Daily Wisdom

May 28, 2009

Empathy Or Equality?

President Obama stated that one of the important qualities he is looking for in a Supreme Court Justice is "empathy". Empathy is a wonderful quality. Unlike "sympathy" where one actively participates in the feelings and emotions of another, empathy recognizes, understands and is sensitive to those feelings but remains detached. Where a sympathetic person might be expected to react emotionally, an empathetic person can be expected to react intellectualy. Empathy is a quality which is particularly important for social workers, case workers, disaster relief personnel, aid volunteers, medical practitioners, care-givers, and even community organizers. It can be useful in business as well, for human relations and customer relations. Empathy helps service-providers improve the quality of their service by understanding the feelings and needs of others.

For a judge however, empathy is not a particularly useful quality. The role of a judge is to determine the facts of a case through oral arguments and presentation of evidence, and then to issue a ruling. In the case of a jury trial, the role of the judge is to instruct the jury and to move the proceedings along to a point where the jury can issue a verdict, but let us set jury trials aside. In a typical case, a complaint is brought by one party against another, and the role of the judge is to determine if the complaint is valid or not, in accordance with existing law. The role of a judge is to interpret and enforce the law as it is written. The role of a judge does NOT include changing existing laws or creating new ones. Those responsibilities lie with the legislative branch of government.

The Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." But how can this be true when it seems more self-evident that all men are created unequal? How can this be true when some are stronger, and some are weaker; when some are faster, and some are slower; when some are smarter, and some are not so smart? How can this be true where some are white male Protestants, and some are Hispanic female Catholics; where some are African-American Muslims, and some are Asian-born Buddhists? How can this be true where some are rich, and some are poor; where some are business executives, and some are day laborers; where some are celebrities, and some are nobodies? Clearly, the truth that all men are "created equal" can only be true in the context of one's standing before the Law. In the eyes of the Law, all men are equal and are to be treated equally. The Law is the great equalizer.

In this context then, the role of a judge must be to render rulings in a fair and impartial manner. That is why the statue of Lady Justice holds a balance in one hand, a sword in the other, and wears a blindfold over her eyes. The balance (or weighing scales) represents fairness; the blindfold represents impartiality; and the sword represents the ruling or judgment, with punishment if need be. That is why, according to 28 U.S.C. 453, "Each justice or judge of the United States shall take the following oath or affirmation before performing the duties of his office: “I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as __________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

Under what pretext then, can empathy be an important quality for a judge? How does empathy assist a judge to administer justice "without respect to persons"? Who is more likely to respect a certain person or group over another... the one with empathy, or the one without? How does empathy assist a judge to "do equal right" to the poor and to the rich? Will not the empathetic judge conclude that the needs of the poor are greater than the needs of the rich, and rule in their favor? How does empathy assist a judge to be "impartial"? Can a judge be "sensitive" to the needs and feelings of one person or group, and still remain impartial? Does not empathy by its very nature, make one more aware of one person or group to the exclusion of others?

Consider for a moment the example of a robbery case where an African-American male youth holds up a store owned by a Korean family. If the judge empathizes with the African-American male youth, how does that affect the ruling in the case? Will the judge think that African-American male youths are too often stereotyped, and that this should be taken into account? Will the judge think that African-American male youths typically live in poor neighborhoods, and that poverty should be taken into account? Or what happens if the judge empathizes with the Korean family? Does the judge know some Korean shop owners who have faced similar problems, and that this should be taken into account? Does the judge like Koreans over other nationalities for some reason? How does empathy help at all? The simple answer is that it does not help... at all... ever. It merely clouds the issue and skews the ruling.

