Tag Archives: policy

Have global warming scientists admitted that carbon dioxide is not the main greenhouse gas?

In a paper published on Saturday in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres of the American Geophysical Union, scientists from the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (where scientists have generally been strong advocates of human-caused global warming) outlined the key atmospheric molecules that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Key quote from the abstract:

We find that water vapor is the dominant contributor (∼50% of the effect), followed by clouds (∼25%) and then CO2 with ∼20%. All other absorbers play only minor roles.

The scientists also noted that even if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were to double, these percentages would not change significantly.

Does this mean that carbon dioxide is a minor player in creating global warming? This remains unclear. First, the above research is essentially only modeling, not actual data. Second, the scientists themselves note that the interplay of any two of these molecules (such as water and carbon dioxide or water and cloudiness) can have a greater effect than just one molecule alone, which makes these percentages by themselves incomplete.

Nonetheless, these results are important politically. These global warming scientists have placed themselves on record as admitting that cloudiness appears more significant that carbon dioxide in creating the greenhouse effect. And since the combination of water and clouds can have an even greater influence on the climate than either alone, the scientists are also admitting that water is by far the most important greenhouse molecule. Any future climate models as well as political action must take this fact into consideration.

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APS responds to Harold Lewis’s resignation letter

The American Physical Society has responded to Harold Lewis’s resignation letter.

It appears from their response that they are feeling some pressure about their past position, which stated “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.” Compare that with what they say now, in their response to Lewis:

APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain.

How nice. A science organization recognizing the uncertainty of science!

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Obama signs the NASA authorization bill

Obama signed the NASA authorization bill today.

Update and bumped: This Spaceflight Now article includes this quote from Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida):

“What is in this bill is $11.5 billion over the next six years, anticipated, even though it’s a three-year authorization, for development and testing of a heavy lift rocket. Now if we can’t develop a new rocket for $11.5 billion, building on a lot of the technologies that were already developed in spending $9 billion (on the Constellation program’s Ares rockets), if we can’t do it for that, then we ought to question whether or not we can build a rocket.”

Based on NASA’s track record in trying to build a replacement to the shuttle, I remain very skeptical indeed whether NASA can build this rocket. I do hope, however, that my skepticism is proven wrong.

Note also that the funding for this authorization bill is as yet not appropriated. Plans to do so during the lame duck session of Congress after the elections remain fraught with problems.

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Physicist resigns for American Physical Society over climategate

Physicist resigns from the American Physical Society over climategate. Key quote:

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.

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White House arbitrarily gives healthcare law waivers to some companies

The law for some but not for others: Threatened with a firestorm of protest just prior to the election because a number of large corporations were going to drop millions from healthcare coverage because of the new Obamacare regulations, the White House today arbitrarily waived for one year those provisions for 30 large companies.

This action raises three obvious points:

  • If the healthcare law was so wonderful, why is the White House suspending its inception?
  • Why should these companies get a break, and not others? In fact, if I was the owner of a company that did not get a waiver, I would sue.
  • This once again proves false the claim by Obama that the law would force no one to lose their healthcare plan. To me, the words “You lie!” come quickly to mind.

Ed Morrissey at hotair.com makes some additional good points about this absurd situation.

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EPA’s Own Estimates Say Greenhouse Gas Regs Could ‘Slow Construction Nationwide for Years’ — and Take a Century to Reduce Temperature 0.0015 Degrees

The EPA itself believes that its effort to regulate carbon dioxide under its Prevention of Significant Deterioration program could “slow construction nationwide for years”. And what would this accomplish? Global temperatures would be reduced a whopping 0.0015 degrees! Key quote:

“It is clear throughout the country, PSD (Prevention of Significant Deterioration) permit issuance would be unable to keep up with the flood of incoming applications, resulting in delays, at the outset, that would be at least a decade or longer, and that would only grow worse over time as each year, the number of new permit applications would exceed permitting authority resources for that year.”

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It’s okay to kill suffering children says UK journalist

Seems to be a lot of this kind of genocidal thought going around: A columnist for the Independent in Great Britain admitted in an October 4th interview that she considers it a kind act to kill a suffering child. Key quote:

“[I] think that if I were a mother of a suffering child, I would be the first to want I mean a deeply suffering child I would be the first one to put a pillow over its face, as I would with any suffering thing and I think the difference is that my feeling of horror, suffering is many greater than my feeling of getting rid of a couple of cells because suffering can go on for years,” Ironside said.

