By JR on Friday, March 31, 2017
Call to ban ‘toxic’ interest-only home loans
I have often used interest-only loans so object to them being called "toxic". "Useful" would be my word for them. But I can see the author's point. There's too much money sloshing around in the housing market and banning interest-only loans would reduce that.
There is no doubt, however, that councils and developers are not releasing new residential land at a rate that matches the demand. They are not responding to market signals. That is primarily due to bureaucracy plus Greenie harassment of any change.
If there is to be loan restrictions, there also needs to be a metaphorical bomb put under councils to release much more residential land than they have been doing. They are the blockage in the system
FORGET dipping into super, scrapping negative gearing or opening up new supply. If we’re going to restore some sanity to the Australian housing market, the regulator must step in to ban “toxic” interest-only loans, economist Lindsay David has argued.
“It’s definitely the best policy to take artificial and speculative heat out of the market,” he told news.com.au.
According to the founder of property market research firm LF Economics, the much-maligned negative gearing is “only 8 to 10 per cent” of the reason why house prices in Australia are so high.
CoreLogic figures released this week showed home prices in Australia’s capital cities have jumped 3.7 per cent since the start of the year alone, with Sydney leading the charge, increasing by 5.3 per cent.
Earlier this year, Sydney was named the second most unaffordable city in the world second only to Hong Kong by research firm Demographia.
“Over the last 20 years, Australian house prices have risen in real terms by about 131 per cent, in the same time real wages have risen by about 38 per cent, and real rents have only increased by about 20 per cent,” Mr David told Sky News.
“So I disagree that Australia actually has a housing affordability issue, but what we do have is a credit-fuelled housing bubble issue. The easiest way to make house prices more affordable is to limit the amount of debt that gets flooded into the housing market.
“Here in Australia we’ve had this total household credit expansion that has moved in a beautiful straight line at about a 35-degree angle — the only other line I know that grows like that is Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.”
In a bid to keep the housing market under control, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority recently introduced a new rule requiring banks to keep growth in investor loans under 10 per cent.
Mr David argues the banks can easily “get around” the growth cap, and argues APRA should instead be thinking about banning interest-only loans, which now make up around 40 per cent of all mortgages. “These loans are very dangerous to the core fundamentals of the Australian economy, they’re toxic to the housing market and they’re toxic to those who buy bank securities,” he said.
He said the solution was not first-home owner grants or other proposed solutions such as accessing superannuation, which would only push up prices further.
“Any new policy that is designed to stimulate demand for housing will stimulate demand for housing,” he said.
“Just get rid of them. Just get rid of everything, let the market work on its own, and let’s try and reduce the risk profile of our banking system one way or another, because it looks like a giant Lehman Brothers waiting to go ‘ker-shmang’.”
He added that the lack of supply argument was “bogus”. “It’s the demand side that’s the big problem — it’s artificial,” he said.
“People aren’t paying this much money for a house because they’re trying to make money on rent. If there was such a supply issue, there wouldn’t be any negatively geared property owners because you would have seen rents go through the roof.”
And while Sydney prices are “insane”, Mr David believes Melbourne is currently in most danger. “In Melbourne, over the last 20 years house prices have risen in real terms by about 214 per cent, whereas rents have only risen by about 12 per cent,” he said.
“That is probably the biggest mismatch you will see of any city in the world pretty much. It’s nearly impossible to see how Melbourne cannot be the largest housing bubble in the country, even versus Sydney despite house prices being absolutely insane here.
“Yes they’re overvalued, yes they’re in a bubble, but nowhere near to the length that Melbourne is. And you look at Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane too, it’s the same story. They’re probably two times the value they should be.
“That’s been fuelled by a massive sum of credit flooding the housing market.”
It comes as all four of the big banks have been sharply hiking interest rates for interest-only loans, with some offering to waive switching fees for customers who move principal and interest repayments.
Commonwealth Bank last week raised its interest-only rate for investors by 26 basis points to 5.94 per cent per annum, and for owner-occupiers by 25 basis points to 5.47 per cent. The same day, ANZ raised its interest-only investor rate by 11 basis points to 5.96 per cent, and its owner-occupier rate by 20 basis points to 5.25 per cent.
It came a week after NAB and Westpac jacked up rates. Westpac increased its interest-only investor rate by 28 basis points to 5.96 per cent, and its owner-occupier rate by 8 basis points to 5.49 per cent. NAB increased its interest-only investor rate by 25 basis points to 5.90 per cent, and its owner-occupier rate by 7 basis points to 5.42 per cent.
Despite the official cash rate remaining on hold at its historic low of 1.5 per cent, banks have been raising rates out of cycle with the Reserve Bank to protect their profit margins as funding costs rise.
Late last year, the final report from a two-year parliamentary inquiry into housing affordability came back with no recommendations, drawing strong criticism from Labor and the Greens.
The committee argued against changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts, a position shared by the federal government. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have blamed soaring house prices on a lack of supply.
By JR on Thursday, March 30, 2017
The puzzle of Genesis 1:6-9
In my recent comments on Genesis chapter 1, I suggested that chapter 1 was not an original part of the Torah and should be recognized as deuterocanonical (apocryphal). I did however add the rider that what Genesis 1 had to relate was probably based on something relatively ancient, such as a myth or oral tradition.
And I think Genesis 1:6-9 fairly reliably identifies part of what that source was. It goes right back to the theology of ancient Sumer -- the first known human civilization, situated in what is now Southern Iraq.
Here is what 1:6-9 says in the New International Version:
"And God said, "Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water. So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so."
Wha? Was the Genesis writer saying that there was a body of water ABOVE the sky as well as on the surface of the earth? That is an extraordinary idea by modern scientific standards but it is precisely what the Sumerians believed. The rains came down from above, didn't they? So there must be another body of water way up above that the rains came from. It was a fairly reasonable deduction given their complete ignorance of modern science.
There is nothing else in Genesis 1 that is starkly contrary to what we know today -- though it's a bit odd that birds were created before land animals. It is more or less common sense and could have been made up by anyone. But 6-9 is very distinctive and clearly of Sumerian and later of Babylonian origin. The Babylonians borrowed a lot from Sumer, including the 7-day week.
The Sumerians and other early civilizations also had their own creation myths but there is absolutely no similarity to Genesis 1 in any of them. It would seem, therefore, that the 7 day account of creation is mainly of ancient Israelite origin with Sumerian "wisdom" added in to give it authority.
Genesis 1 does read in a very orderly way so I surmise that it was in fact the work of one man. When it was originally written is completely unknown. But its allusion to Sumerian/Babylonian thought could make it quite ancient. Textual criticism does however enable us to trace the version that appears in the Bible to about the third century BC.
Stefan Molyneux is a libertarian who believes that values matter
In the video below he says that Europe has betrayed Western civilization. He is a powerful speaker and has a considerable following. Worth hearing.
I am a little perturbed at his use of "we". He uses "we" to refer to contemporary society as a whole, which is OK in its way but he is really referring to the strong Leftist influence on current political thinking. So I would have said "the Left", where he says "we". As we see in the rise of Trump, however, conservatives values are still there in the community and are now rising to the surface again. So there is some hope that the weak-kneed response to challenges from Muslims and others might be reversed soon.
He is however right to be amazed that socialist policies are still popular -- when we see how gory they become when socialists get unrestricted power -- as in Stalinist Russia and Mao's China. When will people learn where such coercion-based policies must lead? Taking money off people who earned it and giving it to people who have not earned it requires a naked exercise of power -- and that power tends to grow and find more targets as time goes by. It's a slippery slope
I think Kellyanne is a great gal so I was pleased to see the backgrounder on her below. It does take various potshots at her but brings out a lot of facts too. And the fascinating thing about the article is that it completely misses out something essential to her: She is a happy person. She is having a ball. That is a large part of her being conservative. Conservatives don't have the fires of anger burning inside them that Leftists do so they can go through life in good cheer. But to expect a mainstream journalist to even notice that is a big ask, of course
If you do a Google image search on her name you will find heaps of photos of her in a happy mood but the two photos I like best are below. The first one below is from a post election debate with Hillary's campaign manager and the second is at the time of the inauguration.
And even the famous sofa picture shows her as completely relaxed and smiling despite the grand occasion
THE rags to riches underdog story of Kellyanne Conway is worth celebrating. But there’s one big problem with supporting her: She is “full of sh*t”.
The career pollster and Donald Trump’s self-described right-hand “man” is front and centre on the biggest stage in professional politics. It’s good and it’s bad. It presents a dilemma.
On the one hand she is an example for young girls; a champion for woman proving it is indeed possible to succeed in a world dominated by men.
On the other hand she is a mouthpiece for a man whose track record on women — “grab her by the p***y”, anyone — speaks for itself.
She has been upfront and outspoken, but not always honest. She pushed the notion of “alternative facts”, claimed microwaves were spying on people and created the Bowling Green Massacre — an event that did not take place — to prove a point about how the media treated Barack Obama one way and Donald Trump another.
It’s a style that’s got her to where she is today. But it’s a style political experts say could be her undoing.
For now, the child of divorced parents, raised by her mother in Atco, New Jersey, appears immune from any real consequences of her slip-ups, intended or otherwise. Part of that is because people are “rooting for her” to succeed.
“She seems to have come up from the bottom and she’s a woman who’s made it ... we want to root for her,” Dr Rolfe said.
“She doesn’t count herself as a feminist, she despises femininity but can still admire a woman who makes it in a man’s world. And she can mix it. She’ll have admirers of her as a scrapper.”
