Archive for April, 2010

Artic Heating Up in a Snowball Effect

From the New York Times:

Now climate researchers have detected such a feedback loop at work in the Arctic. It is well known that the region is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Yet scientists have yet to agree on why. Some have theorized that warmer air from the south was responsible, while others blame a change in cloud cover.

Read the full article here.


Gordon Goggin Continues to Misunderstand District

This was posted yesterday on Gordon Goggin’s Facebook page, Save the West Bend Schools:

Minute 15:01 on the video posted on the WBSD website for the video entitled Board work session from 4/12/2010, you will see and hear Dr. Pat advocate for an operating referendum AND see Kris Beaver nod his head in agreement. Check it out for yourself!

I watched the portion of the video in question several times.  Leading up to the 15:01 portion of the video Dr. Herdrich is discussing the 10-11 budget and the fact that it is built upon the assumption that the Board would levy to maximum capacity which would result in an 8.4% increase in the levy.  She then goes on to say that if the board would choose not to use their maximum levy authority that they would need to make further reductions beyond the $2 million that they have already cut.  She also says that if the district under levies and then attempts to go into arbitration with teachers that they would probably lose as the arbitrator would view the district as having additional authority to raise revenue to afford the teacher’s offer.  She then offers a second consequence of under levying.  That consequence would be the inability of the board to advance an operating referendum which the community would support.  She tells the board that it would be a difficult sell as people would see they aren’t levying to the max to begin with.  That’s all a paraphrase but it the essence of the discussion. 

Gordon says that Dr. Herdrich is advocating for a referendum.  Maybe she is, I don’t know, but that is a pretty big leap in logic to conclude from the video segment he referred to in his post.  He is doing the same thing he did earlier with the quote from the Standard and Poor’s credit report.  You will notice when you watch the video the board does not go into a discussion of advancing an operating levy.  They move on to other business.  I also watched the video in full screen and in normal size to see if Kris was nodding his head in approval.  The video quality is poor, but I couldn’t see him nod his head.  He looked more like he was biting his fingernails or something. 

I don’t doubt the board will continue to have discussion about the pro’s and con’s of advancing an operating referendum.  Those discussions do not in and of themselves indicate the board will absolutely go forward with one.  The board needs to have the flexibility and latitude to discuss all options before them, regardless if they may be bad ideas.  We need to back off and let them have these discussions without accusing them of being liars, or not listening to taxpayers, or being lemmings following Dr. Herdrich off a cliff. 

I just don’t see anything in that video that would justify Gordon’s conclusions.  I think he is being unfair and is trying to make the district administration look bad and he is just simply misrepresenting things.  It is dishonest and he needs to be called out on it.

The Religious Right’s Continuing War Agains Civil Rights

TODAY: FRC, ADF, Military Chaplains to Hold News Conference Opposing Possible Overturning of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Rather than openly acknowledge the presence and contributions of gays in the military the Family Research Council wants the military to keep their heads in the sand and pretend they don’t exist.  They want to continue to demonize, dehumanize and ostracize gays from society.  In the 30 or so years that the gay rights movement has been around I have never once been accosted, had my marriage threatened or injured in any way by a homosexual.  In fact, the gays that I have known have been some of  the kindest, and most caring people I have met.  I can’t say the same thing for a great many of the christians I have known.

Ginny Maziarka Complains About Library’s Support of Endangered Species

From her blog, Wissup:

Local Library Takes Up Advocacy for…..gorillas?

Our local Young Adult Librarian, Kristin Pekoll (you know, the one who apparently chooses the sexually inappropriate books for our youth at our library) is now partnering with WBHS students in advocating for ….. gorillas.

Today’s West Bend News:

A number of our animal species are becoming increasingly endangered. 

    Among them are the gentle, noble and intelligent mountain gorillas. Internet sources say only about 600 to 700 of these majestic creatures are alive today and that number dwindles as their homeland is destroyed. 

    The West Bend Library is partnering with S.e.e.d, the environmental club at West Bend High School, to show people that what we do locally can affect things globally. 

I have no problem with those who want to spend their time trying to save gorillas, whales, pandas, ants, et. al,  from extinction, but I am wondering….

Would the library consider partnering with pro-life WBHS students by placing a box for maternity clothing and baby items for collection at the library to encourage women not to kill their babies?

Do public libraries generally advocate for anything not related to library issues?

Since the last library board meeting minutes posted are from February 2nd, one can hardly know if the library board approved this advocacy or not, but one can certainly learn a lot about the crappy, leaky roof.

Now she is seeing phantoms of liberal conspiracy behind the  library’s effort to educate children about endangered species.  In the mind of the religious right, environmentalism of almost any kind is viewed with suspicion because they believe it can lead to worshiping the creation and not the creator.  Environmentalism is also viewed as a conspiratorial attempt for liberal socialists to control our behavior and usher in a global Marxian utopia.  Again, they dismiss the science behind it all.  They could care less if there is actual science behind the decimation of gorilla populations or any other impact humans have on the environment.  They simply dismiss it all as fraud perpetrated by the liberal elitists and march forward with their religious crusade against humanity.  How anyone can take this woman seriously is beyond my intellectual prowess.

World Net Daily Continues to Threaten World Health With Its Promotion of Anti-Vaccine Junk Science

Vaccine safety is a staple of right-wing  paranoia and fear.  Vaccines were initially considered to be dangerous because they were thought to contain mercury in a preservative, thimerosal, which the science denialists claimed caused autism.   But when the FDA removed thimerosal from all vaccines by 2002 and the rate of autism still continued to climb they needed a new scapegoat.  There are many who still believe that vaccines are some sort of cover-up or conspiracy and that they still contain mercury or more harmful mercury substitutes. 

This World Net Daily article advances the idea that vaccines contain aborted human fetal tissue and that is causing autism cases to increase.  Not only is this kind of thing junk science it is irresponsible and a danger to public health. 

Check out the article and then check out this link Do Vaccines contain Aborted Fetal Tissue? and do some research.  World Net Daily has proved itself over and over again of being an untrustworthy source of information.  Their credibility in my book is absolute zero.  And consider this, is it really rational to believe that all of the medical professionals and scientists who have developed these vaccines and administer them would really cover up something they knew to be harmful to children?  We would be  talking about hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of medical professionals deliberately trying to harm children.  As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the anti-vaccine quacks haven’t even come close to providing it.

Telling Faith From Mental Illness

From PZ Meyers over at Pharyngula:

This is really hard to watch: it’s a young woman giving the benediction at the graduation ceremony at Midwestern State University, in Texas, and she’s so sucked up into her religious fervor that she starts shaking, I catch a hint of speaking in tongues, and finally ends up fainting on the stage.

If it were anything other than religion she was trying to push up there, we’d be getting that poor woman in for psychiatric help.

This kind of thing is more common than you would think.  In fact it is rather tame compared to what you would find in many pentecostal and charismatic churches.

Climate Change and Climate Certainty

From the New York Times:

April 27, 2010, 2:05 pm

On Climate Certainty and Climate Credibility


In 2003, Judith Curry, a climate researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote the following passage in a submission to a federal effort aimed at charting how to reduce uncertainties in the science pointing to a growing human influence on climate:

“Reducing uncertainty” is probably not the appropriate goal; we should instead focus on “increasing credibility.” (Read the rest.)

She weighed in on this issue long before she became embroiled in what has become an ongoing battle with many colleagues over how to get climate inquiry back on track following controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the unauthorized release of some climate researchers’ email messages and files. Curry alludes to her 2003 essay in  a remarkable exchange with the journalist Keith Kloor on his Collide-a-Scape blog. I urge you to explore his posts there over the last week or so involving Curry, along with the ongoing exchanges in the comment stream and on  other blogs.

If only more researchers had listened to her back in 2003, perhaps there might have been less turbulence in the discourse over global warming in the last year or so. Scientists always want to find ways to reduce the uncertainty in findings, but — in the heated arena where climate research meets climate decisions — they have not always been quick to state clearly when they are certain that some aspects of the climate challenge won’t be easily clarified any time soon. This is the arena of “ known unknowns” so awkwardly laid out, in the context of Iraq policy, by Donald Rumsfeld a few years back.

To my mind, the tendency by many climate campaigners and some scientists to downplay, run away from — or, at the very least, ignore — the real complexity and uncertainty surrounding many points of climate science gave easy ammunition to some of those I call “stasists” in their efforts to undermine public credibility even in the basics.

Any case for action that downplays the durable and (unmanufactured) uncertainty surrounding vital aspects of global warming science is bound to fail in the end.

Unfortunately for policymakers and the public, while the basic science pointing to a rising human influence on climate is clear, many of the most important questions will remain surrounded by deep complexity and uncertainty for a long time to come: the  pace at which seas will rise, the extent of warming from a certain buildup of greenhouse gases (climate sensitivity), the impact on hurricanes, the particular effects in particular places (what global warming means for Addis Ababa or Atlanta). Continue reading