Take That! Nature. Regulating Particulates.

OK, I’d seen the video in a couple of places. Latest was at WUWT. It mentions the EPA desire to regulate fine particulates and having a near zero safe value (which lets them regulate any production at all to ‘best possible’ or ‘any detectable’). But the map shows the most particulates where nobody lives. Odd, that.

The WUWT Article: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/26/dr-roy-spencer-on-foxs-john-stossel-show/

The Video:

The Map:

Global Fine Particulates

Global Fine Particulates

Now, when I look at that map, the first thing I notice is that large swath of red over the deserts of Africa, Arabia, and on into Asia. Second thing I notice is that China has a problem. Third thing I notice is that just about nowhere in The New World has a problem. Then I notice a tiny bit of color in The Farm Belt.

Sure looks to me like the “problem” is largely the result of dirt. Exposed in deserts, or exposed in plowing. China has a bit of a problem from their legendary levels of coal soot from open stacks, but that has little to do with the USA EPA.

So, let me get this straight, the map makes it clear that the EPA wants to regulate nature as it is the largest source of particulates? And they want it to get in line with a near zero level?

In practical terms this means that if you make one speck of dirt, the EPA can come shut you down as the level in nature is not zero, so it’s a “hazard” and must be reduced as close to zero as possible. That means no farming. No farm machinery (especially if Diesel powered). No nothing.

One can only wonder what they will do about dust storms in Arizona or West Texas; and Lord Help Us if Oklahoma has another Dust Bowl.

The degree of regulatory overreach here is stunning.

Nasa Says?

The NASA page describes the map as ‘health sapping’:


New Map Offers a Global View of Health-Sapping Air Pollution

In many developing countries, the absence of surface-based air pollution sensors makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get even a rough estimate of the abundance of a subcategory of airborne particles that epidemiologists suspect contributes to millions of premature deaths each year. The problematic particles, called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, about a tenth the fraction of human hair. These small particles can get past the body’s normal defenses and penetrate deep into the lungs.

To fill in these gaps in surface-based PM2.5 measurements, experts look toward satellites to provide a global perspective. Yet, satellite instruments have generally struggled to achieve accurate measurements of the particles in near-surface air. The problem: Most satellite instruments can’t distinguish particles close to the ground from those high in the atmosphere. In addition, clouds tend to obscure the view. And bright land surfaces, such as snow, desert sand, and those found in certain urban areas can mar measurements.

However, the view got a bit clearer this summer with the publication of the first long-term global map of PM2.5 in a recent issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. Canadian researchers Aaron van Donkelaar and Randall Martin at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, created the map by blending total-column aerosol amount measurements from two NASA satellite instruments with information about the vertical distribution of aerosols from a computer model.

Oh God, the dreaded “computer model” again. So they want to regulate nature based on computer fantasy.

Whatever drugs these folks are on are too powerful for normal folks. We need to wean them off onto something more mild, like LSD or Cocaine… ( I’d put a /sarcoff; on it, but I’m not sure it is sarcasm…)

But it goes on from there:

The map shows very high levels of PM2.5 in a broad swath stretching from the Saharan Desert in Northern Africa to Eastern Asia. When compared with maps of population density, it suggests more than 80 percent of the world’s population breathe polluted air that exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 10 micrograms per cubic meter. Levels of PM2.5 are comparatively low in the United States, though noticeable pockets are clearly visible over urban areas in the Midwest and East.

Here we have the insight that the WHO has a standard as well (though they have a non-zero level). I can see where this is headed. A global regulatory UN body to regulate nature to stop making dust… They have already started a phony Air Scare, now they can make a Dirty Dirt Scare too. Add water (and with combustion engines already under regulation) you have effective control of Water, Earth, Wind and Fire. Not much left after that…

An Eco-Page commentary:


Mapping the global threat from deadly particulate pollution

Not all air pollution is of the kind that casts a pall over major metropolises like Los Angeles or Shanghai. One form consists of particles so tiny (1/30 the diameter of a human hair) that it is not only invisible but also capable of evading the body’s defenses and lodging deep in the lungs — where it can be deadly.

Researchers have had no reliable global picture of the full, long-term scope of the problem — until the map above was published earlier this summer in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and yesterday online by NASA. In the map, high concentrations of fine particulate pollution is shown in yellows, oranges and reds.

Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5 (because individual particles are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter), consists of dust, soot and smoke. According to a report in the journal Science:

Hundreds of studies have suggested that breathing fine particles spewed by vehicles, factories, and power plants can trigger heart attacks and worsen respiratory disease in vulnerable people, leading to perhaps 60,000 premature deaths a year in the United States.

And worldwide, the death toll is believed to be in the millions.

Now the “problem” is global and deadly and invisible!!! And it will kill “in the millions”!!! Crank up that scare machine!!!!!

Now, when I grew up, it was in Rice Country. Every year they would burn off the rice stubble. The smoke was often so thick you could not see the road ahead. In spring, pollen was so thick it would make darned near everyone sneeze. In between their was ploughing and spraying and… Lets just say that farm country can be a dirty place. Just to top it off, Dad was a smoker. We also had a restaurant where most customers smoked (it was in the ’60s…).

Somehow I’m starting to wonder if those studies that found all those particulates to be so “deadly” are perhaps full of statistical extrapolation and, dare I say it, models? I’m afraid to look, lest I have a blood pressure rise and the WHO decide I need to be medicated…

Oh, and good luck on regulating the global volcanoes to stop making smoke…

But, just to be sure we are not comforted by all that mild blue in the USA, NASA has another map with scary Red and Orange on it for the USA. (Changed scales can be so convenient…)

Particulate Map USA

Particulate Map USA

But at least we can see why they wanted a value less than 10 for health effects. It’s the only way they can get some tentacles around the Western States…

Look, I’m all for clean air. I was very happy when burning rice stubble was restricted to ‘burn days’ and even happier when some folks went to towed burners that were much cleaner ( it’s hard to not-burn, as there are a load of pests killed by burning for which little alternative exists. Organic farmers, especially, need to be able to burn weeds to avoid pesticides.) So “as clean as we can reasonably get” is just fine with me.

But regulating NATURE to a near ZERO acceptable level? Crazy Talk. Unless the goal is the destruction of farming and complete control of all industry and agriculture…

An interesting discussion here:


You can see them for attribution and discussion. Note this is discussing the more lightly regulated “course dust”…

WASHINGTON – In the latest step in its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the foundation for unprecedented regulation of dust. According to EPA’s Second Draft Policy Assessment for Particulate Matter (PM), issued late last week, EPA may consider regulating coarse PM at levels as low as 65-85 µg/m3, twice as stringent as the current standard.

“It would be virtually impossible for many critical U.S. industries to comply with this standard, even with use of best-management practices to control dust,” said Tamara Thies, NCBA chief environmental counsel. “All of us certainly want healthy air for our communities, but this is nothing more than the everyday dust kicked up by a car driving down a dirt road, and it has long been found to be of no health concern at ambient levels.”

Because of the high dust levels found in arid climates, many critical western industries have a difficult time meeting the current standard of 150 µg/m3. In some of these areas, “no-till” days have already been proposed for agriculture, severely hindering farmers’ ability to maintain productive operations.

“Farmers could be fined for everyday activities like driving a tractor down a dirt road or tilling a field,” said Thies. “It would effectively bring economic growth and development to a halt in many areas of the country.”

If EPA regulates dust at the level of 65-85 µg/m3, areas across the country would be classified as “nonattainment,” forcing states to impose extreme dust-control requirements on businesses across the board.

“The current PM standard was set conservatively low based on historically flawed health studies,” Thies continued. “EPA itself acknowledges the current standard was based on a desire to be cautious, and not on clear evidence that this very stringent level was necessary to protect against adverse public health effects. This is especially true for the type of rural dust predominantly found in agricultural and other resource-based operations.”

Somehow I think “bringing economic growth and development to a halt” is a more likely goal than some supposed “health” issue. (It fits with the UN Agenda 21 Goals…)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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31 Responses to Take That! Nature. Regulating Particulates.

