Friday, March 25, 2016


Kristof Off the Template But Still Clueless

In yesterday's New York Times, columnist extraordinaire Nicholas Kristoff displays (here) not only his inability to tell the difference between an accident and a murder, but reveals his deep seated inability to discern much of anything. Kind of a problem for an opinion piece writer. Behold.

Are terrorists more of a threat than slippery bathtubs?
President Obama, er, slipped into hot water when The Atlantic reported that he frequently suggests to his staff that fear of terrorism is overblown, with Americans more likely to die from falls in tubs than from attacks by terrorists.
The timing was awkward, coming right before the Brussels bombings, but Obama is roughly right on his facts: 464 people drowned in America in tubs, sometimes after falls, in 2013, while 17 were killed here by terrorists in 2014 (the most recent years for which I could get figures).
Gee, I wonder if there was a year not too long ago when the number of Americans killed by terrorist far outnumbered the bathtub drownings? Why, yes, there was. 2001 had about 3,000 American deaths by terrorists. So even the average over the new millennium, about 220/yr. dead from a terrorist attack, is comparable to the deaths from falls in the tub (not drownings, which are a different matter). And that's just in America; the death rate from Muslim terrorists worldwide is much higher than here in the USA. Thanks for the global sympathy, Nick.

Then comes the Michael Kinsley type gaffe: Kristof tells the truth about himself but doesn't realize it.

The basic problem is this: The human brain evolved so that we systematically misjudge risks and how to respond to them.
Right, like thinking the weather getting slightly nicer is any risk at all to us or that the risk of an accidental fall in a bathtub is a risk to ordered civilization greater than Muslim terrorism.

On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.
And why is there a yawn, O Kristof? Is it because James E. Hansen has been spectacularly wrong in his predictions ever since he began to make predictions? (See here, here and here). Is it because the "new" paper by Hansen is horrible science? (See here and here).

Except for the exotic fauna living off the hydrogen sulfides in the undersea hydrothermal vents, all life on Earth depends on CO2. An atmospheric concentration of it below 150 parts per million kills everything except the vent life. Below 1,000 parts per million and the plants that evolved over 60 million years ago (which is most of them) suffer from CO2 starvation and the Earth is much less verdant than it should be. It would take a concentration of 40,000 parts per million for CO2 to cause any risk to us at all, and 100,000 for it to be lethal (like on the alien moon in Prometheus). What is the atmospheric concentration now? 400 ppmv? 405? We've watched that rate rise from near plant starvation of around 300 to a more beneficial but not yet fully verdant concentration. The rate of change of the concentration has been fairly steady at 1.517 ppmv per year for the past 56 years; so at that rate, it will only take 26.36 million years for it to endanger us at all. I think I feel another yawn coming on.

I know that Kristof and his ilk are talking about increased temperature, catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, as the risk, but CO2 caused atmospheric temperature rise is asymptotic (that's the opposite of exponential). After a while (and we're already to the flat part of the curve) it takes many doublings of the CO2 concentration to raise the atmospheric temperature at an appreciable rate. And the curve keeps getting flatter. So it would take, according to my careful calculations, over 16,000 years for it to raise the Earth's average temperature 2 degrees, Celsius, which is about the lower limit of the change in ambient temperature we are able to perceive.

Who's systematically misjudging the risk of additional CO2 in the atmosphere now? Back to Kristof.

The upshot is that Brussels survived this week’s terrorist attacks, but it may not survive climate change (much of the city is less than 100 feet above sea level).

The tidal gauge derived rate of sea level rise is 1.7 mm/yr. The corrupted rate from our federal government is 3.2 mm/yr. The tidal gauge rate is almost certainly right and the NOAA rate is almost certainly wrong, but let's use the higher rate. At 3.2 mm/yr it will take 9,525 years for the sea to cover the low parts of Brussels. So they have a little time to prepare. I'm yawning again.

Actually, in less time than that the next ice age will role around for reasons that have been as regular as celestial clockwork for the past few million years and have nothing whatsoever to do with CO2 concentration in our atmosphere. At the full onset of the next ice age the sea level will have dropped 400 feet and many of the current coastal cities will retreat inland.


Did you see where New York is investigating Exxon under the Martin Act, looking for evidence that it misled investors w/r/t climate change "risks"?

Since I tend to believe that the whole "climate change" thing is a complete crock o' you-know-what, this seems to me one of the most specious (is that the right word?) actions perpetrated by the NYAG office.

What a waste of resources now for Exxon, and its shareholders, and it's especially ironic when this "investigation" (a/k/a fishing expedition) claims to be on their behalf.
It's also chilling free speech, which is a tried and true lefty tactic (Brownshirt).

It's criminalizing having a different opinion ultimately about a political subject. I can only think of examples by Democrats of that abuse. (DeLay, Hutchinson, Perry in Texas and Scott Walker in Wisconsin).

I used to have a live and let live attitude about the left. Now I'm much more wary and ready to take Obama's advice and punch back twice as hard (figuratively, of course)

I continue to be a lukewarmer. Yes, CO2 has some effect on atmospheric temperature (although water vapor does most of the heavy lifting there) and we have put more CO2 in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuel (in order to have the modern society many enjoy today). But the amount of temperature rise from anthropogenic CO2 is too small to measure and Doomsday predictions about our future weather are a complete crock as you said. The up-side to having more CO2 in the atmosphere is its effect on plants and the greening of the World. That's not theory or modeling, satellites can count the green pixels and we know the planet is greener because of more CO2. I've become pro more CO2 in the atmosphere. I think about 1000 ppmv is the concentration to strive for. Right now it's only 405 or so. That's starving the plants.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?