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The single most powerful political force in the nation

Want to know what the actual future consequences of the Tea Party movement will be? Read this op-ed by Glenn Reynolds. Key quote:

Both political parties are out of touch, and ordinary Americans are very unhappy about it, as they watch the Treasury being looted, the economy sink, and the political, journalistic, and financial ruling-class figures escaping the consequences of their ham-handed and self-serving actions.

Also:

For now, Republicans are (sort of) the beneficiaries. Though Tea Partiers aren’t happy with the GOP, they’re much less happy with the Democrats. In this election cycle, Republicans will benefit. But Tea Partiers are also taking over the GOP from the bottom up, running for precinct chairs and state committee seats.

This makes sense: There are barriers to entry for third parties, and it makes more sense to take over an existing party than to start from scratch, if that’s possible.

But those establishment GOP figures who think that they’ll cruise to victory and a return to the pocket-stuffing business-as-usual that marked the prior GOP majority need to think again. This election cycle is, in a very real sense, a last chance for the Republicans. If they blow it, we’re likely to see third-party challenges in 2012, not only at the Presidential level but in numerous Congressional races as well.

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The layoffs at NASA

More layoffs yesterday at NASA, this time at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Also, this report gives a good overview of all the layoffs so far.

One question: The authorization bill that passed Congress on Wednesday night specifically required NASA to continue construction of a heavy-lift vehicle, quite similar in concept to Constellation. Why then is NASA management laying off all these Constellation workers? Granted, the authorization did not provide Constellation with as much money as previously budgeted, but the layoffs seem greater than necessary at this time, considering the budget differences. Also, the lack of a final budget from Congress might require these layoffs to occur temporarily, pending a new budget, but NASA is not making it clear that this is the case. Instead, they are letting a lot of people go without giving them any guidance about NASA’s future plans.

If the Obama administration was serious about fulfilling Congress’s legal requirement to build a heavy-lift vehicle (as deputy administration Lori Garver said they were on Thursday), I would have expected them to be more forthcoming to these NASA employees, if only to encourage them to remain available for rehiring, for at least a short time. That they have not is very telling.

Do not expect this heavy-lift vehicle to be built.

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Watch out for those toxic paper clips!

The bureaucracy marches on! The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants the manufacturers of kids’ science kits to test the paper clips in those kits for lead and other toxic chemicals, even if the paper clips were purchased in an ordinary office supply store. Key quote

“It is crazy that the Hands-On Science Partnership needs to be concerned about doing lead tests on products purchased at an office supply store and then packaged into a science teaching kit for use with children,” Commissioner Nancy Nord wrote on her blog. “Even crazier is the fact that if a teacher buys the same paper clip at the same store and uses it for the same science teaching project, it’s okay.”

To me, this quote is even more disturbing:

Commissioners insist the regulations will not ban science kits and would be applied on a case-by-case basis. [emphasis mine]

In other words, the regulation will not be applied objectively, but subjective, at the whim of the regulators. Every product of every manufacturer will have to get the Commission’s approval before it can be sold.

If that isn’t a mandate for mischief, I don’t know what is.

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This NASA bill is nothing more than pork

A sampling of headlines today, describing the passage last night in the House of the NASA authorization bill:

Unfortunately, none of these headlines are correct. All of them are examples of what I call “press release journalism”, where the press writes its stories based on what elected officials and public relations people tell them, rather than what’s in the bill itself.

Though the bill that passed last night does authorize significant additional funds for the subsidized development of new private rockets, it unfortunately does not send NASA on a “new path” or “new policy.”

First and foremost, the plan very specifically requires NASA to build a spacecraft and launch capability very similar to what was being built under Constellation. To quote:

It is the policy of the United States that NASA develop a Space Launch System as a follow-on to the Space Shuttle that can access cis-lunar space and the regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit in order to enable the United States to participate in global efforts to access and develop this increasingly strategic region.

This system is to have a launch capability of no less than 130 tons, which would exceed the Saturn V and is about what was planned for Ares V.

