Daily Wisdom

December 27, 2007

Not So Hot

Hat-tip to Hankmeister for this one...

By Patrick J. Michaels
Published 12/27/2007 12:07:49 AM

From American Spectator: If a scientific paper appeared in a major journal saying that the planet has warmed twice as much as previously thought, that would be front-page news in every major paper around the planet. But what would happen if a paper was published demonstrating that the planet may have warmed up only half as much as previously thought?

Nothing. Earlier this month, Ross McKitrick from Canada's University of Guelph and I published a manuscript in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres saying precisely that.

Scientists have known for years that temperature records can be contaminated by so-called "urban warming," which results from the fact that long-term temperature histories tend to have originated at points of commerce. The bricks, buildings, and pavement of cities retain the heat of the day and impede the flow of ventilating winds.

For example, downtown Washington is warmer than nearby (and more rural) Dulles Airport. As government and services expand down the Dulles Access road, it, too, is beginning to warm compared to more rural sites to the west.

Adjusting data for this effect, or using only rural stations, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with confidence that less than 10% of the observed warming in long-term climate histories is due to urbanization.

That's a wonderful hypothesis, and Ross and I decided to test it.

We noted that other types of bias must still be affecting historical climate records. What about the quality of a national network and the competence of the observers? Other factors include movement or closing of weather stations and modification of local land surfaces, such as replacing a forest with a cornfield.

Many of these are socioeconomic, so we built a computer model that included both regional climatic factors, such as latitude, as well as socioeconomic indicators like GDP and applied it to the IPCC's temperature history.

Weather equipment is very high-maintenance. The standard temperature shelter is painted white. If the paint wears or discolors, the shelter absorbs more of the sun's heat and the thermometer inside will read artificially high. But keeping temperature stations well painted probably isn't the highest priority in a poor country.

IPCC divides the world into latitude-longitude boxes, and for each of these we supplied information on GDP, literacy, amount of missing data (a measure of quality), population change, economic growth and change in coal consumption (the more there is, the cooler the area).

Guess what. Almost all the socioeconomic variables were important. We found the data were of highest quality in North America and that they were very contaminated in Africa and South America. Overall, we found that the socioeconomic biases "likely add up to a net warming bias at the global level that may explain as much as half the observed land-based warming trend."

We then modified IPCC's temperature data for these biases and compared the statistical distribution of the warming to the original IPCC data and to satellite measures of lower atmospheric temperature that have been available since 1979. Since these are from a single source (the U.S. government), and they don't have any urban contamination, they are likely to be affected very little by economic factors.

Indeed. The adjusted IPCC data now looks a lot like the satellite data. The biggest change was that the high (very warm) end of the distribution in the IPCC data was knocked off by the unbiasing process.

Where was the press? A Google search reveals that with the exception of a few blog citations, the only major story ran in Canada's Financial Post.

There are several reasons why the press provides so little coverage to science indicating that global warming isn't the end of the world. One has to do with bias in the scientific literature itself. Theoretically, assuming unbiased climate research, every new finding should have an equal probability of indicating that things are going to be more or less warm, or worse-than-we-thought vs. not-so-bad.

But, when someone finds that there's only half as much warming as we thought, and the story is completely ignored, what does this say about the nature of the coverage itself? Somehow, you'd think that would have been newsworthy.

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

December 25, 2007

Keeping Watch By Night

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. --Luke 2:8

On this Christmas Day, there are Americans "in that region" of the world, "out in the field", and "keeping watch by night". May God Bless all of those who serve our country far from home and family. During this sacred season, let us be reminded that there are those who put themselves in harm's way that we might enjoy the blessings of freedom and liberty.

Dear Lord, keep them safe we pray, and bring them home to us quickly. Lord, bring peace to that region of the world. Lord, remind us that there is One who keeps watch over us all during this dark night of exile. Come soon Lord Jesus...

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. --Isaiah 9:7

December 21, 2007

Maybe We're Not Ready

Hat-tip to Heirborn Ranger...

December 19, 2007

DOD Progress Report on Iraq

On December 14th, the Department of Defense released its quarterly report to Congress on "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq", which you can read in its entirety by clicking HERE. As you might imagine, it is a mixed picture, but better than one could have ever hoped for a year ago. Not surprisingly, the left-wing media outlets have completely ignored or glossed over the good news in this report and focused on the negative. To provide a sense of balance then, I feel it is only fair to share some the positive items in the report. The report is 50 pages long, so here are a few excerpts from the report...

The strategic goal of the United States in Iraq remains a unified, democratic and federal Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror. This report measures progress towards, and setbacks from, achieving that goal...

There has been significant security progress, momentum in reconciliation at the local and provincial levels and economic progress...

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The continued implementation of the New Way Forward strategy combined with the surge in overall force levels in Iraq has considerably improved overall levels of security during the past quarter. Improved security is beginning to achieve momentum that, if maintained, may lead to sustained stability. The "tribal awakening" movement has grown as an increasing number of sheikhs - Sunni and Shi'a - have chosen to stop resisting the Coalition. They are instead working together with the GoI (Government of Iraq) and the Coalition, including with Provincial Reconstruction Teams, to improve security and economic conditions at the local level...

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"Concerned Local Citizen" (CLC) programs have been established through which members of communities work with Coalition and Iraqi forces to protect their neighborhoods and critical infrastructure... This program enhances the ability of Coalition and Iraqi forces to interact with local residents and obtain information on insurgents and illegal militia activity. The CLC movement is proving crucial to the counterinsurgency effort...

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The number of security incidents has fallen significantly and is now at levels last seen in the summer of 2005. Although ethno-sectarian violence continues to be a concern, overall civilian casualties, enemy attacks and total improvised explosive device attacks have decreased markedly over the reporting period. For example, the number of high-profile attacks in Iraq declined by over 50% since March 2007...

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Coalition forces continue to transfer responsibility for security to the GoI. Karbala Province transitioned to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC) on October 29, 2007, bringing the total number of provinces for which the GoI has lead security responsibility to eight of eighteen provinces. In particular, Anbar Province continued to show significant improvements in security... In the southern provinces, Iraqi forces have taken a more assertive role in the security of Basrah City in preparation for the transition of Basrah to PIC in December 2007...

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State-provided electricity outputs for September through November 2007 averaged 107,581 megawatt hours, a 14% increase over production rates for the same period in 2006. Increased electricity delivery can be attributed to several factors, including the 15 new and six rehabilitated power generation units that have come on-line since September 15, 2007...

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The Iraqi economy continues to improve and overcome many challenges to stability and growth. Estimated nominal gross domestic product (GDP) is US$60.9 billion. Real GDP will increase by an estimated 6.3% in 2007 as growth in the non-oil sector continues. The inflation rate has continued to decline due to the Central Bank of Iraq’s tight monetary policy...

Iraq’s basic combat and basic police training facilities continuously operate at or near capacity. As of November 15, 2007, the Coalition and the Ministry of Defense have generated 117 army battalions that are conducting operations at varying levels of capability; another 42 are currently in or planned for force generation. Ten divisions, 34 brigades, and 108 battalions have the lead in counterinsurgency operations in their areas of responsibility. Many elements of the Iraqi Army are now capable of conducting counterinsurgency operations...

In October 2007, the Prime Minister approved a nationwide US$540 million small and medium loan program administered by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and Ministry of Industry and Minerals to help reduce poverty, promote small business development, address high unemployment rates and stabilize the provinces. The Baghdad pilot program has granted over 4,600 subsidized bank loans valued at more than US$34 million and is estimated to have created 23,000 jobs...

December 07, 2007

It's Called Christmas!

Hat-tip to Barb Luther (aka Prettyold) for this one...

December 06, 2007

A Perfect Beer For Me

My brother-in-law introduced me to a beer I've never heard of before. But it seems particularly appropriate for me, dontcha think...?

Here is the label from the bottle neck...

Here is the main label...

