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Alan D. Hyde
05-11-2001, 02:16 PM
Here are some materials on the global warming controversy. (This is not an endorsement.)

www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm (http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm)

This is a subject upon which reasonable people may disagree.

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-11-2001).]

Ian Wright
05-11-2001, 02:28 PM
Last week the water in our bird bath had ice on it,,,,,,today the temp was in the high 70's Does that prove anything?
IanW.

ken mcclure
05-11-2001, 02:37 PM
It's nice to see some of my own pet theories backed up by scientific evidence.

Now if we can just get someone to debunk the CFC and ozone myths, I can get back to using my 1,1,1 Tri and carbon tetrachloride.

Jim H
05-11-2001, 03:08 PM
Makes sense, in fact I believe The Chemist mentioned some of this before. Too bad it doesn't sell as many papers as "the sky is falling!"

Jim

ThomNC
05-11-2001, 04:08 PM
Ian,
It proves that you are an observant person. We could use more.
Thom

Sierrans
05-11-2001, 05:02 PM
Congrats Alan,

a needle in the hay stack and you found it.
It would be silly for me to link all the scientific articles supporting the negative effect carbon emmissions have on our environment. Search any respected science journal on the web and see. Happy reading.

Ed Harrow
05-11-2001, 05:46 PM
http://www.alltheweb.com/cgi-bin/search?type=phrase&query=global+warming&exec=FAST+Se arch (http://www.alltheweb.com/cgi-bin/search?type=phrase&query=global+warming&exec=FAST+Search)

http://www.alltheweb.com/cgi-bin/search?offset=0&type=phrase&q uery=George+C.+Marshall+Institute&exec=FAST+Search (http://www.alltheweb.com/cgi-bin/search?offset=0&type=phrase&query=George+C.+Marshall+Institute&exec=FAST+Search)

http://www.alltheweb.com/cgi-bin/search?type=phrase&query=Oregon+Institute+of+Science+and+Medicine&exec=FAST+Search

http://www.alltheweb.com/cgi-bin/search?type=phrase&query=Frederick+Seitz+&exec=FAST+Search

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 05-11-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 05-11-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-11-2001, 05:54 PM
I'm intrigued, Alan. However, unlike JimH--who is evidently quite knowledgeable about "the fine root biomass of young sour orange trees," and matters of that sort--I find I'm hopelessly unqualified to evaluate the science here.

I'd be interested in hearing some feedback from forumites who actually know a thing or two.

Incidentally...what is the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine? I see they've reissued the collected works of G. A. Henty (writer of boy's adventure stories in the heyday of the British Empire) as well as some rather detailed stuff about Surviving Nuclear War. They seem to have broad interests.

Jim H
05-11-2001, 06:30 PM
Well what do you expect from someone the nuns had to beat to teach him to read!

Young Sour Orange trees?

For your reading pleasure,

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/legaff/global.html

Ouch! Another needle!

ishmael
05-11-2001, 06:59 PM
Bruce,

I know a thing or two, though I've not had my hand in for a bit, and so am rusty.

From what I've read, there is no firm answer. It may be established that the climate is warming, and its clear there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, but specific causes of these things are well from established fact. As I've mentioned earlier, the increase in CO2 may well be largely the result of altering THE major sink, the ocean's phytoplankton. It's important to realize that climatology is a recent science, and as has been pointed out elsewhere, the changes we are observing are being studied in compressed time frames, and hence are poorly understood.

As I've made clear elsewhere, I'd like to see the world's people use less of everything for largely aesthetic reasons. One of my pet peeves is the suburban use of a myriad of two cycle engines by people cutting their grass. They start those whining carbon spewers at un-godly hours, and seem, here in suburbia, to run the buggers all day long. Here, at dusk, there is a lawn mower droning in the background. This, in a neigborhood with small lawns that could be maintained with push tools very nicely.

The "truth" about global warming is probably a hundred years down the road. Whether this is a reason for government intervention just in case, or a bolster for business as usual, likely depends more on your politics than science. But, who cares what I think.

Jack

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 05-11-2001).]

ken mcclure
05-11-2001, 07:02 PM
I think we all care, Ish. We may not agree with you, but we care.

Mark Van
05-11-2001, 07:44 PM
I seem to recall about 25 or 30 years ago, all the "experts" were saying that increased air polution would cause another "ice age". Exactly when did it switch to "global warming"?

Dave R
05-12-2001, 06:07 AM
Ish, I agree with you. Especially on the lawn mower thing. We have a battery powered mower which is great. It's quiet; Smitty (who does have a navel) was laying in the yard yesterday while I mowed. He didn't get up and move until I only had the patch he was laying on left. No emmissions either. We'd use a push reel type mower but our lawn is a little too large and hilly.

Bruce Taylor
05-12-2001, 06:16 AM
Sure, Jim. Young sour orange trees. On Alan's recommendation I read the Oregon study and found it impossible to form an opinion on the quality of the science. Since you say the study "makes sense" you must know a lot more about the subject than I do.

Andreas Wiese
05-12-2001, 07:08 AM
It is all quite interesting, of course, but do not forget that these people represent a very marginal view. Just because somone can present an argument in a persuasive manner does not necessarily mean that it is an objective truth. Until we can prove beyond doubt that the release of greenhouse gases have a benign effect on our environment, we should do everything in our power to reduce these emissions. At the moment this is the view shared by an overwhelming 99% of the world's leading scientists, and that is good enough for me. Incidentally, most of the remaining 1% are financed by rather 'special' interests in the oil & resource-intensive industries in the US.......This is too serious a business to go about finding spurious research conclusions to excuse continuing the present trend. The US is politically isolated on this issue, a testiment to the power of vested interests in your country.

Andreas

ken mcclure
05-12-2001, 07:49 AM
Andreas just hit the nail on the head.

As I said above, I like to see "research" that backs up my theories. Please do not suppose from this, however, that my theories are formed out of anything other than my limited knowledge.

If you follow U.S. "science" you will consistently hear "reversals" of prior scientific findings, only to learn that the new studies were funded by an interest group.

Eggs had high cholesterol and were bad. Until the dairy group funded a study that showed eggs were not so bad for you.

Fried food.
Coffee.
Tobacco. (Yes, there are studies that say it's not bad.)

And so on.

Whatever happened to the focus on acid rain?

Personally I don't think that CO2 is that serious of a problem but that is more of a "vote" than anything. I base my opinion on the fact that all green plant life thrives on C02.

I think that there are a LOT more dangerous molecular compounds flying in the breeze, and wonder if the focus on CO2 isn't a "smoke screen" (pun intended) to take our attention away.

[This message has been edited by kwmcclure (edited 05-12-2001).]

thechemist
05-12-2001, 11:38 AM
Eggs? Tobacco? California passed a law, in the last days of Willie Brown in Sacramento, stating that "...ordinary consumer products which are inherently unsafe and cannot be made safe, such as butter, eggs and tobacco,...." are hereby immune from product liability suits in the State of California.

You can't say that sort of stuff might not be so bad, they got laws there. Even the vested interest groups could not get California to back off from that legislated position that butter, eggs and tobacco were inherently unsafe.

thechemist
05-12-2001, 11:48 AM
I quickly looked over Jim's post with the hq.nasa.gov reference, and saw that the NASA fellow who gave the paper stated that the planet was overall in radiative balance, with energy from the sun equalling energy lost. It seemed an excellent treatment of the effect of water vapor in the atmosphere in relation to carbon dioxide, and our present degree of understanding thereof. I saw nowhere in there that he considered that the energy input to the planet could be varying, and yet the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been measuring that sort of thing for decades.

Hope some day all those fellows get to talking to each other.

Paul Frederiksen
05-13-2001, 10:39 AM
It works the other way around too. We all had to change to the new freon because the old stuff was going to burn a giant hole in the Ozone. Remember that. The sole scientific support for the link between the old freon and ozone depletion was a paper written as a PHD thesis by the son of a major bigwhig in DOW chemical who held the patent on the old freon. Turns out the patent was about to run out and they had a new version with a new patent but would not be able to corner the market unles they could eliminate the dependance on the old stuff.

If you think that 99% of the scientest support the global warming hypothesis than you have not been talking to very many scientists lately. Most of them are relly angry at the junk passing as science in this global warming scare.

Cold hard truth. Global warming is politics not science.

thechemist
05-13-2001, 10:50 AM
It's nothing personal. It's just business.

ThomNC
05-13-2001, 03:45 PM
Thank you chemist.
I believe there is no "objective truth" within the realm of human beans. The real truth is on the other side, and I'm looking forward to being mightily surprised. End of sermon.
Thom

Andreas Wiese
05-14-2001, 04:51 AM
I must say that it is utterly striking that the only place where you will encounter arguments like these are in the US. The only research in this field of objective and genuine value is that commissioned by national governments. As you are probably aware, most of the research in your country is sponsored by private capital - ie. vested interests. Until the global warming theory has been disproved, why should we jeopardize the future of the planet? Think also about how much you really know about this issue, and what 'others' would like you to believe. Is it in the interest of large industries to discredit the "greenhouse effect" thesis? Or is it in their interest that current patterns of consumption are continued??
I do not say that we should discard research that contradicts the mainstream view, but analyse it carefully and see whether it can be supported by other studies before challenging the current consensus. This is the prudent approach, only the gullible embraces the first persuasive argument encountered without critically evaluating it.

Andreas

Scott Rosen
05-14-2001, 09:27 AM
Western-thinking folks tend to gravitate toward an apocalyptic world view. Does anyone remember the hubub surrounding Y2K? There were lots of (otherwise intelligent) folks who were prepared for the end of civilization as we know it. Those of us who lived through the Cold War remember the philosophy of mutual assured destruction "MAD", the ultimate apocalyptic public policy. Does anyone else see the irony in all of these former "peaceniks" who are passionately in favor of keeping our massive nuclear arsenals over the development of a defensive system based on a philosophy other than MAD? Boston Harbor, the Great Lakes--all of these were dead with no chance of return, and they were the messengers of our ultimate doom. Our infatuation with dinosuars is largely because of our curiosity about how they became extinct--yet another apocalyptic obsession.

To this cynical old fart, global warming is just another apocalyptic obsession. It has just enough support in "science" to give people a good scare, but not enough support to win any kind of responsible consensus. The earth's climate has never been stable, and it has always had both short-term and long-term variations. We haven't studdied the effects of human pollution for long enough to understand what if any lasting effects it will have. Having said all that, I am still in favor of using our resources efficiently, and I think that consideration for our fellow humans dictates that we clean up after ourselves, or better yet, make as little mess as possible. But that's just good manners.

To our European friends: I'm not impressed by the "science" put forth by your "independent" goverments. It was the "science" brought about by your "independent governments" during the last century that was responsible for some of the worlds most catastrophic events. For example, I would consider the loss of human life, the destruction of property and the waste of natural resources from 1914 through 1945 to be the greatest "environmental" disaster to befall civilization. Granted, in the USA special interest groups have too much influence, but in most cases they are counter-balanced to some extent by other competing interest groups. Too bad there's no one who has the resources to challenge the "independent" government research. Oh, and by the way, I'm also cynical enough to believe that nothing undertaken by a government is truly "independent."

Jim H
05-14-2001, 09:56 AM
"Follow the money"

There is a lot of grant money handed out by the government every year. Who's going to get the most, the scientist who's data shows that human produced CO2 is causing global warming and melting of the polar caps or the scientist who says that the data is inconclusive?

Researchers compete for grant money like NBA teams compete for draft picks.

Jim

Andreas Wiese
05-14-2001, 10:00 AM
Scott,

I could not disagree more, I have a feeling that we will get nowhere on this one - which is sad... I will nonetheless make a few comments:

1) I fail to see the relevance of what happened 1914-45 in relation to the present situation.

2)Governments in Europe are trusted to a much greater extent than in the US, you display a certain paranoia in this respect. Competing private research will never outweigh research where no 'strings are attatched'.

3) You seem to question that there is a strong consensus concerning global warming. I suspect you have not read extensively on the issue.

Andreas

Scott Rosen
05-14-2001, 10:58 AM
Andreas, thank you for being so polite.

1. 1914 to 1945. This is not ancient history. These are years in our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our parents. You have suggested that the research promulgated by some of the same governments that gave us that mess is somehow above reproach. I can't accept that. This may be a new generation of leaders, but human nature doesn't fundementally change in fifty years. If I distrust my own government which has done so much to bring peace to Europe, why on earth would I trust the European governments that had to be rebuilt on our model

2. In the USA, my cynicism toward government is not considered paranoia. It's mainstream. In my view, our government has earned our disrespect and I'm not ashamed to say so. The trust that you say exists in Europe would be consider naivete in this country. We expect our government to operate on fear and greed--the same emotions that drive and have driven every government and market ever known. We haven't been disappointed. If you think that your government is above human nature, then you have not learned one of the fundemental lessons of 1914 to 1945. No collection of human beings can be completely without bias. No system of governance can completely eliminate the base elements of human nature. Why pretend otherwise?

3. You are correct that I have not read extensively on the issue of global warming. The reason I jumped into this thread is because it seems more like politics than science. I can get away with BSing in politics, whereas I can't in science. I've seen the hype from both sides and I've perused some of the writings from both sides. In all fairness, I have to admit to a certain prejudice: the "sky is falling" hysteria has led me to discount the credibility of those who say global warming is a serious and imminent threat. I hope I'm not throwing out the baby with the bath water, so to speak.

Thanks for your thoughtful debate.

Alan D. Hyde
05-14-2001, 11:46 AM
Andreas-------

The distinguished European sociologist Max Weber argued that bureaucracies are first interested in their own survival, second in their own aggrandizement, and only thirdly (perhaps) in accomplishing the objectives which they were established to achieve.

Arguments concerning science are verifiably right or wrong irrespective of who makes them or who pays for them.

The "Arsenal of Democracy" was so productive in two world wars in large part because it was so free. Some might say "Don't bite the hand that freed you," but that is a little too jingoistic for my own taste.

Alan

Matt J.
05-14-2001, 12:20 PM
As I learned it a few years ago, a scientific law is beyond reproach. It is and always will be. Experimentation to prove a law is really experimentation to disprove the proposed law. If the experiment works, if only once, the law is not. It's only a theory or hypothesis which must be revised. This must lead to the conclusion that a law is extremely difficult to prove; experimentation to disprove (attack) it is far easier.

When we speak of disproving the Global Warming theory - that is, to prove that our consumption practices are not destroying the ozone layer or building up enough carbon in the atmosphere to entrap the heat's sun - we find it is almost impossible. (BTW, the iceage theory is based on thinking of this entrapment the other way around - ie, what if our pollution kept out the sun's heat by not allowing it to enter the atmosphere?).

Seems to me that the idea of global warming is nice ideology, and a great way to say the sky is falling. It's nice to have a title for your cause. It's even better if it's scary and works on the world's population. Fact is, evidence has not proven either warming, ice age, or anything in between. We should probably avoid degrading each other's governments as I'm sure that's one fast way to a useless debate. I don't care if it's the US, Europe, Asia, or any other continent, region, or country, who has gotten us to where we are. We all use fuels which can pollute. We all know there are alternatives.

I worked for a research lab awhile ago. We did one research project for a new machine to test the fractal losses in aggregates of varying densities and materials. They had their own theories on global warming and the ensuing ice age (they, all scientists, beleived that the global warming would melt the glaciers, flood and cool the earth... etc). They wanted to use the technology to determine where glaciers went, where they started, and where they all ended up.

If any one of these groups proves their theory, we will not be around to know of it. It is, I believe, long and far away in the future; perhaps Jack is right with his optimistic 100 years, but I think I'll be gone before anything is proven, so perhaps 150-200 years.

Oh yeah, I got the John Deere 165 lawn tractor I was asking about a month or so ago. It's great. Instead of polluting for 3-3.5 hours every week during growth season, we get the entire yard cut in 45-50 minutes. See? I'm saving pollution already. When Bio-diesel is readily available, I'll be listening. In the meantime, it's chilly in MD today, so GW is not something I'm worrying about.

Alan D. Hyde
05-14-2001, 03:06 PM
OK, the "don't bite" line was a cheap shot, for which I am sorry.

However, the massive twentieth-century production capacity of the U.S., much of it the result of free people and free markets, undoubtedly helped to shape the history of the twentieth century in positive ways that no planned economy could ever have done.

Competition and choice in free markets is the equivalent, in the economic sphere, to the experimental method in science.

And the experimental method does permit uncredentialed individuals like Edison or the Wright brothers to establish their hypotheses irrespective of the prevailing orthodoxies.

All human undertakings are subject to error, and will fall short of perfection.

If we err, isn't it better to err in the way of freedom?

Alan



[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-14-2001).]

Sierrans
05-14-2001, 03:49 PM
I might side with Andreas Wiese,

Err on the side of "freedom" (who's freedom) or the health of our earth? Uhh.....We can implement existing technology to reduce the amount of carbon the US emits into our atmosphere or conversely we can allow energy interests to make more money. What choice makes more sense, especially when the overwhelming majority of our scientific community believes the former.

Alan D. Hyde
05-14-2001, 05:13 PM
Are you sure you phrased the question even-handedly?

Alan

Sierrans
05-14-2001, 05:34 PM
Dear Alan,

If carbon emisions are detrimental to environmental stability, as the vast majority in the scientific community agree, then yes the question is framed correctly and fairly. Of course there is compromise and that is where the debate lies. In my opinion the energy industry holds too much sway within the walls of our government, especially within the White House.

Scott Rosen
05-14-2001, 06:24 PM
It seems that you scientists have stolen a page from the book we lawyers use. Our most effective tool is to argue by false analogy or from false premise. Isn't that what's going on here? There's absolutely no dispute that carbon emissions effects the environment. My god, farting affects the environment. The question is what are the long-term effects and how serious are they. The subsidiary question is how much, if any, will we have to reduce emissions to bring the negative effects into an acceptable range. I would like to know how, if at all, any of the research takes the natural climatic changes into account. In other words, how do experiments control for changes that we know exist and will occur, but which we have no clue how to measure? Also, emissions from human combustion are relatively new. How is it possible to extrapolate from the short period of time that the polar ice caps will melt and civilization as we know it will end?

Even the most well-intentioned scientist is influenced (read, biased) by his or her circumstances. It's not an insult to question the results of research and put the conclusions to the test.

Sierrans
05-14-2001, 06:41 PM
Dear Scott,

We accept that global warming due to cardon emissions is not closed debate, it is a mere theory supported by most of the climatologists in this world. Of course this is a theory that has not been fully tested nor has it taken into account the many variables that affect climatic change. The geologic history of earth is far too chaotic and vast to assume carbon emissions are the MAIN reason why our earth's average temperature has been rising since the industrial revolution. However,isn't it responsible and wise to tread lightly when faced with an issue of such immense consequences? Instead of continuing on as we have and saying "ooops" when its too late, why not proceed with caution and modify our current activity, especially since it is well within our means to do so.

[This message has been edited by Sierrans (edited 05-14-2001).]

Paul Frederiksen
05-14-2001, 09:54 PM
I am curious to know, for example, how much carbon emmisions are generated by your average volcano, or forest fire. It would be useful to know how human output compares to this. Lets take, for instance, the fact that before the Central California valley was irrigated and cultivated. Massive brush fires burned most of it at least once a year. Now almost none of it burns. I would have to drive an awful lot of miles to make up for even one acre of brush fire. Have factors like these been taken into account in the computer models which project the impact of carbon emmisions?

I listened to an interview a while back wherein a senior member of the British party to the Kioto protocal was speaking. He was literally screaming at a caller that within a few years most of Britan would be under water due to American energy consumption. The complete lack of reasoned discourse and civility was alarming. Even the most radical interpretations of the data available do not project this. That, in his mind, it was ALL America's fault was beyond alarming, it was insulting.

I am getting really tired of people or organizations knowingly making false or grossly exagerated claims in order to advance their agenda. In this case there are many good and well established reasons why we should all reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for energy. There is no need to create unfounded apocalyptic predictions when there are perfectly good reasons to change our behavior.

Andreas Wiese
05-15-2001, 04:40 AM
Scott, I intended no offense, so please accept my apologies.

If I understand you correctly, you seem to believe that Europe's governments are by virtue of their predecessors' folly incapable of claiming 'the moral high ground'. A lot has happened in Europe since the Second World War, and to hold someone accountable for what their great grandfathers did in the past is simply wrong, and you know that. Furthermore, Europe consists of many countries that never initiated conflict, but were caught up in events, so no sweeping generalisations, please.

As to the credibility of national governments: I have never said that one can eliminate bias completely from any research, I do however say that government-sponsored research is inherently more legitimate in that it is commissioned for the benefit of a society, not private interests. Why would private companies commission research if they did not see any profit coming out of it??

Alan, Weber might be the father of modern organisational theory, but the structure and nature of government bureaucracies has changed quite dramatically since the time whrn those observations where appropriate.

I sense a rising defensive attitude among the more conservative forumites...I might be wrong, but it seems to me that there is a great deal of fear of what is perceived as "intellectual snobbery" (deriving from the aristocratic and arrogant Europeans?), to the detriment of having a constructive argument based on scientific facts.

Fact: Whereas we might possibly be on the road to a new ice age, the increase in global temperature over the last hundered years is unprecedented in the earth's history. This sharp increase might be 'natural', man made or a combination of both. An overwhelming majority of the world's leading scientists support the two latter. To dispute this is to display a level of ignorance that is simply frightening.

It is entirely legitimate to examine other possiblitites and challenge the prevailing view, but it is not up to me or the next person to pass quasi-judgements on whatever study that fits in with one's own comfortable view. This is a scientific process that must be allowed to run its course. In the meantime, we should all be responsible and accept that we might have a major problem on our hands that needs a collective solution.

The US government, backed by vested interests, is currently an example of an ailing democracy unable to perform its main function: To preserve the interests (short & long term)of its people. And if I say that most people are blissfully unaware of their long-term interests due to undue bias in the media and elsewhere, things look pretty bleak.

Andreas

Scott Rosen
05-15-2001, 08:14 AM
Andreas, no offense taken.

I guess I just don't share your optimism and faith in governmental organizations.

I don't understand how anyone can say with any degree of certainty that the increase in the earth's temperature in the past hundred years is greater than at any time in earth's history. I don't think anyone kept reliable meterorological data more than about 150 years ago. Through examination of fossils and other natural substances, scientists have been able to identify long-term trends in temperature, but today's science simply does not allow one to say what the temperature change was during a given one hundred year period that occurred four million years ago. Or am I wrong?

Climate prediction may be one of the most complex of all studies. This was driven home to me yesterday (Monday) as I listened to the National Weather Service's five day forecast. The NWS, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a U.S. government funded research institution), is wrong four times out of five on their extended forecasts. They are wrong one time out of three on their predictions for tomorrow's weather. This level of inaccuracy is amazing considering the massive funding and support that NOAA and NWS receive from the US government. You see my point. If the best climatologists can't predict next week's weather, how are they able to predict what will happen next decade, or next century? Only a fool plans his weekend on the five day forecast. I don't think I want to decide world economic and environmental policy on the same predictions.

But I'm still in favor of using energy cleanly, efficiently and wisely.

ishmael
05-15-2001, 08:15 AM
Andreas,

"Fact: Whereas we might possibly be on the road to a new ice age, the increase in global temperature over the last hundered years is unprecedented in the earth's history. This sharp increase might be 'natural', man made or a combination of both. An overwhelming majority of the world's leading scientists support the two latter. To dispute this is to display a level of ignorance that is simply frightening."

Forgive my frightening level of ignorance, but the latest theories I'm aware of put the earth's age at five billion years, give or take a few million millenium. What makes this vast majority of the world's climatologists so certain of their analyses given that they and their science are pimples on a gnat's ass when viewed from mama earth's time frame? Not to mention that detailed longitudinal records of temperature have only been made globally for part of the one hundred years you claim are unprecedented. And yes, I'm aware of extrapolative techniques which make claims of accuracy--tree rings, ice cores and such-- but aren't the basic techniques of such speculative science incredibly new, and open to interpretation? Most of the projections of warming I've seen are based on complex statistical models run through electronic brains which give off an impressive odor of veracity. If you look at the amount of data being fed the heads, however, it often looks like pretty thin gruel compared to the meat of time.

I don't mean to be flippant. I happen to be of the opinion (based more on intuition than a preponderance of evidence) that our CO2 emissions, coupled with other factors poorly understood, have warmed things up a bit. What that means for our health and well being I'm much less sure of. I've read some interesting speculation that, counterintutively, this warming might actually trigger another ice age. I just object to the passel of unsupported stuff flying about on both sides of this argument. Unless I've forgotten someone, only Alan and Ed have provided any documentation.

Being a bit of a hobbit by nature, I abhor both our tendency to mass consumer trashing of things, and our chicken little mass mind proclamations of the sky falling. That last, not aimed at you.

Best, Jack

Bruce Taylor
05-15-2001, 08:32 AM
I find this thread a little depressing. If we are unwilling to be swayed by sound arguments we might as well be dancing the hokey pokey.

Please ask yourself a question: “Is there any evidence that could possibly change my mind?” If the answer is “No” then you are not one of the “reasonable people” Alan referred to in the post that started this thread.

Alan -- “To err on the side of freedom” sounds like a good plan. However, the “freedom” we’re talking about is, essentially, the freedom to put stuff into the air. We are not talking about
freedom of speech, or freedom of association. We are not talking about freedom of person or property, either. Nobody wants to illegalize farting and breathing. The economic liberty that is
threatened by regulation of GHG emissions is of a much lower order.

Andreas – “To err on the side of caution” seems like a good plan, too. However, it could be reasonably argued that actions which are environmentally cautious might also be economically reckless.

Scott -- I don’t trust your gut instincts. I don’t trust mine either. My gut instincts tell me that heavy objects fall faster than light ones, but it isn’t so. The natural world couldn’t care less what I think, hope, believe or expect. It just goes on being itself.

Scott Rosen
05-15-2001, 08:51 AM
This is getting interesting. What's remarkable is that we all agree on the basic need to use energy cleanly and efficiently. We all agree that there can be no good to the environment by combustion of fossil fuels and that less consumption is better. So I'm trying to figure out why I'm rubbed the wrong way by the global warming hysteria.

Bruce, I am generally suspicous of my instincts. The only instinct that I really trust is my instinct to questions authority and my instinct to question the truth of just about everything.

Evangelical zealots is the way I would describe the global warming alarmists. My instinct is to distrust them, to question their statements. I don't really have an opinion on the effect of human behavior on global warming, except I recognize it as a possible explanation for certain phenomena. I remain open to evidence on any side of the issue.

I am a skeptic. I don't even trust my understanding of god. There may be absolutes in nature, but we humans have been unable to find them. Today's certainty is tomorrow's myth. What happened to the Newtonian Universe? When I was in elementary school in the '60s, I had teachers who said that time was an absolute. Apparently they didn't read Einstein.

When someone approaches me with evangelical zeal, I immediately distrust. Shakespeare said it most pithily: Thou dost protest too much.

Andreas Wiese
05-15-2001, 09:19 AM
Scott, I do agree with you in that this climate business is a very complex issue, and that the prevailing view today may be reversed in 10 years time. My only point is that until we know for sure what is happening, we better trust the majority of the scientific experts. As long as no one stands to gain significant profit from a particular view, it is a vastly more legitimate proposition.


It is quite interesting to see that "the state" can be perceived so differently on your side of the pond, of course it might not be the same state... You probably think that I am naive in trusting my government, whereas I think you are in not trusting yours. It is a political appreciation that has always split the US and Europe (if Europe can be regarded as a uniform body..).

Regardless of what we think about governments, the current consensus is that global warming might be the result of human activities - I am no expert, so I believe it. I think that it is wrong to assume that we can judge the work of scientists better than they can themselves.

I better get back to my thesis, which is NOT on global warming, but on the applicability of Keynesian principles in the context of financial and economic globalisation.....any takers? And then there is the more pressing matter of a rotten plank....

Cheers,
Andreas

Scott Rosen
05-15-2001, 09:38 AM
Andreas,

Our distrust of government is institutional. Our government was structured on the premise that those in power would abuse their power. So our founders created a complex system of so-called checks and balances which have as their only purpose the curbing of excessive power. Unfortunately, our founders didn't foresee the extent to which heavily funded special interest groups could influence public policy. But I think the founders would be pleased with the general level of suspicion and distrust that the American public holds toward politicians. We view it as healthy.

Andreas Wiese
05-15-2001, 09:59 AM
You are probably right - your system demands a certain vigilance when it comes to scrutinizing the government...(would it not be great to live in my happy & soppy world??!) But that is only true because of the undue influence of vested interests. I rest my case.

Cheers,
Andreas

ishmael
05-15-2001, 10:09 AM
I was going to start this with the greeting: Fine fellows, but amen Scott.

Fine fellows,

What I would like to know, with regard to this issue as well as other topics of the day, is why so little television time is given to in depth debate. One of the premises of all modern republics/democracies is that the the citizenry will have a modicum of understanding of the issues. I find so little substance debated, throughout the vast cable universe, as well as in the idiot boxes of the wire deprived. If this global warming brou-ha-ha is so central to our future, as well it might be, why do I tune in to find Robert Blake's hussey's murder the topic of conversation ALL day long?

The one show I've found that makes a serious attempt at enlightenment is PBS' Frontline. There is SO much else, which passes for the latest in importance, that is nothing but pornographic piffle. It almost makes me question the very foundations of free markets, free societies, freedom itself. Is it that the marketeers rule the world, and the percentage of us who have half a brain must just suffer the lowest common figure in the fraction?

Apologies to those across the pond who likely have their own media cross to bear.

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 05-15-2001).]

TomRobb
05-15-2001, 12:06 PM
Ish,
Ratings = ad revenues. If it bleeds it leads. No one ever went broke underestimating the taste or intellegence of the American People. Cliches of course, and all, I think, true. It's enough to make you wonder if Democracy is such a good idea after all. There is NO good thing that man is incapable of turning to evil. But you knew that.
I should get back to the shop and do something positive....
Sorry for the downer rant http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/frown.gif
Billy B,
Point taken. I have a visceral dislike of conspiracy theories. I don't know why. It certainly isn't a product of a superior intellegence. SWMBO could give you chapter & verse on that. I hope it isn't a basic head in the sand outlook. Perhaps it's the hysterical National Enquirer-esque smell of them.

[This message has been edited by TomRobb (edited 05-15-2001).]

Matt J.
05-15-2001, 12:28 PM
Gee, Billy. Interesting you should have such a defensive attitude about corrupt government. Affiliated? Ever wonder why people are more often seen going to government from private? Perhaps because the pay scale differences are exaggerated? Perhaps because the small difference in pay scale is justified by the large difference in job pressure and benefits? Most of the people I've seen going to government from private are the same ones that complain about the pressure and stress in the private world - those who aren't don't take long to come back, as the lack of pressure can be maddening, according to those I know. Those coming from gov't to private rarely last [period]. In our field, public jobs pay nearly as much as private, for less work and far greater benefits. That more of us have not converted I have always seen as proof positive of the pigheaded decency and general morality of my colleagues.

Regarding the apparent "consensus" of scientists. That has probably never been done with any remote accuracy. Whose done a complete census of the scientific community? Other than that, the best anyone can offer is statistical analysis of sampling. Certainly not random, and therefore unlikely to be of much quantitative value.

Sorry for the rant but Billy, your statement runs so against me experience, that it needed to be balanced and qualified.

Matt

Sierrans
05-15-2001, 12:39 PM
I would like to know who in this thread has claimed the sky is falling because we are pumping too much carbon into our atmosphere. Those of us who consider global warming to be a real possibility have not laid down claims of doom and destruction. We have simply deemed it reasonable and responsible to proceed with caution and take measures well within our means (both economically and technologically) to make sure our emissions do not negatively impact our natural balance. Why all the exaggeration? Who has claimed in this thread the ice caps will be melted by next year and half the country will be under water? Please debate the points made, not cliche retorts debasing our discussion with exaggerations and misrepresentation.

And Emerson: What kind of statement is that? You have basically said government employees are lazy, don't like to be challenged and are not productive citizens. I don't know who or what you are talking about, but I have had personal experience with many state and federal employees who are very consrtuctive and productive members of our society. Please refrain from making such broad statements about so many people.

[This message has been edited by Sierrans (edited 05-15-2001).]

Ian McColgin
05-15-2001, 12:52 PM
Some of the researchers who agree that there is a problem with warming are government funded. Many are not.

Every researcher whose work I've read so far, including that lot in souther Oregon, who claims global warming is a myth are hydrocarbon funded.

I don't go out of my way to trust the gummit but I trust vested interests with a profit to protect even less. They have too long a history of lieing to do other.

Anyway, the ice bergs are melting. The extremes - colder winters and hotter summers - predicted by the model are happening. The hard question is which is worse: our petrochemical mono economy or the destruction of the Amazon and oceanic CO2/O2 systems.

Alan D. Hyde
05-15-2001, 01:18 PM
People who work for government work for a monopoly. That does not mean that there are not many honest, conscientious, and hard-working government employees. Clearly, there are.

Economic theory and data over many years, however, do conclusively demonstrate that both productivity, and quality of goods and services, are higher where competition and choice are present. Monopolies generally provide poor quality at a high price, so Emerson's experience is what one would most commonly expect.

Remember the old "Saturday Night Live" phone operator who answered callers by saying "This is the phone company. We don't care; we don't HAVE to care..."

Alan

Scott Rosen
05-15-2001, 01:51 PM
Hmmm.

I said I don't trust government. What I forgot to say is that I also don't trust private industry. The difference, to my mind, is that when I'm looking at some information put out by a commercial enterprise, its bias is clear and undisputed. I know they are trying to sell me something. When anyone claims that something is purely unbiased, I don't believe it. It might not be INTENTIONALLY biased, but anything human is biased nonetheless.

Not all bias is motivated by money. Some is motivated by belief or ideology, much of it well-intentioned. Every last one of us has certain beliefs and ideologies that are inspeparable from our innermost and most basic thoughts. These influence everything we do in ways that we usually can't recognize.

And I don't think there is any conspiracy. I distrust individuals as much as I distrust groups. What I mean is that bias exists in individuals as well as groups, in government as well as private industry. I can't stomach those who see a conspiracy lurking behind every door. I think for the most part, those folks are nutso.

Matt J.
05-15-2001, 03:09 PM
Sierrans,
If you read a general statement into my statement, well, sorry, but I think I qualified my statement with enough "people I've seen" and "my experience" and "according to those I know." If you also feel the need to defend those you know in government as hard working, honest people, then good on ya. My statement, which was reigned in as far as I could bear, only reflects my dealings with government bureaucrats. I stand by every single word (except that I meant to say "my experience" instead of "me experience") I typed, and would only proffer an expansion upon that statement.

You see, my job unfortunately requires far too much dealing with government bureaucrats on many levels. The asinine and inexcusable behavior and attitude is simply intolerable, and worse, it is far widespread. I can honestly say that I HAVE met decent government bureaucrats, but they are very few, very far between. If anyone feels I've damned the rampant attitude of laziness, grandstanding, and incompetence I have experienced from "our" government, then that's too damned bad. I am unbiased to a fault, and am a patient man, but until I find evidence of widespread decency, at least, then my above statement(s) stand firm. I could rant all week long about this problem, but as I work in the private sector, I've already spent too much time on this issue.

Now I gotta some work done.
See you on the water,
Matt

[This message has been edited by Emerson (edited 05-15-2001).]

Andreas Wiese
05-15-2001, 03:19 PM
Scott, you seem to live in a Hobbsian world where each man must fend for himself, and no one can be trusted...Do you not believe that a government that is largely unbiased as a result of continuous scrutiny by a free media (that is, no concentration of ownership) can provide for its citizens in a way that is good for all?

Alan, you have a point of course - competition is a good thing, but you are quite wrong to assume that an unregulated market is the best allocator of goods, services & wealth. Why have the Scandinavian countries with strong Keynesian traditions a higher standard of living for its citizens than the US? The concept of demand economics has proved to facilitate the emergence of one of the most affluent and civilised forms of social organisations in existence - the welfare state. I challenge anyone of you laissez-faire adcocates to explain why this is wrong or "impossible".
It might not be the most efficient way of resource allocation but it is a damn fine way of ensuring a more enjoyable society in which all individuals can participate, regardless of background or fortune in life. It is not about stifling private enterprise, but to make sure that the market is subject to social control. At the beginning of the last century, the culmination of 70 odd years of unregulated capitalism led to a massive recession and precipitated the greatest tradgedy in human history. Let us not make the same mistake again.

Andreas

Alan D. Hyde
05-15-2001, 03:21 PM
What Scott said.

What Matt said.

Alan

Alan D. Hyde
05-15-2001, 03:46 PM
The "Great Depression" was caused in good part not by too little, but by too much, centralized authority.

See Milton Friedman's highly respected analysis of monetary policy and the Great Depression.

Those who are motivated, willing, and able to work, can do as well or better in the U.S. than almost anywhere else.

You know, Andreas, if people are so good, why do they need the socialist gun at their heads? And, if they're not so good, why put their finger on the trigger, with the wrong end of the barrel on us?

All kidding around aside, I suspect that many serious economists would dispute your characterization of the current state of the Scandanavian economies.

Alan

P.S.

I am a little suprised to see a British citizen characterize himself as a "European."
The British and American political traditions have more in common than do the British and Continental traditions.

Perhaps this reflects a generational change in thinking, or some other factor I'm not recognizing.

(British historian Paul Johnson has had much to say about British/American commonalities.)


[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-15-2001).]

ishmael
05-15-2001, 04:00 PM
The EU? Long resisted by the British, the European Union is, like the UN, attempting to make one world politic of things. This might be an interesting place to go back to Andreas' well meant taunt about Keynes, and/or look at issues of markets vs.regimes.

You know I'm essentially with you Alan, but I fear the tide of economics is trumping all waters of philosophy.

What I really don't understand is why the Russians haven't been invited into the EU cartel, or maybe even more poignant, NATO. Probably too late now, but I think this lack of foresight will haunt the world.

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 05-15-2001).]

Alan D. Hyde
05-15-2001, 04:18 PM
Billy Bones-------

No, I haven't been inside government for a long time.

When younger, I was an assistant to the Lt. Governor of Indiana, then an intern to (now Sen.) Richard Lugar when he was first Mayor of Indianapolis. In the early 70's, I ran a $613,500 Open Space land grant program, as an employee of a Model Cities program, coordinating it with a city recreation department and with H.U.D.(You can have no proper conception of waste, until you have dealt on a daily basis with the Federal bureaucracy).

Although outside for many years, forgetting old friends is not numbered among my many other faults. So I do keep in touch.

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-15-2001).]

Keith Wilson
05-15-2001, 05:00 PM
The unfortunate difficulty which most of ushave with the research on the effects of CO2 on climate is that:
- Very few of us are really qualified to judge if it's any good.
- Very few of us have the time to read enough of it to tell what's good research and what's bogus.
So, we fall back on the old oversimplification of judging the accuracy of the conclusions by their source, or at least the source of their funding, and then spin off into one of our standard discussions about the proper role of government.

One minor point: Alan, your opinions are generally quite thoughtful, so I wish you wouldn't use the emotional argument, dubious at best, about taxes being extortions by force. ALL laws are enforced by violence, or the threat of violence. Giving the government a monoploy on the legitimate use of force (with small exceptions) is the price we pay for living in a society where individuals don't often use force in their own self-interest. EVERY law is a restriction of your freedom, and is legitimate to the extent that the government that made and enforced it is based on the consent of the governed. Reasonable people certainly differ about how much restriction of freedom is in their best interest. If you can convince a majority of your fellow citizens to vote Libertarian in 2004, things will change.

Jim H
05-15-2001, 06:03 PM
Question: Who has stated, unequivocally, that the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is directly causing global warming? Has this person published his/her findings?

Jim

Scott Rosen
05-15-2001, 06:50 PM
Ah, Andreas,

There is no truly "free" media, at least not in the USA. More and more of the media are owned by fewer major corporations. Every newspaper, every radio show, every television newcast, all of these have as their first goal the selling of advertising to stay in business. Even our public radio and television depend on soliciting viewer contributions, and more importantly, obtaining government funding. There have been many instances when government funding for public television has been threatened because the party in power didn't like the political leanings of the folks who run public television. There are many viewpoints that never get aired because they are unpopular or because the those who hold opposing viewpoints control much of the advertising money.

We call our media "free" but it's not really free from the pressures and biases of any other business.

I'm certainly not Hobbesian. Hobbes thought that a strong government, not necessarily answerable to the majority, was needed to keep the rabble in order. Unlike Hobbes, I think government is a much greater danger to our liberty than the individual is.

I still think we have the best system of government on earth. But just because it's good doesn't mean it's perfect. I also think it's good to know exactly who and what you're dealing with.

Peter Sibley
05-16-2001, 04:45 AM
It seems as though we all believe that which most reinforces that which is convenient to us.Me , I'd love to see a world where ecological precautionary principle got the coverage and support economic theorising gets.I guess when it all comes down to it our culture loves the dollar more than any other thing.......and I think we might have to pay for it.....our kids too!!
Here's an Australian Government climate change site for your reading pleasure,http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/globcc.shtml

Andreas Wiese
05-16-2001, 08:32 AM
Scott,

I was referring to the Hobbesian state of nature...
It seems that we are basically in agreement, actually. Only that for reasons we shall explore later, your political system is unable to produce unbiased and good governments, as opposed to ours http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif If we could share the same assumptions, all would be well!

Alan, you will be pleased to know that I am Norwegian, and I agree with your observations on the Anglo-American axis. Now, down to the real business: Good old Milton Friedman is of course dear to your heart, but the fact of the matter is that his views are severely contested, at least outside the immediate entourage of his ardent followers.

Schettkat (2001) has demonstrated that open economies like the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark, in conscious rejection of laissez-faire principles, have enjoyed very high levels of employment and growth in GDP well equalling that of the US the last couple of years. The three countries in mention are also incidentally considered prime examples of well-functioning welfare states, thus providing contradictory evidence to the idea that globalisation has weakened the ability of states to pursue Keynesian policies.

If you read E. H. Carr, Karl Polanyi, Anthony Crosland, Keynes or more Left leaning thinkers like Habermas, the picture is a little different. I am not saying that capitalism is not working, only that it is morally inferior to a Keynesian model.

Your friend Friedman is incidentally considered so extreme where I am coming from, that merely uttering his name brings on rather unpleasant connotations. What is interesting is that continental Europe and the US have such vast differences in values. It is no doubt a matter of historical heritage, and I find it almost impossible to discuss it with right-wing American friends over here.

What bothers me about this whole idea of a "free market" is this strange tendency to rely on certain spurious assumptions about human society and nature, not to mention the elusive "natural law" that supposedly guides the invisible hand. A load of codswallop, of course, nothing more scientific or valid than religion or other mirages of the insecure human mind.

"the laissez-faire period was...an abnormal interlude when utopian dreams broke free from the realities of social and economic life"

-E. H. Carr cited in Burchill & Linklater 1996:46

Maguire
05-16-2001, 08:37 AM
I find it interesting that many in this debate have assumed that govt. sponsored research is in some way unbiased, or less biased than industry sponsored research.

If government funding (or, for a government employee, If my job) hinges on there being some truth to the global warming, don't you think that is just as likely to cause a bias in research as research funded by the private sector?

Maguire

Andreas Wiese
05-16-2001, 09:16 AM
Maguire, how would a government job hinge on there being some truth in the global warming thesis? My point is that whereas government sponsored research can of course be biased, it is preferable (and most likely a lot weaker) than a private sponsored bias.

Andreas

Andreas Wiese
05-16-2001, 09:18 AM
more preferable, that is...

Scott Rosen
05-16-2001, 09:47 AM
Andreas,

I wish we could continue this discussion in the boatshop, can of varnish in hand and your new pine floorboards set on sawhorses. I suspect in that setting, there's no problem we can't solve. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif

Alan D. Hyde
05-16-2001, 09:48 AM
Andreas-------

However, Dr. Friedman did win the Nobel Prize in Economics for "Capitalism and Freedom," which makes (far better than I have) many of the points I have tried to emphasize above.

Perhaps the "vast right-wing conspiracy" infiltrated the Nobel Prize committee that year.

Or perhaps those individuals thought Dr. Friedman had made a valuable contribution to economic science.

Alan

P.S.

It has been my impression that a wide variety of people from very disparate backgrounds appreciate the work of Milton & Rose D. Friedman.

Many of these individuals, like myself, aim to follow the facts wherever they may lead.

Our advocacy skills (mine in particular) may be limited, and carry little weight. But I am convinced that the rivers of history are at our backs. And the rivers of history push inexorably toward freedom.

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-16-2001).]

Andreas Wiese
05-16-2001, 09:49 AM
Very true!!

Paul Frederiksen
05-16-2001, 09:50 AM
There is the point that needs to be made. In the private sector the employee is motivated (read biased) by the desire to make more money. In the government sector the employee is motivated (read biased) by protecting his position and the benefits it brings him. Trust me on this one the net amount of bias it the same. Humans don't transmogrify into some other life form which is more or less noble simply by changing who they work for. Niether private nor government research is unbiased and the amount of net bias is the same because the same species (human) fills both positions. This "we are better than them" mentality is merely arrogant self-righteous breast beating. Yes Andreas, this applies to you as well. Humans on your side of the pond are no different than humans any where else. Your systems of economics, government, etc.. are better in some ways and worse in some ways. The net result is equality. If you like your particular brand of compromise, good for you. It is not necessarily better, it just suits your tastes better. I think it is a beautiful thing that there are lots of different systems of governance to choose from. Because of this I can live somewhere which better suits my tastes as well. We might as well be arguing about which tastes better as a condiment, catsup or mustard.

This point must be nailed home. "Show me the data." And not just the portion of it which supports your conlcusion... all of it. As of yet only two people have offered sources. You claim that 99% of all climatogists agree with "global warming". Cite your referances. Show me the study which interviewed a representative sample. I call.

Andreas Wiese
05-16-2001, 09:58 AM
Oh, dear no! That was intended for Scott!!!

Now, Mr. Friedman undoubtedly raised some points that were worthy of examination, but please view them in the political context in which they were written, and remember that much of it has been disproved since that time.

Besides, a Nobel Prize is not always an endorsement of scientific conclusions, but rather an acknowledgement of the receiver's contribution towards debate and research.

I note with interest that you have not expressed your disagreement with my general observations...

Cheers,
Andreas

Andreas Wiese
05-16-2001, 10:08 AM
I take a little offense at being called an arrogant self-righteous breast beater, but you are right in assuming that I dislike quasi-science, Fredriksen. Now, as back-up of "my claim" that 99% of the world's scientist support the global warming thesis in one form or another, I can give you hundereds of articles and government statistics - just tell me which one's you would like. Seriously, people - if this is news to you than you have not been following the debate (or been denied the salient arguments).

Andreas

Scott Rosen
05-16-2001, 12:01 PM
For those of you who are interested in sampling the research, I found the following sites useful.

http://users.erols.com/dhoyt1/

http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_56000/56456.stm

http://solar-center.stanford.edu/sun-on-earth/damon.html

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/climate/index.html

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/climate/index.html

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/climate/index.html

http://www.nacc.usgcrp.gov/

http://geochange.er.usgs.gov/

My internet search showed that about 2/3 of the sites promoted the theory that human activity is the primary cause of "global warming," and 1/3 either questioned the research or promoted the theory that other factors are primarily responsible. Some research questioned the notion that our climate is warmer now than it has been at any time in the past 1200 years.

It's interesting stuff, not conclusive to my mind. Much of the research is University related, and much of that challenges the global warming premise. The US government sites are written for people with about a sixth grade reading level, and are not very satisfying. The government sites I saw don't adress the research in a detailed and methodical way, but instead are somewhat conclusory. However, the government sites have links to other research sites, which I have not read.

There is evidence on both sides. However, it does not appear that the "pro" global warming crowd has fully addressed some of the alleged flaws in their research.

And beyond that, there appears to be very little consensus as to what the effects of global warming, if it exists, will be.

Matt J.
05-16-2001, 12:18 PM
OK. Alright. That's it. You caught me after another nauseating (sp?) grab bag fast food lunch. And now I gotta look at research on global warming on the WoodenBoat Forum, because why?

This seems ridiculously unrelated. Does anyone here think we should burn more fossil fuels? I didn't think so. Is anyone here a licensed expert on atmospheric / climatology sciences? If they are they have not spoken up. o we allagree we do't know ****, right? Good. And We agree right? Better. I took a couple classes on this crap awhile back and here's what I learned:

We have a lot to learn. We don't know why. We don't know how. We are funding, and will continue to fund, lots of research on this topic. There will be no resolution anytime soon. Exceedingly few of us will change our ways until, as has been suggested by a very bright, young, promising young boatbuilder who enjoys the WB forum (:rolleyes http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif, alternative methods to maintian our ways of life are brought forward. We CAN NOT destroy mother Earth. She will destroy us before we get close. We may change things, but we will not end things. And, most importantly,-PLEASE READ THIS ONE? -
If the earth warms and melts the bloody (for the brits http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif) icecaps, GREAT. F-ING WONDERFUL. MY OCEANS JUST GOT BIGGER AND OUR CRUISING GROUNDS EXTENDED!

Beyond that there's gotta be boat stuff to discuss - not that we can't talk and BS ouselves into a tizzy about irrelevent BS - on the WB forum.

So, let me start. If the earth warmed and melted the icecaps. Where would you cruise first. Me? I'd go to Mt Everest, the Grand Canyon, and the Eiffel Tower. Just wanna see what it's really become. Waterworld?

So, where would you go.

HEY, WAIT! The chest beating should be done by now, noone won so don't start again! So where would you go? I really wanna know.

(grumble, grumble, grumble - Matt Steps down from the garbage can soapbox that IS the Misc. forum).

http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by Emerson (edited 05-16-2001).]

ishmael
05-16-2001, 12:28 PM
Hope that soap don't melt from the heat. Helluva mess.

Don Olney
05-16-2001, 12:30 PM
If anyone had taken the time to read the "materials" that Alan references, yet curiously says he doesn't endorse, they would have discovered that the authors do not dispute that Greenhouse Gases have increased substantially since the Industrial Revolution and are expected to continue to do so. They also state that it is "reasonable to believe that humans have been responsible for much of this increase". However, where they differ greatly from the majority of climatologists around the world, is when they draw the conclusion that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is actually a good thing. Wasn't there a tobacco company in the late 40's that advertised that smoking cigarettes was actually healthy?

Regarding "scientific consensus": Please look up the report entitled "Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is an office of the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization. But I expect that the consensus reached by this worldwide body of climatologists will be rejected outright by some (a la the Genetic Fallacy) because its a UN organization and we know what they're all about, right?

Its remarkable that people scoff at global warming, argue at every turn against it, and then demand evidence and data, thereby revealing that they actually know little about the subject. How in the world can one rationally discount any theory offhand if they are unfamiliar with the supporting empirical data?

Science is not produced by polling scientists to discover their views on a topic. Science is based on the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. That knowledge is shared primarily through the publication of scientific papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. Peer reviewed journals are compiled and ranked (with big beautiful mainframe computers) by the Institute for Scientific Information http://www.isinet.com/isi/. This ranking provides a number known as an "impact factor". The higher the impact factor the higher the quality of science contained within the journal. Impact factors are derived by compiling the number of times a published scientific article is cited in other scientific publications. Journals and the articles contained within them are therefore assigned separate impact factors. These numbers are updated constantly to reflect new publications (new research). Scientists use the ISI database in order to find research that provides support for their own research, to locate other scientists who may be working on similar research, and as a tool for obtaining grants. In a nutshell, this is how the wheat is separated from the chaff in the world of science. The good science drives out the bad.

To the best of my knowledge, the "materials" cited by Alan, although they contain some respectable citations, have never been published in a peer reviewed journal. They are in fact, the product of the American Petroleum Institute and the George C. Marshall Institute, a libertarian think tank. In early 1998, when this "Petition Project" became public, The New York Times science writer John H. Cushman, Jr. reported that this project reflected the efforts of an industrial group to attempt to influence the public and Congress that global warming theories are based on shaky science. It was a public relations effort by the supply siders to derail the Kyoto accords. I will post that article separately.

According to the founders of the Petition Project, they obtained the signatures of around 17,000 people, 6,000 of whom have PhDs in science. I seem to recall from a former life as a Program Director at a well known and well funded science foundation, that there are approximately 500,000 science PhDs in the US. This means that the Petition Project after a three year effort has the support of approximately 1.2% of the science PhDs in the US. Andreas' 98% seems about right doesn't it?

I've read the "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" several times and I must say that as a lifelong Kremlinologist, I felt right at home. The Discussion section reminded me of the best writings of comrade Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov, the great Soviet ideologue. He was one of my favorites and I'm sure he would be familiar with the methods. The last paragraph of the Discussion containing its conclusion that increased CO2 will actually benefit the world so blessingly is so wonderfully flaky and in my opinion, unsubstantiated by presented data (more on this later) that I suspect George Orwell would have enjoyed it too.

When I hear people say that "10 years ago scientists were telling us that greenhouse gases would lead to a new ice age and now they say opposite", I wonder why this seems to be significant since it does not refute the cause, only perhaps the effect. In any case, I am reminded of the poem by Robert Frost.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.




[This message has been edited by don olney (edited 05-17-2001).]

Don Olney
05-16-2001, 12:40 PM
Industrial Group Plans to
Fight Climate Treaty

By John H. Cushman, Jr.
Copyright 1998 The New York Times
April 26, 1998

WASHINGTON -- Industry opponents of a treaty to fight global warming have drafted an ambitious proposal to spend millions of dollars to convince the public that a 1992 environmental accord is based on shaky science.

Among their ideas is a campaign to recruit scientists who share the industry's views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases
like carbon dioxide that trap the sun's heat near Earth.

An informal group of people working for big oil companies, trade associations and conservative policy research organizations that oppose the treaty have been meeting recently at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute to put the plan together.

Joe Walker, a public relations representative of the petroleum institute who is leading the project, said in an interview that the plan had been under consideration for about two months and was "very, very tentative." Walker
said no industry executives had yet been approached to pay for it. But an eight-page memorandum that he wrote shows in unusual detail how some industry lobbyists are going about opposing the climate treaty.

It is a daunting public-relations task. Whenever the treaty's advocates,
including the Clinton administration, discuss global warming, they present the science as essentially settled and unchallengeable, and they compare dissenting scientists to discredited apologists for the tobacco companies. That view has become widely accepted in the press and among the public.

Although mainstream scientists do identify considerable uncertainties in their climate predictions, which are based on complex computer models, they are increasingly confident that global warming is a serious problem and often say that the uncertainties do not justify inaction.

Based on the latest science, most of the world's nations agreed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 that industrial nations should cut emissions of greenhouse gases, and the treaty was modified last year to require further reductions, well below the emissions levels of 1990, over the next 10 to 15 years. But the U.S. Senate has not yet agreed to that treaty provision, which could require deep reductions in U.S. consumption of fossil fuels.

Documents describing the proposal to undermine the mainstream view were given
to The New York Times by the National Environmental Trust, whose work in support of the global-warming treaty is financed by major philanthropic organizations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the biggest of the nation's pro-environment grant makers.

Phil Clapp, the president of the environmental trust, said he obtained the
papers from an industry official. Exposing the plan at this stage, Clapp said, would probably ruin chances of raising the money to carry out the plan.

Industry representatives confirmed the authenticity of the draft documents, but emphasized that the plans had not been formally approved by participating
organizations. The document listed representatives of Exxon Corp., Chevron
Corp. and Southern Co. as being involved. Representatives of Chevron and Southern acknowledged attending meetings on the project; the Exxon representative could not be reached for comment.

The draft plan calls for recruiting scientists to argue against the
administration, and suggests that they include "individuals who do not have a
long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change
debate." But among the plan's advocates are groups already linked to the best-known critics of global-warming science.

They include the Science and Environment Policy Project, founded by Fred Singer, a physicist noted for opposing the mainstream view of climate science. Frederick Seitz, another prominent skeptic on global warming, is involved with two other groups mentioned in the plan: the George C. Marshall Institute, where Seitz is chairman, and the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, where he is on the science advisory board.

Monday, the National Academy of Sciences disassociated itself from the most recent effort to drum up support among skeptical scientists. That effort came in the form of a statement and petition on global warming circulated by Seitz, a physicist who was president of the academy in the 1960s. The petition, attacking the scientificconclusions underlying the treaty on climate change, was accompanied by an article that was formatted to resemble a peer-reviewed scientific publication in the academy's prestigious journal. The article had not been peer-reviewed.

The draft plan, recently discussed at the oil industry offices, calls for giving such dissenters on climate science "the logistical and moral support they have been lacking."

It also calls for spending $5 million over two years to "maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours on Congress, the media and other key
audiences."

It would measure progress by counting, among other things, the percentage of news articles that raise questions about climate science and the number of radio talk show appearances by scientists questioning the prevailing views.

The document says that industry's polling, conducted by Charlton Research, has found that while Americans see climate change as a serious threat, "public opinion is open to change on climate science."

Supporters of the plan want to raise money quickly to spend much of it between now and the November negotiating session in Buenos Aires, where major details of the international treaty are to be decided.

A proposed media-relations budget of $600,000, not counting any money for
advertising, would be directed at science writers, editors, columnists and television network correspondents, using as many as 20 "respected climate scientists" recruited expressly "to inject credible science and scientific accountability into the global climate debate, thereby raising questions
about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom."'

Among the tasks, the petroleum institute's memorandum said, would be to "identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach."

What the industry group wanted to provide, the memorandum said, was "a one-stop resource on climate science for members of Congress, the media, industry and all others concerned."

Indeed, the industry group said it wanted to develop "a sound scientific alternative" to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a large group of scientists advising the United Nations that has published the most authoritative peer-reviewed scientific assessments of global warming. That panel has predicted that the next century will bring widespread climatic disruptions if actions are not taken to reverse the accumulation of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The draft plan suggests that despite industry efforts to convince the public that the climate treaty would be costly to carry out and unfair to the United States, the treaty remains popular partly because environmentalists are winning the debate on the science.

"Indeed, the public has been highly receptive to the Clinton administration's plans," the memorandum said. "There has been little, if any, public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by
those 'inside the Beltway' with vested interests."

Maguire
05-16-2001, 01:34 PM
Andreas -

If my income is derived from a government grant to investigate the effects of a certain human endeavor on global warming, my funding only continues as long as I can show some correlation between that activity and global warming. If my research points toward there being no correlation, the funding dries up.

So, biased research payed for by the taxpayer is some how "better" than biased research payed for by the private sector?

Maguire

[This message has been edited by Maguire (edited 05-16-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-16-2001, 02:18 PM
Thank you, Don. You've raised the level of this discussion a couple of notches.

Alan D. Hyde
05-16-2001, 04:25 PM
don-------

The Robert Frost quotation was splendid. "Something there is that doesn't love a wall..."

The reason I didn't endorse the site I cited, is because I have never had the time to verify their arguments. However, they do pertain to the discussion here, and so I thought they might be of interest.

Remember the lines from H.M.S. Pinafore "things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream..."

This sort of cynical appraisal can be taken way off into left field by conspiracy theorists, or it can reasonably inform statesmen seeking to minimize the effect of various seemingly inherent flaws in human nature. I would say that was its effect on the makers of the U.S. constitution.

There is an excellent book about an individual by the name of Jasper Maskelyne; it is entitled "The War Magician."

Maskelyne was a British conjurer from a family long in the business of magic: he worked by misdirection. (He and his people helped to change the course of WWII).

Misdirection is a major force in human affairs. As a political philosopher, for example, Marx is not particularly compelling or difficult to refute; however, he offers excellent ideological cover for totalitarian gangs which seek to dominate a nation or a people.

The twentieth century illustrated just how well this can work. ("History is philosophy teaching by examples." Dionysius of Halicarnasus). It has also made Marxism and its close relatives pretty disreputable.

Some of those seeking a new cover for their (perhaps subconscious)drive to control have turned to environmentalism. That there are many genuine environmental concerns, is undeniable. But we must take especial care that these are not used as a stalking horse for totalitarian controls. The road to hell, you know, is paved...

Lest you think this concern unfounded, there are presently, for example, in the Klamath Basin along the border between Oregon and California, some 1,500 farms on about 200,000 acres, that the DOI has essentially put out of business by taking away their water.

The reason? To divert water flows to sucker fish protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1988. There is substantial scientific opinion that the water flows the DOI seeks to create will do their intended beneficiary more harm than good; the science invoked by the DOI is at best shaky, and is termed "junk science" by the Wall Street Journal.

But the farmers, just the same, get no water.

Is this part of a conspiracy? No, it is part of Parkinson's Law at work. It is the nature of bureaucracies to grow, to stifle, to resist innovation, to enervate.... Read the little book by C. Northcote Parkinson.

Few great human advances are attributable to the workings of a governmental bureaucracy.

As George Bernard Shaw said, "One man who has a mind and knows it, can beat ten who haven't and don't."

Alan

P.S.

Yes, I know what Shaw's political leanings were. Ironic, isn't it?

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-16-2001).]

Alan D. Hyde
05-16-2001, 04:57 PM
If the totalitarian century, in which 100 million died at the hands of their own governments, has taught us nothing more than "Billy Bones" sarcastic summation, then I suppose we deserve nothing better in the next.

I would like to think we can learn from our experience, as individuals and as societies.

I would like to think we can each of us leave this world a little better place than we found it.

Can we not leave a few cairns behind us on the hilltops of history?

I don't think it hurts to try.

Alan

Sierrans
05-16-2001, 05:17 PM
Oh dear poor poor Alan,

"Some of those seeking a new cover for their (perhaps subconscious) drive to control have turned to environmentalism. " (?????) Talk about your conspiracy theorists, thats all I'll say in regards to this little quip.

On your sincere yet misguided statement regarding water supply issues in the Klamath Basin, I will happily shed some light on the situation for you. Thanks to our over-exuberant farmers (and the DOA who lured these folks to this locale) in the Klamath Basin, over 80% of the natural marshes have been diked and drained to support agriculture. The Klamath basin is far from an ideal habitat in which to support agricultural activity, duly noted by the heavy taxpayer subsidies used to support these farmers. Now they intend to finish the job in which they started by diverting the remaining water to this once extremely diverse ecosystem. Today the Klamath Basin is threatened by the drastic reduction in water quantity (irrigation) and quality (silt loading, nutrient and pesticide runoff ) to the zealous activities of these farmers. Pacific northwest salmonid species, migrating waterfowl, dependent mammal, reptile and avian populations are all dependent on what remains of the strangled water supply, not one specie as you claim. So before you espouse the inequity of the ESA please familiarize yourself with the issues at hand. I guess its your prerogative to lead with your chin but...

Regards, Ryan

Ed Harrow
05-16-2001, 07:00 PM
Hmmmmm, which is best: "What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"
"Striving to be better, oft we mar what's well." "If this were played upon a stage now, I would condem it as imporable fiction."
"If you can look into the sands of time, and tell which will grow and which will not, speak to me."

But, looking at those who are most emphatic I suggest, "Modest self doubt is the beacon of the wise."

Given that this (global warming) requires the analysis of an incredibly complex system one might think that people should move with a wee bit of caution. Certainly, as Scott and others stated, burning less fossil fuels would seem a harmless first step. Look upon the US roadways, or to the McMansions sprouting like mushrooms, or to our national government, and you'll not see much consideration to that concept. "When we are born, we cry that we have come to this great stage of fools".

Cheers from Boulder.

Maguire
05-17-2001, 08:31 AM
Billy -
You'd be amazed at how many people who would never consider themselves "government employees" actually derive their employment from the federal government. Much research (including a large part of University research) is directly funded by the government.
You assume that those holding the purse strings of government largess have no agenda and therefore are willing to fund research for whereever the facts and results lead. Unrealistic and contrary to observable fact, IMHO.
Your points might be considered more seriously if you dropped the condescending tone. We are debating issues, not personalities.

Maguire

Scott Rosen
05-17-2001, 09:40 AM
If the present US government were to fund "research" on the effects of abortion on the economy of the Third World, do you think it would be credible and unbiased?

C'mon. Governments have agendas, and agendas translate into bias. The person who screams the loudest that he is unbiased and above outside influence is certainly the most dangerous, if only because he refuses to recognize his own bias.

You can kill yourself by arguing over the details. Sometimes, if you just start at a point where everyone agrees, the details take care of the themselves. As Ed points out, why not stirve to use less fossil fuels? Maybe then some of the details would take care of themselves.

Sierrans
05-17-2001, 11:09 AM
It seems to me highly improbable that so many scientists from so many countries run by so many governments are all biased in the same direction, because essentially that is what several of you are implying.

Andreas Wiese
05-18-2001, 04:11 AM
Thanks for some interesting points Don & Sierrans!

I just heard this on the radio today...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1335000/1335872.stm

How strange that it is not endorsed by the Americans.......

Maguire,

"So, biased research payed for by the taxpayer is some how "better" than biased research payed for by the private sector?"

- inherently, yes.

Andreas

Bruce Taylor
05-18-2001, 07:09 AM
Thanks for posting that, Andreas.

Just as I began to feel a firm opinion coagulating in my tired brain I came to the quotes by Dr. Lindzen (under "Cynical"). I'm left with my usual doubts.

It's very difficult to assess scientific research by reading journalistic synopses. The journalistic format, which requires the to writer to tell "both sides" of the story, even when the story is overwhelmingly one-sided, favours minority positions and contrarianism. For example, in an earnest attempt to be unbiased, journalists have given far too much consideration to the intellectual contortionism of "creation science." From the coverage it has received a casual reader might conclude that creationism is a respectable scientific discipline.

Alan D. Hyde
05-18-2001, 10:01 AM
Sierrans-------

Apparently, my Klamath Basin example was not as well-chosen as it might have been, although it does indicate how big government can routinely harm its citizens (by luring them to the area with promises of excellent farming opportunities, then taking away their water).

FDR's Matanuska River valley project would be another example along this line.

A poorly chosen example does not, however, invalidate an otherwise sound position.

The environment involves trillions of inextricably intertwined interdependent actions and reactions, many of which we fail to understand. We do know that heterogeneity is generally preferable to homogeniety. All of this is of course complex stuff and there are no simple answers.

The history of big government convincingly demonstrates that, except for relatively non-intrusive general bans (e.g., DDT) there are better ways to address our environmental problems than by expanding the power of the EPA. Meaning well makes little difference. These are grave matters. Every bullet will still find its billet.

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-18-2001).]

TomRobb
05-18-2001, 12:56 PM
Alan, is that blatant homo-geniety bashing? http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

Alan D. Hyde
05-18-2001, 01:02 PM
Billy Bones-------

I don't mean to ignore your "What would you suggest?" posting of the 17th, but each of us must try to answer that one for himself (or herself).

I'm still working on my own answer.

I hope to find it before I'm in a six foot box.

Alan

Sierrans
05-18-2001, 03:25 PM
Alan,

Through all of these threads you have yet to explicitly state what role you see the gov't playing in regards to regulation and enforcement. You appear to support environmental quality yet you don't feel the need for litigative recourse. Surely you don't feel the market can or will regulate environmental quality. Many feel that local authority should control how their natural resources are managed. I agree to an extent. I feel federal control in warranted in cases of; federal lands, external impacts outside a political boundary, health threats and threatened/endangered species. The government is not efficient, I don't think anyone will argue that, but it is the only way activities can be legally regulated across the board in our society.

Regards---Ryan

PS: I know this thread must die, I'm just having a hard time letting go.

[This message has been edited by Sierrans (edited 05-18-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Sierrans (edited 05-18-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-18-2001, 03:31 PM
Six foot box? You'll have to scrunch up a bit, Alan.

John Gearing
05-18-2001, 03:54 PM
Constitutional governments have one thing (at least) going for them--democratic legitimacy, by definition sovereignty residing in the demos, or people. It is within our power to control our Govt--we can vote our reps out of office and put in someone who will do what we want him to.

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that we currently have a new demos--corporations. Corporate interests "own" Congress by funding election campaigns, and by controlling the media.

Make no mistake, the mainstream media is not at all controlled by some Leftist elite. GE owns NBC, Disney owns ABC, and the list goes on. One company, ClearChannel owns a huge number of radio stations in America. Ditto for newspapers--take a look at the Knight-Ridder chain for example.

Corporations are not democracies and have no democratic legitimacy. They may have a large number of shareholders who get to vote at the annual meeting, but the major shareholders call the shots. Stock ownership is not dilute enough to give any democratic legitimacy to corporations.

The idea that somehow the business model is a better model for providing public services is apparently founded on an unrealistic view of business. Just a few scant years ago Motorola was hailed as a tremendously well-managed company. After all, Six-Sigma was invented there! In today's Wall Street Journal there is a piece explaining how a series of managment gaffes has Motorola in deep trouble, with their share price falling 75% from it's yearly high, and their market share in cell phones dropping like a stone. My point is that businessmen are no more infallible than anyone else. Privatizing government will not necessarily lead to improved service or performance. Just look at some of the problems Britain is experiencing with their privatized railroads.

And the idea that businessmen are somehow more accountable than government officials is laughable. When the top corporate leadership gets a company in trouble, do they get fired? Rarely, and even then there is a huge compensation package. More usually they get transferred or kicked upstairs to a job with higher pay but less responsibility. In Motorola's case I note that despite the fact that corporate strategy is blamed for their problems, one of their major fixes is to lay off 26,000 (as I recall) of their 147,000 employees. All those folks did was what they were told, following orders, following the corporate plan, but they are out the door.

What privitization does lead to is a net loss of democratic control. Homeowners associations are a perfect example of substitutions for government that have this effect (whle at the same time reducing your constitutional rights).

The myth of the self-made dies hard, but die it must. Our own history fails to support it. How did the settlers tame the frontier? Only thanks to the Army killing all the Indians that stood in their path. How did the railroads that took their output to market get built? Thanks to huge land grants along the right-of-way courtesy of the Federal Govt. Our history is replete with examples of tariffs and other trade barriers designed to protect American industry, just as now we appear to be all about "free trade". The only philosophy that is consistent here is the impetus to make money. If trade barriers are better for business we will have trade barriers (probably promoted in patriotic terms), if not, then all we will hear is how "free trade" is "what America stands for". Balderdash.

Andreas Wiese
05-19-2001, 05:18 AM
Well said, John!

"There was nothing natural about laissez-faire; free markets could never come into being merely by allowing things to take their course" - Polanyi -

The free market is dependent upon the very government intervention it seeks to remove, henceforth the continued existence of economic and financial globalisation is a matter of ideology and pragmatism. Free trade is only advocated by those who benefit from it, and needs constant state intervention in order to save it from monopolisation and dire cycles of booms and busts.

PatCox
05-19-2001, 08:39 AM
Alan, does " a poorly chosen example does not invalidate a sound idea" (or however you stated it, forgive me for misquoting but I think I have the gist)mean the same thing as "I'm not going to let the facts get in the way of my opinions?"

PatCox
05-20-2001, 10:57 PM
But you know, Tony, there is an amazingly large number of people who would read the list of scientists and just say "well thats just proof of the vast leftist/liberal intellectual/academic conspiracy and those scientists must all be either unwitting dupes of or active participants in, the liberal conspiracy." Rush Limbaugh shall lead them.

ACB
05-21-2001, 06:45 AM
Worse even than the "triumphalism of the free marketeers" (YES, I do so agree with the comments above!) is the concept of the "public/private partnership" which is widely endorsed by the apostles of privatisation on the apparent grounds that governments can never get anything right.

It is of course just a cover for the biggest theft of public property assets and the most outrageous corruption seen in Britain since the days of Robert Walpole.

After 22 years of "rolling back the frontiers of the state" in Britain - guess what? The state is just as big as ever, but all the services it used to provide - health, rail travel, education, housing - have all been palmed off to profiteers who do them much worse than the government used to do them.

Andreas Wiese
05-21-2001, 08:37 AM
My sentiments exactly, ACB!

Quite how a private organisation (with shareholders to please) can perform tasks of cost reductions and improved service delivery as well as making a profit is something of a puzzle.

How come travelling by train in Britain is almost twice as expensive than in Norway (and a lot less safe and reliable) when the Norwegian trail operator is publicly owned? I do not even want to mention the quality of the rolling stock..

