Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Me, a Moderate? Yes - on Global Warming

I found myself thinking about Global Warming recently on a blue-sky August day in the MidWest in which I opted not to ride my motorcycle to work because it was too chilly in the morning. I think about this topic a fair amount, and discuss it occasionally with friends on the internet – where ironically I find the topic too often draws more heat than light. How fun is that.

This week I was in a unrelated discussion online about President Obama and his State of the Union address, which contained this:

"But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods -- all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late.”

We should look at those factors that he mentioned. We could also look at the folks in Atlanta wearing sweaters last week. Or the mayor of London talking this Spring about a mini-ice age brewing. Or about the Farmer’s Almanac calling for a long cold winter this year. There is a bit of fact in all of that, and a bit of alarmism as well. We all have our perceptions of what the weather / climate is doing. I don’t believe that the evidence shows that natural disasters are increasing in frequency, You might have watched the tornadoes ravaging Oklahoma this Summer and thought tornadoes are increasing. They are not. Neither are hurricanes, even if we give them good PR names like “Superstorm!” (Is that a real meteorological term?)

I probably think about weather, and time, and weather over time more than the average layman on the internet chatting about Global Warming. I think about these things for some very practical reasons. One of those reasons is that I'm a business traveler on the road for an inordinate amount of days each year. I have been behind the wheel of 35 rental cars already in 2013, in multiple states, at all hours of the day, in vastly different and changing weather conditions. Just stop and take that in for a moment - 35 rental cars. I'm aware of the environmental conditions around me in my world because I have to be. And because my hobby of travel photography compels me to think about them. I "see" our landscape and industry at a more focused level than many of you reading this. I just do.  What catches my photography "eye" when I'm out and about that is relevant to this topic?

The sky: So many weather patterns that are visually interesting (and can complicate my business day...). I'm 15 minutes from an airport at home and I love to watch how the jet contrails linger and change by evening.

Energy: Power stations.

Electrical power line towers.



Time: I love to photograph rock layers in parks and canyons and on cut-throughs for interstate highways. It keeps me grounded (no pun intended) that our planet has a history.


Moraines: which also make me think of weather over time. I Iearned about moraines back in college. They are mounds or debris fields that were pushed ahead of advancing glaciers and are left in place when the glacier retreats. I took some nice pictures this Summer in the Moraine Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado on vacation. Every time I see the sign for the Moraine View State Park, I am reminded to be grateful that the land that I'm standing on is not currently encased in a glacier as it was 15,000 years ago. Yay warming! Yay climate change over the history of our planet.


If you've read me online you know that I am a partisan on politics. Not so much on science issues, and I am certainly not "anti-science". I love science. I've loved science since I was a little boy and watched the moon landing live in '69. Since I spent hours drawing tracings of the X-15 space plane and then eventually worked in engineering at a major aerospace company. Since I was a high school Mathlete competing in geometric functions and orthogonal equations. Since I took and passed the requisite chemistry, biology, physics, and 4 semesters of calculus through differential equations in an engineering program at a Big Ten university. Since I studied technology in two of the US Air Force's best technical schools (honor graduate each time.) And mostly since I've worked in technological career fields my whole life, including working at the top of the game in American manufacturing in an "ology". (Metrology - "The Science of Measurement", which I'll come back to.)

But, here's the thing. I learned basic science before the internet turned every discussion into a spat among keepers of "the truth". And I've been engaged in practical science most of my career, which tempers my views on certainty, certainly on issues that have measurement results as their foundation. I've seen things in the measurement world that would give you pause to be so certain about things. Together, those two things give me a starting point and a point of view. I am not an expert on climate science. I am a layman. I read. I live. I work. I ponder. And I find that I am not in either of the two extreme camps on the internet on this topic. They are:

1. True Believer: "All scientists agree" that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is real, that is in large part due to the activities of mankind, that it poses a grave immediate danger, that governments must take action now, and that if you express scepticism at all you are a "denier". If you are in the “all scientists agree” camp, you can stop reading now, because you will not hear anything that I say in this post.

2. AGW is a "hoax", has no merit, and is pushed purely for political purposes. If you believe this, keep reading. I have some thoughts for you.

Neither is correct, in my humble opinion. And I find the use of the term "denier" to be loathsome in a discussion on science. I am a moderate on AGW. Let's look at how, letter by letter.

A - Anthropogenic.

