Blog Archive


Wednesday, August 29, 2007
My dad past along this Wall Street Journal article to me this morning, and I thought it was too good not to mention on here.
The recent discovery by a retired businessman and climate kibitzer named Stephen McIntyre that 1934--and not 1998 or 2006--was the hottest year on record in the U.S. could not have been better timed. August is the month when temperatures are high and the news cycle is slow, leading, inevitably, to profound meditations on global warming. Newsweek performed its journalistic duty two weeks ago with an exposé on what it calls the global warming "denial machine." I hereby perform mine with a denier's confession

I confess: I am prepared to acknowledge that Mr. McIntyre's discovery amounts to what a New York Times reporter calls a "statistically meaningless" rearrangement of data.

But just how "meaningless" would this have seemed had it yielded the opposite result? Had Mr. McIntyre found that a collation error understated recent temperatures ... would the news coverage have differed in tone and approach?
I confess: I am prepared to acknowledge that the world has been and will be getting warmer thanks in some part to an increase in man-made atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. I acknowledge this in the same way I'm confident that the equatorial radius of Saturn is about 60,000 kilometers: not because I've measured it myself, but out of a deep reserve of faith in the methods of the scientific community, above all its reputation for transparency and open-mindedness.

But that faith is tested when leading climate scientists won't share the data they use to estimate temperatures past and present and thus construct all-important trend lines. This was true of climatologist Michael Mann, who refused to disclose the algorithm behind his massively influential "hockey stick" graph, which purported to demonstrate a sharp uptick in global temperatures over the past century. (The accuracy of the graph was seriously discredited by Mr. McIntyre and his colleague Ross McKitrick.) This was true also of Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who reportedly turned down one request for information with the remark, "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"

I confess: I understand that global warming may have negative consequences. Heat waves, droughts and coastal flooding may become more intense. Temperature-sensitive parasites such as malaria could become more widespread. Lakes may be depleted by evaporation. Animal life will suffer.

But as Bjorn Lomborg points out in his sharp, persuasive and aptly titled book "Cool It," a warming climate has advantages, too, and not just trivial ones. Though global warming will cause more heat deaths, it will also mean many fewer cold deaths. Drought may increase in some areas, but warming also means both more rain and longer growing seasons... Does anyone know for certain that the net human and environmental losses from global warming will exceed overall gains?
I confess: Though it may surprise those who use the term "denier" so as to put me on a moral plane with Holocaust deniers, I have children for whom I would not wish an environmental apocalypse.

Yet neither do I wish the civilizational bounties built up over two centuries by an industrial, inventive, adaptive, globalized and energy-hungry society to be squandered chasing comparatively small environmental benefits at gigantic economic costs. One needn't deny global warming as a problem to deny it as the only or greatest problem. The great virtue of Mr. Lomborg's book is its insistence on trying to measure the good done per dollar spent. Do we save a few lives, at huge cost, as a byproduct of curbing global warming? Or do we save many, for less, by acting on problems directly?

Some might argue it is immoral to think this way. Maybe they are the ones living in denial.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I frequent the blog Zeal For Truth, which is a collection of posts from a handful of people on topics ranging from politics to theology. Today's post comments on the finding that the U.S. is tops in the world in cancer survivability. The reason: people here generally don't have to wait in long lines for treatment, as they do in Europe, Canada, Cuba, and elsewhere. In America, you get treatment about as quickly as humanly possible, while in Europe, the BEST that one can hope for is two months (usually more like 4 months). The wonders of universal, socialized health care, huh? Tis a pity that Michael Moore conveniently ignored the wait lines in his Sicko film. Everyone gets "free" health care, nevermind that a bunch of suffering people die while waiting for it.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
From Theodore Dalrymple this week:
In an effort to ensure that no Muslim doctors ever again try to bomb Glasgow Airport, bureaucrats at Glasgow’s public hospitals have decreed that henceforth no staff may eat lunch at their desks or in their offices during the holy month of Ramadan, so that fasting Muslims shall not be offended by the sight or smell of their food. Vending machines will also disappear from the premises during that period.

Apparently the bureaucrats believe that the would-be bombers were demanding sandwich-free offices in Glasgow hospitals during Ramadan. This kind of absurdity is what happens when the highly contestable doctrine of multiculturalism becomes a career opportunity for the semi-educated and otherwise unemployable products of a grossly and unnecessarily swollen university system.

Meanwhile, the highest court in Italy was confirming an appeals court’s acquittal of the father and brother of a Muslim girl, whom they beat and locked up for becoming too Westernized—that is to say, for having a Western friend. The court ruled that, though they had undoubtedly beaten her and locked her up, this was not because of any culpable ill-feeling toward her. It was, rather, because of “her lifestyle, which did not conform to their culture.”