He said she is a help to Mr Trump “for the moment”, but her loyalty to the President could be her downfall.
“She’s always on the defensive for Trump and he’ll love that. It suits his style and his intense focus on loyalty. We’re seeing that with his practices at present and Conway fits in that style as well. But in his way of not backing down, (Conway) may deplete her public credibility for him.”
CNN made strong moves to deny her airtime, citing issues with credibility in February. On Twitter, the network wrote: “CNN is clear, on the record, about our concerns about Kellyanne Conway’s credibility ... We have not ‘retracted’ nor ‘walked back’ those comments. Those are the facts.”
Then, just like that, she was back on CNN for a heated one-on-one interview with chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper. For all her questionable traits, there’s no disputing she is resilient.
Ms Conway’s path to the White House is one she made on her own. She never asked for handouts or favours. She has always been talented and always come first.
For eight summers growing up, Kellyanne Elizabeth Fitzpatrick packed blueberries at a farm not far from the family home. The Atlantic reports that she drew onlookers “with her remarkable, automaton-esque speed and ability to work for long stretches without a break”.
In 1983, aged 16, she won the New Jersey Blueberry Princess pageant. Four years later, she won the World Champion Blueberry Packing competition, NJ.com reported.
“Everything I learned about life and business started on that farm,” she said.
She was first in her class at the Catholic school she attended, too. Her mother told The Atlantic reporter Molly Ball that “I always told her ‘you have to do your best’ ... but she had to be the best.”
She studied at Trinity College in Washington DC and at George Washington University. She served as a clerk in the DC Superior Court and founded her own firm, The Polling Company, in 1995. She married a lawyer and stayed in New Jersey, where she lives in a $6 million home in Alpine.
She worked with Congressmen and Senators and in 2016 endorsed Ted Cruz. When Mr Cruz was dropped out of the race for President, Donald Trump pounced. On August 17, 2016, she was named the campaign’s third manager.
Dr Rolfe says Ms Conway and Mr Trump are now inseparable.
“Going back to the 1990s, the spinning that she does is well practised. In that respect she’s been very valuable to Trump, she now seems so essential to him. She is a masterful reader of Trump’s personality and style that you’d think she’d been around him forever.”
She’s been around men like him long enough to know how it works. And she considers herself one of them.
To The New Yorker in October last year, she had this to say: “I’ve been living in a male-dominated business for decades. I found, particularly early on, that there’s plenty of room for passion, but there’s very little room for emotion. I tell people all the time, ‘Don’t be fooled, because I am a man by day’.”
She belongs as much as anyone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She should be admired and looked up to for how far she has come. She would be easier to root for without the spin, but the truth is a fluid concept when you’re speaking for Donald Trump.
By JR on Tuesday, March 28, 2017
More on privilege
I have written previously on white privilege and privilege generally. I pointed out recently that the "white privilege" concept is racist -- very similar to Hitler's thinking about Jews. In both cases we see hostility to people purely on the basis of their race.
I also pointed out here that privilege is that is not random and is generally earned. As an example I offered an example of "Jewish privilege" being thoroughly earned. Apropos of that one might note the flyer below that was being circulated recently at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Privilege discourse has a continuing malevolent life.
But I think I need to say a little more about what might be called "unearned" privilege.
Some privilege is plainly inherited. If you have inherited wealth that is undoubtedly a great privilege. But is it really unearned privilege? Someone earned that wealth. And their choice to pass that wealth on to a descendant rather than give it to the stray dog's home was a choice they were entirely entitled to make.
One may deplore that privilege can be gained by inheritance rather than by personal exertion but that is a somewhat separate issue. In many places, swingeing inheritance taxes have been enacted to knock that on the head but various destructive results of doing that have mostly led to the taxes being withdrawn or greatly reduced. But whatever you think of it earned privilege can be gained by inheritance
And there is such a thing as group privilege. If you belong to a certain group, some favourable or unfavourable expectations may be held towards you. There is, for instance, no doubt that a white car-driver pulled up by the police in America will be much more likely to survive the experience than a black driver would be.
But that too is earned. Why do blacks cop so much bad treatment? It is perfectly clear why. Blacks are hostile to the police so the cops are hostile to blacks. It's tit for tat. No doubt some people will argue that the cops started it and blacks are simply retaliating but I don't think that is so. It is very commonly reported that blacks resist arrest, sometimes very vigorously. Many blacks do not "go quietly". And that is a big problem to the police. It makes them nervous of blacks and resentful towards them.
Cops are always going to be quite reasonably on hairtrigger alert when approaching a black and that trigger will sometimes be inappropriately pulled through no fault of either party. Making cops fearful and nervous of you is seldom going to end well even when neither party has ill intent.
So the behaviour of many blacks is going to rebound on all blacks to their disadvantage. They gain a negative privilege. But it is again earned. Others like you have earned it for you. It is easy to deplore that but deploring it is about all that you can realistically do. But deploring it will get you nowhere. To change anything, you have to go to the root cause of the privilege/anti-privilege. And that may be unalterable.
So railing against privilege generally will simply be a condemnation of deep-rooted inequalities in society. And attempts to erase inequalities have a history of ghastly outcomes.
By JR on Monday, March 27, 2017
The "majority of the popular vote" myth
And a proposal for Federal legislation
That Hillary won a majority of the individual votes cast in the last presidential election has been a huge talking point for the Donks. They use it to justify their Fascist attacks on free speech and attacks on Trump generally. But it is basically a fraudulent claim. Donks use it to claim that Hillary had more support than Trump among the voters at large. But it does not indicate that at all.
The key is that "votes cast" is only part of the story. What about the non-voters? Non-voters could be non-voters out of indifference but there is another large reason for non-voting. Take California. California gives ALL its electoral college votes to the candidate who won the majority of the popular vote in that State. Other states send electors to the electoral college in proportion to the popular votes gained. So if a candidate got 55% of the popular vote, only 55% of the electoral college votes from that State would go to that candidate.
So what would a rational GOP supporter do in California on election day? Stay home. California is a solid Democrat state so there is no point in the GOP voter troubling himself on election day. ALL the electoral college votes from CA will without fail go to the Donk candidate.
In other states, however, there is a BIG reason for a GOP voter to go out and vote. The number of GOP voters who turn out will influence the makeup of the electoral college. Even if a majority of the State's voters support the Donks, GOP voters in that State can still send a lot of GOP votes to the electoral college.
So nobody in fact knows how many people supported Hillary versus Trump.
But the imbalance between the popular vote and the electoral college vote certainly looks anti-democratic and that is deplorable. So can anything be done to fix that situation? It can. Pass over-riding Federal legislation to wipe out the California practice. Oblige the States to give their electoral college votes in proportion to the poplar vote. Had that been done in the recent election, Trump might well have gained a majority in the national popular vote. There could have been a LOT of "discouraged" GOP voters in CA.
Footnote: There is a distinction between the number of votes counted and the number of votes cast. States don’t count their absentee ballots unless the number of outstanding absentee ballots is larger than the state margin of difference. If there is a margin of 1,000 votes counted and there are 1,300 absentee ballots outstanding, then the state tabulates those. If the number of outstanding absentee ballots wouldn’t influence the election results, then the absentee ballots aren’t counted -- JR.
By JR on Sunday, March 26, 2017
Obamacare: My two cents
GOP congressmen are presently divided into two: One lot who want Obamacare completely repealed because of its huge costs and reduction in access to health care for many. The other lot fear that if they change too much they might lose the votes of those who currently benefit from Obamacare. So the abolitionists won't vote for the wishy-washy Ryancare and the nervous nellies won't vote for abolition. It looks like a stalemate.
But I think there may be a way out: Vote for Obamacare to cease as of the end of this year and in the meanwhile work on one of the many replacements that have been proposed -- so that a new system begins when Obamacare finally expires.
Hope that a brand-new system might not sacrifice GOP votes lies in both the huge costs of Obamacare and the fact that most people who have enrolled in health insurance for the first time have done so via the expanded access to Medicare and Medicaid that Obamacare enabled. So follow up on that by taking the savings from an abolished Obamacare and putting them into expanded Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Long before Obama, America had extensive provisions to get healthcare to the poor and the old so Obamacare was to some extent a solution in search of a problem. Where there was a problem was that many middle income families could not easily afford health insurance and got no government help with that. But expanded eligibility for Medicaid should fix most of that problem -- leaving only those who are really well-off to pay their own way.
I can't see many lost votes under those circumstances. There must of course be a limit to another expansion of Medicaid so my proposal for that would be to limit it to what was saved by abolishing the Obamacare octopus. Whole Obamacare agencies could go.
My proposal is of course nowhere near ideal but something like it may at the moment be the only way of lifting the many Obamacare burdens. Obamacare gave healthcare to some while taking it away from others. My proposal should genuinely expand access to healthcare.
By JR on Saturday, March 25, 2017
Teetotalling is bad for you
That's the conclusion of the research below. The findings are in fact fairly conventional. Moderate drinkers get fewer strokes and heart attacks than either teetotallers or heavy drinkers. The good old Golden Mean again. All the associations were quite weak in absolute terms but are fairly high in the context of what one generally finds in medical research. It is also interesting that the various subtypes of cardiovascular disease all seem to be alcohol influenced. So the conclusion embodied in my heading above is reasonably safe.
