Archives For January 2020

This is my response to a Facebook share and tag invite. Instead of posting one beloved book each day, for seven days, here’s the complete list all in one read.

I don’t normally do these, but the premise is worth supporting: “No exception, no reviews, just covers. The idea is to promote literacy and a love of great books.

The list is harder to compile than it looks. By no means is the list definitive. The list does, however, reflect some of the texts I consider to be essential reading. The wooden bookcase they live on, would be the poorer for not having them in it.

Day one:

Day Two:

Day three:

Day four:

Day five:

Day six:

Day seven:

 

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry is a true black sheep of the climate science community. Curry is a tenured professor who had the moxie to question the Climate Change consensus.

In this interview from 2015, Judith gives a brief rundown on the factors, and many variables, surrounding this ‘relatively new field of study.’  Dr. Curry also unpacks how much trouble pushing back against the political narrative causes anyone who actually dares to apply the scientific method to the prevailing climate change hypothesis.

Curry’s explanations separate fact from fiction, giving an insider’s perspective on the function of data, discussing its interpretation, process, application and misapplication that plagues the climate science community.

The video is also doing a slow loop around social media after it was uploaded in 2017, by The Oppenheimer Project, an American high-Alpine self-sustainability experiment run by scientists, Leah Shaper and David Mauriello. In their description, Shaper and Mauriello appear to back Curry over concerns about the political bias, shutting down of opposing viewpoints, and the ‘tribal nature in parts of the climate-science community.’

The following is a transcript from the original 12 minute interview hosted by Rich Clarke, who hints that Curry’s freely expressed thoughts contributed to her resignation, noting that “approximately one year after the release of this interview Dr. Curry left her tenured position in academia forever”. You can read more of Dr. Curry’s work at her website: Climate Etc.

Clarke [Intro]: Hello, I’m Rich Clarke and I’m here today on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Joining me is Dr. Judith Curry the outgoing chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

She earned her PhD in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago in 1982. Then the years following she’d find herself a professor at Purdue University Penn State; ten years in the University of Colorado Boulder, before becoming chair of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department here at Georgia Tech in 2002. Along the way she received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Henry G Haughton award from the American Meteorological Society, the great singer moving school forward award from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the coveted green faculty award from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Authoring and co-authoring almost 200 published peer-reviewed papers, and three books, she entered the climate change spotlight as co-author of the 2005 paper entitled: ‘Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number Duration and Intensity in a Warming Environment’, which was published in the Journal of science two weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

The paper made headlines around the world, shining light on the increased extreme weather events associated with a warming climate, she is the co-founder and president of the climate consulting firm ‘Climate Forecast Application Network’ and maintains her blog ‘Climate Etc.’ at JudithCurry.com.

Dr. Curry thanks so much for being with us today.

Dr. Curry: My pleasure.

Clarke: “So my first question for you is, according to your Wikipedia page you are part of what’s called the scientific opinion, or more commonly the 97% consensus on climate change. Yet, I’ve read on several pages that you’re referred to as a “climate skeptic” or even a “climate denier”; and when I Google your name one of the first things that comes up is an article in the Scientific American entitled, ‘Climate heretic Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues.’ So, why is it that people are calling you a climate skeptic or even a denier?”

Dr. Curry: “Well, Climate Science has become highly politicized, and the strategy used by the climate community to influence public policy is speaking consensus to power. So over the past several decades and they work to build this consensus, and following the 2009 Climate gate episode, I started challenging the consensus. Saying, “wait a minute, we haven’t been sufficiently transparent; we haven’t adequately characterized the uncertainties.” We shouldn’t be dismissing skeptics; I mean we have to do a better job, and I started saying things like that that I thought were completely reasonable, but I was immediately thrown out of the tribe if you will, and labeled as a “heretic”, “denier”,  whatever else. So it’s just a reflection of how politicized the science has become and how silly this debate really is at this point.”

Clarke: “Speaking of debates, you hear public figures say all the time, that the debate is over and that we need to move forward. What do you what about those comments?”

Dr. Curry: “Well, physicists are still debating quantum mechanics, and gravity, okay, things that we think … are relatively settled. Science is never settled; and something as complex as the climate system and in a relatively new field, climate change, there’s no way the science is settled. There’s a whole lot more that we don’t know then we do know.”

Clarke: “You talked about the politicization of the field. What do you see is the greatest danger of this mixing of politics with science?”

