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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Former Obama Energy Department Official Talks Common Sense on Climate Change

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 23, 2014

Dr. Steven E. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy during Obama’s first term. His credentials include a PhD in physics and provost at Caltech. As chief scientist for BP his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy sources. With such credentials one might expect Dr. Koonin to be a global warming zealot. Instead, he offers clear-thinking and open-mindedness, as indicated in his op-ed posted in the Wall Street Journal titled Climate Science Is Not Settled.

In the op-ed, Koonin uses the scientific method and logic to offer an open and unbiased discussion on climate change and the role that man-made carbon dioxide plays in its trajectory. His statements include:

  • “The idea that ‘Climate science is settled’ runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. …. it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.”
  •  “The crucial scientific question for policy isn’t whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. ….. Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. ….. Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, ‘How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?’ Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.” 
  • “Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole.” 
  • “We often hear that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.” 
  • For the latest IPCC report (September 2013), its Working Group I, which focuses on physical science, uses an ensemble of some 55 different models. Although most of these models are tuned to reproduce the gross features of the Earth’s climate, the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations that I have described.”
  • Although the Earth’s average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.” … “The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice,mad-scientist which is now at a record high.” … “Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.” …. This led Koonin to conclude: “These and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not “minor” issues to be “cleaned up” by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections.

Dr. Koonin offers two key conclusions. First, calling the science “settled” chills unrestricted scientific discussion.  In addition, while proponents of the man-made global warming theory are willing to discuss scientific “certainties”, they ignore the uncertainties, a disservice to climate science.

Dr. Koonin should be acclaimed for a willingness to bring back the discussion and study of global warming to the scientific method. Unfortunately, this subject has been so politicized by the Left to promote an agenda of wealth redistribution; it would not be surprising to see Koonin attacked by Progressives who fear a real scientific discussion on this important subject. After all, Koonin is a heretic when it comes to the new religion of global warming.

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Posted in Global Warming | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Government Finds Toyota Cars do not Have Electronics Problems

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 14, 2011

It wasn’t too long ago that Congress and much of the media were sure that the unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles was caused by the cars’ electronics.  All were calling for Toyota’s head and Congress initiated an independent study to prove Toyota’s guilt.  It didn’t turn out the way this group figured it would.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Transportation Department released the results of its 10-month study completed with the assistance of NASA engineers.  It found that electronic flaws were not to blame for the unintended acceleration.  It also concluded that the accelerations were the result mechanical issues already corrected by Toyota, as well some drivers hitting the gas instead of the brakes.

While the release of the Transportation Department’s study brings finality to the issue of the reported unintended accelerations, it raises some broader questions.  Toyota was improperly maligned by the press and certain politicians based on hysterical and unsubstantiated reports.  The fact that this occurred at about the same time that the U.S Government took a majority stake in General Motors is a troubling coincidence.

In addition, the conclusion that Toyota cars were going into uncontrolled acceleration due to electronic/computer issues was nearly universally promoted and accepted before any real scientific study was carried out.  That is a troubling trend today with many important issues used to form public policy.

 

Posted in Toyota | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gulf Microbes Prove More Powerful than Governmental Action

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 10, 2011

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April was a catastrophe.  Workers at the well site were killed during the explosion, fisheries were closed, beaches were damaged and many other peoples’ livelihoods were hurt.  These were all predictable results of the massive oil and gas leak into the Gulf.  What was not predicted by the experts was how quickly the Gulf ecologically recovered from the spill.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the amazingly rapid comeback for the Gulf.  The well leaked tons of methane gas into the gulf that scientists predicted would take years to disperse before the Gulf would return to normal.  Instead, it only took months.  The heroes were not government bureaucrats who bungled so much during the months that followed the accident.  The heroes were some of the smallest critters that live on this planet, bacteria.

According to a recently released government funded study appearing on the online journal of Science, microbes occurring naturally in the Gulf have devoured much of the poisonous chemicals found in the natural gas and oil on the sea floor.  In June, measurements of methane showed levels in the water at thousands of times the normal amount.  Current measurements show these readings now to be normal.

The scientific communities surprise at the Gulf’s natural cleanup abilities was echoed by chemical oceanographer John Kessler at Texas A & M, an author of the Science study who said: “We were shocked.  We thought the methane would be around for years.”  Dr. David Valentine, a microbiologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, also said: “Within a matter of months, the bacteria completely removed that methane.  The bacteria kicked on more effectively than we expected.”

The remarkable natural cleansing of the oil and gas spill from the Deepwater Horizon spill is instructive.  The environment is complex and dynamic with literally millions of variables that come into play in keeping it in balance.  It should not be surprising that this same environment has significant abilities at self repair.  Long before man began to affect the Earth’s environment it put up with all sorts of natural abuses including earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and Ice Ages and it still remains a rather hospitable place.

