Science and energy in America are now doomed

By Phil Plait | December 9, 2010 2:35 pm

TXRepRalphHallRalph
Hall
will be
the new Chair of
the House Science
and Energy
Committee.

Terrific.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Politics
MORE ABOUT: Ralph Hall, Republicans

Comments (118)

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  1. Oli

    Assassination pl0x?

  2. Dan

    So what’s the Canadian immigration process like?

  3. Arthur Reader

    Science will be fine. Energy supplies will improve and costs reduced (especially for the poor).

    And the Climategate fraudsters will have to get new jobs.

    What’s not to like?

  4. Seriously America! WTF! How does this happen? WTF is going on!?!?!?

    Time to send my greencard back and mve to greener pastures. The UK have screwed themselves…the US are screwing themselves. I wonder what Singapore is like at this time of year….

  5. Well, I, for one, welcome our soon-to-be Chinese overlords.

  6. MartinM

    And the Climategate fraudsters will have to get new jobs.

    What’s not to like?

    The politically motivated witch hunts directed at scientists who have been repeatedly cleared of all wrongdoing. I don’t like that.

  7. Michael Fisk

    If we’re fully reliant on federal funding for our scientific advancement in this country, then science is already doomed here.

  8. heh

    I think my planned vacation to Japan will become a planned move soon.

  9. Joe

    Don’t forget, the Virginia AG is already preparing a case against professors at UVA who dared to say global warming was real as a misuse of state funds. We really are screwed.

  10. MarkHB

    Anyone remember The Enlightenment? Those were good times, good times…

  11. Bill McElree

    Ignorance is on the march. Those who think faith and cynicism are more important than facts are gaining power and Western Society has seen it’s best day.

  12. Brett Thomas

    @Fisk,

    Yeah. You put politicians in charge of science funding and everyone’s always shocked when science becomes politicized.

  13. IBY

    I… Think… I need to be left alone…

  14. Michael: There is some research which will always depend on public funds as the financial gain from it is decades in the future if at all. Astronomy often falls into this category as business has a hard time seeing the return on something such as quasar research. Does that mean it’s a less worthy pursuit? While there are quite often spin offs from “knowledge for the sake of knowledge” research, they are unpredictable and cannot be held to same standards as creating a new slightly more effective ED drug.

    SpaceX showed that there is a place for private scientific pursuits, but there needs to be *both*. Research with long-term importance (understanding gravity as another example) but no foreseeable direct pay off will never be funded by industry.

    As a Canadian I am entirely confused by how your congress works (although it seems being American born doesn’t necessarily aid in understand it), but anytime someone with this sort of record is given power rather than ridiculed there is a problem with society.

  15. Levi in NY

    Sigh…and people wonder why I want to move to France.

  16. Michael Fisk

    @Jennifer G: I agree with your point on “public good” scientific research, and that has a role for government or other institutional funding (my background is as an economist, not in earth or space sciences), but the impacts on such research is a far cry from claiming that science as a whole is “doomed”, unless science is simply being defined as “doing whatever will attract government research grants at the moment”. It’s the hyperbole I objected to in the post, not so much the content.

  17. Orlando

    The sun is setting in the American Empire. Time to start learning Chinese.

  18. Alikar
  19. @Michael

    Many entire branches of science will be sawed off at the trunk without public funds though, especially the theoretical work. Without this theoretical ground work practical science will have a difficult time moving forward. Yes there may be some hyperbole, but as Phil’s speciality is one of the branches in danger I can understand the sentiment.

    There’s also the social aspect. If leaders of science say through their actions that the scientific method is unimportant it will trickle down to the consciousness of the people under them. Educators already are fighting an uphill battle as Joe mentioned, I can’t imagine this kind of precedent will help them. Teaching future generations that science is important is rather difficult if all signs point to otherwise.

    I imagine there’s also a feeling of “what’s next” prompting this post. It’d be like slipping on black ice on your way to the car, and wondering how bad the accidents will be on the way to work. Not if there will be, but how bad they’ll be.

  20. Sean

    13. Levi in NY Says:
    December 9th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Sigh…and people wonder why I want to move to France.

    France isn’t far enough. What’s the weather like on Mars this time of year?

    -S

  21. Science will still be done. But it will happen in spite of our government, not because of it. Home labs like mine will continue to operate. That’s a promise.

  22. Michael Swanson

    There are certain guidelines on this site that don’t allow me express how I feel in honest terms. This is, of course, generally for the better, but I can’t think of any nice words in the English language that do the trick right now.

    If I learn to swear in Mandarin or Icelandic can I use that here, Phil? Please?

  23. John

    Ever wonder why there are no “real” scientists running for office to change the climate in the House/Senate? It seems that if there is going to be any real change it most cetainly will not come from either political party. I for one am real tired of name calling in the name of scientific advancement. Neither party truely cares!!!!

  24. Pete Jackson

    He will be 88 on May 3. Will he survive much longer?

  25. BJN

    @ anothermike and your “home lab”

    Crack or perpetual motion machines? America needs your valiant contribution!

  26. Eric

    It gets better. Not only does he favor wanton environmental destruction, but this SOB defended sex-slavery on the floor of the US Congress:

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2010/12/anything_for_jack.php?ref=fpblg

  27. Sigh. I really need some kind of optimistic pick me up.
    Some form of “hey thing are getting better in some areas.”
    Cause this kind of stuff is toxic as breathing swamp gas, really more toxic when you consider the implications of his chairmanship.

  28. GS

    This is what we have to choose from in America, the anti-science right and the left who think being pro-science means spending ever increasing amounts of other people’s money?

  29. Astrofiend

    As long as US scientists shut up and keep developing tech for their country, they will be lauded. Just so long as they don’t have the temerity to do actual science with consequences reaching beyond the battlefield, the conservatives will be happy.

    Can’t see the problem in that.

  30. CW

    It’s disconcerting, but let’s wait and see what happens before we start signing up for Chinese language classes at our local community colleges?

    In my pre-skeptic days, I use to buy into a lot of doom-and-gloom messages from conservatives, and then liberals – but soon realized that in most cases, the worst case scenario never happened.

    The Democrats still control the Senate and White House. All science funding won’t be canceled.

    If a confrontation between anti-science and scientists happen, maybe this is a good opportunity to put focus on the importance of science? Maybe hearings are what’s needed for scientists to educate the public, the media, and science enthusiasts?

  31. the best way to reduce co2 emissions is for science to develop ways in which doing so makes a ton of money.
    come on, science. you used to be good at this.

  32. MichaelF

    I know this sort of thing has come up before and I am sure that Phil has no control over it….but its jarring when you come to this bastion of sanity and see an ad for the “Quantum Scalar Bracelet”

    http://www.enjoyscalarenergy.com/Buy-Now.html

    its got negative Ions

  33. katwagner

    Two nights ago, PBS aired a show about Antarctica – where temperatures have warmed nine degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years. Adele penguins like it cooler than it is now and their numbers are so reduced they could be gone by 2021. So those are TRUE FACTS and if we keep speaking truth to power we have to win. For the penguins.

  34. Ray

    Elections have consequences. Had your precious Dimocrats listened to the people this would not have happened.

  35. Monkey

    I thought this was an astronomy blog…

    heh heh…sorry… :)

    As a Canadian, I welcome all to join me in a country that sucks just a little bit less. For now. We have our own issues, as you will see after you settle in.

    A wise lady once told me, in broken English and intermittent Chinese, while I was waxing on about the perils of western education systems … wherein I explained the reason I left Canda for a stint as an expat in Taiwan (trust me, if you have never been to Taiwan then it is nothin like what you are thinking – nature on steroids, not at all a hectic asian industrial entity):

    “if you see a problem, then stay and fix it. Leaving it will do nothing…”

    So, while I welcome those jesting immigration to Canada, I welcome the opportunity for you to also speak up at home and get ideologies like this that will deteriorate a country a thing of the past.

  36. Chuck Patterson

    According to his website, Ralph Hall strongly favors expanding the use of nuclear energy.
    Even if he is dead wrong on Climate Change science, if he is pro-nuclear, he is on the right side of Climate Change action.

