Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trees, Methane and Global Warming

The BBC reports that scientists have just discovered that trees produce methane, a major greenhouse gas:
Scientists in Germany have discovered that ordinary plants produce significant amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which helps trap the sun's energy in the atmosphere.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature, have been described as "startling", and may force a rethink of the role played by forests in holding back the pace of global warming.
This came as something of a shock:
To their amazement, the scientists found that all the textbooks written on the biochemistry of plants had apparently overlooked the fact that methane is produced by a range of plants even when there is plenty of oxygen.

The amount of the gas produced increased when the air was warmer, and when there was more sunlight. The paper estimates that this unexplained phenomenon could account for 10-30% of the world's methane emissions.

The possible implications are set out in Nature by David Lowe of New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, who writes: "We now have the spectre that new forests might increase greenhouse warming through methane emissions rather than decrease it by sequestering carbon dioxide."

Researchers warn it is too early to make assumptions
If this turned out to be true, it would have major implications for the rules of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which allows countries and companies to offset emissions from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil by funding the planting of new forests or the restoration of deforested areas.
This should be a warning to those who think that "global warming" is settled science. The earth's environment is a complicated system that is not easily reducible to a powerpoint presentation. Politicized scientists have time and again issued dire warnings about the latest and greatest calamity to befall mankind, only to have those claims look irresponsible a few years later (see Michael Crichton's piece, Fear, Complexity, & Environmental Management in the 21st Century). We should try to understand things a little better before we jump to conclusions.

President Bush and Religion - 2

From the WSJ's review of Fred Barnes' new book Rebel-in-Chief:

In the course of Mr. Barnes's narrative, we learn some interesting tidbits about the Bush White House. Mr. Bush, contrary to media hysteria on the subject, mentions Jesus Christ less often than Bill Clinton did.
Of course, critics aren't concerned when Bill mentions God, or when John Kerry gives a speech at a Black Church because they know its just a sop to the rubes who actually believe that stuff. See my earlier post here: President Bush and Religion

Another insightfull point from the review:

As a result, Mr. Barnes argues, Mr. Bush's "rebel in chief" style has brought Republicans to the political mountaintop. In 2004, Mr. Bush beat John Kerry 51% to 48% in an unusually large turnout--historically a sign that a political realignment may be at hand--and helped congressional Republicans achieve a majority as well. "Clinton got what he worked diligently for: personal popularity," sums up Mr. Barnes. "Bush was willing to surrender personal popularity to get what he sought: a transformation of American politics that made Republicans the majority party."
Bush could have pulled a Clinton after 9/11 and lobbed a few cruise missiles, but he took a long hard road instead. Long wars are never popular, but sometimes they're necessary.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Round-up of MSM Bias in 2005

A listing of MSM Lies in 2005 from The Cassandra Page You might quibble with some of them, but you can't argue with the conclusion:

"Their power of illusion is so great we can't be sure of anything we do . . . anything we see."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ignoring the Real Threat

James Lileks on what he fears:

I do not worry about libertinism. I worry about libertines who think the greatest threat to the imminent Utopia is a Wal-Mart exec who refuses to stock a CD because the lyrics celebrate shooting cops in the head, or who think that uptight repressed Christers are six inches and five days away from replacing the Constitution with the plot of “A Handmaiden’s Tale.”
I think he nails it. With all of the real causes of concern available to worry about, the Left focuses on Bush and Wal-Mart. Why aren't feminists overjoyed about the liberation of millions of women in Afghanistan? Because they don't care about them. What they do care about is abortion here and that's why they take the side of islamofacsists who who stone them to death as whores over a President who wants to curb abortion rights. Better millions suffer overseas than Bush claims a victory.

The problem with the Left is that they can't see anything good in the culture that produced them. Everything Western is inherently tainted and evil and everything "other" is inherently pure and good. Just ignore the fact that their culture oppresses women, enslaves minorities and judicially murders homosexuals. The Left is so guilt-ridden about being born into a prosperous civilization that they magnify every fault of their own culture while turning a blind eye to much greater problems in others.

Guilt is a problem, but it’s not the entire enchilada. It’s guilt married to a peculiar belief that Western Civilization is unique only in its sins. The only thing Western Civ really gave the world was slavery, imperialism, war, and capitalism; the fact that we have eliminated or diminished or abbreviated those sins is due not to anything inherent in Western Civ but some overarching, free-floating Enlightenment unmoored from the cultures that produced it. The world began in 1968, and owes nothing to what came before; if we wish to combat the regrettable enthusiasms of some other cultures whose animus appears religious, we should deconsecrate the cathedrals in order to set an example and light the way.
We're not perfect, but as of now, Western Civilization is just about the best system of living that humans have come up with. It's brought undreamed of prosperity to billions and is holding out the welcome sign for the rest of the planet to join us. The Left doesn't think so, and maybe neither does Europe. Its ironic that with so many people in India, China, etc. striving to join the global cultural-economic system - Thomas P.M. Barnett's "functioning core", so many who have enjoyed its benefits don't think its worth saving.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Invade Canada!

Given the state of the Canadian military, the Mounties would probably be their best defence. Posted by Picasa

Never let a slow news day prevent you from finding a reason for bashing America. The Washington Post ("Raiding the Icebox") digs up a War Department contingency plan for invading Canada (then a colony of Great Britain)from the 1930's ( "The whole brouhaha made the front page of the New York Times on May 1, 1935.")that's been public since the 1970's and uses it to get some digs in on the U.S.

Invading Canada is an old American tradition. Invading Canada successfully is not. (snip)After that, Americans stopped invading Canada and took up other hobbies, such as invading Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua, Grenada and, of course, Iraq.
Notice a couple of countries omitted from the list? Say France, Germany, Italy, etc.? Don't let something as trivial as WWII get in the way of presenting America in the worst possible light.