24 February 2007

Al Gore’s Dirty Little Secret

Assume global warming is a result of more carbon dioxide (CO2) being released into the atmosphere thereby trapping more heat. Global warming is caused by people then. The more people, the more CO2 is emitted. To reduce global warming you need to reduce the number of people, not just the cars and trucks and coal fired power plants. That is the dirty little secret, or inconvenient truth, Al Gore does not want you to know about. If you truly believe that people cause global warming then carbon caps alone will not address the problem.

Imagine for a minute that you replace all the cars and trucks on the road right now with hybrids. That would make a remarkable difference where air pollution is concerned. At some point, assuming we have not kicked the oil habit, the CO2 emissions from the increase in the number of hybrids over a certain period of time due to population increase will equal that of the current emissions. Then what? My hope is that technology will have improved by then that we will not be reliant on fossil fuels. But if you think beyond cars and look at the overall impact of people just consuming to live, the picture becomes much worse.

More people require more resources. Whether you live in Brazil, Germany, Japan, Senegal, or the United States of America, more people consume more. More food needs to be grown, more food is consumed, more energy is expended for cooking food, more energy is expended to cloth people, more energy is expended to house people. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is claiming that our hunger for meat requires more cows. More cows means more methane which contributes to more global warming.

In 1900 the estimated world population was 1,650,000,000. In 2005 the estimated world population is 6,453,628,000. In 105 years the population has increased by an estimated 4,803,628,000. That is a huge impact on the system. Even at the base level, more people emit more CO2 just breathing. According to a study by the USDA, an average person's respiration generates approximately 450 liters (roughly 900 grams) of CO2 per day. That is approximately 1.98 pounds per person per day. On a global scale we have increased the amount of CO2 emitted annually, just from us breathing, by 3,478,000,000,000 pounds of CO2 per year (that is 1.739 billion tons of CO2 annually). With the current population at 6.453 billion we emit roughly 4,673,000,000,000 pounds of CO2 annually (2.336 billion tons of CO2 of annually).

You can demand that the Kyoto Treaty be implemented. But the reality is that we will never be able to meet the Kyoto goals if we do not address population. And that is the reality that a leer jet environmentalist, who won an Oscar for a questionable documentary, can not comprehend or does not want to address. It does not fit nicely into his little box of understanding. It is easier to blame big business than to look in the mirror. You really want to achieve the Kyoto goals? Plant billions of trees, stop flying around in jets, and replace cars with the horse and buggy. That in my opinion is the only way to “stop” global warming if it is indeed the result of human activity.

I agree with some of Al Gore’s recommendations like using energy efficient products and living in energy efficient homes. I, for one, am tired of being beholden to Islamic fundamentalists and communists for our energy supply. You also cannot complain about saving money, can you? But instead of investing in dubious schemes like carbon trading, let’s invest in the research into technology that will increase energy efficiency in the home and at work. We need to further the science and engineering of energy if we are going to make a difference. Such an investment will be good for our economy as well. We also need to embrace technologies like wind and solar power; even it that means that your “precious” views are spoiled by wind and solar farms. Sacrifices need to be made folks – although sacrifice is sadly not in many people’s dictionary nowadays.

Now, let's assume that there are other factors responsible for global warming, I mean climate change. The other thing the leer jet environmentalist crowd cannot accept is that climate changes and has changed over millions of years with and without humans roaming the surface. Glaciers have formed and receded. That pesky science called geology gives us this knowledge. The leer jet environmentalists (let’s lump the dopey Hollywood crowd in there) think we can keep the earth static. These are same people that want to “preserve” the old growth forests – even when it is not healthy for the forest to do so. Nature changes. Climate patterns change. Our sun’s output changes. We change.

There are so many variables with regard to our climate that is folly to think we can model it accurately enough to foretell the future. I am by no means an expert in computer modeling, but I did take a computer modeling course in graduate school and I do use computer models in my work. I would argue that I have more of a perspective on modeling than an average person does. Modeling is as much art as science in my opinion. Even simple models, a groundwater model for example, can be difficult to get right. The interactions of complex models, like our climate, are very hard to figure out (we are still uncertain of how clouds form and interact with the climate). In order to use a model you need to calibrate it against real data – you need to figure out how it compares to a known data set and tweak it until the model correlates reasonably well with the known data set, only then can you make predictions of how it would react under other inputs. We only have about 150 years of decent data for calibration of a climate model (I do not consider ice core data as valid for model calibration mainly because it is interpreted data). That, in my opinion, is not enough for such a complex model. The models out there are much better than the ones that were used in the 1970’s when global cooling was a concern, but they still lack sophistication in my opinion. The current models predict global temperatures rising anywhere from 1 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. That is a huge spread.