It was actually rather good, but for some reason, I don't picture myself as a "Red" Hawk... thank you!

By the way, the discolorations in the label are my fault. Apparently I damaged the label trying to remove it from the bottle using steam. I had to wet the label to bring out the colors and the discolorations are simply water. The color in the field around the Hawk is supposed to be a uniform light cream color. Oooops, my bad...

December 05, 2007

Success in Iraq: Just Dumb Luck?

By Hawkeye

Some have suggested recently that the reduced violence and increased stability in Iraq has nothing to do with the U.S. "surge", and has everything to do with just plain old "dumb luck". They have implied that the U.S. military has had little or nothing to do with the success we are now seeing on the ground, and that all the credit should really go to the Iraqis themselves who suddenly, and without warning, began turning against Al-Qaeda in April of 2007. According to them, we Americans just got "lucky", because the Sunni insurgents simply got tired of Al-Qaeda imposing sharia law on them, chopping off body parts for various crimes against "Islam", and killing many of their tribal and family members.

[Editor's Note: I first posted an article about the 'Anbar Awakening' at my Victory Against Terror website on April 21, 2007. Go HERE, and scroll down to April 21 to see the article entitled "Iraqi Tribal Chiefs Forming An Anti-Insurgent Party" for more information.]

Well, let's think about that concept for a minute. If you recall, things seemed out of control in Iraq at the end of 2006 into early 2007. Al-Qaeda had stirred up a hornets' nest with the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. Sectarian violence was rampant. The media was wailing and moaning about an Iraqi civil war. The Democrats were screaming for immediate pull-out. The Iraq Study Group was pushing for some kind of gradual pull-out to be started almost immediately. From captured documents we know that Al-Qaeda was waging a media war against us, and was betting that the U.S. would soon tire of the war and begin withdrawing troops.

So what did George W. Bush do? On January 17th 2007, he nominated General David Petraeus to succeed General George Casey as commanding general of MNFI to lead all U.S. troops in Iraq. On January 23rd, Petraeus testified before the Senate on his ideas for Iraq, particularly the "surge" of increased U.S. presence in Baghdad necessary as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy which he helped to develop. This new counterinsurgency strategy is documented in Field Manual No. 3-24, otherwise known as FM 3-24 for short.

The real difference of this new strategy was in how the U.S. troops began to interact with the Iraqi citizens. The troops came in to various areas - one neighborhood at a time - and set up camp there, living among the Iraqis. They not only pushed out Al-Qaeda and the insurgents, but they lived in those neighborhoods instead of immediately retreating back to a base somewhere (often referred to as the "light footprint" strategy). The troops started immediately helping the local citizens with distributions of food, medicine, school supplies and toys for the children. They even gave some Iraqis jobs. As a result, the Iraqis started to feel more secure about giving tips and info on Al-Qaeda terrorists and Shi'ite militants to the Coalition Forces. And then the tide began to turn rapidly. The Iraqis started signing up for the police force. Concerned Local Citizen (CLC) groups started coming together. There was a ground swell of support both against Al-Qaeda and in favor of the Coalition.

How the Iraqis were treated by the U.S. troops, versus how they were treated by Al-Qaeda, was like night and day. The troops were caring and concerned. Al-Qaeda was oppressive, imposing sharia law with its harsh sentences for "crimes" and misdemeanors, and freely killing any Iraqis who did not support their radical agenda. This difference in modus operandi had to provide at least some of the incentive for renewed cooperation with the Coalition. It also became clear to the Iraqis that the U.S. forces weren't going anywhere anytime soon. It was obvious that the Al-Qaeda strategy of trying to get the Americans to pull out by waging a media war was not only failing, but more U.S. troops were on their way via the "surge". The Iraqis no doubt began asking themselves why they should suffer along side a group whose strategies were failing.

