Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Pandemic Musings at the end of the beginning.....

We are just half way through 2020. So far its been a blast! I’ve been absent from this blog and my obsession with Climate Change (see previous posts) for many months. Instead I’ve been posting my thoughts and reactions onto Facebook and Twitter. I thought Climate Change would be the big story of the year. Boy was I wrong.

I would not have predicted the Pandemic in January, although by the end of that month and certainly by early February it was becoming increasingly obvious, certainly to me. The W.H.O. finally got around to declaring a Pandemic on March 11, 2020, and thats when my family went into lockdown. The next day the shit literally hit the fan. Since then I’ve learned a lot. Here I’ll share ten things I have learned so far in the Pandemic.....

1. Where we are in this Pandemic? Winston S. Churchill said it best in Nov. 1942 but then in reference to the war with the NAZI's:

“This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning.”
COVID19 is here to stay, vaccines, treatments, or not.

2. Don’t just trust the authorities, whether they are public health experts or politicians. They all have ulterior motives that don’t necessarily coincide with your best interests. An example of that of course were the early recommendations from everyone NOT to use masks for a respiratory virus! Unbelievable, and ultimately wrong. The authorities wanted to protect PPE for the front-line workers. Fine, but don’t mislead people, don’t lie. They’re still lying because they’re telling people to use non-medical grade masks. Do your own research, educate yourself and operate on the best facts. Get the best masks you can afford, they will protect you and everyone else.

3. A corollary to number 2 above, the authorities over reacted by forcing lockdowns, destroying the economy and ultimately wreaking havoc on the lives of citizens. The Pandemic in Europe clearly showed us that the elderly and immune compromised were most affected by the virus. The fact that almost 80% of Canadian deaths were among the elderly demonstrates that truth. Predictions that the lockdowns would have negative consequences did come true and have been ignored so far. Huge government and individual debt, business bankruptcies, psychological stress, cancelled medical care, deaths and deterioration due to other medical conditions, and general population unrest, all have come true. The latter - unrest - has exploded into the global reaction to so-called systemic racism.
4. Along with a healthy skepticism of the authorities, be even more skeptical of all the shit thats posted on social media by your friends and self-proclaimed experts.

5. Don’t trust the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for anything, ever. They have lied about the virus, about the extent of the epidemic in China and are still lying. Their “data,” such as it is, should have a giant asterisk beside it. Furthermore labelling Taiwan as a rogue province by the CCP, should be dismissed and Taiwan should be embraced by the free world, just to piss off the CCP if nothing else.

6. Viruses don’t get “created” or accidentally released in labs like the Wuhan Virus Lab. People who make that claim have never worked in a lab or know the difficulties involved. By far the majority of laboratory work, fails. COVID19 was created by nature, it evolved and jumped from an animal (most likely a bat) to a human.

7. Governments should immediately stop flights and travel from countries that have epidemics, especially if they originate in countries that lack press freedoms, like Communist China.

8. To follow up to number 7 above, countries need borders and the ability to control them. I’ve always thought that the idea of “open borders” was a flaw in libertarian thinking. Countries are property, collective property yes, but still property that needs protection. Our border has helped protect Canadians and vigilance needs to be increased. Thats an important function of government.

9. Models are just models, they try but they do not represent reality. The alarming models that were trotted out to predict the course of the Pandemic, were not realized, not even close. I’m reminded of a comment by Science writer Matt Ridley faulting those who referred to “data” taken from climate models. He rightly pointed out that data comes from observations made in reality, not from predictive models, and poor ones at that. Of course this underscores my obsession with climate change whose catastrophic “consequences” are almost entirely based on predictive models and not actual data.

10. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and physical distancing has worked to reduce the “R-naught” (reproductive rate of the virus) in this Pandemic. Masks and scrupulous hygiene techniques do protect and prevent transmission of COVID19. Many will argue about masks. But why? Certainly anyone running a business has the right to require customers wear a mask. I would, just the same as I would require customers to wear clothes and treat other customers with respect in my business. The municipal bylaws requiring masking is probably unnecessary - but no more onerous then requiring seatbelts, hardhats or any other safety equipment in the workplace and other places. Are masks effective? Of course they are, at least to some degree. I doubt anyone reading this would want surgeons working on them or their loved ones without masks. Masks have been routinely used since the late 1800’s.
Think of it this way: imagine being in a crowded elevator with a naked man who starts urinating all over the place. Most in the elevator will get a little wet, but if the man was wearing pants, it would be primarily his problem. Thats what masks do, keep the problem mostly to the wearer.
Take care of yourself, stay safe, we have a  long way to go.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Is there a "climate emergency?"

