Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

22 July 2016

Science or advocacy? by Prof. David R. Legates

Science or advocacy?
Students are learning energy and climate change advocacy, not climate science
David R. Legates
For almost thirty years, I have taught climate science at three different universities. What I have observed is that students are increasingly being fed climate change advocacy as a surrogate for becoming climate science literate. This makes them easy targets for the climate alarmism that pervades America today.
Earth’s climate probably is the most complicated non-living system one can study, because it naturally integrates astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, hydrology, oceanography and cryology, and also includes human behavior by both responding to and affecting human activities. Current concerns over climate change have further pushed climate science to the forefront of scientific inquiry.
What should we be teaching college students? 
At the very least, a student should be able to identify and describe the basic processes that cause Earth’s climate to vary from poles to equator, from coasts to the center of continents, from the Dead Sea or Death Valley depression to the top of Mount Everest or Denali. A still more literate student would understand how the oceans, biosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere – driven by energy from the sun – all work in constantly changing combinations to produce our very complicated climate. 
Unfortunately, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s definition of climate science literacy raises the question of whether climatology is even a science. It defines climate science literacy as “an understanding of your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and society.” 
How can students understand and put into perspective their influence on the Earth’s climate if they don’t understand the myriad of processes that affect our climate? If they don’t understand the complexity of climate itself? If they are told only human aspects matter? And if they don’t understand these processes, how can they possibly comprehend how climate influences them and society in general?
Worse still, many of our colleges are working against scientific literacy for students.
At the University of Delaware, the Maryland and Delaware Climate Change Education Assessment and Research (MADE CLEAR) defines the distinction between weather and climate by stating that “climate is measured over hundreds or thousands of years,” and defining climate as “average weather.” That presupposes that climate is static, or should be, and that climate change is unordinary in our lifetime and, by implication, undesirable. 
Climate, however, is not static. It is highly variable, on timescales from years to millennia – for reasons that include, but certainly are not limited to, human activity.
This Delaware-Maryland program identifies rising concentrations of greenhouse gases – most notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – as the only reason why temperatures have risen about 0.6°C (1.1ยบ F) over the last century and will supposedly continue to rise over the next century. Students are then instructed to save energy, calculate their carbon footprint, and reduce, reuse, recycle. Mastering these concepts, they are told, leads to “climate science literacy.” It does not.
In the past, I have been invited to speak at three different universities during their semester-long and college-wide focus on climate science literacy. At all three, two movies were required viewing by all students, to assist them in becoming climate science literate: Al Gore’s biased version of climate science, An Inconvenient Truth, and the 2004 climate science fiction disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow.
This past spring, the University of Delaware sponsored an Environmental Film Festival featuring six films. Among them only An Inconvenient Truth touched at all on the science behind climate change, albeit in such a highly flawed way that in Britain, students must be warned about its bias. The other films were activist-oriented and included movies that are admittedly science fiction or focus on “climate change solutions.”
For these films, university faculty members were selected to moderate discussions. We have a large College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, from which agreeable, scientifically knowledgeable faculty could have been chosen. Instead, discussion of An Inconvenient Truth was led by a professor of philosophy, and one movie – a documentary on climate change “solutions” that argues solutions are pertinent irrespective of the science – was moderated by a civil engineer. 
Discussion of the remaining four films was led by faculty from history, English and journalism. Clearly, there was little interest in the substance of the science.
Many fundamentals of climate science are absent from university efforts to promote climate science literacy. For example, students seldom learn that the most important chemical compound with respect to the Earth’s climate is not carbon dioxide, but water. Water influences almost every aspect of the Earth’s energy balance, because it is so prevalent, because it appears in solid, liquid and gas form in substantial quantities, and because energy is transferred by the water’s mobility and when it changes its physical state. Since precipitation varies considerably from year to year, changes in water availability substantially affect our climate every year.
Hearing about water, however, doesn’t set off alarms like carbon dioxide does.
Contributing to the increased focus on climate change advocacy is the pressure placed on faculty members who do not sign on to the advocacy bandwagon. The University of Delaware has played the role of activist and used FOIA requests to attempt to intimidate me because I have spoken out about climate change alarmism. In my article published in Academic Questions, “The University vs. Academic Freedom,” I discuss the university’s willingness to go along with Greenpeace in its quest for my documents and emails pertaining to my research.
Much grant money and fame, power and influence, are to be had for those who follow the advocates’ game plan. By contrast, the penalties for not going along with alarmist positions are quite severe. 
For example, one of the films shown at the University of Delaware’s film festival presents those who disagree with climate change extremism as pundits for hire who misrepresent themselves as a scientific authority. Young faculty members are sent a very pointed message: adopt the advocacy position – or else.
Making matters worse, consider Senate Bill 3074. Introduced into the U.S. Senate on June 16 of this year, it authorizes the establishment of a national climate change education program. Once again, the emphasis is on teaching energy and climate advocacy, rather than teaching science and increasing scientific knowledge and comprehension.
The director of the National Center for Science Education commented that the bill was designed to “[equip] students with the knowledge and knowhow required for them to flourish in a warming world.” Unfortunately, it will do little to educate them regarding climate science.
I fear that our climate science curriculum has been co-opted, to satisfy the climate change fear-mongering agenda that pervades our society today. Instead of teaching the science behind Earth’s climate, advocates have taken the initiative to convert it to a social agenda of environmental activism.
Climatology, unfortunately, has been transformed into a social and political science. There is nothing wrong with either of those “sciences,” of course. But the flaws underpinning climate science advocacy are masked by “concern for the environment,” when climate is no longer treated as a physical science.
Climate science must return to being a real science and not simply a vehicle to promote advocacy talking points. When that happens, students will find that scientific facts are the real “inconvenient truths.”

David R. Legates, PhD, CCM, is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. A version of this article appeared on the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy website. 
Posted at the request of Paul Driessen

Universities have largely lost sight of what it means to provide an education.  They have become idea suppression institutions in many cases who present arguments from authority rather than by reason to inculcate an agenda in the minds of students.  In other words, the activities of universities are to a great degree cult-forming activities.  This is contrary to the legitimate mission of a university to promote rational thinking skills and a body of true knowledge among independent-minded students.

19 July 2016

UnitedHealth Losses Under ObamaCare Accelerate

Earlier, UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurer, announced that it was leaving most of the 30 ObamaCare markets due to losses.  Its earlier loss estimate was $600 million, but it has just upped that estimate to $800 million.  It has insured 800,000 enrollees under ObamaCare, so it is losing $1000 per enrollee due to their rapidly rising health care costs.

It is quite understandable that one would not want enrollees one loses an average of $1000 apiece on. That is not a business to be in.  There is definitely a sustainability problem here.

Real Climate Denial by Megan Toombs

Potential Democratic VP nominee misrepresents Cornwall Alliance on Senate floor
Megan Toombs
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is a potential running-mate choice for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Yet he recently joined other Democratic Senators on the Senate floor to attack the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and other Virginia-based organizations, in an attempt to defend climate alarmism against its critics.
As has been the case with other attempts to vilify, intimidate and silence experts who disagree with alarmist views on global warming and climate change, Kaine presented an argument rife with logical fallacies – appeals to emotion, straw men, ridicule, oversimplification and misrepresentation.
The one thing the good Senator forgot to include in his speech was any sound science and ethics!
According to Kaine, the Cornwall Alliance is part of a “web of denial,” a “shadow organization,” “bizzaro,” and “greedy.”
Senator Kaine read just a tiny piece of our Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change, in which we quoted Psalm 19. He then said, “So somebody is really using Scripture to argue that making our energy production cleaner, safer, cheaper, violates the Christian tenet of caring for the poor?”
No, Senator Kaine, if you read the full Open Letter, you would discover that it addresses both science and economics. More important, it explains that pushing wind, solar, biofuel and other technologies that are not currently cheaper or better for the environment also hurts those in poverty. You would also have seen that it was signed by hundreds of scientists, including over 20 climate scientists. But you didn’t mention any of that.
Senators Kaine, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and others have banded together to attack the alleged “web of denial” that appears to be made up only of conservative organizations that they claim are funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel corporations that they consider immoral – even though the energy they provide has been indispensable to lifting and keeping billions of people out of poverty, and even though ExxonMobil has not given any of these groups a dime for a decade or more.
Moreover, there is another “web of denial,” the one created by climate alarmist organizations that are funded by renewable energy corporations, wealthy liberal foundations and government agencies that stand to gain money, prestige and power from promoting scares about climate change. As Kathleen Hartnett White brilliantly demonstrates in her booklet Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case, they have been caught exaggerating, fabricating and falsifying data to support their views, suppressing contrary data, intimidating scientists who disagree, and corrupting the scientific peer-review process.
Senator Kaine claims that 70% of Virginians agree with the “scientific consensus” that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is real and that “it is urgent that we do something about it.”
There is no evidence that 70% of Virginians (or Americans) agree with this. They may agree that global warming and climate change are “real” and that humans today are contributing somewhat to these cycles and fluctuations, which have been ongoing for millennia. But to convert that into saying a huge majority believe humans are causing catastrophic changes is disingenuous. To say they want to spend trillions of dollars to try controlling Earth’s climate has no basis in fact.
And what “scientific consensus” is he talking about? The “97% of scientists” that is the go-to statistic for alarmists has been debunked so thoroughly that it takes serious chutzpah to use it.
Then there is the fact (observable fact, mind you, not computer models) that shows there has been no statistically significant long-term global warming for nearly all of the last 19 years.
Yet they deny this too.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased quite significantly during this time, as developing countries built coal-fired power plants, created jobs, lifted people out of abject poverty, dramatically improved the living standards for billions, built roads and highways, and put millions of cars and trucks on them. So where is the correlation between increased temperature and rising CO2 levels?
There is none.
No one argues that humans have absolutely no effect on the environment or on potential warming.
What is in question is whether human CO2 emissions will create temperature increases and other planetary changes so dramatic that they will cause catastrophes that justify spending trillions of dollars in vain efforts to stabilize climates and temperatures that have never been stable. What is also in question is whether we can ethically do so by restricting or eliminating the fuels that countries all over the world depend on for 80% of the energy that makes economic growth, jobs, poverty reduction, health and welfare possible.
Those trillions of dollars should instead be spent to lift billions more people out of poverty, and reduce the high rates of disease, malnutrition and premature death that invariably accompany that poverty.
Right now, the only “proof” alarmists have is computer model projections that are wildly inaccurate, and a “hockey stick” graph that is utterly worthless and has been derided by the scientific community for the ability of that computer model to create suddenly rising global temperatures when it is fed random numbers from a phone book.
That’s some serious denial – of the uselessness of climate models, of what is actually happening in the real world, and of the fundamental human right of people everywhere to use fossil fuels to improve their living standards, health and well-being.

Megan Toombs is the Director of Communications for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. You can follow her on Twitter @MeganToombs. 
This article has been published here at the request of Paul Driessen.

05 July 2016

Independence Day Thoughts on Freedom

When Americans declared their independence from Great Britain 240 years ago, they were a people who were largely self-employed and proud to manage their own lives.  They believed they had no need for a government to choose their values for them and to micromanage their lives.  Their principal need for a government was to prevent individuals from initiating the use of force against one another and to protect them from outlaw gangs, warring Indians, and attacks by other nations. Most of those needs they were quite willing to fulfill in large part at the very local level, including a local militia. They certainly did not need a government dominated by special interests and aristocrats a long distance away from them dictating numerous laws and taxing them.

But what is the American condition today?  Relatively few people are self-employed.  The result is that relatively few people believe that they are capable of controlling their own lives.  For the ease of being an employee, most people have given up the ability to earn their own living under their own management.  Most people have consequently lost a key ingredient to their independence and their self-confidence.  This is a loss partly brought on by political decisions in which a people more and more frequently employed by others came to be in greater and greater numbers in the electorate. Frustrated with their lack of control and holding a great political power in their numbers, but lacking self-direction, these Americans became susceptible to special interests who wanted to gain power and wealth at the expense of the less numerous employers who had made their wealth in a largely free market.  More and more legislation came to regulate employers and to transfer their wealth to groups politically favored by government.  This further weakened the spirit of self-sufficiency, independent mindedness, and encouraged the creation of huge barriers to starting and operating businesses. Americans became more and more dependent upon their government and the whims of the special interests that came to control that ever more powerful government.

Today, government and the education system it dominates insist that we are not really individuals at all.  No, we are simply members in some identity group.  White males are only capable of thinking like a stereotypical white male does.  Black males are only capable of thinking as a stereotypical black male does.  Those exceptions, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, Dr. Thomas Sowell, and Professor Walter E. Williams are simply abominations abhorrent to nature and traitors to their group identity.  In an interesting twist, it is fine however for a white male to think outside his abhorred group, provided he thinks like one of the approved identity groups.  Well, that is true to a fair degree, though there are increasing numbers who now resent such a person's theft of their identity.  Overall, our special interest serving government found it very convenient to lump Americans into a few groups so that we might be divided and controlled more readily.  This also serves the critically important function of obscuring the fact that the government cannot know us as individuals and cannot do anything but suppress our individuality with its ever-increasing legislation and regulations. People will be less aware of the suppression of their individuality if they have been taught that they only have a group identity.  This is a fundamentally collectivist idea.

Americans are a self-contradictory group these days.  They want less government, but they rarely want to give up any program that currently exists, except for ObamaCare, maybe.  They want the government to spend less, except on a few new programs that they want.  They are not infrequently willing to break a law they think the government will not notice, but they are eager to create new laws to prevent others from doing anything that might aggravate them.  Indeed, Congress is held in super-low regard because it is so often in gridlock, though the last time it was not in gridlock it passed the hated ObamaCare act.  Generally, the people believe that a legislature is not doing its job unless it is passing loads of new laws.

Now, because I view the only legitimate function of government, as did the Declaration of Independence, as being the protection of the rights of each and every individual to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of personal happiness, I see little need for new laws doing what most new laws have done in recent decades.  Most new laws further restrict the freedom of action of at least some Americans, though most laws are aimed at a minority subset of Americans if great harm is to be done to them.  Those laws restricting most Americans are usually designed to cause them only a small and largely unnoticed loss, but which in the aggregate allows a substantial transfer of wealth or power to a small, politically favored special interest group.  After many decades of following such a "practical" and unprincipled political course, we now have a government that does most Americans far more harm than it does us good.

We do presently have a need for much new legislation.  We need to repeal decades of laws that have interfered with our natural individual rights.  We have far too many laws providing for the theft of the value of the hours many put into productive work.  We have far too many restrictions on our freedom of association.  We have far too many prohibitions against our exercise of freedom of conscience, which includes, but is not limited to, our freedom of religion.  We have ever more constraints on freedom of speech and of the press.  Our property rights are in frequent jeopardy, whether it be to use our property for production or to keep it from being confiscated because some law enforcement arm of government imagines that it might have been used in a crime or even only that some action involving it fits a pattern of some organized crime or terrorist action, however implausibly that may apply to this particular property owner.

It is an interesting phenomena, though only one among many contradictions, that those who favor ever-larger government are constantly making claims that human activities cannot be sustained by the environment, yet ever-increasing spending based on the confiscation of the fruits of productive work can be sustained without limit.  So let us review a few charts on government growth provided by the Cato Institute:

Since 1900, Federal spending went from 2.8% of GDP to 21.4% of GDP in 2016, which is a 7.6-fold increase.  Total state and local government spending increased by only 2.2 times in comparison.  The more local government is, it would appear, the more solid the constraints on its spending.  Now that government spending is such a large part of the economy, it is critical that we stop using GDP as the measure since that government spending is actually counted as GDP.  Yet that money has to be produced outside government, while only a fraction of government spending is returned to the government for spending from taxes on money earned by doing the governments' bidding.  Total government spending here is 32.4% of GDP.  The Non-Government GDP (NG GDP) is then 67.6%. If government taxed the functions it spends money on at the same rate it taxes the general private sector economic activities then one could estimate that 32.4% of the money spent by governments is returned to government in taxes of the money spent by governments.  So, 0.324 times 32.4% is 10.5%.  The reality is that government actually taxes these activities at much lower rates.  It is probably generous to assume that taxes return 5% of the government money spent.  So let us subtract 5% from total government spending to find the drag that government spending itself puts on the private sector economy.  Net total government spending of (32.4 - 5.0)% /  67.6% = 40.5%, which is substantially more than the 32.4% the presentation of the data against the GDP provides us.  Let us bear this in mind as we look at some more charts of our unsustainable government growth.

The national defense is certainly a legitimate function of the government and it has a constitutional validation in the enumerated powers of the government.  This represents 15% of federal spending and it certainly includes some waste and abuse and suffers from the greatly diverted attention of our hired managers in Congress.  Interest payments are justified by the Constitution, but there is no legitimate reason for those payments to have grown to be 6% of the budget.  That is a percentage which would rise rapidly if we did not have an economy suppressed by government requirements that have greatly reduced the velocity of money in the economy.  The All Other Activities covers a few constitutionally valid functions, such as some of the foreign affairs activities, the post offices and post roads, the minting of money, immigration controls, the maintenance of weight and measure standards, the operation of the Patent Office, and the operation of the federal courts at a level appropriate for a nation of many fewer laws and regulations.  Had a proper philosophy of government prevailed, as stated in the Declaration of Independence and mandated by the Constitution, the spending of our present federal government would be closer to 20% of its present spending than to 25% of present spending.

Since 1970, it sure is a good thing that defense spending as a percentage of the GDP has trended down substantially and that non-defense discretionary spending has come down a bit, because entitlement spending has climbed prodigiously.  Entitlement spending has no constitutional basis and no basis in the legitimate function of government as defined in the Declaration of Independence.  It is generally funded by the theft of the fruits of the productive work of Americans so that it can be rerouted to those favored politically by those who lust for the power to distribute the money.  This huge expansion of entitlement spending makes the so-called beneficiaries dependent upon the government, which suits the government just fine.

An appreciation of the degree to which our government has become one dominated by special interests would not be realistic if we did not acknowledge the huge increase in federal subsidy programs shown above.

This final graph is the number of pages in the Federal Register from Wayne Crews' Ten Thousand Commandments 2016 report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In the 1940s and the 1950s the total number of pages of final regulations in the Federal Register for the decade were running at about 110,00 pages a decade.  In the decade from 2001 -2010 the number of pages had grown to 730,176.  Presumably, the government considers it our duty to have read all of these regulations so that we might abide by them.  Did you do your government mandated duty?  Remember, ignorance is no defense for violating the law or any regulation.  More and more of the binding regulations or the interpretation of the regulations can only be found in court proceedings or in website announcements of the thousands of government regulatory agencies, which the government itself cannot enumerate. Good luck you lost, ignorant soul if the government decides to come after you.  Do you trust the likes of Obama, Hillary, or The Donald not to do so?

Oh that we might be free!  It would be incredibly wonderful to celebrate the 4th of July as a free man.
It would be a joy to be among free men who had maintained the principles of freedom set forth in the Declaration of Independence and then largely implemented in the Constitution of 1787 and the Bill of Rights in 1791.  To live in a society based on the free trade of values in a rich and robust private sector rather than one dominated by the forceful taking of wealth and service by governments would be to live in a genuinely life-sustaining society.  It is not possible to imagine how much our standard of living would be improved with the flowering of productivity, creativity, justice, and benevolence one would find in such a society.

03 July 2016

ObamaCare Continues to Lose Altitude with Crash Inevitable

The biggest problem with ObamaCare is the loss of the fundamental ownership of your own mind and body. ObamaCare is primarily a declaration that no one has individual rights. According to the ObamaCare philosophy one is nothing but an infinitesimal part of the Collective. Some persons in the Collective did not have health insurance or had health insurance that was not approved by the Regressive Elitists who controlled the government with a claim as benevolent caretakers for the unwashed masses  such as you and me.  That claim bears a great similarity to that of the aristocracy of medieval times to the Divine Right of Kings and Aristocrats justified by their supposed service to the People.

ObamaCare caused millions of Americans to lose the insurance they were happy with.  They were forced to pay higher premiums, higher deductibles, travel greater distances, and accept lower quality health care than they previously had. A recent Mercatus Center study reveals that qualified individual health plans had claims to premium income ratios of 1.10 in 2014, while non-qualified individual health plans had claims to premium income ratios of 0.83.  The group qualified health insurance claims to income ratio was 0.82.  To cover the cost of claims, individual qualified health insurance plans would have to have had premiums about 30% higher than they were.  Many insurers have stopped offering ObamaCare qualifying individual health insurance plans in many states due to these unsustainable losses.  Those who have continued to offer plans have done so with some combination of increased premiums, increased deductibles, and narrower and narrower networks of providers.  In many areas of the country, patients have to travel much greater distances for the limited health care their health insurance provides.

The chart above is from a Kaiser Family Foundation report of November 2015.  The average percentage of uninsured less than the age of 65 in the pre-recession years 2000 to 2007 is 16.5%.  The 2014 uninsured rate for the non-elderly population, including illegal aliens, has been reported to be down based on interviews.  In January 2014, a Gallup poll found that 16.1% were uninsured.  In September 2014, the New York Times reported that the number of uninsured fell by 8% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013, which would make the percentage of uninsured about 15.4% or only 1.1% less than the pre-recession average for 2000 through 2007. A CDC study based on interviews from January to September of 2014, claimed the nonelderly uninsured rate was 13.3%.  The government has a history of exaggerating the insured rate of coverage since ObamaCare was passed and people now have reason to fear telling a government agent that they do not have qualified health insurance, so the federal interview technique may be inclined to return a low value for the uninsured. In addition, having been forced to sign-up for health insurance many do not want and do not think they can afford, many do not actually pay their insurance premiums.  The only reliable way to determine how many people are insured is after the year is over and the insurance companies report on how many they had insured, but such data does not yet seem to be available.  ObamaCare supporters often like to attribute the decrease in the uninsured due to the glacially slow recovery from the Great Recession to ObamaCare, so this reference to the fairly stable uninsured rate prior to the recession is important if one is not to overstate the effect of ObamaCare on reducing the percentage of uninsured.

Many of the newly insured are actually those wealthy enough that they had very reasonably self-insured themselves and their loved ones, but are now forced by ObamaCare tax penalties to buy the insurance they did not need.  The very small reduction in the uninsured was also accomplished in large part because the rates being charged in 2014 were much too low and unsustainable.  Premium rates went up dramatically in 2015 and again in 2016, and will go up dramatically again in 2017, even as deductibles have continued to rise for many and health insurance choices have greatly diminished.  Some large insurers in Georgia are planning 65% premium increases in 2017, while some in Pennsylvania plan increases of 38%, some in New Mexico 32%, and some in Oregon 30%.

That small 2014 decrease in the uninsured rate will not be maintained. Young and healthy people cannot continue to subsidize less healthy people by taking on ever-rising insurance premiums they cannot afford even as they cannot benefit from the insurance for many of their health needs because they have insufficient money left to also pay the ever-increasing deductibles.   Even in 2014, the young and healthy were failing to provide the support to ObamaCare that it critically needed and their rapidly rising health insurance costs will inevitably result in more and more healthy people choosing the ObamaCare tax penalty over qualified health insurance.  Meanwhile, many insurance companies are trying to sue the government to make the government cover their losses.  The only way these insurers are likely to be reimbursed their losses is if the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.

ObamaCare was always insane and unsustainable, as programs tend to be that ignore the essential fact of the individuality of humans and their sovereign individual rights.  Just as the aristocracy of Medieval times failed most of the people most of the time, so are the Regressive Elitists of our time failing most of the people most of the time.  It is impossible for self-proclaimed elitists to competently manage the lives of those they do not even know.  Just as the aristocracy of Great Britain failed to manage the American colonies competently in the 1760s and 1770s, our hone-grown aristocratic elitists of the Obama era cannot manage the health needs or anything else essential to the American individual of today.  A real Declaration of Independence from a government dominated by a self-proclaimed aristocratic elite and their chosen special interests, such as the health insurance companies who in 2009 backed ObamaCare, is long overdue in the struggle for the interests of the individual and his much maligned sovereign rights.

15 May 2016

Paul Driessen: Ben Rhodes spins climate change

“Climate refugee” claims reflect deliberate mendacity and belief that we and reporters are stupid 

Employing his college degree in fiction writing, White House communications strategist Ben Rhodes wrote deceitful talking points on the Benghazi attack and one-sided Iran nuclear deal – and later bragged about manipulating “clueless reporters.” Perhaps he’s also orchestrating administration climate spin.

Rising ocean tides will bring “waves of climate refugees” to America and Europe, President Obama has declared. “Environmental migrants” are already fleeing shrinking islands in the Pacific, and it is a “dereliction of duty” for military officers to “deny the reality” of dangerous manmade climate change.

Even if we act in accord with the Paris climate “accords” (none dare call it a treaty) and “can stem the increase” in global temperatures, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell insists, “very rapid” climate changes “are expected to force the relocation of hundreds of Alaskans from their homes.”

Manmade climate change is a “threat multiplier,” a Pentagon report asserts. It will “exacerbate” many of the challenges the United States faces today, including infectious diseases and terrorism, destructive extreme weather events, disputes over who has rights to dwindling land areas and basic resources like water and food, and intense disagreements over how to absorb millions of climate refugees.

Echo-chamber journalists disagree only over the identity of America’s first climate refugees: Alaskan Natives in Newtok being inundated by rising seas and melting ice and tundra – or 25 Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw families whose little island in the Mississippi Delta has been eroding away since 1950?

Not to be outdone, ultra-liberal radio talk show host Thom Hartmann told me, “You’ve got five million climate change refugees fleeing into Europe right now because of droughts in Syria.” When I called this nonsense and said they are trying to escape war and ISIS butchers who are beheading little children, for the tenth time in a ten-minute interview, he railed that I “should be in jail” as a “climate denier.”

Unfortunately for Rhodes & Company, inconvenient truths eviscerate manmade climate chaos claims.
Throughout Earth and human history, climate change has ranged from regional to hemispheric, from beneficial to harmful to destructive. It has included Roman and medieval warm periods, little ice ages, and five “mammoth” glacial epochs that buried continents under mile-high walls of ice. Natural climate change inflicted a Dust Bowl that sent millions of Americans scurrying in search of better lives, and decades- or centuries-long droughts that brought entire civilizations to their knees.

Roman, Mayan, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese and other cities and cultures prospered in warm periods and collapsed in cold and drought eras, climate historian Dennis Avery observes. This happened “over and over, in a centuries-long rhythm of affluence followed by long success, followed by long and utter failure.” Entire cities in the eastern Mediterranean were abandoned for centuries.

Storm activity rose by 85% in the second half of the 16th century, during the Maunder Sunspot Minimum, while the incidence of severe storms increased four-fold, writes historian Brian Fagan. British Navy logbooks show more than twice as many major land-falling Caribbean hurricanes during the cold decades of the 1700’s as during the warm years of 1950–2000.

Little ice ages and extended droughts brought crop failures and mass starvation, Avery notes. Rome shrank from a million inhabitants in its heyday to barely 30,000 a century later. The Mayan civilization plunged from perhaps 15 million to one million, as its cities were abandoned in a century-long drought.

Climate mood swings in the past 50 years have been far less dramatic than in previous millennia. Few people will have to flee the tiny portion of future climate change that might be attributable to humans.
The Climate Crisis Consortium ignores these eons, millennia and centuries of natural climate change. It wants us to believe Earth’s climate was stable and benign until the Industrial Age – and humans can now control climate and weather merely by controlling carbon dioxide levels. It’s all Hollywood nonsense.

Oceans have risen 400 feet since the last ice age glaciers melted. Pacific islands rose with them, as corals expanded their habitats with every new inch of sea water. Seas are now rising at seven inches per century – and EPA’s anti-coal Clean Power Plan would prevent barely 0.01 inches of rise over the next 100 years.

Greenland’s icecap is shrinking because of subterranean magmatic activity – not global warming. Arctic regions have long experienced warming and cooling cycles, as recorded by Francis McClintock and other whalers and explorers, dating back some 300 years. Polar bear populations are at an all-time high: 25,000.

Antarctic ice masses continue to grow, and the continent’s average annual temperature of minus-55 F means it would have to warm by 88 degrees year-round for that ice to melt. Even Al Gore in his wildest rants doesn’t say that is likely. So his beachfront home is safe from the 20-foot sea rise he has predicted.
Meteorologist Anthony Watts concludes that the only reliable long-term surface record comes from 400 official US rural thermometer stations that were never corrupted by location changes, airport heat or urban growth. Those stations show no significant warming for the past 80 years. The “record warming” we keep hearing about comes from data that have been “adjusted” or “homogenized” (ie, manipulated) upward to conform to computer model projections, IPCC proclamations and White House press releases.

Other studies have concluded there has been no increase in the severity or frequency of thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes or winter blizzards for decades. Indeed, no Category 3-5 hurricane has struck the United States since October 2005 – a record lull that exceeds any hurricane hiatus since at least 1900.

Malaria was common in the USA, Europe and even Siberia until the 1950s, when window screens, DDT and better medical practices wiped it out. It has nothing to do with global warming or climate change. Its continued prevalence is due to incompetent health ministries that refuse to learn from past successes.

The notion that a warmer world with more atmospheric CO2 will bring crop failures and famines is sheer delusion. They are already “greening” the planet and making crops, forests and grasslands grow faster and better. New hybrid and biotech seeds, combined with modern fertilizers and farming practices, are yielding bigger harvests, even during droughts, as India is proving right now.

There is no manmade climate crisis. Solar, galactic and oceanic cycles rule – not carbon dioxide. The biggest threat to agriculture and humans would come from another little ice age, not moderate warming.

In reality, the enormous amounts of energy packed into coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear fuels create the wealth, and power the wondrous technologies, that give us the greatest advantages mankind has ever enjoyed – to survive, adapt to and deal with climate changes and weather events.

The worst thing we could do is lock up that reliable, affordable, compact energy – and switch to expensive, heavily subsidized, wildly unpredictable wind and solar energy … and to biofuels that require millions of acres of land and billions of gallons of precious water.

Those who control energy control lives, livelihoods and living standards. Allowing climate alarmists and anti-energy zealots to dictate what energy sources we can use, and how much each of us is “permitted” to have, would put all of us at the mercy of their unaccountable whims, ideologies and fraudulent science.

Their callous policies are already killing millions of people every year in impoverished nations, by depriving them of the energy and technologies that we take for granted. Shouldn’t we be helping the world’s poor take their rightful places among the healthy and prosperous? Do we want to be next?

The only “evidence” the alarmists have for a looming climate cataclysm are Al Gore movies, Mike Mann hockey sticks, garbage in-garbage out computer “scenarios” that bear no resemblance to Real World events, and more spin and scare stories from White House novelist Ben Rhodes.

We need a president who will send the Paris climate treaty to the US Senate, where it can be properly vetted and rejected … overturn EPA and other regulations that are based on manipulated data and falsified pseudo-science … and lead the world back from the precipice of climate lunacy.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. © May 2016 

Charles Anderson Comments:

This posting has been made at the request of Paul Driessen.

There is one context in which the Obama administration has called the Paris Climate "Accords" a treaty.  The reply of the Obama State Department to the letter in which many Republican Senators objected to the violation of law when the Obama State Department supplied funds to the U. N. affiliated organization managing the Paris Climate Treaty, as the non-Obama world knows it.  The violation was because the Palestinian State has signed the treaty and the funding of U.N. organizations with Palestine as a member is specifically in violation of two laws actually passed by the Congress and signed by a President.  See my post 

It is Not a Tax, But Oh It is a Tax -- It is Not a Treaty, but Oh It is a Treaty

On 22 December 2009, I posted on the results of a high school science project by a father and his son which noted that while U.S. urban area temperatures had increased since 1900, rural area temperatures had not.  That post is here:

Rural US Sites Show No Temperature Increase Since 1900

It was really simple for two conscientious people with some time available to prove this.  They did so well before Anthony Watts did so.  While Anthony Watts has done plenty of good work, he is also an irascible, biased man who has inhibited the understanding of why the physics of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is wrong.

14 May 2016

The Severe Limits of Social Justice

The idea that the government should force every individual of our society to provide Social Justice is a central belief of Progressive Elitists.  The implementation of their Social Justice agenda is a massive injustice.  Let us examine the reasons that make this the case.

Justice has meaning in the relationships of individuals and meaning as an aim of government.  In the relationships of individuals, justice exists when an individual correctly identifies the value of another individual based on his character and actions.  This evaluation is clearly dependent upon one's ethical code.  Consequently, an individual will not correctly identify the value of another individual when his moral code is not correct or when he holds himself to no moral principles.

Suppose an individual has a correct moral code and is highly capable in applying that code to the complex problem of evaluating the worth of another individual on the objective assessment of observations of his character as witnessed by his actions in life.  This highly competent judge of value in other individuals will nonetheless not be able to form a valid opinion of the worth of all the other people he encounters in his life simply because he will not know enough about many of them to form an objective opinion.  He will only be able to do justice to those he knows sufficiently well.

This objective moral evaluator will understand that when dealing with people who he does not know well enough, he should be careful not to do an injustice to them.  This is at least the case in the context of a society in which the initiated use of force by individuals is prohibited, as it is by legitimate governments.  A further requirement is that the government itself uses no more force than that needed to prevent the initiated use of force among individuals.  Once the use of force is minimized in a society, then an individual can afford to live by the principle that he should hold a benevolent assumption that others are not a threat to his life and he may assume that others are of significant value until they actually prove otherwise in actions he has had the opportunity to observe. Thus the rational individual in a free society acts on the principle that he should not do others the injustice of assuming them a threat to his life.  In voluntary associations with them, he can assume that they will trade values to their mutual benefit or they will be free not to have any association at all.

This benevolent assumption of value in others is conditional on a society in which our interactions with others are of a voluntary nature.  It assumes that when we trade values in our interactions, we are not being forced to do so.  A government which harms some individuals in order to provide favors to other individuals or groups, as our present government does on a major scale, is actively making some groups a threat to the lives of many individuals.  It undermines or even denies the basis under which one may make the benevolent assumption of value in others.  It can actually force individuals to do the injustice to others of having to assume that they are a threat to his life until and unless they prove that they are not a threat and actually are a value.  This is what has happened in many fascist and communistic societies.  Big Government or statist government is a basic threat to justice in this way.

Government can clearly be the means by which massive injustice comes to characterize a society. How can government be prevented from being the cause of injustice?  It is by forcing government to observe the rights of the individual.  The rights of the individual are determined by the nature of man and by a basic core morality.  As Ayn Rand said in her essay Man's Rights:
"Rights" are a moral concept -- the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others -- the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context -- the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics.  Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.
A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context.  There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life.  Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action -- which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.)
The concept of a "right" pertains only to action -- specifically, to freedom of action.  It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive -- of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice.  As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligation except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.
The freedom to act on your own judgment implies the need for freedom of conscience and the exercise of voluntary choices within a society requires the freedom of association.  Freedom of speech does not exist unless one is allowed to advocate wrong ideas from the perspective of others or even with respect to reality.  Similarly, freedom of conscience does not exist if one is not allowed to have ideas, including moral ideas, that are wrong.  Freedom of association does not exist unless one is allowed to unjustly err in assessing the value of others.

While rights are a means of securing morality in the actions of government, those moral principles that government must recognize are the most basic and most core moral beliefs.  The government must not dictate more than the most basic of moral requirements on the individuals of the society it serves.  Government protection of the exercise of individual rights requires it to allow individuals to choose their own values and to manage their own lives in accordance with their own values.  The bare minimum of morality that forms the foundation of rights is the recognition that the individual must take actions to secure his life and to maintain it in a healthy state.  He has the right to pursue his own happiness. To take such actions effective in their purpose, he must be free to think and to pursue the information and develop the knowledge necessary to that effective action. Both freedom of thought and action for such purposes are critical values and he must have property rights to values he produces by his thought and actions.  But, he does not have the right to initiate the use of force against others, as they do not have that right against him.  No one has the right to use the force of government to do harm to others either, unless those others have first initiated the use of force.

Rights reside in the individual.  The individual is the sovereign rights-holder.  Rights are not a grant or a privilege from government.  Rights arise from the nature of man, not from the nature of the state. The state either protects the rights of the individual or it does not.  It either performs its legitimate function or it does not.

Man, whether singly or in numbers, is not omniscient.  The development of knowledge and the understanding of nature are difficult.  In attempting to understand our reality we all make mistakes and no one achieves a complete knowledge.  This is a critical part of our understanding of man's nature and of the complexity of the reality in which man lives.  This being the case, it is not reasonable to expect that all men will agree on most moral issues and most value judgments.  So how can we live in a society together even when we are not in complete agreement, or maybe even in considerable agreement, about moral decisions?  The practical answer to this is to have a government that only enforces a minimum of moral requirements.  The answer is a government that simply prohibits the initiated use of force and protects our individual rights.  We are then left the freedom to make our own value choices and to associate with others of our choice voluntarily in the private sector to pursue our common values and to trade with one another to our mutual advantage.  In this private sector we can all aim to achieve every one of our values and to gain values we want in every association and cooperative endeavor we have with others.  This is not the case in the government sector, once government expands beyond its legitimate purpose as the protector of individual rights.

The Progressive Elitists say no to this concept of individual rights.  They claim that rights are really only privileges granted those favored by government.  Those privileges may be changed at the whim of government, at least if that government is controlled by a democratic vote, whether fraudulent or not.  They say the purpose of government is not to secure and protect the rights of the individual, but to ensure Social Justice.

An individual cannot form a just assessment of the character of everyone he encounters, so he cannot offer everyone justice.  But, he can adopt the principle that he will do no one an actual injustice and he will most certainly not initiate the use of force against others.  How can a government do more than this?  A government does not have a moral assessment of every one of the individuals within the country.  The government is still composed of a number of individuals and that number of individuals will never come close to having adequate objective knowledge of the character of most individuals in the country to form a valid assessment of their individual worth.  The government can no more provide justice to everyone than can an individual.

How does a government embarked on the endeavor of Social Justice respond to this inadequacy?  It must simplify the problem.  Its response to insufficient knowledge is a classification scheme that simplifies individual differences by assigning individuals to categories.  Individuals are complex, so a given individual will be thrown into many categories, with his particular combination of characteristics largely lost to the process.  The individual may be characterized by many pixels of information, but the whole of the individual is eradicated.  For instance, one individual may be a count in each of the following categories:
  • Skin color or the area of the origin of his ancestors
  • Male or female or transgender
  • Age
  • Married or unmarried
  • Dependent children or not
  • Child care users or not
  • Home-owner or not
  • Income level
  • Wealth level
  • Veteran or not
  • Heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other flavors of sexuality
  • Employer or employee
  • Employed, seeking employment, or not seeking employment
  • Labor union member or not
  • Supporter of bigger government or not a supporter
  • Contributor to favored charities and non-profits or not
  • Healthy or unhealthy
  • Paid health insurance or not
  • Citizen, legal resident, or illegal alien
  • Supporter of green energy and catastrophic man-made global warming or not
  • Borrower or lender
  • Farmer or not
  • Exporter or not
  • Bank accounts abroad or not
On and on the classification counting goes, but Abigail Adams and Patrick Henry cannot be reconstructed from the many bits they have been parsed into.  The individual himself is totally eradicated.  But with this simplification, the government can now pretend to pursue Social Justice.

Now having partitioned the population into numerous categories, the government can indulge in legislation aimed at helping certain categories and hurting other categories.  When helping a category, the usual justification is a claim that Social Justice is being served.  If preferences in hiring to certain ancestral groups or to one gender are legislated, Social Justice is served.  If income or property is transferred from someone who has worked hard to become educated and worked hard in business to subsidize someone else who has spent endless hours watching TV sitcoms and horror movies and who partied and played instead of studying, then Social Justice is served.  If a person unhealthy due to tobacco smoking and overeating of junk food has difficulty affording health insurance, then force healthy and young people to pay much more for their insurance in order to subsidize unhealthy behaviors in the name of Social Justice.  If it is impolitic to make employees file their own payroll tax forms and send their own tax payments to the government, then in the name of Social Justice make the employer spend his time providing this unpaid service.  If the taxpayer wants to contribute to a non-profit organization supporting individual rights, do not allow that organization to become a tax-exempt organization or if it already is and he contributes $250 a year to it, take down his name as an enemy of Social Justice.  If an individual or organization notes that the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is a proven failure, prosecute him as a racketeer under RICO in the name of Social Justice.

Social Justice can be used to justify every act of special interest favoritism.  It is used to justify every instance in which the government hurts some individuals or groupings of individuals to supposedly help another grouping.  Endless numbers of groups are pitted against one another for the favors of government or to at least avoid being the victim of government.  The result is a general breakdown of the voluntary interactions that make it possible for one individual to assume that another has value to his life prior to his actually having such an evaluation of the character of that other individual.  It becomes easy to determine if that individual is a threat to one's life in many cases.  If you are an employer, then employees are a threat, especially if they are members of a government-favored labor union.  If you are a so-called white male, than anyone who is not a white male is a threat due to government favoritism.  If you have a high income or are wealthy, then those with significantly lower incomes or wealth are a threat by virtue of their ability to provide larger numbers of votes for a politician.

Because of government favors rendered in the name of Social Justice and the battle to be designated a special interest, society is broken into numerous, nearly innumerable, groups at war with one another to control the use of government force for their advantage.  The separation of interests of each individual into many categories is a great aid to minimizing the opposition of individuals to the government taking control of many aspects of their lives.  Each enabling act of legislation or each bureaucratic regulation commonly helps a group under one category at the expense of a group in another category.  The group hurt is hurt in one aspect of their lives, but that group still has many reasons to be busy attending to the many other aspects of their lives.  They cannot afford to spend a great deal of time opposing the new act that is imposing upon their individual rights and depriving them of their values and freedom.  The government pursuing Social Justice counts on this to perpetrate its accumulation of more and more power over the life of every individual. 

The Social Justice pursuing government cannot allow anyone to disagree with its moral proclamations.  Disagreement implies a violation of justice within this framework.  It becomes policy for the government to become intolerant of different views of ethics and of different value judgments. If you disagree with affirmative action for the hiring of Black Americans, you are a racist and because you are wrong, you do not have the right to say that affirmative action is wrong.  But, note that if you do not have the right to be wrong, then you have no right to freedom of speech.  If you believe you have religious reasons for thinking gay marriage is wrong and will not produce a wedding cake for a gay marriage, you must be fined heavily enough to destroy your small bakery. You cannot be wrong about this moral issue, so you are not allowed freedom of conscience, freedom of association, or the freedom of free trade.  If government claims that some scientific theory implies that harm is being done to someone and you claim the science of that theory is wrong, you are proclaimed guilty of Social Injustice to those the theory claims will be harmed.  You do not then have the right of free inquiry, free speech, freedom of the press, and you do not have the right to develop scientific understanding because you are not serving Social Justice as determined by the government.

Governmental pursuit of Social Justice imposes much more highly elaborated moral theory on the people of a nation than does the legitimate government whose only purpose is to protect individual rights.  That theory will neither be consistent nor highly rational since the government is chosen by those who vote and they are notably not experts in ethical theory.  What is worse, because there is an enforced intolerance of differing moral beliefs, the People are denied the benefit of a free discussion of morality.  Moral ideas are never tested and improved in the free market for the development of knowledge.  

Even if the People were thoughtful about ethics, they might be wrong and the politicians they vote for might trade ethics for geld or power in their dealings with the myriad special interests vying for the great powers exerted by Social Justice-pursing government.  Such government must violate individual rights.  It must act largely in ignorance of the interests of many of the People.  It must act to hurt many people in the name of helping others.  It must use force much more often than will the individual rights protecting government.  It must minimize the voluntary and co-operative relationships found in the private sector and replace them with involuntary mandates and transfers of income and wealth, jobs, medical care, education, housing, and innumerable other values.  The harmony of the private sector must be replaced with the strife of the Big Government sector.  All of this is a necessary consequence of a government pursuing Social Justice as envisioned by the Progressive Elitists.  In reality, this is the ultimate Social Injustice.

The closest a society can come to maximizing Social Justice is to be a society that honors individuality and protects the rights of the individual to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  The best a society can do is to protect these individual rights equally and to provide an environment in which the use of force is minimized by not allowing either individuals or the government to initiate the use of force.  The rational individual will understand his own life and his freedom to manage and secure his own life is his greatest value.  He understands that to do that he must be free to think and to act upon his thoughts, with only such limits as set by the requirement that he not deprive others of an equal right to think and to act upon their thoughts in the interest of their lives as well.

It is the private sector, not the force-wielding government sector, that provides us the opportunities of a good and healthy society for beneficial relationships with others to achieve our individual values in a manner consistent with a respect for individual lives and the individual minds that direct those lives. The role of a legitimate government is only to protect our individual rights. When government takes on the additional role of delivering goods and services to some at the expense of others, it is hurting some under the threat of force in a brutal manner that has no analog in the private sector.  It forces individuals into an unnecessary conflict of interest, whereas the private sector provides a wealth of individual choices for relationships, cooperation, trade of values, or the freedom to not pursue a relationship, cooperative endeavor, or a trade.  In comparison, the Big Government model, proclaiming itself to be pursuing Social Justice, is a shotgun wedding offering no possibility of divorce and a staid existence with ever-reduced choices.  Nothing more offends my sense of justice than this evermore totalitarian state.

07 May 2016

Donald Trump Again Proves He is Not Trustworthy

Donald Trump has stated that it is right for a businessman to do anything to make money that is not illegal.  Such an attitude is the basis for many claims that big government is justified to control unethical big businesses.  He has tried to steal the property of others by using eminent domain for his benefit.  He has long made most of his campaign contributions to Democrats to buy a position as one of their favored special interests.

Within two days of Senator Ted Cruz suspending his campaign for the Republican nomination for the presidential race in 2016, Trump has now
  • Stated that he will not follow through on his tax-cut plan.
  • Said that he would not oppose an increase in the minimum wage.
  • Will seek campaign contributions.
  • Appointed a former Goldman Sachs partner, George Soros hireling, and major Hillary Clinton donor to head up his campaign fund. 
Many more betrayals will be forthcoming from this most unethical man.  This is a man who holds the viewpoint that most people are incapable, readily hoodwinked, and like him are ethically challenged.  This is the viewpoint of the convinced Progressive Elitist.  But, Donald Trump is an actor and he has fooled many supporters, proving many people are indeed easily hoodwinked.  The Progressive Elitist and special interest control of the federal government will continue for another four years.

When Americans persist in not understanding the principles of legitimate and limited government, they will be ruled badly and arrogantly by special interests.

Hillary Clinton Makes 12 Million Illegal Aliens Citizens

Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail, accused Donald Trump of wanting to deport 12 million Americans. He has said, though he is not consistent in this, that he wants to deport 12 million illegal aliens.  Hillary, being a Clinton, may well say that she is right because most of the illegal aliens, no undocumented persons, are from either North America (Mexico and Central American states) or from South America, so they are Americans.  But for political reasons, she is trying to create the impression that she is conferring legal status on all of the illegal aliens, whose votes she wants in the future for the Democrats and whose U.S. citizen relatives or countrymen she wants to vote for her now.  Democrats being Democrats, she is actually not at all fussy about whether her voters are really citizens of the U.S. or not.  This is only too evident in past elections and in the opposition to voter identification.

05 May 2016

Washington Post and Published Research Falsely Report Largest U.S. Reef Dissolving Due to Increased CO2

Chelsea Harvey reports in the Washington Post that the work of University of Miami and Florida International University researchers concludes that the Florida Keys Reef is dissolving and it is because of man's use of fossil fuels.  The research was published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles and is based on surveys of the reef throughout the Florida Keys from 2009 to 2010.  The researchers analyzed the water from near the reef to determine whether the reef was dissolving or calcifying according to the Washington Post article.

The period of time in this study is short and its main conclusions were related to seasonal changes in the growth or loss of reef.  It is from these seasonal changes and their differences between the northern and the southern parts of the reef that the authors made conclusions about the long term health of the reef under assumed increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

The abstract for the paper says that the northern portions of the reef had a net annual loss with the fall and winter being the seasons with losses.  The mid-reef section had losses in the fall and winter, but had a net annual gain.  The southern reefs gained in all seasons.

I have extracted key points in the argument presented in the Washington Post article for evaluation below:
The culprit appears to be ocean acidification, a chemical process that happens when carbon dioxide dissolves in the water and undergoes a reaction that lowers the ocean’s pH. When this happens, several consequences can occur, according to the new study’s lead author, Chris Langdon, chair of the University of Miami’s department of marine biology and ecology.
First, when water becomes more acidic, limestone — which is what makes up the hard, rocky skeletons secreted by corals — can start to dissolve, “just like you dropped a sugar cube in water,” Langdon said.
It’s still unclear why the scientists observed such a gradient in the Keys from north to south, with the northernmost corals getting the worst of the deal. According to Langdon, acidity is known to vary from north to south, since colder water is able to hold more dissolved carbon dioxide.
In 2014 and 2015, the reef experienced an unprecedented bleaching event and widespread disease outbreak, likely brought on by both the effects of climate change and 2015’s unusually severe El Nino event. 
“This is concerning because the 2016 summer is predicted to be as hot if not hotter on the reefs,” Walker said in an email to The Washington Post.
Now it is true that if the ocean were acidified by sulfuric acid, the acidity would increase the rate of dissolution of the limestone in the coral reefs.  But if the acid component in the alkaline water is carbonic acid, the weak acid that dissolved CO2 forms, one has actually decreased the chemical concentration gradient of CO2 between the water and the reef limestone materials.  This would have the effect of slowing the dissolution rate.  What is more, one has increased the supply of dissolved CO2 which is the source from which the reef coral organisms get the CO2 they need to produce CaCO3, which is calcium carbonate or limestone.  There may be more to think about here than that simple narrative that a less alkaline or basic ocean means there are smaller and fewer reefs.  Less alkaline is what they call "acidification."  In fact, in the geological record, there have been times warmer than the present and with higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations when reefs did very well.

It is interesting that when the reef organisms are most readily able to build the Florida Key reefs includes the spring and the summer, while dissolution or lower rates of growth occur in the fall and winter.  In fact, the average relative growth rates the study found for the entire Florida Keys by season were (measured in mmols/(sq. m)(day):

Spring, +62
Summer, +17
Fall, -33
Winter, -7

Consequently, if the acidification hypothesis were right, we would expect that the atmospheric CO2 concentration is the highest in the Fall and lowest in the Spring.  Yes, it is actually the CO2 concentration in the water that matters, but reefs are in shallow water that should come into equilibrium with the atmospheric CO2 concentrations quite quickly, especially in the Florida Keys. Let us look at the seasonal variation of atmospheric CO2:

The CO2 concentration is highest in May or the Spring and lowest in September and October, which puts the low value at the border between Summer and Fall, though edging more into Fall.  So the ocean should be less alkaline in the Spring when the atmospheric CO2 concentration is higher and most alkaline in early Fall when the CO2 concentration is low. There is actually a need to also make an adjustment for the seasonal changes in water temperature also.  Because the spring water is still cool after winter and the fall water, especially in early fall, is still warmer on the heels of summer, the spring water concentration of CO2 will be even greater compared to the fall CO2 concentration as shown in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration cycle above.  The cooler Spring water will have a higher concentration of CO2 for a given atmospheric concentration than will the cooler Fall water at the same atmospheric concentration.

The Florida Key reefs actually grew much the most in the Spring when the CO2 was at its highest concentration and lost much the most mass in the Fall.  This does not correlate well with the "acidification" model.  Indeed, this is the exact opposite of the seasonal variation demanded by the "acidification" hypothesis.  The clear implication is that when the reef organisms have the maximal supply of dissolved CO2 in the ocean water, they can best produce the calcium carbonate they need for their reef-building activities.  This result should not come as a surprise.

It is also strange to explain the net loss of reef mass in the northern reefs as the result of global warming, aggravated by a warming due to an El Nino which does not require added CO2, when the warmer weather of the summer is a time of reef growth all along the north to south length of the reef.  Yes, they say the additions of atmospheric CO2 due to global warming allows more CO2 to be dissolved in the ocean in the cooler waters of the northern Florida Key water, so they claim there is more acidification there compared to the southern part of the reef.  The north-south change in temperature is much smaller than the seasonal change of temperature, so the temperature change is a secondary effect compared to the CO2 concentration in water effect.  Reef building is helped when the supply of CO2 is greater.

Such warming as is due to the El Nino actually decreases CO2 in the ocean because less will dissolve in water that is warmer.  El Nino makes the water more alkaline, not more acidic.  Consequently, they are not even consistent in combining these two warming causes for a common affect on the reefs. The warming due to an El Nino decreases the supply of CO2 in the water slightly, so it may be somewhat harmful to reef growth from that standpoint, but not due to acidification.

Still another problem with this argument is that the temperature difference between the northern and southern Florida Key reefs is not nearly as great as that between the Summer and Winter seasons for any stretch of the reef.  Yet in the warm summer, reef growth occurs everywhere and it occurs best in the southern reefs.  Warmer water appears to be good for the growth of the reefs, though not as good as is having a maximal supply of CO2.  So the argument that a warming of the ocean is a problem in itself for the reef is clearly unsupported by the evidence.  There are also reefs in more equatorial areas than the Florida Keys that are doing well.

In conclusion, while the study of the seasonal variations in the growth of the Florida Keys Reefs provides valuable information on those seasonal differences, all the wrong conclusions were drawn from those results in the peer-reviewed and published scientific paper and in the Washington Post article as well.  The researchers and the reviewers did a very poor job on this paper.  It should never have been published in the form it was published in.

The real conclusion of this paper should have been that the biggest factor affecting reef growth appears to be the amount of CO2 available to the coral organisms and more CO2 is much better than less CO2.