Also:

The Administrator shall continue the development of a multi-purpose crew vehicle to be available as soon as practicable, and no later than for use with the Space Launch System. The vehicle shall continue to advance development of the human safety features, designs, and systems in the Orion project.

This essentially means that Orion, as designed under Constellation, will go on.

Thus, the only real changes to Constellation the bill provides are less money, a faster timetable (finished by the end of 2016) and the freedom to pick a new name for the system, so as to not embarass the current administration with a Bush space rocket.

Of course, NASA has the freedom to redesign Constellation, but given the short time schedule and limited budgets, I wonder if that will be possible. (There are those who think this is a victory for the Direct approach, whereby the new launch system is almost entirely based on the shuttle system, but even that concept is probably not doable, given the money and time frame.)

Thus, has anything at NASA actually changed? I don’t think so. In the end, what we are going to get from this new plan is the same failures we’ve gotten from NASA in its repeated efforts over the last twenty-five years to build a shuttle follow-on. To quote a column I wrote for USAToday back in 2004:

  • The National Aerospace Plane was proposed by President Reagan in 1986 during his State of the Union address. This cutting-edge technology, Reagan proclaimed, would “by the end of the decade take off from Dulles Airport, accelerate up to 25 times the speed of sound, attaining low-Earth orbit, or fly to Tokyo within two hours.” After spending $1.7 billion, and building nothing, the program was canceled in 1992.
  • The X-33 was announced with much fanfare by Vice President Al Gore on July 4, 1996. The program was going to produce a single-stage-to-orbit reusable spacecraft. “This is the craft that can carry America’s dreams aloft and launch our nation into a sparkling new century,” Gore enthused. After five years and $1.2 billion, the X-33 was canceled when cracks were found in the spacecraft’s experimental fuel tanks.
  • During the same years as the X-33, NASA pursued the X-34, a smaller two-stage reusable rocket launched from a belly of a L-1011 jet, and the X-38, a reusable lifeboat for the International Space Station. After four years, more than $1 billion but little hardware production, both were scrubbed. [Note that the X-37 did come back to life under the auspices of the Air Force, who saw its value if NASA did not.]
  • In 2000, even as the previous projects were being put to the torch, NASA came up with another program, the Space Launch Initiative. For two years, the agency spent $800 million drawing blueprints for a plethora of proposed shuttle replacements. Nothing was built. In 2002, the Space Launch Initiative was scrapped like the rest.

In every case, NASA came up with plans that could not be built for the money available. Now, Congress has ordered NASA to build an updated Saturn V rocket, practically overnight and without sufficient funds. And it has asked this to be done by an administration that is uninterested in doing it, and has even shown a willingness to sabotage this project, when it can.

The result? I do expect NASA to spend all the money that Congress is giving them, passing it out to various aerospace companies, as it has done for the last few decades. Whether anything will get accomplished with all that spending, however, is very doubtful.

In other words, the bill passed last night is nothing more than the worst form of pork. At least with most pork projects, a new school or a better road system is built. Here, the taxpayer will spend a lot of money, and get very little for it.

The one glimmer of hope is the money authorized to subsidize the development of new private space rockets. Unfortunately, the bill requires NASA to strictly supervise the construction of these new rockets, to make sure they meet NASA’s safety standards and government rules. Such supervision cannot encourage the kind of innovation and creativity necessary to produce new rockets cheaply and efficiently.

Fortunately, the increasing demand for new and inexpensive launch services is going to counter this governmental interference. SpaceX’s amazing success with its Falcon rockets is evidence of this increased demand. So is the fact that Boeing has decided to dive into this market with its own manned spaceship. With increased demand comes increased profit, which — far more than government subsidizes — will pay for the new rockets.

Still, on the government side I suspect the end result of NASA’s new commercial development program will once again be a lot of money wasted. The new rockets will get built, but the American taxpayer is going to get screwed in the process.

Personally, if I had my druthers I would get the U.S. government entirely out of the civilian rocket building business. Let the private companies finance and build their rockets themselves (as SpaceX did with the Falcon 1), and when completed, let NASA then buy the services. The less say the government has in the design and construction of these rockets, the better.

Unfortunately, this fantasy is not going to happen. Instead, I expect the American space program to limp along for the next decade or so, dependent on the Russians (and eventually the Chinese) to get its astronauts to its own space station.

How sad.

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