Dr. Curry: “Well, two things. You end up with science as going off on the wrong track – I don’t know if you’ve heard the joke about the drunk looking for his keys under the streetlight? – and somebody asked, “why are you only looking there?” “Well it’s the only place I can see.” The same thing has been happening at climate science. We’ve only been shining a light on one little piece of the problem – the part about increasing Co2 from human activities. We haven’t been paying sufficient attention to natural climate variability; and as a result we’re doing a great disservice to understanding the climate system; and as we fail to adequately understand the climate system, we have tremendous opportunity to mislead decision-makers.”

Clarke: “One thing I thought was interesting about another interview that I heard with you, was, you were talking about how, even if all the measures for carbon reduction were adopted, and then perfectly implemented, we might not see an effect from that – those measures would be maybe 50 years out.”

Dr. Curry: “It’s really much worse. The commitments that people have made to the UN – in terms of their emissions reductions out to 2030 – well, if you say well how much (assuming that they keep those commitments steady through the end of the 21st century) the amount of warming that would be prevented is about two-tenths of a degree centigrade. Most of the benefits wouldn’t be realized for a longer time. We’re really talking about a minuscule amount of warming that will be saved, and because of the [lags] in the climate system owing to ocean heat storage, any emissions reductions that we do now, it’s still going to keep warming; because of the thermal inertia in the oceans. So, you know the accounting is just being done. You know, as economists are reacting to; and trying to interpret all these commitments and what it actually means. But the studies that I’ve seen suggest that we’re only accomplishing a few you know a few tenths of a degree centigrade decrease in the rate of warming, and this assumes that you actually will believe the climate models, I mean I think the climate models are running too hot. If the climate models are in fact running too hot, even less warming would be saved.”

Clarke: “So these numbers these figures of projected curbing of warming due to essentially regulating greenhouse gases, these numbers are…”

Dr. Curry: “Well, they use climate models to seeing how the climate will respond to the reductions and carbon dioxide associated with reduced emissions.”

Clarke: “You know just this year there was a report released sound the alarm bells about new data with regard to sea level rise, and this report said that “sea level rise may occur ten times faster than originally thought, and that in forty five years we could have ten feet of sea level rise.

Dr. Curry: “Several weeks ago I was giving a public lecture and I was talking about sea level rise, and one of the audience members raised his hand, and said, “wow I didn’t realize that sea level rise you know was rising before humans started emitting fossil fuels”. This whole issue of sea level rise is so tied to human activities that most people don’t realize that the sea level has been rising for the last ten thousand years, since we’ve been coming out of the last ice age. The question is whether sea level rise is accelerating owing to human caused emissions. You can say, “well, obviously yes”, well it’s not obvious at all because even the most recent IPCC report published in 2013, presented a figure that showed that the rate of sea-level rise around 1940, 1950 was just as high as it is in the last few decades. So, it doesn’t look like there’s any great acceleration so far of sea level rise associated with human-caused warming. These predictions of alarming sea level rise depend on massive melting of the big continental glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is actually growing. Greenland shows large multi-table variability, in when it’s growing and shrinking. So sorting out natural versus human cause variability and what’s going on with these ice sheets, you know it’s very difficult to do, but in any event there’s no evidence so far that humans are increasing sea level rise in any kind of a worrying way.”

Clarke: “If it’s true that curbing carbon dioxide in here and now is going to have very minimal effects, in the here and now, what kind of solutions are you proposing or do you have any solutions your proposal?”

Dr. Curry: “I’m a climate scientist. I’m not in the business of proposing solutions. So, I mean I can tell you which ones make more or less sense to me. The technologies that we currently have trying to pull this off using wind and solar, it’s not going to work. We need you energy technologies and additional research and development on new energy technologies; makes more sense than trying to implement wind and solar those aren’t up to the task. But I think the bigger issue is a real danger with climate change and variability, whatever its cause, is extreme weather events. You know the heat waves, the floods, the droughts, the Hurricanes – and trying to reduce vulnerability to these extreme weather, and climate events, can help people in the here and now. Whether climate change is due to natural variability or due to humans, it can help us reduce our vulnerability to these extreme events that have always happened and will continue to happen.”

Clarke: “Right, so you’re saying that we know that we’re gonna have more extreme weather events, and we should be putting our resources into preparing more for those?”

