Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hatchets and Scalpels

President Obama is expected to propose an across the board three year spending freeze during his State of the Union message tomorrow evening. This despite having consistently and vigorously opposed throughout the campaign exactly what he now will be proposing:

Of course, a president should be allowed to change his mind, but this president has taken that prerogative to an entirely new level and has lost one of the most important assets a leader can have - his credibility. A lot of voters are coming to believe that they were snookered into thinking they were going to get a new kind of governance if they voted for Obama only to find a year later that the new boss is the same as the old boss. Even Evan Thomas, the Newsweek columnist who gushed during the campaign that Obama was a "sort of god" bestriding the world, is now insisting that, on the contrary, Mr. Obama has been fundamentally dishonest as president:

Perhaps in the future we'll have wised up enough to refrain from voting for someone for no loftier reason than the color of his skin and a mellifluous voice. Perhaps we'll take the obligation of voting seriously enough to actually examine the candidate's past thoroughly enough to discern what he's likely to do if he's elected.

Thanks to Breitbart for the link.


Update from Haiti

Here's another update from my missionary friend in Haiti. The Americans he mentions toward the end are co-workers:

Greetings from rural Haiti.

Changes keep coming as the days go by. I don't remember if I mentioned previously that one of the interesting twists is all of the things that happened last Tuesday was that prisons collapsed. Hardened criminals are in the streets. A young man from our town who was in prison long term for cocaine possession showed up here in town the other day. There he was in the street with a crowd gathering to hear his story.

Jean-Pierre has had two cousins in Port-au-Prince for years. We were able to bring them to safety here on Sunday...our own Port Refugees. There are six of them, including four kids. They were in the street, hungry, and thirsty. We paid a local driver $1400H (Haitian) to go pick them up and bring them back. (Divide by 8 to know the US dollar equivalent.) I was able to get to Cayes on Monday and purchase some food for them. Rice, beans and a few other basics came to $400H. All six of the newcomers are living in Jean-Pierre's single room that is connected to the two rooms where I live. We're making it work. There's also another 'Port refugee' who is here from time to time. I can almost anticipate more people being 'around' in the future as they become able to escape Port.

This week I was also able to help a young man, Emmanuel, get an eye operation (not related to the earthquake) for $1000H. The operating doctor had to put it off a day or two because he had injured family members that required care. Emmanuel's father and sisters are in Port still. I helped a man pay part of a debt that he owed to another man who needed cash to help his family in Port. That was $1000H. People are coming to us more than ever with difficult situations. Jean's brother and sister need help. The entrance to their home in Port is blocked. I've been able to give them a couple hundred Haitian dollars so far. We continue to help where we can and try to love all - - even if we can't help.

Leon and Joy continue to work in Port, helping everyone they can. They're now making arrangements for some teams of doctors.

Jim Ross, who married on Jan. 2nd, lost the home he spent the last year building, as I understand it. It collapsed in the quake.

Marlin and Missy Martin from Lancaster have been here for over a year with WFL (Water for Life). Marlin has been the field director since Leon and Joy moved to Port. They've been working on an adoption, and suddenly the prudent thing for them to do is get to the US embassy and try to take their daughter home to the USA right now. The paper work they've done this last year was presumably lost in the quake. So, it's start over or take advantage of the 'new temporary rules'. They hope to fly home ASAP...maybe today.

That will leave Troy Miller (the well-driller) and me here in PBO as long term missionaries. It's a time when we could really use extra help, and there are only two of us left. We'll see what happens. Keep us in your prayers as there will no doubt be tough decisions and awkward situations ahead.

Our church is having services all week. There's no school. It's a new time, but people still have weird ways of interpreting events. It's good to be here helping people find truth.

P.S. New quake this morning. We shook awake. It didn't last long at all. No damage anywhere around here. Don't know about Port.

If you wish to help Andy meet the needs of the people in his community you can send a check to Andy Stump c/o Christ Lutheran Church, 126 E. Main St. Dallastown, PA 17313


Climate Uncertainties

Part of the reluctance of many people, myself included, to jump on the anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming bandwagon is that it's not at all clear that the science on this matter is as settled as we've been told that it is. A recent article in Science Daily underscores the problem:

Planet Earth has warmed much less than expected during the industrial era based on current best estimates of Earth's "climate sensitivity" -- the amount of global temperature increase expected in response to a given rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). In a study to be published in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society, Stephen Schwartz, of Brookhaven National Laboratory, and colleagues examine the reasons for this discrepancy.

According to current best estimates of climate sensitivity, the amount of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases added to Earth's atmosphere since humanity began burning fossil fuels on a significant scale during the industrial period would be expected to result in a mean global temperature rise of 3.8�F -- well more than the 1.4�F increase that has been observed for this time span.

In other words, even though we're pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at historically high levels, the earth's temperature doesn't seem to be increasing nearly as much as current models predict that it should. Schwartz's analysis attributes the reasons for this discrepancy to a possible mix of two major factors:

1) Earth's climate may be less sensitive to rising greenhouse gases than currently assumed and/or 2) reflection of sunlight by haze particles in the atmosphere may be offsetting some of the expected warming.

There could be other factors at play as well. The point is that there seem to be a lot of uncertainties in our understanding of the dynamics of how CO2 is handled by the earth. We should thus be very cautious about imposing huge costs on industries and energy consumers to disincentivize their use of energy until we have a more thorough grasp of those dynamics.