Critique of WSJ's Sixteen Concerned Scientists: No Need to Panic about Global Warming

Today the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece, "Sixteen Concerned Scientists: No Need to Panic about Global Warming."

Who are these "sixteen concerned scientists?"

Only two do academic research on climate.

1. Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris [apparently he believes that asbestos does not cause cancer];

2. J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting [professor of advertising];

3. Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University [a physician who studies heart attacks];

4. Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society [former Exxon researcher]

5. Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences [former president, Exxon research];

6. William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton [specializes in optics]

7. Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K. [apparently he studies semiconductors]

8. William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology [a meterorologist with a master's in administration and a master's in science]

9. Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT [FINALLY this guy actually does academic research on climate];

10. James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University [plastics researcher];

11. Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences [policy wonk];

12. Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne [nothing need be said];

13. Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator [ditto];

14. Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem [the SECOND climate research, says that solar rays are heating up the world];

15. Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service [a rocket scientist];

16. Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva [nuclear physicist; here is what his organization has to say about climate change].

The data is easy enough to find:

As are the opinions of actual climate scientists on the subject:

"Ninety-seven percent of the climate scientists surveyed believe 'global average temperatures have increased' during the past century. Eighty-four percent say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that 'currently available scientific evidence' substantiates its occurrence. Only 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming; the rest are unsure."

97%, or even 84%, or 74%, is quite a large margin, as 5% is extremely low. The issue is far more settled than many others. For example, one-third of Americans believe that the Bible is literally the word of God and true in every detail: that Adam and Eve were created out of nothing 6,000 or so years ago; a snake tricked them into eating a magical apple; two of every species of animal on earth lived on a boat as the world was totally flooded; slavemasters have the right to beat their slaves since "the slave is his money"; men can sell their daughters into sexual bondage; children who curse their parents should be executed; Jonah spent a few nights in a whale's stomach; the holy spirit came down from heaven and impregnated Mary; etc., etc. More than three times as many believe Obama is a Muslim; 8 percent of Americans have personally seen a UFO.

As for liberal elites trying to control our lives, in 2006, 59% of Republicans believed in global warming, a number that has somewhat declined thanks to propagandists like these "concerned scientists" and their lapdogs in the media. A large percentage of Republicans must be angst-filled liberal elites trying to control our lives.

A number of countries have already implemented carbon taxes. For example, Norway, which has a 3.4% unemployment rate and a 4.3% poverty rate and Switzerland (3.5% and 6.9%). To assert that a carbon tax harm countries' economies should be backed by some evidence rather than parroting Ayn Randisms.

If consensus means unanimity, there is no consensus about a great deal of things. If consensus means general agreement, then the consensus scientific report is the one put out by the IPCC. The authors of this report argue that, among other effects, climate change will very likely cause:

in Africa: "By 2020, between 75 and 250 million of people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change."

in Asia: "Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal [sic] disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in East, South and South-East Asia due to projected changes in the hydrological cycle."

in Australia: "By 2020, significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur in some ecologically rich sites, including the
Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Wet Tropics.

- "In southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity."

in Latin America: "Productivity of some important crops is projected to decrease and livestock productivity to decline, with adverse consequences for food security. In temperate zones, soybean yields are projected to increase. Overall, the number of people at risk of hunger is projected to increase."

in North America: "Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health impacts."

Any one of these is reason enough for serious action.

If people want to have a discussion of the science, we should. It is comical to cite this group as having some sort of authority on the issue of climate change. If there are alternative explanations, then these people, most of whom are unknown, should do what respected scientists do: publish their work in scientific journals so that the evidence can be fairly evaluated. The Wall Street Journal, The Road to Serfdom and are not scientific journals, nor can the reality of the matter be discovered by doing a Google search for "global warming hoax."

The 2012 Election and the Investment Theory of Politics

In his book, Thomas Ferguson attempts to apply microeconomic capitalist theory to politics, with a great deal of predictive success ( The basic idea is that elections are times when groups of investors buy control of the government. A corollary is that analyzing campaign contributions will indicate which investors control which politicians and which faction of the business party (Democrats or Republicans) will emerge the winner. (Note that the predictive value of such analyses diminishes with the scope of the election: it is much more useful for presidential elections than for the people running for the local school board.) Money can be used to influence consumer (voter) behavior, whether businesses are selling cars or candidates. The 2008 election was polling rather closely until the financial crisis, when Wall Street and associated blocs of interest groups contributed mightily to Obama's campaign, leading to a secure victory for Wall Street policies and Obama; while Bush only slightly out-raised Kerry, and won with a much smaller margin; in 2000 Bush out-raised Gore, leading to the ouster of the vice president of a popular government during the midst of an economic boom; in 1996, etc., etc., et al. This theory also helps elucidate why candidates' policies are so close to each other on major issues (Obamacare = Romneycare; Obama voted for TARP; Obama withdrew from Iraq based on Bush's timeline; etc.), despite public opinion and much rhetoric to the contrary, which, to reiterate in the latter case, comes from advertising industry focus groups (change, yes we can, freedom, believe in America, etc.) and co-opted media lapdogs and has little relation to policy. Corporate money helps politicians lie.