Dr. Curry: “I’m not telling; I never tell anybody what they should do, because it’s a very complex problem. There are a lot of other problems out there, so why should we spend all our resources on this problem. It’s a complex issue and I avoid telling anybody oh we should do this or we should do that. All I do is look at policy options and try to point out their unintended consequences, and whether they’ll have the intended effect.”

Clarke: “When you begin saying the things you were talking about, like more transparency in science, and in climate science, and writing about it – you are already the chair of a department at a major technical school in the United States, you had already been published at least a hundred times. Do you think that a younger Dr. Judith Curry in the kind of climate (no pun intended), but in the political climate we have now would have had a harder time doing what you’ve done?”

Dr. Curry: “A number of scientists have lost their jobs over speaking out against the consensus. I’m a tenured faculty member, I’m pretty senior. So I could afford to do it. A lot of younger people who aren’t tenured,  can’t afford to do it – I hear from scientists all the time who say they wish they could speak out of etcetera, but they don’t want to they don’t want to go through the kind of baloney that I’ve had to go through and I can’t blame them.”

Clarke: “And what baloney is that exactly?”

Dr. Curry: “Well, Google my name! And you’ll see it. Google, Judith Curry and you’ll see what I have to put up with.”

Clarke: “That’s about all the time we have for today but I’d like to thank you very much for letting us into your office and having this interview.”

Dr. Curry: ‘thank you, my pleasure.”

[Music]


First published on Caldron Pool, 18th January, 2020.

© Rod Lampard, 2020.

 

Round one of consequences for the mass slandering of the Covington Catholic school boys, may have seen The Washington Post skip past go with get out of gaol free card, when a judge dismissed the lawsuit last year. Cable Network News (CNN) didn’t get off as easily.

The media giant has decided to settle with Nick Sandmann after a defamation lawsuit was also brought up against the organisation. The Washington Post’s, Paul Farhi, noted that L. Lin. Wood, lead lawyer for Sandmann was also lead lawyer in the lawsuit filed by Richard Jewell against CNN after he was ‘vilified by journalists’, (now the subject of a major Clint Eastwood film).

Sandmann was the target of mass slander, when Twitter users fuelled by the mainstream media lobbed abuse and threats at the schoolboys. All because of brief video footage uploaded to the internet, which was later proven to misrepresent the event.

Media organisations appeared to jump to conclusions, making Sandmann the poster boy for their own giddy, schoolboy, bandwagon anti-Trump hate. Reporting on the reopening of Sandmann’s case against The Washington Post, The Federalist’s, Margot Cleveland, said that they labelled the schoolboy a “smirking MAGA-hat-wearing racist”, and accused him of “blocking Native American elder Nathan Phillips’s path” to the Lincoln Memorial.”

The Hill’s, J.E. Moreno stated that Sandmann had sued CNN for $275 million dollars in ‘May over its reporting, saying CNN was “vilifying and bullying him” and had twisted the story to fit an anti-Trump agenda. In total, Sandmann was seeking $800 million in damages from The Washington Post, NBC and CNN.’ Moreno also said the ‘amount of the settlement was not made public.’

With the settlement come new precedents. Although, The Washington Post’s case was dismissed last year, a judge has reopened the case and the lawsuit is waiting to once again go to trial. What the CNN settlement with Sandmann tells the many who are culpable for leaping before they looked, is that this isn’t going away. The settlement strongly suggests that CNN didn’t want this to linger over their heads. Given their ratings, this is no surprise. Absent of a forthright open admission of wrongdoing, this is probably the best those involved can expect from the Leftist backed media organisation.

As with Rugby Australia’s settlement with Israel Folau, CNN’s settlement with Sandmann shows that politically motivated attacks on members of the public, by those in positions of power, will not go unnoticed, nor be allowed to stand without a fight, regardless of how well co-ordinated and well-funded those behind the political attacks are.

Sandmann’s win is also a strong warning to those seeking to advance by using a zero sum game against the innocent, all in the hopes of achieving fast political gain, which has about as much long lasting benefit as ordering fast-food from a drive-thru.

This settlement isn’t just a win for Nick. This is a win against the Leftist funded, political and academic establishment. Hope is seeded here. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most well-known political prisoners the Nazis imprisoned and executed, once said “the only fight which is lost, is that which we give up.” [i]

 

References:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D. cited by Bethge, E. 2000. Bonhoeffer: A Biography Fortress Press, (p.907)

Note: Since the screenshot was taken, Aslan appears to have deleted the old tweet, not without mocking Dinesh (link).

