Warming to Climate Change (I)

ANOTHER EVIDENCE of God's existence is the apparently built-in need mankind feels to seek a "higher power." But with the traditional God effectively dismissed by a modern secular society, a vacuum has been created, abhorred by nature. Enter the new god (a dismally ineffective and wholly uninspiring god): the god of Global Climate Change.

The GCC god, however, is still a woefully traditional god who demands unquestioning obedience of its believers. "The debate is over," says the Al Gore, High Priest of GCC, and everyone must bend the knee or be labeled a "denier" and a heretic.

In order to be considered orthodox, one must also know the core doctrines of the Church of GCC (formerly the Church of Global Warming), the chief doctrine of which, the one worshipped in the sanctum sanctorum of the GCC Temple, is that the earth is warming and mankind is to blame.

The genius of many frauds is to link a truth with a falsehood in order to legitimize the latter. The earth is likely warming just now, but is it really mankind's fault or just the cyclical ebb and flow of temperature?

The High Priest, in his gospel Earth in the Balance, asserts that carbon dioxide levels are dangerously high, a large contributor to global warming, and that mankind is the culprit. But before we are baptized into the religion and forced to live in caves and hunt saber-tooth tigers for dinner, let's examine more closely this article of faith.

The truth is, greenhouse gases are a small part of the earth's atmosphere but are critical to making the planet hospitable. Without them, the earth and the moon would be twins. Mankind adds to the level of greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. High Priests in the Church of GCC believe this has caused the present warming trend. But has it?

Greenhouse gases form less than 2% of the earth's atmosphere. The rest is made up of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, etc. And CO2 and other trace gases are only 5% of the greenhouse gases. The other 95% is water vapor. Humans contribute less than 4% of the annual CO2 emissions; the other 96% comes from nature. And so humans add about one-quarter of one percent to the total greenhouse effect. Almost 5% is attributable to oceans, volcanoes, decaying plants, and animal activity. The other 95% is merely water vapor (clouds and rain).

One of the hallmarks of a "true" religion is its permanence. Truth is not usually a flavor of the month. So how have CO2 levels changed over time? Are the levels today higher than in the past? Well, 600 million years ago, during the Cambrian Period, atmospheric CO2 was in excess of 7,000 parts per million. What is it today? .03ppm. Indeed, it has been steadily declining during the entire span of life on earth.

During the age of the dinosaurs, the average temperature was about 18 degrees F warmer than today. As recently as 20 million years ago, the temperature was about the same as during the Cambrian Period, 600 million years ago. It simply tracks up and down within a 20 degree range, even as CO2 levels steadily declined over the same period of time. Therefore, there is no relationship between CO2 levels and temperature.

The earth is a giant analog clock, the hands continually re-tracing their paths across recurrent cycles of heating and cooling. Over the last 400,000 years, there have been five major warming phases, followed by lesser warming and cooling periods. Various ice ages generally last about 100,000 years, interrupted by warming periods lasting about 10,000 years. We are currently at the tail end of a warming period.

What comes next? Why Global Cooling, of course. Get out your parka!

NEXT: Following the second hand into the present... and future.

Iraqi WMDs: The Proof (II)

WITH THE EXISTENCE of WMDs established beyond controversy, still the question remains: If Saddam had WMDs, why didn't we find any after the invasion of Iraq?

This is where we access the best evidence of all: our own logic circuit. Saddam was a tyrant who ruled his country (quelling the internecine quarrels with which we are all so familiar now) with totalitarian efficiency and cruelty. Dissent was quashed, those speaking against his tyranny disappeared, and neighbors were encouraged to spy on neighbors. In such a world, it would be easy to hide evidence, hide the perpetrators, hide the murders, and hide the mass graves. (Except we've found a few of these, haven't we?)

But even so, it's hard to imagine an entire country being completely emptied out of WMDs by the time we got there. OK, here's where logic kicks in: Suppose you have a 15-year-old son whom you suspect of doing drugs. One day you poke your head into his disheveled room and announce, "All right: in two weeks I'm going to turn this room upside down, and if I find any drugs in here, you're in big trouble, mister!"

Now, do you really think you'll discover anything incriminating in that room two weeks from now? Of course not. Your son might be a druggie, but he is not stupid. Neither was Saddam.

Now imagine your son's room is the size of California, and has doors to his doper-buddies' rooms: Syria, Jordan, Iran. Your son doesn't want to destroy his drugs; he likes them. So he's going to move them elsewhere. So, while you're ticking off the days on the kitchen calendar until your inspection begins, he's quietly moving those drugs into his friends' rooms where he can still get to them when he wants to get high.

This, of course, is precisely what Saddam probably did. His allies received his "drug" cache in return for payment or threats.

"But," you ask, "why hasn't anyone squealed on him? Is there truly honor among thieves?"

During the Egyptian Empire (3100 - 300 B.C.), the pharaohs, obsessed with living as well in the afterlife as they did in mortality, filled their tombs with food, creature comforts, and even facsimilies of chariots and riverboats. Some even had their own servants murdered and buried with them! So why wouldn't Saddam Hussein send a convoy of WMDs out into the seemingly endless Iraqi desert, bury the offending weapons, and then order that everyone involved be shot and quietly buried with them? Is this something you cannot imagine him doing?

The reason we didn't find WMDs in Iraq is because of we gave him ample time to hide the evidence. In addition, the half-hearted and ineffective U.N. inspection regime wasn't designed to find anything anyway. The United Nations has devolved into an anti-American cabal of leftists tinpot dictators, many of whom aspire to the cruelty and barbarism of Saddam Hussein. And the impotent powers of the west, represented by the ineffective and feckless Hans Blix, no more wanted to find WMDs than did his third-world cheer leading squad.

We gave Saddam years to prepare for our invasion, and he did what any drug-addled 15-year-old kid would do: he hid the evidence.

And if you cannot see this logic, I can only say, "You are smoking your own stash, man!"

NEXT: Warming to Climate Change

Iraqi WMDs: The Proof (I)

JUST LIKE THE 9/11 "truthers," the "There-Were-No-WMDs-In-Iraq!" nutters have taken their shoddy product retail. Up to 30% of the American public now believes that 9/11 was an inside job, and an even greater portion (I'm guessing here, but since the country is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, it's probably nearing 50%) believe there were never any WMDs in Iraq.

Of course the logical conclusion of such a belief is that Iraq was also an "inside job," one designed not to free the Iraqis from the clutches of a murderous madman, but to secure cheap oil for Bush's cronies and work for Cheney's co-conspirators at Halliburton.

Never mind that one has to climb over a mountain of evidence to the contrary to find the tiny stone labeled "We Never Found Any WMDs!" The important thing for all truthers/nutters is to maintain their world view that our government is evil, corrupt, and conspiratorial. Never mind that the U.N. inspections regime was notoriously incomplete, incompetent, and was denied access to any important Iraqi weapons sites. Never mind that politicians of every stripe went on record to say that Saddam had WMDs. Never mind that Saddam used WMDs on his own people when he gassed the Kurds.

Never mind all that. So long as your world view is maintained, facts are irrelevant. And when your world view is that you are a pawn, a tiny part of a terrible, grinding machine, that great forces are arrayed against you, that everyone in power is corrupt and evil, then you maintain your virtue, your wisdom, your innocence. Your nuttiness.

You are, in other words, Chicken Little, the sole possessor of core truths that the other 99% of humanity is either too dumb to realize or too credulous to debunk. Such beliefs are not designed to find and understand truth; they are designed to maintain a glowing self-perception of moral and intellectual superiority at all costs.

But I must add another cost---a stone, if you will---to the mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein had WMDs in Iraq. In his remarkable book The Demon in the Freezer (Random House, 2002), Richard Preston almost throws away one of the most startling and chilling evidences of WMDs: the manufacturing of the smallpox virus, the most dangerous of all infectious diseases. Since the book was published in 2002, a year before the war began, this can be excused. What cannot be excused is the evidence itself, which bears a complete hearing. I have posted the short two-page section from the book here. Please read it now and then return to the post.

Of course the nutters will maintain, in spite of this evidence, that Preston is a shill for the Bush administration. But the book was written well before the war, and this part of the book is almost a sidebar to his general proposition of the imminent danger of our enemies using Ebola, Marburg, anthrax, and smallpox as bioweapons. And smallpox is the most dangerous weapon ever seen. While it has taken AIDS twenty years to reach 50 million infectees, smallpox could reach that number in just 8 to 10 weeks. "If smallpox were to appear anywhere in the world today," writes Preston on page 103, "the way airplane travel is now, about six weeks would be enough time to see cases around the world. Dropping an atomic bomb would cause casualties in a specific area, but dropping smallpox could engulf the world."

The World Health Organization (WHO) effectively eradicated smallpox from the earth by 1979. Yet into the the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein was still making it in his labs in Iraq. Preston's book also explains (well before the issue ever came up) why France declined to be part of the coalition to free Iraq: they had been effectively building bio-weapon factories for Saddam Hussein for many years.

NEXT: The best WMD evidence of all: inside your own head