The Australian‘s War on Science XX

This piece by Brendan O’Neill in the Australian combines two of the Australian‘s favourite things: making war on science and supporting Republicans. Here’s O’Neill:

In May this year, Palin, as Governor of Alaska, said she would sue the federal Government for labelling polar bears as officially threatened. She argued that giving special protection to polar bear habitats would cripple oil and gas development off Alaska’s northern and northwestern coasts. She also said there was not enough evidence to support the listing of polar bears.

That’s what she said, but she appears to have been lying. The Anchorage Daily News reported:

The state’s marine mammal scientists agreed last year with federal researchers who concluded polar bears are threatened with extinction because of a shrinking ice cap.

A newly released e-mail from last fall shows that the state’s own biologists were at odds with the Palin administration, which has consistently opposed any new federal protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.

The state’s in-house dispute seems to refute later statements by Gov. Sarah Palin that a “comprehensive review” of the federal science by state wildlife officials found no reason to support an endangered-species listing for the northern bears. The governor invoked the state’s own scientific work both in a cover letter to the state’s official polar bear comments, and in an opinion piece published in the New York Times.

Since Alaska’s own biologists agrred with the federal researchers, Palin instead cited a paper whose authors included Willie Soon, Sally Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball. Ed Pilkington has more details on that paper.

But lets look at how O’Neill and the Australian misrepresent the science. Polar bears live on the Arctic ice and global warming is melting that ice. Even the Bush administration’s EPA was forced to conclude that this meant that polar bears were endangered:

We find, based
upon the best available scientific and
commercial information, that polar bear
habitat — principally sea ice — is
declining throughout the species’ range,
that this decline is expected to continue
for the foreseeable future, and that this
loss threatens the species throughout all
of its range. Therefore, we find that the
polar bear is likely to become an
endangered species within the
foreseeable future throughout all of its
range.

As we’ve come to expect from Brendan O’Neill and the Australian, these facts are deliberately kept out of his piece. Instead we get some carefully cherry-picked evidence:


In 2001, the World Conservation Union found that of 20 polar bear populations, one or possibly two were in decline, while more than half were stable and two sub-populations were increasing. Its more recent study in 2006 found a somewhat less rosy picture, but it wasn’t that bad: of 19 polar bear populations, five were declining, five were stable and two were increasing (there wasn’t enough data to judge the fortunes of the remaining seven populations). The global population has increased from about 5000 in the 1960s to 25,000 today.

If you look at EPA report, you can see what O’Neill left out in order to hide the trends in bear populations

two polar bear populations are
designated as increasing (Viscount
Melville Sound and M’Clintock
Channel-both were severely reduced in
the past and are recovering under
conservative harvest limits);

And taking a swipe at Gore is almost compulsory in these pieces:

Today’s widespread polar bear concern is shot through with myth and misinformation. One of the nine scientific errors found in Al Gore’s horror film An Inconvenient Truth, following a case brought in the British High Court last year, concerned his claims about polar bears. Gore claimed a scientific study had discovered that polar bears were drowning because they had to swim long distances to find ice. Yet the only scientific study Gore’s team could provide as evidence was one showing that four polar bears had recently been found drowned because of a storm. According to Bjorn Lomborg, the sceptical environmentalist, the international tale about polar bears suffering at the hands of ruthless mankind springs from this single sighting of four dead bears the day after an abrupt windstorm.

The EPA report shows that far from being an error, Gore got it right:

Open water is considered to present a
potential hazard to polar bears because
it can result in long distances that must
be crossed to access sea ice or land
habitat. In September 2004, four polar
bears drowned in open water while
attempting to swim in an area between
shore and distant ice (Monnett and
Gleason 2006, p. 5). Seas during this
period were rough, and extensive areas
of open water persisted between pack
ice and land. Because the survey area
covered 11 percent of the study area, an
extrapolation of the survey data to the
entire study area suggests that a larger
number of bears may have drowned
during this event. Mortalities due to
offshore swimming during years when
sea ice formation nearshore is delayed
(or mild) may also be an important and
unaccounted source of natural mortality
given energetic demands placed on
individual bears engaged in long distance
swimming (Monnett and
Gleason 2006, p. 6). This suggests that
drowning related deaths of polar bears
may increase in the future if the
observed trend of recession of pack ice
with longer open-water periods
continues. …

Despite offshore surveys extending back
to 1987, similar observations had not
previously been recorded (Monnett and
Gleason 2006, p. 3).

Yes, they drowned in a storm. But they wouldn’t have drowned if they hadn’t been in the water at the time. And they wouldn’t have been in the water if the ice hadn’t melted.

Glenn Albrecht details more things that O’Neill got wrong.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    October 5, 2008

    Are these people related to Ken Ham? Does anybody know?

  2. #2 Wadard
    October 5, 2008

    I can’t believe we are already up to XX in the series!!

  3. #3 Marion Delgado
    October 5, 2008

    There’s a selfish part of me that wants the warmongering on-the-pad science denial ticket to win – just to get Palin out of Alaska.

  4. #4 Chris O'Neill
    October 6, 2008

    There’s a selfish part of me that wants the warmongering on-the-pad science denial ticket to win – just to get Palin out of Alaska.

    Also, Dave Letterman will have a replacement for the George Bush gibberish segment.

  5. #5 bi -- IJI
    October 6, 2008

    Who cares about polar bears anyway? Unlike moose, you can’t make burgers out of them.

  6. #6 cce
    October 6, 2008

    Another point of the Monnett and Gleason paper is that the presence of sea ice damps the waves. Storms are worse when there is reduced sea ice cover.

  7. #7 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 7, 2008

    So, where is Palin’s lie? If the state biologists say the bears are threatened, why does that necessarily mean that they should be listed on the fed endangered species list? The two are separate issues. Adding a species to the fed endangered list can cause adverse economic and even environmental impacts. And often it is detrimental to the endangered species itself! Perhaps the “comprehensive review” included these potential factors as well.

  8. #8 cohenite
    October 7, 2008

    “Storms are worse when there is reduced sea ice cover.”

    Good, that’ll mean more waves; and I’ll be able to wax my board with polar bear wax.

  9. #9 bi -- IJI
    October 7, 2008

    Yippee! The climate trolls are back! Maybe it’s because this blog entry just happens to contain the phrase “Sarah Palin”…

    > If the state biologists say the bears are threatened, why does that necessarily mean that they should be listed on the fed endangered species list? The two are separate issues.

    Cognitive inertia of the highest order.

