Dangerous folly

offered by Night Writer

from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison:

“Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil. One can protest against evil; it can be unmasked and, if need be, prevented by force. Evil always carries the seeds of its own destruction, as it makes people, at the least, uncomfortable. Against folly we have no defence. Neither protests nor force can touch it; reasoning is no use; facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can just be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied; in fact, he can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make him aggressive. A fool must therefore be treated much more cautiously than a scoundrel; we shall never again try to convince a fool by reason, for it is both useless and dangerous.

…we shall never again try to convince a fool by reason, for it is both useless and dangerous.

“If we are to deal adequately with folly, we must try to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is a moral rather than an intellectual defect. There are people who are mentally agile but foolish, and people who are mentally slow but very far from foolish — a discovery that we make to our surprise as a result of particular situations. We thus get the impression that folly is likely to be not a congenital defect, but one that is acquired in certain circumstances where people make fools of themselves or allow others to make fools of them. We notice further that this defect is less common in the unsociable and solitary than in individuals or groups that are inclined or condemned to sociability. It seems, then, that folly is a sociological rather than a psychological problem, and that it is a special form of the operation of historical circumstances on people, a psychological by-product of definite external factors. If we look more closely, we see that any violent display of power, whether political or religious, produces an outburst of folly in a large part of humanity; indeed this seems actually to be a psychological and sociological law: the power of some needs the folly of others.

One feels in fact, when talking to him, that one is dealing, not with the man himself, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, which have taken hold of him.

“The upsurge of power makes such an overwhelming impression that people are deprived of their independent judgment, and — more or less unconsciously — give up trying to assess a new state of affairs for themselves. The fact that the fool is often stubborn must not mislead us into thinking that he is independent. One feels in fact, when talking to him, that one is dealing, not with the man himself, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, which have taken hold of him. He is under the spell, he is blinded, his very nature is being misused and exploited. Having thus become a passive instrument, the fool will be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that is is evil. Here lies the danger of a diabolical exploitation that can do irreparable damage to human beings.”


The above was written in late 1943 or early ’44 when Bonhoeffer was imprisoned by the Nazis, prior to his execution. There’s no real reason to run it again today. No reason at all. (HT to Mr. D for the last two links.)

Avast there, pirates!

by the Night Writer
I wonder what the carbon footprint is of killing enough trees to print a 1200+ page report, distributed to Congress, that no one reads?

Monday morning on Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends, co-anchor Steve Doocy talked with Obama Administration Energy Czar Carol Browner (video):

STEVE DOOCY: “[I] know the bill is over 1,000 pages long. Have you have read it?”

CAROL BROWNER: “Oh, I’m very familiar with this bill.”

DOOCY: “Have you read it?”

BROWNER: “We have obviously been watching this for a very long time. I am very …”

DOOCY: “I’m sure you’ve got an idea of it, but you have read it?”

BROWNER: “I’ve read major portions of it, absolutely.”

DOOCY: “So the answer no you haven’t read it. But you’ve read a big chunk of it.”

BROWNER: “No, no, no that’s not fair. That’s absolutely not fair.”

DOOCY: “No, I’m just asking you if you read the thousand pages.”

BROWNER: “I’ve read vast portions of it.”

DOOCY: “Ok.”
— Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” 6/29/09

Vast portions? “Vast” as in some large conspiracy? Or maybe she meant “Vest” as in something they want to keep the actual details close to. If she had read 600 of the 1200 pages, would this be “half-vast”?

Nature can be so cruel…

by the Minfidel

…especialy when she’s being ironic.

Eco-sailors rescued by oil tanker

An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker.

Raoul Surcouf, Richard Spink and skipper Ben Stoddart sent a mayday because they feared for their safety amid winds of 68mph (109km/h).

All three are reportedly exhausted but safe on board the Overseas Yellowstone.

The team, which left Mount Batten Marina in Plymouth on 19 April in a boat named the Fleur, aimed to rely on sail, solar and man power on a 580-mile (933km/h) journey to and from the highest point of the Greenland ice cap.

Perhaps Alanis Morissette will hear about these guys and be inspired to write a song that really is ironic.

An agenda in search of a weatherman

by the Night Writer

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my warm house, in a comfy chair, just flicking my gloveless fingers over my keyboard and I discovered that the amount of global sea ice was as high as it had been at any time since 1979, according to satellite observations of both the northern and southern hemisphere polar regions monitored by the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center. Of course, those paying attention will remember that 2008 was the year that some were predicting that the North Pole would melt entirely.

Didn’t happen. In fact, there was about 10 percent more ice in August of ’08 than there was in August of ’07. The last quarter of the year then saw an exceptionally fast and widespread refreeze to reach the 29-year high reported above.

Meanwhile, the Caitlin Arctic Survey team from the UK set out earlier this year to measure for themselves the amount and thickness of the arctic ice, predicting that due to climate change they’d have to swim (using special suits) for as much as 15 percent of the excursion.

Instead, severe weather and extreme cold put the team in danger as re-supply flights had trouble reaching the explorers:

Three global warming researchers stranded in the North Pole by cold weather were holding out hope Wednesday as a fourth plane set off in an attempt deliver them supplies.

The flight took off during a break in bad weather after “brutal” conditions halted three previous attempts to reach the British explorers who said they were nearly out of food, the Agence France-Presse reported.

“We’re hungry, the cold is relentless, our sleeping bags are full of ice,” expedition leader Pen Hadow said in e-mailed statement. “Waiting is almost the worst part of an expedition as we’re in the lap of the weather gods.”

Fortunately, a relief flight did manage to reach the group the other day, but it was touch and go for awhile:

“It’s been a pretty grim time waiting for the weather to lift enough to get the plane in. It’s no place to just hang around when it’s minus 40 degrees [Celsius], but we could not afford to move without our essential kit, food, fuel and batteries for our survey and communications gear,” said Hadow, the expedition leader, “All of us are just wanting to get going quickly and have a high calorie meal to fuel ourselves up.”

I’m glad to hear that the team is all right for now as only polar bears would truly be happy about the group’s predicament. Some of the commenters on the rescue story are upset, however, that fuel-burning, carbon-dioxide-spewing airplanes were used to resupply the expedition. Perhaps relief via a nuclear sub would have been better?

Send us your tired, your hungry, your huddled polar bears

Satellite photos show Lake Superior nearly iced-over on March 3, 2009.

Image from N.O.A.A.

Reportedly, this phenomenon happens about every 20-30 years. Another source reports that global floating sea ice levels this year are as high as they were in 1979, using data and a chart from the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center:

Rapid growth spurt leaves amount of ice at levels seen 29 years ago.

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.

Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards.

The data is being reported by the University of Illinois’s Arctic Climate Research Center, and is derived from satellite observations of the Northern and Southern hemisphere polar regions.

“Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months.” You’ve got to give President Obama credit; he said he’d stop global warming and he has!

Someone has a fever

They’re making Dr. James Hansen sweat again. From a Christopher Booker column in the Telegraph, The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat (emphasis mine):

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China’s official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs – run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious “hockey stick” graph – GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic – in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen’s institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week’s latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen’s methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising “very much faster” than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.

Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world’s governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.

HT: The Lumberjack

In a related story; EU Facing Revolt Over Climate Change Enforcement:

The European Union is facing a revolt from poorer members over tough climate change targets at a time when the global economy is heading for recession.

Italy has teamed up with seven east and central European countries – Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia – to threaten a veto over Brussels legislation that implements an EU target to cut Europe’s CO2 emissions 20 per cent by 2020.


Thanks to Gary at The Llama Butchers for pointing me toward Atomic Trousers’ fisking of the top 10 worst liberal bumper stickers.

If you’re wondering how you can fisk something one to five words long it simply means you haven’t been paying attention. Here’s one of the 10:

“Remember Katrina. Fight Global Warming” – Fight it with what? Nunchucks? Me attacking global warming like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, you driving a Prius or the U.S. signing the Kyoto Protocol all have the same effect on changing the earth’s temperature: zippo. I started mocking all the angles on this bumper sticker and it started getting too long.