Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Quintessence of Warmerism

In most people’s mind the assertion that global warming is taking place is what the Warmers are all about. Since the Earth’s temperature appears to have risen slightly over the last century the Warmers must be right.  While one may nibble (quibble) around the edges of it, the apparent rise in temperature is only one peg in the global warming ideology.  Swallowing this requires not one gulp from the medicine bottle, but at least six.  And it is strong medicine indeed.
I.                    Global warming is taking place.  This begs several questions, such as: (1) compared to when?  1975? 1935? 1750? 1100 (the period of the Great Medieval Warming)? The period when glaciers were excavating the Finger Lakes? The period when dinosaurs roamed north western Canada? (2) What exactly is meant by global warming? Is this phenomenon occurring everywhere and across seasons? Is every year warmer than the previous year or are warmers referring to something more general and less predictable? (3) When warmers refer to global warming in terms of the average temperature of the earth, exactly what are they talking about?  This seems to suppose that there is some unknown to us parameter which is the Earth’s average temperature and that (statistical) efforts have been made to estimate this parameter. (4) Measurements taken by “people interested” in global warming are objective and reliable and have been massaged using scientifically agreed upon methods to arrive at disinterested estimates of the mean Earth temperature.  (5) Global warming over the last ten or so years appears to have stopped.  Is this just a temporary respite?
II.                  Global warming is bad and increases in temperature are (or will be) quite large in terms of their impact.  So essentially, everyplace and everywhere is (or will be) worse off if/when the temperature rises.  Most forecasts are for cataclysmic effects if “we do nothing.” Central to this (but seldom explicitly stated since it would be a monumental coincidence) is the belief that during some recent time period the Earth’s temperature has been ideal.  On what basis has the determination of this optimal temperature been made?  For example, are world agricultural yields lower than they were in 1975? 1935? How much measureable suffering and damage has occurred so far due to global warming? 
III.                Future Earth temperatures are predictable.    This requires belief in existing weather/climate models and theories.  We all know that local weather forecasts are doubtful at best and hurricane prediction with respect to frequency has been a dismal failure (remember how global warming was going to dramatically increase the number and strength of Atlantic cyclones?).   When one looks at predictions made by Al Gore types in 1980’s for example, have the predictions panned out with respect to temperatures and consequences?  I think we were told that in a decade we would be toast (and in the 1970’s we were told that in a decade we would be toast from global cooling).  The irony about this is that the loudest mouthpieces for the voracity of these models/theories are made by people who know absolutely nothing about the models or the nature of modeling.
IV.                A major influence on global warming is human activity and in particular “increases” in “greenhouse gases” attributable to human activity are a major driving force in warming.  Popular representations of this causal relationship are derived from observational studies (generalizations), such as plots of temperature or temperature “anomalies” (vertical-axis) versus greenhouse gases (horizontal-axis).  These scatter plots (graphs) appear to have an upward cast (the two “variables” have very roughly moved together over the last 100 years).  Several questions arise: which is cause and which is effect? For example, are increases in global warming causing increases in greenhouse gases (the latter appears to lag to former in time)?  Does solar activity affect the Earth’s temperature?  If so, how does the magnitude of this effect compare with that of man-made greenhouse gases?  In relation to total greenhouse gases, how large is the component attributable to human activity?  1%? 5%? 50%?  This is one of those murky areas that warmers tend to gloss over since it is obvious that “natural” greenhouse gas production is much larger than that attributable to human activity so they are forced to accept some sort of “tipping point” theory.  Theories linking greenhouse gasses to climate change are based primarily on observational studies.  Such studies can never be used to establish cause and effect.  Virtually none of this research (were it about medicine/disease) could be published in a reputable medical journal.  Extreme skepticism should be directed at any physical theory.  Each has been supplanted by another. The most emphatic prophets of this theory linking man made greenhouse gases with climate and rising temperatures know nothing about science at all.  They are members of the national and international political class and based on the next section it is clear that they have the most to gain (in terms of power and riches) from  our irrationally bowing before the global warming alter.
V.                  Modifications of human behavior can halt or reverse global warming.   For the most part the modifications will require vast increases in the power of government (and international governance) since virtually all human behavior impacts the environment through its impact on greenhouse gases.  All current forms of energy production and utilization (energy = “the ability to do work”) at some stage produce greenhouse gases.  Wise and benevolent bureaucrats will make the choices regarding how our behavior and lives will be changed. This modification of human behavior will require legions of dedicated and wise public servants to regulate our behavior to serve the greater good.  The people in charge of us will always have our best interest at heart —even when they punish us.  Note that in none of these applications of power will any proof of effectiveness be offered or required.  That is, the merits of state and international control mechanisms will be judged solely on their likely effect on the quantity of greenhouse gases produced.   This is based on an implicit one hundred percent buy into the causal linkage between the quantity of greenhouse and temperature.  In terms of a medical analogy this would be on par with claiming a remedy for a bacterial infection based on the remedy’s lowering body temperature instead of using a clinical trial in which randomly assigned patients received the remedy and another set of randomly assigned patients received placebo —and then the patients were compared with respect to whether a “cure” took place.  Warmers will holler that such experiments are impossible in “climate science” about global warming.  That is intended to shut us up and force us to accept a critically lower burden of proof for their claims.  Those who do not, are “global warming deniers and know nothing at all about science.”
VI.                Modifications in human behavior needed to stop global warming will be painless and the loss of wealth and  freedom associated with them are trivial in relation the great good (or is that greater good) that regulating human behavior will accomplish.   Basically we are to believe that the threat to the planet is so great that almost any sacrifice of wealth and freedom is small in comparison.  Furthermore, rich and poor will suffer equally, even though the huge increases in the cost of energy (and production) implied by warmer “solutions” appear to impact the poor more greatly.   Most warmers envision great transfers of wealth from poorer nations to richer ones (hence the newly proposed Tribunal for International Global Warming Justice) since richer nations are the real villains in the global warming crisis.   They are the ones who have dug themselves out of the subsistence world (good and pure) into the corrupt (and corrupting) world of the exploitation of nature for material gain. Note that like most socialist schemers  global warming advocates are anti-capitalists and  essentially statist who know it is their duty and mission to correct the errors made by mere mortals .  The more romantic ones are children of Rousseau (the source of almost every bad idea to plague mankind) who envision a simpler world in which our needs are fewer and our capacity to fulfill then smaller.