    > I’ll be able to wax my board with polar bear wax.

    McNugget has the flu.

  10. #10 Wadard
    October 7, 2008

    >”Storms are worse when there is reduced sea ice cover.”
    >Good, that’ll mean more waves; and I’ll be able to wax my >board with polar bear wax.
    >Posted by: cohenite

    Since earwax is the most likely suspect for whatever has colonised the space between your ears Cohenite, why don’t you wax your board with all that excess earwax?

  11. #11 cohenite
    October 7, 2008

    Don’t surf do you Wadard; if you did you’d know polar bear wax keeps the sharks away.

  12. #12 bi -- IJI
    October 7, 2008

    > why don’t you wax your board with all that excess earwax?

    Earwax isn’t a right-wing talking point. Therefore it doesn’t exist.

  13. #13 cohenite
    October 7, 2008

    So, since you’re talking about earwax this must be a left-wing site.

  14. #14 Janine I
    October 7, 2008

    >Since earwax is the most likely suspect for whatever has >colonised the space between your ears Cohenite, why don’t >you wax your board with all that excess earwax?

    Hear, hear! (OK – maybe not)

    >Don’t surf do you Wadard; if you did you’d know polar bear >wax keeps the sharks away. Posted by: cohenite

    Convinced you need a good break, Cohenite. You will find it at Peake Bay, South Australia. Suggest you cover yourself in polar bear wax — your last comment reveals you need to keep your ear wax in place… to prevent your brain from rolling out.

  15. #15 Jeff Harvey
    October 7, 2008

    “Adding a species to the fed endangered list can cause adverse economic and even environmental impacts”.

    There goes NGS again, divorcing the fate of humanity with the state of the natural economy. First of all, state and federal listing are not two separate issues; you can’t accept that a species is endangered at the global level while local governments ignore it. Local and global processes are connected; this explains the exisiting threat to baleen whale populations – the failure of some countries to accept that whale stocks are a tiny fraction of historic numbers in spite of intenrational laws banning the capture of large baleen whale species.

    With respect to polar bear populations, their status harks back to two posts I made on another thread in response to an interesting post from Sean Egan. That is that the loss of habitat ‘x’ does not instantaneously lead to extinction of species ‘y'; what happens is that populations gradually relax (diminish) towards a new equilibria that may or may not stabilize (e.g. there are temporal lags). This process can take decades or even centuries, meaning that the loss of tropical habitat today may not reverberate through the ecological communities until well past the middle of the present century. It also means that many species and populations fall into ther realm of the ‘living dead’ – extant but with no future. In the case of the bears, it has been suggested a slight loss of sea-ice may even be beneficial, because it optimizes their ability to capture prey (seals) and possibly also slightly warmer ambient temperatures reduce metabolic investment to deal with extremely cold conditions. However, sea ice levels are not expected to stabilize but to continue declining until it all but disappears during the summer months. No ice = no bears. Finito. This is another example of a non-linear process in action. Perhaps the bears will hang on in zoos, but owing to the fact that they would fall far below the minimum viable threshold for genetic variability, they’d be doomed.

    Most importantly, polar bears are but one symptom of a greater malaise. People may jest about this matter (which is very unfortunate) but there are all kinds of emerging signs from natural systems that phenological mismatches are occurring between important variables such as breeding cycles in birds and peak food supply due to the differential effects of warming on different trophic levels. Because species interactions drive ecological processes, differential responses of various interacting species will lead to the unraveling of food webs, a worrying trend because food webs underpin the functioning and resilience of complex adaptive (ecological) systems. Peter Raven said a few years ago that the ultimate extinction is the extinction of species interactions. He posited that the loss of single species of forest plant in the tropics probably doomed 30 or more species of organisms that were intimately dependent on that plant and had long co-evolutionary history with it to extinction. AGW, along with a range of other human assaults on the biosphere, should be of grave concern, even if intellectual lightweights like Palin fail to recognize it.

  16. #16 Bernard J.
    October 7, 2008

    NGS.

    If Jeff’s excellent (and unfortunate for having to be oft-repeated) precis of species survival and habitat loss is beyond your comprehension, think of it in more economic terms: as ‘extinction debt’…

    You should be well acquainted with issues of debt, as they seem to be making the headlines lately. Well, young feller-me-lad, ecosystems are having sub-prime mortgages taken out on their existences by human activity, and a similar debt crisis is being created in the process.

    Of course, by your very moniker and by your previously stated ideologies, you don’t think that any regulation should be placed upon the triumphal march of the free market. Unfortunately, neither the ‘market’ nor the humans who constitute them are able to factor in any of an inordinate number of parameters that exist beyond what are, in practice, limited economics paradigms, and so laissez-faire approaches will be prone to collapse in the face of the externalities that inevitably come knocking on the door.

    The trouble with taking Father Smith’s economic individualism to extreme is that, whether in the ‘market’ or in an ecosystem, the individual remains dependent upon the integrity of the system in which it exists, and by not giving sufficient consideration to maintaining system integrity, an ever-growing vulnerability occurs. Ecosystems have evolved with exquisitely complex and subtle ‘regulations’ in the form of species interactions and feedbacks with each other and with the environment in which they live: short of allowing Western humanity several thousand years and several planets Earth with with to ‘evolve’ their own regulating rules for stable economic equilibrum, the only alternative is to have sensible regulation put in place.

    I know that this pains you to the point of incoherent lather, but whether in human business enterprise or in nature, displacement of appropriate feedbacks/regulation that maintiain equilibria will incur debt. Just because it isn’t apparent to you doesn’t mean that it is not there.

    The current market approach seems to be birthing a crash that might yet herald the day where capitalism (as we know it) is dead: the similar model as humanity has applied it to the environment already guarantees foreclosure on many species and ecosystem functions, the polar bear likely amongst them.

    Your continued claims that the polar bear is OK is really no different to the many claims made even earlier this year that the US and indeed the global economy was hunky-dory.

    I can almost predict to the word what your response is likely to be…

  17. #17 dhogaza
    October 7, 2008

    So, where is Palin’s lie? If the state biologists say the bears are threatened, why does that necessarily mean that they should be listed on the fed endangered species list? The two are separate issues.

    No. The Endangered Species Act is very precise. The decision must be based on science, alone. If the science says they’re threatened, federal law insists they be listed as threatened.

    The Bush administration tried to argue that they were free to not list the northern spotted owl for political reasons, regardless of the underlying scientific opinion. Bush got his ass whumped in a Federal District Court. Whumped so badly they didn’t bother to appeal to the Supremes, they knew it was a lost cause because the Act leaves the USF&W no leeway in the matter.

