Adventures in Ethics and Science

Dispatch from Wisconsin.

The Free-Ride family is spending a week communing with Free-Ride forebears on neutral turf in Wisconsin. Internet access is spotty, so while I have access to the tubes, a few quick observations:

  1. It’s really green here in August. Back in our part of California, it’s never this green unless you’re still within the rainy season. And that’s in the winter.
  2. The tourist traps are remarkably nice — not crowded or Disneyfied, lots of fresh air and things growing, and restaurant prices that are actually reasonable.
  3. However, others of the tourists feel compelled to share with us what they know about the climate (owing to a nephew’s recent astronomy class), which is that there is no global warming! and carbon dioxide is good for agriculture! It is important that we be educated. Because there’s no chance at all that one of us might be a college professor. Or that another of us may have worked on a project analyzing 35 years’ worth of climate data.

More later; the sprogs got a head start to the pool, and it’s time for me to catch up.


  1. #1 gort
    August 18, 2008

    Kudos for finding Old World Wisconsin, many people in the state have never even heard of it. It’s a nice state-run outdoor museum that makes for a nice day trip for anyone near SE Wisconsin.

  2. #2 Rugosa
    August 18, 2008

    So, is Nephew misunderstanding his astronomy class or is it taught by someone out of touch with current science on climate change? Even a biology amateur (ahem) can tell you that increased carbon dioxide won’t be good for crops unless it is at the same time bad for weeds.

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    August 18, 2008

    Tax Deductions,

    Did you know that with all the protists, bacteria, and fungi that inhabit your bodies, and with where you are right now, each of you constitutes an invasive biome?

  4. #4 EJ
    August 19, 2008

    More Women Than Ever Are Childless, Census Finds

    Published: August 18, 2008

    Women are waiting longer to have children, and more women than ever are choosing not to have children at all, according to a new Census Bureau report.

    Twenty percent of women ages 40 to 44 have no children, double the level of 30 years ago, the report said; and women in that age bracket who do have children have fewer than ever — an average of 1.9 children, compared with the median of 3.1 children in 1976.

    Women with advanced degrees are more likely to be childless, the study found. Of women 40 to 44 with graduate or professional degrees, 27 percent are childless, compared with 18 percent of women who did not continue their education beyond high school, the data show.

  5. #5 Mark P
    August 19, 2008

    There is a great deal of ignorance, both willful and otherwise, out in the boonies. It flourishes here in northern Alabama, where the history of spaceflight might lead one to expect otherwise. A local weatherguy sneered at global warming a couple of days ago because of lower-than-average temperatures recently in the upper Midwest. A couple of years ago I heard an engineer of my acquaintance recommending “answers in Genesis” as a good source of information. It makes my head hurt.

  6. #6 Evan Henke
    August 19, 2008

    Being from Minnesota, I am forced to despise Wisconsin if only because of the Minnesota Vikings/Green Bay Packers rivalry. Also, gas in Wisconsin is about 15-20 cents more per gallon than Minnesota due to an added education tax. Yikes they may need to increase that tax soon!

    Counterpoint: Don’t many USGCRP reports predict that climate change will for the most part increase the agricultural yield of the US due to an extended growing season and marginal drying or even increased precipitation in many of the agricultural areas of the US? I guess it depends on which climate change model you buy into, and don’t forget there are a ton of factors that might influence agricultural productivity.

    Read more: (About the Great Plains region, there are many others)

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