As in most circumstances the safest approach to evaluating something like the global warming movement is to follow the money and the power from which the money is derived.   Who benefits when we turn over our freedom, wealth, and hopes for wealth to these acolytes of goodness?   Climate scientists know that research supporting global warming is more likely to be funded than efforts to debunk the theory. The professoriate knows that academic promotion and success are much more likely to follow championing global warming than attacking it. Politicians know that the seizure by the state of  great additional powers not only make them more powerful but allows them the “sell” favors to those who petition for extensions and exemptions from the plethora of “well meaning” regulations that bureaucrats spin like tireless spiders.  Crony capitalist (such as Solyndra) know that government loans and protection are available for “green” technologies which will never have to suffer market competition.  Do-gooders can sleep at night knowing that have improved the world. The list goes on and on.   One has to wonder whether the only beneficiaries of killing off the warmer’s grasp for power are the people.   But then, who cares about them and their needless lust for material success and freedom.  What would St. Just say?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No One Should be Allowed to Vote Himself a Raise

With another election approaching —for me it is local elections for mayor and such — the newspaper and other media are brimming with exhortations to vote.   To my mind too many people vote already.  I am not at this moment talking about unqualified boobs who do not know anything about the U.S. constitution.  I am talking about citizens who with their vote are supporting those that will directly reward them through cozy pay and benefit deals from the public trough. 
Those who work for government should not be allowed to vote in elections.  In particular, nonmilitary employees of the U.S. government should not be permitted to vote for president, senator, and congressman, either in general elections or primaries. Employees of state governments should not be permitted to vote for statewide offices.  Employees of county or local governments should not be allowed to vote in these elections.  In fact, these employees should be barred from contributing to campaigns or participating in campaigns for those offices which directly supervise their employment.
 The Hatch Act (1939) already prohibits federal employees (civil servants) from engaging in partisan political activity and its provisions also apply to employees at the state and local level whose pay originates in federal funds.  I would extend this to a prohibition against voting in applicable elections since this encourages pandering to public employees and their unions, who will then expect to be rewarded. 
In particular these proposals will ban government school teachers from voting for and campaigning for state officials (and local officials) who are then obligated to pay them off after being elected.  It actually amazes me that given the federal role in education that teachers and teachers’ unions are not covered by the Hatch Act.
Let me add that these proposals would ban me from voting in state elections in Florida where I am a professor at a state university.