Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gee, just wondering...

Regarding the latest wrinkle in the health care/insurance debate, Michael Cannon points out:
Like the three “public options” we’ve already got – Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – Fannie Med would drag down the quality of care for publicly and privately insured patients alike. Yet despite offering an inferior product, Fannie Med would still drive private insurers out of business because it would exploit implicit and explicit government subsidies. Pretty soon, Fannie Med will be the only game in town – just ask its architect, Jacob Hacker.
Even those who can maintain their private coverage face this:

The story is largely the same from state to state, though the increases are smaller in the few states that have already adopted the same mandates and regulations that Democrats want to impose on all states. For the average small employer in high-cost New York, for instance, premiums would only rise by 6%. But they'd shoot up by 94% for the same employer in Indianapolis, 91% in St. Louis and 53% in Milwaukee.

A family of four with average health in those same cities would all face cost increases of 122% buying insurance on the individual market. And it's important to understand that these are merely the new costs created by ObamaCare—not including the natural increases in medical costs over time from new therapies and the like.

Can the gubmint do for affordable health care coverage what it did for affordable housing? I'd rather not find out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not Evil, Just Wrong

I just watched the premiere showing of the movie "Not Evil, Just Wrong", a movie/documentary focused on the negative consequences of radical environmentalism.

It's mostly just preaching to the choir, but they were innovative in their approach:
The film highlights the tragic consequences of the first triumph of the environmental movement, the ban on DDT, which has needlessly resulted in the deaths of more than 40 million children and adults in the developing world.
Actually, I'd say the movie more than just highlights the consequences of the DDT "ban". More than 20 minutes were devoted to it with many graphic scenes of children dying of malaria interspersed with seemingly clueless rich white environmentalists saying how important the prohibition on the use of DDT is. While powerful, the case against the environmental movement and the claim of 40 million deaths seems significantly overstated.

Continuing on, the case against Climate Change Alarmism is straight forward. It basically amounts to saying, "See the catastrophe that happened the last time the environmentalist had their way? We'd better stop them from taking action against Global Warming or really bad things will happen again!"

The choir will no doubt eat that up, but those who belong to the Church of Warming are unlikely to buy into this logic since they very likely consider the reduction in the use of DDT a huge success, even to this day.

People who have not yet made up their minds, however, may be swayed because the malaria scenes are compelling. If the Warmenists are not able to produce enough evidence or propaganda in the media to convince those still deciding that much of the movie is untrue, the movie might convert a few more people to the skeptics side.

I hope it does.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Keeping things straight

The other night I was sitting with my youngest child eating ice cream and talking. He mentioned something, I can't remember specifics, that was germane to the postmodern mindset and blurring of important distinctions. I replied with the lessons from this by Mark Steyn:

Half a decade or so back, I wrote: “Its a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog feces and mix ’em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That’s the problem with the U.N.”

Absolutely right, if I do say so myself. When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn’t that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way.

But, if you’re on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the United States and sees where it gets you.

This isn’t a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn’t a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation, and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom. In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences.

What happens when you pretend those differences don’t exist? Well, you end up with the distinctively flavored ice cream I mentioned at the beginning. By declining to distinguish between the foreign minister of Slovenia and the foreign minister of, say, Sudan, you normalize not merely the goofier ad libs of a Qaddafi but far darker pathologies.

Ahmadinejad & co aren’t Holocaust deniers because of the dearth of historical documentation. They do so because they can, and because it suits their own interests to do so, and because in the regimes they represent the state lies to its people as a matter of course and to such a degree that there is no longer an objective reality only a self-constructed one. In Libya and Syria and far too many “nations,” truth is simply what the thug in the presidential palace declares it to be. But don’t worry, Obama assures them, we’re not “defined by our differences.” Hey, that’s great, isn’t it? Yet, if you can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie, why be surprised that the lie metastasizes and becomes, if not yet quite respectable, at least semi-respectable and acceptable in polite society?
He's a pretty sharp kid and he "got it" quite clearly. As a teenager he appreciated the humor as well.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming - A High Level View

Instead of just looking at the science of climate change, I've analyzed it from several different perspectives. In a nutshell, this is what I've found.