I have been hypothesizing for the last year or so that Obama would win reelection in 2012 because corporate profits are at a record high and Bush II's brand of state capitalism, i.e., the housing bubble and collapse, harmed many more interests than it helped. I have been surmising that the corporations that own our country at this time prefer a more managed form of state capitalism rather than the so-called laissez-faire version. Campaign contribution numbers are starting to come in and Obama has out-raised Romney, the choice of the Republican business establishment, by almost 3:1 ( This is to be expected at this point in the game, because we are early in the primary season and Obama is the incumbent. It is very unlikely that this almost 3:1 trend will continue. However, within the still-developing data there are some interesting points to consider using the investment theory of politics. To understand the fundraising data, look to the industries that are supporting each candidate ( and

First, even given the gap between Obama and Romney's totals, Romney is out-raising Obama 2:1 in Wall Street contributions (securities and investment). The reason should be obvious by comparing Romney's economic plan ( and comparing it with Obama's record. Romney wants to cut taxes on investment income, cut corporate taxes, and eliminate the estate (death) tax.

The other industry that is mostly lining up for Romney is oil and gas. Hence, Romney is calling for expanded drilling rights, weakening environmental laws, and, in an ode to the importance of yearly $3.5 billion in direct government subsidies (welfare) for the oil and gas industry, not to mention the costs of securing access to Middle Easter oil, Romney is offering to expand the role of the government in research and development, where the public takes the risks that can then be privatized when they become profitable (the free market).

Some of the top industry investors in Obama stock also merit discussion (that lawyers are overwhelmingly behind Obama is too trivial a point to spend time on).

Interestingly, labor is not yet lining up behind Obama ($13,000 in total contributions), although surely that will change as people are subjected to wave after wave of propaganda about how Obama stands up for labor and, in a much more effective tactic, how scared labor should be about Romney's anti-union plans.

Obama significantly takes the lead in most sectors, but is particularly dominant in education, health care (health insurance, pharmaceuticals, hospitals), high technology (computers, software, biotechnology, etc.), and the media. Clearly these categorizations leave room for speculation.

As far as education is concerned, remember that this money is not (yet) coming from unions: these are for-profit education companies, who are hoping that Obama continues his push for K-12 charter schools, as well as professors, who cannot join unions and are counting on increased funding (at least, increased relative to Romney) from the state.

The reason why private health companies are pushing hard for Obama is obvious for anyone who actually knows what Obamacare is: a trillion-dollar giveaway to these companies. The linchpin of this law is the individual mandate, in which the state compels mostly healthy, young people (the elderly, poor and sick already being principally covered by Medicare/aid) to buy their product. Romney has promised to overturn Obamacare and, if elected, may very well do it. This is not what the health industry wants, despite conventional slogans.

The folks who own Silicon Valley recognize, just as the oil industry welfare kings do, that some of the best research (ahem, the computer and the Internet) come from massive government investments. Given Romney's plan to cut discretionary spending heavily, in contrast to Obama's continued support of Silicon Valley, this is to be expected.

The media companies favor Obama's efforts to extend coverage throughout the United States, as well as the aforementioned subsidies and those to Hollywood. Although there is indeed a Democrat-friendly bias in most mainstream news sources, this is not to be confused with whether or not the investment theory of politics serves any point. We will find out this answer in November.

One thing is to be sure: if fundraising is close, the election will also be; if one candidate has a lopsided edge, he will be assured victory. Based on this analysis, and big oil/gas' and especially Wall Street's disproportionate control over the wealth of the country, it is possible that lopsided contributions from them alone will be enough to vault Romney Co.'s investors over the interests represented by Obama, Inc. It is important to remember that the tail is wagging the dog, and the outcome of the election is decided by the vote of America's corporate boardrooms rather than small-town church basements.

Terrorism, Justice and the Legacy of the Iraq War

This post is written on the premise that it is wrong to kill innocent people. The principle underlying the war on Iraq is simple: It is righteous when we kill innocent people, but it is terrorism if they do so. This is applied to several aspects of the war: patriotism, freedom, democracy and troops.

Terrorism is defined in U.S. Army Field Manual 100-20 as "the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological." To apply this verdict to America is inconceivable.

If we do apply this definition to America, then America is a far greater threat to Iraq than Iraq has ever been to the U.S. Thus, if we accept the logic of the supporters of the Iraq War, we should not only aid the insurgents' attacks against an occupying army (America), but, as the logic goes, also call on them to bomb and invade Washington. Furthermore, if we accept the doctrine of "preemptive war," then we should arm Iran, North Korea, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah and Hamas and encourage them to attack us.

