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Jmd123August 18th, 2007, 7:49 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Shawn, you might enjoy going to Chile some time (of course, for the fishing, but the Andes Mountains a re pretty cool too) and see how folks down there will drive ANY vehicle - even old STATIONWAGONS - through ANYTHING without fear. They do go very slow, especially when they're driving over big rocks, but I still cringed when my Peace Corps host family took us camping in their, yes, old stationwagon (I think it might even have had "wood" panelling on the sides). Chileans strike me as completely FEARLESS - when we hiked in on that camping trip, we had to descend almost vertically, holding onto tree roots and vines, down a cliff to reach a famous waterfall (Salta de Leon - Lion's Leap in Ingles). When we got there, there were entire families, including very young children, frolicking around in the water and pulling beverages and snacks out of their coolers, which they had somehow also managed to haul down there. Another volunteer from our group went to a steel factory, and found no one wearing hardhats, even though a bucket of molten iron was going overhead on a cable - and SPLASHING molten iron all over the place! One of the senior vice presidents from my office went down there for a hiking trip a few months ago, and had very similar experiences. Perhaps our military forces should look into recruiting down there...

By the way, I never did get to any of the fantastic fishing in the far south. On that camping trip, my wife (at the time, and fellow volunteer) and I took our fly rods and went to a small local stream. We caught rainbows up to maybe 7" long, though we saw a few bigger ones. When we returned to camp and told of our minor success, we were asked if we had brought any fish back. When we said no, they said "Why not???" This was after we told them what size they were. We quickly discovered that Chileans will eat ANYTHING they catch, including some seafood I didn't find particularily appetizing (e.g., barnacles!), though they certainly had a huge abundance of it, including some really tasty stuff. Well, that's cultural differences for ya, and as I always say, to each their own...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Shawnny3August 19th, 2007, 5:59 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
That's cool, Jon. I spent a year in Colombia as a foreign exchange student (my mother is Colombian), and my experience was quite similar - what we would consider crazy behavior others have accepted as normal. The vehicle that struck me most in Colombia was the motorcycle. Families too poor to buy a car (which was almost everyone - cars are really expensive down there) would have 4 or 5 people stacked on a single motorcycle, none of them (obviously) wearing a helmet. To the casual foreign observer this type of behavior was pretty humorous, but the father of the family I was staying with was a reconstructive surgeon who used to treat a lot of victims of motorcycle accidents - awful stuff. He'd get people in there so bad off that without seeing where their head was you'd have a hard time telling what was an arm and what was a leg. That stuff's etched in my memory.

One of the coolest things I saw down there was an old Amazon Indian woman in full traditional dress, complete with (to my amazement) a parrot feather through her nose... waiting in line next to me at an airport. I tried not to stare, but I was only 13 at the time - it was the first time I'd seen a real Indian, and it was right in the middle of all the modern hustle and bustle. One of the most surreal moments of my life.

Oh, yeah, I was not a fisherman at the time. The father of the family I was staying with would occasionally go fishing at the pond on the little fruit farm he owned, and he would come back with large, bony panfish with huge teeth. I don't know what they were, but they were some prehistoric-looking little monsters. At that point in my life I didn't really have any desire to fish, but any desire I might have had was scared right out of me after seeing one of those fish.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
MartinlfAugust 19th, 2007, 10:11 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3173
Neat car stories, and thanks Shawn for the further analysis on the methane problem. Perhaps the Diet for a Small Planet folks had it right after all, feeding lots of grain to cows to produce beef is a waste. Still I am a meat eater, though I try to limit the red somewhat, and the guy who wrote the book Protein Power makes a good argument that we evolved to live best on a protein diet. Tofu may be the answer. We have a pack in the fridge now--I'd better cook it before it goes bad. Damn, it's a complicated world. If I could I'd turn back the clock on many technologies, especially the chemical ones, but not all by any means. I do believe we need to get wiser about what we put into the air, ground, and water fast or the quality of life our children's children's children have will be greatly diminished. But, as you probably have figured out, I'm an aging hippie type who will always want to save the planet, the polar bears, the whales--and the trout. And the mayflies. Perhaps it all will be just fine. But I'm just not so sure.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Jmd123August 19th, 2007, 1:00 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Shawn and Martinlf, great posts, guys. Shawn, you have a very valid point about methane, which is also produced from various combustive processes, and the destruction of forests. And Martinlf, right on about the grain to beef conversion. Ten pounds of grain = one pound of beef - and ten pounds of grain also = ten pounds of HUMAN food. Cattle are also tremendously destructive to ecosystems, but it's not necessarily their fault - it's how they are managed. Too many cattle on too little land causes vegetation destuction, encourages non-palatable weeds (many from elsewhere than North America) to take over, and of course, major erosion, especially when in the vicinity of streams. Not to even mention nutrient enrichment! I myself watched cows dropping big chunks of sh*t into a nice little spring-fed trout stream in Missouri (Capps Creek - look it up MO folks, because I caught a nice brown and two rainbows on my only visit there over ten years ago). Below their "access point", the banks were completely de-vegetated and trampled and, big surprise, long strings of filamentous algae could be seen almost immediately downstream. Oh, let's not forget about mowing down Amazon rainforest to make way for.....cattle ranches!!!

That's not to say that ALL cattle ranchers are like this! Quite a few don't overstock their land and move their cows around to allow grazed areas to recover, and they keep their cows away from streams (hey, what are farm ponds for anyway??) and maintain riparian vegetation corridors on streams that flow across their property. Maybe it's because they like to fish, too? Or they are just environmentally conscious and like to see wildlife using their lands, too.

As far as diet is concerned, I am actually primarily vegetarian, though certainly not strict! Many of my meals, though, could be considered vegan, as they don't involve ANY animal products in their ingredients. I certainly like fish and other seafood, and have been known to kill the occasional catch, plus I like a little bacon for breakfast once in a while and pepperoni on my pizza. Plus, dairy products - I can't give up milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, yogurt, sour cream, etc. (Eggs too - can't make French Toast without 'em.) And I eat turkey on Thanksgiving, etc. But, practically no other red meat, pork, or chicken. I used to eat all of that stuff, then I met the ex and she turned me on to Diet for a Small Planet and similar literature, and it made sense to me. Now I don't miss meat at all, in fact if I eat a substantial amount I feel like I'm trying to digest a cinder block. (I inherited some gastro-intestinal issues from my Dad and a high-fiber vegetarian diet largely eliminates them.) And protein, you say? Whole grains (e.g., brown rice) and legumes have plenty of proteins in them, not to mention good trace elements and vitamins. Try whole wheat breads and pastas - you might find, as I do, that they're WAY more tasty than their "white" counterparts. I doubt anyone who sees me would think I am "starving" or "malnourished". Think I could work a field biologist job if I were??

