Various finds and ruminations on … 4

Climate Change 4

Yes, I’m afraid so. And some are really basic things that have occurred to me as a layperson as I have pondered quite a few views since last posting on this. I’ve been storing my finds on Google. So before I purge the favourites, I’ll share a few with you.

1. Why climate realists and skeptics talk past each other

There does seem to be a lot of that going on…

Truth be told, I’m more interested in people who are overcoming barriers to progress than in the endless “does global warming exist?” debates. When your house is on fire, at some point you stop arguing with someone who says there’s no fire, and you focus on getting your family out. Or if the house is an inescapable planet, you get to work dousing the fire.

But … there’s this awesome metaphor in The Economist that’s useful for understanding how climate realists and skeptics talk past each other. It goes like this: If you view climate science as a jigsaw puzzle, the full picture becomes clear once you’ve got most pieces in place. A loose piece here and there doesn’t obscure the whole picture. If it’s a kitten in a laundry basket you’re looking at, you can be sure it’s a kitten in a laundry basket with only 90 percent of the pieces in place.

On the other hand, if you view climate science as a house of cards, with each piece dependent on another piece, one loose card can topple the whole apparatus. (The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, to add yet another metaphor.) So the improper emails at the heart of the “climategate” uproar or one incorrect report on Himalayan glaciers can seem like a fatal blow, even though the body of scientific work confirming climate change vastly outweighs them.

I find this illuminating. Understanding the difference between jigsaw people and house-of-cards people doesn’t resolve their disagreements. But it’s useful to see how they’re working off different metaphors. And The Economist’s thorough overview of climate science makes a strong case for why the jigsaw metaphor is the more appropriate one…

2. An example of a politically corrupted source?

Ever been to the “denialist” site Global Warming.org? What, from the title, might you have thought it was? Well, objectivity isn’t its long suit. In fact, it is instructive to follow the tabs at the top of the site to the CAP Project.

CEI’s CAP project (“Control Abuse of Power”) aims to fight unaccountable government power.

In recent decades, government has increasingly assumed tax and regulatory powers that impact consumers and businesses nationwide. But many of those important policy decisions are made independently of lawmakers and voters. The $240 billion tobacco deal, for example, was made by state attorneys general and major tobacco companies– not by legislators at the federal or state level. And the PCAOB is comprised of regulators who are unaccountable to the president or Congress or the businesses they regulate.

Unfortunately, businesses are often fearful of incurring the wrath of government officials and regulators. And average citizens are often ill-equipped to wage expensive and complicated challenges to such government abuse of power. But such massive use and abuse of government power cannot be left unchecked.

CAP pursues its mission through public education, regulatory interventions, litigation, and policy research.

The project’s initial targets are the 1998 tobacco settlement and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). CEI has mounted constitutional legal challenges to both the tobacco settlement and the PCAOB in an effort to restore power and accountability to the people.

As a non-profit public policy organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. We believe that individuals are best helped not by government intervention but by making their own choices in a free marketplace.

It and Global Warming.org are projects of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  Checking it out one finds pretty much the usual suspects. This is a case where cui bono? is definitely rewarded. OK, cross that off your list of reputable scientific sites.

3. It’s all over now, Baby Blue!

There’s a feature article in the latest Der SpiegelA Superstorm for Global Warming Research by Marco Evers, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the time lag between commissioning a print feature article and publishing it, events have overtaken some of its best examples.

Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius?

Life has become "awful" for Phil Jones. Just a few months ago, he was a man with an enviable reputation: the head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, an expert in his field and the father of an alarming global temperature curve that apparently showed how the Earth was heating up as a result of anthropogenic global warming.

Those days are now gone.

Nowadays, Jones, who is at the center of the "Climategate" affair involving hacked CRU emails, needs medication to fall sleep. He feels a constant tightness in his chest. He takes beta-blockers to help him get through the day. He is gaunt and his skin is pallid. He is 57, but he looks much older. He was at the center of a research scandal that hit him as unexpectedly as a rear-end collision on the highway.

