The Science of the Greenhouse Effect and Efforts to Combat Human Induced Global Warming

1. Introduction

A lot of people think that the earth is heating up. One indication of change is that glaciers are disappearing at an alarming rate. There are many documented examples of the warming up of the earth’s climate.

For example, fifty years ago the North Face of Eiger was was covered in ice. Now it is melting. There are the inevitable rock falls and avalanches that occur when ice looses its hold. In effect there are a lot more objective dangers facing someone climbing the North Face today than there were when it was first attempted in the nineteen thirties.

The earth’s climate is not stable. Ice ages have come and gone throughout the earth’s history. But the pertinent question here is whether climate change is the fault of mankind? Al Gore says that that hydrocarbons emitted from burning fuel (organic matter in the form of wood, coal, oil, etc.) for energy have been building up in the atmosphere since the industrial  age. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is also produced by raising great herds of cattle. Hydrocarbons in the atmosphere  act like a green house causing the earth to heat up.  Most of the politicians agree with his hypothesis.

A greenhouse gets hot because it absorbs the suns energy. Do hydrocarbons emitted by mankind absorb the sun’s rays and prevent them from being reflected away from the earth’s surface or is this a scam to make us agree to the politicians’ “bold new initiatives”? These schemes usually involve ways of lining their own pockets with taxpayer money to save the planet.

How much credibility do the politicians have? Is it true that human activity is causing the the climate to change? Or is it not just an unproven hypothesis? Even if it is true, should we be concerned that the politicians are using this threat to make us fearful and compliant? I don’t know but something suspicious is happening.

Politics is all about money and it is getting worse since Citizens United, the Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. The Center for Responsive Politics estimated that the 2012 election would cost $6 billion. That tops the record set in 2008 by $700 million, making this campaign the most expensive in U.S history. Big corporations need to keep their investors happy.

Securities and investment firms are one of the biggest powerhouses aiming to influence the elections, according the Center. Individuals from Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), Bain Capital and Blackstone Group (BX) have contributed millions of dollars directly to campaigns and through political groups.

The media tells us that we live in a Democracy. We can vote and therefore the United States of America is a democracy. However, many people believe that we live in a plutocracy where the wealthy rule. We do not trust the politicians. We listen to their speeches and think that there must be a hidden motive. The media tells us what politicians want us to believe.

“We will go over the fiscal cliff unless we accept deep spending cuts for the poor.” After a huge stimulus action by the Federal Reserve and the day after the spending cuts went into effect, the stock market reached record setting heights. Investors make out like bandits but the normal citizen on Main Street was still hurting. With the stock market looking more and more like a casino and with interest rates near 0% their savings are in limbo.

We do not have to reach back very far in our memories to remember the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. We invaded Iraq and afterwards found no weapons of mass destruction, but big gas and oil got lucrative exploration contracts and rights to drill.  Who was behind the weapons of mass destruction myth?

In the past politicians told us that free trade agreements like NAFTA and treaties with Korea, Columbia and Panama would benefit all Americans. Then after these treaties were ratified manufacturing jobs in this country disappeared and profits of international corporations skyrocketed. The only real advantage for main street is that many commodities are dirt cheap. The losers are the environment and labor rights in third world countries. Why were both parties behind these trade agreements?

Then there is President Obama’s health care reform, the Affordable Care Act, which has been portrayed by politicians as health care for all. But at what cost? It requires everyone  to purchase private insurance even if co-pays and deductibles are unaffordable and/or the policies that we can afford do not cover most of our needs.

At the same time the act pours tax-payer funds into the private health care insurance industry to help consumers purchase insurance without effectively  reining in excessive profits. The only way profits are controlled is that insurers making excessive profits (over 20 and 25%; however that is calculated) cannot be included in state exchanges. Is this health care for all or corporate welfare?

Meanwhile insurance companies are increasing premiums to push consumers into lower benefit policies when the law takes full affect in 2014. In California the regulators lack authority to reject or modify rates. This is all bad news for consumers and shows how some health insurers control profits at consumers expense. See:

The reason that laws get made and regulations get passed that are beneficial to the wealthy and not to consumers is in part because the same actors are operating in and out of government. We have learned to accept the revolving door between the private and public sector. See:

This revolving door creates a conflict of interest. Decision makers in government agencies are influenced by their former role as lobbyists for private enterprise or their former employment in the entity being regulated. They can also be influenced by the need to woo the very industry they are regulating in an effort to gain lucrative employment after leaving government. This is the very definition of corruption and represents the link between private industry and government regulation.

Henry Paulson went from Goldman Sachs (a big investment firm) to a position as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He was the architect of America’s economic policy, and helped orchestrate the government takeover of mortgage institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the $85 billion bailout of American International Group. He took the unprecedented step of warning his hedge fund buddies and former colleagues at Goldman Sacks what he was about to do seven weeks beforehand giving them an edge on other investors.

Tim Geithner has returned to private life, and now Jack Lew is replacing him as Treasury Secretary. Lew was a Citigroup executive, and chief operating officer of Citigroup Alternative Investments, which made money by betting against mortgage securities, and lost billions. He is our new Treasury Secretary. Can you say revolving door?

Examples of former lobbyists include such notables as Elizabeth S. Birnbaum who was formerly with the Minerals Management Service in the Department of the Interior and who had lobbied for the National Wildlife Federation and American Rivers, Inc. before and between stints working in government.

A New York Times article disclosed a connection between S. Elizabeth Birnbaum ensured with ensuring the safety and environmental security of offshore rigs and Paula Dinerstein, senior counsel for the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

PEER, a plaintiff in the failed lawsuit to shut down Carnegie, alleged that off road riding caused contamination in a normally dry creek resulting in the death of nonexistent fish. The Deepwater Drilling platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico spewed estimates of from between 10,000 to 75,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf and caused the decimation of an entire commercial fishing industry. Do you get the irony?

Lately President Obama nominated Mary Joe White to head the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). She worked for J.P. Morgan defending the firm in financial crisis cases. For decades she bounced between roles as a federal prosecutor and a Wall Street defense lawyer. She is expected to sail through Senate confirmation.

Ms. White is turning to a former colleague, Andrew J. Ceresney, to become her enforcement chief. He too would police some of the same firms he spent a decade defending.  See:

We have reason to be skeptical of government and the separation between government and private industry. Then there are former government representatives who take advantage of their position to make a lot of money when they retire from government.

Al Gore has profited greatly from Obama’s attempts to control global warming. He is a big player in Wall Street and we need to question his motives when he warns us of the threat of human induced global warming. What is in it for him?

It was reported that Al Gore planned to drop $300 million on propaganda aimed at convincing the American viewing public to embrace the drastically reduced standard of living that carbon emission controls guarantee. See:

He produced “An Inconvenient Truth”, a documentary that revolutionized the concept of how human activities alter the earth’s climate. The government’s climate scientists preach to us about global warming but who has ever talked to a climate scientist who works independent of the government and who agrees with Al Gore?

We have reason to be skeptical. Al Gore has reaped billions from money that Washington has given to individual investors to fight global warming. See:

“Gore mobilized liberals … Federal subsidies also created a network of green tech corporations hoping to benefit from taxpayer dollars. One of the players in this network was, again, Al Gore… Gore left public office in 2001 worth less than $2 million. Today his wealth is estimated to be around $100 million.”

“Leonnig reports that 14 green tech firms that Gore invested in received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in federal loans, grants and tax breaks. Suddenly, green tech looks less like a gleaming beacon of virtue and more like corporate welfare, further enriching already affluent investors.”

President Obama is committed to the global warming scenario and has invested heavily in combating global warming with a variety of initiatives. But to the chagrin of global warming true believers, Obama and his minions also invested in losers like Solyndra and A123 Systems which were forced into bankruptcy.

Obama has invested $7.5 billion in the electric vehicles market based on the idea that they are good for the planet. “It is critical, experts say, to controlling greenhouse emissions.”

That is the spiel, but the American public is not fooled and sale of electric vehicles has fallen far short of expectations. Even though money is saved at the pumps, Americans are not enamored of the technology and are not fooled by the lies propagated by the so called experts. See:

2. The Generation of Electricity in America

There are a wealth of federal benefits going into projects that support electric vehicles on the supposition that they are green and do not emit greenhouse gases which we are told contribute to global warming. However, power plants (they generate electricity) are by far the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, accounting for 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions in this country.

Let’s take a look at how electricity is generated.

Today most of the electricity in the United States is generated by steam turbines. Petroleum (oil), coal, and natural gas are burned in large furnaces to generate steam, which pushes on the blades of a turbine. 42% of the electricity generated in the U.S. uses coal as its source of energy. Coal emits more carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) than the other fossil fuels. All together fossil fuels provide most of the electric energy generated in the U.S.

Stationary sources, mainly fossil fuel power plants, account for almost 40% of the nation’s emissions. These are the very same plants that generate electricity. The E.P.A is writing regulations governing such emissions from new power plants. Those rules would bar construction of any new coal-fired power plants unless they include the means to capture carbon gases, a technology that does not yet exist on a commercial scale.

The EPA has recognized that it must develop regulations to limit emissions for existing plants if they really want to limit emissions. This would force the shutdown of dozens of older coal-burning power plants, cause a steep drop in domestic demand for coal and trigger a sharp rise in energy prices. These regulations would be subject to intense opposition in the courts, and the newspapers report that Congress could seek to overturn them if they were implemented.

In California natural gas has taken the place of coal thanks to hydraulic fracturing, which some say poses a threat to our water supply. Natural gas emits only half as much carbon as coal when it is burned. However, there is a problem with using natural gas to produce electricity. Drilling and transporting natural gas can produce methane leaks and they say that methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that it can cancel out any advantages that natural gas has over coal. Methane is the same extremely potent greenhouse gas that is released by cattle and the reason livestock ranching has come under attack by the environmental movement.

Fracking’s potential environmental and health impacts have quickly made it a flash point with the environmentalists.

All forms of electricity generation have some level of environmental impact. As the figures below show, most of the electricity in the United States is generated from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil: Fuel Mix for US Electricity Generation in 2011: Coal 42%, Natural Gas 25%, Nuclear 19%, Renewable 13%, petroleum less than 1%. Nuclear power provides 19.2% of U.S. electricity while renewable resources like, water (hydroelectric), wood, wind, organic waste, geothermal, and sun all together generate about 13% of our electricity.

All fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide or methane when they are burned. Renewable resources have their own unique problems. Dams harm fish when they are prevented from swimming up river to spawn. Some environmentalists have proposed tearing down dams  and emptying reservoirs. Windmills kill birds and organic waste creates greenhouse gases when it is burned. Large solar farms take away great swaths of wildlife habitat and all these technologies require energy for the construction and maintenance of the means of capturing energy from wind, sun and whatever. Used solar cells are shipped to third world countries for disposal like the rest of our electronic waste.

There is a bright spot on the horizon, but it does not solve the problem. California law requires utility companies to get 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. In 2011 utilities spent more than 2.52 billion buying electricity from solar, wind and geothermal  plants to satisfy the state’s ambitious power goals. That figure represents a 16% increase from 2010 when the big three investor owned utilities spent 2.18 billion. Nearly 20% of energy sold by California’s biggest utilities came from renewable sources in 2012.

This is progress, although less than 1/5th of California energy needs are met by renewable resources. However, it will come at a price for customers and providing energy, even from renewable resources, is never without environmental consequences as we have seen above.

Worldwide they say that the burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tons (21.3 gigatons) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.  Carbon dioxide is said to be one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to global warming.

Nuclear power produces no carbon emissions but we have run out of places to store nuclear waste and it presents a huge hazard if it ever escapes or if terrorists get their hands on it. Most radioactive waste produced in nuclear power plants lasts for hundreds of thousands of years and longer.

Then there are inefficiencies in the electrical grid based on the fact that the energy has to be transported from the utilities where the energy is generated through electrical lines (where some of the energy is lost) before it gets to the end user where it is often stored in batteries where there are additional loses. The idea is that in the future we will generate electricity by using no fossil fuels and thereby reduce greenhouse gases by using electric vehicles. That day has not come and so why are they touting these vehicles as being zero emissions?  Think Al Gore and his investments…

O.K. so it seems pretty obvious that utilities release carbon dioxide and allegedly contribute to global warming. Congress doesn’t seem ready to combat global warming (except to the extent that they offer incentives to business to invest in certain favored technologies) and so the president is ready to do it on his own by executive fiat.

3. Obama’s Plan to Combat Global Warming by Executive Fiat

President Obama has named two people to his cabinet who will be charged with making good on his threat to use the powers of the executive branch to tackle climate change and energy policy if Congress does not act quickly. See:

“Mr. Obama nominated Gina McCarthy, a tough-talking native of Boston and an experienced clean air regulator, to take charge at the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest J. Moniz, a physicist and strong advocate of natural gas and nuclear power as cleaner alternatives to coal, to run the Department of Energy.” See:

“In addition to the E.P.A., the Energy Department has a strong role in the government’s climate change efforts. Mr. Moniz believes that clean energy can be pursued in the form of building more nuclear power plants.”

Although nuclear power does not contribute to carbon emissions, there are problems with nuclear power generation that are being put off until technology can solve those difficulties. The most intractable problem is what to do with nuclear waste. The Energy Department’s has a contractual deadline for accepting nuclear waste which it cannot meet. That failure costs billions of dollars in penalties to taxpayers. At this point there is nowhere where these wastes can be safely stored. They are presently stored on site.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, gives us a glimpse of the dangers of spent fuel rods being stored on site.  “Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sat on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building”. In other words spent fuel rods stored on site present a real threat. These threats are ignored as the administration scrambles to convert to clean energy by adopting policies to encourage the building of more nuclear plants.

In essence, the Department of Energy (DOE) also still has $17.5 billion in loan guarantee authority for new nuclear projects. It has primary responsibility for handling civilian nuclear wastes — a problem that is vital to the future of the civilian nuclear power industry.

The DOE guarantees up to 100 percent of any loan or debt obligation” for energy projects (they are expensive), as long as the loan is no more than 80 percent of the total cost of the project. However, even with these massive subsidies to the industry, Wall Street’s largest investment bankers informed the Energy Department that they are unwilling to accept any financial risk for nuclear power loans.

The risks include such things as cost inflation, construction delays, disposal of spent nuclear fuel rods, and accidents such as Three Mile Island where the costs of construction and cleanup after the accident was $2 billion. They want the American taxpayer to take 100% of the risk because it is too risky for Wall Street. Is it really a good alternative to fossil fuel based energy if it is too risky for Wall Street or is it just a way for Washington to support Wall Street with more money? See:

4. Is Obama Really a True Believer?

In pursuit of domestic energy sources, Mr. Obama has ignored the ravings of the global warming crowd and pursued increased offshore drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean. Is he really a true believer or is he just paying lip service to keep some  of his campaign contributors happy?

The dangers of these enterprises have not been addressed. In 2010 there was the Deepwater Horizon explosion and a massive oil spill in the gulf. Last year a series of blunders and accidents involving Shell Oil’s drill ships and support equipment, culminated in the grounding of one of its drilling vessels off the coast of Alaska. What are the real advantages of off shore drilling besides a big payoff to the companies involved in drilling?

Lately U.S. oil production exceeded 7 million barrels a day for the first time since March 1993 as improved drilling techniques boosted exploration across the country and reinforced a shift toward energy independence.

In 2004, Continental Resources Inc. completed a profitable well by pairing horizontal drilling, in which the bore travels lengthwise through the richest slice of rock, with fracking, which directs a high-pressure jet of sand, water and chemicals underground to crack open the formation and free oil and gas.This technique has resulted in the exaction of oil from shale formations like the Bakken in North Dakota

Bakken is the largest oil formation discovered in the last forty years. The estimated amount of oil in the Bakken Shale Formation is said to be 900 billion barrels. For a comparison, Bakken has more oil than the entire Persian Gulf (747 billion barrels). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this oil formation is located in the Williston Basin, and is the largest ‘continuous-type’ oil accumulation ever assessed, stretching from Canada into North Dakota and Montana. In the process of fracking for oil, natural gas is burned off in flares which can be seen from outer space.

President Obama has said that “my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.” In other words he wants to go full steam ahead on fracking  and take credit for the U.S. energy independence.

Fracking in new veins in the ground allows water to come in contact with oil and become contaminated. It pollutes the air and contaminates soil. As the long term risk to underground drinking water and to public health is at stake, many countries, have banned the practice. The fact of the matter is that all that oil is going to be burned eventually releasing even more greenhouse gases.

Obama seems to be about to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to carry heavy crude oil from tar sands formations in Alberta to refineries in Texas bypassing the objections of environmental advocates (It will also transport shale oil from North Dakota to the refineries in Texas). A State Department environmental impact report noted that extracting, shipping and refining the Canadian oil would produce measurably more greenhouse gas emissions than other types of oil.

Is he really deeply concerned about global warming or is it just a theory that he feels compelled to advocate because that is what his bosses tell him to do?

5. The “Facts” Behind the Theory of Global Warming and Why We Should Be   Skeptical

What do the government’s global warming scientists have to tell us? If you go to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website and check on the climate change science overview you get nothing but what are presented as “facts”. These facts, because they are presented by “scientists”, have to be taken on faith. Among liberals human induced global warming is a sort of religion.

The following is a sampling of the unsupported statements you will find in their web-site: “The scientists have overwhelming evidence that global warming is caused by human activities.” The “overwhelming evidence” is not presented. What is presented is the fact that scientists have measured global temperatures and they have gone up in the last century. This; along with the fact that humans release hydrocarbons into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is presented as proof that humans cause global warming.

The science behind the facts is totally ignored except to say that the global average temperature have increased by more than 1.3°F over the last century. OK so scientists have been measuring “global temperatures” over the last century with enough certainty to say that average temperatures have gone up and have given you a specific number.

However given the fact that this planet has gone through a great many changes in climate before man appeared on the scene, we have to take what they say with a grain of salt.

“Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth’s surface. It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing climate patterns to change”.

The EPA asserts that natural causes cannot explain these changes but neglect to give us any scientific explanation why natural causes are not responsible for these changes.

Logically it is impossible to prove a fact by saying that all the other explanations are false unless it used is in a controlled scientific experiment and there are a limited number of possible explanations. This logic cannot be used to account for changes observed in the natural world because there are an unlimited number of possible causes.

The EPA website says that greenhouse gases come from a variety of human activities, including: burning fossil fuels for heat and energy, clearing forests, fertilizing crops, storing waste in landfills, raising livestock, and producing some kinds of industrial products.  Then they add that human beings cause greenhouse gases to accumulate and global warming will intensify unless we reduce emissions. This means changing our lifestyles.

With no scientific explanation of the “facts” behind the idea that human activities cause global warming (beyond calling carbon emissions “greenhouse gases”), the EPA website left me unconvinced, I went to the NASA website for a little of the science behind global warming. It contained an explanation of how the slow cycle of carbon works as it makes its way from the rocks, soil, ocean, and atmosphere over a period of 100 to 200 million years. The thesis is that man has disturbed this natural cycle.

Carbon in the atmosphere combines with water that falls as rain and dissolves rocks which are carried to the ocean where they eventually become limestone. Carbon from living things is embedded in layers of mud forming sedimentary rock such as shale.  When dead plant matter builds up, layers of organic carbon become oil, coal, or natural gas.

The ocean ventilates carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and vice versa.  “If carbon dioxide rises in the atmosphere because of an increase in volcanic activity (or human activity) temperatures rise, leading to more rain, which dissolves more rock, creating more ions that will eventually deposit more carbon on the ocean floor.”  However, NASA says things are out of balance with the ocean absorbing more carbon dioxide than it is giving off resulting in rising levels of acidity.

The circle is completed when “carbon is returned to the atmosphere by earthquakes emitting between 130 and 380 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In contrast, NASA says, humans emit about 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year—100–300 times more than volcanoes—by burning fossil fuels. How is this measured?

NASA omits to include the fact that earthquakes produce volcanoes which spew magma, ash and gases (including carbon dioxide) from the mantle deep within the earth’s core. In other words, the carbon containing lava and gases do not originate from the earth’s crust where shale, limestone and coal store carbon deposits but from deep within the earth’s core. Can we really be talking about a cycle when the source of carbon dioxide comes from outside of the rocks, soil, ocean, and atmosphere?

OK so I get the science, but what is the connection between rising carbon levels in the atmosphere and rising temperatures? This is connection is critical to the science of global warming. The best way to do this is to look at global temperatures in the past when there was greater temperature fluctuation than there are today.

An article in the New York Times called Study of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link does just the opposite. See:  The newspaper reports that scientists found that as the world began to emerge from the depths of the ice age about 20,000 years ago, warming in Antarctica preceded changes in the global carbon dioxide level by something like 800 years. Whoops!

Now the propagators of the science of global warming say that air trapped in the snow did not get there until hundreds or perhaps thousands of years later; thus there was only a 200 year lag or perhaps no lag at all. This of course is all pure conjecture and does not explain why the air trapped in the ice gets trapped hundreds or even thousands of years after the snow has fallen.

The paper reports that climate scientists do not see the gap as a major problem. Let’s see; the cart precedes the donkey. Good science for the idea that the cart is pulling the donkey and that global warming causes excess levels of carbon in the atmosphere which occurs 800 years later. Hmm…

Wait that is not good science… Let’s fiddle with the facts until we get the results that will make us rich.

Jeremy Shakun, a visiting scholar at Harvard, pointed out in a paper last year that the timing of the temperature increase in Antarctica could not be assumed to be representative of the world as a whole. When he compiled a global temperature record for the end of the ice age, he found that increases of carbon dioxide came first, and rising temperatures came second.

If there is a will there is a way. If the media says our live styles are causing global warming and quote a visiting scholar to make the point; then the government has to make us change our ways and offer big cash incentives to investors to go green.

A better explanation might be that higher temperatures on the earth’s surface are not related to higher levels of carbon in the atmosphere; both of which can fluctuate over time. Sometimes they rise and fall together and sometimes they don’t. How can we be sure that increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise when evidence from the past does not always support this conclusion? Is there another reason for rising temperatures?

The myth of human induced global warming is gaining traction. Gore is posed to make trillions on a cap and trade system that California is already putting into effect. The polluters pay for their emissions and the investment firms make a profit trading emission credits. That is what it is about although Gore and his brethren are never going to admit it. But they are posed to make it very big if things go according to plan in the Obama administration.

Al Gore and his fellow politicians are anticipating creating this market by legislative fiat in the nation as a whole. If they succeed and a cap and trade system is enacted, Al Gore will be uniquely positioned to cash in. Understandably he never mentioned that 800 year gap between global warming and increased carbon in the atmosphere in his documentary.

6. Conclusion

I am (reasonably) well educated and I tend to be liberal (I support the single payer health  system), but you can add my voice to the growing cadre of the global warming skeptics. Although I do watch my carbon footprint (just in case), when there is so much money at stake, and when the theory (presented as undisputed fact) represents an excuse to take away our liberties; you can count me unconvinced.

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10 Responses to The Science of the Greenhouse Effect and Efforts to Combat Human Induced Global Warming

  1. Mark Martinez says:

    Wow Diana your hard to keep up with that was intense ,when are we going riding together, I hope chuck is doing fine.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Dave Duffin says:

    Ain’t science grand!

    The preeminent purveyors of science from 1850 to 1910 were the French. After the great technological marvels like the Suez Canal, The Eiffel Tower, Pasteurized milk, and the Statue of Liberty, they decided to put the nation “in hoc” by selling bonds to finance the Panama Canal construction. Their arrogance was amplified by their assertion that Malaria which was killing thousands of workers was simply caused by breathing swamp gas (mal/bad – aria/air). After years of digging without realizing the Pacific and the Atlantic were at two different levels and that mosquitoes transmitted Malaria, they gave up and thousands of Frenchmen lost their life savings.

    The Annual Al Gore Lemming 10K is now taking applications.

  3. Diana Tweedy says:

    Right… I might be a little behind the eight ball on this issue, but check out this site

    Then there is more on the revolving door issue…

    “During former Citigroup executive Jack Lew’s recent confirmation as Treasury Secretary, some people were surprised and troubled to learn that the big bank had promised him special financial awards if he left to take a job in the government. His employment contract was seen as rewarding him for passing through the revolving door and potentially easing a friend of the bank into a position of power.

    But a review by the Project On Government Oversight shows that Lew’s deal with Citi was no anomaly.

    Other major corporations also make it financially advantageous for executives to take government jobs, according to regulatory filings reviewed by POGO. Through their compensation policies, companies may be fueling the revolving door and making it easier for their alumni to gain influence over public policy.”


  4. Diana says:

    Whether or not you agree or disagree with the contention that global warming is occurring and is caused by human emissions, it seems obvious that the new standards for scientific education are not teaching students to use science as a method of discovery and exploration. An article in the New York Times called Science Panel Calls for Broad Changes in science Education describes the new guidelines.

    “In some cases traditional classes like chemistry and biology may disappear entirely from high schools, replaced by courses that use a case study method to teach science in a more holistic way”. Right Holistic science…


    Someone adopted the idea of teaching science within a specific set of guidelines like the Common Core Guidelines in English and mathematics? Can science be taught that way? Presumably it can… “Educators unveiled new guidelines Tuesday that call for sweeping changes in the way science is taught in the United States – including, for the first time a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school.” Is it going to be taught as a hypothesis or as scientific fact?

    “The climate and evolution standards are just two aspects of a set of guidelines containing hundreds of new ideas on how to teach science.”

    “The guidelines also take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution, the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century but one that still provokes a backlash among some religious conservatives.”

    I was taught about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the idea that ice sheets spread and withdrew from the continents (climate change) when I was in high school over forty years ago. It is hardly controversial science. It is the way that science is presented, as opposed to religion, that is controversial.

    “The focus would be to helping students be more intelligent science consumers”. In other words they want a population which is more easily brainwashed and conditioned to accept the most recent dogma as science.

    “They (the new standards) were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.” The groups representing scientists and teachers are not named and everyone knows that nobody is more qualified to draw up standards for teaching science than state bureaucrats (Right!).

    Financing was provided by private foundations including the Carnegie Foundation of New York, the Noyce Foundation and the Cisco Foundation as well as Dupont. The super wealthy are behind the new guidelines (hmmm…).

    “… educators say they foresaw the use of more real world examples, like taking students to a farm or fish hatchery – perhaps repeatedly over the course of years – to help them learn principles of biology, chemistry and physics.” I bet the student enjoy these field trips. It is more fun than learning the basics of biology, chemistry and physics.

    “Judith Luber-Narod, a high-school science teacher at the Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School in Worcester, Mass., has incorporated climate change into her environmental studies classes, even though she teaches in a somewhat conservative area.”

    “I hesitated a little bit talking about something controversial,” she said. “But then I thought, how can you teach the environment without talking about it?”

    “Her students, on the other hand, love topics some deem controversial, she said. She devised an experiment in which she set up two terrariums with thermometers and then increased the level of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, in one of them.”

    “The students watched as that terrarium got several degrees hotter than the other.” “I say to them, ‘I’m here to show you the evidence,’ ” she said. “ ‘If you want to believe the evidence when we’re done, that’s up to you.’ ”

    This is a carefully contrived experiment designed to teach students that hydrocarbons injected into a glass enclosure can affect the temperature inside the enclosure. It is not evidence that human carbon emissions are affecting the climate. The experiment ignores other variables and is a superficial model of the earth’s climate.

    Does she tell her students that technology and an exponential increase in population might be a factor in climate change? Does she mention any of the other possible explanations for climate change? Does she tell them about other environmental threats associated with the earth’s booming human population?

    Is this really about teaching the scientific method or is it really about making the next generation more acquiescent scientific consumers? Science is as easily accessible as the internet. The standards are designed to distinguish science from faith but fail to do even that.

  5. Gosh your essay is great. You are spot on about the political corruption – well intrenched power corrupts well.

    However, I must gently offer a guide about the science of global warming. Please know that Al Gore is not a climate scientist, he is a media maven and former politician. As you dig into the science of climate – you will find that not many scientists are looking to politicians or governments to get us out of this mess. They see the massive failure over the last few decades Dr. James Hansen is perhaps the most respected climate scientist – his works of 40 years ago is now validated… and now that he is retired from government, he is free to speak more freely. I invite you to see his succinct paper released just yesterday His other writings are at that site. His book “Storms of my Grandchildren” is really excellent.

    But more important, the foundations of climate science is fairly simple. It you have had any HS science or even just know about science – you can understand it. A college textbook – is free online SPencer Weart “The HIstory of Global Warming” – really more history than science, but a great grounding.

    And I suspect you realize that there has been a mean PR battle about the causes of global warming. I can remember back in the 1980’s where TV commercials said that “CO2 is natural and life needs it” The gas and oil industry used advertising firms from the Tobacco industry. The pitch was the same – to confuse the issue. Today, all the Climate web sites are assaulted by the fossil fuels industry – because the science really says that only way out of our mess is to reduce using carbon fuels (this reduces profits). Naomi Oreskes writes and speaks about this – lots of her work is online. And if you want to argue and debate the science – there is nothing better than the award winning site of Skeptical Science. And if you want advanced science, written to include lay people, try

    Finally, please know that NOBODY WANTS global warming, and nobody wants it to be caused by humans. But just because it is uncomfortable, or harsh – is no reason not to examine it – especially if it is dangerous to our future. And it is very dangerous. It is like a house fire. if you smell smoke, you better get up and see whats burning. And do not trust the voices that tell you to ignore it and go back to sleep.

    You are one of the smartest bloggers I have read. I urge you to examine it carefully. A few years ago at a party, I met a bunch of grad students in oceanography, they answered my questions, then I took a few courses, everyone is eager to talk about it. You know how to ask the tough questions.

  6. Diana says:

    Except nobody has explained with any scientific certainty why carbon combined with oxygen in the atmosphere creates the greenhouse effect and why other molecules and/or small particles like soot do not add to global warming. I do know that global warming and cooling happened millions of years prior to the evolution of man.

  7. Diana, there is plenty of scientific proof. From climate scientists to Bill Nye the Science Guy and even to the US military: in the early days of missile defense, we had to know how to track a missile from the heat of the burning hot rocket thrust. An anti-missile looks for that heat. And the military needed to see how much of the atmosphere absorbed infrared signals (heat) – just to tell how much of the signal is blocked. Anyone can duplicate the infrared and CO2 testing… Just go into a lab and setup a big glass aquarium between an infrared camera on one end, and a candle flame on the other. The infrared camera can see the candle flame just fine. Now dump some CO2 into the glass boxed aquarium – and the flame cannot be seen by the infrared camera….even though it is still there. The carbon dioxide is a molecule that absorbs infrared. Check

    Our atmosphere acts to keep us warm. Without CO2 we would be freezing all over. This is classic climate science – (see Weart above) . In pre-industrial times we had about 280 parts per million of CO2 – today we have about 400 ppm. – that makes it much, much warmer. The CO2 is like a blanket, keeping heat in. Warmth from the sun hits the ground and then bounces back out to space. This bounce back out heat is what CO2 blocks. And the air heats up. ( YOu can actually feel this heat going back up – after a hot day in the desert, in the early evening of a clear sky, you will feel chilled by the air, but put your hand over the ground or over rocks – it is the heat going up and out. Back of your hand is cool, palm facing the ground is warm. Doesn’t work when it is cloudy)

    The tiny particles, like soot, do cause problems. But mostly the coal soot will land on snow and darken it, then sunlight melts it much faster. At times last year much of Greenland was grey, not white. But the soot does other things,,, it actually cools down the air because it blocks the infrared from even coming in and hitting the ground. This is called aerosols – and there is plenty of discussion about the subject.

    I encourage you to read some of the explanations – please check that you get info from reputable sources. You don’t have to read scientific papers, but take care to find trusted sources. National Geographic has a nice explanation,

  8. rpauli says:

    And Yahoo says: Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

    The repeated absorption and re-emission of infrared radiation by carbon dioxide is an important mechanism of the greenhouse effect.

    Absorption of Infrared Radiation by carbon dioxide happens because the carbon-oxygen bonds can stretch or flex at a frequency that allows them to absorb an infrared photon. There are a number of ways in which the molecule can oscillate. One type involves the bonds stretching and contracting like springs. The molecule can absorb an IR photon when this stretching is asymmetric. The alternative is for the bonds to flex as shown in this animation. The flexing movement allows absorption at a longer wavelength. Because the CO2 molecule can vibrate in different ways it can absorb different frequencies of IR. This means that the infrared absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide shows two main peaks.

    Emission of Infrared Radiation by carbon dioxide the oscillating molecule can then re-emit the infrared energy as a photon travelling in a random direction. This will happen repeatedly over time as the particular molecule absorbs and then re-emits IR photons. Consequently, roughly half of the emitted photons from a given molecule will travel back towards the surface.……

  9. Diana Tweedy says:

    Some scientists say that we are heading towards the fourth, fifth or sixth major planet wide extinction (they don’t really know for sure) as a result of all the hydrocarbons we are releasing and have released since the dawn of civilization. Hydrocarbons are greenhouse gases and they capture inferred light (heat) and send it back to earth. Without greenhouse gases in the atmosphere we would freeze but too many greenhouse gases can cause the climate to get much hotter.

    That conclusion is boldly proposed in the May 2014 issue of Scientific American in an article entitled The Great Corral Grief about the world’s Great Barrier Reef which is being destroyed by acidification caused by pollution and global warming. The author contends that it is a prognostication of our fate as humans and for all living things on our planet.

    To my way of thinking, if this hypothesis is true, it is because Prometheus stole fire from Zeus. He gave fire to humanity which was an act that enabled progress and civilization to take hold. As a result of the theft Zeus sentenced Prometheus to eternal torment. The immortal Prometheus was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver (a symbol of human emotion), which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day.

    Eventually Prometheus was rescued by Hercules so Zeus sent Pandora to plague humanity in retaliation for his crime. She carried and released all the evils, harsh pain and troublesome diseases to torment mankind. Pandora shut the lid of the jar too late to contain all the evil plights that escaped, but foresight remained in the jar, giving humanity hope (I don’t know how that works since it was not released).

    So humanity has hope as the Titanic goes down and everybody aboard is drowned. According to legend Prometheus was a Titan, the generation that preceded Zeus. Miami, Florida is already finding itself vulnerable to rising sea levels.

    Unfortunately foresight is used by humans to justify their actions not avoid the consequences of them. The hope engendered by foresight is embodied in the concept of being green. If you dedicate yourself to saving the wales, the dolphins, the red legged frog or any endangered (or about to be endangered) species you are put above other humans and you can inhabit a world that is painted green in broad confident strokes.

    Although extinction is a natural phenomenon some say that the extinction rate today is far higher than what is considered normal and that we are in the midst of the sixth great mass extinction of all plants and animals.

    Humans judge others by their own values and beliefs. It is a kind of religious dogma that if they call themselves green and strive to save a declining species they will find salvation. Only the just will be saved. Maybe they think that they will be allowed to board an interstellar device and find another habitable planet when ours becomes too inhospitable for life as we know it to survive.

    Once the planet starts warming we cannot turn back the forces that are changing the climate by just cutting back on the yearly increase of emissions as we are trying but failing to do today. With over seven billion humans we cannot go back to a simple hunter gather existence without fire. Not after we have paved over and otherwise degraded our environment with the marks of our so called “advanced civilization”.

    We all need to use an outside source of energy to survive. We are deluding ourselves (remember Pandora ’s Box) to think that there is any chance of a major climate reversal any time before we are driven into extinction by global warming. It takes hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of years for greenhouse gases to dissipate. See:

    Even then it could take a long time for conditions to change and give evolution a toe hold allowing it to thrive once more before the next mass extinction. Our fate was sealed long before our birth. Sorry for ringing the alarm.

    I did not mean to write a comment about the seven plagues of revelation and certainly not about the Israelites who were trapped in Egypt as slaves. I am not religious but I believe that the world’s religions have stumbled on some very elementary truths.

    Man’s pride and arrogance has its consequences even if few people want to admit the drastic implications of a severely overpopulated world that keeps getting hotter and hotter as we burn energy to survive.

    We need to change our way of thinking from one of just the profit driven goal of increasing production at all costs to one of living within our means even if that means cutting back on population drastically and getting rid of Wall Street and its well compensated overlords (billions of dollars a year).

    The idea that in some perfect world we can have renewable energy with no heat trapping consequences is wishful thinking. It takes energy to just produce a metal implement like an axe or a plow, never mind solar panels or wind turbines. You can’t get something for nothing. Isn’t that the law of thermal dynamics? It is as simple as that but nobody wants to admit it. In addition, most of the world does not have the means to switch from coal to so called renewable sources of energy.

    I am sorry if I have offended any of you with this mixture of religion and scientific clap trap. It comes from reading too many issues of Scientific American. Everywhere you look you see signs of the next mass extinction; a mass extinction that seals our fate as humans and for all living things living on our planet.

    It is a total tragedy that the miracle of life can be so easily extinguished. But like a flame dying for lack of oxygen, life can be renewed when conditions evolve and are once again compatible with the existence of living things.

  10. Diana Tweedy says:

    Anyway global warming and the threat of extinction is the myth that some Democrats want you to believe. Even as the federal government takes away a thriving oyster business in Drakes Bay (see:, there are some who claim that the oysters in Washington state are being driven to extinction by climate change.

    At least that is what one very ambitious politician and his wealthy backer want you to believe. Mr. Inslee, the Democratic governor, is expected to raise millions of dollars from his billionaire friend Tom Steyer.

    “They are using the story of Washington’s oysters — some scientists say a rise in carbon levels has spiked the acidity of the Pacific and is killing off shellfish — to make the case for passing the most far-reaching climate change policies in the nation.” See: .

    “Mr. Steyer’s strategy is to spend heavily this fall to help defeat sitting lawmakers who oppose Mr. Inslee’s agenda and pave the way for the governor to move his policies through next year — an example, his critics say, of the insidious influence of big money from outsiders that makes local elections less local.”

    Their plan is to include setting some of the toughest limits on carbon emissions in the country, joining with other states to cap carbon emissions all along the Pacific Coast (cap and trade) and blocking the construction of Washington ports that would ship American coal to China.

    Let’s face it a lot of people from Washington state don’t like to see wealthy outsiders telling them what to do anymore than a local Northern California Oyster company (and oyster connoisseurs everywhere) wants the federal government telling them what to do and forcing them to give up a thriving business.

    According to a recent New York Times article, “Though Scorned by Colleagues, a Climate-Change Skeptic Is Unbowed”, a well qualified climate scientist who has analyzed the data and who says the impact of threat of global warming is exaggerated is being ostracized by his global warming colleagues. They refuse to shake his hand and ridicule his analysis of the same data that they rely on for their dire predictions.


    I thought that scientists were supposed to be objective and not let emotions color their theories. That is what they teach us at school.

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