Third World of Texas

I sit in the dark, in my house, where we have been isolating since March of 2020 due to the pandemic. I look out over a six inch blanket of snow, in a city that rarely sees a single inch. We are now without water and mobile phone communication. The heat has held where we are. Power has been intermittent, but better than elsewhere. We had food reserves set aside and some firewood. My old generator failed to turn over and appears to be dead. Roads are closed and traffic cannot move. Highways are lined with stalled vehicles. Stores are shuttered. Supply trucks are largely not moving. And in what has become a chronic feature of daily reality, schools have all shut down, yet again.

My son is away at college, a few hundred miles from here in a neighboring city, and they have cut off power and water in the dorms. Food appears to be running out. No one really knows when any of it will come back. We try to troubleshoot his situation over failing mobile phone connections, to help him somehow get food and water without becoming stranded.

My wife’s brother lives in our city, and after 48 hours with no heat, his indoor temperature had fallen to 26 degrees. My own brother, steeled by years of far-north driving, braved the roads in the middle of the night, crossing the city to extract him. He was dropped at a house that still had heat — but they have now lost power and are relying on what firewood remains.

We and our neighbors have been left to vigilantly scan the local news, looking for early warnings of what services may fail next. And when they might be restored. This bleak preoccupation is necessary, so that we can perform the mental calculus of contingency planning, and so we can ration what remains.

This is the city of Austin, in the third world country of Texas, USA, in the year 2021.

I am tired, just being honest. Tired of living in crisis. Tired of living in a first world country that meets every crisis with third world performance. Tired of explaining to my overseas clients why the US appears so incompetent at everything.

Governor Absent

It occurs to me that having Greg Abbott for governor is much like having no governor at all. Governor Absent. He has prepared and planned for this situation much the way he prepared and planned for the pandemic. Mitigation has largely consisted of watching the numbers steadily worsen. And amid such abysmal circumstances, he has been out blaming green energy sources for the debacle — at a time when every fossil fuel source in the state turns out to have made inadequate preparations against the cold. Natural gas supply and the electrical grid have failed miserably. Governor Absent has deployed third world propagandizing to match third world slackerism.

There is only one set of models that continues to correctly predict unprecedented levels of natural disaster: climate change models. Predictions arising from this direction have been, and continue to be, denied by men like Greg Abbott and his predecessors. Not only could this have been foreseen, it was foreseen. But the people who are capable of such calculations are ignored by the governor and his tribe, who wear a blindfold of science denial while wielding a sword of economic fundamentalism. It turns out that a blind swordsman can sever our power lines.

Brought to You by Free Market Economics

What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.

It’s a “Wild West market design based only on short-run prices,” said Matt Breidert, a portfolio manager at a firm called TortoiseEcofin.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/16/ercot-texas-electric-grid-failure/

It is time we acknowledge that the free-market concept in America is an ideology, a religion, a faith. So was the command-economy hypothesis of communism. What they have in common is their simplicity, their fixation with a single standalone idea, their lack of balance and nuance. It would be convenient if the optimal solution could be so one-dimensional. Humans like simplicity, particularly average humans who have no special talent for math and science. They like solutions that can fit on a postcard. But the complexity of the real world doesn’t oblige our wish for simplicity.

The free-market approach has many admirable strengths. It can achieve nearly any objective, provided there is a matching incentive for that objective. In system thinking, this is called the “cost function”, the feedback mechanism that drives performance optimization. Market incentives tend to revolve around making profits on the most frequent or most likely demands. Crises are not the most frequent demands, and so the free market often underserves them.

There is little financial incentive, year over year, for pandemic preparation — pandemics are infrequent.

There is little financial incentive, year over year, to prepare the Texas power grid for unprecedented winter weather — the unprecedented is, by definition, infrequent.

The free market fails at preparation because there is no profit incentive to prepare, and therefore there is no foothold for the free market to gain purchase. Preparation for the unlikely means increased overhead. Preparation costs are viewed by free market forces as inefficiency, and free markets kill inefficiency. Thus, free markets strangle any preparations for the unusual.

Civilization

We have moved past the easy problems of civilization. Our systems are large and complex. That is not a failure, but an inescapable feature of any civilization with vast numbers of people. Each person in an economy is a “degree of freedom”, in system parlance. Many degrees of freedom yield high complexity. This is neither a bug nor a feature — it is simply a trait, and an inescapable one. Complex systems require nuanced controls. The simplicity of free market doctrine cannot shoulder the weight of such systems. We need many features of the free market, but we also need regulatory and governmental guiderails. People often try to frame things in either-or terms, but most either-or posits are false. Government must do what free markets can never accomplish — create market forces that do not have profit incentives. Where such forces exist, markets can gain traction and figure out how to meet them.

The Cowboy Way

In the next few days, this polar vortex will run its course and we will thaw out. They will eventually restore power and gas and communication lines. They will begin to remove the bodies of the dead from the homes where they died of cold. But we aren’t at that place yet. We haven’t restored service. And we haven’t pulled the bodies from their homes. Yet former governor Rick Perry claims to speak for the people, invoking the cowboy way:

“Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” Perry is quoted as saying.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Perry-says-Texans-wiling-to-suffer-blackouts-to-15956705.php

Apparently, we’re happy to take some more. Because we despise the federal government. But I’m not so sure. I think what Rick Perry is really saying is that he would allow others to suffer some more, because he despises the federal government that much. The decision paradigm of Texas governors in a nutshell.

Hip shooting won’t slay our foes any longer. We cannot cowboy our way out of the issues our country faces any longer. Ego doesn’t keep anyone warm in their houses — as if that should need to be said. Hate doesn’t keep people warm either.

Climate change, pandemics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering — these are the frontiers of the future. Other countries will eat our lunch if we don’t get our act together. It is time for governance that plans, that thinks, and that self-identifies with the values of science, expertise, and long-termism. It is time to ditch the cowboy way, to stop hip shooting, and to cease interpreting all that happens in white-hat/black-hat tribalism.

Comments

  1. Hang in there, buddy!

    Watching this from afar, and am amazed at just how terrible Republicans are at governing, but how exceptional they are at blaming everyone else for their own disasters.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Such an excellent post Matt. You’ve provided a crystal clear explanation for a sadly misunderstood reality. I hope your power is soon restored and that more and more people will begin to see that far too many of the politicians that decry big government care very little about what we as a society are up against.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Carol.

      It’s funny, but I’m a very thin person. I really despise the cold, and have no real defenses against it. One reason I live in Texas.

      That was a strategy that hasn’t exactly panned out. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Don’t get me started. I’m in Michigan waiting for the day when I can begin the life of a snowbird. Starting in October, I break out the long underwear and I still remain cold until about May. I find solace in a study that someone told me about years ago: Those that live the longest are underweight, sleep-deprived, and/or chilly for much of their life. Probably completely bogus information but I’m going with it. (Don’t let that tidbit, however, fall into the hands of any of your governors, past or present).

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry to hear this. We’re feeling it here in Louisiana too, but it sounds like Texas is really getting slammed, and years of regulatory neglect isn’t helping. Hope you guys get some relief soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I got up this morning (Southwestern Ontario, Canada) the indoor temp in the house was 16.5 C and the outdoor temp was – 16.5 C, with a windchill around -23 C. As I thought about the chill in the house I thought of Texas and what you are all going through. I wondered if any of the bloggers I followed were from Texas and then I saw your blog pop up in my feed. I just can’t imagine what you are going through and I’m so sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s about 62F indoors, cool but decent for first waking. My folks lived in Montana for a number of years, beautiful but too cold for me.

      You guys have a wood stove up there?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, totally fine indoor temp but being a skinny myself, I find it cold. I get up and heat my Magic Bag in the microwave, then cozy up on the couch with two knitted blankets, and put my knitted head band on my head. And that is for 62F. Yikes. That’s what made me think of what Texans are going through. I wouldn’t do very well.

        The first home we lived in when first married we put in a wood burning stove. They were all the rage back then. We used it all the time.

        We have a wood burning fireplace in our second house, that we don’t use now but it is useable. Years ago we put in an electric insert because I wanted the option of having the wood-burning fireplace in case of disaster. When the kids were young we did have major icestorms that knocked out power. so we hunkered down with a fire (use to have our own woodpile), sleeping bags, down coats, all in one place to sleep. And we cooked in the fire place as well. As well, if need be, collecting snow to melt and boil for water would be an option. Biker Dude was one of those people out in the storms restoring power, so I was the one holding down the fort here while he was away.

        Most people around here now have gas fireplaces and aren’t so much into wood burning, though I wonder if perhaps they will become popular again as a result of the pandemic crisis.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I spent about three years in Seattle as a kid, and my dad got real into wood fires when we were there. I’ve enjoyed them ever since. Down in Texas a lot of houses have no fireplace at all, but I’ve never considered buying one. Have to have one when it gets cold out. Most years it is hard to find a winter day to have one. It is 70F on many Christmases. I try to find at least a few days every winter for fires.

          And now here we are. Getting more than we wanted. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  5. How’s it going Matt? (If you care to share. No pressure.) Thinking about you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, we’re doing fine. We have power and heat, and mobile phones have started to work a bit better. No water though. We have set up our own little water treatment facility in the house, to convert snow into something liquid and sanitary. The city hasn’t been exactly optimistic about when we might get water back again. Austin: the Flint Michigan of the south…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Most Texans aren’t snowflakes. The media once again lies. Welcome to the world of green energy. It sucks and is not green and democrats embrace this. Fools. But hey, John Kerry says we won’t be here in 9 years so just go out and party.

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    • Not sure what most of that means. What media lies are you referring to? What has John Kerry to do with this situation? What has green energy to do with it? What do snowflakes have to do with it?

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      • Green energy? You are kidding, right? The wind power failed completely. Which fed the grid. The media has been trying to paint this as Trump’s fault. It has nothing to do with Trump. Same with Biden. And come on man, folks jumping on Ted Cruz? Really? The Senate has nothing to do with it yet he made store his family was warm and safe and came right back. And where is Biden? And by most Texans, the majority helped each other out, including many businesses and churches. They responded admirably. And Kerry is the Green Energy czar pushing to eliminate fossil fuels. This administration is a total failure as was their response. Texas tried the Green plan and it failed miserably. It’s far from third world and is up and running. The snowflakes are those who call Texas a third world. The whole country is with this communist regime and the fake election.

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        • Brian, if you’re calling me a snowflake, then perhaps we should compare pedigrees. Other than a three-year stint in Seattle, I was raised in rural east Texas, on country acreage, with a barn, livestock, and tractor. I was a pickup truck driving, gun-toting, critter-hunting, six-day creationist, evangelical fundamentalist, end-of-world preppering Texan. I can still field strip firearms blindfolded, and tear down automobiles by my lonesome. I was raised to be all of those things, but I’ve since repented and tried to lead a better life. I am also a martial arts instructor, a marathon runner, a father of four, and a research engineer with specialized knowledge of, among other things, the blast physics of high explosives. You have made some unfortunate assumptions in what you wrote here. Whatever I may be, I’ll challenge the snowflake assertion.

          Anyway, as pedigrees go, its your turn.

          Beyond that, I’m all for debate and discussion, but my blog is not a place for name calling or smearing of others: either the author (me) or other visitors/commenters. I have a one warning policy, and you’ve just received one warning. Either you can engage in a serious discussion of content, or you can find a new haunt. I don’t block folks that disagree with me. I don’t block folks for making points badly. But I do block toxicity… This blog isn’t Twitter.

          Assertions that disagree with mine are just fine — but they must be supported by evidence. You have recited a litany of right-wing talking points, but you have not supported any of them on evidence. Please do so… As an engineer, I think I’d like to see some evidential support that green energy is to blame. I am familiar with this assertion, but I’m also adept enough at physics to know what would constitute supporting evidence. I’m not, as you suggest, kidding. I can promise, I take the science more seriously than you do. If you have serious questions along those lines, I can and would be willing to explain. Meanwhile, you have incurred a sizeable “evidence debt” with the house, as your claims on a range of subjects above have well outrun what you can substantiate.

          Finally, a number of items in your litany are not connected to what was written in this piece. I mentioned two governors, but no senators. I mentioned no presidents at all, nor John Kerry. If you are responding to my post — then respond to my post. Respond with legitimate content, with supporting links, with evidence, with data. I’m willing to engage on the material, not on the narrative.

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          • My pedigree is born and raised in Wisconsin. Raised right to work hard, take care of your family, and thank God for his blessings. Faith, family and country. In that order. I hold a BS in Wildlife Management and a Masters in Music Education. Odd, I know, but it is what it is. Been with my wife since we were 10 yrs old, both in our mid 50’s. Raised 5 children.

            Most of my life I was in education, from teaching, to administration and finally school board member of Wisconsin’s third largest district. I founded the #1 middle/high school that still is a private charter. I’m retired now.

            I am a conservative. I’m not affiliated with either party. I despise both as it is no longer a representative government. Politics are driven by power and greed. I don’t oppose renewable energy, but I’m not a climate alarmist, and would suggest that science would be closer to my stance, then to those who believe that reducing carbon will make a difference.

            The situation in Texas concerning the energy crisis is not exclusive to just two governor’s, but yes, Bush and Perry pushed for it. Wind accounts for 19% of the energy and 32% is natural gas. 3% is nuclear and 56% is coal. And your assumptions of me are also false. I don’t think you take science more seriously. I look at the whole picture, not just convenient science. And what is needed is a holistic approach, which the Climate Accord doesn’t do.Nor are their goals possible. I will go into detail in a minute.

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            • I appreciate your response; thanks for providing me with a better picture. We have some things in common. I met my wife when we were 16 and 14, and we’ve been married since the middle of college. I’ve got one away at college now, and another starting in the fall. Then a gap, then two more. I too was raised to work bloody hard, as most folks who grow up in rural areas are. I still think it contributes to my work ethic today, now in my early 40’s.

              My family has a number of educators in it, though I’ve never taught aside from martial arts. My grandfather was a band director for 35 years; my uncle taught music at Rice; my sister taught elementary in Idaho; and my much younger sister is working on her PhD in physics in Indiana. I respect the educator path; it sound as though you accomplished a great deal during your time in the profession. Though being honest, my view of the education field is a bit mixed. I was pulled out of public school at around 5th grade and homeschooled for the duration. That embeds a counter-cultural streak, and most of my homeschool friends were ultimately poorly served by it. I did college at a private evangelical university, then grad school at UT San Antonio. Engineering the whole way; worked at a TA for math and physics departments.

              I used to be conservative. Grew up with a dad who was into Rush, then other AM, then short wave. Ever moving further and further to the fringes.

              My journey out of religion has already been written about under “Stories” above. Mid 30’s, found me a bit late.

              ~

              As to taking science seriously, the conversation is young. We shall see. I’m willing to be proven wrong about that. But I have published thousands of pages of science research, most of it out of the public domain. Some not. I’ve worked for the National Academy and some others who allow disclosure.

              In general, even people with some education in the sciences do not understand what it means to be a professional. Science can be taken as a noun: field of knowledge, collection of facts, etc. It can also be taken as a verb: a systematic procedure, of which the collected knowledge is the side effect, the offing. Consumers of science see it as the former. Practitioners see it as the latter, and this is the sense that ultimately matters.

              The methodological posture is also the sense in which people fail to deploy science as science. The unserious wield science as a lawyer might — to build their case, to support their view, to entrench their beliefs. The serious — the really serious — suspend their beliefs and adopt ignorance as a disposition. Unserious people fail to scale their assertions to the evidence; they are too busy case-building. They make positive claims to knowledge that overreach the data. The critical assumption of science is that our explanations are wrong. Nearly always. For every effect, there are manifold possible explanations. Most of those explanations are wrong. The null hypothesis must remain on the table, and most people do not take this dimension of science seriously. We take our favored explanations, and we conjure falsifiable statements that render them susceptible to extinction. We kill our darlings, daily. If it cannot be unambiguously supported on the evidence, then the position must be held tentatively.

              The god hypothesis and the engine of faith cannot survive this requirement; they have the opposing bias to inadequate evidential support. They oppose scaling fervency of position to strength of evidence.

              ~

              I find very few people anywhere that have really put their money where their mouths are regarding taking science seriously. As a serious epistemic pursuit dealing with the boundaries of knowledge claims. Seriously enough to lose their families, their social circles, their reputations, their egos. As I said, we will see.

              For myself, I commit to changing my position if I am wrong on the evidence. If the evidence is compelling and clear, I’ll do it on a same-day basis. If the subject requires more looking into, and it has bearing on anything of importance, I’ll dig.

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              • I agree with you and believe in the here and now, science is being politicized or as you said, science is found to support the desired outcome. And that is what I think of the Paris Accord. Of course, my opinion, but I do base it on the government at the time wanted the outcome to be carbon related. My early years, I grew up in Milwaukee. Heavy industry and the air quality reflected it. But since a very concerted effort over a number of years, I drive down there today and there today and the air is as clear in the city as it is by me. For reference, im 3 and a half hours due north of Milwaukee. The nearest neighbor is a half mile away. The nearest town is 10 miles away and the population is just under a thousand.

                I don’t process to be an expert, but I read from multiple science publications. I never get it from the news. They leave out too much.

                What we do know is the obvious. The climate has had many severe changes. We know that we had the ice age. We know of a prolonged period of warming in the 700’s. We know that climate has effects on weather. That those are dictated by global positioning, jet streams and land proximity to water. Too many people associate the climate conversation to weather related events but that is not the case. I variety of factors effect the weather, just as many factors with climate change. And that is where I come down. There are many factors that contribute, and focusing all our efforts on one factor may net zero results. To explain further, we have discovered that solar activity has an effect. We also know now that the axis of the earth changes and have yet to establish a pattern. But we know that at some point, the axis is completely flipped from where we it is today. We know that much more of the earth was forest land, as recently as 2 centuries ago. We know that the oceans rise and fall. We know at certain times the Pacific warms enough to change weather dramatically in the matter of a few years. We know that industry has had an effect on ozone as well as methods of transportation. Science is always built on assumptions and no one explanation discredits other assumptions. Here is the big unknown quantity, we don’t know exactly what those effects have on our climate. We don’t know which factor most adversely effects the climate, or if we have the knowledge to change those effects. We can only try to model based on past experiences and those are limited to 60 years of global data. Far too short to come to any conclusion.

                But other factors also come into play that scientists pretty much ignore. Economic impact is one of those. And it truly has a great deal to do with any solutions.

                A non-scientific person could conclude that if we merely went back to the stone age, that would be the most practical solution. But as we know, that isn’t going to happen. And in the stone age, they had their own climate problems. One can also see that mining lithium is far more hazardous than drilling for oil. In the 70’s, we thought that oil would run out. It was stated as scientific fact, yet here we are today with far more knowledge that oil is renewed and extracted in many ways unthought of just 4 decades ago. I honestly believe that no matter what we do, we have far too small of impact and greater impact is done by sources outside our wheelhouse. Which brings me back to political reasoning. The why I don’t quite get. I have theories but not enough data to prove.

                I have to admit, being a conservative in education is very difficult. And let me describe what I mean by conservative. I believe the Constitution is the foundation of our government. I believe that, after studying many of the founders writings, that the Constitution is rooted in Judeo-Christian morals. I believe that we have completely ignored the true roles of the three branches, and we are no longer in a representative government. One such issue is abortion. Under the Constitution, that would fall under states rights, not federal. Now if it went through the amendment process, it could be a federal issue. But neither side of the aisle thinks that they could pass a ban or restrictions or grant abortion rights through the process, so it was left to the Supreme Court, which without actual law passed by Congress and the President, should have no jurisdiction. And neither side can pass it through an amendment. This is a total breakdown of the Constitutional process. That is what I mean by standing by the Constitution.

                I believe that the federal government has gone far beyond what the founders intent was. That is what I mean by limiting the scope of government.

                I believe that without the second amendment, we have no first amendment.

                I do think we have to take care of our country’s needs first. That is why I didn’t support Bush 41 or 43. I believe to commit our troops to war, it must only be to protect our interests and those must be clearly defined.

                So I don’t think that puts me on the fringe. I believe that should put me solidly in the middle. I don’t hate those that disagree with me, however being called a racist, homophobe, white supremist, xenophope and Nazi has put me in a place of defense that brings out my worst side. I apologize somewhat for that, but I am only human. And I know that I am none of those things.

                Liked by 1 person

          • The Paris Climate Accord and many of the scientists involved have been inherently wrong with so many predictions, it’s almost comical that anyone takes them seriously. Many of the models are so flawed, that even the scientists agree in its fallibility. In the 70’s it was that we were on the dawn of the next ice age. In the 80’s. For the last 2 decades it’s been conflicted between global warming and global cooling. So called experts have predicted many end of the world scenarios that have never materialized. Politicians continue to exploit dates where the end is near. Again, how can you take them seriously.

            The climate changes. That is the only fact we can all agree on. And we assume we have factual data in models that have only collected 120 years of data, and only 60 years globally. Those are facts. Not disputed. It is but a small fraction to come to definitive conclusions.

            One thing completely lacking is the effects of deforestation, which I would argue is probably the largest difference maker since the age of industrialization. It’s not just in South America. The U.S. has lost 35% of its forests since 1850. Europe is not far behind and as Africa develops, we lose even more. Whether by man harvesting, insects or disease, their is evidence to suggest that this is the number one factor, and more and more in the science world agree. I see the loss in my my back yard as acre after acre is cut down. I live in the largest federal forest areas in the country.

            Very common science states that forests are our natural filter of carbon dioxide. The less filter, the more carbon entering the atmosphere.

            Getting back to the Paris Accord, even if everything they say were true, if deforestation continues, and countries like China, India, Russia, Ukraine and several others continue to emit carbon gases, there is little the rest of us can do to alter any outcome. Even if the United States cut carbon emissions 100%, it changes nothing as we have already cut more than the rest of the industrialized countries combined.

            So how does this effect Texas and their situation. Their is not enough renewable energies to compensate for surges in useage like we saw this past week. Yes, only 19% of wind energy makes up the grid, but where it is located and the total loss has a devastating effect. The other was natural gas pipelines froze. There is a reason in the North we think wind power is a joke and why many that have switched are changing back. It’s just not that reliable and the cost is excessive to maintain. In my area, we use hydro plants in the warmer months and coal in the cold months. Why? Because it is more efficient and reliable. And with the length of cold temperatures, it is less costly.

            So what do I mean by a holistic approach? Use all forms of energy sources when and where they are most efficient and reliable. Do not cut one source and expect that we can just always use renewable energy. And you will think this is ridiculous, but plant trees. Replace what is taken and have a plan on how such a rotation can be done with the maximum effectiveness. If an electric car works for you great, but don’t expect it works for everyone. If solar panels work for you, great. But it doesn’t work for everyone

            I bring up Kerry only because the policies he is pushing, on behalf of Biden, will result in more Texas scenarios. We will become a true third world country. And just for giggles, he has said the world would end in 9 years just the other day. Same old same old.

            Liked by 1 person

            • So, there are a lot of topics listed here. My goal is to circle back to exactly what the disagreement between us is — specific to the content of my original post.

              However, I also want to provide a couple of sources to challenge some of the viewpoints you have here. There is a very helpful YouTube channel on climate subjects that I like for two key reasons. First, the gent who runs it is a former BBC journalist and something of an outsider. He has put together — almost from the dawn of YouTube — a very large corpus of work related to subjects like climate change and creationism. More to the point, he goes directly to the actual published scientific research and debunks many popular media and conspiracy viewpoints. If you believe the media gets things wrong constantly, you may very well like his style. His channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/potholer54.

              One I could point you to immediately would be with regard to the myth that in the 1970’s, the community of climate scientists expected a looming ice age. See this specific video for a 10 minute review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmECHrOcFlc&list=PL82yk73N8eoX-Xobr_TfHsWPfAIyI7VAP&index=11&t=78s

              On the same topic, one can find actual published studies about what the viewpoints here: meta-analysis or literature review. See the following:
              https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/bams/89/9/2008bams2370_1.xml?tab_body=pdf

              You’ve hit on a lot of topics here. I suggest this two-step could be a useful process to apply to each line item topic. Potholer54 is a decent place to start. Literature review is even better. And helpfully, Potholer54 does what a good science journalist should do — he provides ample links to original actual research papers on the subject, so you don’t have to take his word for anything.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Brian,

              I’d like to focus back on the specifics of what you disagree with in my post. I see a lot of points of agreement and disagreement in what you’ve written in the last couple of comments. I realize you have a lot of viewpoints on other areas of climate, politics, etc. But it would help me if you could give me a razored-in point of criticism on where you think my original post was in error. My goal would be to distill down the disagreement into something specific and narrow — something falsifiable — and then to look at available evidence that could help clarify.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. I really don’t need to watch YouTube to learn about the 70’s. I lived the seventies and there was much talk about a looming ice age after the Blizzard of ’78 and again in ’82. By that time, we had average temperatures below normal for all seasons for four years. After the first blizzard, the entire nation fell into record breaking low temperatures and where I lived, we go -85° wind chill. We were actually taught about it in middle and high school. We have never experienced anything like it before or since.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And a heads up, the links don’t work but no problem, I will copy and paste.

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    • Oh really? That’s not good. They show up as hyperlinks on this end. I’ll figure out what’s wrong. Thanks!

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      • But to respond directly, with no editorial, I fundamentally disagree with your statement that climate change models are the only prediction that got it right. I also disagree with your statement that this is a result of capitalism/free market. Not sure how many places in the world you have been, but the 5 day glitch in Texas doesn’t compare to places like Russia, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China and a host of countries south of the equator. For many, it’s a way of life. Forgotten by the communist and socialist policies. Further, I don’t see any science predictions that got this event right based on greenhouse gases. I do acknowledge climate change by I don’t support the catastrophic effects of following the Paris Climate Accord. I believe their are obvious and less burdensome solutions that can include fossil and green energy without the exclusion of on or the other. If you are a true believer in greenhouse gases being the sole cause, then look at proposed solutions that actually increase greenhouse gases. If I get a chance later, I will go into further detail but today is a busy day for me.

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        • So, as with the black swan parable, it is possible there are models out there that are not climate change models, yet which provide predictive capacity for events like this. You’re saying there are such models.

          Can you refer me to them?

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          • No, I’m saying there are no long range models that predicted this singular event. And please remember the context. They say that the earth is warming, except data for the past decade don’t come to that conclusion.

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            • What I’m asking is, within the context you are critiquing my assertion, what models are you thinking of? I don’t know what we are talking about, as far as an alternative that would constitute a black swan and overturn my assertion.

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              • There is no model yet you asserted that climate models predicted this. I’m saying no model predicted this singular event.

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                • OK, so it would be good to talk about statistical models in general then. I build them for a living, among other aspects of my job.

                  A simple version would be a coin flip model. Obviously, 50-50 odds. That model cannot predict the outcome of any given coin toss. What it can predict quite well is the number of heads you would get in 100 tosses.

                  It can also tell you whether your coin is fair — if the coin does not return 50-50 odds after a number of tosses, you can demonstrate that a “trend” exists that points to a biased system.

                  Weather models are the same. You can predict the rain — but not rain drops.

                  Climate models likewise. You can predict the trends of storm size, storm severity, storm frequency, average temperature, etc. These are graded on year over year outcomes.

                  Deterministic eyeglasses have to be set aside to have a serious discussion of these models… If we are going to talk about climate models, it has to be in the cash currency of the field.

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                  • Okay, to be clear, climate change is not climate change at all. It is atmospheric change and the effect on our atmosphere from human use.

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                    • Climate models include oceanic temperature, solar irradiation, etc. The include human and non-human factors.

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                    • So here are a couple of questions for you in response.

                      1. Has an analysis been done with climate change at the height of unregulated carbon emissions?

                      2. What effect has new technologies to reduce carbon emissions had on the climate?

                      I ask that because we have done a lot to reduce emissions since 1970. We should have data that suggests we have had some cooling. But that is not what the ICPP has concluded. I highly doubt we emit a higher concentration of carbon gases now than we did during the unregulated era of the height of the industrial age.

                      My assertion in the beginning is that we cannot regulate ourselves to what the ICPP concludes is an acceptable temperature. So surely to counter that, the data must support that the temperature was higher than today. Otherwise, statistics or not, you can’t tell me that man is the largest factor and can compensate behavior to bring the temperature down.

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                    • So, there is indeed a very large body of work on historical carbon levels. This is actually a really fascinating area of study. Ice, as it turns out is the keeper of the keys. Toward the bottom of this link, you will see ice core data. Truly fascinating, and very heavily studied.

                      https://earth.org/data_visualization/a-brief-history-of-co2/

                      The US has done a lot in various areas. I think there are a couple of distinctions that tend to confuse discussion. First, a lot was done to lower *pollution* and general dirtiness of combustion processes, but much of this did little to reduce *carbon emission*.

                      Second, there is a key contrast between efficiency on the one hand and volume on the other. Our automobiles are more efficient, but there are more of them.

