Friday, July 7, 2017

The Theory of Anthropologic Global Warming

Let’s call this theory what it is – global warming.  It implies that human activity is causing greenhouse gasses to accumulate in the atmosphere, and as a result the average global temperature has risen, and will continue to rise as the over production of greenhouse gasses continues. I reject the ‘climate change’ moniker as an evasive if not cowardly attempt to soften the theory’s controversial point.

How can so many Americans be skeptical of this theory when so many in the scientific community support it?

The ‘tribe mentality’ argument, which claims that many people reject the concept of global warming out of a fear of being ostracized from their social groups, must be rejected.  While it is true that many people allow their opinions to be influenced by their social groups, you can easily project this argument in both directions – even within the scientific community.  Further, claiming that people who disagree with you are irrational - for whatever reason - is unconvincing.  The skeptics have many legitimate criticisms of the evidence scientists have presented in support of this theory.

The theory has three primary legs: that the average global temperature has risen over the last hundred years, that an accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has caused the increase in average global temperature, and that human activity is responsible for the increased presence of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Scientists claim to have measured an increase in average global temperature of approximately one degree over the last hundred years.  Obviously there is no single measurement for ‘average global temperature,’ therefore is must be the product of modeling, which must inherently include certain assumptions.  The use of modeling and assumptions introduces a margin of error.  This margin of error is compounded by: the varying methods of temperature collection around the world and over the last hundred years, the variability of the measurement equipment, and human error recording and transferring data.

Solar activity has a greater impact on average global temperature than any other factor.  Even if the model considers known historical solar variation, the measurement and impact of the solar activity introduces a significant margin of error.  The combination of all of these effects would certainly make a measurement so precise as one degree over one hundred years fall within a necessary margin of error.  The public’s instinctive skepticism over this claim is well founded.  Even today, average annual global temperature cannot be easily measured, only modeled.

The quantity of greenhouse gasses produced by human activity is impossible to measure.  Most of the models developed to estimate this are derived from GDP or other industrial production data.  Even if these models produce reasonable results, a necessary margin of error would preclude any precise claims.

The American public also has skepticism of scientific claims in general.  Scientists have forecasted ice ages, population explosions, oil shortages, viral epidemics and killer comets.  We’ve been told by researchers that eggs are good, bad, and good again.  The public is justifiably skeptical of the accuracy of scientific claims. 

The American public is also skeptical of the objectivity of scientific claims.  The scientific community has a pro-environmental political leaning to begin with.  Billions of dollars have been poured into researching the existence and impact of global warming.  Having money to fund research has tremendous sway. 

In spite of all its failings, the scientific community generally does the best it can with what it has.  Scientists are often wrong as history has shown, but even when wrong they often lead us closer to truth.

The greatest mistake made by advocates of the theory of anthropologic global warming is the attempt to prove it by measurement.  It cannot be proven by measurement, and attempting to do so invites distracting criticism.  It doesn’t need to be proven by measurement, because it is proven by logic.

If half of the people in an auditorium lit cigarettes, we may not be able to measure the amount of carcinogens released by their smoking, or the specific health impacts their smoking had on the people in that room.  However, we do not need specific measurement to know that inhaling toxins will have a negative impact on health, and if continuous will reduce life expectancy, sometimes abruptly.

We know that many aspects of our behavior produce greenhouse gasses.  We know for a fact that an accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere will contribute to increasing global temperature.  We know that increasing global temperature will have severe environmental impacts.

Whether or not we can measure the environmental impact of our behavior at this point is irrelevant.  Maybe the average global temperature has increased over the last hundred years, maybe it hasn’t.  Variations in global temperature caused by solar or volcanic activity could mask the beginnings of a greenhouse gas effect.  The insidious nature of greenhouse gasses is accumulation.  The impact on global temperature by these gasses will accelerate as the accumulation of gas increases, not unlike interest accumulating in a bank.

There is a level of human greenhouse gas production that the earth can absorb and dissipate without causing accumulation in the atmosphere.  It is possible (albeit improbable) that our current rate of greenhouse gas production is still within this absorbable limit.  Even if it is currently, if our rate of greenhouse gas production continues to climb unabated we will soon exceed the limits of earth’s ability to absorb our greenhouse gasses and cause accumulation in our atmosphere to begin. 

We do not have to accept this fate.  We can ban some activities and limit others, form international agreements establishing standards with our trading partners, and most potent of all – make positive choices at a personal level.  We can choose to eat less meat, downsize our homes, and drive more fuel-efficient vehicles.  We’ll live longer, save money, and protect the environment by accident. 