While the evidence on the Gulf’s natural cleanup is compelling, there remain disbelievers among scientists including University of Georgia microbiologist Samantha Joye who said:  “I think they are jumping to a conclusion.  It would take a superhuman microbe to do what they are claiming.”  Evidently Ms. Joye didn’t read H.G. Wells’, The War of the Worlds.  There are indeed events that man cannot control.

There are those that will also question the Gulf’s natural cleanup “theory” since it has implications for the Global-Warming debate.  Methane is a significant greenhouse gas that plays a role in some theoretical scenarios on rapidly rising earth temperatures.  Should naturally existing microbes be able to control large methane gas releases, that part of the alarmists’ theory will no longer hold water.

The Earth’s ability to self-repair its environment does not justify man’s abuse of it.  However, this ability should give pause to allowing fear-mongers to change the way the world operates in the name of questionable theories on manmade global warming.  Given that these scientists could got it so wrong on how a major oil and gas spill would affect the Gulf of Mexico, it is likely that their predicted results of excess carbon emissions on the Earth’s temperature is also flawed.

 

Posted in Global Warming, Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Plus 41 Years

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 22, 2010

Contributor Jim Mahoney wrote a piece on the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landing that he recently forwarded to this Blog.  It not only correctly points to the huge benefits that the World received from his American adventure, but also the dark-side of how society has slipped in those four decades.

After Jim penned “One Small Step”, it came out that President Obama instructed NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to change NASA’s charge from science maker to Progressive mouthpiece when he told Al Jazeera in an interview:

When I became the NASA administrator – or before I became the NASA administrator – he [Obama] charged me with three things.  One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering,”

It is ironic that in less sophisticated times it was religion that was most likely to impinge on science and the scientific method.  Today the danger to science comes from the loony-Left.  As Jim Mahoney states: “Today, I’m afraid we tend to focus on our limitations, instead of our strengths.”

One Small Step, By Jim Mahoney

There are a handful of moments in your life where you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing on a particular day, and most of those are usually accompanied by bad news.  One day of my life that is indelibly etched in my memory is July 20, 1969.  I was 13 years old, it was a hot, humid Sunday, and there was an electricity in the air because I knew that history was about to be made.  This was the day that man would land on the moon for the very first time. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Governmental Intervention, Progressives, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Crime Causation Theory Debunked

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 1, 2010

The 2009 report on annual crime statistics showed a significant drop.  The report was not given much media attention, possibly because it would focus attention on theories promoted by Liberals that the statistics do not support.  Heather Mac Donald earlier this year wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that helps put the dropping crime rate into perspective.

The commonly accepted theory as to the root cause of crime has been that it stems from inequities in income and social injustices.  This theory gained traction in the 1960’s and has been promoted by Progressives.  That theory helped create social policy and a social workers’ industry.

The theory has shown to be flawed by what has occurred during the ongoing recession, which according to President Obama is the worst since the Great Depression.  With 7 million jobs lost, crime should have spiked, so the theory goes.  But, instead it went down to the lowest level since the 1960’s.

The counter-intuitive direction of crime should be considered along with other counter-intuitive figures from the 1960’s and 1930’s.  As Mac Donald points out in her op-ed, during the 1960’s when massive amount of funds were being spent on the Great Society homicides rose 43%.  In addition, crime rates dropped during the Great Depression.

The cause and motivations behind of crime needs to be reevaluated.  Neither science nor social science is furthered by implementing policies based on unsupported theories.

The debunked crime theory is not the first instance of science being used and abused to further a political agenda.  Us Baby-Boomers will not only be remembered for our insatiable spending habits, but also for institutionalizing junk science.  Not the greatest of legacies!

Posted in Crime, Progressives | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Where are the Global Warming Scammers Hiding? Part II

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 26, 2010

On April 18th this Blog posted an Article titled “Where are the Global Warming Scammers Hiding?” that questioned the validity of the manmade global warming theory and the motivations of some that promote it.  That led to a spirited debate with one reader that is a worthy read.  Below are the main issues raised by this dissenter and this Blog’s responses.  It is hoped that through such debate some sanity will be added to the overall discussions being held on the issues.

The Debate

Let’s you with your closing comments: “Keep your integrity so I can keep reading your blog.”  While you can question my intellect, logic, conclusions, etc., questioning my integrity is uncalled for.  I have no “dog in this hunt” so integrity cannot be an issue.  The same cannot not be said for many “believers” that include university scientists who cannot obtain government grants without being “believers”, large corporations that stand to profit from selling green merchandise, the banks who will profit from trading carbon credits and the governments who will grab more power.

Now on to your sustentative comments:

1. “The best anyone can say is that the science is unclear” relating to manmade global warming.

Fair statement, but that is not how the “science” is being presented by the followers of the religion of manmade global warming theory (MMGWT).  They present the conclusions as absolutes and question the integrity of any who disagree.  (A theme in your response.)

2. “I’ll assume you do believe science can reveal reality.”

