More historical forensics

Forensics experts have reconstructed the faces of other historical figures, just as they did St. Nicholas (see yesterday’s post), based on study of their skulls. Here is Copernicus:

Copernicus, reconstructed

Here is Pharoah Tutankhamun:

Tutankhamun, reconstructed

Here is possibly Phillip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s one-eyed father (though the identification has been disputed and is possibly that of Phillip III who succeeded Alexander):

Phillip II of Macedon, reconstructed

Climategate and Wikipedia

More climate research manipulation, this time on the most used and the most easily-abused source of popular information, Wikipedia:

The Climategate Emails describe how a small band of climatologists cooked the books to make the last century seem dangerously warm.

The emails also describe how the band plotted to rewrite history as well as science, particularly by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period, a 400 year period that began around 1000 AD.

The Climategate Emails reveal something else, too: the enlistment of the most widely read source of information in the world — Wikipedia — in the wholesale rewriting of this history.

The Medieval Warm Period, which followed the meanness and cold of the Dark Ages, was a great time in human history — it allowed humans around the world to bask in a glorious warmth that vastly improved agriculture, increased life spans and otherwise bettered the human condition.

But the Medieval Warm Period was not so great for some humans in our own time — the same small band that believes the planet has now entered an unprecedented and dangerous warm period. As we now know from the Climategate Emails, this band saw the Medieval Warm Period as an enormous obstacle in their mission of spreading the word about global warming. If temperatures were warmer 1,000 years ago than today, the Climategate Emails explain in detail, their message that we now live in the warmest of all possible times would be undermined. As put by one band member, a Briton named Folland at the Hadley Centre, a Medieval Warm Period “dilutes the message rather significantly.” . . .

One person in the nine-member Realclimate.orgteam — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley — would take on particularly crucial duties. Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known -Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug. 11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.

The Medieval Warm Period disappeared, as did criticism of the global warming orthodoxy. With the release of the Climategate Emails, the disappearing trick has been exposed.

This also raises questions about the nature of Wikipedia. Yes, it assembles a vast amount of information and makes it easily accessible. But since virtually anyone can change that information, unreliability is built in. (Let all students beware.) I understand the theory behind it, how it is self-correcting by drawing on collective knowledge. But isn’t it really predicated on the assumption that knowledge is a social construction, conveniently giving a platform for that to happen? What do you think about Wikipedia?

Climategate scandal gets a Russian front

New fronts are opening up in the Climategate scandal. One is a Russian front. A Russian research agency claims that climate scientists ignored data from that country’s vast landmass and instead cherry-picked evidence to make it look like Russia provided evidence for manmade global warming. Actually, the Russian evidence suggests otherwise. Here is an account, and you can follow the links:

On Tuesday, we heard via the Ria Novosti agency that the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change had probably tampered with Russian-climate data:

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations. They concluded climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations and data from stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

Next: The Wikipedia front

Climate change and population control

At the Copenhagen global warming conclave, the Chinese are pushing another approach to cutting down carbon emissions: population control. As you read this, keep in mind what China does, enforcing the “one child” policy by forced abortions:

Population and climate change are intertwined but the population issue has remained a blind spot when countries discuss ways to mitigate climate change and slow down global warming, according to Zhao Baige, vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) .

"Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation.

Many studies link population growth with emissions and the effect of climate change.

"Calculations of the contribution of population growth to emissions growth globally produce a consistent finding that most of past population growth has been responsible for between 40 per cent and 60 percent of emissions growth," so stated by the 2009 State of World Population, released earlier by the UN Population Fund.

Although China's family planning policy has received criticism over the past three decades, Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.

As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said.

Could the climate panic mindset lead to the same policy here?

UPDATE: A Canadian journalist is already advocating that all the world’s governments emulate China in imposing by law a one child limit.

The uncaused first cause

Tulane physicist Frank J. Tipler tosses off an interesting variation, using contemporary mathematics and physics, of a classic proof of God’s existence. Then he criticizes the relativism of many of his colleagues:

Last week I was on a university panel formed to debate the issue of science and religion. My argument was the same one I’ve been making for years: given the known laws of physics — in particular, general relativity (Einstein’s theory of gravity) and quantum mechanics — we have no choice but to conclude that God exists.

I defined “God” as the “uncaused first cause,” which is the definition used by St. Thomas Aquinas in his “second way” (Aquinas’ second of five proofs of God’s existence). Aquinas took his proof from Moses Maimonides, who in turn took it from the Kalam Muslim theologians. That is, these leading theologians of the three leading monotheist religions all defined “God” the same way, so I thought this would be an acceptable definition. Knowing what is meant by the word “God,” we can now use physics to see if there is indeed “God” out there.

There is. The laws of physics tell us that the universe began about 14 billion years ago at the initial (or big bang) singularity. What is this “singularity”? Looking at its properties, one sees that it is the uncaused first cause. Something that is the cause of all causes, but Himself without a cause. Given the laws of physics, the existence of the initial singularity follows necessarily from the mathematics. Now of course we cannot be certain that the laws of physics are correct. We learn about nature via experiment, and new experiments may tell us tomorrow that general relativity and quantum mechanics are just limits of more fundamental laws, which do not possess an initial singularity. . . .

Given these laws of physics, the singularity is certain. It is certain because His existence follows of necessity, from the mathematical analysis of the equations of relativity and quantum mechanics. Given the laws of physics, the existence of the singularity is as certain as 2 + 2 = 4.

I made this point on the panel. No one challenged the laws. No one challenged my calculations. What they challenged was my statement that 2 + 2 = 4!

Dr. Tipler goes on to critique the now common contention that arithmetic is arbitrary and relates it all to what Orwell talks about in 1984, claiming that the scientific elite are bending truth in a quest for power, citing Climategate as an example.

Carbon Dioxide as a dangerous substance

Here is a big danger of our current governmental structure: If the Executive branch cannot get the legislature to pass the laws that it wants, it is still possible to get the same result by bypassing elected officials and having a bureaucratic agency issue regulations. From Business Fumes Over Carbon Dioxide Rule – WSJ.com:

Officials gather in Copenhagen this week for an international climate summit, but business leaders are focusing even more on Washington, where the Obama administration is expected as early as Monday to formally declare carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.

An "endangerment" finding by the Environmental Protection Agency could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions — even if Congress doesn't pass pending climate-change legislation. EPA action to regulate emissions could affect the U.S. economy more directly, and more quickly, than any global deal inked in the Danish capital, where no binding agreement is expected.

Carbon dioxide as a dangerous substance! A substance necessary for life! This would make every human being who exhales–that is, who is alive–a polluter at every breath.