  1. Judy F. says:

    Funny that you would write this today. We have had very little snow this winter in northeast Colorado and no precipitation this March, which is traditionally our snowiest month. In addition to the lack of moisture, we have had lots of wind all winter. As a result, we are extremely dry and the ground is starting to blow. Today, two of my sons (both are volunteer firemen) are out fighting a stubble/ grass fire in 82 degrees F weather, with 40 mph winds gusting to 54 mph and 3% humidity. There is a lot of dust in the air and I can’t see the smoke from the fire, which is 6 miles from me. ( This in an area where we normally have visibility of 25 miles or more) No matter what the EPA wants, dry ground stirred by wind is going to blow. Smoke is going to happen in a fire.

    What is going to happen to people who create dust driving down a dirt road? Who is going to care when your closest neighbor is a mile or more away? What about recreational use of 4 wheelers or motorcycles on a dirt track? What if a volcano erupts?

    If only the people who make the rules would ever visit the real world…

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F:

    I’m coming to understand that it isn’t about doing things that work in the real world. It isn’t about being “in touch”. In fact, it is exactly and purposefully the opposite. Declare something a ‘problem’ that can never be fixed, and then mandate as ‘cure’ that gives Central Planning Authority. It really is that simple, and reality is the LAST thing they want intruding…

    On a related note, or ‘speaking of dirty dusty things’:


    is about dust and what it says about climate.

    Huang, X., Oberhansli, H., von Suchodoletz, H. and Sorrel, P. 2011. Dust deposition in the Aral Sea: implications for changes in atmospheric circulation in central Asia during the past 2000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 3661-3674.
    Noting that dust storms are common features adjacent to the Aral Sea, Huang et al. (2011) investigated the grain-size distributions of wind-blown sediments found in a core retrieved from that water body while “attempting to trace the variations in atmospheric dynamics in central Asia during the past 2000 years,” and in doing so, they focused on variations observed at the transition from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age, since this period, in their words, “is the most pronounced climatic transformation during the last millennium,” in support of which statement they cite the studies of Yang B. et al. (2002), Trouet et al. (2009) and Chen et al. (2010).

    Huang et al. report that the history of dust deposition in central Asia can be divided into five distinct periods on the basis of their observations: “a remarkably low deposition during AD 1-350, a moderately high value from AD 350-720, a return to a relatively low level between AD 720 and AD 1400 (including the Medieval Warm Period), an exceptionally high deposition from AD 1400 to [the] 1940s and an abnormally low value since [the] 1940s.” Most interestingly in this regard, we note that the first of these “distinct periods” coincides with the Roman Warm Period, the second with the Dark Ages Cold Period, the third (as Huang et al. make a point of noting) with the Medieval Warm Period, the fourth with the Little Ice Age, and the fifth with the Current Warm Period. Thus, it was no surprise that they found that the temporal variation in dust deposition they observed was consistent with the “mean atmospheric temperature of the Northern Hemisphere during the past 2000 years, with low/high annual temperature anomalies corresponding to high/low dust supplied in the Aral Sea sediments, respectively [italics added].”

    Based on the four researchers’ detailed graphs of their wind intensity/dust storm data, it can be seen that the minimum values of these inverted measures of annual temperature during the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and the Current Warm Period were all about the same. And it is thus quite clear that there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about Earth’s current level of warmth, which is merely an expected consequence of the millennial-scale cycling of climate that is a natural expression of one of the ways in which Earth’s climate system operates in its particular location within our solar system and the galaxy that hosts it.

    So not only does this confirm that the MWP, RWP, LIA, etc. were not just local to Europe, but it also says that warm periods are relatively low in dust (implying wetter) while cold periods are dusty (implying dryer too).

    That, then, says that the EPA is planning to ban cold periods!

    I know they desperately believe in Global Warming, but mandating it? Sheesh… ;-)

  3. Mark Miller says:

    I can’t remember who said this, but I heard second-hand someone say recently that the EPA is made up of lawyers. I heard the same thing about the SEC after the ’08 crash, due to the Madoff affair. 60 Minutes interviewed a whistle blower who, doing outside analysis, tried to tell the SEC for several years that Madoff was a fraud, but they wouldn’t listen. He said the only way he could give them his analysis was to use mathematics. They didn’t understand mathematics. He said they were paper pushers. All they cared about was whether Madoff filed his paperwork properly, which he had.

