Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trees contribute to global warming

What doesn't contribute to global warming? You do, I do, the boreal forest in Manitoba does too. (Boreal forest means northern forest; it applies Canada (farther north in the west) and Alaska plus northern Minnesota and Maine.) Canada's Globe and Mail:
Forests have long been thought of as an ally in the fight against global warming, but a new study suggests that Canada's boreal forest may in fact be releasing more greenhouse gases than it absorbs. “The boreal forest, at least in the north-central part of Manitoba, has gone from a weak carbon sink to a weak carbon source,” said Dr. Tom Gower of the University of Wisconsin, whose paper is being published Thursday in the journal Nature. “It is now contributing to atmospheric (carbon dioxide) concentration.” Dr. Gower and his fellow researchers studied a million-square-kilometre stretch of forest around Thompson, Man. The team took field measurements of how carbon moved between the forest and the atmosphere and then used computer modelling and forestry records to suggest how that cycle has changed since the 1950s. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they burn or decompose. Although results varied for individual years depending on the severity of the forest fire season, Dr. Gower found that the forest once absorbed, on average, slightly more carbon than it emitted — about five or 10 grams per square metre of forest per year. Now, however, the direction of that flow has reversed. On average, the forest actually emits about two grams per square metre per year. “(The forest) is actually contributing to rising carbon emissions,” Dr. Gower said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Climate is too complex to model

The atmosphere is too complex to model. Particularly, predicting large changes involves larger uncertainty. James Lewis at American Thinker found this. The research was done by two University of Washington professors, Gerald Roe and Marcia Baker.
"Uncertainties in projections of future climate change have not lessened substantially in past decades." (Italics added).
"... it is evident that the climate system is operating in a regime in which small uncertainties in feedbacks are highly amplified in the resulting climate sensitivity. We are constrained by the inevitable: the more likely a large warming is for a given forcing (i.e., the greater the positive feedbacks), the greater the uncertainty will be in the magnitude of that warming." (italics added)
And the publishers of New Scientist magazine allow Miles Allen and David Frame put the conclusion:
"Atmosphere: Call Off the Quest." "An upper bound on the climate sensitivity has become the holy grail of climate research. As Roe and Baker point out, it is inherently hard to find. It promises lasting fame and happiness to the finder, but it may not exist and turns out not to be very useful if you do find it. Time to call off the quest." (Italics added)
Back to American Thinker:
End of story --- at least among scientists with a shred of integrity left. The science establishment will have a big black eye from this outrageous fraud for years to come. Global Warming will go down in history along with "cold fusion" and other science fables that fooled some of the people some of the time. Except that in this case, the scientific establishment allowed itself to be taken for a long and very expensive ride

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More trade is good. Cotton

The United States got spanked for subsidizing cotton and deserved it. Brazil took us to the World Trade Organization and won. We have already removed some of the subsidies. Brazil was big enough that we had to take them seriously, but much of the benefit will be small, poor African countries including Mali and Burkina Faso. And we will benefit because trade barriers cause inefficiencies. BBC reports, quoting a Brazilian official:
"The truth is that it takes a bigger country to really make the US comply, because the market has to be big enough that the US is worried about it."
In other news: "US attacks unfair trade practices"
The US has said more than 60 of its main trading partners engage in unfair practices and that copyright theft in China remains its main concern.
This is from the same person - the US Trade Representative - who fought vigorously to protect US cotton subsidies. I wouldn't want that assignment - to speak out of both sides of my mouth.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Get a windfall. Kick out your neighbors

American Indian tribes have gotten windfalls by operating legal gambling where no one else can. With a windfall what do they do? They kick out tribal members, to avoid sharing the spoils. Dennis Chapman's grandfather helped win recognition of the Naragansett tribe by the federal government. Dennis grew up dancing at powwows. Now he has been kicked out. Tampa Bay Online - AP

Thursday, October 25, 2007

High tech for the poor

Wind generation hasn't worked for the world's poor, because it needs to be huge to be efficient - $1 million plus generators. But 28-year-old Shan Frayne has devised a way to build very cheap low-power wind generators. He uses a long piece of coated cloth which vibrates like a loose guitar string. Magnets at the end get induced electricity by the vibration. And that's all. Very simple. Easy to build and maintain and it generates power with a 10 mph wind. The "wind belt." He deserved and received a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics this year. See the pictures of it and the video of Shawn demonstrating it.

