Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
Global temperature tracks sunspot activity almost exactly. Number of sunspots now? Zero. Cold times are coming.
People seem not to realise that religious belief was essential to the development of science.
1. The belief that the world is real, objective, and largely independent of our perceptions, and not simply illusion (maya in Sanskrit). That is, that there is something real and enduring there to investigate.
2. The belief that the world is reasonable, and organised in a reasonable, that is, orderly and consistent way, not not simply according to the whim of ancestors or nature spirits or fickle and jealous gods.
3. The belief that the material world is good, and therefore worth investigating, as opposed to the view that the material world inferior, something to be spurned or escaped from.
We take these beliefs so much for granted; that the world is real and objective, that it is ordered according to laws which can be investigated and understood, that nature/the universe is good, and that investigating and learning its laws and systems is a good and worthwhile endeavour, that we forget that only one culture has ever held these views consistently over a long enough period for science to develop.
Science is a creation of the Christian West.
The more science drifts from Christian theology, that is, the more it drifts from understanding reality as independent and objective, and the more it drifts from believing truth is an absolute value in its own right, the more it will be become empty, political, and corrupt.
Tonga pleads with the world: Global warming is real and is affecting us today. Save our pacific island 😢
Two different islands, neither in Tonga
There’s only one problem: the picture shows two different islands, neither of which is in Tonga.
The top photo is Kwajalein Island and the bottom photo is Ebeye Island. Although both in the Kwajalein Atoll they are not the same island and are part of the Marshall Islands, a long way from Tonga!
Isopropyl alcohol, H2O, sodium hydroxide, acetic acid, …. Nope, no chemicals there. Sometimes I wonder if people can really be that stupid. And then I think, yep, they obviously can!
This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.
$3.80 out of $10,000. That’s the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
1.7 cents out of $10,000. That’s the amount of Methane in the atmosphere.
Terrifying, isn’t it?
Naturopaths, homeopaths, etc, – these charlatans make a fortune out of suffering, illness, cancer and depression. Don’t be fooled. Seek genuine, tested treatments from a real medical practitioner.
“About ten months ago, a naturopath by the name of Dorothea Cist commented on my article about ND education and training, claiming:
I have many other cases of, and letters of testimony from, patients who were treated successfully by naturopathic medicine, and often by homeopathy alone. These magnificent cures, by treatments completely unsupported by any double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, were from pathologies as varied as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, grand mal seizures, interstitial cystitis, and bi-polar [sic] disorder.
I asked Cist to clarify. Is she claiming she can cure bipolar disorder with homeopathy?
She didn’t respond, but she didn’t need to. Yes, Cist was asserting she can use magic to cure a mental illness, along with a slew of other complicated diseases.”
“An American scientist has made a remarkable conceptual breakthrough, a design for a non nuclear relativistic launcher, capable of accelerating thousands of deep space probes per year to 0.25C; fast enough to reach the nearest stars in 15 years. The system is extremely scalable – you could start with a small, low cost proof of concept launcher, and work up to bigger devices, capable of launching substantial probes into interstellar space. The system also has a practical alternative use – the full size version is powerful enough to deflect dangerous asteroids into safer orbits.”
“In addition to larger spacecraft, some capable of transporting humans, we consider functional spacecraft on a wafer, including integrated optical communications, optical systems and sensors combined with directed energy propulsion. Since “at home” the costs can be amortized over a very large number of missions. In addition the same photon driver can be used for planetary defense, beamed energy for distant spacecraft as well as sending power back to Earth as needed.”
We could do this now – no new technology is required. Just the will to do it.
A dazzling speech by James Delingpole to the meeting of the World Taxpayers’ Associations in Berlin.
This is a sample. Read the whole thing.
Last year Climate Change Business Journal – calculated that the total annual spend on the climate change industry is $1.5 trillion a year.
All those carbon traders, climate researchers, renewables and biofuels experts, environment correspondents, professors of climate science at the University of East Anglia and the Potsdam Institute, sustainability officers on local councils, and so on, add up the cost of their grants and salaries – and $1.5 trillion per year is the ballpark figure you reach.
So what does $1.5 trillion look like in a global economic context?
Well, it’s roughly the amount we spend every year on the online shopping industry.
$1.5 trillion on the global warming industry; $1.5 trillion on the online shopping industry.
But there’s a key difference between these two industries.
One exists to provide buyers and sellers what they want – to their mutual benefit; the other is a sham.
Buying stuff on the internet: it’s really useful, isn’t it? It has had a dramatically transforming effect on our quality of life, the way you can order a book at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night and have it appear on your doorstep the very next day.
But how did this marvellous industry spring up? Was it because of all the special incentives and tax breaks granted by wise governments? Nope of course not. They weren’t necessary. The online shopping industry sprung up and grew and grew because it was what people wanted, where they chose – of their own volition – to spend their money.
Now compare and contrast the global warming industry – which I call a Potemkin industry – because that’s what it is: a fraud; a sham; a conspiracy against the taxpayer.
Do you want to have a guess how much that industry would be worth if it weren’t for all the money funnelled into it via government grants and taxpayer levies and subsidies and regulatory capture?
Pretty close to zero, I’d say. Take wind farms – my hobby horse. The cost of intermittent, unreliable wind energy is roughly twice the market rate for onshore wind; three times the market rate for onshore. Nobody’s going to pay that kind ofmoney in the open market. The only way it’s going to happen if people are mandated by the government to do so: which is what of course has happened across Europe and in the US.
Warren Buffett has said it: “wind farms don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
They’re inefficient; they kill birds and bats; they spoil views; they’re environmentally unfriendly – rare earth minerals from China; they’re hazardous; they’re expensive; they’re ugly (well I think they are….)
And in few countries is the damage these monstrosities have done more obvious than in Germany, home of the hateful Energiewende.
Energiewende means Energy Transition. It has been a disaster.
Apart from occasional links to news stories of interest, I haven’t written anything about local oil and gas development for over a year. I am often asked why I would support energy exploration in the Bight. And even more often, it is simply assumed that no one could honestly want such development, and I must therefore be in the pay of the oil companies. Alas! Not so. Though if Bight Petroleum or BP or any of those other nefarious organisations felt a desire to send me a large cheque, or even an offer for me visit to an operational rig or working survey vessel, I would gladly accept. The cheque would be best.
Australia’s economic stability depends on reliable supplies of cheap energy, mostly in the form of coal and oil. Many people would rather this were not so, and suggest renewables as a safer, cleaner option. Renewables are becoming cheaper and more efficient. But they are not yet even at the stage when they reliably produce over their lifetimes more energy than it costs to manufacture, transport, install and maintain them. The energy required for that production, maintenance, transport, etc., is entirely provided by fossil fuels. The only other possibility, energy produced by hydro and nuclear power, is not efficiently convertible for use in primary industry or transport; two key areas for remote communities like Kangaroo Island. Like it or not, our stability and economy will depend on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.
Members of remote communities would be the first to suffer if fuel became difficult to obtain, or prices surged. For example, on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, the entire life of the community depends on oil. Without oil there would be no ferries or planes to the island. There would be no fishing, no farming, no way for tourists to travel to or around the island, no boat trips or safaris, no food or furniture transported to the island, no building, no roads, no maintenance of infrastructure. In other words, no way to live.
There are a number of reasons why energy production should take place locally wherever possible.
Some of the most important of these are environmental.
Firstly, as a general rule, anything that can be economically or competitively produced locally should be produced locally. This is true of clothing and food; it is certainly true of energy. It is inefficient to produce oil half- way around the world and transport it here if we can develop oil reserves within Australia at the same price. And we can. Local production means saving all of the fossil fuel used in transporting vast amounts of oil around the world, with all of its associated emissions. Just because we have to use fossil fuels for now does not mean we should do so wastefully, or without regard for any environmental impact.
Secondly, oil that is not produced locally has to be produced somewhere else; somewhere, unless it is the US or Canada, with far lower safety and environmental standards than Australia. The lower the standards, the greater the likelihood of loss of life and of lasting harm to biological systems.
Thirdly, about 25% of all oil spilled into the ocean is directly related to oil industry activity (the rest, by far the majority, is mostly natural spills and seeps, like the Coal Point seep field near Santa Barbara, or multiple seeps in the Gulf of Mexico). About 5% of the 25% attributable to the oil industry occurs during exploration and development. The other 20%, five times as much, occurs during transportation. By far the greatest risk of a major spill near Kangaroo Island is the millions of tonnes of oil unloaded at Port Adelaide, which is far closer to KI than any proposed development site. One guaranteed way to reduce ocean spills is to reduce the volume of oil transported over long distances. Of course oil would still need to be transported from local wells to a local refinery, but there is a huge difference between transport over 500 kilometres, and transport over 15,000 kilometres.
The final environmental concern that would be alleviated by responsible local energy development is that of ocean noise.
Waves slapping against the sides of an empty tanker are in the same order of magnitude as the sounds generated by acoustic imaging. Acoustic imaging allows engineers to map the ocean bed and underlying structures in great detail. This reduces the need to drill test wells, and keeps interference with the sea bed to a minimum. Acoustic imaging is carefully monitored when in operation to protect nearby marine life, especially marine mammals. It has been rigorously researched over the last thirty years to examine possible impact on marine life. No long term impacts on any marine species have ever been observed. There is, for example, no correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beaching of whales. Australian research has also shown no impact beyond a momentary startle on smaller fish, worms, corals, etc. And of course, acoustic imaging takes place in any one area for only a few days. The noise of tankers plying the oceans is constant, is not monitored for effect on wildlife, and has not been subject to the same research. Where we are unsure of effects, we ought to exercise caution, and where we can reduce human impact on the environment, we have a duty to do so. Local energy development will significantly reduce ongoing ocean noise pollution.
In addition to environmental benefits, local production of oil also provides for greater reliability of pricing and supply. The Middle-East is simply too unstable to for us to rely on for such a vital resource. In the past we had little choice, but now it is clear that Australia has oil and gas reserves which may rival those of Saudi Arabia. We do not need to obtain oil from unstable, violent or war-torn regimes. In addition, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly shown that it is willing to manipulate the price of crude oil to suit its own purposes. It has done so over the last twelve months, reducing the price dramatically, in order to make Western investment in energy development uneconomical, and to encourage continued dependence on Arab oil producers. It can just as easily increase the price when it believes itself in a position of strength, and has done so in the past.
Price and stability of supply are important factors when considering where to source oil supplies. So are human rights. Many of the Middle-East oil producing states have appalling human rights records. These are places where children are executed, where women are stoned to death for adultery, where hungry men who steal a loaf of bread for their families have their hands cut off, where gays are hanged. When we support these undemocratic regimes, which are only able to maintain their hold through massive security spending, we are extending and facilitating the suffering of millions of people who deserve better.
Local energy production reduces our dependency on dictators, and reduces their ability to keep their populations under control. It makes us more responsible members of the world community.
Finally, money that is spent on development here in Australia provides employment and investment in Australia. Instead of sending money overseas, resource development companies pay royalties which help fund schools, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure and services in Australia.
Why do I support responsible local energy development? It’s better for the environment. It’s better for energy pricing and security of supply, which makes it better for Australian industry including manufacturing, farming and tourism. It’s better for human rights. It’s better for the Australian tax-payer, because local development helps fund local infrastructure and services.
I have constructed a short, five question survey which covers some of the points above. If you are interested, please feel free to complete it.
Once more unto the breach …
This is an important issue – for Kangaroo Island and for the state as a whole. I am still hopeful it will be possible to have a harmonious discussion focussing on the facts.
Why would anyone want oil and gas exploration near Kangaroo Island?
Our society, and every modern liberal democracy, depends on cheap energy. The primary sources of that energy are oil, coal and gas. These energy sources enable us to travel, to heat our homes, to run industry and agriculture, to provide health and education services. No energy means none of these things.
Developing countries need this energy too, to provide these same services, including basic health care, to their people. While foreign aid might be helpful in emergencies, what developing nations really need is power stations, cheap energy. And that depends on cheap fuel.
We all rely on oil and gas, KI residents more than most. While we might prefer oil development to take place somewhere else, it would be immoral to deny developing countries the energy sources Western nations have used to pull themselves out of poverty over the last centuries. Responsible energy development is an important part of our commitment to being part of a global community.
In addition, developing energy resources within Australia improves national security, and reduces our dependence on, and financial contributions to, corrupt and frequently brutal Middle-eastern regimes. It also helps to preserve forests and wildlife. If you are worried about your child starving, or dying because you have no access to clean water or cannot obtain basic medical care, you are not going to be concerned about the state of forests in Indonesia, or the whale hunt at the Faroes. The more prosperous a country or people, the more time and resources go into preserving and caring for the environment.
So private energy resource development should be encouraged unless in a particular situation there are pressing reasons why it should not.
Are there pressing reasons why oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight should not proceed?
There are three main reasons opponents to development have put forward.
1. Oil rigs and other equipment near Kangaroo Island will spoil the landscape, reduce the natural beauty of the area, and consequently reduce its appeal to visitors.
The nearest practical development point for an oil rig within Bight Petroleum’s exploration zones is approximately one hundred and fifty kilometres west of the West coast of KI. If this is on KI or even near KI, then so are Gawler and Keith. If the Eiffel Tower was perched at Cape Borda, and you were standing at the top with a telescope, you would still not see an oil rig at that distance.
2. Acoustic imaging used to map geological structures on the sea floor is harmful to whales, dolphins and other marine sea life.
Acoustic imaging has been used for the last forty years. One of the reasons for this is that it helps developers pinpoint likely productive sites, reducing unnecessary drilling and environmental impact. The possible effects of acoustic imaging on marine life have been extensively researched during this time. No university or other study has ever found any correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beachings, or any other negative effect, for example on reproductive rates or migration patterns. Recent intensive study conducted in Australia by Woodside Petroleum, the CSIRO and Penn State University likewise found no negative effects on sessile and territorial marine life.
Anti-development activists have sometimes suggested that the hearing of whales and dolphins could be permanently damaged by the noise of acoustic imaging. Sperm whales vocalise at about 235dB. The average acoustic array produces about 230dB. Even if the whales were 2 metres from an active array, the sound they heard would be less than the sound of their own vocalisations. To suggest that their hearing could be damaged by this is equivalent to claiming our hearing would be permanently damaged by listening to chatter at a tea party.
3. The possibility of a serious spill.
Spills are far more likely during handling and transportation than during exploration and development. The most significant risk of a serious oil spill near Kangaroo Island is from the transport of oil products to the island.
Australia’s worst development spill, and third worst oil spill overall, was at the Montara well in the Timor Sea. The two worst, from the Princess Anne Marie oil tanker in 1975 and the Kiriki tanker in 1991, were both transport spills. Prevailing winds and currents pushed the oil slick from Montara one hundred and eighty kilometres from the well site. At that distance, the slick was patchy, intermittent, and a few microns thick – less than the almost invisible amount of oil left behind by a well-maintained outboard motor. A spill of this magnitude occurs about once in every 100,000 years of well operation.
If a similar spill occurred at the closest point for any development in the Bight, a few streaks of oil a few microns thick could just reach the Western shores of KI, if wind and currents were behind it. But during the calmer months when development would be taking place, prevailing upwellings would push any spilt oil away from, not towards Kangaroo Island. Oil even from a one in one hundred thousand year spill would not approach Kangaroo Island. In addition, safety standards are improving all the time. The worst year for oil spills in the nineties was better than the best year in the seventies.
In other words, even if a spill occurred, no oil would reach the shores of Kangaroo Island, and the chances of such a spill occurring at all are tiny – one in one hundred thousand years of operation.
To summarise: The proposed oil exploration and development is not “on KI.” It is not even “near” KI in any normal meaning of that word. No oil rigs or other development would be visible from anywhere on Kangaroo Island. Forty years of research has shown no harm to any form of marine life from acoustic imaging. There is no correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beachings, and no evidence of hearing loss in any marine species. Even if a spill equal to the worst in Australia’s history occurred at the development site, oil would not reach the shores of KI. The chances of such a spill’s occurring are approximately one in 100,000 years of well operation.
There are good economic, humanitarian and environmental reasons why responsible oil and gas development should proceed. There are no compelling, truthful, reality-based reasons it should not.
I have been a fan of Professor Elizabeth Loftus’ work for many years, so I am pleased to see her getting a hearing in the press at last.
From the Australian ABC news site:
When an eyewitness gives evidence in a trial, how much faith should we place in their testimony? At first brush the answer would seem to be, why not trust them? After all, if an impartial witness says with certainly they saw something—why be sceptical?