    So yeah, I’d say they are out of touch with reality. The EPA makes its decisions on a legal basis, not a scientific basis. There are some scientists who work there, but it seems to me only at a junior staff level. I only know this because during the public comment period for the EPA’s endangerment finding on CO2, a climate scientist in their ranks sent a letter to his higher ups objecting to it, saying it was not based on sound science. The response he got was, “We already have things in motion. Your comments are not helpful.”

    Everything I’ve heard about lawyers is they’re not the kind of people most people think they are, in terms of their skill set. I heard from people who’ve dealt with lawyers saying that they don’t understand the law that well. They understand legal procedure. I saw a law student say that in law schools now, they don’t study the law. Instead they are taught how to control human behavior, basically as regulators. And one thing I heard recently is that a fallacy that most lawyers believe is that if they see anything wrong in society, it can be fixed with legal code. That’s their “hammer-nail” fixation. Just write up a new set of rules. For example, if there aren’t enough jobs, come up with new legal code to somehow create more of them. That’s their solution.

    I’m not one of these people that thinks that “Ten-thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean is a good start,” but I think we’ve gone overboard with lawyers in our society. They perform good, and I think essential functions, but we can’t have them running everything! Confine them to the courtroom.

  4. R. de Haan says:

    Of course it’s Agenda 21 rubbish.
    And the measures of inducing Green Area’s are most devastating.
    Entire area’s are closed down for “older vehicles”, for dust generating activity like construction etc, etc.

    But maybe the ship is turning.
    In Germany closing cities down for “high emission” vehicles didn’t result in a measurable particle reduction.
    Now the “opposition” has the arguments to lift the ban.

    Just watch the show.

    As for California and it’s counties, you have my sincere condolences.

  5. R. de Haan says:

    More Agenda 21
    5.56. Proposals should be developed for local, national and international population/environment programmes in line with specific needs for achieving sustainability.

    5.60. Understanding of socio-cultural and political factors that can positively influence acceptance of appropriate population policy instruments should be improved.

    5.62. The areas of human resource development and capacity-building, with particular attention to the education and training of women, are areas of critical importance and are a very high priority in the implementation of population programmes.

    5.63. Workshops to help programme and projects managers to link population programmes to other development and environmental goals should be conducted.

    5.64. Educational materials, including guides/workbooks for planners and decision makers and other actors of population/environment/development programmes, should be developed.

    Europe is totally committed to Agenda 21.

    This Agenda is going to kill billions.

  6. Ian W says:

    I think that EPA now stands for the Environmental Paranoia Agency – they are feeding the ultra cautious ‘precautionary principle’ to extremes. This may be to protect their own jobs – after all the more inspectors they need the more managers they’ll need then a pay rise because “look at the size of our agency!!
    Or of course this could be one of Obama’s courtiers Cat Sunstein’s ‘Nudges’

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    The theory: A more “just” world would be a world where there is no such a big super-economy, super power, as the USA. So you have been chosen by the UN to share your success with the rest of the world. And a lot of “sensible hearts” are convinced of this as being a supreme good.
    You are done!

  8. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “it isn’t about doing things that work in the real world. It isn’t about being “in touch”. In fact, it is exactly and purposefully the opposite. Declare something a ‘problem’ that can never be fixed, and then mandate as ‘cure’ that gives Central Planning Authority. It really is that simple”

    Yes. These people are addicted to power, literally addicted, not merely metaphorically. The people running our major institutions are (many if not most of them) deeply, psychologically broken. Their desire for power overwhelms any reason, logic or benign human attachment. If a known crack addict comes up to you and tells you that he needs money for food, or shelter, or as a donation to the Democratic Party (or Republican!), you do not need to do any deep research on whether his story is true or even plausible. He is lying. He wants to buy more crack. Don’t waste one second wondering what he will do with the money if you give it to him. He will buy crack. It is what crack addicts do.

    Same thing with government officials and power. It does not matter if whether they tell you they are Generals, or Scientists, whether they are Bureaucrats or Representatives. Any pretense at compassion, justice or good will is just that; a pretense. These are the people who have worked long and hard and now they have won positions which are the equivalent of an Olympic Gold Medal in Lying. They are not using their skills in deceit to make your life better. They are sociopaths and they are asking you to literally bet your life on their trustworthiness.

