Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rebellion is not anarchy!

Once again, the media misuse the word "anarchy," describing instead chaotic uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

    However, this is not anarchy; this is rebellion. The people are demonstrating in opposition to the current central leadership: Mubarak. They are not demanding rule by the people. They want a leader who is not Mubarak.

    Anarchy is not "no rules," it is "no rulers." In anarchy, the people make and enforce the rules without a central state wielding a monopoly of power. Anarchy is self-rule, rule by the people, "democracy taken serious!" If the people wanted anarchy, they would be organizing locally, forming their own local decision-making bodies, solving their own problems at a local level.

    While rebellion may be necessary in order to depose a despotic ruler, it must have an anarchic organization to take the place of the central state. Organization first, then rebellion, if necessary. Ed Abbey, one of America's foremost anarchists, argued strongly against violence as a tool to achieve an anarchist society. Anarchism is based on willing, cooperative relationships among all citizens in a society. Violence is inherently coercive and leads to a coercive society. One cannot create a free and peaceful society through violence.

    An anarchist society arises of itself, from the people. It cannot be imposed on the people from above.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Right of Way Purchase Derails Argument for Arana Gulch Bike Roads

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission recently approved the purchase of the UP Railroad right of way through Santa Cruz County to Davenport. In addition to commuter and tourist rail, proponents view this as an opportunity to build a bicycle and pedestrian trail along the railroad right of way, from Watsonville to Davenport, cutting through downtown Santa Cruz.

Theodore Meyer of Santa Cruz wrote this Letter to the Editor, summing up the situation:

Scrap Arana plans; build rail-trail instead

I would like to congratulate the county supervisors and Union Pacific executives for favorable negotiations in which the county acquired the old Southern Pacific railroad right of way. There were a number of bureaucratic details that could have derailed this awesome transportation asset. Instead, vision and priority prevailed. Bravo. A town doesn't want to lose its railroad -- it's the town backbone, it defines sectors, it's a landmark. The tracks are as important as City Hall or the Town Clock, and in this case they've been there long before both.

Acquisition of the RR line also negates the city's ill-conceived plan to pave Arana Gulch land with a road and concrete bicycle paths. Of course, with those millions in federal funds still hanging like ripe grapes, the city will likely come up with another angle about how essential the Arana bike road is. However, with the railroad east/west route now available along with the existing space for the bike trail, the Arana plan becomes redundant. Put those federal funds toward the RR bike trail. Again, good job officials in saving our railroad and sparing Arana Gulch.

Theodore Meyer, Santa Cruz

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anarchy is rule by the people

In a recent Santa Cruz Sentinel (an edition of the San Jose Mercury News) letter to the editor, Richard Hencke of Scotts Valley said,

"Webster defines anarchy as "a state of society where there is no law," and anarchism as "The doctrine of the abolition of formal government."... If we did not have government, we would be forced to invent it for self-protection. The only question, and the big one, is the proper role of government."

Fortunately, anarchists are not restricted to dictionary definitions in the pursuit of anarchy, which means, in practice, no rulers, not no rules. Anarchism is not a doctrine, but the body of thought and literature of those working for self-government, freedom from state oppression, voluntary cooperation and freedom of association.

Anarchists work to support local self-government, local economies, local social support systems. Anarchists support farmers' markets, cooperative child care, neighborhood assemblies, mutual aid, neighborhood watch, public libraries, housing cooperatives, sweat equity, public transportation, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

Anarchists are opposed to government imperialism, militarized police forces, Homeland (In)Security, corporate personhood and the corporate oligarchy, centralized political parties, standing armies, the centralized "global" economy, tax breaks for the rich and powerful, the overweening power and monopoly of force of a ruling elite.

The proper role of government is to carry out the will of the people. An anarchist government would consist of a decentralized network of federated assemblies carrying out the will of self-organized assemblies at the local level. An anarchist government would replace political and economic favor with decision-making by the people, locally, regionally and nationally. No central government would be able to wield economic or military power without the expressed will and consent of the people.

It is not anarchy that foists destruction, death, mayhem and chaos on the world, it is centralized government. The invasion and occupation of Panama, Grenada, Iraq and Afghanistan were not organized and carried out by anarchists, they were perpetrated by the central government of the United States, without the consent of its citizens, in support of global economic interests.