If CO2 is inexorably linked to temperature increase, why were we so concerned with global cooling in the 1970s? The amount of CO2 emitted did not go down in the 1970’s. It has steadily increased along with population. Why was there a warming period several hundred years ago that allowed grapes to be grown in England? We were not emitting nearly as much CO2 back then. I am not convinced that CO2 emissions by man are solely to blame for an increase in global temperatures. We think we are so smart that we can deduce without a doubt that man is solely responsible for this trend in global temperatures. I say that we are not very smart and cannot jump to that conclusion no matter how you massage the data in a slide show. Don’t forget that CO2 is only part of the “problem”. There are also other chemicals such as methane and the chemicals that replaced CFCs that contribute to more warming than just CO2 on a pound for pound basis.

Another “impact” of global warming is a supposed increase in “extreme” weather. There is growing fear of more massive mudslides and floods due to global warming. Is it really due to global warming or is it due to poor land use planning? More population means you end up building where you are not supposed to. New Orleans and southern California come to mind. In New Orleans communities were flooded when a major hurricane hit that city. The city is below sea level, what do you expect to happen? It was not global warming it was just that the likelihood of this event happening was foretold decades before it did. In California, poor land use planning results in mudslides during heavy rain. I see it here in Kansas City as well. Poor urban planning has resulted in flooding during heavy rain events. Even without global warming you are going to have heavy rainfall events that exceed design parameters. There is a certain amount of risk accepted during design and construction. Designing to the 1,000 year rainfall event would be cost prohibitive. Do I need to mention that there were no major hurricanes to hit the United States in 2006?

In the end global mean temperatures may or may not continue to rise whether we do something to curb CO2 emissions or not. Honestly, even if we wanted to I doubt we can do anything about it in the next 50 years. It requires a global political will. We can not see eye to eye on even the most basic issues. More people means more CO2 emitted from their overall actions. China and India are growing by leaps and bounds and everyone wants to live like an American. We need to take the next 50 years and invest heavily in energy research; a Manhattan Project type effort if you will. Blacklisting scientists who do not agree with your point of view in a McCarthyian effort will not solve this problem.

One also has to step back and wonder if man can truly reverse or control what he has supposedly set in motion. Maybe it would be better for the world if man leaves it. We have thousands of years of history that illustrate that we behave like little children and never grow up. Maybe global warming is Nature’s time out for mankind.

19 February 2007

The Unfortunate, All Too Binding, Iraq Situation…

The United States of America is in Iraq. That is the cold, hard fact. No matter how you feel about how we got into this mess, the fact remains that we are there now. And no amount of hindsight will alter that fact (even if you are running for president). It does not matter if you are a democrat or a republican. It does not matter how you voted. It does not matter if you are a liberal, conservative, green, libertarian, or independent. It does not matter if you were for or against the war in Iraq. It does not matter what the reason for going into Iraq was. WE, as AMERICANS, are solely responsible for success or defeat in Iraq. The world does not care if you are pacifist, an atheist, a born again Christian, a vegetarian, or a redneck. You are seen as an American, and Americans have the responsibility to see that we leave Iraq better than before we went into Iraq.

Many mistakes have been made by foolish men who had little understanding of that region. That said, we need to look at the big picture of the region as it stands now and not just the blood and treasure that America is losing everyday. We need to realize that there are many people out there counting on America to get Iraq done and get it done right. My problem with the democrats is the problem I have with the republicans. Every thing boils down to the least common denominator - how it impacts the re-election efforts of the politicians and how much damage they can inflict on the opposing party. They could care less what really matters to the future of this country (if they did we would not have these ill-conceived social programs that we cannot afford or an education system that leaves our children ill-equipped to compete in the global economy – other topics for another day). We are there and we need to figure out how we can best help to provide a stable Iraq - if that is even possible, I am not sure. We also need to get Iran and Syria to stop meddling in Iraq as well. Iran and Syria are adding gasoline to the fire because it suits their interests in making America look weak. The democrats (and some republicans) and the media are doing their part by fanning the flames of discontent here. Discontent spread here adds fuel to the insurgent engine by making them think they are succeeding. Cutting and running (call it redeployment if you want) allows Syria and Iran to win and makes us look very weak in the eyes of the Arabs. But politicians rarely care about the over reaching impacts of their decisions or sound bites. All they care is doing what is best for their re-election efforts, presidential bids, and lobbyists.

Has the war been grossly mismanaged? YES. Is the situation becoming worse? In some parts of Iraq it is. Does the dissent in the United States undermine our efforts? Definitely. Think about in terms of the hype before a big football game. If the other team says something about their opponent it may get posted in the opponent’s locker room as a motivator. When senators like Harry Reid spout off at the blow hole you can be damn sure it gets posted in an insurgent locker room in Iraq.

The editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report, Mortimer B Zucherman, stated in a 22 January 2007 editorial that “American forces … cannot stop this sectarian war. The Iraqis must do it.” But “nothing good can happen without security, which is the sine qua non for success.” “We cannot just turn our backs on Iraq and hope for the best.”