I am generally attribute a great deal of the changes in both weather and climate that occur, and have over the whole history of our planet, to that big yellow variable-output heater in the sky called the sun. Surface temperatures have not statistically significantly increased in the last 16 years, a time when we’ve seen less sunspot activity than usual. We are a few months away from the sun reversing its poles – with South becoming North and vice versa – as itdoes every 11 years

"During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy, and as Earth orbits the Sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. This means we can see an uptick in space weather, with any solar storms affecting Earth more. So, there may be more auroras in our near future.”
Having said that, I see those contrails in the sky every day. I see those smokestacks belching smoke every day. It’s inescapable that it’s likely that man’s activities to power our homes and industries would be impacting the chemical composition of our atmosphere to some significant degree. So, yes, I am with the A for Anthropogenic in AGW.

G – Global

Oh, yes. I’ve traveled globally. I’ve been in China and seen real pollution – more pollution than America is generating right now. Any UN AGW plan that includes America but does not include India and China is fooling everyone. Our atmosphere is global.

And America can surely learn from foreign Green Technologies that reduce energy use. I was taken aback the first time that I checked into a hotel in Germany. I saw that my room’s key card had to be left in a slot in the room for anything to have power on and that, conversely, when I was out of my room nothing was consuming power. Wow! I was humbled to my core in that one little act. We have things we can learn and do better to reduce our need for energy. So, yes on G for Global.

W – Warming

Are you sure you want to commit to warming? To temperature trends in one direction? After all, I came of age in the 70’s when the hysteria was about Global Cooling. Do you think that I have forgotten that?

Actually, the language of the debate tells me that many of you don’t want to commit to “warming”. You’ve been burned by AGW conferences cancelled by blizzards too many times now to say “warming” in public. Hence was born the euphemism “Climate Change”. It still sounds daunting, but you won’t get embarrassed in the next mini ice age. Never mind that the climate has changed over the whole history of the planet, with cycles of ice ages covering where I live and then not. Never mind. Let’s get wound up about Climate Change.

I am not convinced on W for warming for the following reasons:

1. Surface temperatures have not increased a “statistically significant” amount since 1995. That’s per Phil Jones, AGW guru, and many others.

BBC: “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?”
Phil Jones: “Yes, but only just.”

2. The models used by climate scientist don’tfully explain that.
"But the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted."
The latest effort to explain is that the heat from CO2 is hiding at the bottom of oceans, and don’t you try to find that sneaky CO2 heat. They have new ballon thermometers down there trying to find it.

True believers have the unique ability to take in answers like that without snickering. Really.

3. Before you have temperature trends, you have temperature measurements as a foundation. I am keenly aware of that because of my 14 years as a metrologist.

4. Temperature measurements don’t have the absolute certainty that you think that they do. Not even digital readout thermometers. Especially digital readout thermometers. Trust me on that. I was at the top of the game in metrology, and operated million dollar temperature controlled gage labs with highly detailed measurement uncertainty calculations. Now add the certainty of mixing “proxy” data from tree rings and such, and tell me how certain you are of temperatures 1500 years ago to .1 degree Centigrade.

5. There are not an infinite number of base temperature measurement databases. According to the report the British Parliament issued after ClimateGate (which I read and you didn’t), there are basically three data sets that everyone shares for their analysis of trends. Those are East Anglia University – which supplies data to the UN’s panels, NASA, and NOAA. The last two consider their data sets inferior to the one at EAU.

6. The data set at EAU has been manipulated. Again, we learned that through ClimateGate. This was not well covered by the media. I discovered it in my reading of the emails and the UK Parliament report. There was a lot of focus on emails that admitted the “trick” that Michael Mann was recommending to others to fix data. The UK Parliament report waived that off, saying it just means it’s a recognized technique to correct data. Well, of course it is. I recognized the validity of using correction factors to adjust in response to a known data irregularity for an assignable cause. That’s not the problem, frankly. The problem is this: The EAU adjusted the data and then destroyed the original data set (because they were “out of memory space”). There is no way to go back and check if the legitimate corrections were correctly applied to the raw data – because the raw data is gone gone gone.

Last, I’ll add this thought. There is a difference between accuracy and precision. This is a basic principle of metrology. It’s on my test for my ASQ Certified Calibration Technician credential – which I still hold  -  every time. Precision is the degree of closeness of a data set. Accuracy is the degree of agreement with the actual value of the measurand. In other words, you can shoot a pretty tight grouping at the target range – and that is important – but your group may be well off the 10 ring bullseye. I see a pretty high degree of precision (grouping) in the trend analysis of climate scientists – and I regard that with respect. Is it accurate? Well, to me that depends on the accuracy of the underlying temperature data measurements and there are questions about how certain they are.