    Adding a species to the fed endangered list can cause adverse economic and even environmental impacts. And often it is detrimental to the endangered species itself! Perhaps the “comprehensive review” included these potential factors as well.

    The “detrimental to the endangered species itself” is RW, anti-conservation, anti-science fuckwad, earth-is-flat-and-only-6000-years-old bullshit.

  18. #18 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 7, 2008

    Jeff, Bernard, Dhogaza, Tim,

    How have species fared once listed under the Endangered Species Act? What is the ESA track record?

    Could it be that Palin believed that the bears were threatened but opted not to list them as “endangered” because of the ESA’s track record?

    Again, where’s the lie?

  19. #19 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 7, 2008

    Your continued claims that the polar bear is OK is really no different to the many claims made even earlier this year that the US and indeed the global economy was hunky-dory.

    It’s not me making the claims but Mitch Taylor, polar bear biologist who has spent 20 years studying the bears as well as Inuit hunters who live near the bears.

    Funny that AGW alarmists will trust the Inuit when they say the climate is getting warmer, but not when they say that polar bear populations are increasing.

    The claims of a sound US economy were made by neo-conservatives and Kenysian economists. The Austrian economists had been predicting this kind of boom and bust mess since the 1930’s.

    Don’t forget that Freddie and Fannie were gov’t entities, the Fed Reserve has been granted a monopoly on the creation of money and setting of interest rates, and the CRA and other acts overly encouraged home ownership for those that couldn’t afford it. But this is a problem with FREE market capitalism? Give me a break.

  20. #20 James Haughton
    October 7, 2008

    Nanny,
    Have you got ANY justification for this suggestion that Palin opposed listing the bears because she wanted to PROTECT them (and not, say, drill for oil?)
    I’m happy to concede that what’s happening in the US has nothing to do with any problems of free market capitalism, if you’re happy to concede that the history of the USSR, China, Vietnam, etc had nothing to do with any problems of democratic socialism. Fair?

  21. #21 Dano
    October 7, 2008

    na_gs at 10/7 2.33 PM:

    8.2 seconds on The Google will show that your asking a question to sow doubt is a poor way to sow FUD. Especially on this site.

    That is: your seemingly innocent questions display that you are either arguing from ignorance or mendacity. Neither are compelling.

    HTH.

    Best,

    D

  22. #22 QrazyQat
    October 7, 2008

    According to the Canadian government’s researchers, 5 of the Arctic’s 19 polar bear populations are on the decline. This is also the finding of the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Some areas, naturally, have expanding populations, and when they don’t have pack ice to hunt on they do tend to end up nearer humans, which is very likely why the Inuit say they’re increasing. They are, near Inuit settlements, because their usual habitat is in trouble.

    BTW, it’s often claimed that polar bear numbers have increased some huge amount from 50 years ago or longer ago, and if you want to make that claim please, please give the source where these numbers come from, because there were no decent studies of polar bear numbers then and these “estimates” are simply wild guesses. Their numbers did increase for a while after most hunting was banned, which of course would only surprise a denialist.

    And oh yeah, Palin was just looking out for the polar bears. Just like she wants people to look out for wolves from an airplane; the rifle is only there for show.

    OTOH, Nanny, I agree that Republican government sucks. All that whining and gimme gimme from rightwingers (and those Alaskans, Palin in particular, they’ve got it bad). Dean Baker is right.

  23. #23 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 7, 2008

    Where’s the lie, folks?

  24. #24 z
    October 7, 2008

    “Don’t forget that Freddie and Fannie were gov’t entities,”

    Until Fannie Mae was privatized in 1968, of course. (Freddie Mac being created as a private corporation from the gitgo, of course, shortly thereafter). One giveaway is that you could buy stock in them. Another being that the government had to make a big deal to step in to bail them out, which is not the case with money losing government entities, such as the defense department.

  25. #25 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 7, 2008

    z, Freddie and Fannie were GSEs: Government Sponsored Enterprises. I.e.: Not capitalist. It’s like being partway pregnant.

  26. #26 James Haughton
    October 7, 2008

    Indeed. And Gosplan wasn’t socialist either.

  27. #27 z
    October 7, 2008

    well, so was the Hudson’s Bay Company, but that didn’t stop it from being a private company. If you can buy stock in a company, the government doesn’t own it. it’s like being partway pregnant.

  28. #28 llewelly
    October 7, 2008

    I think everyone in this thread is ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s obvious the hard core environmentalists want control of the world. Those who deny this are either earnest, but unknowing fools (the majority) or zealous and secretive tools. And to take over the world, it should be obvious the environmentalists will need shock troops. Tens of thousands of shock troops.

    Shock troops must be tough, ruthless, bold, the strongest of the strong, the meanest of the mean. They must survive well in extreme environments. They must be capable of mounting effective amphibious assaults. And they must be terrifying. Of all the world’s populations, it should be obvious that Polar Bears fit the requirements best of all. Polar Bears would of course require extensive training – and thus a secret training base would be required. The scientists in control of the Antarctic bases will gladly conspire with enviros to provide the training base.

    But of course if tens of thousands of Polar Bears simply started disappearing – someone would notice. So the enviros must create a reason for the Polar Bears to disappear. Thus the enviros are melting the arctic sea ice. As the apparent (arctic) Polar Bear population drops – due Polar Bears being recruited and shipped to Antarctic training bases – the enviros will point to the melting arctic sea ice, and declare that the explanation. Eventually, all the arctic sea ice will be melted – and all the Polar Bears will be gone, naturally.

    By that time the enviros will have the lion’s share (so to speak) of their shock troops thoroughly trained. And it will be too late. The Free World will be unable to defend itself against the Polar Bear Shock Troops of the Enviro-Communist Revolution.

  29. #29 James Haughton
    October 7, 2008

    llewelly,
    you realise of course that we will now have to send Polar Bear Shock Troops to kill you. They may have screwed up once when they let Palin escape to Washington, but don’t expect you will be so lucky.

  30. #30 Bernard J.
    October 8, 2008

    NGS.

    If Jeff’s excellent (and unfortunate for having to be oft-repeated) precis of species survival and habitat loss is beyond your comprehension, think of it in more economic terms: as ‘extinction debt’…

    You should be well acquainted with issues of debt, as they seem to be making the headlines lately. Well, young feller-me-lad, ecosystems are having sub-prime mortgages taken out on their existences by human activity, and a similar debt crisis is being created in the process.