Of course.  But, when emotion gets as strong as with those promoting this cause and effect, and then we see scientific data fudged, one should question how much real science is behind this.

In addition, the science folks have gotten many important calls wrong in recent history including Y2K, Bird Flu, SARs, WMD, and H1N1.  These failures not only have occurred because the scientist were jaded, but because they have reverted to the use modeling to create conclusions, rather than the time-proven “controlled laboratory” experimentation you suggest.  These models are impressive in their complexity, but not in their ability to act like the real world.  Given the huge failures in recent years, reasonable skepticism is called for with MMGWT.

3. “For instance, it’s clear (emmis?) that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen precipitously in the last 100 years compared to the thousands of preceding years and that glaciers are receding at a very fast rate as well”.  You then mention other changes and tie them to MMGWT.

While your statement is basically true, that does not create any semblance of cause and effect.  Given that all major ice ages and subsequent global warmings occurred long prior to your quoted time period, and in fact before industrialization itself, there are clearly other significant factors at play that are being ignored by the believers; i.e. not included in their models.

4. “Maybe you believe that this will have no consequences in which case, there’s no such thing as cause and affect.”

It is because of this Blog’s strong belief in “causes and affect” that we question MMGWT.  Should we implement the plans of the Copenhagen group and other Progressives, food production costs will soar, likely leading to starvation in some countries.  Other negative consequences will follow.

5. “Billions of people will be impacted by rising oceans and receding glaciers.  It doesn’t matter if it’s manmade or not.”

Your first sentence is correct in theory, although one should question your use of “billions”.  But as I said previously, many will be impacted by what the MMGWT plans to implelment as they try to affect outcome.  Just as significant, the MMGWT scientists have not informed us how their proposed plans would mitigate the problems.  Whatever happened to a cost-benefit analysis?  Whatever happened to “ready, aim, fire”?

Finally, I am sure you did not really mean “It doesn’t matter if it’s manmade or not”.  Clearly we should not go after carbon emissions if it doesn’t resolve the problem.

6. “Will you join me in calling for not 1 federal tax dollar to be spent on shoring up Florida’s coast?

Sure, I don’t believe the Federal government should get involved with any of these areas.  Those are states’ issues, according to our Constitution.  But your point seems moot.  This same President and Congress who supposedly believe in MMGWT are spending billions to rebuild New Orleans.  Why would they do that if they really believed the ocean would rise even a few inches?  There are only two possible answers: 1) they are completely incompetent or 2) they don’t really believe the oceans will rise.  Neither should offer us any comfort in allowing this group to make decisions on remedial actions for MMGWT.

7. “On the other hand you do criticize some corps like GS and GE for looking to cash in on global warming by trading carbon credits.  Now I’m not that sophisticated about all this, but it seems to me that you would support this.”

Your understanding of this Blogs’ position is in error.  We have no issue with corporations getting rich, as long as they earn it in the free market.  The carbon trading scheme is a fake market to be set up by the government.  This will lead to corruption and cannot be supported.

******

In conclusion this Blog is not willing to risk a significant portion of the country’s, and for that matter the world’s, wealth and productive assets on the government’s proposed remedial actions for MMGWT.  The science is not certain, it is unclear that the actions will reverse the carbon content in the atmosphere enough to change any supposed affect, and the downside affects could be as bad as the purported problems.

Finally, as to your threat to not continue reading this Blog, that’s a personal decision.  It is not the purpose of this Blog to win a popularity contest.  Its goal is to question the wrong directions that our government is taking the country and for that we will not apologize.

Posted in Global Warming, Governmental Intervention | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

GE Gets the Green by Going Green; Dwight Eisenhower Warned Us

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 11, 2009

General Electric has been awarded a $1.4 billion contract to supply turbines (windmill generators) for the world’s largest wind-farm in Oregon, USA.  GE will installed 338 turbines in 2011 and 2012, as well as supply 10 years of maintenance on them.  Going green has enabled GE to get the green.

GE estimates that the wind-farm will have a capacity of 845 megawatts, enough to supply power for about 230,000 homes.  This is about 85% of the power capacity of a nuclear power plant.

Whether or not you buy into the theory of man-made global warming, producing renewable energy is good for the country, assuming it is accomplished at prices that do not rob assets from other important areas, such as food or medicine.  At the same time the huge amount of money involved with renewable energy and the entire “green” movement raises the caution flag.  When parts of the economy are managed by non-economic criteria, such as government mandates or a “do-gooder” mentality, unintended consequences occur and often they lead to bad things.

In the “green industry”, huge companies and portions of the academic science community stand to make  billions based on people buying into the man-made global warming theory.  This creates an environment whereby greed hinders decision-making and science.  Such was the case with certain proponents of the theory of man-made global warming that were recently exposed for fudging data to strengthen their conclusions.  Not very scientific! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Change, Global Warming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »