American Elephants

Important News About Those 18 Wheelers! by The Elephant's Child
August 30, 2011, 6:26 pm
Filed under: Economy, Law, News | Tags: , , ,

The Obama Administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued a major trucking company for its firing of a driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem. Heritage notes that:

Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit against the Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company on August 16, noted that while “an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

I’m sure that makes you ever so comfortable out on the nation’s freeways. It was only in recent years that it was reported that training for truck drivers had been sharply curtailed. The EEOC has detailed the case on its website.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil  Action No. 2:11-CV-02153-PKH in U.S. District Court for the Western District of  Arkansas), the driver at the Fort    Smith location had worked for the company for five  years without incident. In late June  2009, the employee reported to the company that he believed he had an alcohol  problem. Under U.S. Department of Transportation  regulations, the employer suspended the employee from his driving position and  referred him for substance abuse counseling.  However, the employer also informed the driver that the employer would  never return him to a driving position, even upon the successful completion of  a counseling program. During the  investigation, the EEOC discovered drivers at other service centers whom the  employer had allegedly subjected to similar treatment.

“The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace.  Old Dominion’s policy and practice of never returning an employee who self-reports an alcohol problem to a driving position violates that law,” said Katharine Kores, director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, whose jurisdiction includes Arkansas. “While the EEOC agrees that an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

If the EEOC prevails in this case, Old Dominion would still be liable for any damage caused by a relapse of one of its recovering drivers. That signals to investors an increased risk involved in investing in the company,  and raises the cost of everything the truck line transports. And as well, it tells drivers that they don’t have to worry about their alcohol consumption.

Consequences. A law attempting to protect people with disabilities from persecution, well-meaning to be sure, ends up endangering every driver on the nations’ highways.  There are always unintended consequences.  Can we find a way to ensure that our legislators seriously consider that fact before they enact a good intention into law?

Sunny on Environmentalism. by The Elephant's Child
August 30, 2011, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

The Sun Might Have Something to Do With It? by The Elephant's Child

Convincing new evidence indicates that global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun, not human activity. The research was published last week in Nature, and comes from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories.  CERN is one of the largest centers for scientific research, and is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, and that built the Large Hadron Collider. They have now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreates the Earth’s atmosphere.

Conventional wisdom has noted that in pre-industrial times the atmosphere of Earth contained approximately 270 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) and it has now grown to 390 ppm at the present time.  The Earth has warmed by around a degree over the past century so obviously the warming has been caused by industrialization and man’s use of hated fossil fuels. But it has been much warmer in the past when CO2 was not particularly high, and much cooler when it was.  The amount of CO2 is merely a trace element, and has been shown to increase after increases in temperature, and cannot therefore be causative.

By far the largest element in the atmosphere is water vapor, or clouds. We know that a cloudy day is apt to be much cooler, yet the hypothesis that clouds are a major influence on temperature has met with complete disinterest on the part of the blame-it-on-man bunch. The Global Warming Policy Foundation explains:

One can look for correlations in nature and appeal to climate models to prove or disprove the effect. Model based refutations are not impressive given the assumptions built into them. The observational evidence has been argued about for years. Experiments are however a different thing entirely.

Using a chamber to simulate the atmosphere Kirkby et al investigate aerosol nucleation as a function of increasing concentrations of sulphates, ammonia and ionisation. The ionisation source and the stand-in for Cosmic Rays is CERN’s proton synchrotron – the one that feeds its particles into the Large Hadron Collider. Atmospheric air could not be used – it has too many impurities – so the researchers use gas mixtures to recreate it. The chamber, 26 cubic metres of it, its controlled environment and ionisation conditions along with its state-of-the-art instrumentation are clearly the most rigorous test of the Cosmic Ray hypothesis yet devised. However, it must be stressed that the chamber is not the atmosphere.

They have found that Cosmic Rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles.

These new results from CLOUD are important because they demonstrate some important atmospheric processes.  They are not the final word, but a first step in understanding a basic process.  Climate models will need revising.  Climate models are built with vast numbers of assumptions, yet assumed to be definitive. Observation and experiments trump the guesswork in the models every time. Yet the alarmist case for climate change exists only in the climate models. Clouds are very complex and poorly understood.    Here is the press release from CERN.  This article from the National Post covers more of the politics involved and how they play out. And here is the post from the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The fascinating and troubling thing to me is the extent to which the policies of governments across the world — especially ours — under the direction of the Obama administration are focused on spending vast amounts of money to alleviate a problem that exists only in the assumptions of some computer models, not in the real world. Al Gore has profited mightily from alarmism, yet most of his claims are demonstrably false.  We don’t understand clouds and cloud formation. We don’t understand the Pacific Decadal and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillations of currents.

The one thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that carbon dioxide levels are not the driver of global temperatures, and policies to change our economy based on that fallacious assumption are pure folly.

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