Monday, July 27, 2009

In Memory of my Friend

I lost a friend today. One of the most memorable men I've ever met. A loyal friend, a sparkling personality, a jovial demeanor, a love of sports and a sharp intellect that left you spinning the first time you encountered him. Francis G. Habalo was born in December 31, 1961, and passed away on July 27, 2009. He was a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, Class of 1983, where he received a BS in Management Engineering.

Francis was, as we are taught to say in this day and age, differently abled. But his exuberant spirit overshadowed any physical problem and left you with the feeling that there was nothing the man could not accomplish. A rake who loved beautiful women, a kind soul who would listen to your problems, a comedian with a rapier wit that would leave you coughing with laughter at the most inopportune moment, Francis was a man to reckon with and a friend to all.

His going was sudden although he had battled physical problems before. It is characteristic that he posted as his status on Facebook only a few hours before leaving this plane a quote from Sigmund Freud, “What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.”

I can hear his spirit now, rejoicing in the words of Martin Luther King, “Free at last! Free at last. Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!” May you rest in peace, my friend. We will all miss you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Exchange with the ObamaCare Promoters

Today I received the following, albeit forwarded from a friend:

I'm sending this to people I know, because Health Reform is too important to let it fail without putting in an effort to pass it. As President Obama made clear Wednesday, inaction is not an option on health insurance reform. Its fate could be decided in Congress in the coming days -- and your representatives are crucial to making sure we pass a strong bill.

Will you PLEASE pick up the phone today and ask your representatives to support health insurance reform in 2009?

If you live in California's 6th congressional district. Please call:

Rep. Lynn Woolsey at 202-225-5161.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein at 202-224-3841.
Sen. Barbara Boxer at 202-224-3553.

(Not your representatives? Click here to look yours up.)

Just tell the person who answers the phone that you're a constituent, and that you urge your representatives to support real health insurance reform in 2009 that reduces costs, guarantees choice -- including a strong public insurance option -- and ensures quality care for all.

Then click below to report where they stand:

The opponents of reform will stop at nothing to block the President's plan and prop up the broken status quo. Right now, special interests are spending millions on lobbyists to spread misinformation and bully Congress into turning their backs on their constituents.

But together, we are stronger than that.

We know that each door knocked and every call made during the campaign was crucial to putting President Obama in the White House. Today, each call to Congress brings us one step closer to putting the health of all Americans before special interests.

Thanks for your support,


So I sent a somewhat cheeky reply:

Dear Ms. ____:

I most certainly agree that inaction is not an option. Having had some opportunity to read the bill in question I find it hard to believe that the authors of the bill missed some tried and true methods in winnowing out the undesirables in our population. Certainly it is necessary to limit the amount of care given to the "older" generations because they just aren't earning any more and by golly if they can't pay taxes they need to be put to sleep! Let's not mince around with having counseling sessions every 5 years for those on Social Security on ways they can bring it all to an end. We should be more proactive! Give them 5 years after retirement and then off to a recycling plant!

But I noticed one thing that troubles me. The President, the Vice President and members of the House and Senate get to keep their current health plan. I know it's better than anything that any of us common people can afford so I understand that they do like their own health care. But don't you think that if the proposed health care plan was so good they would want themselves and their families to be under it, too? Gosh, I wonder...

Actually, the first paragraph makes as much sense as the health bill being pushed by the President; and, yes, Ms. Fink, inaction is not an option. From what has been put forth by the House and the Senate the action that America really needs to take is against those currently in office. You can bet that's the action I'm going to take. I will contribute to, and work for, the election of ONLY those who vote against, and defeat, such a monstrous notion as is before the House and Senate now. This bill must be defeated.

Do we need to take action to improve health care? Absolutely! We already have the best in the world--why else do people from every other country want to come here for treatment--but that doesn't mean that we can't do it better. We absolutely need to get the lawyers and bureaucrats out of medicine, undertake serious tort reform and provide the opportunity for health care to everyone. But opportunity isn't equal outcome and socialism is not the answer.

You can be sure I'll be calling my "employees" in government and telling them exactly what I think and exactly what they should do. And if they don't do it, I'll work hard to ensure that they are out of a job come the next election. After all, I have time to do that now that I'm 60-years old and retired. I know if I don't work hard at taking action, the "liberal progressives" amongst us will be sending me off to a recycling plant as soon as they think they can get away with it. So you can be sure that I'm out knocking on doors and spreading the news and gathering the votes. I'm all about action. Just not the action you want.


