Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Polar Bears and Global Warming

The CBS program “60 Minutes” a week ago had a large segment on polar bears being threatened by global warming. The same theme was featured in Al Gore's persuasive—but scientifically ridiculous—movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about global warming. Here are some inconvenient truths that CBS and Al Gore didn't tell their viewers.

There are 22,000 polar bears in 20 distinct population groups worldwide. Only two of these groups are declining—and these are in areas such as Baffin Bay where the temperatures have gotten colder! Two groups have been increasing—and these are in areas such as the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Seas, where temperatures have gotten warmer! The other groups are stable.

The climate in Alaska has been warming since 1976-77. Prior to this, there was a multi-decade cooling period. Recent warming merely returned the Alaskan climate to what it had been in the early 20th century.

Pictures of melting at the edges of glaciers in Greenland are misleading. The Greenland ice sheet has thickened by almost seven feet since it was first measured by laser altimetry in 1979. And air temperatures at the summit have decreased steadily since they were first measured 19 years ago.

Maximum air temperatures at Russian coastal stations were highest in 1938, when they were nearly four-tenths of a degree warmer than in 2000.

In just the past 3,000 years there have been five distinct periods, each lasting several hundred years, when the earth's climate was significantly warmer than today. And the polar bears survived all of them. For 95 percent of the last 100 million years the earth was warmer than it is today, and the warmer climate was not caused by man or carbon dioxide levels. Studies show that global warming precedes rising levels of carbon dioxide—not the other way around. Global warming can't be caused by increased carbon dioxide levels, because you can't have a cause-and-effect relationship where the effect precedes the cause.

Everyone knows that the sun warms the earth, but the sun's heat is not uniform. It is variations in solar output (evidenced by sunspot cylces) and galactic cosmic rays that determine variations in the earth's climate. And the same process—not human activities—determines the carbon dioxide levels of the earth's atmosphere. For more information, see my booklet “What 'Global Warming'?” from American Liberty Publishers.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Enron-type Bookkeeping in Government

The bookkeeping of Enron, Worldcom, and several other large companies deviated from standard accounting practices in order to hide enormous losses. But the federal government has been doing the same thing for years. According to an article this morning in USA Today by Dennis Cauchon, the government uses unaudited financial statements that do not follow standard accounting practices—which results in hiding enormous losses that dwarf those of Enron and all the other offenders that have been caught. Cauchon reports that if standard accounting practices had been followed, the federal deficit for 2005 would have been $760 billion instead of the reported $318 billion. That amounts to $6,700 per family for the year compared to $2,800. The running deficit since 1997 would equal $2.9 trillion, compared to the reported $729 billion. And the reported surplus of $559 billion for the last four years of the Clinton administration would instead have been a deficit of $484 billion.

Furthermore, these figures do not include the financial deterioration of Social Security or Medicare. Had these been included according to standard accounting principles, the deficits would be in the trillions of dollars annually. The government would have had to report losses of nearly $40 trillion just since 1997. And the public doesn't realize what is going on any more than Enron's employees and investors.

Why doesn't Congress demand audits that would require the government to follow standard accounting practices? Because Congressional members benefit from the public not knowing the extend of the losses. That way they can continue to vote for lavish spending measures that “buy” votes from their constituents and perpetuate themselves in office without causing much alarm. And they can continue to draw their Congressional salaries (currently $165,000 per year), which they frequently raise—and do so at rates faster than the rate of inflation or increases in average income in the private sector. Furthermore, they have the most lavish pension benefits in the world. Pension benefits in the private sector typically amount to 25 percent or less of a worker's salary. But Congressional pension benefits are adjusted so lavishly for cost-of-living increases that retirees frequently receive annual benefits greater than their salaries when they were in office. A study several years ago (the figure is probably higher now) found that nearly three-fourths of senators and more than half of the members of the House stood to be future “pension millionaires,” that is, they could collect a total of a million dollars or more from their pensions.