take 14 years to do so." I like that position but I needto hear some details.

Do these gentleman have any serious drawbacks? You bet they do.

Mr. Butler: "I'm not for a national health care of the type that you have in Canada. ...I am not for socialized medicine. But as a principle, I believe everyone should have it." Huh?

Mr. Bouchard seems to be in favor of health savings accounts and against socialized medicine whan he says: "National health care with government running it, I think, would be a mess." But then he's in favor of providing affordable and accessible health insurance to small businesses and thaoe concepts usually mean subsidized.

I'll have to hear more from both candidates of course and whoever wins will have an uphill battle as Sen Stabenow will have the union vote. I wouldn't mind getting behind the winner just to get Stabenow out, I think. More to come.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Supporting Evidence

In my recent post "Not Good For Michigan or America" I wrote:

"The price of gas is determined by the price of crude oil, which is being bid upon daily by nations all around the globe. Most of these bidders are governments not private oil companies."

I didn't know then the numbers but thanks to HBLer Duncan Curry I now do. Mr. Curry provides a link to a Baker Institute Energy Forum article which says in part:

"Through out the 1990s and into the next century, economic liberalization, market economy reforms and Western-style corporatization management reorganizations have characterized the oil and gas industries of major energy producing countries such as Russia, Norway, Canada and Malaysia, as well as the energy industries of major consuming countries in the developing world such as China, Brazil, Japan and India. These emerging hybrid firms, together with remaining traditional oil and gas state monopolies, control the vast majority of proven resources remaining for exploitation and development. The Western international oil majors now control less than 10% of the world’s oil and gas resource base."

This means that Western oil majors now have to compete with government run companies and as Mr. Curry points out:

"...oil prices keep raising because
state-ownership and control of the world's oil reserves keeps
increasing (now 90%). Nationalization of the oil industry, by
economic law, leads to inefficiencies, production shortages, and
higher prices."

(HBL is a private email subscription only list that discusses current events from a rational self-interest perspective. Host Harry Binswanger offers a free one month trial which can be had here.)