Will passing laws that limit greenhouse gas producing activities destroy our economy?  No, but it will hurt it and some industries will be hit hard.  The negative impact on the economy overall could be more than offset by the complete elimination of corporate income taxes.  Ironically a tax-free America could attract industry to the U.S. and cause them to comply with our environmental standards by choice.  Within a few years the loss of tax revenue from corporations would be offset by increased tax revenue from payrolls.

Some nations will refuse to participate in the international agreements and continue to pollute, and others will cheat the agreements.  Over time, as more and more nations joined the group, the negative trade impact of exclusion would be a powerful enough incentive to cause most industrial nations to participate and comply.  Ultimately, the goal of significantly reducing the pace of greenhouse gas production can be achieved. 

Isn’t it time to kick the habit?

The Appeal of Smoking

People who publicly attack the smoking habit commonly define what they believe is the general attraction to smoking.  Unfortunately they – like most critics of the public in general – have underestimated the public’s perception and intuition. 

The positive characteristics they have assigned to smoking are rather sophomoric if not juvenile.  They apply common adjectives, such as: glamorous, sexy, tough, rebellious, and dangerous.  These adjectives represent the attributes they see in images used by the marketers of cigarettes.  These adjectives all define very shallow characteristics, and are a representation of the shallow opinion the critics have of the American people at large.  Cigarettes have proven appealing and even addictive to people from all stripes: rich, poor, educated or not, laborers, and professionals.  Have all of these people been taken in by the same shallow appeal?  The shallow characteristics commonly assigned to smoking are the same ones promoters attempt to apply to many products, but few others have proven to be so irresistible.

It’s the addictive nature of the drug you say?  Many studies have shown that the addictive power of nicotine has been over estimated, and is completely out of the body after two weeks.  The true attraction of smoking is mental.  The mind is the answer, in fact.

Nicotine stimulates brain activity, but not the in same way as caffeine.  It actually raises your IQ score a little.  It helps your brain function more efficiently.  It promotes thought.  Smokers and the public at large have known this for decades, at a conscious level for many and at a subconscious level for most. 

Think about it the images of people smoking that come to your mind.  Workers take a smoke break to clear their heads and refocus; a cluster of cold-war era mathematicians sleeplessly working in front of a chalkboard on some enigmatic code, all smoking cigarettes in endless succession.   We subconsciously associate smoking with thinking because we understand that it promotes thought.  When we see a couple cowboys leaning on a fence silently enjoying a cigarette, we aren’t thinking to ourselves ‘they look tough’ or ‘they look sexy.’  We’re subconsciously thinking that they look thoughtful.  Thoughtfulness makes people interesting because we curious humans can’t help but wonder what they’re thinking about.  What are those cowboys thinking about after a long day?

Try this: imagine a man in dirty clothes walking along the sidewalk.  Visualize him in your mind.  At a subconscious level, your brain immediately applies several suppositions to the character you imagined.  Did you imagine him to be poor, possibly homeless?  Did you suppose that he is walking because he doesn’t have a car or possibly a license to drive?  Now picture him again smoking a cigarette while he walks.  Did you immediately imagine him to be walking faster?  Now you may see him as a construction or factory worker walking home from a hard day’s labor.  Why did you elevate him?  You elevated him because he now appears thoughtful, and thoughtful people are generally better occupied.

It is the brain stimulant that is addictive.  We like being thoughtful and we love looking thoughtful.  Many products can make you look sexy, or dangerous, or rebellious.  Few products can make you look thoughtful, and thereby interesting.  That is the magnetic power of smoking.

You should also know that smoking doesn’t increase your chances of poor health. It’s guaranteed.  Every cigarette destroys your body and reduces your longevity from several directions.  It may benefit your brain in the short term, but it destroys your organs in the long term.  The only uncertainty is how soon the accumulated damage will radically change or terminate your life.  Regardless of how it may look or feel, smoking isn’t smart.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Flag Burning and the Law

Should it be illegal to burn our national flag?

Imagine yourself the 'belle of the ball.'  You're intelligent, beautiful, educated, cultured, and descended of proud heritage.  You are admired and desired by all men in possession of half their wits.  Then some blustery father, dragging his son by the cuff of his jacket, approaches you.  Once in your presence, he turns to his son and demands that he dance with you.

