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September 20, 2006



Every space pirate worth his space salt knows that the shuttle always jettisons its trash just before going into hyperspace.

"it's a sagging old rust-bucket which is designed like a garbage scow" ~Klingon

John E

If this is above Detroit, then yes, I think this is indeed a plastic shopping bag.



or HAL?

"Dave, I know I have not quite been myself lately...."

"Dave, it be one of the crew.."

Correction...malfunction detected.

Last should have been: Dave, it may be one of the crew...


What is the fine for litering up there?



Happens all the time. The minute they start letting tourists into a neighborhood the whole area goes to pot. But who would have thought that someone who can afford a twenty million dollar ticket would be shopping at Wal-mart?


It's standard imperial procedure to dump the garbage before jumping into hyperspace.I thought everyone knew this.

Scott W

It's more proof of global warming. Along with, If it is hot, that is a sign of global warming. If it is cold, that is a sign of global warming. And if it is a moderate 70 degrees, it means we are all going to die unless we cede every personal liberty to the state.




Dave we will see you in 2010


Hey, enough about Detroit! We don't jettison our trash into space - many of us would like to do that to our governor or state senators, but not our trash! We send our trash to Ohio....

Tim J.

Scott W. -

Right! And I understand that logging causes continental drift.

And lawnmower exhaust causes solar flares.

Can you PROVE they don't?

J.R. Stoodley

No doubt the bag is really over Syracuse, NY and is a Wegmans bag. Check it for W up!

OK, I admit it is stupid to post inside jokes where no one will get it but I can't help myself.

Michael Martin

Actually, it is a photo of the very rare and elusive space jellyfish.

J.R. Stoodley

OK, now that I've discredited myself with that last post...

CO2 causes global warming. We know this from physics and the example of Venus.

CO2 levels are rising in the atmosphere. This is certain.

The temperature of the Earth is rising. This is also certain.

Virtually all scientists studying this issue have come to the same conclusion that global warming is occuring at least in part due to human influences.

They also predict some catastrophic effects of continued warming.

Nothing to worry about? Just bad old liberals up to their nasty tricks?

Now back to the jokes (I hope I havn't ruined this thread).

J.R. Stoodley

p.s. Scott W,

Since when is dumping your waste into the commons a personal liberty?

And it is not us who are going to die (except maybe through on average worse storms), it's people in poor countries and in wars that may occur as a result of shifting natural resources.

Sorry again for the negativity.

Tim J.

J.R. -

You might want to look over this post I did on melting glaciers.


Photo caption: "White Trash In SPA-A-A-A-CE!"


"Hey, enough about Detroit...We send our trash to Ohio...."

Yes, but Ontario send theirs to us, so it all works out perfectly!


Jared Weber

Serious commentary re: Global warming. I also recommend perusing the comments under Tim J's fine post. And would also note that the world has been emerging from a "Mini Ice Age" since the Renaissance era.

And you thought those gloves and hats they wore were for modesty's sake.

We now return to your regularly scheduled jokesters.


I, for one, sincerely hope the temp rises a bit. I love being in the Northeast with the change of seasons, but I could do with fewer sub-zero winter days. A longer growing season, milder winters and an expanded vacation period. Bring it on!

As for the doom-and-gloomers, you guys really need a reality check and a life. When are you guys ever right? Avian Flu? Nope. Nuclear holocaust with the soviets? Nope. Repeated terrorist attacks on the US? Nope. Oh yea, and this year is going to be one of the worse hurricane seasons ever. Even worse than last year. All because of man-made global warming. Yea, ok. I remember watching Ted Danson in high school explaining how the world was basically going to end by 1985 due to man's abuse of the environment. Professors were visibly shaken by the supporting "scientific evidence".

Looney bins.

Nothing unusually dramatic is going to happen with climate change. It's all a bunch of bunk that just so happens to be lining the pockets of scientific consulting firms with tax dollars - while the populace cheerleads. I should have been a scientist. I could be making easy money.

Dr. Eric

I just wish my taxes were going to something more worthwhile instead of sending people on a joyride around the planet.

There is nothing out there folks!

And for you geeks who think that hot alien chicks will find you attractive... think again!

Scott W

Nothing to worry about?

Right. Nothing to worry about.

Just bad old liberals up to their nasty tricks?

I'll go out on a limb and not ascribe it specifically to liberals, but rather sinful man's capacity to manufacture gloom and despair in anything. Today's fad just happens to be global warming. Tommorow it will something else. And the solutions will be the usual politcal equivalent of tossing virgins down a well to get good weather.

Jared Weber

Dr. Eric: I'm married--to an Earth girl--so this doesn't apply to me but, what those guys gonna do when they've constantly heard the "not even if you were the LAST MAN ON EARTH" rejection? Why, to hear all of the psuedo-psychologist talk, all of their pent-up energy ALONE is causing global warming! (Because, as we're constantly told, people have no concious control whatsoever over those things.) And ... there's the problem of all those lonely Martian-chick seekers over-eating (which, ohmygosh, RHYMES with over-heating... huh?) to comfort themselves in their lonliness and that only leads to ... um ... internal methane production, shall we say? Horrors! Still MORE warming! Add to that the fact that I'm getting so worried about this now, still more warming.

I'll shut up now.

Jared Weber

Shoot, that first line should read "...but, what are those guys gonna do...."

And I really gotta stop posting now. I'm annoying MYSELF now.


To JR Stoodley - I'm originally from Rochester NY, so I for one get your inside joke....

To Mary - yes, we still get trash from Canada, but with the exchange rate, it's not as much as trash as it seems.

