Category Archives: Science

Ted Cruz is a politician (and a hypocrite)

Republican senator and presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, leapt immediately to the podium in order to command the President to get off his butt and send the Cruz man’s home state, Texas, some disaster relief following devastating floods.

Hypocrite Ted Cruz Begs For Federal Relief Money For Houston Flooding

Ted Cruz, the same Tea Party Senator that voted against aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy because it was “wasteful“, shows off his astonishing hypocrisy by announcing that he will work with Democrats to “stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations.

As noted in the linked piece, when Congress was appropriating funds for FEMA following the Sandy disaster, Cruz demanded cuts in other federal funding must come before spending money on those Yankees.

An article in the NYTimes, noted that the extent of damage due to the Texas flooding could have been mitigated if Texas had followed standard building practices found in other states.

The main challenge to rational planning for flood risk in the country is that private property rights trump even modest limitations on floodplain development,” said Nicholas Pinter, an expert on floods, people and politics at Southern Illinois University, in an email today. “And that sentiment runs deep in Texas. The result is unchecked construction on flood-prone land, up to the present day and in some places even accelerating.”

And now Texans are suffering the consequences of their political choices. I am not gloating over their tragedy but we must understand that hating on governmental regulations does not always provide for a better future.

As Andrew Rivkin writes:

It’s important to get these studies done, but I doubt they’ll have much impact as long as politicians and communities in the region stick with the go-go development mentality that has been so vividly on display.

I see little evidence that leaders in the region have paid attention to the vast volumes of information they already paid for. The websites of Texas agencies responsible for managing water and limiting disaster losses are already full of valuable information clearly laying out the deep hydrological vulnerability in the state.

It is very likely that some of the Texans who were recently ranting about the military’s Jade Helm exercise being little more than a prelude to the secret Muslim Marxist declaring a new socialist kingdom in America, are now among those begging for federal assistance.

The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism

Those darned scientists! Prof Richard A Muller has been frequently quoted in the past by warming deniers and when he put together a team to study the hundreds of other scientific studies from around the world, it was thought to be a “final blow” against all those Al Gore acolytes and sycophants. The Koch brothers even provided some funding for the work.

The (in)famous Anthony Watts wrote in March of this year, “[i]I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.[/i]” Naturally, a scientific study that he once advocated for is no longer acceptable, as you will read if you click the link. Ah, Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
A major point in the deniers attack on the global warming/climate change reports of the recent past has been the Urban Heat Island effect on temperature records. Dr Muller’s team looked at the matter and found that such effects had been included in the records

There were good reasons for doubt, until now.

What about poor station quality? Again, our statistical methods allowed us to analyze the U.S. temperature record separately for stations with good or acceptable rankings, and those with poor rankings (the U.S. is the only place in the world that ranks its temperature stations). Remarkably, the poorly ranked stations showed no greater temperature increases than the better ones. The mostly likely explanation is that while low-quality stations may give incorrect absolute temperatures, they still accurately track temperature changes.

I hope you see what the study is showing here, scientists who have looked at the issue of climate change are using the change in temps, not the extreme points of temperatures. Also it is change over long periods, decades not years, not daily swings in temperature readings and not new record highs and lows. So when various deniers build igloos in DC during a snow storm  it shows nothing more than an inability to understand what the scientists are saying.

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.

In a pattern seen with the right’s attacks on the President, even when he does what they once advocated, the deniers now say the Muller study is flawed,
Climate Study Does Not Placate Skeptics

Does (deity of your choice) hate Rick Perry?

A perfect synopsis of the Rick Perry situation comes from Tim F. at Balloon-Juice.com

Please, Texas, tell Rick Perry to stop praying.

In April, facing record heat and seven months of drought in his state, Rick Perry took decisive action. He prayed for rain. Five months later Texas is drier, hotter and on fire. This is definitive proof that either:

  • (a) God hates Rick Perry;
  • (b) God belongs to some other faith and praying to Jesus just pisses Him, Her, It or Them off;
  • (c ) the climate in Texas has nothing to do with religion and instead depends on preventable human behavior and has followed a predictable trajectory since Svante Arrhenius first described the greenhouse phenomenon in 1896;
  • (d) in his New Testament big J explicitly points out that his Dad does not dish out favors while you are still alive, but rather you have to wait until you die (plus various whatnot in Revelations) to find out what He thinks of you, and that if you really need something right now then basement cat might take your request; or
  • (e) all of the above.
  • Drought in Texas, Sept 2011

    EPA declares hay a pollutant!?!?

    An old Buffalo Springfield tune has some appropriate lyrics for these times:

    Paranoia strikes deep
    Into your life it will creep
    It starts when you’re always afraid

    Death panels, FEMA camps (prisons), Christians being oppressed, Obama is a secret Muslim, etc. etc. and now “Hay is a pollutant!”

    EPA Declares Hay a Pollutant in Effort to Antagonize Small and Mid-Sized U.S. Cattle Feeders

    September 1, 2011 Billings, Mont. – During his presentation on the status of the nation’s new country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law, and on behalf of the R-CALF USA COOL Committee, R-CALF USA member and Kansas cattle feeder Mike Callicrate was asked a non-COOL question that set convention goers on their heels during the 12th Annual R-CALF USA Convention held August 26-27 in Rapid City, S.D.

    Has the Environmental Protection Agency declared hay a pollutant?” an audience member asked. Callicrate responded affirmatively and explained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently initiated a formal enforcement action against his Kansas feedlot for, among other things, failure to store his hay in a pollution containment zone. “Now that EPA has declared hay a pollutant, every farmer and rancher that stores hay, or that leaves a broken hay bale in the field is potentially violating EPA rules and subject to an EPA enforcement action,” Callicrate said. “How far are we going to let this agency go before we stand up and do something about it?”

    “Has the Environmental Protection Agency declared hay a pollutant?” an audience member asked.”

    Gee, do you think that was a planted question?

    Honestly, I don’t know any more about this than what I could ‘google’ in a few minutes but what I did find seems to show that Mr Callicrate’s feed lot has a bit of a problem with contaminated run-off. Not too unexpected with a place that has 3000+ cows eating and defecating. Water contamination is a constant problem with modern meat production and I think the EPA does a decent job protecting America’s water supply – most of the time.

    Clean water for all is a rather important goal and the idiots who think the EPA is holding back business solely due to the ideological bias of various government workers simply have no clue as to the effects of their personal desires.

    Eric Cantor: “No Disaster Relief without Spending Cuts Elsewhere”

    from Think Progress

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), however, said that before Congress approved federal funds for disaster relief, it had to offset the spending with cuts to other programs.
    The Washington Times reports:

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that if Congress passes an emergency spending bill to help Missouri’s tornado victims, the extra money will have to be cut from somewhere else.

    part and parcel of the modern Republican party – a deeply held belief that the economy is a zero sum game – what ever is spent by the government must mean some other entity no longer will benefit. The well-proven fact that government expenditures are often stimulative in situations where corporations see little to no reason for spending – such as in times of disaster – is ignored as it does not fit their world view. Then there is the failure to understand the value of investing for the future. Sure, the right is constantly promoting the idea of every American putting their money into Wall Street for future returns but for some reason, it refuses to accept the notion that benefits from government spending may also come in the future.

    Here’s a recent example of the ‘thinking’ found in the modern GOP

    May 1, 2011

    Tornado forecasting saved countless lives this week. Too bad Congress, including Alabama’s entire GOP delegation, voted against maintaining forecast quality

    more from meteorologist Dan Satterfield writing on the blog of the American Geophysical Union

    I rarely pay much attention to federal budget issues, but this issue is on my turf. Having worked around TV-news folks for 31 years, I am rarely surprised by politics or politicians! You tend to get rather jaded because you end up seeing a lot of crazy things, day in and day out!

    That said, this is one I really could not believe. It seems the House of Representatives proposed budget includes no replacement for the NOAA polar orbiting weather satellites. The orbiters up there now are not likely to last much longer, and I suspect the average person has no idea of just how critical they are to the forecasts made each day by private meteorologists like me (and the folks at the National Weather Service and Environment Canada) etc.

    Here in Florida, the forecasts provided by those satellites save lives when they provide the data forecasters need to determine if hurricanes are headed our way. Tell me, Repub supporters, how much money is saved when a few hundred people are killed due to insufficient warning? In purely economic terms, what is the value of a human life? How much would one of those killed by a hurricane or tornado or flood have provided to the economy during a working lifetime of normal duration?

    Along with cutting funding for severe weather forecasting, the GOP also proposed cutting funding for the west coast’s tsunami warning system.

    G.O.P. Cuts Could Hit Tsunami Warning System

    A spending bill passed by House Republicans last month could affect the nation’s tsunami monitoring system, which issued warnings in response to last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, opponents warn. The plan cuts $126 million from the 2011 budget of the National Weather Service, which runs the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

    The cuts amount to about 15 percent of the National Weather Service’s $900 million budget, but putting them into effect now would require the agency to reduce spending by nearly 30 percent through the rest of the year.

    Talk about “penny wise and dollar foolish”

    OH yeah, remember all that whining in Texas about how Obama wasn’t sending them enough money to fight the brush fires? As wildfires burn, Texas lawmakers look to slash firefighting budget

    Republicans are either incredibly short-sighted OR they are willing to do and say anything to get that black guy out of the White House.

    Another reason why our kids are stupid

    Antievolution legislation in Oklahoma

    Senate Bill 554 (document), prefiled in the Oklahoma State Senate on January 19, 2011, is apparently the third antievolution bill of 2011. Interestingly, two strands of antievolution strategy intersect in SB 554.

    First, echoing the still popular “academic freedom” language of antievolution legislation, the bill provides that state and local education administrators “shall not prohibit any teacher from informing students about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses of controversial topics in sciences, when being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula,” where such topics “include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution.” The bill also provides, “No teacher shall be reassigned, terminated, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against for providing scientific information being taught in accordance with adopted standards and curricula.”

    Second, the bill requires the state board of education to adopt “standards and curricula” that echo the flawed portions of the state science standards adopted in Texas in 2009 with respect to the nature of science and, for grades eight through twelve, evolution.

    State Senator Josh Brecheen who introduced the bill is quite open about his desire to give his personal religious beliefs “parity to subject matter taught in our public schools”

    and in the Oklahoma House of Representatives we have Sally Kern who is once again introducing a bill that seeks to “teach the controversy”

    Oklahoma Lawmaker Sally Kern Proposes Bill That Forces Teachers To Question Evolution

    State Rep. Sally Kern (R) has proposed the second anti-evolution bill this year in Oklahoma. Entitled the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” the bill, which will be first considered next month, would require the state and local authorities to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review” the scientific strengths and weaknesses of “existing theories.” But the only topics mentioned in the bill as contestable are “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

    When the adults are so dense, why should the kids try. This may well be the end result

    One reason our kids are stupid, amongst many reasons

    SCIENCE EDUCATION
    Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom

    Just another speedbump in the road of progress, creationist teachers make up 13% of public school science teachers with the percentage as high as 40% in more conservative districts. The study cited says the real problem lies not with the openly creationist teachers but with that 60% of teachers who, for what ever reason, just slide over the reality of the science. Many do so because of their fear of repercussions. True Believers ™ are far more vocal in opposition to science than supporters of science. Those of scientific bent often fail to understand the delusions of their TB neighbours who will go to great lengths to derail objective reality whenever they feel it threatens their beliefs.

    The cautious 60% may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States than the smaller number of explicit creationists. The strategies of emphasizing microevolution, justifying the curriculum on the basis of state-wide tests, or “teaching the controversy” all undermine the legitimacy of findings that are well established by the combination of peer review and replication. These teachers fail to explain the nature of scientific inquiry, undermine the authority of established experts, and legitimize creationist arguments, even if unintentionally.

    In 2006, American students were ranked 29th on the OECD study of scientific literacy in the 34 nations counted as ‘Developed’ but they had raised that ranking to middle of the pack in the 2009 testing. Unfortunately, while the overall score has risen, there remains the sad reality of one fourth of American students scoring at the bottom of the OECD scale.

    The continuing gap in educational attainment has and will continue to create what amounts to an ongoing recession for those failing students.
    Economic impact of the achievement gap in America’s schools

    a tip of the cap to PZ