The idea that publicly owned enterprises are inherently uncompetitive and wasteful is an illusion created by those who feverently view privatisation as the only right way.

Keith Wilson
05-21-2001, 05:07 PM
Hear Hear, John Gearing!

The right wing in the US has, over the past twenty or thirty years, managed to convince a surprising number of people that "big government" is always bad, that government by and for the people is a myth, and if government "interference" were reduced, things would be much better. They have, of course, been helped along by a fair number of ridiculous things that various branches of the government have done. Unfortunately, what is left when government power is reduced is not only the the unfettered will of the people, it is the unfettered power of corporations. Now I'm not a Naderite who believes that corporations are the incarnation of the devil; they are atomatons set up to make money, and they behave in fairly predictable ways, some good, some bad. However, their interests are not our interests. A democratic, if imperfect, government is the best, often the only check on corporations that we have. The question is not the simplistic libertarian choice between freedom or government control. The question is the central one in any society: who has the power, and to what ends do they use it?

Actually, I'd agree with Alan that some environmentalists get a kick out of trying to tell others what to do, with the best of intentions, of course. I think it's at least as common that the argument of "excessive regulation" is used by those who merely want to be left alone to pursue next quarter's profits at the expense of the environment in which future generations will have to live.

PatCox
05-21-2001, 08:00 PM
Don't get me going on privatization, our last governor, currently the cabinet member most likely to be fored, Christie Whitman, was a champion of privatization here in New Jersey, she actually sold off public parks, sho outsourced governmental functions which really were self-executing anyway and thus singlehandedly created a new form of corruption, the "no-show privatization contract." And funnier yet, the single biggest deal she made, which gave half a billion dollars to chase manhattan to collect tolls for our roads, the trabsportation commissioner who inked the deal didn't even wait 6 months before taking a job with the biggest contractor. Ya know, old style democratic patronage meant the ward boss would get you a job as fireman. It was small potatoes, privatization is the republican form of patronage, you give a wealthy corporation a government monopoly. Phah.

Alan D. Hyde
05-22-2001, 10:16 AM
I've watched "privatization" at work, and as Pat Cox notes, it often looks like a mechanism for exponentially increasing patronage payouts. (Historically, Pat, the Republicans have been relative pikers when it came to patronage.)

The kind of privitization I'd like to see would be the widespread sale of Federal lands. (No, I don't mean the National Parks.)

I'd like to see them sold at a reasonable price, to individuals or families only, with some sort of "homestead" requirement.

Our constitution never contemplated widespread federal ownership of land, except as incidental to other constitutionally prescribed powers. Much federally-owned land is poorly managed, and is milked by large enterprises for low lease or other payments.

The kind of opportunity afforded by "homesteading" could mean a lot to many families. It wouldn't necessarily mean tilling the soil or selective-cutting the woods. It could just mean living in a quiet, pretty, place and telecommuting to your work from a home in a place you really liked to be.

Alan

P.S.

Pat-------

"Arguing by analogy" can be a logical fault; analogies may illustrate a point, but they don't prove it. Conversely, the failure of an analogy does not DISprove a point.

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-22-2001).]

thechemist
05-22-2001, 03:21 PM
""Arguing by analogy" can be a logical fault; analogies may illustrate a point, but they don't prove it. Conversely, the failure of an analogy does not DISprove a point."


There is a difference between an analogy and an actual example/a bit of physical evidence/an [experiment and observation].


When Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity, there were four tests proposed, which might measure effects predicted by the new theory. I seem to recall someone asked him if, assuming the experimental results were those predicted by the new theory, those would prove the new theory correct. His reply was,

"No number of experiments can prove me right, but one experiment can prove me wrong".

Alan D. Hyde
05-22-2001, 03:47 PM
You're right, chemist. It's a good quotation, too. But my poor choice of an example to illustrate a point I was trying to make does not fall within the scope of what you (or Einstein) are talking about.

Alan

ishmael
05-22-2001, 03:52 PM
How many here, in their hearts, think the western model of resource utilization, and economic frabitz, is destined for a fall, a major fall?

Alan D. Hyde
05-22-2001, 04:14 PM
Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst system, except for all OTHER systems that have been tried from time to time.

I think we might say the same of western civilization. Despite all of our major failings, our devotion to individual rights and liberties, and our development and use of the experimental method, along with a willingness to borrow whatever worked from anyone else's culture, have changed the world for the better.

Consider the treatment of the poor, women, slaves/lower castes, in pre-westernized India, China, and Japan for example...

Alan

P.S.

And Jack, if we as a culture cease to believe that destiny is a matter of choice, and not of chance, then we will face a fearsome and increasingly chaotic world.

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-22-2001).]

ishmael
05-22-2001, 04:30 PM
Churchill, doubtless, had a modern western prejudice in his heart. I happen to think some of the native federations in the upper midwest of this country, in peculiar tandem with Europeans, had a thing or two to say.

No one knows, for sure. Their love, their egalitarianism, based on knowing the other, face to face, lost, today.

ishmael
05-22-2001, 05:02 PM
Alan,

Yes, and unless we come to some understanding of these mostly frivolous arguments, we will. For me it comes back to basic elements of character, and responsibility, and love of neighbor, and self.

I see much that points toward violent apocolypse, and little that points toward peace. However, I firmly believe that, in the midst of this chaos, the superior man cultivates peace and wisdom, first in himself. I think you see this. That image of wisdom and peace, because it is simple fact, holds an unassailable redoubt in this battle, and will ultimately be--I'm confident.

The middles are the test.

Jack

PatCox
05-22-2001, 08:39 PM
Alan, you just hit the nail right on the head: "if we as a culture cease to believe that destiny is a matter of choice, then we will face a fearful and increasingly chaotic world." Alan, the world is fearful and chaotic. And destiny is only partly, and most probably a small part, a matter of choice. But it is our underlying fear that we really aren't in control of our destiny that causes large numbers of people to engage in complicated intellectual games to convince themselves that they really are in control, that what they do matters. I saw it in law, lawyers just have to beleive that they win cases by dint of their own wonderfulness, it scares them that its just a matter of which case walked in your door (most of the time, don't quibble, yes, a good lawyer can make a marginal difference.) I am now in sales, salesmen have an array of theories to explain away the happenstance of chance and make themselves think they are in control. I have come to believe that there is a fundamental psychological urge in humans to convince themselves they control their destiny when they really do not. This idea is discussed at length in "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe, the pilots, most of whom crash as a result of random equipment failure and freak accidents, must, simply must believe that they are in control, or else they could not go up there and fly again. This phenomenon Wolfe described is active in every human endeavor. And Alan, your theory of capitalism is just another example. You hate to think that in our society good people sometimes, maybe most times, get screwed, and awful, evil people succeed. That would make this an un-just society, and we just can't accept that, can we? So we cling depserately to the belief that if we are rich and cosume far, far more than our share of the worlds resources and go to bed nearly sick with too much food, while around the world, in the US and everywhere else, children starve to death, we cling desperately to the beleif that its because we deserve riches and they deserve poverty. Because, again, anything else would be unjust. And if that were true, It might turn out I don't deserve my wealth, and that poor bum, he doesn't deserve his poverty., That is simply too fearful and chaotic a circumstance to contemplate. All religion stems from the human effort to answer the question of why is it that we do not control our own destiny, why do bad things happen to good people. Your beleif system seems to be a new way of addressing that question, by denying it, denial as in that river in egypt. I prefer the Book of Job, myself.

PatCox
05-22-2001, 08:42 PM
Alan, you just hit the nail right on the head: "if we as a culture cease to believe that destiny is a matter of choice, then we will face a fearful and increasingly chaotic world." Alan, the world is fearful and chaotic. And destiny is only partly, and most probably a small part, a matter of choice. But it is our underlying fear that we really aren't in control of our destiny that causes large numbers of people to engage in complicated intellectual games to convince themselves that they really are in control, that what they do matters. I saw it in law, lawyers just have to beleive that they win cases by dint of their own wonderfulness, it scares them that its just a matter of which case walked in your door (most of the time, don't quibble, yes, a good lawyer can make a marginal difference.) I am now in sales, salesmen have an array of theories to explain away the happenstance of chance and make themselves think they are in control. I have come to believe that there is a fundamental psychological urge in humans to convince themselves they control their destiny when they really do not. This idea is discussed at length in "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe, the pilots, most of whom crash as a result of random equipment failure and freak accidents, must, simply must believe that they are in control, or else they could not go up there and fly again. This phenomenon Wolfe described is active in every human endeavor. And Alan, your theory of capitalism is just another example. You hate to think that in our society good people sometimes, maybe most times, get screwed, and awful, evil people succeed. That would make this an un-just society, and we just can't accept that, can we? So we cling depserately to the belief that if we are rich and cosume far, far more than our share of the worlds resources and go to bed nearly sick with too much food, while around the world, in the US and everywhere else, children starve to death, we cling desperately to the beleif that its because we deserve riches and they deserve poverty. Because, again, anything else would be unjust. And if that were true, It might turn out I don't deserve my wealth, and that poor bum, he doesn't deserve his poverty., That is simply too fearful and chaotic a circumstance to contemplate. All religion stems from the human effort to answer the question of why is it that we do not control our own destiny, why do bad things happen to good people. Your beleif system seems to be a new way of addressing that question, by denying it, denial as in that river in egypt. I prefer the Book of Job, myself.

Alan D. Hyde
05-23-2001, 10:28 AM
Pat, you seem to believe that economics is a zero sum game. It's clearly not.

Just because I have a big garden and eat well, does not mean someone somewhere else in the world can't do the same. All it takes is manure, a few seeds, and a hoe.

That's a homely example, but any good basic economics text can make the case for you in more sophisticated terms.

When making comparisons internationally, what makes a people poor is usually political: instability, insecurity of personal and property rights, etc. Some of these same factors play a part in poor minority neighborhoods. (Indeed, one of the worst forms of discrimination against poor and minority citizens is our failure to maintain order in their neighborhoods.)

Why work hard and be productive if someone will take the results of your labor away from you before you can fully enjoy them?

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-23-2001).]

TomRobb
05-23-2001, 12:34 PM
Pat, bad things don't happen to good people. bad things happen to sort-of, mostly, almost good people. And to nearly unredeamable, almost entirely, sort-of bad folks too.

Yes, Job! The writer, a true genius, got it right.

Bruce Taylor
05-23-2001, 01:49 PM
Not to mention Ecclesiastes:

"In my long life I have seen everything; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil-doing. . ."

"Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to all."

Alan D. Hyde
05-23-2001, 02:25 PM
Bruce, Ecclesiastes well describes the portion of Pat's comments with which I have no disagreement.

All we can do is to try to merit good fortune. We cannot guarantee it.

Like Job, we can only control our reaction to what comes our way.

Nevertheless, "save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore." (Harry Emerson Fosdick, I think).

None of this means that free people and free markets are not the best way to go in this imperfect world. Christianity is antithetical to socialism.

Alan

Frank Wentzel
05-23-2001, 04:25 PM
I think we have strayed from the whole point of this discussion. We have to realize that "man", for the first time through his own efforts, has altered a global parameter. This is not something minor, like eradicating a species or twenty; this is a global alteration. This makes DDT or any other environmental "catastrophes" heretofore seem trivial. To say that we should continue this alteration, and indeed to increase the rate of change of this parameter, until we see definite, irrefutable damage to the planet seems criminally irresponsible.

Especially in light of the fact that just to reduce our rate of increase of greenhouse gas output will take a decade or more (actual reduction of greenhouse gas production could take several decades). Whatever effect this manmade change has on the planet it will become much more conspicuous before we can do anything to slow it down. While one may question whether the worst of the theorized results of this alteration of the planetary atmosphere are valid it seems even more foolish to presume that the results will be benign on a planet-wide basis. We should not condemn our children to live with the results of our ignorance of the facts.

I find it especially disturbing that even with all attention on this issue there is still so little attention being given to any real development of alternative energy sources. We are once again embarking on the development of an incredibly expensive missile defense system that will not work against the most likely sources of nuclear attack and leaving ourselves, once again, open to blackmail by offshore energy suppliers.

Alan D. Hyde
05-23-2001, 04:45 PM
If 95% of these gasses are the result of forest fires, volcanoes, and other naturally occurring phenomena, which vary widely from year-to-year, or from sunspot activity cycles, which also vary widely, isn't it pretty vain of us to assume that working with the (say) 2 to 5 percent of such emissions attributable to human activity will make a substantial difference?

Most decisions made on the basis of panic, or of apocalyptic a priori thinking, end up being mistaken.

The knowledge of specialists is sometimes ignorance distilled. I would be more moved by the considered opinion of a generalist devoted to the experimental method, and unswayed by political fashion.

Perhaps there is such an opinion out there.

I have yet to come across it.

Alan

P.S.

"Brilliant pebbles" looked promising until Clinton et al deep-sixed it, and would have enabled us to deal with the attacks Frank describes.

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-23-2001).]

Frank Wentzel
05-23-2001, 04:54 PM
I interpret your comment to mean that until you see incontrovertible proof that man has, solely through his own efforts, and not through synergy with natural events, cause severe and unmistakable damage that you don't believe it is worth making any effort to slow down the our greenhouse gas production. Do I misstate your case?

/// Frank ///

Jim H
05-23-2001, 04:59 PM
Yes Frank, it is a shame that the last eight years were wasted. I imagine that if we had worked as hard on alternative energy and electric hybird transportation, rather than an international space station we might be solving our problems rather than bemoaning them.

Jim

Wayne Jeffers
05-23-2001, 05:40 PM
Alan,

I don't for a moment buy your assertion that Christianity is antithetical to socialism. Early Christians practiced communal living.

If anything, I suspect Capitalist greed is antithetical to Christianity. "Where your treasure is . . ."

Wayne

[This message has been edited by Wayne Jeffers (edited 05-23-2001).]

PatCox
05-23-2001, 09:25 PM
Alan, as I have said before, you're alright, and you don't need my approval either, all I mean is please never take my comments as any judgment on your worth or morals as a person. I beleive we are all just blind fools muddling through the best we can. However, he said, before lighting into Mr. Hyde, I disagree with you strongly on two points. One, what I said had nothing whatsoever to do with the the idea of a "zero-sum" economic model. Nothing whatsoever. You have created a straw man and slain him, but he has nothing to do with my observations. Just because someone's poverty isn't his fault doens't mean it is your fault. And please know one thing, Mr. Hyde, the economy functions as if it weren't a zero sum game only because the wealthy are so few and the poor so many,that we float on on ocean of poverty, we fortunate ones. They act as a huge heat sink, to use an analogy from physics. A sort of analogy, the point being that an internal combustion engine won't work if surrounded by an environment hotter than its combustion. If the rest of the world's economy were as hot as ours, we'd be sunk. If true opportunity to gain wealth really were available to everyone on the globe, then it would quickly turn into a zero sum game because the number of real players would then outstrip the resources available. Anyone out there have any idea just how much oil would have to be produced to allow every human being alive to consume at the rate americans do?

The second thing I have to disagree with you on is the idea that christianity and socialism are antithetical. I don't know where to start, so I won't. I will say this, christ and capitalism are much more demonstrably antithetical than "christianity" as the term is now understood, and socialism. In fact, Christ would almost certainly prefer socialism to "christianity" as currently practiced. Who was it once said "christianity sounds like a great idea, someone should try it sometime?"

John Gearing
05-23-2001, 10:06 PM
Some quasi-random reflections:

With all due respect to Einstein I hold that one cannot prove the null hypothesis, which may not be in conflict with his statement.

"Brilliant pebbles" and the rest of "Star Wars".....I once worked with a fellow whose job it was to conceptually engineer ways to defeat the various star wars programs. He had no trouble doing it, although he may have been assuming a more, shall we say, robust attack than what is predicted to flow from a "rogue state." This guy was pretty good--every time Abramson (sp?) who was the head of SDIO (Space Defense Initiative) under Reagan/Bush came to town for a meeting he asked to see this guy.

I may be wrong on this, but I seem to recall that the US consumes about 20 % of all the engery produced in the world.

Why are we not at least willing to consider cutting back on the things that produce greenhouse gases? Will it be such a huge imposition?

Do we hold any values dear besides economic efficiency and wealth generation?

A.H.--I note that your interest in having the Federal govt make current Federal land available to homesteaders dovetails nicely with Jefferson's plan to provide everyone with a chunk of land of their own. This was the spirit of republicanism (small "r"), the theory being that only when people are independent (can provide their own subsistence) can they freely exercise their civic vertue by participating in their government. This republican theory stands in sharp contrast to economic liberalism as espoused by Locke, Demsetz, Posner et al who hold that the preferred citizen is a strictly self-interested rational maximiser whose goal is accumulating wealth. The odd thing is that republicanism seems a lot more Liberal and liberalism seems a lot more Republican! LOL

There are examples of third-world countries trapped in zero-sum games. I recall that one of the west-coast African countries had a robust near-shore fishing industry...until a bunch of EU-funded supertrawlers came down from Europe and proceeded to scoop everything up. The little African country, where a large proportion of the population relied on fish for sustenance was in trouble. Here is a zero-sum game for you. Either the EU gets the fish or the Africans do. The EU did and now the Africans are poorer.

"If men were angels they would not need governments"--Burke

"One day you may wake up in a beautiful house,
with a beautiful wife and a beautiful car,
and you may ask yourself,
'how did I get here?'..."--The Talking Heads

Introspection and self-reflection are good things we should do more frequently.

ishmael
05-24-2001, 08:08 AM
John, Alan, Pat, et al,

David Byrne, for a few albums there, really had IT.

Do these conversations always tire and turn to religion? Makes sense I guess.

Here is a radical interpretation, with nothing to back it up.

Jesus may have been an actual man. If so, he was the son of god because all of us are the sons and daughters of god. However, Christianity is a time and a mind, not a man. It has lived its time, and the time is changing. It will be our children's children who truly realize this change. It is always so with shifts of this moment.

Don't get me wrong, the message of Christianity is marvelous, complex, and essentially synthesizing, but look at what we've done with it. Look at what we've done. The message will last as long as we are human, but look at the time.

The dualism of our bloody last two millenium is giving way to fractal and holistic thinking. I feel our job, just now, is to have the courage to examine our own brokeness and dualism, and to cultivate as much peace and understanding as we can out of that personal understanding. We are stewards, poised between eras, and most of what we debate is foolish, knee jerk and partisan--no matter how logical or well argued.

Let's turn some of that energy inward so as to resolve these dialectics which have haunted us for so long, and then, take those resolutions into the world. If more of us do that, the sale of gas guzzlers (which is the result of projected needs expressed in material ways) along with so much else that is the result of spiritual materialism, will no longer be an issue.

Ishmael

Maguire
05-24-2001, 08:13 AM
Some here seem to think that green house gas emissions have stayed the same or risen over the last 30 - 60 - 100 years. "Shouldn't we do something?" you ask.

We are doing things, and we have done much, especially over the last 30 years or so, to reduce the amount of green house gases we produce. The car you buy today is a field of daisies, compared to the car you bought in 1965. The gas you burn today is a different animal from what your put in that 1965 Chevy. Why is this never mentioned?

This "government policy through crisis creation" is starting to resemble a certain story about a certain boy and a certain wolf.

I also have no guilt about the oft-quoted remarks about how Americans use up so much of the earth's resources. We also invent much of the world's technologies, "miracle" drugs and produce not a small portion of the world's food. We are expected to willingly put our youth in harm's way every time some tin pot dictator decides to kill half his population. Not once, but TWICE our personal and indutrial might have pulled the world's butt out of the fire. Wherever and whenever a disaster -- manmade or natural -- strikes, we willingly send resources and people to clean up the mess. We do this while continuing to find cleaner and better ways to use the world's resources.

Excuse me if I do not feel a whole lot of guilt if all of these services to the world take up a few extra gallons of gas.

Maguire



[This message has been edited by Maguire (edited 05-24-2001).]

Don Olney
05-24-2001, 08:44 AM
This is in today's NY Times and it relates to the "Petition Project" that started this thread. I haven't yet looked at the .gov site nor this edition of Nature --Don

May 24, 2001

Studies Challenge Role of Trees in Curbing Greenhouse Gases

THE NEW YORK TIMES

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Two new studies are challenging the idea that planting forests could be a cheap way to absorb emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat- trapping gas released by human activities.

In one, tracts of pine trees exposed to elevated levels of the gas initially absorbed large amounts and had a short growth spurt, but then reverted to typical growth rates.

A separate study of the soil around the exposed trees found that, although it accumulated carbon, much of the carbon was released back into the air as carbon dioxide when organic material in the soil decomposed.

The studies, described in today's issue of the journal Nature, were limited to loblolly pine forests in North Carolina, but the authors said their findings suggested a limit to the value of forest planting to counter carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes that many scientists say are
warming the climate.

"Such findings call into question the role of soils as long-term carbon sinks," wrote the authors of the soil study, Dr. John Lichter, a biologist at Bowdoin College, and Dr. William H. Schlesinger, a professor of biogeochemistry at Duke University, which owns the forest where the research was
done.

Forest planting has figured in negotiations on a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, and the United States, Canada, Japan and some other large industrial countries have backed the idea.

But the new research suggests the approach is not as effective as advocates had hoped. The study of tree growth, led by Dr. Ram Oren, an ecologist at Duke, concluded that previous estimates of forests' carbon-absorbing abilities were "unduly optimistic."

Several scientists not involved in the studies said the research provided some of the first hard evidence showing the response of trees to carbon dioxide and, among other things, should help improve computer models used to predict how the rise in heat-trapping gases might affect the climate and ecosystems.

Others added that the work challenges a longstanding assertion of some coal and power companies that the main consequence of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air will not be a damaging warming of the climate, but rather a flourishing of forests and other plant life.

Some scientists stressed that the Duke findings — despite the years of monitoring — still are preliminary because forests can take a long time to adjust to changes in the environment, and the conditions noted so far may only be a prelude to other shifts.

And some scientists involved in related experiments looking at the absorption of the gas by croplands and grassland said they thought that some of the researchers' conclusions were gloomier than their data.

Dr. Bruce A. Kimball, a soil scientist who has studied the response of wheat and cotton to elevated carbon dioxide at a Department of Agriculture laboratory in Phoenix, noted that the Duke soil findings, over all, still showed an increase in retained carbon. He said tree planting could have "some
significant impact on offsetting some of our CO2 emissions."

He conceded, however, that the abrupt drop in the growth rate of the trees was "discouraging."

The study is described on a Department of Energy Web site at www.face.bnl.gov/. (http://www.face.bnl.gov/.)


[This message has been edited by don olney (edited 05-24-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-24-2001, 08:50 AM
Maguire -- My country fought Hitler for three years before yours decided to get off its isolationist butt. You guys joined the struggle, with great reluctance, only when you were attacked. Your contribution to the war effort was most welcome. But do not pretend it was either timely or altruistic.

The list of "tin-pot dictators" that your country has supported is long and shameful. The U.S. has overthrown several elected governments, and even sponsored the assasination of an elected president.

That said, the United States has done much good as well. However, it is far from unique in this.

I love and admire the United States. I am married to an American, and my children have dual citizenship. But this kind of national boosterism disgusts me.

Frank Wentzel
05-24-2001, 08:56 AM
Jim H

I believe the beginnings of the solution go all the way back to the Carter Administration. He instituted the Alternative Energy Tax Credit - a $1,500 tax credit available to homeowners who installed alternative energy systems such as solar hot water systems to their homes. There may have also been credits for businesses as well, I don't know. It is estimated that today as many as half of Florida's homes would have solar hot water systems if that tax credit had remained in effect. That alone would have result in reduced current energy usage on the order of 25 percent. The rest of the Sunbelt would probably have shown similar results. The tax credit was established in acknowledgement of our excessive dependence on foreign energy. (I presume that no one disputes that we were and are excessively dependent on foreign energy.) The tax credit was quickly removed by Reagan, the first of our energy-industry-dominated presidents. Would Clinton have done anything useful? We will never know due to his inability to keep his pants on. He did try to champion some valid issues but he spent all his political capital just trying to remain in office.

I don't agree that the space station is necessarily a waste. I think we are still benefiting from the spin-offs from the lunar program. Computer technology alone would most likely be at least a decade behind our current level but for the technology developed for the moon shot. I may be naive but I think development of new technologies and exploration will always have benefits far exceeding their costs.