However, Elizabeth Loftus, a renowned professor of both law and psychology based at the University of California’s Irvine campus, urges caution. Professor Loftus has been at the forefront of complex and controversial debates around the nature of memory for many years, and her research has made her a much sought-after expert witness in both criminal and civil trials. In fact, she has testified in over 250 trials.
Professor Loftus says eyewitness testimony is the major cause of wrongful convictions in the USA. In one project where more than 300 cases of wrongful conviction were established using DNA testing, the major cause of these wrongful convictions was faulty eyewitness testimony.
One of four.
Andrew Wakefield and the faked link between MMR vaccinations and autism.
Andrew Wakefield is one of the heroes of the anti-vaccination crusaders. In 1998 prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published a paper by Wakefield and others which implied a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination. Not only was there no such link, but Wakefield’s data was faked. The article was retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010.
Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and lead to increased levels of preventable infectious childhood diseases. That is, he must have known than faking data so as to suggest a link between MMR vaccinations and autism would lead to increased child deaths.
Whatever Andrew Wakefield is, he is no hero of child health.
Apart from faking the results, there were several other ethics violations. These included failing to disclose cash payments from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR caused their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, and the use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
On January 28, 2010, Wakefield and two of his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, were found by the UK’s General Medical Council to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly and not in the clinical interests of the children involved in the study. The Medial Council found, amongst other things, that Wakefield had used colonoscopies, MRIs and lumbar punctures when such procedures were not clinically indicated. On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield and Walker-Smith were guilty of professional misconduct and should be struck from the Medical Register in the U.K. His license to practice medicine has been revoked.
There is no moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine (a poison) to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.
Some supporters of the MMR/autism theory claim that just because a few bad apples faked their results doesn’t necessarily mean there is no connection between vaccination and autism. No it doesn’t. But there isn’t. Not a speck. Not a jot nor a tittle.
In the next few days I will explain exactly how scientists know this. I’ll also examine the story that when Japan stopped vaccinating children, SIDS (cot death) stopped completely. It didn’t.
Ninety per-cent of Facebook and Twitter causes are based on false information, bigotry or both.
From scare stories about preservatives in food, to stories of dogs being hooked alive and used as shark bait, to stories about how people who don’t look like us eat something we don’t like eating and it’s disgusting and they are horrible and it should be stopped, almost every “Please pass this on, this must be stopped” story turns out to be based on false or misleading information, or cultural bigotry so blatant that it verges on racism.
These campaigns have real consequences. A campaign against the use of lean beef trimmings was bulldust from beginning to end. But the facts fell before a tidal wave of disgusting pictures of pink slime, and assertions the slime was loaded with ammonia and other deadly chemicals used as preservatives. None of the slimy pictures had anything to do with lean beef trimmings, and claims about high levels of preservatives were false.
It didn’t matter. The US beef industry responded with factual information, photos of the real product and descriptions of production methods. No one cared. Lean beef trimmings are high in protein, reduce the overall fat content of burgers and other meat products to which they are added, and in blind taste tests, were found by a majority of people to improve the tenderness of processed meats. It didn’t matter. The facts had no weight compared to the emotional fervour and manufactured horror of the pink slime campaign.
The end result was that factories were closed, businesses were forced into bankruptcy, hundreds of workers lost their jobs, and hundreds of families their incomes.
It may feel like you are doing a good thing when you click ‘Like’ to some circulating campaign against something, or pass it on to your friends. But when ninety per-cent of such campaigns are simply wrong, then clicking ‘Like’ or passing it on is not good, or even morally neutral. It is wrong.
At very least, we should check, every time, that what we are being told is true. Look for opinions opposed to those expressed in the message. Ask yourself “Is this reasonable?” “Is it really likely to be true?” Even if it is true, local governments may have the matter in hand, and demands for action in a Twitter campaign may be counter-productive or insulting.
Don’t pass on alarm stories without checking first, and if you have any doubts about the accuracy or fairness of a story, don’t pass it on at all. The truth matters. Don’t be a party to lies.
There is a point, though, at which the merely lazy, ignorant or bigoted nature of most Facebook campaigns tips over into actual evil. This point is the ongoing campaign against vaccination, and especially vaccination against childhood diseases such as measles and polio.
Over the next week I will write four articles explaining why this opposition is based on false, and in some cases deliberately false or misleading information. I will explain why the campaign is not just misguided but evil. And I will explain what you can do to help the truth be heard.