I am also convinced that there must have been some kind of secret negotiations going on between the U.S. military and the Sunni leaders who started the "Awakening" movement. I mean, let's face it... these guys were formerly violent Sunni insurgents who fought alongside Al-Qaeda. Why would they suddenly turn against Al-Qaeda if they didn't have some kind of assurances from the U.S. that they wouldn't be captured and prosecuted for past crimes? How can anyone believe that an insurgent group - especially a Sunni one, allied with Al-Qaeda and former Ba'athists, against a primarily Shi'ite-run government and the Coalition - would NOT expect to face some kind of retribution or retaliation, even after they changed sides? And why is it that the U.S. military seemed to immediately open its arms to these former insurgents? And why did Sheik Abdul-Sattar abu Risha (founder of the Sunni "Awakening" movement) say that one purpose of his new movement was to promote a better image of American-led forces to the Iraqis? And why did he say that his tribes would also participate in a U.S.-backed effort to reestablish a court system in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province?

All of this would be way too much to believe if we simply assumed that the Sunni insurgents woke up one day and said, "Hey, let's join the Coalition against Al-Qaeda. Let's help create a better image of the American-led Coalition. Let's participate in a U.S.-backed effort to reestablish a court system in Ramadi". It would be way too much to believe that the U.S. military simply fell into this situation by "dumb luck". Indeed, it is now clear that the U.S. military has been brokering various kinds of reconciliation deals all over Iraq since the Sunni "Awakening" began. The latest occurred only a few days ago on November 28th, when 6,000 Sunnis signed a pact with American forces. For more info on that recent pact, go HERE, and scroll down to the November 29th article entitled "6,000 Iraqi Sunnis Sign Pact With U.S.". Why should we assume that this brokering is something that started only after the "Awakening"?

Yes, Al-Qaeda made mistakes. Yes, the Iraqis may have been getting tired of the war. But so what? That just means that Al-Qaeda was doing the wrong things, and we finally started doing the right things. There's no "dumb luck" involved in changing strategies and going with something that works. That's how wars are won.

In conclusion then, rather than "dumb luck", I believe that our success in Iraq has been the result of the following...

  • The tenacity of President George W. Bush -- Though he could have taken the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and used them as an excuse to withdraw, he chose instead to fight on. He chose the path of potential victory over the path of assured defeat.
  • The brilliance of General David Petraeus -- General Petraeus had success in Iraq before he came back to the U.S. to literally "write the book" (FM 3-24) on counterinsurgency. Since taking command in Iraq, the situation on the ground has seen a dramatic turn-around.
  • The new counterinsurgency strategy -- The old "light-footprint" strategy was clearly a mistake. The new strategy is clearly working far better.
  • The excellence of our troops -- The dedication of our troops to helping the Iraqis cannot be underestimated. First, they freed the Iraqis from tyranny. Then they started rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure. Then they got caught in the middle of sectarian violence. Then they had to put up with calls for withdrawal from idiots in Washington, DC. Now they are making progress by working and living among the Iraqis. All the while, these fine troops have been America's good-will ambassadors, dispensing humanitarian aid, and putting their lives on the line.
  • U.S.-brokered reconciliation -- It is now obvious that the U.S. military has been brokering various reconciliation deals with the Iraqis (primarily Sunnis) all over the country. I would not be surprised to learn that the original Sunni "Awakening" in Anbar province was likewise a negotiated deal instigated by U.S. military forces. Such a revelation would suggest a far more active role by U.S. military forces than has been previously assumed.
  • Iraqi initiative -- We should not forget the role that the Iraqis have themselves played in the recent reduction of violence. Iraqis have taken a bold stance in favor of peace and democracy. Thousands of Sunni insurgents have turned against their former ally Al-Qaeda. Muqtada al-Sadr has declared a truce and ordered his Shi'ite followers to cease sectarian violence. Tens of thousands of concerned local citizens are banding together to provide the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces with tips on terrorist and insurgent activity. Tens of thousands have signed up to join the Iraqi Police force to bring law and order to their country.
  • "Dumb Luck" -- Yeah, there may be some of that too. I wouldn't give it a whole lot of credence considering how much work the Coalition and the Iraqis have put into turning things around. Nevertheless, if there is some of that too, then so be it.... and Thank God for it.