I do object to the excessive cost of our military development programs. I object to building multibillion dollar bombers even the military says we can't use - evermore sophisticated submarines to counter fleets that can barely remain operational let alone keep up with technology - fighter airplanes that each cost the annual income of a small county and spend half their time grounded because they are too complex to keep operational. All this to counter two-bit dictators using obsolete technologies and second-hand weapons. I'm not arguing against a strong military (it’s the best way to avoid getting into a real war), but against approaching a $100 problem with $1,000,000 solution

ken mcclure
05-24-2001, 09:16 AM
"national boosterism" - Hee-hee!

I stop in and read the updates to this thread fairly infrequently, since many times it goes WAY deeper than my ability argue or even follow.

Sometimes it can be an embarrassment to be an American. But then no government or indeed no mob of people no matter how well organized is perfect. Most larger governments have their own embarrassments.

Sometimes it can be an embarrassment to be a Christian. Drive past the church parking lot on Sunday when they're trying to get out as fast as possible and observe the various hand and verbal signals you get if you don't let them pull out of the lot. And a number of Christian organizations (including, if not especially, the Catholic Church) have their own embarrassments.

Sometimes it can be an embarrassment to be a human.

It seems to me that human nature is such that we all first try to acquire and "do" for ourselves as individuals to secure our own individual security. Once we are individually secure we acquire and "do" for our immediate family group. Once that's secure we do for the larger individual "community" with which we identify (which can range from a neighborhood to a nation.) And once THAT group is secure we acquire and "do" for the larger human community.

This has nothing to do with where we live, but what we are as individuals. With so much of the world in the condition that many people can barely "do" for themselves, let alone their family, the chances that a large amount of attention will be paid to activities that "do" for the entire planet are vanishingly small.

We can observe the problem, and we can pose our individuals ideas about solutions. But as long as human nature is human nature, I don't think we're going to see much of a move away from the current status.

But I could be wrong. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Alan D. Hyde
05-24-2001, 10:03 AM
Wayne and Pat-------

The reason that I say that Christianity and socialism are antithetical, is that Christ eschewed the use of force. He never MADE anyone act like a Christian; he used persuasion, not coercion.

Socialism is an organized system of theft. You take, forcibly, from a person the product of his labor, and then the political system assigns it to whom it will.

Reminds me of an H.L. Mencken quote:

"Taxes are pillage, and elections are an anticipatory division of the proceeds."

The means are the ends in the making. The beauty of voluntary giving to others is transmuted into the horrible ugliness of the totalitarian state by the poisonous effects of coercion.

Alan

Jim H
05-24-2001, 10:18 AM
Frank, I agree with you on the way we spend on the military. We tend to support the weapons industry more than the military services. On the other hand, technology developed for the military has crossed into the civilian world to our benefit. One of my relatives worked to develop tank armor during WWII. He told me that as soon as they developed a new armor, someone would develop a way to defeat it. I don't beleive that there is any missle defense that could completely shield the U.S. In fact, I'm more concerned with the proliferation of man-portable nuclear weapons "backpack nukes" and biological weapons. It's not that I am against space expoloration, but I just don't think it's more important than our disintegrating education system or the multitude of other issues that we have to deal with here in the U.S.

Jim

ishmael
05-24-2001, 11:03 AM
"By the waters of Babylon,

We laid down and wept, and wept

For thee, Zion"

Bruce Taylor
05-24-2001, 11:34 AM
"[O]rganized system of theft"..."poisonous coercion"

Alan, this kind of hyperbole makes you sound like a social credit pamphleteer. These are crude slogans -- like Bakunin's "Property is theft."

As you well know, citizens of democratic countries often elect socialist governments. They elect these governments to make and enforce laws. When they tire of the way they are being governed, they throw out the socialist bums and elect a mob of conservative bums, who also make and enforce laws. To call the actions of these elected governments "poisonous coercion" is just silly. This is cant, not philosophy.

Wayne Jeffers
05-24-2001, 11:44 AM
Alan,

Thanks for the clarification, but I still must disagree.

I will readily concede that Christ eschewed coercion with respect to peoples' beliefs, especially their belief in Him. As to peoples' actions, however, Christ demonstrated an ability to be pretty forceful, as circumstances warranted. Consider the way he dealt with the moneychangers in the Temple, for example.

As I alluded in my previous post, the Apostles and the early church practiced communal living. No doubt you are familiar with the early chapters of Acts. Believers were required to sell their possessions and give all the proceeds to the church. The resources thus acquired were thereafter distributed to each according to his needs. In Chapter 5, you will note the story of Ananias and his wife, who sold land and gave some, but not all, of the proceeds to the church and were consequently struck dead. Taxation at the appropriate marginal rate seems not so bad by comparison, eh?

I say this not to assert that the Bible promotes communism or socialism or any other -ism. I believe that Christianity as a religion is (and properly should be) unrelated to the various political/economic systems.

As to your imputed equating of socialism with totalitarianism, I would note that the contributors to this forum who live in liberal democracies have spoken most favorably of their political/economic system and do not appear to feel coerced or oppressed by their system of government.

BTW, I am no socialist. To the extent that I have not yet perfected becoming apolitical, I am a moderate liberal who votes Democratic somewhat more than Republican. (Here in Ohio, there are still some worthy Republican candidates who are not captives of the right wing of the party.)

Wayne

Scott Rosen
05-24-2001, 11:51 AM
All governments enforce their laws by force and coersion, not just governments with socialist economies. When religion is combined with government, it too uses force and coersion. Has anyone been following the developments in Afghanistan with the Taliban? They now have a law requiring all Hindus and other religious minorities (they're aren't many--I read a report that one (1) Jew lives in Afghanistan) to wear a yellow badge to distinguish them from Muslims. If a Muslim man is caught without a beard on his face, he is subject to arrest and prosecution for violating Islamic law. People never learn.

Over the last two millenea, followers of Jesus have been known to enforce their religious views with force and coersion. It still happens in the United States. In Connecticut we still have remnants of the infamous "Blue Laws". For example, liquor sales are still prohibited on Sundays. If you violate the Lord's Day by selling liquor in Connecticut, you will find that the government of the State of Connecticut will use force and coersion to stop you and to punish you.

Keith Wilson
05-24-2001, 12:34 PM
Um - right, Alan. I won't quarrel too much with your description of socialism, since it fits many countries that call (or called) themselves socialist all too well. However, a universal and highly unpleasant feature of capitalism, particularly when allowed to operate unchecked, is that those with money and power will try to appropriate as much of the products of others' labor (those with less money and power) as they can possibly get away with. Anyone who argues seriously that capitalism produces a rational or just distribution of resources has not lived long on the same planet as the rest of us. Right - and Michael Eisner actually EARNED the gazillion dollars he made last year by the sweat of his brow. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/rolleyes.gif Now, I'm not really a socialist either, (although the type of socialism practiced in Western Europe has a some good points) capitalism seems the least of evils, but the unfettered operation of the market, coupled with ordinary human greed, produces neither freedom nor prosperity for many. Historical examples abound, alas.

Who are the Social Credit folks, BTW? A Canadian fringe party sort of like the US Libertarians?

ken mcclure
05-24-2001, 12:50 PM
The neat side of a capitalist society, however, is that everyone has an opportunity to grab that brass ring. I'll readily admit that those with money and power try to acquire more, but you also have to concede that those without money and power are doing their level best to try to grab some!

There are few restrictions on me as to what I can and cannot do, other than my time, resources and abilities. If I want to become a full-time boatbuilder, I can. If my resources and abilities are such that I can become successful at it, there is noone to stop me.

I certainly don't want to live in a situation where I come up with a business idea, get it funded and started and make it successful only to have someone tell me that I have to share it with someone else simply because they didn't think of it and they weren't as successful doing something else.

Bruce Taylor
05-24-2001, 01:30 PM
Keith -- The Social Credit movement was started by the English engineer & economist Clifford Hugh Douglas in the 1920s. Douglas has long been a favourite of crank economists (including the poet Ezra Pound). Noted American kook and perennial presidential wannabe Lyndon LaRouche has been influenced by Douglasite economics.

Douglas believed a corrupt and usurious banking system kept credit in artificially short supply.

Here in Quebec there's an ultraconservative Catholic organization known as "Les Berets Blancs" who keep Clifford's message alive. In the rest of Canada, the socred movement has provided a home for the paranoids and malcontents who are dissatisfied with ordinary conservatism.

Alan is obviously not a Douglasite, but he does occasionally lapse into slogan-speak.

Alan D. Hyde
05-24-2001, 02:16 PM
Well, I'm happy to see that I didn't stir the pot.

Wayne-------

Nevertheless, conversion to Christianity was voluntary; it was never coerced (at least not in accordance with the teachings of Christ: the Inquisition is another matter).

Bruce-------

The founders of the United States believed that "men are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and (originally "property," later edited) "the pursuit of happiness."

Such basic rights are not subject to the will of the majority. Eternal verities are not altered by popular vote. If EVERY non-Jewish German had voted for the holocaust, it would have still been just as wrong.

Scott-------

At some point, I think you may agree, governmental exactions may be so great, or so corruptly expended, that they cease to be justifable contributions to the common good. There may be much disagreement as to when this point is reached.

Benjamin Franklin thought 10% would be sufficient to justify a revolution.

Bruce (again)-------

Epigrams are lithe and hungry tigers, but always somewhat undiscriminating. They may tear up those they are set upon, but then again, they may slip their leashes and turn to rend their makers.

However, I really do believe that coercion poisons the wellsprings of philanthropy.

Jack-------

"By the waters of Babylon,
When we sat down,
There we wept,
When we remembered Zion."

***

When politics becomes a major part of life, the government is too powerful.

"What were all the world's alarms
To mighty Paris when he found
Sleep upon a golden bed
That first dawn in Helen's arms?"

(W.B. Yeats)

In a free society, the major decisions concerning an individual's life, ought to be freely made by that individual himself.

Alan

Ed Harrow
05-24-2001, 02:32 PM
Ahhh, some split hairs, some split infinitives (sorry, I couldn't resist) http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/tongue.gif

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 05-24-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-24-2001, 02:51 PM
Alan --

Nothing in democratic socialism, as it has been practised in many fine countries, is inconsistent with life, liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness. In fact, as PatCox pointed out after his return from France, many individual liberties are better protected under systems that are relatively socialistic.

You seem to be saying that nations who have voted in social democratic parties have foolishly voted for totalitarian control. This is nonsense, as the inhabitants of such countries (even the conservatives, for the most part) will cheerfully attest.

(As a matter of interest, here in Canada the constitution guarantees "life, liberty and good government" -- an empty promise, I suppose, but there you have it. Matters pertaining to the "pursuit of happiness" come under our charter of rights and freedoms.)

Incidentally, I am not a socialist (at least not as the term might be understood in France or Germany). I like relatively free markets. However, those who prefer a bit more regulation are not totalitarians. It is dishonest to suggest that they are.

Alan D. Hyde
05-24-2001, 03:15 PM
Bruce, I meant to deal with this issue in my comments to Scott in the above post, but perhaps its application to what you're saying was a little opaque.

I think that all of us will agree that some taxation is necessary, and perhaps most will agree that an 100% rate would be confiscatory and totalitarian, in violation of citizens "unalienable rights."

Precisely where (between those points) reasonable levies turn into tyrannical exactions, is a subject concerning which there is great disagreement.

Even in the discussions concerning Norway (which has very high taxes), I did not take it upon myself to say that point had been passed.

Though my views differ considerably from yours in some areas, it has never seemed to me that yours were dishonest.

Alan

ishmael
05-24-2001, 03:34 PM
okay. By the waters...we laid down and wept. I like Don McClean's version better, but won't quibble. I think the lament is well worth a look, just now.

Alan D. Hyde
05-24-2001, 03:58 PM
Jack-------

No quibbles on your version either.

Just have some Welsh friends with a choir, listen to their tapes, and the version I gave is now pretty well implanted in my mind.

I just posted it as a variation on your theme. In conversation, as in jazz, variations can be interesting.

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 05-24-2001).]

Scott Rosen
05-24-2001, 04:10 PM
Alan,

You're right that governments can and often do exercise their power so extensively or corruptly that they are no longer acting for the public good. I think it has happened here in the USA. Prior to the Civil War, the enforcement of slavery laws did not promote the public good, if you define public good to include personal liberty for Africans and their decendants. Prohibition may be another example of the abuse of governmental power and the tyranny of the majority.

One of the big differences between Righties and Lefties in America is that Righties believe that the government's system of taxation is the greatest threat to our personal liberty. The Lefties, on the other hand, believe that the government's attempt to curtail the personal liberties of minorities is the greatest threat; examples would include Lefty support of abortion rights, gay rights, rights of the accused and stringent and absolute separation of church and state. The exception that proves this rule is the debate over the right to bear arms. Lefties, who are usually so afraid of every governmental encroachment on their personal liberties, are willing to cede to the government the right to bear arms, so that the State would have a virtual monopoly on firearm possession. Righties, who have no qualms about trampling on the rights of accused criminals so long as the government doesn't tax them too much to pay for it, view attempts at gun control as the Apocalypse itself. To the Righties, it's okay if government deprives the accused of his liberties, so long as the accused can keep his gun.

I think that both of these are significant potential threats to our liberty. However, I worry more about the government's ability to tax us. That's because our Constitution expressly protects most of our personal liberties from over-reaching governmental power, but does not protect us from unfettered taxation. I feel confident that no matter what politician is in the White House, my right to worship as I please will remain intact. I also have no fear of being sold into slavery or indentured servitude. Unfortunately, the Constitution does not place any express limits on the government's power to tax. In this way, the majority of the voters could elect to create a system that deprives some folks of their wealth without any due process of law, and without any regard for the negative effect it will have the persons who are taxed. The US constitution protects certain property rights from governmental interference--for example the government must pay just compensation for taking real estate for its own use. But taxation is a huge loophole. The government can take as much of your property as the voters will let them so long as they call it "taxation." Alan's concern that socialism is a form of totalitarianism is understandable to me given that backdrop. Under the American legal system, socialism could be perceived as the first step down the slippery slope of total governmental control of a person's money.

Dem's my thoughts.

John Gearing
05-24-2001, 06:06 PM
On the ability for "anyone to grab the brass ring"--there has been at least one study done in the last decade showing that on the whole, people move only slightly up or down the economic ladder from the position their parents held. If you check the ranks of med and law students I think you will find that many of them have parents who are either doctors or attorneys or who are in a similarly positioned profession. The percentage who "come up through the ranks" as it were, from parents who are (say) janitors, or cafeteria workers will be quite small. Anyone CAN make it in America--enough do to fuel the dream--but the reality is that most people will end up in about the same situation their parents were in. Whether this is because people don't "want it" enough, or because they don't think they can do it (perhaps from being "told" ie conditioned their whole life to think that way), or because they really don't have access to those top-notch career paths, or whether some other reason is at work...well, we could talk about that all day.

But thank goodness they don't all become huge financial successes--because we need gas station attendants, and janitors, and clerks in dry cleaners, and all the rest. There has to be a broad base of lower (dare I say "lowly")-paid workers to provide goods and services to those in the upper income brackets.

But let's look at two babies: one born to two lawyers who pull in $300K/year (reasonable), and one born to a poor mother with a drug problem. Neither baby had any choice about who his parents were or what situation he was going to be born into. I think it's safe to say that the lawyers' kid is highly likely to live a pretty good life and continue the family tradition of being in the top 2% in terms of income. The other kid is probably going to live a lousy (perhaps literally, i.e. louse-ridden) life and will be lucky to find a job that pays a living wage. And yet that little baby didn't DO anything to deserve this. He was just born into the wrong family. Given that, why not, as a society, try to help that kid out a little--give him a hand up, so that he has the opportunity to use whatever skills, intelligence, drive he has to make a better life for himself? Isn't this in all of our interests? Or would we rather not? Does it matter to us whether it is more expensive to help him or jail him? After all, it's not like those lawyers didn't get some help--they both went to a public law school-paid for in large part by tax dollars. And they got low-cost student loans from Uncle Sam.

And more importantly, does that little baby have the right to expect some help from society?

Which leads us into...

Historical note on the US Constitution and individual rights: Up until the Civil War, the Bill of Rights was held to only apply to citizens of the United States, not to citizens of any given State. That is to say that the BOR applied in Federal court but not in State courts because you were a citizen of the United States when it came to Federal matters, and a citizen of your home State re state matters. Surprizing to us today, but true!

The 14th Amendment was added to secure some State rights for the newly freed slaves. Some of the rights we take for granted (e.g. the right to privacy) are nowhere enumerated in the Constitution but have been found to exist under the doctrine of due process contained in the 5th and 14th Amendments. (no deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law) "deprivation of liberty" in one sense means being put in jail, but in another sense it means "deprivation of rights", and that is how it has been interpreted when it comes to individual rights. The question is: what rights are these?

For the last 100 years or so the Supreme Court has wrestled with the question of individual rights. Some justices have been proponents of "natural rights", while others have argued for "fundamental rights" and still others have taken a literalist position and held that only constitutionally enumerated rights are constitutional. In one celebrated case, William O. Douglas wrote the majority opinion in which he reasoned that the enumerated rights cast "penumbras" around strongly related yet unenumerated rights and that this was enough to bring the rights under constitutional protection. He was trying like the dickens to avoid going down the "natural rights" path! An ongoing criticism of the natural rights concept has been that in the end it devolves to depending on what rights the members of the Supreme Court hold dear. The Court would prefer to find a reasoned test instead of personal preference. But it hasn't been easy.

As I see it, the framers were pretty smart. They could have tried to write a constitution that laid everything out in black and white for all time. But I think they realized that they couldn't see the future that well; that they had set in motion a brand-new form of government and a brand-new country-a country that had almost all of its development ahead of it. If they had written a rigid Constitution it is quite likely that as America developed there would have been divergences between society (the demos) and the constitution, with the result that the constitution would have to be continually overhauled so that its explicit parameters on every topic could be modified to keep step with social reality. Or, it could have developed that a rigid constitution, aggressively enforced, would have stunted the nation's development. Instead, what we have been given is a framework (Chief Justice Marshall once described the Constitution as defining boundaries) designed to require interpretation, and so in that way to be a living document whose meaning can change in response to society's needs, with the Supreme Court being the interpretive agent. (Amendments are comparatively rare--anyone remember when the ERA went down to defeat?)Remember, it was the same Constitution that found segregation legal in Plessy v. Ferguson as it was that found it illegal in Brown v. Board of Education. It was society that changed over the course of those 80-some years, not the Constitution.

My 2 cents...


[This message has been edited by John Gearing (edited 05-24-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-24-2001, 08:50 PM
Alan -- I regret using the word "dishonest." I can see that you are sincere, and I'm genuinely pleased to hear that you don't regard Norway as a totalitarian state.

I do think hyperbole (a device recommended by sophists and rhetoricians since antiquity) makes reasonable disagreement difficult.

Certain political terms carry so much emotional freight that they should be used with some circumspection. "Totalitarian" is one of those terms, I think. "Fascist" is another. I've already questioned the liberties you take with "Liberty."

I do agree that elections do not confer legitimacy on every act a government performs. As you say, elected govts. can and do violate basic human rights. Scott's post helps me see how taxation could, conceivably, violate such basic rights. Taxes that single out vulnerable minorities (a beard tax, for example) would threaten what you call "eternal verities."

As for taxes that single out the powerful, socially influential minority we call The Rich...hmmmm. I'll have to think on that.

Maguire
05-25-2001, 08:28 AM
Bruce -

So sorry you are so "disgusted." Please remember the "boosterism' is in reponse to accusations and not unsolicited.

I will save the group from an attempt at turning this into a discussion about WWII, or how different the world would be if the US hadn't been here to meet the threat of Hitler, not to mention the 40 year threat of the Soviet Union. I will say that I do not discount any other nation's contribution or sacrifice during those periods, but the facts are that without the military and industrial might of the USA, the world would be a very different place today -- and not for the better. (And BTW, excuse us if we didn't send our people to die by the tens of thousands in order to save Europe soon enough to suit you. Consider the Marshall Plan our way of saying "sorry.")

It "disgusts" me that so many around the world are ready and willing to take advantage of American protection, technology and other benefits, and then whine about how we are such ogres.

Maguire

Alan D. Hyde
05-25-2001, 10:23 AM
There are just about an unlimited number of dichotemies that can be used to describe political views of various types. All tend to stereotype and over-simplify. But some descriptive terms are perhaps more helpful than others.

I personally don't find that "right" and "left" are of much benefit. Stalin was on the "left," Hitler was on the "right." Both were totalitarians who murdered millions of their own citizens in brutal efforts to preserve and enhance their own power.

Their behavior was similar. All that much differed was their excuses for assuming and retaining their rule.

A distinction which may be more fairly descriptive is that between totalitarians and libertarians (I would have preferred to say "liberals" in the classic sense, but the meaning of that term has altered substantially since the days of Jefferson and Franklin).

"Slave" and "free" might be simpler terminology, equally descriptive, but even more emotionally charged. But then, Bruce, are there not some things in our life together about which people OUGHT to get emotionally aroused?

Alan

Maguire
05-25-2001, 12:32 PM
At least as they are practiced in America at the turn of this new century, Left and Right are almost identical.

Both political pursuasions seek to control the lives of the population, they just seek to control different parts.

The Left wants to control your money, the Right wants to control your body. Both sides are populated by scoundrels.

When asked by friends in our frequent political debates what my solution to this dilemma is, I reply: "A succession of larger and larger boats. Come the revolution -- whether leftist or radical right -- sail east (or west, as the case may be).

Maguire

Bruce Taylor
05-25-2001, 02:06 PM
Maguire -- I must have missed these "accusations" -- unless you are referring to the obervation somebody made that per-capita emissions in the U.S. are much higher than in most European countries.

Please understand that my country, Canada, has as poor a record as yours in this area. Our friends in Europe are far ahead of us here, and they have a right to point this out.

Do you really think the U.S. and Canada should be exempted from criticism because we sometimes do good things?

By the way, the U.S. also takes advantage of technologies that were developed in other countries. You can thank Canada for insulin, Scotland for the telephone, Italy for radio, Germany for internal combustion, jet engines and the rocket, England for computer science, China for gunpowder, and Australia for bagged wine (as someone has pointed out in another thread).

We're all grateful to you for hamburgers and the Hydrogen Bomb, but make no mistake: the exchange of information and technology has gone both ways.

Art Read
05-25-2001, 03:15 PM
Perhaps I'm missinformed, but weren't Mr. Bell and Mr. Marconi working in the U.S. when they made their inventions practical?

Scott Rosen
05-25-2001, 04:38 PM
I think Hamburgers are German (Hambourg), as are hotdogs (frankfurters--Frankfort).

norske
05-25-2001, 05:02 PM
This string would make a good book by now. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/tongue.gif
The rocket (liquid) invented in Germany?---
I believe that was done by a bald headed teacher man in Wooooster Maaassachusetts---
Goddard his name?

[This message has been edited by norske (edited 05-25-2001).]

Bruce Taylor
05-25-2001, 06:08 PM
Art -- Marconi was living in England when he invented his apparatus. He conducted his famous transatlantic test from Newfoundland.

Bell was born and educated in Scotland, lived for a while in Nova Scotia (where he invented the hydroplane, I believe) . He might have been living in the U.S. when he cooked up the telephone -- I dunno. He died in Baddek, Nova Scotia, tho'. A real international sort of guy.

Goddard did precede Von Braun, norske. I forgot about him. Of course, there were powder-powered rockets long before either of them.

Television was invented by another Scotsman--John Logie Baird. The movies come from France, as did SCUBA. Thank Hungary for ballpoint pens. Inline skates: Holland in the 1700s. The first FAX, courtesy of an Italian -- Giovanni Caselli. Snowblowers and snowmobiles are both from Quebec, of course, as is that wonder-food of the 21st century, Poutine (don't ask...) The Zamboni, however, is from California.

Scott -- you guys might not have invented burgers, but you were the first to put them in a bun (at the St. Louis fair, 1904). Gatorade, Coke and crackerjacks are All-American. You definitely have a knack for the snack.

Of course, this is all foolishness. Technology migrates very quickly across borders, and almost any technological achievement is bound to incorporate ideas from all over the world. For any nation to take credit for the fruits of this collaborative effort is ridiculous.