William C. Bish
Gainesville, VA

And then, to my surprise, received the following:

Hi Mr. Bish,

Thank you very much for your response. I know for me personally, I didn't have any Health Care issues while I was teaching for the last 20 years. However, when I retired last year, my health insurance coverage was dropped. I tried getting good rates since I am a very active and healthy 60 year old. However, I was told that since I am on cholesterol medicine, that means I have a pre-existing condition, and they wouldn't insure me. The only policy we could get, was with Kaiser for $818 per month, which covers only me and my husband....none of our kids. And they just informed me that it will now cost $945 per month. That's a lot of money when you're on a retirement salary!
That's the main reason that I'd like to see something passed quickly. I can't afford almost $1000 per month for health care insurance...and that's if I never even go to the doctor.
Again, thanks for taking the time to respond.

So I replied:

Mrs. ____:

I am also 60 which you know if you read my full response. You'd better read the bill before selling your health care to Washington. The government can't run social security properly. They've failed at Medicare and Medicaid. They can't do immigration right and the last time I looked they were running so deep in the red that if the government had to really answer to stockholders on a yearly basis they'd all be fired. The people who wrote the bill are not businessmen nor are the people who will put it into action. If you want to have your life controlled by a factotum in Washington, have at it. I'm a 60 year old cancer survivor who would not have gotten the treatment in England or Canada under the socialized medicine that is proposed today. And yes I pay more because of a pre-existing condition so don't give me that song and dance.

Maybe you should sit down and read the bill before you shill for it. I did. It is not what either of us need.


William C. Bish
Gainesville, VA

What struck me is that the lady identified herself as a teacher. I sit here thinking about the young minds that she molded over the 20 years that she was teaching and it dawned on me that one of the problems that we have is that there are so many out there who are educated idiots. And people like "Sherry" (yes, I deleted her surname on purpose) are responsible for voters who had no idea what they were voting for. They only knew that it made them feel good and that was what was important. They thought only of the moment and not of the future.

Maybe Americans need to get more closely involved with their schools so that we know what they are teaching our children. Trying to educate them when they are 21 and voting for the "feel good" candidate instead of the actual issues has not worked too well in recent years.

ObamaCare and Senior Citizens

One of the most damning issues that has been studiously avoided by the Main Stream Media is the effect of the proposed health care reform on seniors. Some may accuse me of being over-sensitive to this issue because of my age and they might be right. Be that as it may, denying care to those who are no longer considered “productive” is a central element of the Democrat’s health care proposal for you can’t control costs unless you dictate on whom and how the money is to be spent.

The medical advisors to President Obama believe that those who can no longer produce, i.e., earn and pay taxes, should only be given pablum and real medical care should be reserved only for those that can continue to contribute to society. In other words, they believe in the long discredited science of eugenics that we thought we had destroyed along with Hitler’s Third Reich.

A strong comparison you say? A far reach? The bill, consisting of over 1,000 pages, is there for all to read if they can get a copy--the House has made that difficult--and the adherence to eugenics by White House Science czar John Holdren is factual. He co-authored a book on the subject and is still a proponent of bureaucrats, not doctors or family, dictating health care decisions.

So it appears that the “Change” that we were promised is one in which there will be no more “differently abled” on the streets. There will be no old people to be seen. Those with incurable diseases will disappear quietly into holding areas where they will be given drugs to ease their pain but not with an intent to heal. We will have a society with only beautiful, thin people walking around knowing that their existence is completely dependent on the whims of the government. They will be afraid to dissent for fear of landing on the "wrong list" and being denied health care.

The final straw? Congressmen, Senators, The President and the Vice President along with, I presume, the Cabinet and all the czars will not be under the program. They will keep their current health care system paid for by the productive citizens that are left.

The only “Hope” we have is that this abomination can be stopped and the authors sent packing in the next election.

To read the Wall Street Journal's Opinion on the matter, click on the title of this post.