The only conclusion one can draw then, is that there is no rational pretext for selecting a judge with empathy. It must be something else then... not necessarily logical... perhaps political. Perhaps Obama desires a court made up of justices who more closely resemble social workers, case workers, aid volunteers, care-givers, and community organizers than judges? Perhaps he does not want justices who administer the law fairly and impartially? Perhaps he wants Lady Justice to remove her blindfold and tilt her scales more heavily towards certain Democratic and liberal "target" groups, namely the poor, the uneducated, and people of color? Perhaps he has no regard for the Constitution because he doesn't like it? We know he wants to "remake" the United States. He said so during the campaign.

Perhaps Obama wants to remake the Constitution into what his own vision of it should be? He is arrogant enough to try. Perhaps he wants activist judges who will change the laws or write new ones, because it is easier to do that than to go through the legislative process, or to use the prescribed method for amending the Constitution? Perhaps it is a premeditated effort to subvert the Constitution and to usurp the power of another branch of government? In any event, it is not logical or rational... empathy rarely is. Empathy is about feelings and emotions and needs... not logic.

We would do well to learn from the laws of nature. Under 'natural law', correct actions are rewarded, and wrong actions meet swift punishment. Gravity is a natural law, and when you operate in harmony with this law, you can receive great rewards. Gravity can work for you or against you. The motion of electrons in a conducting substance under the presence of motive forces such as voltage and amperage, is also a 'natural law', otherwise known as electricity. When you operate in harmony with this law, you can receive great rewards. Electricity can work for you or against you.

However, if you break the law of gravity by walking off the edge of a cliff, you will be punished for it. Punishment is swift and proportional to the "crime". Falling a few feet can be painful; falling from great heights can be lethal. Death would be considered "capital punishment" for a serious infraction of the law of gravity. It is against the law of electricity to insert one's self into a conducting circuit. Doing so will result in the punishment of electric shock. Again, punishment is swift and proportional. The lower the voltage and amperage, the less grievous the "crime". Electrocution is "capital punishment" for severely breaking this natural law.

And these natural laws are truly "blind" in their impartiality. They are no respecters of persons. They act with equal impunity against man or woman; rich or poor; celebrity or nobody; persons of any religion, color, or ethnicity. These laws are also uniform and universal. They do not change randomly or at the whim of a new President. They apply equally to people everywhere. For all these reasons, such laws are well-respected and even feared. Rarely does anyone purposely intend to break a law of nature. And one is not likely to complain when others are punished or executed because they broke a law of nature. People may be saddened or grieve, but they generally do not complain. Natural laws are known, understood, uniform, and universal. People know the punishment for breaking such laws and are not surprised by it when it happens.

If only our human laws could be so uniform, universal, and well-respected. If only our judges could be so impartial. If only justice could be so swift.

May 25, 2009

Suckers and Slaves

Special Thanks to Evan Coyne Maloney at Brain-Terminal.com

May 17, 2009

Global Warming News - April 2009

Real News Stories To Share With Global-Warming Skeptics

United States:
According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC, April temperatures were slightly cooler than average for the contiguous United States, based on records going back to 1895. The average April temperature of 51.2 degrees F was 0.8 degrees F below the 20th Century average. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in April averaged 2.62 inches, which is 0.19 inch above the 1901-2000 average. April temperatures were near normal across much of the United States. On a regional basis, the Northeast was somewhat above-normal, while the West North Central was definitely below-normal. The Midwest experienced a cooler-than-normal month. From North Dakota southward to Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, temperature averages were below normal.

International Falls, Minnesota recorded 125 inches of snow so far this winter season, breaking the previous record of 116 inches set in the 1995-1996 winter season. Another seasonal snowfall record was broken in Spokane, Washington where 97.7 inches of snowfall broke the old record of 93.5 inches set in 1915-1916. About 8 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered by snow at the end of April, according to an analysis by the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. Snow coverage during the month peaked at 30.2% on April 6th, after a late-season winter storm hit the Midwest and Plains.

Michigan snow - April 6.