Cries of "Anarchy!" in response to vandalism and public violence are the unthinking, knee-jerk reactions of a public and media dominated by corporate and government propaganda, whose interests are served by denigrating popular dissent.

Anarchy is rule by the people, democracy in its truest form.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dueling Hypotheses

A recent article by Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) contains so many glaring errors and biased assumptions, it's hard to know where to start.

First of all, the difference between theory and hypothesis:

The problem is not with dueling hypotheses, it is with dueling theories regarding the processes resulting in observed global warming. One theory states: Observed global warming is the result of human greenhouse gas emissions. Another theory states: Observed global warming is not caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, but is a result of natural geophysical processes.

The statement, "Global warming is the result of human greenhouse gas emissions" is not an hypothesis, it is a proposition, or at best, a simple theory. A theory is an explanation of process based on a body of observation.

Hypotheses, on the other hand, are predictive "if...then" statements used to test a small subset of  a theory as an adequate explanation of observations, thus either strengthening or weakening the theory. The results of an individual hypothesis never disprove a theory. A theory can only be weakened and eventually replaced by the accumulation of a body of evidence that contradicts the theories explanation of observations, and the formulation of a new theory that provides a more adequate explanation.

We can test the theory of anthropogenic global warming with the hypothesis: If observed global warming is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, then we should find a positive correlation between the amount and rate of greenhouse gas production and global average temperature rise. This is weak test of the theory, since, if we find such a positive correlation, we merely confirm the existing theory. No new information is gained. If we fail to find the positive causal correlation, it may be because we just have not looked hard enough yet, or haven't looked in the right places. The truth is still out there!

Alternatively, a null hypothesis would be stated as: If observed global warming is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, then we should not find a negative correlation between the amount and rate of greenhouse gas production and global average temperature rise. This is a much stronger test of the hypothesis, since it only takes one instance of negative correlation to negate the hypothesis and weaken the theory as an explanation of observations.

This is the process of Science, the Hypothetico-deductive Method of Theory Confirmation.

Secondly, Trenberth repeatedly fails to make a distinction between Global Warming and Anthropogenic Global Warming. There is no question that the average global surface temperature of the Earth has been increasing steadily over the past 20,000 years or so, else, we would still be skirting glaciers on our daily commute. The question is: What is the contribution of anthropogenic greenhouse gases to this warming, and, what effect will reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gases have on this on-going global warming, if any?

Since we do not yet fully understand the natural geophysical processes that result in observed climate variations over geologic time periods, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for us to fully understand the contribution to global climate variation resulting from anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Wild predictions of future catastrophic weather events are simply science fiction prognostications with as much scientific validity as a Star Wars movie.

The periodic reports by the IPCC are not scientific documents, they are produced to give policy-makers estimations of the relevant probabilities of various climate scenarios, as an aid in preparation of national and international policies dealing with climate variation. These statements of probability have been inflated by the world press and by politicians anxious to make a name (and fortune) for themselves. Probability has been turned on its head into certainty and is being used by all manner of organizations and individuals to forward their individual agendae. Hyperinflated scare stories of sea level rise, catastrophic flooding, heat waves and droughts have been used to justify continued human growth and development in the face of dwindling natural resources and increasing air, water and soil pollution, all in the name of environmental justice.

At some point, increasing evidence of negative correlations between global average atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global average surface temperature will falsify the null hypothesis and greatly reduce the adequacy of the anthropogenic global warming theory as an explanation of observed global average surface temperature increase. At that point, environmental organizations, politicians and science policy organizations will find they've hitched their wagons to a black hole. Their unceasing drum-beat for Anthropogenic Global Warming will ultimately discredit their otherwise worthwhile and necessary programs to reduce human pollution as a result of unrestricted human population and economic growth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Unsubstantiated Global Warming Propaganda

The current issue of the elitist "science" journal, Science, contains an article in its "Perspectives" section (not in the "Research" section):  Earth’s hot past could be prologue to future climate | UCAR.

