Thursday, November 3, 2011

Politics of Personal Destruction

As predicted, Herman Cain is being drawn and quartered by the media for alleged inappropriate behavior over a decade ago. If he's guilty it's certainly something the voters should know, but the way this sordid episode has been handled and the media feeding frenzy that has resulted, raise several questions.

Given that most successful people in business and politics have something in their past they wouldn't want made the topic of world-wide interest, why would anyone want to put themselves through the incredibly absurd and brutal process we call a political campaign? Our contemporary political process is designed to all but insure that the winner will be either the most ruthless, the most dishonest, or the most bland and enigmatic candidate in the race. It's no wonder that people like Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie don't want to run. Why put your family through this?

I also wonder how many of the people who are seeking to destroy Cain by publicizing these allegations and pillorying him in the media stood by President Clinton when he was accused of doing far worse than merely making a woman feel uncomfortable. Clinton was accused by Juanita Broaddrick of rape, by Kathleen Willey of sexual assault (while consoling her over the death of her husband), and by Paula Jones of indecent exposure. Moreover, he had extramarital affairs with at least five women while governor of Arkansas and was convicted of perjury while serving as president, but none of that seemed to matter to his supporters, many of whom would gladly vote for him again and many of whom are among those condemning Herman Cain for unspecified acts which made several women "feel uncomfortable".

Finally, why are reporters tripping all over each other to rush unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against Cain into print when they sat on substantiated allegations of John Edwards philandering and his "love child" until Edwards was no longer a presidential candidate and there was no doubt about the nature of his pathetic behavior?

I don't know what Cain did. If it was sexually inappropriate that certainly reflects poorly on his suitability for high office, but whatever he did it wasn't as bad as what either Clinton or Edwards did, both of whom were given a pass by the people who are today delightedly destroying Cain. Nor was Cain's behavior as sleazy as that of a hypocritical media which staunchly defended President Clinton and slandered his accusers, but is determined to ruin a man whose offenses were far milder but who poses a serious threat to the reelection of the incumbent president.

The Ongoing Controversy

The global warming debate continues and is starting to look a bit like a soap opera.

Last week Richard Muller of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) project team - a scientist who had formerly been skeptical of the claims that the earth was inexorably warming - rocked the climate science world by releasing a paper in which he reversed his former skepticism and acknowledged that he now believed that man-caused, or anthropogenic, global warming (APG) was an indisputable fact. His new position was quickly repudiated, however, by a prominent colleague at BEST who argued that Prof. Muller was hiding data that completely negated his argument that the earth's temperature is rising.

Here's part of the story:
Professor Richard Muller, of Berkeley University in California, and his colleagues from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST), claimed to have shown that the planet has warmed by almost a degree centigrade since 1950 and is warming continually.

Published last week ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, next month, their work was cited around the world as irrefutable evidence that only the most stringent measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can save civilization as we know it.

It was cited uncritically by, among others, reporters and commentators from the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, The Economist and numerous media outlets in America.

The Washington Post said the BEST study had ‘settled the climate change debate’ and showed that anyone who remained a skeptic was committing a ‘cynical fraud’. But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming skeptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis. Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.

Her comments, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, seem certain to ignite a furious academic row. She said this affair had to be compared to the notorious ‘Climategate’ scandal two years ago. Like the scientists exposed then by leaked emails from East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit, her colleagues from the BEST project seem to be trying to ‘hide the decline’ in rates of global warming.

In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

‘There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’ she said. ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’

However, Prof Muller denied warming was at a standstill. ‘We see no evidence of it [global warming] having slowed down,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. There was, he added, ‘no leveling off’. But a report to be published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation includes a graph of world average temperatures over the past ten years, drawn from the BEST project’s data and revealed on its website.

This graph shows that the trend of the last decade is absolutely flat, with no increase at all – though the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have carried on rising relentlessly.
These are the graphs which appeared in The Mail's article:
‘This is nowhere near what the climate models were predicting,’ Prof Curry said. ‘Whatever it is that’s going on here, it doesn’t look like it’s being dominated by CO2.’ In fact, she added, in the wake of the unexpected global warming standstill, many climate scientists who had previously rejected skeptics’ arguments were now taking them much more seriously.

They were finally addressing questions such as the influence of clouds, natural temperature cycles and solar radiation – as they should have done, she said, a long time ago.

Yesterday Prof Muller insisted that neither his claims that there has not been a standstill, nor the graph, were misleading .... However, he admitted it was true that the BEST data suggested that world temperatures have not risen for about 13 years. But in his view, this might not be ‘statistically significant’, although, he added, it was equally possible that it was – a statement which left other scientists mystified.

‘I am baffled as to what he’s trying to do,’ Prof Curry said.
Well, the mystification is understandable if, as the article tells us, Prof. Muller had previously insisted that there's no evidence that global warming was at a standstill.

At any rate, it certainly seems that since 1998 global temperatures have not risen even though we have continued to pump CO2 into the atmosphere. This is inexplicable given the predictions of global warming alarmists and suggests that climate change/stability is a much more complicated affair than a simple correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and temperature.

What the truth of the matter is I certainly don't know, but I do think it's safe to say that when people like Al Gore insist that the science is settled on APG they don't know what they're talking about.