As for global warming, go to MichaelCrichton.com and read his speeches "Aliens Cause Global Warming" and "Fear, Complexity and Environmental Management in the 21st Century". Two very interesting speeches from a pretty intelligent guy. My opinion is that what we DO know about the environment and our impact upon it is considerably less than what we DON'T know about the environment and our impact upon it.

Now, back to the "B-A-A-A-GS IN SPA-A-A-A-A-CE" jokes (with regards to the Muppet Show.


I wish some scientists would explore the possibility that Congress is causing global warming. Heaven knows, all that hot air has to be doing something.



ROTL! Actually, though, the exchange rate isn't what it used to be (sigh). And now that the CBC has cancelled DaVinci's Inquest/City Hall, I'm not sure why we don't just shut down the borders. Ah well, Rick Mercer is still there for me. I hope he does another "Talking to Americans" epsiode soon. Those are sooo funny!


On to a more serious note: over the summer, I had a fascinating experience. I came across an old National Geographic from circa 1974. The major article in this issue was the global food crisis. Speaking as someone who has no real recollection of this time period (yes, I was there, but I don't remember much - my focus was more Oscar the Grouch related) but who, through books like The More with Less Cookbook and Laurel's Kitchen have ascertained that this was a genuine concern for people, I was very interested to read this (really long) article about the global crisis.


Yes, you read that right. I actually re-read that part several times because I thought I was missing something.

I have to tell you that I really struggled with filching the magazine to bring it home with me as proof. My conscience won out, but I still have a pang when I think that I left it behind.

Global Cooling.

Of course, it was the 70s. Perhaps they were all on dope and got confused. Groovy, man!

Jared Weber

Mary: Yup, and in addition, NASA sattelites (hey, we're back on topic ... kinda) showed a 20-year COOLING trend in the atmosphere as late as the early 90's, I believe.

Aaah, it's Clinton's fault!


I guess they didn't recycle :o)



Really? I didn't know that. What I do know is that this National Geographic article specifically said that the average temperature over the past 5 years (previous to when the article was published) had been 3 degrees lower than previous recorded temperatures, which doesn't sound like much, but apparently was a big deal to the scientists.

This kind of stuff just reminds me about the whole "Lies, damn lies and statistics" quote that somebody smarter than me said. This is why anything to do with global warming goes in one ear and out the other for me. The sky is falling! Plastic bags are in trees, and have now crossed space - the final frontier!


J.R. Stoodley


You get part of the inside joke. Understand also that my friends have an ongoing thing about W up. Oh W up, how I love you!

Jared, your comments about comming out of the little ice age are true. My comments are true as well. No one is saying this is a simple situation. More later.

J.R. Stoodley

I'm back from dinner (aka two donuts and a glass of water) and since I probably don't have time to read Tim J.'s glacier thing yet I might as well bore you with a little more explanation about W up. It is the Wegmans rip-off of 7up. I'm not sure if you are supposed to write W up like that or as all one word, but W up is now officially the unofficial official soft drink of the Alibrandy Catholic Center. OK, so it's me and my friends who named it that but we're the cool ones so that's what counts.

One time we were drinking wine and W up at the Catholic Center at 2am (long story, not as bad/cool as it sounds without the details). One of our campus ministers walks in the room so this guy puts the W up under the table so he doesn't see that we were drinking it, except that he could definitly see under the table anyway.

Later the same guy laid down on the floor and we put all these big empty W up bottles around him to make it look like he drank them all and passed out and took a picture. Then we watched someone get hit by a car and ransacked the Catholic Center looking for a book called Birds of the Bible.

OK, so its a dumb story. I guess you had to be there, and maybe be a dumb college student at 2 or 3 in the morning.

J.R. Stoodley

It's official, I have a spelling problem. I have no idea where the y in Alibrandi came from.


I was in High School debate during the 1974-75 school year when the national topic was "Resolved that Scarce World Resources Should be Controlled by a Multi-National Corporation". This means that for that year, budding policy geeks all over the US discussed the pros and cons of having a group such as the UN (which btw had not become the totally discredited farce it is today) dispense all scarce world resources to the great unwashed masses. In the 70's, of course, it was a given among the intelligensia that by the year 2000 our planet would be a drilled out, depleted, frozen, nuclear wasteland that the scattered remains of starving humanity would have to abandon for outer-space or become extinct. During my debate research, I came across many, many articles on "the coming Ice-Age" and none of them were prophetically refering to a computer generated animation movie by Pixar. A scarce 10 years later, global warming was suddenly all the rage. The exact same sources who had been championing Ice Age for a decade, immediately jumped on the global warming band wagon. Pardon me if I am sceptical.


Has anyone considered that this might just be a badly cloaked Klingon warship? And your worried about global warming? You have all seen the shows these guys are bad news, we need to prepare, sheilds up, oh wait we don't have any. darn.


Badly cloaked, my eye. I'd like to see the Romulans disguise their ships as a Wal-mart shopping bags. It's the perfect cover. No one ever even bothers to pick one up when it is blowing around and put it in the trash, let alone hit it with proton torpedos.

Jared Weber

Allena: Yeah, we got shields. Remember? Back in 1999, when the ozone layer disappeared, we put those big ... red things up.

Oh wait, that was that crappy Highlander sequel. Sorry, wrong movie.

I mean that. That movie was wrong.

Tim M.

It seems so amazing to me that absolute ignorance that abounds among those "in the know"

All I do is stay alive, read the paper and keep abreast of news and current events. And I appear as a genius... sort of like me remembering from the nightly news after the US embassy bombings in Africa. I heard someone say that al-Qaeda was planning to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings.

and then 09.11 happened and every government official and think-tank member acts like terrorism was invented on that day.

hello? all I did was watch the news and I knew more than the administration.

so again here... how many times do you read or hear of some new weather satelite or GPS satelite or satelite TV.... there must be more than 10,000 objects sent into orbit and NASA sits around and says "we don't know what it is or where it came from"

and THEN... today, I heard an interview with a NASA official... in the department of space junk!!!!

it makes you want to pull what's left of your hair out. please STOP insulting our intelligence.

Gene Branaman

I'm a bit at odds here . . . Should we tell Art Bell about this space bag or not?

I mean, if we don't tell him, there could be loads of (unintended) comedy for weeks on his show that we'd miss out on!

And I, too, recall tons of articles about the coming ice age back when I was in high school in the 80s. When the global warming thing started, I was confused. Was that supposed to happen before the rapidly-approaching ice age or after? Never could figure it out. But then, I'm a bear of very little brain.

The series Jimmy blogged a while back about a Michael Crichton speech on how global warming is bogus pretty much closed the deal for me.


What about all the poor baby martian space seals that will get caught in those plastic bags and suffocate?

Oh, wait. If they live in space, they probably wouldn't need to breathe anyway. Nevermind.


Gene, I just read that some climatologist from Massachusetts said: "I predicted an ice age was coming before I predicted any ice age wasn't coming."

J.R. Stoodley

Any ice age that was coming has been prevented through global warming.

Interestingly, Europe and even the Northeastern US could cool down rather than heat up with global warming, as a result of a shift in the Gulf Stream.

And yes, the climate has always been changing. Humans also often suffered as a result of those changes. This time we can do something about it.

"What about all the poor baby martian space seals that will get caught in those plastic bags and suffocate?"


Saves us clubbing them for their pelts, I guess.


I know we've been through this on another thread, but here goes:

The earth has been getting warmer.

During the same period, Mars has been getting warmer.

During the same period, the energy output of the sun has increased.

I'm sure there must be some connction between these three events, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.



Maybe someone is throwing plastic bags on the Sun. If you have ever thrown one in a campfire, you know what a flare-up it makes. And you also know that we have landed probes on Mars - filled with flamable plastic bags, no doubt.


I guess I was wrong, then; I thought we had filled those probes with SUVs.

Jared Weber

Lily: Fer real? That's what it does???


Well, isn't this awkward?

Um, sorry 'bout that. That was me. My bad.


Note to self: no more double bags at Ralph's.

Francis DS

Guys, this the first shot in an inter-stellar over-the-fence trash dumping.

And we are sorely unprepared.

Jamaica successfully launches its first $100 satellite.


bill912 - ROTFL!!! Did that climatologist serve in Viet Nam as well?

Dr. Eric


Your reply to my post was funny!

Your reply about the shields in 1999 was spot on. That Highlander sequel was TERRIBLE! It totally ruined the mystique of the first. The immortals are aliens...sheesh!


Popcorn in space

Tim J.

"And yes, the climate has always been changing. Humans also often suffered as a result of those changes. This time we can do something about it."

Oooohhh... J.R., do you realize what you are saying?

For one thing, I doubt very much that we can do anything at all to alter the global climate.

Even if we could, it would take a project of mammoth proportions, and I would lay odds that we would likely screw up whatever we were trying to tinker with.

Trying to stop global climate change is like trying to stop continental drift... it's lunacy, and a true commitment to such a fantasy can only result in some gigantic, Orwellian Uber-state trying to micromanage the activities of every individual on the planet.

What we will do is monitor and adjust, like we always have, only with modern technology and communications, we will be able to do a much better job of it.

Humans adapt... it's what we do.

Jared Weber

Dr. Eric: Thanks. And yeah, pretty much ALL of the sequels have been bad. I laughed out loud at Highlander 4 and the whole "You must kill me and take my power because YOU have a TV show to do and I must make a crummy film."

Tim J: Exactly. What're we, COBRA? With a Weather Dominator that can make it snow in SoCal? Waitaminute. That's a great idea.

In all seriousness, even if we could alter the climate (a HUGE "if," I know), who's to say what the "ideal" climate is? We make it too warm and Japan and California disappear. We make it too cold and suddenly England and Canada become unlivable. And we've already got illegal alien problems from our southern border.

J.R. Stoodley

Tim J.

I'm not saying we do stuff to prevent natural climate shifts (we may have already inadvertantly done this preventing the next ice age) I'm saying that by being a little more responsible we can reduce the coming global warming trend which seems at least partially connected to the burning of fossil fuels, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.

The "I doubt very much that we can do anything at all to alter the global climate" attitude sounds to me a lot like "we couldn't possibly significantly reduce the fish population of the whole ocean" "the natural resources of the American West are for all practical puroses inexaustible" "we could never kill all the passenger pigeons, there are just so many of them" "anythink we dump into the sea won't make a difference because it is so big" etc. etc.

It doesn't work. Care to deny that by our emmissions we have caused the ozone hole. That is a very significant change in the atmosphere right there, and you can get sunburnt in Australia easier because of it.

Yes, the ending of the little ice age is significant, as is the slight rise in solar radiation, as is the ending of the influence of that huge Indonesian volcano that erupted in the 19th century. But at the same time we humans are dumping tons of Carbon Dioxide into the air along with other greenhouse gasses like methane (largely from cattle).

We know that these gasses can cause global warming, and we know global warming is happening, and we know it is having negative affects on the arctic, where for some reason I don't understand it has a much more dramatic effect than over the rest of the world.

The Kyoto Treaty was crap. I'm glad we didn't sign onto it. But we do need to look hard at this situation and make some tough decisions. There is essentially a scientific consensus on this matter, with conservative politicians always trying to cast doubt on the situation to the great annoyance of environmental scientists. Just because you want so much for industry to be harmless doesn't mean it is. We need to listen to the experts on this matter and consider it rationally not the sound bites from either side.


It seems to me that Agent Maxwell Smart defeated the evil agents of KAOS when they tried to make a weather controlling machine...


Tim J.

"Care to deny that by our emmissions we have caused the ozone hole."

Care to prove that? The fact that the ozone hole expands and shrinks may or may not have anything to do with somebody having a theory about emissions of one kind or another.

The scientific consensus seems to me to be a political agreement not to promote, publish or give serious consideration to anyone who disagrees with The Theory, which is currently a cash cow for science departments. It makes for great fundraising brochures and easy grant writing.

I know industry can be harmful, and I believe in holding industry to high standards. I'm against mountain top mining, overfishing, factory farms and a lot of other stuff.

I BELIEVE in environmental responsibility, I just do not buy human-caused global warming.

J.R. Stoodley

Now, how about some quotes out of my old Global Environment textbook to clarify some things. It is from 2003, so one significant update is that we had another record-breaking year last year-2005 was the warmest year on record.

"Announcements of the warmest year on reacord have been repeated several times in the 1980's and 1990's. The warmest yar on record is 1998. Nine of the warmest years since 1851 occur after 1990. Starting with the warmest, the years are 1998, 2002, 2001, 1997, 1995, 1990 and 1999 (tie) and 1991 and 2000 (tie).

This string of warm years probably is not the result of random chance. Scientists calculate the odds are between 30:1 and 100:1 that the recent warming is a statistical 'fluke.' Most scientists agree that the average temperature of the Earth is increasing. They extimate that the average temperature of the planet has increased by about 0.6 degrees C over the last century."

"A small minority of scientists argue that the temperature increase is caused by natural forces. The Earth's climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. Conversely, a large majority of scientists argue that the temperature increase is caused by human activity. The gasses released by burning fossil fuel and changing land use trap heat and raise temperature- the so-called "greenhouse effect""

"Studies indicate that climate change is the rule rather than the exception....During the previous 1,000 years, climate has warmed and cooled several times. The average temperature was relatively warm between 950 and 1250 AD....Conversely, the average temperature was relatively cold between 1450 and 1880. During this period, which is know as the "little ice age," the Vikings abandoned their settlements in Iceland [sic] because it was too cold to grow grain."

"Over the lifetime of the planet, the solar constant has varied. These variations continue through the last 150 years (Figure 13.2a [which shows the unsteady decrease then increase from 1855 to 1995, with an overall increase]). Changes in solar constant are one cause for the change in the Earth's climate. The little ice age was caused in part by a slow-down in solar activity."

To be continued...

J.R. Stoodley

"The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased from about 316 parts per million in 1958 to about 370 parts per milion in 2001."

"The atmospheric concentration of nearly all radiatively active gasses [greenhouse gasses] is at or nrear the maximum value observed over the last 460 thousand years. Is the simultaneous increase a coincidence? No. The increase in the atmospheric concentration of radiatively active gasses is due largely to human activities that disrupt the carbon and sulfur geochemical cycles."

"Humans have also changed the amount of carbon stored by the terrestrial biota.... Deforestation is the removal of natural ecosystems and their replacement with ecosystems that meet human needs and wants. This replacement increases atmospheric concentrations of carbon because natural ecosystems generally store more carbon than managed ecosystems. The vegetation on one square kilometer of tropical rainforest may store 12.3 million tons of carbon while the vegetation on one square kilometer of tropical rainforest may store only 0.2 million tons of carbon.... Where does the carbon in the natural vegetation go? Most of it goes directly into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

"The rate at which society uses fossil fuels will have the greatest effect on the atmospheric concentratin of carbon dioxide because this storage holds the greatest amount of carbon. There are about 10,000 gigatons of carbon stored in fossil fuels, which is about 15 times greater than the amount of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere. On the other hand, there are only about 1,800 gigatons of carbon in biota and soils, which is only about twice the amount of of carbon currently in the atmosphere."

Following a discription of how computer models attibute recent warming mainly to human influence rather than other influences:

"These results are supported by statistical analysis of the historical data for temperature and radiative forcing. These analyses find a strong statistical link between radiative forcing and temperature over the last century. During this period, temperature in the northern and southern hemispheres is strongly correlated with the concentration of greenhouse gasses, human sulfur emissions, and solar activity. THe correlation is weakened (in a statistical sense) if any of these three variables are dropped from the statistical model. This indicates that temperature is associated with both human activity (greenhouse gasses and sulfur emissions) and natural variability (solar activity). Of these factors, human activity accounts for most of the increase in temperature over the last century."

J.R. Stoodley

"The 1.5-4.5 degrees C rise in average temperature that is associated with a doubling of the atmosphere's radiative forcing seems trivial.... But the significance of [it] can be appreciated by the following factoid: the Earth's average temperature was only 3-5 degrees cooler than today during the last ice age"

"There is a great deal of uncertainty about the effects of climate change on agriculture. Some of the changes in that are forecast by climete models could increase food supply, while other changes could reduce food supply. Based on current understanding, it is not possible to compare the positive and negative effects. Nonetheless, it is hightly unlikely that the positive effects will be balanced exactly by the negative effects. Instead, food production will increase in some regions and decrease in other regions, which will create "winners" and "losers."

"An increase in the air temperature also will raise sea level. Most AOGCM's forcasr that sea level to rise 0.09-0.88 meters between 1990 and 2100. This estimate is uncertain because scientists are not sure how a warmer climate will affect the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets."