Bruce Taylor
05-25-2001, 06:15 PM
One more question just occurred to me: who loosed the jetski on the world? I have a sick feeling that it might have been a Canadian working for Bombardier...

jack grebe
05-25-2001, 08:04 PM
i think that one came from the republic of idiotsy

ken mcclure
05-26-2001, 09:15 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by John Gearing:
... And more importantly, does that little baby have the right to expect some help from society? ...


Oh, my, John. Do I detect a liberal in there?

I agree with you that most people stay at about the level of their parents. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and postulate that it's probably more a factor of "upbringing" than it is opportunity.

As for whether anyone has the "right" to expect help from society ... here's where you and I are gonna square off. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif I don't feel that anyone has any "rights" other than the right to pursue their individual dream without the interference of government but with its protection.

For ten years I lived in a "depressed" community which had a huge cultural and socio-economic diversity. I worked with several community groups and was chairmain of the anti-crime group. What I saw was that children had more than "a little help from society." They had educational programs - they had nutrition programs - they had medical programs - they had more programs than you could shake a funding request at. Most didn't take advantage of the programs. Most didn't want the programs. Many took the money and bought drugs and guns with it. A few used the programs.

Your statement implies that nothing is being done to help disadvantaged children, and because of that there are no "brass rings" for them to grab.

Look on the ground behind the bull. I have yet to encounter a SINGLE person who has not been able to take advantage of an opportunity IF THEY HAD THE WILL TO DO IT. I grew up not poor, but definitely lower middle class. My dad, who retired in 1985, never in his life made more than $6.95 per hour, and that he made only in his last two years working.

I have not had all of the advantages. I have not had the "helping hand" from society. But I've done pretty well, and am looking at doing better. Not because of society, but by my own bootstraps.

As the old adage says, "cream always rises to the top." Living in the US gives the cream the room to move. And I go back to my own statement - I did it on my own. I don't think that I owe anyone else a "hand up" because they weren't born "in the right neighborhood" or "to the right parents." Let 'em sweat for it like I did. If they make it, great. If they don't, it's just more proof that Darwin was right.

John Gearing
05-31-2001, 02:08 PM
And here I thought social darwinism had finally died a well-deserved death! You can always find someone who has "made it" from a beginning that was lower than low. Evidently you are one of those folks. Good for you! More power to you! However, your success does not change the reality that although the American Dream promises that anyone can "make it", our economic system depends on the fact that very few people do make it. Anyone can, not everyone.....critical difference.

I fail to see your point about "programs". Should we do away with them because not enough people take part? Wouldn't that just be denying opportunity to those who would make good use of the offer?

No one makes it on their own anymore. There is govt assistance in some form or another for all of us. I was an aerospace engineer for over ten years, working strictly on defense programs. There comes a point where such programs become jobs programs by another name, just like any other jobs program. Just another form of welfare. Do you really think we need more B-2 bombers when the USAF is begging Congress not to buy them (yet certain Congressfolk who have Northrup employees as their constituents are pushing for more B-2s!)?

Govt assistance to industry is very common. Everyone who goes to a state university gets an education partially funded by the state. Homeowners get to deduct their mortgage interest from their taxes, don't they? My point is that everyone is on the government dole one way or the other--it's just that some are more obviously on the dole than others, which makes them easier to identify. And easier to stigmatize.

John Gearing
05-31-2001, 02:12 PM
Re: Hamburgers
There's a tiny little joint in New Haven, CT that claims to have invented the hamburger. They've been around since the late 1800's as I recall....

Alan D. Hyde
05-31-2001, 03:26 PM
John, in respect to the issues you and kwmcclure have been discussing above, there has been some excellent writing done.

I encourage you both to go to

www.tsowell.com (http://www.tsowell.com)

and have a look around.

Agree or disagree, you won't have wasted your time.

Alan

Bob Cleek
05-31-2001, 08:01 PM
Sigh...

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and you've given him a reason sit on his butt and drink beer all day!

ken mcclure
06-01-2001, 07:24 AM
Bob - thankfully, I've installed the splatter screen in front of the computer so that this time the snorted coffee got caught before I did another China Syndrome on my keyboard.

Alan - thanks! I've read some of the site and will have to set aside a block of time to read all of it. I'm particularly interested in the Morality vs Sanctimoniousness speech. I hope I don't come across to anyone as sanctimonious. And my morals are questionable anyway.

John, I certainly don't mean to imply that these programs should be eliminated. From your earlier post I inferred that you thought that these programs didn't exist or that there weren't enough of them. My only gripe about these programs is that they are not advertised properly to reach those who could or would actually make the best use of them, and I personally believe many of them are misdirected anyway.

I also agree with you that not everyone will "make-it," nor would that be desireable. If all the seedlings in a stand of trees "made it" the whole forest would die.

However, this points to a discussion on the definition of "making it."

The lawyers' kid grows up, goes to the best schools, inherits his (or her) parent's estates and sits back to become a drunk or a local politician or a drunken local politician. He or she has money. He or she has it "made" financially.

The disadvantaged child grows up, barely finishes high school, gets a job as a bricklayers apprentice and discovers that he/she LOVES laying bricks and goes to work every day thanking GOD that he/she gets to do what he/she loves and actually GETS PAID $7.00 AN HOUR TO DO IT!

Who has "made it?" The person who finds their niche in society or the person who simply has money?

You imply that we owe it to disadvantaged people to give them the "hand up." I maintain that too much focus is on a monetary "hand up" and not enough on a basic human needs "hand up."

As Bob hints at through the humor, more should be done to help someone discover themselves and their own talents rather than just give them enough money to feel that they've "made it." And for those who have no desire to "make it," I say again.....

Darwin rules! (cap on backwards, baggy pants, right fist in the air.....)

thechemist
06-01-2001, 02:36 PM
Everyone is free to pursue their own goals in life, and to "make it" as they wish...but

And for those who have no desire to "make it," I say again.....

Darwin rules! (cap on backwards, baggy pants, right fist in the air.....)

does not happen to make it for dress code in either the executive offices or in the production area, here as well as a lot of other places.

It is also about choosing what group or groups to which one wishes to belong.

Everyone is free to choose.

And, truly, Darwin rules.

Michael
06-01-2001, 02:48 PM
Here, everyone is free to choose.

Elsewhere...???

Bruce Taylor
06-01-2001, 02:59 PM
Here is elsewhere, Michael.

Scott Rosen
06-01-2001, 03:49 PM
"Darwin Rules"

Social Darwinism was not created by Charles Darwin. It is a extrapolation from Darwin's writings having about as much proof as phrenonolgy. For people who believe life is a zero-sum game, social Darwinism makes them feel a little less guilty for coming out on top.

Humans are not seedlings. My neighbor does not need to die so that I can live. My neighbor does not have to be poor and dumb so that I can be rich and smart. How we choose to distribute wealth has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Darwin.

If Darwin is to be applied beyond the subject of his writings, then why wouldn't it be the case that the evolution of fiberglass boats is evidence of the superiority of fiberglass over wood?

thechemist
06-01-2001, 05:49 PM
F*****lass boats are a non-viable mutation, and proof of the inherent superior survival potential of wooden boats.

F*****lass boats suffer from gel-coat blisters, laminate decomposition, and so forth, due to the hydrolysis of polyester resin in water. The decomposition is irreversible, and when bonding failure of resin from long roving strands runs great distances, the vessel may not be repairable at all. A wood vessel, on the other hand, may have a graving-piece fitted, or an entire plank replaced, and be as good as new, if not better.

Seems to me an excellent example of lignified darwinism. Social darwinism, similarly, should not seek to prolong the life of non-viable mutations. Given that each person receives a proper education, some will do better than others, and, sadly, some will be non-viable mutations.

There was an article in a recent Economist, a survey of global distribution of purchasing power, for rural and metropolitan areas of China and India and Russia and the average annual wages in the Western countries. There was a large gap between the few-thousand dollars-or-less per year on the one hand, and the over-ten-thousand dollars per year on the other. In any country, there will be a gap in ability-to-produce-and-exchange-with-the-rest-of-society based on education, and you see that in the rural-metropolitan earning gaps. There will also be variations in individuals, and fortunately most societies offer a spectrum of opportunities to suit those with different functional abilities.

One's neighbor can be rich and smart, and it has nothing to do with how poor and dumb one may be [or vice versa]. To the extent that each is capable of choosing and learning from experience, each does. The product is the spectrum of human ability and self-created wealth. True, Dumb Luck or unpunished criminality does enter into it......and there you have the Free Enterprise System, either American, Russian, or any other.

ken mcclure
06-02-2001, 05:39 AM
I, for one, will not feel guilty at all about coming out on top -- if I ever get there! What WOULD provide remorse is if I came out on top at the expense of someone else, or to someone else's detriment.

In my own version of Utopia everyone would have a high level of satisfaction in doing their job, and everyone would be comfortable with their "station" in life.

I believe each of us is born with a particular set of talents. (I'm not sure whether it's genetic or because of the alignment of the stars.) And I believe that each of us is happiest when we find what those talents are, and find employment that uses those talents. In this scenario, formal education is not specifically necessary unless those talents point toward something like brain surgery or any other highly technical occupation.

I bring Darwin into all this somewhat as a point of humor, so don't take the Darwin stuff too seriously. What I am serious about is that even the person who has a low level of learning ability and a low level of education has talents that will allow him to surpass these "handicaps."

When I say that many of the social programs are misdirected what I mean is that instead of paying someone to be useless, we should try to help them find out what their talents are and pay them to exploit their own abilities. Get them some schooling that's pertinent to what their talents are, be it classroom formal or on-the-job formal. Allow them the dignity of doing what comes best to them and getting paid to do it.

I have little college education, beyond the year that I could afford to pay for on my own. I am not disadvantaged other than being white middle-class. There were no programs for me to take advantage of, because back then all the money went to the REALLY needy.

I got my education by reading and working on my own. The unfortunate thing, as I've stated elsewhere, is that I had no direction in discovering my own talents and spent a lot of years doing the wrong things.

So if I do become successful, and thus have the wherewithal to provide my kids with the means to discover their talents and exploit them, and THEY become successful, and THEIR kids...... Isn't that a kind of Darwinistic thing going on?

(By the way, I only wear the cap backwards when I'm working on the boat, and my pants are baggy because I have to buy 'em with a LOT bigger waist than I used to....)

Nemo
06-04-2001, 02:36 AM
Hmmm... Seems if Darwinian natural selection were to apply in this discussion, then wealthy people would produce more offspring than poor, per capita. Doesn't seem to be the case, at least not around my cave.

Phil Young
06-05-2001, 01:39 AM
I think that one ought to be awarded a masters degree or something just for reading this thread. I suppose this is what uni students used to do in bars and cafes, but by the time I got to uni everyone except for the loony left student politicians just wanted to get their piece of paper and get out and earn some money. Oh and getting laid was important too.

Don Olney
06-07-2001, 08:37 AM
The following is from the front page of today's NY Times. --Don

June 7, 2001

Panel Tells Bush Global Warming Is Getting Worse

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE with ANDREW C. REVKIN

WASHINGTON, June 6 — A panel of top American scientists declared today that global warming was a real problem and was getting worse, a conclusion that may lead President Bush to change his stand on the issue as he heads next week to Europe, where the United States is seen as a major source of the air pollution held responsible for climate change.

In a much-anticipated report from the National Academy of Sciences, 11 leading atmospheric scientists, including previous skeptics about global warming, reaffirmed the mainstream scientific view that the earth's atmosphere was getting warmer and that human activity was largely responsible.

"Greenhouse gases are accumulating in earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise," the report said. "Temperatures are, in fact, rising."

The report was requested by the White House last month in anticipation of an international meeting on global warming in Bonn in July but arrived just before President Bush leaves next week for Europe, a
trip that includes talks on global warming with leaders of the 15 European Union countries in Goteborg, Sweden.

European leaders expressed outrage in March when Mr. Bush rejected the global warming pact known as the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, and the subject has been building as an important test of the administration's foreign policy.

In the White House's first official acknowledgment of the academy's conclusions, Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, told reporters today, "This is a president who takes extremely seriously what we do know about climate change, which is essentially that there is warming taking
place."

Mr. Bush and many in his cabinet, who discussed the subject at length on Tuesday, have been trying to hammer out a proposal on limiting the pollutants that cause global warming.

"A cabinet-level working group is still working on what it wishes to say to the president before we go to Europe," Ms. Rice said.

She said Mr. Bush would talk with the allies "a little bit about what we've learned thus far."

Without being specific, Ms. Rice said Mr. Bush was being guided by certain principles in formulating a proposal.

"One would want to be certain that developing countries were accounted for in some way, that technology and science really ought to be important parts of this answer, that we cannot do something that damages the American economy or other economies because growth is also important," she said.

In response to critics who have suggested that Mr. Bush is ignoring an issue of mounting international concern, Ms. Rice portrayed the group as feverishly committed to educating itself and coming up with a proposal.

"It has been a matter of bringing up to speed some of the highest- ranking people in this government," she said. "I would dare say — dare challenge you to find a situation in which you've had so many high-ranking people sitting there week after week after week, understanding the challenge that we face in global climate change, everybody from the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of interior, secretary of agriculture. It has been quite something to see all of these people grappling with the issue."

Administration officials have said privately that the White House could have handled the matter with greater tact, and Ms. Rice conceded as much today.

"The president had made clear when he was a candidate that he did not believe the Kyoto Protocol addressed the problem of climate change in a way that the United States could support," she said. "In retrospect, perhaps the fact that we understood that we had already said this was not immediately
observable to everybody, and it might have been better to let people know again, in advance, including our allies, that we were not going to support the protocol."

This was unusually blunt talk from a White House that until now has fastidiously avoided the phrase "global warming" and repeatedly expressed doubts about the clarity of the science underlying the theory that emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes were heating the atmosphere in ways that posed a threat.

In an indication of the headwind that Mr. Bush is sailing into next week in Europe, the journal Science, published by an American scientific organization, recently carried an open letter signed by 16 prestigious scientific panels in countries around the world calling for "prompt action" to reduce the gases like carbon dioxide that trap heat like in a greenhouse.

The increase in temperatures, the editorial said, "will be accompanied by rising sea levels, more intense precipitation events in some countries and increased risk of drought in others and adverse effects on agriculture, health and water balance."

It continued, "We urge everyone — individuals, businesses and governments — to take prompt action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases."

Many international business executives have been pressuring the administration to move more aggressively on the issue. And so has a powerful band of Mr. Bush's closest advisers, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Ms. Rice, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, and Christie Whitman, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today's report reflects the increasing certainty of the scientific community here and abroad that the warming of the last 50 years is probably because of the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. The panel said the degree of confidence in this conclusion was "higher today than it was 10 or even 5 years ago."

Still, it said, large uncertainties limit predictions of the extent and consequences — good and bad — of future warming. But it affirmed the scientific consensus that human- caused climate warming could well be a dominant environmental problem throughout the new century, depending on how fast the gases
accumulate in coming decades.

"Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century," it said.

And it said that "national policy decisions made now and in the longer-term future will influence the extent of any damage suffered by vulnerable human populations and ecosystems later in this century."

The report thus all but eliminates one reason the administration has been using to forestall any action on global warming.

And it deals a strong card to Democrats on Capitol Hill who have long sought more aggressive action on global warming. Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and a leading advocate of action said of the report, "It confirms in stark terms the reality that many of us had accepted a considerable amount of time ago and refutes an effort by the White House to seek some sort of escape hatch from that reality."

Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska and a longtime critic of the Kyoto Protocol, instead highlighted the uncertainty mentioned in the report and drew the opposite conclusion of Mr. Kerry.

"This report is certainly not a prescription for the drastic measures required under the Kyoto Protocol," Mr. Hagel said in a statement.

Nonetheless, in a nod toward the unanimity of the scientific community, he added: "This report does provide us with enough evidence to move forward in a responsible, reasonable and achievable way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It provides us with a basis to move forward with an alternative to the
Kyoto Protocol."

Environmentalists hailed the report as a significant step in the long effort to force the United States to curtail greenhouse gases. Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said, "The president can no longer wiggle out of aggressive action by arguing that the science is inconclusive."

Mr. Clapp also suggested that the report called into question Mr. Bush's proposed energy plan, which seeks to step up production of coal, oil and gas-fired power plants.

"This makes the president's energy plan look completely irresponsible," he said.

Mr. Clapp said environmental groups had estimated that if the energy plan was fully put into effect, it would increase the pollution that causes global warming by 35 percent over the next decade.

The report was written by 11 atmospheric scientists who are members of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors included Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who for years has expressed skepticism about some of the more dire predictions of other climate scientists about the significance of human-caused warming.

The report was requested on May 11 in a letter to Dr. Bruce Alberts, the president of the National Academy of Sciences, from John M. Bridgeland, deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy, and Gary Edson, deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs.

A statement from the academy today said, "The White House requested this fast-track review of the state of climate science in preparation for international discussions on global warming scheduled to take place in the coming weeks."

Initially, the White House asked two questions of the academy: What are the greatest strengths and weaknesses in the science pointing to human-caused warming? And, are there significant differences
between the full scientific analysis completed recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sponsored by the United Nations, and the final executive summary?

There have been three assessments of global warming by the international panel since 1990, and each has drawn a more conclusive picture than the last of the link between human activities and the prospects for significant harm to agriculture, ecosystems and coastlines.

But conservatives in Congress — notably Senators Hagel and Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho — and groups representing industries whose business depends on fossil fuels have long criticized the findings of the international panel as biased, pointing particularly to differences between the voluminous chapters on complicated scientific points and briskly worded summaries that tend to influence policy.

The panel, led by Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, the chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, met initially in California and spent the next weeks intensively sifting the existing science.

The report does provide some ammunition for critics in its description of the conclusion of the international climate group. It concluded, for example, that the international panel had a tendency in its
executive summary to understate caveats and focus on the harsher possible consequences of climate warming. But over all, the panel described the international work as "admirable" and robustly supported its conclusions.

In a telephone interview today, Dr. Cicerone said he hoped the report, by spelling out the scientific basis for various predictions, would dispel some unwarranted skepticism about aspects of the warming problem.

One climate scientist who critiqued a draft of the new report for the academy said no one in the administration should be surprised at the firm nature of the result.

"They asked a string of questions that might have been appropriate in 1990," the scientist said.

"Hello?" he said. "Where've you been the last decade?"


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

ken mcclure
06-07-2001, 09:47 AM
So does all this mean that I should go buy some "high ground" around Hudson Bay to bequeath to future generations for them to have as resort property?

Ed Harrow
06-07-2001, 11:16 AM
Well, living in Hopkinton, MA "the highest town in Middlesex County", hopefully our toes will remain out of the water.

I wonder if it is something with which reasonable people can disagree? Well, in any case, sounds like a good excuse to take out some Jet Skeet...

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 06-07-2001).]

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2001, 11:30 AM
This may well be a fair and accurate summary.
We cannot, however, rely on the editorial integrity of the New York Times to know that such is the case.

It is not for nothing that many of us refer to the Times as "all the news that's print to fit."

Notice, for example, the dearth of coverage there on the just-released Harvard study showing that vouchers (competition) measurably improved public school student performance.

Alan

Sierrans
06-07-2001, 11:53 AM
Dear Alan,

I am a tad confused here. Exactly what does school vouchers have to do with global warming. What the NY Times chooses to print has nothing to do with the validity of this report. In my opinion, and most others, this report is stating nothing new. It is just pointing out that the remaining skeptics are accepting this reality of global warming. Of course there will always be the naysayers, just as there are for evolution and the holocaust. But if you're on the side of Hagelin the first place....

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2001, 01:03 PM
Sierrans-------

The school vouchers point has nothing directly to do, of course, with global warming.

It was just there to illustate, in a small way, why, over the years, I have developed a substantial distrust for the New York Times.

Alan

Scott Rosen
06-07-2001, 03:33 PM
I dunno Alan. When Condolesa Rice admits that global warming exists, then Rush Limbaugh can't be far behind. It seems the better part of valor (if not self-respect) to stop fighting the battles after you've lost the war.

ishmael
06-07-2001, 04:03 PM
Sierrans,

Bringing holocaust denial into this conversation is more than a little out of bounds, it's offensive.

Sierrans
06-07-2001, 04:37 PM
Ishmael,

Why is this so offensive? It is a comparison of how ignorant people in this world can be, especially when dealing with subjects that do not conform with what thay choose/wish to believe. It is surprising that the mere mention of the holocaust is so offensive to you Ishmael. I am well aware of the travesty behind the holocaust, as well as the disgrace of the millions who still belive it never happened. But it is an example of how people choose to believe what they want, regardless of the facts.

ishmael
06-07-2001, 05:04 PM
Sierrans,

It is offensive because it uses one of the great tragedies of the human equation as an ad-hominem attack. The facts of the holocaust are not, by reasonable people, in dispute, the facts of global warming still are. Not to mention the striking disparity of intent. Equating holocaust denial with those who argue that global warming is different than commonly promulgated is a cheap smear tactic which attempts to put Alan, and others who are still asking questions, cheek by jowl with Adolf Hitler's febrile modern followers. It doesn't become any argument, except perhaps where mass murder is involved, to compare one side by inference to post-modern Nazi sympathizers.

The all too often invocation of Nazi tactics or sentiments, as a criticism without substance by the left in this country, is an insult to the memory of those who suffered and died at the hands of some of the centuries real monsters.

Call me jumpy, but it's offensive. Think about it.

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-07-2001).]

Alan D. Hyde
06-07-2001, 05:07 PM
A friend of mine was one of the first American troops to walk into Auschwitz; the photos he took then are still frequently reproduced.

The holocaust is a grave matter of human evil and moral responsibilty.

No genuine scientist would have the swagger or the stupidity to equate skeptics with respect to a controversial hypothesis with (at best) amoral know-nothings. This takes us back to the treatment received by that noted heretic, Galileo Galilei.

I hope this was not your intent, Sierrans.

E pur si muove.

Alan

P.S. "travesty??"

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 06-07-2001).]

ken mcclure
06-07-2001, 05:29 PM
I might point out that I understood the inclusion of the holocaust reference to be an illustration of people's denial of factual situations.

There are, believe it or not, people who do not believe that the holocaust was as horrifying as it was. They think that the whole situation was "sensationalized" and that much of what was reported was not real. Fortunately, I do not number any of these people among my friends.

ishmael
06-07-2001, 05:45 PM
clure,

No argument. My horror arises from the analogy, not the premise that fools deny facts all day long, year in and year out. I accept that premise. What I refuse is the equation, and the false, not so subtle reasoning behind it, which I find heinous. Especially in this case where the comparison is so odious.

Sierrans
06-07-2001, 05:49 PM
With all due respect, because I will remain courteous, I believe you are reading too deeply into the reference. My point was made to show how ignorance can and does preclude sound judgment in many cases. Obviously the holocaust is an example at the far end of the spectrum, but it is an example that shows how unreasonable people can be. People who refute the holocaust are obviously more ignorant than those who refute global warming. Those who refute evolution are also more ignorant (in my opinion) than those who deny global warming. But those who refute global warming are ignorant nonetheless. I am sorry if you felt I was equating them, I was most certainly not. They are both extreme examples. However, extreme examples can be used to prove a point, as I think you pointed out Ishmael. But apparently this is a frowned upon debating tactic, one of which I was unawares.

And yes Alan, I meant tragedy.

Sierrans
06-07-2001, 06:00 PM
Ishmael, I think you need to grab the reins and pull in real hard.

"What I refuse is the equation, and the false, not so subtle reasoning behind it, which I find heinous"?????????

What I find heinous is you questioning my moral integrity. You are taking this assertion way too far. Back off...

ishmael
06-07-2001, 06:11 PM
Well, I have to say that life is always more complex than even our best historians or scientists can say. Yet, logical fallacy remains logical fallacy, whether debated and teased out, or not. The notion of rating ignorance...hmmm, I'll have to consider. I alway figured you fell into open minded or close minded camps. It does seem, to me, that people need frames around pictures that are essentially ineffable. It is a provisionally good thing, so long as they are willing to change frames when confronted with new information. I try to do so, and am subject to the same failings we all are heir to:"I like my frame. Give it up?"