  9. R. de Haan says:

    Jason Calley says:
    27 March 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Sociopaths, that’s the right word that perfectly describes the lot….
    Freaking sociopaths.

    Preferred treatment: Round them up, put them in a strait-jacket and move them to our finest asylums, preferably the closed sections with the steel doors and the steel bars in front of the windows.
    Increased CO2 levels upto 3000 ppm during the entire stay and lot’s of fine dust. And every morning we tell them we’re doing it for our children.

    That will fix them.

  10. Mark Miller says:

    A thought that occurred to me is I wonder if this is an entree into geoengineering. When you talked about farmland, I got to thinking that maybe they think this will lead to a construction boom, where all industrial farms will have to be made into giant greenhouses, to contain the dust. Ever since CAGW became a big deal there has been talk of geoengineering projects to “cool the earth” or reduce CO2. Just about every proposal that’s come up has sounded like it was created by a nutcase, or at best a science fiction writer.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Mark Miller says:
    27 March 2012 at 11:03 pm
    “Just about every proposal that’s come up has sounded like it was created by a nutcase, or at best a science fiction writer.”

    Only someone, collage educated, could be so removed from reality. This is not about nut cases, This is about educated people that have been taught all the wrong answers because they are not smart enough to learn about the real world. The educated elite must control the lives of the rest of us to protect us from our own foolish behavior as we are not smart enough to run our our lives, Hard to believe that a bunch of backwards farmers created this country without the help of the elite, we should be grateful that they are now here to save us from the coming disasters. IT appears to me that the cure is the cause of the disease we face. But then I am just a dumb old farmer.
    “Those that are intelligent learn, those that aren’t must be taught.” pg

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    Well there’s my problem… I grew up in farm country, raised by a Dad who grew up on a farm. We had 5 acres “outside town” (about 2 miles away… small town) with cows on it as his ‘toy farm’ and a 1/4 acre home lot that had a 50 x 30 foot or so garden out back. He wanted to assure that we knew how to grow food in case that day came… Had about 20 rabbits too… Oh, and ‘got learned’ how to dispatch and pluck a chicken and / or pheasant. (the pheasant requiring learning how to extract lead pellets…) Then there were endless fishing trips (and no, we did not ‘release’ anything that was remotely edible…). We did a minor ‘barn raising’ in that the ‘garage’ had no floor, just dirt. It did have a stall for one horse ;-) Build circa 1890. We took it apart, I got to straighten all the square nails, then we poured a cement floor and put it back together…

    Gee, if it wasn’t for all that kind of stuff, I might be subject to being ‘taught’ about global warming too…

    Personally, I think it was the tendency for folks in Farm Country to constantly probe for any signs of gullibility and exploit them ruthlessly… Ever been snipe hunting?… I learned about it verbally so did not fall for it, but some others did. “Tall Tales” teach more than story telling… And that “prize hunting dog” gets proven in the field prior to purchase… and more so prior to the commitment to a batch of pups.

    Or maybe it was the way that no matter what anyone said about this or that variety of plant or this or that method of gardening: At the end of the day it either worked or it didn’t and you either had more or not. And not a lot of room for “screw ups”… Call the weather wrong by a day or two and the peaches get brown rot instead of harvested, or harvested a bit green at lower value, but not rotted… or you pay a lot for sulphur to prevent the brown rot after the rain. Reality is a bitch, and no amount of fancy theory ever makes a difference. The new idea either works, or is tossed out. And nobody defends a good idea that fails the test. (Though some folks keep working on them to find a way to fix them…)

    Yeah, I”m pretty sure that’s why I can never be a “climate scientist”… too rooted in reality and unwilling to believe what isn’t proved.

  13. Reblogged this on The GOLDEN RULE and commented:
    Well, Well! It seems that the ungodly are seeking alternative schemes to politically and financially control the world! Having failed in their bid to justify CO2 as a reason to hand over our sovereignty and resources, They now classify dust as a threat to civilization and will introduce suitable controls which will over-ride government controls.
    Their “science” is just as flawed, or even more so, as E.M. so clearly points out, as the CO2 = villain scenario.
    But they will never let the truth get in the way of a good “New World Order”.

  14. Jason Calley says:

    Hmmmm…. you guys are correct about farmers setting up governments — but Herodotus beat you to that observation in the fifth century B.C.