Rush on ObamaCare

All should watch this clip.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Liberal Hypocrisy

Obama to Repeal Bush Abortion RegulationShare
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
"Obama to repeal Bush-era rule that helped seal job protections for doctors who refused services (i.e. abortions) for moral qualms..."

In the world according to President Obama, a liberal who acts out of conscience is to be admired and emulated. A conservative, however, who acts out of conscience may be punished if that goes against liberal beliefs.

It seems he promised change but the voters forgot to ask him what he meant by "change." I find it odd that liberals are so willing to allow the death of an innocent child but so rabidly opposed to the execution of a criminal. But maybe that's because the criminal might be able to vote but they will have to wait for a long time before the baby can cast a ballot.

On Slavery

I originally posted this on Facebook on February 11, 2009.

The English, from whom we draw much, but not all, of our heritage were once a proud people having forced the monarchy into a figurehead status where they were no longer governed by divine right or whim but by their own elected parliament. In the 21st century, however, we see them as again being subjugated to the ruling class. Not to King or Queen but, even worse, to politically correct politicians. They cannot be sure of decent health care having surrendered that to the government bureaucracy. They cannot be sure of the supremacy of their own courts as they are now on the verge of allowing shari'ah law among a significant portion of their own citizenry. They cannot be sure of their own right to worship freely or to banner their own religion for fear of offending those of a different religious stripe.

How did this happen to those whom we proudly fought along side in defeating tyranny? How did they allow themselves to become enslaved by the State that owed it's existence to them? I submit that it was their willing abdication in allowing the government to assume control of what was rightly their personal responsibility: That they provide and care for themselves. The process was not a quick one, nor did they plan for it. It began when the government, the tool of the people, began making people the tools of the government. The socialized standards that were imposed "for the good of all" took liberty from all.

Sadly, they have little redress. They could, of course rise in rebellion but that's been bred out of the English. They long ago surrendered their own right to bear arms to the government "for the good of all" failing to realize that the main difference between a slave and a free man is the very right to bear arms. It's a small thing, except to those who still, in a medieval manner, impute evil in inanimate objects; but the ability to bear arms is one of the main differences between Americans and the British. Enshrined in our Constitution as the 2nd Amendment, it differentiates Americans from all others.

Americans are not likely to need to rise up in arms against a tyrannical government; but we are safe and secure in our own homes when we freely exercise our God given right to self-defense. Even more, the symbolism that the right to keep and bear arms provides is that the government is ever controlled by the governed. I pray that we will work hard to keep and protect all of the Bill of Rights for they are all interdependent. To lose one will lead to the loss of all. I pray that we do not follow the path to enslavement by a government acting "for our own good." I pray that we do not end up like our British brethren but that we learn from their errors.

My Take on Global Warming

I originally posted this on Facebook on March 3, 2009. I've seen nothing to change my mind since that time.

I've had a couple of friends who have subtly wondered about my sanity for my stated position in opposition to the Global Warming hysteria fostered by the Church of Gore. They have all been younger than me so probably don't realize that my skepticism is founded on the "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" basis of personal experience with the prophets of weather doom. Decades ago it was cooling. Using the same weather patterns the scientists back then, some real and some faux, pounded the drums of doom and blew the trumpets of fear to announce that before the 21st century we'd be locked in another ice age.

It didn't happen then. And the prognostications of the present batch of over zealous experts won't happen this time, either. As my father once said, if you want to know the weather you'd best rely on the almanac (being a farmer he meant the Farmer's Almanac) rather than the TV weatherman. (Dad was an excellent and respected farmer back home not because he was well educated but because he had common sense. An increasingly rare commodity.)

So my position is not based on pure science any more than is Al Gore's because pure science is not settled on this issue. Politicized science, at least since the last election seems to be settled, but not pure science. You shouldn't make the mistake, however, of thinking that I don't believe that the climate changes. I do because history tells us so and we know that the earth has been warming since the end of the last ice age somewhere over 10,000 years ago. And I suspect that the weather will continue to warm up until the start of the next ice age somewhere in the as yet unpredictable future. What I disagree with is the premise that humans are the sole cause of Global Warming. That insults my intelligence and should insult the intelligence of any thinking person. (The "Human's Did It" theory appears to me to be used as a justification for more governmental control over people.) I could go on and on, but a the following testimony does a much better job of placing the issue in it's proper perspective. For those of you who wish a dose of healthy skepticism--and a reminder of why we had to study history and were told to remember it--read on.