© Rod Lampard, 2020

At the end of Isaiah, the prophet talks about the relationship between new life and the heat of judgement. Given the devastation we’re seeing from the immense fires since September in Australia, these verses have special relevance.

This doesn’t justify arson, or the political opportunism seeking to advance, distract, manipulate and use the suffering of others to feed self-interest. The relationship between new life and the heat of judgement speaks to all of us. It’s here, and not with pyromania, or political opportunism that the Word found in the prophetic meets with the pyrophytic.

Horticulturalists tell us that some Australian plants have ‘fire-activated seeds.’ According to Britannica, these ‘pyrophytic plants’ include the ‘lodgepole pine, Eucalyptus, and Banksia. They have ‘serotinous cones or fruits that are completely sealed with resin.’

As if planned to suit the dry, flammable Australian climate, these pyrophytic plants can ‘only open to release their seeds after the heat of a fire has physically melted the resin. Other species, including a number of shrubs and annual plants, require the chemical signals from smoke and charred plant matter to break seed dormancy.’ [i]

This isn’t all that different from how God’s mercy and judgment functions towards creation. The goal of chastisement is newness of life – reconciliation and redemption – to produce new life from the heat of judgement. Not just rehabilitation, but total heart transformation.

As Creator, Reconciler and Redeemer, God ‘looks to the humble and contrite in Spirit, those who tremble at His Word (66:1-2 see also Psalm 51).’  This doesn’t mean trembling before God as though He were an old, bearded man with a stick, looking to control through a crushing fear and paralysis. God doesn’t need tools that would “convince a man against his will.” For He knows all too well that this “man will remain of the same opinion still.” The fears of those who refuse to hear are harsh enough. Humanity is not the hostage of a mean-spirited old man.

Through Ezekiel we can know with certainty that God isn’t a manipulator or deceiver. He doesn’t desire [take pleasure in] the death of the sinner, but desires the sinner’s correction (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11). Although God desires all people ‘to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4), not everyone who says to Him ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’ (Matthew 7:21).

Tremble in this sense, therefore, is a verb, not a noun. It’s decisive movement; to be both moved, and to move. It illustrates heartfelt response based on God’s movement in Jesus Christ towards humanity. He is an event, not an idea. After having heard and responded to this Word, caution gives way to trust. Like eyes that have only known darkness, now adjusting to the light.

Tremble speaks of our immediate response to a confrontation with this Word. It is directly related to the imperative in verse 5, which summons us to ‘hear’. God looks for our attention. He looks to those who receive His Word with joy, and humbly live out their reply. Hearing with reverence, empowers trust and gives reasons for doing so.

Isaiah teaches us that God is not absent. He hears, sees, speaks and acts. His mercy, as the louder of the two, is never far from His judgement! He never is without a plan, promise or pathway to fulfil both. God will keep His Word. He will do this by overcoming His enemies; those who’ve made themselves gods, those who, in His name justify themselves through sterile, empty rituals, or celebrate a return to tyrannical lordship of superstition, animism, and the man-made gods of the Ancient Near East. God’s judgement applies to all who are ‘not hearing; not responding’ – those doing whatever is right in their own eyes, but evil in His; delighting in sin, instead of delighting in the things that God delights in. (66:3-4).

For example: ‘Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea [constant; regular; never failing].’ (Isaiah 48:18)

Peace flowing like a river is a promise! It is God’s promise to Zion and those who dwell therein (66:12-13). As is the rejection of God’s commandments, which outline relationship with Him, so is the rejection of ‘the peace of God which surpasses all understanding’ (Philippians 4:4). This is more than a peace treaty. The imagery of living, unstoppable peace is interconnected with a life liberated by the restored joy of salvation, and a clean heart, made right by Christ, in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ.

Hence Paul can write, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always again I say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.’ This promise of peace like river to all who hear and respond will ‘guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians, 4:4-6, ESV)

Isaiah notes, Jerusalem (Zion) will rejoice for peace will flow like a river. God will nurture the city and its inhabitants. He will comfort them, as He confronts them. Hearts will rejoice, bones shall flourish like grass and the hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants and His enemies. Divine justice will bring to account those who have made themselves His enemy.

Our hope in the midst of deep anxiety is awakened by the life of the pyrophytic. These plants teach us that there will not just be peace after the firestorm, there will be new life! These fires will end and the rains will come again.

Our hope in the midst of deep anxiety is shored up in the promise of the prophetic. New life springs forth from the heat of judgement. Like melting resin, hardened, stubborn hearts are freed to be free for God.

