Monday, June 20, 2011

Over-Representation of Factual Presentations

One of the fears expressed by people concerned about global warming is that melting ice caps will cause sea levels to rise and cover large swaths of coastline with water by the end of the century or thereabouts. In his book, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore predicted that the seas were going to rise twenty feet submerging Manhattan Island by early in the next century.

An article at Fox News casts doubt on this and similar fears about rising sea levels:
Is climate change raising sea levels, as Al Gore has argued -- or are climate scientists doctoring the data?

The University of Colorado’s Sea Level Research Group decided in May to add 0.3 millimeters -- or about the thickness of a fingernail -- every year to its actual measurements of sea levels, sparking criticism from experts who called it an attempt to exaggerate the effects of global warming.

"Gatekeepers of our sea level data are manufacturing a fictitious sea level rise that is not occurring," said James M. Taylor, a lawyer who focuses on environmental issues for the Heartland Institute.

Steve Nerem, the director of the widely relied-upon research center, told that his group added the 0.3 millimeters per year to the actual sea level measurements because land masses, still rebounding from the ice age, are rising and increasing the amount of water that oceans can hold.

"We have to account for the fact that the ocean basins are actually getting slightly bigger... water volume is expanding," he said, a phenomenon they call glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA).
Global water volume is increasing but the land is rising so the net change in sea level is minor. The impression people are getting, however, is that sea levels are rising rapidly relative to our coastlines and that we'll soon be inundated. This isn't happening, apparently, or at least not at rates that would justify concern.

Nerem acknowledges that:
"If we correct our data to remove [the effect of rising land], it actually does cause the rate of sea level (a.k.a. ocean water volume change) rise to be bigger. The adjustment is trivial, and not worth public attention."

"For the layperson, this correction is a non-issue and certainly not newsworthy… [The] effect is tiny -- only 1 inch over 100 years."
Well. That certainly makes a difference. Instead of facing the prospect of twenty foot sea level rises in the next hundred years the sea is really only going to rise about an inch. Taylor urges people to be wary of sea level rise estimates:
"When Al Gore talks about Manhattan flooding this century, and 20 feet of sea level rise, that’s simply not going to happen. If it were going to happen, he wouldn’t have bought his multi-million dollar mansion along the coast in California."
By the way, when Mr. Gore came out with the movie based on his book he said this:
“Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.” (emphasis mine)
An "over-representation of factual presentations" is a euphemism for "lie". It's pretty hard to trust people you know will lie to you in order to persuade you to accept what they're selling.

Update on The Epidemic of Sex-Trafficking

Readers who were interested in our post on sex trafficking last month will be interested to learn that the man who beat and pimped "Jane", a piece of human offal by the name of James Albert Jackson, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Chuck Neubauer, who wrote the original story in the Washington Times has some details on Jackson's conviction in a follow-up column in the Times. Here's the lede:
A federal judge in Oregon on Friday sentenced a 39-year-old man to 40 years in prison for taking a teenage girl from Seattle and forcing her with beatings to work as a prostitute in Portland. The girl’s story was the cornerstone of an April 25 article in The Washington Times on sex trafficking in this country.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman in Portland handed James Albert Jackson the sentence sought by prosecutors after Jackson pleaded guilty in March to sex trafficking a minor through force, fraud and coercion. Jackson also was sentenced to five years of supervised release.

“Today, the 40-year sentence handed down ... for James Jackson, a violent and predatory sex trafficker of children, sends a firm but clear message to others in the District of Oregon who are engaged in this form of modern-day slavery,” said U.S. Attorney Dwight C. Holton.

Prosecutors said Jackson beat the girl, then 15, about three times a week and had a history of violence against women. He had 26 prior criminal convictions on various assault and drug charges, they said.

The girl, whom The Washington Times called Jane, wrote the judge that Jackson “deserves all the time you can give him.”
This is as close to justice as we can expect to get in this life, I suppose, but it irks me that Jackson will now be supported for the next 40 years by the tax dollars of people who have suffered grievously at the hands of people like him. Theoretically, part of whatever Jane earns as she moves forward with her life will go to provide food, shelter, and recreation for the man who terrorized and traumatized her. There's something deeply wrong with that.