“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

One Year Ago: The White House Polar Vortex Video

holdrenFreezing Temperatures Once Again, But Thankfully No Video Sequel

A year ago this week, in the midst of another brutally cold winter, the White House graced us with an explanation of how man-made global warming might be causing freezing temperatures in a video about the polar vortex.

One bitterly cold winter does not, by itself, necessarily disprove global warming.  But the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) decided to try using the cold winter as evidence for man-made global warming.   It did so through  a short video titled The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes, in which its director, White House Science Advisor John Holdren, claimed that a “growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”

Climate sceptics gain platform at Indian Science Congress

monsoon cloudsIndia’s most influential scientific gathering became a platform for climate scepticism this week, after two researchers questioned the extent of human responsibility for global warming.

Against a weight of evidence to the contrary, scientists said that climate change was a “natural phenomenon” and that mankind is not to blame for melting glaciers.

Reports of the dangers of climate change ”unnecessarily cause panic”, said Dhruv Sen Singh, a scientist at the University of Lucknow, according to a report by the Times of India.

“Climate change is a natural phenomenon while pollution is caused by man. We are definitely accelerating the process of climate change, but we cannot predict the rate or extent of climate change that can be attributed to man.”

America is colder than Mars

mars(h/t Raining Sky) Keep in mind that Mars' atmosphere is 97% carbon dioxide. From The Guardian:

According to figures from Nasa, parts of the northern United States are currently experiencing temperatures considerably colder than those on Mars.

The high “air” temperature on Mars, according to the latest data from Nasa’s Curiosity Rover, occurring in the Gale crater near the Red Planet’s equator, hit a balmy daytime high of 17.6F (-8C).

This means that, comparing day for day, Mars was nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than Chicago on Thursday, and almost 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than Detroit.

Researcher Challenge Green Theory Of Easter Island Ecocide

easter islandIt is perhaps the world’s most famous environmental parable. A settler on Easter Island stood beside the island’s last tree. He or she looked around the treeless horizon, every one of those trees removed by man, and chopped it down anyway. Afterwards, the island died — the nutrients washed away, the landscape stripped. The population collapsed into warfare and cannibalism. It is a compelling tale, but may be completely false, according to research published yesterday. The Easter Island population did collapse, not due to this “ecocide”, but instead something less remarkable: the arrival of Europeans, bringing syphilis, smallpox and slavery. --Tom Whipple,  The Times, 7 January 2014

Can Congress Get Veto-Proof Majority on Keystone Pipeline?

cartoon-obama-keystone-sealedAs Republicans and some Democrats race to get the Keystone Pipeline completed (part of it's built, the rest is languishing on the President's desk under his infamous pen), many are wondering if Congress has enough votes to override the veto promised by Obama if the bill passes both houses.

I would not anticipate that the president will sign this piece of legislation,” Earnest said. “We promised – We indicated that the president would veto similar legislation that was considered by the previous Congress, and our position hasn’t changed."

Without Harry Reid blocking legislation that even has the whiff of creating new jobs, Democrats will now have to face the voters, and the fallout may be felt in the next presidential election. Even the staunchest of the far-left limousine liberals recognize that what the the Democrats and the president do from now until the next election will reverberate inside voting booths across the country. From KTOO:

Carbon dioxide, despite the EPA's word games, is profoundly Earth-friendly

WheatIn a thinly disguised assault on coal and hydrocarbons, the Obama Administration would have us believe that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a threat to life itself.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a recent study by my company for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that the benefits of carbon dioxide to all of us are far greater than its costs.

The government bases many of its regulatory positions on the so-called social cost of carbon, an estimate of climate change damages in a given year. However, our study showed the government positions were based on flawed science:

There is no scientific evidence for significant climate effects of rising CO2 levels and there is no evidence that global warming will produce catastrophic climate changes.

Of Snow Jobs And Global Warming: How Confirmation Bias Caused DC’s Traffic Jams

snowstormDespite a blizzard of evidence that things were going to be bad, Washington DC just experienced its biggest snow-related fiasco since the infamous Commuteaggedon of January 2011. Largely to blame is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which inexplicably did not delay the opening of the Federal Government, flooding the roadways with hundreds of thousands of very grumpy drivers. Given that most local employers and many school districts follow OPM’s lead, those commuters were not confined to federal workers.

DC’s morning headache is a direct result of “confirmation bias,” the all-too-human proclivity to hang on to a busting  forecast, be it for tomorrow’s snowstorm or the global temperature in 2050, and a close examination of what is going on at both time scales provides a lesson for us all.

Climate change has instructive past

horsemanWe know, because they often say so, that those who think catastrophic global warming is probable and perhaps imminent are exemplary empiricists. They say those who disagree with them are “climate change deniers” disrespectful of science.

Actually, however, something about which everyone can agree is that of course the climate is changing — it always is. And if climate Cassandras are as conscientious as they claim to be about weighing evidence, how do they accommodate historical evidence of enormously consequential episodes of climate change not produced by human activity? Before wagering vast wealth and curtailments of liberty on correcting the climate, two recent books should be considered.

In “The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century,” William Rosen explains how Europe’s “most widespread and destructive famine” was the result of “an almost incomprehensibly complicated mixture of climate, commerce, and conflict, four centuries in gestation.” Early in that century, 10 percent of the population from the Atlantic to the Urals died, partly because of the effect of climate change on “the incredible amalgam of molecules that comprises a few inches of soil that produces the world’s food.”

Gov. Jerry Brown Touts Climate Change Fight

moonbeam(h/t Daniel) Re-upping on delusional climate-change fantasies, "Governor Moonbeam" asked in his inauguration speech Monday for the Golden State to meet half its energy needs with renewable energy by 2030.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who leads the state that hosted Solyndra, embraces bird-chopping wind turbines and builds crispy critter-producing solar panel farms, is a leading advocate of renewable energy and environmental protection.

As pollution from coal-fired plants and industries in China wafted across the Pacific, he took a deep breath at his fourth inauguration as the state's chief executive and doubled down on green energy's failed promise by tasking California to fight so-called climate change by committing to get half its electricity from renewable energy within the next 15 years.

"We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being," Brown said in his speech.

Amid Oil Price Drop, White House Vows Keystone Veto

cartoon-pipeline-obamasThe White House on Tuesday locked horns with congressional proponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, issuing a much-anticipated veto threat tied to legislation expected to land on President Obama’s desk this month.

The new Congress’s first clash of executive-legislative wills occurred as world petroleum prices plummeted below $50 a barrel. Flagging demand and a copious global supply are partially responsible for the cheap gas that has cheered consumers but rattled global financial markets.

As promised, Senate Republicans made Keystone their top priority on Tuesday, introducing legislation authorizing construction of the pipeline as their first bill of the 114th Congress.

When the House passed a similar bill in 2013, Obama issued a veto threat. Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, said the president won’t hesitate to do it again. “I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it, either,” Earnest told reporters.

The fallacies and failings of consensus science

tectonic plates as mapped by WegenerGiven time and new data many seemingly “proven” scientific theories are shown to be…well just plain wrong. Others are shown to be only partially correct, and in need of significant modification. One striking modern example is the Geological Theory of Isostasy proposed in 1889 by American geologist Clarence Dutton.

This theory stated that less dense continental rocks (“Lithoshere”) floated on top of more dense ocean floor rocks (“Asthenosphere”). Isostasy was a buoyancy theory: continents were thought to be in gravitational balance with the underlying ocean rock layers which were theorized to extend under the continents.  

Until 1955 this theory was accepted as “proven” by all geologists, supported by large amounts of data, taught at all universities, and published in all major geological text books. During my early geological career it was the reining theory and no one even considered seriously challenging it. After all it was the “consensus theory”, fully supported by all respected Geologists.

Free the Land from the Feds

The federal government owns more than 623 million acres of land, mostly in the western states. The recent defense spending bill included designation of new National Parks, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Heritage areas. How much land is enough?

Most federal land is administered by four agencies: the Bureau of Land management, 258.2 million acres; the Forest Service, 193 million acres; the Fish & Wildlife Service, 93 million acres; and the National Park Service, 79 million acres. Other federal land ownership includes military bases and land held in trust for Indian reservations. The map below shows the concentration of federal lands in the west.

Western federa lands

The State of Utah wants 31.2 million acres of its land back. “In an unprecedented challenge to federal dominance of Western state lands, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012 signed the ‘Transfer of Public Lands Act,’ which demands that Washington relinquish its hold on the land, which represents more than half of the state’s 54.3 million acres, by Dec. 31, 2014.” (Washington Times) We are still awaiting the outcome of this probably quixotic endeavor. But it sets a precedent and more western states should take up the quest.