In this movement; in this trembling where we move and are moved, may heads and hearts be turned back towards Christ, and therefore towards one another, away from bitter blame and political opportunism. May the light of the prophetic meeting with the pyrophytic, bring to us a renewed confidence in God’s promise.

Therefore, may we as a nation sing along loudly, even if with an exhausted sigh, the words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who after the loss of his wife to fire wrote:

“In despair I bowed my head. There is no peace on earth I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song, of peace on earth, good will to men…then the bells, rang more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor does he sleep! The wrong shall fail; the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”

It’s a good word for Epiphany, 2020. As the world turns the corner into a new decade, let faith in Christ reign, and may the people say, “Amen.”

References:

[i] Britannica, 5 Amazing Adaptations of Pyrophytic Plants. Sourced, 6th January, 2020.

First published on Caldron Pool, 7th January, 2020

Photo by Sam Wermut on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Seasonal changes often allow us the ability to slow down, reflect and reevaluate direction. This year was no different. 2019 was one of the most intense and deliberate years for writing that I’ve undertaken since I started this blog back in April, 2013.

Ironically, I found myself writing less often, but publishing more. Despite this, 2019 was one of the biggest years for visitors, most of whom came for older theological articles, along with new political theology or homeschool inspired content.

This, of course, is good news, while I can’t boast some of the stats enjoyed by some (nor would I really want to anyway), the stats clearly show that this blog isn’t dead.People seem to find some benefit from my own intellectual journey and the fumbling reflections, thoughts and/or opinions I share as I move through it.

With the close of the decade and the promise of a new one, a few things become clearer. The first is that my involvement with Caldron Pool has taught me to take writing more seriously. I think it’s fair to say I’ve matured from being a simple blogger, to an actual writer. How far this impacts the nature of this blog is something that I’ll work on as the privilege of working with the Caldron Pool team continues to take shape in the year ahead.

The second is more of an introspective acknowledgement that vocationally speaking, I’m drawn to the life of an independent scholar. This is primarily because we homeschool our children, and secondarily because finding a place in the academic world isn’t easy. It’s bloated, competitive, and not all that open to a theologian who supports the current concerns of conservatives; and that’s being generous. The reality is a whole lot darker. What I see a lot of is the inference that “if you don’t fit the Leftist mould, don’t bother applying.”

I’ve also noticed that one of my biggest struggles when it comes to writing is the constant distraction of social media; which is, as most of you would agree, is a mixed blessing. It’s almost an imposed necessity. One that I would easily part with (particularly Twitter), if there was another way of connecting with people, and connecting articles with those people, on a regular basis.

All this said, thank you to those who, by regularly reading what I write, help keep this blog alive.

I pray your New Year is blessed beyond words.

Here are the top 10 articles from this year:

1. Nearly Half the Blood Shed in the 20th Century Was caused by Socialism, So why Is Socialism Promoted as a positive alternative to Capitalism.

2. Criticism of Trump’s Syrian Decision is Misplaced & Ignorant, Here’s Why

3. Prager U’s Uphill Battle Against Uncalled-for, Unnecessary & Unethical Censorship

4. The Defiant Voice of the Discerning Voter: Scott Morrison’s LNP Shock Win, & What Must Happen Next

5. Preaching In Hitler’s Shadow: Enter Karl Barth

6. The Calls for an Indigenous Australian Voice in Parliament Are Vague, Confusing & Thankless

7. Playboy Equates Christian Homeschooling with Domestic Terrorism, White Supremacy, Racism & Radicalization

8. ACL Researcher, Dr Elisabeth Taylor: Subjective Relativism in Post-Structualist & Queer Theory

9. No Retreat, No Surrender: Gene Veith On Christian Living in an Age of Confusion, Exile, Pagan Plurality & Postmodernism

10. The original error of Leftism: Proton-Pseudos, Hysteria, Propagandists & Imaginary Oppression

Special mentions:

# Review: Natasha Crain, Talking with Your Kids about God

# The Attacks on Israel Folau Come from an Ignorance of History. Such Ignorance Invites Tyranny.

# A Layman’s Guide to The Separation of Church & State: What it is & What it’s Not

# J.R.R. Tolkien’s Christian Anarchist Revolt Against The Faceless Collective & The Group-Think That Controls Them

# In the Realm of Recently Released Homeschool Friendly Console Games, ‘Subnautica’ Rules the Waves


Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2019