American Elephants


Arctic Problems and Arctic Politics by The Elephant's Child

Five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean was quickly latched onto by the global warming movement. Now the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing questions about scientific integrity issues.

The 2006 article about the bear spawned more controversy about melting Arctic ice, and the effects of global warming.

Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the case reinforces the group’s position that people should be more skeptical about the work of climate change scientists.  Even if every scientist is objective, “what we’re being asked to do is turn our economy around and spend trillions and trillions of dollars on the basis of” claims about climate change.

In 2004, Monnett and researcher Jeffrey Gleason were conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales, and saw four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm. Low-resolution photos show floating white blobs.

The two detailed their observations in an article published in the journal Polar Biology.  In the peer-reviewed article, they said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of bears floating dead and presumed drowned while swimming long distances. They said their observation suggested the bears drowned in rough seas and high winds.  They added that the findings “suggest that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues.”

The article drew national attention,and green groups seized on the polar bear as a symbol of the “disastrous effect of warming” on the Arctic. In 2008, the bear was classified as a “threatened species”, even though their numbers had been increasing sharply.

Polar bears can swim long distances.  I’ve seen numbers as high as 60 miles. The Arctic ice melts in the summer and expands in the winter. Some years it melts more, others less. The alarmists want to point to any open water as a sign of doom for the world. And more particularly, they want to use the polar bear to keep oil companies from drilling in Alaska or off the Alaskan coast. They probably care more about the latter than the former.

There are a lot of suppositions and politics in those assumptions. Clearly, the polar bear is not threatened or endangered.  Their numbers have increased too much. Satellite surveys of Arctic ice indicate that the Arctic has not melted.  The new paper from UAH’s Spencer and Braswell has blown a fair sized hole in global warming theory. It is a good thing to step back and check the science and the assumptions derived from the science. The federal government has taken a good many actions based on flawed science that have cost jobs, livelihoods and the public’s pocketbook.  Insisting on truth and accuracy is good politics.



New Questions About Global Climate Predictions! by The Elephant's Child

New NASA satellite data from the years 2000 to 2011 show that the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than the computer models of the IPCC have predicted.  A new study reported in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing indicate that increases in atmospheric CO2 trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

The observations suggest that “there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show.,” said study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite.  “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

Spencer and  UA Huntsville’s Dr. Danny Braswell compared what a half-dozen of the IPCC’s climate models say that the climate should do with satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011.

Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than was believed, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle—more than three months before the warming event reaches its peak.

The paper “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant energy Balance“can be found here, comments from Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. can be found here.

And all that stuff about the “greenhouse effect,” nevermind.



Ignorance of the Past Leads to Folly in the Present! by The Elephant's Child

Investors Business Daily has a column today suggesting that the burgeoning theme in Washington, quietly whispered among the power brokers is — the “new normal.” I recognize that one.  We’ve been here before.  The American Dream is over, Japan is Number One.  Oh wait — that was way back in January, 1990.

I have seen articles suggesting that unemployment is destined to remain high—permanently. Manufacturing will continue to shrink. A home is not a good investment. There will be no more high paying jobs (well, except in government of course, where all the bright people are).   The U.S. is not going to be a fast-growing superpower, and we need to stop acting like one.  We need more government agencies run by the best and brightest  to take care of all the people who are displaced by the ‘new normal.’  It is unfortunate, but we must resign ourselves to double-digit unemployment.

The world is running out of energy, so we must live more sustainable lives. We must use less energy, less precious water.  We can no longer afford to squander space and energy and wealth on strip malls and suburbs. We need more sustainable communities and more  sustainable lives in more compact sustainable cities. All stuffed in there, cheek to jowl. That’s “the new urbanism.” Another lefty dream. See this interesting graph!

China could pass the United States as the world’s largest economy as early as 2016.  The International Monetary Fund said that back in April.  This assumes that if China is growing at 10% today, it will always grow at 10%.  China made a big mistake with its one child policy.  By 2040, China’s elderly population will exceed the total population of Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Japan. Every elderly person will be supported by two workers. Good luck with that. Will they dispose of their elderly as they have disposed of those unfortunate girl children? And what about all those young men who cannot find wives? Will they fill up their empty cities?

This is straight line thinking. If unemployment is high today, it will always be high.  If we are short of energy today, we will always be short of energy.  Nothing will ever change. You will notice that men are still wearing powdered wigs and writing with quill pens. The ships that ply the ocean are propelled by canvas sails, and it takes a long time to get anywhere.  And we are still a small nation of 13 states.  Nothing will ever change.

We have an unusual number of people invested in predicting the future, not only in silly media columns. They have devised computer models to predict the climate in 50 years and 100 years, and are busily trying to make regulations and laws to prepare for the future predicted by their computers. Odd, when our best weather forecasters have trouble predicting the weather for the following week.  Seven days is about their limit.

America was settled by people who had the courage and independent spirit to pack up and cross a vast ocean in a voyage that lasted months rather than days. They knew little about the wilderness that awaited them.  They built their own communities and made up their own rules.  And once the towns got too big or the rules too onerous, they packed up and moved on to where they could again build their own communities and make up their own rules.

Because it was a new country, they had to find ways to adapt, to create and  invent to cope with a new land and new surroundings.  There was no heavy hand of government to spell out what they could and could not do. They started out trying to create what they already knew, and as they changed the land, the land changed them. American exceptionalism derives from that creative, independent spirit.  How odd that our current president should see this country as no more exceptional than any other.

How very strange that the left insists that the American Dream is to be found in “the new normal” and in “the new urbanism.” Have to stamp out all that independent spirit! The government will nurture the creativity, we just need an agency to direct it into the correct path.

Ignorance of the past leads to folly in the present. Freedom and democracy require a modicum of truth to survive. I like these lines from Bruce Thornton’s Plagues of Mind:

The importance of history lies in its ability to give a sort of visual depth to our expectations and ideas, to place them in the only context that matters—the dense and intricate record of what humans have thought and attempted and experienced, their successes and failures, their nobility and pettiness.  History gives us ideals to strive for and failures both practical and moral to avoid. By familiarizing ourselves with the record of humanity’s deeds and crimes, we achieve a critical distance from the manifold passions and interests of the present, and we win a calm space in which we can judge with a cooler eye, the hectic novelties and temptations bombarding us.  Without that, we fall into the trap of judging everything from the standards and “knowledge” of the present.




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