                      Third, carbon is a global issue. Even if the US had brought emissions to zero, the global carbon picture would likely still show an increase — and thus the “anthropogenic” human-caused nature of the problem would remain.

                      An amazing fact about atmospheric “carbon” is that not all carbon is created equal. They have different isotope signatures depending on the source. Carbon from living processes differs from the carbon produced by combustion of fossil fuels. It is as if carbon has fingerprints — and it points to culprits. They know that humans are causing the atmospheric carbon not merely because of the amount, but also because of these signatures/fingerprints. See here:

                      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

                      Finally, I really recommend Potholer54 as an easy intro to all of this, yet with troves of links to source documentation. He gives a good primer on all of this, and you can get a huge amount of info in a short time.

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                    • Here is a good read for you. The effects of Deforestation on Global Warming. This is almost totally overlooked effect yet accounts for 15% of carbon release. 15% is more than all cars and trucks in the world, and probably the easiest to fix. ANF the last administration did more more for this than any previous administration. I’ve always said that you need to follow the money. Politics is driven by money. Take a look where investments of Congressmen and Senators, and you realize why the political divide on this issue. It also explains why some solutions are completely ignored. Of course this effects more than just climate and contributes to the biography of animal and plant species, erosion, weather and the shape and size of the 5 sub regions of earth. And it is a global problem, not just the rain forests. And the solution is simple. Plant the right type of vegetation in the right places and keep rotating. That initiative was started globally in 2017 at the direction of the Trump administration.
                      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deforestation-and-global-warming/

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                    • Brian,

                      I agree with the goals of limiting deforestation. Scientific American is a great resource. However, the article in this link is a bit on the older side – 2012 era. I pulled more recent stats from 2017 just to get something more current. Estimate a/o that period was 10-15% of total carbon due to deforestation.

                      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-forests-climatechange/tropical-forests-worse-carbon-emitters-than-u-s-trucks-and-cars-study-idUSKCN1C32RP

                      Two further contextual stats… As of 2020, the US is responsible for 15% of global carbon emissions, but we are only 4-5% of the global population. China has 28% of emissions, but they are 18.5% of the global population. Per capita, the US remains a major offender.

                      https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions

                      As for the Trillion Tree Initiative, this is something the US joined, but as far as I can tell, we did not initiate it:

                      “The 2020 World Economic Forum, held in Davos, announced the creation of the One Trillion Tree initiative platform for governments, businesses, and civil society to provide support to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2020–2030), led by UNEP and FAO. Forum participant Donald Trump, then-president of the United States, announced that the government of the U.S. would commit to the initiative.”

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillion_Tree_Campaign#:~:text=The%20Trillion%20Tree%20Campaign%20is,%2Dfor%2Dthe%2DPlanet.

                      Overall though, I want to be circumspect — all of this is fairly far afield of the situation in Texas, our lack of winterization, and the attempt by some to refocus blame on green energy as a key culprit.

                      And per some of the info I previously sent, we can measure the origins of atmospheric carbon. Fossil fuels remain the primary source globally and in the US. Fixing deforestation should absolutely be done, but it won’t fix the overall picture by itself. If the US is to be effective, we should (1) try to help reduce global sources of carbon outside our borders, but more importantly, (2) tackle our own country’s carbon footprint, which per-capita appears to be quite high.

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                    • The problem is, removal of fossil fuel is more deadly to critical ecosystems than carbon gas releases. And we still are decades from a practical solution that will not completely destroy world economies. But the fundamental difference that you and I have is the belief that anything we do actually will make a difference. That goes to your belief in science or God. The earth has been able to adapt to anything that has been thrown at it. I believe that adaptation is by design, not a theory that relies only on the information and equations it designed. So I will leave you with that. It’s not some random action to we are here and for as much as those who don’t believe that there is no way to prove it, science has spent years trying to prove the nonexistence of God. If God doesn’t exist, there is no need to try to prove He doesn’t, right?

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                    • Let me tackle these one at a time:

                      1. “The problem is, removal of fossil fuel is more deadly to critical ecosystems than carbon gas releases. And we still are decades from a practical solution that will not completely destroy world economies.”

                      The time frame to develop solutions depends heavily on the incentives and the collective will involved. On paper, the space program to the moon should have taken much longer than it actually did. The recent sprint to build vaccines is another example. Estimates of time required depend on assumptions, and the assumption you’re making is that we keep going at the existing pace.

                      2. “But the fundamental difference that you and I have is the belief that anything we do actually will make a difference. That goes to your belief in science or God.”

                      No, we need not appeal to ‘belief’. We can stick with measured effects here. We have measured the effects of human action on the climate. We can see what the state was before those actions. We can infer that (1) we definitely are having an effect, and (2) that we could change the deleterious effect by stopping what we’ve been doing.

                      The assertion that nothing we have done or could do will make a difference is not supportable on the data. God or not, the measured effects of our actions remain, just as they do when we cause car accidents or dump paint thinner down the drain.

                      I fear we have arrived at the place I previously predicted — that you don’t take the science seriously enough.

                      3. “The earth has been able to adapt to anything that has been thrown at it.”

                      Yes, the earth — and perhaps more on point — the biosphere have adapted. But you should take more interest in the mode of adaptation. There have been multiple ‘great extinction’ periods in the past as the fundamental mechanism of adaptation. Adaptation to changing climate has, historically, meant massive extinctions of extant species. The biosphere adapts by scrubbing what it has and replacing it with wholly different creatures.

                      The biosphere will adapt. That doesn’t mean mammals will be along for the ride.

                      4. “I believe that adaptation is by design, not a theory that relies only on the information and equations it designed… It’s not some random action to we are here and for as much as those who don’t believe that there is no way to prove it…”

                      OK. Recognize that this is a belief statement, not an assertion of evidence or measurable claims. Not sure that helps us along too much. It also does not change anything above.

                      5. “…science has spent years trying to prove the nonexistence of God. If God doesn’t exist, there is no need to try to prove He doesn’t, right?”

                      Again, I return to the basic tenet of backing up claims. There really isn’t a science journal out there dedicated to the field of disproving god. Nor does science in principle disprove the existence of anything. Science has the opposite bias. The positive claimant bears the burden of proof. If you claim the existence of a deity, the proof must come from you.

                      Just to make sure this isn’t missed, and to underscore how baked in the burdens of proof are, consider this scenario…

                      You have lost your car keys. You think about where they could be. You conjure several possible explanations.

                      A. They fell into the couch cushions.
                      B. They are in your jacket pocket hanging in the closet.
                      C. They fell out in the parking lot and they are on the ground by your car.
                      D. Your neighbor took them from your counter top when he visited last.
                      E. Aliens stole them.

                      Several of these explanations are plausible. But — and this is critical — most or all of these explanations are false. It will only be one of these, or possible none of them. After all, you may have left them on the bathroom counter. We could invent 99 other possible explanations. Most of what we invent as *possible* is not true. Only one explanation is true.

                      This is why the burden of proof is the way it is. Reasonable and plausible explanations are usually false. This is axiomatic. The gulf between “reasonable” and “correct” is very wide. Hence the null hypothesis, the assumption that your notions are probably wrong.

                      If you are advancing a god — and a specific god — to either explain or excuse us from our climate predicament, you have a lot of work ahead of you. There is no evidence that we have a great “thermostat in the sky” who will save us from the consequences of our actions. Wholesale species extinction has occurred with past climate changes, per the best evidence we have marshalled. There is no evidence of a guiding hand. A guiding hand hypothesis is just another “possible” explanation, and most possible explanations that humans come up with are false. The burden of proof stands.

