Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Climate Change (aka Global Warming)

This posting is based on a talk to the Technology, Engineering, Science Plus Club, The Villages, FL, 26 May 2011. This group is a well-educated audience familiar with science and technology, but not necessarily fully cognizant regarding the current controversy.

Powerpoint charts available for download here

Skeptic Strategy for Talking About Global Warming

This Powerpoint chart set may be used as the basis for a skeptic-oriented talk or debate about Climate Change (aka Global Warming). Talking points are provided in the Notes section of each chart to help understand the main points made.

My “credentials” for preparing this slide set include:

  • Guest Contributor to the most popular climate website in the world,

  • Associate Professor of System Engineering at University of Maryland

  • System Engineer (Advanced Avionics and Visionics, Route Planning, Decision Aiding, Five Patents ... at IBM, Lockheed-Martin)

  • PhD in System Science (Binghamton University, 1996); MS in System Science (Binghamton); Bachelors in Electrical Engineering (CCNY)

If you saw the highly-rated 2006 movie An “Inconvenient” Truth you probably remember the scene depicted in the photo above.

Former VP Al Gore shows the ice core record of carbon dioxide (CO2 – in red) and temperature (in blue) over the past 600,000 years and he points out the obvious correlation between the two curves. When one goes up, so does the other. When one goes down, so does the other.

He then mounts a platform and is lifted high on the stage, showing how high CO2 levels are getting. He is then raised even higher to indicate where CO2 levels will be 30 years hence at the rate we are going if nothing is done about them.

The implication is that, if CO2 reaches that level, temperatures, which are clearly well-correlated, will rise as well. OMG ! At those high temperatures, the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps will melt, exposing the bare Earth beneath, reducing the albedo of the Surface and causing still more short-wave Solar energy to be absorbed. That could lead to still more warming and a “tipping point” catastrophe of major proportions. As the ice melts, low-lying islands and coastal areas will be submerged, killing and displacing billions of people.

Clearly, something needs to be done on a worldwide basis to stop further burning of fossil fuels and land use activities that reduce the albedo.

The message was so powerful that it earned Al Gore and his movie an Oscar and a Nobel prize in 2007. It came to be known as Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Warming (CAGW).

But wait, there is more to the story! If we examine the ice core data carefully, we discover that the temperatures rise about 800 years or more before the CO2 goes up. Temperature also falls 800 or more years before CO2 goes down. This lag of temperature behind CO2 is true for the entire 600,000 year ice core record. OOPS, is this another “inconvenient” truth?

Yes, there is correlation and possibly causation. But, in which direction?

HMMM .. If A “causes “ B, then A has to happen before B. Right? If, as Gore implies, CO2 “causes” temperatures to rise, then one would expect CO2 to rise before temperatures. Right?

Thus, all the ice core data proves is that temperature “causes” CO2 –or– that something else causes both temperature and CO2.

Those who believe that higher CO2 will cause temperatures to rise, due to the Atmospheric “greenhouse effect” point to the unprecedented levels of burning of fossil fuels and the undoubted rise of CO2. But, if it is unprecedented, and due to human activities, what does the ice core record have to tell us about the current situation? Humans could have had absolutely no role in the Global Warming and Global Cooling cycles of the ice ages. So, why did Gore bring it up?

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Emotions and Reasoning - Liberal and Conservative View of the Economy

[from billlifka, posted by Ira with his permission]

Emotions and Reasoning

“It seems that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts,” so writes Chris Mooney in Mother Mooney does a credible job supporting that statement by citing University studies. What he calls “motivated reasoning” builds on an insight of neuroscience that reasoning is suffused with emotion. Not only are the two inseparable but the positive or negative feelings about people, things and ideas arise much more rapidly than related conscious thoughts; in a matter of milliseconds.

This can be detected with an EEG device long before human awareness. Humans developed and survived because evolution selected them to react very quickly to stimuli in their environment. It’s a basic survival skill called “fight-or-flight” reflex. Humans apply this not only to predators but to data. By the time humans are reasoning, it’s after a rationalizing of their prior emotional commitments. Therefore, much human “reasoning” is a means to retaining preconceived beliefs. In it, humans give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster their beliefs and spend disproportionate energy refuting arguments they find uncongenial.

Does Education Promote Reason?

Education does have an effect on “motivated reasoning’ but exactly in the opposite manner one might expect. Studies indicate that college educated people are significantly more likely to cling to their beliefs in the face of opposing scientific data than those with less education. The more educated one is, the more likely to generate all kind of reasons supporting an emotional belief. It’s very hard to change the minds of “smart” people. Most of the studies cited by Mooney dealt with Conservative or Liberals dealing with political issues for which scientific data was available and which data was compiled using methodology judged to be scientifically correct. Thusly, this phenomenon applies directly to my current essay series.

We All Wear Blinders

The mix of studies cited indicated that: left or right, Conservative or Liberal, all wear blinders in some situations. The question is: what can be done to counteract human nature? It’s clear that to convince humans to accept new evidence, it must be presented in a context that doesn’t trigger a defensive, emotional reaction. Leading with the facts is likely to be useless. Leading with the values may give the facts a fighting chance. In fact, leading with the facts is likely to trigger the “fight” response, causing the target of facts to become even more hardened in prior beliefs.

The attached essay continues a comparison of Conservative to Liberal thought. Any who have watched believers in both views “discuss” issues on a TV panel know that, most likely from the beginning, the opposing panelists won’t listen to opposing arguments, often “talking over” the opponents comments and disregarding entreaties of the moderator to give each a fair say. Often, such behavior is caused by a foolish belief that the person who talks the most, wins. More often, it’s caused by the “flight” response; a running away from threatening ideas.

If it were possible to do so, a moderator might task the panel to find values, within the scope of discussion, upon which panelists of both ideologies could agree. An example of such value in this essay might be a desire for all members of a society to live a productive life in which all are able to earn a living above some reasonable standard. In real life politics, forget it!

Economy: Left versus Right

There are a number of issues addressed by to describe differences [between Liberal views to those of Conservatives]. The economy is one of these.

Liberals believe that a market system in which government regulates the economy is best and that government must protect citizens from the greed of big business. They assert that, unlike the private sector, the government is motivated by public interest. They know that government regulation in all areas of the economy is needed to level the playing field.

Conservatives believe that the free market system, competitive capitalism and private enterprise create the greatest opportunity and the highest standard of living for all. They assert that free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs and higher standards of living than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.

The Author’s view [billlifka]

The above comparisons are true, as far as they go. Liberals have a massive lack of trust in privately owned and operated businesses of all kinds. They believe that citizen/consumers are not capable of avoiding the products of companies which charge exorbitant prices and sell low quality or harmful merchandise. They are quite certain that government bureaucracies are much more capable of choosing optimum suppliers than are citizens. They have no problem with federal bureaucrats picking “winners and losers” in every business category. Just as they’d like all citizens to prosper equally, they’d like the same to be true for businesses. The evils they attribute to “big” business somehow aren’t part of “big” government, in their view.

Conservatives have a massive lack of trust in government, especially in federal government and in federal government’s ability to manage the economy. Conservatives believe that involvement of the government in economic matters is almost certain to damage the economy. Conservatives have no problem with the fact that certain companies may perform so well, compared to competitors, they prosper greatly and gain dominant market shares. In the main, Conservatives accept the writings of Adam Smith as describing an optimum economic system.

While Liberal economic philosophy is understandable as dictatorial intent to equalize wealth among all citizens, it seems to be totally wrong-headed in view of world experience. It’s clear that (what is really) Socialism has failed every time it’s been tried. Capitalism is the preference of Conservatives and it has usually succeeded; often spectacularly, as in America. While the gap in wealth between the better off and poorer off is greater under Capitalism, the poorer are usually better off than the “equals” in Socialistic systems. If America is used as an example, the nation’s wealthiest citizens contribute mightily to charities that assist those at the lowest end of the economic ladder. This is all as Adam Smith predicted and preached.

Smith did prescribe a role for government. It was as a protector from external attacks, whether military or economic and as a sort of “referee” on internal matters. If he were living today, Smith would have moved to America to become a regular guest on Fox News. Karl Marx would be teaching at Columbia and be lionized by Liberal Think Tanks.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011


[from Joel] Apparently politicians are the least evolved of males. Shades of Bill Clinton, another socialist can't keep his hands off women. Here's the way French journalists see the problem of Strauss-Kahn.

"In 2007, he was given the opportunity to make a quick comeback, as the head of the International Monetary Fund. At the time of his nomination, Jean Quatremer of Libé ration pointed out in his blog: "Strauss-Kahn's only real problem is his behavior with women. Too pushy, he often narrowly excapes [charges] of harassment. This fault of his is well known by the media, but no one speaks about it." Several months earlier, on Feb. 5, 2007, during an interview on the Paris Première program, a young woman, Tristane Banon, daughter of a Socialist party regional council member, said Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape her in 2002. But the television network, fearing defamation charges, covered the name of the former minister with a bleep. Her failure to press charges cast doubt on her testimony."

Read more:,8599,2072205,00.html

Monday, May 9, 2011

Osama bin Laden was a Global Warming Activist

The current media frenzy over the death of Osama bin Laden seems to have reported everything known about him - except his Global Warming Alarmism.

According to an Oct 10, 2010 Guardian story:

Unlikely activist? Osama bin Laden calls for action on climate change -- Audio message criticises relief efforts in Pakistan and says climate change is causing 'great catastrophes' throughout Islamic world

Osama bin Laden yesterday criticised relief efforts in Pakistan and called for action against climate change in what appeared to be a new audio tape from the al-Qaida leader.
The audio message lasted about 11 minutes, and was broadcast with a video showing still images of Bin Laden and images of natural disasters, the Islamist website used by al-Qaida said. ...
Bin Laden also touches on global warming, the second time he is believed to have made climate change a prominent theme of one of his statements.
"The huge climate change is affecting our (Islamic) nation and is causing great catastrophes throughout the Islamic world," he says in the tape.

Well, if it is true that hell is seven times hotter than it ought to be, Osama's "predictions" have come true, at least for himself.:^)

Ira Glickstein