Search This Blog

De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Earth Day has embraced hysteria and abandoned science

by Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier @ Foxnews.com April 20, 2018

Sunday is Earth Day, a celebration conceived by then-U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and first held in 1970 as a "symbol of environmental responsibility and stewardship." In the spirit of the time, it was a touchy-feely, consciousness-raising, New Age experience. Most activities were organized at the grassroots level.

In recent years, however, Earth Day has devolved into an occasion for professional environmental activists and alarmists to warn of apocalypse, dish anti-technology dirt, and proselytize.

Passion and zeal now trump science, and provability takes a back seat to plausibility. The Earth Day Network, which organizes Earth Day events and advocacy, regularly distorts science and exaggerates fears in order to advance its Big Government agenda.

With a theme of "End Plastic Pollution," this year's event is no exception.

The Earth Day organizers have produced a "Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit," which enumerates all the scary warnings that activists should use to "empower journalists" to frighten the public and spur politicians to drastic regulatory action.

How dire is the plastics threat?

According to the Earth Day website, about as serious as you can possibly get: "From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet's survival."

Threatening our planet's survival? This isn't hyperbole – it's hysteria. Even Chicken Little didn't claim the falling sky would destroy Earth.

The Earth Day campaign forfeits a good opportunity by injecting a toxic mix of politics and junk science into "opposition to pollution" – that rare issue where we might have broad consensus. It turns genuine environmentalists (like us) into Earth Day skeptics.

The Earth Day campaign itself isn't about ending pollution; it's about ending plastics, foregoing their important applications – and stirring panic.

Consider Bisphenol-A, or BPA, the chemical component of many plastics that environmentalists love to demonize. One prominent environmental group claims BPA is "capable of interfering with the body's hormones, particularly estrogen, and scientists have linked BPA exposure to diseases, such as cancer and diabetes."

The above claim is not true. It is science fiction, not science.

Repeated independent studies have found that BPA poses no risk to humans at the levels at which we are exposed. The most recent analysis of a study conducted by the federal government and published in February by the Food and Drug Administration found "minimal effects" for the BPA-dosed groups of rodents. And the doses were far higher than humans are ever likely to encounter.

The various marches and demonstrations this Earth Day won't be limited to the supposed calamity of plastic pollution, of course; they'll feature many other causes as well.

But instead of a genuine concern for nature, many of those stumping for Earth Day on Sunday will more broadly oppose environment-friendly advances in science and technology, such as fracking, nuclear power, and genetic engineering to produce new crop plants.

And if past is prologue, another recurrent theme will be disdain for the capitalist system that provides the resources to expend on environmental protection and conservation.

This Sunday will likely also be heavy on vitriol toward the regulatory rationalization and reforms of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's new leadership has begun to correct the incompetence, disdain for science and corruption of recent decades.

The Earth Day Network has a "Greening Our Schools" initiative, so it's not surprising that kids holding signs they're too young to understand are a fixture of Earth Day events.

A frequent Earth Day assignment kids get in schools is to read Rachel Carson's best-selling 1962 book "Silent Spring," an emotionally charged but deeply flawed condemnation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects.

As described by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet eminently readable 2012 analysis, "Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic," Carson exploited her reputation as a well-known nature writer to advocate and legitimize "positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental thinking: neo-Malthusian population control and anti-technology efforts."

Carson's proselytizing and advocacy led to the virtual banning of the pesticide DDT and to restrictions on other chemical pesticides, even though "Silent Spring" was replete with gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of misconduct.

Carson's observations about DDT were meticulously rebutted point by point by Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, a professor of entomology at San Jose State University. He was also a longtime member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society, and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.
In his stunning 1992 essay, "The Lies of Rachel Carson," Edwards demolished her arguments and assertions and called attention to critical omissions, faulty assumptions, and outright fabrications in the book. Consider this from Edwards:

"This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects. Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result. The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that 'in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million (human) deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable.' The World Health Organization stated that DDT had 'killed more insects and saved more people than any other substance.'"

One of the United Kingdom's great contemporary thinkers, Dick Taverne – also known as Lord Taverne of Pimlico – discusses in his book, "The March of Unreason," the New Age philosophy that underlies the organizers of Earth Day.

Taverne deplores the "new kind of fundamentalism" that has infiltrated many environmentalist campaigns – an undiscriminating back-to-nature movement that views science and technology as the enemy and as a manifestation of an exploitative, rapacious and reductionist attitude toward nature.

That eco-fundamentalism is out of step with current events. Congress, the Trump administration and many Americans are now firmly on the side of more sensible, more limited regulation. So it would behoove the Earth Day activists to collaborate in good faith and to support advances in environment-friendly technologies and business models.

Among these advances, we would include ridesharing services, Airbnb, modern genetic engineering applied to agriculture, and state-of-the art agricultural chemicals. All these things enable us to do more with less – but they have been vilified by activists.

Perhaps adding Lord Taverne's book to the Earth Day curriculum would allow students to consider the issues in a more thoughtful way. But we are not sufficiently naïve to expect that to happen.

Rather, we suspect that activists prefer that their eco-fundamentalism continue to go unchallenged. They don't want reason, science and respect for differing views to interfere with their agenda.

As far as Earth Day is concerned, a more egalitarian, evidence-based approach might advance civil society, alleviate human suffering and even help protect the planet.

Trial Lawyers Still Don't Have a Winning Case Against Monsanto

Apr 21, 2018 Brian McNicoll

Trial lawyers hoping to take a big bite out of food producer Monsanto’s bottom line with a lawsuit over its most popular weed-killer have run into a problem – the judge who they need to convince their arguments are valid is not buying it.  In 2015, the International Agency for Research and Cancer, based in Lyon, France, declared glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most popular weed-killer, a “probably human carcinogen.”

No other scientific body has reached that conclusion. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for humans when used in accordance with label directions, the National Institute of Health has concluded it is not a carcinogen and, as a Monsanto official pointed out, more than 800 scientific, medical, peer-reviewed articles have been published saying there is no association whatsoever between glyphosate and any form of cancer........To Read More.....

Dr. Willie Soon on polar bears, sea level, computer models and other hype

by , 4 Comments 

Canlorbe: You say polar bears are far less endangered by global warming than by environmentalists dreading ice melt. Could you expand?

Dr. Soon: Yes, indeed. I have argued that too much ice will be the ultimate enemy for polar bears. Polar bears need less sea ice to be well fed and to reproduce. Why? Think about this for a minute: Polar bears eat a lot. Any large colony will need a great deal of food. The bears’ staple diet is seal blubber. But seals are a long way up the food chain. So a fully functional and healthy eco-system is required. And that means oceans warm enough to support the lower links in the food chain from plankton all the way up to seals.

Indeed, a good puzzle for polar-bear science is to answer the question how polar bears survived during the ice ages, when ice covered coastal zones and large parts of the global ocean. Ice was piled miles deep on land, making it extremely difficult for eco-systems to provide enough food. Of course, areas of relative warmth, which population biologists call refugia, always exist. They may well be the key to explaining how polar bears survived the Last Glacial Maximum about 21,000 years ago.


The so-called “environmentalists”, who seem to allow unreasoning emotion and political prejudice to stand in place of rational thought and sound science, became very angry when I asked them whether they would prefer to see a billion polar bears instead of the 20,000–30,000 living now. The real threat to polar bears was unregulated hunting, which reduced the population to perhaps as few as 5,000 bears in the early 1970s.

After the November 1973 agreement to regulate hunting and outlaw hunting from aircraft and icebreakers, the polar bear population rebounded. By 2017 it was approaching 30,000. In 2016 a survey by the Nunavut government found a vulnerable population in the western Hudson Bay region to have been stable for at least five years.

I should say categorically that this polar bear fear-mongering is evidence of mass delusion promoted by group think. As a physical scientist rather than a biologist, I am generally reluctant to get involved in such topics as the influence of climate on polar-bear population, health and biology. But in 2002, Markus Dyck asked me to examine independently these strange and insupportable claims by environmental extremists that polar bears are threatened with extinction by global warming.

Consider the facts. From 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Earth was considerably warmer than today. Yet the polar bears survived. In fact, they had evolved from land-based brown bears some 150,000 to 200,000 years ago, and to this day they rear their cubs in land-based dens burrowed into the snow.

Four dead bears found in an aerial survey of the
Beaufort Sea (Monnett & Gleason, 2006)
Readers curious about Al Gore’s false statement that a scientific survey had found polar bears drowning because they could not find ice should see my talk on how environmentalists are the real threat to polar bears: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmoKRz5VcbI. The survey cited by Gore in his sci-fi comedy horror movie in fact found that just four polar bears had drowned, three of them very close to land, and they had died because of high winds and high waves in an exceptional Arctic storm. The authors of the paper were later victimized by their academic colleagues at the instigation of environmental extremists because they had stated – correctly – that it was the storm, and not global warming, that had killed the bears.
 

What is more, in the dozen years before the survey, the sea ice extent in the Beaufort Sea, where the survey took place, had actually increased slightly. At no point was Al Gore’s story true. In 2007 the High Court in London condemned Gore for his false statements about polar bears, whose Linnaean classification is ursus maritimus – the Bear of the Sea. It is now known that they can swim for more than 100 miles over periods of several days. Al Gore could not even ride a pushbike that far.
One positive aspect of my work in science is that I have befriended many seekers after truth. A polar bear expert, Professor Mitch Taylor of Lakehead University, told me late in 2017:
Just finished up in Davis Strait with 275 DNA samples. The bears were in better condition this year than they were during the 2005–2007 study years. The Wrangel Island bears in the photo are in good condition, but the Davis Strait bears were even fatter. Markus [Dyck] has found the same in the Cape Dyer area. Local people confirm the bears are very fat this year and are also reporting a big increase in ringed seals (immigration, not local productivity).

Keen readers who may want solid information and frequent scientific updates about the overall health and trends of all 19 subpopulations of polar bears should visit the website of another friend of mine, Dr. Susan Crockford: http://polarbearscience.com.

Is climate change naturally cyclical?


Canlorbe: Climate change is surely nothing new. It is a long-established, cyclical behavior of our planet, which has long been oscillating between glaciations and interglacial warm periods. Should we diagnose Mother Nature with a bipolar disorder

Dr. Soon: Earth’s climate system dynamically oscillates between icehouse and hothouse conditions in geological time or, to a lesser degree, between the glacial and interglacial climates of the last 1–2 million years. But, as with many interesting questions about the Earth’s climate, there is no certain answer. The data do not support over-simplistic accounts.

Sea level rise – mother of all scares

I was fascinated to discover that changing sea levels, including extremely high global sea levels 65–250 feet (20–75 m) above today’s mean, occurred during the “hothouse Earth” era. One does not need an enormous ice sheet for sea level to be high, chiefly because the Earth’s coastal zones and ocean basins may be more porous and capacious than one would imagine. Indeed, deep geological studies proffer good evidence to support my position. I included this empirical evidence in an essay I recently co-wrote with Viscount (Christopher) Monckton of Brenchley.

In addition to the ever-changing shape and depth of the ocean basins and coastal zone boundaries, one must also bear in mind the “leaky Earth”: There appears to be a continuous exchange of water between the ocean bottom and the Earth’s crust, as Professor Shige Maruyama of Tokyo Institute of Technology has shown.

Sea level has risen by 400 feet over the past 10,000 years. For the past 200 years it has been rising at about 8 inches per century, and that rate may well continue. It has very little to do with global warming and much more to do with long-term climate cycles. In fact, so slowly has sea level been rising that environmental-extremist scientists have tampered with the raw data by adding an imagined (and imaginary) “global isostatic adjustment”, torturing the data until they show a rate of sea-level rise that has not in reality occurred.


The Earth in the solar system in the galaxy in the universe

My own examination of the Earth’s climate system extends beyond the solar system to include our place in the galaxy. When the solar system was born, we were 1–3 kiloparsecs closer to the galactic center than today. We are now 8 kiloparsecs from the galactic center.

The solar system drifts along the spiral density wave that orbits the center of the galaxy about every quarter of a billion years. Sometimes, the solar system has lain above or below the plane of the galactic disk. Also, we need to consider the evolution of the Sun from its thermonuclear-burning core to its outer thermosphere. Furthermore, for 4.5 billion years the planets have continued to push and pull the Sun around the barycenter of the solar system.

It was 13.82 billion years ago that, at the moment of creation that we now call the Big Bang, God said, Let there be light, and there was light. The solar system, including our planet, is thus one-third as old as the known universe. Our place and time in the universe cannot be ignored in assessing the climate. The original proposition to resolve the Faint Young Sun Paradox by WeiJia Zhang of Peking University concerned the relevance of Hubble expansion flow in affecting the mean distance between the Sun and the Earth over geological time. One must even consider our galaxy’s interaction with passing stellar systems, especially the coming merger (in a few billion years) between the Milky Way and the M31 Andromeda galaxy to form the Milkomeda cluster. This very likely event will occur within the five billion years of the Sun’s lifetime. Gravity rules even over very large distances.

Screenshot of representational images of coming merger of galaxies
 
These are just a few of the considerations that lead me to insist on being open-minded in pursuing my scientific study. I study the Sun mainly to improve my own understanding. As A.E. Housman’s Greek chorus used to put it, “I only ask because I want to know.”
It’s the Sun, stupid!

On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth’s magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3.
 
Picuted here is a lighten blended version of the 304 and 171 angstrom wavelengths. Cropped
Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO
 
 
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

Canlorbe: You suggest that the Sun’s behavior is the driving force of climate warming, not factory smokestacks, urban sprawl or our sins of emission. Would you like to remind us of the keystones of your hypothesis?

 
Dr. Soon: For a quarter of a century I have studied the hypothesis that solar radiation is causing or at lest modulating climatic variations over periods of several decades. The most up-to-date report of my sun-climate connection research is in a chapter I and my colleague Dr. Sallie Baliunas contributed to a book in honor of my late colleague Professor Bob Carter of Australia (1942–2016). For the more serious science geeks, a fuller paper, with my two excellent colleagues from Ireland, the Connollys pere et fils, is worth reading. If your readers have any difficulty in finding these works, just contact me.

I have sought the best empirical evidence to show how changes in incoming solar radiation, accounted for by intrinsic solar magnetic modulation of the irradiance output as well as planetary modulation of the seasonal distribution of sunlight, affects the thermal properties of land and sea, including temperatures. In turn, temperature change affects atmospheric water vapor as well as the more dynamical components of equator-to-pole insolation and of temperature gradients that vary on timescales of decades to hundreds of years.

Readers may like to follow the original hypothesis of a connection between the Sun and climate advanced by the team led by my excellent colleague Professor Hong Yan of the Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences at Xi’an, China. Our paper examines how the incoming solar radiation modulates the expansion and shrinkage of the rain-belts in dynamically active regions such as the Western Pacific Warm Pool. A second example shows how the Indian summer monsoonal rainfall is correlated with a specific metric for incoming solar radiation.

A third example would be the research on how incoming solar irradiance influences China’s thermometer temperature records, showing that over periods of many decades the variations in total solar irradiance in the upper atmosphere are matched by variations at the surface.

I regard this empirical result, detectable notwithstanding the complexities of cloud fields within the atmospheric column, as of the highest importance. We are on the right track after all in investigating solar radiation (rather than something else) as the driver and modulator of most things climatic.