I'm planning a papaya ranch in Northern Maine. To hell with potatoes, papaya are the wave...any investors?

ishmael
06-07-2001, 06:32 PM
Sierrans,

Sounds like your horse is bucking, not mine. The equation of almost any argument with those who deny the holocaust IS heinous. I would admonish you that words have very real meaning: an accusation of holocaust denial has profound denotations and connotations which equate with evil; not bad science, not poor argument, but EVIL. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that you knew not what you spoke (or perhaps I mis-heard?).

I suspect this isn't about moral integrity at all, but rather, modern callousness, and too flippant usage, for which you are not responsible, unless you choose to be.

That's my consideration, and I'm stickin' to it.


[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-07-2001).]

Sierrans
06-07-2001, 06:58 PM
Ishmael,

Your argument is plain wrong. As I have stated before and will state again for your benefit, I made no equations. It would be beneficial to our debate if you would stick to statements made and not those concocted to dovetail with your exuberant tirade.

When a century from now global warming is a more immediate problem, I'd be surprised to hear someone make such short sighted, sarcastic remarks as your own. Your little quip proves my point of how ignorant people can be. Be rest assured dear Ishmael, I blame not thyself but thy nature.

ishmael
06-07-2001, 07:20 PM
"Of course there will always be the naysayers, just as there are for evolution and the holocaust." Sierrans

Perhaps I made too much of this equation, but equation it is, developed in further posts. I've tried to create a gracious way out Sierrans. I don't think you are immoral or bad, just, er um, passionate. Have after it, but don't expect all of us to succumb to that passion.

"Plato having defined man to be a two-legged animal without feathers, Diogenes plucked a cock and brought it into the Academy, and said, "This is Plato's man." On which account this addition was made to the definition: "With broad flat nails."

Best, Jack

Scott Rosen
06-07-2001, 08:05 PM
Phew! Jack you're really firing on all cylinders tonight. You must've had a triple dose of Wheaties. At the risk of turning this into an Ishmael admiration society, I'll say that I, too, don't think the holocaust comparison is accurate or considerate. However, I didn't take offense to it, because I don't think any offense was intended or even considered a possibilty. It's so liberally invoked as a tool of argument that I've become innured to it. The existence of the holocaust is not a matter of extrapolating from scientific data. I don't know all the reasons someone would deny the holocaust, but I'm sure that the deniers are not simply questioning the interpretation of data. I've been missing a few relatives since the 1940's and unless they're really good at hiding, I'm sure they were murdered for nothing more than the national ancestry of their parents. But I'll never know for sure because they have no graves and may have simply gone up in smoke. Or perhaps their ashes have fertilized some farmer's field in Poland, or their flesh was used as a lampshade. Or maybe their life wasn't lost in vain--perhaps they were sacrificed to science as the subject of a medical experiment--like to see how long a child's rectum and penis can be sewn closed before the child dies.

I may not be willing to fight the global warming battle anymore, but I still consider it to be a matter of interpretation of data. You know, Einstein once denied that the Universe was filled with empty space. He thought that beyond the atmosphere there existed the "ether" that so many poets wrote about and that was accepted as scientific fact up untill the end of the 19th Century. I may be ignorant for questioning the existence or extent of global warming, but I wouldn't consider Einstein ignorant just because he once questioned the existence of space.

I don't want to imply that it's politically incorrect to invoke the holocaust. It's not politically incorrect. It's just not an apt or effective comparison in this case.

Bruce Taylor
06-07-2001, 08:20 PM
Ah, Diogenes the Cynic, my favorite philosopher. Here he is, with his flea-bitten dog:

http://www.copernicus.net/Copernicus_Consulting/Internetportale/Diogenes/diogenes-statue.jpg

A couple more anecdotes:

"Insofar as Diogenes was known as "The Dog" throughout Athens, at a feast certain people kept throwing all the bones to him as they would to a dog. He played a dog's trick and urinated on them. It is said that Diogenes trampled upon Plato's carpets with the words "I trample upon the pride of Plato", who retorted, "Yes, Diogenes, with pride of another sort."

Having been invited to dinner, he declared that he wouldn't go -- for the last time he went, his host had not expressed a proper gratitude. Someone took him into a magnificent house and warned him not to expectorate, whereupon having cleared his throat he discharged the phlegm into the man's face, being unable, he said, to find a meaner receptable.

One day he shouted out for men, and when people collected, hit out at them with his stick, saying, "It was men I called for, not scoundrels." Dio Chrysostom described Diogenes as terminating a discourse by squatting down and evacuating his bowels in the presence of his hearers. It is also said that he had no qualms about masturbating or performing other sexual acts in public.

Being asked why people give to beggars, but not to philosophers, he said, "Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy." He was asking alms of a bad-tempered man, who said, "Yes, if you can persuade me." "If I could have persuaded you," said Diogenes, "I would have persuaded you to hang yourself."

I snagged these from some website, but there are hundreds more in Diogenes Laertius's life of D. of Sinope (Loeb). It's a sort of ancient Athenian jokebook.

PatCox
06-07-2001, 10:14 PM
Seems to me (going back a bit in the thread) that the primary problem with applying Darwin's theories to people is that his theories describe comeptition between individuals and don't work so well on social animals, which we are. Thus a weak and stupid individual in a certain social context, such as being the son of a multimillionaire president, may become leader of the world. Now this hypothetical weak and stupid person would lose hands down in any contest one on one with another person of greater intelligence or strength. But we are social animals, and therefore this person may defeat others as a result of his family and social connections. And so it goes. Darwinian thought is so incompatible with human social phenomena that it ain't funny. Sorry, face it, Marx offers many more valid insights into the workings of society than Darwin. I will say ity again, we are social animals, competition among is is more competition between social groups than between individuals, though there is competition within groups as to dominance within the group. Its like the three body problem, Darwin described a mechanism, so did Newton, but that doesn't mean that mechanism can predict the behavior of a complex system any more than the laws of physics can (for those who didn't know, the laws of physics cannot predict the behavior of complex systems, not even theoretically.) And by the way, I don't think the holocaust denial analogy was over the top, evil, insensitive, or inaccurate. Both are examples of ideology driving people to deny facts which are as proven and accepted as facts can be within their respective contexts.

Nemo
06-08-2001, 02:03 AM
Alan and others: A daily summary of errors and poor logic that appear in the NY Times.

http://www.smartertimes.com/

ken mcclure
06-08-2001, 08:37 AM
Another thread here awhile back asked whom I considered to be a hero.

After the Diogenes the Cynic post above, I think I've got a new one!

Don Olney
06-08-2001, 08:43 AM
I'm sorry, but in this case, the old slippery Genetic Fallacy doesn't provide much cover for hiding from unpleasant realities.

Please note that, the report on Global Warming was also carried yesterday, albeit in a somewhat truncated version, by that bastion of liberalism, The Wall Street Journal (page 7). This story was also reported with essentially the same facts by Reuters, AP, & CNN. I'm sure it was carried elsewhere by multitudes of publications that have editors with diverse political, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, some of whom may even own wooden boats.



[This message has been edited by don olney (edited 06-08-2001).]

TomRobb
06-08-2001, 09:07 AM
The lives and livelyhoods that will be lost due to global warming will be another crime against humanity by humanity. The planet Venus is the spector lurking in the bushes. Perhaps invoking the Nazi Holocaust (if you're alowed to substitute stupidity for malevalance) may not be all that over-the-top.
And Darwinian Evolution works on populations not individuals. It has to do with differential reporoduction rates, genetic variablity or drift, and preadaption to environmental changes. The jury is still out on the long term adaptability of intelligence. Or what passes for intelligence http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/frown.gif The overly specialized tend to drift off into dead ends, and of course no species lasts forever.

[This message has been edited by TomRobb (edited 06-08-2001).]

Wayne Jeffers
06-08-2001, 09:48 AM
Consider the vested interests of the fossil fuel industries wanting to maintain the status quo and their financial resources for keeping the mis-information flowing. It reminds me of the tobacco companies' denial of the link between their products and cancer.

Wayne the Cynic


[This message has been edited by Wayne Jeffers (edited 06-08-2001).]

NormMessinger
06-08-2001, 10:12 AM
And, how is the Bush White House reacting to the recent report they were given on global warming? Spin Doctors awake!

--Norm

Alan D. Hyde
06-08-2001, 10:12 AM
Sierrans, I don't suppose that you meant to make the holocaust analogy as offensive as it has been taken to be by some here.

The reason I find it inappropriate is that in science we deal with hypotheses, subject them to the experimental method, and deem them correct or incorrect, helpful or mis-leading.

Science weighs facts, not good and evil. As was done when the Church tried Galileo, your analogy takes us off a continuum ranging from proved to unproven to disproved, and tries put us in the context of good and evil.

Science is our eyes, helping us to discern more clearly the material aspects of the universe in which we live. At her best, she helps us to see not what we wish or expect to see, but what is probatively there.

Our hearts and our consciences are not within her ambit, nor she within theirs.

E pur si muove.

Alan

ishmael
06-08-2001, 10:32 AM
Alan,

I don't attribute ill will to Sierran's analogy either. I think of it as a frame of mind, too easily slipped into, which ought be refuted; because it does MEAN something, and has psychological, albeit not transparent, responses.

Best all, Jack

Bruce Hooke
06-08-2001, 11:30 AM
Regarding the errors in the New York Times:
What is rather sad is that virtually every article I have ever seen in any newspaper where I was personally familiar with the details of the story has contained one or more errors. It seems that the rush to get things into print quickly and cheaply means that careful editting and really good fact checking get lost in the shuffle. That said, I still consider the print media to be our best source of general news because radio and TV are probably just as bad if not worse when it comes to accuracy and they can't provide as much detail as the newspapers. We can't bypass the media because there is no way for one person to keep up with all the original sources and people that the news media gets its information from (but we can try to keep them honest by letting them know when they get things wrong...)

[This message has been edited by Bruce Hooke (edited 06-08-2001).]

Greg H
06-08-2001, 02:45 PM
I cannot give a source, but I remember hearing somewhere that some insurance companies are already figuring in potential costs associated with rising sealevels and more intense and frequent tropical storms. Says something about the reality of things. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif Anyone have any facts regarding this?

NormMessinger
06-08-2001, 05:19 PM
By golly I'm gonna have prairie Islander ready to launch before the Permian Seas return to the midlands. (I hope!)

--Norm

Bruce Hooke
06-09-2001, 12:34 PM
Custom Skiffs: That's exactly the problem, there are too many people in the world now to live they way we lived 200 or 2000 years ago when the population was much, much smaller. I for one would like to leave to the next generations a world that is not too much worse than it is now...

Don Olney
06-11-2001, 08:46 AM
June 11, 2001

U.S. Losing Status as a World Leader in Climate

By ANDREW C. REVKIN
The New York Times

In little more than a decade, the United States has fallen significantly behind other countries in its ability to simulate and predict long-term shifts in climate, according to a wide range of scientists and recent federal studies.

This slide in status has occurred amid a growing scientific consensus that rising levels of heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes are warming the climate and could become the biggest environmental problem of the next 100 years.

President Bush plans to use a Rose Garden speech on global warming policy today to propose several ways to improve the situation, government officials say, including an increase in money for basic climate research and an effort to coordinate American climate-modeling efforts with those abroad.

But many climate experts say that the problems are deep-rooted, and that a clearer picture of the local and global impact of coming climate shifts will emerge only if there is a substantial shuffling of the scientific bureaucracy and permanent support for basic monitoring of climate-influencing factors like the ebb and flow of greenhouse gases.

American researchers have repeatedly had to go to Europe or Japan to find computers capable of handling their most ambitious climate analyses. The most recent international effort to assess links between global warming and human activities, completed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this year, relied mainly on European models.

Over all, many experts conclude, advanced climate research in the United States is fragmented among an alphabet soup of agencies, strained by inadequate computing power and starved for the basic measurements of real-world conditions that are needed to improve simulations.

While Britain and Japan have poured tens of millions of dollars into computing centers focused on long- term climate research, budgets for similar efforts in the United States have been flat at best, and the work is done at dispersed research centers run by a variety of federal agencies.

"We have groups doing numerical weather prediction, hurricanes, climate, oceans, but in the international arena, countries have whole institutions doing the functions of these individual groups," said Dr. Ronald J. Stouffer, who designs and runs climate models at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., a top Commerce Department center for weather and climate work.

Improving each aspect of climate analysis is essential, many experts say, if the country is to move from pondering what to do about a general warming trend to considering consequences for particular regions and the
likely impact on agriculture, ecosystems and water supplies.

"What really matters to people is, does the wheat belt move north, how much does sea level rise, does California lose its water supply?" said Dr. Larry Smarr, a computer scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who helped establish the American network of academic supercomputing centers in the 1980's.

But, he said, the limits on detail and power in computer models for American researchers are like those facing a "nearsighted person who's lost his glasses."

"Twelve or 13 years ago," Dr. Smarr said, "we took it for granted that the U.S. was in the lead on everything from weather prediction to climate modeling." Europe is leading in long-term and day-to-day forecasting.

"I've watched over the last decade in horror," he said. "It's almost like benign neglect."

The problems in climate science have been identified in a lengthening string of reports by the National Academy of Sciences, including the climate report completed for the White House last week. They were also highlighted for several senators and Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill on Friday by a separate panel of scientists from the
academy.

"Here in the United States, with a gross national product perhaps 10 times that of England, we're spending less than they do on this sort of problem," said Dr. Edward S. Sarachik, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington who was an author of the report written for the Bush administration. He also led a separate science academy panel that issued a report in April on the weakness of America's most sophisticated computer climate models.

During the Clinton administration, the lack of American modeling leadership did not have a discernible impact on climate policy, various experts said. But it did prevent the United States from playing a more central role in writing critical sections of the Intergovernmental Panel's report — particularly the part assessing the extent of
human influence on the warming trend of recent decades.

In computing power, Dr. Sarachik said, "our top two centers together don't amount to one-fifth of the European effort."

American scientists still tend to dominate basic research on the physics of the atmosphere, many climate experts say. But they lag in the ability to plug that knowledge into computer models that provide society with the only meaningful lens on future climate.

Given the growing importance of the problem, the science academy has recommended the formation of a National Climate Service that would be similar to the National Weather Service but would focus on long- range
trends instead of the evanescent day-to-day flickers of weather.

The lack of computer power has hurt the most at the pinnacle of climate science: the use of supercomputers to create detailed models simulating the interrelationships of the earth's atmosphere, oceans, ice caps, plants and other features that together set the global thermostat.

These models are composed of several hundred thousand lines of computer code that divide the air, land and oceans into a grid of hundreds of interacting boxes. The best American models still lack sufficient resolution to capture critical features like the Rocky Mountains, which funnel humid Gulf of Mexico air over the heartland, or the Gulf Stream, which pumps tropical warmth north along the East Coast.

Researchers abroad, most notably at Britain's Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research, can run simultaneous sets of climate simulations that compress 1,000 years of climate change into a day of computer
crunching.

"That is roughly 5 to 10 times faster than we can," said Dr. Jay S. Fein, the program director for climate dynamics at the National Science Foundation. "Some of our best scientists have been and will be attracted to
work in Europe."

But the gap does not just pose the threat of a brain drain, Dr. Fein and other experts say. They say there are potential economic and security problems if there are delays answering climate questions that are a priority for the United States — like whether global warming will eliminate the winter mountain snows that supply California
with three-quarters of its water in summer.

That problem was highlighted last year when the United States Global Change Research Program, a 10- year-old government office coordinating most climate work, published an assessment of the expected impact of
global warming on areas around the country. The heart of the effort, which had been requested by Congress, was a series of modeling studies that had to be run on computers in Britain, Canada and Japan because American climate centers lacked the capacity to perform the calculations.

Those computers might not always be available to serve American needs, the experts say.

And the gap may soon widen.

Japan is poised to leapfrog past everyone in the quest for model power. Over the last three years, it has spent more than $400 million as it builds what it is calling an Earth Simulator in Yokohama, which will have a linked array of supercomputers calculating at speeds many times faster than the best existing modeling systems.

A typical computer array used for climate modeling in the United States can process about 20 gigaflops, or 20 billion floating-point operations per second, recent studies say. European centers are routinely running beyond 100 gigaflops. The Japanese machine's performance will be measured in teraflops, or thousands of gigaflops.

But better computers and organization are only part of the picture, the experts say. Better monitoring of conditions that influence the current climate is crucial, Dr. Sarachik's April study concluded.

For example, while policy makers have been debating the value of forests and farmland as a sponge for some human-generated carbon dioxide, the budget for a federal program monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide with
instruments on aircraft and tall radio towers has remained at $1.4 million a year over the last nine years. But that budget has been so eroded by inflation that the operation could be cut in half without emergency financing from Congress, government scientists say.

"If something doesn't happen, we're done," said Dr. Pieter P. Tans, chief scientist at the climate monitoring and diagnostics laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo., which takes the carbon dioxide measurements.

With budgets for science curtailed everywhere, Dr. Tans said, he knows it is a tough sell to seek support for work that is important but plodding.

But, he added, "To really understand climate, we have to establish a high-quality record that can be trusted."

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

Alan D. Hyde
06-11-2001, 12:54 PM
Here, by an MIT meterology professor who was a member of the Committe, is what I have been trying to say, said better than I have managed to say it:

www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=95000606 (http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=95000606)

Doesn't this make a lot of sense?

Alan

ishmael
06-11-2001, 01:58 PM
Alan,

That's it! What a fresh breeze. Demonstrating once again the need to approach the horse's mouth rather than the other end, of which most journalism does a pretty good imitation these days.

Without Dr. Lindzen's opinion the general public is bereft of complexity -- if not out and out lied to. They are treated like children, and not by benevolent parents, but by petty info-tyrants who betray the public trust with their opaque agendas. Much better, not to say absolutely necessary to a free society, to hear the brays (of all of the panelists if they choose) than to buy the screeds, and sound apples, excreted from the other end.

Actually, my metaphor is weak. Horse manure is useful. Bull manure...

Jack



[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-11-2001).]

Alan D. Hyde
06-11-2001, 04:07 PM
don-------

Don't the Professor's comments above suggest that the New York Time's reporting was at least a little bit disingenuous?

Alan

P.S. Sierrans--- As you read the above article, do you think that there just PERHAPS might be a rational basis for what you previously thought was merely deliberately wrong-headed?

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 06-11-2001).]

NormMessinger
06-11-2001, 04:50 PM
Sheesh! City dudes.

Bull stuff is even more useful. Sheep better still.

--Norm

ishmael
06-11-2001, 05:32 PM
Norm,

Pretty good, he he. Mixed metaphors are always trouble.

Alan,

C'mon. When you have the sword you have to wield it, not leave it to we fire brands. I know you have the handle.

The issue, for the moment, is not the science, or its contradictory information, but the clear failure of our fourth estate to serve us by genuinely informing us.

Jack

Jim H
06-11-2001, 06:10 PM
Clouds and water vaopr, now where have I seen that before??

Art Read
06-12-2001, 07:44 AM
I think that deserves to be at least as prominantly displayed as the Times' article...

<<The Press Gets It Wrong
Our report doesn't support the Kyoto treaty.

BY RICHARD S. LINDZEN
Monday, June 11, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT

Last week the National Academy of Sciences released a report on climate change, prepared in response to a request from the White House, that was depicted in the press as an implicit endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol. CNN's Michelle Mitchell was typical of the coverage when she declared that the report represented "a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room."

As one of 11 scientists who prepared the report, I can state that this is simply untrue. For starters, the NAS never asks that all participants agree to all elements of a report, but rather that the report represent the span of views. This the full report did, making clear that there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends and what causes them.

As usual, far too much public attention was paid to the hastily prepared summary rather than to the body of the report. The summary began with a zinger--that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise, etc., before following with the necessary qualifications. For example, the full text noted that 20 years was too short a period for estimating long-term trends, but the summary forgot to mention this.

Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled. We are quite confident (1) that global mean temperature is about 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than it was a century ago; (2) that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen over the past two centuries; and (3) that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas whose increase is likely to warm the earth (one of many, the most important being water vapor and clouds).

But--and I cannot stress this enough--we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. That is to say, contrary to media impressions, agreement with the three basic statements tells us almost nothing relevant to policy discussions.




One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing; change is the norm. Two centuries ago, much of the Northern Hemisphere was emerging from a little ice age. A millennium ago, during the Middle Ages, the same region was in a warm period. Thirty years ago, we were concerned with global cooling.
Distinguishing the small recent changes in global mean temperature from the natural variability, which is unknown, is not a trivial task. All attempts so far make the assumption that existing computer climate models simulate natural variability, but I doubt that anyone really believes this assumption.

We simply do not know what relation, if any, exists between global climate changes and water vapor, clouds, storms, hurricanes, and other factors, including regional climate changes, which are generally much larger than global changes and not correlated with them. Nor do we know how to predict changes in greenhouse gases. This is because we cannot forecast economic and technological change over the next century, and also because there are many man-made substances whose properties and levels are not well known, but which could be comparable in importance to carbon dioxide.

What we do is know that a doubling of carbon dioxide by itself would produce only a modest temperature increase of one degree Celsius. Larger projected increases depend on "amplification" of the carbon dioxide by more important, but poorly modeled, greenhouse gases, clouds and water vapor.




The press has frequently tied the existence of climate change to a need for Kyoto. The NAS panel did not address this question. My own view, consistent with the panel's work, is that the Kyoto Protocol would not result in a substantial reduction in global warming. Given the difficulties in significantly limiting levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a more effective policy might well focus on other greenhouse substances whose potential for reducing global warming in a short time may be greater.
The panel was finally asked to evaluate the work of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, focusing on the Summary for Policymakers, the only part ever read or quoted. The Summary for Policymakers, which is seen as endorsing Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world's foremost climate scientists. Within the confines of professional courtesy, the NAS panel essentially concluded that the IPCC's Summary for Policymakers does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government.

The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations' Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.

Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. This is what has been done with both the reports of the IPCC and the NAS. It is a reprehensible practice that corrodes our ability to make rational decisions. A fairer view of the science will show that there is still a vast amount of uncertainty--far more than advocates of Kyoto would like to acknowledge--and that the NAS report has hardly ended the debate. Nor was it meant to.

Mr. Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, was a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on climate change. >>

NormMessinger
06-12-2001, 08:05 AM
Tony, you remind me of the young philosopher who when the elders were discussing how many teath hath a horse suggested they just go get a horse and count its teath. Got himself thrown out of the great philosophers society. The very idea...!

--Norm

ishmael
06-12-2001, 08:57 AM
Norm, tsk tsk.

Tony,

Thanks for posting the report. I haven't had a chance to read it, but I will.

What I would like to see is the media here summarizing the report well, and then respected scientists, with varying viewpoints, (I don't think it a black white issue) discussing/debating. It is astounding, on the face of it, how much air time and print space is devoted to mind numbing drama, lurid details of peoples pee pees, crass violence, and how little to reasoned debate. A three hour TV debate on the issue, moderated by, er um, Bill Gates, would do much to bring the darkness to the light.

I don't know how many of our media outlets have equated the NAS report with the Kyoto treaty, but the coverage I've heard, without exception on the tube, does characterize the NAS report as endorsing global warming as settled science, complete with consensus amongst the panel. If Dr. Lindzen overstates his objection perhaps that's the reason. It would PO me.

The entire process is fascinating, from an inner observer's perspective. It never fails to amaze me how partisan, and willing to twist facts, most of us are when our blood is up.

Best, Jack

AndyFarquhar
06-12-2001, 09:56 AM
I'm trying to think of how this discussion relates to wooden boats. For one thing, my house could end up as beachfront property as it sits on the fall line in eastern Pennsylvania. Then it came to me. We, as builders and sailors of wooden boats, can be part of the solution. If more people built more wooden boats and then sunk them into some deep, cold marine trench wouldn't this act to remove some carbon from the atmosphere - a literal carbon sink?

We could try to build our boats largely out of plantation lumber - like southern yellow pine. At the end of their lifespan - or sooner - they could be hauled out to some deep cold place and sunk where decay will be very slow. If enough people did this, a lot of carbon could be removed from circulation.

Next time SHMBO complains about the time I spend building, I'll let her know that I'm just doing my bit for global warming. The boats sitting in various stages of completion in the backyard and garage already represent a substantial carbon sink. An added advantage - my boats are much more likely to sink early.