Yes, it's true, I do wear leather belts and shoes on occasion too. Hard core "meatheads" love to point to such things as hypocrisy, to which I answer, "How many cows does it take to make the ONE pair of leather shoes that I buy every FIVE TO TEN YEARS, versus that burger/steak/tenderloin etc. that you eat once to twice (or more?) PER DAY?

I sure as hell don't expect everyone to folow my "example". But this country - and the world in general - would be far better off with far less cattle. Why do you think the beef industry advertizes so heavily?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
LittleJAugust 19th, 2007, 7:12 pm
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
I know I'm a little late on the reply but I was out of town. I just have a few comments on alternative energy. First of all i'm not a scientist I'm a contractor ,and in response to rising energy costs I've spent some time looking for energy saving methods to offer customers. The unfortunate results of my search was that there really isn't any great solution. Geo-thermal heat pumps as shawny mentioned are by far the best thing we have going. I looked at solar electric panels and they are not even close to cost effective. A 100 sqft solar panel in central pa would generate about 90-100 kwh of power a month assuming that it operated at 100% efficiency, which it will not even be close to 100. In theory a 5 kw system would provide anywhere from 25% to 70% of your electrical needs (again based on optimal efficiency, and the size/electrical usage of your home),and that would run you about $36,000 installed. Not very cost effective. I could go into a mile long list of small things you can do but that's another topic on it's own. I'm not an energy expert by any stretch but from what i've found the reason Science/politicians/activists aren't giving answers is because there aren't any. Hope this was somewhat informative.
jeff
Shawnny3August 20th, 2007, 6:21 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thanks, Jeff. It's nice to hear from someone who actually installs these things for a living and has crunched the numbers. Too often our discussions of environmental issues never get down to hard numbers and we're left with a bunch of options that sound great in theory but suck in practice.

A few follow-up questions for you: How close are these technologies (especially geothermal) to being economical at today's energy prices? Over the past 10 years, how much closer have they gotten to being economical? In other words, have any of the alternative technologies gotten significantly cheaper due to engineering advancements or have the energy prices changed enough to get any of them much closer? I'm just wondering, if they're not economical now, how much more would energy prices have to rise for them to become economical? If it is likely to happen in the next 10 years or so, then the investment now might make it worth it later.

And a final question for my own personal research: With geothermal, the component with the greatest need for maintenance would be, I assume, the pump itself. In your experience, how long do those pumps typically last before having to be replaced, and how much would it cost to replace one?

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Shawnny3August 20th, 2007, 6:22 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thanks, Jeff. It's nice to hear from someone who actually installs these things for a living and has crunched the numbers. I know all the things I've said are based on very little research and very much speculation. Too often our discussions of environmental issues never get down to hard numbers and we're left with a bunch of options that sound great in theory but suck in practice. Thanks for contributing such important information.

A few follow-up questions for you: How close are these technologies (especially geothermal) to being economical at today's energy prices? Over the past 10 years, how much closer have they gotten to being economical? In other words, have any of the alternative technologies gotten significantly cheaper due to engineering advancements or have the energy prices changed enough to get any of them much closer? I'm just wondering, if they're not economical now, how much more would energy prices have to rise for them to become economical? If it is likely to happen in the next 10 years or so, then the investment now might make it worth it later. One of the biggest problems with these alternative energy technologies is that you can't really rely on the information being given to you by the people who sell them (they make their stuff sound so great that you can't believe everyone doesn't have a system installed), and it's hard to find contractors writing a lot of stuff about them. It's just hard to find solid cost-benefit analysis about them. Are there any websites I could check out with more information from contractors critiquing these technologies? As a teacher, I'm always on the lookout for stuff like that.

And a final question for my own personal research: With geothermal, the component with the greatest need for maintenance would be, I assume, the pump itself. In your experience, how long do those pumps typically last before having to be replaced, and how much would it cost to replace one?

-Shawn

P.S. As an aside, Penn State hosts a Clean Energy Expo every few years, and there's some amazing stuff presented at the Expo. I actually do something I never do, and that's give my students extra credit when they attend. To get the extra credit, though, they have to meet with at least two people manning a booth and grill them with a series of hard questions about economics and environmental impacts. When they come back from the Expo, my students usually have two reactions: 1) They are really excited about alternative technologies, and 2) They are amazed at how much is revealed when they ask the hard questions. They find it fun to watch professional salespeople squirm - it makes them feel smart and helps them realize that you can't believe everything you see in bright, bold letters.
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
TroutnutAugust 20th, 2007, 3:22 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
I need to reply to some of the responses to my earlier post. First, I am a fisheries biologist, and therefore have more environmental knowledge than the majority of the people who post here. That's not an insult, that's a fact.


It's true that people are sometimes too quick to second-guess scientists speaking in their areas of expertise. That happens all the time with people making a fuss about fishery management methods or decisions they don't have the expertise to fully understand.

However, this is also a reason why a fishery biologist -- however linked the field may be to environmental issues -- is not an expert on atmospheric science. The main burden of proof here is not on those of us siding with the majority of climatologists, but on anyone saying, "hey, most of the specialist experts are wrong."

Many NON-PARTISAN media watchdog groups have demonstrated that the media are incredibly biased, and usually (though not exclusively) to the left.


One of my favorite Colbert quotes: "Facts have a well-known liberal bias." It's true. If the media reports that we share a common ancestor with apes, people cry "liberal bias."

The only real bias in the mainstream media is toward ratings, and I think that actually works out to an unintentional conservative bias, because they're trying to be centrist rather than objective. They use phrasing along the lines of "some people believe the Earth goes around the sun" so as not to offend advocates of the geocentric model of the solar system. This tendency marginalizes facts and portrays crackpot (usually right-wing) ideas in a more positive light than they deserve, hence a conservative bias.

This was meant to teach children the "scientific method." One thing you were always told is whatever project you perform, you MUST have a "control." This is so that you can do your best to isolate a single variable. If you have multiple variables in an experiment, you can NEVER know for sure, which variable or which variable interactions led to your results.


Thank goodness climatologists have advanced beyond a grade-school understanding of the scientific method. Astronomers, geologists, paleontologists, climatologists, and many other ologists do very little work in the form of formal experiments with controls, yet they learn a tremendous amount about the systems they study. Much very solid science is based on logical inference drawn from math, physics, and chemistry, and synchronized with rigorous observation. It's incredibly silly to dismiss their findings because they don't have a test planet with a nice thermostat.

Just a quick, simple example to demonstrate my point: The Earth goes around the sun. A major cause of this is gravity. We know this to be true even though nobody has ever tried turning the sun's gravity off to see what happens. Therefore, a controlled experiment is not always necessary to reach a sound scientific conclusion.

Only observational studies can be performed on greenhouse gases. At most, you can use such studies to say that CO2 and global climate change are ASSOCIATED. Considering all of this, the "greenhouse effect" cannot be demonstrated to be true, nor can it be demonstrated to be false.


You're forgetting one of the most important points. Apart from the obvious historical correlation between greenhouse gases and global temperature, we have a detailed physical understanding of the mechanism by which it occurs. You may have been so immersed in a largely observational/experimental science lately that you forget the degree to which many things can be understood based on derivations from fundamental physical laws. When that physical understanding also fits the data, as it does with greenhouse gases, you have very, very strong evidence of a causal link, without ever having to do a controlled experiment.

Yes, I know about the glacial samples that KONCHU mentioned, but the conclusions drawn from those are also observational. People can only hypothesize what the exact temperatures were at a certain time in the history of the earth. This is often done with fossils, too. But how do we know there weren't rampant ice-loving ferns living 200 000 millions years ago? Therefore, the only temperature data we have (actual data such as 32oC, or 57oF) goes back about 200 years.


Please tell me you don't actually believe this argument!

We have a pretty good idea of the temperature dating back a very long time. You should go to the library and read up on this properly before doing something so embarrassing as disputing the established fundamentals of an area of science far outside your own expertise.

If everyone simply accepted what this expert or that said as fact (I have a personal story of this I could share, but wont in interest of time), we would all march out to sea (alluding to an earlier post).


That's true, but it's misleading. It's foolish to unquestioningly believe everything the experts suggest, but it's also foolish to state that they're completely wrong based on an amateur interpretation of the evidence.

Back in the late 1800s, scientists were optimistic that they had figured out all the fundamental laws of physics (not "all natural phenomena"!). People who doubted them were right to do so, but that's not analogous to the global warming debate, because nobody's claiming they understand everything about the climate. It's more appropriate to focus on specific assertions.

For example, back then they thought F=ma. There are two categories of people who could doubt that: those who say F is totally unrelated to m and a, and those who say F=ma times a correction factor which is extremely small unless there is extremely fast relative motion or extremely dense mass involved. It is the difference between constructively seeking improvements to current knowledge, and tossing it all out the window for no good reason. Global warming "skeptics" mostly do the latter.

When somebody totally disagrees with the experts on some scientific fundamental, maybe 1 time in a million that person is a visionary whose story will be remembered by history. The other 999,999 times, it's a crackpot who thinks he's a visionary. Experts do need to be questioned, but in the right way and for the right reasons. Amateur complaints about control experiments and ice ferns are the domain of crackpots, not visionaries.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
LittleJAugust 20th, 2007, 6:31 pm
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
I certaintly don't want in the middle of the last two posts but I 'd like to answer shawn's questions as best I can.
First of all I really don't have many good numbers to show you relating to geo thermal heat pumps. www.geoexchange.org is as good a place to find info as i've found. The one thing I will tell you about geo that most sales brochures won't mention, is that geo can't keep up with extreme temps mainly extreme cold, when it can't keep up, your aux. heating unit are used to supplement. That is the major drawback, the more moderate your climate the better they work, fortunatley for us in central pa most of the year they operate at a minimal cost. AS far as solar is concerned it will take a considerable amount of advancement to make them cost effective. IF you look at your own electric bill, assuming that a 5kw system will take up 70% of your electric usage a year and multiply that by 25 yrs (the warranty on most solar systems)i think you would find that you are not even close to the $36000 install. Even if you add 140% to your electric bill (which in pa is a real possibility if the rest of the legislation gets passed to lift caps on electric providers)you will still be under your install costs. I really try to find products that I think will pay for themselves in at least five years. And a product that will pay on my house may not pay on yours ,there are just to many variables to consider for me to generalize on a post. YOu are right about the manufactures "pimping" there products, most publish stat's with there product working at 100% effiency when in practical application they may only work at 40%(which I've been told is about what you could expect from solar in central pa )
TroutnutAugust 20th, 2007, 6:41 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
I could counter your post by pointing out the fact that you are not a scientist by training, but a mathematician, and therefore are not qualified to discuss science of any sort.


What a joke! For one thing, I started out on an astronomy degree, then switched to math (concentrating in mathematical biology) half-way through as a good way to apply my earlier course work to a degree useful in fishery biology. If you suggest that people with math degrees cannot be scientists, I suggest you should flip through a few more university faculty websites.

The fact of the matter remains, that without experimentation, cause and effect relationships cannot be demonstrated


That's completely ridiculous. As I explained earlier, entire fields of science thrive on methods other than experimental manipulation. Would you really toss out all of extrasolar astronomy because they don't use enough test tubes?

I never denied the possibility of global warming; you however, deny the possibility it could even possibly be incorrect.


Nobody's denying any possibilities, but I am looking realistically at the probabilities. If an Einstein of climatology were to come along and legitimately flip the field on its head and the new paradigm suggested that global warming weren't a problem, I would praise the good news. But that is extremely unlikely.

My main point was simply to urge people to investigate subjects (ANY subjects science proposes) for themselves rather than blindly accepting what they're told.


That's a good idea only in principle, but it must be carefully put into practice. In practice, nobody without years of experience in the field can possibly understand the necessary details to make informed decisions based on the raw data. Your principle leads to people who spend a few days reading up on something and then feel justified in strongly opposing the consensus of the experts, usually because of straw man arguments based on misunderstandings acquired during a couple afternoons in the library. To quote Alexander Pope, "A little learning is a dangerous thing." This kind of investigation leads to nonsense like people "looking at the evidence for themselves" in the fossil record and concluding it was entirely deposited during Noah's flood, paleontologists be damned (literally).

The real question for most people on most issues should be which experts to trust. You have to look at the number, credentials, history, and motives of the people promoting each viewpoint, and most importantly the types of arguments they put forward. Experts argue in favor of global warming with mountains of data and well-justified physical theories. Opposing them, we have mostly amateurs suggesting that all non-experimental science is baloney.

In the very unlikely event of a discovery that proves global warming to be hogwash, there will be recognition of that by climatologists. Sure, many will be biased and refuse to come around, particularly those employed to prevent global warming. But many others -- probably most -- are largely impartial, motivated by pure interest in the subject and/or funded to study the climate regardless of what it's doing.

The best thing non-experts have to go by is the word of the most qualified and impartial experts. When such an overwhelming majority of them support a particular position with such certainty for a long time, that means it's probably right. When the stakes are as high as they are with global warming, it's doubly important to give them the benefit of any doubt and proceed under the assumption that they're correct, while continuing to investigate the issue.

Feel free to respond to my post, but please do so in a civil manner.


I think I was sufficiently civil given the harmful position you're advocating and some of the junk arguments you're using to prop it up. Sorry, but a scientist should know better than to write some of what you wrote.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Shawnny3August 20th, 2007, 6:48 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Perhaps the argument for CO2-caused global warming is as strong as Jason suggests, but if it is, then the experts are doing a lousy job of helping everyone else understand why it is so strong. If it is as simple as that, it should be easy to show someone like me why CO2 is so much more compellingly linked than all the other (ridiculous number of) variables. Yes, I've seen the "hockey stick" graph. But I've also seen graphs of solar irradiance that are even better correlated to temperature. If CO2 were so obviously the culprit, then wouldn't it stand to reason that a mountain of research would have been done to show conclusively that increased solar activity could not be responsible? I don't peruse a lot of original research articles on the subject, but you'd think such compelling research would find its way into the mass media, conservative bias or not.

Besides science's inability to convey the potency of data that leads to such strong convictions, I have another reason for skepticism - the precision required of the temperature-deducing methods to detect the tenths and hundredths of a degree necessary for them to be compared with the readings of today. The two major methods to my knowledge are the measurement of oxygen isotopes in ice cores and tree-ring data. Now, you will simply not convince me that tree rings (tested from enough points around the world that a "global" temperature can be deduced, I presume) are precise to tenths or hundredths of a degree - it strains any attempt of the imagination to believe that. Second, isotope dating is notorious for its circular calibrating methods - assumptions always have to be made about the effects of the environment on initial levels of isotopes, and in the case of the oxygen isotopes in question, their initial quantities are exactly what are being used to determine temperatures... again to tenths and hundredths of a degree. Both the tree rings and the ice core samples would seem to me to show most easily rises and falls in temperature (and only over extended periods) but not absolute temperature, at least not to a tenth or hundredth of a degree. So the correlations may still be valid, but statements like "2005 was the hottest year on record" may be deceiving, if, say, the entire scale of data from ages past has to be adjusted up or down even a fraction of a degree to match up correctly. Considering the more recent baseline for direct temperature measurements was done during a relatively cold period in modern human history, the increases we're seeing now may well not be as drastic as we're being told by the experts.

I'm not anti-global warming (that always sounds a bit odd), it's not against my religion, I don't hold a majority share in Exxon, I like the environment and want to be a good steward of it... but I'm still skeptical of this fervor. The urgency sounds more like the Chicken Little rhetoric that has been used by the far left (or, as a far-left friend of mine likes to call it, "far out") since the infancy of the environmental movement. To say, "just trust the experts, because you aren't one," is just not satisfying to me when a scientific issue has such obvious political ties. If that stubbornness makes me stupid, so be it.

-Shawn

P.S. And I just have to say one more thing not science-related: "This tendency marginalizes facts and portrays crackpot (usually right-wing) ideas in a more positive light than they deserve, hence a conservative bias." Really, Jason? C'mon. Do you honestly think that's true? Too many years at Cornell, my friend. Here's an interesting study done by UCLA, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, on the issue of media bias: http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=6664

But that study is probably just biased.
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
LittleJAugust 20th, 2007, 6:49 pm
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
I certaintly don't want in the middle of the last two posts but I 'd like to answer shawn's questions as best I can.
First of all I really don't have many good numbers to show you relating to geo thermal heat pumps. www.geoexchange.org is as good a place to find info as i've found. The one thing I will tell you about geo that most sales brochures won't mention, is that geo can't keep up with extreme temps mainly extreme cold, when it can't keep up, your aux. heating unit are used to supplement. That is the major drawback, the more moderate your climate the better they work, fortunatley for us in central pa most of the year they operate at a minimal cost. AS far as maintenance is concerned your correct in assuming pumps and compressors would be the first to go on them. I don't really have any life expectancy numbers to give you, again because I leave that part of the process to the HVAC techs. AS far as solar is concerned it will take a considerable amount of advancement to make them cost effective. IF you look at your own electric bill, assuming that a 5kw system will take up 70% of your electric usage a year (which i doubt it would) and multiply that by 25 yrs (the warranty on most solar systems)i think you would find that you are not even close to the $36000 install. Even if you add 140% to your electric bill (which in pa is a real possibility if the rest of the legislation gets passed to lift caps on electric providers...don't laugh it happened to maryland) you will still be under your install costs. Not to mention a lot of homes don't have enough usable space on there roofs that would allow panels to reach there highest efficiency. I really try to find products that I think will pay for themselves in at least five years. And a product that will pay on my house may not pay on yours ,there are just to many variables to consider for me to generalize on a post. YOu are right about the manufactures "pimping" there products, most publish stat's with there product working at 100% effiency when in practical application they may only work at 40%. You can also check out www.energystar.gov they highlight a bunch of practical ways to improve efficiency in your home that work. I hope I answered the questions and if you need more detail, feel free to P.M. me and I will try to explain as best I can with out boring the rest of the forum.
Jeff
Jmd123August 20th, 2007, 7:16 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
David, you have certainly made some good comments here, and thank you for informing us that you are a fisheries biologist - I didn't know that. I also don't know if you have more scientific experience than I do. You may, in fact, but I also know that I have a HELL of a lot of experience in the environmental sciences, too. I'm no "spring chicken" - I'll be turning 44 in November, and I've been in this field since I was 20. I also do not have a climatology background, but I am interested in the sciences in general so I take interest in many different subjects.

Concerning the problems of multiple variables, one should apply multivariate statistics, which allow you to tease out the relationships and determine to what degree they influence each other. I did this myself in my unfinished PhD work (divorce and a worthless advisor did it in), when I was looking at multiple water chemistry parameters in comparison to numerous taxa of benthic macroinvertebrates in freshwater springs. My idea was to come up with bioindicators for certain chemistry parameters, including nitrates and phosphates as well as numerous cations and anions, so that variations in benthic communites could be used to determine if groundwater was being contaminated. It was a monumental task, that's for sure, but I ran a lot of statistical tests and found some very interesting correlations. I came up with a formula: A+I/C - A = amphipods, I = isopods, and C = Chironomidae (I identified these to genus level). The correlation was that with increased nutrient levels (I don't remember if it was P or N - I'll look it up), the number yielded by the formula went down - in other words, the number of Chironomid larvae increased while the number of amphipods plus isopods went down. Using scientific intuition, I did not think the increasing number of Chironomid larvae caused the nutrients to increase. Maybe I was wrong, but it sure made a lot more sense that the increased nutrient levels caused an increase in the Chironomid population and a decrease in the crustaceans. Possible causes? The Chironomid community is more tolerant of nutrient enrichment than the crustacean community; the crustacean community is intolerant of nutrient enrichment, allowing the Chironomids to take over; or the Chironomids thrive in enriched waters and simply out-competed the crustaceans. I'm sure these possiblities would make for some elegant laboratory studies. The purpose of this story? Multiple variables do not necessarily create an insolvable problem , and can even give some good hints at causality.

Like you say, we don't have a spare planet lying around to test our theories and hypotheses on - although some scientists point to the planet Venus as an example of a runaway greenhouse effect. After all, the surface of Venus has been shown to actually be hotter than the surface of Mercury, which orbits the sun at roughly half the distance of Venus. Unless we can show that Venus has megavolcanoes going off all the time to heat the atmosphere, it is logical to assume that the very thick cloud layers trap heat beneath them to keep the surface hot enough to melt lead (around 900 F). We can infer this from observations here on earth in, yes, greenhouses. In fact, it seems as though our solar system is an experiment in planetary evolution on a grand scale. Just because it isn't OUR experiment, and we don't have a "control solar system" to manipulate for comparison, doesn't mean we can't learn from it. Should we ignore all of this because we didn't set up the experiment to our own rigorous criteria? Maybe I'm way off, but it seems that you are saying the climate is just too complex to figure out, so why should we try??

Nearly all of astronomy is based on observations and not on experiments. Experiments on much smaller spacial and temporal scales can be conducted in the laboratory and extrapolated to observational evidence. Sure, it's not ALWAYS going to be right, but it's a great start and there's a history of scientific inquiry going back several hundred years. The chemistry of planets, stars, and even galaxies is inferred from comparison of their spectra to elements heated to incandescence in the lab - each has it's own unique spectrum. Since this is done on such a small scale compared to the universe at large, do you think these findings are all bullsh*t? Of course, when astrophysicists start discussing such mysterious concepts as "dark matter" and "dark energy", my eyes glaze over and I wonder if they've left a few zeros out of their equations some place. Still, they are actively pursuing evidence through observational means and may yet convince me of the plausibility of these phenomena. However, I would have to say that by your logic I shouldn't believe in ANYTHING astromical because it can't be tested in a nice, controlled experimental setting.

I am also very disturbed by your comments and those of others, including Shawn, that the majority of science is biased in one way or another. I'm sure you both realize that this consitutes BAD SCIENCE done by BAD SCIENTISTS, and I must question your inference that so much of science is such. My salary is paid largely by clients who want their projects built with the least amount of hassle. However, as I stated in a previous post, biasing my results doesn't do any good for ANYONE, least of all myself. I would never risk getting my reputation ruined by giving inaccurate data on my field investigations, and not just because of the employment and legal consequences. I couldn't live with my self as a scientist if I took a bribe from someone to gloss over significant wetlands that are serving numerous ecological functions of great value. To be sure, I could certainly be classified as a "liberal hippie environmentalist freak", considering some of my opinions of the world. I would love to protect EVERY remaining natural area from development (= destruction in the majority of cases). However, I'm not going to try to protect an ecosystem that I know has little value, like an abandoned farm field full of weeds or a wetland taken over by exotic species (like Phragmites and purple loosestrife). I would especially like to save areas of mature, intact forest since so much of it has been mowed down. But I sure won't fudge my data and find "wetlands" in it just to satisfy my own desires for environmental protection. I have specific definitions I use to determine what is and what is not a wetland, and they are standardized criteria used by all wetland scientists. Any of those folks who doesn't work by these rules gets labelled as incompetent very quickly, and word gets around fast since this is not a huge field of study (though it is certainly growing).

Now, science is constantly evolving and changing as we discover that old findings are inaccurate in light of new data. But to anticipate that and say, "what we know now is useless because it's sure to be found wrong SOMETIME in the future" doesn't make much sense to me. Science is all about building on previous work - otherwise, we do nothing more than continue to re-invent the wheel. What's the sense in that? Sure the hard-core science of climatology is a fairly new discipline, but the body of work is growing steadily and becoming more relevant all the time. Remember, the whole concept of global warming was pretty much "fringe science" when it started about 20-some years ago. It's only been recently, since it has gained more traction and evidence among climatologists in general, that vocal opposition has begun - and yes, much of it funded by the fossil fuel energy industry.

By the way, who in the "liberal enviromental" movement has the spare $$$ laying around to fund all of these global warming studies that indicate it's a fact and that we are influencing it? The alternative energy industry??? I somehow don't think they make enough money yet to do that. Who else - Greenpeace, Earthfirst, NRDC, the Sierra Club? I HARDLY think that these folks have enough cash to bias the majority of scientists (and yes, it is a majority, the nay-sayers largely being "voices in the wilderness") by funding their studies. Are they also paying off the United Nations as well? Maybe rich Hollywood celebrities are doin' it (they make such nice targets to bash on). WHO'S GONNA PROFIT from trying to fix the problem? It's pretty obvious who stands to gain if society is convinced that the problem is a myth.

Two more points and I'll shut up, I promise. First of all, "rampant ice-loving ferns"????? Given that modern-day ferns are descended from ancient fern ancestors, and those known from the fossil record aren't all that different from their modern-day counterparts (except that many were BIGGER - some how I don't think ice would encourage much greater growth in these plants than we see today), why would you even imagine that they would have loved ice way back then? Besides all of the other evidence that the Carboniferous period was a time of warm, wet climates, with higher oxygen levels (found in bubbles in amber) - I don't think "dragonflies" with 30" wingspans evolved in Arctic conditions. And why don't we see such "ice-tolerant" species still extant today, when a substantial portion of the earth's surface is covered in ICE (much likely way more than back then)? I know, maybe you were just using that as an example, but it'such a SILLY example that it just undermines your credibility - at least in the mind of this scientist.

Lastly, concerning the "Stalin" remark - though you may have been just trying to make a point about media bias, it sure sounded a bit too similar to those extremist crybabies who claim that America has become a "communist country" just because they can't always get their way. I've heard such stupid terms lately as "enviromental Taliban" (some rich crybaby energy developer who's powerplant was voted down by the community he wanted to locate it in - uh, isn't that THEIR RIGHT??), other uses of the "Stalin" example, and of course, my favorite: "I'm the ENDANGERED SPECIES!!!" I think you are far more intelligent that this crowd, so I suggest you use better examples and comparisons, lest your fellow scientists are mislead by your questionable choices of language.

In summary, do I refute your statements on the reality of global warming? I do, because I think you have become so pessimistic about science that you are too focused on bias to take a good, hard look at the entire body of evidence to make up your mind. Such as your assertion that all previous climate science work is inherently inaccurate (e.g., 19th-century thermometers, studies of ice cores, peat cores, tree rings, etc.), so we should just chuck it and look at only the most recent, directly measured data. (By the way, human beings have been studying the climate for much longer than the years of World War II. How do you think the Native Americans survived in our harsh landscape for thousands of years if they were completely ignorant of climate trends and signs of change???)

Alright, I'm finished. You can feel free to call me an "extremist wacko" if you like, if that makes you feel any better about what I have put forth here. I seem to remember a comment that someone posted about callng names not being particularily helpful to the debate...

Most sincerely,

Jonathon M. DeNike (B.S., M.S.)
Natural Resource Specialist
JJR
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123August 20th, 2007, 7:51 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Shawn, I feel that you have gotten too wrapped up in your argument about "tenths and hundredths of degrees". I'm certainly no climate scientist, and anyone who has solid evidence to refute my humble opinion is welcome to inform me of my errors, should they be such. It doesn't make sense to me, however, that variations of 10ths to 100ths of degrees are going to have all that much impact on the climate, especially when you are seeing variances of more than one degree. Like I said, I may be wrong, but variances that small would seem to be part of natural variation and don't seem capable of affecting the natural enviroment all that much. I don't think an average temperature drop of 0.17 degrees F over a few centuries is going to set off an ice age, but 1.7 degrees over the same period of time would have a much larger effect, and that's the kind of elevations that have concerned most (not all, but the majority) of climate scientists that we might just have a problem on our hands. Your discussion of dating through isotope ratios begs the question: is our geological time scale of the evolution of life inaccurate too? Should we toss out all of the illustrated tables showing how invertebtrates evolved into fish, fish into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles, and reptiles into mammals during specific geological time periods because our methods might not be accurate? Probably not, because there are other lines of evidence (e.g., rates of sedimentation and rock formation, stratigraphy of rock layers, etc.) to back up our currently accepted time scales. Likewise, there seem to be numerous lines of evidence for the reality of global warming, though many will debate the utility of them. Tree rings, peat cores, and ice cores have been studied for decades, and are subject to rigorous scientific testing and critique. How else do you think these studies get published in peer-reviewed scientific journals? Or do you think that all of the reviewers are biased too, based upon your previous posts? If so, why believe ANYTHING?????

Science is always built upon the best available evidence, subject to be superceded when better evidence becomes available. But per my previous post, it seems rediculous to throw up one's hands and say, "It's too complicated, so I give up - I can't figure it out!!" It wasn't all that long ago in American history that going to the moon was "impossible". Much as many people today think that it's "impossible" that we could have ANY impact on our planet's climate.

I fail to share your pessimism about scientific bias. I've worked in both academia and private industry, and none of my colleagues, to my knowledge, has ever thrown away "negative results". Negative results are still RESULTS and they included them, even when they didn't support their hypotheses. If you don't, other scientists will promptly determine that your results are BULLSH*T when they can't replicate them using the same methods and experimental conditions, and there goes your reputation - no more professorship, no more grants, no more students, no more JOB. I am sorry if you've had to work with people like this. There was a guy at MSU in the entomology department (source of my Master's degree) who did bad statistical analyses and EVERYONE else knew it, so they all steered students away from him and on to someone more competant. Any institution that would tolerate such crap shouldn't be in the business of doing science.

Tell your students that ignore their "negative results" that they SUCK at science and had better look elsewhere for their careers.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutAugust 20th, 2007, 7:52 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
If it is as simple as that, it should be easy to show someone like me why CO2 is so much more compellingly linked than all the other (ridiculous number of) variables. Yes, I've seen the "hockey stick" graph. But I've also seen graphs of solar irradiance that are even better correlated to temperature. If CO2 were so obviously the culprit, then wouldn't it stand to reason that a mountain of research would have been done to show conclusively that increased solar activity could not be responsible?


Other variables are very influential over temperature, and of course solar irradiance would be a huge influence. But a factor like temperature is influenced by many things, and if any one of them goes haywire, you can expect its effect to skyrocket, too. If the sun becomes a red giant, we're all cooked. (Luckily it won't do that within the next few billion years, but nobody has done an experiment to verify that, so DMM might want to buy some extra air conditioners.) If a supervolcano erupts, we can expect blockage of sunlight and widespread cooling. And if CO2 rises to unnaturally extreme levels, we'll have unnaturally extreme warming, too. Any variable in the equation, if tweaked far enough, can have a large effect (especially when multiple positive feedback loops are involved).

Also, remember it's not just about correlating data. The mechanism is understood, too, which is why a causal link may be inferred from the correlation.

To say, "just trust the experts, because you aren't one," is just not satisfying to me when a scientific issue has such obvious political ties.


Political ramifications should increase skepticism, particularly when looking at any specific individual. But most people working in the field are not tied politically or financially to a certain result and have the ethics not to bias their findings. A substantial chunk are going to be unethical or radically biased, but I don't think the rest of the scientific community can be tricked into following their agenda. When a large majority of a large and varied pool of experts agree on something in science, I think they can be trusted.

On most scientific issues, the average Joe can get closer to the right answers by looking at which experts to trust instead of looking at the data without the training to interpret it in context. When a layman finds an inconsistency in what the experts are saying, there are two reactions: asking "why?" or shouting "aha!" I think it's better to investigate such inconsistencies and dig deeper and figure out why things don't seem to make sense -- there's almost always a logical answer. Others who are looking to play gotcha will investigate the issue up to the first thing that doesn't make sense to them and say, "aha!" and proclaim the experts wrong. I think that's foolish.

P.S. And I just have to say one more thing not science-related: "This tendency marginalizes facts and portrays crackpot (usually right-wing) ideas in a more positive light than they deserve, hence a conservative bias." Really, Jason? C'mon. Do you honestly think that's true? Too many years at Cornell, my friend. Here's an interesting study done by UCLA, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, on the issue of media bias: http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=6664

But that study is probably just biased.


Yeah, I believe that. The ADA score is a totally inadequate measure of bias, because the left-wing and right-wing think tanks are not equally valid opposing sources of factual information. Right-wing think tanks tend to publish propaganda and demonstrable lies, whereas left-wing sources (though their record as a whole is certainly not perfect) are much more factual and many are much less extremely ideological. Journalists even marginally interested in facts are much more likely to cite the NAACP or Planned Parenthood than the Heritage Foundation.

That study seems to promote centrism as the highest ideal. My argument, really, is that centrism itself is biased, because the objective, unbiased facts do not all lie precisely 50% in between the right-wing and left-wing positions. The media, by trying to be centrist, distorts the facts to make both sides seem equal, which is a great favor to whichever side is wrong. CNN's "fact-checking" after the 2004 presidential debates was a great example. It usually went something like this: "Oh, George Bush said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but actually there weren't any. On the other hand, John Kerry said the poverty rate was 5.85% when it's actually 5.83%. So the bottom line is they both told a lie."

I believe the definition of unbiased should be the fair, objective reporting of the most accurate facts, prioritized by importance, relevance, and accuracy. Where these facts fall on the ideological spectrum should be of no concern to reporters. This is not how it works at all -- most of them try hard to be centrist rather than unbiased. This leads them to report somewhere in between the facts and the center, which puts them slightly left of center on most things. I consider this to be a right-wing bias because objective factual reporting would be more to the left; they have to stretch to the right of where they should be in order to piss off the fewest people and get the best ratings.

Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123August 20th, 2007, 8:17 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Jason, let's not forget that it is our current, conservative, right-of-center administration that has been caught REPEATEDLY trying to suppress, modify, or just plain hide scientific results that don't agree with their political goals, almost always involving the destruction of natural resources and typically for the purposes of exploiting fossil fuel resources or helping developers build their expensive luxury condos. Maybe someone can enlighten me, but I can't think of single liberal, left-of-center or even IN THE CENTER Democrat that's ever been accused of such a thing. Given all of the desperate efforts to dig up every possible scandal, whether fact or pure fantasy, why did NO ONE ever accuse the Clinton administration of doing THE SAME? Oh, I forgot, it must be that LIBERAL BIAS that most scientists have (i.e, the desire to tell the TRUTH). One merely has to look at the legislation passed by the former Republican-controlled Congress, as well as the actions of the G.W. Bush, G.H.W. Bush, and Reagan administrations, to get a strong impression that Republicans DON'T LIKE the environment, especially when it comes to preserving it. Given that just about all of these folks (I mean, fools) are self-declared conservatives (or "neocons" - take your pick), then why the hell would anyone trust ANYTHING that they say about the environment or even science in general?? And that goes for energy industry propaganda AND they "science" they pay for.

"If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all." - the Gipper

Note also that accusations "liberal bias in global climate change science", including "paying scientists to support global warming", only came about after it was revealed that the fossil fuel industry was THE main funder of "science" to deny global warming. I STILL Want to know where all of these liberal environmentalist types get all the money to support these studies. Hey, I WANT SOME TOO!!!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MartinlfAugust 20th, 2007, 9:58 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3173
When the stakes are as high as they are with global warming, it's doubly important to give them the benefit of any doubt and proceed under the assumption that they're correct, while continuing to investigate the issue.


This is the bottom line for me. I have a similar reaction to the indications that we are screwing up whole ecosystems with chemicals that we don't really understand, producing male fish that develop ovaries, etc. Oh, and by the way, some still drink tap water.

As for media bias, a recent report detailed how the mainstream media accepted the claims of the current administration as to why we should invade Iraq and promoted them, afraid to look "unpatriotic" by questioning them. Too bad. How many thousands of innocent people have been killed and maimed, and for what? Where was the media's liberal bias when we needed it?

Generally this discussion has been informative, interesting, and civil. I hope we will all aim at respectful language, even when emotions run high. One can make points forcefully without losing civility.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Shawnny3August 21st, 2007, 6:13 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Jon, thanks for your thoughtful reply to my posts about radioactive dating and scientific bias.

As far as the radioactive dating is concerned, I'm just pointing out that the degree of accuracy required to form an incredibly detailed temperature record may not be possible with the methodology. The same could easily be said for the dating methods of fossils as well, but such a degree of accuracy is not required for dating fossils - our dating of a fossil being off by 1 percent makes no significant difference in our evolutionary timeline, but being off by 1 percent in our measurement of global temperatures is huge. Furthermore, radioactive dating relies on physical processes that are some of the easiest to accurately model mathematically. The environmental factors contributing to the relative abundance of certain oxygen isotopes in the air, however, are many and complicated - temperature is only one of them. Couple that with ice core data being collected at only the extremes of our planet, rather than over the entire thing, and you can understand my skepticism. The data collected from different sources is, as you said, compiled together to get the most accurate picture possible. But those sources are also used to standardize each other, with none of them serving as the standard. If any of them were a reliable standard for the others, after all, then there would be no need for cross-standardization in the first place. Is the combination of that data accurate to the even the tenth of a degree? I doubt it. I'm not using this argument to refute the spike in temperatures of the past 30 years, but are fluctuations like we're seeing over a very short time span quite common in the past 500,000 years? I doubt whether the data we've collected for that time period allows us to confidently say for sure.

Jon, to speak to the problem of bias - no, I don't think that bias discredits every result scientists produce (I think I've made that pretty clear in many other places). But it does exist, and it does guide our thinking. I, too, have worked in labs in both academia and industry, and I can say from my experience with great confidence that science progresses in spite of the bad science practiced by so many scientists, primarily because of the checks you mention. I have also worked closely enough with the other faculty at my school to know that all of them are biased in some way and bring that bias into the classroom to some extent. I do the same, and I tell my students as much, lest they somehow get the false impression that I have all the unbiased, right answers (there's an insecurity in all of us that makes us WANT to believe the 'experts' are right, and it wasn't until I became an 'expert' in something that I realized just how dangerous that is). I have, truth be told, known precious few scientists who are really good ones, and many who are just not that good, with everything in between. With regard to my students you hold in such contempt, I guarantee you that many will become professional scientists, and it is my hope that they do learn how to do it well - but I'm not naive enough to think that they will. You sound like you're a very careful and knowledgeable scientist, and have some excellent colleagues - but that's not true of everyone, everywhere.

