Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Thought 1. I offer a wild, even mad, speculation about the nature of the CIA program about which we have heard so much of late. The latest thinking is that its purpose was to kill Al Qaeda and other terrorist leaders and important agents in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere. I have a problem with this thinking. First, it has been no secret that the U.S. intended to seek out and capture or kill such leaders and agents. President Bush and Vice President Cheney said so many times. Second, it does not explain why the Vice President, with no actual authority to do so, ordered the program not be reported to Congress if this was its purpose and scope. My speculation: the purpose and scope of this CIA program was to assassinate suspected leaders and agents residing in this country—in short, a program to create and deploy “death squads” in America. If so, I can understand trying to keep it a secret.

Thought 2. The furor over cap-and-trade policy is reaching levels of dishonesty and hypocrisy which I have not known in most previous debates about a policy issue. (I do expect worse when it comes to national health insurance and to a consumer protection act. Consider yourself advised.) Critical is the idea that CO2, because it occurs in nature and supports flora, is not a pollutant and, thus, not a contributor to global warming. Ozone also occurs in nature, is benign in the ozone layer (it reduces UV radiation), is malign at the earth’s surfaces when it is concentrated, especially in heat inversions in urban areas. Location, concentration, and duration of exposure are everything. It is one thing for CO2 to occur as 3% of the atmosphere; it is another for it to reach 15% or more, as feared in the Apollo 13 mishap in space. Understandably, friends of fossil fuels use this bogus argument to advance their cause.

Thought 3. Obama’s idea that community colleges can help address the problems of the unemployed by retraining them for more skilled work and his budget to help those colleges deal with the needs of the unemployed will come a-cropper. I approve the effort, but I expect it to fail, even backfire. First, these colleges will offer the usual low-level of education for which they are known. Second, they will give easy work and award high grades—proof of their success, not that it will prove itself in actual assistance to the unemployed. Such is to be expected. But what will be learned and perhaps ill reported is that the education of no- or low-skilled workers has been so inadequate that they will lack sufficient skills to benefit from most instruction, good or bad. The fruits of anti-intellectualism, the disregard of public education, and, particularly, the Democratic Party refusal to deal with the unions which have refused reform may be recognized as primary causes of continued economic decline in America. Given the lead time of reform to take effect, even if it is undertaken and done right, the recognition required beforehand, if it occurs, will come too late for any amelioration for at least a quarter century. Tell your children and grandchildren to tighten their belts and open their books.

3 comments:

  1. Here is some truth about CO2. CO2 is a colorless odorless gas which is essential to life as we know it. No CO2, no Carbohydrates, no people or animals. Present CO2 cncentration is 380 Parts Per million. Parts per million. Not percent, parts per million. During the Mesozoic, age of dinoasurs CO2 was 7-25 times as abundant as today. Mesozoic was 210 to 65 million years ago. CO2 is the gas that comes out of cola or ginger ale; babies and all animals breathe out CO2. It is not a pollutant. CO2 is plant food. When CO2 is tripled in greenhouses, plants are happier, that is they grow stems leaves branches roots and fruit much faster and over a wider range of temperatures. In Apollo 13, the problem was that the astronauts were in a CLOSED SYSTEM the spacecraft itself, so there were no plants to soak up CO2 as exists at the surface of the earth. There is no danger of reaching a tipping point for CO2, if there was one it would have been reached during the mesozoic. Higher CO2 is better for earth becase it makes the planet greener and better able to feed humans and all animal life on earth. Literally higher CO2 concentrations make Earth a Greener place. Please understand what CO2 is and what its actual concentrations are before making wild statements about 3 percent CO2. OBTW, the most important greenhouse gas in terms of its effect is Water Vapor, not CO2, Water Vapor provides about 95-96% of all greenhouse gases. Think about it. Water vapor can vary from almost none, Arctic Winter to almost 4% of the content of the atmosphere (tropical ocean areas) depending on the atmospheric conditions. I have been a professional meteorologist for 45 years and have published papers in the technical literature regarding atmospheric measurements for operational and research and development activities had have had experience in building and calibrating a number of different meteorological instrumentation systems.

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  2. Even if any of these statements are factual, they are irrelevant. First, dismissing CO2 as a pollutant ignores the meaning of the word "pollutant"--a chemical or particulate which has harmful effects. Such effects depend on concentration, location, duration, and contextl; thus, ozone in the ozone layer is benign and beneficial but in a heat-inversion is malign and damaging. (BTW, not only was the cabin of Apoloo 11 a closed system, but also planet earth is a closed system. Interestingly, it is also called "Spaceship Earth.") Second, levels of CO2 have been higher, the earth has been warmer in the past, and the earth's environment adjusted accordingly. Today, higher levels of CO2 and the resulting higher temperatures mean dramatic changes in local climate and in ocean levels as the icecaps on Greenland and Antarctica melt. These adjustments, in the context of human populations, will be largely harmful. Many species of plants and animals will not be able to make the rapid transition to higher temperatures and changes in precipitation. Agriculture, ranching, and fishing might well be less able to feed the world's population. Since many of the world's most populous cities are coastal, they would be imperiled, and their populations would be dislocated. Such effects I regard as harmful, with the clear implication that CO2, while able to benefit life in today's bio-equilibrium, can, in greater concentration, also unsettle that equilibrium, with resulting damage to life as we know it.

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  3. The Earth is NOT a closed system, Michael. The energy source for "Spaceship Earth," to use Buckminster Fuller's term, is the Sun, which is external to the Earth. Aside from this little quibble, I am in total agreement with your post.

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