What emergency?

If you have read my previous two blog posts, you will know my answer to the question in the title is definitively NO! To the contrary, I believe the climate is changing as it always has, and there is little or nothing we are going to do to alter that fact.

Living in Canada we  all know that the weather changes daily, often hourly. But I've lived here long enough to agree that the climate has also changed - in my memory a few times in fact. In my early years I think it was warmer. By the 1970's it was distinctly colder and snowier, so much so that stories appeared in the media of a new ice age that was imminent.  Lately it has become milder, though I could stand for a few more degrees of warmth now that I'm a senior citizen.

That slight uptick in temperature has alarmed many people who claim they know why it is warming and they can stop it if you give them money and completely alter your way of life. Those are big asks, and it seems to me that we need to discuss this before we take drastic action, which seems to be the desire of many organized groups. There are also organized groups that think there is no climate emergency and they would like to discuss this in public. Here is such an event, April 6, 2020, to be held in Calgary AB:

This group, Friends of Science, is having it's advertising on Facebook thwarted, apparently due to censorship by Facebook. So how to get around that? Well, you can make a  plea to the CEO of Facebook as they have done below, or you can just read my blog.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Why you need to be a climate change skeptic.

Is it really?? Or is it something like a SARS or a Wuhan Virus?

“In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Third Assessment Report (2001), Section, page 774.

Yes, that is a real quote from an IPCC report in 2001, and it tells me that long term predictions made by modelling is impossible. If that doesn’t make you instantly skeptical about all the predictions you have heard about climate change, I don’t know what will. So, at the risk of being guilty of piling on, I’m going to try and add to your skepticism using real data, not predictions.

First it’s important to understand that skepticism or uncertainty should be the normal or default position in any science related endeavour. At the very least everyone should reserve some doubt about every issue with regard to science. However, for climate change it is as if we have been given just a binary choice, either one believes that humans are the primary cause of climate change (Anthropogenic Global Warming), or one is a science denier. It’s a false choice and one that no one should be forced to make because there are many degrees of choice. But that is irrelevant today.

In today’s world anyone voicing doubts around the causes of climate change, will invariably be called names, denigrated and worse. The pervasiveness of climate alarmism in our society has made expressions of doubt politically incorrect. Its even worse within the science community. Any doubts raised by those with academic credentials threatens their grant money and worse their livelihood. Intimidation is the watchword in so-called climate science.

Any suggestions that climate change may have a positive or neutral side, are met with derision. It’s all negative. Climate change alarmists are determined to keep global temperature from rising even one half of a degree at any cost, ignoring the fact that the last 1 degree of increase has coincided with the largest rise in human welfare in history. Is that a coincidence? I think not. What about the so-called “greening” effect on the planet? The point is that changes to climate invariably manifest themselves locally and may be beneficial in many instances and detrimental in others. There is no such thing as an optimal climate for Earth as a whole. Earth has been warmer and colder, wetter and drier over its history, and most of the reasons are beyond human control. More on that later.

The purpose of calling skeptics stupid and deniers is to discourage questions and debate, especially among the young regarding the costs versus benefits of mitigation. Not asking questions breeds stupidity. Journalists have been the major contributors to this breeding of stupidity because they not only won't ask questions, they go out of their way to stifle the speech of those that do. 

What’s wrong with the alarmist view is not that the climate is changing or even that humans may have some influence, but the idea that the situation is so dire, that major government policy changes must occur world-wide to mitigate those changes before its too late. At best thats an exaggeration, at worst its just a lie. The bad news is that in the results of the recent Federal election, Canadians demonstrated that they accept the lie, and are willing to accept policy changes that will raise the price of energy even though there is little evidence it will have any impact on climate change.

Predicted change in temperature if USA disappeared in 2012
Even the Paris Climate Accord signed in 2016, and which the Americans have dropped out of, allows several of the signatories to continue to increase their CO2 emissions for another decade. Canada’s efforts to reduce emissions during this time will have virtually no effect on global emissions. Take a look at this graph.

 It was created by an American climate scientist (John Christy) to show what would happen to IPCC models if the USA (which now produces 13.77% of global CO2) disappeared in 2012. Now imagine if it were Canada with our paltry 1.66% contribution of CO2.