His days are now shaped by investigative commissions at the university and in the British Parliament. He sits on his chair at the hearings, looking miserable, sometimes even trembling. The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats. "We know where you live," his detractors taunt.

Jones is finished: emotionally, physically and professionally. He has contemplated suicide several times recently, and he says that one of the only things that have kept him from doing it is the desire to watch his five-year-old granddaughter grow up.

Now exonerated**, as you know. See also: Climategate: An Autopsy; The Smoking Guns and Blue Dress Moments of Climategate.

In seeking balance it also pays too much attention to some dubious viewpoints.

A Climate Rebel Takes on the Establishment

One man notes with particular satisfaction how Phil Jones and his colleagues are being forced to confess to one mistake after another. Steve McIntyre lives in a small brick house near downtown Toronto. It is a Sunday afternoon and he is sitting at his well-worn desk, illuminated only by a small energy-saving bulb on the ceiling.

This man, with his thinning gray hair, is an unlikely adversary for climatologists, and yet he is largely responsible for the current tumult in their field. "This is the computer I used to begin doing the recalculations," he says, holding a six-year-old Acer laptop with a 40-gigabyte hard drive. "My wife finally gave me a new one for Christmas."

See: Steve McIntyre, down in the quote mine; McIntyre had the data all along; Mcintyre misunderstood somehow. Yet again….

Here are some survey results for Germany published in “A Superstorm for Global Warming”. The first does testify to two matters wider than just Germany, I suspect: how the issue has been taken off the boiler by politicians since Copenhagen – certainly the case here in Oz; how the “sceptics” have had considerable success.

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Don’t get me wrong: as a feature article, not an example of scientific writing, it’s not bad at all, even interesting. See what you think of it.

Balance, however, isn’t as easy as it looks.

There is something to be said for presenting a debate in terms of the two strongest cases that can be made on either side. But this can also lead to important distortions…

The problem is that the traditional way of balancing is not just one way that debates are presented, but the formula that is almost invariably followed. The cumulative effect of all these discussions is to present a picture of a society which is dominated by adversarial conflicts and huge gulfs. The moderate middle ground, occupied by the majority, is left unrepresented, and so the striving for balance actually fails to fulfil its primary purpose of reflecting the opinions that are out there.

What is perhaps even worse is that to give both sides equal weight can severely distort what are actually important imbalances in a debate. This is typical of many scientific issues, where one rogue researcher is pitted against an opponent who represents the opinion of the vast majority. This is probably one reason why the public thought the claims that autism was caused by the combined MMR vaccine were more credible than they were. The media gave equal time to both sides of the argument (or perhaps even more to the minority view), which inevitably gave the impression the issue was much more uncertain than it really was. This kind of balance tips the scales in favour of the maverick.

This is an issue not of the content of arguments themselves but how they are framed. The concern is that certain views are already granted more respect or importance than they are due simply by the way they are debated and discussed. We need to be on our guard and remember that a “balanced discussion” can nevertheless be a hugely distorted one.

Updates

** Dear me, what a story! Fox News’ Ed Barnes Tries to Re-Ignite Attacks on Climate Scientist Exonerated by Penn State.

In his “exclusive” story, titled “Top Climate Scientist’s Exoneration Won’t Be the Last Word,” Fox News’ Ed Barnes suggests that the Penn State investigation that cleared Dr. Michael Mann of any wrong-doing was a “whitewash” designed to protect the “millions of dollars in grant money it gets by having Mann on the faculty.”

Barnes claims that Penn State’s decision to exonerate Mann generated “a storm of controversy” and “came under severe attack.”  Reading his inflammatory language, you might think that a whole lot of academics and scientists ridiculed the inquiry.  Who is this angry mob that generated such a “storm of controversy?”

Actually, the Barnes storm is comprised of only three people – a mining executive, the wealthiest member of Congress, and a former FoxNews.com columnist…

Barnes and others at Fox News have played a central role in the “Climategate” echo chamber, providing a megaphone for skeptics trying to spin the stolen CRU emails into scandal every which way, and continuing the long smear campaign against Michael Mann.
Despite all their rants, the inquiries into Mann and the CRU scientists have found no evidence of the data tampering or interference with information requests that FOX and friends hoped would emerge from their “ClimateGate” dud.  They can’t tolerate the fact that Dr. Mann and Phil Jones and others have been largely vindicated.  So they resort back to spin. And when that doesn’t pan out, they spin again.

It’s dizzying just trying to follow it, really. 

Sounds like the “critics” are projecting their own “values” onto Penn State to me…

8 April: Real Climate offers a trenchant critique of the Spiegel article: Climate scientist bashing.

…What is it all about?

SPIEGEL defames some of the best scientists worldwide, who not least for this reason have become prime targets for the “climate skeptics”. If you look at publications in the three scientific top journals (Nature, Science, PNAS), the just 44-year-old Mike Mann has already published 9 studies there, Phil Jones 24 (comments, letters and book reviews not included). In contrast, DER SPIEGEL always calls upon the same witness, the mathematician Hans von Storch, who has published only a single article in the prime journals mentioned (and that was faulty). But he says the politically wanted thing, even if without any supporting evidence from the scientific literature: in his view we can easily adapt to climate change. He also publicly accuses the vast majority of his colleagues who disagree with him of alarmism, calls them “prophets of doom” or “eco-activists” who indoctrinate the public. He also insinuates political or financial motives for disseminating horror scenarios. In this article he says things like “unfortunately, some of my colleagues behave like pastors, who present their results in precisely such a way that they’ll fit to their sermons”. This quote matches the article´s inflationary usage of the words “guru” “popes” “fiery sermons” “missionaries” and so forth. And he goes on: “It’s certainly no coincidence that all the mistakes that became public always tended in the direction of exaggeration and alarmism.” The following statement would have probably been more correct: it is certainly no coincidence that all the alleged errors scandalized in the media always tended in the direction of exaggeration and alarmism.

It is obvious that DER SPIEGEL does not care about science. This really is about politics. This year will decide about the future of the German climate policy: in the fall the government will announce its new energy strategy. This will decide whether the energy transformation towards a sustainable electricity supply, increasingly based on renewables, will be pushed forward or thwarted. In a global context the issue is whether global warming can be limited to a maximum of 2 ºC, as the Copenhagen Accord calls for, or whether this opportunity will be lost. The power struggle on this issue is in full gear. The energy transformation can best be prevented by creating doubts about its urgency. The fact that scandal stories about climate science have to be invented to this end just proves one thing: good, honest arguments against a forceful climate policy apparently do not exist.

The author of that critique, originally published in German, is Stefan Rahmstorf — a climatologist and head of department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a professor at the University of Potsdam. He is co-author of the 4th IPCC Climate Report and belongs to the Scientific Advisory Council for Global Change (WBGU). His research focuses on climate changes in the Earth’s history.

Another resource

Added 9 April 2010. Some may be interested in this PowerPoint presentation for Australian Science teachers.

WhySciTeachersWEB ppt.

12 April: Debunking Lord Monckton, Part One.

47 thoughts on “Various finds and ruminations on … 4

  1. Oh dear. You’re really not going to stop the alarmist attitude, are you :(. You realize, don’t you, that this is just the latest armageddon theory predicted by some whacky environmentalist (in fact, he was employed by the venerable Margaret Thatcher!). Yet you support the theory, despite the fact that the Earth’s temps are not agreeing with it. Belief without proof is faith.

    Normally, I’m a fan of faith. Any faith that doesn’t cause harm to others, at least. It’s a beautiful, very personal experience.

    But your faith in Man-made Global Warming DOES harm others. It’s almost as deadly as belief in murderous islam. Every $billion wasted on some anti-global warming claptrap is a $billion that can’t be used to, say, dig 50,000 wells in Africa so the people can drink clean water, or set up ten thousand fish farms in Indonesia to lower the starvation rate.

    And for what? What do you get for denying these things to the less fortunate? Don’t waste the world’s charity on such a silly idea as AGW. Stop believing in the magical enemy that is CO2, and start believing in humanity.

  2. Hey, why do you keep making new blogs and abandoning old ones? I’m just an engineer, but it’s clear to even me that this is a bad marketing strategy. Especially since it takes me three clicks to get to your current blog. A lot of people wouldn’t bother.

  3. You offer the same choice as Lord Monckton does: believe in humanity OR believe in global warming. What about believe in humanity AND believe in global warming?

    Just as I don’t “believe in” evolution or gravity, so I don’t “believe in” global warming. What I do do is accept that until some much better explanation comes along I go along with all those responsible scientists and the vast majority of the world’s scientific organisations and publications who have concluded that the global warming hypothesis is still standing and is a very real issue.

    The decision is a rational one founded on quite a lot of reading and thought, which I thought might be obvious even from this series of four posts. I do resent those — not you, but like Roger, the New Zealand guy who has also commented on some of my climate change posts — who suggest that the only people who ever “think for themselves” are those who agree with them! I plan to leave the issue alone now, unless something really dramatic comes up.

    As for my changing blogs — each change marks a shift in emphasis, I feel. Marketing has nothing to do with it. People will follow me or not — that’s up to them. The bulk of regulars cope, and those who go to the archives from Google because something in particular interests them have no problem. The photoblog is stable. So is this one for the foreseeable future.

    BTW I enjoyed your post on English grammar.

  4. Except believing in ‘humanity AND global warming’ is like believing in ‘war and peace’. Your belief in global warming causes possibly irreparable harm to humanity by diverting funds that could be used to save lives, to fighting the CO2 boogeyman.

    Anyway, have a great week!

  5. Hehe, he calls them ‘deniers’, as if they are denying some kind of truth. Classy :). For an environmentalist at least. For a normal person, it’s quite despicable.

    I don’t really care how you justify your position of curtailing the production of CO2 despite the cost in human lives it demands. What I DO care about is that you admit it. If you’d rather cut CO2 creation by 1% than save a few million Africans, you should have the balls to admit it.

    Maybe you could say that by causing the starvation of just a couple of million Africans, your plan to slow carbon consumption will save the human race from some unexplained armageddon, where billions die. Or maybe you could work the word ‘trillion’ into it. That’s a big number and raises a lot of eyebrows. In any event, please admit that a few million lives are not as important as defeating your evil adversary, carbon dioxide, creator of life on the planet.

    Most people are not scientists (I use yourself as a perfect example – platotianically perfect, in fact) and will buy into your fears. Just like they do with any fear-based religion similar to the one you are following without understanding its basics.

    Man, they, and you, piss me off. Why not just learn simple science? It’s not hard. Millions starve because people like Neil won’t learn science. It’s frustrating.

  6. because people like Neil won’t learn science. — or the editors of Nature, The Scientific American, and every major scientific body in the world. I am in good company then.

    As a matter of interest I did first General Science and then Chemistry all through high school and a science elective in my post-grad Diploma of Education. I have even taught the occasional junior high Science class!

    P.S. How about Americans reducing their consumption of the world’s resources and siphoning the difference to starving Africans? Could work…

  7. But there’s a difference between you and them, Neil. The rare scientist that believes in AGW usually has his income tied to that belief, so he can be forgiven. You can bet that if my job depended upon me saying that AGW was real, I’d say AGW was real. Poor people be damned.

    But you, Neil, make no money off the AGW scam. You just preach about it as if it were an actual problem. In my mind, that makes you much worse than the Michael Manns and Phil Joneses of the world. At least they spew the crap they spew for a reason (and that reason is $millions). You’re spreading the lie and aiding in the starvation of poor people for free!

    As to your last point, I’m not sure if a decline in American consumption would work. As you know, Americans are the most generous people on the planet, giving away around 2%* of our personal income to the less fortunate. If we lowered consumption, we’d probably end up lowering our ‘more substantial than most’ income, which would lower our charitable contributions. It is an interesting idea, but I don’t think it would work. I’d be curious to hear your deeper thoughts about it though.

    * – Now that I read that chart, I’m pissed off. My wife demands that we donate 10% of our after-tax income to one charity or another, and says she’s doing me a favor because we’re supposed to donate 10% of our BEFORE tax income! Women. I hates ‘em.

  8. Kevin, we really come full circle with your various non-scientific reasons for your case.

    At least you have helped with traffic to these posts.

  9. Didn’t know we were speaking of stats! I kind of assumed that the idea of statistics was too scientific for you, no offense. In your defense, you can probably write a sonnet or maybe a Japanese haiku that will clarify your unkempt feelings about it. Maybe an aboriginal dance?

    And you are welcome to my non-scientific reasoning. I don’t want to say that I’m trying to dumb it down for you, so I,… hmm. so I won’t. But you kind of know that I am, and I can’t find an honest way of admitting it.

    Thanks for proving my point about America’s overwhelming givingness (new word, created by me), and I love the way they try to re-categorize ‘giving’, so that it has nothing to do with the percentage of your wealth that you give away (in your article, at least. “Commitment development index”. Hah!) You’ve made my week with that one, Neil.

    Commitment development index. What a silly …It’s almost as ridiculous as the one where some NGO says that America is not #1 in healthcare, as we all know it is.

    This is just another example of how worshiping at the altar of global warming harms you. It harms you, and it harms the poor people that you might help, but I’m sure you could find some random NGO that will convince you that you are saving the planet or some other such nonsense.

    But you’re Australian, so I see from the chart that charity isn’t all that important to you. Maybe you should screw poor people even more by making energy more expensive for them! That’ll teach those poor bastards.

    Neil, your lack of compassion is making me hate hippies even more than I already do, if that’s possible.

  10. It may be we have to rely less on charity because our government services take up quite a lot of the need.

    Something more to look at: Q_and_A on Climate Change pdf. Also posted by the Australian Physics Institute.

    And here is a list with links of American scientists and scientific bodies who support this “AGW nonsense”. All of them part of a sinister UN/liberal plot of course…

    …Scientific Societies

    Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations

    “Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” (October, 2009)

    American Meteorological Society: Climate Change: An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society

    “Indeed, strong observational evidence and results from modeling studies indicate that, at least over the last 50 years, human activities are a major contributor to climate change.” (February 2007)

    American Physical Society: Statement on Climate Change

    “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (November 2007)

    Etc….

    Along with the tooth fairy. Never trusted the tooth fairy…

  11. Yes, we’re lucky that way and have been since at least 1908. I think you mean Nineteen Eighty-Four — Orwell always wrote it in full. ;)

  12. “It may be we have to rely less on charity because our government services take up quite a lot of the need.”

    We’re not really talking about relying, we’re talking about giving of your self. And it sounds like you don’t feel the need to give because that’s your government’s responsibility (from your point of view). I find that idea as repulsive as I do your love of blaming man for the temperature of the planet. It’s a personal issue though, and I certainly don’t want to cram my beliefs down your throat. So I’m going to stop now. Except for your deadly belief in AGW. I’ll still work that angle.

    Lastly, look. Do you see 1984 spelled out?

  13. So that’s two things I’d like to hear your hippie liberal leaning opinion about. Sorry for calling you a hippie. I can’t mention the word ‘liberal’ without saying ‘hippie’. It just doesn’t look right :).

    1) Is it ok to depend on your government to do the charity work that many on the right think you should do for yourself?

    2) Does money spent on curtailing the use of carbon-based energy harm developing nations?

