Thursday, May 31, 2007

What kind of Therapy would you prescribe?

I was reading today in Maclean's Magazine, June 4th edition, in the article "The Long Arm of Charles Taylor Versus the Law" about the legions of child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Shocking and I can't even quantify how much.

Read the article and then consider where you live and the probability of your children being abducted by this or a similar madman...

If you live in Canada, the UK, the US or most of Europe and you are prone to complaining about your first-world lifestyle, do shut up.

But where did my mind go when reading parts of this article? To celebrities and rich people....

Getting therapy is a badge of honour in some communities - for rich chicks and bored housewives and people who are still angry at their parent's failings 20 years after the fact - and being in therapy for AGES is some badge of success.... I'm sure Paris Hilton will be so terribly traumatized by her 23 days inside that she'll be screwed for ever, despite the lush lifestyle she has....

But, for these kids, most of whom must kill their own parents and who've witnessed things you can't even imagine before they're abducted, and are then supplied with addictive, mind altering, cell-destroying drugs and alcohol, drafted into civil war, sometimes by the age of SIX, raped, abused and essentially rendered dead, there is no therapy that can ever erase experiences that word "traumatising" doesn't begin to address.

In the same magazine, a long, interesting article on zombies as a metaphor for the human propensity for self-annihilation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Drive an Edsel, Save the Planet!

Anyone who knows me knows I don't trust anything that has a corporation or corporations, big pharma or politicians involved.

When it is all three of these at the same time plus the 'moral majority' and the 'religious right', I'm seriously on red alert.

Such is the case with Al Gore's global warming initiative. I think it is a crock and it is based on VERY faulty science.

I am, however, dead impressed with the former president-to-be's marketing ability, and the machine behind him. I'm also impressed that he's willing to use, slightly altered, the Bush slogan, "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists." In Gore's case, 'If you don't support this initiative, you're for the destruction of the planet. In short, get on board or you're a seriously flawed and horrible human being.

Additional to that is the evangelist's tactic of "Why would you ask questions? We have all these experts who say this is the truth. Just buy in, will you? Don't question the Gore, your Climate Change Guru."

On Monday, a friend forwarded me an excellent, well researched essay destined for a local MP (read: total dead end). I have requested and obtained permission to reprint this essay. My sincere thanks to Dr. H. May Gore walk through the giant hole in his theories and be reborn.

Here's Dr. H's great piece:
Much attention has been given to a group of well intended individuals who would like to see that green house gases especially CO2 are reduced to prevent global warming. While I admire their intentions; there is an old saying that "A little knowledge can be dangerous." In this case these people have an over-simplified hypothesis that ignores some of the best proven facts about climate change. If they proceed as planned they could actually make the planet warmer rather than preventing global warming.

Most of the major climate change of the last 1000 years can be easily explained by looking at one simple cause, "Suspended Particulate Matter." Ozone depletion explains the rest. The way this works is that suspended particulate matter blocks the suns rays and causes "Global Cooling". As we will see soon; this can be severe. Ozone depletion allows more of the suns rays to enter causing some increased warming and lots of melting..
First, let’s journey through the past thousand years and see several major cycles. In the beginning the air was clean and the Earth was warm. In 1066 William the Conqueror invaded England and at this time they could grow grapes in England. You can't do that now. About the same time a Viking named Eric the Red was banished to Greenland because he had murdered someone in Iceland. He started a colony there. They grew crops and gardens and animals grazed. You can't do that today. The planet was probably at its warmest ever then and suspended particulate matter (aka pollution) was at its lowest ever. This temperature was probably "normal" and this is probably how things would be again if there was no pollution. Interestingly, CO2 was probably at its lowest then when the planet was at its warmest.
Now lets skip forward to the 1500's when we saw "The mother of all climate change" Throughout Europe there was a century long cold snap that many historians called a Mini Ice Age. Crops froze, growing seasons shortened, some years there was no summer. People and animals starved and died. In North America things weren't any better. The Spanish reported that some years the Rio Grande River froze. Scientists and historians blame this severe climate change entirely on suspended particulate matter. They believe that a great deal of volcanic activity somewhere spewed so much smoke and ash and dust into the atmosphere over a long period of time that this climatic event was the result. So, if you ever wondered how much particulate matter could become suspended in the atmosphere and how much this particulate matter can change the climate; now you know. It can cause a mini ice age! It is powerful and it is predictable. So, hold that thought.
Now we are going to move forward to 1819. The volcanoes have settled down, the dust and ash has settled, and the planet is nice and warm again. How warm is it? During this year Sir William Edward Parry lead an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. Parry sailed along the north-east side of Baffin Island into Lancaster Sound, through Barrow Strait, and Viscount Melville Sound. He discovered and mapped Melville Island, one of the most westerly Arctic Islands. Lancaster Sound, Barrow Strait and Viscount Melville Sound collective make up the Parry Channel which is the best route for a Northwest Passage. It is at about 74 degrees north latitude about or 1100 miles from the North Pole. It is about 700 miles long. But the point is that Parry sailed through this passage in 1819 in a wooden sailboat. You couldn't do that today. So it must have been a lot warmer in 1819 than it is today. So what could have caused this global cooling. What event might have caused a lot of particulate matter to be released unchecked into the atmosphere over the next 150 years. Perhaps it was the Industrial Revolution. That caused a lot of smoke and pollution.
The Industrial Revolution was barely under way in 1819. The only big polluters at that time were coal-powered steam engines and the steel industry. But, big polluters came thick and fast after that. In 1879 Thomas Edison finally perfected the electric light bulb creating a huge demand for coal powered electricity generators.. Then in 1888 Gotlieb Daimler and Carl Benz perfected the internal combustion engine. In 1904, the Wright brothers got their first airplane off the ground. This was followed by too many inventions to mention. But the point is, it was exciting times up until the 1960's and no one cared about pollution. Pollution went completely unchecked.
The 150 years from 1819 to about 1966 were very important years for learning about global climate change. For the last 750 years, through one ice age and two of the hottest periods on record, CO2 levels had hardly budged. Now, CO2 levels were about to start moving upward. The problem was that suspended particulate matter was also increasing. Increasing CO2 levels are supposed to cause global warming. Increased suspended particulate matter (aka pollution) definitely causes global cooling. This is the classic confrontation. Who is the boss? Will the planet get warmer or colder? Well, the North-west passage froze solid and remains impassable to this very day, so, I guess it got colder.
People didn't start to worry about pollution until about the 1960's but once they did some interesting things started to happen. The planet started warming. And, in 1966, for the first time in 900 years we actually saw CO2 levels rising at the same time as the planet was warming. But what is happening with suspended particulate matter? Clean air acts are just starting to be put in place and people are starting to do a lot of things to reduce the amount of particulate matter that is released into the atmosphere Suspended particulate matter is decreasing and this alone could explain the global warming that we have seen over the last forty years. As suspended particulate matter decreases the planet 's temperature may be trending back to the warmer , normal levels of 1066 and 1819.
The problem with the idea of trying to control the temperature of the planet at its current levels by reducing CO2 levels is that the current temperature of the planet is probably lower than it should be and it is only being held at these lower levels by suspended particulate matter(aka pollution)Any attempt to reduce CO2 levels by reducing the use of fossil fuels is almost certain to also reduce the amount of suspended particulate matter in the atmosphere and this would almost certainly cause global warming instead of stabilizing temperatures. If there is some compelling reason why temperatures must be stabilized at their current levels then this should be a matter of concern to you. But, that might be a bit complicated, so let’s look at a simpler problem.
Let's suppose for a moment that you can actually reduce CO2 levels in isolation without any other factors and let's suppose that you are wildly successful and reduce CO2 levels back to their 1066 level; what temperature do you think you would get? A certain amount of logic would suggest that you might get the temperatures that we had in 1066 which were the hottest ever in the last 1000 years. So you got global warming again. This is tricky. What is going on here?
One of the central flaws of the CO2 theory of Global Warming is that in 1066 when CO2 levels were at their lowest, the planet was at its hottest and in 2007 when CO2 levels are at their highest, temperatures are quite a bit cooler. This doesn't necessarily mean that CO2 doesn't cause global warming as some might conclude but it definitely alerts us to the fact that there are other more powerful factors at play in this. However, one needs to get this figured out before we start spending a lot of money and doing a lot of hard work, or it could all go to waste. In fact, if we do not completely understand this problem and don't know what we are doing, we could embark on a journey to correct our “CO2 problem” that could easily make things worse instead of better because in fact, the problem is not CO2 at all – it is suspended particulate matter..
Let's talk about Ozone. The CO2 advocates are always quick to point out that while change is slow in North America and Europe where the cars are; the really big action is at the north and south poles. They say that there is a lot of melting going on there, and I believe them! But, they don't know much about snow. Any Canadian can tell you that raising the temperature at the top of a snow bank from -30C to -20C or -10C or even 0C is not going to change the rate of melting one bit. But snow does melt at -20C. That is why our rivers and streams run all winter. Snow melts at -20C because it is translucent and because it is 90% air, so it is a good insulator. The sun’s rays hit the snow and they pass right through the translucent snow until they reach the ground below. Then the sun’s rays release their energy as heat. Heat is trapped under the snow, which is a good insulator, the temperature at the bottom rises and the snow at the bottom melts. If melting is increasing drastically at the South Pole it can only be due to an increase in the amount of the sun’s rays reaching the snow and this is easy to explain. Remember those holes in the ozone layer that we were all excited about 10 or 20 years ago? They were over the North and South Poles and they are probably still there. Since ozone blocks the sun's rays; holes in the ozone layer would let more of the sun's rays in and cause increased melting. But this melting has nothing whatsoever to do with global warming and even less to do with CO2. It is an entirely different problem.

If there is some compelling reason why we must stabilize the planet’s temperature at its current leval; rather than allowing it to return to its levels of 1066 & 1819; then we should pursue a strategy with a proven record. I can not see where CO2 had much to do with the major climate changes of the last 1000 years. The CO2 theory of climate change was cooked up by some guy with a computer about 40 years ago and his theory has holes in it big enough to walk Al Gore through. There is no doubt that the planet has warmed over the past forty years but I have never seen very convincing proof that CO2 was the major cause of this change. In fact, the case could be made that you could do more to prevent global warming by convincing Ford to bring back the Edsel as a pollution stabilizing measure.

Author’s note: Since a lot of this theory hinges on the change of temperature and ice conditions in the arctic between 1819 and the mid 1960’s; it is worth noting that Sir William Parry wrote two books, “Voyages for the Northwest Passage” in 1821 and “Narratives of an attempt to reach the North Pole in Boats” in 1828. These books may give a huge insight into the climate in the Arctic in the 1820’s.