Saturday, June 18, 2011

Women and Confused Hair

Women.  Cornrows never look good.

I repeat for the confused.  Cornrows NEVER look good.

Contrary to the argument posed by most women of Bo Derek, even she didn't look good in them.  First she had stylist after stylist, a custom bikini, and a body and eyes that drew your attention from the atrocity on her head.  And remember, that was the SEVENTIES people!  If it was fashion, it was bad.  It isn't she looked good in it, she just pulled it off better than anyone else could.

Girls, I get it at camp.  You are in the woods, and generally grimy.  It is a low maintenance hair style that when no one is going to look at you perhaps makes sense, with the exception of the incessant scalp scratching once it has been in more than a couple of days.

When you are where other people can see you, please don't get them.  Trust me.  You won't be the one to pull them off.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

An Open Letter From a “Global Warming Denier” to the Scientific Community and Politicians

Global Warming, or “Climate Change” as it has now been re-dubbed, is bunk.  To say this is politically incorrect, and will subject one to great derision.  Yet a large portion of the population, including college educated and well read individuals feel just this way but are afraid to say it.  Their votes say it.  Their buying habits say it.  Their attitudes say it.  And in dark corners, when the coast is clear, they will occasionally even verbalized it, though in hushed tones so as to avoid the world caving in around them.

I hope to explain where the politicians and scientists have gone wrong in my opinion.  I stress, this is an opinion piece, but I believe it is an important opinion that is being snuffed wrongly.

Science is the foundation of our modern society.  The scientific method has served us well, and continues to serve us well.  Unfortunately when you mix politics with science, what you get is a caricature of the scientific method that is flawed.  Combine political power, scientific justification and the equivalent of a religious zeal, and you get bad science, bad policy and a confused and angered populous.

Perhaps the first explanation of this effect would be to highlight another popular problem, the ozone hole.  In the simplest terms, in the time we have been measuring, there was never a time there wasn’t a hole.  Can you with 100% assurance tell me that that hole wasn’t always there?  Not just there, but perhaps even a vital part of the balance of the earth’s eco-system?  I understand the experiments in test tubes suggest that refrigerants will wipe out a thousand times their volume in ozone, but can you with assurance say that is what has happened?  In the strictest sense, no.  As we have no way of knowing the state prior to our measurements, any suggested change is purely speculative.  Yet zealotry would have everyone believe that this is a foregone conclusion, and settled science.  Those who suggest otherwise, or even venture to attempt to find evidence to the contrary are derided, defunded, and discarded.

Global Warming has taken this process begun with the ozone layer, and taken it to levels that are absurd, and beyond rational thought.

So how can one possibly discount Global Warming as fact?

I will not even touch on the credibility lost in the email scandal, though it was damning.  That was a symptom, and not the problem.  I will make some much more fundamental arguments.

Personally, my doubts began very early.  As a youth I subscribed to Discover Magazine.  This was well before its current Disney ownership.  I remember distinctly the cover of an issue, “Are We Heading Into a New Ice Age?”  I read it with great concern that my home would become a frozen waste land as temperatures continued to plummet precipitously.  Yet in the Spring, flowers bloomed, birds sang, and things were pretty much the same.  I continued to brace for the impending ice age that was coming though.

So as Global Warming concerns began to be raised, at once there was a dissonance.  How could we have been heading into a new ice age just a few years ago, and now suddenly we are all going to cook by the greenhouse effect?  I was thoroughly confused at the 180 the scientific community had made in just a decade.  How could the numbers change so drastically in that short a period of time?

As I learned more about statistics, and in particular, marketing, I began to become somewhat skeptical about many of the charts and trends that were shown in many capacities.  Global Warming began to look less like a scientific endeavor, and more like a marketing campaign.  As the politicians got involved, it only exacerbated the problem, and started throwing policy behind what was still just a theory at best.

In the archaeological record, where I live used to be under water.  The surrounding areas were lush forests and jungles, and are now arid deserts.  Does the climate not change over time as a natural consequence?  I learned that the emissions of one volcanic eruption can dwarf any impact had by man, let alone the hundreds of “active” volcanoes around the world.  I learned that animals emit vast quantities of “greenhouse” gasses, and that our own exhalation is rich in nothing less than carbon dioxide, considered one of the most evil of all the greenhouse children.

My first concern with the theories being presented came down to; the climate has changed, will change, and is changing.  It goes up and down both cyclically a randomly, and to project any changes out over any significant amount of time becomes foolhardy.  Note the change from the looming ice age to the advent of Global Warming.  Trends reverse naturally over time, and statistical anomalies occur.  We can’t predict the weather tomorrow, until you can do that reliably, don’t tell me what is going to happen in 10, 50 or 100 years from now.  We just aren’t that good yet.