On April 6th, Michigan northwest of Detroit received four inches of global warming. The story made it to 'American Thinker'. On April 17th, Colorado got hit with lots of rain and up to five feet of snow in some mountain locations. Meteorologist Marty Coniglio said that some locations around Denver got almost one third of their annual precipitation in just two and a half days. Rivers, creeks and streams were expected to be running high and fast with temperatures being forecast to rise in the next few days.

Illinois experienced an unseasonably cold first half of April. Temperatures during the first two weeks of April were 4.5 degrees colder than normal, according to the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). Precipitation was 58 percent higher than normal. Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist for ISWS, said the normal temperature for April is a high of 63 degrees. On April 14th it was 41 degrees. "It’s just kind of been kind of a gloomy April so far," Angel said. Angel was forecasting the unseasonably cool temperatures and rains to continue for one or two more weeks. The temperatures and rains prevented farmers from getting into the fields. In a year with normal temperatures farmers in southern Illinois would already have begun working. “There’s hardly anyone in the State that’s been in the fields so far,” Angel said. Northern Illinois was hit hard with rain in March and this precipitation just added to the problem.

Snow in Rapid City - Apr 26.

Chicago shoppers brave cool weather - Apr 28.

According to INFORUM, for the Fargo-Moorhead area of North Dakota, April 2009 continued the trend of cool weather, being the fifth consecutive month with below-average temperatures. Fargo-Moorhead has recorded below-average temperatures in 13 of the past 17 months. The average temperature in April was 41.9 degrees, which was 1.6 degrees below the 30-year average. Only nine of the 30 days last month finished with above-average temperatures.

On April 16th, the Times of London was reporting that the jet stream had left April out in the cold. Midway through the month, April was living up to its reputation of showers and cool conditions. It was a sharp contrast with last April, the warmest and one of the driest Aprils on record in the UK. Clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine were delivered by anticyclones around the UK and Europe in 2008. This April a persistent, chill wind has kept temperatures struggling to reach average levels, and rainfall was also around average. The month had a succession of low pressure areas, which dragged down cold northerly air. The "wretched pattern" came with the jet stream weaving across the Atlantic, leaving Britain on the wrong side of the high-altitude winds, resulting in outbreaks of cold Arctic air.

A new Australian record was set early on the morning April 29th, a temperature of -13C, at Charlotte Pass on the Snowy Mountains. This is the lowest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Australia in April and is 13C below the average. Nearby at Perisher it dipped to -11 degrees and at the top of Thredbo it dipped to -10. Across the border on the Victorian Alps, April records were broken at Mt Hotham where it chilled to -8C and Mt Buller and Falls Creek where it got as low as -7C. A few other locations set April low temperature records also. In Tasmania Lake, Leake was as cold as -6C, Sheffield and Dover both reached -1C and Flinders island got to zero. Hobart had its coldest April night in 46 years, recording a low of 1.7 degrees, seven below average.

Early in the month of April, there were a number of stories in the media talking about the impending break-up of the Wilkins ice sheet, and suggesting that the Antarctic ice cap was melting. But Russian sea captain Dimitri Zinchenko has been steering ships through the pack ice of Antarctica for three decades and is waiting to see evidence of the global warming about which he has heard so much. Zinchenko's vessel, the Spirit of Enderby, was commissioned in January last year to retrace the steps of the great Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, marking the century of his Nimrod expedition of 1907-09.

Spirit of Enderby was blocked by a wall of pack ice at the entrance to the Ross Sea, about 400km short of Shackleton's base hut at Cape Royds. Zinchenko says it was the first time in 15 years that vessels were unable to penetrate the Ross Sea in January. The experience was consistent with his impression that pack ice is expanding, not contracting, as would be expected in a rapidly warming world. "I see just more and more ice, not less ice."

Location of Wilkins Ice Shelf

The apparent difference between the media stories and Zinchenko's experience is due to location. The Wilkins ice sheet is located in west Antarctica, along the peninsula which juts out toward South America. As such, it is more exposed to warm ocean currents which pass from the South Pacific into the South Atlantic through the relatively narrow gap between South America and the Antarctic. East Antarctica is a totally different story, and it is four times larger than west Antarctica. There does not appear to be any warming there at all, but rather cooling. The ice there is not melting, but expanding.