And please don't project the actions of certain politicians on a huge group of people, Jon. I know plenty of Republicans who care about the environment. Nobody went around after Clinton's sex scandal accusing all liberals of being adulterers and liars. That whole rant was a bit low.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Shawnny3August 21st, 2007, 6:28 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful replies. I like particularly what Jason said about the response of non-experts looking at the data of experts. I hope that this non-expert is one asking 'Why?' as opposed to one saying 'Aha!'. I teach stuff closely related to this topic, so even though I am certainly no climate scientist, I would like to be able to give my students a little more to go on than just a passive acceptance of expert opinion as promulgated by the mass media. God knows they already passively accept too much stupid crap. I am really not skeptical for the sake of being contrary. I'm really trying to wrap my mind around what is going on. And I'm certainly not throwing up my hands and saying "It's too complicated, so I give up - I can't figure it out!!" Quite the opposite - I truly want to understand what's going on and how we should shape our policy. So I hope my skepticism is a healthy skepticism, not a skepticism that endangers our planet's future. That's why I appreciate the discussion we're having.

I've already mentioned my biggest concern with global warming, and that is the potential impact of addressing it on the developing world. Currently, unspeakable tragedies are occurring in Africa, and while a million things need to be done to address the problems there, cheap and available energy is a precursor to all of them. Without it, the developing world is powerless to develop and will be mired in its poverty forever. Anything that makes energy significantly more expensive effectively signs the death warrant for the poorest areas of the world. Contrary to popular opinion, the U.N. projects the world's population to stabilize within the next 75 years, maybe the next 50 years. The reason cited in their report for such a drastic halt to population growth? Not environmental factors or the availability of food or water - it's the rampant spread of AIDS. A close friend of mine is moving his family this very week to Malawi to oversee a group of pastors trying to establish orphanages there, even though they know that their orphanages will only be able to house at most a few hundred of the million orphans in that tiny country of just over 10 million people. My friend's most chilling revelation when he first visited didn't come until he'd been there a few days, when he finally realized that he had yet to meet anyone over the age of 35. Problems like that seem far removed from global warming (and I realize many people forecast environmental doom and gloom for those people in global warming's wake), but they are critically linked. Make energy too expensive or discourage nations like that from using their own fossil fuels and you put them in an impossible situation. That's not to say that the long-reaching implications of global warming might not be even more dire for those people, but their immediate needs must be considered. The poorest people in the world have a pretty big vested interest in how we address the issue of global warming, so I'd like to know we're quite sure of what we're doing before we invest in a solution with such a high cost to people it is so easy to forget about. Understanding that cost is what drives me to ask hard questions of the experts and to expect some pretty good answers. I'm not just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

Interesting points, Jason, about media bias. I've never considered it in that light - I'll have to pay more attention to the possibility you mention of the media artificially centrizing (if that's a word) their reporting to pander to the ignorant masses. You've certainly made a very logical argument.

And Louis, I appreciate your sentiments. That statement of Jason's was very powerful to me, as well. And, of course, thanks for the reminder to keep things civil. This has been a pretty good discussion, hasn't it? I know that it has sharpened my own thinking on this important issue.

And thanks to Jeff for his insights on home design - very informative. I'd already visited the geoexchange website, but I thought they were just trying to sell me something. I have, however, used a video of theirs in my classroom as an example of how such systems work. I'll have to check the energystar site as well.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Jmd123August 21st, 2007, 7:49 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Shawn, my humblest apologies to you, and to those Republicans who do care about protecting the environment. Of course they are out there, much in the same way as there are gay Repubs who oppose the anti-gay Bush agenda. However, as a PARTY, the Repubs are so overwhelmingly opposed to protecting the natural world that those few voices of reason are lost beneath the shouting. The actions of the Bush administration, as well as the two previous Republican administrations, demonstrated what can almost be called contempt for environmental protections (see my Reagan quote). The most frustrating thing about this is that the Republican party used to be THE party of environmental protection (remember Teddy Roosevelt)! After all, Richard Nixon happily signed the National Enviromental Policy Act (NEPA - I know it pretty well), the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act - no veto threats, no major objections. He and his fellow Repubs knew that these landmark pieces of legislation were good for our country and its citizens. Also, they were true to the spirit of conservatism, because they wanted to CONSERVE natural resources for future generations of Americans to enjoy - VERY Teddy Roosevelt, who was responsible for the creation of the National Forest system when he saw private timber lands being logged TO DEATH.

Well, all of that seemed to change when Ronald Reagan moved into the White House. Suddenly, environmental concerns were put on the back burner (if not thrown out the back window) when building up the military and "reviving" the economy became top priorities. Suddenly we were more concerned about kicking some Soviet a**, finding every possible source of oil, and logging the hell out of our National Forests than we were about our own air, water, and wildlife. These trends continued right on through Bush 41, were rudely interrupted during the Clinton years, and came right back into vogue when Bush 43 took power. In fact, it was shortly after 9/11 that the Bushies began quietly rolling back environmental protections under the pretense of "national security" - I heard this on NPR around November of 2001.

So, what exactly happened? Absolutely no clue here, unless it was simply a change in the composition of Republican Party. I mean, the Repubs used to be considered the "liberals" (guys like Edwin Musky - GREAT last name, huh?), and the Democrats largely "conservative". This had been the legacy of the Civil War, when Republicans under their original hero Abraham Lincoln wanted to change the country, and the Democrats wanted to leave the south alone and let them go about their business. The Democratic side of things began to change with FDR, JFK, and LBJ - especially LBJs "Great Society" and the civil rights era.

In any case, keep up your thoughtful insights, and feel free to keep me in check when my passions run high on this issue. I have an old friend and prior boss who has been bombarding me with so-called "evidence" against human-caused global climate change, and it's especially irritating since he is an environemtnal scientist who DOES care about the environment, in spite of the fact that he is a Republican. Other scientists he has sent these messages to have taken him to task over the legitimacy of this so-called "evidence". He is also one of those "gotcha" people with regards to the likes of Al Gore and his followers. Hey, if you don't like the message, just kill the messenger and the problem will just go away...

Keep that bias to a minimum, my fellow scientist!

Jonathon :oD

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
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