    From volume five of his “History”:
    “Now Naxos at this time surpassed all the other islands in prosperity, and Miletus had reached the height of her power, and was the glory of Ionia. But previously for two generations the Milesians had suffered grievously from civil disorders, which were composed by the Parians, whom the Milesians chose before all the rest of the Greeks to rearrange their government. Now the way in which the Parians healed their differences was the following. A number of the chief Parians came to Miletus, and when they saw in how ruined a condition the Milesians were, they said that they would like first to go over their country. So they went through all Milesia, and on their way, whenever they saw in the waste and desolate country any land that was well farmed, they took down the names of the owners in their tablets; and having thus gone through the whole region, and obtained after all but few names, they called the people together on their return to Miletus, and made proclamation that they gave the government into the hands of those persons whose lands they had found well farmed; for they thought it likely (they said) that the same persons who had managed their own affairs well would likewise conduct aright the business of the state. The other Milesians, who in time past had been at variance, they placed under the rule of these men. Thus was the Milesian government set in order by the Parians. ”

    I would probably be exaggerating to say that there is NOTHING new under the Sun, but the data sure suggests that there is darn little.

  15. R. de Haan says:

    Ken McMurtrie says:
    28 March 2012 at 7:32 am

    “But they will never let the truth get in the way of a good “New World Order”.”

    Right, we already see BBC questioning the basic laws of physics.
    Expect more hubris soon

  16. Pascvaks says:

    There are ‘best’ and ‘easier’ times to chop down old bad apple trees, and there are ‘harder’ and messy ‘worst’ times too. But it just ain’t the tree, once you take it down and carry it out or burn it, you have to start all over again, really, from below ground level up. Apple trees take a lot of work. In fact, most folks prefer to talk about their bad apples rather than actually do anything about them, that’s how hard they are; or can be. Know what I mean?;-)

    PS: Do young people gain an appreciation of hard work by reading about it, or hearing about it? Nature seems to have a way of regulating just about everything there is. Wonder why?

  17. tckev says:

    EPA want to abolish dust …lol.

    However there is ‘Planet Under Pressure 2012’ conference in London. This is the latest boondoggle for the AGW true believers. They wish to change our thinking with social engineering, and change the weather through geoengineering.

    Very worrying.

  18. tckev says:

    Oops should have put this link in the last item.

  19. R. de Haan says:

    Never seen such a bunch of nut cases all my life.

  20. p.g.sharrow says:

    These people should be prosecuted for “Crimes Against Humanity” As they deliberately wish to cause harm or death to 6 billion people. Even the Nazis were not up to that level of destruction. pg

  21. adolfogiurfa says:

    @P.G.Sharrow: “wrongly educated” (LOL!). You just made me remember a known economist who was asked about two contenders in a foreign election, and he said: “I know both of them very good, they had the same wrong professors and read the same wrong books” :-)

  22. adolfogiurfa says:

    @P.G.Sharrow: These people should be prosecuted…. But first we should distinguish between butlers and masters; butlers are well known but their masters remain hidden.

  23. R. de Haan says:

    It is remarkable how many people think over population has become a problem.
    A problem they think we should address.
    At the same time it is remarkable how people respond to questions that involve animals.
    Just ask the random passer by if he know any cats available for animal testing.
    Big chance you get molested.

    It’s a crazy world

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Adolfo; To find the masters you must first squeeze the servants. Prosecutions generally work from the bottom up to find the puppet masters. These are willing dupes and are not innocent. pg

  25. Mark Miller says:

    I don’t know what influenced me exactly to value what works. I followed the progression Winston Churchill talked about, where if you’re young and not a liberal, you don’t have heart, and if you’re older and have not turned into a conservative, you don’t have a brain. I was as politically liberal as they come when I was a teenager. Oddly, I turned conservative from my college experience. That was mainly under the influence of fellow classmates. I went to school in a conservative town. What convinced me is that conservatives kept making sense. What they said reminded me of my observations of human behavior. I started realizing that my liberal ideas were just dreamy, myopic conceptions of what humanity could become if everyone saw things the way I did, which of course is never going to happen.