This is why its important to consider the veracity of the climate information you are being fed. Much of that information is in the form of misleading graphs. Look at this graph that shows the logarithmic increase in atmospheric CO2 over time. 
Logarithmic increase in CO2 over time

Its much less dramatic when shown like this. 
It's the same graph, but the vertical or Y axis has been extended. 
Increase in CO2 over shorter time

Similarly this graph of temperature is commonly shown by the climate alarmists to prove the rapid increase in temperature and indicate how dire the situation is.
Rapid increase in temperature narrow Y Axis

However, change the vertical axis and voila, the rise in temperature is not scary at all. Imagine if this last graph was shown on newspaper front pages tomorrow. I suspect climate alarmism would collapse.

Temperature over time extended Y Axis

A question that is never asked is how will we know if our efforts to mitigate climate change are working? The short answer is, we probably won’t. Efforts to reduce CO2 emissions have been underway for years in Europe and North America. Have they had an impact? You would be hard pressed to find where that has happened. If CO2 is the cause of global warming and the supposed weather anomalies that are occurring, will we ever see if our efforts are impacting the problem?

One of the most important components of the scientific method is the idea that any hypothesis can be proven wrong either by observation or experimentation. If a hypothesis can’t be proven wrong, then its not science. This is called FALSIFIABILITY. The problem with climate change is that its effects are always so far in the future that most people won’t be around to verify the hypothesis and justify any extraordinary efforts made today. Much of the anxiety around climate change is based on computer models that we must accept on faith that predict dire consequences. One way to test the falsifiability of the hypothesis that CO2 causes climate change is to compare the predictions made thus far by the models to real observations. 
Over the past 40 years the graph shows that the models predict hotter temperatures than the actual observed data. This is more reason to be skeptical about the hypothesis.
Actual change in temperature versus predicted change

However, these days every extreme weather event is seemingly related to climate change. Whether its too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, too stormy or too calm, all of these random events once attributed to ordinary weather variability, are now linked to climate change. Is it true? The Americans have easy access to this sort of data. This graph shows floods (blue) droughts  (red) in the US since 1895. Do you see significant pattern or trend? I don't.
Floods (blue) Droughts (red) US since 1895

This graph shows global droughts over a 30 year period. Again no pattern or trend, maybe even a decrease.

This graph shows the number 100 degree Fahrenheit plus days, no pattern. In fact it was much hotter in the 1930's and 40's.

What about storms? Is it getting more stormy? 
Here is a graph of tornadoes in the US. Its pretty clear that the most recent data shows fewer tornadoes, and certainly no pattern. 

How about hurricanes globally? 

Again no pattern and maybe even a slight decrease.

Of interest to Canadians is the extent of snow and ice in the Northern Hemisphere.
Again no pattern for snow cover in recent years, and we certainly aren’t getting less cover. 

But this graph of ice at the poles shows a definite pattern.

Less Arctic ice, more Antarctic ice. Why is that? Who knows? Does it indicate that there is a problem? That depends, but it does show that there has been warming - but of course thats been going on since the ice sheets retreated over the northern hemisphere at the end of the last ice age. Maybe this is just a continuation? It does not explain why the Antarctic ice sheet is growing. On the whole the amount of global ice pack is fairly stable as you can see in this final graph.

I hope you can see what I've been driving at during this lengthy tirade. I'm NOT denying climate change, I know something is happening as I knew when I was growing up (see map inset) in the 1950's and 60's on the shoreline of the Glacial Lake Iroquois. Go there and you will find a steep hill towards the South that made bike rides to downtown Toronto very quick as it was all downhill for me. I lived just off a streetcar line and I enjoyed watching the streetcars going north trying to ascend that hill during icy conditions. 
Ah memories, anyway, my point is that there is a great deal of uncertainty which leads me, and maybe you too, to skeptisism around this whole issue of climate change. To extract taxes and base large expenditures of tax money on government policies that are just speculations with no hope of ever seeing benefit is criminal. 

Aside from greenhouse gases like CO2, there are many other well known reasons for climate change. All of those various ice ages had a cause and the cause was related to various astronomical situations like the Earth's orbit, its axial tilt, and its wobble. These are explained very well in this video. 

The creator of the video goes on to explain his position on climate change in a subsequent video. Lets just say he is not an AGW skeptic, but the video above is very well done.

I'm going to give the last word to a local climate scientist. I don't think he is a skeptic, but his answers are honest and get to the heart of my tirade. Is this issue of climate change something we need to worry about or should we confine our worries to global pandemics like the Wuhan Virus or SARS or real issues like pollution and habitat destruction and poverty, disease, war, and so on? You decide.

P.S. For the skeptics, you might enjoy this little piece of fluff....

P.P.S I worry about what our children and grandchildren are being taught. Greta here, for example....

More reading and watching:


Wrong Predictions on the environment....   From Australia

Read more: Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

Windmills = useless and dangerous.

Mark Steyn and company...