    And I’d like to add a third idea for you to blog about if you run out of things. Since we went into Orwellian territory – 3) Is Animal Farm a discussion about the inevitable destruction of democracy? If so, IS it inevitable? I think the answers are ‘yes’ and ‘yes’. :( I’ll tell you why if you do a post about it and I can find said post (finding your articles is difficult!).

  14. Just a few points for now. English editions always follow the author’s specifications; some reprints, especially in the US, do not. Trivial, but also ironic given how particular Orwell was about such things.

    Also, Orwell (a life-long socialist but also anti-authoritarian) wrote Animal Farm to parody the USSR, not to portray the destruction of democracy.

    As for other issues: a starting point might be A SELECTION OF THE MOST RECENT AND MOST INTERESTING WORKING PAPERS ON THE ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

    And the government/individual social welfare thing: I’m an Australian and you’re not. US individualism is not as exportable as you might think. Our country has always looked to government far more than yours has. Partly this is because given our vast spaces and comparatively small population government has been the only instrumentality capable of delivering services equitably across the nation. Profitability is sometimes secondary to real need.

  15. Bah. I’m done discussing climate with you Neil. You’re hard coded now, and only time will heal you. Old people are often like that :(. On to more interesting stuff.

    I get it. You say that Australians depend on their government to do good deeds so they don’t have to. Your point is clear, but I just don’t believe you. To use a word from another of your posts, that is the speech of a ‘scrum’ bag. You’re not giving a damned thing to the less fortunate if you rely on your government to do it. I have respect for you Neil, but I’m rapidly losing it. Your government is not your king or queen. They don’t get to make decisions like where your charity goes to. They’re not your parents. You have to do it yourself, as painful as that might be.

    Meh. I’m pretty angry right now, so I’ll shut up about it. Are you sure that personal charity is an American thing? I’ve always considered it to be a human thing. An important, if somewhat painful thing. Donate some of your income, you selfish bast… Oh yeah, I said I would shut up about it. Do what you will.

    Regarding 1984, I agree that it was an attack on the USSR (and socialism in general, though you clearly disagree), but he was so brilliant that his work spilled over into other areas. Keep in mind that I’m just an engineer and wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a Robert Frost poem and a Picasso painting. Here’s the thing:

    From 1984 – Newspeak. It’s identical to pc speak, and it’s bringing down BOTH our nations to the horrible level of Europe. His book is happening right now in real life!

    About Animal Farm: Do you remember when those pigs started walking on two legs, towards the end? This is a ‘soylent green is people’ moment here… They became the government!

    Comment too long. I’ll explain my belief about how Orwell predicts the end of Democracy later, if you’re interested.

  16. I never said personal charity is not an Australian thing. See Auscharity.

    What I am saying is that Australians don’t in general have the same distrust of government that you seem to have. Our argument is that we expect them to do something useful with our taxes, and that up to now includes social welfare.

  17. No thanks for the link. I’ll take you at your word, Neil. You seem honest, albeit misguided. I’ll assume that typical Australians are NOT as cheap as you are, and donate to some cause occasionally. If the mood is right, or the planets are aligned. Whatever. The data tells the tale. You can sugar-coat it however you want. No one will buy it.

    * and for the record, I’m STILL pissed off that Americans give away 3X as much as Australians do (and it’s even worse if you calculate in the weak Australian dollar). You guys suck.

  18. Wherever did you get the idea that I never donate to a cause, even if as a pensioner I don’t have a lot to donate?

  19. I picked that up from your comments defending the Australians that don’t share their wealth like friendly Americans do. I’ll be happy to learn that I’m misinformed.

    Don’t lean on your ‘pensioner’ status too heavily. That just means that, assuming you didn’t plan well and are poor, that you’ve got more time than money on your hands. 10% of your time is even more powerful than 10% of your income. You can make a huge difference, albeit a hippie liberal one. Especially in a town as big as Sydney.

    Dangit, didn’t I say I was going to be less preachy? Apologies. Also, AGW is a scam.

  20. “In Australia, the donation level is lower than the USA rate. This variance is largely due to differing social structures rather than a lack of fundamental generosity.”

    From the link you didn’t follow.

    You are right about donating time.

    We have strayed a long way from AGW, perhaps just as well. US-Australian difference is a good topic that I will post on soon. It isn’t appreciated enough, but is I think strongly felt here. See for example The United States vs Australia and The underdog.

  21. You have the wrong end of the stick there, Kevin. The “different social structures” thing simply means that much that the USA relies on charity for is here done through various government schemes. For example, our medication is kept cheap by government subsidy. So the proportion seen in “charities” would be less than in your country.

    Doesn’t mean groups like the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul don’t have anything to do, and they are well supported by donations of goods and money.

    As for overseas there are a heap of NGOs and religious groups, for example “CARE Australia is an Australian charity and international humanitarian aid organisation fighting global poverty, with a special focus on empowering women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. CARE is a part of an international confederation, working together to provide sustainable solutions to poverty in more than 70 countries.”

    Australians publically and privately gave generously to the Tsunami Appeal a few years back and to Haiti more recently.

    There’s also “AusAID … the Australian Government agency responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid program. The objective of the aid program is to assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia’s national interest.”

    We could do more; we all could — but our record isn’t bad, especially in our own region — PNG and the Pacific in particular — but you probably don’t hear about that.

    Those stats that began this part of the thread may be more about comparing apples to oranges than about the relative generosity of our peoples. I am sure in generosity they are similar.

    But the way you see and do things in the USA isn’t always the way we see and do things. That’s one of the bigger mistakes Americans often make — thinking we should all be like them. Why should we?

    Just found this, which will really piss you off!

    Myth #1. The US government is involved in class warfare attacking the rich to lift up the poor.

    There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10% in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10% in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. The rich in the U.S. have been rapidly leaving the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.

    Myth #2. The US already has the greatest health care system in the world.

    Infant mortality in the US is 4th worst among OECD countries – better only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.

    Myth #3. There is less poverty in the US than anywhere.

    Child poverty in the US, at over 20% or one out of every five kids, is double the average of the 30 OECD countries.

    Myth #4. The US is generous in its treatment of families with children.

    The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial benefits for families with children. Over half of the 30 OECD countries pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the family. Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay additional benefits if the family is low-income, or one of the parents is unemployed.

    Myth #5. The US is very supportive of its workers.

    The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children. Every single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The US ranks dead last in this. Over two thirds of the countries give some form of paid paternity leave. The US also gives no paid leave for fathers.

    In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of 8 paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers.

    Myth #6. Poor people have more chance of becoming rich in the US than anywhere else.

    Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway, and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and more of the poor stay poor here in the US.

    Myth #7. The US spends generously on public education.

    In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US children, however, is 7th worst in the OECD. On public spending for childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.

    Myth #8. The US government is redistributing income from the rich to the poor.

    There is little redistribution of income by government in the U.S. in part because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of governmental spending lower.

    Myth #9. The US generously gives foreign aid to countries across the world.

    The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed countries in the OECD. In 2007 the US was tied for last with Greece. In 2008, we were tied for last with Japan.

  22. Blah blah blah. Wait until the next world leader falls ill. See what country he runs to to be cured. Do you think it will be Australia? Yeah, neither do I. They always run to the US, known worldwide by hippie liberals to have the world’s worst healthcare. Why do you think that is? Is it possible that the hippies are lying to you?

    Among your other ‘myths’, such as the American public is NOT the largest donator to any tragedy of the day, your data is flawed. It only considers governmental donations, not personal ones. I thought we talked about that difference enough so that you would understand it by now. Apparently, I was wrong :(.

    There are plenty of angles from which a person envious of America can bash us, but ‘charity is not one of them. You should try a different direction, Neil. Try leaning on the fact that we’re fat, or lazy. Something like that. It’s two in the afternoon and I haven’t taken a shower yet. Maybe you could say that we smell bad!

  23. Neil,

    As you mentioned, we’ve gone so far off-topic that I don’t even remember what the topic of the original post was (some AGW BS, I’m guessing). Whatever. Now is the time for healing. Let’s make a deal. A HEALING deal!

    If you promise not to support any of the anti CO2 taxes that are coming down the pipes, I promise not to malign your creepy AGW religion. Other than calling it ‘creepy’ that last time. I also pledge to never call your creepy AGW religion ‘creepy’ again. See? It’s win/win!

  24. The “myths” were posted by an American: In 2008, we were tied for last with Japan.

    The hypothetical sick world leader probably would go to the US; he/she can afford to pay for the best. Many Americans can’t.

    A friend who lived in the US once said it has the best and worst in the world, but little in between. Seems accurate to me.

  25. Ok, cool! As long as you realize that the sick person would probably end up making his or her way to the US, we’re kind of done here. Is it expensive? Of course it is. But so is Kobe beef, or skiing at Vale. Good things are ALWAYS expensive. As they should be, lest we take them for granted.

    Hey, I’m still unclear, Neil. Did we come to an agreement where you wouldn’t seek government funding for your crazy CO2 conspiracy beliefs and I wouldn’t mock your ridiculous AGW religion? Because I’ve got two blasphemous jokes I’m dying to use. The only reasons I don’t want to use them are 1) they are even stupider than my normal comments, and 2) I may have agreed not to bash your global warming religion.

    Let me know if we have such an agreement in place. Thanks! Have a great weekend, despite all of that evil CO2 floating around in your airspace. Heh.

  26. This is even more off-topic than our other discussions, so delete it if you must, Neil. But I hope you don’t. I accidentally brought it up, so please allow me to shoot it down as well. Australians/Zealanders, do not holiday in Vale, Colorado! It’s overhyped. You’ll have fun, but not as much fun as you could have.

    If you are a hard-core skier, go to Telluride. If you love skiing, but your ‘other’ prefers to be pampered, go to Snowmass/Aspen. If you’re cheap like me, but love skiing, go to Breckenridge, CO. It’s still pretty expensive though :(. In any event, don’t go to Vale. It has lamer slopes than any of the three I mentioned. And the town sucks as well.

    I love you like a brother from another mother who happened to live on a gigantic island, Neil, but not enough to allow it to be said that I recommended Vale as a good vacation point. It’s not, and I didn’t.

  27. Too late! Your AGW religion is stupid. We totally busted you, Neil. I don’t want to say that this is a glorious moment for all of Christendom, but it’s a pretty big win. Embrace Jesus, hippie.

  28. Or not. Crap, I dunno. Perhaps you should say something like:

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Eh. What do I know? Old people always confound me.

  29. Oh no, is this thread closing? It’s my favorite one on your entire blog! Oh well. All good things must come to an end. Let’s look back on this thread and be grateful that it ever existed. We laughed. We cried. We learned, we loved. Truly, it was a beautiful thread that taught us the meaning of being human.

    Wait, we didn’t learn or love anything. And I don’t even remember ever crying over it! This thread totally screwed us.

  30. Loved the comments on that, Ramana! Did you read them?

    Mr. Stromberg, your myopic idiocy has no bounds. The results of a second CYA panel only proves that the AGW scam will not be stopped by anyone in Academia until the gravy-train dries up for funding. The AGW scammers will continue to obfuscate raw data and the methods for producing these hysterical computer models from everyone (even professional statisticians), but especially skeptics. Sunshine is the greatest threat to the AGW scam.

    Posted by: gmfletcher12 | April 15, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

    gmfletcher, you crazy nut, you just proved Stromberg’s point with your nonsensical gibberish.

    Posted by: koolkat_1960 | April 15, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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