    Re. how intellectuals view the world

    In “Intellectuals and Society,” Thomas Sowell talked about how there are intellectual fields where academics never have to test out their ideas in the real world. Science and engineering in academia tend to not fall into this, because testing their ideas is part of what they’re expected to do, but in other fields, like law or philosophy, you’ll find academics who have never had to test out their ideas in the real world to justify them. Also, there are incentives in place for academics to go outside their field.

    People who are younger might not know that Noam Chomsky made his greatest contribution to academic research in linguistics, where he did ground breaking work that advanced the field greatly, and influenced other fields, such as psychology and artificial intelligence. No, what he’s generally known for is talking about dystopian theories of geopolitics where America is always the evil, greedy oppressor. Not to say that he’s totally wrong in what he says about that, but in the few examples of his work that I’ve seen, he goes off the rails often into unreality. To get a more realistic view on that stuff, I’d recommend reading John Perkins and Robert Kaplan.

    With regard to climate science, I have my suspicions about what’s going on with that, but part of that is supported by anecdotes from scientists who say that it’s being greatly influenced by politics, since politics is determining the funding for it. Another part of it, and this is something that saddens me, is how people are using computers to fool themselves. What’s become increasingly clear to me is that some scientists are making a name for themselves by conjuring up scenarios that they can feed into a simulator normally used for a known phenomenon, and then map the result into their theory, without ever testing it in a real life situation, or by putting a bunch of known, tested formulas into a computer, disregarding the known limitations of those formulas, and then fobbing them off as a “laboratory” where theories of a grand scale can be tested as if they’re the same as a test in the real world. It may represent the extent of the knowledge in the science, but they forget that that knowledge does not represent all of reality. It’s not a substitute for the real world. The fact that they can create something out of that which looks realistic doesn’t mean it *is* realistic.

    We see this same thing go on physics sometimes. I finally realized that the only reason physicists think that the Moon was created out of a collision with the Earth is they ran a simulation on a computer where they were able to set up a scenario that duplicated the Moon’s orbital pattern. I think that’s a strong indicator they could be right, since we know a lot about gravitational motion, and a computer can simulate that fairly well, but a computer simulation cannot confirm a theory. It can only provide a means for thinking about it.

    The larger picture, though, for me is that the illusory climate science is just being used as a prop. Cut that out from under the movement, and the same people will just move to some other rationale. Lately I’ve heard that the latest IPCC fiasco re. the Himalayan glaciers was caused by the head of the IPCC wanting to “get beyond peer-reviewed science,” which sounds a bit like the “post-normal science” someone was mentioning earlier.

  26. Mark Miller says:

    @R. de Haan:

    Re. the BBC article

    It didn’t look like they were questioning science or physics. They were talking about a couple grad students who were trying to refine a piece of knowledge in physics, which is not a bad thing to do. From what I can glean in the article, to the best that the students could measure, they detected no difference in the phenomenon described in Planck’s constant, no matter where they measured it, thereby reaffirming the constant.

    Richard Feynman once talked about how it was good for science students to do experiments with phenomena that have been done many times already, so they’d understand not just the conclusions, but how you got to it. A “law” in science is a conclusion that seems to be true in all circumstances “as far as we know.” Laws in science are always up for challenge. The challenge just needs to be tested.

  27. Mark Miller says:

    Re. intellectuals

    I thought this would add to the mix.

    “What a Brilliant Man!” in City Journal, on the changing nature of intellectualism pre- and post-WW II

  28. TIM CLARK says:

    The highest concentrations in the U.S. are over populated areas. The upper midwest is not dry, and farm operations would not have caused this if it is a recent analysis. I didn’t see the date of the data, but I suspect the measurement reflects semi-truck exhaust.

  29. TIM CLARK says:

    More importantly, as is the case with these nutcases where recent events are always “new under the sun”, how did the Indians stop a fire like this:


    I was there at my mother-in-laws farm in Haigler, NE and had to take an alternate route to Denver, CO.

  30. R. de Haan says:

    Mark Miller says:
    30 March 2012 at 1:43 am
    @R. de Haan:

    Re. the BBC article

    The BBC did at their website in the short introduction that linked to the article.
    It was on their front page for one day.

    They often use provoking introduction in order to increase the number of hits or support the CAGW agenda.

    Next time copy the introduction together with the link.

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