The Maunder Minimum

Canlorbe: The Maunder Minimum, also known as the “prolonged sunspot minimum”, was the subject of a book you co-authored with Steven H. Yaskell in 2003. For the layman, would you like to explain the stellar phenomena observed during this period?

Dr. Soon: The Maunder Minimum was indeed a very notable period in the study of sunspot activity or, more specifically, of the Sun’s magnetism. It lasted from 1645–1715, covering most of the reign of the Sun King (Louis XIV, 1638–1715; regnavit May 14, 1643 to September 1, 1715). Indeed, the late Jack Eddy (1931–2009) was fond of popularizing this fact by saying that “the Sun King’s reign appears to have been a time of real anomaly in the behavior of the Sun”.

Another interesting coincidence is the fact that Saint-Gobain, makers of the glass for the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles, also made the mirrors for the 60-inch telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory where my colleagues (especially Dr. Sallie Baliunas) and I used to study the variations in the activity of solar-type stars. From these observations, we were able to confirm the general Maunder-Minimum-like phase of solar-stellar magnetism.

I worked with Steve Yaskell in writing this book as a labor of love. Our first purpose was to honor the insights of the two dedicated observers of our Star, E. Walter Maunder (1851–1928) and Annie Maunder (1868–1947). I also wanted to dismiss the arrogance and poor scholarship I had noticed among climate scientists. Professors Raymond Bradley and Philip Jones, for instance, had said with great certainty in one of their books that the geologist Francois Emile Matthes (1874–1948) had originated the term “Little Ice Age” which is roughly coincidental with the period of the Maunder Minimum. However, a little research (see pp. 208–209 of our book) shows that Matthes had attributed the phrase not to himself but to “a clever journalist”.

Only a few decades before Louis XIV came to the throne of France, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) and others had first observed sunspots. During more modern times, the Maunders, re-examining sunspot records kept at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, established the famous butterfly diagram that shows the quasi-symmetrical distribution of sunspots between about 40 °N and 40 °S over the 11-year solar cycle – one butterfly per cycle.

What is special about the Maunder Minimum is the fact that during that period sunspots barely appeared on the Sun’s northern hemisphere and, when they appeared in the Southern portion, the dark spots were very narrowly crowded within a narrow band 20 degrees off the solar equator. This information is uniquely available thanks to the impeccable telescopic observations from L’Observatoire de Paris. My late colleague, Elisabeth Nesme-Ribes (1942–1996), very poetically described this period as that of the “broken butterfly wings”.

The butterfly diagrams of sunspot activity from 1666–1719 (left) contrasted with 1945–1990 (right). From J.C. Ribes and E. Nesme-Ribes (1993) The sunspot cycle in the Maunder Minimum, 1645–1715, Astronomy & Astrophysics 276:549, fig. 6.
It is sometimes said that the Maunder Minimum was merely an illusion or a confusion. However, several colleagues and I, led by Professor Ilya Usoskin of the University of Oulu, Finland, were able to affirm the reality of the Maunder Minimum by summarizing all available evidence, including confirmation from the broader phenomenon of Grand Minima as deduced from cosmogenic isotopes and other proxies for pre-instrumental solar activity.

Astrology vs. Astronomy

Canlorbe: In the view of many, IPCC’s predictions based on computer models are little better than Tarot cards and astrological predictions. Given your expertise in solar and stellar physics, do you see solid reasons not to regard astrology as reliable?

Dr. Soon: I am confused by the question. As a scientist, I do not see either evidence or any mechanism by which the relative positions of very distant heavenly objects can assist us in predicting whether any of us will “meet a tall, dark stranger” or win the lottery. However, an active area of scientific enquiry asks why and how the Sun’s magnetism varies. It may be that it is modulated by inertial oscillations within the plasma body of the Sun owing to perturbations caused by the planets, and chiefly by the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn. But that is astronomy, not astrology. Astronomy is clearly within the scientific realm, but divination by means of astrology, just as clearly, is not.

The Sun card from the Tarot of Marseille


At this point, I wish to say something about the misuse of computer climate models by the United Nations’ IPCC as a supposed “scientific” mode of divining the Earth’s climate over the next 20, 50, 100, 1,000 or even 100,000 years. Dr. Dallas Kennedy has coined the phrase “uncontrolled numerical approximations” for all climate model simulations inconsistent with the observed climate and insufficiently scrutinized.

The current state of our understanding of the dynamical evolution and variability of the Earth’s climate, in the observational as much as in the theoretical domain, is so immature that, as prudent and careful scientists, we should stop and think. I am confident that, even if we were able to find some “agreement” between the outputs of the current generation of climate models and the available measurements and observations, we ought to be cautious, because we can be almost 100% certain that the apparent agreement is fundamentally incorrect.

Let us heed the caution raised by the world’s most knowledgeable atmospheric physicist, Professor Richard Siegmund Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that CO2 from human industry was a dangerous, planet-destroying toxin. It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world – that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.