What's amazing is the spin that "New Scientist" put on the findings. Their conclusion is:
“This study suggests that sticking within alcohol guidelines may actually lower your risk of some heart conditions,” says Tracy Parker, of charity the British Heart Foundation, who was not involved in the study. “But it’s important to remember that the risks of drinking alcohol far outweigh any possible benefits. These findings are certainly no reason to start drinking alcohol if you don’t already.”
Which is actually the reverse of what the study found. It's just do-gooder lying. But when is lying doing good? Far from "the risks of drinking alcohol outweighing any possible benefits", alcohol actually confers the benefit of helping you to live longer! There were fewer "unheralded coronary deaths" [fatal heart attacks] among moderate drinkers. That's a pretty good benefit. The British Heart Foundation should fire the lying Tracy Parker. She is a preacher of some Puritanical ideology, not a competent science commentator
Association between clinically recorded alcohol consumption and initial presentation of 12 cardiovascular diseases: population based cohort study using linked health records
Steven Bell et al.
Objectives: To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease at higher resolution by examining the initial lifetime presentation of 12 cardiac, cerebrovascular, abdominal, or peripheral vascular diseases among five categories of consumption.
Design: Population based cohort study of linked electronic health records covering primary care, hospital admissions, and mortality in 1997-2010 (median follow-up six years).
Setting: CALIBER (ClinicAl research using LInked Bespoke studies and Electronic health Records).
Participants: 1 937 360 adults (51% women), aged ≥30 who were free from cardiovascular disease at baseline.
Main outcome measures: 12 common symptomatic manifestations of cardiovascular disease, including chronic stable angina, unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction, unheralded coronary heart disease death, heart failure, sudden coronary death/cardiac arrest, transient ischaemic attack, ischaemic stroke, intracerebral and subarachnoid haemorrhage, peripheral arterial disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Results: 114 859 individuals received an incident cardiovascular diagnosis during follow-up. Non-drinking was associated with an increased risk of unstable angina (hazard ratio 1.33, 95% confidence interval 1.21 to 1.45), myocardial infarction (1.32, 1.24 to1.41), unheralded coronary death (1.56, 1.38 to 1.76), heart failure (1.24, 1.11 to 1.38), ischaemic stroke (1.12, 1.01 to 1.24), peripheral arterial disease (1.22, 1.13 to 1.32), and abdominal aortic aneurysm (1.32, 1.17 to 1.49) compared with moderate drinking (consumption within contemporaneous UK weekly/daily guidelines of 21/3 and 14/2 units for men and women, respectively). Heavy drinking (exceeding guidelines) conferred an increased risk of presenting with unheralded coronary death (1.21, 1.08 to 1.35), heart failure (1.22, 1.08 to 1.37), cardiac arrest (1.50, 1.26 to 1.77), transient ischaemic attack (1.11, 1.02 to 1.37), ischaemic stroke (1.33, 1.09 to 1.63), intracerebral haemorrhage (1.37, 1.16 to 1.62), and peripheral arterial disease (1.35; 1.23 to 1.48), but a lower risk of myocardial infarction (0.88, 0.79 to 1.00) or stable angina (0.93, 0.86 to 1.00).
Conclusions: Heterogeneous associations exist between level of alcohol consumption and the initial presentation of cardiovascular diseases. This has implications for counselling patients, public health communication, and clinical research, suggesting a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in prevention of cardiovascular disease is necessary.
By JR on Friday, March 24, 2017
Why the high intelligence of Indian Americans?
I reproduce below a well-informed answer to the above question. I disagree with his conclusion that it is all due to nutrition however. Other work finds only 5 IQ points attributable to nutrition. The suggestion of 15 IQ points is therefore startling. So I think we need to look at other possibilities. I think that the Indian advantage is probably a compound of several factors.
The treatment of Indians as a single group is of course absurd. Almost any Indian will regale you with stories about the great gaps between the castes. And the castes do seem to have a racial and historic origin. A Brahman and a Dalit are worlds apart in all sorts of ways, including skin color. And it is usually held that the differences arose from the Northern Brahmins being in fact late "Aryan" invaders on top of an original Dravidian population. So we would expect Brahmins to have higher IQs. And Brahmins seem well-represented in Indian immigrants to America.
Everything in the above paragraph is however subject to controversy so how much caste accounts for higher IQs in Indian Americans remains "under study". Something that would reveal the effect (or not) of caste would be a study of Indian diaspora populations in places such as Fiji, where the Indians there are the descendants of coolies imported to act as agricultural labourers. If they have high IQs, there is no caste effect. But I can find no data on such populations. It is however true that Indians run just about everything in Fiji these days.
The next possibility is related to the one above: A general selective effect of immigration. Diaspora populations are not always brighter than the home population but when we are looking at poor countries they probably are. To get yourself out of a poor country to a rich one surely requires brains. So regardless of caste, diaspora Indians should be brighter.
The third possibility is one shown up by the Flynn effect: Education. Education does have an effect on at least some measures of intelligence. How that works is speculative but the most plausible explanation is that doing tests and exams in the course of a long education develops test-taking skills (e.g. guessing when uncertain) that generalize to IQ tests. And the Indian education system is woeful so a transition to the less woeful U.S. system should confer an advantage.
A fourth factor that is rarely mentioned in these discussions is regional differences within India. The Indian South seems to be much brighter, particularly where mathematical ability is concerned. The great concentration of Indian IT knowledge is in Bengaluru (Bangalore), which is in the South. And it was almost entirely Southern engineers who were behind the quite remarkable Indian Mars shot.
I am not going to say much about why the Southerners are smarter but I note that they hate one-another. Keralans despise Tamils, for instance. And that is related to the long history of warfare between them. And dummies are the least likely to survive wars. So warfare has dragged up the average IQ of most of the South.
But getting back to Indians in America: I have seen no figures on it but I gather that a huge proportion of Indians came to America to work in IT. If that is so, they would mostly have come from the South -- because that is where the IT ability is. So the Indian immigrants to the USA came from a (Southern) population that was ALREADY pretty high on IQ. So from that starting point, the various advantages (already mentioned) of life in the USA could easily have added one third of a standard deviation -- which could explain what we see. It could in fact explain the whole of what we see.
And regardless of where they come from in India, being employed to work in IT is a HUGE selective pressure. To code easily in languages like C and its derivatives requires an IQ within about the top 2%. If that doesn't bring up the average, nothing would.
So I would summarize that the high IQs of Indians in the USA is the combined effect of nutrition, education, caste, an immigrant effect, an effect of regional origin and an effect of occupation.
One of the great mysteries in IQ research is why Indian Americans are such super achievers despite the fact that India reportedly has an IQ of only 82 according to the book IQ and Wealth of Nations.
And yet Indians in North America are known for their high intelligence and scholastic achievement, and despite being new to America, are already slightly over-represented on Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. In some parts of Canada (particularly the maritime provinces like Newfoundland) if you’re Indian, all the white will people will assume you’re a doctor.
So how can Indians in North America be so smart when India’s average IQ is not great? Many people in the HBD-blogosphere invoke the theory that India is nation of many micro-races (castes) and that largely the smartest castes migrate to America, but the truth is usually much simpler.
Of the 2.8 million Indians in America, probably no more than 25% (700,000) are the ones who initially gained immigration (and the remaining 75% are the spouces, siblings, parents, and children, who came alone for the ride). But these 700,000 who actually gained immigration for themselves and their families are probably roughly the most occupationally successful 700,000 Indians out of a population of nearly 1.3 billion. In other words, they are above the +3.3 standard deviation mark in occupational status, and are on on average +3.5 SD. Since occupational status (mostly a function of education and income) correlates 0.7 with IQ, we should expect their IQ’s to be 3.5(0.7) = 2.45 SD higher than the average Indian (assuming Indians have a mean IQ of 82 and an SD 15, those who initially gain immigration to America should have an IQ of 119).
But because the IQ correlation between a parent and his adult offspring is about 0.45, the children of these high achieving immigrants from India should regress precipitously to the Indian mean:
0.45(119 – 82) + 82 = 99
Thus we should expect second-generation Indians born in America to have IQ’s around the U.S. average which is inconsistent with their incredible achievements. Can their achievements thus be explained by Tiger Moms? According to excellent Jamaican American blogger JayMan, parenting has zero impact.
So how do we explain the high achievements of second generation Indian immigrants? Nutrition. Blogger Steve Sailer was perhaps the first to notice that even un-mixed black Americans who have lived in the United States for centuries are several inches taller and about 13 IQ points smarter than black Africans. This suggests that first world nutrition adds about 13 IQ points (and several inches of height) to people of third world ancestry.
By JR on Thursday, March 23, 2017
The only way to save coral reefs: A war on global warming (?)
This utter BS first came out in Australian newspapers and I commented on it then. I found the article below in the Boston Globe, however, so the nonsense has spread. In the circumstances, I think I should repeat and amplify my earlier comments.
Cape Grim tells us that CO2 levels have been plateaued on 401ppm since last July (midwinter) So anything that has happened in the recent summer is NOT due to a rise in CO2.
And NASA/GISS tell us that the December global temperature anomaly is back to .79 -- exactly where it was in 2014 before the recent El Nino event that covered the second half of 2015 and most of 2016. So there has been no global warming in the recent Southern summer and there was no CO2 rise to cause anything anywhere anyway.
The claim that this summer's bleaching was an effect of global warming is a complete crock for both reasons. The data could not be clearer on that. The seas around Northeast Australia may or may not be unusually warm at the moment but if they are it is some local effect of air and ocean currents etc. The warming in NOT a part of global warming
Reducing pollution and curbing overfishing won't prevent the severe bleaching that is killing coral at catastrophic rates, according to a study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In the end, researchers say, the only way to save the world's coral from heat-induced bleaching is with a war on global warming.