My second concern became funding.  As politicians became concerned, funding was allocated to prove global warming.  Not to find out if it was true, but to prove it.  In fact, I watched as any evidence to the contrary was marginalized and even ridiculed.  Isn’t the scientific method supposed to encourage dissention as a means of proving the theorem?  Isn’t that the purpose of peer review and other checks and balances?

So as more people found evidences, more politicians threw money at it, and more politicians threw money at it, more scientist were determined to be the ones to prove Global Warming once and for all.  This cycle continues today, and has created in my opinion an unholy alliance.  The science is skewed by the funding.  If you are researching to prove it is true, there are a myriad of funding sources.  To prove it wrong though, well that is not politically correct, and thus the funding is very limited, and the results derided.  This is a case of policy determining the science, rather than the science determining the policy.

Add to that the zealotry of certain groups, politicians and most egregiously, scientists, and you have a powerful pendulum swing that pushes way beyond any possible results the data may actually suggest, and even creates an environment where data to the contrary is suppressed and discarded as irrelevant or dangerous. Zealotry is the antithesis of science, and undermines the very foundation of the scientific method.   

The third nail was the fact that weather is actually cooling!  I live in a hot, arid area.  We had record rainfall, snow, and record cool temperatures for the last several years.  This fact was recognized by the Global Warming community and the term was changed to “Climate Change”.  Seriously?  Is this a joke?  So it isn’t actually getting hotter, but we are changing the climate.  We don’t know what way, or how, but we MUST do something about it.  I think you lost me on that argument.

The fourth and most damning problem in my mind is the whole economics of Global Warming.  The answer is always some form of carbon tax.  Involved in that is some form of exchange.  We will offset our carbon by planting trees in South America.  They were going to plant them anyway, but we are buying their credits so we can keep doing this supposedly evil thing we are doing.  Explain how that solves the problem?  Then look at the people who are getting rich off of this plan, the poster boy being the great Al Gore himself.  He has gone from suckling at the Heinz fortune to making a fortune himself.  Not on the speaking circuit, but in carbon credits.  Don’t you see a bit of a conflict of interest here?  As politicians see there is money to be made in this new market, wouldn’t it be in their best interest to form it in favorable ways for them?  Not only that but to actually invest and profit off of it?

The Global Warming debate has become one of profit and greed.  It no longer cares about the science, “that is decided”.  Those who can profit from it will continue to run down that road and push that policy with greater and greater fervor in spite of the lack of their predictions of catastrophe playing out even in the slightest.

In short, are things warming?  They were, it looks like they may be turning, but yes for the last while they were. 

Is it the fault of man?  Perhaps we have some to do with it, but with the overwhelming effects Mother Nature brings to bear, we are but a drop in the bucket. 

Does that mean we shouldn’t do anything?  Well, it is a low probability, high cost event.  So yes, we should pay attention to it, and perhaps change some of our habits to mitigate it.

And now we are to the part where I believe we can find some common ground.  You see if you look at the evidence rationally, and pull carbon taxes out of the equation, there are still plenty of things we can and should do.  Often these also meet other needs and goals, and so are even more important.

For instance, we need to cut our use of fossil fuels.  Partly because the emissions muck up the air in our cities, partly because it is a finite resource that will eventually go away, but mostly because of national security issues.  Some of the most evil despots in the world are sitting on the largest reserves of oil.  As long as there is demand for oil, they will have power.  When the demand for oil drops, their power goes with it.  By moving away from fossil fuels we make the world better.

But, they say, a carbon tax is the only way to make that transition!  To which I say, again, bunk.  I drive a plugin electric car.  Not because of carbon taxes, but because it is cheaper to run when I commute to work, and is more fun and convenient to run around the neighborhood.  There was a tax credit, and I took it.  Believe me, you get more with honey than with vinegar.  I would love to put solar panels on my house, but they are cost prohibitive.  Tell me how a carbon tax is going to make them more accessible.  Get the costs down on some of these technologies and you will see changes as they become economically viable.

Taxing me on my exhalations is only going to tick me off and make me try and get the politicians who implemented it out of office.  Get us energy independent, and I will be far more likely to vote for you regardless of whether you have an R or a D in front of your name.

There is a rational middle point, if someone is willing to look for it.  Just stop trying to force policy that doesn’t actually solve the real problems as some kind of mystical solution.