    Of course, by your very moniker and by your previously stated ideologies, you don’t think that any regulation should be placed upon the triumphal march of the free market. Unfortunately, neither the ‘market’ nor the humans who constitute them are able to factor in any of an inordinate number of parameters that exist beyond what are, in practice, limited economics paradigms, and so laissez-faire approaches will be prone to collapse in the face of the externalities that inevitably come knocking on the door.

    The trouble with taking Father Smith’s economic individualism to extreme is that, whether in the ‘market’ or in an ecosystem, the individual remains dependent upon the integrity of the system in which it exists, and by not giving sufficient consideration to maintaining system integrity, an ever-growing vulnerability occurs. Ecosystems have evolved with exquisitely complex and subtle ‘regulations’ in the form of species interactions and feedbacks with each other and with the environment in which they live: short of allowing Western humanity several thousand years and several planets Earth with with to ‘evolve’ their own regulating rules for stable economic equilibrum, the only alternative is to have sensible regulation put in place.

    I know that this pains you to the point of incoherent lather, but whether in human business enterprise or in nature, displacement of appropriate feedbacks/regulation that maintiain equilibria will incur debt. Just because it isn’t apparent to you doesn’t mean that it is not there.

    The current market approach seems to be birthing a crash that might yet herald the day where capitalism (as we know it) is dead: the similar model as humanity has applied it to the environment already guarantees foreclosure on many species and ecosystem functions, the polar bear likely amongst them.

    Your continued claims that the polar bear is OK is really no different to the many claims made even earlier this year that the US and indeed the global economy was hunky-dory.

    I can almost predict to the word what your response is likely to be…

  31. #31 Bernard J.
    October 8, 2008

    Oops, sorry for the repeat post. I was sitting at the computer with my 9 month old daughter, and she managed to whack the mouse button after I’d come back from another site.

    Perhaps Tim will remove the extra post?

  32. #32 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 8, 2008

    There seems to be some disinformation spreading about the GSEs being free-market capitalist entities. Ha. The housing market GSEs enjoyed 13.6 billion in indirect federal subsidies in 2000 alone, had a line of credit with the US Treasury worth around 2 billion, and had the authority to monetize their debt through the Federal Reserve. Does that sound like your typical free-society business competitor?

  33. #33 Barton Paul Levenson
    October 8, 2008

    nanny writes:

    the Fed Reserve has been granted a monopoly on the creation of money

    Is there any government in the world at the moment that allows counterfeiting?

  34. #34 cohenite
    October 8, 2008

    Government’s don’t create money; money creates money; put a deposit in the bank and watch it grow through interest; for a real exponential result let it compound; it sure beats the enhanced greenhouse effect.

  35. #35 Bernard J.
    October 8, 2008

    Cohenite, without significant clarification and circumstantial definition, your comment at #34 essentially implies free energy machinery.

    It is this sort of thinking that underlies much of the narrow-mindedness that precipitated the current free-falling global financial sector.

  36. #36 dhogaza
    October 8, 2008

    How have species fared once listed under the Endangered Species Act? What is the ESA track record?

    The problem is that being listed under the ESA is analogous to being diagnosed with lung cancer after years of smoking, then deciding it’s time to stop smoking. Too little, too late.

    What we need are *stronger* protections, and management of habitat and ecosystems designed to *prevent* species from entering the terminal state in the first place.

    Now, having said that … since being listed …

    1. Grey whales have recovered
    2. Griz in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have increased
    3. Bald Eagles have recovered
    4. Peregrine falcons have recovered

    This is not a complete list. And there are species that have continued to decline, such as the Northern Spotted Owl. Intervention there may have been too late, but not for lack of trying by conservationists. We fought for old growth protection throughout the Reagan administration, which illegally logged at twice the sustained yield level in Oregon (later admitted by the USFS itself). Again, during the Bush I administration and finally won a major court battle, but by then we were down to about 5% old growth habitat remaining. It’s not surprising that the NSO is still in trouble.

  37. #37 Dano
    October 8, 2008

    And there are species that have continued to decline, such as the Northern Spotted Owl.

    A good outline of the difficulties is in The Final Forest by William Dietrich, written in mid-1990s IIRC. What he couldn’t know at the time was the effect of the barred owl on the spotted owl.

    The barred owl came across the Great Plains only after man had settled there and planted trees for the barred owl to rest in. Once they made their way across this barrier, they outcompeted their smaller cousins. Or so said one of my professors while we were in the field one day.

    Point being: there are numerous issues surrounding the spotted owl decline, chiefest being habitat destruction. Lack of habitat, in this case, exacerbated invasive species competition.

    So ESA is a last resort, but important here is the protection of habitat. Meaning: no development.

    The ‘no development’ part is why conservatarians don’t like the ESA.

    Best,

    D

  38. #38 QrazyQat
    October 8, 2008

    llewelly, you realise of course that we will now have to send Polar Bear Shock Troops to kill you.

    But to make it more palatable, they will be ridden by adorable feisty little girls.

  39. #39 cohenite
    October 8, 2008

    Not at all Bernard; let me remind you of an analogy which you yourself have used; the CO2 is the banker and the warming is the interest; we have a constant supply of insolation (money); the money hits the ground, some is invested and some is reemitted to be caught by the increasing supply of CO2 (bankers); the bankers (greedy little bunch) keep a lot for themselves and redistribute some up to their mates in the next Weartian layer above (no glass ceilings here); some is returned to the poor punters on the surface; and so the process continues with the warming (interest) continuing and increasing ad infinitum (runnaway inflation); and so on and so forth; a perfect free energy (money) mechanism.

  40. #40 cohenite
    October 8, 2008

    Not at all Bernard; let me remind you of an analogy which you yourself have used; the CO2 is the banker and the warming is the interest; we have a constant supply of insolation (money); the money hits the ground, some is invested and some is reemitted to be caught by the increasing supply of CO2 (bankers); the bankers (greedy little bunch) keep a lot for themselves and redistribute some up to their mates in the next Weartian layer above (no glass ceilings here); some is returned to the poor punters on the surface; and so the process continues with the warming (interest) continuing and increasing ad infinitum (runaway inflation); and so on and so forth; a perfect free energy (money) mechanism.

  41. #41 James Haughton
    October 8, 2008

    Cohenite,
    Although there is indeed positive feedback, it has a multiplier (I forget the technical term) of less than 1, so the process of energy moving back and forth between surface and atmosphere eventually attenuates to a finite limit, unlike compound interest.
    I am reminded of a definition of a banker’s utopia: one in which no work is necessary, because everyone lives on the interest from their deposits. Pretty much what the US did.

  42. #42 Bernard J.
    October 8, 2008

    Not at all Cohenite; let me remind you of thermodynamics.

  43. #43 Bernard J.
    October 8, 2008

    Oh, and Cohenite, my attention was drawn to your nonsense at Marohasy’s blog here:

    Geez luke, with all these resources at your disposal to crank open the (alleged) foibles of candidate Graeme and Louis’s grenades you’d think you could come up with something better to criticise the Douglass/Christy paper than it being published in a lessor journal. Still, we should be thankful for small mercies I suppose; occasional contributor and self-described beacon of civilised discourse, Bernard J, I see, over at Deltoid, is calling for Monckton to be beheaded; it’s all relative I suppose.

    Comment from cohenite
    Time October 6, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I have never described myself as a “beacon of civilised discourse”, so do not ascribe that imputed superior attitude to me, and I certainly have never suggested any violence be perpetrated upon Monckton.

    You are a mendacious liar, and I challenge you to spport both of your claims. Especially so as you give no context at all on your Marohasy post.

    My last comment on Monckton was the suggestion that he demonstrate his actual academic competence in the field of probabilistic combinatorics: this has nothing to do with beheading unless you think that Monckton’s real capacity in probabilistic combinatorics is such that he would irretrievably humiliate himself should he actually try to engage at any expert level.

    Very poor behaviour Cohenite, especially when it occurs without providing evidence or links to justify the slurs that you direct at me.

  44. #44 z
    October 8, 2008

    “The housing market GSEs enjoyed 13.6 billion in indirect federal subsidies in 2000 alone, had a line of credit with the US Treasury worth around 2 billion, and had the authority to monetize their debt through the Federal Reserve. Does that sound like your typical free-society business competitor?”

    And the oil industry receives $25 billion a year in subsidies. I hadn’t realized they were government entities.

    I reiterate, if you can buy stock in it, it’s not a government entity.

  45. #45 James Haughton
    October 8, 2008

    Bernard J,
    Cohenite is probably referring to the well-known fact that if Monckton actually did any accurate mathematics, his head would explode. Challenging him to mathematically justify his claims is thus tantamount to calling for his beheading.

  46. #46 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 8, 2008

    I reiterate, if you can buy stock in it, it’s not a government entity.

    So you’ll always have your whipping boy (capitalism) regardless of the role government plays in our society.

  47. #47 cohenite
    October 8, 2008

    James and Bernard; firstly, guys, never challenge a lawyer to justify anything; first rule of legal practice: never ask a question, or make a statement unless you already know the answer; Bernard; on the thread “Monckton demands that Mann, Bradley and Hughes be put on trial for genocide”, at 10.57PM on Sept 30, 2008, Bernard intones thus;

    “The UK’s aristocracy should seriously consider a quiet guillotining of this gangrenous appendage on their numbers,” etc and so forth;

    And while I know a sense of ironic humility is absent from many AGW advocates, I did think “beacon of civilised discourse” would be taken with the necessary grain of ironic salt; I stand corrected.

    Still, the exchange has not been a complete waste of time; the concession that the semi-infinite opaque model is not a perpetual energy machine has been made; the ping-pong game between the expanding layers of CO2 and the surface will not result in infinite energy build-up, and Alan Siddon’s light-bulb wrapped in foil or one of Eli’s flak-jackets will not eventually contain all the energy in the universe. On a related tack, the denominator, or forcing of a doubling of CO2 will have, according to IPCC, a temperature response of ~+3C per century, or +0.3C per decade. Trenberth et al has found that there is an ENSO free CO2 signal between 1950-1998 of ~+0.0925C PD; this is similar to what Christy and McNider found in 1994; in their most recent paper Douglass and Christy find an ENSO and aerosol free CO2 signal of +0.07C PD for the period 1979-2008; none of these CO2 signals have had a soar forcing deduction; TAR estimated the SF at +0.4C PC or +0.04C PD; for some reason AR4 has reduced SF to +0.016C PD; now, Lucia has found an ENSO free CO2 signal for the period 2001-2008 of -0.045C PD. How to explain this? Keenlyside et al can’t help because his cooling is ENSO based and Lucia has removed ENSO and there have been no proximate eruptions so aerosols aren’t a factor.

  48. #48 Bernard J.
    October 8, 2008

    Cohenite.

    Well spotted, but I was actually referring to the aristocracy dissociating themselves from their colleague lest they lose favour with the commoners and find a republic is a serious attraction to the UK public.

    My very bad though for picking a metaphor that included the French revolution and ‘beheading’. However, as a wise man once said, I thought my revolution comment “would be taken with the necessary grain of ironic salt; I stand corrected.”

    Seasoning aside, if the British blue-bloods persist in allowing such muddled-thinking amongst their ‘best’, the weight of history may one day not be able to prevent a dissolution of the country’s current sociopolitical structure.

  49. #49 dhogaza
    October 8, 2008

    The barred owl came across the Great Plains only after man had settled there and planted trees for the barred owl to rest in. Once they made their way across this barrier, they outcompeted their smaller cousins. Or so said one of my professors while we were in the field one day.
    Point being: there are numerous issues surrounding the spotted owl decline, chiefest being habitat destruction. Lack of habitat, in this case, exacerbated invasive species competition.

    I don’t disagree much here, other than my concern that your story properly supports the very, very rapid appearance here of Barred Owls.

    After all, those tree planting mostly occurred in the 19th and early 20th centuries. If nothing else, farms have been getting larger, those stands of trees growing sparser.

    It’s interesting because an English friend and I had the first birding record of breeding barred owls around 1990. On investigation, USFS bios had been spotting them off and on for some years. The explosion followed.

    I wonder … call me crazy, Dano, if you wish … if warming has allowed barred owls to skip across the continent in the boreal forest. The arrival was just too sudden, too explosive, for me to accept the mid-west theory. They literally weren’t here – NOWHERE NEAR HERE – 20 years ago. Midwest farming practice doesn’t explain how they marched across the Great Basin, where, AFAIK, they weren’t being found when we first found them here.

    You’d expect people would see them, no? Like where people live?

  50. #50 dhogaza
    October 8, 2008

    Point being: there are numerous issues surrounding the spotted owl decline, chiefest being habitat destruction. Lack of habitat, in this case, exacerbated invasive species competition.
    So ESA is a last resort, but important here is the protection of habitat. Meaning: no development.
    The ‘no development’ part is why conservatarians don’t like the ESA.

