I feel a bit vindicated. Five years ago, I noted that the Wikipedia entry about solar activity downplayed the last half of the 20th century. In fact, this period of solar activity, called the Modern Maximum, had its own tiny Wikipedia entry. This is the entire content (plus one single reference and the wrong chart):
The Modern Maximum refers to the ongoing period of relatively high solar activity that began circa 1900. This period is a natural example of solar variation, and one of many that are known from proxy records of past solar variability. The Modern Maximum reached a double peak once in the 1950s and again during the 1990s.
Sounds fairly innocuous, doesn’t it? From this, you would not get this interpretation: “The Modern Maximum represents a period of high solar activity that had not been seen for more than 8,000 years.”
“Injuries Caused by Parrots”
Next year the number of federally mandated categories of illness and injury for which hospitals may claim reimbursement will rise from 18,000 to 140,000. There are nine codes relating to injuries caused by parrots, and three relating to burns from flaming water-skis.
This amusing tidbit aside, the article makes a larger point:
A plea for simplicity
Democrats pay lip service to the need to slim the rulebook—Mr Obama’s regulations tsar is supposed to ensure that new rules are cost-effective. But the administration has a bias towards overstating benefits and underestimating costs (see article). Republicans bluster that they will repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and abolish whole government agencies, but give only a sketchy idea of what should replace them.
America needs a smarter approach to regulation. First, all important rules should be subjected to cost-benefit analysis by an independent watchdog. The results should be made public before the rule is enacted. All big regulations should also come with sunset clauses, so that they expire after, say, ten years unless Congress explicitly re-authorises them.
More important, rules need to be much simpler. When regulators try to write an all-purpose instruction manual, the truly important dos and don’ts are lost in an ocean of verbiage. Far better to lay down broad goals and prescribe only what is strictly necessary to achieve them. Legislators should pass simple rules, and leave regulators to enforce them.
The entire article is good.
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle
A brief recap: The Heartland Institute is a libertarian think tank that favors free-market approaches (including free-market environmentalism). They take the position that the science of catastrophic global warming is not “settled” — and debate about it should not be quashed. Amusingly, they had just invited catastrophist Peter Gleick to come and debate the issue. They treated the last catastrophist who took up their invitation quite cordially, I understand.
Gleick hates them; he’s made that abundantly clear. Last week, a bunch of internal private documents purportedly from the Heartland Institute were published on certain catastrophist blogs. Most of them were boring details describing the relatively small amount of money that HI uses for their purposes compared to catastrophist organizations. Nothing illegal nor immoral, nor was this privately funded organization subject to Freedom of Information Act inquiries.
A quick note while I try to get shut of some projects:
The Heartland Institute has had a number of internal documents acquired by catastrophists. I’m amused that the very same people who were so appalled at the “criminal theft” of Climategate files view this bit as perfectly legitimate whistleblowing.
I see the two situations as more similar than different, but there are some differences:
- We don’t know how the Climategate material was acquired. With the Heartland docs, the catastrophists are bragging about using a false identity to trick someone into sending the material. I don’t know that this breaks laws, but it might.
- The material in the Climategate files shows criminal activity (the deleting of emails) — even though the whitewashes made no attempt to pursue this. The Heartland docs don’t seem to show anything illegal.
- The Climategate material was authenticated pretty quickly. The one Heartland document that makes them seem “bad” was apparently faked.
That Atlantic writer (who is a catastrophist herself, but is treating this in a fair minded way) wrote an amusing description of the memo: “Basically, it reads like it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic. By an intern.” It uses phrases like “dissuading [teachers] from teaching science” in a rather awkward sentence.
While the other documents, which are apparently real, show what Heartland does with private money from donations, the Climategate files tracked what was being done with taxpayer funding. Also, the Climategate material was subject to Freedom of Information Act (UK version) disclosure. As a private entity, Heartland is not subject to this. Nevertheless, I don’t see the two incidents as all that far apart.
The upshot of the documents that have been confirmed, amusingly, seems to show that the multi-billion-dollar global warming catastrophe campaign is being effectively combated by an organization that doles out pocket change to a few people.
And the main targets of the catastrophists, such as Steve McIntyre of ClimateAudit.org, aren’t even on the list. The WattsUpWithThat website was about to get its first small assistance, which I chuckled at: The catastrophists who don’t bat an eye at Al Gore’s $300 million dollar global warming media campaign are horrified that Heartland proposed to contribute $88,000 to Watts to help set up a website and database and collection efforts to track record highs and lows from weather stations.
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle
I immediately thought of Marmoe, of course, my long-time friend and staunch opponent on issues of catastrophic global warming. He believes in it, and thinks it is a crisis that we must do something about. I see evidence for warming from the 1970s-1990s. but see this as a net positive effect and no crisis at all.
You can read the crisis they thought they had in the 1970s, based on the temperature drop from the 1930s when it got warmer in the US than it has since. This PDF file is a 1974 CIA report prepared as a result of assembling climatologists to discuss the coming ice age. If dropping to that temperature created a crisis, returning to where it was should not also be a crisis. But in the US, that’s what we’re dealing with.
In Germany, they’re dealing with something new. According to this article, Professor Fritz Vahrenholt, a famous German environmentalist, has just changed his mind about catastrophic global warming. He apparently encountered, first hard, how the IPCC did business and was not impressed. This triggered more research, resulting in this long-time green energy advocate (“the German Godfather of Green”) publishing a book called The Cold Sun (“Die kalte Sonne”). His change of position apparently got him suddenly dis-invited to speaking engagements.
Perhaps connected: The percentage of people in Germany “afraid of global warming” has been reduced to half of its 2008 value, and is now at only 31% according to the first article. Marmoe, I expect, is aware of the situation and will likely have a good story.
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle
I was intrigued by this former Muslim’s statement about the history of Islam:
In 1,300 years of Islamic history, we have fought for 1,100 years. So there have been only 200 years of peace in Islam, by-in-large. In 1,110 years we have either fought each other or a common enemy. And there have only been two times where fighting a common enemy has been unifying. … There are only two times where all the different sects of Muslims have been united — the first time was Saladin, the one who fought Richard the Lionheart in the Crusades. The second one was bin Laden. The signing of the Fatwa included six nations. That’s why they called bin Ladin the Saladin. He was able to capture the great secret of Islam — which is, give them a common enemy.
Many people, including (unfortunately) presidential candidate Ron Paul, assume that the jihadist anger at the West is because of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or that it it because of US involvement in Middle Eastern oil.
Shale gas is RISKY! It might actually help to keep the price of natural gas down (holding projected 10-year price increase to 100% instead of 400% up from current prices). It also will add 870,000 jobs by 2015, up from about 600,000 in 2010, and is currently the largest new job producer in Pennsylvania, for example.
As you can imagine, the current administration is unhappy about this. The plans and hopes that “energy prices will necessarily skyrocket” were made before this new source was a major factor. So the Obama administration has “concerns”: