Radio Freethinker

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Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

RFT Ep 249 – Killing the CBC Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 18, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Whine of the Week  : Killing the CBC

corrigan april 12 2014

As ye sow, so shall ye reap…can also be stated, as ye fast, so shall ye whither, and whither the CBC has. Facing an $100 million budget short fall…thanks to Harper, losing hockey and other factors…the CBC is cutting staff by over 650.

Polling shows the CBC is the most trusted media source in the country, more three-quarters think the government should fund the CBC at a sufficient level…most of those think funding needs to increased.


The Harper government has regularly and consistently slashed the CBC grant budget after budget while spending  the entire CBC budget on a single F-35 jet…or overpriced frigates. What money they are giving, they think would be better spent by just giving it to private media companies…here’s how that would turn out…

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why are we not moving to a BBC style of funding…create a strong, stable and independent broadcaster, whose sole interest to provide the best of Canada.


Seriously the Unfair Elections Act is Important

Moudakis April 10 2014

How did Poilievre become Minister for Democratic Reform, how was the act craft and again…how it can destroy democracy in Canada – The Harper fix is in!


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The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report


Climate Change…even more certainty and dire warnings, again – The IPCC released it latest report on the state of the worlds climate and we’re serious screwed!

Conclusions of the WG1 report (The Physical Science Basis) are summarized below:

  • “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia”.
  • “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.
  • Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
  • “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further [global] warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
  • “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped”

Conclusions of the WG3 report (Mitigation of Climate Change) are summarized below:

  • The global surface temperature increase by the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5 °C relative to the 1850 to 1900 period for most scenarios, and is likely to exceed 2.0 °C for many scenarios. With the possibility of an increase as much as 4.5°C
  • The global water cycle will change, with increases in disparity between wet and dry regions, as well as wet and dry seasons, with some regional exceptions.
  • The oceans will continue to warm, with heat extending to the deep ocean, affecting circulation patterns.
  • Decreases are very likely in Arctic sea ice cover, Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover, and global glacier volume
  • Global mean sea level will continue to rise at a rate very likely to exceed the rate of the past four decades
  • Changes in climate will cause an increase in the rate of CO2 production.
  • Increased uptake by the oceans will increase the acidification of the oceans.
  • Future surface temperatures will be largely determined by cumulative CO2, which means climate change will continue even if CO2 emissions are stopped.

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Society Is Doomed


NASA funded study shows the not only do civilizations collapse, it happens regularly and is inevitable…but there is an upside.

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RFT Rant – Ep 240 – Why did it so cold?

Posted by Don McLenaghen on January 17, 2014


Now as many of our readers have noticed, climate change is a hoax…if you stepped outside at all last week you experienced temperatures that rival those found on frozen Mars.

No…but wait you say, it was not bad here in Vancouver…what are you talking about?

Well, that’s true, HERE it was okay but if you lived anywhere east of Alberta you experienced the same temperatures found on Mars…what..

<Again, wait you may ask, am I saying that Mars in winter is only -40?

No, no. But it’s cool if you think about it, that Mars during its summers are roughly the same temperature as our winters. In fact it can get up to 70 degree Fahrenheit or 20 Celsius, not bad for a summer day in Vancouver really. Actually, the average temperature on Mars is -50 Celsius…which is very cold for my birth city Brandon, but factoring wind-chill, not unheard of…that although it is millions of miles farther from the sun and a completely different planet, there is still overlap.

So, getting back on track, this cold weather must prove climate change is wrong.


Yet again, you might interrupt and say something like “but climate is…well, climate and is described in long term trends. This cold snap was just that a snap…it’s what the technically minded call weather.”

So it seems that events such as these may actually support climate change…but not a single event. Weather is random but the frequency and average severity of climate events are predicted to increase as more energy is pumped into the atmosphere…i.e. global warming.

So, what caused this cold snap?


Well, to understand that we must first understand the jet stream…well, the polar jet stream. This is a band of fast moving air…or maybe river of air is a better analogy, which races around the planet between the northern temperate zone and the polar zone.

The zones are relatively stable air masses compared to the stream. As fall becomes winter and winter get cold, the air at in the polar zones get colder and colder…nothing new there.

However, the polar jet stream, like a river, will meander up and down. Think of a winding river viewed from a plane…now with a river the windiness is determined by the power of the river, this does have an analogy in the jet stream but a greater influence in what climatologist call the temperature gradient.

Cold polar air is denser and heavier that warmer air. This means that the amount of waviness of the jet stream is limited to the resistance it experiences to this difference in temperature between the zones.

However, as global warming raises relative temperatures in the artic and increased energy into the stream itself, the loops formed become more pronounced. That is the cold loops would, usually, only sweep south a little and warm loops north a little. As climate change becomes more pronounced, the loops exaggerate to the point where a loop will cut itself off in the Deep South.


By cut itself off, think of an eddy in a river. It’s now a circular rotating ball of super cold. Because, as earlier mentioned, cold air is heavier than warm, it smashes its way deeper and deeper south into the northern zone.

Thus you get New Orleans issuing wind-chill warnings, people in Atlanta freezing to death and well, fecking cold weather. It should be noted that although the east coast was blasted with cold, Alaska experienced a heat wave…well, for the middle of winter.

Some of the more interesting things that has rode the internet…there have been a lot of people who have been admitted to emergency departments because they saw a YouTube type video about boiling water turning into snow at these temperatures …it seems temperature is not the only factor in making snow… unfortunately when some of the viewers decided to test the theory they ended up with scalding burns to their skin, I can only imagine how they managed to boil their skin and not make snow.

Adding hype to the temperature claims, much ado has been made by the fact that the Chicago Zoo has kept its Polar Bear indoors…because its sooo cold, even polar creatures would freeze. Well, not really. It seems that as a polar bear living quote WAY south, well that this polar bear…seems there is only one, has very little insulative fat. Something not needed for a southern polar bear but something a polar bear in the wild would have…so it’s not that it is too cold even for polar bears…wild polar bears are fat and warm.

That said, I am not being a hypocrite. This was a weather event…they happen randomly. So, this no more proves climate change than the denialist say it disproves it. That said, after the fourth one this year…then I may get on my high horse.

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RFT Ep 240 – Polar Vortex Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on January 14, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Don’s Rant:

Don’s Rant’s about the cold snap, what is a polar vortex and why this is NOT proof the climate change is bogus.

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Moral Dilemma’s –

Abortion vs. Euthanasia – a spouses dilemma

In a new segment Moral Dilemma’s, we discuss the sad case of a pregnant woman who suffered an aneurysm and is now brain-dead. Now there is a legal fight between the spouse who wants to honour his dead wife’s wish to not be kept alive via extraordinary means and the hospital that is legally bound to keep her on life support as long as she is pregnant.

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Fukushima, Chernobyl and Nuclear power or Fossil fuels – which is deadlier?


Which is deadlier nuclear power or fossil fuel? We first examine Fukushima 1000 days later. We compare Fukushima to Chernobyl…which was worse? and finally which is actually a greater danger to the global health – nuclear power or fossil fuel.

Here is a panel of Simon Fraser University professors assembled on Monday, April 11 at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue to discuss the ripple effects of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

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Skeptic Highlights –

Sexism, Capitalism & the Fight for Liberation

When: 11:30am until 12:30pm – Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Where:  Room A218, Langara College
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The Revolution Will Not Be Circumcised

When: 5:00pm – Friday, January 17, 2014
Where:  Buchanan A104, UBC
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January Skeptics in the Pub Downtown

When: 7:30pm until 10:30pm – Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Where:  Railway Club’s back bar
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January Café Sci: Fluviatili Pisces Diversi

When: 7:30pm – Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Where:  Railway Club’s back bar
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RFT Ep 239 – Pope Francis Gambit Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on January 7, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Don’s Rant:


Don’s Rant is all about the closure of almost all of the DFO’s libraries. The contents of the libraries were either given away or tossed in the trash. Scientist complain that the government did not live up to it’s promise to digitize the libraries contents and that this is just another front Harper has opened on his war on science.

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Blast from the past – 

New Pope with baggage

dewar cartoon march 17 2013 col.jpgThe Catholic Church has a new Pope, who is he? Does he come with come darker baggage? Is he the right person to rescue the church form its current troubles. Poster Pope or A Pope on a Poster?

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The Pope Francis Gambit


We also discuss the charm offensive of Time Person of the Year, Pope Francis. Does this pope spark real change or is it just a new ploy dreamt up by former Fox News reporter now head of the Vatican public relations. Is there a ‘real’ Pope Frankie who has masterminded the smoke and mirrors that is Pope Francis while Pope Frankie continues the condemnation of church doctrine? Does the actions match the rhetoric? Atheist should be very afraid of this pope, the easy battles with the cartoon caricature Pope Benedict presented are gone; the church has launched a new offensive. Are we up to the challenge?

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Radio Freethinker Episode 197 – Lancing Armstrong Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on January 22, 2013


This week:
– Sandy Hook Truthers,
– Earth Bursts a Gama-ray,

– The Doh! Of Doha
, and
– Lance Armstrong and professional doping

Download the episode here!

Sandy Hook Truthers


No, they add up…if you’re not a nutter!

Don discusses the emergence of the Sandy Hook Truther ‘movement’; those people who think that the Sandy Hook massacre was either faked or carried out as part of some Obama master plan to steal everyone guns so as to set himself up as some kinda communist-fascist dictator.

We briefly examine the claims and discuss the root cause of this outlandish idea.

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Color-Neanderthal-CloneThere have been an umber of ‘science’ article reporting about one scientist hunt to find a woman willing to be a surrogate to a Neanderthal clone. We check out the science and the reality of what scientist George Church really said.

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Earth Bursts a Gama-ray

Ethan explains how we know the earth was hit by a gamma ray burst 1700 years ago  and why it was not the end of all life on earth, unlike what some scientists have claimed.

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The Doh! Of Doha

cartoon_climatechangeOne of the under reported stories of 2012 was the Doha Climate Change Conference. Don reviews the outcome of the Kyoto Protocols which officially ended last year. We also discuss the future of climate change diplomacy.

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Lance Armstrong and professional doping

jben125lEthan give a summary of the “Lance Armstrong Scandal” and the state of doping in sports. Then we have a spirited debate about the ethics of doping and the implications it has to both amateur sport and to “sport-u-tainment”

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Skeptical Highlights:

Arab Awakening, but are we hearing the truth?

Veteran Middle East journalist Robert Fisk has “seen it all” in his 30+ years of international journalism. Yet perhaps nothing could compare to the upheavals in the Middle East which began in 2011 – what some have termed the “Arab Spring.” Join Fisk as he talks about his reporting from the epicentre of the tensions with his honest and insightful perspective.

When:  Saturday, Feb 02, 7:00 PM PST

Where: Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Vancouver

Cost: Tix $15 or $10 for students

Demography of the Seven Billion

Where is the world population heading – what happens when we get there? The world’s population is expected to peak at 9 to 10 billion and then slowly decline. There are multiple questions associated with this march toward population stability: how do we know it will happen, what is its timing and regional variation, how much older will the world’s population get, and what are the implications of this stability for world environmental change?

When: Thursday, JAN 24, 7pm

Where: Fletcher Challenge Canada, SFU Harbour Center, Vancouver

Cost: Free

Presented by Dr. Warren C. Sanderson, Professor of Economics, Stony Brook University, New York

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Radio Freethinker Episode 180 – Skeptical Waves Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on September 4, 2012

This week:

– Goodbye Neil Armstrong
– Causality and Climate Change

– Defining the ‘-ism’s
-What’s up with A+ and the skeptical movement?

Download the episode here!

Good bye Neil Armstrong

With the passing of Neil Armstrong, we take a moment to look back at both the man and his impact on humanity.

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Causality and Climate Change

A recent publication by James Hansen (in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) claims to provide proof that weather is caused by climate change. This is a strong and controversial statement, not that climate change is real and affecting the weather but the stronger claim that “THIS hurricane was caused by climate change”. Ethan takes the classic scientific skeptic stance while Don attempts to use the “smoking causes cancer” defence; read, listen and decide where you come down on this important issue.

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Defining the “-ism”s

There has been much debate in the skeptical and atheist community about the future of the movements. Don takes a moment and tries to define what the terms mean so that people engaging (at least RFT) will have a common understanding of what we are talking about. Even if you disagree with our take, you will at least know where we are coming from.

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What up with A+ and the skeptical movement?

There has been a lot of talk about A+ and where the skeptical movement should go. Ethan and Don debate whether A+ is expanding atheism or ghettoising the equality “wing” of the movement. Should we continue to attempt to educate the ignorant (both senses of the term) or cut them a drift as lost causes.

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Skeptical Highlights:

Philosophers Cafe:

What does it mean to be an educated person?

The current proliferation of learning resources delivered via technology may suggest that traditional schooling systems, including formal institutions and assessments, may become less relevant. In light of the wide access to knowledge provided by the Internet, and the accompanying difficulties that traditional systems have keeping up with change, what does it mean to be educated in modern society? Will formal education become even more important as a marker of social progress than it is now, or will educational delivery become more flexible and less formal?

When:  Tuesday, Sept 4, 2012, 7–9 pm
Where: Unitarian Centre, 949 West 49th Avenue (at Oak), Vancouver
Who: Moderator: Sarah Fleming is a senior lecturer in the department of Linguistics at SFU. She teaches and coordinates academic programs in English for multilingual international students.
Cost: Free

Lives of politicians – private or public?

A number of politicians have had their careers prematurely cut short because of perceived or actual issues regarding their personal lives. If the issue does not directly relate to their job, is this fair? Does, and should, one’s personal morals or religion reflect upon their professional conduct?

When:  Wednesday, Sept 5, 2012 7 pm
Where:  Nature’s Garden Organic Deli, 8968 University High Street, Burnaby
Who: Jason Carreiro is a PhD student in SFU’s faculty of Education. His life is devoted to literature and the silence unique to it.
Cost: Free

Social moguls, social virtuosos: who among us is capable of driving change?

The world is always changing, usually according to the whim of politicians. But there are those who are shifting the balance in a direction of intention For example, the blogger whose take on the news you return to time and again because they always seem to have the scoop. A quality common to these “virtuoso social actors” or “social moguls” is knowing how to engage with others from more than one perspective and seeking meaningful compromises among the very different ways that others find value and meaning. Do you have some of these skills? Can you learn them? Can you walk in the shoes of others without losing your own personal vision?

When:  Monday, Sept 10, 2012, 7 pm
Where:   Waves Coffee House, 900 Howe Street (at Smithe) , Vancouver
Who: Moderator: Dr. Meg Holden is an associate professor of Urban Studies and Geography at SFU. She is the founder of the Regional Vancouver Urban Observatory.
Cost: Free

CFI Freethinker’s Book Club

Science, Sense and Nonsense: 61 nourishing, healthy, bulk-free commentaries on the chemistry that affects us all,’ by Joe Schwarcz, PhD.  Saturday, September 8th 2012 at 1:00 pm at The Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar, on Main Street, Vancouver BC

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Radio Freethinker Episode 168 – Jane the Ripper Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 29, 2012

This week:

– Celebrity cannibalism,
– There’s too much water in the oceans ,
Taxes, the real story (Part 2 of 3 interview with Seth Klein),
– has the identity of Jack the Ripper finally been discovered?

Download the episode here!

Celebrity cannibalism

We discuss the recent “auctioned dinner” of an artist who cooked his amputated genitalia. On top of other recent stories, has cannibalism become acceptable and a new celebrity fad? 

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There’s too much water in the oceans

New research shows that there is more water in the oceans of the globe. We thought it was because of global warming but there appears to be another ancient source.

Groundwater withdrawals as a percentage of groundwater recharge

The disappearing water from Indian

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Taxes, the real story

Don’s sits down with Seth Klein in the Radio Free Thinker virtual studio and discusses Taxes, the real story: What comprises our ‘taxes’, are they progressive or regressive, do corps. pay their share and what is a Fair Tax Counsel?.

Seth Klein is director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for BC.

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Has the identity of Jack the Ripper finally been discovered?

We discuss the mythology of Jack the Ripper and a new book that makes a (poor) case that the ripper may have been a woman.

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Skeptical Highlights:

Unveiling the Universe

CERN Director General Rolf Heuer will speak at Science World at TELUS World of Science to engage the public with the many scientific adventures taking place at CERN, including ephemeral neutrinos that apparently disobeyed Einstein’s laws, doppelganger-like anti-atoms likely never before seen in the universe, and the frantic search for the one fundamental particle to rule them all, the Higgs.

When: Sunday June 3, 2012 @ 6pm
Where: Science World
Cost: Free tickets
NOTE: OMNIMAX seating sold out

“Casseroles Night in Canada”

“Casserole” demonstration set for Vancouver in support of Quebec protesters. The clanging of pots and pans is set to make its way to Vancouver this Wednesday evening as part of a series of country-wide protests being organized in support of student demonstrations in Quebec.

When:Wednesday, May 30 @ 8pm
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery
Cost: Free

Skeptics in the Pub – New West

The Skeptics in the Pub Port Moody has moved to New Westminster. It is now right beside the Columbia Skytrain Station at The Met Bar and Grill.Why not start off with a Sunday brunch and some sKepticism. Since this new location is transit friendly I expect to see a great turnout of Vancouver skeptics.

Where: The Met Bar and Grill (411 Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC)
When: Sunday, June 3, 2012 @ 1pm
Cost: Free

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Radio Freethinker Episode 162 – Freethinking President Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 17, 2012

This week:

–       One hot March,

–       Climate Change – Now and then,

–       More research into violent video games,

–       Saskatoon has no exorcists and

–       Interview with new UBC Freethinkers Club president.

Download the episode here!


One hot March!

New data from NOAA shows that March is second hottest in record and over 15,000 record high temperatures were recorded this month in the USA. It’s not all scary data though, in limited ways Canada may benefit.

We also discuss how the central/eastern part of America can be warmer than the western part. 

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Climate Change – Now and then

We talk about the recent rediscovery of a paper published in 1981 by  James Hansen (NASA’s Institute for Space Studies at Goddard Space Flight Center) that explains the mechanism (as understood then). It also makes some predictions about the effects of global warming. 

This seemed an excellent opportunity to use the scientific method to check to see if the predictions made then have come to pass. Listen to find out if the verdict.

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More research into violent video games

There is a long-lasting and at times intense debate about the possible link between violent computer games and aggressiveness. We discuss a recently published article about a new study showing that, more than anything, a good ability to cooperate is a prerequisite for success in the violent gaming environment.

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Saskatoon has no exorcists

In a recent report on the CBC, we discovered that Saskatoon lacks an exorcists. Why should this matter? Well to the local priest, he thought it might be needed when he was called to the home of a mentally disturbed man. In spite of his theological bad thinking, the priest called then police. Then, giving in to the unenlightened side thought he would try some medieval medicine…he tryed to pray the ‘demon’ out of the man.

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Interview with Stephanie van Dyke – new president of the UBC Freethinkers

Ethan site down and finds out what in the mind of the new president and the future of the club.

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Skeptical Highlights:

Most likely to be banned books of 2011.

2012 State of America’s Library Report shows free access to information in jeopardy
In the US, they are celebrating National Library Week. To show the risk to the “freedom to read” the American Library Association has published list of the most often challenged books, because of content, in an effort to show the problems and risks of censorship. Apparently the Office of Intellectual Freedom received almost 350 challenges to books deemed inappropriate. To make the message clearer, and in conjunction with library week, libraries across the US are putting these books on display to both show their value as literature and to make a stand against censorship.


Shoppers Drug mart sued

Shoppers drug mart is being sued for selling ineffective and misleading products…in particular those based on homoeopathy. This will be on an upcoming episode of RFT.

You input is welcome, please send thought, information and data to

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The double standard of climate scandal

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 10, 2012

As a number of our fans probably know there is yet again been another climate change scandal in the press. This one started out as a smoking gun about the dishonesty of climate change denialist but quickly turned into a condemnation of climate scientists (well one in particular Dr. Glieck) and a new weapon denialist will use to say proponents of climate change are alarmist.

One thing that i find offensive, is the double standard used by the corporate media. If we remember climate gate, there was little talk about the illegal way these documents were obtained…by hacking into the mail servers or UK universities, something I think is illegal… but that was treated as tertiary to the ‘scandal’. What was foremost was how misleading and one sided the climate scientist SEEMED to be. As time has shown, there was no malfecience…at least by the climate scientist; although the hackers have never been condemned let alone charged. Yes, as a proponent of wikileaks and open knowledge, my issue is not with the hackers but the double standard that the two ‘leaks’ have been portrayed in mass media.

What is infuriating is then when false allegations were directed at real climate scientist not only did the media and popular press attempt to hang them out to dry, but the science community itself bent over backwards to apologize of the ‘way’ some personal emails were written…it was completely defensive. You don’t prevail in public discourse by being defensive.

This time we have ‘proof’ that the Heartland Institute was actively trying to not only subvert the reporting of the science but was developing school science curriculum that would “not teach science”. They were willing to subvert how science is taught…how students think about and understand science…to forward their economic and ideological agenda. When this happened the most I heard, beyond the climate change community itself[1] was how weird that a ‘socially responsible’ corporation like Microsoft was funding the institute[2]. That was not the real issue.

What should have been happening…if there was not this double standard…was there should have been a perp-walk of Heartland Institute people apologizing for the content of their documents attempts to explain away their actions as bad ‘wording’ of their lesson plans. There should have been talk about a promise to be more ‘honest’ in the future and try not to dis-inform young students? Someone should have lost their job. BUT no…they don’t go on the defensive but attack the source of the documents.

As it turns out the source of the documents was one Dr. Glieck, notable climate scientist, contributor to Forbes, and a sitting member on a number of scientific boards. He claims that he received a copy of an internal memo. That to verify the information in the memo, Dr. Glieck requested information from the Heartland Institute by pretending to be on the board of governors (or something like this). The point being he gained a number of documents under false pretense.

Real Docs

Many, including myself, don’t think that what Glieck did was unethical but journalistic. No one thought it was unethical when a journalist pretended to be a Koch brother to expose their ties to the Governor of Wisconsin. On these grounds I don’t think what Glieck did was unethical and yet another example of how the media has a double standard for regrading Climate Scientist and Denialist.

It is also true that the campaign of “Big Carbon” has been quite successful. As the science of anthropomorphic climate change…i.e. human induced climate change has become more certain, the public’s opinion has reach depressing lows. The reason for this is not the ‘controversy’ in the scientific community. The debate now is, not if but how and when. That is, it is accepted science that human contributions to greenhouse gases as tipped the natural balance and the planet is steadily getting warmer. There is debate as to how quickly the temperature rise is, what the peak temperature could be and when the effects of that heating will be noticeable.

Media vetting of climate change 'experts'

However, this is not the controversy the corporate media is presenting and yet again another double standard. The reason the general population are uncertain about climate change is because the main stream media has emphasised that some people (rarely climate scientist) doubt the evidence…there is a constant and growing distrust of ‘real science’…and of course and increasingly popular meme that there is some kind of conspiracy of climate scientists to ‘con’ the public about climate change to fatten their own wallets…HA!

I could just blame the ignorance of our 24/7 mass media culture but there is also growing evidence that there is concerted effort by “Big Carbon” to muddy the waters…to disparage real science…and to convince the public that what is accepted science is not.

Now, we and most if not all our fans know, climate change is real, and its effects on the planet will be catastrophic…although scientist do debate on the when and to what degree. But I think a number of us are not convinced the ‘denialist’ are themselves conspirators. We tend to excuse many denialist as simply ignorant because they exist in the bubble of political or economic dogma. However, it seems apparent that “Big Carbon” is trying to do to climate change what the tobacco industry did to lung cancer. That is why the documents are important…why Dr. Glieck tactics may be worthy in spite of the possible ethical questions.

The information Glieck obtained was not strictly speaking unknown. The bias of the Heartland Institute is common knowledge. What made this disclosure important…if true…was the memo that showed the institute was not just biased but conspirator.

Dr. Glieck has admitted to obtaining the documents via deception, but denies he faked any of the documents. Almost all the documents are acknowledged as authentic by the Heartland institute except a memo. This memo is the ‘smoking gun’ so to speak about how this institute’s purpose is not to promote or inform about climate science but retard and restrict in teaching and promotion…one quote about the institute’s project to create school curriculum that are actually intended to “dissuade teachers from teaching science”

It is this one line that transforms the discussion from ‘promoting an ideological point’ to a conspiracy against science. This is why the authenticity of the memo is important.

What struck me as most discouraging is the total absence from the media debate any attempt to use scientific tools to determine if the memo was faked or not. Most mainstream media has labeled the memo an “obvious fake”, largely because of the source…assuming the source…the author of the memo was Glieck himself. It seems that there were three schools of thought in the mass media: if it was obtained by fake credentials, it must be fake; no one would be stupid enough to send THAT memo, so it must be fake; or Heartland says it fake, so it must be fake.

What can science say about this?

There was a call to crowdsource this question by used some of the best analytical tools available to science…in particular computer text analysis. Java Graphical Authorship Attribution Program is one such method advocated for. What this software does is essentially establish stylometric authorship attribution via numeric analysis of the Camberra Distance of 2gram events…i.e. it analyzes a document’s writing style with an eye to determining who wrote it

Well, as it turns out at least one person, Shawn Otto, attempted to use word analyst software to compare the written works of Heartland to Glieck to see who was likely to be the author. After several variations of the analysis, it seem extremely more likely to be authored by Heartland than Glieck. Now of course, one result does not make a science fact and we eagerly await more results.

We can also do our own analysis right now. In the documents Heartland claims ARE authentic, here are some of the course curriculum module titles for students grades 6 to 12.

  • “Whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”
  • “Models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial”
  • “Environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”
  • “Whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions”

Well funded disinformation

Does this seem at least consistent with the memo? As far as misleading science, the last one “natural emissions 20 times higher than human emissions”. Strictly speaking it true and irrelevant.

What is important is the natural equilibrium and longterm accumulation. Natural emissions are about 440 gigatons of CO2, natural absorption is about the same…humans addition to that is 25 gigatons, the majority of which is NOT absorbed and thus accumulates in the atmosphere.

So what the Heartland ‘science’ leaves out is that over twenty years we have pumped the same amount of CO2 nature produces but that most of that CO2 remains in the atmosphere and causes climate change. The author is either ignorant of science, his credentials leave that highly unlikely, or there is a deliberate attempt to deceive the students.

Is the Heartland Institute promoting an eco-political ideology that will potentially damage children’s perception of science in the future – Yes. Is that surprising – should not have been. Is it likely we can change the opinion of the institute and its supporters – sadly not likely.

Returning and concluding on my main theme, what we can do is demand from our media outlets an honest standard of reporting. An acknowledgment that to be fair to a subject matter does not mean you must give all sides equal times. Holocaust deniers are wrong and should not be seen as promoting an equal but different view to the historical community.

Why do we allow main stream media to portray human-induced climate change denialist as having as valid an argument as the climate science consensus? Let your voice be heard. Contact your local news outlet, go on line and confront the denialist in the forums and comments sections of new websites. Do not go gentle into that good night…RAGE RAGE against the lying in the night.

[1] This was not a secret to the climate science, skeptic nor progressive communities. What was different was the forthright openness the ‘memo’ stated its purpose.

[2] As it turns out, Microsoft gives free licences to its products to non-profit ‘community’ groups. This ‘freebee’ amounted to several thousand dollars (MS software is not cheap). It appears they thought this was a community group. So they did not give it any ‘real’ money.

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Science Sunday #21

Posted by Don McLenaghen on November 6, 2011

– and on the seventh day we learn.
Each week I hope to give a synopsis of the interesting science stories I have heard on my plethora of science podcasts I listen to each week plus anything I pick up scanning the inter-web. We are going to try something different this week. I listen to over 30 podcasts and read over 1000 articles a week; limiting stories here to 5 +/- items seemed limited. So, less text and more stories…feedback welcome. This week’s top stories:

This week’s top stories:


Unraveling the causes of the Ice Age megafauna extinctions-

A study, just published online in the journal Nature, reveals that neither climate nor humans alone can account for the Ice Age mass extinctions. Using ancient megafauna DNA, climate data and the archaeological record, the findings indicate dramatically different responses of Ice Age species to climate change and humans.

For example, the study shows that humans played no part in the extinction of the woolly rhino or the musk ox in Eurasia and that their demise can be entirely explained by climate change. On the other hand, humans aren’t off the hook when it comes to the extinction of the wild horse and the bison in Siberia. Our ancestors share responsibility for the megafauna extinctions with climate change. While the reindeer remain relatively unaffected by any of these factors, the causes of the extinction of the mammoths is still a mystery.

Science in Action Podcast

Material World Podcast

Species-specific responses of Late Quaternary megafauna to climate and humans

Unraveling the causes of the Ice Age megafauna extinctions

Humans and climate contributed to extinctions of large ice-age mammals

Return of the dust bowl –

Haboobs, giant dust storms, walloped Arizona last summer — some close to 2 kilometers high and 160 kilometers wide — knocking out electricity, creating traffic jams and grounding airplanes. Even old-timers say they can’t remember anything quite like this year’s aerial assaults. Meanwhile Texas is experiencing one of the most extreme droughts in recent history, with almost 90 percent of the state in the most extreme level of drought. Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and other states are also experiencing drought conditions. The worry is that this might just be the start of a trend, as EARTH reports in the November issue: Over the next couple of decades, researchers say, the American West will transition to an environment that may make the 1930s Dust Bowl seem mild and brief.

The problem is that rising temperatures will contribute directly and indirectly to there being more dust in the air. Then, persistent droughts, increasingly violent and variable weather patterns, urban and suburban development and even off-road recreational vehicle usage compound the problem. So, is the West doomed? Or is there any reason to believe that this forecast may not come true?

Return of the Dust Bowl

Eureka Alert


Latex gloves lead to lax hand hygiene in hospitals –

Healthcare workers who wear gloves while treating patients are much less likely to clean their hands before and after patient contact, according to a study published in the December issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. This failure of basic hand hygiene could be contributing to the spread of infection in healthcare settings, the researchers say.

Glove use is appropriate for situations when contact with body fluids is anticipated or when patients are to be managed with contact precautions. However, use of gloves should not be considered a substitute for effective hand hygiene practices taking place before and after patient contact. Although gloves can reduce the number of germs transmitted to the hands, germs can sometimes still get through latex. Hands can also be contaminated by “back spray” when gloves are removed after contact with body fluids.

The researchers, led by Dr. Sheldon Stone of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, observed more than 7,000 patient contacts in 56 intensive care and acute care of the elderly wards in 15 United Kingdom hospitals, making this one of the largest and most detailed studies on gloves and their impact on hand hygiene. Overall, the study found that hand hygiene compliance was “disappointingly low,” at just 47.7 percent. Compliance was even lower in instances where gloves were worn, dipping to just over 41 percent.

Eureka Alert


New Evidence for the Earliest Modern Humans in Europe –

The timing, process and archaeology of the peopling of Europe by early modern humans have been actively debated for more than a century. Reassessment of the anatomy and dating of a fragmentary upper jaw with three teeth from Kent’s Cavern, Devon, in southern England has shed new light on these issues.

The Kent’s Cavern human joins the human skull and lower jaw from the Peştera cu Oase, Romania, in establishing the presence of modern humans at both ends of Europe (northwest and southeast) by at least 40,000 years ago.

Science in action Podcast

Jawbone Found in England Is from the Earliest Known Modern Human in Northwestern Europe

New Evidence for the Earliest Modern Humans in Europe

The earliest evidence for anatomically modern humans in northwestern Europe


March of the Titans reviled in their teeth –

Fossils of dinosaurs often allow us to build reconstructions of what they looked like, but only rarely do we get insight into what they did – their behaviour.  For example, while many paleontologists have assumed that some dinosaurs migrated, the evidence for this has been scanty.  Now, Dr. Henry Fricke, a geochemist from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and his colleagues, have found evidence in fossil teeth that 150 million years ago, giant sauropods called Camarasaurs migrated seasonally. They traveled a distance of 300km from lowlands to highlands, probably to ensure a good supply of food to fuel their giant bodies.

Quirks and Quarks Podcast

March of the titans: fossil teeth show dinosaurs heading for the hills

Best Evidence Yet for Dinosaur Migrations

Lowland–upland migration of sauropod dinosaurs during the Late Jurassic epoch


‘Saber-Toothed Squirrel’ – 

Paleontologist Guillermo Rougier, Ph.D., professor of anatomical sciences and neurobiology at the University of Louisville, and his team have reported their discovery of two skulls from the first known mammal of the early Late Cretaceous period of South America. The fossils break a roughly 60 million-year gap in the currently known mammalian record of the continent and provide new clues on the early evolution of mammals.

The new critter, named Cronopio dentiacutus by the paleontologists, is a dryolestoid, an extinct group distantly related to today’s marsupials and placentals.

Cronopio was shrew-sized, about 4-6 inches in length, and was an insectivore with a diet of the insects, grubs and other bugs of the time. It lived when giant dinosaurs roamed Earth — more than 100 million years ago — and made its home in a vegetated river plain.

The skulls reveal that Cronopio had extremely long canine teeth, a narrow muzzle and a short, rounded skull. “These first fossil remains of dryolestoids … give us a complete picture of the skull for the group,” John R. Wible, Ph.D., curator of mammals at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, said. “The new dryolestoid, Cronopio, is without a doubt one of the most unusual mammals that I have seen, extinct or living, with its elongate, compressed snout and oversized canine teeth. What it did with that unusual morphology perhaps may come to light with additional discoveries… .”

 First Known Mammalian Skull from Late Cretaceous in South America

National Geographic – Ancient “Saber-Toothed Squirrel” Found


NPR – Scientists Unveil Fossil Of ‘Saber-Toothed Squirrel’ That Lived Among Dinos

11/11/11: Maya Scholar Debunks Doomsday Myths –

In a paper presented in January at the Oxford IX International Symposium on Archaeoastronomy in Lima, Peru, University of Kansas anthropologist and Maya scholar John Hoopes tracks the 2012 Maya myth origins through various revivals into the 21st century. The myth is rooted in an early 16th-century European combination of astrological and biblical prophecies to explain the new millennium. Columbus believed that his discovery of the world’s “most remote land” would lead to Spain’s re-conquest of Jerusalem and fulfill world-end events described in the Book of Revelations.

To validate his convictions, Columbus wrote his own Book of Prophecies that included an account of his interview with a “Maia” leader in 1502. The reference inspired early speculation by explorers and missionaries, indirectly influencing crackpots as well as scholars to link ancient Maya — before any contact with Europeans — with the astrological and religious beliefs popular in Europe in the 1500s.

Misinterpretations and distortions flowed with each revival of interest in Maya culture. In the 1960s, the myth re-flowered as the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, enjoyed a resurgence in Y2K and thrives today. Hoopes adds that the Occupy Wall Street movement clearly reflects a nostalgia for the progressive culture of the 1960s.

Science Daily

Maya scholar uses 11/11/11 predictions to teach critical thinking

Brains Come Wired for Cooperation –

The brain was built for cooperative activity, whether it be dancing on a reality television show, constructing a skyscraper or working in an office, according to a study led by Johns Hopkins behavioral neuroscientist Eric Fortune and published in the November 4 issue of the journal Science.

The research used the plain-tailed wrens. These chubby-breasted rust-and-gray birds, who don’t fly so much as hop and flit through the area’s bamboo thickets, are famous for their unusual duets. Their songs — sung by one male and one female — take an ABCD form, with the male singing the A and C phrases and the female (who seems to be the song leader) singing B and D.

“In both males and females, we found that neurons reacted more strongly to the duet song — with both the male and female birds singing — over singing their own parts alone. In fact, the brain’s responses to duet songs were stronger than were responses to any other sound,” he said. “It looked like the brains of wrens are wired to cooperate.”

“Brains among vertebrate animals — frogs, cats, fish, bears and even humans — are more similar than most people realize,” Fortune said. “The neurotransmitter systems that control brain activity at the molecular level are nearly identical among all vertebrates and the layout of the brain structures is the same. Thus, the kinds of phenomena that we have described in these wrens is very relevant to the brains of most, if not all, vertebrate species, including us humans.”

Brains Come Wired for Cooperation

Neural Mechanisms for the Coordination of Duet Singing in Wrens


Volunteers End Simulated Mission to Mars –

The record-breaking simulated mission to Mars has ended with smiling faces after 17 months. Mars500’s six brave volunteers stepped out of their ‘spacecraft’ Nov. 4, 2011 to be welcomed by the waiting scientists — happy that the venture had worked even better than expected.

The international crew were isolated in their interplanetary spacecraft mock-up, faithfully following the phases of a real mission: a long flight to Mars, insertion into orbit around the planet, landing, surface exploration, return to orbit, a monotonous return flight and arrival at Earth.

Science Daily

Astronauts ‘Return’ Home This Week After Mock Mars Mission

NPR Podcast – Fake Mission Accomplished For Mars500

6 Mock Mars Explorers Emerge from 17-Month “Mission”


To boldly go where no man-made object has gone before…and keep it going –

NASA’s Deep Space Network personnel sent commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft Nov. 4 to switch to the backup set of thrusters that controls the roll of the spacecraft. Confirmation was received today that the spacecraft accepted the commands. The change will allow the 34-year-old spacecraft to reduce the amount of power it requires to operate and use previously unused thrusters as it continues its journey toward interstellar space, beyond our solar system.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are each equipped with six sets, or pairs, of thrusters to control their movement. These include three pairs of primary thrusters and three backup, or redundant, pairs. Voyager 2 is currently using the two pairs of backup thrusters that control the pitch and yaw motion of the spacecraft. Switching to the backup thruster pair that controls roll motion will allow engineers to turn off the heater that keeps the fuel line to the primary thruster warm. This will save about 12 watts of power. The spacecraft’s power supply now provides about 270 watts of electricity. By reducing its power usage, the spacecraft can continue to operate for another decade even as its available power continues to decline.

Voyager 2 to Switch to Backup Thruster Set

NASA – Voyager Mission Status Report


Nature’s laws may vary across the Universe –

One of the laws of nature may vary across the Universe, according to a study published today in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The study found that one of the four known fundamental forces, electromagnetism – measured by the so-called fine-structure constant and denoted by the symbol ‘alpha’ – seems to vary across the Universe.

NPR Podcast

Indications of a Spatial Variation of the Fine Structure Constant

Another Law of Physics Broken?

Nature’s laws may vary across the Universe


First Quantum Cloning Machine to Produce Four Copies – 

Xi-Jun Ren and Yang Xiang from Henan Universities in China, in collaboration with Heng Fan at the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have produced a theory for a quantum cloning machine able to produce several copies of the state of a particle at atomic or sub-atomic scale, or quantum state, in an article about to be published in The European Physical Journal D. The advance could have implications for quantum information processing methods used, for example, in message encryption systems.

Quantum cloning is difficult because quantum mechanics laws only allow for an approximate copy—not an exact copy—of an original quantum state to be made, as measuring such a state prior to its cloning would alter it.

In this study, researchers have demonstrated that it is theoretically possible to create four approximate copies of an initial quantum state, in a process called asymmetric cloning.

Not One, Not Two, Not Three, but Four Clones

Optimal asymmetric 1 → 4 quantum cloning in arbitrary dimension

First quantum cloning machine to produce four copies

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