Democracy Against The Family: Part 2

Here is the second part of my article on this all-important topic of exactly how democratic states that have mutated from their original foundation in liberty begin to erode their own civil societies.

You can read it all here, or click below to read it as published by Epoch Times newspaper:

https://www.theepochtimes.com/democracy-against-the-family-part-2_3004975.html

For more than a century all the modern democracies, each at a different rate, have been abandoning their foundation in ordered liberty for a new foundation of mandated equality. This is justified as a necessary means to create a more fair and equal polity. That has nothing to do with the original democratic promise of an equal start-line in the race of life, but rather, with the creation by law of a more or less equal finish-line. Equal enough, that is, to garner more gratitude and thus more citizen-loyalty to the democratic state. Ironically, this ambition is carried out by way of an incremental war on various kinds of privilege and moral distinction created spontaneously by our own civil societies.

So the democracies are now at war with themselves. Privilege-producing civil societies, within equality-forcing democratic states, have ended up pitched against each other in a troubling battle to the death for citizen loyalty. Even though it is by far the more humanly gratifying, civil society is also by far the weaker, and has been losing the war badly.

One of the great ironies of our time is that we celebrate a public love of equality, but also of human community. But the latter can only be produced by a process of social-bonding that creates insiders and outsiders, or unequals. Let’s see how that works.

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Thoughts On Compassion, The Law, and Constitutions

What follows is drawn from my recent discussions with a group of friends.

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On Compassion

I think “compassion” is an over-used term. Seems to me all human beings except the very sick have some degree of natural compassion for others, depending on whether they are friends and loved ones, or even just strangers in trouble. We even kill our  enemies out of compassion for our own.

Special wariness is called for whenever the word is used by governments and states and all who work for them. There is usually an underlying, self-serving agenda being camouflaged by a show of compassion (such as when we hear a gov’t worker arguing for socialized medicine as a benefit for all).

It is especially interesting, I think, to see so many modern men showing “compassion” and the requisite tears in public when this was once frowned upon as unmanly. Hard for me not to equate this with a weakened polity, a feminized populace, and as the outcome of an egalitarian ethic which, quite wrongly, takes for granted that the sexes, for example, are the same, and so their modes of expression (like spontaneous tears) ought to be the same. The intended message of the teary male is: If I show spontaneous emotion and tears, people will see that I have my tender feminine side, too, and so I am a well-rounded and virtuous person.

Don’t get me started on the plethora of movies and TV sitcoms where some woman is slugging every man in the place, firing machine guns, and doing kick-flips like a whirling dervish to knock the bad guys out. It’s ridiculous, really, and it falsifies the reality that if you toss a dead mouse at a man, he will likely step on it, but if you throw it at a woman, she will probably faint.

Sometimes this sort of thing is a cultural theme of the day. Such as when in a Jane Austen novel or movie, for example, we see women fainting over some emotional slight or insult. I mean to say, fainting was a required performance for any feeling, delicate woman back then. Now, men cry easily, and women punch people out.

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On Rights

My theory is that “Liberalism” in the West has mutated through four stages to arrive at our present condition, which, well beyond Hayek and all the other excellent liberal theorists we are familiar with, I call “libertarian-socialism”. (You can find the theory spelled out in my book, The Great Divide).

This is a hybrid, or fusion of the two terms, perfectly neither, but enough of both to have resolved the contradiction into which the Western democracies shifted when they tried to stand on two contradictory foundations: liberty and forced equality. It can’t be done, because more of one will always produce less of the other.

But it can be done (as I argue) by splitting the body politic into two bodies – a public body (more or less socialist), and a private body (more or less libertarian). Canada and Sweden are, historically-speaking, the two exemplar nations of this modern reality. It’s a political form never before seen in human history.

So all who use terms like  “liberalism” or “libertarianism” or “classical liberalism” or “conservatism” today to speak of Western political regimes, are in my opinion behind the times and wearing blinkers, because every western nation is now to a greater or lesser degree, libertarian-socialist.

And “the people” like this kind of regime a lot. So this  fusion will continue to tighten its grip on all western populations, and will likely spread slowly around the world as other presently more autocratic nations become wealthier, produce greater tax harvests for eager statists, and so become far more tightly regulated, and the people will resign themselves even more to the compensatory pleasures of their own once-forbidden, but today more numerous private liberties.

 

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On Common Law, Code Law, and Canada’s Charter

 

I would just add, if I may, that English “common law” rights (and privileges and protections) really grew from centuries of case law, or common-law judgements. Bottom-up, actual concrete legal precedents and judgements preserved in legal documents.

 

The so-called Civil Code favored by French-style nations was and remains an effort to rid society of conflicting case-law judgements by appeal to a set of abstract principles intended to govern all lower forms of laws be requiring them to conform with abstract legal or constitutional principles imposed from above.

 

Canada began on a British common-law basis, and its British North-America Act was mostly an administrative agreement sorting out and defining the distribution of powers and obligations as between the Federal/Central government, and the Provinces.

 

But Trudeau Sr. was like Voltaire, who complained: “you English change the (common) law when going from one place to another as often as a traveler changes horses!” He wanted one law for all. He wanted a French-style Code-law Charter imposed on our historic British Common-Law and Parliamentary system

 

So … Canada ended up with its 1982 The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was plopped on top of our common laws and henceforth control all legal decisions as our “supreme” law.

 

However, Civil codes and Charters are not self-interpreting. So this meant that henceforth judges, rather than legislators, would determine the ultimate meaning(s) of Canada’s laws. I argue this infantilized Parliament with the stroke of a pen. And that was Trudeau’s intent. He thought Parliament was a bad joke and infamously described Canada’s Legislators as “a bunch of losers.”

 

Conclusion? The English won the battle on the Plains of Abraham. But the French have been winning the war.

 

I call it “the revenge of Montcalm.”

 

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“living tree” vs “originalist” meanings of a Constitution

Parliament no longer dares to debate contentious moral issues. Those get kicked upstairs to the Supreme Court, and then judges (according to whether left or right or centrist in disposition) “read in” the meanings they prefer for the abstract terms of the Charter.

 

They have to do that, because Charters are not self-interpreting.

 

Just one example will do. Section 15 is about “equality” rights.

 

But the Charter does not specify except very generally what “equality” means.

 

So judges (if so inclined) simply read in, or construct, their preferred meaning of the word.

 

This is justified by the “living tree” concept of a constitution, which basically means that a constitution is alive, like a tree that sprouts new branches, and so ought to be adaptable to new situations or standards that arise, that were unforseen. Modern progressives love this view because it means society can be engineered to social and moral perfection from the top down.

 

Conservatives prefer the “originalist” position which is basically that the Founders who wrote the original constitution had specific and narrow meanings in mind (which we can determine from their actual history of deliberation), and contemporary judges should not be inserting their own interpretations or over-riding original intent with personal views and values. For, if they do that, they are basically declaring, as have so many past Kings and tyrants: “the law is in my mouth!”

 

So modern liberals and progressives assert they ought to be able to change the intended meanings of a constitution. But conservatives disagree, and argue: We have procedures for amending a Constitution. They make amendment difficult, we agree. But it should be difficult. For if a Constitution has no determinate meaning, then why have a Constitution in the first place? You might as well scrap it all and just let judges and legislators change the laws as they go along and as they please – then, the law will be in their mouths.

 

Why “Taking A Knee” Is A Lie

I have had a disagreement with a few friends over the business of “taking a knee” at public events.

Sport has been one of the great healing realities of our age. And what has been ruining it are three things: drugs, politics, and money.

Kneeling is about politics. And my main reason for disagreement is that one man’s knee is another man’s salute.

In other words, “taking a knee” for something you personally disapprove of may be an attack on something others personally favor (like their country). But a kneeler decides for personal reasons to over-ride that possibility for his or her own moral purposes. So from this perspective, kneeling is actually a form of moral bullying.

After all, who am I, or anyone, to commandeer a public event everyone came to enjoy free of unpleasantness, and turn it into a caustic and divisive moral war? Taking a knee, besides being a personal and partisan move, as I say, is morally-insulting to those who may sincerely support whatever the kneeler happens to disapprove of, but are simply too well-mannered to convert into a public quarrel.

I knew Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the black-glove salute on the Olympic Podium in Mexico City in 1968. I completely understood their concerns as black citizens upset with American life at the time (although they were then very privileged black citizens attending a major university free of charge, who attracted lucrative sponsorship interest). And I told them afterward, once back at San Jose State where we all trained, that I thought they made a selfish move that imposed their personal political views on everyone else, and broke the “Olympic Peace” – the understanding that at least once every four weeks, for just a couple of weeks, all the fractious nations of the world can get together to enjoy bonding in the love of sport and just keep their mouths shut.

I have no problem with violence-free protesting. In a free society, individuals who can attract a crowd to hear their grievances and aspirations are free to do so. But sport-kneelers did not attract a crowd to hear them complain. The crowd paid money to watch them win or lose at their sport.

So you could argue – I do – that kneelers are being dishonest; they are moral bullies, unashamed of deceiving an audience that came to watch them perform by imposing on them – stuck in their seats as they are – a different performance than the one they came to see.

Why Gun Control Is Not Crime Control

Seems hard to avoid the “gun control” vs “crime control” confusion. The reaction of most people is that controlling the first controls the second. But does it?
In 1995 Canada passed a law to render any citizen who did not report his or her ownership of a “non-restricted” firearm (even a squirrel gun) within a certain grace period (I think it was 18 months),a criminal, and outside the law.
Even a cherished historical family heirloom such as an ornately-designed colonial musket, could henceforth not be passed on to a child by inheritance. You had to surrender it to government without compensation, whence it would be destroyed. Many considered this property theft by government. There was national anger. I became a criminal over it because I refused to register my 22 caliber biathlon sport rifle.
Being a part of the Post WWII generation, I grew up with firearms, did mandatory military and firearms training in high school, and so found the whole notion of retroactively criminalizing innocent citizens like me to be profoundly obnoxious – especially, as I discovered, because the majority of all gun-homicides at that time were being committed with illegal handguns, and those have been banned in Canada since the 1934!
Obviously, criminals were not about to surrender or report their illegal handguns. Almost all other gun-deaths were suicides. And at the time, about 40% of all homicides were carried out with a knife. This is still the case in Canada and the USA, where 30-40% are knife killings. Was the government going to do a national inventory of kitchen knives and require all homeowners to register them? And if not, why not?
And, I was surprised to learn from the first studies I read on this topic by excellent researchers like Professors/Economists/Criminologists such as Kleck in the USA, and Mauser in Canada, that with the exception of the USA, in every country where strict gun-control has been tried, homicides rates go up, not down!
But why? The explanation seemed to be that in countries like England, where the new gun laws were especially draconian, innocent citizens were now disarmed, and so neither they nor the public the places that in effect became “gun-free” zones, were able to defend themselves. Crazies intent on violence and homicide intentionally picked such sites as targets.
I have heard the recent slaughter site in El Paso was a “gun free” zone, and sensible people are saying that at least if some of those citizens had been armed, the shooter might very well have been stopped. At any rate, after the El Paso massacre, freer gun laws for self-defence, not more restrictive laws, was the immediate demand. That would be my demand, too.
In Canada, a so-called national “Gun-registry” was created in 1995 which was slated to cost 2 million dollars but in fact, by the time the Harper government ditched it in 2012, it had cost taxpayers fully $2 billion. What a disgrace!). Then, Parliament ordered the millions of records that cost $2 billion to collect, destroyed. One of the reasons was testimony in 2003 from such as Joe Fantino, Ontario’s then Chief of Police:

“We have an ongoing gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States. The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results considering the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives.”

What he doesn’t mention was that another reason, not widely advertised (this I gleaned from an RCMP police officer I interviewed for an article) was that for handsome bribe-money, insiders were too easily able to provide thieves, break-and-enter gangs with exact locations of home-owners’ weapons. They would have all your home details, address, type and number of firearms in your home, etc.
Here is an interesting insight into that boondoogle:

John Hicks, a computer consultant, and webmaster for the Canada Firearms Centre, has said that anyone with a home computer could have easily accessed names, addresses and detailed shopping lists (including make, model and serial number) of registered guns belonging to licensed firearms owners in Canada. Hicks said that “During my tenure as the CFC webmaster I duly informed management [of the national firearms registry] that the website that interfaced to the firearms registry was flawed. It took some $15 million to develop and I broke into it within 30 minutes.”

Mauser and Kleck concluded that the reason homicides and violent crimes in general went down n the USA in the period of their study of new gun laws, but up in all other strict gun-law nations, was that many US states have passed, and others are soon to pass, more liberal concealed-carry laws and have to date issued permits to almost 18 million US citizens, which surely must discouraged criminals in those states. There is a tangle of conflicting opinion on this from researchers (according to whether they are liberal or conservative/libertarian) but no conflict at all from those who have decided to defend themselves and their families!
I should add that Kleck and Mauser (who have often done cooperative research) both concluded from in-depth surveys that in both countries we need to be cognizant of the number of serious crimes and home invasions deterred annually by armed homeowners. An estimated 2.1 million defensive gun uses per year in the USA, and over 32,000 per year in Canada. The US population is about 10 times larger than Canada’s so that seems to jibe. Kleck’s estimate has been criticized, of course, but …

Marvin Wolfgang, who was acknowledged in 1994 by the British Journal of Criminology as ″the most influential criminologist in the English-speaking world″, commented on Kleck’s research concerning defensive gun use: “I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. […] The Kleck and Gertz study impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well.”

Well really, even if you slashed Kleck’s estimate in half, that’s a lot of crime stopped in its tracks – and by private citizens, not by police. I defend good police work. But anyone knows they can’t be everywhere, and in an attack on our home or person, time is of the essence.
A well-respected (though of course not without controversy) expert on the extent to which right to carry laws discourage crime in American states with carry laws, is John Lott, whose efforts and recent book, More Guns, Less Crime, can be seen here.
Sorry to go on so long. Got caught up in it.
I think the only thing all can agree on is that the controversy isn’t going to stop tomorrow!

Democracy vs The Family – Part 1

My article on how modern democracy in its current Western form (a form quite distinct from how it began) is playing a corrosive role in the take-down of the Family was published on June 19th by The Epoch Times newspaper and may be read there: https://www.theepochtimes.com/democracy-against-the-family-part-1_2965353.html

or on this website, here:

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The Geneva Argument

The idea that democracy, the political organization we know and love, might be incompatible with – or worse, might gradually be undermining – the most intimate human organization we know and love called “the family”, strikes most people as something close to heresy.

But is it?

When I presented this possibility to The World Congress of Families in Geneva in 1999,  an awkward silence fell upon the room. No one moved, or knew what to say. But twenty years later, I am persuaded more than ever of the Geneva argument, and I refresh it here for Epoch Times readers.

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Most of the disturbing changes in Western family life have to do with easily visible negative trends such as delayed marriage, falling birth rates, fatherless homes, poor single-mothers, high divorce and abortion rates, and more. But researching for my book The War Against The Family made it manifestly clear that not far beneath the surface there are invisible ideological forces rooted in the theory of democracy itself that are inimical to the formation and preservation of family life. That seems a little bizarre, so allow me to explain.

Every major modern democracy took root in the context of a protective faith culture where the good of all was foremost. They were We cultures in which the family was a near-sacramental institution rooted in privacy and freedom where natural human differences were expected to flourish. Equality before the law, and in the eyes of God promised a fair start-line in the race of life, let the chips fall where they may. That was the dominant ideal, if not always met.

Accordingly, some families produced bright kids, some not so bright; some hard-working, some lazy; some rich, and some poor. As time passed, freedom and equality of opportunity produced a lot of successes. But a lot of distressing failures, too.

So the democracies of the West soon found themselves fretting over the possibility that by its very nature, a democracy will produce a permanent underclass. Freedom is not enough. Equality will have to be forced by the state. This meant the private Family proudly nourishing freedom, personal thriving, and natural differences, and the democratic state nourishing forced equality, were on a collision course. They would be ideological enemies competing for citizen loyalty. Thus began the mutation of the Western democracies from their original equal start-line foundation, to their present equal finish-line foundation.

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What the Muslim Brotherhood Is Planning For The West. Take Note!

Here is a bracing video on the Muslim Brotherhood and its plans for the West.

If you want short books that outline the ideological and theological reasons for why Islamists want to bury us, you will find them clearly put in:

Mary Habeck, Knowing the Enemy (Yale University Press, 2006)

This book offers a very clear explanation with backup of Islamist reasoning, sources of that reasoning, and their organization to establish their new Caliphate.

Robert R. Reilly, The Closing of The Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created The Modern Islamist Crisis (ISI Books, 2010).

This book takes us back into the roots of Islamism and how and why the West is now facing an implacable ideological enemy.

Saayid Qutb, Milestones.

This is a key work by one of the most influential Islamists. Its a harangue. But if you can stomach it, you will see why it influenced so many in the Muslim Brotherhood who continue to consider him their ideological professor.

 

 

 

A Few Thoughts On Libertarianism, Again …

I am part of an enjoyable discussion group, a kind of “cyber cafe” as one of our members calls it. What follows is a brief note of reply to our ongoing discussion about liberty.

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I began as a libertarian and felt it was a very exciting option in an increasingly statist world. Loved it.

Then, I began to see that libertarianism is part of the problem, and contrary to its passionate rhetoric, has been feeding us into the hands of the state because of its tendency to substitute Me for We in any political system.

I call it “the simple faith” because it operates on a principle of excluding the reality and importance of human relations in the life of society. This produces the infamous “atomization” of civil society that leads to what I describe as “hyper-individualism” : the clearly false idea that human society is not a corporate body, but merely an aggregate of autonomous individuals. That is what has increasingly exposed us as individuals, to raw and direct state power (by weakening civil society as a protective barrier between the state and individuals).

The so-called “harm principle” is the banner for this. Do whatever you want as long as you do no harm to another individual. This was adapted from Mill, who in his own “On Liberty” , the classic opus on this theme, himself listed a very large number of limitations on liberty, including harm to the corporate body of all. A cowardly act in war, for example, may harm no one in particular, but harm an entire people in general. Rampant public vulgarity may have no individual target, but will demean society as a whole, and so on.

But the idea that any human society will thrive without any conception of the common good, with only a warning not to harm others – a pretty basic negative command of natural law – is simply an impoverished ideal.

In short, libertarianism has no vision of the good. Only of harm. And it relies on the right of individual choice and to private property justify this narrow credo. From whence, it argues, and so very poorly (just one example of false logic) that it’s  morally permissible to kill any human being in the womb because if the unborn baby is “unwanted” (the choice mantra), it is “occupying” it’s own mother’s body without permission (the property mantra).

There should be no need to expose the foul and rank stupidity of such an argument, put out principally, if not originally, by Murray Rothbard himself, a kind of doyen of the rise of this thinking.

It is a simple faith because theorists with simple minds – Mill had a very simple mind, if resting on a very high IQ- have seized upon a simple way to relieve themselves of the difficulties of deeper thought and moral struggle.

Mill’s mistress, who eventually became his wife, Harriet Taylor, very successfully rescued Mill from his tendency to draw moral conclusions as if they were simple economic or logical equations, by introducing him to Romantic poetry. Whereupon all Mill’s stodgy utilitarian friends deserted him.

Mill himself ended up banishing logical thought altogether, cited the poetry of Woolworth as his touchstone of real, deeper knowledge (intuitive, rather than logical), and for the short remainder of his life wandered back and forth in his “vibratory” (a hanging garden built for him by his wife) in the south of France where, for years on end, he said he “vibrated” with his new emotional reality.

In short, deeply discouraged by his own simple and unsatisfying moral logic, he became a mystic.

Libertarianism is deeply correct to resist excessive state power, and as deeply incorrect to have set itself up as one of the primary forces attacking what Burke called the “social freedom” – and the social rights and reality – of civil society.

Climate Change Confusion – What Are We To Think?

There has been a lot of reaction to my Epoch Times article on Climate Change Confusion. So although I posted the link to it here a while back, it is easier for people to read if I post the whole article right here.

It is an important piece. A climate alarmist was so alarmed by it, he said “giving this article to a climate-change skeptic is like giving a gin and tonic to an alcoholic!”

If any of you are as alarmed by the confusion this article presents as I am, please take the time to send the link to this site to  your list.

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The climate wars are an international disgrace. For a half-century, the public has suffered a bombardment of disputed facts about “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) as well as so much undignified smearing of the work and reputations of skeptics by alarmists, and vice versa, that it’s hard for anyone concerned about our beautiful planet to know what to think.

So I decided to look into the situation for myself.

I started by examining a temperature graph of a drill-core taken through deep sediments that make up the seafloor. And what did I see? Right before my eyes, were continuous, and sometimes extreme, climate fluctuations, from hot to cold and back again, non-stop, for two million years. Two million years! That was a shock. And it got me asking a lot of questions.

Is Earth Warming or Cooling?

The weak consensus—also disputed—seems to be that we’ve had both warming and cooling recently, and if we can be confident in climate measurements (which, as I shall suggest below, there is plenty of reason to doubt) we may, on balance, have warmed a little—less than 1 degree Celsius—during the last 100 years. Should we be alarmed by this, or impressed by the extraordinary stability of climate on a planet this size?

Half of that warming occurred between 1910 and 1940, prior to any serious fossil fuel emissions, and no climate model can explain the reason(s) for that. Then there was a cooling from 1950 to 1970 during the post-war industrial boom, just when (if the theory is correct) there ought to have been lots of AGW. After that, a report was issued by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences warning that “we may be approaching the end of a major interglacial cycle, with the approach of a full-blown 10,000-year ice age a real possibility,” according to the March 1, 1975, issue of Science News. Then, we (maybe) had an unexplained no-change “hiatus” from about 1998 to 2013, even though CO2 levels rose.

By now, like so many watching and wondering about all this, I’m feeling a little jerked around. And here’s another reason: Prominent alarmist scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, a U.N.-sponsored agency) have been warning us for three decades that we are experiencing catastrophic global warming, with attendant sea-level rise, floods, fires, and hurricanes.

But there’s energetic disagreement from a large group of prominent scientists, which can be seen in their report of 2016, “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” published by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

Their argument is that any modern warming is natural and in line with historical variability; that increases in CO2 have followed increases in temperature, not the reverse; that solar effects may be equal to or greater than effects of CO2; and that a warming even of 2 degrees Celsius or more wouldn’t be harmful.

What Is Future of the Planet?

No one knows the future. Climate scientists in the NIPCC report, above, tell us that “over recent geological time, Earth’s temperature has fluctuated naturally between about 4 Celsius and minus 6 Celsius with respect to twentieth-century temperature.” But we do know the past: The last 2 million years saw a pendulum-like oscillation between cold glacial periods of some 90,000 years each, with warm interglacial periods—we are nearing the end of one now—each lasting about 15,000 years.

For all that time, our planet was 90 percent cold, with brief stretches of warmth. A reasonable person might think we could use a little warming.

What Are Greenhouse Gases?

This term is used to create the impression that humans are massively fouling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels that create a “greenhouse” on Earth, which traps heat that would otherwise escape into the upper atmosphere (which, confusingly, satellite reports tell us has been cooling recently).

But I was surprised to learn that Earth’s greenhouse layer (without which we would sizzle to a cinder by day, and freeze solid by night), is quite natural, and is almost entirely created by natural water vapor and clouds. Of all atmospheric gases, CO2 makes up only 0.04 percent, and anthropogenic CO2 makes up only 3.4 percent of that figure: which is to say, 3.4 percent of 0.04 percent—a minuscule percentage.

When measured directly, the quantity of natural CO2 on Earth is expressed in parts per million (ppm) of all atmospheric gases, and it has also fluctuated a lot. About the time of the Industrial Revolution, prior to any AGW, there were about 280 ppm, and it has climbed very slowly since then to about 410 ppm today, which is causing a lot of alarm.

But is that warranted? The lowest number found in the geological record is about 180 ppm, and during the Cambrian period—550 million years ago—there were natural highs of more than 4,000 ppm, and higher. More confusing, however, is that here have been many long periods when temperature and the quantity of atmospheric CO2 were unrelated (or “uncoupled”), and sometimes inversely related. Many argue that Earth is presently carbon-starved.

How Is Climate Measured?

The vast oceans, deserts, ice sheets, and mountain ranges of the Earth are reservoirs of heat and cold 196,900,000 square miles in extent. Despite best efforts to get good data—mainly from American, English, and Japanese sources, altogether monitoring thousands of sites—large parts of the Arctic, Antarctic, Brazil, Africa, Siberia, and the Earth’s deserts are “data gaps.” One example will do: In 2017, the World Bank reported that more than half of Africa’s land-based stations, and 71 percent of its upper-air weather stations “do not report accurate data.”

And the Northern Hemisphere—especially the United States—is far more extensively sampled than the Southern. So what do climatologists do? In a very nonscientific move, they average the temperature of the two hemispheres. It’s a bit like saying that if the lower floor of your home is 18 C, and the upper floor is 24 C, your home has an average temperature of 21 C, when, in fact, none of it does.

A rather serious concern is that many decades ago, climatologists placed their thermometers outside urban areas. But most of those have been overtaken by urban “heat islands” that drive temperatures up unnaturally. So observations are “adjusted” to arrive at what scientists believe the temperature might have been without heat islands. But how could anyone be certain of something that wasn’t measured?

As for NASA’s reporting on climate? One insider (search for “NASA’s inconvenient ruse“) has reported thousands of pairs of “dummy” temperature records. And a German scientist has exposed more fiddling with the climate record.

One of the first-ever studies of an entire century of temperature readings reported that after adjustments for reading errors, omissions, and gaps, only 18.4 percent of Earth’s surface had actually been covered by what was published as a “global” sampling.

Are Climate Models Accurate?

Climate predictions are developed via powerful computer programs called general circulation models (GCMs) that combine all sorts of inputs from land, air, oceans, and satellites. We know that a probability model can handle two variables like cloud change and wind change quite accurately. But when more are introduced, such as water vapor, solar radiation, absorption, and reflectivity from ice and cloud cover, well, the heart sinks at the probability of miscalculation and wobbly prediction.

Accordingly, all climate models have built-in “parameters”—adjustments for so-called “feedback” mechanisms, “forcings,” and “flux tunings,” to name just a few. What will happen if we double the estimate of CO2? And so forth. But no one really knows, or could know. So at least one IPCC modeler has called such efforts “computer-aided story-telling.” Others refer to it all as “synthetic data.”

As Earth’s climate has never stopped fluctuating warm and cold, however, a reasonable question might be: Why do all climate forecasting models “run hot” instead of cold, or somewhere in between? At this point, any curious citizen would begin to suspect scientific bias and political motives.

What Is the Effect of Solar Brightness, Cosmic Radiation, and Orbital Wiggles?

Many skeptical scientists are convinced that the activity of the sun (along with other cosmic events) rather than the burning of fossil fuels, is the cause of the present warming, because the sun follows (on average) an 11-year cycle during which its brightness rises and falls according to changes in solar magnetism. Earth’s surface temperature tracks those changes very closely.

The next dimming phase is supposed to occur around 2020. So, as if on cue, NASA sent out a warning in October 2018 that we are entering what could be a long global-cooling period due to this natural fluctuation in solar brightness.

In addition to that cycle, every two centuries or so the sun’s brightness level drops significantly during what is called a “Maunder Minimum.” The first ever noticed (by a fellow named Maunder) was from 1650 to 1710, during which Europe and North America went into a deep freeze, alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland, sea ice crept south from the Arctic, and Londoners played hockey on the River Thames.

Another observation that seems to support the solar thesis is that Mars, the only other planet to reveal its climate secrets, is right now coming out of an ice age without any AGW influences.

There are also the effects of planetary wiggles to consider. Our climate is affected by the changing shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun from circular to elliptical over a 100,000-year period, by the wobble of its axis, and by the variance in equatorial and orbital planes. Taken all together, these complex motions of our planet correlate highly with ice ages on Earth.

Will There Be Global Flooding if Ice Melts at the Poles?

Spoiler alert: Thanks to Archimedes, we know that anything floating in water such as the entire Arctic ice cap, displaces its own weight. So if the entire ice cap were to melt tomorrow, it would not raise sea level one bit. Only ice sitting on land that ends up in the ocean by calving from glaciers or by melting and running into the ocean will do that.

The average annual temperature in the high Arctic is about minus 34 C, and the coldest months range from minus 35 C to minus 50 C. It’s a little hard for most people to fathom why a rise of less than 1 C averaged over the entire planet would change very much up there.

My own anecdotal evidence: Sixty-one years ago, in the summer of 1957, I worked as a cabin boy on a 10,000-ton tramp steamer delivering supplies to a couple of dozen permanent Cold War military and meteorology staff stationed at Resolute Bay in the high Arctic, about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. We arrived in open water on Aug. 18 and worked about two weeks in cool weather. In September 2018, the manager of a Canadian Arctic shipping company reported that a cargo ship was delayed unloading at Resolute because “the thickness and concentration of ice is worse than we have ever seen since we started servicing the communities [in 2008].” Climate change, indeed.

Antarctica, on the other hand, where the ice cap sits on land, is the highest and coldest continent on Earth. It’s more than 5.4 million square miles in extent with an average altitude more than 8,000 feet, has 2,660 mountains (one over 16,000 feet), and is covered with ice averaging more than 6,000 feet in thickness.

As for those massive ice sheets extending over water? The glaciological record shows there have been many retreats of the West Antarctic ice sheet that left it more than 100,000 square miles smaller than it is today. And we also know that the Eastern ice sheet has been cooling for the past half century. And really, a concerned citizen might want to know, how could a slight warming of Earth (if that is true) change much on such a massive continent where the average annual temperature is minus 50 C, and where, in 2013, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was minus 93 C?

A Causal Connection Between Carbon Dioxide and Temperature Change?

What raises many serious questions about CO2 and global warming is the shock of learning that there have been centuries-long periods when Earth was warmer than today, such as the Minoan, Roman, and Medieval “non-greenhouse” warmings, in the complete absence of any anthropogenic CO2.

Although we know the amount of CO2 has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution, there is argument about cause and effect. Alarmists claim rising CO2 (for which they blame industrialization) causes warming, while skeptics argue that historically, rises in CO2 have followed, rather than preceded rises in global temperature, sometimes by hundreds of years.

To underscore this point, the NIPCC stated that “temperature and CO2 are uncoupled through lengthy portions of the historical and geological records; therefore CO2 cannot be the primary forcing agent for most temperature changes.”

How Do Plants Respond to CO2 Enrichment?

Although CO2 has a bad name, it is in fact a rich nutrient for all plant life on Earth, and without it this would be a dead planet.

Controlled experiments in which plants such as orange trees and wheat are force-fed CO2 at high levels of enrichment as much as triple their rates of growth. NASA satellite views show that our currently rising level of CO2 is causing a greening of the globe. There are arguments that by boosting crop yields, more CO2 would be a boon to the poor worldwide.

How Much CO2 Is Too Much?

In historical terms, concentrations of CO2 have varied widely over geological time, with peaks 15 or 20 times higher than at present, and troughs just under half of today’s level. In other words, current levels of this life-enhancing gas are very low. That’s why prominent scientists, such as Princeton’s Dr. William Happer, head of President Donald Trump’s recently formed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, argue that Earth is presently carbon-starved.

Amounts of carbon are measured in gigatons of carbon (Gt C), one gigaton being a billion metric tons. The annual production of carbon from fossil fuel emissions is estimated to be roughly 9.8 Gt C. Is that a lot? To understand its significance, we have to ask how much natural carbon there is on Earth today, where it is, and how much of it moves from place to place.

The Earth’s atmosphere holds around 750 Gt C; the surface of oceans about 1,000 Gt C; the intermediate and deep oceans about 38,000 Gt C; and the Earth’s natural vegetation cover and other surface matter about 2,200 Gt C. There is another 300 Gt C that moves around between oceans, air, vegetation, marine life, and ocean surfaces and depths, and so all known and estimated amounts are well over 40,000 Gt C.

Is There An Agenda?

It seems increasingly apparent that the science of climate has all but wholly mutated into the politics of climate. Accordingly, we are getting more and more scare-statements warning that AGW is going to bring the world to an end within 12 years.

Below is a sampling of those fears and calls to revolution, of which the “Green New Deal” is just the most recent. This article (and the questions it raises) is offered as an antidote to those fears.

“Climatology has become a political party with totalitarian tendencies … [it is] becoming an increasingly dubious science, serving a political project … the policy cart is leading the scientific horse.”

  • Maurice Strong, who organized the first U.N. Earth Climate Summit (1992) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

“We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrialized civilization to collapse. Isn’t it our responsibility to bring this about?”

“… one has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth …”

  • Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2019:

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves: to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

“This is really about providing justice for communities … So, really the heart of the Green New Deal is about social justice.”

William Gairdner is an author who lives near Toronto. His latest book is “The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree” (2015). His website is WilliamGairdner.ca

 

“Artificial Intelligence” Is a Dumb Term

Everyone is talking, or debating, about so-called “Artificial Intelligence.”

“AI” is smarter than humans; it will take over the whole world as we know it; humans will become useless, etc., etc. …

My admittedly amateur view is that whatever this is, it should be called “Artificial Calculation” rather than “Artificial Intelligence.”

My debating opponents argue that AI is capable of “thinking” for itself (programming itself) and coming up with novel solutions to all sorts of  problems.

I reply that it’s just a form of machine calculation made possible by the human programmers who feed the machine its program(s). The machine can only create novel outcomes made possible by the program. There is no “intelligence” there, independent of what the programmers have made possible.

One very enthusiastic friend argues that within a decade, a computer will be able to compose an entire play every bit as great as Shakespeare’s King Lear, while another party to this debate, says “No way!”

Part of my argument, besides the claim that computers are just slaves to their programmers, and are just calculating, not “thinking,” is that a computer is just an obedient machine, a house with nobody home.

Another hot topic has to do with AI and what most people call “Ethics”. How can a machine distinguish right from wrong. How will a self-driving car, for example, which may be in a situation where it cannot avoid hitting something, choose between hitting the child, or the pregnant woman passing in front of it?

On that topic, here is a particularly good piece Joseph Brean wrote for The National Post, (June 1).

https://nationalpost.com/feature/how-do-you-teach-a-machine-right-from-wrong-addressing-the-morality-within-artificial-intelligence