The Philosophy of Science

Canlorbe: The Sun has inspired a famous analogy in Plato’s theory of forms: namely, that the Sun, as the sixth book of The Republic says, allows us to see material things in the visible world, just as the Idea of the Good allows us to comprehend incorporeal or abstract concepts in the intelligible realm. Any entity existing in the visible world is intelligible only by virtue of a corresponding Idea that gives it an order, a sense, and an identity. And the Idea of the Good is the divine Sun that allows us, once it is grasped, to know all existing Ideas in the intelligible world. As a debunker of “scientism”, do you recognize some relevance to this Platonic concept of scientific inquiry?

Dr. Soon: I agree with the claim made by Justice Louis Brandeis (1856–1941) that “if the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the Sun disinfects”. Transparency in all human affairs, including our scientific endeavors, is essential.

Honestly, I am less of an epistemological philosopher than a natural philosopher – a mere humble scientist, or, if you like, a Shakespearean “rude mechanical”. I subscribe to David Mermin’s principle: “Shut up and calculate!” Science starts with quantitatively expressible evidence and applies to that evidence the honest, careful, disciplined manipulation of numbers that we call mathematics. Mathematics, then, is at once the language of science and its currency. In scientific inquiry, fully open and objective transparency (especially concerning the methodology and openness of datasets) is the most important requirement. Unfortunately, after more than a quarter of a century working in climate science, I have seen at first hand that these simple rules of science are too often honoured more in the breach than in the observance.

To bear witness to how damaging the flawed processes have been in climate science, I strongly recommend reading the refined essay by Professor Lindzen titled “Climate science – is it currently designed to answer questions?”

Lindzen12-March-ClimateScienceNOTansweringQ

For more detail on the level of corruption and dishonesty that prevails in global warming science, I recommend my recent talk given at the 2017 meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness: https://youtu.be/aYAy871w9t8. For debunking the popular “scientism”, I recommend a serious article that I wrote with my late friend, Professor István Markó (1956–2017) for Breitbart.

There are scientists and there are mere propagandists. For instance, Bill Nye, the soi-disant “science guy”, is in truth Bill Nye the totalitarian propaganda guy. In telling it like it is about Bill Nye, Luke Barnes said this:
In an age when a number of prominent scientists have said profoundly idiotic things about philosophy, Bill Nye, the “science guy” has produced the Gettysburg Address of philosophical ignorance. It would be hard to write a parody that compressed more stupidity and shallowness into 4 minutes.
Let me close this reply on the philosophy of science by quoting Professor Chris Essex of the University of Western Ontario, from his review of the book The Climate Caper by Garth Paltridge:
Anti-skepticism isn’t science. At best it’s a kind of para-science, because skepticism is inherent to the scientific process. This para-science is the unprecedented, powerful, well-funded force, not the much-maligned skeptics. Even the oil companies go against the cliché and fund it. It’s the skepticism inherent to science that is embattled. Everything else is delusion and lies. That is how the science has been damaged. … Many scientists, including me, are worried that humanity has been paying too high a price in subordinating science to these agendas. Years from now, historians will look back on this period as extraordinary. The great social fervour was over something that only seems like science. It’s of science but lacks the heart of science. It will take generations to pick through the detritus, but this period will ultimately tell us far more about ourselves than Nature. Soon it will be over. If doom has not ensued, the climate science tourists will leave for other errands.
Canlorbe: If I may somewhat reformulate Rudolf Clausius’ statement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the total entropy of a sufficiently isolated system, no matter where it be in the universe, tends to a maximum. It is not uncommon to hear that the Second Law is proven wrong by the imagined history of the cosmos, given the universe, from the very first particles and atoms to the most advanced human civilizations, appears to have been evolving steadily towards higher degrees of order and complexity. Another opinion is that the Second Law remains true, although life on Earth, which receives energy continuously from the Sun and which is not, therefore, an isolated system, seems at first sight to violate the Law. As an astrophysicist who specializes in solar activity, how do you react to the arguments against the universality and truth of the Second Law?

Dr Soon: Before I reply, it is interesting that you raise the name of Rudolf Clausius (1822–1888), because Clausius’ derivation, together with Emile Clapeyron (1799–1864), of the Clausius-Clapeyron relation between the temperature of the atmospheric space and the capacity of that space to carry water vapor is critical to the construction of a proper theory of climate.

As to the reformulation of the Second Law following its original formulation by Sadi Carnot (1796–1832), Clausius, of all the citizens of the universe, understood that life on Earth is made possible owing to the energy from the Sun. Low-entropy photons begin their journey to Earth at a temperature of about 6,000 K. By the time they reach the upper atmosphere, entropy has already done its work and they keep the Earth at a temperature 20 times less than that at which they began their eight-minute journey.

To bring this reply down to Earth (pun intended) and to return the focus to climate, it has long been realized that strict application of conservation of energy alone may not yield to the full understanding of climatic variations. Starting in the 1980s, an active field of scientific research was developed by the gurus of the maximum-entropy principle in climate models, such as imaginative scientists like Garth Paltridge, whose book I mentioned earlier. If one is interested in this esoteric subject, there is a recent paper treating entropy as the emergent primary quantity for describing the nature of couplings and interactions in the climate system.

I should also point out that the theory of greenhouse gas warming does not, as is sometimes thought, in any way violate the Second Law. It is not the theory that is wrong, but the incorrect modeling that leads official climatology greatly to overstate the warming that will occur as we return to the atmosphere some small fraction of the carbon dioxide that came from the atmosphere in the first place.

As you will have gathered, I am a natural philosopher and not an epistemological or moral philosopher. My language is not that of theology or of ideology but of science. I conclude my answer to your query by saying that I am simply happy to be alive, following the strictly unidirectional arrow of time, as proof that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is sound.

Notwithstanding the crazy and highly corrupt atmosphere that exists in the climate science theatre, sensible, solid and active scientists such as Bjarne Andresen and Christopher Essex ask meaningful questions and reach for reasonable answers. I am content to search for topics in which I can add to the scientific understanding of the complex fluid dynamics of the Earth’s climate.

Hotheads and hot weather

Canlorbe: People from South America, Africa, Italy and the Middle East are sometimes thought of as having elevated testosterone levels and, consequently, a propensity to solve political conflicts through violence. These populations are thought of as being warm-blooded, or even hot-headed, owing to the hot climates in which they live. Do you warmly welcome this hypothesis or hotly deny it?

Dr Soon: I am very happy to receive such a question, for I am always trying to understand the extent to which life is dependent upon and influenced by the Sun.

Professor John Todd of the University of Cambridge has recently published a paper that focuses on how some 5,135 out of 22,822 human genes studied for immunity and general physiology exhibited seasonal dependence on incoming sunlight. This finding that the Sun directly influences about a quarter of our genome adds a profound insight and possibly legitimacy to the broad statements you list above. But far more importantly, it proffers a proper and scientific approach to such a question.  This is why it is not a complete surprise that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine  was given for the discovery of “molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.” But far more importantly, it proffers a proper and scientific approach to such a question.

Indeed, for what is worth, in 1927 Sir Arthur Eddington (1882–1944), on page 9 of his book Stars and Atoms, remarked that the height of a man (2 m) is about halfway between the diameter of an atom (2 x 10–10 m) and that of the Sun (2 x 109 m): “Nearly midway in scale between the atom and the star there is another structure no less marvellous: the human body”.

Recent statistics from 380 sites in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, and the USA show that cold weather kills 20 times more people than warm weather. What is more, 90% of the world’s species thrive in the tropics, and less than 1% exist at the Poles.

We must distill the question to a solvable core and examine it properly through scientific methodology. I recently gave a talk about the powerful relationships among various co- factors including seasonal sunlight, seasonal temperature change, sea level, and even tectonic activity that extends back to the bipolar Quaternary ice-ages and interglacial warm periods of last 2.6 million years.

Are environmentalists Fascist?

Canlorbe: Although environmentalist and self-proclaimed antifascist movements obviously share the totalitarian dimension of Italian Fascism – at least, in its final version – they may not share the anthropology and the view of nature that were at the heart of Fascist ideology. As Benito Mussolini wrote in The Doctrine of Fascism, published in 1932, “Fascism wants man to be active and to engage in action with all his energies; it wants him to be manfully aware of the difficulties besetting him and ready to face them. … Hence the high value of culture in all its forms (artistic, religious, scientific) and the outstanding importance of education. Hence also the essential value of work, by which man subjugates nature and creates the human world (economic, political, ethical, and intellectual).” Does Trumpian conservatism or green socialism come closest to the spirit of historical Fascism as expressed above?

Dr. Soon (with help from Christopher Monckton of Brenchley): Fascism, National Socialism, International Socialism and Communism are all disfiguring and mutually indistinguishable instances of the totalitarianism that the political philosophers of early imperial China excoriated as “legalism” and the French philosophers as étatisme, intégrisme and dirigisme. The contrasting political theory was and is known to Chinese thinkers as Confucianism and to us as libertarianism and democracy.
Mussolini no more acted upon the fine-sounding sermons he preached than did Hitler, Lenin, Stalin or Mao Tse-Tung. Each of these monsters, whatever they may have preached about the importance of science, showed the same propensity to interfere with it, to politicize it and to wrench it into conformity with some dull but dangerous, ingenious but ignorant, marketable but murderous Party Line as environmentalist International Socialism does today.

A bust of Mussolini in an antique shop in Venice
Some 250 million people have been killed by totalitarian regimes of the extreme Left – the Communists, the Nazis and the Fascists – over the century since the dismal October Revolution of 1917. You will understand, therefore, that I disagree with your apparent attempt to assert that President Trump is a fascist: for his supporters would no doubt argue that he has spoken and acted for those working people whom the totalitarian “Democrats”, with their pointlessly costly regime of taxes, charges and regulations intended to destroy the coal, oil and gas industries and the many other industries depending on them, had wantonly abandoned. And it should never be forgotten that modern environmentalist socialism was invented by Hitler in Mein Kampf as a method of exercising that fingertip control over every aspect of people’s lives and work that all totalitarians crave.
Such questions, however, are more political than scientific. Beyond saying that science tends to be corrupted by cruel notions such as eugenicism or Lysenkoism under totalitarian regimes, and to prosper in a climate of freedom, I respectfully decline to address your question. I do not do politics, as the environmentalist socialists do. I do science. As Lucretius put it, Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas – happy is he who finds the why of things. Science is my be-all and end-all.