    Lest I’m misunderstood, the above is all no-brainer stuff for anyone whose boots ever hit the ground, whose pliers ever band a bird, whose binoculars are ever used to monitor bird migration, etc.

    I’m only wondering about the particular human modification to habitat that allowed the barred owl to extend its range to the PNW – ag modification of the midwest, or climate change, or (very likely), both?

  51. #51 Michael
    October 8, 2008

    “firstly, guys, never challenge a lawyer to justify anything; …” – cohenite

    And C. gives a very convincing display of lawyerly sophistry by equating Bernards metaphor of “The UK’s aristocracy should seriously consider a quiet guillotining of this gangrenous appendage on their numbers” with a call for Monckton to be beheaded.

    You have to be either stupid or disingenuous to make this leap.

  52. #52 dhogaza
    October 8, 2008

    Final note … barred owls are making inroads on old-growth habitat, too. All about edge, I think (thanks to clear-cutting), but the science is still in reactionary mode, AFAIK. But I’m willing to be educated if there’s good reason to think the NSO is in better shape than I, sadly, think it is (speaking as a board member of one of two original co-plaintiffs in the notorious NSO suit, I’d like to think we weren’t entirely too late, but fear we were).

  53. #53 Bernard J.
    October 9, 2008

    Just so that the entire context of my statements is clear, I have also placed a response to Cohenite on the Marohasy thread dated 9 October 2008, at 1:36pm.

    Socrates would be pleased to see how well both Cohenite and I have ourselves blundered into Jennifer’s version of an irony-trap.

  54. #54 NT
    October 9, 2008

    Bernard J.
    Ask Cohenite if summing all the monthly ENSO anomalies from 1879 to 2007 to try and find a link between ENSO and Global temps is a valid thing to do…

  55. #55 James Haughton
    October 9, 2008

    Cohenite, no-one that I am aware of except you and those german idiots G&T ever claimed that the greenhouse effect WAS a free energy or perpetual motion machine. But, if it soothes your pride, I am happy for you to quote me as saying that doing accurate math would cause Monckton’s head to explode.

    Btw, your approach to these questions is exactly like a tv caricature of a lawyer. You show little interest in arriving at the truth – instead you use whatever tactic you can think of to rule out of court the evidence presented by your opponents and present the evidence for the side you already support in the best possible light, rather than weighing the merits of the evidence itself objectively (merits like “is there strong collaborating evidence from other sources, like carbon isotopes, fossil air records or species migration? Does any other scientist in the world believe this? Has this passed a peer review process and been published in a journal of good repute (ie. indexed)? Does this contain violations of the laws of physics?”)
    Should you feel like reviewing the case a little more impartially, I’d suggest this site for a good overview of the total evidence and recent developments, on both sides:
    http://members.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/enviro/globalwarming.html
    But feel free to return with a rebuttal of every single thing on it.

    Usually when you lead off with one of these misleading blizzards of references, they turn out to be self-published internet based conspiracy theorists or articles from Energy and Environment (much the same thing, really). Without more references (links? journal titles?) it’s difficult to know what exactly you are claiming (indeed, based upon your previous history of pontificating about Planck Units of Time and Local Thermal Equilibria until Chris and Rabbett put a stop to it, it’s difficult to know if YOU know exactly what you are claiming).
    However, the idea that a long-term trend could be unambiguously deduced from only 7 years of data, even if someone has made a rough attempt to remove ENSO from it, is silly.
    BTW the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation are NOT the same as ENSO as you seem to think.

  56. #56 cohenite
    October 9, 2008

    That’s alright Bernard, I’ve just made an allusion to the entrails of IPCC scientists at Jennifer’s latest post; I too disavow any suggestion of violence implied or otherwise, and advise the vigour of my metaphors and reasoning are solely directed at the intellectual paucity of the arguments and evidence supporting AGW, not the actual persons making said arguments which, as I say, are bereft of credence.

  57. #57 guthrie
    October 9, 2008

    Bernard J #48- an examination of British history would show that the British aristocracy permit plenty of muddled thinking by their “best”, and it hasn’t done them any harm so far.

  58. #58 Ian Gould
    October 9, 2008

    “”And the oil industry receives $25 billion a year in subsidies. I hadn’t realized they were government entities.

    I reiterate, if you can buy stock in it, it’s not a government entity. ”

    Any so-called private company that soils its soul by dealing in the vile corruption that is government-issued fiat money is contaminated and not really capitalist at all.

    Any failure of such a company (and any crimes committed by a company) are a direct result of this original sin.

  59. #59 Dano
    October 9, 2008

    I wonder … if warming has allowed barred owls to skip across the continent in the boreal forest. The arrival was just too sudden, too explosive, for me to accept the mid-west theory. They literally weren’t here – NOWHERE NEAR HERE – 20 years ago.

    and

    barred owls are making inroads on old-growth habitat, too. All about edge, I think (thanks to clear-cutting), but the science is still in reactionary mode, AFAIK. But I’m willing to be educated if there’s good reason to think the NSO is in better shape than I, sadly, think it is

    IIRC there is a paper out there from the early 80s that tracked the barred owl into Alberta, up pretty far north. This is not to say that tree growth from warming did it – as the boreal forest grows too slowly for that – but rather a longer frost-free period would allow additional time to hunt. I think your supposition is entirely plausible.

    My original argument – muddled due to brevity – was that in old-growth protection created for NSO refugia, barred owls are outcompeting their cousins. And back when Dietrich wrote The Final Forest, avian specialists were not convinced what was left was enough.

    Of course commerce won out and here we are today. I think it is too late for this species. I hope it is not – my glass is half-full, but it is half-full of groundwater tainted by big ag.

    Best, sir,

    D

  60. #60 z
    October 9, 2008

    “So you’ll always have your whipping boy (capitalism) regardless of the role government plays in our society.”

    I.e.,piping large sums of tax money from individual taxpayers to large corporations with powerful lobbyists and generous campaign contributions, and their stockholders, as we both have documented.

  61. #61 z
    October 9, 2008

    “So you’ll always have your whipping boy (capitalism) regardless of the role government plays in our society.”

    I.e.,piping large sums of tax money from individual taxpayers to large corporations with powerful lobbyists and generous campaign contributions, and their stockholders, as we both have documented.