Global Warming and Climate Change in Perspective: Truths and Myths About Carbon Dioxide, Scientific Consensus, and Climate Models
by William Happer (February28,2009)

Statement to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by William Happer, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics Princeton University, made on February 25, 2009.

Madam Chairman and members, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee on Environment and Public Works to testify on Climate Change. My name is William Happer, and I am the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. I am not a climatologist, but I don't think any of the other witnesses are either. I do work in the related field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. I have spent my professional life studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation withgases - one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect. I have published over 200 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. I am a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. I have done extensive consulting work for the US Government and Industry. I also served as the Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy (DOE) from 1990 to 1993, where I supervised all of DOE's work on climate change. I have come here today as a concerned citizen to express my personal views, and those of many like me, about US climate-change policy. These are not official views of my main employer, Princeton University, nor of any other organization with which I am associated.

Let me state clearly where I probably agree with the other witnesses. We have been in a period of global warming over the past 200 years, but there have been several periods, like the last ten years, when the warming has ceased, and there have even been periods of substantial cooling, as from 1940 to 1970. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased from about 280 to 380 parts per million over past 100 years. The combustion of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, has contributed to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. And finally, increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the earth's surface to warm. The key question is: will the net effect of the warming, and any other effects of the CO2, be good or bad for humanity?

I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind. I predict that future historians will look back on this period much as we now view the period just before the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit "the manufacturing, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors." At the time, the 18th amendment seemed to be exactly the right thing to do - who wanted to be in league with demon rum? It was the 1917 version of saving the planet. More than half the states enacted prohibition laws before the 18th amendment was ratified. Only one state, Rhode Island, voted against the 18th amendment. Two states, Illinois and Indiana, never got around to voting and all the rest voted for it. There were many thoughtful people, including a majority of Rhode Islanders, who thought that prohibition might do more harm than good. But they were completely outmatched by the temperance movement, whose motives and methods had much in common with the movement to stop climate change. Deeply sincere people thought they were saving humanity from the evils of alcohol, just as many people now sincerely think they are saving humanity from the evils of CO2. Prohibition was a mistake, and our country has probably still not fully recovered from the damage it did. Institutions like organized crime got their start in that era. Drastic limitations on CO2 are likely to damage our country in analogous ways.

But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about? In a word, they are wildly exaggerated, just as the purported benefits of prohibition were wildly exaggerated. Let me turn now to the science and try to explain why I and many scientists like me are not alarmed by increasing levels of CO2.

The earth's climate really is strongly affected by the greenhouse effect, although the physics is not the same as that which makes real, glassed-in greenhouses work. Without greenhouse warming, the earth would be much too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. However, at least 90% of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide is a bit player. There is little argument in the scientific community that a direct effect of doubling the CO2 concentration will be a small increase of the earth's temperature -- on the order of one degree. Additional increments of CO2 will cause relatively less direct warming because we already have so much CO2 in the atmosphere that it has blocked most of the infrared radiation that it can. It is like putting an additional ski hat on your head when you already have a nice warm one below it, but your are only wearing a windbreaker. To really get warmer, you need to add a warmer jacket. The IPCC thinks that this extra jacket is water vapor and clouds.

Since most of the greenhouse effect for the earth is due to water vapor and clouds, added CO2 must substantially increase water's contribution to lead to the frightening scenarios that are bandied about. The buzz word here is that there is "positive feedback." With each passing year, experimental observations further undermine the claim of a large positive feedback from water. In fact, observations suggest that the feedback is close to zero and may even be negative. That is, water vapor and clouds may actually diminish the already small global warming expected from CO2, not amplify it. The evidence here comes from satellite measurements of infraredradiation escaping from the earth into outer space, from measurements of sunlight reflected from clouds and from measurements of the temperature the earth's surface or of the troposphere, the roughly 10 km thick layer of the atmosphere above the earth's surface that is filled with churning air and clouds, heated from below at the earth's surface, and cooled at the top by radiation into space.

But the climate is warming and CO2 is increasing. Doesn't this prove that CO2 is causing global warming through the greenhouse effect? No, the current warming period began about 1800 at the end of the little ice age, long before there was an appreciable increase of CO2. There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels. The current warming also seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Over the past ten years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling. This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC models.