Do all scientists agree on AGW? Don’t let people tell you that they do. I’ll offer as an example a study that I read last week that was published in a peer reviewed journal titled "Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis". The authors were true believers that wanted to prove the bias of "geoscientists" and "engineers" that work in the petrochemical business. They surveyed 1007 of those scientists, and offered them 5 categories to choose from for their views. 1 catgegory was “true believer”, which only attracted 36% agreement. The skeptical view was split over the other four categories, which equals 64%. All scientists do not agree. The author’s answer would be that the oil scientists have a bias. It’s a bias that I’m okay with because I’ve been a working practical scientist (ologist) for most of my career and have an affinity for them. Plus, I would argue that people that make their living off of government grants have a bias to them as well. How many of them will write a grant proposal that says “the sun causes climate change and there’s not much we can do about it. Now give me a grant.”

The true believer will then point out that some huge percentage in the high 90s of peer reviewed studies agree that there’s AGW. What they don’t acknowledge is that some of those papers take a moderate view as I’ve outlined. None of the skeptics that I read take the hoax position – that there is nothing to AGW. So they would be counted in the high 90 percent. It’s not 90% true believer.

Science is not political, or should not be. But the Presidency is. The Congress is. The United Nations certainly is. There is a lot of UN activity that is flat out wealth redistribution from the first world to the third world. Climate change proposals are not immune from this. UN IPCCofficials admit this:

Edenhofer: First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

The bottom line for me is:

- Do we know enough about AGW to be pursuing reasonable, practical, and effective Green technologies for our power generation and our power usage? Yes we do.

- Do we know enough about AGW to begin implementing draconian tax schemes? No.

- Do we know enough about AGW to engage in UN wealth redistribution schemes? Absolutely no.

- Do we know enough about AGW for our President to propose killing the American coal industry that powers electrical plants (and provides jobs) in my town? Hell no.


That’s my take on AGW at this point in time. It is the moderate position, as far as I see it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Going to War in Syria? Against Whose WMDs?

Drudge linked a story this morning about the UN weapons inspectors looking into the gas attack in Syria were coming under fire.

That reminded me of the Duelfer report from Iraq.

Duelfer lead the Iraq Study Group looking for WMD's in Iraq after we went in. He eventually issued a final report on what they found. Of the people reading this post, I'm going to guess that I'm the only one who read Duelfer's full report when he issued it. Most media outlets reported that the group found no evidence of WMDs. Case closed.

But not every media outlet reported it that way.

What they didn't tell you was that Duelfer's group came under fire too. They got attacked when they tried to investigate reports that the WMDs were moved to Syria before we got there - reports that I think are credible. Two members of Duelfer's team were killed in the attack, and the site investigations stopped at that point. The team concluded that there was no official movements based on interviews with Iraqi scientists and Hussein himself after his capture. Did they interview General Sada - his Chief of Air Force - who claimed he flew the WMDs out in 53 sorties under cover of humanitarian aid? Not in any report that I see.

The reports say this:

"Based on the evidence available at present, ISG judged that it was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place," the addendum says.

- Well, what qualifies as "official"? Did Sada's flights qualify?

"Duelfer said the group found that Iraq had transferred military and other non-WMD material to Syria in violation of U.N. sanctions prior to the war."

Okay, there were some transfers to Syria. On Sada's flights? Or otherwise?

"The addendum says the group "could not rule out the possibility" of WMD transfers, as it was unable to complete its investigation. Site visits in Iraq were shut down last November because of security concerns, he said, noting the deaths of two team members from suicide bombings since September."

Bingo. Unable to rule it out because members of their team were killed and they reasonably stopped looking. So, don't rule it out.

"For now, this report is the best picture that could be drawn concerning the events, programs, policies, and underlying dynamics of the relationship of the former regime to WMD over the last three decades," Duelfer wrote.

- the best picture, but not a 100% picture.

Furthermore, the report does not rule out the possibility that unofficial transfers of "limited WMD-related materials" might have occurred.

- So don't you rule it out.

That report came out in 2004. You can find it if you look. I did, here.

We've learned other things since then. Two things come to mind:

WikiLeaks contained many documents that showed that WMDs were hunted and found after the report.

