Health

Flint, MI is in crisis and may be for years to come

by Guest

It’s been in mostly ignored crisis for a very long time, but today you’re likely to hear presidential candidates talking about it. From a technical aspect, some of the reporting on the waterborne lead contamination is good while some of it is lacking and some of it is plainly misrepresentative of the actual issue. What’s not being discussed in any depth – if at all – is the true, long-term costs that Michigan’s governor, Flint’s emergency manager, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s leadership imposed on Flint and the state of Michigan. Continue reading

australia-water-stamp

Flint is a sad metaphor for something

australia-water-stampIf one were looking for an apt metaphor to reflect the state of modern America, which would you choose: the surprising success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, or the deliberate poisoning of the entire city of Flint Michigan? I’d opt for the latter. Yes, the Trump candidacy is perhaps a milestone of something or other in recent politics, but America has always had political hucksters, and some of them have done quite well. This is a country that at one point had an important “Know-Nothing” political party in the 1840s and 1850s (a central plank of which was fierce opposition to immigration, interestingly enough.) So while the sakes might be higher these days—Mr Trump looks like he has a real shot at the Republican Presidential nomination, and a surprising number of voters appear to be uninformed, or misinformed, about lots of stuff—I would still argue that this is one of the swings in American politics that one sees from time to time.

Flint is another story entirely. Continue reading

Book-Review

Rivers run through it…North Carolina’s Rivers: Facts, Legends and Lore…

John Hairr’s North Carolina Rivers is part reference book, part history, part guidebook. What it is not is particularly engaging….

North Carolina Rivers by John Hairr (image courtesy Goodreads)

While I haven’t completed my book list for 2016, I will say a couple of things about it for those who have any interest in such things: it will be considerably shorter (12 books – to allow room for the numerous reviews I am asked to do and to allow me some writing time for completing my latest book), and it will focus on no particular area as the 2015 reading list did.

That said, we begin 2016 with a book I picked randomly from one of our many groaning bookshelves. In an effort to get away from my penchant for reading fiction, particularly literary fiction, I chose what I thought would be an interesting read for a dedicated fly angler: North Carolina Rivers: Facts, Legends, and Lore by John Hairr.

Hairr’s book might be thought of as part reference book, as part guide book, as part informal history of the rivers – and the river systems in North Carolina. It is trying to be all these things, perhaps, that causes North Carolina Rivers to be problematic for readers. Continue reading

Climate2

Top conservative media sites regularly misrepresent OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project

Of the top 15 most read conservative/libertarian media sites, Fox News has mentioned the Global Warming Petition Project only five times since 2008.

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

For other posts in this series, please click here.

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published the most recent version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in 2008, The purpose of the petition was to create a narrative, since shown to be false, that the 31,487 signers disproved the opinion surveys showing an overwhelming consensus of climate experts who are convinced that climate change is real.

Since 2008, six surveys of expert opinion have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, using different statistical methodologies and asking slightly different survey questions, with the result that the lowest level of consensus found in any of them was 88% of respondents, with most finding consensus of about 97%. Yet the GWPP continues to be referenced widely among conservatives and libertarians even though its counter-consensus narrative has been shown to be false – the GWPP signers aren’t all scientists, the GWPP’s criteria for being called a scientist is absurd, the signers are a tiny minority of the people who earned bachelors of science degrees even assuming the GWPP’s criteria are reasonable (and thus giving the GWPP the greatest possible benefit of doubt), the signers are also a tiny minority of the people working in the GWPP’s selected fields as of 2013, and the signers would be a small minority of the members of several professional societies even if every GWPP signer was a member (which is extremely unlikely).

Up until now, S&R has focused on disproving the GWPP’s false narrative and on exposing the individuals who have repeated that false narrative in Congress either as members of Congress or in Congressional testimony. This article marks the start of the next phase of our investigation in which we focus on the organizations and individuals responsible for spreading and maintaining the false narrative. Continue reading

Climate2

Two Senators and three supposed climate experts repeat errors or lies about the Global Warming Petition Project

Senators Michael Crapo and Orrin Hatch have implied that they agree with the Global Warming Petition Project’s false, anti-consensus narrative while climate “experts” J. Scott Amstrong, Kesten C. Green, and Patrick Moore gave wrong and misleading testimony on the subject.

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series, please click here.

Up until now, S&R has focused on the members of Congress who have explicitly mentioned the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s (OISM) Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in the course of their official duties or their reelection campaigns. But there are other, less obvious ways to indicate agreement with the GWPP’s false narrative that the signers represent a counter-consensus against the reality of industrial climate disruption (aka human-caused global warming or climate change). S&R found that two Senators, Michael Crapo of Idaho and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have indicated that they agree with the false narrative without explicitly saying so.

In addition, three men have given testimony to Congress that the GWPP’s signers disprove the many peer-reviewed studies that have found an overwhelming consensus that climate change is occurring, that the changes are largely a result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and that the changes will be disruptive to global ecosystems and human society. Those three men are J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green (who testified together), and Patrick Moore. Continue reading

aging-infrastructure

Clinton’s infrastructure spending plan too little to tackle multi-trillion-dollar crisis

News item:

Hillary Clinton on Sunday announced her plan for infrastructure spending—a “down payment on our future,” she said—and it comes with a hefty price tag: $275 billion.

At a campaign event in Boston, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination called for an increase in federal infrastructure spending over five years and the establishment of an infrastructure bank—two proposals that she says will create jobs and repair the U.S.’s crumbling highways and bridges.

aging-infrastructureJust $275 billion? That’s only $55 billion annually. That’s not enough to address the ailments of the nation’s roads and bridges — let alone everything else. The Federal Highway Administration argues $170 billion is needed each year to address safety issues and performance. Federal, state, and local investment, the American Society of Civil Engineers says, amounts to only $91 billion each year. Meanwhile, bad roads cost Americans more than $100 billion annually in wasted time and fuel.

Continue reading

Climate2

Six more Congressmen make false statements about OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project

Representatives Conaway, Luetkemeyer, McKinley, Pearce, and Poe and Senator Inhofe have all made serious factual errors and repeated the false narrative that the Global Warming Petition Project represents an anti-climate change counter-consensus.

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series, please click here.

An overwhelming number of climate experts agree that climate change is occurring, is largely driven by industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and will be disruptive to ecosystems and human society (aka global warming or industrial climate disruption). But this evidence-based consensus is rejected by many people who deny that global warming is a threat or who fear that countering industrial climate disruption will require policy responses that are counter to their political ideology. The Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP), organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and published most recently in May 2008, was an attempt by deniers of industrial climate disruption to counter the overwhelming scientific consensus of climate.

To date, 11 current and two former members of Congress have invoked the GWPP since May 2008. To date S&R has profiled both former members, John Linder of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas, and five of the current members: Representatives Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Dana Rohrabacher of California, Steve King of Iowa, and Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Roger Wicker of Missippi. In this article, S&R profiles the remaining six: Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, Representative Steve Pearce of Arizona, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Representatives K. Michael Conaway and Lloyd “Ted” Poe of Texas, and Representative David McKinley of West Virginia. Continue reading

Climate2

Aderholt, King, Rohrabacher, Sessions, Wicker make incorrect statements about Global Warming Petition Project

11 current members of Congress have made wrong and/or misleading statements about the Global Warming Petition Project, including Robert Aderholt and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Dana Rohrabacher of California, Steve King of Iowa, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series, please click here.

The Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP), organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and published most recently in May 2008, is an attempt to counter the overwhelming scientific consensus of climate experts that climate change is occurring, is largely driven by industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and will be disruptive to ecosystems and human society.

In the previous article of this series, S&R described how two former members of Congress, Representatives John Linder of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas, made wrong and misleading statements regarding the GWPP that could have been easily fact checked (Linder) or that were overly influenced by personal relationships between the Representative and the GWPP’s organizers (Paul). In this article, S&R investigates five of the 11 current members of Congress who have also referenced the GWPP in congressional hearings and floor speeches, Representative Robert Aderholt and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, Representative Steve King of Iowa, and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Continue reading

Climate2

Former Congressmen John Linder and Ron Paul made wrong and misleading claims about OISM Global Warming Petition Project

While Representatives John Linder of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas are no longer representing their states, while they were in the House, they both made misleading and incorrect statements regarding the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s Global Warming Petition Project.

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series, please click here.

The Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP), organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and published most recently in May 2008, is an attempt to counter the many studies that have found an overwhelming scientific consensus by climate experts that climate change is occurring, is largely driven by industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and will be disruptive to ecosystems and human society. S&R has shown that this attempt represents a false narrative for two reasons. First, the GWPP’s criteria are so broad that a stay-at-home parent with a veterinary degree who has never studied climate is considered qualified to have an informed opinion on the subject. This position is obviously absurd. Second, S&R has shown that, even if we give the GWPP the greatest possible benefit of the doubt, their signers represent tiny minorities of the total number of people who could have signed – one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of people with the GWPP’s selected degrees, less than one half of one percent (0.44%) of people who work in the selected fields, and no more than about 7% of the members of various scientific and technical professional organizations.

As part of our series on the GWPP, S&R searched through official government records of floor speeches and hearings from U.S. Representatives and Senators. We found two former and 11 current members of Congress who have referenced the GWPP, directly or indirectly, since it was published. Today S&R focuses on the two former members, John Linder of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas. Continue reading

Fall in Colorado: it’s been glorious

Monarch Pass, Colorado

Monarch Pass, Colorado

I love almost everything about Colorado. Almost. Sadly, the climate here tends to have very short transitional seasons, and like a lot of people who grew up in my neck of the woods (NC), my favorites times of year have always been fall and spring. I took the long, moderate, invigorating equinox seasons for granted, I guess. Continue reading

Climate2

The OISM’s climate change-denying Petition Project is a small percentage of the AMS, AGU, APS, ACS, and IEEE membership

Compared to the membership of five major professional science and engineering organizations, the Global Warming Petition Project’s signers are still a small minority.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

In May, 2008, the climate change-denying Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) published their Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). This petition falsely claimed to be a counter-consensus against the authentic consensus that climate change is happening, that it’s largely the result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and that the changes will be disruptive to both the global climate and human society. In reality, the number of GWPP signatures is a tiny minority of both the science and engineering degrees that were awarded between 1970 and 2013 and of the number of scientists and engineers working in their fields in 2013 (the latest years that data is available). And this is even using the GWPP’s own overly broad criteria for who qualifies as having an informed opinion on the subject of industrial climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change).

Beyond comparing the GWPP’s numbers against graduation and employment data, there is another set of comparisons that can be made. Specifically, we can compare the GWPP’s signers to the membership of major professional organizations for both scientists and engineers. As with the graduation and employment data, however, this comparison shows a third time that the GWPP’s signers represent a small minority of the overall population. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Climate

Federal employment data also shows OISM’s climate change-denying Petition Project is a tiny minority

The 31,487 names collected by the Global Warming Petition Project represent less than one half of one percent (0.44%) of people employed in 2013 in the GWPP’s selected science and engineering fields.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

Correction: Figures 5 and 6 had incorrect data for chemical engineers. Both figures and the accompanying text have been corrected accordingly.
In May, 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), a group that denies the reality of industrial climate disruption, published the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). This petition falsely claimed to disprove the real expert consensus that climate change is happening, that it’s largely the result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and that it will be disruptive to the global climate and human society. As S&R showed in the first part of this series, the GWPP’s false narrative is based on misrepresentations of both authentic expertise and the total population of experts. When compared against the U.S. Department of Education graduation data between 1970 and 2013, the GWPP signatures represented only one quarter of one percent – 0.25% – of the total number people who the GWPP said were qualified to comment on climate disruption.

While having a degree in a particular field usually grants an informed opinion on that field, there are other ways to determine how informed someone’s opinion is likely to be. An alternative method is to look at whether someone is actively employed in the field in which they’re claiming expertise. Using this method, we can compare the GWPP’s signature numbers to the latest available employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the fields that the GWPP nonsensically identified as having sufficient knowledge to “evaluate the research data” on climate disruption. When we make this comparison, however, we find yet again that the GWPP’s signers represent a tiny minority of the total population. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Climate

Federal education data shows OISM’s climate change denying Petition Project actually a tiny minority

Far from being an alleged “counter-consensus,” the 31,487 names collected by the Global Warming Petition Project represent only one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of science and engineering degrees awarded since 1970.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

In May, 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), a group that denies that industrial climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change) is real, published the results of their Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). Published originally in 1997 with about 17,100 names, the 2008 update contained the names of 31,487 supposed scientists who allegedly reject the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding climate disruption – that climate change is happening, that it’s largely the result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and that it will be disruptive to the global climate and human society. In August 2009, an S&R analysis found that the GWPP’s criteria for a “scientist” (someone who was able to “evaluate the research data”) included so many non-experts that the criteria were nonsense. In addition, S&R found that the names represented only one third of one percent (0.3%) of people who met the GWPP’s own nonsensical criteria.

In the six years since S&R published its analysis, the major national media outlets have largely stopped repeating the GWPP’s unscientific claims. Instead, the media has mostly reported on the many peer-reviewed scientific studies1 that have demonstrated that the scientific consensus on climate disruption is real. However, the GWPP’s champion have never admitted that their petition is misleading. Further, S&R is aware that Arthur Robinson, the president of the OISM, was informed of S&R’s analysis and rejected it. Furthermore, since 2009 the GWPP’s false narrative has been repeated by political pundits, think tanks, blogs, conservative media outlets, and even in Congressional testimony and by both Senators and Representatives. Given the continued political attention lavished on the GWPP’s false narrative, S&R decided to update and broaden our original investigation.
Continue reading

What woman should be on the new $10 bill?

The government is deliberating redesigning the $10 and putting a woman on it. Should we select a politician? A Civil Rights figure? An icon of environmentalism? How about an artist? The Scholars & Rogues staff offers some ideas.

Apparently this is a question now. It came up during the recent GOP debate and apparently the best anybody could come up with was “Margaret Thatcher” or “my mom.”

[sigh]

So we put the question to the S&R staff, hoping maybe we could come up with something a tad more credible. Here are our answers, and you can feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Sam Smith

There’s a range of great, semi-obvious answers here, including Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt. Continue reading

ArtSunday

Wilma Dykeman’s The Tall Woman: The Power of a Great Story

Wilma Dykeman’s The Tall Woman is a masterpiece of straight forward story telling that deserves to be better known – Dykeman presents a quietly powerful depiction of the life of an Appalachian heroine that rings true in every respect…

The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman (image courtesy Goodreads)

Finally, a return to the 2015 reading list after some side trips to cover in once case a current literary flap and some musings on the disappearance of protest music from American cultural experience – and what a return it is. Wilma Dykeman’s The Tall Woman is an example of the sort of rich storytelling that once populated American fiction publishing. This unpretentious but exquisitely literate – and literary in the best sense of that word – novel is an example of regional fiction that rises far above its author’s primary aim to make profound statements about human character.

Lydia Moore McQueen is a character who moves readers in the way that, say, a more celebrated (and controversial) character, Atticus Finch does: she is an example quiet courage and dignity, a brave soul who does what she feels she must and faces the challenges her life presents not without flinching, but instead with strength gathered from within. Dykeman does a fine job of taking us through the events of Lydia’s life and showing us that heroism is sometimes standing up for what is right. Continue reading

Dr. Walter Palmer

Cecil the Lion’s killer doesn’t quite get it

Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion, says he did nothing illegal and that he’s going back to work.

I don’t think Dr. Palmer understands the issue. He doesn’t grasp why people are so upset. He thinks we’re all mad because we mistakenly believe that he broke the law.

No, Walter, we know you acted legally. We live in a country where it’s legal for rich people to buy Congressmen. Most places it’s called “bribery” or “graft” or “corruption,” but here it’s called “lobbying” or “free speech.” Continue reading

Book-Review

Saints at the River: powerful, predictable…almost great….

Ron Rash’s Saints at the River has at its center a powerful story about the struggle of Southern mountain subculture to reconcile itself with the “greater” culture….

Saints at the River by Ron Rash (image courtesy Goodreads)

Ron Rash’s novel Saints at the River has been widely acclaimed as a novel of power and insight in its depiction of Southern mountain culture. It is certainly that. Rash’s tale of a child drowned in a wild mountain river and the struggle over the rights of parents to retrieve the child’s body from the river while protecting the river’s environmental (and historical) significance has moments of resonance for any reader aware of the struggle between homogenization and cultural diversity.

But the novel has, alas, some real limitations, too. The ancillary plot lines (mountain reared news photographer daughter alienated from father, newspaper reporter struggling to write story about drowned girl due to reminders of his own daughter’s death, budding romance between reporter and photographer complicated by both characters’ pasts) are, despite Rash’s efforts to give them more than average depth, average and predictable.

Saints at the River is, then, at best a flawed effort. The question then become, do its strengths outweigh its weaknesses? Continue reading

gazprom

Chill, baby, chill: Arctic oil exploration and climate security

gazprom

image courtesy of gazprom.com

My wife’s engagement ring contains a marquis cut diamond appraised at $2000. I bought it at a pawn shop for $600. The pawn broker was ready to shoot me dead if I tried to steal it. When I paid him the $600 he was asking, he got teary eyed, ransacked his back room for a jewelry box, admitted he would have taken $550 because he could tell I am a good man, and promised that she would have no choice but to marry me in the face of that sparkling gem. It is a thing of beauty, no doubt.

Diamonds are plentiful and relatively indestructible. The second hand market is glutted with diamonds that no one wants because, without the sentimental value, they are comparatively cheap. Oil is not like that. Once it is consumed it exists only as a cloud of excrement. Our collective cloud of excrement has become a life-threatening problem as a result of economic forces set in motion by the General Motors streetcar conspiracy, in which five companies were convicted of conspiring to destroy electric-powered mass transit in favor of oil-powered transportation. Continue reading

The fearless that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Pope Francis blesses environment, McKibben gives Pope his blessing

Laudato Si’, the papal encyclical letter written by Pope Francis, is helping to move global warming to the forefront of the world’s consciousness.

The fearless that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The fearlessness that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Recent years have exposed the emptiness of the free market ideology — arguably a theology — and U.S. intervention. In turn American voters have staged some dramatic about-faces: from George W. Bush to Barack Obama (or our idealized version of him before he proceeded to continue and even double-down on — surveillance — some of Bush’s policies); from Scott Brown to Elizabeth Warren; and Mike Bloomberg to Bill de Blasio. But none of these can compare with the series of popes culminating in the ossified Benedict XVI to Francis, who didn’t take long to reveal himself as a champion of the dispossessed (and I’m speaking as a former Catholic to whom no love was lost on the church). Continue reading