                      Science assumes the god explanation is wrong for the same reason it assumes all explanations are wrong — until proven otherwise. Religious folks take it personally. It isn’t personal, its policy. Until it can be demonstrated by experiment and evidence, it goes on the heap with all the other “reasonable” ideas of humanity. Until proven otherwise, god remains a mere hypothesis, advanced by humans to explain things.

                      ~

                      On climate, humans divide at this key juncture… Either we work unflinchingly from evidence, or we fall back on other narratives — religious, political, emotional, etc. Grown-ups have to work from our best evidence and reason together toward solutions. Everyone else will have to take up coloring books at the kids table.

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            • Perhaps another way to state this is that all climate change models are statistical in nature. None predict specific events years down the road. Rather, they predict increasing frequency and severity of events as trends. This matters for the present discussion, specifically because that is how actuaries, insurance companies, planners, regulators, and industry participants decide what to require and pay for. If Texas governors think that winter storms won’t be any worse in the future than they have been in the past, they will fail to make adequate preparations for those worse-than-ever events. On the other hand, if they embrace models that predict the future will be materially different, and that we must prepare for things we have not previously seen, they will prepare for what seems outlandish on historical grounds. Climate change models have been making predictions about “climate weirding” that our governors in Texas ignore.

              So, are you contending that the climate models do not make these predictions?

              Or are you contending that there are non-climate models that make the same predictions about increasing severity?

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              • I do you know they are increasing in severity? And is it consistent in other climates? We have had a very mild winter in Northern Wisconsin and the Michigan Upper Peninsula. We have a completely different climate. But the mild winter is within norms. And in the millions years of the existence of our world, is there any documentation that proves the severity is greater than the parameters of the planet’s existence? Again, there is no model that has accurately predicted the future. If there were, New York would be under water by now. Or we would be here at all as the 2012 prediction failed. I would say the proven Ice Age suggests that the events of last week are clearly in the overall parameters.

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                • To answer your question about how we could know, it again must be in statistical terms.

                  Imagine a bell curve — i.e., a normal distribution, also called Gaussian distribution. I’m not suggesting that climate follows this distro, but it is the most familiar shape to the most people, and it works to illustrate.

                  We can look either at the center or at the tails. Changes can appear in either. If the average begins to go up, the bell curve slides to the right. That would be a type of meaningful statistical change.

                  But we can also look at the tails. The tails indicate the frequency of unusual events, or outliers. If we see an excess of extreme events, that also changes the distribution. It widens the bell curve.

                  If the outlier extreme events happen more to one side than other, then the the bell curve begins to skew, with one tail longer than another (at that point, no longer formally Gaussian).

                  So, in this case, the Texas polar vortex storm is an outlier event — a tail event. By contrast, measuring average temperatures of the ocean, or across the country, etc., would be a way to measure the center of the distribution.

                  So, data has to be analyzed statistically, looking for changes the mean/average, excessive events in the tails, skew, etc.

                  Climate models predict a number of things, among them:
                  1. The mean temperature is increasing (bell curve sliding to the right)
                  2. Extreme events will become more frequent on both ends (more extreme droughts, freezes, hurricanes, etc)

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          • And here is another question. The earth has a multitude of climates. Which climate is changing? You would have to separate and study each one. You can’t globally declare climate change. Again, there are a plethora of variables. Here is one: https://theconversation.com/we-found-the-first-australian-evidence-of-a-major-shift-in-earths-magnetic-poles-it-may-help-us-predict-the-next-155040

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    • OK, so I have tested the links on this end. Mine seem to work, and yours work as well. However, I’m on a PC looking at this in Chrome. If you are looking at it through the “WP reader” or a mobile, perhaps that is the issue?

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  9. Richard says:

    How does anyone believe that we can dump pollutants into the environment without degrading said environment?
    Belief has no role in science. Observation is the first step. Conservatives (repugs) want you to believe you don’t see what you see. I’m a public health environmentalist specializing in private sewage and private water systems. Friedman tells us that if you have 100 gallons of pure water and add a drop of sewage you have 100 gallons of sewage. Add 100 gallons of water and you get 200 gallons of sewage. Climate denialism is garbage throughout.

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    • I read today about some very unfortunate souls in this debacle where the sewage systems backed up into their homes, literally flooding their first floors with shit. I imagine your comments here would resonate strongly with their present experience. I’m very glad not to have it that badly here.

      I tried turning on the water again today. Meter ran backward. House water was draining back out into the system, and air was flowing back into the faucets. I’ve never seen that before. Have to keep waiting I guess.

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    • Environment and climate change are two separate discussions. I’m a conservative and I care about pollution. I don’t want polluted air or water. I’m pretty sure that all conservatives care. That is a blanket assertion based on zero evidence. It’s like saying all Democraps don’t care about history, but there is more evidence of that than your statement.

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  10. if you’re voting for hired liar or turd in a tie rick perry wins both. my compadres in austin did not lose power for more than a few hrs. my sympathies for your dead generator.

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  11. You say measured facts, built on assumptions. And when you die, you die. When I do, there is a place for me.

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    • There is a loop. We make assumptions. We test them. If they are wrong, we circle back to the prior step and rethink. If they are not wrong, we advance to the next step. Etc.

      No one knows with certainty what happens when we die. The null hypothesis would say, nothing different than any other biochemical organism.

      The reasonable approach to this question of the unknown is *not* to make definitive assertions with unwavering certainty. The reasonable approach to the question of afterlife is to concede that nothing is known with certainty, and to profess little ‘belief’ one way or the other.

      Back to taking science seriously: please provide evidence to support your strong claim of knowledge about an afterlife…

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      • It’s called faith. That’s all I need to have. If you believe as science does, that all this somehow came from a random big bang, there is absolutely nothing that supports it. If I’m wrong, my faith hurts no one and a die. If you are wrong, it can crash economies, force people to suffer and make a someone else rich and you die. My faith gives me hope. Yours…you die.

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        • And so, it appears we have arrived at a “narrative terminus.” I’ve attempted a good-faith discussion of the evidence and the science, but I’m not seeing evidence of any real engagement on your end. Anyway….

          The strong evidence for the big bang…

          Click to access Evidence-for-the-Big-Bang.pdf

          More:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

          More:
          https://www.space.com/40370-why-should-we-believe-big-bang.html

          More:
          https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/02/21/these-4-pieces-of-evidence-have-already-taken-us-beyond-the-big-bang/?sh=3e8680157a0b

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          • Lol…where did the bang come from? Nice fairy tales. Try reading the Bible.

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            • Brian, that is precisely where this blog began.

              https://jerichobrisance.com/journey/introduction/

              …The whole mess began quite simply with an article by a respected conservative Presbyterian pastor on the subject of human origins. The questions that it raised, unexpected as they were, disturbed my canoe. So I read a book, which left me capsized. The situation had become far more complex. So I read a second book to answer the questions of the first. The river narrowed, and I was pulled violently into the rapids. This alarming new environ razored my attentions. Casual reading became a critical research project, a pursuit of obsession and exhaustion.