Paris accord:

What a reasonable climate change discussion sounds like - Steve Pakin TVO

Matt Ridley: a luke warmist:

Rex Murphy - Religion and AGW

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Why I’m a climate change skeptic.

View from Apollo 8 December 20, 1968.
It seems almost every major natural disaster, or weather event these days is somehow related to Climate Change. Fires, floods, storms - everything short of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can be blamed on Climate Change.
The major climate change story of the year so far are the bush fires in Australia. But is it really a climate change story? My last blog post indicates that there are other man-made reasons for the fires. Its important to remain objective particularly when it's so easy to assign blame. Most broadcast media have already decided this is a climate change story, but a little digging provides other, simpler answers. Here are the conclusions from a recent online article:
"Blaming rising CO2 concentrations and global warming is only misdirecting real efforts to minimize wildfire destruction. What Australia and the world needs to address is 1) human ignitions, 2) invasive grasses and 3) fire suppression that allows surface fuels to accumulate and enable large intense and destructive fires to wreak havoc like never before!"
I am a climate change skeptic. I’m skeptical about the alarmism and our attempts to mitigate an objectively non-existent problem, and as I said in my last post, I consider the matter so unimportant (even though I’m still writing about it) that it does not warrant as much attention as it receives except maybe on a very local level to mitigate specifically local problems. I wasn’t always a skeptic.

Years ago, when I was a beginning science teacher and the idea of global warming became a cause célèbre among scientists, politicians and the general public, I was onboard. I brought up the issue to both my junior and senior biology students. Those were really the beginning days of ecological awareness. Acid rain was a big issue, so was over population, the “hole” in the Ozone layer and the idea of limits to growth. Even earlier, when I was a university student, Americans were racing to the moon. Astronauts onboard Apollo 8 around Christmas of 1968 snapped that famous image of “Earth-rise” as they swung around the moon. That powerful image contrasted our beautiful blue planet with the stark cratered greyness of the moon’s surface. We were just one lonely planet in the vastness of outer space, and we had better care for it. That was really not a bad sentiment and I was happy to teach young people these important concepts.
I didn’t even mind it when new government regulations came into force regarding sulfur-content in coal, or when bans on chlorofluorocarbons were instituted, despite my aversion to big government. 

It was only when noises got louder demonizing carbon dioxide and fossil fuels, that I became suspicious and skeptical.

Carbon dioxide is important, absolutely vital. It’s NOT a pollutant as many in our government think. I’ve taught lessons about the Carbon Cycle, and the fact that carbon dioxide is central to two of the most important processes in biology, photosynthesis in plants, and mechanical respiration in animals. Yet people were talking about carbon pollution and using computer models to show what would happen if CO2 levels increased in the atmosphere. Global Warming became Climate Change, which meant that any unusual weather event could now be related to the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Worse yet, if anyone raised doubts about these affects or suggested they were due to natural variability, they were dismissed. 
Once politicians got into the debate, advocating against fossil fuels and using phrases like “settled science,” indicating an unassailable level of certainty around CO2 caused Climate Change, I knew there was a problem, and my skepticism was complete. Don’t get me wrong. That does not mean I think climate change isn’t happening or even that CO2 is a possible cause. My problem was with the idea of certainty. Once certainty is absolute, then science cannot exist. Dogma is the antithesis of science.

All of science is theoretical. Even those explanations we think of as scientific facts today, are just really good theories that have withstood the test of time. But doubt and uncertainty must always remain, however small. When uncertainty is totally dismissed or denied, then you are leaving science and entering the territory of dogma, a quality more associated with religion than science.

When I was a naive young student, then teacher, I used to think that science was self-correcting. Hypotheses were tested by experiments. Those experiments were replicated by others, and good ideas were affirmed while bad ideas were eventually dismissed. There was always a search for the truth. When Climate Change became political, the search for truth was subverted. That state of affairs is not unprecedented. Check out Lysenkoism in the former Soviet Union. More recently the idea that dietary fat causes obesity and heart disease or that stomach ulcers are caused by environmental stress, are both widely accepted ideas but shown to be wrong. People still believe these erroneous ideas, which just shows how difficult it is to change a popular paradigm.

I’ll have more to say about skepticism in my next post.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Is climate change an existential threat to humanity?

Canonized! Saint Greta.
It’s ironic, even funny, that the year that climate change became a climate crisis, then a climate emergency, has ended in disappointment for the true believers at the COP25 (or as I prefer CON25) in Madrid.

2019 was also the year that media hype has reached fever pitch with stories of imminent disaster if we don’t act now, of tipping points, unlikely young heroines, climate strikes, marches, and of radical new movements, all in a concerted effort, allegedly, to save the planet.