The sound of a civilization committing suicide can be heard in these stories; for civilizations collapse not because the barbarians are so strong, but because they themselves are so morally enfeebled.
Friday, August 17, 2007
... a film career. The relationship between the two, you ask? One destroys the other.

Chavez has just announced his intention to change the Venezuelan constitution so that he can become president for life. So I hope those who voted for Chavez enjoyed it, that might be the last meaningful vote they will have in their lifetime.
Michael Fumento was just on Dennis Prager, and they referred to Fumento's article in The American Spectator regarding the recent findings that the last 12 years are in fact NOT the hottest in history, but actually about par for the course in the last century. He addresses the silly claim that this discovery doesn't mean anything.
In retrospect, you knew there would be trouble when you put the people responsible for the Space Shuttle program in charge of tracking U.S. temperatures. So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise when it was revealed that NASA committed a bit of an oopsie regarding data constantly used by the mainstream media and other global warming proponents.

If you follow the global warming debate, one thing you “know” is that to even call it a “debate” is to whisk yourself away to the land of the Flat Earth Society and Holocaust deniers and to be on the take from Big Carbon. Another is that nine of the ten warmest years recorded in the U.S. lower 48 since 1880 have occurred since 1995, with the very hottest being 1998.
As to the stuff about the hottest years ... Well, whaddya know! Turns out that’s wrong, too. Figures from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) now show the hottest year since 1880 was 1934. Nineteen-ninety-eight dropped to second, while the third hottest year was way back in 1921. Indeed, four of the 10 hottest years were in the 1930s, while only three were in the past decade.

The real 15 hottest years are spread over seven decades. Eight occurred before the chief “greenhouse gas,” atmospheric carbon dioxide, began its sharp rise; seven occurred afterwards.

Rush Limbaugh was incorrect in saying the new figures are “just more evidence” that “this whole global warming thing is a scientific hoax.” Conversely, global warming hotheads are also wrong in insisting the revelation deserves no more mention than the back of a Trivial Pursuit card. The GISS, which is directed by global warming guru, James Hansen, is saying likewise. He’s wrong. Part of the importance is in the data and part is in how Hansen’s agency behaved, which might be labeled a cover-up.

In pooh-poohing the revision, the GISS ignores the tremendous emotional impact it’s had in practically claiming each year is hotter than the one before. Instead it observes (correctly) since the U.S. accounts for merely two percent of global land surface, a relatively small adjustment in its figures doesn’t meaningfully impact the global picture.

But, notes Canadian mathematician Stephen McIntyre, who exposed the false figures, “The Hansen error ... has a significant impact on the GISS estimate of U.S. temperature history ...” (Emphasis added.) Is this important because we’re a major world power or that we produce the best fried chicken? No, it’s important because we have a far more sophisticated system of temperature monitoring than countries with far larger land masses. Hence, data from each of these nations affect the global model more than the American data.

“Many of the stations in China, Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere are in urban areas (such as Shanghai or Beijing),” observes McIntyre. This can produce hotter temperatures, yet some of the major trackers of the data from these countries, including the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, make no attempt to adjust for monitor placement errors. In any event, for some reason “the U.S. history has a rather minimal (warming) trend if any since the 1930s, while the ROW [rest of the world] has a very pronounced trend since the 1930s.

Thus if the U.S. model, by far the most accurate one, became the model, it would be a gut punch to those claiming we must take drastic, horrifically expense measures right now to ameliorate warming.

Therefore, for the GISS to say this “only” affects the U.S. data is rather like a used car salesman insisting, “This automobile defect is trivial; it only affects steering and braking.”
McIntyre was already hated by the hotheads for debunking the infamous “hockey stick” graph promulgated by University of Virginia geoscientist Michael Mann and colleagues beginning in the late 1990s. Mann’s calculations, using new imputs, showed temperatures to be flat over the last thousand years like a hockey stick shaft before suddenly angling up like the blade in the last half of the 20th Century.

This statistically wiped out both the Medieval Warming Period (c. 900-1300), which unleashed the Vikings, and Little Ice Age (c. 1250-1850), even though historical information for both is overwhelming. Yet the highly-politicized Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) eagerly adopted the hockey stick graph in its 2001 Assessment Report. But then McIntyre and fellow Canadian economist Ross McKitrick showed Mann’s methodology produces hockey-stick shapes even when applied to random data – bringing back those scary Scandinavians and ice-skating on the Thames.

McIntyre’s latest debunking was the discovery of an error in GISS records for the years 2000 through 2006. In simplest terms, they hadn’t been adjusted to compensate for the location or time of day where the data was gathered.

But nobody correlated those newer figures with the older ones until McIntyre did, even though later Hansen admitted it was “easy to fix.” McIntyre published the data on his own website (which is currently down because it’s overloaded with traffic) and got the agency to admit it was wrong and post new figures. It even sent him a thank you note.

Yet the GISS did absolutely nothing to alert scientists or the public to the new figures. This though it has published five global warming press releases so far this year, each one alarming. It took the blogosphere and radio talk show hosts to publicize the new figures even as the mainstream media essentially ignored it. (The Washington Post finally ran an article a week after the controversy began, siding with the GISS and describing McIntyre as nothing more than a “blogger.” All the presidential candidates have blog sites, but somehow the Post refrains from tagging them as bloggers.)

Ultimately the greatest importance of all of this is that it strongly appears to substantiate the intuitive belief that, with scientist-politician Hansen at the helm the GISS, whose data are far more important to modeling global temperatures than it lets on, is not a neutral collector and disseminator of statistics but rather a politicized mouthpiece.

Game, Set, Match.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Mark Steyn has a great piece in the Western Standard regarding the infantilization of the Western world.
About a decade ago, Bill Clinton developed a favourite statistic--that every day in America 12 children died from gun violence. When one delved a little deeper into this, it turned out that 11.569 persons under the age of 20 died each day from gun violence, and five-sixths of those 11.569 alleged kindergartners turned out to be aged between 15 and 19. Many of them had the misfortune to become involved in gangs, convenience-store holdups, drive-by shootings, and drug deals, which, alas, don't always go as smoothly as one had planned. If more crack deals passed off peacefully, that "child" death rate could be reduced by three-quarters.

But, ever since President Clinton's sly insinuation of daily grade-school massacres, I've become wary of political invocations of "the children." In Iraq, for example, everyone in U.S. uniform is a "child." "The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute," as Maureen Dowd of The New York Times wrote about Cindy Sheehan. Miss Dowd had rather less to say about the moral authority of Linda Ryan, whose son, Marine Cpl. Marc Ryan, was killed by "insurgents" in Ramadi. But that's because Mrs. Ryan honours her dead child as a thinking adult who "made a decision to join the Armed Forces and defend our country."

The left is reluctant to accept that. Ever since America's all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterize them as "children." The infantilization of the military promoted by the media is deeply insulting but it suits the anti-war crowd's purposes. It enables them to drone ceaselessly that "of course" they "support our troops," because they want to stop these poor confused moppets from being exploited by the Bush war machine.

Which brings me to Canada's most famous warrior: Omar Ahmed Khadr... [who] is alleged to have killed Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer... in the battle at Khost--or rather in the aftermath, when he was lying on the ground playing dead and hurled a grenade. And perhaps I should say not "Mr." Khadr but young Master Khadr, for he was 15 at the time. "The fact that his age is not going to be considered is a travesty of justice," Kristine Huskey of the International Human Rights Law Clinic in Washington told the Western Standard's Terry O'Neill. That's the pro-Khadr argument: he's a child. He didn't know what he was doing.
Omar Khadr is not just a terrorist legal matter. He represents one of the critical questions at the heart of the West's twilight struggle: what is a child?
As you'll know if you've got a kid in elementary school almost anywhere in the western world, we accept today that children's bodies enter adolescence much sooner: the guidance counsellor is practically slavering to get 'em hep to sex from the third grade. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that's her decision and her parents shouldn't get a look-in. But at the same time we presume that our minds take longer and longer to form and that the end of adolescence must thus be deferred until pretty much the age Mozart was when he died.
In the old three-score-and-ten, we were born, had a decade and a half or so of childhood, and were conscripted into adulthood more or less around the [age of 15]. In the new four-score-and-ten of the 21st century, we've extended life a couple of decades, but not our adult life, our productive life, our working life. Instead, we've created a whole new category of glacial-paced adolescence stretching from those middle-school sex-ed classes through a torpid high school and ever more indulgent and leisurely college courses to what previous generations would have regarded as early middle age. If anything, we've reduced the "adult" phase, entering the workforce later and departing it earlier, leaving government health systems to figure out how to support a population of state-funded retirees for two or three decades, for the last of which they'll require round-the-clock Alzheimer's care.

The chief characteristic of the fin de civilisation West is "deferred adulthood." Look at the sepia photographs of any old 19th century weatherbeaten 13-year-old farmboy and compare it to your average listless teen today: who would you rather leave in charge of the house for the weekend? We take it as read that our bodies mature much earlier than our great-grandparents but that our minds don't. So we start adolescence much sooner and try to avoid having to leave it at all--to the point that the marketing chappies have taken to identifying the 20- to 35-year-old segment as "adultescents." In Japan, 70 per cent of working women aged 30-35 live with their parents. In Italy, some 80 per cent of men live with mum and dad until into their thirties.
Omar Khadr is not a child. He knew what he was doing when he killed Sgt. Speer... And I suspect, if he had to do it all over again, Mr. Khadr surely would: he is as adult as he will ever be. And, if the International Human Rights Law Clinic gets its way and has him ruled a "child," then the jihad will only recruit more such "children," of which it has an endless supply: the median age in Gaza, for example, is 15.8. We, on the other hand, will send our children to do a six-year Bachelor's Degree in Anger Management Studies.

So, on the one hand, we have single European women having fertility treatment in hopes of an only child in their fifties and even sixties, and, on the other, we have Mirpuri cousin-marriage traditions that in 30 years have firmly established themselves among Muslim teens in Pakistani communities in northern England. Which side of the equation has the demographic energy? To put it more bluntly, which side has a future? We are decaying into a society of geriatric teenagers and, agreeable though that is, it's unsustainable. We need, very literally, to grow up.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Who doesn't know that many of the last 10 years rank as the warmest on record? After all, there was no end to the media coverage of these records as they trotted out scientists to talk about the implications. However, how many know that those supposed "record temps" were all wrong and have been quietly removed from NASA's "top ten warmest years" list? My guess: no one. But I thought all scientists were of pure motives who only dealt with facts and data... why haven't the NASA scientists been as quick to publically correct their errors as they were to first point out the record temps in the first place? Say it ain't so, but methinks some of them have confused political causes with science. It's very sexy to claim that the world is the hottest it has ever been; it's not so cool to say that the earth isn't even as hot now as it was 70 years ago.

Thankfully, two scientists (Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick) dug a little deeper into NASA's methodology and found a problem. So now the hottest year on record is... ready for it?... 1934. Mark Steyn talks about it all in his column this week.
Something rather odd happened the other day. If you go to NASA's Web site and look at the "U.S. surface air temperature" rankings for the lower 48 states, you might notice that something has changed.

Then again, you might not. They're not issuing any press releases about it. But they have quietly revised their All-Time Hit Parade for U.S. temperatures. The "hottest year on record" is no longer 1998, but 1934. Another alleged swelterer, the year 2001, has now dropped out of the Top 10 altogether, and most of the rest of the 21st century – 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 – plummeted even lower down the Hot 100. In fact, every supposedly hot year from the Nineties and this decade has had its temperature rating reduced. Four of America's Top 10 hottest years turn out to be from the 1930s, that notorious decade when we all drove around in huge SUVs with the air-conditioning on full-blast. If climate change is, as Al Gore says, the most important issue anyone's ever faced in the history of anything ever, then Franklin Roosevelt didn't have a word to say about it.

And yet we survived.
As Pogo said, way back in the 1971 Earth Day edition of a then-famous comic strip, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Even when we don't do anything: In the post-imperial age, powerful nations no longer have to invade and kill. Simply by driving a Chevy Suburban, we can make the oceans rise and wipe the distant Maldive Islands off the face of the Earth. This is a kind of malignant narcissism so ingrained it's now taught in our grade schools.
I was just reading that the problem that was discovered in the NASA data was caused by a Y2K bug. Isn't that ironic; one false scare encouraged another.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I just finished D.A. Carson's book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. It is a deep read, as Carson is first and foremost a theologian, but it is also a very thought-provoking and worthwhile read. I plan on writing some sort of review of the book in the upcoming days/weeks and posting it on here. The book appears to be a good critique of both the strong and weak points of the Emerging Church (EC). Carson's biggest weakness is probably that some of his criticism and compliments do not apply to all ECs, but more to the leading thinkers of the movement, such as Brian McLaren and Spencer Burke. However, Carson acknowledges this weakness throughout the book, but also makes the point that if the weaknesses he sees in McLaren aren't inherent in all ECs, then their leaders should speak up about where they differ from McLaren, rather than staying largely silent.

For a short overview of what the Emerging Movement is within the Western evangelical community, you can go to Wikipedia's description here. To sum it up here, the Emerging Church is a movement aimed at engaging the postmodern culture in which we (in the Western world) live. At best, it serves as a wonderful way of getting young people into the church who are sick of dogmatic beliefs and hypocrisy and are searching for authentic relationships that speak to them personally. At worst, it serves as a breeding ground for morally-relative, theologically-shallow Christians who are unable to speak Truth to a dying world.

I just borrowed John MacArthur's book, The Truth War, from a friend and am intending on reading it soon. It also serves as a critique of the EC. I also hope to soon get a book on the EC from the perspective of Emerging thinkers, such as this one.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Fred Thompson was on the Paul Harvey show last week and had this to say about the global warming craze:
Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.
This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.

Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our SOLAR system have in common. Hmmmm. SOLAR system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn’t even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There’s a consensus.

Ask Galileo.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Luke, a friend of my brother, posted a comment a few months ago questioning my criticism of the global warming scare. I responded to his comments with two posts (found here and here), and have added some other global warming-related stuff since then. Yesterday, Luke released the first part of what I assume will be a few posts worth of his reply.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »