Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 7, 2006

Global Warming Causes Record Snowfall, Right?

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:57 pm

As is his wont, Clayton Cramer has put together another post that mocks global warming with a roundup of record cold weather around the world. This time, it even includes snowstorms in Algeria, a country more noted for the Sahara Desert than any other geographic feature. This is in addition to record cold temperatures across the United States.

As soon as I read this, my first thought is that it would take about 37 seconds to find somebody somewhere who is arguing that record snowfall is proof of global warming, rather than evidence against it. And sure enough, on the first page of my first Google search, I found this little gem — a comment on LuboÅ¡ Motl’s blog (which you may recognize from my blogroll), on a January 26 post noting record snowfall in Boston:

Snow as previously moisture in the air. More snow means there was more moisture in the air. More moisture in the air means more evaporation. More evaporation means that the winds were stronger or the water & air were warmer. More warm, moisture laden air is making its way upto Boston where it collides with Arctic cold air and precipitates snow. It might be a sign of global warming.

Now it is true that snow requires previous evaporation, and more heat means more evaporation — but it will not actually fall as snow unless it is actually cold somewhere. The evaporation could just as easily come back as rain, and if global temperatures were rising, we would expect that the mix of precipitation would involve more rain and less snow. Or even just more vapor staying in the atmosphere, without an increase in overall precipitation. After all, if the heat causes evaporation, it can also cause the water to stay evaporated.

LuboÅ¡ — a physics professor at Harvardresponds appropriately:

“It might be a sign of global warming.”

Well, it’s because for deep religious people, everything is a sign of God, Hell, or Global Warming, whatever their religion is.

Science and rational thinking work very differently, however. One must formulate sharp statements, and if they’re falsified, the theory is dead.Well, it’s because for deep religious people, everything is a sign of God, Hell, or Global Warming, whatever their religion is.

Science and rational thinking work very differently, however. One must formulate sharp statements, and if they’re falsified, the theory is dead.

And this is why global warming is such a great theory politically and such a lousy theory scientifically: regardless of what happens — heat waves, cold spells, more snow, less snow, whatever — it is always spun as something that “might be a sign of global warming.”

After all, it was just over two years ago that record cold temperatures in Europe were being heralded as the latest evidence for global warming. The “theory” was that warming the oceans would foul up the Atlantic gulf stream (which keeps Europe warm), thus driving European temperatures down.

Without the Gulf Stream, temperatures in the UK and north-west Europe would be five degrees centigrade or so cooler, with bitter winters at least as fierce as those of the so-called Little Ice Age in the 17th to 19th centuries.

So wrote Bill McGuire in The Guardian, in an article which was headlined — apparently without intended irony — “Will global warming trigger a new ice age?”

So, if you are a global warming believer, then if temperatures go up it’s because of global warming — and if temperatures go down, it’s also because of global warming. There is no conceivable, let alone actual, evidence that might indicate there is not global warming. No matter what happens, it’s because of global warming.

Global warming is thus inherently unfalsifiable — which means it is not a scientific theory. The most basic requirement for a scientific theory is that it must be in principal falsifiable — that is, it must make some prediction which, if found to be untrue, would be regarded even by the promoter(s) of the theory as evidence that the theory is wrong. The Theory of Gravity is like this. It predicts that things will fall down, unless supported by something — your hand, a table, or in the case of hot-air balloons, denser air. If you drop a bowling ball and it doesn’t fall down, that would be proof that the Theory of Gravity is wrong. Even Isaac Newton would have accepted that proof. But with global warming, there is nothing you can imagine — let along that has actually occured — that would be regarded as a disproof of the global warming theory.

ADDENDUM (3/8/06): Clayton Cramer concluded his post with the statement:

I suspect that the “Global Warming” fantasy will continue until polar bears start to eat environmentalists at global warming conferences in Miami.

I want to go on record as disagreeing — slightly. I think the global warming fantasy will go on until it they switch to warning us against global cooling. Which is what they were warning us against before they started warning us about global warming. As Peter Gwynne wrote in Newsweek in 1975 — in an article entitled “The Cooling World”:

The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”

A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.

Well, we see how that prediction worked out.

Life Imitates Art: A Hitler Comedy from Israel?

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:58 pm

In the musical The Producers, these two guys make a musical comedy called “Springtime for Hitler.” It is supposed to flop. It succeeds. This is funny, because it would never happen this way in real life. No one would make a comedy about Hitler — right?

Wrong. Roger Boyes reports in The Times [of London]:

SWASTIKAS fluttered over Berlin yesterday, German soldiers raised stiff arms in the Hitler salute and hundreds of bedraggled spectators shouted approval as the Nazi leader delivered a faltering speech.

“My God,” said Benny Zimmerman, from St Louis, as he left Berlin Cathedral. “They’re back!”

Dani Levi, the Israeli director, has turned the German capital upside down in an attempt to recapture the atmosphere of Nazi Germany for a new comedy about Adolf Hitler.

… “The film is to be called Mein Führer,” a spokeswoman for Mr Levi said.

“It will be in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not To Be.”

The premise is that Hitler survived the war and wants to set the record straight.

The making of the film has given many the chance to perform illegal acts. “Where else in Germany can you shout ‘Heil Hitler’ at the top of your voice?” said one extra.

The film-makers had to gain the permission of Berlin City Council to display the swastikas. But the council failed to warn tourists and locals, who stared as the Nazis marched around. “I think it’s really tasteless, especially as it’s happening next to the cathedral,” said Gabi Metzler, from Bavaria, standing on the church steps to get a better view.

“It’s our first visit to Berlin,” said her friend, Gertrude. “Things seem to have changed much less than we had expected.”

Egads!

George Mason: 1, All Other Law Schools: 0

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:41 pm

Practically all the law schools in the country just lost a unanimous Supreme Court decision regarding whether it’s Consitutional to require law schools that receive federal funding to allow the military to recruit on the same basis as other employers. (The Court says it is, 8-0.)

Todd Zywicki notes that the George Mason School of Law was the only school to argue on the winning side.

There’s also an interesting article in the current issue of National Review on the GMU law school; it’s excerpted here and here.

GMU is basically one of the few law schools in the U.S. that is not monomaniacally leftist. The article points to one way they have taken advantage of this fact to increase their ranking, even in a world in which ranking depends on part on the approval of those other, leftist, law schools:

But Daniel Polsby, the dean of the George Mason University School of Law, is different. … [H]e’s actually looking forward to the U.S. News survey [ranking law schools]. “We hope to move up a few places this year,” he says. That would certainly be in keeping with a decade-long trend: Mason vaulted from 71st place in 1995 to 41st in 2005 — an impressive achievement given that these rankings tend to remain static from year to year.

Whereas his competitors were obsessed with signing big-name free agents in hot fields such as feminist legal theory, [earlier Dean Henry G.] Manne quietly assembled a team of undervalued unknowns. “If the market discriminates against conservatives, then there should be good opportunities for hiring conservatives,” says Polsby. This is exactly the sort of observation one would expect a market-savvy law-and-economics scholar to make. Manne and his successors were able to act on this theory, and though Mason has in recent years expanded its recruitment of non-economics specialists, it has stuck by the core observation that law schools routinely overlook raw talent.

At the same time, the GMU law school has climbed the U.S. News rankings. Some years have been better than others: In 1999, as a result of poor data collection, there was a temporary but eye-popping dip to 113th. Slowly but surely, however, Mason has shed its status as a “safety” school for students who couldn’t gain admission elsewhere. In 2001, it broke into the top 50 — a group that U.S. News describes as “first tier” — and it hasn’t looked back. Since 2003, Mason has floated between 38th and 41st. It probably would do even better but for the particular ways U.S. News calculates worth: Forty percent of a school’s ranking is based on reputation, as determined by judges and lawyers (15 percent) and law professors (25 percent). “If we had Dartmouth or Princeton’s name,” says Polsby, picking two well-regarded schools that don’t have law programs, “we’d be a top-20 school overnight.” And by weighing the opinions of law professors so heavily, U.S. News gives liberals a lot of influence; Mason almost certainly pays a price for the perception that conservatives aren’t exactly an endangered species in its faculty lounge.

China’s Oscar Censorship

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:26 pm

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I wonder if anyone in Hollywood cares:

Chinese TV cuts Ang Lee’s speech

The Chinese media praised Taiwan-born Ang Lee for his best director Oscar win but state TV cut part of his speech mentioning China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Lee thanked everyone in all three regions. Beijing regards Taiwan as sovereign territory and Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

“Ang Lee is the pride of Chinese people,” said the China Daily.

Brokeback Mountain will not be released in Chinese cinemas and can only been seen on pirate DVD.

The Chinese government refused to include it on a list of foreign films approved for domestic cinemas, a move that stops just short of an outright ban.

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper contrasted Lee’s success with China’s controls on popular culture.

“China cannot produce a director like Ang Lee,” it claimed.

The paper praised the US for allowing creative freedom.

It would be nice if Variety would note that as well.

AFTERTHOUGHT (5:24pm): I wonder if the PRC government can really get away with having it both ways on this — bragging that a Chinese director won an Oscar, and at the same time refusing to allow the film to be shown. It may seem odd to many in China that the government will not approve a movie that produced the Oscar they seem to be so proud of.

Cindy Sheehan Goes to Germany

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:05 am

From David Kaspar:

Cindy Sheehan will be in Germany this upcoming weekend (read her plans here) to spread her message of retreat and defeat as she marches from a church in Landstuhl (a town where wounded American soldiers are treated) to a location outside Ramstein Airbase where she plans to set up another “Camp Casey.”

But not everyone is planning to sit around and silently watch the German media fawn and drool over Ms. Sheehan. Several groups are organizing a peaceful counter demonstration to support American and Coalition soldiers and victory in Iraq. We strongly encourage all of our readers in Germany and surrounding areas to converge on Ramstein this Saturday to take part! Our website has already christened the demonstration site “Camp David.”

Of course, if she’s there to protest the occupation, she’s either 61 or 16 uears too late, depending on your point of view.

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