By the way, the meeting in Spain was supposed to be held in Chile. Ironically Chile had to withdraw because of massive political protests regarding exorbitant price increases for fuel etc., which is precisely what the Madrid meeting would have encouraged the rest of the world to do to forestall climate change. But alas, they could not agree.

The latest climate change catastrophe everyone is pointing to, are the Australian Bush Fires. Yes, it has been hot and dry down under, and bush fires are common in the Aussie summer, but these fires are very severe. Why? The answer is likely related to available fuel, rather than climate change. Historically the aboriginals knew this and practiced “cool burning” when conditions allowed. This involved intentional local burn offs of accumulated fuel (brush) to reduce the chances of huge conflagrations of the type we are now witnessing. The aboriginal practices were discontinued when pressures from Green activists forced new and possibly unwise government policies.

But let me answer my question in the title. Emphatically NO

Climate change is no more a threat to humanity than overpopulation was in 1968 when Paul Ehrlich published his book The Population Bomb. There was no bomb, there were no worldwide famines, Ehrlich and his book were simply wrong. Some simple advances in agricultural technology solved the Malthusian crisis that Ehrlich had predicted. Coercive government action on a world-wide scale was NOT required. No taxes, no limits to the number of children in families (except for the Chinese, and they will rue that day). It did not require a concerted effort by a world government to solve the alleged crisis. It was solved because people became smarter, wealthier, and healthier through free markets. In fact, today we live in what is arguably the best of times ever for humanity.

The best of times.
How can I be confident that climate change won’t threaten humanity this time? History tells me. At least five major ice ages have occurred throughout Earth's history: the earliest was over 2 billion years ago, and the most recent one began approximately 3 million years ago and continues today (we are living in an ice age!). Currently, we are in a warmer interglacial that began about 11,000 years ago. At its peak, ice thicknesses would have dwarfed building (see graphic below) in areas where cities now exist. I'm writing this blog post at a location just north of Toronto. In fact, very close to my home is a moraine left over from that last continental glacier.

The Great Lakes are remnants of the last glaciation.

That last ice age coincides with all of recorded human history. The entire history of our human civilization has taken place in this interglacial period after the continental glaciers retreated. Not only did humanity survive that ice age, but today humans are being accused of possibly preventing the next one. I’m assuming there will be another ice age, but maybe not. We don’t entirely understand why the previous glacial periods occurred, and we certainly have a very poor track record making predictions into the future, even the near future (see graph below).

The idea that humans are the primary cause of the climate change is now so entrenched in our media, in our culture, that anyone doubting it, even suggesting there was a debate, is dismissed and equated with being a Holocaust denier. I'll have more to say about that in a future post.

The models don't jive with reality.
The reality is that the media, most politicians and many scientists would say there is no debate. Climate change is happening and humans are the primary cause. We, the people of Earth, must do something now because its reached the point of an existential threat to humanity, despite my comments above. It's an emergency, a climate crisis no less.

That, I believe, is an accurate description of the present state of affairs for the affirmative side, if there were a debate.
However I believe there is still a debate and I take the contrary position, not that climate change isn’t happening, it is and has been throughout history, but that the matter is so unimportant, that its not even worthy of further discussion. The difference between these two opposing positions is staggering and needs to be unpacked. How serious should observers consider the debate given some interesting facts? 

Consider that the chief spokesperson for the climate crisis side is a sixteen year old autistic school girl from Sweden, who has lately been absent from school for great stretches of time. She is little more than a self-appointed (maybe not  self) media wunderkind with no particular expertise except her age and innocence. How she, aged 16, organizes rallies and marches around the world, no one seems to ask. It’s astounding to me, almost laughable given all the scientists that might be available, that the media has chosen her as the chief spokesperson for such a complex and apparently important scientific and politically significant idea. It’s beyond ludicrous that she was recently named most influential person of 2019 by none other than TIME magazine (see photo). It’s practically a self-parody. If, as many people would agree, belief in climate change has become a secular religion, Greta was just canonized by TIME. 

Consider also that most nations of the world have signed onto an “accord” that has set goals and targets for fixing the problem. However, the leader of one nation, the one with the largest economy in the world (USA) has decided to opt out of the accord and the nation with second largest economy (and growing fast - China) plus other smaller but important contributors (India) to the problem have been exempted from the accord. In fact they are not going to help solve the "emergency" for at least another ten years, and they will continue to exacerbate the problem in the meantime. Am I exaggerating?

I've got much more to say on this issue, but that will wait for another post.