Thursday, September 20, 2007

Intervention or not?

How to relieve people from oppression? Must the very act of empowerment mean that the seizure of power must be by those who are oppressed overcoming their own oppression, or can that empowerment be assisted by external, well-intentioned forces? If intervention in Iraq is "wrong", how can it be "right" in Dafur? If the rest of the world watches, as we did with Cambodia, or intervene UN style (weakly, pathetically, ineffectively) as in Rwanda, is the outcome still acceptable?

A timely editorial on Dafur, protest and inconsistent policy thinking.

Do I have a simple answer? No. But then again, I view any simple answer to such a vexing and profound problem to itself be problematic.

In Dafur as with Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya etc., the attempt to apply quick, easy answers is part of the problem. Conflicts are rarely simple, free of geographic context nor solvable with a standardized solution. The failure of the UN as an organization is its failure after 50 years to be any closer to an ongoing resolution of such conflicts.

Update: Two other, thoughtful essays on this topic, one on Sudan and one on Iraq, that illustrate the complexities involved.

Selecting the science you agree with

Most people view science as something objective, neutral, truthful.  Something is scientific if it's verifiable through the application of logic or the provision of empirical measurement.  Increasingly, however, the politicisation of science has meant that more and more activists are selective in the science they embrace: where the science accords with their advocacy it is good and useful, when it counters their position it is either irrelevant, ignored or the tool of capitalist stooges.
This article offers a wonderful summation of the hypocritical and selective use of science by environmental advocates.  The subtle balancing act described in the article is especially relevant as environmentalism is an ideology entirely dependent for its relevancy on the supposed veracity of the science it uses: "these aspects of the environment compel us to act, an act now because the science requires that we do...".  To reject science is to cut off the basis for attention to their advocacy. 
But what to do when the science does not support their advocacy?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CO2 Science: the latest nail in the coffin of global warming

The scientific literature is finally catching up with the blogosphere in refuting many of the base assumptions upon which the notion of global warming has been premised. 
This report offers an abstract from the published results of a study that contrasts the modelled projections of climate used by the IPCC with measured empirical observations for the period 1962 to 2000.  It concludes that the models are both highly variable and inaccurate.  In simple terms, they do not accurately represent present climatic conditions and changes. 
If they do not calibrate with present conditions, what reliance can be placed upon them as predictive indicators of the future?
Despite many protestations to the contrary, existing models of global climate are a poor approximation of reality: subsequently they are susceptible to manipulation, bias and subjective interpretation consistent with the political agenda of those advocating their use.  They are not a definitive nor objective scientific metric.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Environmentalism, sustainability and free thought

Three very good essays that both relate and reinforce one another.  The first is Frank Furedi's latest attempt to address the role environmentalism has assumed as the "moral" compass for capitalism.  The second examines the implications from mandating sustainability as a prescribed, defined literacy in education. And the third looks at attempts to impose a specific version of environmental sustainability as an ideology on independent developing nations.
How to think, how to teach how to think and how to act consistently with that mind set.  If it sounds like indoctrination, if it looks like indoctrination , it is indoctrination.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The hot trend is cool yachts

The latest in a series of technical solutions to dramatic climate change is a proposal to seed clouds with sea spray, thus increasing the cooling effects of clouds.

What is intriguing about the proposal is not just it's potential feasibility but the reaction of many key "stakeholders" to the proposal.

Rather than advocate further study, feasibility analysis and otherwise exhibiting an enthusiastic embrace for a green-friendly option for curtailing the threat of climate change, the reaction has been to cast aspersions at any technical solution. Why is harder for people to understand, but it comes from a ideological perspective that denies the advantages that technological innovation holds for humanity, preferring to demise technology as the bane of human existence and preach deprivation and suffering as human penance for its ingenuity.

It's not clear whether or not ocean yachts can dramatically alter climatic change: but it is clear that it is an idea equally if not more feasible in its actual impact than any of the much advocated carbon offsets. taxes or otherwise neutral carbon society proposals.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Junk Science as a social contagion

Junk science often is characterized by three compounding elements:
  • a reliance upon observational rather than experimental studies
  • asserting causation where correlation exists, and;
  • media attention that recognizes neither of the first two characteristics.
A good example is the ongoing diatribe about obesity, despite lots of evidence that countermands the whole myth. This latest example reveals that while Harvard has lots of money, money doesn't buy you good scientific research.

Still in the health field, another common myth is that public health programs are good, and private health schemes are bad: Canada -- good, US -- bad. The Michael Moore, Sicko analysis. Well into this ideological assertion comes the reality of Canadians denied health access because they don't have access to private care.

And, lastly for today, is this insight on the nature of development. Much of New Orleans remains devastated after Hurricane Katrina, not because of an absence of money but from an absence of anyone seizing the initiative to act individually: many are waiting for re-construction or are immersed in meetings, planning the management of what needs to be done....

Meanwhile, that section of New Orleans called Little Saigon has just about been completely re-built, by the people who live there.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Carbon-offsetting, eco-enslavement and two shades of hypocrisy

OK this will require some work on your part to connect the dots formed by these three articles that appear (at least to me) to be inter-related by more than one theme.
First, is this discussion of the hypocrisy implicit in carbon offsetting by western, jet-set politicians: their lifestyle justified by the archaic farm methods of some poor soul in the third-world.
Second, is the political hypocrisy exposed by politicians leasing luxury vehicles at tax payers expense and their failure to read legislation thoroughly enough to recognize an amendment curtailing their perk.
And, third, is a wonderful discussion of the denial and excuses exhibited by the liberal MSM and leftists when faced with evidence of hypocrisy by  their own ideologues and heroes.
So the obvious link is hypocrisy and the predisposition of certain ideologies to justify  actions, rather than being accountable for them. The result is an ideology defined by the use of situational ethics, a pervasive ethos that the end justifies the means and that individuals "at the thick end of interventions" are not bound by the same rules as the rest of us. 
Not as readily apparent but just as damning, is the integrated fields into which this ethos applies: politics, media, environmentalism, education....the whole communication and portrayal of the dominant ideology of public discourse is covered by the three articles above. 
It is not "say what I mean, mean what I say and do it" at all.  Rather it is, spin, spin and more spin, so that the public is so dizzy, so dazzled that they apologise for having the temerity for even thinking of questioning those so obviously beyond reproach by the sheer importance of what they do and who they are. 
In case you're wondering, in today's play the good guys wear green hats (its the new white) and the bad guys still dress in black just like they did in the old westerns of John Wayne and Randolph Scott.  And just like in "The Truman Show" the world can be perfect if we just remember our lines, follow directions and stay in our places: of course its not real, not authentic and not sustainable, but it is a show for mass consumption with lots of advertising placements for "approved" items like windmills, organic foods and celebrity-endorsed, eco-friendly causes.
Or not.  Our choice.  Eco-enslavement or personal freedom.  Your choice.