Chemical weapons were used in Syria last week. Where did they come from. Do we know?

Who used them? The Iranian-Soviet-Hezbollah backed government of Assad? Or the Sunni-Hamas-Obama backed rebels fighting under the black flag of a-lQaida.

Clearly, John Kerry and John McCain are beating the drums for war in Syria. The Obama administration will start the war without answers to the two questions (where did they come from and who used them).

Are you ready for war in Syria? Do you have an opinion on whether we should back the Shia radicals or the Sunni radicals in this civil war? Are you okay that Obama gave weapons to al-Qaida in this fight, and that the CIA trained "rebels" are advancing on Damascus - murdering Christians along the way?

Speak up...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Happened to Ethics and Customer Service

A fun little story of an epic fail in ethics and customer service today:

Taco Bell had a big sign right over the cashier today that got me for an impulse buy. Shredded Covered chicken burrito, $2.99. It's a deal. I'll take two. I added up my order in my head as I went, and the total she asked for seemed like more than it should have been. I paid it, but it bugged me as I ate. When I was leaving I noticed that there were no customers at the counter. So, I stopped by and asked for clarification.

Me: I don't understand the pricing on my receipt, and I was wondering if you could clear it up for me. I might be missing something.

Cashier: Okay, I'll try.

Me: Your sign right there says that the chicken smothered shredded burrito is $2.99 each. I ordered two. That would be six bucks. But on my receipt it's $7.98. What am I missing?

Manager, who came over to help: The chicken burritos are $3.99 each.

Me: Not on your sign. It's right there over your head. $2.99 each.

Manager: We'll it's $3.99 with tax.

Me: No. It's not. You have a separate line on the receipt for tax. And besides, the tax on three bucks is not a whole extra buck per burrito. The tax on my whole meal is $1.06.

Manager: We'll it says $3.99 on the computer.

Me: I can't see your computer. I can see your sign. I ordered from your sign. Your sign says $2.99

Manager: The sign is wrong. I can't change the price.

Me: You know that is the wrong answer, right? You charged me two dollars more than the advertised price.

Manager, taking the sign down in front of me: The price is $3.99. I can't change the price.

We'll we're not getting anywhere here. It's Sunday, and I just heard a great sermon, and I'm in a good mood, and I'm not getting through to this ethics challenged manager. So I left.

Before I got on my motorcycle though, I turned and walked back in. I saw that the manager had changed the sign to $3.99 - that quick - and hung it back up. I smiled and asked simply and politely "How can I contact the owner of this store?". She gave me a phone number, I thanked her, and I left.

If the owner of the Taco Bell is reading this, I have questions: What happened to customer service in America? To ethics? Well, the computer says what the computer says and that's that.

And, in the words of the paperboy to John Cusack way back in "Better off Dead": I want my two dollars.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More "Birther" Fun

Ah, heck. Birther stuff is back in the news, with this week's offering from Sen. Ted Cruz of his Canadian birth certificate in anticipation of a possible presidential run. Now we have to talk about it again. It's not top on my list of things to talk about in a week when the Mideast is on fire, but there is one fun aspect of it.

I wrote an article on my previous blog Partisan News Junkie about my take on the Obama eligibility issue. It was a nuanced position: I'm not a birther, but I understand their argument and thought it was the most misstated and misreported story of the 2008 election. The real challenge is not his place of birth, but his dual US / British citizenship at birth due through his father. The "Natural-Born Citizen" requirement in the Constitution - a subset of all possible citizens - was about allegiance. They understandably didn't want dual allegiance after fighting a revolution with England. Natural law at the time of the founding traced natural born citizenship through the father.

Then I wrote a post on this blog about what I considered Marco Rubio's eligibility problem. Born in the US, yes. But his parents weren't US citizens at his birth. They were Cuban, and were naturalized after his birth. Dual allegiance? Is that why he's pushing (and lying about) the immigration bill so doggedly? My argument then was that for Birthers to be consistent you would have to challenge Rubio's eligibility as a NBC - per the child of two citizens test - also. If Obama is ineligible, Rubio is ineligible. And I'm okay with that.

Now we have Senator Ted Cruz, tea party favorite, who I like a lot. But, his dual allegiance at birth is a problem worth discussing. Born out of the country, with dual US/Canadian citizenship, to a father who is not a US citizen. Worst case, in terms of eligibility.