Scientists are quick to note that local protection of reefs can help damaged coral recover from the stress of rising ocean temperatures. But the new research shows that such efforts are ultimately futile when it comes to stopping bleaching in the first place.
"We don't have any tools to climate-proof corals," said Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia and lead author of the study being published on Thursday in the journal Nature. "That's a bit sobering. We can't stop bleaching locally. We actually have to do something about climate change."
Across the world, scores of brilliantly colored coral reefs once teeming with life have in recent years become desolate, white graveyards. Their deaths due to coral bleaching have grown more frequent as ocean temperatures rise, mainly due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The hot water stresses corals, forcing them to expel the colorful algae living inside them, which leaves the corals vulnerable to disease and death. Given enough time, bleached coral can recover if the water cools, but if the temperature stays too high for too long, the coral will die.
Preserving coral reefs is crucial, given we depend on them for everything from food to medical research to protection from damaging coastal storms. Scientists and policymakers have thus been scrambling to find ways to prevent bleaching. Last year, for example, Hawaiian officials proposed several measures they hoped would fight bleaching on the state's reefs, such as limiting fishing, establishing new marine protected areas, and controlling polluted runoff from land. The question was whether such efforts could provide the corals any resistance to bleaching, or just help them recover.
The researchers conducted aerial and underwater surveys of the Great Barrier Reef, which has experienced three major bleaching events, the worst of which occurred last year. The scientists found that the severity of bleaching was tightly linked to how warm the water was. In the north, which experienced the hottest temperatures, hundreds of individual reefs suffered severe bleaching in 2016, regardless of whether the water quality was good or bad, or whether fishing had been banned. That means even the most pristine parts of the reef are just as prone to heat stress as those that are less protected.
Prior exposure to bleaching also did not appear to provide any protective benefit to the coral. The scientists found that the reefs that were highly bleached during the first two events, in 1998 and 2002, did not experience less severe bleaching last year.
Ultimately, the study concluded, saving reefs from the ravages of bleaching requires urgent action to reduce global warming.
"I think it's a wake-up call," Hughes said. "We've been hoping that local interventions with water quality and fishing would improve the resistance of the corals to bleaching. We found no evidence that that's actually true, at least during a very severe event."
The study shows that older ways of thinking about reef management, such as reducing river runoff, are now moot points when it comes to preventing bleaching, said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and coral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
"It all seems so quaint now, really," said Cobb, who wasn't part of the study. "A future that we thought was decades coming is basically here."
The research also illustrated the gravity of the situation facing the 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef. The team found 91 percent of the reef has been bleached at least once during the three bleaching events. Even more alarming, Hughes said, is that a fourth bleaching event is already underway. Corals need years to recover from bleaching, so back-to-back events increase the possibility that the bleached coral will die.
The study shows that very intense coral bleaching events are no longer isolated and are happening more regularly, said coral reef scientist Julia Baum of Canada's University of Victoria. That assertion has been further bolstered by the Great Barrier Reef's latest bleaching event, which began a few weeks ago and which Baum says has stunned scientists.
"None of us were expecting the water to be heating up again right now," Baum said. "I think it's beyond what any of us could have imagined. It's our worst nightmare."
Papal adviser Schellnhuber: 'Scientists have to take to the streets' to counter climate denial
The worm himself, looking weird as usual. He's off his rocker. He makes most Warmists look moderate. Sadly, Schellnhuber is advisor to Angela Merkel as well.
Comment from Dick Lindzen: "He makes Holdren sound almost rational. Schellnhuber is the embodiment of green totalitarianism. He knows nothing about climate, and he doesn’t care. His job is to scare".
The interview below is with DW, which in a faroff day was known as "Die Deutsche Welle" (The Voice of Germany), German government media
DW: Where are we at with the world's carbon budget - how much have we spent and how much have we got left?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: If we want to hold the 1.5 degrees [Celsius; 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] line, which is the ambitious goal of the Paris agreement, we have maybe 300 billion tons left - more or less the budget of 10 years - if we do business as usual. If we want to hold the 2 degrees line, which is more realistic, we have another 20 to 30 years to go, but no more actually. So it's a very tight budget.
DW: And in order to meet this tight budget, what do you see as being the major things that need to happen between now and then?
HJS: It's quite mind-boggling - for example, by 2030, we have to phase out the combustion engine. And we have to completely phase out the use of coal for producing power. By 2040 we will probably have to replace concrete and steel for construction by wood, clay and stone.
DW: We now have an international climate agreement signed and ratified. Are we on track to meet our emissions reduction targets?
HJS: Germany actually has the more ambitious goal - here within the European Union - a 40 percent reduction by 2020. It looks fairly bleak actually, with the current policies in place we will not even meet our own target. Something fairly disruptive needs to happen, like closing down some of the operating coal-fired power stations.
The European Union is underambitious - it should have raised its ambition immediately after Paris, but that did not happen So it's a very sluggish process.
Globally, there is some good news.
China has probably already peaked its emissions now, which is amazing. India has an extremely ambitious solar energy program - [and is] now investing a lot. So, the only black horse in the race is the US.
DW: US President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Paris accord. How big an impact would this have on the international climate action we've achieved so far?
HJS: That's the one-billion-dollar-question. First of all, it's not clear whether Trump will pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. I don't think he will. Like other laggards and obstructers, in the past - like Saudi-Arabia - I think the US will just stay on-board and try to slow down all the processes.
What effect will it have? 10 years ago this would have been a complete disaster for climate policy. Now with China - the biggest emitter and also the biggest investor in renewables - and with the Asian economies now slowly changing, I think the world could achieve climate protection even without the US.
DW: Scott Pruitt, who now heads the US Environmental Protection Agency, recently denied carbon dioxide was a major contributor to global warming. His comments go against the 97 percent consensus of the world's scientists. Scientists generally tend to stay out of politics, but do you think given the current political climate there, scientists will become more politicized and outspoken?
HJS: I have the big privilege to work in the office where Albert Einstein worked. He's one of the greatest geniuses and physicists of all time. And he was a very political animal actually.
I think if the very system of the scientific method and the scientific research is in doubt, then scientists have to take to the streets in the end and have to demonstrate and say: "Hey we are doing a job for you!"
We scientists love to sit in our ivory towers, untainted by the dirt of the real world and so on, [but] we have to take to the streets, we have to speak up. We have to leave our ivory towers, and we have to communicate to everybody that we want to be part of the solution.
Is housing the homeless a good idea?
The report summarized below says that the monetary benefits outweigh the costs but I strongly suspect some courageous assumptions in their calculations. Most people however do seem to want to get rough sleepers off the streets and out of the public parks so my suggestion would be the provision of domitories to which they can be taken rather than putting them into full accomodation.
The people concerned generally have mental problems to at least some degree so we would not want them to reproduce. And providing a full apartment to them might tend to encourage partnering and reproduction -- leading to a new dependent generation for the taxpayers to support. By all means get them into safer quarters but limit what is provided for free
It's cheaper to provide last resort housing to homeless people than to leave them sleeping rough, a new cost-benefit analysis has found.
The analysis found governments and society benefit more than they spend by providing last resort housing to homeless individuals. This is mainly through reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime, and helping people get back into employment or education.
This comprehensive cost-benefit analysis was commissioned by a team of experts from the University of Melbourne, NGOs, and architecture firms. The analysis was conducted by consulting firm SGS Economics and Planning.
The number of people sleeping rough in Melbourne's streets has increased by over 70% in the last two years. Homelessness is now at emergency levels. Key causes are the unaffordability of housing, people escaping domestic violence and a structural lack of social housing.
There has been a reduction in the supply of "last resort housing". Last resort housing refers to legal rooming and boarding houses, and emergency accommodation.
On average, more than 40 requests for last resort housing are turned down across Victoria every day.
Our analysis shows that the government providing one last resort bed will generate a net benefit of $216,000 over 20 years. That averages to a net benefit of $10,800 per year.
The majority of those benefits (75%) flow to society and the remainder to the individual.
For every $1 invested in last resort beds to address the homelessness crisis, $2.70 worth of benefits are generated for the community (over 20 years).
In other words, the benefits of providing last resort housing outweigh the costs. There is much to gain in economic and social terms, both for government and society, by assisting the homeless.
This is because if homeless individuals find stable accommodation they require less healthcare and fewer emergency admissions, and they are less likely to be involved in crime (both as victims and perpetrators). They are more likely to reconnect with employment and education. Homelessness also incurs property blighting and nuisance costs. Importantly, last resort housing can greatly improve the quality of life of individuals.
Our analysis shows that the form of last resort housing which makes the most sense economically is the construction of new, permanent stock - especially medium to large-sized facilities. Converting existing buildings, and subsidising private rentals, are both worth considering as well especially in the short term.
The commissioning team calls on governments to build more new, permanent last resort housing to help the homeless, because the benefits outweigh the costs. Existing last resort housing should be protected and maintained. These are issues for local, state and federal governments.
The commissioning team hopes the research presented in this report will be used to develop stronger business cases for - and ultimately generate substantial investment in - last resort housing.
By JR on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
WHY IS ACADEME STRONGLY LEFTIST?
I have already written at length on that question but some new data have just come in from England that add some extra information. And it is based on very good sampling so has considerable authority. I present the findings in two excerpts below. As one might expect, there have been some furious but quite addled Leftist responses to this research. The author replies here and here
Academics are hugely Left-leaning. Is it because they have higher IQs?
One explanation that has been put forward to explain the overrepresentation of individuals with left-wing and liberal views in academia is that they tend to have higher intelligence. The theory is that academic advancement requires very high intelligence, and since few individuals with right-wing and conservative views possess very high intelligence, such individuals are comparatively scarce within the academy (Solon 2014; Solon 2015; Charlton 2009; Gross 2013).
Several recent studies from the US, where the academy also has a sizable left-liberal skew, have concluded that intelligence does not contribute much to explaining the tilt (Gross & Fosse 2012; Gross 2013; Fosse et al. 2014). On the other hand, using a slightly different method, Carl (2015b) found that intelligence may account for more than fferent method, Carl (2015b) found that intelligence may account for more than half of the overrepresentation of socially liberal views, but may not account for any of the overrepresentation of economically left-wing views. His finding is consistent with evidence that cognitive ability is positively related to both socially liberal beliefs and at least some measures of economically right-wing beliefs (Carl 2015a).
Unfortunately, there do not appear to have been any surveys of British academics asking about specific policy issues, either economic (e.g., nationalisation of industry) or social (e.g., immigration). Only the distribution of party support among academics is available, which as noted above points to an overrepresentation of both left-wing views and liberal views.
To see whether intelligence contributes to explaining the left-liberal skew of party support among academics, I calculated the distribution of party support for individuals within the top 5% of IQ, using data from the Understanding Society survey. This is shown in Table 3, along with the distribution of party affiliation within the general population and among academics, also calculated from the Understanding Society data.
Note that the distribution within the general population differs from the outcome of the general election; this is probably due to the phrasing of the question posed in Understanding Society, to the sample being slightly unrepresentative, to the timing of the data collection, and to differential turnout by party.
However, what is of primary interest is the comparison between the figures for the general population and those for the top 5% of IQ, which were both calculated from the same data.
Conservative supporters are about as well represented within the top 5% of IQ as they are within the general population, Labour supporters are slightly underrepresented, UKIP supporters are underrepresented, Lib Dem supporters are overrepresented, and Green supporters are overrepresented. Overall, as Figure 2 illustrates, the distribution of left/right orientation within the top 5% of IQ is relatively similar to the distribution within the general population.
While intelligence may account for some of the underrepresentation of UKIP supporters among academics, and some of the overrepresentation of Green supporters (Deary et al. 2008), it cannot account for the substantial underrepresentation of Conservative supporters. To the extent that the Conservatives are a less socially conservative party than UKIP, the figures in Table 3 are consistent with Carl’s (2015b) finding that intelligence may contribute to explaining the underrepresentation of socially conservative views in American academia, but not necessarily the underrepresentation of economically right-wing views.
Somewhat surprising is the relative scarcity of Lib Dem supporters among academics, given their overrepresentation within the top 5% of IQ. This may be attributable to the fact that, as noted above, the Lib Dem party was until recently dominated by its classically liberal wing, which espoused comparatively more right-wing policies, which may not have been appealing to academics. On the other hand, it may simply be due to sampling error.
If it's not a higher IQ that makes you an academic, is it a different personality?
The excerpt below if from the same study as excerpted above but does, I think, require some comment. The concept of "Openness to Experience" first became popular in the '80s. But while the name was new, the concept was not. The prior concept of "sensation seeking" was very similar and was based on a very similar set of questions. The major difference is that "Openness to Experience" sounds better than "sensation seeking".
As it happens I did a study of "sensation seeking" that appeared in 1984. And my findings were similar to those below. Leftists were sensation seekers. But the "spin" I put on the findings was quite different. I portrayed Leftists as emptyheaded seekers of novelty for novelty's sake. I was able to justify that by pointing to something you would not expect: That Leftists even sought the novelties provided by the consumer society. Leftists normally mock the consumer society but they still like the novelties it provides. So they REALLY like new things.
My data was both psychometrically valid and drawn from a random population sample so the findings were methodolgically very strong, stronger than most work in the field.
So I think I have succeeded in showing that Leftists are "neophiliacs" -- shallow, restless, discontented people who seek change and the new for its own sake. I know of no subsequent research which undermies that conclusion but would be delighted to hear of any that purports to do so
Such people are attracted to academe because academe is basically a novelty factory. Research is designed to uncover new information and understanding about something and it is one's prowess in finding out new things that gets you published and thus advanced in your career. Academics are always inventing new (and often stupid) theories about all sorts of things and trying to find or produce new data in support of such theories. It is a great place for restless speculation about the world to come and the world that could be
Another explanation that has been put forward to explain the overrepresentation of individuals with left-wing and liberal views in academia is that they tend to score higher on the personality trait openness to experience (Duarte et al. 2014).
Openness to experience, or just openness, is one of the five traits postulated by the fivefactor model of personality. People high on openness are more artistic, creative and intellectually curious, and tend to prefer novelty and variety over familiarity and sameness. As a consequence, they may be predisposed toward intellectually stimulating careers, such as academia (McCrae 1996; Woessner & Kelly-Woessner 2009).
At the same time, evidence from a variety of countries indicates that individuals high on openness are more likely to support left-wing and liberal parties (Gerber et al. 2011; Schoen & Schumann 2007; Ackermann et al. 2016). However, to the author’s knowledge, no direct evidence that openness predicts left-liberal views within the right tail of intelligence—i.e., the sub-population from which academics are selected—has been presented in the scholarly literature.
To see whether openness contributes to explaining the left-liberal skew of party support among academics, I calculated the distribution of party support for individuals within the top 5% of IQ and the top 20% of openness, and for those within the top 5% of IQ and the bottom 20% of openness, using data from the Understanding Society survey. This is shown in Table 4, along with the distribution of party support among academics.
Within the top 5% of IQ, Labour supporters, Lib Dem supporters and Green supporters are all better represented within the top 20% of openness than within the bottom 20% of openness; by contrast, Conservative supporters are better represented within the bottom 20% of openness.
Unexpectedly, UKIP supporters are better represented within the top 20% of openness, but this is probably attributable to sampling error.
Overall, as Figure 3 illustrates, the distribution of left/right orientation within the top 5% of IQ and the top 20% of openness is much closer to the distribution among academics than is the distribution within the top 5% of IQ and the bottom 20% of openness.
Of course, the top and bottom quintiles of openness are somewhat arbitrary categories; they were chosen based on a trade-off between extremity of contrast and availability of observations.
To gauge the association between openness and party support more precisely, Table 5 displays estimates from linear probability models of support for major right-wing and left-wing parties within the top 5% of IQ. The estimates in the first and second columns imply that, for each one standard deviation increase in openness, the probability that an individual supports a major right-wing party, rather than any other party, decreases by 8–9 percentage points.
The estimates in the third and fourth columns imply that, for each one standard deviation increase in openness, the probability that an individual supports a major left-wing party, rather than any other party, increases by 8 percentage points. Statistically controlling for the respondent’s age, gender and race does not appear to affect the estimates.
By JR on Monday, March 20, 2017
Yet more reason to be skeptical about the results of scientific research
Just out in JAMA is the latest article by John Ioannidis, the man who first blew the whistle on "non-reproducibility" in scientific research. Read it here.
It makes doleful reading. New, absolutely scrupulous efforts to repeat the results of previous studies failed 3 out of 5 times. There was actually no trace of the previous findings. See the operational paragraph below:
Note that the research concerned was in the field of cancer studies. In such a critical area, one would expect the greatest level of care from the word Go. Yet, despite that, subsequent findings completely contradict the initial findings.
Such a result undermines confidence in all scientific research results. What, then, are we to conclude? I think Ioannidis draws the only possible conclusion: That trying to apply apparent lessons from the research to real-life situations is a very shaky enterprise indeed. Scientific results cannot confidently be translated into public or clinical policy. Attempts to "apply" the results of research are built on sand and are therefore mostly bound to fail.
If that is true in clinical research, how much more so is it applicable in climate research? Climate researchers actually hide details of their research, making it impossible to examine its repeatability. On precedent, however, we have to conclude that it is almost 100% rubbish. It is basically not science at all.
Even on the details Warmists do give of their research, what they find is often on the hilarious side. See here, for instance. How much more risible would the research be if we had full details of it?
A Leftist view of cartoonist Bill Leak. To the The Leftist "Saturday paper" realism is racism
The Leftist "Saturday paper" is owned by an Israeli draft dodger and edited by a Peace Prize winner so its stories are fairly predictable. Under the heading "The freedom of a coward", the paper refers to examples of Bill Leak's cartoons that give realistic impressions of life on Aboriginal settlements. Such cartoons are "racist" said the paper.
To those who have never set foot outside the more affluent suburbs of our capital cities, the portrayals offered by Leak probably do seem grotesque. For those of us who have had a lot to do with Aborigines, they are simply realistic. We have seen in real life the sort of thing Leak portrayed.
So there is a issue here: Is it permissible to say anything negative about minorities? It's a strange retreat from reality when all minorities must be portrayed as without stain but that seems to be the Leftist position. If not, why is Leak abused as a racist?
Clearly the Left are not confronting the absurdity of their assumptions. But expecting any balance from them about anything is a big ask, of course
And if Bill was a racist is it not a little strange that he was married to a non-Caucasian person with the charming name of "Goong"? In the Bogardus scale of social distance, marrying a minority peron is the ultimate example of tolerance and lack of prejudice. The Saturday Paper should be renamed the Saturday Propaganda. There is no honour, depth or truth in them
Bill Leak was a racist. To pretend otherwise is a nonsense.
His death doesn’t change that. The culture warring obituaries don’t change that. The misguided plea of a former prime minister still squaring up against the national broadcaster doesn’t change that.
It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as they read about John Howard’s Northern Territory intervention. “Rape’s out, bashing’s out,” the speech bubble read. “This could set our culture back by 2000 years!..”
It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as a woman slumped battered behind them. Her exaggerated fat lips were made fatter by violence. Blood ran from her head and nose. A comedy of stars circled above her. The speech bubble: “Sheilas! You give ’em an enriching cultural experience and what thanks do you get??!!..”
They were the same men in both cartoons. For Leak, they were always the same men – grotesqueries of a culture his pictures deemed subhuman.
Bill Leak was not brave. There is nothing brave about the persecution of minorities. There is nothing brave about tracing clichés. Leak became a martyr for free speech but in reality he was a martyr for the right to be wrong. His was the freedom of a coward.
Leak’s late-career targets were rarely the powerful. At some point he gave up on genuine insight. About the same time, he gave up on being funny.
There is history to these cartoons. It is the history of a kind of racism that would not be published in another developed democracy anywhere in the world. Leak’s late cartoons drew on the tropes of colonial propaganda to demean and dehumanise an entire race of people. And that was before you got to the homophobia or the Islamophobia or any of the paranoias that drove his pen.
Bill Leak drew for a country that no longer exists. The majority of the words written since his death have been a kind of specious voodoo – a hope that Leak’s Australia could somehow be reanimated, that racist intimidation would once again dominate, that freedom of speech may be co-opted as a tool to keep down the future and the diversity of people who will make it.
The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, wrote this week that Leak represented “a nation at war over its core values”. He called him “an iconic figure in this struggle … the most important local symbol in the cultural disruption afflicting Western societies.” Leak’s bigotry, in Kelly’s mind, was a corrective to the progressives “dismantling the cultural norms and traditions that have made Western societies such as Australia so successful”.
These are bizarre assertions. They depend on the repression of minorities to maintain an ailing status quo. But this is what Leak spent his time doing.
There is nothing to celebrate in Bill Leak’s death. But there was little to celebrate in the last years of his cartoons, either.
Warmists never stop "correcting" the raw temperature record. Such corrections may be justifiable in theory but it is curious that all the corrections tend towards showing more warming. And, with old diehard warmists like Kevin Trenberth and John Abraham involved, it is no surprise the way the corrections went in the study below.
Whether or not the corrections were done in a biased manner, however, it hardly matters. The temperature changes they document on this occasion are given in THOUSANDTHS of one degree Celsius. Everything they record is therefore mind-numbingly minute, trivial and of no importance for anything
Improved estimates of ocean heat content from 1960 to 2015
Lijing Cheng, Kevin E. Trenberth, John Fasullo, Tim Boyer, John Abraham and Jiang Zhu
Earth’s energy imbalance (EEI) drives the ongoing global warming and can best be assessed across the historical record (that is, since 1960) from ocean heat content (OHC) changes. An accurate assessment of OHC is a challenge, mainly because of insufficient and irregular data coverage. We provide updated OHC estimates with the goal of minimizing associated sampling error. We performed a subsample test, in which subsets of data during the data-rich Argo era are colocated with locations of earlier ocean observations, to quantify this error. Our results provide a new OHC estimate with an unbiased mean sampling error and with variability on decadal and multidecadal time scales (signal) that can be reliably distinguished from sampling error (noise) with signal-to-noise ratios higher than 3. The inferred integrated EEI is greater than that reported in previous assessments and is consistent with a reconstruction of the radiative imbalance at the top of atmosphere starting in 1985. We found that changes in OHC are relatively small before about 1980; since then, OHC has increased fairly steadily and, since 1990, has increasingly involved deeper layers of the ocean. In addition, OHC changes in six major oceans are reliable on decadal time scales. All ocean basins examined have experienced significant warming since 1998, with the greatest warming in the southern oceans, the tropical/subtropical Pacific Ocean, and the tropical/subtropical Atlantic Ocean. This new look at OHC and EEI changes over time provides greater confidence than previously possible, and the data sets produced are a valuable resource for further study.
Science Advances 10 Mar 2017: Vol. 3, no. 3, e1601545. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601545
Natural factors shown as a big influence on Arctic warming
The Arctic is the only place where there seems to have been some warming in recent times. So Warmists are constantly cheering it. But is the warming there part of anthropogenic global warming? Hard to see how when the globe overall is not warming. So what IS causing Arctic warming? The authors below have traced a lot of it to natural factors. The balance of the warming may be due to subsurface vulcanism. There are some huge undersea volcanoes in the Arctic, particularly along the Gakkel ridge
Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice
Qinghua Ding et al.
The Arctic has seen rapid sea-ice decline in the past three decades, whilst warming at about twice the global average rate. Yet the relationship between Arctic warming and sea-ice loss is not well understood. Here, we present evidence that trends in summertime atmospheric circulation may have contributed as much as 60% to the September sea-ice extent decline since 1979. A tendency towards a stronger anticyclonic circulation over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean with a barotropic structure in the troposphere increased the downwelling longwave radiation above the ice by warming and moistening the lower troposphere. Model experiments, with reanalysis data constraining atmospheric circulation, replicate the observed thermodynamic response and indicate that the near-surface changes are dominated by circulation changes rather than feedbacks from the changing sea-ice cover. Internal variability dominates the Arctic summer circulation trend and may be responsible for about 30–50% of the overall decline in September sea ice since 1979.
Nature Climate Change (2017) doi:10.1038/nclimate3241
John 1:1 -- one more foray
I suppose I am a bit obsessed with the meaning of the first verse of the gospel of John. I have written enough on it (e.g. here and here). But it bugs me that a simplistic bit of translation has totally distorted the meaning of the passage.
In English Bibles, John 1:1 is normally translated as: "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God".
But that's nuts. How can you both BE god and be WITH god? It's logically self-contradictory. By saying you are WITH someone you imply that you are NOT that someone. So what gives? Was the holy apostle John talking nonsense? He was not. What he wrote in the original Greek of the New Testament was quite different from what we read in most English Bibles.
But I can't altogether blame the translators. Translating it literally does make for ponderous English. So why not do it the simple way?
To show you what I mean, here is the closest I can get to an exact translation: "In a beginning was the word and the word was with the god and the word was of god-substance." You see what I mean. It sounds a bit weird. Note "THE god".
As I mentioned recently, it all goes back to the way holy Jews long ago stopped referring to the name of their god -- which was YHWH ("Jehovah" in English). So they referred to him by generic terms such as "Gods" or "Lord" ("elohim" or "adonay" in Hebrew).
YHWH tells us most emphatically that he is very proud of his name, wants it used reverently and wants it known worldwide that he is supreme. See the Ten Commandments and Psalm 83:18. He is so emphatic about it in Psalm 83:18 that even the King James Bible renders the name as "Jehovah" rather than with their usual practice of substituting "the LORD" for YHWH. So it is a huge irony that the worshippers of YHWH do exactly the opposite of what he clearly commands.
And that confusion carried on into New Testament times. Because the Jewish god had no name, the New Testament writers couldn't identify their god very clearly either. They referred to him as "the God" ("ho theos") -- which is how Greeks referred to the local god, whoever he may be. In the ancient world there were lots of gods and it depended on where you were to find out which god you most likely worshipped. So right from the beginning, John 1:1 was going to have some ambiguity
A non-Jewish speaker of Greek would have taken the text to be very vague indeed, amounting to a claim that a mysterious someone was with the local god of the writer at some beginning and that the mysterious someone was made out of the same stuff as the local god was. And that is EXACTLY what it means. We see more in it than that because we know its religious context
Most Christians go in for vagueness there too. They see it as justification for their theological "Trinity" doctrine -- and that's as vague as it gets -- saying that Jesus and God are the same yet different -- which is also logically self-contradictory.
I note that even the latest Zondervan Study Bible (using the latest version of the NIV) concedes in its notes that the meaning of "with god" is, "The word is distinct from God the father and enjoys a personal relationship with him". That is pretty right -- but how you get a Holy Trinity out of it is the mysterious part.
I am not going to start mentioning anarthrous predicates and the fine points of the Greek grammar involved. I have done that on several previous occasions. Suffice it to say that my rendering of what the passage actually means now seems to be mainstream among textual scholars. See e.g. here.
And nor is it a modern translation. Another Bible translation is the old Geneva Bible, a translation even older than the KJV. It was the translation that the Pilgrim Fathers mainly used. And in their footnotes they interpret the passage to mean that the Word was of "the selfsame essence or nature" as the creator, which is pretty fair.
Note: I might in passing recommend the latest Zondervan study Bible. It is a massive tome with huge amounts of information. It is a worthy successor to the old Companion Bible. They are going for $33.99 at the moment from Christian Book.
By JR on Friday, March 17, 2017
An information-light editorial from New England
See below: They have had the brainwave that Trump climate skepticism is now the GOP climate position. They are apparently unaware that conservatives generally have for a long time thought global warming is a crock. It didn't need Trump.
They then proceed to do the impossible: Prove a generalization from a few specific instances. You can "prove" anything that way. For a global theory you need global evidence and all they offer in that regard is temperature rises -- now gone -- which were associated with El Nino. Those rises were associated with FLATLINING CO2 levels so we KNOW that the rises were not a CO2 effect.