  62. #62 z
    October 9, 2008

    grr. the server lag was long enough to convince me that my comment had indeed limboed.

    anyway

    “Any so-called private company that soils its soul by dealing in the vile corruption that is government-issued fiat money is contaminated and not really capitalist at all.”

    Well, depends on “private company”, vs “public corporation” ( i know, that’s probably not what you meant but…). A publicly owned corporation being an artifical entity whose only purpose and sole duty being to further the fiduciary interests of the stockholders within the confines of the law, it can and has been argued that moral/ethical considerations have no place in their activities; what one stockholder may find unpalatable being what another stockholder finds laudable. As such, the officers of any corporation which did not act so as to maximize profits due to the personal behavioral preferences of said officer could well be regarded as having not acted in a fiduciary manner, just as much as those who enrich themselves at the stockholders’ expense. So, refraining to pick up loose change, or to shake the tree to shake loose as much change as possible, is not something one can blame a corporation for doing; it’s in their nature. After all, the aforementioned Hudson’s Bay Company and its similar contemporaries were first derived to efficiently strip the new world of its riches without any risk to the shareholders; thus the brilliant insight that gaining a charter from the crown would ensure a lack of competition, which leads us back to Funky Mae and Freddy Macury.

  63. #63 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 9, 2008

    I.e.,piping large sums of tax money from individual taxpayers to large corporations with powerful lobbyists and generous campaign contributions, and their stockholders, as we both have documented.

    … which I assume you are opposed to, yes? Me too. And does this have anything to do with capitalism? No, of course not because the force of government (used to redistribute tax dollars to the wealthy) has no place in a free society/market. So let’s not blame capitalism for what is essentially a failure of government in the form of Freddie/Fannie/The Fed/CRA/etc…

  64. #64 z
    October 9, 2008

    I’m not too surprised that as we dig down to bedrock we find we are standing on the same planet after all. However, I see it in terms of evolution, as much as anything; given the advantages for doing so, those with wealth/power will develop mehods for extracting wealth/power from others, some of which are acceptable to the majority (marketing a better mousetrap), some of which not (inventing a better extortion racket). As such, human society sets up things to protect against the less desirable of these activities; and, as always happens, the tools devised to protect some group get turned around and used against them (i.e., government). Neither of us is happy about this state of affairs, neither of us has a workable solution; neither government nor corporations are going to go away; so we are free to assign blame to whichever part of what, from an objective engineering POV is just another problematic positive feedback loop, or from an ecological perspective is just another successful organism finding a way to fit into its environment in a way that allows maximal growth and proliferation.

  65. #65 Marion Delgado
    October 9, 2008

    Normally I would call llewelly and overzealous conservative. Normally. But I saw a movie called the Golden Compass – quite possibly a documentary or EVEN A TRAINING FILM.

    And I saw with my own eyes the polar bear forces attacking human settlements.

    So llewelly is, if anything, not raising enough of an alarm. I will try with all my might to get the Palin campaign to mention this. The training film was also very antireligious, although against Catholics as opposed to Christians.

  66. #66 dhogaza
    October 9, 2008

    Thanks, Dano …

    IIRC there is a paper out there from the early 80s that tracked the barred owl into Alberta, up pretty far north.

    OK, interesting. They certainly *appeared* to have dropped down into Oregon via the Cascade range, north to south, not on a rising east-to-west tide.

    This is not to say that tree growth from warming did it – as the boreal forest grows too slowly for that – but rather a longer frost-free period would allow additional time to hunt.

    Yes, exactly what I’ve imagined.

    My original argument – muddled due to brevity – was that in old-growth protection created for NSO refugia, barred owls are outcompeting their cousins.

    Yes. At the time the review was written (three years ago???) evidence was a bit sparse for that, inroads were being observed and the trend was in the wrong direction. I haven’t looked for more recent information, but given that, and mounting pressure to shoot barred owls, I had imagined that trend had continued, as you confirm.

    Of course commerce won out and here we are today. I think it is too late for this species.

    Sadly, yes, I think so as well. NGS wants to blame the ESA, but the reality is that if the USFS had obeyed its legal mandate to work to preserve species throughout their range, if the old growth fight had been won earlier (I first became involved in 1972, at 18, talk about opportunity lost), etc it could’ve been pulled off. But by the time some semblance of legal victory was won, I’m afraid it was simply too little, too late by two decades.

    I hope it is not – my glass is half-full, but it is half-full of groundwater tainted by big ag.

    I’ve kinda given up on traditional conservation, what we’ve not fucked up yet will be fucked up by climate change.

  67. #67 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 10, 2008

    Neither of us is happy about this state of affairs, neither of us has a workable solution;

    Well, that may be the case but at least I have a framework for a workable solution which is to have politicians adhere to the Constitution (here in the USA) as they are sworn to do. The 10th amendment forbids Federal corporate welfare, direct or indirect including bailouts of any kind (please no tired “General Welfare” clause arguments. See Madison).

  68. #68 dhogaza
    October 10, 2008

    The 10th amendment forbids Federal corporate welfare, direct or indirect including bailouts of any kind (please no tired “General Welfare” clause arguments.

    Hamilton bailed out the colonial debts inherited by the states during the Revolutionary War years.

  69. #69 z
    October 10, 2008

    “Hamilton bailed out the colonial debts inherited by the states during the Revolutionary War years.”

    used it as leverage to get concessions from them, too. that’s why wlkes-barre is in pennsylvania, not connecticut.

  70. #70 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 11, 2008

    Hamilton tried to subvert the Constitution every chance he got. What’s your point?

  71. #71 dhogaza
    October 11, 2008

    Hamilton tried to subvert the Constitution every chance he got. What’s your point?

    Dear, dear. You do understand that Hamilton’s actions were supported by Congress – which included many who’d help write the Constitution – and President Washington. Do you believe *they* were also subverting the Constitution they’d helped develop and ratify, too?

    Do you know who wrote most of the Federalist Papers, so beloved by RWingnut libertarians who don’t actually understand the history of their country?

    Do you have any notion that the meaning of the Constitution and the actual powers and form of the government sketched out in outline form therein was the subject of as much vehement dispute back then, as now? Indeed, perhaps even subject to more disagreement?

    By the very people who wrote and ratified it?

  72. #72 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 11, 2008

    Dhogaza, what’s your point? Above I said “…I have a framework for a workable solution which is to have politicians adhere to the Constitution (here in the USA) as they are sworn to do.”. That applies to back then as it does now. I don’t support Hamilton’s bailouts, nor congress’ approval of those bailouts as they were bad government, anti-liberty, and violated the 10th amendment.