              Readings took place in the early morning and evenings. I soon retreated from commons lunching at the office and invested every break time upon it. I crammed audio books while driving, sometimes at doubled speed. While standing in line at the grocery. During any odd minute. Most of what I had known about origins and the Bible were overturned or held under threat. Subjects ranged, including the historical Jesus, the historical Adam, human evolution, Old Testament archaeology, textual criticism, interpretive approaches to Genesis, and Jewish history. Everything that I read led to further problems and further questions, and it became clear that the traditional views of Judaism and Christianity did not stand on the firm footing I had thought. The apologetic tactics pursued by the community left me disappointed. Debates and lectures on YouTube became still more grist for the mill. I sought further reading recommendations from our pastor and we engaged in protracted discussions. I stopped working out and pursuing hobbies. I consumed books with a higher priority than food. Sleep fell off, and troubled dreams plagued me, as my mind continued to analyze the problems even while sleeping. Despite the tempo, my readings were not simply shorn of fruit and cast aside. I compiled hundreds of pages of notes from them. I checked backgrounds on the authors. I wrote hundreds more pages of personal journal as I attempted to reduce the problem to its most essential thread of questions. And I did not land where I ever thought I would. Then again, I realize now that I had not been given straight data before, and revisions to the data lead often to altered conclusions.

              …A light-hearted example to begin… Americans are generally aware that our forefather George Washington never actually committed any arboreal mutilation, notwithstanding the endearing moral fable of temper and integrity. I still remember the dissonance upon first learning that the old legend was not factual, somewhere in the teenage years. My canoe in that case was soon righted, however. It was a fable that stood alone; nothing of significance had been built on its shoulders.

              There are more serious hatchet jobs in history, however: Washingtonian sins writ large, and upon which a great deal has been erected. Those responsible, I’ve come to realize, lie long dead…

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        • Dear Brian Dey,

          Hello! I hope that you can amply appreciate Matt Barsotti’s highly commendable efforts in providing well-informed and edifying explanations to you. He ought to be congratulated for creating and maintaining his blog to get past the religion debacle, to advance a decent, sobering and critical understanding of science, and to contribute to the bringing of humans into the world of reality and truth through devoting certain blog posts and comments to some subject matters regarding science, economy, religion, philosophy, atheism, racism, spirituality, and whatever else that tickles his intellectual fancy. Good on you, Matt! I shall extend, bolster and/or complement some of Matt’s positions and explanations with respect to your conversations with Matt as follows.

          Regardless of whether there is right or wrong in matters of belief, how one should adjudicate them, and whether one comes to realize that many people, rightly or wrongly, often believe that they have the truth, let us beware of rampant moral relativism.

          I can demonstrate with the story of three blind persons probing the elephant: one probing the leg insists that the elephant is like a pole; the other probing the tail insists that the elephant is like a string; and the one probing the ear insists that the elephant is like a fan. Only the person who has probed the most or who is sighted can be regarded as the most informed, enlightened and correct about the elephant, which symbolises the reality or truth. And only this person is in the (best) position to judge, discern, decide, choose and understand.

          In addition, there are evolutionary bases in people’s sense of morality and in their behaviours. You will find a great deal of new understandings in multidisciplinary fields such as sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and behavioural sciences, epigenetics, brain and cognitive sciences, gene-culture coevolution, and many more. . . . .

          It is very unfortunate that too often even those who claim to believe in and adopt the scientific method still cherrypick the data and refuse to examine contrary evidences. They fail to understand and address many valid points, perspectives, domains and dimensions, and hence it is impossible for them to evaluate and change their standpoints, approaches and behaviours. You might have heard of this quote:

          For those who do believe, no proof is necessary.
          For those who don’t, no proof is possible.

          All in all, it is important for, and also courageous and admirable of, us to confront these sensitive and polarising issues amidst social prejudice, ignorance and bigotry, to have lived an examined life, and to be inquisitive and open-minded, such that “On this blog: All forms of commentary are welcomed and published.” Perhaps some of us could take comfort in the fact that in recent years, the Catholic Church has had to accept evolution, though on a theistic basis.

          For one of the most recent takes on atheism, visit http://www.thesixwaysofatheism.com.

          As for the pitfalls and fallacies of the design argument, visit the following:
          http://www.iep.utm.edu/design/
          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/intelligent-design-trial.html

          It will be nearly or altogether impossible to claim or prove that (the theory of) evolution is wrong or invalid, for it has been estimated that if evolution (both macro and micro) were wrong then more than 99% of all scientific disciplines would be wrong too due to the high degree of cross-collaborations and confluences of data. That is not (just) my claim; and it is from some scientists who have made the interconnections and stocktaking of disciplines and knowledges. When creationists try to debunk certain parts and/or the whole of the findings of evolutionists or evolutionary scientists, they have cited certain problems with some scientific claims and/or techniques which rely on or are founded on mathematics, measurements, instruments, various disciplines and so on in very interconnected ways, and have been reliably used for a long time. For example, many instruments rely on the veracity and reliability of quantum mechanics, electronics and electrical engineering, which in turn rely on other disciplines such as physics, mechanical engineering, optics and so on . . . . It is a very highly interconnected web.

          By “cross-collaborations” (whether by design or by accident, whether independently or co-dependently, and whether concurrently or not), I meant the cumulative results, benefits and synergies from the convergence of evidence from diverse disciplines and researchers who may or may not be collaborating and/or aware of each other’s findings and activities in the first place; and I also meant that research(ers) on/in evolution and evolutionary sciences have relied and benefited, both directly and indirectly, fertilizations, findings, paradigms and techniques from diverse disciplines. Let me quote Michael Shermer from his essay entitled “A skeptic’s journey for truth in science” as further examples:

          To be fair, not all claims are subject to laboratory experiments and statistical tests. Many historical and inferential sciences require nuanced analyses of data and a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry that point to an unmistakable conclusion. Just as detectives employ the convergence of evidence technique to deduce who most likely committed a crime, scientists employ the method to determine the likeliest explanation for a particular phenomenon. Cosmologists reconstruct the history of the universe by integrating data from cosmology, astronomy, astrophysics, spectroscopy, general relativity and quantum mechanics. Geologists reconstruct the history of Earth through a convergence of evidence from geology, geophysics and geochemistry. Archaeologists piece together the history of a civilization from pollen grains, kitchen middens, potshards, tools, works of art, written sources and other site-specific artifacts. Climate scientists prove anthropogenic global warming from the environmental sciences, planetary geology, geophysics, glaciology, meteorology, chemistry, biology, ecology, among other disciplines. Evolutionary biologists uncover the history of life on Earth from geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, genetics, and so on.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. A little more on my background. Being born and educated in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, I was led to believe that the very text of the Old Testament was literal. A history book, which even many in other denominations believe, as do Jews and Muslims. However, I was enlightened by a Catholic priest and later by a theology professor who I became friends with. Father Dorn taught me not to take the Bible as a history book. It loosely follows history, but remember, it was different times. At its origins, it was stories passed on to help society in the region deal with struggles of the time. In other words, Abraham and Moses didn’t actually wrote the early books. That blew me away. It cast some doubt on my Christianity, but with further discussions, it became clear. They were not fiction, but they were based on truths. An example was the book of Leviticus. Many take the words to be law for all generations that followed. Moral laws if you will. But it was actually laws of morals based on conditions at the time. Others were parables to teach, like Caan and Able in Genesis, or Jospeph and the multicolored robe. And some were based on historical events like the great flood.

