Friday, October 2, 2015

Do taxi drivers DESERVE to work?

An October 1, 2015 editorial in the Ottawa East News titled “Taxi drivers deserve to work” gave me pause stop and think about the fundamental ideas behind the writer’s words, and I was not impressed. Whereas the writer does identify government as a problem, the article is replete with common economic fallacies and falsehoods.  In fact, every single problem that currently besets taxi drivers is caused by the intervention of government force in the economy - force that removes freedoms, causes stagnation of business development, raises prices, makes services less accessible and harms social harmony.

The taxi business is a monopoly - a business that is banned by force except for all but the few who are allowed to buy a forcibly limited number of taxi license plates.  Those who attempt to run an honest taxi service outside the monopoly are subject to potential threats, fines, seizure, arrest, imprisonment and condemnation.  Such a situation is intolerable to advocates of a truly free society but eagerly encouraged by our current political and intellectual leaders.

When a business is under monopoly powers, meaning power backed by the government’s ability to initiate force, the result can only be stagnation and lack of innovation. Monopoly power removes the possibility of competition, removes the requirement for steady innovation and improvement of quality of service that true competition requires. In truth, innovation and experimentation are banned by law in such a situation and this too is intolerable in a free society.  Who benefits? The few are granted economic power at the expense of the many.

Under monopoly powers the result must be higher prices than in a free market.  It is a basic economic fact that when you limit supply, the price must rise. In many cases, the initial forced limiting of supply causes harm and then there are calls for enforcing price controls, such as is the case in the taxi business.  In a free market all prices are subject to competition and eventually the profit margin approaches the average of all other free sectors.  If the profit is higher than average, new competition enters and brings profits back down, and vice versa. Under monopoly rule all consumers are deprived of access to a competitive market. Who is harmed the most? Those among us who are poorest.  In the case of the current taxi business, the drivers are squeezed between the monopoly on license plates and the price controls.  They are victims of government interference also.

Enter Uber - the current free market innovation in the personal transportation business.  Uber is simply a creation of free thinking people, provided by free thinking entrepreneurial drivers and used by free-thinking customers, who for the first time in their lives have the choice of using the monopoly service or a free-market alternative, and customers are voting for the free-market service in droves.  Too bad few of them fully recognize the principles involved and vote for politicians who advocate for freedom.

Drivers in the monopoly system do not deserve to work - that is an invalid concept because it implies the work must be provided for them.  What they deserve is freedom to work, freedom from people, organizations and most especially governments that would stop them from working, so long as they are not violating the rights of others.  In fact, government is the agency peaceful people create to protect their rights, not violate them through the imposition of monopolies.

The fact drivers are not rich is of no consequence. The vast majority of people are not rich, so what?  In a free market every individual is able to make his own choices, build a business if he is able, and become rich if that business creates phenomenal value for many customers.  This appears to be impossible for an individual driving a taxi, but possible if the driver has a good mind for customer value creation and builds a superior taxi business, employing many and servicing a great many at an attractive price for value ratio.

The editorial writer insults human reasoning, ingenuity, perseverance and value creation when the term “Wal-mart-ization” is used as a term of slander.  Not a single Wal-Mart employee is forced to work there or forced to accept less money than they earn. Every employee is free to rise as far as his ability and work ethic allows, or is free to leave and find an employer who agrees he is worth more than Wal-Mart is paying him.  In a free market, justice prevails and each person receives precisely what he deserves, as determined by his free trade with other like-minded souls.  If the taxi business was a free as Wal-Mart, the business would be a thriving, innovative concern, offering an abundant variety of price points and services to everyone.

The correct and moral response by a free citizen to the current taxi imbroglio not to support the striking drivers but is a cry to end the license plate monopoly in the taxi business and all other government intervention in the taxi business. Only thus will justice be served: drivers freed to compete in a free market and customers freed to choose from among the variety of business models a free market offers. A free market is a harmonious society.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Climate science in the IPCC Technical Summary versus the claims of alarmists

Following is my response to the first comment on a letter to the editor about climate change and BC forest fires.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To attempt the linkage of the current political situation in Syria with the tiny fraction of atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by man's productive activities requires a great leaps in credulity, one which no rational and knowledgeable person could make.

Droughts have been a fact of life since before humanity existed. Today, the only places where drought is insoluble are places where capitalism has not been implemented enough to allow the creation of the wealth needed to overcome drought.

When I say wealth, I mean particularly agricultural technology and the financial resources to implement it. Money is simply the currency of wealth exchange and money has no value if the products created by men are not brought into existence. Syria is poor because it is a society based on mysticism, altruism and collectivism and has only bare elements of capitalism, by which I mean freedom and the protection of individual rights by an objective government limited to this function by a constitution.

As I side note, it is interesting that the first commenter began by attacking the background and supposed affiliations of the article's author instead of beginning with a critique of his ideas. If you go into the ACTUAL SCIENCE sections of the IPCC report, not the Summary For Policymakers that is not written by scientists, you usually find the summary of scientific knowledge is very different, even the opposite of the Summary for Policymakers document, which the first commenter references and which is as far as many peple get if their reading, if they read the science at all. I will copy an exerpt from the science report about extreme events below. Note that this is from the IPCC itself, never mind the large number and variety of scientists who disagree with some of the conclusions the IPPC handpicked authors have reached. At the very least the science report is generally written in the language of science, lacking the hyperbole, speculation and unsupported statements found in the Summary For Policymakers.

Since the commenter specifically quoted the Synthesis report on the Summary For Policymakers I have chosen to contrast it with its supposed source. This is from the fifth assessment report "The Physical Science Basis", page 50 and can be found at the following link.
There is low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall), owing to lack of direct observations, dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice and geographical inconsistencies in the trends. However, this masks important regional changes and, for example, the frequency and intensity of drought have likely increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and likely decreased in central North America and northwest Australia since 1950. {2.6.2;
Table 2.13}

There is high confidence for droughts during the last millennium of greater magnitude and longer duration than those observed since the beginning of the 20th century in many regions. There is medium confidence that more megadroughts occurred in monsoon Asia and wetter conditions prevailed in arid Central Asia and the South American monsoon region during the Little Ice Age (1450–1850) compared to the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950–1250). {5.5.4, 5.5.5}

Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. However, for the years since the 1970s, it is virtually certain that the frequency and intensity of storms in the North Atlantic have increased although the reasons for this increase are debated (see TFE.9). There is low confidence of large-scale trends in storminess over the last century and there is still insufficient evidence to determine
whether robust trends exist in small-scale severe weather events such as hail or thunderstorms. {2.6.2–2.6.4}

With high confidence, floods larger than recorded since the 20th century occurred during the past five centuries in northern and central Europe, the western Mediterranean region and eastern Asia. There is medium confidence that in the Near East, India and central North America, modern large floods are comparable or surpass historical floods in magnitude and/or frequency. {5.5.5}
My summary:
1. There is low confidence there is any trend in rainfall change.
2. There is high confidence that droughts were more severe before the 20th century.
3. There is low confidence of any trend in tropical cyclone activity and insufficient evidence for trends in small scale weather events.
4. There is high confidence that floods larger than those of the past century occurred in the last five hundered years.

Much more about the low confidence in the existence of dangerous human caused global warming is found at the end of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and I copy one portio of this below, from page 115.
TS.6.4 Key Uncertainties in Projections of Global and Regional Climate Change
• Based on model results there is limited confidence in the predictability of yearly to decadal averages of temperature both for the global average and for some geographical regions. Multi-model results for precipitation indicate a generally low predictability. Short-term climate projection is also limited by the uncertainty in
projections of natural forcing. {11.1, 11.2, 11.3.1, 11.3.6; Box 11.1}
• There is low confidence in near-term projections of a northward shift of NH storm track and westerlies. {11.3.2}
• There is generally low confidence in basin-scale projections of significant trends in tropical cyclone frequency and intensity in the 21st century. {11.3.2, 14.6.1}
• Projected changes in soil moisture and surface run off are not
robust in many regions. {11.3.2, 12.4.5}
• Several components or phenomena in the climate system could
potentially exhibit abrupt or nonlinear changes, but for many phenomena there is low confidence and little consensus on the likelihood of such events over the 21st century. {12.5.5}
• There is low confidence on magnitude of carbon losses through
CO2 or CH4 emissions to the atmosphere from thawing permafrost. There is low confidence in projected future CH4 emissions from natural sources due to changes in wetlands and gas hydrate release from the sea floor. {6.4.3, 6.4.7}
• There is medium confidence in the projected contributions to sea level rise by models of ice sheet dynamics for the 21st century, and low confidence in their projections beyond 2100. {13.3.3}
• There is low confidence in semi-empirical model projections of
global mean sea level rise, and no consensus in the scientific community about their reliability. {13.5.2, 13.5.3}
• There is low confidence in projections of many aspects of climate phenomena that influence regional climate change, including changes in amplitude and spatial pattern of modes of climate variability. {9.5.3, 14.2–14.7}
Are you seeing the pattern? The science that the alarmists refers to is to be found in the IPCC Technical Summary, a document that clearly contradicts about every wild claim made by the alarmists, even their leaders who should and would know better if only they read the actual Technical Summary. There is such a volume of evidence of flagrant disregard for the scientific method by the alarmists that we can dismiss all their past, present and future claims out of hand and without further consideration.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Are we all socialists in practice?

The following was a comment made in response to a post I wrote about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Commenter 1: We're all socialists in practice--that's a good thing.
Socialism: A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

In other words:
Social Security
Fire Stations
Garbage Collection
Local, state and national agencies that ensure the public welfare
Public Utilities and Infrastructure
Public Schools
Public Hospitals
Public Transportation and Roads
Public Airwaves
Public Housing
Agriculture Support (farm subsidies)
Veterans Administration
National Institutes of Health
Environmental Protection Agency
Law Enforcement
Naturally, I could not let that stand unchallenged.
My reply: You have equated the existence of many things with the necessity that they be done through coercive action of government. Libraries, museums, parks, fire stations, garbage collection, cooperatives, utilities, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, transportation, media, housing, agriculture and law are properly (morally) the product of people working to improve their lives through creating values and voluntarily exchanging them with others. It is only cooperation in a free society that enables each individual to pursue his own happiness and results in a truly peaceful coexistence. All of the things I mention existed before government monopolies and would continue to exist but be better and more abundant in a society where the protection of individual rights was the basis for government.

You mention cooperatives, as if a the government of a free country would act to prevent cooperation of any kind, when in fact cooperation is the only type of economic exchange permitted under capitalism and coercion is banned.

You mention housing, yet the provision of low cost housing is prohibited or at least severely discouraged by the maze of development, zoning, construction, labor and tax rules that make housing less plentiful and more expensive than it would be in a free market, especially for the poorest.

You mention farm subsidies, as if taking money from people who have produced wealth and giving it to those who have not earned it is a proper role of government. This serves to support high cost providers, prevent innovation and competition and make it more expensive for everyone to buy food, damaging the poor the most. Then, when housing and food are made more expensive by government interventions, there is a call for more subsidies to help the poor, causing a further inefficiency, more unintended consequences, higher prices, and so the damage rolls on.

Interestingly, the only proper roles of government are at the very bottom of your list - the roles that an objective government is required to perform to protect the rights of the citizens who have delegated the very specific power of the retaliatory use of force. A government must protect citizens from criminals through the police, protect a country from outside aggression by the military and provide courts to arbitrate disagreements between citizens.

When government instead acts to override the decisions of citizens who are not violating rights, it becomes the worst aggressor - one with the power of force against which, once government has abandoned its role as protector, there is little recourse. For example, consider energy utilities. Private, individual citizens created the industry from nothing. Industrialists brought these ideas to the mass market , brought prices down t affordable levels and built stations, networks, maintenance services, etc. Governments looked at this and saw how important this wealth was, how much value had been created and then seized control of much of the industry. The parts they did not take, they regulated. Now the utilities are in many cases monopolies, facing no competition, bloated by bureaucracy, filled with entrenched unions, lacking innovation and plagued by service complaints. I use the Hydro utility in Ontario as my prime example of this.

Yet, there is not a single aspect of running a hydro utility that can be done more efficiently by a government agency than a free market. Consumers have lost the ability to choose, lost the crucial economic signals provided by a free market, lost the price mechanism that so effectively drives capital investments and service focus, lost the innovations that inevitably come from competition and the quest for efficiencies. Creative and productive individuals who would go into the business if they were allowed to build and own their own businesses are forbidden by the monopoly. The hiring of executives is done more by nepotism and political pull than by merit and ability. In short, a service that is properly run by freely acting citizens that is instead run by government force results in the destruction of human potential and reduces our quality of life. And we never get to see the advances that are blocked, the innovations prevented, the progress made that is stifled. How much better off would Ontario be if we had freedom in energy production instead of a stale and stagnant monopoly? We may never know. I recommend reading 'Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt - about 70 years old but still spot on.

On Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and the founding principles of the USA

Re-posted on a friend's FB page was the following.
I'm breaking my ban on Donald Trump reposts for a reason.

As the primary season proceeds, and the front runners emerge, it's becoming obvious that this is a turning point election for our country.

America has a very mixed history. We were founded on slavery and slaughter, but also on the rights of man and common sense. On usury and exploitation, and on equal opportunity and aspirations of universal brotherhood. On Cavalier privilege and Quaker humility.

This election is shaping up to be a true turning point: will we choose the path of barbarism, of slavery and privilege, of racism and sexism, of oligarchy and neo-royalism, or are we going to choose the path of contrition, rebirth, and equality for all?
It's really coming down to that.

There's a certain irony in the dichotomy of Trump the arrogant aryan vs. Bernie the humble son of holocaust survivors. The robber baron vs. revolutionary.

If you stand on the sidelines and watch, I've a dreadful feeling you may have only a very brief time in which to regret it. This isn't one of those spectator sport elections.

Imagine it's 1932. Imagine you're in Berlin. Imagine there's an election coming up. Imagine you already know what will happen if one side wins more than the other.
That's what's going on here.

You only get to do this once.

My first reply was this.

Dave: Trump is a loud, anti-intellectual appealing to those who do not or will not think deeply. Sanders is an avowed follower of Marx and Kant, the intellectual and spiritual forefathers of Hitler's Germany, a man who should know better but does not understand the lessons of history or the foundations of freedom. Neither one has any place anywhere near the leadership race for the President of the first (still only?) country in history founded on the principle of individual rights (not founded on slavery or slaughter).
Commenter 1: There is no resemblance between Fascism and Democratic Socialism. The former is state-run corporatocracy that marginalizes the individual and celebrates the ruling class, and the latter is a populace-run democracy with a contract between its individuals to provide a strong foundation for individual growth. When the basic needs of civilization are met for all individuals, those individuals can flourish.
Commenter 2: To the responder above, I've listened to supporters and many people feel that, precisely because they take pause at Trump's audacity, they have been " made to think." They rightly hear the middle of the road, carefully constructed murmuring as white noise and big fat lies. I understand this sentiment well before i comprehend people who in their heart, admit that Sanders is not only saying, but can back up his active record, with the humanitarian and egalitarian basics that American democracy is supposed to stand for yet dismiss him as some sort of irrational fluke. Some people are finally using their own EARS, and not accepting the narrative that keeps being said, but not done. Its up to us now to search our "souls" and use out MINDS to sort out what is refreshing and or jolting, and make educated decisions while we have the opportunity to entertain these "new" voices and act on them according to the good of WE the people, not simply ME and my bias/money/fear/advantage/security/party line.
Original poster: OK, now tell me how the USA was NOT founded on slavery and slaughter please.
Commenter 2: Apropos Marx and Kant: fallacious statements sir. Sanders is far from anti-semite, look him up, and Marx was anti-organized religion (and the dictates of their presumed leaders) in general. Nazis were not socialists, as the christian far right is not republican; they both use books, erroneously, to support their positions and bolster support, and overtake systems. Sanders has never claimed to be anything other than a Democrat candidate. There is a socialist party. He'd run as one if that were his bent.
Dave: My words had nothing to do with Jews, but were far broader. What I meant was that the express ideology of the Nazis was National Socialism. Their ideas were more than inspired by the philosophy of Kant, Hegel and others of their ilk. The separation of ideas from their basis in reality, the impotence of the human mind, the destruction of the concept of knowledge, sacrifice of individuals to the collective, the denial of self, the denigration of happiness, the elimination of individual thoughts, actions and goals, the requirement for a government of "enlightened" few who can see the truth and impose their visions on the populace, ideas that were systematized and elaborated by Kant. Marx was simply a completely confused economist who did not understand the industrial revolution and set out to reverse all its progress so society could return to its control and command form, but this time with the undefinable masses as lords of all creation.

The notion that political leaders like Hitler were misusing books (philosophical ideas) is incorrect. Explicitly or not, society operates on such ideas as they are essential for thought and action. The type of ideas that are dominant determine the direction of the society.

The American society is presently on a trajectory towards religious dictatorship. After the more overt form of collectivism, communism and other variants of socialism, failed in the 1990s, an ideological vacuum has formed and has been filled alternatively with religious or nihilistic foundations. Bush was the former, Obama the latter. Obama and his ilk cause the destruction of principles, thus causing the population to progressively clamour for order and a return of principles. The religious right and left are responding as the self-declared owners of principles. What is all too missing in action, having been forgotten and having only a small voice today, are the founding principles of the USA, principles which had it right in political and economic turf, but were not properly recognized and certainly not defended on moral foundations. The hope for the country (and the world) rests on a rediscovery of those principles, this time expressed with a proper moral foundation so they can be seen as not only the most practical and functional for the advancement of human life in all its aspects, but also as right and proper for human life.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Discussion of article - Deniers Are All Over the Map

Following a recent article by David Suzuki, I wrote some comments on the website that attracted some fairly strong opposition and I think the discussion is worth recording here. As the threads get deeper it is harder for me to reproduce is sequence while cutting out the off-topic comments.
My original comment:
I guess Suzuki would call me a denier but I am just a guy with a pretty good reasoning mind who looked harder at the research findings over a decade ago. I started out accepting what guys like Suzuki were saying because it sounded plausible and I had not studied the questions myself. Once I did, I found a significant and growing body of evidence from a range of disciplines that not only cast doubt on the global warming scare, but revealed massive violations of the scientific method among the global warming crowd. In short, the movement had been politically motivated from the 1980's and has become hysterical now. The more their ideas are proven wrong, the more cover ups are revealed, the louder they yell and the more they insist on implementing massive political controls over our activities. For goodness sake the IPCC keeps contorting its models and statements to fit the measurements instead of producing accurate predictions using models and consistently fail to acknowledge their models have failed, despite solid evidence over the last nearly thirty years. Their models have been so far from reality that any rational and attentive person would dismiss them out of hand. Don't take my word for it, just read the work of many of the world's top researchers in climate, statistical modeling, paleo-climatology, astrophysics, geology, atmospheric physics and even good old history. Make up your own mind and don't accept anyone's wild statements of catastrophe as truth - such claims have always been proven baseless in the past.

Critic 1Go Team McGruer!
In summary DMcG = master of logic and nice guy.
Thousands of climate scientists working for decades = incompetents / liars/ political shills engaged in a decades long global fraud involving every scientist from the oldest to they youngest working independently across the world, speaking in different languages and rooted in widely divergent cultures, with no shift in the core advice regardless of shift back and forward in Government from Democrat to Republican and back in the US, from Labour to Conservative in the UK......... always the same message!
Reality = whatever DMcG says it is regardless of reality.
His post is not wholly without merit: when he suggests that you 'don't take his word for it,' you might want to look at information from organizations such as NASA. The following is a really clear summary:
As for DMcG, I suspect that he knows that he is 'just a guy with a pretty good reasoning mind' because he sat down and worked it out himself but didn't check the findings with anyone else.

Critic 2"I am just a guy with a pretty good reasoning mind."
Comment under Tom Harris ICSC video:
Dave McGruer 2 years ago
Good work Tom. I especially like your comments about the moral meaning of opposing fossil fuel use. Since human life depends on our ability to reshape the environment, opposing such actions is clearly anti-life. Modern environmentalism is out to return man to the stone age.
Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Freedom Party candidate David McGruer
"The taxation of property if a direct violation of rights and should be abolished as quickly as possible."

My response to critic 2: I am proud of every word in those statements. It is human nature to shape our environment to improve our lives. We are not lower animals surviving by instinct. Today's environmental movement is anti-human. Many of the movement's leaders have been clearly quoted to that effect, perhaps the worst being that "the best thing that could happen for the Earth is a plague that wiped out most of humanity" (approximate quote). If you are a defender of that statement, you are definitely anti-human. I am pro-human. As to taxation of property, the use of force against innocent citizens is not proper in a free society. If I buy a property then I should own it - this is the very nature of a property right. It is not moral or proper for an organized group to take my money under threat of seizure or imprisonment if I fail to pay their arbitrary demands. In a free society all transactions are voluntary and for mutual benefit and not done under coercion. Do you assert otherwise?

Critic 1: What environmentalists think or do is besides the point.
This is a scientific issue, based on a scientific case that has developed over nearly 200 years with a rapid acceleration of our understanding occurring in the last 30 years. We are now at a point where 100% of national and international level academies of science accept the reality of AGW, frankly in the face of that level of agreement what Greenpeace do or don't think is irrelevant.
You might plead your pro-human position, but if you ignore the scientific advice then you are closing your eyes to a central consideration in the preservation of human well-being in favor of short term profit.

Critic 2Of course property is more important than life itself. Who could disagree with that?
Approximate quote? LOL.

My response to critics 1 and 2: I did not say property is more important than life. Property rights are a corollary and necessary extension of the right to life. If you do not have the right to property then you are working without owning the product of your work - you are a slave.
More quotes from environmentalist luminaries:
Patrick Watson, Greenpeace co-founder: "It doesn't matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true."
John Holdren, advisor to President Obama for Science and Technology, in his 1977 book (paraphrased for brevity): Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not. The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs in drinking water or food. Single mothers and teen mothers should have have their babies taken away from them and given to others. A transnational 'Planetary Regime' should assume control of the global economy using an armed police force.
Prince Philip: "In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation... We need to cull the surplus population."
Ingrid Newkirk of PETA: "Mankind is a cancer; we're the biggest blight on the face of the earth." "Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental."
Maurice Strong, architect of the IPCC ideology: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized nations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?"
Director of the CRU, Phil Jones, on the subject of scientific papers he does not want to see referenced by the IPCC: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth, see quote from him in earlier post above] and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-reviewed literature is."
Stephen Schneider, prominent IPCC member: "Scientists need to get some broader-based support, to capture the public's imagination... that of course. entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have...each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

Critic 3: David, the fact that greenhouse gasses warm planets has been the undefeated scientific understanding for over a century.
Do greenhouse gasses warm planets?
"The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century"

My response to critic 3: I am absolutely not saying there is no greenhouse effect. I am saying that the dominant greenhouse gas is water vapour, which plays a crucial role in the autoregulatory mechanism of the Earth's temperature. When CO2 rises, water decreases slightly and so the net effect is minimal. This idea from the research of an atmospheric physicist.
I am saying that the science shows clearly that global warming has caused CO2 to rise for hundreds of thousands of years, not the converse.
I am saying that the greenhouse effect of CO2 diminishes as its concentration rises.
I am saying that satellite measurements for 30 years proves the alarmists theory of the troposphere warming mechanism is false, that the IPCC models are false (they keep adjusting them to back-fit).
I am saying that humanity can adapt to slight changes in temperature and has done so for a long time, even before the industrial revolution unleashed the unlimited potential of the human mind to improve our lives.
I am saying that if e are left free of the political and intellectual shackles the alarmists wish to use to throw us backwards in progress, then we will solve all the challenges posed by climate change, whether natural or human influenced.
I am saying that over history, natural cycles of climate change dwarf the tiny effect humanity has had on the climate.
I am not denying that the climate changes, I can name many sources of such change and discuss it over decades, centuries, millienia or millions or billions of years. Change is a constant in our climate, it has never been stable and never will, unless it becomes stable to to tremendous advances in technology many years ahead.

Critic 1: This is from New Scientist:
"A simplified summary is that about 50% of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, 25% due to clouds, 20% to CO2, with other gases accounting for the remainder."
The article goes on to say that the problem is longevity. Water vapor has a rapid atmospheric turnover typically days while CO2 can persist for anything from 100 to 800 years in the atmosphere. In basic terms, over time the CO2 levels will continue to increase.
However, as I am not a scientist, I hesitate to make definitive statements so here is the link to source.

Critic 2: Why is it so hard for people simply to understand that however great the greenhouse influence of water vapor is, we have no direct control over it. Because warm air simply holds more water vapor, water vapor will act as a feedback and amplify whatever else we do, but we can't control atmospheric water vapor directly. If we want to control water vapor, all we can do is focus on those factors that we do have control of -- which essentially means approaching the global warming problem the same way we would if water vapor was not an issue at all. Mainly it means focusing on CO2 emission levels from the burning of fossil fuels. (To bring down water vapor.)

My response: But that is precisely the point - we cannot control it. A major error of alarmists is they reverse the impact of clouds, thinking water vapour magnifies CO2 effects, when high clouds actually cause the planet to cool. This alone invalidates the entire IPCC models structure. Measurements show that as CO2 has increases, water vapour has decreased exactly enough to offset the greenhouse effect, thus no significant change takes place unless there is a change in the energy input into the system or a change in the cloud albedo level.
On a tangent here, a reader should be able to tell by now that there are large areas of climate science that are not yet certain and we are learning more all the time. The cloud effect and its causes, the land use change effect, the question of climate equilibrium, the various solar and planetary orbit cycles, the cosmic ray effect, discoveries in paleo-climatology, and the list goes on. For anyone to claim definitively that a single simple variable like CO2, present in minute, trace amounts in the atmosphere is responsible for dangerous, man-made change that we will not be able to correct or adapt to is to ignore all the principles of reason and science.

Supporter: Good points, Dave. Climate activists are convinced the ends justifies the means, no matter how unethical the means actually are.

My responseThank you Tom. As you know, I believe the ethics of this subject are vastly distorted by the alarmists. I believe their underlying philosophy is anti-human. Otherwise, they would celebrate the vast reduction in climate deaths over the last 80 years and the rapid advance in quality and longevity of humans too, all powered by advances in fossil fuel energy.

Critic 2: What makes you think any of us are arguing that that fossil fuel technologies haven't brought any great advances? But that is an entirely different question than the one that is now front and centre, which is whether in the course of enjoying all this good fortune that oil and fossil fuels have bestowed upon us, we have overlooked a by-product of their use, belatedly found to be the destruction of our climate. Unless we take care!

My response: What makes me think it is the fact that many intellectual leaders of the environmentalist movement state clearly that they consider what I call advances to be regressive and wish to see humanity revert to the pre-industrial age. Further, since the advances made actually allow us to better deal with ANY potential problems, regardless of their cause, we are better off continuing to use the most economical source of energy. As we advance, we pollute less, get more efficient and discover new energy sources, so let's keep going on this path, which is the best one mankind has ever seen. More, since the climate is patently not being destroyed, but only slightly modified, measured in fractions of a percent, there is not even a danger on the horizon. See my other comments about the equilibrium mathematical discoveries of Miskolczi elsewhere.

Another thing is that the type of care you espouse, known as the precautionary principle, actually paralyzes man and blocks all advance. It states that if an action might cause some type of negative effect some day then you should not proceed. What is missing from this is the positive side, which is often ignored. For example, energy from fossil fuel has been the foundation of the industrial revolution, which has led in a brief couple of centuries to the greatest improvement in human life in all history - and this is despite the modest negative effects, which are normally larger at the early stage and then men learn how to reduce them as they progress.

For example, a hundred years ago men burned coal to heat their houses, causing terrific indoor and outdoor pollution, yet human life advanced at a great pace. With further advances came cleaner use of coal, then oil, then natural gas, each stage getting more efficient, cleaner, safer and more abundant. When men have sufficient wealth to be concerned about a problem then they will address it, if they are free (not prevented by government power) to do so.
To illustrate this, consider that natural gas is cleaner than coal or oil, yet environmentalists attempt to block every pipeline, every trainload, every new well, every new extraction technology that scientists and businessmen come up with. They attempt to block advance and then lobby for a reversal of existing progress, or else they want to take some type of impossible leap forward, mystically bypassing all the incremental advances needed for real progress, straight into some nirvana of pollution-free energy. Then even when a new energy source is proposed or discovered, they even oppose that! This pattern is a clear illustration of their anti-human ideology.

Critic 2: How do you measure fractions of a percent of a climate? Our industrial age has propelled atmospheric CO2 from 280 to 400 ppm, a 28% increase, the consequences of which you can't ignore if you want to make a balanced assessment of the fossil fuel age.

My response: 400ppm is 400 millionths or 0.000004%. That is what I mean by fractions of a percent. Clear?

My second comment: I find the research of Ferenc Miskolczi regarding the saturated equilibrium equation for atmospheric energy exchange with space to be fascinating. I just re-read one of his 2010 published research articles and a 2009 paper summarizing his work up to that date. Miskolczi was the first to calculate the precise global mean infrared optical depth of the Earth’s atmosphere — the exact radiative-transfer measure of the greenhouse effect. What he found was that the Earth’s atmosphere maintains a constant effective greenhouse-gas content and a constant, maximized, “saturated” greenhouse effect that cannot be increased further by CO2 emissions (or by any other emissions, for that matter). After calculating on the basis of the entire available annual global mean vertical profile of the NOAA/NCAR atmospheric reanalysis database, Miskolczi has found that the average greenhouse effect of the past 61 years (from 1948, the beginning of the archive, to 2008) is:
a) constant, not increasing;
b) equal to the unperturbed theoretical equilibrium value; and
c) equal (within 0.1 C°) to the global average value, drawn from the independent TIGR radiosonde archive.
During the 61-year period, in correspondence with the rise in CO2 concentration, the global
average absolute humidity diminished about 1 per cent. This decrease in absolute humidity
has exactly countered all of the warming effect that our CO2 emissions have had since 1948.
Similar computer simulations show that a hypothetical doubling of the carbon dioxide
concentration in the air would cause a 3% decrease in the absolute humidity, keeping the
total effective atmospheric greenhouse gas content constant, so that the greenhouse effect
would merely continue to fluctuate around its equilibrium value. Therefore, a doubling of
CO2 concentration would cause no net “global warming” at all.
Surface warming is possible only if the available energy increases. This may happen through changes in the activity of the Sun, or through variations of our planet’s orbital parameters, or through long-term fluctuations in the exchange of heat between the ocean and the atmosphere.
There are also some man-made sources. Air-pollution by aerosols (soot, black carbon, dust, smog etc.), and large-scale surface modifications according to urbanization and land-use change may—and probably do—alter the amount of absorbed and reflected shortwave
energy, and can hence lead to change in the long-term energy balance.
I note that Miskolczi's work appears entirely consistent with the work done in the fields of geology, paleo-climatology, astrophysics and cloud formation, that find a close link between cycles of the Sun and cosmic ray penetration of the atmosphere causing cycles of cloud coverage, which of course affect the net energy reaching the Earth. Logical and validated by cross-disciplinary research showing very strong strong correlations over all major time scales.

Critic 2: Ferenc Miskolczi

My response: Okay, so I read the link and it appears that when Miskolczi reported new findings that appeared to contradict the orthodoxy of global warming he was ostracized along with a fellow author. No surprise there. The great discoverers of history have mostly been opposed vehemently by the established interests such as the Catholic Church, or even the Church of David Suzuki.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The immense cost of cutting off price information in health care

A National Post article explained how the simple act of informing surgeons about the price of some of the items they use can result in huge cost savings, and thus free up money for spending in more beneficial areas.  Unfortunately the article stopped well short of revealing the full importance of this realization.

In a free society the price of a thing is the indicator of its value relative to all other things.  All the individuals in society prioritize their values using the price integrating mechanism known as the free market.  In this way, millions of people with individual priorities have their say about what is important and what is not.

When a government acts to throttle (regulation) or totally block (monopoly) the price mechanism, the members of society lose the extremely valuable information provided by the price mechanism and thus loses access to the brain power of millions of human beings, substituting for it the opinion and dictates of a few bureaucrats.  No matter how smart the bureaucrats are, it is impossible for them to even come close to applying the reasoning power of the millions who are cut off from the thinking process by government interference.  

This is why a free society sees the price of the most valued things rise so that competitive attention is directed towards that specific area, resulting in higher production, higher efficiency and thus lower costs in the future.  Interference in the price mechanism is thus truly cutting off the values of citizens and leaving them unable to direct competition towards their preferred areas.  A good example in the medical field is laser eye surgery, an area that has seen little government interference and a mostly free price mechanism.  The quality of service has steadily risen while the cost and accessibility of the service has declined to the point where this life-improving treatment is available for just hundreds of dollars per eye.

To provide the best, lowest cost, most diverse market for health care the government must stop using its powers to coerce and punish the producers and consumers of health care services and return to protecting the rights of all citizens to participate and benefit from a free market.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On being identified as an "enemy of humanity"

Dave: I was referred to a blog called Dialogues On Global Warming, where a friend of mine had been labeled as an "enemy of humanity" because he believes people who use global warming as an excuse for massive social change are mistaken.  In this case, he was pointing out some of the errors of replacing fossil fuels with wind power.  I decided to comment and then attracted a reply.  The dialogue is below.
A brief word on being an enemy of humanity. Energy from fossil fuels has provided the basis for virtually every advance in the quality of human life since the industrial revolution. If it was not for fossil fuels human life would still be full of darkness, disease, arduous physical labor, discomfort, poor nutrition and education, a lack of transportation and communication and a litany of other failings when compared to life today.
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels is brilliantly laid out in the book by Alex Epstein. The overwhelming evidence of the dramatic benefits of fossil fuel energy is clearly laid out for anyone who takes the time to think and learn. If human life is your standard of value as it is mine, then you will understand the (currently) irreplaceable value of fossil fuel energy.
The scientists, entrepreneurs and industrialists who discovered, commercialized and mass produced this life-giving energy should be celebrated as heroes of humanity instead of being vilified. The true enemies of humanity are those who would force the use of expensive and unreliable energy upon us. By themselves in a free country wind and solar would occupy a niche market and it is only through force that they are more than a tiny fraction of total energy production. These forced initiatives reduce the freedom, choice, health and wealth of humanity, especially the poorest who are most in need of cheap industrial scale energy.
I'm well aware of this book and it is a perfect example of how the fossil fuel industry engages in deceit. The thing that has benefited people is energy, not fossil fuel energy. If we replace coal and oil with something else, people still get the benefits of energy. And, by the way, I find it interesting how you failed to mention the cost of that fossil fuel energy. Where is your concern about the mercury, arsenic, particulate matter, SO2 and other poisons? Why don't you mention all of the cancer, asthma, heart disease and many other ailments caused by fossil fuel energy? Did you show any concern for the environmental devastation caused by the fossil fuel industry?
Oh, please note who suffers the most from all of this - the poor. And, also note the fossil fuel industry has steadfastly refused to pay for the damage. Let the poor deal with it. It's there problem. Right?
Funny how all of that got left out of your message.

I did not evade the legitimate concerns of particulates and SO2 etc. The effects of these on human life are already included in the data on human health, wealth and longevity.  In "The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels" Alex Epstein demonstrates through clear, rational widely available data that as fossil fuel energy production rises so to does every important aggregate measure of human quality of life. People are healthier, wealthier and live much longer because humanity has developed energy from fossil fuels that leverages our ingenuity and ability to do work to improve our environment. Would you rather live in a feces-ridden, disease-filled, place with polluted air, water and food like the pre-fossil fuel medieval times where people burned anything they could find to survive, or a comfortable, warm, modern home built with, from and energized by fossil fuels and with access to a safe, inexpensive supply of food and water also provided by the use of fossil fuels? It is the poorest in society who benefit the most from energy production since access to energy creates a more level playing field in the economy, shifting emphasis from the ownership or control of land towards the use of your mind for further wealth creation. When it comes to the value of your mind, unless prevented by the force of other individuals or government, the only limit is the one you place on it.

Every source of energy we have found so far has some aspects which will seem negative when viewed from certain perspectives. The key is whether people decide such an energy source is presently their best choice, given the full context of their lives. When a population is poor (pre-industrial) they have little wealth and so must use whatever energy sources they can find. If they decide their lives are improved by the use of coal, net of the negatives of mining and inefficient combustion, then that is all they can reasonably do. It is immoral to expect such a population to use natural gas or nuclear when they do not yet have the wealth or knowledge to do so. The damage you refer to is not caused by the fossil fuel industry but by the choice of the individuals who comprise the population to use energy from fossil fuels as the source of preference in their lives. In a free country no one is forced to use a particular type of energy. The minor effects of fossil fuel energy production are a rational by-product of the overall improvement in our environment and as wealth grows we can even reduce or eliminate these.

It is critical to realize that it is only as their wealth grows with the production and use of larger scale energy that the choices available to people increase and their preference will shift towards energy production that has fewer negative effects such as air particulates. When they have enough wealth they may be able to and choose to use a totally non-polluting form of coal combustion or some as-yet undeveloped form of fusion energy. To ask a society to shortcut the logical stages of development is a massive evasion of economic and scientific reasoning and fact. 

In Bjorn Lomborg's book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" he showed a graph using United Nations data of air pollution versus per capita production. The data is shaped like a bell curve, meaning that as production rises with industrialization, air pollution rises. When per capita income reaches a certain level then pollution starts to fall again. This is perfectly rational and should be expected of all developing societies and energy technologies. 

Evading the fact that it is actually the dense, portable, efficient fossil fuels that have been central in the greatest boost in human life in all history is to evade an essential positive aspect of fossil fuels. Sure, let's replace coal with something else, but only when we develop such products in a free market with willing participants. To force people to use more expensive, less convenient, and perhaps even more harmful sources of energy (how much fossil-fuel-powered mining for rare minerals and associated refining, smelting and transportation is required to build a wind turbine of solar panel?) is to substitute your judgement for that of free individuals, in fact dictating what they must do and forcing them to pay for your choices while suppressing theirs. The result is the social system known as dictatorship. Some may prefer it but I certainly do not.