There is one and only one job in America that has a restrictive requirement for a Natural-Born citizen, as specified in our founding document the Constitution. I know many of you think that it is silly, and I know our current President has established a pattern of disregarding law that he doesn't like. But, until you go through the right channels to change it, the NBC requirement is still binding.

If Obama is ineligible as described above, and I stress if, then so is Rubio and Cruz. And I'm fine with that. There are enough talented people in the country that can serve as president that we don't need to violate the Constitution just because we favor one particular candidate. Let's pick one of the remaining 300 million Americans that is clearly eligible on all counts, and get on with it in 2016.

But, here's the fun part: by protecting Obama on the eligibility question, leftists have also immunized Rubio - and probably Cruz (who is a citizen). Ha!

So, I get to eat my cake (thinking Rubio and Cruz may be ineligible) and have it too (getting to vote for them because you guys immunized Obama). Big fun!

Not that it matters. At all. The GOP House will cave on Rubio's "Gang of 8" amnesty sellout, and the Democratic party is in a permanent majority all the way to the impending crash. It matters not if it's Rubio or Cruz or Paul or Christie or any of the rest of the field. The eligibility chat is just a parlor game. And a tired one at that.

Now, are we going to talk about the Obama foreign policy crashing and burning on the continent of his father?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

If a Republican President had said this...

From George Will - on Obama changing the terms of the ObamaCare law without authority to do so:
"Explaining his decision to unilaterally rewrite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said: “I didn’t simply choose to” ignore the statutory requirement for beginning in 2014 the employer mandate to provide employees with health care. No, “this was in consultation with businesses.”

So, let me get this straight: the President arbitrarily delayed the collection of "taxes" (the imposition of the employer mandate) on businesses after consultation with businesses.

If a Republican President did that - delayed taxes on businesses after consultation with businesses - he would be excoriated in the press for being in bed with businesses. There would be no skin left on a Republican president, journalistically. It would be thermonuclear war, journalistically. "Republican president does bidding of business..." in every media outlet.

Yet....America yawns.

It's not even true. He did it because his party would get slaughtered in the midterms if they actually implement this abomination in an election year. It's outrageous.

Still, his fake explanation should draw some outrage too, no?

Where is everyone? Is the President of the United States arbitrarily tweaking laws not enough to outrage anyone anymore?

No? We really are past the tipping point.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Still a Nation of Laws?

So, we are at the point where our lawless President can stroll to the podium in front of his dutiful scribes and dazzle them with smooth explanations for his unconstitutional actions in revising a law that will otherwise hurt his party in the midterm elections - and the nation yawns.

George Will argues eloquently that in making "tweaks" to a law outside of his authority, he has outdone Nixon:

"Obama’s audacity is more spacious; it encompasses a right to disregard any portion of any law pertaining to any subject at any time when the political “environment” is difficult.

Obama should be embarrassed that, by ignoring the legal requirement concerning the employer mandate, he has validated critics who say the ACA cannot be implemented as written. What does not embarrass him is his complicity in effectively rewriting the ACA for the financial advantage of self-dealing members of Congress and their staffs."

Wake up, friends.

President Obama's domestic policy - including his signature law which was predictably not viable - is unraveling. His foreign policy, such as it is, is aflame in the Mideast. 

Are you really okay with the President altering a law in any way he likes because he has political opposition?

Are you really okay with the President providing lethal military arms to al-Qaida jihadists in Libya and Syria, and to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?

Are you really okay with the surveillance state he is building?

I'm asking...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Putting the MB Genie Back in the Bottle

The military is taking power in Egypt and declaring a state of emergency to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood. We've seen this show before....

A lot of people who cheering the Arab Spring in Egypt in 2011, and the ousting of Hosni Mubarak forget how Mubarak came to be the leader. After Sadat was assassainated by the Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak instituted a state of emergency to suppress the Brotherhood which ultimately lasted more than 30 years.

It lasted, that is, until the Arab Spring took the boot off of the neck of the MB, and the evil genie was out of the bottle.

A year later, the military is attempting to put the boot back on the neck. We'll see how it goes this time, when the whole of the Mideast seems to be on fire.

Prayers for the Coptic Christians under attack this week.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Super-cool with "Rebels"

Please fill in the blank for me in the question.

Our President has engaged our government in acts of providing lethal military weaponry to openly al-Qaida affiliated radical islamic jihadist "rebels" in efforts to depose or kill foreign leaders without an authorizing vote of our Congress, and I am super-cool with this because___________________.

Note: Your answer should not include "But.....Bush!"