Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Food and fertilizer scarcity vs ethanol madness.

There is a new article in the NY Times about fertilizer shortages. Fertilizer is essential to getting good crop harvests, but demand outpaces supply and prices have risen sharply.

Interesting figures:
From 1900 to 2000, worldwide food production jumped by 600 percent. Scientists said that increase was the fundamental reason world population was able to rise to about 6.7 billion today from 1.7 billion in 1900.

Then this:
“This is a basic problem, to feed 6.6 billion people,” said Norman Borlaug, an American scientist who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in spreading intensive agricultural practices to poor countries. “Without chemical fertilizer, forget it. The game is over.”

How on earth our "beloved" leaders in the West think it is a good idea to burn our food, and how they think we have agricultural resources (land, water, fertilizer) to spare, is beyond me. These people are crazy, stark crazy. There is no other way to explain the fact that they passed legislation mandating the use of 10%-15% ethanol (produced from our food crops) in the fuel.

As UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler said: "this is a crime against humanity". (A very rare ocasion when I am able to quote a UN person approvingly).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The decadence of Academia in the West

A good article by British academic Fabian Tassano on the nonesense and idiocy that much of Western Academia has become.

The larger part of academia has become obsessed with jargon and formalism, at the expense of meaningful content....

The purpose of academia has changed from producing real insights to generating reinforcement for the preferred world view. Academics are encouraged to generate spurious legitimacy for anti-individualistic social trends such as the abolition of civil liberties, or the ‘rights’ of doctors and psychiatrists to make decisions about people’s lives.

According to the Chief Executive of HEFCE, "it was once the role of Governments to provide for the purposes of universities; it is now the role of universities to provide for the purposes of Governments."
While one can't expect academics to have no ideological biases, the collectivised way the academy is nowadays run was bound to generate a monolithic consensus. Once established, we end up with a kind of ideological closed shop, with dissenters refused entry or hounded out.

There are academic disciplines, such as applied chemistry or cell biology, where the criterion of generating testable hypotheses still dominates. As for the rest, you can more or less take it as read that they've been infected by left wing ideology and/or what I have called "technicality" - unnecessary (and often totally vacuous) technical complexity.

...even when it becomes impossible to suppress awareness that something is seriously wrong with some area of academia, the fallout is remarkably limited. Everyone seems to keep on going pretty much in the same old way. Another area which it has becomepositively fashionable in some quarters to deride (because it's easy to do so), but where the effect of the derision has been minimal, is postmodernist philosophy...

Quoting Robert Fisk:

It's a new and dangerous phenomenon I'm talking about, a language of exclusion that must have grown up in universities over the past 20 years; after all, any non university-educated man or woman can pick up an academic treatise or PhD thesis written in the 1920s or '30s and - however Hegelian the subject - fully understand its meaning. No longer.

The definition of e.g. philosophy has become, “whatever is done under that name at a recognised academic institution”. Certification has become more important than content, and quality is no longer seen as assessable by an untrained person. The fact that many of the key innovations in the history of knowledge were made outside universities is conveniently forgotten. Someone working outside a university today can be ignored, since by definition they cannot be doing research.

Massification of degrees is said to be inevitable because everyone now aspires to higher education. Fine, but instead of letting the market provide this extension to the old model, it’s taken to mean turning the university system into an arm of the welfare state, rather like the NHS. I.e. run by the state, with everyone having equal entitlement to a low grade product, and subsidy based on poverty rather than ability.

The fact that little of benefit is acquired by most undergraduates is concealed by ensuring that everyone receives a qualification at the end of the process.

The net result is that academics are being forced to become badly paid handmaidens to a system which will be primarily about promoting equality and inclusion, like state school teachers already are. They are now also required to comply with increasing levels of state bureaucracy, and are monitored and assessed by government auditors
I myself, though not an academic, was appalled by the huge amount of nonesense and gobbledygook that many of the academic papers I heppened to read are filled with. The Academia has been taken over by the ignorant barbarians.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Will President Bush join in the chorus of dead-end energy proposals?"

A good, forceful article by Dr. Roy Spencer on energy policy:

The fact is that there is simply nothing we can do — short of shutting down the global economy — that will substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Prosperity requires access to abundant, affordable energy. Thus, any mandated limits or taxes meant to slow the use of fossil fuels will limit prosperity as well, period.

While the developed countries take for granted conveniences like heating, air conditioning, refrigerated food, and the freedom to travel, our politicians continue to feed the myth that we have any realistic alternatives to carbon-based fuels. With the possible exception of a very slow (several decade) transition from coal-fired power plants to nuclear ones, there are simply no other options that will make any measurable difference for future global temperatures.

...and unless someone has the courage to stand up for the rights of humans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the momentum we have generated due to our irrational fears will cause us all to topple into the sea.

Read the whole thing (it isn't long). (Emphasis mine).

Dr. Roy W. Spencer is a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and is author of the new book, Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The credibility of UN's IPCC.

Here is a comment from the above Coyote blog post by Dr. T.
It sounds authentic to me, though I don't know who he is.

I thoroughly read the most recent IPCC report, and I conclude that it is total garbage. I'm a chemist and a pathologist, not a climatologist, but I certainly know how to read scientific reports. I have taught statistics, and I also understand mathematical models and their limitations. The IPCC report contained poor science, terrible models, and completely unsupported conclusions.

The CO2 issue is more complex than what Adiran and Pieter noted. Even if we assume that CO2 is a 'warming' gas in the atmosphere, its impact is small compared to water vapor (which, based on greenhouse studies, has 20 times the warming effect because of better solar heat absorption and higher concentration). Methane is also a 'warming' gas, but its concentration is too low to have any significant impact on global temperatures.