How would this make you feel?  What would you say to these gentlemen?  Perhaps you would say something like "honor me if I am honorable; never out of requirement."  Or maybe just "Buzz Off!"

Should we pass a law that requires parents to love their children also?  What would you say to your daughter when she asks you if you love her because it's required by law?  "No my sweet, I love you because you are so lovable!  You are so deserving of my love I am incapable of not loving you!"

Millions of people, young, old, rich, poor, parents and children alike have sacrificed their bodies, their fortunes, their vary lives to preserve the ideals represented by our colors.  It is the embodiment of what is best in all of us.  It cannot be elevated higher.

Any attempt to protect this honor legally would only lower it.  Any person or group who believes that desecrating our flag will somehow advance their argument will lose more than they gain because The Stars and Stripes represent far more than the United States government or the American people.  It represents the ideals we aspire to: freedom, unity, courage, and sacrifice.  These ideals cannot be desecrated.  Their integrity is as firm as a blacksmith's anvil.  You will not break them; only yourself upon them.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why We Will Never, Ever, Run Out Of Oil

Elon Musk is one of the great inventors and industrialists of our time.  His achievements are awe inspiring, and his company Tesla builds the best cars in the world.  I enjoyed reading his 'Master Plan, Part Deux' for Tesla, but couldn't help reacting to one line.  For someone who is arguably one of the most intelligent people on earth, he said something uncharacteristically... dumb.  (Human after all.)  He said "...we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse."

Sustainable energy is a worthy goal no doubt, and is inevitable.  It is this notion that humanity will run headlong off the petroleum cliff into a collapse of civilization that I cannot excuse.  It has been repeated so many times I can hardly fault Elon for repeating it, despite my high expectations.  But it is folly.  Absolute rubbish.  Forty years ago scientists (not economists) forecasted we would run out of oil in ten years.  Literally the same prediction was made again in 1980 (approximately) and 1990.  In spite of a massive expansion of industry and significant population growth, we have more proven reserves today than we did 40 years ago.  How is this possible?

It's not only possible, but entirely predictable.  Question:  Why haven't we 'run out' of gold?  Man's lust for gold is about 3,000 years old - give or take a millennia.  Yet there's still plenty around to be purchased; still plenty waiting to be pulled from the ground.  No, we don't burn it like oil, but we do use it to make things that we hoard endlessly.  So why haven't we reached the end?  Two words hold the solution: free markets.

Free markets balance the production and consumption of all raw materials like magic.  We have more proven oil reserves today because markets are free to float.  Speculators - motivated by profit - watch our consumption of oil carefully.  If they perceive that present or future demand is exceeding supply, they will begin to buy oil or contracts for oil in the future, which will cause the price of oil to climb.  When the price of oil climbs two critical things happen.

First, the utility of 'hard to reach' oil goes up.  Some oil costs too much to go after, and is only useful when the price of oil is over $60 or $80 per barrel.  Higher prices make such reserves viable.  Second, consumers start making alternate choices in higher and higher percentages.  They buy more fuel efficient vehicles, use alternatives, or consume less.  This process continues until the price of oil levels out and consumption of oil once again comes in line with the growth of reserves.

In the 1970's the Carter Administration, in their infinite wisdom, decided that they were a better judge of how petroleum products should be distributed than some evil, free-market profiteers.  Price controls and distribution restrictions were put in place, and immediately the shortages occurred.  After being elected president, Ronald Reagan (an Econ major) removed the price controls and restrictions and the lines disappeared - like magic.  The only scenario for a 'run out' is with price controls.

Ultimately, oil is doomed.  It's relative value will probably slide for many years, if not plunge.  We have so massively developed our reserves that new technological advancements (like Tesla's cars) will increasingly render it less useful and therefore less valuable long before we approach depletion.  Any country or economy dependent on the sale of this natural resource will suffer.

The risk petroleum burning poses to our climate is 10x more compelling than the prospect of running out.  Perhaps Elon should stick to that theme.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Regarding Freedom and Oppression:

Regarding Freedom and Oppression:

I would prefer to suffer under the oppression of another free man, who, by the better use of his freedom has taken greater advantage of it than I, than to suffer under the oppression of government, which has the power to deny me my freedom altogether.

Someday, he may fall by his own hand or by mine, and I may rise.  On that day, wouldn't he prefer to fall to another free man, than to the powers of government?  Surely he took the place of the free man before him by besting him, as I he, and so too shall I prefer to fall.  Such is the Darwinian way of free markets and free people.  It is for us to choose, and no one else.