Author Jeffrey Kiehl, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), speculates on relationships between CO2 levels and average global surface temperature 30 million to 100 million years ago, and currently observed CO2 levels. To no one 's surprise, Kiehl assumes, without evidence, that atmospheric CO2 drives global average surface temperatures, and includes this bias in climate models, projecting an increase of atmospheric CO2 to 1,000 ppm by the end of the 21st Century, with temperatures soaring tens of degrees above the 20th Century average (whatever that means).

Since Science requires membership or hefty fees to access their publications, the average interested person cannot access the original article to verify the conclusions described in the "Perspectives" article.

However, it is clear from the tone of the article on the NCAR web site that this is ideologically driven 
publication, not scientific research. “If we don’t start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced,” says Kiehl. Thus government funded research is used to advance a political agenda.

The research cited in the article was funded by the National Science Foundation, which has a large Climate Change and Paleoclimate program.  Researchers shopping for grant opportunities can go to the NSF web site and browse through the many funding programs, find one that fits and submit an application, or, as usually happens, many of them.

There's nothing wrong with funding your favorite research with government grants. However, when that funding is used as a basis for political propaganda, such as advocating for political responses to climate change, a significant line has been crossed by the researcher, his or her employers and the funding agency itself. The researcher becomes a pawn in the interplay of government agencies, private research firms and economic interests, the science suffers from distorted interpretation and the public ends up with little or no understanding of the reality of the world around them.

Science must be conducted in the confines of the ivory tower, then released, naked and uninterpreted, into the clear light of day.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Chaneling Michael Crichton

Someone in Washington, D.C is reading Michael Crichton's State of Fear, and taking it seriously, at least the parts about building fear to influence public opinion.

Recently, there has been an uptick (dare I say a "tipping point?") in press hyperbole about climate change, with a distinct message drift away from emphasis on climate science and toward making the proposed effects of climate change personal.

From Joseph Lieberman, to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), to the Aspen Institute, the word is going out to "reframe the national dialogue about climate change in personal terms that people can relate to." (The Colorado Independent)

Taking a page directly from State of FearPolitico reports, "the Union of Concerned Scientists sent experts out earlier this month to Washington and New York for meetings with reporters from 60 Minutes, Time, USA Today, Reuters, Bloomberg, MSNBC and other news organizations.” (Climate Change Heats Up)

The UCS even has a page refuting Crichton's conclusions in State of Fear, in a section titled "Global Warming Contrarians," baldly supporting the "consensus" interpretation of climate science as expressed by the IPCC, and stating "Readers may understandably take away some misconceptions from his book. To clear up these misconceptions, we have selected some representative cases to discuss."

Even religious fundamentalists are jumping on the global warming bandwagon. EPA Chief Lisa Jackson urged U.S. government and religious leaders to unite in their “moral obligation” to heal the planet and “build on the religious and moral reasons for being good stewards of our environment....  We will continue to seek the input of faith communities in the decisions we make. And we also plan to align our efforts with the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership through the White House."

Those who seek to influence policy makers in favor of anthropogenic global warming have abandoned their shaky interpretations of climate change science and have chosen instead to bring home the fear to every US citizen in their local communities and homes. Senator Joe Lieberman thinks we should have more TV and radio commercials showing most eye-catching images. “Just show people what's happening," he said. "Show them satellite pictures of the ice caps.”

The push is undoubtedly in response to recent polls showing that interest in anthropogenic global warming is declining in the American public, striking fear in the pocketbooks of those who seek to profit from fear of climate change.

There are billions of dollars riding on the outcome, as forecasts with real teeth, those predicting declines in global petroleum production, become increasingly verified each day. ExxonMobil, BP (Beyond Petroleum) and Chevron saw the writing on the wall a long time ago. They know their future petrodollars have a finite limit and they are seeking to build continuing profits by monopolizing access to widely dispersed energy sources such as wind and solar.

Don't be confused by the rhetoric. "Climate deniers, contrarians and skeptics" are defending science, not attacking it. Those science organizations, Big Green environmental groups, academic administrations, corporations, investors, policymakers and politicians who have staked their reputations, and their fortunes, on a massive technology changeover to global "carbon-free" energy have the most to gain from widespread fear of climate change, and the promise that we can "stop global warming" with technology.