But they do make some specific assertions. They say that completing the Dakota oil pipelie "will lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and global warming". How so? THey do not say. Moving oil and gas by pipeline instead of rail actually reduces CO2 emisions.
But I suppose we should give them credit for at least a nodding acquaintance with science. They say: "Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from 25 to 84 times worse by one estimate". It is true that methane does in the laboratory absorb a lot of electromagnetic frequencies but that is a red herring. Water vapour also absorbs those frequencies and there is a lot more of that in the atmosphere. So adding methane to the atmosphere adds nothing to what water vapour has already done!
Nice try but no cigar
Republicans are killing the planet. We say that because President Donald Trump was their nominee and they own him – golden locks, who knows what stocks and barrel of childish tweets.
Yesterday brought the news that 52,000 square miles of permafrost – an area about six times as large as New Hampshire – in Canada’s Northwest Territories has melted, choking rivers with sediment and releasing vast volumes of methane.
Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from 25 to 84 times worse by one estimate.
What did the Trump administration do as the permafrost was melting? It stopped requiring that the oil and gas industry, a powerful emitter of methane on its own, submit comprehensive data on the amount of methane it is releasing.
Last month, some 50 American cities set all-time-high February temperatures. On Feb. 24 it was 72 degrees in Boston; on Feb. 23 it was 65 in Concord, a record for the capital city. In each of the past three years the planet has set a new record average annual temperature.
What did Trump do? Pick career EPA foe and climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the environmental agency and climate change denier Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department.
Trump and his allies are gnawing away on the Clean Power Plan designed to curb carbon emissions from power plants, lifting or weakening regulations on coal mining and mountain top removal, and rolling back auto industry emission standards.
Trump’s promise to put the nation’s coal miners back to work, the New York Times says, is as likely to happen as the return of Nantucket’s whaling fleet.
Somalia, Kenya and other East African nations are suffering their worst drought in half a century. Millions are threatened by famine and the death toll is growing. Climate change is believed to be a factor.
Trump proposed cutting foreign aid and the State Department’s budget. He wants to reduce the EPA’s workforce by 20 percent and defund the agency’s climate change and clean energy programs.
Last year, the Alaskan village of Newtok voted to relocate. Rising sea levels, raging storms and melting permafrost had made its existence tenuous. Rising sea levels and more intense storms threaten many of the world’s coastlines and coastal cities, including Portsmouth.
What does the Trump administration do? Speed the permitting of the Dakota Access Pipeline to carry oil to Midwestern refineries and order the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in the south.
Both measures will lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
The horrific condition of the nation’s air and water caused a public clamor that led to the creation of the EPA in 1970. Insidiously, the Trump administration wants to silence critics and prevent public outcry by controlling the information the public can see or not collecting it in the first place.
Trump issued a gag order barring EPA employees from releasing any data or studies to the public prior to their review by political appointees. Similar prohibitions were imposed on other agencies.
Gone from the White House website is any mention of climate change. Nationally, banks of researchers, data experts, computer code writers, librarians and other volunteers are working to archive as much of the agencies’ research and scientific data, paid for with public funds, as they can before it’s hidden or destroyed.
Trump’s war on the environment and information itself is under way. Republicans own that, too.
By JR on Thursday, March 16, 2017
A nod and a wink: Decoding academic text
Academic text is notoriously difficult to read. It can even be difficult for fellow academics to make much out of it. That fact lay behind one of the few compliments I have ever received from a fellow academic. Ken Rigby once said to me: "John, we don't always agree with you but at least we can understand what you are saying".
See what you can make out of the excerpt below from JAMA. It is from an editorial about the effect of diet on health.
Did you get the idea that the editorial is rubbishing the whole idea that diet has any significant effect on health? That IS what it is saying in a cautious academic way. It even nominates the chief reason why the existing studies are inconclusive. The mention is super-brief but it is there. Its inclusion is so brief that it is only a nod and a wink to readers in the know. The mention is: "particularly socioeconomic factors". That's pretty vague isn't it? What does it mean? Does it set off any alarm bells?
It is in fact put in such a away as to avoid setting of alarm bells. It is designed to avoid highlighting something that is HUGELY politically incorrect: The fact that the poor tend to experience more illness and tend to die young. Mentioning that fact out in the open is likely to cause huge eruptions about justice and the like from Leftists -- and the innocent messenger of truth can get shot for telling that truth. Chris Brand, for instance, got fired from a tenured university teaching job for mentioning that not all pedophiles are equal.
So the fact glided over in this case is that social class is seldom mentioned in medical research, not because it is unimportant but because it is in fact hugely important. It is not going too far to say that most apparent diet effects are in fact simply social class effects. The current dietary craze about the evils of sugar, for instance, is based on research which ignores social class. The poor drink more fizzy, sugary drinks so any evidence that sugar is bad for you may really be just another demonstration that the poor have more health problems. The research will be presented as an association between the drink and health while the real thing going on is an association between the drinker and health.
So what we have here is an elite conspiracy to cover up an unpleasant truth. To hang a conspiracy on the single paragraph I have reproduced would of course be absurd. What is not absurd is the fact that this is only one pebble on the beach: The great majority of research papers on diet completely ignore social class. The writers concerned will usually be well up on the social class tree but mentioning social class is odious to them.
And there is a huge price to pay for that embarrassment. By ignoring the possibility that what looks like a diet effect is in fact a social class effect, the papers concerned are rendered moot. They prove nothing and are no evidence for anything. Vast tracts of the medical literature might as well not have been written.
And perhaps the saddest thing of all is that most medical researchers would be aware of possible class effects in their data. Social class is one of the most powerful predictors of ill-health that there is. Any time class IS measured it does reveal itself as an important associate of whatever type of ill-health is being studied. So for the sake of political correctness, researchers do and report work that is meaningless. By ignoring social class, they completely waste their time and efforts. So what we see above is just a nod and a wink where there should be a major scandal.
I suppose we have to be be thankful that the truth is still out there -- as it is above -- for those who know how to read it.
A bit more on the politics of the matter: The editorial by the JAMA editors excerpted above was in response to an article by Micha et al. which they published in the same issue of the journal. The article is rubbish. It is all based on "estimates" that take the existing poorly controlled literature as gospel. But because what Micha et al. did was completely conventional, the editors apparently felt obliged to publish it. They should have rejected it but to do so would have put them at odds with the whole racket that is the conventional narrative about diet and health. So they opted to put their doubts in a cautious editorial only.
REFERENCE: Noel T. Mueller et al. "Attributing Death to Diet: Precision Counts" JAMA. 2017;317(9):908-909. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0946
By JR on Wednesday, March 15, 2017
California bill gives carte blanche for Leftist-run agencies to take children from their parents
The report below by Tim Bolen may seem alarmist to anyone who has read the bill but its sheer vagueness is the problem with the bill. It clearly does give the State a responsibility for ensuring all sorts of "rights" for children and we know how Leftist bureaucrats can interpret vague words to suit their own ends.
There have been many expressions of alarm from conservatives about the bill and Snopes had endeavoured to debunk the concerns. All Snopes could find to say was that there was nothing specific in the bill, which we all knew anyway.
There is a detailed dissection of the bill here. In summary, there is just way to much leeway in the bill for Leftist social workers to apply it in oppressive ways
Liberal Democrats have moved to the next step in their efforts to control all of humanity, cancelling the US Constitution in a program to create a one-world order – by attempting to take control of California children away from their parents.
The primary effort is called Senate Bill 18, falsely identified as a “Children’s Rights” bill. It gives the State of California unlimited, ultimate, authority over children.
The bill is so vague it assigns that same body the power to decide, day-by-day, about children’s Education, Healthcare, and Emotional well-being – an absolutely insane concept. The Democrats are planning surprise “home inspections.”
The sponsor of the bill, so-called Common Sense Media, raises serious red flags with parents. As BolenReport Author Karri Lewis questioned in an earlier article “Just WHO IS Sponsoring California State Senator Richard Pan’s Destruction of Parental Rights?” What she asked was:
“Why on earth would Common Sense Media, a supposedly family friendly company, support the stealing of parental rights by the state of California via Senator Richard Pan?”
In another article Karri points out that Common Sense Media, on one of their web pages promotes, and supports, an organization called “kidzworld.” The entire excerpt text from Karri’s article on this is printed at the bottom of this page.
Surprise home inspections, by progressive liberal activists, will have the power to take the children, immediately, to a Child Protective Services (CPS) facility should they find what they determine, in the moment, to be contrary to THEIR version of what a child should be exposed to.
As we know, liberal Democrats OFFICIALLY DESPISE family units made up of heterosexual couples and children.
A “Home Inspection” of NORMAL people’s dwellings conducted by teams similar to those we see in their “demonstrations” would not be productive.
Liberal Democrats also despise the idea of a Judeo/Christian ethic and could be counted on, during a “Home Inspection” to be appalled to find that a man and woman couple slept in the same bed. A gun in the house would send the inspectors into an eppilectic seizure. Signs of Christianity or Judaism on the walls would cause those inspectors to drool uncontrollably.
If inspectors found, for instance, that little boys’ rooms contained baseball equipment, swords, toy guns, and war game videos instead of dolls, tea sets, make-up, and booklets on sex change operations, the CPS process might well suddenly accelerate.