Regards

Andy Farquhar

ishmael
06-12-2001, 10:44 AM
That's fairly nice satire Andy.

Is it true, as I've heard reported, that no European nation has ratified Kyoto? If so, why is the U.S. the whipping boy in this debate?

PatCox
06-12-2001, 10:54 AM
Well, having read the report and Mr. Hyde's link as well, I would like to offer a better analogy than the holocaust denial reference which aroused so much indignation ("improper" mention of the holocaust seems to arouse a reaction which, well, I'll just say its almost as if its some kind of religious blasphemy). So, leaving that tetchy subject we have a great analogy in the "cigarrettes cause cancer" deniers. As late as the late 80s tobacco company executives took the stand before congress and swore under oath that cigarrettes are not addictive and don't cause cancer. ( more precisely, they used the same words and arguments now being thrown out in the last desperate gasps of the global warming deniers, things like (research has failed to rpove a defintive causal link") And these tobacco execs had tons of research to prove it, real scientific research by credentialed scientists, and they all said the same sort of things Mr. Hyde's dissenting hero said, things like "well, it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, but its premature to jump to any conclusions as to its duckhood, it could be lots of other things, like a previously undiscovered variety of fish that coincidentally looks and quacks like a duck." Reminds me of the little lesson in the scientific method given by Cheech and Chong these many years ago, in the "looks like dog ----, smells like dog ----, tastes like dog ----, good thing we didn't step in it" bit they used to do.

ishmael
06-12-2001, 11:13 AM
Pat,

If I was tetchy, it was about the equation of holocaust denial with those who reasonably argue: "We don't know enough to form conclusions." You speak the same equation here by formulating analogy between tobacco executives, and those same questioners. It may be compelling to some, but it is still adhominem fallacy -- unlike the Tim M. Hitler comparison. And yes, my objection to Sierran's playing of the holocaust card contains great emotion. It ought. How many here if subject to the racial purity laws of the Nazis would have ended up in concentration camps? I would have.


I didn't read the entire report, but I did read the summary, and it seems anything but consensus. Just demonstrating, once again, a disparity of politics between you and me?

Jack




[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-12-2001).]

Alan D. Hyde
06-12-2001, 11:27 AM
Pat-------

The difference between people like myself, and the tobacco companies that you allude to, is that they did what they did to perpetuate the success of a highly profitable consumer product in which they had a huge pecuniary interest.

I, and many of those who agree with me, use less than the average amounts of energy, own no shares of petrochemical stocks, and seek only to discover the truth of the matter. Our aims are not pecuniary, but are actuated by a sense of civic duty.

The proponents of centralized environmentral control worry us somewhat ("Power tends to corrupt..." etc.) and what they advocate (centralized control, i.e., homegeneity) runs directly contrary to a major component of the values (environmental value of heterogeneity) they allegedly seek to further.

This discontinuity is disturbing.

In the context of the long saga of world history, the times and places in which a people has been truly free, are rare. So far, such times and places rarely last.

Freedom is a precious birthright, won and maintained only with untiring vigilence.

Edmund Burke said we Americans "...snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze..." That is as it should be. It keeps us free.

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 06-12-2001).]

Maguire
06-12-2001, 11:53 AM
Ish -

Yes -- the only country to actually sign the Kyoto agreement is Romania.

In all of the media bashing of the Bush Administration over this, that fact seems to have been gone --eh -- shall we say "under-reported."

Maguire

AndyFarquhar
06-12-2001, 12:03 PM
It's not entirely satire. Some of the northern, industrial countries recently proposed credits for carbon sinks in the form of lumber plantations, which would mostly be in the southern countries. The southern countries didn't go for it - they need the land to feed their growing populations, and they believe the industrial countries should limit emissions rather than burden them with this scheme. Also, this was seen as a temporary and not particularly effective fix. Trees do fix carbon through photosynthesis but they also respire and produce CO2. As a tree ages it becomes a less effective carbon sink. Also, as wood and leaves decompose, the carbon is put back into circulation as CO2 or, even worse, methane (I understand that termites, in digesting wood, produce rather large amounts of methane, which is a much worse greenhosuse gas than CO2).

It seems that if we could take a lot of carbon and put it someplace where it decomposes slowly if at all, this may be a significant carbon sink. Something like the lumber drives of times past, except that the lumber would float right past the mill and out to sea. Or, we could cycle current atmospheric carbon back through the process by burning the wood rather than fossil fuels. Burning wood or other agriculteral products as fuel is more of a zero sum process than releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere that was fixed millions of years ago in coal and oil.

It may take some whacky lateral thinking to get us out of this mess -assuming that there is a mess to get out of.

Regards

Andy Farquhar

PatCox
06-12-2001, 01:03 PM
Well I didn't mean to get that ad hominem, just a little ad hominem; let me explain. The point of the tobacco exec example is just that they did have real scientific data which supported their proposition, which was not a positive proposition, but rather a negative: "it has not been conclusively proven." In my naivete' I actually beleive that even though they may be biased by the fact that they work for or are funded by a tobacco company or who knows, may just have been smokers themselves and needed to rationalize their own failure to quit, despite all that, I beleive the scientists who did the studies which supported the tobacco execs were honest and did so in good faith. Causation is a very difficult concept, remember the Paltsgraff (sp?) case, Alan? Its easy to poke holes in assertions about causation. I sometimes think humans aren't well equipped to think about or talk about causation, our vocabulary isn't up to it. Look at the kicker who missed the field goal in the last second, we seem to think he caused the loss; but what about every one of those 50 or 60 offensive plays that might have resulted in a touchdown, but didn't, each one of them caused the loss, but most people never see it that way. Anyway, I digress. I was suggesting that their really were people who in all good faith beleived that the causal link had not been established, and that the tobacco execs, who had an agenda, seized on that and used it for their own ends. So, Alan, I apologize if I made you think I was comparing you to a tobacco executive, I had no such thought in mind. I was only suggesting that the dissenting scientists you put forward for our review might, despite their honesty and good faith, be in the same position as the scientists whose studies were used by the tobacco companies. The largest, richest corporations in the world, the oil and gas and coal industries, all have just as much stake in this debate as the cigarrete companies did in the cancer debate and I am not naive enough to think they are not doing everything they can, everything, to muddy the water. Every year they delay acceptance means billions. And these observations just increase the validity of the analogy, regardless of the eventual scientific consensus, I am sure history will show that the energy industry did all it could to weight the scales.

PatCox
06-12-2001, 01:19 PM
Alan, by the way, at the same time you assert you are free from bias, ("I am not a tobacco exec," to paraphrase Nixon) you display your bias (please remember, I do not think bias is incompatible with intelligence, honesty, good faith, or rationality; we are all biased). You end your discussion of a scientific issue with a reference to one of your strongest held political beliefs, against cetralized governmental power. What has one got to do with the other? Nothing, but it does suit your political beliefs to assume there is no threat of global warming because then we won't need the big government and regulation you don't like. That is a bias. I have my own biases, I beleive we need the government to protect the people from the economic power of multinational corporations, I beleive we desperately and urgently need a check on rampant capitalism; I trust the government little, but I trust Exxon-Mobil less, when it comes to looking after my welfare. At least in theory the government is mine, it works for me and it is dedicated to the general welfare. The corporations owe allegiance to noone and nothing. So if global warming is a useful political tool to advance my cause of trying to alter the ppower balance between government and corporate power, I will use it. Thats my bias.

AndyFarquhar
06-12-2001, 01:50 PM
Pat,

Palsgraf (v. Long Island R. Co.) wasn't really about scientific causation at all. It concerned proximate causation, which is also called legal causation. In American law, just because a person's action or omission cause in fact another person's injuries doesn't mean that the action or omission was the legal or proximate cause of the injuries.

You may have been thinking of the Daubert standard, which is the federal standard for expert scientific testimony on causation. For instance, expert testimony that a certain drug causes birth defects would be subject to Daubert analysis.

I dooubt that the proposition that burning fossil fuel causes increased greenhouse gasses which in turn caused global warming would pass the Daubert test. But, remember that this test is used in civil or criminal trials where the stakes are relatively small to society. In the case of global warming I think that a risk-benefit analysis may be more appropriate. What are the risks of acting now to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses? A hypothetical economic downturn? What are the benefits? Conservation of energy resources - which we should be doing in any event (see California). Reduction of pollution - ditto. OTOH, what are the risks of doing nothing while we try to achieve an illusive scientific consensus?

Regards

Andy Farquhar

ishmael
06-12-2001, 08:44 PM
Aw Pat, if you don't follow the rules we can't argue anymore, and what fun is that? I mean, without the time honored rules of rhetoric anything can mean anything, and we might as well just spout our bias without obeisance to logic.

Okay, I'll start. Anyone who has been around here for long knows I am a Hobbit. By which I mean I walk instead of drive, whenever I can, and I live in winter dream of fluffy coverlets which warm me even though the water freezes in the goblet, and I prefer anything simple to anything complex. I wishe everyone would adopt my attitudes.

I've debated tonight, with myself, about whether to share a secret, but it feels, as with so much, the time. Many here already know it, but here's the rub... if a bunch of people woke up tomorrow knowing it, the world would change too quickly for me to keep up. But, here goes.

We live -- much of our economy, not to mention our religious and cultural institutions -- on a foundation of spiritual materialism. We, in our lost and hungry selves, demand the material world conform to our inner images. What is missing, horribly missing, is the recognition that the demand, the hunger, is inside, and will never be satisfied solely with a larger house, or more powerful car, or more moral preacher, or... fill in the blank.

I think the connection to global warming is obvious, so I won't belabor it.

It is good things usually move by evolution, not revolution. If you knock out a card at the base, what happens to the house?

Best, Jack

P.S. Ya know, I have to include that I'm an optimist. I believe we will grow out of this adolescence, and fulfill our yearning for the stars, and for real justice, and for human love. Just how is still a little murky.



[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-12-2001).]

doorstop
06-13-2001, 02:01 AM
My Granny reckons that if all the old aged pensioners turned off their electric blankets during the day that things would be cooler....and then if we left the refrigerator door open too.....hmmm http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif

Tom Dugan
06-13-2001, 09:51 AM
Ish, you really ARE an optimist if you think that's a secret. If you look back to the foundations of Western civilization, you can summarize the basic philosophy as "go forth and dominate the earth". This can be seen in the creation mythology - the fall from the Garden of Eden. After that, the world was a cruel and dangerous place, to be warred with and dominated, or we would perish. And it was true! Back then, at least.

Not surprisingly, this philosophy endured, primarily because it was successful. In fact, it proved so successful through the Industrial Revolution, that the Western states became dominant worldwide, first militarily, then (now) economically. And now the rest of the world is adopting the business practices, if not the philosophy, which got us to this state.

The problem is, of course, that with population growth and technology, our consumption has been exponential, and we're way past the point of sustainability. How much of the forests that existed 400 years ago in the UK exist today? How much of the land in North America has forest over even 100 years old?

Well, this is getting to be more like a rant, so I'll put a lid on it.

My point, which is inspired by both Ishmael's and Tony's posts, is that the roots of the problem go waaay back, to a world paradigm that is now totally false, yet is ingrained deeply in our (especially Western) psyche. Folks are getting the feeling they're on a treadmill, and haven't a clue on how to get off. And of course the economy has grown by giving people what they want, and/or getting the people to want what they offer. So the pressure is always on to consume, and to take from the planet whatever is needed to provide for the consumption.

The question now becomes not how to slow down all the consumption while living this paradigm (the current struggle), but how can the paradigm be changed to reflect the fact that the struggle is over - we've won the battle against nature, and now it needs kinder treatment.

And now a word from my favorite philosopher:
"I am bear of very little brain, and long words bother me."
-Pooh

My head hurts.
-T

Keith Wilson
06-13-2001, 10:01 AM
All right, so what's a reasonable libertarian response to environmental protection? Starting from the following premises:
- There are lots of people, and the planet is finite
- People tend to want lots of material things
- Production of these material things, particularly in the least expensive/most profitable way, often damages the environment
How do you ensue that the planet is a good place for to live our great-great-grandchildren with a minimum of "government coercion"? This is the classic problem of the commons - finite commons, everybody grazes sheep, if there are too many sheep the commons becomes barren, but one more sheep won't make much difference, rational individual self-interest leads to disaster for everybody.

IMHO, this is the subtext to a lot of conservative resistance to concepts like global warming, and to environmental protection in general - if the worst-case scenarios are correct, it might justify pretty draconian restrictions on individual freedom for the common good, so let's try to discredit it. This has no bearing on whether or not CO2 emissions actually are warming the planet, of course, it either is or isn't regardless of any of our opinions, but it certainly influences folks' biases.

I think that damage to the environment is an perfect example of a problem inherent in under-restricted capitalism, and I somewhat reluctantly think that significant restrictions on individual freedom (reasonably strict environmental laws) are necessary for the common good. The jury's still out on CO2 emissions and global warming; unfortunatly, it probably will be until the damage (if any) is already done; it seems that reasonable measures to reduce carbon emissions are justified. Barring a great increase in human virtue (a reduction in greed, or most folks refusing to buy from environmentally irresponsible companies, for example), and I'm not holding my breath, is there another way?

Ishmael, you're absolutely right about a change in people's thinking. I am, unfortunately, rather pessimistic about that happening anytime soon, Consider the astounding amount of effort that currently goes into encouraging unnecessary consumption, and the idea that one's worth and well-being depend on the stuff one buys. It is in many, if not most, people's (short-term) interest to encourage greed, at least in others. Another variation on the commons problem, I think, where rational short-term self-interest produces disaster over the long term. OTOH, people have changed their thinking radically many times before. If this forum had existed 150 years ago, we would have had thoughtful intelligent people making well-reasoned arguments in favor of slavery; progress is possible. I wonder which of our positions will look really bizarre to our descendants?

[This message has been edited by Keith Wilson (edited 06-13-2001).]

jack grebe
06-13-2001, 02:58 PM
heyyyyyy
maybe we could find another planet to colonize then we could start dominating all over again http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

Alan D. Hyde
06-13-2001, 03:09 PM
Mars is very much a realistic possibility.

No, I am not smoking funny cigarettes.

Alan

Greg H
06-13-2001, 03:18 PM
Now there is a place that could use some greenhouse gasses.
Ahh... Sailing the Hellas Basin and the Oceanus Borealis...
http://members.nbci.com/_XMCM/freemars/mars.html

[This message has been edited by Greg H. (edited 06-13-2001).]

htom
06-13-2001, 05:11 PM
Kim Stanley Robinson's science fiction trilogy, even has a scene with a wooden clipper ship (the Cutty Sark?):

Red Mars
Green Mars
Blue Mars

Ed Harrow
06-13-2001, 06:21 PM
"We are born with the key to heaven's door; but the same key opens the door to hell." or something like that.

I don't have time at this moment, so what Pat and Ish said will have to do.

ishmael
06-13-2001, 07:26 PM
I could get behind an international effort to go to Mars. BTW, have you noticed the moon landing denial making a minor splash? Anyway, the Mars project, if embraced by the west, could be a fine, uniting goal for our species.

It is difficult for me to imagine, as a middle-aged man (horrors and joys) that we will be colonizing Mars in my lifetime, but baby steps, and a faith in the better angels of our technology lead me to think it would be a fine thing to go.

I also think we have tremendous, immediate, problems here on our blue-green lifeboat. I worry, for example, that some low tech terrorist/lunatic is going to attack our open, western, sensibility. It amazes, and gratifies me no such thing has yet happened. At least as dangerous, however, is the paranoid, restrictive mind such threats engender. And, I stand by my earlier comments that a mindless/mind-manipulative consumption based economy is essentially immoral. I don't believe it is the best we are capable of, or what the men and women who fought and died for our liberty had in mind.

Aye, but what to do about it? I don't think the current solutions, which seem to break down into capitalism or socialism, and their various combinations, are clear sighted enough. I don't have the answer, but I do think it comes back to INDIVIDUALS becoming more aware.

There is an old sentiment, which I agree with, that God does not present a person with more than they can bear. They may fail, but they have the native capacity to deal with their suffering. If it is true of the individual, it is true of the collective. We have to open to possibility, 'cause I think there are few here who don't feel we are at some crossroad. They (we) are correct.

What say your dreams tonight?

Warm regard, Jack


[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-13-2001).]

PatCox
06-13-2001, 09:33 PM
Alan, you said it as if there were something wrong with smoking funny cigarettes.

PatCox
06-13-2001, 09:50 PM
Isa, ya know what strikes me about the religion of materialism which dominates our society? I never noticed it until I had a kid, then I started seing references and researched this. Its the advertising directed at kids, they have scientific research, they have psychologists, they have armies or people whose entire careers are focused on instilling the desire for material goods in children. Its scary when you hear about what they call the "nag factor." They do focus group research to determine which commercials are most effective in inducing children to nag their parents. Their aim and their goal is to introduce conflict and strife into your family. This is just so wrong. I now have a child, I now know what its like to have a child deep in the delusion of believing that if they just have this one toy they will be happy and popular, and I know the strife and misery it causes in the home when these advertisements succeed. And once you see it with children you will then see that they don't think much more highly of adults, all commercials basically say "you'll get laid more if you buy our product." Its insulting sad disgusting and deeply spiritually empty. And yet this whole empty, meaningless quest after more of nothing has a supposedly "moral" justification in the free market philosophy of greed anmd personal freedom as twisted and distorted by its current adherents. This unfortunately, is america.

Scott Rosen
06-14-2001, 04:48 AM
Hey, Ish,

Our hospitals, homeless shelters and streets are filled with folks who were "presented with more than they could bear." Under your theology, they not only have intense suffering, but they've failed both god and man. I guess no matter how much a person suffers, it can be made worse by adding some guilt to it.

I put your notion in the same catagory as "things always work out for the best." Maybe they have for you and me, but I've seen some folks for whom things clearly worked out horribly.

ishmael
06-14-2001, 07:03 AM
Hi Scott,

I'll grant you it's a bit treacly, but I did present it as sentiment, not argument. And, while we're at it, just WHO is judging failure here, you or me? And...and...just WHO is this god character? Hard to imagine why it would invent...say...a microencephaloid to begin with. Seems clear to me, IT doesn't create by human considerations.

"Trouble, life is trouble...only death is not."

Zorba

Shall I amend my statement to say, "Those god favors have guidance if they choose to listen?" I don't think so 'cause such theology creates the obvious problems we see in our present monotheisms.

Mysterious, ineffable, always present, in everything.

Best, Jack

P.S. I would never present this notion as an argument in need of defense, but I think most people, if they are honest, can point to times when something seemingly beyond their lives, and their ken, supported them. I guess that was what I was attempting, not so much a blanket statement about God's beastly behavior, and our need to buck up.




[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 06-14-2001).]

Greg H
06-14-2001, 07:20 AM
What difference is their between success and failure? Seems to me it's all relative and we don't get to see all the cards.

Greg H
06-14-2001, 07:38 AM
.. as far as earths problems vs. going to mars, sometimes you have to get far away from somthing in order to see it clearly. Terrans on mars would become a seperate culture and could look back at their brothers from a different perspective. Our perception of earth changed just from seeing photos of it from lunar orbit....Mars is relativly as far away from here as N. America was from europe in the 17th century.

Bruce Taylor
06-14-2001, 08:12 AM
I'd like to stick up for materialism. I like stuff. I really like stuff. A good piece of stuff makes me very happy. It's not an illusory happiness, either; it's real. I'll try to explain.

There's a kind of materialism (the kind Pat is talking about) which is actually a debased longing for transcendence. This kind of materialism despises the material world. It ascribes spiritual properties to the crap we hoard and trade. Under the sway of this superstitious materialism, my daughter wants more Pokemon merchandise. She wants more, because the last pile she got didn't do the trick. It didn't lift her out of her dissatisfaction, or tell her why she is alive.

There's another kind of materialism, which feels deeply that we are, ourselves, stuff. We are the same stuff that burns in the sun and rots in the soil. We take some of the hard stuff around us and chisel it into a practical and pleasing shape, the shape of a boat, and we use that to move across the pliable stuff that separates the continents. Along the way, we look at this stuff rising and falling around us and say: there it is. There you have it. The wind, the water, that fearsome-looking rock.

Bruce Taylor
06-14-2001, 08:16 AM
Oh, and I don't think we should to to Mars until we've settled Nevada.

Nothin' wrong with a little optimism, Jack.

http://www2.bluemountain.com/eng3gifs/bill/thanxbun/thanxbuncp.gif

ishmael
06-14-2001, 08:16 AM
Ah Bruce! MATERIALISM! Well said. Amen. I couldn't agree more. When that attitude takes control I'll quite my whining.

Greg H
06-14-2001, 08:25 AM
http://www2.bluemountain.com/eng3gifs/bill/thanxbun/thanxbuncp.gif

Aye, There you have it.
The wind, the water, the living rock.

ishmael
06-14-2001, 08:47 AM
I feel compelled to clarify. There is nothing inherently wrong with spiritual materialism either. It is the native propensity of the mind to project into matter without which we would cease to be human. The problem is two fold: People are generally ignorant of the phenomenon, and therefore fail to even attempt any wisdom around what is being projected. Two... long before P.T. Barnum, of "There is a sucker born every minute" fame, people realized they could manipulate and inflame that propensity for financial gain, or for power of other sorts. Solution of the former would naturally eliminate the later.

Best, Jack

Bruce Taylor
06-14-2001, 09:41 AM
Fair enough, Jack. I think of Theodore Roethke exploring the ecstatic possibilities of superstitious materialism. Most of his later poems are about the state of mind in which "all natural shapes / become symbolical." From The Far Field:


In Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Don Olney
06-14-2001, 10:43 AM
I don't have time today for Global Warming, but I always have time for Roethke. Kind of like a bumper sticker I saw in NY City long ago that read "I brake for Delmore Schwartz". Screech!

Dolor

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manila folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places.
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switch-board,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

Bruce Taylor
06-14-2001, 10:52 AM
Scott -- You're right, as always. Ecclesiastes is far more consoling to the unlucky sufferer than, say, Ayn Rand, or those cultish groups (EST, Lifespring etc.) that insist that we all make our own luck. Existentialism is one of the culprits here. Sartre says somewhere that the cancer victim chooses his suffering. It happens that a dear friend of mine is dying of cancer. I don't reach for Sartre. I reread the words of King Solomon:

"The sun rises and the sun goes down
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
and goes round to the north;
round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streanms flow, there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun."

And, on the subject of dumb luck:

"There is a vanity which takes place on earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. And I commend enjoyment, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat, and drink, and enjoy himself, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of life which God gives him under the sun."

ishmael
06-14-2001, 10:55 AM
Thank you Bruce and Don, for opening a new horizon. I really must shut my barbaric yawp, a times, and read more.

Beautiful. And so simple.

Jack

Bruce Taylor
06-14-2001, 11:04 AM
Uh, Scott...did you post something about "dumb luck" and then delete it, or did I just hallucinate that?

ishmael
06-14-2001, 11:12 AM
Well, okay, Scott is right (always?), and we likely stand on very common territory of the mind, but you all should consider the possibility of other than "dumb luck." Why, 'cause it happens in ways that imply, often demand we look for, some form of organization within. Perhaps we prefer titles of God or Self, or Oversoul. No matter; what is your experience?

Sorry about your friend Bruce.

ishmael
06-14-2001, 11:31 AM
I missed it too. I was thinking and responding to Scott's early morning post, and thought Bruce was doing the same.

Scott, afraid of offending someone? Let it rip, does us good, usually.

Alan D. Hyde
06-14-2001, 11:52 AM
Men and societies must MOVE; they can never stay where they are.

If we do not move ahead; we will fall behind.

Falling behind brings bitterness, contention, envy, scrambling and grasping for ways to enhance one's own share of increasingly more scarce goods: in short, stressful decline.

"... Come my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
...One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

(Tennyson)

Moving ahead brings challenge, adventure, reward, PROGRESS, a more positive state of mind for all.

We can settle Mars in our lifetimes, if we will. The technology is already there, though it can be greatly improved. It will take boldness, persistence, cooperation, resources, but it can be done.

It should and must be done.

Alan

[This message has been edited by Alan D. Hyde (edited 06-14-2001).]