    For perspective, creation didn’t happen in 7 days. Of course not. But as sure as evolution cannot be defined, neither can creation. Let me explain further. Science has explanations for a lot of things, but they cannot tell you how life began. They can get you as far as cells merging and evolving over time, but they can not explain where the cells came from. Even if you believe the big bang theory, where did the bang come from? What existed to create the bang? And if you can prove the bang, what it existed before that and how did tho elements exist? So a parable was passed down to explain how we were to come to be, and where this place we live existed. Creation loosely explains the evolution, in a much shorter timeframe. But to try to explain it then, when we still can’t find the origins now, is pretty much to expect the writers of those times. Of course the further along the timeline of the Old Testament becomes more and more historical fact as we have archaeological finds to support the text. There was a Temple in Jerusalem for example.

    In the New Testament, history is accurate. The Gospel has been historically supported. Even predictions have panned out.

    But it’s not about what you can prove, but what you believe that makes one a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or any other religion. For me, there is little to my faith based on the Old Testament. My faith is rooted in the Gospel. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    As we know today, history is biased to whoever writes it. Some of us need to know the character of George Washington. I really don’t care other than he was the winning General in the break from the crown and that he was our first President. There are character flaws with each of our leaders. Jefferson was no angel, but it doesn’t change he was our 3rd President. Does it matter now that he had a child with a slave, that he was a brutal slave owner. Truman belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. Does that change he ended WWII. In today’s world, he would be considered a heinous mass murderer. Teddy Roosevelt ruled with an iron fist and was hardly politically correct. Kennedy had affairs. It’s what they did while in office and historical perspective. Who would have thought Lincoln would be called a racist?

    But getting back to the teachings of the Bible and science. Nothing in the Bible denies science, but science lives to prove that the Bible isn’t real. Ask why. Because science takes a leap of faith in many areas and in itself, has become a religion. I’m not here to change your mind, but you seem obsessed to to change mine. Ask yourself why? I’m a morally decent person, an environmentalist, a conservationist and an artist. But I’m a Christian first, and that bothers you.

    Like

    • Brian, regarding obsession, I’m just sitting here answering a commenter on my blog… But I’ve been wondering, why are you still here? You don’t seem open to seriously considering the evidence or presenting counter-evidence. And this conversation is happening on my front porch, so to speak. Is it possible that you’re projecting?

      But to deal with what you wrote above, this line of discussion is very connected to a page on my blog, located here:

      https://jerichobrisance.com/journey/9-personal-thesis/

      It would be great if you could transplant this comment to that page, and further discussion could happen there. The situation facing your position is a bit bleaker than you imagine.

      Note that the supporting citations for the Journey pages are located here:

      https://jerichobrisance.com/2013/04/13/bibliography-of-sources-from-deconversion-journey/

      In any case, I have an “ask” price for further interaction… During our dialogue, you haven’t exactly reciprocated equally in terms of providing supporting evidence, web links, etc. You haven’t really engaged in a serious way. Your most frequent response to my answers/arguments/evidence is to shift subjects. It would be great if we could tackle a single subject and not shift until reaching bare metal. I’m flexible on the topic, if there is something you want to discuss in a serious way.

      If this line of discussion is to go on, please take a look at my Journey pages, especially the Thesis (link above). If you want to take a crack at a thoughtful, well-supported response there, that might be fruitful. Again, pontification absent supporting information isn’t sufficient.

      Best regards…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brian Dey,

      You are encouraged to address the issues raised in the following video:

      Like

  13. Same subject. Two different view. No, I really don’t wish to discuss this. You are set in your views based on assumptions and I based on a deep belief that you don’t share. A belief that no matter what you show me will not change my mind. We might as well go back to to the stone age and then there will be nothing humans contribute to climate change. I hope the climate changes so I can plant Palm trees in Wisconsin. And it makes absolutely no sense to me that the planet is warming. The planting zones would have shifted and they haven’t. With that I leave this discussion. I’ve read your thesis and it still doesn’t move the needle for me

    Like

  14. A final response, as Brian will not be appearing on this blog in the future. Nonetheless, if anyone should happen upon this thread, I’ll provide very short feedback on the three links that he posted…

    Link1:
    https://cei.org/blog/wrong-again-50-years-of-failed-eco-pocalyptic-predictions/
    CEI is a think tank, and they advocate against climate change response. They tend to argue that climate change is either benign or actually helpful.

    The problem with this link, from a standpoint of science, is that it provides a bunch of screen-shot news clippings to purportedly demonstrate that climate scientists had everything all wrong in the past. This is being done to advance the basic argument that goes as follows: “Climate scientists had it all backward in the past. And if they had it backward in the past, how can we trust them not to have it backward today? They don’t really know what they are talking about, so we can ignore their warnings.”

    But the newspaper clipping approach is, to be blunt, precisely the art and craft of cherry-picking. Gathering newspaper clippings is not a meta-analysis of what climate scientists — as an overall group — believed and predicted in the past. News clippings are not scientific papers, and this hand-picked selection does not represent a global survey. This amateur approach merely amounts to lawyerly case-building, not an objective scientific or historical survey. Proper meta-analysis of the published literature from the 1970’s has been done, the opposite conclusion was found. The majority of scientists in the 1970’s predicted warming, and that majority has grown stronger in the ensuing decades. See below on Link #2 for a remarkable “goof” that illustrates.

    For more on CEI, their wikipedia page is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_Enterprise_Institute#Energy_and_environment

    Link 2:
    https://skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s-intermediate.htm
    Here is the problem with posting things that you haven’t read… This page refutes everything on the prior link. It actually says point blank that the notion of ice age predictions is bunk:

    “1970s ice age predictions were predominantly media based. The majority of peer reviewed research at the time predicted warming due to increasing CO2.”

    “The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet.”

    It then proceeds to do the right thing — it provides links to actual broad-based surveys of the overall academic opinion in the past.

    The lesson here is that you should read links before you post them, or email them to friends, or whatever. Read. It isn’t that hard, and you might learn something. You can certainly avoid scoring “own goals.”

    Link 3:
    http://www.alienbasecamp.com/agw/quotes.htm
    Yikes. I’m not sure who runs this page, but all the typeface is either primary-red or primary blue, giving it the aesthetics of a tinfoil-hat website. It appears to repeat the popular media scraping error of Link 1. Nothing further to add.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I did not know that you live in Ausitn. I do as well – moved here from Dallas in May. Before that, I live on the east coast, where we had snow plows and trucks that put down salt/sand. Things would not have been so bad here had there been a better plan – heck any plan. Every large org plans for emergencies and edge cases. But we already know what sort of folks are running Texas, so no suprises that we were totally unprepared.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, very true. Texas doesn’t handle icy roads well, and neither to its drivers. 🙂

      Course, this time the whole utility thing was next-level. I think we were without water for 6 days with this one. I hear that about 14M were without water total in the state. That’s crazy.

      Then, as if to sort of mock all of us, it was 79 degrees a week later, LOL. Hope you didn’t have any broken pipes…

      Like

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SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Michael Seidel, writer

Science fiction, fantasy, mystery and what-not

cas d'intérêt

Reflections of a Francophile

Two Wheels Across Texas

My Quest to ride through all 254 Texas Counties

She Seeks Nonfiction

A Skeptic's Quest for Science, Wonder, & Books

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I don’t want to start a class war; it started a long time ago and, unfortunately, we are losing.

Secular Wings

My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. What I write here, may be very different from what I’ve written in the past. It might also be repeats of the past themes. ~ Zoe

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