The climate has changed many times in the past with no help by mankind. Recall that the Romans grew grapes in Britain around the year 100, and Viking settlers prospered on small farms in Greenland for several centuries during the Medieval Climate Optimum around 1100. People have had an urge to control the climate throughout history so I suppose it is no surprise that we are at it again today. For example, in June of 1644, the Bishop of Geneva led a flock of believers to the face of a glacier that was advancing "by over a musket shot" every day. The glacier would soon destroy a village. The Bishop and his flock prayed over the glacier, and it is said to have stopped. The poor Vikings had long since abandoned Greenland where the advancing glaciers and cooling climate proved much less susceptible to prayer. Sometimes the obsession for control of the climate got a bit out of hand, as in the Aztec state, where the local scientific/religious establishment of the year 1500 had long since announced that the debate was over and that at least 20,000 human sacrifices a year were needed to keep the sun moving, the rain falling, and to stop climate change. The widespread dissatisfaction of the people who were unfortunate enough to be the source of these sacrifices played an important part in the success of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
The existence of climate variability in the past has long been an embarrassment to those who claim that all climate change is due to man and that man can control it. When I was a schoolboy, my textbooks on earth science showed a prominent "medieval warm period" at the time the Vikings settled Greenland, followed by a vicious "little ice age" that drove them out. So I was very surprised when I first saw the celebrated "hockey stick curve," in the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. I could hardly believe my eyes. Both the little ice age and the Medieval Warm Period were gone, and the newly revised temperature of the world since the year 1000 had suddenly become absolutely flat until the last hundred years when it shot up like the blade on a hockey stick. This was far from an obscure detail, and the hockey stick was trumpeted around the world as evidence that the end was near. We now know that the hockey stick has nothing to do with reality but was the result of incorrect handling of proxy temperature records and incorrect statistical analysis. There really was a little ice age and there really was a medieval warm period that was as warm or warmer than today. I bring up the hockey stick as a particularly clear example that the IPCC summaries for policy makers are not dispassionate statements of the facts of climate change. It is a shame, because many of the IPCC chapters are quite good. The whole hockey-stick episode reminds me of the motto of Orwell's Ministry of Information in the novel "1984:" "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." The IPCC has made no serious attempt to model the natural variations of the earth's temperature in the past. Whatever caused these large past variations, it was not due to people burning coal and oil. If you can't model the past, where you know the answer pretty well, how can you model the future?

Many of us are aware that we are living in an ice age, where we have hundred-thousand-year intervals of big continental glaciers that cover much of the land area of the northern hemisphere, interspersed with relative short interglacial intervals like the one we are living in now. By looking at ice cores from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, one can estimate past temperatures and atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Al Gore likes to display graphs of temperature and CO2 concentrations over the past million years or so, showing that when CO2 rises, the temperature also rises. Doesn't this prove that the temperature is driven by CO2? Absolutely not! If you look carefully at these records, you find that first the temperature goes up, and then the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere goes up. There is a delay between a temperature increase and a CO2 increase of about 800 years. This casts serious doubt on CO2 as a climate driver because of the fundamental concept of causality. A cause must precede its effect. For example, I hear my furnace go on in the morning about six o'clock, and by about 7 o'clock, I notice that my house is now so warm that I have too many covers on my bed. It is time to get up. It would never occur to me to assume that the furnace started burning gas at 6 o'clock because the house got warm at 7 o'clock. Sure, temperature and gas burning are correlated, just like temperature and atmospheric levels of CO2. But the thing that changes first is the cause. In the case of the ice cores, the cause of increased CO2 is almost certainly the warming of the oceans. The oceans release dissolved CO2 when they warm up, just like a glass of beer rapidly goes flat in a warm room. If not CO2, then what really causes the warming at the end of the cold periods of ice ages? A great question and one of the reasons I strongly support research in climate.