If you praise Sept. 11, you are insane; if you praise the invasion of Iraq, you are patriotic.

Our love for freedom and democracy is apparent if we look at facts and not rhetoric. Estimates range from 100,000 to 1,100,000 civilians that we liberated to heaven. A study by the Iraq Body Count found that of the people killed by U.S. air strikes, 46 percent are women and 39 percent are children ("terrorists").

While acknowledging the civilian death toll, people claim that intent does matter, as defined in leaders' rhetoric. If this is true, then the intent of the hijackers who drove a plane into the Pentagon was to establish a religious utopia in the Arab world. Similarly, Hitler was defending the people of Germany from the partisans.

After invading the country, we installed an American viceroy, who appointed a temporary government to hold elections. The Ba'ath party, which would be the chief political opposition to the occupation, is still banned from running in elections ("democracy"). According to the 2009 United Nations Arab Human Development Report, "it is a crime to insult any public institution or official. It is also a crime, under Article 227, to publicly insult a foreign country or an international organization with an office in Iraq."

The report concludes: "Bad as Iraq's economic legacy was, it does not compare to the economic breakdown that followed the U.S.-led invasion. ... Standards of living are still lower than they were before the invasion." Any commentator will acknowledge Saddam's brutality - and after six years, the lives of most Iraqis are worse ("free").

A reporter framed this as, "The presence of the American military has also been a significant factor in the nation's stability" in "Bomb Kills at Least 76 in Baghdad Market" (New York Times, June 25). Meanwhile, an article in the NYT on Oct. 2, 2009 ("China Is Wordless on Traumas of Communist Rise,") lamented that China fails to acknowledge its culpability for a 1948 siege that killed 160,000 civilians.

To admit the war is for profit is still taboo. In a much-repeated campaign line by President Barack Obama, Iraq has a surplus of tens of billions of dollars. Despite this, last year the Iraqi government accepted a $744 million loan from the International Monetary Fund, which included the condition that Iraq would partially privatize its state oil sector.

Our country, the richest in world history, sometimes recognizes that it murders civilians and compensates families up to $2,500. As another measure of our generosity, of the 4 million refugees we created, we have allowed 17,000 to come here.

One Iraqi reporter said he "was roaming throughout the past years of the war in our scorched land, and I was seeing with my own eyes the pains of the victims and hearing the weeping of the grieving women and orphans. Shame was chasing me, like an ugly name for my helplessness." At a press conference, he threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, shouting, "This is your farewell kiss, you dog!" He was tackled, beaten with pipes, electrocuted, imprisoned for nine months and released as reported in "Freed, Shoe-Hurling Iraqi Alleges Torture in Prison" (NYT, Sept. 15, 2009).

The hell visited on the Iraqi people is also visited on Americans. According to "Suicide's Rising Toll" (NYT, Aug. 1, 2009), suicide levels for troops are at the highest level ever recorded. Another article, "For Veterans, A Weekend Pass from Homelessness" (NYT, July 25, 2009), notes that of the approximately 200,000 homeless veterans, 3,700 are veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan.

In "Generation Kill," Evan Wright describes an incident where U.S. soldiers fire on a civilian car and check the passengers: "(Pvt.) Graves sees a small girl of about three curled up in the backseat. ... Graves reaches in to pick her up - thinking about what medical supplies he might need to treat her, he later says - then the top of her head slides off and her brains fall out. When Graves steps back, he nearly falls over when his boot slips in the girl's brains."

One out of three returning soldiers reporting to Veterans Affairs hospitals is being diagnosed with mental illness, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. And, as reported in Bob Herbert's "The Great Shame," female troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan faced 25 percent more sexual assaults in 2008 compared to 2007.

If defending one's country is brave and honorable, we must write odes to the brave and honorable Iraqi resistance, whose country actually was invaded.

The same leaders who say we should "Support the Troops" do exactly the opposite. They argue that pointing out the horrific consequences is somehow disrespectful. Or, criticism is invalid because of some irredeemable flaw in the newspaper, writer and so forth. The doctrine is the same: condemn violence from our government's official enemies and support violence that we carry out.

The Iraq War is an obscenity as measured by virtually any statistic that matters to human beings. For knowledgeable people who cringe at the horror of Sept. 11, while continuing to justify the invasion of Iraq, which is a far worse atrocity, there is one simple assumption: Iraqis are not human beings.

If there were such a thing as justice in the world, the group of arrogant and deluded men who prosecuted the Iraq War would be tried and imprisoned for their crimes.

At least we should stop lying about the Iraq War. We should say that our leaders are mass murderers, we are all guilty of subsidizing war crimes, and we do not care. But it is sheer ignorance to believe that the rest of the world does not see our hypocrisy or that our victims are unaware they are being abused.