Re: [asa] Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory and Busted Sod

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Date: Sat Oct 20 2007 - 14:37:52 EDT

 Janice, Janice, Janice.  

I offer these three items below in order to
remind omnipotent moral busybodies (legalistic pharisaical
mentalities who continue to insist on imposing their immature
consciences on the rest of us so that they can feel good about

Don't sugar coat it, Janice.  Tell us what your really think.

that the fallout from their "good intentions"
have a LONG history of disaster, and this latest effort will be no

While I am a firm believer in a Bayesian view of the future reflecting the past, there is always a termination of one line of Bayesian logic by a larger context.  Like the rising of the Sun, we can be confident that the  the sunrise will continue far into the future, but not forever.  Another, larger Bayesian contextual analysis of distant stars using up there fuel and dying out provides a statistical end to our own enormously consistent sunrise.  The progress of science is the larger context in this case. 

The intermixing of science and politics is a bad combination, with a bad

Michael Crichton is a doctor, not a climatologist.  And the "rain follows the plow" theory below was devised long before we had even the most rudimentary understanding of the forces that dictate the weather.  Now we know more.  We will always know more if we keep our eyes on the evidence.  That's the Bayesian trend here, not continued idiocy.  The idiocy of the past has been sharply reduced precisely by the advance of science, a trend that refutes your contention that our naiveté with respect to the rain following the plow is equally present in our current link between CO2 production and the Greenhouse effect. 

Chrichton's bemoaning of the new corn economy, however, is spot on with respect to the idiocy of the notion itself, but incorrect with respect to what's behind the drive to make fuel from corn. Climate scientists are not driving the ethanol push, nor are hardly any serious environmentalists.  That whole "alternative fuel" drivel is driven by Agribiz interests and lobbyists.  Already people are going hungry in Mexico for want of their cheap staple of corn meal since the new corn economy (coupled with the severe drought in the South) has hiked the price something fierce. 

I think, Janice, that you are biased by issues external to the science and more to your personal/political disposition.  You would do well to try and examine the world purely on your own recognizance, and pay less attention to the polarized, dogmatic positions of what passes for the American political landscape. 

-Mike (But I still love ya.)

Many of the sod busters who settled the American West (and parts of
Australia) during the late 19th centuries believed that by plowing under
native vegetation to grow crops, they would increase rainfall on their
marginally arable land.

Studies by weather experts were said to prove this anthropogenic
climate change theory.

Railroads heralded it, to increase the value of land the government
granted them for building their lines, and even cited the thick steam
clouds the locomotives of the day produced as another reason rainfall on
the High Plains could only increase.

When the U.S. Government guaranteed wheat prices at historic levels in
World War I, the sod busters plowed under more acres of native
vegetation, becoming wealthy in the process.

And when grain prices fell after the war, additional grassland was
converted to wheat in an attempt to maintain farm income at the same
levels.  Unfortunately the great droughts of the 1930's proved the
Rain Follows the Plow theory terribly wrong.

Those increases in rainfall the sod busters had experienced in earlier
years proved to be simply part of the natural cycle, a period of
wet to be balanced by inevitable drought.

Like Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, Rain Follows the Plow
had its detractors. Some scholars found it unlikely. 

Ranchers shook their heads at the idea the land was good for anything but
grazing cattle and sheep, but couldn't stop the plows when wheat prices
rose above beef prices in profit potential. 

The survivors among Plains Indian tribes thought the sod busters plumb
loco. Unfortunately the experts quoted by those with economic and
political interests in bringing ever more people onto the Great Plains
drowned out the scientific skeptics and discredited previous occupants of
the land as being against progress.

The true irony of Rain Follows the Plow is that the actions farmers took
in reliance on this anthropogenic theory -- and in response to
federal incentives -- actually did contribute to the
severity of the weather catastrophe known as the Dust Bowl. Without that
thick mat of tangled roots from perennial prairie grasses to hold things
in place, the winds that constantly swept the Great Plains carried
topsoil as far as the Atlantic when the drought came. In

The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan writes about how the
government's expert timed his testimony on Capitol Hill so that the
windows in the hearing room would darken from the arrival of such a dust
storm just as he pressed his case for funds for soil conservation and

I was listening to Egan's tragic tale of human and ecological
consequences last week as I made my annual drive across the middle of the
nation.  It put my drive in a new light.  More gas stations
than ever before were selling an ethanol mix ,and every field I passed in
Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota seemed full of corn ready for
harvest.  Where cornfields were intermixed with soybean fields in
the past, this year I saw mostly corn.