The positive feedback discussion by the IPCC and by Warren Meyer irks me. First, positive feedback is a psychology term about how an organism responds to good (positive) stimuli. The term the IPCC really wants is something like multiplicative effects or potentiation (when two or more things combined give an effect that is multiplicative rather than additive, such as ethanol and barbiturates). But, in chemistry and physics, examples of multiplicative effects are rare. The IPCC models are so bad that they can essentially apply their forcing factors to anything (too many people hopping on one foot) and claim it relates to global warming. I trust nothing from the IPCC, because the group is about keeping itself funded and influential with governments. The IPCC is not about climatology.

"the group [IPCC] is about keeping itself funded and influential with governments" - true, but I would add to it: it's also about spewing their (vile) ideological viewpoint.

The confidence I have in the UN's IPCC report is about the same I have in the UN's human rights comission, headed by Ghaddafi's (Lybia) representative.

Positive feedback in Global warming

Over at Coyote blog there is an important post, highlighting the issue of positive feedback which is at the core of the alarmist global warming scare.

Interestingly, the key to understanding this issue of the amount of warming does not actually lie in greenhouse gas theory. Most scientists, skeptics and alarmists alike, peg the warming directly from CO2 at between 0.3 and 1.0 degrees Celsius for a doubling in CO2 levels ... If this greenhouse gas warming was the only phenomenon at work, we would expect man-made warming over the next century even using the most dire assumptions to be less than 1C, or about the same amount we have seen (non-catastrophically) over the last century.

As I said before, man-produce greenhouse gases (CO2) may produce a small, minuscule, amount of warming, which is insignificant, quantitatively, among the natural variations. The catastrophic predictions aren't based on this minuscule warming. They are based on "positive feedback loops".

This theory hypothesizes that small changes in temperature from greenhouse gas increases would be multiplied 3,4,5 times or more by positive feedback effects, from changes in atmospheric water vapor to changing surface albedo.

Let me emphasize again: The catastrophe results not from greenhouse gas theory, but from the theory of extreme climactic positive feedback. In a large sense, all the debate in the media is about the wrong thing! When was the last time you saw the words "positive feedback" in a media article about climate?

Now, this positive feedback has absolutely no scientific base or proof, it's just a guess based on nothing - well, based on the ideological bias of the"scientists". It is not based on scientific data or theory.

Here is what Christopher Monckton writes about it:

The feedback factor f accounts for at least two-thirds of all radiative forcing in IPCC (2007); yet it is not expressly quantified, and no “Level Of Scientific Understanding” is assigned either to f or to the two variables b and κ upon which it is dependent....

Indeed, in IPCC (2007) the stated values for the feedbacks that account for more than two-thirds of humankind’s imagined effect on global temperatures are taken from a single paper. The value of the coefficient z in the CO2 forcing equation likewise depends on only one paper. The implicit value of the crucial parameter κ depends upon only two papers, one of which had been written by a lead author of the chapter in question, and neither of which provides any theoretical or empirical justification for the IPCC’s chosen value. The notion that the IPCC has drawn on thousands of published, peer-reviewed papers to support its central estimates for the variables from which climate sensitivity is calculated is not supported by the evidence.

As I said, there is absolutely no scientific basis to the alarmist scare mongering. The IPCC, including the dubious positive feedbacks, predicts (i.e. guesses) a rise of 2-4 deg C in temperature, and 60-100 cm in sea levels for the year 2100. Even these predictions aren't yet catastrophic.

The chief scare mongers, Al Gore and Dr. James Hanson speak of 8-10 degrees, 10 m sea level rise and "tipping points" within 30 years. This scare mongering is based on absolutely nothing, not even on the exaggerated IPCC numbers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ideological bias in scientists

The article "Usufruct & the Gorilla" by main climate alarmist scientist Dr. James E. Hansen is several months old, but worth mentioning and remembering.

An excrept:

Make no doubt, however, if tipping points are passed, if we, in effect, destroy Creation, passing on to our children, grandchildren, and the unborn a situation out of their control, the contrarians who work to deny and confuse will not be the principal culprits. The contrarians will be remembered as court jesters. There is no point to joust with court jesters. They will always be present. They will continue to entertain even if the Titanic begins to take on water. Their role and consequence is only as a diversion from what is important. The real deal is this: the ‘royalty’ controlling the court, the ones with the power, the ones with the ability to make a difference, withthe ability to change our course, the ones who will live in infamy if we pass the tipping points, are the captains of industry, CEOs in fossil fuel companies such as EXXON/Mobil, automobile manufacturers, utilities, all of the leaders who have placed short-term profit above the fate of the planet and the well-being of our children. The court jesters are their jesters, occasionally paid for services, and more substantively supported by the captains’ disinformation campaigns.

This reveals a deep anti-capitalist, anti-human, vile ideology or mentality.
The "captains of industry" are people just like you and me, nay, they are more able and talented than average, and they provide us with all the food, clothes and goods we need for living. They provide what we need and want.

Now, scientists, like all people, are entiteled to their ideology, opinions and biases. But they should not try to let their biases influence their science, or to present their biases as science. Hansen is oblivious to the fact that what he has uttered above is the expression of his ideological bias. Two senteces later he writes:
I am puzzled by views expressed by some conservatives, .... It is a bit
disconcerting as I come from a moderately conservative state, and I consider myself a moderate conservative in most ways.
It's puzzling to me that he doesn't understand the deep ideological (anti-capitalist) nature of his rant, and sees it as normal, uncontroversial, self evident opinions.
I think that the ideological roots of the main AGW alarmist need to be exposed.