Archive for June, 2006

Common Sense from Canada

June 15, 2006

Scientists respond to Gore’s warnings of climate catastrophe and Mr. Gore is unlikely to like what he hears.  The article discusses the difference between actual climate experts and scientists who have complementary specialties but are not themselves climatologists and cites numerous real experts who question the currently popular notion of global warming.

Another good recent article is Chill out over Global Warming which also addresses the matter by speaking with genuine climatologists and presents several compelling vignettes including a reference to the issue of Newsweek from 1975 assuring us of the impending new ice age as a consequence of global cooling.

I’m often amused to note the incredible lack of tolerance from those who profess an undying affinity for diversity and will take advantage of the opportunity to direct you toward two recent books, one fiction and the other of fact.  Michael Crichton has written bestselling works that can truly be labelled science fiction for many years. State of Fear is another such work and in a more perfect world might have been reasonably criticized more for the two dimensional nature of the characters and overtly theatrical staging of the action scenes (it was a truly tedious read).  Instead, he has endured an absurd amount of grief among the chattering class for the sin of leaving the reservation.  His personal observations from the afterword, as best I remember them, are that he suspects that human activities may be responsible in some minor way for some of the observed effects, but that the general trends are the results of forces beyond the ability of man to manipulate.

Apparently Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, is an even greater sinner.  Lomborg counts himself an environmentalist and has long been a member of Greenpeace.  He explores environmental issues from a public policy perspective with an economist’s eye for prioritization and finds the evidence for global warming to be less than compelling.  For this, he has been vilified by global warming ‘advocates’ in ways that would make Al Capone blush.

The careful reader will note that neither of the mentioned books are by climatologists.  This is not entirely by accident as I categorically reject the appeal to expertise as a sole premise for public policy.  It is commonly known that automobiles get their best gas mileage at around 35 mph because of atmospheric and rolling resistance.  Such speeds would also doubtless result in a drastic reduction in fatalities on our roadways.  Both of these goals are laudable in themselves, but when balanced against other legitimate needs of people will usually lead to higher speed limits in most places.

I also reject the appeal to fear.  As a purely theoretical exercise, it makes sense that if there were no humans there would be no environmental impact whatsoever from them, and if there were one hundred billion humans their effects would be numerous and dramatic.  Since we have somewhere between those numbers of persons, it seems likely that the effects are also between none and catastrophic. Human actions in most totalitarian countries (China, USSR, the former Soviet Bloc countries, African and South American dictatorships) have certainly produced catastrophic effects on a local and regional level in my lifetime.  I’ve also seen some shameful things done in this country, so I’m not letting anyone off the hook here.

Further studies seem prudent even if they ultimately prove to be a wasteful expenditure of public money.  As for making dramatic changes now for questionable benefits later, color me unconvinced.


Why I Blog

June 5, 2006

Received my first comment from an unsolicited reader today (my loyal and longsuffering wife having offered numerous comments). Following a thought raised in private dialogue, it occurred to me that I should elaborate on why I'm investing the time in doing this.

Part of the answer is a variation on Edmund Hillary's famous response: because I can. I'm a web developer and am constantly amazed and delighted at the opportunities afforded us with computer technology in general and the web in particular.

The larger part of the answer is that I believe very strongly in the freedom of the individual but also the responsibility of the individual to exercise restraint for the good of his fellow man. I'm currently reading an excellent book called What Would the Founders Do? One of the answers is that they would most definitely blog. I believe that blogs are one tool of technology that will help to bring the gathering, dissemination, discussion, and consumption of news back to the personal level with great positive potential for our country.

Many conservatives cry loudly about the 'ivory tower' of the academy. More attention should be paid to the press. They claim to see themselves as tireless defenders of justice whose only responsibility is to truth (which they get to define). I do see them as knights of a sort, but their name is Quixote.

In summary, I blog not because I believe that my ideas will change the world; but because I want to participate in changing the world and carry my small part.

What George Bush has done right

June 3, 2006

Liberated Afghanistan: The country had been controlled by a Taliban government so repressive that they destroyed historical artifacts simply because they were deemed offensive. This country has a long and complicated history of interaction with America, and unfortunately we pretty much dumped them after the fall of the Soviet Union when they were of no immediate use to us. Hopefully, we can atone for that sin by continuing to help build a stable government and encouraging a more open society. Given the nature of American electoral cycles, I have no confidence of this whatsoever but I do have hope.

Ended the reign of Saddam Hussein: However history may judge the 16 words, the administration’s analysis of intelligence, and the president’s judgement in the conduct of this operation; one fact cannot be escaped. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein in power. He was a destabilizing influence in a region that had no need of less stability. He supported our enemies and his military continued to wrestle with our forces in the course of enforcing the no fly zones which were left from the so-called ‘good’ Gulf War when Bush the elder put forth a tremendous coalition to oppose Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and did nothing. We were already there and had been there since 1992. The invasion of 2003 was not a new war as much as the proper resolution of the last one. For those of you jumping up and down with glee and talking about how it would be different if the Republicans hadn’t stolen the election both times I have three words: Kosovo, Bosnia, and Somalia.

The courts: The nomination of Harriet Miers was a national embarrassment. Ms. Miers is undoubtedly a fine woman but she erred in accepting the nomination just as Bush erred in proferring it. Roberts and Alito were excellent choices, and a number of his apellate court nominees have also been outstanding.