By JR on Tuesday, March 14, 2017
A men's fashion magazine reports on CPAC
Under the cheery heading: "It's the Golden Age of Climate Denial", "Esquire" has a long article that actually gives a fair bit of information about what climate skeptics are saying. But they report it in a sneering tone. They start out sneering about the claim that more CO2 is good for plants. That claim seems to have really caught the attention of the writer
Later we also read about the claim, however: "It's true as far as it goes, but it ignores the broader, complicated interactions that vegetation will face under a changing climate," said Jason Smerdon of Columbia's Earth Institute. "It ignores the fact that agriculture in the tropics, for instance, is much more sensitive to increased temperatures than to drought."
That is standard Warmist stuff but it is quite wrong. Both plant and animal life thrives most in the tropics. If ever you have lived there you would know. So a warm climate is good for plants, not bad.
Aside from goofishness like that, however, the article does quite a good job of covering skeptical thinking. It describes such thinking in a disbelieving way but the information is there. And there is no real refutation of skeptical claims either
On the Friday afternoon of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, inside the hulking Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, a pair of men besuited in various shades of olive and brown discussed how the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which they granted were up 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution) had led to a phenomenon called "global greening." Plants need CO2 to grow, they told a captivated audience of a couple dozen people, and when there's more of it, they grow faster, larger, and—since they need less water—in drier areas.
CPAC has long been a place for the outlandish and the absurd to make its way from the ideological bayou to the mainstream. This year, multiple seminars made the case that Actually, More CO2 in the Atmosphere Is Good. Because of increased CO2 levels, "the Earth is in a far better place today," Craig Idso of CO2Science and the board of directors of the CO2 Coalition told his interviewer, James Delingpole of Breitbart, in a seminar sponsored by the coalition. Most of those assembled nodded vigorously. Later, they showcased a satellite map demonstrating the increased surface area of plant life in recent years.
Taken by itself, the greening argument is solid enough. In fact, it does not contradict the scientific consensus on climate change, which holds that higher carbon dioxide levels lead to warmer temperatures and, in turn, among other things, to melting sea ice and rising sea levels. Both can be true at once. Except the CO2 Coalition's shtick is effectively a red herring; these guys also don't believe in man-made climate change.
"Temperatures have not risen very much, and most of the temperature rise is probably completely natural, and has nothing to do with increasing CO2," William Happer, the coalition's president, told me over the phone. "Industrialization probably played a small role, but I think it's very hard to tell how much." This directly contradicts the scientific consensus. Happer is a former Princeton physics professor who co-founded the group in 2015. Before that, he chaired the George Marshall Institute—dissolved around the same time of the CO2 Coalition's founding—and developed a reputation as one of the nation's premier climate skeptics. (GMI did not advocate for the benefits of CO2—it simply disputed man-made climate change.) He even testified at a Ted Cruz-speared congressional hearing on climate "dogma" in December 2015.
This is a golden moment for the skeptic movement. Two weeks after CPAC, the Trump administration's new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box to explain his stance on climate change: "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact," the former Oklahoma attorney general said. "So no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see." At his last gig, Pruitt initiated, signed onto, or filed briefs in 14 different lawsuits challenging the EPA's climate regulations. He once fielded a letter from one of Oklahoma's largest energy companies criticizing one of those regulations, which he tweaked a few words in, put his own letterhead on, and promptly sent to the EPA. Now he'll be in charge of regulating the environmental impact of the nation's energy companies.
So now that the fringe theorists are in charge, who is left for them to convince? "We're sleeping much better now," said Marc Morano, the executive director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Morano, a former aide to Senator James Inhofe—of snowball infamy—has for decades disputed the scientific consensus on climate change in various capacities. He denies that the Earth is warming, that we could know for sure humans are predominantly causing it, and that we could do anything about it even if we did. (It's important to cover your bases.) "We are grinning ear-to-ear, climate skeptics," Morano said. "We have a rational, scientific approach coming to Washington under the Trump administration."
Morano, who has a B.A. in political science from George Mason University, is more of a traditionalist climate skeptic: Happer's group takes a more proactive approach, but its message is still a distortion of the science.
"It's a misrepresentation of the basic fact that plants both on land and in the ocean need some CO2 to photosynthesize and grow," Robert Tripati, of UCLA's Institute of Environment and Sustainability, told me of "greening" via email. "Of course, these plants already have CO2, and scientists have developed lots of evidence that rapid accumulation of CO2 in both the atmosphere and ocean will generate a large number of negative effects that will be much more severe as a whole. The bad effects will outweigh the good."
"It's true as far as it goes, but it ignores the broader, complicated interactions that vegetation will face under a changing climate," said Jason Smerdon of Columbia's Earth Institute. "It ignores the fact that agriculture in the tropics, for instance, is much more sensitive to increased temperatures than to drought." He added that the insect pests that decimate some plant species also thrive in hotter conditions, when their larvae don't freeze in winter, citing the bark beetle infestation in the western United States. And then, of course, there's the fact that none of this addresses the other consequences of rising temperatures due to CO2, like rising sea levels.
At the CPAC seminar, that threat was dismissed out of hand. "Almost everything you read in the mainstream media, everything you learn in school, is wrong," said Idso, who has a PhD in geography from Arizona State. The mountains of peer-reviewed findings from hundreds of climate scientists from dozens of countries are just the product of "a multi-billion-dollar industry," they said gravely, funded by governments and groups like Greenpeace. At an earlier meeting sponsored by CO2Science—Idso was again in attendance—climate science was described as a "machine" that a "few small non-profits" like these are going up against.
Of course, some of the largest multinational corporations in the history of the world have spent decades disputing the effects of carbon dioxide production to protect vested interests.
ExxonMobil, for instance, first became aware of the threat in 1981, but spent 27 years funding denial of it. That climate science is the real big business, crushing the little guy whose work just happens to help the fossil fuel industry, is the kind of delusion that pervaded the seminars at CPAC, and that infects this movement generally.
In our conversations, both Happer and Morano said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who left his post as CEO of ExxonMobil to take the job, could be the biggest obstacle to their agenda in the White House. (That ExxonMobil has donated over half a million dollars to Morano's organization over the years doesn't seem to complicate things for him. Happer, whose organizations have also received funding from large fossil fuel companies and prominent conservative donor networks like the Bradley Foundation, described a "David and Goliath" scenario where the Sierra Club is Goliath.) Happer also identified ExxonMobil as an enemy of his movement. If you're keeping score at home, the former CEO of the world's fourth largest oil and gas corporation is now, in the estimation of some skeptics, the most prominent advocate for combatting climate change in the executive branch.
Back at the CPAC seminar, it was time to attack more recent findings that climate change leads to the acidification of our oceans. Idso and Delingpole ridiculed those as the left's latest excuse to keep funding climate research (something echoed by Morano, who characterized environmentalism as a series of trumped-up scare campaigns). Meanwhile, the seminar hosts spoke at length about the expanded range of Juniper trees and the use of CO2 in commercial greenhouses, in what amounts to just the newest iteration of a tried-and-true climate denial tactic: distraction and information deluge.
After all, these are already difficult concepts. If you can reroute the conversation, or bury them in enough information, most people will struggle to keep things in focus. The seminar was full of science-like objects, such as Idso's discussion of the "CO2 enrichment studies" his father conducted, that provided a veneer of authority. To bolster his argument that governments fund climate research to aggrandize their own power, he offered a deep observation:
"We are carbon-based life forms," he said knowingly, "If you control carbon, you control life."
"These are really simplistic, kind of awe-shucks arguments that just don't think through—or don't care to think through—all of the implications," says Smerdon, the researcher at Columbia, who says the new CO2-is-good routine may have sprung from new research that attempts to quantify the "CO2 fertilization effect" as part of climate change models. "Scientifically, you could have this discussion, but that isn't what these people are doing. They're grabbing one finding from the literature and presenting this hand-wavey argument that suits their ideological standpoint."
Nonetheless, this is their moment—whether they're in that camp, or whether they believe, as Morano claims, that climate science is manufactured as part of a U.N. conspiracy. From a more practical standpoint, Morano wants the Trump administration to overturn Obama-era executive orders like the Clean Power Plan, defund the United Nations climate panel, and to "Clexit" (or "climate exit") from the Paris Climate Accords. He also suggested, in glowing terms, that fellow traveler Happer may join the Trump administration as a "science czar." After that, Morano wants the president to "unleash" fracking, oil drilling, and coal production, the latter of which he somewhat agreed was no longer even competitive due to the rise of cheap natural gas.
Strange: a climate skeptic who isn't just interested in disputing the science, but who also openly advocates for more expansive use of fossil fuels, including economically inefficient ones. It's almost like these things are connected.
The crowd at CPAC, of course, was more than receptive. When it was time for questions, each audience member called on launched into not a question, or even a comment, but a diatribe. They were bursting to voice their frustration at the "climate alarmists" who were "indoctrinating" children in schools. They welcomed "greening" into their worldview like an old friend, but rarely referenced—much less inquired about—the specifics. This was new, valuable ammo in the fight against the academic scourge.
That's enough on its own, but CPAC is also now the right's premier forum for young people. One of the meetings was around 40 percent college-age or younger, and they were all soaking this up. As a seminar wrapped up, I went up to a young woman making her way out from one of the middle rows to see if all this was leaving a mark.
"I've never heard that argument before," said Sarah Olsen, a high school student from Bethesda, Maryland. "I took environmental sciences with a teacher who was very progressive, so I hadn't really heard a conservative idea about it. My first thought was that it doesn't necessarily disagree with it. It's not denying that it's happening. It's just a different, additional fact. Is CO2 good and bad? More good than bad? I feel like I want more evidence to strongly say one way or another."