Grassroots Commentary

Unsettled Science

Bill Franklin · Mar. 3, 2014

This is not opinion. This is about facts. This is about science. The science is unequivocal. And those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. President Obama and I believe very deeply that we do not have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society … The bottom line is this:… climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.

Well, there you have it. That’s how Secretary of State John Kerry laid it out for the good folks of Indonesia when he spoke there in mid-February.

Signaling a new global warming offensive by the Administration, Kerry’s speech synched up nicely with Obama’s who had left a carbon emission trail across the country in order to visit California on about the same date. Ostensibly the purpose of Obama’s visit was to give aid, comfort, and a major climate policy speech in the drought-stricken state. But most of his time was spent playing golf on several exclusive courses among the 124 courses in and around Palm Springs which suck up a quarter of the water drawn from the area’s underground aquifer. Each of these 124 beauties drinks about a million gallons a day – yes, per day – because of the dry desert air. Emphasis on desert. It would be a shame if any of them browned out like the crops of California’s farms which – thanks to Obama’s EPA regs – are on water rations in order to protect salmon and an endangered 3-inch fish, the Delta smelt, from browning out.

Obama’s pre-golf speech assured his staged audience that he was “directing all federal facilities in California to take immediate steps to curb their water use, including a moratorium on water usage for new, non-essential landscaping projects.” I wonder if that includes golf courses. No mention of farms that are failing or cattle herds that are being broken down and sold, because Fish Before Families is Obey’s motto.

“The budget that I sent to Congress – the budget that I send to Congress next month will include $1 billion in new funding for new technologies to help communities prepare for a changing climate, set up incentives to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure.” Ah, yes! A billion dollars of taxpayer money in a Green Mafia venture fund. That’s the kind of solution I’d expect from a rookie who’s never had a real job. Most of California’s 20th century infrastructure was built during an historically exceptional wet period. California is naturally arid. That’s why part of it is desert where fools build golf courses so American imperial presidents and the 1% he despises have playgrounds.

John McCain erupted after the Kerry speech to say that instead of focusing on Syria, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Kerry has been “butterflying around the world, saying all kinds of things. So he has to go over to Asia and talk about climate change and say it’s the most important issue. Hello? On what planet does he reside?”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for Kerry to resign, saying he was “delusional” to put climate change as a greater threat than unrest all over the world.

The “settled science” on which Obama and Kerry anchor their radical arguments for hamstringing American industry is anything but settled. In fact if one travels back in time, a plentitude of examples abound to show how unsettling settled science can become.

Take Galileo, for example. The poor fellow would have likely become a “crispy critter” had he lived in northwestern Europe instead of Rome in the early 17th century inquisitions. For disputing the settled science that the earth was the center of the universe, the Roman Inquisition let him off lightly – the rest of his life under house arrest. Three hundred and fifty years would pass before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Catholic Church would admit (but only after 13 years of investigating Galileo’s condemnation) that they were wrong in 1633 and Galileo was right. Ah! Settled science dies hard.

Oh, and then there’s that Roman doctor guy, Galen I believe his name was. He settled some science around 150 years following Christ’s birth. Thanks to him everyone just knew – with the same certitude that Kerry and Obama know – that illness was caused by getting your humors (blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile) out of whack. The solution was to bleed the patient to get those bad old humors out of the body. Settled science – shorthand for “everybody knows” – therefore concluded that the feverish George Washington suffered from humors gone tilt despite the fact that the 67-year old former president had spent too much time outdoors in cold rain while inadequately clothed. The unsettled science of today would have diagnosed his symptoms as an inflammation of the epiglottis, that stiff but flexible piece of cartilage at the back of the tongue. Yet everyone present that December in 1799 just knew the old man had too much bad blood in his body. It’s estimated that his physicians removed 37% of it during his 16-hour treatment. In other words, the settled science of Washington’s day bled him to death.

Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a respected physician in Washington’s time. The settled science of humors led him to develop and patent his well-known Rush’s Thunderclappers – an appropriate name for a pill that would induce explosive diarrhea thus venting bad humors in a different manner. The members of the Lewis and Clark expedition had the misfortune of packing 50 dozen of these intestinal warheads because no doctor would accompany their journey, and the fame of Rush’s Thunderclappers had spread far and wide – probably quite literally. Since the diet of the Corps of Discovery was almost exclusively the game they shot along the way and little was eaten in the way of plant fiber, the explorers fell frequent victims to – you guessed it – constipation. Thunderclappers to the rescue!

Thunderclappers were laxatives on steroids. Each dose was 60% mercury, enough to kill a man except that the volatile pill shot through a digestive system at warp speed – too fast for much of the heavy metal to be absorbed into bodily cells. Mercury doesn’t break down in soil either. So in a quirk of science that’s really settled, the trail of the Lewis and Clark expedition is traceable even today by following the deposits of mercury chloride in the soil where nature and chemistry met but never mingled.  Talk about toxic waste.

These are but a few examples of the arrogance of the ages whose stakeholders could not conceive that science had withheld some of its secrets from them. All that could be known was known, or so they believed. If you didn’t imbibe the Kool-Aid of their conventional wisdom you were, in the words of John Kerry, a flat earth thinker.

But consensus and science make strange bedfellows in every generation. The Royal Society of London, more formally known as The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, was formed in 1663 – about 30 years after Galileo was getting himself wrapped around the settled science axle. The motto adopted at its formation is Nullius in verba – Latin which translates roughly “take nobody’s word for it.” A looser translation could be, “Don’t believe what other people tell you, however authoritative then may be.” And as I recall the lessons of history, the flat earth thinkers of the past were the Al Gores, John Kerrys and Barack Obamas of their age – the true believers in settled science … settled science as it’s believed to exist, not as it’s known to exist. Along comes Columbus and … well, you know the  rest.

How unfortunate that high altitude balloon and satellite direct measurements of global warming have corresponded closely with each other’s data but contradicted computer model projections which predicted warmer temperatures that never happened.

How unfortunate after years of Henny Penny warnings that the earth was getting warmer, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the most authoritative climate initiative launched – has now reversed itself and admitted that actual recorded temperatures have risen only a quarter of the expected rate. The IPCC can’t explain why a temperature “pause” announced last year was not forecast by their computer models, and it can’t explain why there has been no statistically significant temperature rise since 1997. A search of the hyperlinked document above shows the words “uncertain” and “uncertainty” appear over 1,300 times.

No less than the New York Times found it necessary to say “yes, but” after Obama’s California speech, observing that no scientific evidence substantiated his claim that the drought is due to man-made climate change. Indeed, the Times went so far as to quote noted climatologist Richard Seager who’s “pretty sure the severity of this thing is due to natural variability.”

Apart from the fraud, rigged data, and outright incompetent measurements revealed in the climate change debate, the fact most embarrassing to the Gores, Kerrys, and Obamas is recent winters. They have been among the coldest recorded in many parts of the world. The winter now ending in Europe has been one of its most severe in 70 years. Where I live we had two back-to-back storms depositing several inches of snow and sleet in a major city that has no snow removal equipment to speak of.

Where’s the global warming? Not to worry. Its advocates simply re-label the debate rhetoric and now call it climate change. Renaming the “climate change” ideology allows it to embrace hurricanes and typhoons, extreme winters, and extraordinary rains as well as droughts and heat waves.

But even as the climate change ideologues in the US are hamstringing our competitiveness with regulations and junk science, European and Asian industrial economies are abandoning their renewable and alternative energy initiatives for the plain fact that they can’t afford them and remain competitive in a global economy. More importantly, they aren’t convinced these initiatives are solving the right problem.

“No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious,” George Bernard Shaw once observed. Witness the 1970s when President Carter tried to convince the American people of the “obvious” – that the world would run out of fossil-based energy in a relative few years. Today, almost 40 years later, we estimate 1,000 years of energy reserves exist.

“It isn’t what people know that gits ‘em in trouble,” Will Rogers often observed, “it’s what they know that ain’t so.” What Kerry, Obama, and climate change ideologues of their ilk “know” ain’t so. And while the industrial economies of Europe and Asia are headed in the opposite direction, the misguided regulations and executive orders of Obama & Co. will restrict something that “ain’t so,” getting our economy and we who depend on its vitality in real trouble.

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