Rodney Russ, whose New Zealand company Heritage Expeditions has operated tourist expeditions to Antarctica for 20 years, agrees. He says ships regularly used to able to reach the US base of McMurdo in summer, but ice has prevented them from doing so for several years. "Vessels are usually stopped 8km to 14km short of the base. A few years ago, that was often open water," Russ says. "We have experienced quite severe ice conditions over the past decade. I have seen nothing in this region to suggest global warming is having an effect."

According to Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre research fellow Dr. Ian Allison, satellite data since the mid-'70s suggests that across the whole of the continent there has been a slight increase in sea ice. Although sea ice had contracted in west Antarctica, the decline was more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea in east Antarctica, which has an ice shelf bigger than France. "We have not seen any evidence over that period of a statistically significant change in sea ice for the continent generally," Allison says.

By the way, how would you like to have a 5-day weather forecast that included something like this...?

(Click to see entire forecast).

Scientific Opinion

Cold March: In mid-April, Lubos Motl reported that the NASA GISS data which came out showed that the global anomaly of 0.47°C made March 2009 the coolest March since 2000 - and cooler than March of 1990 and 1998, despite the ending La Nina that is being superseded by ENSO-neutral conditions. That puts March 2009 out of the "top ten". Also, the March 2009 global mean temperature differed by only 0.03°C from the March 1981 figure - a month when the ENSO/ONI index was pretty much equal to the current value. This comparison would suggest that there may have been only 0.03°C of warming in 30 years.

Antarctic Ice Growing, Not Shrinking: Although climate experts raised concerns about the destabilization or "disintegration" of the Wilkins ice shelf in western Antartica early in the month, Australian scientists reported that ice is actually expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to widespread public belief. The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica. Despite some ice losses on the continent's western coast, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

Comparison of East and West Antarctica.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for an April meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted that the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades". Australia's Antarctic Division glaciology program head Dr. Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica. "Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally," Dr Allison said.

The melting of sea ice -- fast ice and pack ice -- does not cause sea levels to rise because the ice is in the water. Sea levels may rise with losses from freshwater ice sheets on the polar caps. In Antarctica, these losses are in the form of icebergs calved from ice shelves formed by glacial movements on the mainland. Dr. Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. "The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west," he said.

Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia's Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s was 1.67m. A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent - Apr 13.

Antarctic Sea Ice Trend, 1979-2009.

Tropical Troposphere: Steve McIntyre posted an article at ClimateAudit.org on April 14th, regarding temperature trends in the tropical troposphere. The troposphere is the lowest portion of Earth's atmosphere. Most of the phenomena we associate with day-to-day weather occurs in the troposphere. It contains approximately 75 percent of the atmosphere's mass and 99 percent of its water vapor and aerosols. The average depth of the troposphere is approximately 17 km (11 mi) in the middle latitudes. It is deeper in the tropical regions, up to 20 km (12 mi), and shallower near the poles, at 7 km (4.3 mi).

As you might imagine, the temperatures in the troposphere should be an important indicator of global warming. According to the alarmists, CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat in the atmosphere, thus causing global warming. Scientists focus much attention on the troposphere in the tropical regions, because it is assumed that this is where global warming should make its presence felt most strongly. However, as you can see from the graph below, there has been no upward temperature trend for nearly 30 years. From 1980 until 2009 the trend line is basically flat. Although the temperature has risen and fallen dramatically during that time period, the temperature of the troposphere today is essentially the same as it was in 1980. In fact, at the moment it appears to be on a downward trend. Also notice that all of the various organizations which measure such atmospheric temperatures appear to be in nearly complete agreement. The various colored lines represent data from these different organizations.

Tropical Troposphere Temps (Click to enlarge).

