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Global Warming Skeptics: The Tempest

[This is the beginning of my story in the Sunday magazine, "The Tempest." Click on the link to read the full article. We'll discuss the story (and climate change, science, skepticism, Al Gore, Kyoto, libertarianism, contrarianism, obstructionism, etc.) in a live chat at 11 a.m. on Tuesday on this site, as well as on Washington Post Radio at 2 p.m. Tuesday.]

IT SHOULD BE GLORIOUS TO BE BILL GRAY, professor emeritus. He is often called the World's Most Famous Hurricane Expert. He's the guy who, every year, predicts the number of hurricanes that will form during the coming tropical storm season. He works on a country road leading into the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in the atmospheric science department of Colorado State University. He's mentored dozens of scientists. By rights, Bill Gray should be in deep clover, enjoying retirement, pausing only to collect the occasional lifetime achievement award.

He's a towering figure in his profession and in person. He's 6 feet 5 inches tall, handsome, with blue eyes and white hair combed straight back. He's still lanky, like the baseball player he used to be back at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington in the 1940s. When he wears a suit, a dark shirt and tinted sunglasses, you can imagine him as a casino owner or a Hollywood mogul. In a room jammed with scientists, you'd probably notice him first.

He's loud. His laugh is gale force. His personality threatens to spill into the hallway and onto the chaparral. He can be very charming.

But he's also angry. He's outraged.

He recently had a public shouting match with one of his former students. It went on for 45 minutes.

He was supposed to debate another scientist at a weather conference, but the organizer found him to be too obstreperous, and disinvited him.

Much of his government funding has dried up. He has had to put his own money, more than $100,000, into keeping his research going. He feels intellectually abandoned. If none of his colleagues comes to his funeral, he says, that'll be evidence that he had the courage to say what they were afraid to admit.

Which is this: Global warming is a hoax.

"I am of the opinion that this is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people," he says when I visit him in his office on a sunny spring afternoon.

He has testified about this to the United States Senate. He has written magazine articles, given speeches, done everything he could to get the message out. His scientific position relies heavily on what is known as the Argument From Authority. He's the authority.

"I've been in meteorology over 50 years. I've worked damn hard, and I've been around. My feeling is some of us older guys who've been around have not been asked about this. It's sort of a baby boomer, yuppie thing."

Gray believes in the obs. The observations. Direct measurements. Numerical models can't be trusted. Equation pushers with fancy computers aren't the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes.

"Few people know what I know. I've been in the tropics, I've flown in airplanes into storms. I've done studies of convection, cloud clusters and how the moist process works. I don't think anybody in the world understands how the atmosphere functions better than me."

In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again.

We sit in his office for 2 1/2 hours, until the sun drops behind the mountains, and when we're done he offers to keep talking until midnight. He is almost desperate to be heard. His time is short. He is 76 years old. He is howling in a maelstrom.

Click here to keep reading the story.

[I will post a link to the bloggingheads diavlog as soon as Bob Wright finishes editing it and taking out the parts where I run logical circles around him. The diavlog went well, despite the complicated gadgetry and the almost fatal case of flyaway hair. Bob thought I rambled, however. He thought I was weird. He's jealous because I'm still a serious writer, whereas he has been seduced by the Internet and is just a celebrity.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 27, 2006; 7:10 AM ET
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Next: The Blowback on "The Tempest"


I recommend reading Saturday's WaPo op-ed by Bill McKibben, the author of "The End of Nature," about the climate crisis and how to hold your federal representatives responsible. McKibben provides the list of questions against which to measure your Congressperson or Senator.

Posted by: Loomis | May 27, 2006 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Joel in his Sunday article as a refutation:

Now look at the ice in Antarctica: Getting thicker in places!

Paul Krugman in his May 26 NYT op-ed:

The cover story in the current issue of National Review is titled "Scare of the Century." As evidence that global warming isn't really happening, it offers the fact that some Antarctic ice sheets are getting thicker -- a point also emphasized in a TV ad by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is partly financed by large oil companies, whose interests it reliably represents.

Curt Davis, a scientist whose work is cited both by the institute and by National Review, has already protested. "These television ads," he declared in a press release, "are a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate." He points out that an initial increase in the thickness of Antarctica's interior ice sheets is a predicted consequence of a warming planet, so that his results actually support global warming rather than refuting it.

Now which is it, guys?

Posted by: Loomis | May 27, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

>Equation pushers with fancy computers aren't the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes.

He's just pissed because he can't program the things himself.

"I've been in meteorology over 50 years. I've worked damn hard, and I've been around."

Well, now there's a scientific argument for you.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 27, 2006 8:59 AM | Report abuse

My industry (HVAC) went through a huge turmoil with the phase out of CFC's and now nobody talks about the ozone hole. In the end cooling equipment is ending up more efficient and better.

Technology is the answer but there needs to be a big enough carrot. Carbon trading will unleash a lot of innovation. The wolves in charge at the EPA like using weasel words like "best available technology". The key word being "available". Lots of economic analyses neglect the price lowering effect of large markets and incentives.

And I am off to Balticon. I will be wearing a maroon Powells Books shirt and carrying a Georgia Tech backpack.

Tomorrow I will have the Achenblog:We click t-shirt out in public.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2006 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Nice article Joel. Wish I had one of those think tanks, must be easier than working for a living. The way these guys co-opt the old 60's flower child images while pushing the opposite approach is genius. Eveil genius, but probably effective.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 27, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It's beautiful here today after the storms of yesterday. My granddaughter is here, and she's being herself. Into everything, and trying to get me away from the computer. Enjoy your weekend and remember those who gave their lives for our country, and those that are still on the front lines. And remember that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Joel, I read your piece on global warming, and I must say it is difficult, not only the subject matter, but the opinions and premises in relation to it. Not an easy subject, but nothing in science is considered easy. But what makes this even more difficult and confusing is the fact that it is politicized. And that it is also made to look like trival instead of seriousness. It's very confusing for the average person and I believe some love it so. Computer models certainly can't bring a true picture because they leave out so many variables, yet the clamoring for doomsday rhetoric may not be good either. I believe it to be a scientific problem, but I certainly believe there is more room for study. And can we get the scientist to be scientist for a change. Money really does corrupt when it is used to further one's agenda regarding scientific results. Can we take the money out in that sense? Is there someone in this field that give us true results? I keep thinking the global warming issue is akin to Hurricane Katrina in more ways than one in that when told about Katrina, those that needed to say a word said nothing. And we as a people definitely play a part in this, and should give it serious consideration, not hype and worthless rehortric(?). I don't know about everyone else, but me and my house are sticking with God through Christ in this and all things.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 27, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I've learned that the best combination is scientists who fly into hurricanes who also use fancy computers.

You can't beat the merging of experience and technology.

I'm waiting for the hard copy of my Magazine so's I can curl up with Joel's story. The Sunday "supplements" get delivered on Saturday morning, but I've always felt it was cheating to start reading them a day early.

Posted by: TBG | May 27, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I've been around science (more like plant ecology) long enough to know that it's still hard work (especially if you work outdoors in a place like Florida in the summer), different groups of people can view the same thing differently, and it's often more useful to talk to the kids than the old guys.

In the climate world, I'm impressed by Lonnie Thompson, the Ohio State scientist who's cored ice fields on high mountains in the tropics. Looks like he's done it just in time.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel, for this much-needed and even-handed report.

Having worked with "scientists" for a number of years, I can assure everyone that as a class, they are not what anyone would call "screaming liberals," and when climatologists say something indicating they see human-caused global warming, it's probably not politics that makes them say so.

And those coyotes in Central Park? Anomaly! It means nothing! Really!

Posted by: Jumper | May 27, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Joel is balanced. But please give the old-timer a little respect. Realistically, look at the last 40 years of high-tech analysis. Largely correct, but recall as normal Americans do, that this "science" still has a lot of art to it. Recall some of those studies, as a tiny example, that one year show peanuts are the kiss of death, and then 10 years later are a vital food source. This is not lost on the public.

Same way with Intell analysis. The folks who missed the Indian nuke program until a blinding flash and radiation pulse had the "best" computer modeling and software driven analysis in the world. But no human sources.

I believe global warming, as an engineer, because it's obvious to me that we are dumping this stuff out. But give the old man his due.

And recalling the peanuts, I fondly think of Woody Allen's movie, set out on I-70 in that egg-shaped house, where the food of the future is all that "bad" stuff of the past.

Posted by: HardScientist | May 27, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Empiricism without theory or studying the causes can carry you only so far. Being fuel-efficient is not BAD for the economy. During the Clinton years, the economy boomed, and a lot of technology became correspondingly more fuel-efficient.

That's smart-- not only do people have a reason to buy new technology with the pressure to be fuel-efficient, there's also the long view: It makes no sense to pay more to feed your machines than to feed yourself, is my general attitude.

Yes, technology is great, that's why we should try and make sure we can use it as long as possible and make it increasingly more efficient and suited to our needs.

Forget global carbon monoxide emissions and all that pointy-headed nonsense (as Bill Gray might say)... how many of you would like to be able to sit in a car for heat in an enclosed space (snowbank or garage) without dying of carbon monoxide poisoning?

See, that's the kind of thing customers never think of until the technology proves itself safer and more useful. We don't have any visionaries left because it's all big business.

The republicans have actually been HARMFUL to small business in their pandering to big business. We need to seriously look at our current business environment. Republicans have bought into "trickledown economics" too long that they've forgot that an economy is built from the bottom up and they think maintaining the status quo is good.

Now, we have some present issues with our technology. All this global warming controversy misses the real issue.

Let's be really frank here--if we changed the climate by planting our food, well we won't be changing that anyway, so we'll have to live with the consequences or find a way to counter the effects of that (plant some trees).

The real issue is that this global warming effects comes from technology and chemicals that we actually do not know the long-term effects for ourselves.

Can we improve those technology and change chemical use? YES. Will we be making our impact on the climate more unpredictable as a result?

Probably so. The fact is that a volcano STILL can cause far more climate change in a couple days than all our of technology can do.

Will such a drive to change lead to healthier solutions for our economy and health? YES.

Unwieldy technology that is dependent on constant fuel and pollutes instead of cleans will impede our ability to respond quickly and effectively to disasters where fuel and clean water/ground/material is in short supply.

That simple. Our survival depends on it. The idea that the world stays still and never changes except when we make it do so is an illusion brought upon us by our hubris.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

See, this is why I never comment on politics. I get too long-winded ;).

I remember hearing cows and termites may release more methane than all of our technology and I was thinking-- "well, okay, they are entitled, it's part of being alive."

We're not going to make cow extinct, they're too tasty, although we are always going to want to keep termites out of our houses. Rice and other crops also emit methane.

But factories that produce methane aren't alive nor tasty. What we do need to be doing is trapping and taking methane

There is plenty of methane in the earth's crust. Mud volcanoes and geological faults can release toxic amounts of methane. Also, there may be a sleeping giant supply of methane under the sea that could trigger a runaway greenhouse effect if they were released suddenly.

What we need is a way to passively filter methane out of the atmosphere and store it in a safer form to process later as a gas for fuel.

This technology might also come in useful after various disasters-- gas pipe breaks, workplace contamination, etc.

We may not be able to do much about carbon dixoide emissions in china or India, but there's no reason why we should have to stay mostly reliant on fossil fuels.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh Wilbrod, WIlbrod, why do you tease and tantalize me this way, you naughty boy?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 27, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, because you love it, you know you do.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Wilbrod, I appreciate what you have to say, because your comments teach me so much! Don't listen to 'Mudge, he's just jealous.

Posted by: Slyness | May 27, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Reposting from the end of the previous boodle -
Interesting article about the jet streams (ruh roh):

I believe these folks are the ones who refuted the "temperatures are going down" claims that Joel alludes to somewhere in his article. But they don't attribute the jet streams' location change to global warming, probably wanting to stay out of the debate. Just the facts, ma'am.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 27, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Tell Science Tim howdy from the boodle! And Powell's Books - what a great place.

Anyone in the vicinity of Portland, OR needs to visit the store!

And also from the previous boodle:
Hope everyone has a good long weekend. Thanks to those who have served or are serving in the military. Thanks to those who work for peace.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 27, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

You'll get yours, Wilbrod. You know all this talk of methane is like catnip to mine ears. Fortunately, I. Am. A. Rock.

You know how you asked for more litary parodies the other day? Well, I've got one under construction. Might take me a couple more days, though.

On a completely different note, saw The DaVinci Code last night. I guess I mostly liked it, but I have to take the contrarian view (you expected something else?) against those who thought it was too long or rambled. I thought there needed to be a bit more exposition, not less, and a few scene tags would have helped, too. For instance, the scene when Aringarose meets with the secr4et Vatican council, the meeting takes place at Castle Gandolpho, the pope's summer vacation home. But I doubt the average viewer who isn't a Vatican scholar would know that. Nor would anyone realize that the church at the very end is in Scotland, several hundred miles away from London, where the preceding scene takes place (Westminister Abbey). But for all you could tell it was right down the road, could have been on the M1 going out to Heathrow. So yes, the movie skipped quite a lot of the exposition that made the book interesting.

In other words, I think people would enjoy the movie more if they read the book first and understood more of what was going on, because it was awful sketchy.

Someone commented the other day that there was zero sexual chemistyry between Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou, which is quite true, nor was there any in the book. I'm virtually certain this was because of Audrey's character's identity--it would have been much too awkward at the end. Can't say more because I don't want to spoil anything.

As for all the theological fuss--puhleeze. It's a Hollywood movie, fer cryin' out loud, and before that a potboiler. Anybody who gets too upset about a potboiler and a whodunit novel needs to step back and take a deep breath. Might as well worry about the theological implications of Godfather III.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 27, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, top-notch article, Joel.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 27, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

One of the wonders of living in Portland, Oregon (I was posted there for three enjoyable years)was checking the Powell's website to see which store had the book I was interested in. Usually the main one, but sometimes it was Beaverton or the Books for Cooks store or the branch next door to the Cook store on Hawthorne not far from my place.

For sheer retail coolness, however, nothing beat the Gorge Performance surf/wind/snow board shop in a couple of metal sheds with a gravel parking lot.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I don't understand everything you said in the article, but I believe it to be even handed, and true. You present a lot of different scenarios and the thinking on each one. I realize that politics enters most things, and I'm not adverse to technology, just wonder if one can have balance? Is there a happy medium? I believe science is tops, yet I also believe that it can be tampered with by those seeking gain, whether political or monetary. As someone that does not really understand all the clicks and turns in the global warming discussions, I therefore seek truth. One could say, well seeing you don't really understand the science how would you know the truth? Good question, and one I don't really have the answer for, yet I believe there are people in this world that believe as I do, and some of them are scientists. Science is based on facts, not speculations. True science always seeks truth.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 27, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Mudge, you were tempted to rip loose with some methane jokes? Save that gassing for the workweek ;).

What you say about the Da Vinci code makes total sense to me even though I have read neither the book or seen the movie, I feel like I know every single plot twist by detail now.

I probably have imagined a few that aren't in there, such as a dramatic crawl under some kilt-wearing scottish golfers to find a secret message scrawled on the Stone of Scone that will give the location of the catacomb in Italy and coincidentally where to find all those lost golf balls.

"When the hurlyburly's done,
when the balls are lost on stroke one, unfound ere ere the set of sun,
...Where's the place?
upon the heath, there to meet with Macbeth, I come Graymalkin. Barkeep calls!"

See, that makes perfect sense.
Answer: Don't bother finding the balls, go have drinks with a friend instead at the Graymalkin pub, where you will find an ancient alchemic scrawl written by Newton which shows him to be part of it all.

And, it turns out he was assassinated rather than poisoned, too as part of an complex mathematical war between England and France over who REALLY discovered calculus, when the truth was they both discovered it due to secret teachings conserved from Atlantis as Graham Haycock was going to prove until he was "dealt with." It turned out the Stone of Scone snuck into Newton's bedroom and splattered some mercury vapors on him and made a silent (and not so useless) exit.

It all makes sense. When Shakespeare wrote of sermons in stones, he was alluding to Newton's death as a moral lesson for putting glory above guarding holy secrets.

Then again, that MIGHT be in there. I honestly don't know.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

And Joel, excellent article, although I would have liked to hear more from the neutrals on global warming.

Cassandra, even if global warming is not an issue, urban kids have higher incidence of asthma and there are serious issues of enviromental justice in this country.

Too many toxic what nots are being put in poor black neighborhoods.
I think ignoring pollution "because it's not really that bad' is putting people who live near ground zero at grave risk.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 27, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

That part was during the opening credits, Wilbrod.

Having cut the grass, I must needs gird my loins with my trusty weedwacker, and go forth to wack upon my house, flower beds, et cetera, the tall grasslings that grow thereinuponwith.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 27, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: b | May 27, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Appropriately, the cover story of New Scientist this week warns us that melting ice caps and changes in sea level can trigger earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The author, Bill McGuire, is a professor of geological hazards and wrote a book titled "Surviving Armageddon: solutions for a threatened planet." I'm sure it could make an irritating gift for a sceptic.

Thinking of the field work in the earth sciences, I kind of admire Dr Tony Butt, a Brit whose specialties are field studies of nearshore sediment transport and surf science. Of course he surfs!

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Mudge writes:
So yes, the movie skipped quite a lot of the exposition that made the book interesting.

In other words, I think people would enjoy the movie more if they read the book first and understood more of what was going on, because it was awful sketchy.

*Didn't I say essentially the same thing eight days ago--about the discussions about art, architecture and religion within Brown's book--these important supporting elements--not carried over into the film, and the film being rushed? It is as though these "characters" were missing.*

Someone commented the other day that there was zero sexual chemistry between Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou, which is quite true, nor was there any in the book. I'm virtually certain this was because of Audrey's character's identity--it would have been much too awkward at the end. Can't say more because I don't want to spoil anything.

*I'm going to have to review the ending in the book, now for the second time. I do'nt think the characters' working relationship has so much to do with Tatou's character's identity (as Mudge implies), but rather, how much sexual chemistry can you have in a plot that takes place over a 24-hour period, mostly at night, and mostly on the lam? Really now? After the action at Winchester Cathedral, did the two characters actually spend the night in London or somewhere on the road or train--and get some sleep-- before getting themselves to Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel? The short time span in which the plot unfolds certainly made it easy for the costuming departmentat Columbia-Sony. I actually thought Tautou's clothes were professional but dowdy.

But at the end--like I said, I'll have to check--I thought the male and female lead characters had developed a special affinity for each other because of their shared professional interests and the caper that threw them together under intense pressures--with the "possibility" hinted that they might rendezvous in the future.

I think that rapid sexual chemistry--that feeling of almost instant, yet serious attraction, both mental and phsical--can happen in real life as well as the movies, but only once or twice in a lifetime, whether one is married or unmarried. I got that feeling of extraordinary attraction in "Serendipity," (which is why I liked the John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale movie) but not "The Da Vinci Code."*

Posted by: Loomis | May 27, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I think every effort should be made to answer the question of global warming,not in the political arena or the dens of capitalism, but good science.
And yes, if the thinking is every bad thing or the thing that might hurt is in my neighborhood, I agree, more needs to be done. African-Americans have always suffered because of these situations, and nothing is excluded, even the food seems to be tampered with. But I also feel that because of the economics of our circumstances, this puts us at risk for many things that people with money never run across, yet there's always the equalizers, death, illnesses,etc. I can imagine many folks are confused about global warming and issues concerning climate changes, simply because it's hard to understand. I suffer with asthma, and so does my grandson, and it seems the numbers keep climbing of people that have this conditon. As a young woman growing up here, the city decided to build low cost housing for the poor in the town I live in. They built this complex right up from the sewage plant, next door even. In the summer one could hardly stand that ordor, and these places did not have air conditioning. The stench was overwhelming. The complex still exist today, and I'm living in another section of this same complex. They finally moved the sewage plant. Pollution, poor health care, bad food, so many situations African-Americans have endured, and still endure, in this free country called America. And I realize the argument could be made that "poor" could apply to anyone, yet it does apply to many of my people, and I most certainly include myself in that scenario. I don't say that for a pity party, just stating fact.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 27, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The diavlog is up:

Posted by: Achenbach | May 27, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Check out "bob and joel's literary careers compared" for the Carbucks reference!

Posted by: Achenbach | May 27, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

My girlscout leader wife and favorite daughter went on a troup camping trip this weekend, so I'm left with 3 kids. I took them to the mall this morning, and as we were standing at the bus stop on rt 50, my 3 year old son and I were delighted as Harley after Harley roared on by. I'd say about 2 a minute. As I was standing there next to my teenage daughter, I told her the story of how I discovered Memmorial Day:
When I was 16, I was scrummaging around the basement just looking for something to do. I came across an old shoebox with odds and ends in it. One of the items in it was a medalof honor that hung from a purple ribbon, the type you pin on your chest. I brought it to my Mom and asked for an explanation. I had heard the story about how my Dad, when he was 6 months old, had a Father who's Naval plane perished off the Allucian Islands. I had heard the story of how my Grandmother remarried and had another child, that was my only real uncle, but not really, because he was only a half uncle. I visited the other side of the family several times and shared family stories, but never, not once, not even my own parents, had anybody ever told me that my Grandfather died for his country. I found it hard to believe, not that my Grandfather died in WWII, but
why hadn't anybody told me? I went back to the shoebox and dug up the newspaper clipping. There was a short paragraph about the loss of radio contact under his picture. My Grandfather was a very handsome man.
Global warming? Maybe DC isn't on the globe anymore. Noone has turned on the air conditioning this year in my neighborhood. It's been a perfect spring this year atmospherically speaking. Somebody has been doing something right. I think it's because Joe Gibbs is back to coaching the Washington Redskins again, and God must be smiling on the fans.

Posted by: Pat | May 27, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The Ohio country by canoe? Your next book, Joel? O.K., so I watched your literary careers segment first. You two were so "not nice* to each other, it had me chuckling. Roll your eyes for us one more time, Joel Leroy!

Posted by: Loomis | May 27, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The diavlog was fun. You two clearly have enough respect for each other to treat each other with total disdain. Rammal? Was this spontaneous or pre-conceived? Please tell me it was the former. And Joel, when we were born there were far less that 4 billion people. Sorry. However, I do think Kumbaya on a Cosmic Scale is bound to be the catch phrase of the new millenium.

Seriously, loved your article. Nobody does this kind of writing better. I deal with numerical simulations all the time. They are only as good as the assumptions. A sim that is highly sensitive to high uncertainty variables is not something to bet the farm on.

Now I have to go convince the kids to turn off the lights or else I might consirder capital punishment.

Bummer about the hair.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 27, 2006 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I watched the whole thing! Where, oh, where, was the closed-captioning? All I could do was look at facial features, and body language, and boy, was that a sight to behold. The guy you were talking to seemed bored out of his skull. If he wore a piece in the top of his head, he must have used so really good glue. He nearly wore out those fine hairs on the front of his head. And rolled his eyes something awful. I got the impression, and this was not from what he said, but his body language, that he would have rather been at a body stretching contest than in that seat he was sitting in. Oh, Joel, were you talking over this person's head or was it a case of he just did not want to hear. Did he not have facts to add or was in Disneyland? I do wish I could have heard the conversation or at least read it. And the Carbucks cup, was that advertisement? Invite him over, Joel, and do the video thing, and return the favor. Allow him to choose his poison, and go through the motions he went through with you. Who invites someone to their blog and does all that with the eyes?
And the g-daughter watched too. She kept trying to touch his hair. I guess because he was too. Nice job, Joel. You know I'm in your corner anyway.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 27, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Re:Global Warming, it seems to me that if everything regarding the effects of rising CO2 levels is SO uncertain, that it becomes a question of Do we want to take this gamble? It'd sure be an exciting global experiment to wait and see what's going to happen, but if there are ways to stop the CO2 levels (e.g. breaking through on solar or clean coal), then it would be risky and stupid to take this colossal gamble.

Posted by: Y. Kallus | May 27, 2006 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Joel: Essentially, you get paid for canoeing.
[thus getting out of the office. Great reason to write a book]

Regrettably, I have no idea whether we're descended from things that you'd call reptiles if they were alive today. But we're not descended from birds. Kubaya!

Let's arrange for Joel to talk to LA Times/Telegraph columnist and Harvard history prof Niall Ferguson, who wrote for a newspaper while researching his dissertation on German hyperinflation. He seems sort of a gloomy guy.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha -
Joel confirms in the diavlog that "very attractive women" read the Achenblog. What in the heck is a "diavlog" anyway? Well, I enjoyed it, even the flyaway hair.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 27, 2006 9:00 PM | Report abuse

First, my trivial comment: he's got a lot of nerve making fun of the term "Achenblog" when he's using "diavlog"--that is far worse.

Then, from my quotation collection, agreeing with you, Joel:

"There is no inevitability so long as there is a willingness to contemplate the situation." --Marshall McLuhan

Finally, a couple of thoughts on the article and the diavlog: (1) The one thing that gets my dander up is the way the so-called skeptics USE "poor" Americans and third-world countries as examples to support their advocacy of radical laissez-faire economic policy. If we try to cut back on energy production/consumption, they say, the poor will suffer. But THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE POOR. It is their own decadent lifestyles they are desperate to preserve--they are the winners in the current system so naturally they don't want anything to change. Invoking the specter of increasing the suffering of the poor is blatant hypocrisy.

(2) I know this is corny but I'm going to say it once and then I'll shut up: consuming less is good for you. If you grow your own corn, shop at the local farmers market, eat vegetarian, walk, bike, take public transportation, live near your workplace, reuse, recycle, once in a while take a break from technology, turn off the a.c. and open the windows, etc. etc. etc. the planet will be better off, sure, but YOU will be the primary beneficiary. You'll be healthier, happier, more serene. What more can we have in this life than happiness, after all?

(3) Great question, Joel, about whether the utopian (I might say the "optimistic," because utopian seems a little too extreme) view is justified. I say that human ingenuity hasn't been tested to its limits yet, and there's a good chance we will figure out how to avoid complete planetary destruction. Nobody can say there won't be casualties; there are countless casualties on an ongoing basis right now, people starving to death or dying at the hands of other people, and of course the environment is suffering. But I think before it all goes south we'll be able to make a save. I just believe it isn't too soon to start, right now. I hope we can use the internet to brainstorm about this stuff. Hey, that is what we're doing. Thanks for facilitating the discussion, Joel.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 27, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Enjoyed the diavlog, Joel, all 58:50 of it, and have some observations. First, I thought you were much more on-topic and focused, and Bob was just vamping a lot. Second, I was really focused on that Carbucks coffee mug (never mind all that global warming crap; I'm into souvenirs here).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 27, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

oh, mostlylurking, my interpretation of what Joel said was not that "very attractive women" read the blog, but rather that they participate in it (they are among the "cult following" [Wright's term], which is to say, amongst the boodlers).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 27, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I thought Bob did a great job of playing Joel's straight man.
(That *was* all an act, right? He wasn't *really* ticked off at Joel?)

Also, I thought Joel's hair was just fine. I'd *kill* to have my hair look that good in a photograph or video.

Posted by: Achenfan | May 27, 2006 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Joel's earphones looked good. Added to the earnestness. Come to think of it, why do men with phone-intensive headsets not use headphones? One of the few I know who did, was a former Naval Aviation guy who probably thought everyone should be headphoned.

Too much rain to get much done in the yard, but I brought a nice Brazilian fruit tree, a Jaboticaba, home. It's marginally hardy here, but maybe global warming will reduce the likelihood of freezes.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I shoulda previewed the last post. I meant that men with phone-intensive jobs should use headsets. That way, they'd look like they belong in a hurricane hunter plane.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 27, 2006 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I used to wear a headset sometimes at work to manage long, drawn-out conversations with one of our editors. Every time I wore it I would answer the phone, "Visa or MasterCard?"

But on a very important note, this just in, hot off the wire...

"The night of May 27, 2006 in Namibia, Africa, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed their daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt."

Now we know where Shiloh's been lately.

Posted by: TBG | May 27, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

But my hair never looked that good in a headset!

Posted by: TBG | May 27, 2006 10:35 PM | Report abuse

It's very natural for humans to believe that they can impact the planet. It's called ego.

But that still doesn't make it true.

This is a very huge planet. I'm pretty sure it's going to be just fine, and will probably be around much longer than we will.

Hey wait, there's a war on. I think more people are dying NOW, right now, by human actions. That's probably a greater concern, a higher priority than the egocentric idea that we could damage the planet!

Go back to putting your heads in the sand, it's easier to deny a real problem than to mask it with an assumed problem.

Posted by: asdf | May 27, 2006 11:10 PM | Report abuse

asdf: I understand that you are concerned that we believe ourselves to be more mighty than we are. Let me remind you that there are numerous species whose extermination definitely is our fault, no ifs or buts involved. Right away, I can think of passenger pigeons, dodos, Great auks, moa, Steller's sea cow, thylacines. These are not subtle, questionable cases, we know who did the deed, and it was us. We hunted them into extinction, because we knew that only fools and egotistical nitwits believed Man to be so mighty as to be able to eliminate that which God created. Well, we did it, because God also gave us the ability to make choices -- and that includes the ability to make stupid choices. We are faced once again with a choice. You advocate that we believe we are not so mighty, that we are full of hubris. I argue that hubris is what gives tragic heroes the opportunity to buy enough rope with which to hang themselves.

And speaking of that -- I better get my talk finished for tomorrow at Balticon, and decide exactly which stories I want to tell.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 27, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Let me try that again, this time with clarity:

You advocate that we should not believe that we are so mighty, that we are full of hubris to think ourselves so dangerous. I argue that hubris, excessive pride that one can arrogantly do whatever one wants, is what gives tragic heroes the opportunity to buy enough rope with which to hang themselves.

See, I meant that both asdf and I see it as a matter of hubris, but we see different behaviors as being hubristic. Yeah, that's what I meant.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 27, 2006 11:25 PM | Report abuse

asdf, people who are concerned about global warming aren't necessarily concerned about the planet per se but, rather, about the humans and other animals who are going to have to make their homes on that planet. Sure, the planet itself will be fine, in terms of its remaining intact as a large piece of rock, but where does that leave us?

Concern about the war is also justified, of course. But we don't need to choose one cause or the other and start a yelling match over it -- especially if we are in fact concerned about other human beings. Just because we're talking about global warming, doesn't mean we're contributing to the war.

What's *really* bothering you?

Posted by: Achenfan | May 27, 2006 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I thought of "our" Shiloh too when I saw the name of Brad and Angie's baby - ha!

Thanks, Mudge, for the more accurate description of what Joel said. I must have been laughing too hard to remember the exact context. Except I know Joel didn't say "boodle".

I thought the headphones made Joel look dorky - especially compared to Robert Wright, with his much cooler ear bud and very nice, gray at the temples hair. But Joel's so cute when he smiles.

I have never liked to use headsets for the phone - we have wireless headsets now at work, so people walk around while they're on telecons. Everyone except me - still tied to my desk phone. Part of my resistance is the look, and the mussing of the hair (except that my hair looks the same these days, combed or mussed). Part of it is learning which button to push (resistance to change).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 28, 2006 12:23 AM | Report abuse

The following report titled 'Stop Burning Earth' was written by a group called the Management School of Restorative Business

'It paints a terrifying picture of the consequences of continued fossil-fuel consumption, and rampant economic growth.

According to their analysis, unless we stop burning earth immediately we appear to face an unprecedented level of ecological and economic disaster in the very near future which could well render industrial society defunct.'

Here's an extract:

5. The Shrinking Human Habitat

Our planet faces a full-scale catastrophe. Unless the global energy consumption is reduced rapidly--by no later than June 2006--to about 60 exajoules (6E+19 joules - this level is about 13 percent of total global energy consumed in 2005 and is equal to the total energy consumed in the year 1910) or to lower levels each year, the runaway positive feedback loops triggering the destruction mechanisms described in Part 1 of this report (ozone holes, global heating, extreme climatic events, toxic pollution, waste accumulation, resources depletion, war, unethical behavior, and disease pandemics) pass the point of no return, overwhelm and destroy the life support systems. Nearly all our cities and population centers become mostly uninhabitable by 2015.

Posted by: Reader | May 28, 2006 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, thanks for the attaboy on the story.
Cassandra, I'll ask Bob Wright why, with all his techno-wizardry, he can't add some kind of transcript to this "diavlog" thing.
Mostlylurking, I would look dorky with or without the headset; in this case the alternative was to hold a phone in my hand the entire hour.

I hope everyone is having a great and relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 28, 2006 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Well, we're off this morning. On our way to Sunday school and service. I do hope your weekend so far has been good. I'm enjoying the grand daughter a lot, although she's busy, busy. I couldn't understand the video with Joel and the other person, but it was fun to watch. Maybe next time there will be some words! Remember that God loves you more than you can imagine through His Son, Jesus, that died for all.

I believe we will always have people that taint science and everything else with greed, because they see this life as the only life. They don't believe in God or religion for that matter. I marvel at folks with this concept wherein it rules their lives. I've yet to see anyone put in the grave or cremated for that matter with their millions. And to those that hold the argument, well I'm leaving what I have for my children, sometimes that doesn't work out too good either.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 28, 2006 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Joel, I don't think you look dorky at all (certainly much less dorky than you think you do).

Also, you look younger than I had expected. (But then, from my vantage point, Gabby Hayes looks younger than me, so what do I know?)

Off to paint the bottom of my boat today. Ugh. One of the many joys (?) of nauticaltude.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 28, 2006 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Who cares whether Wright and Achenbach look dorky? Should we care about how they sound? Why does Wright, as a writer, choose an auditory medium when he has such a high nasal? And more importantly, whether there was a good flow of coherent ideas in their back and forth? I found that much of the "performances" during this diavlog reminded me of:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

`I know what you're thinking about,' said Tweedledum: `but it isn't so, nohow.'

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'

Perhaps more on neurologist Paul MacLean's reptilian brain core, and whether violence will be the Earth's undoing, rather than global warming.

Posted by: Loomis | May 28, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Joel: I've read you for years. Used to live in Miami, too. Many good pieces. But "The Tempest" is the pits -- the old one-side-and-the-other-side journalism at its worst. Could you not have just slipped in that well over 90 percent of climate scientists take global warming seriously and that the contributions of global warming skeptics to peer-reviewed scientific literature is virtually nil? I know part of the point to the piece is to be interesting and entertaining, but some baseline context would have made it responsible, too. A big disappointment.

Posted by: Jeff | May 28, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Why the Hitler reference?

Do the same thing with bush, idiot.

Posted by: WhyMentionHitler | May 28, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

So I was mistaken on Friday when I thought Bob Wright looked like Steven Page. Wrong guy on the screen.

Turns out he looks like a depressed Spaulding Gray.

I'll take Dork Hair any day.

Posted by: TBG | May 28, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Jeff: See this, and the preceding few paragraphs from Page 2 of the online version:

"All of the above is part of the emerging, solidifying scientific consensus on global warming -- a consensus that raises the urgent political and economic issue of climate change. This isn't a theory anymore. This is happening now. Business as usual, many scientists say, could lead to a wildly destabilized climate for the first time since the dawn of human civilization.

But when you step into the realm of the skeptics, you find yourself on a parallel Earth."

That makes it clear where the science is. The story is a look at the debunkers who persist despite the scientific consensus.

Posted by: kindathinker | May 28, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The diavlog was great fun. I don't know how they kept themselves from laughing out loud. The only disappointment was that Joel didn't do the Letterman thing where he checks his teeth in the camera lens.

This the kind of comment that should impress the Post editors when they consider continuing the blog.

Posted by: kindathinker | May 28, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I started my approach to the question of global warming by asking if there were any circumstance when warmer would be better. The immediate consideration was the ice age cycle. Then I wondered what might drive the ice age if it were not the atmosphere. There are changes in solar radiation and dust in space that have not been explained. These are very basic and elementary questions, but I saw little discussion of their merits. I am not saying that we are about to enter an ice age or that global warming is good. However, if we were about to quickly enter an ice age, it might be nice to have some warming. There is no aparent debate on this point. Until we have more answere we can only say that global warming has been a work of partisan politics with an issue they grabbed onto. There is a lot of work to do before we know if we want to warm or cool the planet. Best we get started. Or do we want a faith based solution?

Posted by: Gary Masters | May 28, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I see that Joel has not posted his latest Rough Draft column on baseball, perhaps to avoid distracting faithful readers from his weightier global warming column. Nevertheless, the baseball column is a delight:

I cannot help but note the common theme running through the diavlog, the magazine article, and the Rough Draft. Evolution, Global Warming, and Baseball are all intrinsically non-linear, in that relatively small changes in the system can have massive implications. All are also governed by complex and wonderfully esoteric rules. Finally, all three, given the right audience, are sure to start a spirited brawl.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 28, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"This the kind of comment that should impress the Post editors when they consider continuing the blog."

Certainly some will be so wise that I never know what they mean.

Posted by: Gary Masters | May 28, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"That makes it clear where the science is. The story is a look at the debunkers who persist despite the scientific consensus."

This is an example for all who love certain answers. Please look to the possibility that you may be wrong.

Posted by: Gary Masters | May 28, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing out the Rough Draft column. I assumed there wouldn't be one this week (once again I have learned the true meaning of "assume"). It is a delight. As a disillusioned Mariners fan who no longer recognizes anyone on the team, and who refuses to set foot in the publicly financed stadium that was supposed to put us on our way to the World Series, I can relate.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 28, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Take two views of the debate and add a third possibility.

The earth is warming. Gore
The earth is cooling. Gray
The earth is unchanging. "Roseannadana" or Never Mind (within its "normal" variability based on hundreds to thousands year averaging).

Man's answer to all three is the same answer he has used to beat the Paul Erhlich (most recent) predictions of global famine.

Technology! Insolation control, new fuels including fusion power, electricity storage via lossless transmission (superconducting infrastructure) all these are engineering problems- we know how to do them but lack the will (remember "Go to the moon in a decade"?).

Any technology likely to give us control over warming will also let us control cooling. And the benefits continue even if there is no problem at all.

Posted by: vic | May 28, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

There is no high speed connection here so I could make no sense of the streaming video. Transcipt Please.
Loomis: Remember that no state in the Union has better Rock 'n' Roll than Texas, or Blues or Jazz or "Chix"
Tell Dreamer that enlightment can be picked off cow flops after a good rain.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Why is everyone picking on Bob Wright?
Did I miss something? Is he one of the "bad guys"? I thought he was one of the good guys.

[Besides, you do all realize there's a chance he might read these comments, don't you?]

Yesterday I got lost for several hours on Wright's site. Wow, man -- some really, really cool stuff there. Even some talk about God and religion. I was watching the interview with Andrew Newberg, a scientist who has been studying the neurological basis of religious experiences. Something he said really blew my mind. I'll try to paraphrase, even though the site does actually have transcripts of the interviews: People who have near-death and other mystical experiences usually report that these experiences feel more "real" than their actual lives, even after they're over -- kind of the opposite of when you wake up from a dream and think, "Oh, OK, that wasn't real; that was just a dream." (It's like these people wake up from *this* dream, briefly, and see it as being un-real, except that they have to go back into it when the near-death or mystical experience is over.)
[That last sentence was actually my interpretation, not a paraphrase of Newberg.]

He also pointed out that, unlike hallucinations and other delusions associated with schizophrenia and other pathologies, near-death and mystical experiences are usually associated with an improved ability to function, conduct personal relationships, etc. That is, these people are not "crazy."

And there are all these other great interviews about consciousness, evolution, morality, the nature of the universe, etc.

But I guess I could just take Boko999's advice and go looking for the answers in cow dung. Tanks for da tip, Boko.

Posted by: Dreamer | May 28, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I see Barry Bonds has hit another homer. Nailing that record down, is he not? I read the baseball draft, and I'm still laughing. Joel, perhaps since Washington has a baseball team, you can get some of the higher ups to declare the World Series as won by the Nationals and move on from there. That would certainly remove any anguish or disappointment if they don't come up to snuff. You think?

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 28, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Dancing, chanting, smacking your head upside a wall, what you are experiencing is manifesting from You not some outside agency. OK I was flip, but cmon. The best psylisybn is grown on Texas cattle dung.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse


Bonds now is in second place on the home run list:

Henry Aaron - 755
Barry Bonds - 715
Babe Ruth - 714

He has a ways to go. He might make it this year, but I hope he doesn't. Too many questions about him for me.

Posted by: pj | May 28, 2006 7:41 PM | Report abuse

As far as the previous discussion goes, it is 'diavlog' or 'divalog'? I kinda prefer the latter. (That's with the original participants involved, not Joel.) If someone picked up on this previously, I apologize.

Posted by: pj | May 28, 2006 7:44 PM | Report abuse

You sound pretty certain, Boko, although really, when we say that something *is* a certain way, it's often just a matter of opinion.
But you know, we could *both* be right. Maybe *everything* we experience is manifesting from us.

"There is no 'out there' out there, independent of what's going on *in* here [points to head]."

-- Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

"As far as whether of not we're just living in a big holoceck, it's a question we don't necessarily have a good answer to. I think this is a big philosophical problem we have to deal with in terms of what science can say about our world, because we are always the observer in science. So we are still always constrained by what is ultimately coming into the human brain."

-- Andrew Newberg, M.D.

in the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Dreamer | May 28, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I can't believe you wrote the following line in the baseball Rough Draft: "Will Washington have the patience to support a losing team?"

Joel, it took Washington FIVE YEARS to change its mind about George Bush, fer cryin' out loud, and we won't know for sure until Novemeber exactly how disillisioned our citizenry may or may not be. Given the obviousness yet obliviousness of many people, will Washington support a losing team? Oh absolutely, Joel, absolutely.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 28, 2006 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey, pj -- long time no see.
Actually, bc's already claimed "divalog."
You're right, it is a lot smoother; "diavlog" is a little tricky to get your tongue around at first. But it does lend itself to terms such as diavolical. [Sorry -- I guess I'm still working on that one . . .]

Posted by: Achenfan | May 28, 2006 7:56 PM | Report abuse

As for near death experience. People spun around in centrifuges (astronauts & fighter pilots} lose their peripheral vision first (tunnel vision, tunnel of light?) and then lose consciousnes, as the spinng slows down, blood returns to the brain and they report their sight returning and a feeling of euphoria. There is no "Near death experience".You're dead or you ain't."

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Joel,as a father of three daughters myself, I must point out to you in the strongest terms that it is father's DUTY (!) to instruct his daughter(s) in the infield fly rule, and I'm guessing from your column you have thus far failed to do that. Please see to it at once.

Thank you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 28, 2006 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the correction, Achenfan. I've been really busy and trying to catch up with this place is extraordinarily hard. My apologies to bc.

'Diavolical' is very nice, by the way.

Posted by: pj | May 28, 2006 8:07 PM | Report abuse

If there is an after-life, I'm lost. Heavenly Hosts or Celestial Choirs leave me cold. I can't stand heights or crowds.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Heavenly hosts and celestial choirs are man-made notions, so I think it's quite possible to have an afterlife without those things.

Posted by: Dreamer | May 28, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I was utilising the cultural paradigm I was equipped with.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Do you know of any non man-made notions.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I'd say dogs and cats probably have some pretty crazy notions that haven't even occurred to us.

And no need to apologize for using the cultural paradigm you were equipped with. That's what people tend to do, because really, what else *can* you do? But sometimes it's fun to remember that our cultural paradigm is most likely way, way off.

Posted by: Dreamer | May 28, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

On The Tempest, I find it interesting that Bill Gray and others like him are rarely heard from in the Post or the rest of the old media. Also, isn't it interesting that someone of Mr. Gray's stature has to fund his own response to the Global Warming supporters? Your article and its derisive tone to any detractors I think provides the answer: dissent is not allowed. I'm a cancer survivor and a year ago wrestled with the question whether to or not to get chemotherapy. I decided not to. But, the research you hear of in the USA from years ago all basically supports it. However, more recent research from abroad, that the public hears about only from very obscure sources, is now very skeptical about chemo's efficacy at all. My oncologist would never have pointed out that research to me. I find a parallel, oncologists are trying to sell chemo to the public regardless of critical research, just as environmentalists are trying to sell global warming. I am skeptical of both.

Posted by: Ron Quasebartj | May 28, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't think this city would know what to do with a winning baseball team.

My mother was a baseball fan. She made sure we went to many Senators games. She took my older sisters regularly when they were very little and one of them once complained in front of the the ticket-taker, "why do I always have to go *under* the gate?"

My memories of childhood summers include coming into the house during the day to find my mom in the kitchen listening to games on the radio. "Swiiiing... and a miss!"

We went to the very last Senators game here in DC. Frank Howard hit a home run and came out of the dugout waving and crying. We lost the game to the Yankees on forfeit when the crowd stormed the field before the game was over.

Posted by: TBG | May 28, 2006 8:40 PM | Report abuse

What's really funny is that I hated it when someone tried to stuff me in some box of their conception, they must be suffering from some lack of imagination. Still, I think you're seriously flaky. Keep it up.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

You were at the last Senators game, TBG? How very cool. I remember cutting out all of the excerpts in the Post of Ted Williams's book when it came out. We went to some games back then and I had a lot of fun. But we had a lot of other interests as well, though, so going to a game was an unusual experience.

I did listen to them on the radio, though. A small gray Westinghouse AM radio. Not much bigger than a pack of playing cards. I used to prop it up on the edge of the bathtub when I was taking a bath and listened to the game. My parents weren't too happy with that particular habit of mine. (Okay, way too much information there.) I think Ron Menchine was an announcer for the broadcasts. Wasn't there someone named Shelby as well?

Posted by: pj | May 28, 2006 8:56 PM | Report abuse

On a somewhat serious note, I think the "true" baseball fan, although he might want to have a winning team, doesn't base his love of the game on his team's record. Many cities have had losing teams not for years but for decades (viz. Philly, Chicago, etc.) at a stretch, and it hasn't deterred the "true" fan much.

Yes, winning is nice, but as somebody once said, it's not the only thing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 28, 2006 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Disagreeable tenses. Apologies

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Still a fan no matter what the record? I'm sitting here wearing a "Leaf's" hat. You guys don't know from losers. Good luck with the transplanted expos.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I hope he does. Bonds, that is. If one is going to trash Bonds, might as well trash the rest of them. In my opinion, they're all drinking from the same cup.

Why don't the folks that comment here, go ahead and admit that they don't believe in God, Jesus, or religion for that matter. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. And what's so beautiful about it all, is that God gave man free will, in other words, you can choose. It's up to you. Why hurt your brain with all that talk of "something else" under the guise of chanting, singing, whatever. The world really has not changed much. There were people here that did not believe when you arrived here, and they will be here when you leave, and go to...........whatever.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 28, 2006 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The Mariners had a triple play yesterday - unfortunately, it was against them. Too sad. They lost me when they didn't keep Omar Vizquel as shortstop, just because they had some kid named Alex Rodriguez coming along. They've been so uninspired the last few years that I quit listening to the radio broadcasts - and Dave Niehaus is one of the best in the business. They're back to where they were in the pre-Griffey days, when they seemed resigned to playing poorly. But you never know - maybe someone will come along and make the team catch fire (not literally, I hope!).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 28, 2006 9:15 PM | Report abuse


I was in high school when the Mariners started. I remember they were so desperate for people to attend that they used to issue free tickets if you got decent grades. I recall when they started to essentially advertise the opposing teams. (Come see those great Yankees playing the Mariners!)

On a personal level, I remember seeing the Mariners in 1981 with a young woman named Toni. It was a memorable and incandescent evening. The ballgame was pretty good too.

Alas, since the mid 1980's I have been pretty ignorant of the team. I understand Safeco field is much nicer than the Kingdome, but I never realized that it was a public works project. I have been led to believe there was some controversy involving something called an "A-Rod."

One day the Mariner will make it big, and then everything will be wonderful.

What ever happened to Rupert Jones?

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 28, 2006 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Alas. WaPo & my computer combined refuse to let me read any actual articles, only the Kit & boodle -- I'll have to catch up to the substance at work DAYS from now. Also the Diavololog, which I anticipate with glee.

Such rich topics too -- Global Warming and baseball. Curmudgeon, while proper instruction on the infield fly rule is important, the real question is where you fall on the Designated Hitter rule. I once had a brilliant and incisive (also insightful) lecture prepared on why the National League was a superior baseball organization, based on eschewing the designated hitter, but it was never as well received as it should have been so I gave it up --except for indoctrinating the boy. As perennial Astros fans I'm here to tell you that a winning season ain't everything. The Red Sox Series victory was great though; years of agony, plus the Hated Yankees, washed away in ecstasy.

Here in the heart of gas & oil land, even our scientists are beginning to admit that perhaps there is something to all this global warming (not, unfortunately, our congressional representatives). I'm with a previous poster. No matter where you fall in the is-or-isn't category, I think it makes sense to take what steps we can to preserve what we have and delay what we might. The alternative is too serious and too unpleasant.

And, not to confuse climate with weather, but where are you people getting all this rain? What does it look like? Can I have some? I've got Mr. Stripey in the ground now but only plentiful (until the aquifer dries up) well water keeps him even remotely tasty for roving lagomorphs.

Memorial Day greetings to all, particularly those who represent our country. I used to really enjoy watching the motorcycle pilgrimage to the Vietnam Memorial. At the very least I hope to tell my son (again) about his grandfather's experiences in WWII.

Thank you, Cassandra, for your steadfastness.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 28, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

As a child growing up my mother used to take us to baseball games at the lake. It was a regular hang-out for African-Americans with dancing, grilling, fishing, swimming, but the highlight was the baseball game. And the player took these games seriously. This was before baseball was inclusive. It was a chance for young guys and seasoned players to display their talents. It was exciting and a lot of people made the trip just to see the baseball game. Being up close to the game is so much better than looking at it on television. All of this took place out doors in an open field beside a small lake or more like a large pond, but good times were had by all. The weather was always hot and sticky humid, but that didn't stop the game or those that came to watch. It was a different time, and it was a way to relax after working hard during the week. Parents brought their children, and it was just a big crowd. There was drinking, and sometimes thing got out of hand, but they usually settled down when the game started. It seem so long ago, but it's a good memory.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 28, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I've learned a very important lesson tonight. You can put whatever you want into the bowl, but until you add the lime juice you don't have guacomoli.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Boko999, Is guacomoli like guacamole crossed with ravoli? That wouldn't be a bad recipe to try sometime-- after all, if I'm boycotting corn, I can't exactly have corn chips with guacamole.

Dreamer said "But you know, we could *both* be right. Maybe *everything* we experience is manifesting from us."...

I'm starting to think this is why group-think gets out of hand. I suspect though if we take the time to experience stimuli from creatures other than ourselves, this is the path to settling ourselves in better harmony.

But it seems some people keep locked into their "perceptions" no matter what input they receive.
I guess it must be a matter of talent, or a matter of willful ego.

Maybe that's why everybody should have an near-croak experience ;). Not that I intend to volunteer, thank you.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 28, 2006 10:27 PM | Report abuse

The designated hitter rule is an abomination, as is artificial turf. ivansmom, you are clearly a superior person in every regard. Also, it is quite clear the Astros don't deserve you. But hang in there (as I know you will).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 28, 2006 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if this will make the national news, but we've got a doozy of a local story all over the news right now. Apparently at least three guys (at least on of whom was armed with a Mac 10 machine gun) car-jacked three vehicles from an area where people were riding dirt bikes, etc. The cops were chasing one of the carjackers who was driving a pickup truck. At a major intersection the carjacker got into an accident that wound up involving 12 cars (twelve), and injuring 12 people. The cars were scattered all over the place. The carjack got away, but they found that machine gun in the crashed pickup. Nearby, there was another accident when a car (possibly driven by one of the other two carjackers) hit a car with two women in it. He got away, too. The third carjacker and his carjacked car haven't been found.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 28, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod : Crossing guacamoli (sic)and ravoli (really sic) is only legal in Utah and Mississippi and if you don't know whether you are boycotting corn or not I' m afraid no matter how hard I screw up my eyeballs and try to devine (Andy) what you are talking about I'm still uncertain as to what you are talking about. Clear?
Dreamer and I seem to view the universe differently, an obvious case of group think. (see Bill Clinton)
Tell 'Mudge that the designated hitter rule was in effect when the TORONTO BLUE JAYS won two World Series in a row and that Canadians aren't polite so don't even think about ......whatever.
How do you even write abstracts

Posted by: Boko999 | May 28, 2006 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Rupert Jones was way before my time as a Seattle baseball fan. I started paying attention to them in the 90's when my kid played Little League and I realized that I knew nothing at all about baseball strategy (still don't know much). The Mariners were still giving away tickets to schools, and tickets were cheap anyway. They didn't win often, but they had some good players, like Vizquel, Harold Reynolds, Alvin Davis. Then Griffey came along, and Edgar Martinez, and Randy Johnson, Tino Martinez. I agree with Mudge about the DH in general, but having Edgar around for so many years was a joy.

The Kingdome was a dispiriting place to watch baseball, and it always smelled like a hot dog. But the way the public was forced to pay for Safeco Field, after voting the financing down, has not sat right with me. So I've never gone to a game there.

We used to go to the minor league games in Tacoma - fun atmosphere. And I really enjoyed the Little League games, although my kid wasn't very good - and he only played a couple of years, so he left before it got really competitive.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 28, 2006 11:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure whether you'd count me among those who should just go ahead and admit that they don't believe in God, Jesus, religion, etc. The thing is, I *do* believe in God. And I *do* believe in Jesus. I just don't have your firm idea as to what God and Jesus actually are -- what they stand for and what they look like. For example, when people say that they have seen Jesus, or that they love Jesus, I have trouble conceptualizing that.

I was raised a Catholic, but I came to realize that there is a lot of hypocrisy in that religion -- and in other organized religions, too. I *do* have a strong sense of religion, though -- a sense that there is definitely more to life than we see here in this physical world. But maybe it's not quite the same as your religion. (I think I prefer the word "spirituality," actually.) I have a lot of time for Jesus -- but I also have a lot of time for the Buddha. My ideas and beliefs change constantly, but I find that I'm moving in the direction of more spirituality, not less.

I think there's no one way to God, and no one way to the truth. Maybe we can all be "right" without making someone else "wrong." I also think that a belief in science doesn't necessarily rule out a role for religion, and vice versa. I often think that a lot more progress could be made if science and religion were more inclinded to work together.


"When I was younger, I had lots of ideas about what God was. And now I realize I'm not conscious enough to truly understand what that concept means."

-- William Tiller, Ph.D.

"I have no idea what God is. Yet I have an experience that God *IS*. There is something very real about this presence called God, although I have no idea how to define God -- to see God as a person or a thing. I can't seem to do it. . . . Asking a human being to explain what God is . . . is similar to asking a fish to explain the water in which the fish swims."

-- Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

from the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Dreamer | May 28, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse


First of all, how else could you attempt to predict stuff in the future without models?

Second of all


How did he come up with this? A model maybe?

As much as I respect his credentials, it seems pretty odd to call global warming a "hoax". Theres two things at debate - #1) How much and how quickly the earths temperature will rise. #2) Whether or not humans are responsible for this rise and could thus mitigate its effects in the future.

It seems like an awfully silly thing to gamble on. A wise investor and businessman will always hedge his bets, in order to diversify risk and not go all in on anything. If the doomsayers are right, then this is a cataclysmic event. The odds of these events happening are probably much higher than say a massive asteroid collision with the earth. Hedging is all that is required....

For relatively small sums of money, we could move towards renewable energy resources. I don't think oil will ever be totally out of the picture, however, simple things could go a long way towards minimizing its consumption. The boogey men try to convince people that somehow everyone will be eating tofu and living in grass huts if we decide to go with the "global warming agenda".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2006 4:53 AM | Report abuse

"Gray believes in the obs. The observations. Direct measurements. Numerical models can't be trusted. Equation pushers with fancy computers aren't the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes."
Somehow my quotes got messed up, attempt the first part again

First of all, how else could you attempt to predict stuff in the future without models?

Second of all

"In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again."

How did he come up with this? A model maybe?

Posted by: Dave | May 29, 2006 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It is good to talk to all again. My weekend is ebbing slowly away, and alas, Monday, is here already. My g-daughter is still here, and we're hanging together, albeit, work sometimes. But there is pleasure even in that. As we think about our soldiers today, those that paid the price, and those that are in the line of fire, let us say a word of prayer for them, and take a moment to remember them. And know that God loves you more than you can imagine through His Son Jesus, that died for all.

Dreamer, the Bible says that there is enough in Scripture for man to believe without really having all the details. We cannot know God because He is infintely higher than us. Yet there is His Word. It's not necessary that you or I know everything about God in order for us to believe. The Bible is inspired writing that has existed longer than you or I, and I believe it. Believing does not make me perfect as a human being, but it does direct me to the right path. God is so good to us. He has made the path to Him attainable through Christ, who gave His life for us, so that we might have life, and have that life more abundantly, yet even in that, we seek to find the flaw, to corrupt that saving grace. You see how man works against himself. Against his own salvation. How does the pot demand anything from the artist or the creator? I may not be explaining it well, and probably not, but all I'm trying to say is seek God through His Word. God can be found in the Holy Scriptures, accept them and what they impart. We have a loving God who seeks mercy instead of wrath, and is more than ready to extend Himself through His Only Begotten Son, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 29, 2006 7:47 AM | Report abuse

If there's anyone out there who would like to post some thoughts about Memorial Day, please fire away. I won't be online much -- gotta hike, plant the crops, clean the garage, and so on -- but I'll try to pause and appreciate the meaning of the day. I have been reading Atkinson's book on the North Africa campaign ("An Army at Dawn") and the soldiers who die rarely do so in a Hollywood fashion. They rarely see what hit them. They're don't die of neat little gunshot wounds. The chaos of the invasion of North Africa, the mistakes, the tactical blunders, makes you think that the fog of war is an understatement. It's all fog all the time.

I shan't kit today, unless there is some kind of, you know, intellectual emergency. I've been (mostly) enjoying reading the Technorati links to my story "The Tempest," and might kit about that tomorrow.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 29, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I guess the North Africa campaign was (to airbrush it), a learning experience.

I grew up with the airbrushed version of World War II that was spread by the movies. My father never talked about that war. Oddly, about the most I ever got out of him was from visiting the Yale campus, where he was in training for a while before being shipped to the south Pacific as a medic. I suspect that he figured attacking the Japanese was less than essential--given time, they, like the Americans, would succumb to fungus infections and other diseases.

Also oddly, John Lukacs' "Budapest 1900," portraying a booming and cultured city, was a reminder that we Americans shouldn't take our domestic peace since 1865 for granted.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 29, 2006 8:41 AM | Report abuse

For all the veterans and children of veterans, I would like to say thank you.

Up here the heat has been turned on, we have gone from cold and miserable to hot, muggy, (smog alert) and humid. Not being a scientist I can't tell for sure how damaging the affects of global warming will be I can only see the changes to the climate I live in. Perhaps the dire outcomes will not happened but already there, in this area already, are severe impacts to the health of the residents due to smog days, isn't that alone a reason to do something.

In determining the costs of new fuel sources versus fossil fuels shouldn't the impact of fossil fuels be added to its costs, increased hospital visits, the water and fuel consumed to get the oil from the ground to the pumps (transporting it, refining it etc).

Posted by: dmd | May 29, 2006 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking about the 36 cubic miles of ice that is melting from the Antartic each year, and I wanted to put this in some kind of perspective that we can relate to. The earth is about 8000 miles in diameter with a surface area of about 201 million square miles. Assume about 70% of that surface area is ocean and our 36 cubic miles will raise the ocean level .016 in. (That happens to be the thickness of the shim that I use to adjust the exhaust valve of my volkswagen) In 100 years at this rate the ocean level will raise a total of 1.6 inches.

Posted by: Robert Circle | May 29, 2006 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Look Ach, I am as skeptical as the next guy, but I wouldn't trust anyone who had links to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Jesus Christ! Where do you suppose all of these Science Advisors in the Bush administration who so cavalierly suppress valid scientific reports that do not fit in with their own faith based political views come from?

Bush came into office with the same sort of bullchip on his shoulder that Rush Limbaugh and his ilk carry around all the time. For that bunch, it is all just one great big liberal academic conspiracy against capitalism.

You mentioned all of the memorablia from the 50s in Gray's office. Enough said. This bunch is still mired in that dreary decade and is still mightily engaged in a mythical cultural war against all nonconservative thinkers whom they mistakenly think are all old liberal, anti-establishment figures from the 60s.

My God! Will America never be free of these obsolete old cultural warriors who can't seem to extricate themselves from those two decades?

Posted by: Jaxas | May 29, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Somehow Cassandra, I do not see the wisdom of issuing a prayer in the name of a man whose mission on this earth was to teach about the futility of war. In our name, soldiers have been sent into another country to kill men, women and children. No, I don't believe for most of them that was what they intended to do, but that is what has happened.

Let us assume for a moment that you are right and that Jesus Christ really was the literal Son of God, a Being for who's existence we have no empirical evidence. Now comes before his ears the prayers of these puny humans who have gotten themselves involved in an activity that he explicity preached against while sojourning here on earth. Why on earth do you think He would be receptive to such a prayer?

The Bible is not nearly as clear and unequivocal as you claim. One of my favorite parts has to do with Job's lamentations to the Almighty which prompted a rebuke which can only be interpreted to mean that if he wanted to solve the riddles of God's Creation, he should study science.

Posted by: Jaxas | May 29, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

To all the soldiers that are serving this country, USA, thanks so very much, and God speed with you.

To the parents of soldiers that have given their lives in service to their country, may God bless you and keep you. To the parents of those serving now, my prayers are with you, and your sons and daughters.

To those soldiers that have survive wars, may the grace of God, through Christ, keep you and bless you much.

To Joel, and the Achenblog, enjoy your day, get some rest, and may God bless each and every heart through Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 29, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Several years ago, I had the privilege of hearing a WWII veteran recount his experiences as a prisoner of war. His story would make an Academy Awards winner of a movie. In August 1944, he was a 19-year-old airman, a farm boy from Union County, NC. His bomber was shot down over Budapest and he was captured and tortured by the Nazis, then shipped out to a POW camp in Germany. The POW's had a hard life, complicated by their attempts to tunnel out and escape. In February 1945, their guards got them together and started marching them east. They had to forage and sleep wherever they could, in barns or out in the open. The people they encountered were generally kind to them, slipping them food when they could. One day, their guards disappeared and they were on their own. They kept going east and finally ran into American soldiers. When he got to Lyon and the hospital there, he found his brother, who didn't recognize him - he weighed 87 pounds.

What enables people to survive such hardships? I go back to Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning: those who survive are the spiritually strong, not the physically strong. And so I'm in Cassandra's camp: To learn about God, to become spiritually strong, I study the life of Jesus.

Posted by: Slyness | May 29, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I've been reading more of "Three Came Home", Agnes Nixon Keith's story of imprisonment in Japanese internment camps in WWII. Its fascinating. I am strongly reminded of the story my husband's Uncle wrote of being a POW in the same war.

I read these sorts of things with my 2006 perspective that it must have been awful, that every moment must have been unbearable. I expect it should make me feel like watching news footage of war torn places, that I should be horrified, and appalled constantly. I find instead, in both his short letter as a very elderly man writing about his youth, and her book written just after her release, a spareness of words, a simplicity, a matter of factness about what happened. Its almost as if they are surprised they survived, and can't believe what happened was real. They both say they just kept on and you get the feeling that they say this not because it was that simple but because there is no possible way to completely explain just how they did it.
What they don't say conveys much, much more than all the pictures I see on tv.

To service people everywhere thank you.

Posted by: dr | May 29, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse


"Where were you when I made the world" is one of my favorite scriptures--is that the passage you're referring to? Thank you for getting me to open my Bible this morning and read it again. It is certainly not true that there is only one possible interpretation of it. I have always interpreted that as an enjoinder to humility, and I think it's something humans need, because we start exploring and understanding and we get arrogant real fast. I appreciate your view that God is encouraging science, and reading the whole passage I can see how it is that, too. But as Joel points out, for example, scientists in the 21st century don't agree on the effects of clouds on climate. That's something pretty basic, not like the origin of the universe or the construction of subatomic particles. No doubt, the more we observe and study, the more we can understand the natural world. But there will never come a time when we understand everything. Because we weren't there at the time of creation. We are part of the creation, we are creatures. We need to look at everything with that in mind.

And as far as praying for the soldiers, I hope you are familiar with Mark Twain's essay on that subject, it is a classic. I see your point, but it doesn't stop me from praying for the soldiers. I always pray at the same time for the innocent victims of war, as well as the people our soldiers are there to kill--"insurgents," "terrorists," "the enemy." They are my brothers and sisters too. It's a big bloody family quarrel, and more than anything I pray for the day that we will lay down our swords and learn to work out our differences with words instead.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 29, 2006 10:40 AM | Report abuse

For spiritual strength in the holocaust, look to the "Memoir of Fr. Chester Kozal, O.M.I." He was a Polish priest who survived 5 years at Dachau, and was liberated by American Armed forces. He attributed his survival to God and claims that the minute he saw the Nazis deface religious places, he knew they could not possibly win.
"This sounds strange, I know, but those years at Dachau were my best years as a priest, because I found God there. And I learned it takes an awful lot to kill a human being."

The book is not long, but well translated from the Polish, and is supplemented with notes from others as to his life in the United States after the war. A friend comments that he would always go up to every american solider in uniform and hug them weeping, and the friend'd always have to explain to the startled solider why.

You can survive, but the memoirs of others make it clear that he suffered from lifelong PTSD that sometimes impacted his ability to function as a priest.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 29, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I've never seen that Twain essay-- so I thank you Kbertocci...and now I have to refresh my Twain.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 29, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I once had a job at a cemetery. Each week I would mow around hundreds of military headstones. That first spring I viewed the headstones as little more than anonymous bumps. On Memorial Day, thought, the flowers arrived. The cemetery became covered in a vibrant blanket of loss. After that, the headstones changed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 29, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Off topic today, but Wilbrod, thanks for your book recommendation the other day. The bookstore I went to on Sat. only had Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, so I bought that. Do you have any opinion on Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee?

On faith issues, I like the simplicity of Galatians 5:14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps what is lost in this debate is the fact that our weather models, upon which our understanding of global warming is based, are in turn based upon information gleaned in only the past few decades.

As an ancient historian, I have found that there are archaeological findings that tell us about the weather and it's global effects for thousands of years.

In this, I am refering to the 4 great Ice Ages, the last of which brought an end to the pliestocene age c. 10,000 years ago. In the last century or so there is a growing body of world-wide evidence that the levels of the oceans have risen hundreds of feet, filling the Mediterranean Basin and the Black Sea, covering the continental shelf between Alaska and Siberia (Beringia), and was indirectly responcible for an academically unacknowledged world-wide flood that caused the Pliestocene die-off. That is, the extinction of what was then most of the world's largest mammals (mega fauna) c. 7,200 years BP. All this occured as a result of the cyclical warming and cooling that has effected the Earth for at least the last several hundred thousand years, and is still in effect today (as far as I can tell).

If this senario sounds just a bit like Mr. Al Gore's future shock movie, let me remind the good and faithful Mr. Gore (and all of the gulable people who actually pay to see his movie)of the promise that God made to Noah, a first-hand eyewitness to the above-mentioned delude. The world will not be destroyed a second time by water, or global warming!

Posted by: Robert Brock | May 29, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Substituting ideology and propaganda for science is new in this country, though not elsewhere (Lysenkoism did replace genetics in the Soviet Union). John Lukacs, who wrote that book on Budapest, fears for democracy in Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred (Yale University Press 2005).

Since Dawkins came up, could I say something nice about "Frogs, Flies & Dandelions: the making of species" by Menno Schilthuizen. It's an utterly sprightly little book from Oxford. Now, back to laying paver blocks.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 29, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

For Memorial Day, I offer my favorite song of war and remembrance (and sometimes lack thereof). The band is the Irish band The Pogues, but the song is about a young Australian in WW I. Rather than post all the lyrics, here's a link:

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I do pray for soldiers even though they're going to war, and even though their behavior is a far cry from what Jesus preached or practiced. The reason? Because we pray for all. God would have it that all men be saved, and He would rather do mercy than wrath. Soldiers are under a leader, a commander if you will. Soldiers are instructed on what to do and how to do. And most of all, because that is somebody son and daughter, and just like I love my children, mothers and fathers of soldiers love their children too. We have far more in common than we have differences. I pray for a time when men won't study war anymore. Every generation it seems think that war solves the problems of the world, and it just is not so. We learn nothing from these lessons that have been lived by those before us. We seek not the lessons, but we always seek the gain, and therein lies our downfall. We cannot have peace on this earth without the Prince of Peace, we can not have joy in this world without that joy that God sent into this world, Jesus. We cannot having healing in this world without the Great Physician. And we most certainly cannot have beauty for ashes without Him who is called Wonderful. Oh, don't you see, all you have to do is seek Him, and accept Him, as your Lord and Saviour, Jesus, the Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 29, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

CBS crew killed in Iraq:

Posted by: Achenbach | May 29, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I started a brief riff on Memorial Day and then Rule 6 made me stop and pause, so I posted it on my blog instead. Besides that way I can do in-line hyperlinks.

In other updates, I saw ScienceTim give his talk on the methane-laden atmosphere of Titan at Balticon yesterday. He had great slides of actual pictures from Titan and some very funny war stories about the project. He would make a great guest on the AchenRadio Divacastâ„¢.

After the talk he introduced me to the very lovely ScienceSpouse. I already have some pictures on my Flickr site.

I even saw the ScienceKids running amuck. Just kidding, Tim. They were being very well behaved.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, for the record, it did not take Washington five years to change its mind about George Bush! It may have taken some Washington politicians that long, but as for DC residents, by and large, we have never changed our minds: 9% support in 2000, 9% in 2004....
I do agree that we'll put up with a losing baseball team, though. The futility of our basketball team, historically, is almost unparalleled, but people still buy tickets--and everybody ignored D.C. United even during their string of championships. Winning isn't everything (ask Cubs fans)--it's about love for the game.

Posted by: DC expatriate | May 29, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

First of All this is Memorial Day.

Good men and women, Americans, resident aliens and even the occasional American non-combatant have died in wars hot and cold for the history of our nation......... ................. in memorium......... .......................................
As a native Washingtonian born and raised at 124 4th St. S.E., I also want to remember Edward R. Murrow a great soldier for freedom in the 1950's, and the Senators a great team for the 9 year old baseball fanatic who still lives on in me, great because they were our team.

Posted by: vic | May 29, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

My Dad was in World War II and then active in the American Legion and VFW. He used to read General Logan's Orders on Memorial Day:

And a nice piece on NPR today by Ketzel Levine about "Defiant Gardens":

kb, thanks for posting the Mark Twain piece - what a marvelous thinker he was!

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 29, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse


I really liked the Twain piece, too. Wonder why it's one of his lesser known essays?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Tempest fugit?"- Will the hot/cold arguments continue to fly?

I hope not. Its truly a waste of time and money. We need the same solution set of tools regardless of the outcome and the source for this solution set is technology.

So skip the argument and get on with the inventing!

Technology is the key. Don't confuse technology with Science, Scientists and Politicians. They are related but technology is the actual creation of methods and materials to accomplish end results.

Technology is the creation of Inventors and no one else.

Just as dictionaries, Professors of Language and Legal contraints on published works are all necessary to Good Writing.

Writing is the product of Writers and no one else.

Does anyone doubt that the quality written arts or the quality invention arts are rarely the product of Politicians, Scientists, or Professors of English?

Climate control can be done and inventors can show the way, politicians can only show or manipulate the peoples will.

PEOPLES WILL- sound familiar? Therein lies the real issue for debate! Along with unintended consequences!

Whether from Gore's Carbon Police State, Bush's Preemptive Attacks or Hitler's Final Solution we must always be vigilent in the face of massive state control that we are not relinguishing our freedom in the false hope of regaining some illusory world at a price that neither nature or free men can tolerate nor starving men abide.

Posted by: vic | May 29, 2006 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the reason it's a lesser-known essay can be summed up in the last line:
"It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said."

It seems hard for people to accept that when you speak against war, you are not being unpatriotic, or speaking against the soldiers, or saying that they died in vain, or dishonorably. Look at what happened to John Kerry when he testified before Congress about what happened in the war in Vietnam - he was villified for calling all soldiers war criminals, which is not at all what he said (not that he has defended himself well in the years since).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 29, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

If the article is the tempest, then its seems a good time for the teapot. Earl Grey anyone?

I'm also going to add a teeny tiny note about hockey. The Oilers will be playing for Lord Stanley's cup. We await Carolina or Buffalo. Either way,we intend to prevail.

Posted by: dr | May 29, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Amen, yellojkt, amen.

Posted by: Slyness | May 29, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

On this day, I could have much to say, but we are laying sand amongst the bricks in the back yard, and my break indoors is a short one.

I highly recommend the following book, issued in September 2002, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," by Chris Hedges, former NYT war correspondent and now journalism prof at Princeton. He's also a grad of Loomis-Chaffee. We met ever so briefly. A review, below, is from the Library Journal (you'll see by the last line that the review is dated, which should give you pause...):

This moving book examines the continuing appeal of war to the human psyche. Veteran New York Times correspondent Hedges argues that, to many people, war provides a purpose for living; it seems to allow the individual to rise above regular life and perhaps participate in a noble cause. Having identified this myth, Hedges then explodes it by showing the brutality of modern war, using examples taken from his own experiences as a war correspondent in Latin America, the Middle East, and the Balkans. These examples highlight the devastating effects of war on life, community, and culture and its corruption of business and government. Hedges is not a pacifist, acknowledging that people need to battle evil, but he thoughtfully cautions us against accepting the accompanying myths of war. This should be required reading in this post-9/11 world as we debate the possibility of war with Iraq.

I'm also picking up the news about the CBS news crew-two support staff dead and a female correspondent with serious injuries. ABC News has never made full disclosure about Bob Woodruff's serious head injuries from an IED, the same cause for today's tragedy. Since we here in San Amtonio, at BAMC, treat the worst of the war-wounded, the amputees' pictures in today's paper are hard to take.

Last year, I wrote a long piece about Memorial Day, if there's time later today, I'll post just a summary of the four sections that comprise the whole.

Posted by: Loomis | May 29, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Just to throw this any of you really know how this holiday came about?

Posted by: Loomis | May 29, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse


I'll bite. It was originally chartered to honor those killed in the Civil War. It was later expanded to include all casualties of combat. When I lived in Georgia, state workers also got Confederate Memorial Day as Lee Day and Jefferson Davis Day off as well. When King Day became a federal holiday, the state rather than eliminating a day, let workers pick the three of the four they wanted off.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, for you.

Posted by: dr | May 29, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I've often wondered why don't we see the wounded of the wars? The media informs us of the killings, but we rarely see those that have been wounded. And what about the families of those that have lost their lives, is there not a forum for them. Surely they want to speak out, and come together for strength if nothing else. Is it bad to do this? When one loses a son or daughter, don't you get to express that grief, and do it nationally as well as privately? Do we hide those that have given so much, they gave in full view, why must we hide their sacrifice? I don't understand this. It is too much for me. As a parent that has lost a child, it confuses me. I feel like my heart has been ripped out, and it never really goes away. My heart goes out to those who have lost their children.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 29, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I was going to guess that in the U.S. Memorial Day came first and likely post-Civil War. Nov. 11 commemorates the end of WW I and was known, at least in the Commonwealth, originally as Armistice Day.

yellojkt: good photos. That's quite a, um, diverse theme they seem to have going at Balticon. Also, was your 1:17 tongue in cheek? Twain had quite the dark period towards the end of his life and didn't pull many punches in his criticism of organized religion.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt and Linda Loo -
When I read General Logan's Order today, I was wondering how this went over in the South, since he referred to suppressing "the late rebellion" and the "reveille of freedom to a race in chains". For more history on "Decoration Day", go to:

It also has a link to the poem "In Flanders Fields", which I remember having to memorize in high school. The history teacher was a WWII veteran, a friend of my father, a staunch patriot - but he helped my brother get conscientious objector status during the Vietnam war.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 29, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

History of John McCrae author of "In Flanders Field".

Posted by: dmd | May 29, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

heres the link

Posted by: dmd | May 29, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Boalsburg, Pa. claims the first Memorial Day observance, in 1864. This tiny community is now an outlier of State College, home of the main Penn State campus.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 29, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse


I think everything I say is a little tongue-in-cheek.

The parallels between Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain are pretty interesting, and I think on Vonnegut's part a little bit intentional. That Twain essay was definitely rather sarcastic for it's time, and possibly for ours as well. It seems to be as aspect of Twain that is getting short shrift in the Hal Holbrook dressed as Colonel Sanders icon that the legacy of Twain has evolved into.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, speaking of legacies, I was surprised to read of not only a Confederate Memorial Day, but also a Lee Day AND a Jefferson Davis Day. Are those still the case today?

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, yello is talking about Georgia, you know.

In my part of the world, we note Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence Day, May 20, the date on which local patriots declared their independence from the British Crown in 1775 - thirteen months before the declaration in Philadelphia.

Posted by: Slyness | May 29, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want to lose my neck, but I'd be willing to put it on the railroad track, that there are some Southern whites who would rather celebrate any day other than Martin Luther King's birthday. I just don't see some really getting into that. It would go against everything that is in them, and I suspect they care little about people knowing that information. Some probably wear as a badge of honor. You think?

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 29, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Now you're catching on...(All are generally getting warmer as to how Memorial Day started...)

Keeping our Confederate History alive is important to Texas Division UDC [United Daughters of the Confederacy]. In the steps of our forefathers, the Confederate Veterans, members gather for Heritage Day at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. The State Fair started as on off-shoot of the Confederate Veteran Reunions in Dallas. The Veterans gathered annually for their reunion on the land that is now known as Fair Park. The property was given by Confederate Veterans to the City of Dallas to ensure that Texans would always have a place to gather for reunions with their Southern comrades, kin, neighbors and friends. Keeping that tradition, UDC teams with the SCV and CofC to honor their ancestors on Confederate Heritage Day [Texas Confederate Heroes Day--Jan. 19] each year at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.

(Will have more to say to you on Dawkins tomorrow--and my recommendation for one of his books.) Back out into the heat and humidity for me.

Posted by: Loomis | May 29, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Slyness. I had to google that - that's neat. I also recently was surprised to see that Canada received special mention in the Articles of Confederation (Article XI IIRC). Apparently according to the Articles Canada can be automatically admitted to the Union; any other colony has to be approved by 9 states.

Also, while I'm on historical trivia and Texas was mentioned by Loomis the other day, credit where credit is due has to be given to Crockett for one of the cooler sayings ever attributed to a politician. When asked for a response to the voters after losing his seat in Tennessee, Crockett said "they can all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas" (he later died at the Alamo, of course).

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Crockett's marital problems--now there's a story!

Posted by: Loomis | May 29, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Oooo...history AND gossip!

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I saw Hal Holbrook perform Mark Twain Tonight at the Kennedy Center - must have been 1976 or 1977. He was fabulous. Here's one of the anti-war sentments that he included (was in the TV version in 1967 too):
"Man is the only animal who deals in the atrocity of war. He's the only one, that for sordid wages, goes forth in cold blood to exterminate his own kind. He has a motto for this: 'Our country, right or wrong!' Why, not even a burglar could have said that better."

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 29, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

By the way. Everyone who can should visit the Freedom Plaza in Rosslyn and pay their respects to the memorial for journalists killed in the line of duty.
All the names are listed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 29, 2006 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, maybe not all. Tragically, it's getting hard to keep up.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 29, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

According to the Georgia government state website, Confederate Memorial Day is April 24. Martin Luther King's Birthday which is January 15 was observed on January 16. Robert E Lee's Birthday which is inconveniently on January January 19, will be observed on November 24, coincidentally the day after Thanksgiving. No mention of Jefferson Davis Day which seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 29, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

dmd... are you from Guelph?

My family and I spent a nice couple of days there (celebrated Canada Day, in fact!) a few years ago. We stayed at the University in one of the dorms: a brand-new townhouse where we each had our own bedroom on our own floor.

A very nice town with a huge beautiful church looming over it that no one seems to mention. We really enjoyed the entire area.

Posted by: TBG | May 29, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Chimps first.
I think I read "The third chimpanzee" a long time ago. I don't remember very much about it. Which might be a comment in itself. Somehow an eulogy on the wonders and distinctions of humanity tends to put me to sleep ;). Maybe I'm ready to read it again.

I may have it confused with Desmond Morris' book "The Naked Ape". I wasn't too keen on that one. Desmond Morris is a good read, but since he never explains how he comes by his opinions I take him with a grain of salt, especially as I found room to disagree. He's also a little racy.

What was next? Memorial day. Yes.

"Ave sed numque vale." (Hail but not by any means farewell.")
English: Gone, never forgotten.

I'll pull a Loomis and say that Waterloo, NY is concidentally in the area where a civil war ancestor grew up in. Or not.

And the third chimpanzee, Mark Twain. He was VERY sacrastic and acerbic in his old age. Like Cassandra, he had lost a child and from his writing, he was seriously questioning the blind percepts of his faith and the hypocrisy of it... same as he learned to question and hate the hypocrisy of slavery thanks to his wife's family.

His famous book, Huckleberry Finn has been banned so many times it's a wonder it's still standing for another round.

Shelley Fisher Fishkin has done wonderful research on Twain and his attitudes to African-Americans over his life.

"Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices" is an excellent read, short, entertaining. A must for Twainophiles.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 29, 2006 8:01 PM | Report abuse

TBG, no I am not from Guelph although my mom grew up there and my dad went to the University of Guelph. My Parents were married in the big catholic church in town, not sure if that is the one you mean. It is a great town. I live about 1/2 hour away.

Posted by: dmd | May 29, 2006 8:06 PM | Report abuse

It has been a heart-wrenching day for many of us. I know it has been for me. Thinking about soldiers that have lost their lives in service to their country, and thinking about those still on the front lines, as well as the wounded. News out of Iraq is never good, and today, journalist everywhere are feeling the pains of losing more in that battle. It isn't any better in Afghanistan, it rages there too. Oh, if we could just do better with this. I don't know how, but it certainly calls for something else. I pray for all people including the leaders of this country, and I will continue to pray, yet we as a people need to do something to stop this bleeding. War is hell, and whoever said that knew what they were talking about. I'm going in now. I've been here most of the day. I do hope the family here at the Achenblog has enjoyed some part of their long weekend. I look forward to talking to you again. Joel, as always I will keep your commrades in my prayers, and also our soldiers, no matter where they are. Journalists do us good because they keep us in the know, and I realize that is always a risky business. May God bless you and keep you, each and every heart, and know that God loves you more than you can imagine, through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus. Good night, friends.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 29, 2006 8:09 PM | Report abuse

dmd... Yes, that huge, beautiful Catholic church high up on the hill. It surprised me that none of the travel literature about the town mentions it, yet we used it to navigate everywhere we went.