Hollywood defenders of Stalin playing saints

No heroes here. Just Communists. Hollywood has spun the tale for 60 years that ten actors, producers, etc. who were accused of being Communists were wrongly targeted, but were heroes of the First Amendment. The tale hides the fact that all ten were Communists. Ex-leftiest radical Ron Radosh sets the record straight - again. He has been doing this for years.
[The accusation by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee] allowed them to reinvent themselves not just as victims but as heroes, for refusing to cooperate with HUAC rather than revealing what they really were: the most committed of the Communist Party faithful, die-hard defenders of one of the great totalitarian regimes of the last century. As the critic Richard Schickel puts it, "the unapologetic defenders of a deadly doctrine have been transformed into martyrs to liberal belief — which none of them embraced in their day." Throughout their active years in Hollywood, the Ten defended every twist and turn of the party line, going from anti-fascists to peace activists overnight when the Nazi-Soviet Pact was announced. They also supported the Soviet invasion of Finland and were silent about, or approved, the Great Purge trials of the 1930s. The Ten swore their allegiance to Stalin and justified and supported the worst murders and crimes committed by the Soviet Union. As Trumbo himself acknowledged, he was not shocked by Khrushchev's revelations, at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party in 1956, of Stalin's crimes over the decades. Trumbo knew the truth years earlier. His own library had the works of Koestler, Orwell, Gide, even Whittaker Chambers. Yet he never said a word about the truth, and defended what he knew was indefensible. The Ten regarded the real enemy as America and its "fascist" foreign policy; Stalin may have been evil, but they considered him on the right side of history.
But this weekend theses defenders of Stalin will again be treated as saints.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nuclear power to reduce CO2 emissions

If we want to reduce CO2 we can by using more nuclear power. It is safe - coal mining kills every year; nuclear has not killed anyone in the US in decades. A utility company in south Texas has applied to build a new nuclear plant - the first in around 30 years. American Thinker:
Yesterday, the San Antonio-Express News reported that San Antonio’s City Public Service Energy company has joined forces with New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc. to file the first application in more than 30 years for constructing not just one, but two new nuclear reactors to satisfy the area’s booming energy needs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bangkok is sinking

Bangkok, Thailand, is sinking. We spent 9 days in Bagkok - and 3 at a beach resort - this year. Traveling there - Bangkok and the Grand Palace - Friends - Military Rule - To River Kwai - Elephant Trek Bangkok is sinking. This is not the sea level rising, but the city sinking 10 cm ( 4 in.) per year, because it is built on clay plus the aquifer is being emptied, causing further sinking. They are exploring options of building dikes or diverting river flow upstream or building storage ponds for later release. The amount of water they have to deal with is huge. They get monsoons (Bangkok weather actuals) that dump inches of rain in a day. So their problem is double - rainfall and sinking to sea level. They had better get to work. The Seattle Times features monks at a temple 19 km south of Bangkok and their plight. (Bangkok is on the lowest stretch of the Chao Phraya River, but essentially at sea level.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rush turns the table on distinguished Senator Reid

41 Democrat Senators sent Rush Limbaugh's syndicator a letter condemning him. Rush was honored. He auctioned off the letter to benefit the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. $2,100,100 plus $2,100,100 matching by Rush. Even the Washington Post can no longer hide this story. Of course they can get it wrong. Why not listen to what Rush actually said? No, reporter Neely Tucker just parrots the lie the Democrats perpetrated - that Rush was criticizing soldiers who criticized the Iraq War. Not at all. Rush was criticizing pretend soldiers - specifically a guy who was bounced out of the service after 44 days in boot camp. The guy claimed to be a veteran of Iraq and was paraded as such. But he was a phony, a "phony soldier." Still, the WAPO has to run the story. Let's enjoy their pain.

What works - faith-based prisons

Prisons house people and train them to be criminals. The typical US prison does little to make its wards less likely to return. The changes needed are internal - values, respect for life and law. The US prisons have no way to transfer these values. I don't think they even recognize their value. A bold experiment began about ten years ago. Prison Fellowship, run by Chuck Colson, ask Texas to let them run a section of a prison where they would teach Christian values. PF provided the instruction; Texas provided the housing and feeding of the prisoners. I thought this was killed off by a judge is some sort of law suit. But it has expanded to a dozen now. And their results are far, far better than the establishment. Fox News has it:
... Evidence is strong that violence and trouble-making drop sharply in these programs, and they often are the only vibrant rehabilitation option at a time when taxpayer-funded alternatives have been cut back. Inmates at Vance offer another compelling argument. Unlike many of America's 2 million prisoners, they feel they are treated with respect. They have hope. "A bunch of cats in prison, they never had anyone show them love — even their mother and father," said Anzetta Smith, who served 18 years for attempted murder before graduating from Vance this year. "You get in the program, and everybody shows you love." Impressed by the Vance operation, Texas officials have opened a dozen faith-based dorms elsewhere in the state, accommodating some 1,300 inmates. At one dorm, at the maximum-security Allred prison near Wichita Falls, infractions by the inmates dropped more than 90 percent once they entered the program. At Vance, a minimum-security prison, fights among inmates are rare, said Tommie Dorsett, a former parole officer who has directed the unit's Christian-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative since its inception.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Single-payer medical care - Pliers instead of dentist

In the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) patients have to wait so long for dental care that they are using pliers to pull their own teeth! When medical care is free everyone demands everything and the best of it. So the caring government bureaucrats have to cut costs. They cut costs by rationing care. They say "No." So here is the result - desparate patients. Sky News reports:
Falling numbers of NHS dentists are forcing many patients to go without treatment or even try pulling out their own teeth, a study has revealed. Almost a fifth (19%) of those questioned said they had missed out on dental work because of the cost. The research found 6% had even resorted to treating themselves because they could not find a dentist. The 5,000-plus patients who were interviewed also spoke of taking out their own teeth or fixing broken crowns with glue.
Hillary wants the same for you. UK dental care is not totally free, but the message is the same.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amazing Silicone Lab - not silicon

Silicone and silicon. Silicone is a polymer; silicon is crystaline sand. They are doing great things with silicone. A "lab on a chip" is a miniature lab that does amazing things. Fluidigm is a company that has developed a lab that on a 1.5 by 1.5 inch chip contains 30,000 hoses, 7,000 gates and 5,000 chambers where a protein is mixed with the study chemical and the reaction analyzed! ZDNet reports:
The valves are the key part, Worthington said. Microfluidic chips, designed to control the flow of liquids on a small scale, have been around for years. Miniaturizing valves, though, has been tricky. Most microfluidic chips consist of channels grooved out of silicon or glass and the valves themselves are mechanical devices. For the valves, Fluidigm exploits the flexible nature of rubber. The hoses are arranged in a perpendicular array with hoses running left and right sitting atop of hoses running up and down. Increasing the pressure on a right-left hose causes it to bulge downward. The upper walls of these hoses are thicker than the bottom walls, so they bulge in only one direction. The bulge pushes into the downward hose and pinches it off. "How do you control fluids? You do it with valves. Nobody had figured out how to make a very small value," Worthington asserted. The computer system, of course, has to precisely control the pressure in the hoses so that the appropriate reactions will take place in the reactive chambers. The system is effectively a shrunken version of the equipment drug companies use today.
Is it cheaper? Far. And its size means it uses less power and can be used in places not before imagined. Read at ZDNet about the use studying salmon in Alaska.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No Nobel peace prize for those who deserve it

Wall Street Journal (free link) says it best: In Olso Friday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World. The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe. Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping the pro-democracy group Block 8406. Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country. Or to Colombian President Àlvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country. Or to Garry Kasparov and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin's slide toward authoritarian rule. [... many more ...] These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee might consider them for the 2008 award.

Canadian quads born in the US due to shortage of facilities

Socialized medicine requires cost controls and rationing of care. This is because the politicians promise "free" care to everyone. When something is as free as the air you breathe how much of it do you ask for? Everyone wants wants the best care without restrictions. But that's not possible. The politicians know that, but they lie and promise it anyway. Here is a good example last week. A Canadian woman has given birth to extremely rare identical quadruplets. The four girls were born at a US hospital because there was no space available at Canadian neonatal intensive care units. No hospital in Canada with a neonatal intensive care unit had room - none in the entire country. So they went to the nearest such hospital in the US only 310 miles away in Great Falls, Montana - the nearest. BBC
Karen Jepp and her husband JP, of Calgary, were taken to a Montana hospital where the girls were delivered two months early by Caesarean section. Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia are in good condition at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Montana. 'One in 13 million' A medical team and space for the babies had been organised for the Jepp family at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary but several other babies were born unexpectedly early, filling the neonatal intensive care unit. Health officials said they checked every other neonatal intensive care unit in Canada but none had space. The Jepps, a nurse and a respiratory technician were flown 500km (310 miles) to the Montana hospital, the closest in the US, where the quadruplets were born on Sunday.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spanish voters getting biased news coverage in the US

The world according to Univision. Biased coverage is keeping Spanish-speaking people in the US from knowing how much their views align with the Republican Party. Democratic operatives are putting falsehoods on the air. Wall Street Journal
John Edwards has not taken a definitive position on abortion. Hillary Clinton's position on the issue is that "she will fight for the defense of children." And Barack Obama wants taxes to be "as low as possible." Each of these statements is misleading, at best. Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton support "a woman's right to choose" and Mr. Obama wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But on Univision, a Spanish-language TV network with an average prime-time audience of about 3.5 million viewers, these and other slanted statements about the presidential candidates are commonplace. These [lies] statements appeared on Univision's Web site, but like much of the network's reporting, were missed by the mainstream media because they appeared only in Spanish.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Christian murdered in Gaza

Gaza, just south of Israel, is the big battle ground between the Islamist extremist groups Hamas and Fatah, who kill each other. There are 3,000 Christians in Gaza. Rami Ayad, age 32, was head of the Protestant Holy Bible Society. He was murdered last weekend. Micah Halpern reports at his blog:
A 32 year old Christian, Rami Ayad, was murdered in Gaza on Saturday. Ayad who was kidnapped early in the day called his mother saying that if he was not returned in a few hours he would not come back for a long, long time. The body of Rami Ayad was found several hours later. The body had multiple stab wounds. Ayad was the director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society. The Society's Christian book store, The Holy Bible Society, was bombed and totally destroyed 6 months ago in April. There are about 3000 Christians in Gaza and their property, schools and lives are threatened every day by Hamas. I do not understand the silence of the Christian community. Where is the disgust, the protests, the shouting? Where is the public pressure?
If more people cared maybe more Christians would be safe in Gaza.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

UK judge protects students from Albert Gore

A judge in the UK put the wrappers on Albert Gore, Jr.'s film "An inconvenient Truth." He ruled that children cannot be shown it unless they are told about its many inaccuracies. The Times UK gives the inconvenient list of 9 errors:
The first mistake made by Mr Gore, said Mr Justice Burton in his written judgment, was in talking about the potential devastation wrought by a rise in sea levels caused by the melting of ice caps. The claim that sea levels could rise by 20ft “in the near future” was dismissed as “distinctly alarmist”. Such a rise would take place “only after, and over, millennia”. Mr Justice Burton added: “The ar-mageddon scenario he predicts, inso-far as it suggests that sea level rises of seven metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus.” A claim that atolls in the Pacific had already been evacuated was supported by “no evidence”, while to suggest that two graphs showing carbon dioxide levels and temperatures over the last 650,000 years were an “exact fit” overstated the case. Mr Gore’s suggestion that the Gulf Stream, that warms up the Atlantic ocean, would shut down was contradicted by the International Panel on Climate Change’s assessment that it was “very unlikely” to happen. The drying of Lake Chad, the loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s snows and Hurricane Katrina were all blamed by Mr Gore on climate change but the judge said the scientific community had been unable to find evidence to prove there was a direct link. The drying of Lake Chad, the judge said, was “far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and overgrazing, and regional climate variability”. The melting of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was “mainly attributable to human-induced climate change”. The judge also said there was no proof to support a claim that polar bears were drowning while searching for icy habitats melted by global warming. The only drowned polar bears the court was aware of were four that died following a storm. Similarly, the judge took issue with the former Vice-President of the United States for attributing coral bleaching to climate change. Separating the direct impacts of climate change and other factors was difficult, the judgment concluded.
Gore didn't miss everything. The judge found 3 proven facts!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Zimbabwe is a laughing stock - starvation

Now even the man who destroyed his own country is saying it looks funny. Funny? He took his country from being a food exporter to starvation. What a sense of humor. Telegraph (UK):
The malnutrition that afflicts millions of Zimbabweans has reduced the country to a "laughing stock", President Robert Mugabe has admitted. Distributing equipment to black farmers resettled on land seized from white owners, he said: "We have become the laughing stock because of hunger. We all need to eat, whether you are Zanu-PF or MDC. Let's unite." Since Mr Mugabe began confiscating farms Zimbabwe has gone from being an agricultural exporter to a country where millions need food aid. He blames supposed Western sabotage for the situation, rather than his own actions.
Starvation is starting:
Half of Zimbabwe's people will be dependent on emergency food aid next year, a senior British diplomatic source has said, in a damning indictment of President Robert Mugabe's regime. Of an estimated eight million Zimbabweans still in the country, "we know we'll be feeding four million people by January or February, possibly more", the official said. He estimated that since Mr Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms in 2000, the population has fallen from 12 million to eight million.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Alternate energy - Tides and waves

There is no shortage of energy. The Earth is bombarded by energy every day - from the Sun. We just have to devise and perfect ways to convert that energy into forms we can use. Alternate energy sources have been used since prehistoric times. Windmills to drive mills; water power; sailing ships. And more recent developments - wind-generated electricity and hydroelectric power. Scientists and entrepreneurs and getting closer to harnessing the energy of the ocean tides and from the waves caused by wind. Good for them. We don't know how long oil, natural gas and coal will be available. And there might be environmental benefits as well. The Seattle Times reports, first tides:
The future of clean power in the Northwest may look like the 75-foot-tall yellow buoy now bobbing like a cork in the waves off the Oregon coast. Or maybe it will more closely resemble a gargantuan red snake, riding the swells and capturing their energy. It might even take the form of underwater sails rigged to tap the power of the tides. Each design is a horse in the race to wring kilowatts from the restless motion of the sea — and make money doing it. Several of the contenders will be tested in the waters off Washington and Oregon in the coming months and years, as inventors and entrepreneurs jockey for dominance in a field so new some compare it to aviation in the era of the Wright brothers. "It's the Kitty Hawk days for tidal energy," said Craig Collar, of the Snohomish County Public Utility District, which already has permits for trial runs in several Puget Sound straits famed for their rushing tides.
And wind waves:
Over Labor Day weekend, a Canadian company deployed the first wave-energy buoy on the West Coast, anchoring it about 2 ½ miles off Newport, Ore. Researchers from Oregon State University plan to deploy a different type of buoy in the same part of the Pacific Ocean this week. The Corvallis-based college, already the country's top academic center for wave-power research, also is building a national wave-energy research and demonstration facility off the coast and an indoor lab to simulate ocean conditions. Companies that use the demonstration facility will be able to deploy their devices in ocean "berths" equipped with moorings and instruments to measure power output and collect other data, said OSU engineering professor Annette von Jouanne. "We want to advance wave-energy technology, encourage companies to demonstrate their devices and ... promote Oregon as an optimal location," she said.

Cool it on global warming

Bjorn Lomborg in the Washington Post
All eyes are on Greenland's melting glaciers as alarm about global warming spreads. This year, delegations of U.S. and European politicians have made pilgrimages to the fastest-moving glacier at Ilulissat, where they declare that they see climate change unfolding before their eyes. Curiously, something that's rarely mentioned is that temperatures in Greenland were higher in 1941 than they are today.
Or that melt rates around Ilulissat were faster in the early part of the past century, according to a new study. And while the delegations first fly into Kangerlussuaq, about 100 miles to the south, they all change planes to go straight to Ilulissat -- perhaps because the Kangerlussuaq glacier is inconveniently growing. Spending a huge amount for very little.
Environmental groups say that the only way to deal with the effects of global warming is to make drastic cuts in carbon emissions -- a project that will cost the world trillions (the Kyoto Protocol alone would cost $180 billion annually). The research I've done over the last decade, beginning with my first book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," has convinced me that this approach is unsound; it means spending an awful lot to achieve very little. Instead, we should be thinking creatively and pragmatically about how we could combat the much larger challenges facing our planet.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Science ignoring costs

One of the big irritations of current science is the absolute authority of the ecologists. Their authority is absolute. No one is allowed to say "but..." This really hurts because many of the solutions they require - absolutely requires - are very expensive - expensive in direct costs and in slowing our economy. The proposals to drastically reduce CO2 emissions will require the US to shrink our economy as the cost of thousands of jobs per year and billions of dollars of lost production. The scientists do their analysis ignorant of costs. John Tierney of the New York Times is now on the science beat. He has an excellent article on

Economists versus Ecologists:

[Scientists ] claim to be taking in the big picture, to be foreseeing great trends over the next century, but they’re missing one of the most valuable lessons from the past half century: when it comes to getting the big picture right, when it comes to preparing for environmental catastrophes, economists have a better track record than the scientists who specialize in analyzing environmental trends.
He catches the econuts in action rewriting history:
Dr. Holdren began his critique [of The Skeptical Environmentalist] by complaining that Dr. Lomborg was “asking the wrong question” because environmentalists had known for decades that there was no danger of energy being in short supply. This struck me as as odd bit of revisionist history, given both the “energy crisis” rhetoric of the 1970s and Dr. Holdren’s own bet that resources would become more scarce.