  37. Daffy

    The Republicans don’t even pretend to care about anything but making the global corporations richer. And why should they? They have convinced their minions that being robbed blind is GOOD for us all (see some of the posts on this blog). OMG, Even David Stockman has repudiated Supply Side Economics!!!!!

    And the Democrats aren’t any better; they just make more effort to hide it.

  38. Stanley

    That’s statism for you.

  39. t-storm

    Scientists won’t run for office because they generally enjoy their work and think politics is a waste of time. Same reason you don’t see a lot of Engineers in office, or Doctors. But the ones you do see are probably the one’s you didn’t want to work with anyway because they would stab you in the back and take credit for their own advancement.

    This is slightly dated.
    http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RS22007.pdf

    Looks like 8 (9 if you count the astronaut) scientists out of 535 people.

  40. Mike G

    The concern that science is under attack in congress is more than just speculation about what Hall might do.

    Yesterday Senators David Vitter and John Barrasso introduced a bill to audit NASA’s climate data under the guise that the data is hidden from the public (which it isn’t). They plan to do that by using congressionally appointed meteorologists (why not climatologists?) and statisticians “to ensure that influential climate research is protected from political agendas.” http://vitter.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=c78bfac5-98a3-0b29-bdaf-4d96fca31dc3

    Minority whip Eric Cantor has started a program called “YouCut” in which he asks citizens to review NSF grants for projects that they deem unworthy of funding, without any knowledge in the given field. http://republicanwhip.house.gov/YouCut/Review.htm Sarah Palin’s ridicule of fruit fly research should serve as a good example of why NSF funding decisions should be left to scientists and not the general public.

    And of course, let’s not forget Darrell Issa, incoming head of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, and others in the new GOP majority have promised to hold climate science hearings in the house.

  41. Monkey

    @Arthur … where to begin. You are totally off your rocker.

  42. Blizno

    38. Daffy Says:
    “And the Democrats aren’t any better; they just make more effort to hide it.”

    Of course the Democrats are better.
    We have two choices in the USA.
    1) Democrats, who are clumsy and disorganized and who are often corrupted by graft and/or sex.
    2) Republicans who are highly organized in their pursuit of taking as much power and money as they possibly can before the American electorate finally wakes up and sees the giant Republican leech sucking the very life’s blood out of America.

    The Republican party is in the honeymoon of an unholy wedding between far-right politics and evangelical Christianity for their purpose of using the enormous wealth of the Evangelicals and millions of pre-convinced voters.

  43. Dan Kennan

    Back to astronomy, please.

    There is no hope on the science or education fronts in the US…and don’t go thinking Japan is any better. The corporations that rule and will always rule (US or Chinese, makes little difference) will never allow science to come before profit. Stop fooling yourselves, kids. The Dems are not going to do anything the big corps don’t want them to do.

    It’s a lost cause, and the only sane move is to stop wasting energy trying to turn back the tide, and start enjoying a mental escape. It’s better for the blood pressure. I spent years being a “skeptic” and then realized I was only upsetting myself and making absolutely no difference that was not instantly reversed by political decisions that I had no say in.

    Give up and enjoy the skies. It will be better for you in the long run.

  44. QuietDesperation

    Eh. I think you know me as pro-science by how, Phil, but this is a bit hyperbolic.

    And for those threatening to leave, it may be trite, but, well, see ya. :-P The rest of us will continue the fight.

    I know I talk sometimes about retiring overseas, but it’s not over anything like this.

    As long as US scientists shut up and keep developing tech for their country

    Yeah, we engineers develop some of that “tech” stuff, too, you know. Just sayin’

  45. Jess Tauber

    Bad Astronomy-DOOMED!

    After they take down PBS and the Huffington Post, the jack boots will be heading to Colorado for you, Phil. God demands this. First they may accuse you of helping Wikileaks, or of collaborating with Al Qaeda, then Sarah Palin will swear that you are the Devil in sweat pants. If I were you I would plan that vacation to Bounty Island. Time is short.

  46. Levi in NY

    我已经开始学习汉语了!

  47. Messier Tidy Upper

    Terrific.

    So you really like this guy & think he’ll be wonderful then BA? But, but you’re headline here suggested the reverse! ;-)

    Oh – you were being sarcastic, yeah? ;-)

    Look on the brightside, he’s only a politician from the other political team from yours. Many from the republican side had the same reaction when Obama was elected and the world didn’t end then .. How bad can he really be & how much damage can he really do? The importance of these political clowns – of both politiical colours – is, I think, greatly exaggerated.

    Each hyper-partisan side in modern politics now seems to wail and howl and screams like its the end of the world when the other gets in & somehow the world keeps turning and things .. well don’t stay *exactly* the same but don’t end in Armageddon either. Looking back on this it almost certainly won’t be con

    @ 4. Tideliar Says:

    I wonder what Singapore is like at this time of year….

    Tropical – same as it is year round given its latitude I’d guess. ;-)

  48. Thameron

    The end is nigh. Bummer for those of you who are young and/or have children.

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    To, hopefully, cheer you (& other partisan supporters of one bunch of political fools other the other bunch of political fools) up here’s a link to some superb news on the discovery of a carbon-rich exoplanet by Spitzer :

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-409

    Also I thought you’d be happy to hear of the successful test launch of the
    SpaceX Dragon capsule linked here :

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/giant-leap-for-space-travel/story-e6frg6so-1225968500442

    Although I guess you already know of that & I must admit I’m surprised you haven’t blogged about this yourself today, BA! ;-)

    So never mind the bad news of your preferred political team of fools failure down here on Earth – look to the skies and put it all in perspective. :-)

  50. Messier Tidy Upper

    Argh. Computer crashes. :-(

    Sorry, that was meant to read :

    Looking back on this it almost certainly won’t be considered all that bad, just another in a long line of bad politicians from red & blue teams alike – *all* of whoem are really pretty rubbish and as bad as each other. :roll:

    Terrific? No.

    But “Doomed?” Probably not so much.

    I guess you’re half joking there anyway but still, lets have a little perspective please!

    There was a popularity contest between two groups of fools, the fools in your fave colour lost, maybe the fools of your colour will win next time (or not), but for now you’re left with the fools you don’t want, rather than those you do theoretically “in charge.” Nothing too exceptional there. Just politics at its lousy mundanity. :-(

    @50. Thameron : The end is nigh.

    Mate, if there’s one thing we should’ve learnt by now after endless “The end is Nigh” prophecies whether religious, political, environmentalist and otherwise in nature it is that the end is really NEVER nigh.

    As Patrick Moore observed :

    “A few years ago I was walking along Charing Cross Road in Central London when I came across a man who was wearing sandwich boards. Normally I would’ve paid little attention to him and I assumed he must have been protesting about something quite mundane but in fact his message was much more dramatic :

    “Sinners Repent! The hour of doom is at hand!”

    I was tempted to question him but at that moment he stepped off the kerb and was smartly knocked down by a passing cyclist.

    Rising to his feet he drew a deep breath and unleashed a volley of wild invective.”

    – Page 1, intro., “Countdown – Or how Nigh is the End?”, Patrick Moore, Pan Books, 1999.

    That book which I’d highly recommend reading contains a lot of stories of the end predicted dramatically – all of which fizzled out anti-climatically.

    So what if your political side lost a national popularity contest and has to wait out of power for a few years while fools youdon’t like as opposed to fools you do supposedly “run” the show. That’s not the end of everything.
    The Democrats had their turn supposedly “running” Congress and teh country. they sucked at it & got kicked out. Now its the other mobs turn and no doubt the same will happen to them. Not the end of the planet.

    Worse things happen. I’m only going to worry when the Sun starts turning red giant or at least evolves into a yellow sub-dwarf in a few billion years time! ;-)

  51. Alezmendi

    Go team America! F$@k yeah!

    sigh….

  52. Dean

    Depressing… Astounding… Just, Wow.

  53. Messier Tidy Upper

    @3. Arthur Reader : .. the Climategate fraudsters

    Arthur, there was NO fraud.

    “Climategate” was a massive beat-up over nothing.

