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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas
Friday, May 29, 2009
My Own "Random Thoughts"
Thomas Sowell is one of the finest thinkers and writers in the nation today. He has the unique ability to make very complex problems understandable. That… is no small skill. On a regular basis he writes a column called Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene. I love reading his insights and his basic common sense, thought provoking and sometimes humorous approach about the real world. This has inspired me to publish my own “Random Thoughts”. Probably just this once….because much to my surprise…..it isn’t as easy as it seems.
I have noticed over the years that the trade journals that support our industry are filled with advertising. Many of the advertisers are pesticide manufacturers and distributors. It amazes me that the industry’s trade journals work so hard promoting “green” pest control and IPM, which is promoting the elimination of pesticides. If that happens - who will advertise in the trade journals? It kind of reminds me of those churches and ministers that went around saying that God was dead, and the Bible is a myth, and then expected the churches to be full.
It seems to me that “green” pest control and IPM are largely indefinable and must be taken as an article of faith. Should the EPA be promoting this “faith based intuitive”?
Our state and national trade associations are also working hard to promote “green” pest control and IPM. If we give in to the green activists and become “green", will we need trade associations, or will the Sierra Club sufficiently fulfill that function?
Socialism has been an abject failure everywhere in the world where it has been tried - yet we hear socialist concepts being touted as the answer to our problems. Why? If it has failed everywhere else, why would we think it would prosper here?
When environmental policy has seriously influenced or been imposed by green activists and organizations on the third world, it consistently produced misery, squalor, disease, death and suffering. Yet we insist that these are the very same concepts and programs that we should adopt here. Why? If environmentalism promotes dystopia everywhere else in the world, why would we think that it will be different here?
If creating green jobs cost 2.2 jobs for every “green” job elsewhere in the world, why would we think it would be different here?
If green policies increase costs and reduce the quality of life everywhere else in the world, why would we think it would be different here.
Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick Graph has been shown to be fraudulent. James Hansen’s climate figures had easily discovered “mistakes” and the IPCC has shown itself to be thoroughly corrupt. Why do those who promote anthropogenic climate change still cite them as sources?
When the leaders of the environmental movement make misanthropic comments about humanity and how the Earth would better off without mankind - why do we believe them when they say that we should adopt their policies “because it is for the children”?
The greenies are against nuclear power. Then they are for it - then they are against it again. They loved wind power - then the hated it. They loved solar power - then they hated it. Why is it greenies are always hot for technology that doesn’t exist? Why is it that they hate that self same technology when it has the potential to become reality?
The green activist organizations have no command and control structure. That means they can be for and against something at the same time and still be right. Must be nice!
We have a real problem with words in this country. We love the words fair and sustainable. We just can’t define them, and yet we wish to make them the basis for programs that also can’t be defined and are therefore open ended. Much like green pest control and IPM!
We have had the “best” and “brightest” tell us that everything we have done for 60 years is all wrong. We also have had more people live longer, healthier, happier lives than ever in human history. I find that strange - don't you? It seems to me the evidence is clear "someone" must have done "something" right!
No matter how much technology we develop to make life better we keep hearing and believing that it is making us sick. Why then are we living longer?
I am convinced that the “best” and “brightest” amongst us believe that as long as they keep dumping more and more horsepucky on us that eventually we won’t notice the smell. Or worse yet we'll think that the smell is normal.
There really isn’t anything quite like a good epidemic to get things started.
If “green” is so much better, why did anyone abandon it in the first place? If “green” was so good, there wouldn’t have been pest problems…right? How then did manufacturers convince anyone they needed pesticides?
For years I have noticed activists in the green movements don’t seem to have jobs. If they never had a real job how did they become so expert in everyone else’s business?
Thomas Sowell once commented - “One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people's motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans— anything except reason.”
I was once told to not focus on the negative aspects of a program, but rather focus on the positive aspects. I said I would if they would just explain to me what they were. I never got an answer.
Why do we keep trying to find a third way? Clearly, in order for there to be a third way, there had to already be two different ways. It seems likely that one way had to be right and one had to be wrong. Why can’t we just take the right way?
Why is it that someone who pays twenty thousand dollars in real estate taxes won’t pay the exterminator five hundred dollars for pest control services?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Scientific Computer Modeling Method 101
I'm a bit dismayed about how computer models have come to be more important than actual observations and so I offer a formal statement of the Scientific Computer Modeling Method.
- Observe a phenomenon carefully.
- Develop a hypothesis that possibly explains the phenomenon.
- Perform a test in an attempt to disprove or invalidate the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is disproven, return to steps 1 and 2.
- A hypothesis that stubbornly refuses to be invalidated may be correct. Continue testing.
- Observe a phenomenon carefully.
- Develop a computer model that mimics the behavior of the phenomenon.
- Select observations that conform to the model predictions and dismiss observations as of inadequate quality that conflict with the computer model.
- In instances where all of the observations conflict with the model, "refine" the model with fudge factors to give a better match with pesky facts. Assert that these factors reveal fundamental processes previously unknown in association with the phenomenon. Under no circumstances willingly reveal your complete data sets, methods, or computer codes.
- Upon achieving a model of incomprehensible complexity that still somewhat resembles the phenomenon, begin to issue to the popular media dire predictions of catastrophe that will occur as far in the future as possible, at least beyond your professional lifetime.
- Continue to "refine" the model in order to maximize funding and the awarding of Nobel Prizes
- Dismiss as unqualified, ignorant, and conspiracy theorists all who offer criticisms of the model.
- Repeat steps 3 through 7 indefinitely.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The Butterfield Bill: Activity as a Substitute for Accomplishment, Part II
By Rich Kozlovich
On April 14th and 15th of this year the EPA hosted something that they called the Bedbug Summit, which “drew almost 300 state and federal regulatory, public health, and housing officials, academics, landlords/property managers, pest professionals, and other key stakeholders”
On April 19th, 2009 I published a critique of EPA’s “Bedbug Summit”, called Bedbug Summit: Activity As A Substitute For Accomplishment, which clearly outlined what could only be called a great public relations deception and a farce. That is, if your goal is the control of bedbugs. If the goal was to misdirect, deceive and justify the creation of a massive, costly and ineffectual multilayered bureaucracy and promote ineffectual pest control programs such as IPM, then it was a smashing success. Quite frankly, it disturbed me to realize that for some reason I didn’t connect the dots at the time between this and the Butterfield bill. I know…I know…there is no such thing as a conspiracy.
Currently there is a bill introduced by Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina on May 5th, 2009 that the NPMA officially supports and has asked everyone in the structural pest control industry to openly support. The Butterfield bill is entitled, "Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009", and based on what is in this bill that title is a misnomer.
NPMA believes that this:
“multi-faceted legislation provides critical resources to state and local officials to combat bed bug outbreaks in lodging facilities, residential housing and other settings. Specifically, the bill:
I. Establishes a state bed bug inspection grant program within the Department of Commerce for states to use to help fund inspections of lodging facilities;
II. Expands an existing grant program managed by the Department of Health and Human Services that already provides funds to states for cockroach and rodent control to be used for bed bug prevention and control;
III. Requires public housing agencies to include in annual plans,required by the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, measures necessary for the management of bed bugs, similar to their current responsibility to manage cockroaches; and
IV. Directs the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the public health implications of bed bugs.”
NPMA goes on to say:
“His legislation will grant state and local governments, in concert with the professional pest management industry, the necessary resources to more effectively and aggressively manage bed bug infestations.”
Before I go any further I wish to state for the record that I am not attacking any individuals at NPMA, their integrity or their work ethic. I have stated this in the past and I will restate it again….these people work and they work hard and they believe what they are doing is in the long term best interests of the industry. In their defense they believe that this bill is going to pass, whether we are on board or not, and in the long run this will give the pest control industry some positioning on these matters for the economic future of our industry. It is that judgment and view that I wish to challenge.
Apparently Congressman Butterfield believes the first step in eradicating bedbugs is to create a grant program administered by the Commerce Department to inspect hotels and motels for bedbugs in each state. And that each state’s hotels will have 20 percent of their rooms inspected each and every year. Those inspections will be conducted by “trained inspection personnel” and money will be provided to “train the inspectors” and they shall do the following under this bill
I. inspections are conducted by individuals who meet the minimum competency standard or requirement for inspecting or treating rooms in lodging facilities for bed bugs, as adopted by the State agency charged with regulating pest
II. conduct inspections of lodging facilities for cimex lectularius, including transportation, lodging and meal expenses for inspectors;
III. train inspection personnel;
IV. contract with a commercial applicator, as defined in section 2(e) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136(e)), to inspect and treat lodging facilities for cimex lectularius;
V. educate the proprietors and staff of lodging establishments about methods to prevent and eradicate cimex lectularius.
And what will this little program cost. Fifty million dollars a year from 2010 to 2013! First off, Congress didn’t find anything that we didn’t already know. The fact of the matter is that taxpayer money is going to be wasted; and for what will the taxpayer’s money be wasted to the tune of fifty million dollars a year? To inspect rooms for bedbugs! We already have trained inspectors….they are called exterminators and they do it for free. They already know what to tell the owners and maintenance people and they certainly know what bedbugs look like and don’t need any further training. We already have health departments requiring treatment. We already have laws in each state that determines who can make those treatments. So, why is there a need to train “new” inspectors and who will these “new” inspectors be?
I don’t believe for a minute that pest controllers will be used for these inspections, except possibly at the beginning, no matter what it says about standards. This grant money is going to be used up by State Health departments, State Universities, State Agricultural departments or whoever is in charge of pesticide regulations in the state in question and they will set the standard to accommodate themselves.
And because grant money will be available, they won’t have to take the inexpensive way out and use PCO standards. This money will go to state agencies, and I believe to the Health Departments, which will make them secondary de facto regulators of the pest control industry in their states.
This is nothing more than window dressing, creating a gigantic multilayered bureaucracy with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Center for Disease Control and state agencies all over the country. Bureaucratic activity as a substitute for accomplishment, and when was the last time you saw a bureaucracy disappear?
Nowhere does it discuss the real issue: The EPA’s responsibility for this mess and the introduction of chemistry that works. This bill will spend fifty million each year and accomplish nothing, even if hotels are treated more often. Bedbugs will still be infesting homes, other businesses, buses, trains, cabs, schools…etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam, and where are the requirements for tools that will bring about proper control?
I. Inspections will not eliminate bedbugs.This isn’t leadership, nor will it manage bed bugs aggressively, effectively or otherwise. We need chemistry that works. This is a singular problem with a twofold solution.
II. It may fix the blame, but it won’t fix bedbugs.
III. Furthermore, I believe this will lay the ground work for more unnecessary regulations, unnecessary documented training sessions and added licensure.
IV. If that happens, and based on past history, I believe eventually that's where the grant money will go and the requirements will increase.
First and foremost, we have to define the real problem. We need to outline the cause. Both of those are easy. We know the EPA is a fault for this plague, we need place the blame right at their feet. We need chemistry that works, either by returning old chemistry, changing labels of chemistry that is currently available or give us new chemistry that works. (NPMA is currently working with EPA on this matter)
Everything else is a waste of money, energy, time and only gives the impression of accomplishment where very little actually exists. There is nothing in this bill that provides for anything that isn’t already being done…. except for getting the fifty million dollars.
To perceive is “to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses, to discern, envision or understand. “ My "perceptions" of what is wrong with this bill were easily identified because they should have been obvious to the most casual observer.
So then, what are the “positive aspects” of this Bill?
I. Fifty million dollars is going to be spent every year, and who knows how much more in the future, and yet bedbugs will not be curtailed because of it.
Grant chasers will by positively impacted. That doesn’t seem very positive to me
except for those getting the money. Those with bedbugs will still have them.
II. A great deal of bureaucratic welfare is going to be created and still bedbugs are not going to be curtailed. That doesn’t sound positive to me except for the bureaucrats.
III. Legislators will give the impression that they are doing something worthwhile to stop this plague caused by the EPA. That doesn’t sound positive to me except for the legislators who will give the impression that they are actually doing something.
IV. The real cause of the problem isn’t identified. That doesn’t sound positive to me, except for the EPA who is responsible.
V. No new directives are part of this bill that requires EPA or anyone else to approve chemistry that works. That doesn’t sound positive to me, except for the pest controllers who will be getting large sums of money to control this plague with inadequate tools, and even if the tools needed to eradicate bedbugs are returned, this bureaucratic layer cake will never disappear.
What about the “general public”? How will they benefit? And please don’t tell me how better communications will make a difference in their lives. That isn’t even a logical fallacy. That would be a blatant falsehood. The claim that this “proposed legislation …will be beneficial for all parties, including pest management professionals, regulatory agencies and the general public” is a fallacy of composition.
There is only one party that we should be focusing on. Not pest controllers, not regulators, and especially not regulators. The public!
It's the public and the public only who should be our one and only concern. In no way will this bill alleviate the public’s suffering. That, and only that, should be our concern. Everything else is horsepucky!
I would like to share a quote with everyone from Thomas Sowell.
“Life is all about tides. There are those who catch the tide and those who
row against the tide. Those rowing against the tide will always go in that
direction no matter which way the tide is moving. The rest have no direction and
will simply follow the tide. Those who row against the tide are in better shape
than those who go with the tide. Not only physically, but intellectually,
emotionally and psychologically! When the tide changes direction, and it will,
guess who will be in the lead? “
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Nuclear Reactor Realities
From 1968 to 1973, I was an engineering officer aboard U. S. nuclear submarines. The chief engineer would routinely sneak back into the engineering spaces and trip some piece of equipment off the line. These were not computer simulations. The equipment really would be in an emergency condition. We would be sitting in the reactor control room, and suddenly alarms would go off. We would have to figure out what had happened, and recover from it. The equipment is designed to survive such accidents. After many decades of operation under those conditions, the Navy has had zero deaths from nuclear power. You are more likely to drown in your bathtub than to die from operating a nuclear reactor.
A coal-fired electric power generating plant uses 120 railroad cars full of coal every day. A nuclear plant uses one semi truckload of nuclear fuel rods every few years. All the spent fuel from every nuclear reactor in the United States could be stored on one football field, a pile nine feet tall. Recycle it as the French do, and the pile shrinks to three inches. In 500 years it will be less toxic than coal ash.
It is preposterous to talk about nuclear waste remaining toxic for tens of thousands of years. It is preposterous to talk about tens of thousands of deaths from a nuclear accident. Those analyses are based upon a laughable error. If one person eats 200 aspirin, he will die. These people figure that if 200 people eat one aspirin each, there will be one death. If two million people are exposed to a dose rate of one aspirin per person, there will be 20,000 deaths. In fact one aspirin is beneficial, and low levels of radiation are beneficial. Geographical areas with higher background radiation have lower levels of cancer.
Chernobyl proved just how safe nuclear power is. There was no containment vessel. All radiation was released to the environment. There were less than 200 deaths, all among on-site personnel. An exhaustive international inquiry under the UN found no documented health damage beyond the immediate vicinity (except for a slight increase in thyroid cancer among children, which can be completely prevented by taking inexpensive iodine supplements in the event of a nuclear accident). The area around Chernobyl has been declared a radioactive dead zone at radiation levels about the same as downtown Warsaw, Poland, and five times lower than Grand Central Station in New York City. Plants and animals flourish in the region, showing no ill effects. It is stark raving mad.
Three-Mile Island nuclear accident caused zero deaths, zero injuries, and zero radiation release to the environment. And it was not a close call. It might have been a close call from having much more extensive equipment damage, but the worst possible accident would still have been kept entirely within the containment vessel. There would have been zero deaths, zero injuries, and zero radiation released to the environment. If terrorists flew an airplane into a nuclear reactor, it would not rupture the containment vessel.
During the 1970's there was an anti-nuclear campaign, similar to the global warming campaign today. It was based on grossly inaccurate information, but it prevailed politically to impose onerous regulations which killed nuclear power as a source of electricity. I have seen a comparison of two nuclear power plants in the United States which began construction at about the same time. One finished up before the new regulations went into effect. It came in on budget, and generates to this day the cheapest, safest, and cleanest electricity on this planet. The second reactor ran afoul of the new regulations. It ran into massive cost overruns, and never was completed.
Lawrence Solomon was part of the anti-nuclear campaign during the 1970's. Today he has done some excellent research disproving the global warming theory, especially disproving the assertions of a scientific consensus about it; but to this day he is wrong about nuclear power. To this day he says, "Nuclear reactors run flat-out 24/7", and cannot be adjusted to match power demand. He is simply wrong. The reactor remains critical 24/7, but a reactor can be critical at zero power. The power output automatically matches the power demand. I have personally operated nuclear reactors, and I know for a fact what I am talking about. That is the kind of misinformation which has destroyed nuclear power, the greatest scientific advance in the history of the world.
Back to the “good old days”
By Paul Driessen
Today, President Obama wants to prevent “runaway global warming,” by slashing US carbon dioxide emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. According to Oak Ridge National Laboratory data, this reduction would return the United States to emission levels last seen in those halcyon days of 1905!
But America’s 1905 population was 84 million, versus 308 million today. We didn’t drive or fly, or generate electricity for offices, factories, schools and hospitals. To account for those factors, we’d have to send CO2 emissions back to 1862 levels.
The Civil War was raging. The industrial revolution was in its infancy. Malaria, typhus and cholera killed thousands every year. Life expectancy was 40 – half of what abundant, affordable energy have helped make it today.
No matter. The 648-page Waxman-Markey climate bill would compel an 80% CO2 reduction, by imposing punitive cap-and-tax restrictions on virtually every hydrocarbon-using business, motorist and family.
That’s making some legislators nervous, as they ponder the health, economic and employment effects of restricting energy supplies and driving up the cost of everything we eat, drink, make and do – especially in 20 states that get 60-98% of their electricity from coal.
So to prod Congress into action, or achieve the 80% target via regulatory edict, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency has decreed that plant-enhancing, life-sustaining carbon dioxide “endangers human health and welfare.”
The authoritarian actions it is contemplating would regulate cars, trains, boats and planes; pave the way for regulating farms and factories, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, malls and lawn mowers; and send energy prices skyrocketing.
Thousands of climate experts say there is no crisis, computer model scenarios and predictions are meaningless, and CO2 plays little or no substantive role in climate change. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 48% of American voters now believe climate change is caused by natural forces; only 34% now think it’s due to humans.
Climate realists also recognize that, even if America eliminated all of its greenhouse gas emissions, soaring Chinese and Indian carbon dioxide emissions would promptly offset our draconian cuts.
This alarms climate alarmists. They fear it’s now or never to wrest control over energy and the economic, manufacturing and transportation activities it fuels. Now or never to profit from cap-and-tax laws and renewable energy mandates.
Corporate groups like the Carbon Offset Providers Coalition are banking on passage of Waxman-Markey. They want a “rigorous and efficient” CO2 scheme, to foster high carbon prices, maximum subsidies and strong profits.
President Obama says cap-and-trade will “raise” $656 billion over the next decade. The National Economic Council and other analysts put the tax bite at $1.3 to $3.0 trillion.
This is not monetary manna. The wealth will be extracted from every hydrocarbon-using business, motorist and family.
The intrusive energy rules and taxes will clobber households, manufacturers, farmers, truckers and airlines. The poorest families will get energy welfare, to offset part of their $500-3,000 increase in annual heating, cooling, transportation and food expenses. Everyone else will have to trim health, vacation, charity, college and retirement budgets to pay the higher costs.
Every increase in energy prices will result in more businesses laying off workers or closing their doors, more jobs sent overseas, more families forced into welfare, more school districts, hospitals and churches into whirlpools of red ink. Exactly how will they eliminate 80% of CO2 emissions by 2050, and pay skyrocketing fuel bills?
Where will we site hundreds of thousands of towering onshore and offshore wind turbines – to replace electricity we get from coal? Where will we get billions of tons of steel, concrete, copper and fiberglass to build and install the expensive, unreliable, subsidized monsters?
My grandmother used to say, The only good thing about the “good old days” is that they’re gone.
Few Americans will be enthralled by the prospect of returning to that era. Fewer will relish the hefty price tag – and damage to their freedoms, budgets, jobs, living standards and environment.
The White House, EPA and Congress need a serious reality check.