I keep hearing about the "pollutant CO2," or about "poisoning the atmosphere" with CO2, or about minimizing our "carbon footprint." This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving "pollutant" and "poison" of their original meaning. Our exhaled breath contains about 4% CO2. That is 40,000 parts per million, or about 100 times the current atmospheric concentration. CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth. Commercial greenhouse operators often use CO2 as a fertilizer to improve the health and growth rate of their plants. Plants, and our own primate ancestors evolved when the levels of atmospheric CO2 were about 1000 ppm, a level that we will probably not reach by burning fossil fuels, and far above our current level of about 380 ppm. We try to keep CO2 levels in our US Navy submarines no higher than 8,000 parts per million, about 20 time current atmospheric levels. Few adverse effects are observed at even higher levels.

We are all aware that "the green revolution" has increased crop yields around the world. Part of this wonderful development is due to improved crop varieties, better use of mineral fertilizers, herbicides, etc. But no small part of the yield improvement has come from increased atmospheric levels of CO2. Plants photosynthesize more carbohydrates when they have more CO2. Plants are also more drought-tolerant with more CO2, because they need not "inhale" as much air to get the CO2 needed for photosynthesis. At the same time, the plants need not "exhale" as much water vapor when they are using air enriched in CO2. Plants decrease the number of stomata or air pores on their leaf surfaces in response to increasing atmospheric levels of CO2. They are adapted to changing CO2 levels and they prefer higher levels than those we have at present. If we really were to decrease our current level of CO2 of around 400 ppm to the 270 ppm that prevailed a few hundred years ago, we would lose some of the benefits of the green revolution. Crop yields will continue to increase as CO2 levels go up, since we are far from the optimum levels for plant growth. Commercial greenhouse operators are advised to add enough CO2 to maintain about 1000 ppm around their plants. Indeed, economic studies like those of Dr. Robert Mendelsohn at Yale University project that moderate warming is an overall benefit to mankind because of higher agricultural yields and many other reasons.

I remember being forced to read Voltaire's novel, Candide, when I was young. You recall that Dr. Pangloss repeatedly assured young Candide that he was living in "the best of all possible worlds," presumably also with the best of all CO2 concentrations. That we are (or were) living at the best of all CO2 concentrations seems to be a tacit assumption of the IPCC executive summaries for policy makers. Enormous effort and imagination have gone into showing that increasing concentrations of CO2 will be catastrophic, cities will be flooded by sea-level rises that are ten or more times bigger than even IPCC predicts, there will be mass extinctions of species, billions of people will die, tipping points will render the planet a desert. A few months ago I read that global warming will soon bring on a devastating epidemic of kidney stones. If you write down all the ills attributed to global warming you fill up a very thick book.

Much is made about tropical diseases like malaria and yellow fever devastating the populations of temperate climates because of the burning of fossil fuels and the subsequent warming of the earth. Many people who actually work with tropical diseases, notably Dr. Paul Reiter, a specialist on tropical diseases, have pointed out how silly all of this is. Perhaps I can add a few bits of history to illustrate this point. One of the first military expenditures of the Continental Congress in 1775 was $300 to purchase quinine for the Continental Army and to mitigate the effects of malaria. The Continental Congress moved from the then Capital of the United States , Philadelphia, to my home town of Princeton, New Jersey, in the summer of 1783 for two reasons. The first was that the Congress had not yet paid many soldiers of the Revolutionary War their promised wages, and disgruntled veterans were wandering up and down the streets of Philadelphia. Secondly, there were outbreaks of malaria in cities as far north as Boston. The Congress knew you were less likely to catch malaria in Princeton than in Philadelphia. In 1793 there was not only malaria, but a horrendous outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia. Many thousands of people died in a city with a population of about 50,000. And I should point out that Philadelphia was a bit cooler then than now, since the little ice age was just coming to an end. Controlling tropical diseases and many other diseases has little to do with temperature, and everything to do with curtailing the factors that cause the spread - notably mosquitoes in the case of malaria and yellow fever.

Many of the frightening scenarios about global warming come from large computer calculations, "general circulation models," that try to mimic the behavior of the earth's climate as more CO2 is added to the atmosphere. It is true that climate models use increasingly capable and increasingly expensive computers. But their predictions have not been very good. For example, none of them predicted the lack of warming that we have experienced during the past ten years. All the models assume the water feedback is positive, while satellite observations suggest that the feedback is zero or negative.