Common sense tells me that the fact that we exist and are the result of life having evolved over billions of years indicates that the climate is quite stable as far as life forms are concerned. This is especially true given that "[f]ive hundred million years ago carbon dioxide was 20 times more prevalent than today"[1] and that the climate has been adequately stable to support evolution and ecosystem diversity through catastrophic disasters such as meteor strikes and massive volcanic eruptions.

It is true that common sense isn't always correct. However, when a proposition defies common sense, I require an especially rigorous burden of proof on those making the proposition. That burden of proof is nowhere close to being met.

Global temperatures are affected by the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. All else being equal, a doubling of the concentration of CO2 will increase the average global temperature by 1.2 degrees Celsius[2]. An increase of 1.2 degrees Celsius is very unlikely to be catastrophic.

The scientific case for catastrophic man-made global warming rests on a set of computer models called General Circulation Models (GCMs). These models incorporate positive feedbacks that amplify the warming due to CO2. In other words, a little bit of warming due to CO2 becomes much more warming because of hypothesized effects such as increased water vapor (water vapor also traps heat). Instead of 1.2 degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2, the GCMs, with the positive feedbacks predict much larger warming, in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius per CO2 doubling[3].

These feedbacks, while plausible, are not proven. Indeed, some of the effects expected by the GCMs from such feedbacks have not been observed in the real world. For example, while the models predict the warming of the tropical troposphere to be 2 to 3 times larger than the warming of the surface, this relationship has not been observed[4]. In fact, recent research[5] based on measured Sea Surface Temperatures and measured outgoing radiation indicate an overall negative feedback which means that there could be substantially less than 1 degree increase in temperature resulting from a double of CO2. Also, using finer cloud simulations within the existing GCMs seems to reduce the predicted temperature increases[6]. The above are just a sampling of numerous articles that cast doubt on the more extreme global warming predictions.

There are other plausible explanations for whatever warming occurred last century. For example, changes in solar activity may have significant impact on cloud formation[7] in addition to its small, direct effect on temperature. To date, relatively little effort has been expended on researching these alternate explanations, but they are, in my opinion, plausible, and not disproved.

In summary, the science of Catastrophic Global Warming defies common sense, has not been proven, and alternate explanations have been neither adequately researched nor disproved.


Any significant climate change (in either direction) will produce winners and losers, both in terms of life forms in general and human life in particular. However, given the observation that the density of both life and humanity are much higher in very warm climates than very cold climates coupled with the fact that the GCMs predict that most of the warming will occur in colder climates[8] leads me to doubt predictions of severely adverse economic impacts from global warming.

One of the most dire and well known economic analyses of climate change is The Stern Review[9]. It concludes that we should immediately begin investing at least 1% of global GDP in order to reduce CO2 emissions and that an investment of this magnitude (over $400 billion per year) will produce positive future returns by reducing the impact of climate change.

However, in my opinion, the Stern Review and other economic analyses with similar findings are seriously flawed. First, the Review "depends decisively on the assumption of a near-zero time discount rate combined with a specific utility function. The Review’s unambiguous conclusions about the need for extreme immediate action will not survive the substitution of assumptions that are consistent with today’s marketplace real interest rates and savings rates."[10]. In other words, the Review assumes far, far lower interest rates than can be found in the real world. Spending large sums of money on preventing CO2 emissions will adversely affect billions of people now, miring substantial numbers of those in prolonged poverty. Note that this spending, to be effective, also assumes some level of efficiency. Unfortunately, governments are not particularly good at efficiency.

A second problem is that the Review seriously underestimates future innovations which will mitigate the impact of climate change. If one considers the technological progress that has been made in the last century and projects it forward to the next hundred years, it seems nearly certain that humanity will be ever more connected, mobile, and able to cope with the environment. It's also far from clear that CO2 emissions will continue to increase as predicted. Other technologies such as solar, geothermal, nuclear fission and fusion, etc., will continue to become more cost effective and may displace fossil fuels as energy sources anyway.

In addition, there are likely to be some benefits to warming and these benefits are downplayed in the Stern Review. For example, other economic studies conclude "that moderate warming is an overall benefit to mankind because of higher agricultural yields and many other reasons."[11] This fits with the observation that mankind does better where it's very warm rather than where it's very cold.


Even if the upper end of the predicted warming occurs and even if the economic analyses like the Stern Review are accurate, it's far less clear that it's useful to take action if only a few rich countries are willing to do anything about.

India and China have flat out refused to reduce future emissions with India even questioning the science of global warming[12][13]. As these countries represent nearly ½ the global population, it make little sense for much smaller countries such as the United States to live substantially less well in order to slightly slow the rate of increase of CO2, especially given that the per capita increase in CO2 emissions in the United States is slowing anyway[14].

There is no reason to get governments involved. If taking action is such a good idea, people can act individually and in non-government groups in order to reduce their carbon footprints. If there are only a few skeptics who don't follow, those few skeptics will have limited impact. In other words, if you think reducing carbon footprints is a good idea, by all means, reduce yours.

There's very little evidence that the world will be able to take significant concerted action anyway. For example, Lomborg[15] shows that the Kyoto Treaty (if the signatories had actually lived up to there promises) would have only delayed the climate change due to CO2 emissions by six years out of 100.


Catastrophic Global Warming has all the trappings of a religion. The god is “Gaia”, the pope is Al Gore, the priests are (most) climate scientists, they know the Truth (with a capital “T”) with certainty, the message is essentially “Repent or the end is nigh!”, Creationism is alive and well since “Gaia” is apparently supposed to have a specific CO2 level and associated climate, and heretics are dealt with nastily.

As such, Catastrophic Global Warming should be subject to the same Separation of Church and State doctrine as other religions. The believers should, of course, be free to proselytize and live their own lives according to their beliefs, but should not be allowed to impose their beliefs on the rest of us via government taxes and regulation, and should not be free to proselytize in our children's schools.

The concept that if we don't take action against CO2 emissions then we're immoral is not fundamentally different than any other religion that claims that you're immoral if you don't believe in God and live your life according to the Dogma of that religion. There is no objective morality here, Carbon Dioxide has no morally correct level, and there is no morally correct global temperature or climate.

Furthermore, when subjective opinions are stated as objective fact with the goal to control the behavior of others, that is a significant evil. When the majority or even a vocal minority imposes its subjective beliefs on others, that is tyranny and is a major evil.


Taking action to reduce CO2 emissions in the United States in order to prevent the possibility of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming makes little sense from any rational perspective. The science is not adequately well understood, economically it makes little sense, and it's not politically possible on a global scale. If people wish to choose that as a religion, that's fine, as long as their beliefs aren't imposed on the rest of us.



[2] Committee on the Science of Climate Change, National Research Council. Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, pp 6-7.

[3] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, p 38.

[4] Lindzen, R.S. (2007) Taking Greenhouse Warming Seriously, Energy & Environment, 18, pp 937-950.

[5] Lindzen, R.S., Choi, Y.S. (2009) On the Determination of Climate Feedbacks from ERBE Data, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, No. 16. (26 August 2009), L16705.

[6] Wyant, M.C., Khairoutdinov, M. & Bretherton, C.S., 2006. Climate sensitivity and cloud response of a GCM with a superparameterization. Geophys. Res. Lett, 33, L06714.

[7] Svensmark, H., T. Bondo, and J. Svensmark (2009), Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and clouds, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36 L15101.

[8] Houghton, J.T., Ding, Y. et al, (2001): Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Publications of the IPCC, p 384.

[9] Stern, N., (2008): The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, Cambridge University Press.

[10]Nordhaus, W., (2007): The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, Journal of Economic Literature Vol. XLV, pp. 686–702

[11]Happer, W. (2009): William Happer Testimony to Senate Energy Committee, February 25, 2009

[12] Lamont, J. et al. (2009): India Widens Climate Rift with West, Financial Times, July 23, 2009

[13] Taylor, P. (2009): China, Russia, Now India: Reject Global Climate Controls,
Los Angeles Examiner

[14] Energy Information Administration (2001): World Energy Use and Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1980-2001, Department of Energy

[15] Lomborg, B. (2001): The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press, p. 302

Being There

Is Nobel Prize winner Obama related to Chauncey Gardiner?

It seems he has only to show up in order to have (once) great prizes bestowed upon him.

As always, the Truth is stranger than Fiction.