Category: Climate Change

Water (Law) Source

By , February 20, 2015 2:28 pm

Lately, I’ve become interested, very much so, in water law. Maybe it’s because Utah’s snowpack is at about 70%. Maybe it’s because the amount of water on this earth doesn’t change, but the quality of it does. Whatever the reason, water law has captured my attention. One of my favorite sources of ongoing and accessible information on the subject is the Water Values podcast, a bi-weekly offering by David McGimpsey, an attorney out of Denver.

The podcast eschews legalese in favor of broad coverage of water and water issues, principally via interviews with people who work or write about water, water rights, and the people who use it, whether in industry or in nature. Some fascinating interviews.

So You’re Anti-Science if You Don’t Accept Research Posing as Science?

By , March 17, 2013 9:00 am

Apparently, the NRA and all of us Right Wing Gun Nuts are anti-science, according to a post on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC site, which in turn references a 1993 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I guess that’s marginally better than being called racists, homophobes, fascists, deniers (oh wait, deniers by definition are anti-science), and such. But only marginally. Well, of course, there is another side to the story, and I’m simply preserving it here for future reference.

Herewith are links to two articles published on They shed additional–and much needed–light on Mr. Roth’s story (the one on O’Donnell’s site). The first one actually links to the latter one by the way. I recommend you read them. Here is the key quote from both in reference to that 1993 “scientific” study, among others:

Contrary to this picture of dispassionate scientists under assault by the Neanderthal NRA and its know-nothing allies in Congress, serious scholars have been criticizing the CDC’s “public health” approach to gun research for years. In a presentation at the American Society of Criminology’s 1994 meeting, for example, University of Illinois sociologist David Bordua and epidemiologist David Cowan called the public health literature on guns “advocacy based on political beliefs rather than scientific fact.” Bordua and Cowan noted that The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, the main outlets for CDC-funded studies of firearms, are consistent supporters of strict gun control. They found that “reports with findings not supporting the position of the journal are rarely cited,” “little is cited from the criminological or sociological field,” and the articles that are cited “are almost always by medical or public health researchers.”

Reasonable minds can differ. I recognize that. But in most cases all the reasonable minds aren’t standing on just one side of the issue. That’s especially true when one side is calling the other “anti-science,” “deniers,” “racists,” “homophobes,” “fascists,” and the like.

Edited: added clearer references/links in the first sentence of this post as well as to the sentence that leads into the block quote.

If Money Taints . . .

By , January 3, 2013 8:41 am

Will these guys ever get clean?

Al Gore pockets $100 million in the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera, a broadcast entity owned by the Arab state of Qatar.

Matt Damon’s anti-fracking movie, Promised Land, financed by oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

To be clear, that the money in both cases comes from an Arab government doesn’t bother me in the least. That it comes from governments whose source of wealth is more than 80% dependent on oil revenue does. And then, that only bothers me because both Gore and Damon are so anti-carbon footprint and all that. And that only bothers me because if the print were on another foot, say, the foot of someone whose environmental research were funded by the oil industry, you know what the storyline would be.

In almost all cases, opponents/critics use the source of the money as an ad hominem and a red herring to smear the researcher or person making an argument and to distract from the real and very important question: is the research or argument sound? Yes, the source of funding may sometimes play a part in that assessment, but only a minor one.

Well, This Quote Caught My Attention

By , February 22, 2012 11:02 am

So there the Internet’s in a tizzy over an apparent scheme by someone on the globe’s a’warmin’ side of the climate debate to discredit the “denier” side. I use the word “denier” purposefully and in quotes because that’s the word of choice the other side uses routinely to, I can only assume, stifle debate about the climate science behind global warming. I mean, can you think of another reason to use that pejorative?

In any case, the argument is that if you accept the argument that global warming is happening and that man plays a big part in that warming, you’re rational and accept science and all it has to offer. If you don’t, you’re a “denier” and anti-science. You probably–indeed likely–don’t accept evolution and probably–almost certainly–will vote for Santorum this fall.

If that all makes sense to you and if you accept my premise that the pejorative “denier” is intended to stifle debate, you’ll have trouble like I did making sense of the following by a guy named Peter Gleick, “head of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California and apparently until very recently, the chair of the American Geophysical Union’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics,” according to Megan Mcardle who writes today in The Atlantic about the aforementioned scheme. Quoting Mr. Gleick now (bolded emphasis mine):

I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.

Now I’m not a climate scientist, but from my observations, I’d say that the “deniers” would love to have a debate, would love to argue their side in peer reviewed journals, would love to share the stage with global warming alarmist Al Gore. Maybe Mr. Gleick can make that happen–after he comes clean from his misguided efforts to “attack [‘deniers’] and scientists [who don’t accept the so-called global warming consensus] and prevent this debate.” Maybe. Not holding my breath, though that might help stave off global warming–if there is global warming.

Finally, and on a related note, the following quote from Mcardle’s pen should be carved in stone for all to read and re-read (people in the press, you guys and gals in Congress, Mr. President and all the candidates who are running to take their seats, I’m thinking of you):

After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.

Folks, that last quote accounts for the economic mess we are in right now. Because the people I’ve just named have lost our trust, many of the tools we need to solve/fix this mess are off the table–until trust is restored–and that’s another blog post.

UPDATE: Judith Curry of Georgia Tech adds her two cents.

Affordable Care Act: It’s About Power, and It Always Has Been

By , June 8, 2011 3:23 pm

Ilya Shapiro nails it, and apparently, so did the judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Obamacare–the Affordable Care Act–is and always has been about power. Washington wants is. The people, at least people like me, don’t want to give it to them.

As the lawyer representing 26 states against the federal government said, “The whole reason we do this is to protect liberty.” With those words, former solicitor general Paul Clement reached the essence of the Obamacare lawsuits. With apologies to Joe Biden, this is a big deal not because we’re dealing with a huge reorganization of the health care industry, but because our most fundamental first principle is at stake: we limit government power so people can live their lives the way they want.

This legal process is not an academic exercise to map the precise contours of the Commerce Clause or Necessary and Proper Clause — or even to vindicate our commitment to federalism or judicial review. No, all of these worthy endeavors are just means to achieve the goal of maximizing human freedom and flourishing. Indeed, that is the very reason the government exists in the first place.

And the 11th Circuit judges saw that. Countless times, Judges Dubina and Marcus demanded that the government articulate constitutional limiting principles to the power it asserted. And countless times they pointed out that never in history has Congress tried to compel people to engage in commerce as a means of regulating commerce.

In case anybody cares, I feel the same way about Climate Change. Even conceding that the globe is warming, I’m not willing to kneel before the would-be climate demigods, certainly not before them move from their Mount Olympus mansions and give up their jets. Yes, Al, I’m talking about you.

Brazil Must Be Doing Something Right

By , April 25, 2011 10:57 am

Greenpeace activists mark the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl with a puff of orange smoke in front of BNDES, Brazil’s development bank, to get it to suspend financing of the Angra 3 nuclear plant.

All the coal miners who’ve died in mining accidents were unavailable for comment.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Flip On the Light Switch

By , April 21, 2011 10:20 am

Hey, I have an idea!

Let’s bring back the good old incandescent light bulb.

We knew this, didn’t we? And we were already upset about burning out our last incandescent light bulb, weren’t we? There ought to be a law of (obvious) unintended consequences.

Pot Misrepresented By Kettle

By , February 1, 2011 5:57 pm

In my last post, I noted that I hadn’t read much by or about Al Gore lately; he’d apparently taken a breather from his climate-change crusades, I assumed, because of that little matter in The National Enquirer or maybe he was busy decorating his new home in California. But then I read some of his blog and discovered that he’s been a relatively regular poster. I also learned that the guy spins faster than a top. To wit:

In a December 15, 2010 post titled Fox News Manipulates Climate Coverage, he writes,

Fox News has consistently delivered false and misleading information to its viewers about the climate crisis.

His evidence?

Today, Media Matters posted an alarming email sent by Bill Sammon, the Washington, DC, managing editor at Fox News. Sammon sent the email to Fox News producers on December 8, 2009 – just as the Climate Conference in Copenhagen was beginning:

“Subject:Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data”
“we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”

And why is this misleading? Apparently because Al says so:

But there’s no legitimate debate: the planet is warming. Moreover, man-made global warming pollution is the principal cause.

No legitimate debate. Bias. Deniers. In my business–I write and teach writing, among other things–such words, used the way Gore and his acolytes use them, fall under the umbrella of logical fallacies. In other words, their purpose is to mislead your audience by mislabeling, misrepresenting, and denigrating your opponents without actually responding to their arguments. In short, they come in handy when you’re spinning.

He’s Baaaaack!!!

By , February 1, 2011 5:38 pm

The Goreacle has been absent from the world stage the last few month; at least, I haven’t read much if anything about him. That ended today with a bang, I mean, a blog post. To which a number of climate-change skeptics have responded. I’ll leave it to you to read what they had to say.

Climate Change –

By , January 22, 2011 10:10 am

A little over a year ago, after someone leaked the CRU e-mails and computer code, I corresponded with a prominent climate scientist. I won’t disclose names because I don’t have the person’s permission. However, what I wrote bears repeating; at least, I think it does. By the way, the scientist responded very cordially, saying “all of your points are right on target.”

Dr. XXX,

Thanks for the two letters you’ve written regarding the CRU bruhah, including the one on Climate Audit and the one on Climate Progress. I agree with your sentiments. Climate change advocates would do well to read and apply what you say.

I am not a scientist, and I am not a denier–not in the sense that I deny the climate may be warming. I am, however, skeptical of AGW for simple, non-scientific reasons:

1. I’ve read many of the CRU e-mails, and I’ve read what others have said about them–both proponents of AGW and skeptics. Frankly, the skeptics’ explanations seem more credible to me, a layman. Dismissing some of what these e-mails say as merely scientists letting “loose occasionally when talking to friends and colleagues in private,” as many have, doesn’t pass the smell test. At the very least, one or more of the writers of those e-mail has some serious ethical problems.

2. And it’s not just the “letting loose” part.” The computer code–at least as I understand it from the comments of other programmers–does little to allay my fears that we’re rushing into the night without a clear understanding of what awaits us.

3. I learned long ago that calling your opponent Hitler says a lot about the quality of your argument and not much about theirs. It’s a rule of thumb that has served me well over the years. Likewise, when climate change advocates refer to climate change skeptics as deniers, the bells and whistles on my critical thinking monitors go off. I see that Nature magazine even uses the denier label. Are climate change advocates so tone deaf that they can’t see how that impacts the reception of their arguments?

4. Finally, in my world, actions speak louder than words. By that standard, the hypocrisy of many of the loudest climate changes advocates is off the charts. If, as they say, we have but 10 years to turn things around, why are they not living in tents instead of mansions? Why are they not teleconferencing rather that jetting to meetings around the world? And so on. Which, in a way brings me back to the CRU e-mails: After learning about the amount of funding Dr. Phil Jones has received over the years, I’ll never again allow myself to be swayed by the claim that I shouldn’t listen to scientists who receive funding from Big Oil. Never. If money taints, Dr. Jones will never recover.

Again, thanks for your two letters. You are spot on in them. Unfortunately, judging from the comments on Climate Progress, you’re likely to be drummed out of the field because of them.


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