As you might expect, such data raises a number of questions. For example, why does this data appear to be in conflict with other published data, and why isn't data like this published more often? First, it should be noted that this data is only for the tropical regions and not the entire globe. The global data does indeed have a slight upward temperature trend as can be seen in the following graph. Coincidentally(?), the temperature trend seems to correspond well with CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Global Troposphere Temps (Click to enlarge).

Naturally, alarmists tend to publicize the global graphs while downplaying the tropical graphs. But should they? After all, the troposphere is deepest in the tropical regions -- nearly three times as deep as at the poles. If the atmosphere is heating up, wouldn't you expect to find the heating to be relatively uniform? Why would a major swath of the earth's atmosphere not be heating up, particularly where it is deepest? Is the heat from the tropics "migrating" to the cooler latitudes? Is there no heat-trapping CO2 being stored in the tropical atmosphere?

It is also interesting to compare these graphs with other published data on global warming. Even a cursory glance at these graphs suggests that the data looks significantly different from the typical plots of average global surface temps. For example, alarmists prefer to publicize graphs such as the following from NOAA, courtesy of Scott Brim, a commenter at ClimateAudit.

Global Temps & CO2 (Click to enlarge).

In regard to such charts, Scott Brim says...

Let's note that the vertical scale and the vertical plot position NOAA chooses to use for illustrating a rising trend in CO2 concentration is purely an arbitrary decision on their part. Both the scale and the position have been arbitrarily chosen so as to precisely match the plot of their global mean temperature anomaly trend, with the obvious intent of visually reinforcing the NOAA graphic's basic message — CO2 is responsible for recent global warming.

Scott then goes on to show how such charts can vary in appearance with the following graphic. He overlays McIntyre's "tropical" graph onto an NOAA "global" chart. By using different vertical centering positions and red bars, NOAA's chart looks distinctly more ominous than McIntyre's.

NOAA-McIntyre merge (Click to enlarge).

As for a true comparison of surface temps versus tropospheric data using consistent scales, see the following graphic. Note that there appears to be a significant divergence between the two, and the tropospheric data (in blue) is decidedly lower than the surface data.

Surface vs Troposphere (Click to enlarge).

An article from the website Icecap, discusses this divergence. It suggests that the satellite data from which the tropospheric temps are derived, is more accurate than surface temperature measurements. According to the article...

the global databases of NOAA GHCN, NASA GISS and Hadley CRUT3v are all contaminated by urbanization, major station dropout, missing data, bad siting, instruments with known warm biases being introduced without adjustment and black box and man made adjustments designed to maximize warming (Steve McIntyre found more urban areas had their temperatures adjusted up than down). --MSU Satellite Temperatures Continue to Diverge from Global Data Bases

Global Sea Ice Extent: On April 28th, IJIS was reporting the extent of global sea ice to be higher than any of the previous seven years for the same time period. The 2009 data is shown on the following chart in red, and shows that around April 15th global sea ice surpassed the 2003 level, which previously ranked highest on this chart. The IARC-JAXA Information System (IJIS) is a geoinformatics facility for satellite image analysis and computational modeling/visualization in support of international collaboration in Arctic and global change research at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Global sea ice extent - Apr 28. (Click to enlarge).

Arctic sea ice - Apr 28.

Arctic Ice Thicker Than Expected: Anthony Watts at his Watts Up With That? blog reported on a news story out of Germany outlining an Arctic ice measurment expedition. This one was conducted by flying the scientists across the north polar ice cap using the WWII era workhorse Douglas DC-3 airplane equipped with skis, and towing an airborne sounder twenty meters above the ice surface.

The research aircraft known as "Polar 5" left Bremerhaven Germany on March 30th and flew to Longyearbyen, the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, located on the western coast of Spitsbergen. From there, it conducted various scientific flights over the Arctic between April 1st and 6th, including at least one over the North Pole. During the flights, researchers measured the current ice thickness, including some areas that have never been overflown before. Result: The sea-ice in the surveyed areas is apparently thicker than the researchers had suspected.