A story on NPR the morning of 8 February 2007 was about the sectarian violence. The NPR correspondent interviewed a Shiite. The Shiite spoke of militias and their efforts to wipe out Sunnis (I am sure that some of that is also going on against the Shiites). But this Shiite was protecting other Sunnis. The interview ended with the Shiite stating that he wanted Baghdad flooded with American troops to provide peace and stability.

Now we have two options. We pack up and leave and watch Iraq spiral out of control into chaos, or we provide security until that indeterminate time at which the Iraqis can find peace among themselves. The situation is not going to miraculously be solved in the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn in the microwave or in the span of a 60 minute TV show or 90 days or 9 months. Despite what President Bush claimed at the beginning, anyone with real common sense knew this would take years or decades. I knew it. Could we bring Iraq back from the brink of all out collapse? Maybe or maybe not; but we owe to it the Iraqis, to the world, and to future generations of Americans to try with ALL our will and not a fraction less.

Winston Churchill once said “Once you are so unfortunate as to be drawn into a war, no price is too great to pay for an early and victorious peace.”

What exactly does a non-binding resolution accomplish? Does it not mean anything to these democrats and few republicans when General Patreous says a congressional resolution against a troop build up in Iraq essentially emboldens the enemy? They say they support the troops, but a vote for the non-binding resolution is a vote against the troops in my opinion. A vote to defund the war effort is a vote against the troops. We did not learn a damn thing from Vietnam. We did not learn that when it comes to war, we should not let the politicians make operational decisions. The only thing we learned from Vietnam was to not call our troops “baby killers” and to not spit on them when they come back to America. It is amazing that we learned anything.

15 February 2007


I am completely disgusted with our "leaders" - and I use that term loosely - in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Here are some examples of my disgust:

1. Taking more than 3 years to realize that you really f---ed up Iraq because you refused to listen and think about the consequences of your actions in an area with THOUSANDS of years of history. Then still not listening to what the real solution should consist of.

2. Being asked to guard our border but not being allowed to shoot back when shot at by criminals.

3. Kicking off your presidential election campaign in New Orleans by complaining about two Americas and then returning to your 28,000 square foot house (supposedly "connected space") on 100 acres across from a trailer park.

4. Spending more than $300,000 for a ONE-WAY trip across the country arguing that because you are the first woman speaker of house you have security issues and you do not want to stop to refuel a plane. A ROUND TRIP first class ticket from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco costs $1,937 (an equivalent coach ticket costs $283.80). To top it off, complaining about global warming while flying on these planes that emit more carbon dioxide in one trip than I do in a year driving around in my VW Jetta diesel.

5. Providing immunity from prosecution to a known drug smuggler who later on sues the United States for $5 million because he was shot in the ass while smuggling drugs into the country (last I checked I thought it was illegal to smuggle illicit drugs into the country). Sending the border agents who “covered up” shooting the smuggler in the ass to jail for 11 to 12 years because they really did not think they hit him.

6. Claiming that you need 5 years to balance the budget when you have a $9 trillion "credit card" bill.

7. Lying to (sorry, "misleading") United States representatives during a congressional inquiry into the shooting in the ass of the drug smuggler mentioned above essentially throwing the border patrol agents under the bus.

8. Providing social security benefits to illegal aliens who worked in the United States for 18 MONTHS as long as they provide their paycheck stubs that have their illegal identities on them. A United States citizen must work at least 10 YEARS before being eligible for social security benefits.

9. Black listing scientists and lay people who disagree with your self-righteous slide show while flying around in your personal jet to tell us how bad carbon dioxide emissions are screwing up this planet. This coming from a man whose father made millions in the oil industry. Al Gore is the modern day Joseph McCarthy.

10. Worthless politicians doing what they do they best – NOTHING. Debating a non-binding resolution ad nausea. I think we know where they stand on the Iraq issue. When can we finally move on and tackle other issues that this country is also facing. How about tackling that balanced budget thing? Let’s come up with a real plan and decide the best course of action? And no, pulling out is not an answer. It is time we became accountable for the messes we create. And the United States has made some really big ones.

11. Studying the No Child Left Behind Act and determining that only minor changes need to be made to the act while turning a blind eye to a broken system. Teaching for a test does not provide the tools necessary for our children to learn and prosper and ensure they can compete in a GLOBAL economy. It only creates a generation of morons that cannot think for themselves – I suppose that is what the democrats and republicans really want.

12. Allowing a former Clinton cabinet official to get away with stealing official documents. Wow.

13. More or less giving a pass to a democrat who made some stupid remarks about Obama when a republican would have been asked to resign under the same circumstances. Hypocrites.

14. You and me sitting on our asses and letting the idiots in Washington and in the media run our country into the ground. Nice.

"The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes." ~Mark Twain
Photo by KCThinker, Door in German castle