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P70SlEqX7oY&p=029130BFDC78FA33

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJFZ88EH6i4&p=029130BFDC78FA33

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WvasALL-hw&p=029130BFDC78FA33

    Human Caused Global OverHeating (as I prefer to call Anthropogenic Global Warming for the sake of clarity & accuracy) is real – the evidence for it is scientifically compelling and beyond reasonable doubt.

    Now what – if anything – we eventually end doing about it is another story entirely.

    I think we’ll have to go for some serious “terraforming” of Terra (Earth) techniques (geoengineering) because we’ll have left it way too late for anything else. Technology – not tokenism or treaties – will most likely have to be the way to go.

    After all we’ve already tried international treaties and summits (eg.Copenhagen) and found that the nations just can’t or won’t agree or unite on this. Living a hippy caveman lifestyle won’t be adopted or acceptable to enough people especially those in the Third world keen to have the Western lifestyle we’re already enjoying.

    So the Greenies & Politically Left are wrong in their proposed solutions – but right to at least acknowledge that we have a problem which the Right refsues to see. (BTW. Conversely in another area there are major global problems the Left refuses to acknowledge and the political Right does eg. the fight against the Jihadists, nuclear arming North Korea & Iran etc .. but those are another topic again.)

    Global Warming will almost certainly be some serious carnage and human suffering before any serious mitigation work happens. Which sucks. Indeed, there’s probably already been significant amounts of human misery and biodiversity loss because of HCGOH. :-(

    Although I don’t think the Democrats were that much better & certainly weren’t effective the Republicans will eventually have no option other than to recognise the reality.

    The climatologists aren’t fraudsters and if things become impossible for them in the USA they’ll just work and tell the sad truths from overseas. persecuting them politically won’t help or change anything.

  54. I think voting has been shown to be a complete failure at this point.

    Time to revolt.

  55. Messier Tidy Upper

    Also see here :

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/11/yes-please-lets-have-hearings-on-the-evidence-of-climate-change.html

    Via the slacktivist blog by the brilliant evangelical, moderate left wing Christian Fred Clark :

    “So let’s do it. Let’s have a national conversation about the facts and the evidence. Let’s have hearings to allow that evidence to be heard.

    Bring in all the top scientists from NASA and NOAA and the IPCC. Swear in the heads of all the property insurance companies and reinsurers (the greedy capitalists screaming bloody murder over climate change because they know it’s real and that doing nothing about it will be very, very expensive). Fly in conservative ministers from Canada and Micronesia, from the Netherlands and Bangladesh. Bring in the chemists and climatologists, the botanists and oceanographers. Print up the hand-outs and blow up the display-sized photographs and charts and graphs. Subpoena everyone from Bill Nye to Steven Chu and let them answer every question that Michelle Bachmann or Jim Sensenbrenner or Mike Pence can think to ask.

    Then go ahead and call in the so-called “skeptics” — the deniers, the sun-spot kooks, the chem-trail conspiracy theorists and cornucopian fantasists. Call in the lobbyists and the Luntzian focus-group warriors who believe that reality is a semantic construct. Please. I want to hear from them. I want to know if any of them has some magic phrase or theory that will change the heat-trapping properties of carbon, or some wonderful slogan that will prevent sea levels from rising. Swear in the head of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and invite him to repeat his previous statements under oath. See if he chooses to do so when it might mean someday sharing a cell with Roger Clemens.

    And please let’s televise the whole thing. Let’s stream the video live on the Internet — with files available for download so the choicest bits can be reposted as viral videos.

    And let’s not stop with the House — why should one chamber of Congress have all the fun? Let’s also convene hearings in the Senate, where mad old James Inhofe can test his mettle against reality and people who know what they’re talking about. ….

    … The facts are the facts are the facts. I’m sure the idea of these Republican show-trial hearings is to spin and obfuscate and set a trap to portray those facts as a “fraud” or an alarmist fascistsocialist conspiracy involving secret Muslim Alinskyites and almost the entire scientific community, but the facts are too solid and too substantial to be so easily dismissed or disguised.”

    I think those calling for putting the climatologists on public trial need to remember the old adage :

    “Be careful what you wish for – you may get it.” ;-)

    I think the Climatologist witchhunt trial will likely work out every bit as well as the ID~iot Creationism trials & the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial of evolution.

    Reality has the facts on its side, the best, most-convincing evidence and the most credible expert witnesses. The anti-reality side don’t. Period.

    If the climatologists are correct about Human Caused Global Over-Heating -and I think they are – then they really don’t have anything to fear.

    So, yeah, bring it on! :-)

  56. TomInAK

    Tanya: You go for it, girl. Let me get some popcorn and a beer first, though. . . .

  57. Derek

    Science enables everybody. Including crackpots with their high-tech laser sights.
    So until science finds a way to ration who can benefit from its findings, it’ll always be exploited or denied for political gain.

    Lately (since Bush 2000) I’ve been sad for America and hoping you can rise again. But now you are so far down I just hope to find a good seat at the bone picking.

  58. Messier Tidy Upper

    Well if you want to look on positive side of things :

    1. At least it wasn’t Joe Barton or Jim Inhofe or Ken Cuccinnelli who got the job. Whoever the Republicans chose those favouring other political side wouldn’t have been happy.

    2. As (#25.) Pete Jackson says : “He will be 88 on May 3. Will he survive much longer?” Hall is an old man and while he has some power now it certainly isn’t unlimited or unchecked and there will be people and things that hold him to account and prevent him going too far.

    3. As (#37.) Chuck Patterson said Ralph Hall strongly favors expanding the use of nuclear energy and that’s a good thing. Whether the anti-nuke environmentalist irrationals like it or not, nuclear power will probably play a positive role as part of the answer.

    Also as I’ve said above (in a comment currently awaiting moderation) those who want to put climate scientists on public trial should be careful what they wish for and remember the outcomes of the Dover ID trial and the Scope’s trial before that. Any public trial of the climatologists may well actually boost the case for taking action against Global Warming and convince more folks that the scientific consenus climatologists are correct and the contrarians are not.

    The slactivist blog has an excellent post on that issue titled ‘Yes, please, let’s have hearings on the evidence of climate change’ on the 6th of November 2010.

    Besides its not like the climatologists were winning the (political) argument or that serious steps were being taken before that have now stopped anyhow. Obama had no chance of passing and had himself given up on his “cap-&-trade” bill long before this.

    This isn’t exactly good news sure but while it may be cold comfort to say so, I really don’t think it’s as bad as some here think either.

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    At least it wasn’t Joe Barton or Jim Inhofe or Ken Cuccinnelli who got the job.

    Or Congressman John Shimkus who “stars” in this clip here :

    WARNING : Some Not Safe For Work Langauge
    in the juxtaposed, funny, sarcastic text overlain on it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5yNZ1U37sE

    Given those above alternative options would it, perhaps, be fair to say that Ralph Hall would be the best of a bad lot? I guess that means we should count our blessings right? :-(

    NB. This clip was originally from (#44) Orlando in the old thread on this matter here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/11/10/energy-and-science-in-america-are-in-big-big-trouble/#comment-330742

    Thanks Orlando if you happen to see this. :-)

  60. Sarah Palin will swear that you are the Devil in sweat pants.

    Phil wears pants? I thought that was still a hypothesis without evidence?

    Not that that’s ever stopped Palin, of course.

  61. Oh come on and get real. “Science and energy in America are now doomed”?

    Is there anyone, I mean anyone at all who seriously believes this?

    I fact, Phil, I’m happy to bet a months salary – mine versus yours – that I can call what’s going to happen with this better than you.

  62. Dan Kennan

    Actually, you pollyannas, it IS the end of the world (as we have come to know and love it)….it’s happening now. This particular guy isn’t the cause, though. He’s just a sideshow.

    What will, with some certainty, destroy civilization is global warming and we are already too late to do anything about it. The die is cast, the water is in the pipeline, the pitcher has released the ball…no amount of cursing or praying or convening or declaring or cooperating can stop it.

    The irrationality of humanity, the short-sightedness of democrats (small d), and the Western insistence on focusing on individual rights have combined to completely immobilize us. Having any real effect would require a total upheaval of society which would simply not be possible. People around the world would have to willingly drop their standard of living and life expectancy to premodern levels, stop reproducing and give up any hope of a better life for generations. Not gonna happen.

    Civilization will spend its last century or so desperately trying to reverse the disaster, but it’s futile. It’s been futile for some years now.

    So enjoy the stars and stop stressing on what you cannot stop. It’s your choice: bang your head against the wall (and many good people will do this out of some outmoded sense of duty) or enjoy life while you can. It’s only going to get worse from here on out.

  63. stop reproducing… for generations

    Yeah, that’s gonna work.

  64. Dan Kennan

    My point exactly.

  65. Russ

    It’s time to learn how to hunt. Since this country is on the edge of collapse and I will have to fend for my own berry.

  66. Dunc

    If we’re fully reliant on federal funding for our scientific advancement in this country, then science is already doomed here.

    I totally love the way people say these sort of thing on the frikkin’ internet, on a blog which deals primarily with space no less, with absolutely no sense of irony.

    DARPA, NASA… Bunch of losers who never did anything worthwhile. Sure.

  67. Terry

    @Messier Tidy Upper:

    Though I don’t agree with your politics, I’m glad to see a voice of sweet reason around here. Just because you use reason to come to your political arguments, doesn’t mean you have to agree with me, but if you agree with me it helps to prove you use reason.

    @65 Dunc:
    I believe the original point said “Fully reliant”. There will be need for research funded by government as long as government is the central aspect of our societies. If globalization more greatly empowers NGOs and IGOs, those will fund more research as well.

    No one questions that government funding of science has to happen. Unfortunately for Phil’s basis of this post, there is no evidence to suggest that anything but climate science will suffer under this regime. Embryonic stem cell research will also suffer, but since there are moral objections to that research, it probably isn’t the purview of government to fund it. If climate science or stem cell research has taken over for ALL OTHER fields of science… well, it hasn’t, and science FUNDING as a whole has gone up under Republican legislatures and gone down or stayed level under Democratic legislatures.

    And for those who want to start learning Chinese or thinking that leaving the country will be good for your future, no one is stopping you yet. I would caution that China isn’t going to be good for science, however, until they manage to actually allow people to think freely. They are trying, but when you look at their record, they still jail scientists at an alarming rate. Which is worse for ‘science’? Getting your funding revoked and having to find new sources of research funding or getting your lead researchers jailed for having had contact with a political dissident?

    @47. Jess Tauber:

    After they take down PBS and the Huffington Post, the jack boots will be heading to Colorado for you, Phil. God demands this. First they may accuse you of helping Wikileaks, or of collaborating with Al Qaeda, then Sarah Palin will swear that you are the Devil in sweat pants. If I were you I would plan that vacation to Bounty Island. Time is short.

    This is certainly possible if we continue down the road a bit toward greater government control and ability to censor our private opinions. Of course, the greatest assault on our private opinions does not come from the right… but from the left. More likely he’d be accused of political incorrectness.

  68. Oh, shut up. Honestly. If you think the only true science can come flowing from the teat of government, you have limited imagination. If you think government money is untarnished by political motivation, you’re naive.

    In a recession, it’s probably wise to stop throwing money at universities investigating the sexual curiosity of roaches and other great mysteries.

    Also, it’s probably this “doomed! DOOOOOMED!” catastrophic thinking that leads to your great myopia on any topic other than astronomy.

    Again, stick to what you know, Phil.

  69. Revyloution

    Pete Jackson Says:

    ‘He will be 88 on May 3. Will he survive much longer?’

    Unfortunately, due to advances in modern science he might live on for a long time.

  70. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Revyloution : Or he might not. Who knows?

    @69. Terry : Thanks, I guess. :-)

    BTW. There was an interesting and quite good interview tonight (last night for those in the States rather than Oz I guess?) between David Letterman and Bill O’Reilly. I don’t (yet) have any links for it but its worth checking out. Touched on US politics, the 2012 Presidential poll* – where it seems Mitt Rommney may be front-runner over Palin – and dependence on foreign oil with a nice look at why we don’t yet have common electric cars among other things.

    @64. Dan Kennan :

    The irrationality of humanity, the short-sightedness of democrats (small d), ..

    Er .. what do you mean by “small d” democrats there? Really? The names of political parties are traditionally capitalised & I think all sides in Western democracies believe in, well, democracy so I’ve no idea what you might be referring to there.

    .. and the Western insistence on focusing on individual rights have combined to completely immobilize us.

    Er .. would you rather we ignored individual rights then? :roll:

    Would you have totalitarian socialist / fascist governements or whackjob Islamic Ayatollahs order & compel you to live *your* life the way they NOT you would prefer? Srsly?!? :-o

    Have you learnt nothing from the way people flee tyrannies and the way the Soviet Union and other fascist states have failed in the historic record?

    Are you honestly suggesting we should scrap individual inalienable human rights? What the __! *Facepalm* :-(

    * Which, let’s remember, is still two years (or a political eternity) away & who knows what could happen to create a totally different picture in the interim?

  71. Cheyenne

    Whatever ElZarcho – you obviously haven’t been following the amazing science that the government has been providing us lately. As one example- NASA has just told us that it as found microbes that have incorporated arsenic into their DNA! This is utterly astonishing! And don’t even get me started on all of the incredible science that is flowing out of the ISS. If you think private industry has done better than that you are completely misguided.

    We are all now DOOMED(!) because the House chair is now changing to Ralph Hall. I welcome our Chinese overlords and I’m moving to France! And I mean it, I really do!

    @71 –Yeah, it does suck that he can’t just die. We should wish that on everybody that disagrees with us. Stupid medical advances.

  72. Agustina Iansilevich

    Bad news for science in America ):
    Well then, I think is the turn for us, developing countries, to take on the task. To the science cave!

  73. Grand Lunar

    Horror beyond imagination.

    So much for advancement and new energy resources.

    I forsee a new dark age.

  74. Messier Tidy Upper

    the Soviet Union and other fascist states

    Durnnit. Because I’m sure someone else will point this out if I don’t correct it, I meant :

    the Soviet Union and other fascist Totalitarian (specifically Communist in this case) states

    Naturally.

    Although fascism and socialism actually have a lot in common when it comes to oppression of the individual and state (Party / Fuhrer* or Il Duce) control over everything. Plus they both share bigtime economics & human pyschology FAIL.

    —–

    * Skirting the mildest of Godwin’s there but really there’s no way to avoid it. Besides Godwin’s law is bunk (& arguably harmful) anyhow in my view.

  75. Radwaste

    Kind folk, there actually IS a place for American Federal government support for the sciences. Imagine, for a moment, that a corporation invented a working transporter or FTL drive. No, you can’t have one, it’s patented!

    There is not room for finger-pointing in the suppression of public funding for science. The biggest mistake in the history of humanity will be seen as the stoppage of the Apollo program, and that was done because it didn’t generate the right votes for the right people in office, no more, no less.

    Rather than vibe negatively, support your sciences and make sure your Congressman knows you want support for sciences. The House of Representatives, not the President, controls all Federal money!

  76. Dan Kennan

    The straw men are making my nose itch, please remove them.

    Democracies tend to vote for cookies now rather than bread for tomorrow (we’ve done it on AGW for instance). It’s not the only way to run a society. It’s not Our Sacred System OR Totalitarianism. False dichotomy.

    As far as individual rights, they must be balanced with responsibilities, which they currently are not. Resulting in a massive inequality of wealth in most developed countries. The West focuses on rights to the exclusion of all else. Again, you are equating a lessening of something as its complete opposite.

    Calm down. Oh, and the next two years will bring nothing in the way of fixing or preparing for the coming AGW disasters. Relying on the current parties and system to do that is like asking a chimpanzee to…well, advise you on global warming. They are not structurally capable of doing so.

  77. Dan Kennan

    And sure, ask for more money for science, it discovers cool stuff! I’m not for cutting funding or anything, just being realistic about the future of our civilization. Science may find ways of making our lives a bit more comfortable for a bit longer.

    But this one guy is not going to end science.

    Back to astronomy. I want to know more about what to expect in the sky this holiday season/

  78. Gary Ansorge

    33. MichaelF

    I LOVE clicking on those ads. It means more money in Phils bucket.

    Back in the mid 1950s, a historian wrote The Last Frontier, which was about the western continent and the effect its settlement had on the European feudal societies. When talented, aggressive people(read; craftsmen, engineers, etc) left those societies, they collapsed. It was a hard lesson for the aristocrats, that their power was based upon innovative people and they could not survive w/o them.

    It MAY have been a simplistic proposition but it appeals to my own bias toward space colonization.

    Now all we need is a cheap, build-able in your garage, space craft(yeah, I know that’s not likely, but I can day dream).

    Gary 7

  79. David D.

    Gotta love Cheyenne–“it does suck that he can’t just die.”

    How pleasant.

    Enjoy your Chinese overlords–you can ask our latest Nobel Peacer about the wonderful world of Chinese Communism. And don’t let the door hit you on the way out on your way to France.

    “And I mean it, I really do!”

  80. Brian Schlosser

    @ Terry #69

    “Of course, the greatest assault on our private opinions does not come from the right… but from the left. More likely he’d be accused of political incorrectness.”

    Yes, because it was liberal progressives who pressured Amazon to stop hosting Wikileaks, forced them to give up their domain, and called for Assange’s assassination. Just to reference the most recent example of an assault on opinions.

    It is the right in this country that insists on total ideological purity. Look at what happened when RNC chair Steele mildly rebuked Limbaugh: he was forced to grovel at the feet of The Great One for forgiveness.

    The boogeyman of “political correctness” is a right wing ghost as best, and at worst describes THEIR ideas.

  81. Okay, here’s the strategy. Every time he is about to do something stupid, we just have to get someone to run up to him and yell one of the following:

    “Look, someone’s trying to raise taxes!”

    “Oh no, there is a Mosque being built on ground zero!”

    “An illegal immigrant just snuck across the border!”

    “Another person just signed up for Obamacare!”

    “Look, an atheist is not celebrating Christmas/Easter!”

    “Isn’t that a cute gar married couple!”

    He will respond to any of these like one of Pavlov’s dogs (feel free to add your own to the list!)

  82. alejandro c.

    PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!
    DON’T WORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    CHRIS MOONEY is in the Board of the American Geophysical Union….

    just as Mr.Plait said: “Sounds like a good idea to me, since it’s something we obviously need quite desperately right now.”

  83. Chris Winter

    MichaelF wrote (#33): “I know this sort of thing has come up before and I am sure that Phil has no control over it… but it’s jarring when you come to this bastion of sanity and see an ad for the ‘Quantum Scalar Bracelet’.”

    And then there’s the Swarovski Pendant — it has 4,000 negative ions!* This is a massive deal at a mere $59 per pendant ($168 for three)! That’s only a penny and a half per ion.

    * Each ion installed with forceps by skilled prevaricators. Replacement ions sold separately.

    /sarcasm

    It’s enough to make me swarovski… If you catch my meaning, if you get my drift. ;-)

    Seriously, though, the servers have to be paid for somehow. These sorts of ads are something we just have to ignore.

  84. Dan,

    What will, with some certainty, destroy civilization is global warming and we are already too late to do anything about it.

    You might want to mention that to those ranting extremists, the IPCC.

    Incidentally, there is a movement that practiced this:

    People around the world would have to willingly drop their standard of living and life expectancy to premodern levels, stop reproducing and give up any hope of a better life for generations.

    They were called the Khmer Rouge.

  85. Chris Winter

    What’s not to like, Arthur Reader (#3)? The fact that you still don’t understand how little SwiftHack (aka Climategate) damages the mainstream view of climate science.

    Read this:

    http://climatesight.org/2010/11/17/the-real-story-of-climategate/

  86. Chris Winter

    @Messier Tidy Upper:

    Thanks for bringing up the success of SpaceX with Falcon 9 & the Dragon capsule. It is indeed an encouraging development.

    But I wouldn’t call it a giant leap. Indeed, it is encouraging precisely because it isn’t a giant leap. It is, rather, another step in the incremental progress toward routine access to space that is based on the capabilities of a set of independent private companies.

    NASA has done great things and will continue to have a role. But it is time now for the private sector to take over the task of getting cargoes and people into orbit.

  87. Terry

    @82. Brian Schlosser:
    Terry #69

    “Of course, the greatest assault on our private opinions does not come from the right… but from the left. More likely he’d be accused of political incorrectness.”

    Yes, because it was liberal progressives who pressured Amazon to stop hosting Wikileaks, forced them to give up their domain, and called for Assange’s assassination. Just to reference the most recent example of an assault on opinions.

    Um.. Among others it was Joe Leiberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, despite being an independent (which he only is because he couldn’t win a democratic seat. Leiberman, whether he is a liberal progressive or not, certainly is on the left, not the right. And Wikileaks is an organization that is obviously harmful to the U.S. Government and its desires to keep secrets.

    It is the right in this country that insists on total ideological purity. Look at what happened when RNC chair Steele mildly rebuked Limbaugh: he was forced to grovel at the feet of The Great One for forgiveness.

    I’m not referring to internecine fights for superiority within ones own tribe, I’m talking about the attacks on people’s rights to speak their own mind in the general public. Such as when college students are punished and even ejected from the school when they say that they believe homosexuality is immoral. If it is a private college great I got no say, but this has happened at public colleges. I personally think that they are wrong to voice that opinion, but I don’t think that any public institution should have the right to smack someone down for voicing their opinion. I’m talking about the blind support of organizations on the left for the concept of hate-crimes laws, which only protect those that are a ‘historically disadvantaged group’ by the words of Eric Holder. So, if someone kills someone else for being a white guy, that isn’t a hate crime, but if someone kills someone else for being a black guy, or a woman, that is a hate crime. Hate crimes themselves are punishing people for their beliefs, however repugnant, something that is constitutionally illegal!

    The boogeyman of “political correctness” is a right wing ghost as best, and at worst describes THEIR ideas.

    Reality would beg to differ. The right is not lily white in the regard to protection of first amendment rights, but the efforts of progressives are much worse in this regard. Both are at fault, trust me, but the left is the side that assaults free speech more than either.

  88. Keith Bowden

    I know we expected this, but… fuuuuuuck.

  89. Vote with the stupid! How can so many people be wrong?

  90. MadScientist

    What was it – the capable work while the incompetent rule?

    Dar ain’t nuthin rong wit wut we did 100 yeers ago! Skool? Hoo needs stinkin’ skool? Gawd’ll luk aftur us! De bahble sez so! Jeezus din’ go to no stinkin skool!

    @drow#32: It’s been done – it’s called “effective methods for reducing the imposed carbon tax”. Unfortunately, paying politicians to avoid instituting a carbon tax to begin with is an even more effective method – as far as profits go anyway.

  91. Number 6

    Buck up everyone!….I know it’s disheartening….And, I feel that way too, but, at the very least, his future shenanigans will make great comedy….Stewart’s “Daily Show” on cable’s Comedy Central is always looking for new material.

  92. Keith Bowden

    “Tai-kong suo-yo duh shing-chiou sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo.”

    [“All the planets in space flushed into my butt.”]

  93. Number 6 , with all due respect, Stewart’s show already has more material than he can possibly use :)

  94. Number 6

    Hale-Bopp…I stand corrected…You’re probably right…They are flush. :)

  95. Dan Kennan

    Hugo, it might profit you to actually read what people write before you respond. Just a thought.

    “You might want to mention that to those ranting extremists, the IPCC.”

    Umm, I’m not getting your meaning here. I AGREE with the IPCC on the problem…the IPCC is quite clear about the scope of AGW. But reading their own report makes it clear that this is already irreversible. Their own estimates show that our best possible efforts will have only the slightest effect. And those best possible efforts would require 100% compliance by all nations, which only the most wooly-headed New Ager believes could actually happen without….wait for it…a totalitarian government enforcing it.

    “Incidentally, there is a movement that practiced this……..the Khmer Rouge.” (I have to ask, could mentioning the Khmer Rouge be a legitimate way to avoid Godwin’s Law?)

    That’s the point, not sure why you insist on pretending I’m in favor of it. To get the compliance necessary to make even the most minute changes to AGW would take utter government control of every aspect of life. Not something I’d be willing to do, and I assume I’m not alone. Given the choice between the most controlling totalitarian govt in history or just letting AGW roll over us, I’ll choose the latter. And I think the great mass of humanity will also. Not sure about Algore.

    Lots of putting words in other people’s mouths here. Show a liking for any conservative viewpoint and suddenly you’re accused of supporting every single thing any rightwing loony ever said.

    Go outside and look at the sky, folks, and stop worrying.

  96. Luke

    @89. Terry: “Hate crimes themselves are punishing people for their beliefs, however repugnant, something that is constitutionally illegal!”

    Absolute nonsense.

    Hate crimes have nothing to do with freedom of expression, but motivation of *actions*, and as such are not scary thought crimes, no matter how much the right wants to portray them as such. If you don’t think law should be based on motivation/intent, then I assume you also think that manslaughter is equal to premeditated 1st degree murder, or that terrorism has no meaning. The purpose of hate crime legislation is to target crimes that specifically are designed to threaten, harm, or instill fear in a particular group, and therefore cause harm in more than just the original victim. Since we make laws and punishments based on the level of harm done and intent, this is no different. While I’m sure some think that some white guy who beats up some black guy in a random bar fight is automatically charged with a hate crime, that’s not what these laws do or how they work, intent needs to be shown. If you still think that punishing intent/motivation isn’t justified, then you have erased the meaning and specific horror of genocide, terrorism, child abuse, and loads of other crimes. While I think debate on how extensive they reach is important, I don’t see how you can claim that hate crimes target belief, when action (a crime), needs to be actually *acted* upon. Perhaps you’re conflating this with “hate speech,” which I would probably almost completely agree with you on.

  97. Dan,

    Weirdly enough when you say it’s either a totalitarian reactionary regime or THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!!! that tends to be read as an endorsement of the first. As I read the IPCC they do not say it is going to be the Doom Of All Things, The Penance Of The Elder Gods or whatever, no matter what the Goreacle says.

    As regards the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Rouge did exactly that. They were fanatically in favor of primitive agrarian lifestyle which is why they did what they did to Phnom Penh.

    As regards your dichotomy, I should say that there are plenty of ways out of this through science and technology, as practiced by individuals. I very much doubt that there is any State solution, but I have confidence in the power of the human individual.

  98. Daffy

    #97 “Not sure about Algore.”

    I found your post interesting until you used this goofy Limbaughism, and your credibility immediately bit the dust.

  99. Terry

    @98. Luke:

    @89. Terry: “Hate crimes themselves are punishing people for their beliefs, however repugnant, something that is constitutionally illegal!”

    Absolute nonsense.

    Hate crimes have nothing to do with freedom of expression, but motivation of *actions*, and as such are not scary thought crimes, no matter how much the right wants to portray them as such.

    Hate crimes have everything to do with freedom of expression. Bigots are free to express their hate and I am free to express my hate of them. Hate is constitutionally protected speech. Something is not constitutionally protected if you are punished for expressing it. There are several categories of speech that are not constitutionally protected, which include “fighting words” and “threats” but hate speech is protected.

    If you don’t think law should be based on motivation/intent, then I assume you also think that manslaughter is equal to premeditated 1st degree murder, or that terrorism has no meaning.

    Unfortunately for your argument, the difference between murder and manslaughter does not come down to constitutionally protected speech. The difference between assault and an assault with a hate crime enhancement comes down to whether the person made any constitutionally protected speech, meaning that they are punished for the speech.

    The difference between manslaughter and murder is characterized by the mens rea which ultimately comes down to the simple question, “Did he/she mean to do it” which can only have a simple yes/no answer, though it may be qualified by exacerbating circumstances (1st, 2nd, and 3rd degrees etc). The discovery of motive is only used to answer this mens rea. We don’t punish a person who kills their spouse in cold blood any worse than a person who kills their business partner.

    Besides, the logic of hate crimes is that they are

    The purpose of hate crime legislation is to target crimes that specifically are designed to threaten, harm, or instill fear in a particular group, and therefore cause harm in more than just the original victim. Since we make laws and punishments based on the level of harm done and intent, this is no different.

    That’s great, but if you want to attack free speech, I’m going to fight you. It doesn’t matter if punishing hate crimes more harshly is effective or not (it’s not), it matters that harming free speech is more dangerous.

    While I’m sure some think that some white guy who beats up some black guy in a random bar fight is automatically charged with a hate crime, that’s not what these laws do or how they work, intent needs to be shown.

    But that is how they have been applied. If a skin head gets into a fight with an individual from a minority, the skin head will likely get charged with assault enhanced by hate crime, even if that fight was over something else entirely, because “It is probably a motivating factor for the fight”. I certainly agree with the assault charges for whoever starts the fight, but the enhancement is wrong.

    If you still think that punishing intent/motivation isn’t justified, then you have erased the meaning and specific horror of genocide, terrorism, child abuse, and loads of other crimes.

    I thought the horror of genocide was in the killing of hundreds of people from a race. I do not have a problem with motive or intent and that is a straw man. You should punish the actus rea and the mens rea of a crime. That mens rea should not be based on their protected speech.

    While I think debate on how extensive they reach is important, I don’t see how you can claim that hate crimes target belief, when action (a crime), needs to be actually *acted* upon. Perhaps you’re conflating this with “hate speech,” which I would probably almost completely agree with you on.

    Hate speech is what is being punished, one way or another. Punish a crime and the intent of that crime in the standard actus rea, mens rea model. Throw on enhancements for aggravated circumstances or the involvement of a handgun or drugs, whatever. That’s great, but when you start using the speech of a person as the basis for adding five to ten years of punishment on a crime you are already locking them up for, you are punishing the speech, not the crime. I’m not conflating the two, I’m just looking deeper.

  100. Luke

    @ Terry:

    Hate crimes have everything to do with freedom of expression. Bigots are free to express their hate and I am free to express my hate of them.

    Crime is not protected expression, and bigots committing a criminal action are not “expressing themselves” any more than I am if I burn a house to the ground to express my love of fire. Hate speech is not a hate crime.

    The difference between assault and an assault with a hate crime enhancement comes down to whether the person made any constitutionally protected speech, meaning that they are punished for the speech.

    No it doesn’t. It’s only applied if the intent of the person was clear in promulgating a threat to a group.

    We don’t punish a person who kills their spouse in cold blood any worse than a person who kills their business partner.

    We most certainly *do* punish a person who intends to kill someone to a greater degree than we do someone who kills accidentally. We pay attention to the intent behind the crime, which is exactly what hate crime legislation does.

    That’s great, but if you want to attack free speech, I’m going to fight you.

    Then you’ll be flailing at air, since no one is attacking free speech.

    But that is how they have been applied. If a skin head gets into a fight with an individual from a minority, the skin head will likely get charged with assault enhanced by hate crime

    Citations? How likely? 35%? The statistics will surely be interesting to see.

    Oh, you have none and are simply telling just-so stories that have no basis in an actual courtroom? I’ll move along then…

    I thought the horror of genocide was in the killing of hundreds of people from a race.

    Ohhh, but that’s just the murder of hundreds of thousands of *people*, why oh why are you bringing race into this? Surely it doesn’t matter at the tribunal that the despot specifically spoke out against the particular race openly and expressed desire to target them?

    Punish a crime and the intent of that crime in the standard actus rea, mens rea model.

    Which is what is being done with hate crime. A greater intent to do harm, a greater punishment. You insist you have no problem with motivation/intent, then keep mentioning mens rea (as if that eliminates motive as a determining factor anyway), without recognizing that intent is part of it, and therefore if the intent is to create more harm, more punishment is sought. That’s the way it’s always worked, we punish child abusers *more*, regardless if children are just people, because we view the motivation and harm done as more morally wrong than simple assault.

    That’s great, but when you start using the speech of a person…

    …which is, again, not what hate crime legislation does. A crime needs to be committed, and specific intent to threaten a group needs to be shown.

    I’ll wait to read your reply, but I think we’ve sidetracked this enough, so I’ll drop it here.

  101. Joseph G

    @#92 MadScientist: Ironically, Jesus himself would disagree with those folks. By all accounts, he was quite literate and fluent in at least two languages, and quite well-read (as was necessary to engage in the theological debates that he did). And it’s worth pointing out that, despite being seen as rather blue-collar these days, carpentry requires mathematics and was, at the time, one of the most skilled trades that existed.
    I’m sure he’d facepalm quite hard at those using religion to justify ignorance.

  102. Joseph G

    It’s worth mentioning that the Khmer Rouge was quite suspicious of those they deemed “intellectuals.” Their glorification of an agrarian lifestyle had very little to do with science or preventing environmental damage, and everything to do with ideology. Those scientists warning of global climate change would still be the first up against the wall for execution were the Khmer Rouge to take power today – they were the very personification of anti-intellectualism and political solipsism over reason.

  103. Joseph,

    Their glorification of an agrarian lifestyle had very little to do with science or preventing environmental damage

    Ditto Al Gore.

    everything to do with ideology

    Ditto Al Gore.

    they were the very personification of anti-intellectualism and political solipsism over reason.

    Ditto Al Gore.

    May I draw an important distinction here? We have the science of Global Warming which is every bit as solid as science ever is (to explain, I accept the possibility of bubbles in science, or of chasing a wrong thread, but the idea of the scientific community engaging in widespread conspiracy or deception is insane). This is absolutely respectible and is accesible through Science, Nature etc. Then we have what might be called the Global Warming movement which I trust about as far as I can throw, given that it has some of the most sinister antecedants one can imagine (e.g. Heidegger).

    To summarise, the way I see it is as follows: We have a problem with too much carbon in the air. Fine – let’s figure out a way, a technological way of dealing with that, because if we rely on any sort of government or multi-government initiative, then we’re all doomed.

  104. Joseph G

    @#105: For what it’s worth, I think that Al Gore is one of the worst things that could have happened to public awareness of AGW. By his very nature, his politicizes the issue, whether or not that was ever his intent. And of course he IS a politician, not a scientist.
    I agree, we do need to deal with carbon levels in the air (and if it comes down to it, even some sort of increase of aerosols to counter warming, if all else fails). Nuclear power and geo-engineering are out of the question to many self-described environmentalists, which is why I don’t consider myself one, despite personally living in the environment and enjoying it quite a bit :)
    However, I don’t see how any purely non-governmental solution is going to work. I’m all for private enterprise and entrepreneurial innovation, but it’s the classic tragedy of the commons situation: there’s not really any way to profit from, say, carbon capture and storage, without subsidies, tax breaks, or carbon taxes. Even if I invented an electric machine, tomorrow, that would magically turn carbon dioxide into solid carbon at a rate of 50 watts per ton, who would pay for it? Violation of thermodynamics notwithstanding, unless companies were instructed to reduce their carbon output by some governmental organization, there’d be no one willing to buy the thing.

  105. Dan Kennan

    Daffy,

    Sort of a reverse argument by authority thing going on in your head, eh. If your interest in new ideas is so tenuous that a single word can repel you in horror, then you’d probably better not venture out looking for new ideas. Some of the ideas I now most strongly agree with were originally expressed by people I didn’t like or agree with.

    I had to google to even find out that Limbaugh coined this, as I don’t like, agree with, or listen to him (but given Gore’s ideas on how the “little people” should be ordered around, I suppose I do agree with him on mocking Gore). But if I were a follower of his, I doubt I’d be posting about how I think AGW is even worse than most people think it is.

    But your litmus test probably means you won’t even read this. So sad. I’ll try to hold back my tears.

  106. @103. Joseph G Says:

    @#92 MadScientist: Ironically, Jesus himself would disagree with those folks. By all accounts, he was quite literate and fluent in at least two languages, and quite well-read (as was necessary to engage in the theological debates that he did). And it’s worth pointing out that, despite being seen as rather blue-collar these days, carpentry requires mathematics and was, at the time, one of the most skilled trades that existed.
    I’m sure he’d facepalm quite hard at those using religion to justify ignorance.

    Exactly. If I may point out one extra thing here : Jesus was, in fact, a Rabbi – a title often translated as “Teacher” & a position often involving teaching others. What was the sermon on the mount if not a huge public lecture? Rabbi’s are, almost by definition, intellectual scholars immersed in & valuing “book-learning” and respecting similar such rabbinical scholars who have learned wisdom through many means incl. reseaching and thinking deeply upon things.

    So the thought of Jesus sanctioning and applauding ignorance and being anti-intellectual is really very dumb. As is Christian anti-Semitism / Judaeophobia but that’s another matter again.

    @106. Joseph G Says:

    @#105: For what it’s worth, I think that Al Gore is one of the worst things that could have happened to public awareness of AGW. By his very nature, his politicizes the issue, whether or not that was ever his intent. And of course he IS a politician, not a scientist.

    Spot on. I completely agree with that & have said exactly that myself on occassion.

    I agree, we do need to deal with carbon levels in the air (and if it comes down to it, even some sort of increase of aerosols to counter warming, if all else fails). Nuclear power and geo-engineering are out of the question to many self-described environmentalists, which is why I don’t consider myself one, despite personally living in the environment and enjoying it quite a bit

    & #105. Hugo Schmidt :

    May I draw an important distinction here? We have the science of Global Warming which is every bit as solid as science ever is (… the idea of the scientific community engaging in widespread conspiracy or deception is insane). This is absolutely respectible and is accesible through Science, Nature etc. Then we have what might be called the Global Warming movement which I trust about as far as I can throw, given that it has some of the most sinister antecedants one can imagine … To summarise, the way I see it is as follows: We have a problem with too much carbon in the air. Fine – let’s figure out a way, a technological way of dealing with that, because if we rely on any sort of government or multi-government initiative, then we’re all doomed.

    [Applause.] ^ This! Seconded by me.

    The so-called “environmental” movement is too often associated with an extreme left wing ideological agenda that is outright anti-science as well as anti-Capitalist and, frankly, anti-American and anti-Western civilisation generally.

    It is one thing to say that Human Caused Global Over-Heating really exist and is a serious problem. It is a separate and quite different thing to then say the best way to fix Global Warming is by punitive taxes, unfair treaties and trendy lifestyle tokenism.

    I wish the Republicans would make this distinction and accept the reality of what the legitimate scientists are saying while proposing different solutions and still rejecting the left-wing solutions that won’t work anyhow.

    As usual neither side of the political divide has it all right & no one ideology has the answer.

  107. @69. Terry Says:

    @Messier Tidy Upper: Though I don’t agree with your politics,

    My politics? My politics is that I can’t stand politics and politicians!

    I think they all stink on both sides and not one of the many dumb political tribes and ideologies has all or even most of the answers.

    I am extremely cynical, disillusioned and angry at all politics and after drowning in a year of a elections where politics has been poured down our minds at home and abroad I’ve concluded none of them can be relied on and all of them give you a splitting hang-over once in power.

    There isn’t one of the current crop of political mediocrities in the US or Oz I wouldn’t happily see tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

    Politics is a stinking cesspit where image and spin are king and logic and reason rarely if ever gets a word in and the difference between the two main brands is like drinking fetid swampwater or raw sewage.

  108. Messier,

    Don’t even talk to me about Republicans. As regards environmentalism, it’s certainly “anti-American”, but that’s because it’s anti-human. What bothers me is more what these types routinely do to the developing world. I’ll instance a small, suggestive example. Attending the Darwin Festival last year (very, very cool, btw), I noticed that some twerp had put up posters all over the place saying “Green Energy is the future for the developing world.” Right. First world types who enjoy all the benefits of a fossil fuel economy telling the poorest of the world that they can’t use their natural resources.

    I just find that grotesque. Another beauty of attacking this problem with tech – in addition to the fact that has a chance of actually working – is that it stops this spectacle.

    Joseph,

    Well, not purely non-Governmental. But “profit” depends on what you are after. Every poll shows that people are in favor of doing something, “regardless of the price”. I mean, if someone comes to be with a good idea for, say, Carbon Capture and says that they’re trying to raise the money for that, I’d put in my share. Wouldn’t you? And if there aren’t these tens of millions of people who would – how would we ever get the political muscle in a democracy to get a political solution?

  109. Daffy

    #197

    Dan, sorry, but in my experience, people who insist on bringing Al Gore into the AGW debate do so because he is an easy target (which he is), and their scientific ideas don’t hold water. I also find it interesting that 100%, people who use Limbaugh’s words ALWAYS claim they “never listen to him.”

    On the evidence, I have to conclude that no one has ever heard Limbaugh’s shows except those who disagree with him.

  110. Gary Ansorge

    97. Dan Kennan

    ” Given the choice between the most controlling totalitarian govt in history or just letting AGW roll over us, I’ll choose the latter. And I think the great mass of humanity will also.”

    I have to assume from this that you have never been truly hungry. I don’t mean the “Gosh, I missed breakfast and I’m hungry” definition, I mean weeks w/o food, eat your shoes, dogs, rats and cockroaches hungry. Historically, people who are REALLY hungry will support(if they’re capable of caring at all) anyone who might be able to pull things together . THAT leaves the door wide open for the most brutal dictatorships.

    105. Hugo Schmidt

    “We have a problem with too much carbon in the air. Fine – let’s figure out a way, a technological way of dealing with that”

    Don’t worry. Peak oil will solve that problem for you. Falling oil production will raise prices so high, NO ONE will be able to afford it and CO2 production will drop precipitously(after the coal runs out).(snark)

    Gary 7

  111. Dan Kennan

    I don’t live in the US or anywhere near a US base, so have never heard his show. Not everyone is an American you know. But believe as you wish Daffy…you will anyway. This is obviously more about Limbaugh than AGW to you, and I can’t argue with an obsessed person. Enjoy arguing with your image of me…I don’t actually have to be here for you to do that so I bid you adieu.

  112. Dan Kennan

    Gary you are probably right…but it will be too late to do anything useful by then. People will put in power whoever says they will fix things. But they won’t do this until things have gotten much worse and it’s too late to even mitigate the disaster on any large scale…and I doubt there will be anything like international cooperation. No one will give up any local advantage for a nonobvoius benefit sometime in the future.

  113. fred edison

    71. Revyloution Says:
    “”Pete Jackson Says:
    ‘He will be 88 on May 3. Will he survive much longer?’””
    “Unfortunately, due to advances in modern science he might live on for a long time.”

    88 is the new 75, or so someone once said. That’s exactly the way it goes with people like him, they condemn and repudiate science on one hand, while blessing and grabbing from science what they can take with the other. Clueless hypocrites, all of them.

  114. Terry

    @102. Luke:

    Crime is not protected expression, and bigots committing a criminal action are not “expressing themselves” any more than I am if I burn a house to the ground to express my love of fire. Hate speech is not a hate crime.

    They are already being punished for the crime. Look at it this way. How do you know that the person committed a hate crime? Do you know it because they happen to be one race and they are attacking another or do you know it because of statements that they made? In most cases, thankfully, people aren’t being charged with hate crimes just for being a different race than the victim. They are being charged with hate crimes for

    No it doesn’t. It’s only applied if the intent of the person was clear in promulgating a threat to a group.

    No, it’s not. It is applied, inconsistently, such as when a criminal defendant uses a racial epithet when committing a robbery. One such case was in Queens in 2005, when the defendant was charged with a hate crime based solely on his calling the victim by a racial epithet. To be sure, the defendant deserves criminal punishment, but for the crime, not for the speech.

    Also, it is not applied when the victim is not a minority. There was a case in 2005 where a 16-year-old white victim was beaten for 5 hours, burned with cigarettes, and urinated upon by two perpetrators of different races. All the while, they were using racial epithets and claiming revenge against “whitey”. They were not charged with a hate crime.

    If it is not constitutionally protected speech, fighting words or incitement to violence, I got no problem with punishing people for it, but we need to err on the side of protecting speech where ever the government comes close to infringing upon it.

    We most certainly *do* punish a person who intends to kill someone to a greater degree than we do someone who kills accidentally. We pay attention to the intent behind the crime, which is exactly what hate crime legislation does.

    There is a difference between motive and intent. Motive drives intent, but intent is merely the aim of the crime. It can be answered in black, white, and shades of gray, but it is inherently a “yes/no/sorta” question. Motive, on the other hand, is different for every case. My point was that when you punish a motive, you lose consistency because it is impossible to really determine someone’s motive accurately. When prosecutors build the theory of a crime, they must determine a motive in order to determine intent. Usually, they GUESS what the motive is. It is notoriously difficult to prosecute a hate crime based on guesswork, so most prosecutors base it on one of two things: What the defendant has said in the past or at the time of the crime; and what the impact of the crime has been.

    Basing charges on impact is even more quarrelsome, but exists in other contexts, such as statutory prosecution of drunken driving/manslaughter as 3rd degree murder in some districts. It does raise ethical questions, but I don’t have an opinion on that, so I will avoid that side of the hate crimes debate. When you base it on what has been said, and what has been said is constitutionally protected speech, you are treading in very dangerous water.

    Citations? How likely? 35%? The statistics will surely be interesting to see.

    Oh, you have none and are simply telling just-so stories that have no basis in an actual courtroom? I’ll move along then…

    No, I don’t have statistics to support this part of my argument (which was largely an aside). I’ll have to research if anyone has done that study explicitly. Just so you are aware, statistics in criminal justice are notoriously hard to pull together; they are either victim-based survey data, offender-based survey data, or based upon locally collected statistics in jurisdictions with slight differences to how laws are prosecuted. For hate crimes, there are at least seven different methods to describe hate crimes in the various states where hate crimes statutes on the books.

    Ohhh, but that’s just the murder of hundreds of thousands of *people*, why oh why are you bringing race into this? Surely it doesn’t matter at the tribunal that the despot specifically spoke out against the particular race openly and expressed desire to target them?

    This actually gives me pause for a moment, until I realized that the distinct difference here is that these are people who are not receiving protection under the law by their state. They are being killed or harassed by their nation, usually by taking their right to property, then their right to freedom, and finally their right to life. It is the offense of this legal inequality that creates the situation where we can act internationally to protect disenfranchised people. That is an act of a state, not the act of an individual.

    Which is what is being done with hate crime. A greater intent to do harm, a greater punishment. You insist you have no problem with motivation/intent, then keep mentioning mens rea (as if that eliminates motive as a determining factor anyway), without recognizing that intent is part of it, and therefore if the intent is to create more harm, more punishment is sought. That’s the way it’s always worked, we punish child abusers *more*, regardless if children are just people, because we view the motivation and harm done as more morally wrong than simple assault.

    I don’t have a problem with motivation/intent. As above, motivation proves intent, but you don’t punish the motivation, you punish the intent. If a neo-Nazi burns a cross or a Swastika on private property, it is motivated to cause harm to others. It is also protected speech. If they burn the Swastika on the property of another, it is vandalism and harassment, but still protected speech.

    As far as the distinction between children, the elderly, or the disabled, there is nothing wrong with increasing punishment on those less able to defend themselves. Crimes against children shock our moral conscience because we are inherently built to protect children as a society, and possibly as a species.

    That’s great, but when you start using the speech of a person…

    …which is, again, not what hate crime legislation does. A crime needs to be committed, and specific intent to threaten a group needs to be shown.

    It may not be the intent of hate crime legislation, but it does have that effect. The problem is that as written, many hate crimes laws have a chilling effect on free speech. It is the worst kind of speech that it chills, the kind that no one really wants to defend, but when you start letting government pick and choose what speech is protected, it is a very short road to government deciding that all kinds of other speech is not protected. Even the lack of protection for fighting words and incitement to violence is consistently challenged in court. It has to be constantly challenged so that the definition is kept narrow and does not widen.

  115. Bjørn Karlsen

    Right now im pretty glad im not an american, and not living in the US… This makes not being able to access hulu worth it… But, hey, sucks for you guys… i feel for you, i really do…

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