Category Archives: Environment

Ethics Quote of the Week: Prof. Robert Kolter

"Miss me? I'm baaaack!!!"

“Miss me? I’m baaaack!!!”

“The scientists doing this work are so immersed in their own self-aggrandizement, they have become completely blind to the irresponsibility of their acts.”

-Robert Kolter, professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School, condemning the work of Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his research team, which managed to recreate the Spanish Flu virus that killed an estimated 50 million people in 1918.

The reincarnated 1918 virus was recreated from eight genes found in avian flu viruses isolated from populations of wild ducks. Using a technique known as “reverse genetics,” Kawaoka’s team rebuilt the entire virus so that it was 97 % identical to the 1918 strain, identified from viruses recovered from frozen 1918 corpses.  Said Kawaoka: “The point of the study was to assess the risk of avian viruses currently circulating in nature. We found genes in avian influenza viruses quite closely related to the 1918 virus and, to evaluate the pandemic potential should such a 1918-like virus emerge, identified changes that enabled it to transmit in ferrets.”

And, in order to assess that risk, the research created a completely unnecessary one that if mankind proves fallible again, could, as various Stephen King and Michael Crichton novels and movies have shown, kill us all.

Eventually, one of these hubris-warped and ethics-free fools might just eradicate humanity…all in the interest of scientific inquiry, of course.

 

13 Comments

Filed under Character, Environment, History, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Congratulations, Sen. Reid: Abusing Government Power To Stifle Political Speech And Participation Works!

 

Nice choice of role models, Harry.

Nice choice of role models, Harry.

From the Washington Post:

“Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid’s relentless attacks on the billionaire Koch brothers are having an unforeseen impact: spurring other wealthy Republican donors to give more money to groups that keep their supporters’ names secret. Several prominent pro-Republican advocacy groups say they are benefiting from a burst of cash as some donors — fearful of harsh public attacks such as those aimed at the Kochs — turn away from political committees that are required by federal law to reveal their contributors.”

What a surprise. Citizen participants in the political process who see others like them engaging in no illegal or unethical conduct. other than taking positions with which the leader of the U.S. Senate disagrees. being called “un-American” and having their reputations and names savaged by him in speech after speech on the Senate floor, decide that it is no longer safe for a citizen to openly contribute to political causes in the U.S.

Democrats who use this development to attack the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, eliminating financial limits on the expressive activities of domestic advocacy groups and legal entities in political campaigns, will reveal themselves as beneath contempt. Reid, primed by President Obama, who has also crossed that line that must not be crossed by using his high elected office to call down the public’s disapproval on private citizens for their political views, has engaged in conduct that deserves the label of “McCarthyism.” Fair Americans, pundits, journalists and politicians of all political stripes ought to be candid and open about who is the ethics villain here. It is not the Koch Brothers, the Supreme Court or the GOP donors who are turning away from transparency. It is the disgraceful Senator Harry Reid.

At last count (in April; an update is needed), Reid had attacked the Kochs by name 134 times, when it is a breach of Senate tradition and a violation of the intent of the U.S. Constitution for a government official acting in his  official capacity to do so even once. Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Environment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Let’s Adopt Adam Weinstein’s Values And Arrest Adam Weinstein

For the dangerous crime of not agreeing with Adam Weinstein...

For the dangerous crime of not agreeing with Adam Weinstein…

In a jaw-dropping post on Gawker-–I would suspect link bait if this wasn’t a disturbing trend-– a supposedly (formerly?) reputable journalist argues that anyone who challenges global warming orthodoxy should be prosecuted as a criminal. Here is Adam Weinstein making a fool out of himself (actually, only a fool could write such crap), and doing it by quoting as an authority the absurd Prof Lawrence Torcello, whose earlier advocacy of punishing global warming skeptics I wrote about in this post. Weinstein:

Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics. Let’s make a clear distinction here: I’m not talking about the man on the street who thinks Rush Limbaugh is right, and climate change is a socialist United Nations conspiracy foisted by a Muslim U.S. president on an unwitting public to erode its civil liberties. You all know that man. That man is an idiot. He is too stupid to do anything other than choke the earth’s atmosphere a little more with his Mr. Pibb burps and his F-150’s gassy exhaust. Few of us believers in climate change can do much more—or less—than he can.

Nor am I talking about simple skeptics, particularly the scientists who must constantly hypo-test our existing assumptions about the world in order to check their accuracy. That is part and parcel of the important public policy discussion about what we do next. But there is scientific skepticism… and there is a malicious, profiteering quietist agenda posturing as skepticism. There is uncertainty about whether man-made climate change can be stopped or reversed… and there is the body of purulent pundits, paid sponsors, and corporate grifters who exploit the smallest uncertainty at the edges of a settled science.

I’m talking about Rush and his multi-million-dollar ilk in the disinformation business. I’m talking about Americans for Prosperity and the businesses and billionaires who back its obfuscatory propaganda. I’m talking about public persons and organizations and corporations for whom denying a fundamental scientific fact is profitable, who encourage the acceleration of an anti-environment course of unregulated consumption and production that, frankly, will screw my son and your children and whatever progeny they manage to have.

Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.

Continue reading

37 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Environment, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Cartoon Ethics: The New York Times “Eliminationist” Joke

The New York Times is taking fire from diverse commentators on the Right for publishing a political satire cartoon that includes this panel:

KillingPeopleWhoDisagreeIsFunny

It is part of a larger cartoon japing at the supposed aftermath of a harsh winter:

see-something-say-slide-F2R2-jumbo

Among the ethics complaints against the drawing:

  • “Aside from its patently offensive notion that those holding different political views don’t deserve to live, the panel in question also lacks a key element in political cartoons that aim to be tongue in cheek — it isn’t funny. Imagine the outrage at the Times if Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, et al., suggested that liberals should die for not agreeing with them. Yes, things would get nasty in a hurry. Has it really been that long since the Tucson massacre and the left’s demand for more civility, at least from conservatives?”Newsbusters
  • “Global warming has made much of the country so cold that the Times is instructing its readers to use giant icicles to bludgeon the non-believers to death.”Ed Driscoll
  • “NY Times Suggests Killing “Climate Change Deniers”Weasel Zippers
  • “So, as WUWT readers well know, I have a different opinion about global warming.Do you think the New York Times  should endorse stabbing me (and others with similar opinions) through the heart like a vampire because I hold that opinion?”Anthony Watts Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Environment, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Literature

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Charles Krauthammer

“I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30 or 50 years are white-coated propagandists. “The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge.”

—Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, in a column titled “The myth of ‘settled science’”

"90% of the 95% majority of climate scientists think it's pretty likely that their models will prove to be sort of correct. See? Certainty!"

“90% of the 95% majority of climate scientists think it’s pretty likely that their models will prove to be sort of correct. See? Certainty!”

With one unfortunate exception, Charles Krauthammer’s recent op-ed about the absurd and discrediting certainty about future global warming and its cause is so logical, fair and reasonable that one has to wonder why no non-conservative has had the integrity to write a similar piece. He was moved, I assume, by the recent flurry of obnoxious assertions from the Obama administration and its allies in the media, most notably Secretary of State John Kerry, who said,

“We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts. Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits. The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.”

John Kerry’s powers of critical analysis have been demonstrably weak in his supposed areas of expertise, such as foreign relations (See: Syria), and I will accept bets as to whether he could make any sense out of a climate change projection model graph, or even be sure whether he was holding it upside down or not. John Kerry doesn’t understand climate change science, and hasn’t a clue whether it is “unequivocal,” proven by the fact that he would say such a nonsensical thing. The same can be said about President Obama. Krauthammer again:

“Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California last Friday. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even the New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, ‘the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

But this is the pattern: science ignoramuses accuse anyone who doesn’t agree with their politically motivated “scientific” opinions of being a science ignoramus. Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Environment, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Science & Technology

Want A Perfect Example Of “Deceit”? Here You Go:

"Believe me, once you get the hang of deceit, you'll wonder how you ever got through a day without it!"

“Believe me, once you get the hang of deceit, you’ll wonder how you ever got through a day without it!”

A substantial number of people don’t understand what “deceit” is, or think that what constitutes deceit isn’t a lie. Deceit, which I used to joke was the official language of Washington, D.C. until it was changed officially to Blatant Mendacity, is when a statement is literally true, but stated in such a way or in a context intended to make the reader or listener believe something that is not true at all. The fact that the statement may have been factual in a pure sense does not diminish its unethical character as a lie. Its intent is to deceive. It is a lie, just a particularly insidious one, aimed at the trusting, unwary, undiscerning and gullible.

I am always looking for a good example of this peculiar form of deception, and they don’t come much better than this.

Drexel University professor Robert Brulle performed a study he eventually called “Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations,”  and it was subsequently published  in Climatic Change. Brulle identified 91 organizations that oppose anti-climate change policies, and added up the annual operating budgets of these groups, many of which are active in many issues and that devote a small percentage of their funding to climate change matters at all. He then characterized the resulting total of about $900 million per year from 2003 to 2010 as representing the resources dedicated to blocking the regulation of greenhouse gas production. Brulle’s  study also treats foundation grants to these organizations if every dollar given is earmarked for climate policy opposition. Taking the hand-off from the study’s framing, The Guardian headlined its findings, “Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change.” Notice the “up to,” which would apply if every cent given to organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, The Reason Foundation, The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, the Hudson Institute and many others were only expended or intended to be spent on anti-climate change position papers and advocacy. This isn’t just a gross exaggeration: it’s a lie, intended to be misleading. Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Environment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, U.S. Society

Forgetting The Unwritten Boy Scout Law: “A Scout Is Not A Destructive Idiot”

David Hall, Glenn Taylor and his son—the first two are scoutmasters—face felony arrests after posting video, taken by Taylor’s son, of the two men destroying a 200 million-year-old rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park last week. They knock over the rock, high-five each other, cackle with joy, and then say—and this is now their defense—that a child could have been killed if the rock fell on its own. Moe, or perhaps it is Curley, also says, perhaps more significantly, “We have modified Goblin Valley!”

Some observations: Continue reading

29 Comments

Filed under Environment, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership