Why Let Reality Get in the Way of a Good Meme?

When we last left Self-Defeating Left-Wing Zealot Scott, he was making an ethically-challenged fool of himself over abortion.  This evening, while browsing Boots & Sabers (which I really need to get back in the habit of reading more often – sorry Owen!), I came across the following comment from our pal:

Many conservatives eschew expert opinion in the first place, so what’s the big deal?  Everything from CBO reports to scientific opinion—it just doesn’t matter because you can’t trust those eggheads.  Me, I’m a big fan of learning.  I like to acknowledge someone else’s expertise and learn from it.

Again, the only proper response is:

For good measure, background behind his bull about the CBO can be found here & here, and about “scientific opinion” here.

Hot Air: Another American Media Failure

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has an invaluable post compiling HA’s coverage of the various climate-related scandals that have come to light over the past several months, all of which the American mainstream media has been almost completely AWOL on.  It makes for a handy reference source the next time some clueless lefty blathers on about the science being “settled,” so make sure to bookmark it (while we’re on the subject, my takedown of FactCheck’s failed ClimateGate rebuttal, which also compiles several other useful links, would also be handy to have around).

ClimateGate Part II

And we thought the CRU was bad.

Marc Sheppard at American Thinker has a lengthy, disturbing article on new evidence of climate fraud in major American climate institutes (hat tip to NewsReal’s Michael van der Gailen):

Perhaps the key point discovered by Smith was that by 1990, NOAA had deleted from its datasets all but 1,500 of the 6,000 thermometers in service around the globe.

Now, 75% represents quite a drop in sampling population, particularly considering that these stations provide the readings used to compile both the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) and United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) datasets. These are the same datasets, incidentally, which serve as primary sources of temperature data not only for climate researchers and universities worldwide, but also for the many international agencies using the data to create analytical temperature anomaly maps and charts.

Yet as disturbing as the number of dropped stations was, it is the nature of NOAA’s “selection bias” that Smith found infinitely more troubling.

It seems that stations placed in historically cooler, rural areas of higher latitude and elevation were scrapped from the data series in favor of more urban locales at lower latitudes and elevations. Consequently, post-1990 readings have been biased to the warm side not only by selective geographic location, but also by the anthropogenic heating influence of a phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI).

For example, Canada’s reporting stations dropped from 496 in 1989 to 44 in 1991, with the percentage of stations at lower elevations tripling while the numbers of those at higher elevations dropped to one. That’s right: As Smith wrote in his blog, they left “one thermometer for everything north of LAT 65.” And that one resides in a place called Eureka, which has been described as “The Garden Spot of the Arctic” due to its unusually moderate summers.

Smith also discovered that in California, only four stations remain – one in San Francisco and three in Southern L.A. near the beach – and he rightly observed that

“It is certainly impossible to compare it with the past record that had thermometers in the snowy mountains. So we can have no idea if California is warming or cooling by looking at the USHCN data set or the GHCN data set.”

That’s because the baseline temperatures to which current readings are compared were a true averaging of both warmer and cooler locations. And comparing these historic true averages to contemporary false averages – which have had the lower end of their numbers intentionally stripped out – will always yield a warming trend, even when temperatures have actually dropped.

There’s much more where that came from—be sure to read the rest here.

Fact-Checking FactCheck on ClimateGate

Liberal damage-control efforts in the wake of ClimateGate have found a handy tool in this FactCheck.org report, which concludes that the leaked CRU emails “show a few scientists in a bad light,” but “don’t change scientific consensus on global warming.”  There’s obvious propaganda value in supportive articles from supposedly nonpartisan sources, especially to a movement constantly on the lookout for excuses to avoid honest debate.  But, like past FactCheck treatments of abortion and gun rights, this “debunking” desperately needs a fact check of its own.

FactCheck admits that the emails show “a few scientists…sometimes being rude, dismissive, insular, or even behaving like jerks,” such as Ben Santer’s desire to “beat the crap out of” Pat Michaels, but that’s as far as their criticism of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit goes.

They preface their defense of the CRU with a note that, whatever the emails show, they don’t change the scientific consensus on global warming anyway, because the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say the planet’s getting warmer, with the IPCC finding humans “very likely” to blame, and the CRU is only one of multiple sources of climate data.

What FactCheck doesn’t tell you: those other sources are questionable, too.  Substantive concerns have been raised over the data adjustments made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA’s Goddard Institute has had issues with both incompetence and data withholding.  As for the IPCC, which boasts “2,500 scientific expert reviewers,” FactCheck’s readers might be surprised to read this:

But what did those 2,500 scientists actually endorse? To find out, I contacted the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and asked for the names of the 2,500. I planned to canvas them to determine their precise views. The answer that came back from the Secretariat informed me that the names were not public, so I would not be able to survey them, and that the scientists were merely reviewers. The 2,500 had not endorsed the conclusions of the report and, in fact, the IPCC had not claimed that they did. Journalists had jumped to the conclusion that the scientists the IPCC had touted were endorsers and the IPCC never saw fit to correct the record.

Or this:

A 2001 IPCC report presented 245 potential scenarios. The media publicity that followed focused on the most extreme scenario, prompting the report’s lead author, atmospheric scientist Dr. John Christy, to rebuke media sensationalism and affirm, “The world is in much better shape than this doomsday scenario paints … the worst-case scenario [is] not going to happen.” Clearly, the IPCC does not speak as one voice when leading scientists on its panel contradict its official position. The solution to this apparent riddle lies in the structure of the IPCC itself. What the media report are the policymakers’ summaries, not the far lengthier reports prepared by scientists. The policymakers’ summaries are produced by a committee of 51 government appointees, many of whom are not scientists. The policymakers’ summaries are presented as the “consensus” of 2,500 scientists who have contributed input to the IPCC’s scientific reports.

In one email, CRU’s Phil Jones writes, “Kevin and I will keep [two dissenting papers] out [of the IPCC report] somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”  But FactCheck dismisses this as a cause for concern, since those reports were cited, if not in the final IPCC report, but in one of the three working group reports from which the end product was synthesized.  Putting aside the obvious question of whether or not they got a fair shake in that working group, since when do we dismiss clearly-stated intent to do something, just because that intent was evidently unsuccessful?

FactCheck does the same with Tom Wigley’s clear speculation that they could try to get Yale’s James Saiers “ousted” from his post at the journal Geophysical Research Letters if he turned out to be “in the greenhouse skeptics camp.”  Saiers, it turns out, isn’t a skeptic and stepped down of his own volition. Again, the intent is still clear, and all FactCheck’s account indicates is that Wigley & Co. didn’t follow through because he was one of theirs anyway.  This is supposed to reassure us?

We’re also supposed to remain unconcerned by their attempts to find ways to dodge Freedom of Information Act requests, since most of the data is already freely available (citing, um, East Anglia), and if any data destruction did occur, well, the investigation is ongoing. For an organization devoted to checking facts, FactCheck seems curiously content to take East Anglia at their word regarding the conduct of their own people, and suspiciously disinterested in either independently verifying East Anglia’s version or exploring its inconsistency with their earlier admission that “We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.”

Last I checked, one of science’s most celebrated virtues was its constant self-reevaluation and complete transparency.  Given that, I’d expect a little more concern over these scientists’ contempt for the very thought of sharing data with critics, or their attempts to avoid doing so.  But maybe that’s just me.  In any event, I hope the conclusion of East Anglia’s investigation, and the critical scrutiny it subsequently comes under, sheds more light on just what information is available, and what has been destroyed.

The CRU revelation that has gotten the most media attention is Phil Jones’ “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”  FactCheck fully reaffirms the spin that Jones was merely talking about presenting the data so as to account for discrepancies in temperature measurement methods.  But Steve McIntyre offers a detailed analysis of the “trick,” which concludes that, while it was not an instance of outright data falsification, it was an attempt to package the data in an oversimplified way so as not to “detract from the clear message that the authors wanted sent.”

The media might have seized upon FactCheck’s piece to tell the masses “move along, nothing to see here,” but in the final analysis it seems terribly unimpressive, hardly objective, and a little short on checked facts.

*          *          *

For further background on ClimateGate, Power Line’s Scott Johnson has compiled a handy summary of ClimateGate resources here, including Steven Hayward’s excellent Weekly Standard summary, Power Line’s own careful analysis of several of the emails, and more.  The National Post’s Lawrence Solomon has an eye-opening account of RealClimate.org’s William Connolley and his work transforming Wikipedia into an eco-propaganda vehicle (more on RealClimate.org here).  Here is some background on the financial dimensions of the alarmism movement.

For continuing coverage of all things scientific from a skeptical perspective, Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit, Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That?, and National Review’s Planet Gore blog are tough to beat.

Review: YAF 2009 Student Conference

Me at the YAF Student Conference in the nation's capital

I’m back from the YAF Student Conference, and it was tremendous experience.  The impressive lineup of speakers covered nearly all the bases—social, economic, and foreign policy conservatism; what to look for in higher education, how to get involved in the conservative movement, fighting back against campus discrimination & indoctrination, and more.  I urge you all to watch most of the videos of the speeches here, but here are some highlights I think are especially noteworthy:

– British statesman Daniel Hannan gave a stirring speech detailing the devastating effects of socialism in his country, and imploring us not to follow down the same road.  Hannan spoke with a sense of clarity, purpose, and urgency that puts every single one of today’s Republican officeholders to shame.  It was clear that the only things motivating him were a deep love for liberty and an understanding of what is at stake—not political self-preservation or some arbitrary rubric of acceptable political decorum.  Further, I can’t describe how compelling it was to juxtapose the heartfelt ode to America’s Founding Fathers given by this Englishman with the tumultuous early relationship between our two nations—Great Britain clamping down on the liberties of thirteen colonies, who committed outright treason leading to bloody conflict in response.  Mr. Hannan is one of today’s finest testaments to the bond of friendship that our two countries have shared since then, and I pray that that bond may once again be restored in full.

Dr. Burt Folsom, Professor of History at Hillsdale College
Dr. Burt Folsom, Professor of History at Hillsdale College

– Irish filmmaking couple Phelim McAleer & Ann McElhinney screened two documentaries: Mine Your Own Business, a look at the environmentalists’ anti-mining crusade; and Not Evil, Just Wrong, a rebuttal to liberal lies about global warming and DDT.  Both films are devastating indictments of the Left, not only offering effective & accessible explanations of the falsehoods in environmental hysteria, but also revealing the very real suffering caused by Al Gore’s & Co.’s chosen policies.  I defy you to watch these films and walk away believing that the Right’s biggest problem is that we’re too “negative.”

– One of the most powerful events of the week was Friday’s “Socialism Rebuffed: Young People’s Experiences with Tyranny” panel, in which representatives from Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union shared their experiences living under socialist rule.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and these four offered a chilling vision of what happens when not even the good intentions are left.  While listening, I could not help but wonder how many times mankind will have to run the same failed experiments before the lesson sinks in and we finally relegate socialism to the ash heap of history, and leave it there.

Me meeting Ann Coulter
Me meeting Ann Coulter

– A panel on the current state of the young conservative movement showed more cause for concern within the movement than was probably intended, thanks to a few words from Zach Howell, chairman of the College Republican National Committee. He stressed the importance of presenting ourselves as “calm and rational,” rather than “shrill and loud and, frankly, not too educated.”  In theory, this is defensible advice (and he was right about the example he gave—a few college conservatives celebrating Earth Day by idling their cars & wasting electricity for hours)—of course our message needs to be intelligent and clear, though it’s worth noting that it ain’t Buckley-style editorializing that has turned the tables on public support for ObamaCare, showing that while reason and prudence are important, passion is also important, as is recognizing that sometimes anger is not only warranted, but necessary, as in the cases of policies that hurt people or dishonesty from politicians.  It also begs the question: who on our side is shrill and irrational?  When asked to defend his assertion that “there’s a lot of shrillness and anger that comes from the right wing,” Howell took the coward’s way out, saying he wouldn’t “get into naming names,” yet there are “a lot of voices on our side” who are shrill and detrimental.  Why not name names?  Howell’s claim is only meaningful and useful if it can be substantiated with examples so that we can evaluate its substance.  Otherwise, it’s empty smear-mongering more suggestive of wanting to win the good graces of non-conservatives than clearly & honestly identifying problems on the Right.  One would hope for better from the leadership of the College Republican National Committee, but we shouldn’t be surprised to see this instead.

The main message I took away from the conference: Reports of conservatism’s demise are greatly exaggerated.  I saw last week a smart, vibrant assemblage of young conservatives.  Across America, scores of patriots are working to educate their communities, beat back the forces of liberalism and restore America’s founding principles.  But we need more.  No matter how much you see somebody else doing, no matter what the polls may say or how they change, no American should be content to sit on the sidelines.  The old adage that one vote can’t make a difference shouldn’t be an excuse for apathy but a clarion call to ensure that your contribution to your country doesn’t begin or end in the voting booth.  To quote Abraham Lincoln, “How hard, oh how hard it is to die and leave one’s Country no better than if one had never lived for it.”

The future
The future

Climate Change Dogmatists Circle the Wagons as the “Consensus” Unravels

Two recent pieces on global warming merit your attention.  First, Michelle Malkin covers the Obama EPA’s suppression of an internal report on increasing concerns “that EPA and many other agencies and countries have paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups…as being correct without a careful and critical examination of their conclusions and documentation.”  Why?  Because its “comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.” So much for “an unprecedented level of openness in Government”…

Second, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel sums up how the trumped up global warming consensus is collapsing all over the world:

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country’s new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world’s first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak “frankly” of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming “the worst scientific scandal in history.” Norway’s Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the “new religion.” A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton’s Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists’ open letter.)

The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Be sure to read the whole thing.  There have always been more dissenters among scientists than dogmatic, angry lefties would have you believe.  Now that their house of cards is collapsing all around them, we can only expect them to get more shrill and defensive.

Around the Web

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in hot water over bringing a global warming skeptic into his government.

Michelle Malkin calls attention to a disturbing case in which the Obama Justice Department has dismissed an uncontested lawsuit against a group of Black Panther thugs who intimidated Philadelphia voters during the 2008 election.

28-year-old Democrat living in Mom’s basement refuses to clean his room.  Film at eleven.

Audio: Mark Levin vs. David Frum on Frum’s hypocrisy, Levin’s civility, Rush Limbaugh, and the future of the GOP.  Despite his reputation for bombast, Levin comes across as remarkably patient and restrained in dealing with this whiny, filibustering hypocrite.

Anybody else getting tired of Bill O’Reilly’s crusade about what he arbitrarily deems “mean-spirited,” “partisan,” “personal,” or “name-calling”?

Robo-bama:  creepy.

Ross Douthat recently wrote an interesting column about “Dan Brown’s America.”