Envoi

Canlorbe: Thank you for your time. Is there anything you would like to add?
Dr. Soon: I wish to thank you for your excellent questions. You have given me the opportunity to pause and reflect on concepts I have not contemplated in quite some time. I have simply shared my humble but sincere premise that the search for the truth in science must prevail. No religious, social, political or philosophical convictions must be allowed to confuse, corrupt or deny the inherent beauty and purity and truth that subsist in the scientific method to which I have devoted and shall ever devote my life.

Dr. Willie Soon is an astrophysicist and a geoscientist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Grégoire Canlorbe is the vice president of the French Parti National-Libéral (“National-Liberal Party,” conservative, nationalist, and free-marketist).

This article originally appeared at Friends of Science and is reposted at Dr. Soon’s requeset.

About the Author: CFACT Ed

Friday, April 20, 2018

Take back our environment for Earth Day!

by and , @ CFACT


Head outside (as we expect you already plan to do). Take to our mountains, forests, rivers, streams and lakes. Set sail on our oceans. You’ll find more than your fair share of people who share your values, reveling with their families in America’s beauty.

In recent years Americans and their allies in the free, developed world have enjoyed significant environmental progress. Our lands are cleaner and greener than they were not long ago. Government deserves part of the credit for our cleaner circumstances for addressing the economic problems of “externality” (transferring production burdens such as pollution to society as a whole) and “the tragedy of the commons” (depleting shared resources). Still more credit is due to the prosperity created through our free market system. Reliable power grids and energy supplies eliminated the need for large-scale dependence on firewood leading to verdant swaths of mature trees all around, populating areas that not long ago were completely bare. The incredible bounty derived from modern agriculture ensures enough food for all, requires less acreage, returns large areas to a wild state and makes hunting a matter of sport, rather than subsistence, permitting a tremendous rebound of wild species.

American conservation and environmentalism gave birth to our state and national parks and gave us the tools to clean up our rivers, air and rein in the litter that once lay all about us. We have much to celebrate.

Sadly, many once constructive environmental organizations later succumbed to radicalism. Joined by newcomers that were founded with radical expansion of government control over our economy and lives as their aim, they lost the guiding recognition that mankind is part of nature too. Robert Heinlein observed that, “in declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers’ purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race — i.e., his own self-hatred.”

Today many environmental campaign organizations represent a dire threat to the basic freedoms and liberties that the United States was founded to secure. Ironically, they now pose an equally dire threat to the natural environments and human well-being the protection of which should be their aim. Their blinkered opposition to free market capitalism threatens to choke off the source of the prosperity that permits us to effectively steward our environment.

They thwart us from developing our domestic energy resources and leave us dependent on foreign nations that bear us no affection. They dogmatically block the use of nuclear power despite its excellent safety record, low cost and inherently clean impact. They advocate feel-good projects such as erecting giant wind turbines in unspoiled areas in a vain attempt to reign in CO2 emissions that were never a pollutant to begin with. That the wind turbines produce subsidies for their developers, but no meaningful power for our communities is a fact they choose not to grasp.

Since 1985, CFACT has debunked the false claims made in the name of our environment and exposed the hidden agendas behind them. We have been a patient and consistent advocate for real conservation and genuine stewardship of the earth. We have taken the side of developing peoples against those who would trap them in poverty.

This Earth Day we call on all people of good sense to retake our environment. We urge you to join us as guardians of the freedom, dignity and prosperity of all people. The future of humanity and the natural environment of which we are part, depend on it.

About the Author: David Rothbard
David Rothbard is co-founder and President of CFACT.

About the Author: Craig Rucker   
Craig Rucker is the executive director and co-founder of CFACT.

The man who fed the world

You can't build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery. — Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug (1914-2009)

Editor's Note:  This was posted on September 12, 2009 @ Junk Food Science, but the author's name is not there, so I can't list an attribution.  RK

 
One man is credited with saving more lives than any other person in world history. Born to Norwegian migrant parents in his grandparent’s Iowa farmhouse, Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug grew up during the Great Depression and the hunger he witnessed had a profound effect on him.

He devoted his life to ending the human misery of famine in destitute third world countries, often living and working in harsh, squalid conditions in remote regions of Mexico to Africa. He also understood that large numbers of miserable, hungry people contributes to world instability. He didn’t seek fame and fortune for himself, and few people outside of the scientific field have even heard of him.

 
Through his pioneering scientific work in plant pathology, developing fungus and disease-resistant crops, drought-resistant farming methods, and increasing crop yields, he saved an estimated one billion people from starvation.

As the father of the Green Revolution, through this work, world food production doubled between 1960 and 1990, and quadrupled in India and Pakistan. He continued his work on world hunger well into his 90s and won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
 
Dr. Borlaug died tonight at the age of 95. He embodied kindness, compassion, and a conviction to save the lives of fellow human beings, regardless of their race, creed and religion. No other man in human history can compare to his legacy of service to mankind.
 
“He made the world a better place,” said close friend Dr. Ed Runge, retired head of Texas A&M University's Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. "A much better place."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hey Mainstream Media, Please Stop Promoting EWG's 'Dirty Dozen'

By Julianna LeMieux — April 12, 2018 @ American Council on Science and Health

Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published their annual "Dirty Dozen."

The concept of the list is to help consumers decide, as they are choosing their produce, which types of produce should be given priority when buying the organic version.