I also saw corn where I had seen pastureland in prior years.  I
can't remember seeing so much acreage in corn.

Unlike the sod busters in the Dust Bowl, today's farmers do practice soil
conservation, crop rotation procedures and other methods to help conserve
the land.  But like their predecessors, they also respond with
agility to higher prices and government incentives. 

The demand for corn to produce the
supposedly more environmentally-friendly ethanol has already raised
food prices, which could have serious consequences in less affluent

We can only wait to see what additional distortions might
darken the horizon as people change their behavior in response to all the
media coverage about the theory of anthropogenic Global
Warming.   ~ fini

supposedly more environmentally-friendly

So when the global warming alarmists
predict worldwide starvation, they’re right. They’re creating it.

More excerpts:

"...But now I would like to address myself to a grim subject: the
actual threat that global warming poses to our planet – and most
specifically to California. And that threat is very real and it is

I speak specifically of the radical policies that the global warm-mongers
are now enacting.

Last year, in the name of saving the planet from global warming,
California adopted the most radically restrictive legislation anywhere in
the nation, including AB 32, which requires a 25 percent reduction in
man-made carbon dioxide emissions within 13 years.

To put this in perspective, we could junk every car in the state of
California RIGHT NOW – and not meet this mandate.

Californians just approved $40 billion of bonds that California’s
political leaders promised would be used for highways, dams, aqueducts
and other capital improvements. They are desperately needed.

But at the same time, those same political leaders have imposed a 25
percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Now here’s the problem. Building highways, dams and aqueducts requires
tremendous amounts of concrete, the principle ingredient of which is

How is cement produced? It is produced by taking limestone and
super-heating it into a molten state – it comes out the other side as a
compound called clinker. Clinker is about 2/3 the weight of the original
limestone. The missing 1/3 of that weight is carbon dioxide. And when you
include the emissions required to superheat the limestone, it turns out
that for every ton of cement, a TON of carbon dioxide is released. It’s
the third biggest source of carbon dioxide in all human enterprise.

But now we have a law that specifically forbids us from doing so. That
was the essence of the Jerry Brown lawsuits against new highway projects
that were part of the summer budget impasse.

Citing AB 32, Brown argued that unless the counties could show how they
would build highways without using earthmoving equipment or concrete –
and that once built, that people would not drive automobiles on them –
the only legal use of the funds would be to promote mass transit, transit
villages – and I’m not making this up – pedestrian trails and bicycle

So much for construction.

Agriculture is in big trouble, too.

You can start with nitrogen fertilizer, which is a critical component of
all agricultural activity. Unfortunately, it produces large amounts of
nitrous oxide, another so-called greenhouse gas that must be radically
curtailed in California.

The wine industry is also in for a shock. Fermentation of wine occurs
when a molecule of glucose in the grapes is converted into EQUAL PARTS of
alcohol and Carbon Dioxide.

But the biggest agricultural impact is the administration’s mandate for
heavily subsidized use of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is produced in exactly
the same way as the alcohol in wine: the glucose in corn is converted
into equal parts of ethyl alcohol and CARBON DIXOIDE.

Following AB 32, the governor’s appointees on the California Air
Resources Board imposed a requirement that ALL gasoline sold in
California within THREE YEARS, must be comprised of at least TEN PERCENT
ethanol, doubling the current mandate.

Now think about this: an acre of corn produces about 350 gallons of
ethanol. There are 15 billion gallons of gasoline used in California each
year. In order to meet the ten percent requirement in three years, it
means converting 4.3 million acres of farmland to ethanol production. Now
that’s a lot of farmland, considering that we have a total of 11 million
acres producing any kind of crops.

Current ethanol mandates are already producing serious shortages in other
parts of the world, as farmland that had been producing food shifts to
ethanol to chase hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies
coming out of your pocket. There were riots in Mexico earlier this year
in response to spiraling tortilla prices.

And we’re seeing this across the board – including commodities like milk
and beef that are responding to increased prices for corn feed. And as
you see your grocery prices rise as a result of this policy, just be glad
you’re not in the Third World. Food is a relatively small portion of the
family incomes in affluent nations, but they consume more than half of
family earnings in third world countries.

So when the global warming alarmists predict worldwide starvation,
they’re right. They’re creating it.

"....Electricity prices are also taking a heavy hit.
California already suffers the highest electricity prices in the
continental United States, but that situation is about to worsen.

A companion measure to AB 32 was SB 1368 that prohibits the
importation of electricity produced by coal – even state-of-the-art
plants thousands of miles from California that meet all EPA requirements.

Truckee became the first victim of this law. Truckee was about to
sign a 50-year contract for electricity produced by a new coal fired
plant in Utah. They were forced to back off because of AB 1368. They just
announced the new contracts to replace that lost power. Instead of
paying $35 per megawatt hour, Truckee electricity consumers will now be
paying $65 per megawatt
It gets worse. ..."    [snip]
Click above link to read further.

Of course it will get worse unless cooler, saner heads

Chill out.

Washington Post ^ | October 14, 2007 | BJORN LOMBORG


"... predictions of impending
disaster just don't stack up.

"...research shows that the cold is a much bigger killer than
the heat. According to the first complete peer-reviewed survey of climate
change's health effects, global warming will actually save lives.
It's estimated that by 2050, global warming will cause almost 400,000
more heat-related deaths each year. But at the same time, 1.8 million
fewer people will die from cold.

"...Global warming will claim lives in another way: by
increasing the number of people at risk of catching malaria by about 3
percent over this century. According to scientific models, implementing
the Kyoto Protocol for the rest of this century would reduce the
malaria risk by just 0.2 percent.

On the other hand, we could spend $3 billion annually -- 2 percent of
the protocol's cost -- on mosquito nets and medication and cut malaria
incidence almost in half within a decade. Malaria death rates are
rising in

sub-Saharan Africa, but this has nothing to do with climate change
and everything to do with poverty: Poor and corrupt governments
find it hard to implement and fund the spraying and the provision of
mosquito nets that would help eradicate the disease. Yet for every
dollar we spend saving one person through policies like the Kyoto
Protocol, we could save 36,000 through direct intervention.

"......Wherever you look, the inescapable conclusion is the same:
Reducing carbon emissions is not the best way to help the world.
.....I'm frustrated at our blinkered focus on policies that won't
achieve it.

In 1992, wealthy nations promised to cut emissions to 1990 levels by
2000. Instead, emissions grew by 12 percent. In 1997, they promised to
cut emissions to about 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. Yet levels
will likely be 25 percent higher than hoped for.

"...Even if the policymakers' earlier promises had
been met, they would have done virtually no good, but would have cost us
a small fortune. The climate models show that Kyoto would have postponed
the effects of global warming by seven days by the end of the century.
Even if the United States and

Australia had signed on and everyone stuck to Kyoto for this entire
century, we would postpone the effects of global warming by only five

Proponents of pacts such as Kyoto want us to spend enormous sums of
money doing very little good for the planet a hundred years from now.

The typical cost of cutting a ton of CO2is currently about $20.
Yet, according to a wealth of scientific literature, the damage from a
ton of carbon in the atmosphere is about $2. Spending $20 to do $2 worth
of good is not smart policy. ...

...I formed the Copenhagen Consensus in 2004 so that some of
the world's top economists could come together to ask not only where we
can do good, but at what cost, and to rank the best things for the world
to do first. The top priorities they've come up with are dealing with
infectious diseases, malnutrition, agricultural research and first-world
access to third-world agriculture. For less than a fifth of Kyoto's price
tag, we could tackle all these issues. ....."

Bjorn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business
School, is the author, most recently, of "Cool It: The
Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."


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Received on Sat Oct 20 14:38:55 2007

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