Modelers have been wrong before. One of the most famous modeling disputes involved the physicist William Thompson, later Lord Kelvin, and the naturalist Charles Darwin. Lord Kelvin was a great believer in models and differential equations. Charles Darwin was not particularly facile with mathematics, but he took observations very seriously. For evolution to produce the variety of living and fossil species that Darwin had observed, the earth needed to have spent hundreds of millions of years with conditions not very different from now. With his mathematical models, Kelvin rather pompously demonstrated that the earth must have been a hellish ball of molten rock only a few tens of millions of years ago, and that the sun could not have been shining for more than about 30 million years. Kelvin was actually modeling what he thought was global and solar cooling. I am sorry to say that a majority of his fellow physicists supported Kelvin. Poor Darwin removed any reference to the age of the earth in later editions of the "Origin of the Species." But Darwin was right the first time, and Kelvin was wrong. Kelvin thought he knew everything but he did not know about the atomic nucleus, radioactivity and nuclear reactions, all of which invalidated his elegant modeling calculations.

This brings up the frequent assertion that there is a consensus behind the idea that there is an impending disaster from climate change, and that it may already be too late to avert this catastrophe, even if we stop burning fossil fuels now. We are told that only a few flat-earthers still have any doubt about the calamitous effects of continued CO2 emissions. There are a number of answers to this assertion.

First, what is correct in science is not determined by consensus but by experiment and observations. Historically, the consensus is often wrong, and I just mentioned the incorrect consensus of modelers about the age of the earth and the sun. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia the medical consensus was that you could cure almost anything by bleeding the patient. Benjamin Rush, George Washington's Surgeon General during the War of Independence, and a brave man, stayed in Philadelphia throughout the yellow fever epidemic. He worked tirelessly to save the stricken by bleeding them, the consensus treatment of the day. A few cautious observers noticed that you were more likely to survive the yellow fever without the services of the great man. But Dr. Rush had plenty of high level-friends and he was backed up by the self-evident consensus, so he went ahead with his ministrations. In summary, a consensus is often wrong.

Secondly, I do not think there is a consensus about an impending climate crisis. I personally certainly don't believe we are facing a crisis unless we create one for ourselves, as Benjamin Rush did by bleeding his patients. Many others, wiser than I am, share my view. The number of those with the courage to speak out is growing. There may be an illusion of consensus. Like the temperance movement one hundred years ago the climate-catastrophe movement has enlisted the mass media, the leadership of scientific societies, the trustees of charitable foundations, and many other influential people to their cause. Just as editorials used to fulminate about the slippery path to hell behind the tavern door, hysterical op-ed's lecture us today about the impending end of the planet and the need to stop climate change with bold political action. Many distinguished scientific journals now have editors who further the agenda of climate-change alarmism. Research papers with scientific findings contrary to the dogma of climate calamity are rejected by reviewers, many of whom fear that their research funding will be cut if any doubt is cast on the coming climate catastrophe. Speaking of the Romans, then invading Scotland in the year 83, the great Scottish chieftain Calgacus is quoted as saying "They make a desert and call it peace." If you have the power to stifle dissent, you can indeed create the illusion of peace or consensus. The Romans have made impressive inroads into climate science. Certainly, it is a bit unnerving to read statements of Dr. James Hansen in the Congressional Record that climate skeptics are guilty of "high crimes against humanity and nature."

Even elementary school teachers and writers of children's books are enlisted to terrify our children and to promote the idea of impending climate doom. Having observed the education of many children, including my own, I am not sure how effective the effort will be. Many children seem to do just the opposite of what they are taught. Nevertheless, children should not be force-fed propaganda, masquerading as science. Many of you may know that in 2007 a British Court ruled that if Al Gore's book, "An Inconvenient Truth," was used in public schools, the children had to be told of eleven particularly troubling inaccuracies. You can easily find a list of the inaccuracies on the internet, but I will mention one. The court ruled that it was not possible to attribute hurricane Katrina to CO2. Indeed, had we taken a few of the many billions of dollars we have been spending on climate change research and propaganda and fixed the dykes and pumps around the New Orleans, most of the damage from Hurricane Katrina could have been avoided.