"Economists estimate that a 0.5 meter rise in sea level could destroy about $20 to $150 billion worth of human infrastructure in the USA. To avoid such damages, several scientists have suggested building dikes around heavily populated areas. Such an effort would require an enormous amount of time and money.

A rist in sea level also would affect society indirectly by reducing the area and producitvity of estuaries and coastal wetlands. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems. Estruaries process organic and toxic wastes, they are nurseries for many commercial species of fish, and they reduce the strength of damage done by coastal storms. THese life support services could be reduced if estuaries and wetlands are drowned by rising seas. As with forests and farmlands [the book had earlier described how the population shifts accompanying previous climate shifts may not always be possible in today's altered landscape] estruaries may not be able to migrate in-land as sea level rises."

All this is just a short, quick selection. The point is that scientists know all about the objections of amature skeptics and the supposedly ignored facts like increased solar radiation, volcanos, the little ice age, etc. These things have been acknowledged, studied, incorporated into models, and accounted for in their conclusions. Still the vast majority studying this think global warming is a pressing concern and that human activity is largely responsible for it. We would do well to listen.

Brother Cadfael


Not all of the skeptics are amateurs.

J.R. Stoodley

There are obviously a lot of typing mistake up there inevitably. One important correction is that it is agricultural land that stores about 0.2 million tons of carbon, as opposed to the 12.3 million tons in rainforested land.

J.R. Stoodley

I know about this guy. You can find doubters on all sorts of subjects in science. One of the quotations above acknowleges that a very small minority of scientists do think natural causes alone account for global warming. Most scientists however have come to the opposite conclusion. Again, all these things are well known, yet still the general consensus is that this is a serious problem.

J.R. Stoodley

That last post is directed to Brother Cadfael. Sorry.

Brother Cadfael


One of the quotations above acknowleges that a very small minority of scientists do think natural causes alone account for global warming.

Correct. Many more think we don't have enough evidence to conclude one way or the other. Others conclude that both occur, but the marginal effect of human causes is relatively small. Many conclude that much of the alarmist rhetoric (see Al Gore, who already lost his patent on the internet) is agenda driven (your textbook?).

So yeah, technically, that portion of the quote is correct.

Having said that, I certainly agree that we should be good stewards of the environment.

J.R. Stoodley

I don't have access to it now but I will try to get you a chart showing the portion of scientists who agree with various aspects of the global warming idea. If I remember correctly the lowest numbers were 90%, but I'd have to check.

This problem is not going to go a way by wishing it away or ascribing hidden agendas to those who promote acknowledge it. I don't care two hoots what Al Gore says, I care about what the science says, and how we as Christians ought to be concerned about this.

Brother Cadfael


In all seriousness, I would be interested to know what scientific conclusions of Mr. Lindzen you think are false. (I'm not much interested in his analysis of others' motivations, for example.)

I agree that we as Christians ought to be good stewards, and we certainly ought to pay attention to good science.

J.R. Stoodley

Brother Cadfael,

I don't know if Professor Lindzen has personally studied this subject extensivly. From what I can find on him it seems he has not. If he has I am not qualified to analyze his methods.

However, I have only seen him present the well known non-human factors that affect climate change in his attacks on the idea of human-caused global warming. He does not define what he means by "consensus" but gives the impression that he means that there is not a large majority of the scientists studying global warming who believe in it or that it is caused by humans. Where are all these dissenting scientists? Oh yeah, they can't say anything because they want funding. Well, if they are all towing the party line then how is it there is no (outward) consensus?

This guy's arguments, as much as I can find on him, just sound like a rehashed version of the Creationist arguments "it's only a theory" and "scientists are lying that they believe in it because they want funding." I don't buy it.

I'm sure that whatever this guy does study he does it responsibly or he could not keep his job. He does not seem to be remotely right though in his criticisms of the concern over global warming.

J.R. Stoodley

I found this on the blog of some guy named Kevin Grandia. I have no idea who he is but it is interesting if it is true.

I guess it may be technically correct that Lindzen has never conducted "research" for oil and coal interests, but that of course would depend on how you define "research."

Here is what we do know about Lindzen's connections to the fossil fuel industry over the years:

Lindzen charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels, and a speech he wrote, entitled "Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus," was underwritten by OPEC.

Three skeptics—Lindzen, Michaels, and Balling—were hired as expert witnesses to testify on behalf of Western Fuels Association, a $400 million consortium of coal suppliers and coal-fired utilities.

Of course to be fair I would want to know if he was vocal about his ideas before his association with oil and coal companies.

Brother Cadfael


I'm sure that whatever this guy does study he does it responsibly or he could not keep his job

Nice. He's a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT. His job is studying the atmosphere.

As for who sounds like the "Creationist," I'll leave that to others. But rather than deal with his evidence, you just launch into some attack of him as a hack run amok on the take of the oil companies (pretty thin evidence, by the way).

I'll give you my take, as a non-scientist. His arguments are coherent, well-presented, and he does not appear to stretch the evidence into places that it clearly cannot go. He points out in a reasonable fashion weaknesses in the alarmists' position, and he admits when evidence points to a contrary conclusion.

Let's compare your textbook:

This string of warm years probably is not the result of random chance.

or this:

Scientists calculate the odds are between 30:1 and 100:1 that the recent warming is a statistical 'fluke.'

or this:

Studies indicate that climate change is the rule rather than the exception....

Or this:

Is the simultaneous increase a coincidence? No.

Now I'm not completely up to speed on the global warming debate (despite Al Gore's assurances to the contrary, it does appear to me there is one), but I'm pretty sure the best arguments against the hysteria in the global warming debate are not "random chance," "statistical fluke" and "coincidence." And I'm pretty sure Lindzen and company are not arguing that the climate is not changing.

By so characterizing the "opposition" arguments, it is quite easy to build a "consensus" against them. Which is kind of Lindzen's point.

Makes sense to me.

P.S. Although it is completely beside the point, my favorite quote from your textbook has to be this:

Instead, food production will increase in some regions and decrease in other regions, which will create "winners" and "losers."


JR - you wrote: There is essentially a scientific consensus on this matter, with conservative politicians always trying to cast doubt on the situation to the great annoyance of environmental scientists.

The following is from a speech given by Michael Crichton titled "Aliens Cause Global Warming", and no, his theory is not facetious. Just the title is meant to be eye-grabbing.

"There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let's review a few cases.

In past centuries, the greatest killer of women was fever following childbirth . One woman in six died of this fever. In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no. In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed puerperal fever was contagious, and presented compellng evidence. The consensus said no. In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post. There was in fact no agreement on puerperal fever until the start of the twentieth century. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent "skeptics" around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored. And despite the constant ongoing deaths of women."

Read the entire text of his speech, along with the one on complexity and environmentalism in the 21st Century. He makes a compelling argument that 'consensus science' should never drive public policy. It's bad for both.

Personally, as I've stated before, we know less than what we don't know. And if you don't like the evidence that's presented by Dr Jones today, be patient because Dr Smith will present opposing evidence tomorrow. Unfortunately, if Dr Smith isn't part of the 'consensus', his evidence is rarely publicized and largely ignored.

J.R. Stoodley

He's a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT. His job is studying the atmosphere.

He is a meteorologist from all I can make out. There is a big difference between weather and climate (though of course they are connected). Just studying the atmosphere doesn't mean you have particular competency in global climate change, if that has not been the focus of your own original research. That is all I have time for right now, I'm out the door.

John E

Wow, 70+ posts. Apparently it was a bag of hot air. Apologies. Dunce leaving. Continue the discussion.

Jared Weber

JRS: Gotta make this short, but I wanted to say a coupla things.

Firstly, global warming (AKA greenhouse warming) is a different phenomenon than ozone thinning.

Also, here's an article from a former NASA scientist: http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=013106I

One more thing: we need to keep in mind that we only have definite records of temperature from the past 150 years or so. Other than that we have to use less accurate "measurements" gotten from tree rings and stuff. Nevertheless, we do know, as I mentioned earlier, that the Renaissance Era saw the advent of a "Mini Ice Age," from which we are possibly still emerging. The scientific community is NOT of one mind on this and making policy decisions based on such tentative data is dangerous.

J.R. Stoodley

All right, here we go again.

He's a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT. His job is studying the atmosphere.

That is like saying any biologist is an expert at genetics. He ought to have more competency about genetics than the average Joe but I would want to know what precisely a biologist studies if he is refuting what the majority of geneticists think. Again, I have not been able to discover what Dr. Lindzen studies. For all I know it could be climate change, I just havn't found that. The closest hint I came across is that he is a professor of meteorology, which suggests to me his own research has more to do with weather than climate, but I could be wrong.

About the textbook, you do not seem to grasp the format, perhaps because you can only see tiny excerpts from it. We have a well known assertion that the global climate is warming and that it is caused by humans. The first thing to do is to see whether there is an actual trend here, as opposed to just random variation in climate. Looking at the statistics, it is highly unlikely that the variation is due to chance. Therefore we may with reasonable safety say there is a trend here. Neither the textbook nor I suggested anyone denied this, so that point of yours does not work.

Confident that there is a real trend, we can now examine what the cause may be. While a few scientists maintain that natural causes alone account for the warming, the much more common view, supported both by climate models and statistics, is that human and natural factors play a role.

Studies indicate that climate change is the rule rather than the exception....

I don't see why you single this one out. It is what your side love to say, and it is quite true. The climate is always changing. Do you want a textbook to go extensively into the plethora of research backing each uncontroversial statement?

Is the simultaneous increase a coincidence? No.

I admit that was a bad choice of words, but the text went on to explain why it was quite unlikely that it is a coincidence that nearly all greenhouse gasses should be at or near their peak level in thousands of years in our time.

Instead, food production will increase in some regions and decrease in other regions, which will create "winners" and "losers."

What is your problem with this pretty objective statement. Would you have prefered the authors spinned it into something more political, like "the patterns of agricultural firtility across the globe will shift, leading to famine in some areas and war in others"? Or do you just object the the simple language?

But rather than deal with his evidence, you just launch into some attack of him as a hack run amok on the take of the oil companies (pretty thin evidence, by the way).

What evidence? He presented none as far as I can remember in this artical. I read one place where he talked about how the sun's radiation has increased over the last century or so, but as I said this is well known and accounted for. Something else is happening too.

Also I never said the evidence was strong that he is being paid by oil companies to say this, although I did find other information on the internet saying the same thing. Some reporter said it. If it is true I think it quite unwise for him to take money from oil and coal companies while trying to pass himself off as an objective scientist. He may be an objective scientist, but he is doing a bad job of looking like one.

Anyway, I do not claim that he does not believe in what he is saying, I just find it hard to believe that anyone could think his load of bologne represents good science while the majority of climatologists who are confident about this (which not even he has the balls to outright deny exist) are somehow bad scientists just jumping on some bandwagon.

J.R. Stoodley


You point out that 18th and 19th century science was often wrong (like this isn't well known?), as well of the pattern that when something revolutionary in the understanding of our world is proposed, you generally have to wait for the next generation of scientists or even longer for it to be accepted, for instance germ theory or Einsteinian physics.

I don't see what this has to do with the matter at hand. The majority of scientists agree that global warming is happening, is poised to continue, and is being caused in part by human influence. While it is true that science based solely on consensus (this is what everyone thinks so this guy saying something new must be wrong) is not science, this is not what we have here. This is not some revolution in physics or medicine, this is how do you interpret the data we have about the atmosphere. If we can not trust the majority of scientists when they look at the data and come to the same conclusions why do we have science at all? You seem to suggest that minority scientific positions are more likely to be correct, which is completely illogical. Since I am not an atmospheric scientist myself I will trust that the experts are doing their job and that the occasional oddball most likely is really just an oddball. Presumably if reputable science comes out demonstrating that human influence on global warming is negligible the vast majority of scientists will swing the other way, as happened when the scientists who thought global cooling was going to happen saw the evidence for global warming.

Lindzen, Richard S.

He's a professor of skepticism.

If we can not trust the majority of scientists when they look at the data and come to the same conclusions why do we have science at all?

"Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Prof. Lindzen.

"Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen said.

Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added.

According to Lindzen, climate "alarmists" have been trying to push the idea that there is scientific consensus on dire climate change.

"With respect to science, the assumption behind the [alarmist] consensus is science is the source of authority and that authority increases with the number of scientists [who agree.] But science is not primarily a source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science -- consensus is foreign," Lindzen said.

J.R. Stoodley

Jared Weber,

Of course ozone thinning and global warming are different phenomina. There may be some connection since it is the same atmosphere but I am not aware of it. My point was that Tim J. was saying he doubted humans could have any significant effect on the climate, as if the atmosphere was too small for us humans to do much of anything to it. The fact that we caused this ozone hole (which I don't think anyone will dispute) shows that we can in fact change the atmosphere dramatically.

And yes, data for the temperatures of ancient times are derrived indirectly. That doesn't mean we can't see general trends. And again, the little ice age is no secret.

It is true that the scientific community is not entirely of one mind on this. It is good to have these debates and use a democratic system to decide what to do. And it is good that we are not letting undemocratic international bodies make the decision for the US. Still, the scientific evidence is strong, and sometimes you can't waight for every last scientist to be in agreement. What if that doesn't happen for 25 years? The policy changes need to start happening now, just to slow the growth of emissions for a start.

J.R. Stoodley

Skepticism is essential to science -- consensus is foreign

If you are an scientist studying the matter at hand yes. The thing is none of us here are experts on global climate change. Is it wiser to go with the large majority or the small minority in an issue like this where time is important?


JR -

There are other examples of consensus science that are more recent than 18th and 19th century science - other citations in the speech I didn't reference are SETI, nuclear winter and second hand smoke. What's changed from the 18th century to now more than anything is how consensus science has become a political tool, regardless of party. That's where the danger comes in.

For instance - the most recent current example is embryonic stem cell research - a "consensus" of scientists and researchers say (and are publicized by the MSM) we can get cures from embryonic stem cells, only if the government gives the researchers taxpayer money to fund additional research. We all agree on the immoralituy of that situation, and I'm not equating ESCR with global warming on a moral level. But the parallel I'm drawing is that just because something might be true, or might be a problem, don't use my tax dollars to fund it. That's when science becomes the domain of the political structure, and ceases to be science.

There are plenty of environmentalist wackos out there - and in no way am I lumping you in that category - your statements are well thought out, balanced and deliberate. I remember you stating the Kyoto Protocols were stupid and the USA was right not to sign on. However, the wackiest of the wackos seem to be demanding that everyone's way of life be changed because the data shows inconclusively that human activity is the SOLE reason for global warming. I don't buy that theory. And to enact public policy based on one particular theory for the cause of global warming - human activity - then it is no longer science but politics. And when it becomes politics, its no longer subjective, but purely objective.

I'm not saying that minority positions are more likely to be correct - but historically, there have been cases when they were. I'm not a climatologist or atmospheric expert either. But I'm not as hopeful as you regarding scientists swinging around the other way, unless there's a lot of money in it for them. Sorry if this sounds cynical, but unless there's cash flow (ie: other people's money), I don't see this push for "humans cause global warming" going away any time soon.

Read Michael Crichton's speeches for a different perspective. They may be persuasive, they may not. His book "State of Fear" opened my eyes - especially when he admits in his afterword that the original intent for the novel was to support the theory that humans are the major culprits in global warming. But after several years of intense research, he no longer holds that view.

To what extent we are responsible, perhaps no one will ever know. Should scientists continue to research it? Absolutely! Just keep the politicians out of it.

Sorry this is long. I hope I haven't transgressed any of Da Rulz.

Brother Cadfael

From his MIT bio:

"Professor Lindzen is a dynamical meteorologist with interests in the broad topics of climate, planetary waves, monsoon meteorology, planetary atmospheres, and hydrodynamic instability. His research involves studies of the role of the tropics in mid-latitude weather and global heat transport, the moisture budget and its role in global change, the origins of ice ages, seasonal effects in atmospheric transport, stratospheric waves, and the observational determination of climate sensitivity. He has made major contributions to the development of the current theory for the Hadley Circulation, which dominates the atmospheric transport of heat and momentum from the tropics to higher latitudes, and has advanced the understanding of the role of small scale gravity waves in producing the reversal of global temperature gradients at the mesopause. He pioneered the study of how ozone photochemistry, radiative transfer and dynamics interact with each other. He is currently studying the ways in which unstable eddies determine the pole to equator temperature difference, and the nonlinear equilibration of baroclinic instability and the contribution of such instabilities to global heat transport. He has also been developing a new approach to air-sea interaction in the tropics, and is actively involved in parameterizing the role of cumulus convection in heating and drying the atmosphere. He has developed models for the Earth's climate with specific concern for the stability of the ice caps, the sensitivity to increases in CO2, the origin of the 100,000 year cycle in glaciation, and the maintenance of regional variations in climate. In cooperation with colleagues and students, he is developing a sophisticated, but computationally simple, climate model to test whether the proper treatment of cumulus convection will significantly reduce climate sensitivity to the increase of greenhouse gases. Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS's Meisinger, and Charney Awards, and AGU's Macelwane Medal. He is a corresponding member of the NAS Committee on Human Rights, a member of the NRC Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, and a Fellow of the AAAS1. He is a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Ph.D., '64, S.M., '61, A.B., '60, Harvard University)"

I'm not exactly sure what qualifications to talk about global warming should look like, but if I were making some up, I think this would be a pretty good start.

Is it wiser to go with the large majority or the small minority in an issue like this where time is important?

I always go with myself. I find that enough.

Jared Weber

I used to be incredibly convinced of the reality of human impact on global warming, ozone thinning (there was never a hole), etc. Then I came to realize that the scientists on the side of guiding national and international policy were incredibly biased by personal self-interest when it came to looking at the data with a Chicken Little mentality.

Or, to quote Dr. Spencer in the article I linked: "Our government heavily funds a marching army of climate scientists -- government, university, and private -- whose funding depends upon manmade global warming remaining a threat. The government agencies, like NASA, that the money flows through also depend upon these issues remaining alive for continued funding.

"This is not to suggest that there is a conspiracy going on. It's merely to point out that climate scientists aren't always unbiased keepers of truth. The arena of global warming overflows with more strongly held opinions than it does unbiased or scientific truths."

Is it possible that those on the other side are biased? Possibly. But, I believe it to be less likely to be the case. No one gets any funding to continue to study a problem that's been proven to be nonexistent.

No one gets any funding to continue to study a problem that's been proven to be nonexistent.

There are shills on all sides of the debate.

Brother Cadfael


Permit me one further point.

If we can not trust the majority of scientists when they look at the data and come to the same conclusions why do we have science at all? You seem to suggest that minority scientific positions are more likely to be correct, which is completely illogical. Since I am not an atmospheric scientist myself I will trust that the experts are doing their job and that the occasional oddball most likely is really just an oddball.

I agree with you that it is illogical to assume that minority positions are more likely to be correct. Heck, I bet Lindzen would agree with you on that point. His point, as I understand it (major qualifier there), is not that there is an absence of evidence for human impact on global warming.

Keep in mind that pretty much all of what he has written publicly (as opposed to what he might have written for the scientific community) has been directed to Al Gore's misrepresentation of the evidence. Like it or not, Al Gore has become the face of the global warming hysteria, and like it or not, he appears to be misrepresenting the evidence, and misstating the conclusions that must be drawn from them. That is what, and who, Lindzen has been opposing.

I don't read him as being anti-consensus, at least in the sense that any true consensus must be wrong. I read him as saying, wait a minute, let's be clear about what there's agreement on and what there's not agreement on. And let's be honest about where there's disagreement, or where the evidence is inconclusive. And that's just good science.

Tim J.

"The fact that we caused this ozone hole (which I don't think anyone will dispute)..."

Ummm, yeah , I would dispute that.

J.R. Stoodley

All right, yes, it is an area where the ozone has become thinner, not an actual hole in the sense of a region with no ozone. The point is it is a real, measurable phenomenon.

I'll be back.

Tim J.

"The point is it is a real, measurable phenomenon."

Sure it is. And this phenomenon may be thousands of years old, or more.

I know that I have helped to totally derail this thread. We are not really going to accomplish much by playing combox ping-pong with our little sound bites.

I did find the idea of a Wal-Mart bag in space pretty amusing, if also repugnant.

Jared Weber

Tim J: I heard it was your lawn-mower that caused the continental drift so you've got more to answer for than your part of derailing this thread. I'd offer to help you out but, given that it was my Ralph's bags that caused the solar flares, I should probably lay low 'til the heat is off ... er 'til the pressure dies down.


I have tried to follow this thread as best I could, and I think I have it figured out now. I just want to say:

I, too, want to hurry up the Apocolypse by warming the globe! And if I can do that by launching plastic bags into space from the top of the Rennaissance Center in downtown Detroit, then I will do my part! (But I still don't understand why I have to drink W-Up... am I supposed to toast the Four Horsemen?)


Yes. The Gipper, too.


Oh, dear. I'd rather toast Night Train Lane. :)

J.R. Stoodley


Yes, you have to drink W up. You don't need to know why.

About global warming, I'm getting tired of debating the issue here, especially since as usual no one seems likely to change their minds. I still hold that Dr. Lindzen has been sounding extremely unprofessional and unscientific and am surprised that he has given the opposite impression to Br. Cadfael or anyone, but oh well.

None of us here are qualified to analyze the evidence ourselves, so this is really a matter of who you would rather listen to, who seems more credible etc. I choose to put my money on the majority of environmental scientists being right, the rest of you choose the oil-connected mavericks and a popular science writer or two. It may well turn out that humans are significantly contributing to global warming, but it is not as big a deal as many are making it out to be.

It is a nice thought that what ever is happening and will happen is part of God's plan, and he will draw a greater good out of every evil (perhaps the very efforts of those trying to fix the problems?). Even that silly bag in space is part of God's plan!


Isn't it obvious? It's the Delta Flyer. Compare.

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