Saturday, July 7, 2007

Secret Separation

We are matching spark and flame
Caught in endless repetition
Life for life we'll be the same
I must leave before you burn me
--The Fixx

When measures are proposed to make Federal Reserve activities more transparent, officials balk, citing the need to keep the Fed 'independent of politics.' But this is an agency linked to the government. How else can an agency be accountable in a democracy unless the people better understand its workings? Per Rothbard (1994), if a government sphere exists as a self-perpetuating oligarchy accountable to no one, then the associated elite are more suitable for a dictatorship rather than a democracy.

Emotion in Motion

I'm gonna soak up the sun
I got my 45 on
So I can rock on
--Sheryl Crow

Whenever people involved in a social movement claim that their cause should be accepted because its validity has garnered support of the 'experts,' those contrarian hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention (how 'bout you, Dr Kuhn?)

The escalating 'consensus' behind global warming is a good example. I've been distant from the scientific flow but my rudimentary understanding of the complexity of earth's climatology invites skepticism that we can predictively model with accuracy--particularly as it relates to the movement of one (i.e., CO2 levels) of the myriad factors that might influence global climate. That meteorologists struggle with forecasting weather conditions a couple of days out should cast some doubt about the validity of longer term global climate modeling.

I do plan to piece together some data to become better informed. A couple of observations from early effort. I've seen graphs similar to this one touted by the pro global warming crowd in their stream of evidence that 'proves' we have a problem. (Keep in mind that, if the earth is indeed ~4 billion yrs old, this graph encompasses only the most recent 10% of the planet's existence.) Beyond measurement issues (for both instrumental and reconstructed data) which certainly influence the validity of the data, the graph suggests that the earth's temps and CO2 levels cycle together. Also, we seem to be near the top of previous cycles w.r.t. temp. One more note: the data suggest that past cycles have not been symmetrical--i.e., both temp and CO2 spike up, then gradually decline over 100,000 yrs or so.

If I'm understanding the graph correctly (the labels of 'preindustrial' and 'human contributed' make me wonder), then current CO2 levels (however measured) have surpassed all previous levels. Here's my question. Why isn't temp following CO2 levels higher? If there's truly direct causation between CO2 and temp, then shouldn't temps be rocketing to record highs as well? Something seems awry w.r.t. the long term relationship (Boo is whispering the word 'spurious' in my ear). Seemingly, the 'greenhouse effect' on temps depends on more than just CO2 levels.

That's what this MIT climatologist suggested back in 1992. In addition to thinking that this piece could have been written yesterday, I found it informative in terms of the factors that confound easy understanding (and prediction) of earth's climatology as well as the political backdrop of the global warming movement.