The sea level is indeed rising, just as it has for the past 20,000 years since the end of the last ice age. Fairly accurate measurements of sea level have been available since about 1800. These measurements show no sign of any acceleration. The rising sea level can be a serious local problem for heavily-populated, low-lying areas like New Orleans, where land subsidence compounds the problem. But to think that limiting CO2 emissions will stop sea level rise is a dangerous illusion. It is also possible that the warming seas around Antarctica will cause more snowfall over the continent and will counteract the sea-level rise. In any case, the rising sea level is a problem that needs quick local action for locations like New Orleans rather than slow action globally.

In closing, let me say again that we should provide adequate support to the many brilliant scientists, some at my own institution of Princeton University, who are trying to better understand the earth's climate, now, in the past, and what it may be in the future. I regret that the climate-change issue has become confused with serious problems like secure energy supplies, protecting our environment, and figuring out where future generations will get energy supplies after we have burned all the fossil fuel we can find. We should not confuse these laudable goals with hysterics about carbon footprints. For example, when weighing pluses and minuses of the continued or increased use of coal, the negative issue should not be increased atmospheric CO2, which is probably good for mankind. We should focus on real issues like damage to the land and waterways by strip mining, inadequate remediation, hazards to miners, the release of real pollutants and poisons like mercury, other heavy metals, organic carcinogens, etc. Life is about making decisions and decisions are about trade-offs. The Congress can choose to promote investment in technology that addresses real problems and scientific research that will let us cope with real problems more efficiently. Or they can act on unreasonable fears and suppress energy use, economic growth and the benefits that come from the creation of national wealth.

William Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University where his main areas of focus have been on atomic, molecular and optical physics. His professional work has been in studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases -- one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect.

As always, your point of view in a comment is welcome.

A Classless Act

I first posted the following on my Facebook page on March 7, 2009. I believe it still has relevance today.

When I first heard the story of the diplomatic faux pas committed by President Obama in his treatment of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife I shook my head in wonder at the President’s lack of diplomatic skill. As the story continued to unfold my wonder disappeared and I was truly aghast at the insulting manner with which the President treated the Prime Minister of one of our staunchest, albeit not oldest, allies. (Alas, the French have that distinction. Not of being the staunchest, of course, but surely the older of the two.) And to be sure, most Americans are unaware of what happened as the Main Stream Mediocrity, errr...I meant Media, has been almost totally silent on the subject.

Imagine this: A visiting Head of Government goes out of his way to select an appropriate gift for the President. In this case a pen made of wood from a British Man O’ War. But not just any British ship, but one that was central to fighting slavery on the high seas. (See Clearly some thought and heart went into the selection of a very special gift to our new, novice, American president.

In return, he is given a very special set of QVC-ordered DVDs to take back to England and not play because they were manufactured for North America and not Europe. To top that, a bust of Sir Winston Churchill, given to then President George W. Bush, and the American people, by the British after 9/11 was summarily returned to the British Embassy. What idiocy is this? Is this the change that was promised? That we would move from a traditional class-act Head of Government/State to a totally classless act who parties and conducts business in the White House in casual dress?

But on the other hand, he gave his first interview to an Arab media organization and has offered to stop deploying the missile shield to make the Russians happy.

Is there any doubt that the markets have tanked? It’s no wonder that the 48% of the American people who voted for the other guy are looking at the 52% who voted for the President and wondering, “Did the change you wanted include socialism and estrangement from our long time allies?” I do wonder.

As I Begin...

As I begin this blog, I first want to encourage all who come here to take the time to contact their Representatives and Senators on the issues of the day. Your own party affiliation and the party affiliation of your representative is immaterial. What is important is that you contact him or her and speak your mind in a polite, but direct, manner. My own situation is that neither of the two Senators from Virginia nor is the Representative from the 11th District are of my political persuasion. But I write them just the same because if I don’t then I have no reason to complain when they do something stupid. But, as they are technically “my employees,” I have a duty to let them know the path that I want them to follow (and you can be sure that it isn’t the liberal path being trumpeted from the White House and the current leadership of the Senate and House). So I write and, sometimes, they reply. I know it’s written by a staffer but that doesn’t matter. It is a record that they were told what I think and that they answered. Their feet are now in the fire, so to speak. And I plan to hold them there that they shall reap both the rewards and brickbats of their actions.

So I urge you to write your Representative and let them know what you think and where you stand on a position. I don’t care if you agree with me. I do care that you participate in democracy to keep our Republic on track.

God bless you all.

Papa Bill