But, the list should be ignored for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it promotes the idea that organic foods do not have pesticides (they do). In case you don't believe me, check out the National List of pesticides approved for organic certified farms.

EWG also makes some sweeping claims that are not backed up by scientific evidence. They publish their methods of list creation here. But, they fail to relate the pesticide amounts to health standards and not all pesticides are the same, of course.

They also claim that “consumers can lower their pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding conventionally grown varieties of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.” However, since they do not measure consumer exposure, there is no way to make this statement.
In 2011, a group published a paper in the Journal of Toxicology (1) to test whether the dirty dozen was, indeed, dirty. This is a peer-reviewed scientific paper - not a blog on a website.

They compared the amount of pesticides on samples of the foods listed in the Dirty Dozen to the chronic reference dose, which is the maximum amount that you can have if you are eating that food every day of your life. The level of the chronic reference dose is much higher than anything that would ever lead to a health effect (100 times higher than the amount that caused effects in animals.) However, none of the foods tested reached that level.
They concluded that
In summary, findings conclusively demonstrate that consumer exposures to the ten most frequently detected pesticides on EWG's “Dirty Dozen” commodity list are at negligible levels and that the EWG methodology is insufficient to allow any meaningful rankings among commodities. We concur with EWG President Kenneth Cook who maintains that “We recommend that people eat healthy by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic” [1], but our findings do not indicate that substituting organic forms of the “Dirty Dozen” commodities for conventional forms will lead to any measurable consumer health benefit.
So, that's it. The dirty dozen is just a list of twelve fruits and vegetables (we are not even going to post it the list because that would lend some credibility to it) that probably have some pesticides on them. So, please, mainstream media (CBS, CNN, and USA Today - we're looking at you) please stop promoting the false information that inherently comes along with this list. You can do better than that.

Source: Carl Winter and Josh Katz. Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues from Commodities Alleged to Contain the Highest Contamination Levels. Journal of Toxicology Published online 2011 May 15. doi:  10.1155/2011/589674

Paul Ehrlich: New Rant From an Unrepentant Secular Doomsday Prophet

By Alex Berezow — April 9, 2018 @ American Council on Science and Health

Do you see yourself as a worthless cockroach contributing to the collapse of human civilization? Probably not, but Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich thinks precisely that about you.

Fifty years ago, he published arguably the worst book ever written, The Population Bomb, which declared that human overpopulation would cause mass starvation. Instead, the Green Revolution (led in part by ACSH co-founder Norman Borlaug) caused global food production to explode, and the world population more than doubled from 3.5 billion in 1968 to 7.6 billion today.

The reason The Population Bomb was so terrible is not because its predictions were wrong; most scientists make incorrect predictions. No, the book is terrible because of how it made people in the developed world feel about people in the developing world. A short anecdote, which I described for Forbes, illustrates my point.

Several years ago, I gave a talk in Seattle about the benefits of GMOs. One person in the audience expressed concern that GMOs were simply helping to "feed the monster" -- that is, the "monster" known as hungry people in poor parts of the world. Though she didn't verbalize it, her words were clear: The world would be better off if poor people (mostly brown and black, I might add) in distant lands weren't given any food. Starve the monster.

This appalling attitude is surprisingly common in allegedly compassionate cities like Seattle. And the book that gives this openly misanthropic, vaguely genocidal belief a veneer of academic credibility is The Population Bomb.

A New Rant from an Unrepentant Secular Doomsday Prophet

Now, at the age of 85, Dr. Ehrlich still hasn't let reality change his mind. In fact, he's doubled down on his apocalyptic prognostications. In an interview with The Guardian, he likens humans to cancer cells. The article reads like a crackpot manifesto, channeling the unscientific ramblings of the Food Babe along with the conspiracy theorizing of Alex Jones:
The world's optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change. 
Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but "the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual 'world destroyer' meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen".
Let's debunk this, line by line.

There is no optimum human population. Dr. Ehrlich pulled the "less than two billion" figure out of thin air. Besides, demographers predict that the population will peak and begin to shrink, probably sometime in the 2100's. The reason is because people tend to have fewer children as they become wealthier. That fact exposes his "cancer cell" analogy as entirely bogus. Humans don't behave like cancer cells.

Dr. Ehrlich's concern over "synthetic chemicals" is simply based on ignorance of chemistry and biochemistry. It doesn't matter if a chemical is "natural" or "synthetic." From a toxicological perspective, the only thing that matters is the dose and how an organism's metabolism handles it.

Chemists can make pretty much anything they want in the laboratory, so there is little practical distinction between natural and synthetic chemicals. There is neither anything magical about the former nor evil about the latter.

Dr. Ehrlich's screed against the cabal of rich people who run "world destroyer" meetings in Davos is so utterly conspiratorial and unhinged, that it makes me wonder if he believes the Illuminati helped fake the moon landing.

The Mouth of Fools Poureth Out Folly

To this day, Dr. Ehrlich stands by his book. Though his timing was off, he claims the book is correct. What explains his lack of repentance in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

Dr. Ehrlich is an ideologue. His predictions are less like the careful analysis of a serious scientist and more like the wish list of a misanthrope. Apparently, wisdom and grace don't always grow with age.