We also stayed in Fergus on that trip and visited the countryside all around. Not a lot of excitement, but lots and lots of friendly people. We did visit the gorge, of course, and for the rest of the trip renamed our kids Fergus and Elora.

We spent another few days in Toronto at Victoria University (nearly every university in Canada offers summer accomdations for travelers--economical and lots of fun for a family.). It was during Gay Pride week, which we hadn't planned, but it certainly meant there was a very interesting crowd staying with us in the dorm.

We missed the actual parade and my daughter, who was about 8 at the time and clueless as to why there was a parade in the first place, said, "I wish we had seen the parade. Everyone has beautiful rainbow flags!"

We love traveling in Canada. Near the top of my son's college list is Niagara University in N.Y.; one reason is its proximity to your wonderful country (and no... not because the drinking age is 19).

Posted by: TBG | May 29, 2006 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I hope all have had a fine Memorial Day. It is interesting -- my grandfather was 18 and fought in the last year of WWI, but never talked about it to his grandkids. Never. My dad was an Army officer in the Pacific Theater in WWII, and toward the end of his life he began to discuss it a little. He wasn't much of a reader but read the James Jones book (? I've forgotten the title) and it opened something up. He did tell me how he got his Bronze Star. Years later, I found the letters he wrote to my mother from the troop ships, etc., and they show yet another perspective. Someone earlier mentioned that persons in previous wars (and, no doubt, the current one as well) say they just got through it or just lived day by day, rather than discuss extraordinary actions or heroism. I think to some extent they -- certainly my father -- were being honest; going day by day was all they, or anyone, could expect to do, hoping all along that there'd be another day.

Speaking of which I'm very disturbed by the CBS news crew calamity. My cousin is with the WaPo bureau in Iraq and we're all unusually attuned to the safety issues surrounding journalists. She's one of those that actually gets out of the Green Zone.

Thank you for the kind words, Curmudgeon. Losing baseball is better than none at all. Even losing AAA ball, which is our closest kind, is better than none at all.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 29, 2006 8:26 PM | Report abuse

TBG if your daughter was eight best she missed the parade, it is a big event, but I wouldn't recommend it for children, not always a lot of clothes worn!

Posted by: dmd | May 29, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

TBG, if your son should go to Niagara University, plan a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake not far from the border. It is very beautiful and home to the Shaw Festival Theatre and in the heart of Wine Country.

Posted by: dmd | May 29, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

The Heart of Whine Country? Oh, sorry, that's Toronto. ;)

Miss Toronto, that tech support joke is in my folder of favorite emails. A classic.

Wilbrod, I didn't know that about Twain. Kipling lost his only son in WW I as well. Needless to say, the Rah Rah Empire routine also died in Flanders.

Re: Desmond Morris. Naked Ape was okay. I like my science unvarnished, and it's hard to read something about chimps without the author falling over backwards proving he or she is NOT a determinist.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 29, 2006 10:10 PM | Report abuse

SoC, something like that, was what I felt. I disagreed mightily with Morris.

Twain, Civil War, african-americans, Catholics, suffering, New York, belief... somehow I thought this link about Pierre Toussaint was apt.

Quite a guy, and there are good links to other articles about prayer in slave life and other items of interest.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 29, 2006 11:48 PM | Report abuse

SoC, don't judge people on where they are from, their location on tells you where they live not who or what they are. :)

Posted by: dmd | May 30, 2006 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Sorry that would be "only tell you". If you had to put up with the "Leafs" you would whine too!

Posted by: dmd | May 30, 2006 7:18 AM | Report abuse

I will vouch for the beauty of Niag-on-the-Lake. Just gorgeous and we did buy some wine. The ice-wine was a little too expensive. Picking grapes in those conditions is just crazy.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 30, 2006 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Ice wine is expensive, in part due to when it is picked, they wait until the temperatures drop to the right amount, which in part leads to the costs as well as only a limited quantity can be produced. Hence why it is used as a dessert wine or almost a liquor.

Posted by: dmd | May 30, 2006 8:16 AM | Report abuse

dmd, under no conditions should anything I ever write be taken seriously. This is doubly true when I put in the winky figure ;)

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 30, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Being skeptical about Global Warming (or rather, extreme temperature variations, which is what it is, and a rise in the median global temperature) is similar to being convinced there are WMDs in Iraq.

Both are wrong. Period.

Now, stop lying, and start dealing with reality.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | May 30, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

When will every one wake up and realize that we are currently dealing with 2 sides of a huge issue: global warming and high energy costs? Both are heading toward a crisis point (it may be 50 years away, but think of the children).

Reducing use of fossil fuels can fix both of these problems (and maybe stop a war to 2).

Its too bad GreenPeace and other environmental groups don't have as much money as GM and ExonMobil.

Posted by: SR | May 30, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

A talking head whose name eludes me pointed out about ten years ago that the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones. It ended because we invented bronze. Likewise, the petroleum age will end when a better technology supplants oil.
Second, if oil is a resource in limited supply, how is it in America's interest to pursue freedom from oil imports? Wouldn't the smart thing be to use up Saudi Arabia's, Venezuela's, and Nigeria's oil first?

Posted by: otis | May 30, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Did you ask Prof. Gray the obvious question? If he thinks climate models are a hoax because they can't predict the specific weather for 2 weeks from today, why does he think his forecasts of the number of hurricanes in a season are not a hoax? He certainly can't tell you if a hurricane will form next week, or if one does form, specifically where it will go. It has always been more accurate to forecast AVERAGES (i.e., climate) as opposed to SPECIFIC DETAILS (i.e., weather). As a meteorologist, he should know that.

Posted by: Steve S | May 30, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

So is there anyone out there looking at this blog who actually wants to discuss solutions rather then the warming/cooling debate?

Posted by: vic | May 30, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Joel...Sheldon Rampton here. I don't know if you remember me, but we were classmates at Princeton. My mother called me yesterday and told me to read your global warming piece, and I just did. Nice work. I did a chapter about the global warming skeptics myself a few years ago in my own book, "Trust Us, We're Experts." My take on things is probably more skeptical than yours about the climate change skeptics, but it has your usual deft eye for detail and some great interviews.

I still remember a humorous column of yours that got reprinted years ago in the Princeton Alumni Review, which lampooned the way TV dumbs people down. It had some hilarious observations about how TV trains people to accept implausible things, like the fact that Barney Rubble has no neck or that Gilligan's Island can alternate between being a volcanic atoll and a coral reef. My favorite line was your prediction that "in the future, all writers will be good-looking."

Posted by: Sheldon Rampton | June 1, 2006 11:03 PM | Report abuse


Professor Chilly Willy believes the earth is getting colder.
He should know about such things; he is a meteorologist.
Once a famous and respected meteorologist, he was,
But now his colleagues won't read his papers,
He receives no invitations to their cocktail parties
And they have stopped sending him Christmas cards.

Professor Chilly Willy used to fly airplanes into hurricanes
Back when everyone believed the earth was getting colder,
And Professor Chilly Willy was content.

Then the computers came. They left the big building
Where they had been born as behemoths.
They spread everywhere, talking to one another over wires.
They surrounded Professor Chilly Willy
And said he was wrong.

Professor Chilly Willy prefers airplanes to computers.
One can fly an airplane into a hurricane
And that is a brave and important thing.
Computers just sit there, pixels mocking on their glowing screens
Numbers flowing through them like phantom blood.
We all know that they can be made to say anything.

Professor Chilly Willy can hardly find anyone to to keep him company
Now that the computers have said he is wrong.
His only companions now are people who are paid to believe what he believes without remuneration;
People who work for those who are used to paying people to believe things
And getting their money's worth.

Professor Chilly Willy believes the data, that sacred truth he pulled from the heart of hurricanes.
While the polar caps melt and glaciers disappear
And hundreds die of heat stroke in Punjab
And his beloved hurricanes drown cities
He will remind you that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote."

Professor Chilly Willy is tired, his throat aches
From staying up much too late, arguing that the world is getting colder, not warmer,
No, not warmer, no.

Just wait fifty years and you will see.

Professor Chilly Willy is certain he is correct
But he will not be here to savor his triumph.
So he asks that, when his theories are vindicated at last
Someone put flowers on his grave.

I will put flowers on your grave, Professor Chilly Willy
Whether you are right or wrong.

If you are right, I will put white roses on your grave.
If you are wrong, I will put red ones there instead.

Posted by: AlbionMoonlight | June 2, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure Gray was an interesting interview, but your June 7 article was sloppy. I see that you spoke with two of the three other scientists who are commonly quoted by people looking for the "skeptics" point of view, Lindzen and Singer. The only one you left out was Michaels, but that's OK, he's heavily featured in this week's National Review, along with, you guessed it, Lindzen and Singer. I simply don't understand how it is that "investigative reporters" can continue to find the same four voices over and over again, and rarely quote the thousands of scientists who have been convinced by the data, models, and theory that human activities measurably contribute to global warming and that the potential consequences are serious. I also don't see why the track records of some of these skeptics are never brought up. For example, Michaels has seriously misrepresented climate research to the public by misquoting and/or omitting key details of other scientist's work. Anything that Michaels says outside of peer-reviewed journals (where he can't get away with this) should be taken with a large grain of salt.

For his part, Lindzen has long articulated the view that the water vapor feedback from global warming would be negative, in contrast to most other opinion. Let me explain why this is important. Water vapor climate feedback is what can make CO2 induced warming much worse - as the world warms, more water vapor should go into atmosphere, where it traps more heat as a greenhouse gas, and so warms the planet, which cause more water to evaporate into the atmosphere, and so on. It turns out that a key region for this process is the upper troposphere, roughly 3-5 miles above the Earth's surface. Lindzen has argued that atmospheric water vapor in the upper troposphere would increase actually decline as CO2 and temperature increased, a view that not many others shared because it didn't make much theoretical sense. This is a very important point, because if Lindzen was right, then the global warming problem would be less severe, perhaps a lot less. Because the wator vapor feedback is so important, scientists gathered data to test it - that's what scientists do - they settle arguments with data. Last fall, a definitive study appeared in Science (Soden et al., v. 310, p. 841, Nov. 4, 2005, see a good non-specialist discussion in same issue by Cess, p. 795) demonstrating that, as most scientists expected and for good reason, tropospheric water vapor is increasing at a rate slightly greater than most models predicted. In other words, Lindzen is dead wrong. His predictions about the water vapor feedback have been the basis for most of his scientific output arguing against the significance of global warming. Now it is clear that it just doesn't work the way he wants - sorry, but those are the facts. Is this the person you want to continue to rely on?

If you and your brethren really are "investigators", what gives? Will you go back again and again to the same old and increasingly discredited sources to get the "skeptics' view", even as it makes less and less sense? You're not doing the public a service by presenting the case from the "skeptics" as anything like in the same league as the abundant evidence reviewed by thousands of scientists who are healthily (not pathologically) skeptical but who are now convinced we have a real problem here. Every time you do an article on geography or space science, do you consult with members of the Flat Earth Society for an opposing view? Come on, let's do the job right. I'm glad you've found, but you don't seem to have read it very carefully. A more interesting piece would be about why these few people get so much airplay, vastly out of proportion to their dwindling numbers and credibility in the scientific community.

Posted by: Louis Derry | June 12, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

There's a typo in my posting - sloppy on my part. This sentence should say:

"It turns out that a key region for this process is the upper troposphere, roughly 3-5 miles above the Earth's surface. Lindzen has argued that atmospheric water vapor in the upper troposphere would actually decline as CO2 and temperature increased, a view that not many others shared because it didn't make much theoretical sense."

In editing I inadvertently left in an extra "increase" in the sentence - I apologize for any confusion. My only weak excuse is that I have a broken hand and typing is a mess right now.

Posted by: Louis Derry | June 13, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I said it once; I'll say it again:

Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant compared to the power of the Force.

Posted by: DVader | June 27, 2006 7:53 PM | Report abuse

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