Normally, newly formed ice is about two meters thick after two years. “Here were Eisdicken [ice thicknesses] up to four meters,” said a spokesman of Bremerhaven’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. For scientists, this result is surprising because it contradicts what is believed to be warming Arctic seawater.

Polar 5 and EM-Bird.

An ice thickness probe, the so-called EM-Bird, is usually towed below a helicopter, but was now for the first time being operated using a fixed-wing aircraft. The EM-Bird is towed under the hull of the aircraft by means of a winch for take-off and landing. During the surveys, the probe is towed on an 80 m long rope twenty meters above the ice surface. More extensive areas can now be investigated due to the longer range of the aircraft in comparison to a helicopter. Electromagnetic (EM) induction sounding for ice thickness measurements is a technique that can achieve long profiles of some kilometers in length. The accuracy and robustness of the EM method has been proven by comparing coincident drill-hole and EM measurements.

Probability of Record Temps: As you may remember, I quoted Lubos Motl in an earlier "Global Warming News" article discussing some of his thoughts on the mathematical improbabilities of new low temperature records being set in an environment of global warming. Specifically, Motl said that if global warming was a "linearly increasing function of time", and that the trend "exists at the five-sigma confidence level", then "the probability that you get a cold extreme for a certain day will be dropping faster than exponentially: like the Gaussian." In other words, he was saying that if global warming is real, then an upward trend needs to meet a certain "confidence level" to prove that the increase is nothing more than "background noise". Assuming that such a warming trend exists and the confidence level has been met, then "the probability that you [will] measure a new cold weather record should drop roughly one million times(!)"

Apparently Steven Goddard has been thinking along the same lines, but in the opposite direction. Assuming that we are in a global warming environment, Goddard, in a guest article he posted at the "Watts Up With That?" blog, suggests we should be seeing more high temperature records. The following are some of his observations...

Consider a hypothetical country with 1,000 top notch weather stations and the perfect unchanging climate... During the first year of operations, every station will necessarily set a high and a low temperature record on every day of the year. That is a total of 365,000 high temperature records and 365,000 low temperature records. During the second year of operation, each day and each station has a 50/50 chance of breaking a high and/or low record on that date – so we would expect about 182,500 high temperature records and about 182,500 low temperature records during the year. In the third year of the record, the odds drop to 1/3 and the number of expected records would be about 121,667 high and low temperature records.

In a normal Gaussian distribution of 100 numbers (representing years in this case,) the odds of any given number being the highest are 1 out of 100, and the odds of that number being the lowest are also 1 out of 100. So by the 100th year of operation, the odds of breaking a record at any given station on any given day drop to 1/100. This means we would expect approximately 1000 stations X 365 days / 100 years = 3,650 high and 3,650 low temperature records to be set during the year – or about ten record highs per day and ten record lows per day.

In a warming climate, we would expect to see more than 10 record highs per day, and fewer than 10 record lows per day. In a cooling climate, we would expect to see more than 10 record lows per day, and fewer than 10 record highs per day. The USHCN record consists of more than 1000 stations, so we should expect to see more than 10 record highs per day. Throw in the UHI [Urban Heat Island] effects that Anthony [Watts] and team have documented, and we would expect to see many more than that. So... record high temperatures are not unusual and should be expected to occur somewhere nearly every day of the year...

No continents have set a record high temperature since 1974. This is not even remotely consistent with claims that current temperatures are unusually high. Quite the contrary. --Steven Goddard, Are Record Temperatures Abnormal?

Record high temps per continent.

Sun Slides Into Somnolence: Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomer who is now an associate professor of physics at Grove City College, PA, also posted a guest article at "Watts Up With That?" in April. Gonzalez shows that TSI (total solar irradiance) is at a low level and shows no sign of an upturn which would indicate the beginning of the next solar cycle.

TSI Data, 2003-2009 (Click to enlarge).

I was curious to see if the variations in the TSI had begun to rise yet, perhaps indicating a start to cycle 24. Visual inspection of the SORCE TSI plot showed just the opposite – variations continue to decline in amplitude. If cycle 24 has started, there are no signs of it in these data. --Guillermo Gonzalez, Examining SORCE data shows the Sun continues its slide toward somnolence

Gonzalez then decided to look at TSI Variance rather than TSI. Finally he compared this recent TSI Variance data to the TSI Variance data for the previous sunspot minimum. Notice that the X-axis on each of the graphs is logarithmic, and the current data is an entire order of magnitude lower than for the previous solar minimum. The minimum TSI Variance at the beginning of 1996 occurred several months before the actual sunspot minimum took place.

TSI variance, current.

TSI variance, previous.

Another view of TSI over a longer period might give you a better idea of how today's values compare with those of the two previous solar minimums...

TSI 1975-2009 (Click to enlarge).

Political Opinion

Skeptic Not Allowed To Testify: On Friday April 24th, UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was scheduled to testify alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing in Washington, D.C. before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. According to Monckton, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Ranking Republican Member on the Energy & Commerce Committee, had invited him to go head to head with Gore and testify at the hearing on Capitol Hill. But when Monckton's plane landed from England on Thursday afternoon, he said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify. “The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,” Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. “They are cowards.”

According to Monckton, House Democrats told the Republican committee staff earlier in the week that they would be putting forward an unnamed "celebrity" as their star witness at the Friday multi-panel climate hearing examining the House global warming bill. The "celebrity" witness turned out to be Al Gore. Monckton said the GOP replied they would respond to the Democrats' "celebrity" with an unnamed "celebrity" of their own. But Monckton claims that when the Democrats were told who the GOP witness would be, they refused to allow him to testify alongside Gore.

A GOP House source told Climate Depot that the Democrats on the Committee said “absolutely not” to allowing Monckton to appear during the Gore hearing. The GOP committee members “pushed at multiple levels” to bring Monckton in to testify but the Democrats “refused,” according to the GOP source. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich was called in to testify after Monckton was rejected by the committee Democrats, according to the Congressional source.

“The Democrats have a lot to learn about the right of free speech under the US Constitution. Congress Henry Waxman's (D-CA) refusal to expose Al Gore's sci-fi comedy-horror testimony to proper, independent scrutiny by the House minority reeks of naked fear,” Monckton said from the airport Thursday evening. Monckton has previously testified before the House Committee. On March 19, 2007, Monckton challenged Al Gore to an international TV debate on global warming. At the time, Monckton said: "A careful study of the substantial corpus of peer-reviewed science reveals that Mr. Gore's film, 'An Inconvenient Truth', is a foofaraw of pseudo-science, exaggerations, and errors, now being peddled to innocent schoolchildren worldwide."

Feds deny truth about climate (Click to enlarge).

The Osgood File: The sun is so quiet, even Charles Osgood noticed. His political wisecracks are pretty funny...

The Osgood File. I'm Charles Osgood.

I know you've already got a lot to worry about as it is, but something rather odd is going on -- on the Sun. The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity --- and last year, it was supposed to have heated up -- and, at its peak, would have a tumultuous boiling atmosphere, spitting out flares and huge chunks of super-hot gas. Instead, it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity. Right now, the sun is the dimmest it's been in nearly a century.

Did you know that? It's true. Astronomers are baffled by it, but has the press covered the story? Hardly at all. Is the government doing anything about it? No, it's not even in the Obama budget or any Congressional earmarks. But, sooner or later, I bet it will turn out to be our fault -- yours and mine. And in Washington, where everything is political, they'll note that it began before President Obama took office -- perhaps "another example of the failed policies of the Bush Administration."

At an upcoming meeting of astronomers in the United Kingdom, they'll be studying new pictures of the Sun taken from space, looking for any hint that the Sun will start heating up again and acting up again, the way it's supposed to. But there is no sign of that, so far. In the mid-17th Century, there was a quiet spell on the Sun -- known as the Maunder Minimum -- which lasted 70 years, and led to a mini-Ice Age here on Earth.

Right now, global warming is a given to so many, it raises the question: Could another minimum activity period on the Sun counteract, in any way, the effects of global warming? Hush, child! You're not even supposed to suggest that. The only thing that can change global warming is if we human beings -- we Americans, especially -- completely change our ways and our way of life. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this solar dimming business, now that the story is out. Remember, you heard it here first...

The Osgood File. Transcripts, podcasts, and Mp3's of all these programs can be found at theosgoodfile.com. I'm Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.

--Charles Osgood, The Osgood File, 21 April 2009

Rasmussen Poll: According to the results of a Rasmussen poll released on April 17th, just 34% of voters now believe global warming is caused by human activity, the lowest finding yet in Rasmussen Reports national surveying. However, a plurality (48%) believes humans are not to blame. Forty-eight percent (48%) of all likely voters attribute climate change to long-term planetary trends, while seven percent (7%) blame some other reason. Eleven percent (11%) aren’t sure. These numbers reflect a reversal from a year ago when 47% blamed human activity while 34% said long-term planetary trends.

May 13, 2009

Under My Bus

Hat-tip to Heirborn Ranger...

May 02, 2009

CDC: Spine Flu Hits Media

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) today described a new strain of flu which has recently emerged. The CDC says the outbreak seems to have originated in the mainstream media and so far appears to be confined to reporters and journalists, said a CDC spokesperson. Commonly referred to as the "spine flu", this disease appears to weaken the resolve of individuals to ask important questions, do thorough analysis, and make logical conclusions. "We've seen patients with an almost complete lack of objectivity and rational thinking," said a medical staffer who wished to remain anonymous. "Their spines become so dissolved that they simply deteriorate into blathering blobs of gelatinous jelly," he continued.

The contagion was visibly manifest at President Obama's press conference on Wednesday when reporters were barely able to ask a single probing question. Mark Knoller's question about "enhanced interrogation techniques" which included a statement that they "not only protected the nation but saved lives," was about as deep as it got. The question also produced Obama's dumbest answer of the evening when he suggested that we might have "gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques."

Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times on the other hand, seems to have been afflicted the worst when he asked this four-part question: "During these first 100 days, what has surprised, enchanted, humbled, and troubled you the most?" Experts said that of all the reporters, Jeff appeared to be closest to the gelatinous state. The fact that there were absolutely no questions about the economy, may be a sign that the disease is entering a dangerous new phase.

Technically speaking, the disease is known as the "R2D2" virus because it produces robotic-like symptoms in its victims who mindlessly follow directions and lose their ability to think rationally. Other symptoms include "fevered rants" against opposing points of view, abnormal "swelling" of the ego, and a "rash" of illogical statements. The CDC says that the spine flu is a "fool-borne" disease, transmitted from fool-to-fool, particularly in closed environments where activities such as "group-think" are liable to occur.

The "spine flu" has been around for awhile. In fact, its effects were blamed for the disastrous election results last November. This particular new strain of spine flu however, seems to have emerged only in the last 100 days. It has long been suspected that President Obama may be a "carrier" of the disease.

The CDC has raised its alert level to "5" on a scale of 6, which means that 5 out of 6 reporters and jounalists are likely to be afflicted with the disease. Occasionally, the disease can be fatal. Several newspapers are experiencing declining readership and are said to be near death. Various TV and cable network news programs are experiencing declining viewership and ratings, which may require them to be pulled off "life support" according to their owners.

There is currently no vaccine for the spine flu. The CDC says to avoid excessive exposure to those who are infected, and recommends frequent use of disinfectants such as news sources that are "fair and balanced".