  73. #73 dhogaza
    October 11, 2008

    The point is that *your* personal interpretation of the Constitution doesn’t agree with the interpretation of the Constitution BY THOSE WHO WROTE IT.

  74. #74 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 11, 2008

    dhogaza, what part of the 10th amendment is open to interpretation?

  75. #75 luminous beauty
    October 11, 2008

    dhogaza, what part of the 10th amendment is open to interpretation?

    The 10th Amendment is pre-empted by Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3.

    P.S. The only legally valid interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is by the Supreme Court, not scurrilous Libertarian mugwumps.

  76. #76 dhogaza
    October 12, 2008

    what part of the 10th amendment is open to interpretation?

    It is clear that the Founders thought the *entire* Constitution was open to interpretation.

    That was, historically, rather the point. Ambiguity was really the only way to get North and South to agree to form a unified country. The Bill of Rights was meant to tighten things up a bit, mostly to get Southern states to agree to ratify it. While the underlying ambiguity led future Federalist (parties didn’t arise until after Congresses began to sit) like Hamilton to accept it because they knew there was sufficient flexibility in the document to allow the Federal government the strength they felt was necessary.

    And BTW, Hamilton’s “subversion” of the Constitution while Secretary of the Treasury is what allowed the Federal and State governments to emerge from under the burden of the Revolutionary War debt in a strong and healthy state.

  77. #77 Ian Gould
    October 12, 2008

    For those like me who are coming in late, the 10th amendment specifies that:

    >”The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”

    The problem (for Nanny) is that among the powers delegated to the United States are:

    >”To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    >To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

    >To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; ”

    That’s from Article One Section 8.

  78. #78 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 13, 2008

    Ian,

    You forgot to mention

    “To bail out our friends in huge corporations when they make idiotic investment decisions so we can be hired by them at huge salaries when our stint in government is over.”

    That’s also in Article 1 Section 8, isn’t it?

  79. #79 David irving (no relation)
    October 14, 2008

    Lomborg is at it again:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24497983-5015664,00.html

    The usual stuff: “It hasn’t warmed since 1998″, “The arctic was ice-free in 2000, so why are we panicking this year?”, etc.

  80. #80 dhogaza
    October 15, 2008

    Well, yes, NGS, the general welfare clause is quite open-ended, and was written quite intentionally to be open-ended.

  81. #81 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 15, 2008

    Please no tired “General Welfare” clause arguments. See Madison

  82. #82 dhogaza
    October 15, 2008

    Please no tired “General Welfare” clause arguments. See Madison

    What’s wrong with Hamilton, also a Founding Father?

    Just more evidence that even those involved in the creation, selling, and ratifying of the document didn’t agree on what it meant.

    There has *never* been universal agreement on the scope of Federal Government allowed under our Constitution. NEVER.

  83. #83 dhogaza
    October 15, 2008

    Relevant comment from the Hamilton link above:

    A Question has been made concerning the Constitutional right of the Government of the United States to apply this species of encouragement, but there is certainly no good foundation for such a question. The National Legislature has express authority “To lay and Collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the Common defence and general welfare” with no other qualifications than that “all duties, imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United states, that no capitation or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to numbers ascertained by a census or enumeration taken on the principles prescribed in the Constitution, and that “no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.” These three qualifications excepted, the power to raise money is plenary, and indefinite; and the objects to which it may be appropriated are no less comprehensive, than the payment of the public debts and the providing for the common defence and “general Welfare.” The terms “general Welfare” were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a Nation would have been left without a provision.

    A break for emphasis:

    The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union, to appropriate its revenues shou’d have been restricted within narrower limits than the “General Welfare” and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition.

  84. #84 nanny_govt_sucks
    October 16, 2008

    What’s wrong with Hamilton, also a Founding Father?

    Virtually everything. He was a merchantilist who subverted the Constitution every chance he got.

    What’s wrong with reading what the guy who WROTE IT meant?

    There has never been universal agreement on the scope of Federal Government allowed under our Constitution. NEVER.

    Well, either the Constitution is a document that limits government or it is not.

    If you believe the “General Welfare” clause means government can do anything it wants, then the Constitution does not limit government and it is a worthless piece of paper.

    If you believe the “General Welfare” clause is sort of a “caption” for the items listed in Article 1 Section 8 as Madison said it was, then the Constitution is a document that limits government.

    These arguments are tired, tired, tired. You obviously want an all-powerful government to “fix” the problems of the world without realizing that it can’t do that and can at best just make matters worse. How’s that $700 billion bailout working for you?

  85. #85 dhogaza
    October 16, 2008

    What’s wrong with reading what the guy who WROTE IT meant?

    Because his opinion isn’t the only opinion that counts. The document was the result of haggling by the representatives of the thirteen colonies, many of whom disagreed with Madison’s interpretation of the clause.

    Well, either the Constitution is a document that limits government or it is not.

    It’s not. It’s a document that *defines* government in the form of an outline, with the details intentionally being left to the future political process to define. The arguments began while it was being formulated, during the ratification process, and from virtually the first day of the First Congress.

    These arguments are tired, tired, tired

    Which equally applies to any argument that says that only Madison’s opinion counts. while the opinions, words. and voting records of other Founders must somehow be ignored because you disagree with their political philosophy.

    Much as you insist that science must be ignored when you believe that the implications run counter to your political beliefs.

    Sorry, people aren’t buying. Obama’s going to win.

  86. #86 dhogaza
    October 16, 2008

    You obviously want an all-powerful government to “fix” the problems of the world without realizing that it can’t do that and can at best just make matters worse.

    Also, the fact that I expose your ignorance of the political history of my country does not in any way depend on my political beliefs.

    That’s the difference between most of us here, and you. We don’t reject reality just because it conflicts with our political beliefs, as you do.

    How’s that $700 billion bailout working for you?

    Three of the four liberal democratic congresscritters in my state voted against it, twice, despite the bill being sweetened in efforts to win their votes (one was the infamous “wooden arrow” tax break).

    While the one conservative Republican congressman voted for it.

    However, we don’t know how it’s working, yet, because none of the money has been spent yet. We’ll see after the money starts flowing in a couple of weeks.

    However, partial nationalization of the banking system is unlikely to lead to worse results than we’re reaping from rampant deregulation that folks like you seem to worship. 40% drop in the NYSE in 12 months is pretty spectacular. International behemoths like Lehman vaporizing in a matter of days is pretty spectacular.

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