Five at 8 – 12/11/09: A ruling on Climategate

1) Is there anything to Climategate? In the last two weeks, some have claimed that stolen e-mails prove that scientists deliberately falsified evidence of climate change/global warming.

The verdict from Factcheck.org is in today:


We find such claims to be far wide of the mark. The e-mails (which have been made available by an unidentified individual here) do show a few scientists talking frankly among themselves — sometimes being rude, dismissive, insular, or even behaving like jerks. Whether they show anything beyond that is still in doubt. There are two investigations underway, by the U.K.’s Met Office and East Anglia University, and the head of CRU, Phil Jones, has “stepped aside” until they are completed. However, many of the e-mails that are being held up as “smoking guns” have been misrepresented by global-warming skeptics eager to find evidence of a conspiracy. And even if they showed what the critics claim, there remains ample evidence that the earth in getting warmer.

At the climate conference In Copenhagen today, a draft text of a possible climate change deal has been released.

“The document leaves open the exact target for limiting temperature rise, amid disputes between various blocs,” the BBC reports.

2) This should be a big weekend for Christmas light viewing, including those massive displays with the computer-controlled music/lights performances. Frank Antinozzi of Ramsey writes to say, “We are bigger this year. Our Website is: www.dancingholidaylights.com and we are a Toys For Tots and Food Shelf drop site.”

Behold, the 30,000 lights! (Click for larger image)

2009_Xmas_Lights_1.jpg

The address is 7041 147th Ave NW, Ramsey, Minn.

If you know of other locations (preferably with a food shelf component), send me the address and information (and if you’ve got video or images, send those, too!) and I’ll provide a directory of locations next week.

Here’s one that was posted on YouTube this morning (location unknown):

Lights of another sort:

3) Discussion point: Should there be more regulation of what you eat? It’s a food fight at The Economist.


In pursuing his prosecution (or is it persecution?) of the global food industry, Kelly Brownell makes the obvious but nevertheless compelling comparison with Big Tobacco. Briefly acknowledging the key differences between the two industries–tobacco, of course, is a vile and unhealthy weed that no one is required to smoke, whereas food is a basic necessity of daily life for all–he nevertheless insists on pairing the two industries because of the unsavoury business tactics they both employ. Big Food, in his view, uses the same sorts of marketing gimmicks and product manipulation used by the tobacco industry to get victims addicted.

4) Psssst! The end of the decade is just a few weeks away. Slicon Valley Insider lists the 20 things that have become obsolete in the decade. Example: PDAs, maps, and payphones. What’s most likely to be made obsolete by the 10s? And when do we stop indicating the year by saying “two thousand and ….” and identifying them by “twenty-xxxx” instead?

5) Some people go through life looking for its meaning. Some people go through it looking for a mathematical way to slice pizza equally. The former are still looking, but for the latter… eureka!


The problem that bothered them was this. Suppose the harried waiter cuts the pizza off-centre, but with all the edge-to-edge cuts crossing at a single point, and with the same angle between adjacent cuts. The off-centre cuts mean the slices will not all be the same size, so if two people take turns to take neighbouring slices, will they get equal shares by the time they have gone right round the pizza – and if not, who will get more?

TODAY’S QUESTION

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize Thursday, President Obama said that “all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.” What should those standards be?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and often leads to serious long-term disability. Midmorning examines the latest advances in stroke prevention, new research, and why time is of the essence for treatment.

Second hour: Sociologists Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas spent two years in a small town in Iowa trying to find out why so many young people are leaving rural America. What they found was that many small towns are playing a role in their own demise, by pushing the best and brightest to leave and under-investing in those who stay.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: (Change of guest) Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist.

Second hour: For the first night of Hanukkah, National Public Radio’s hour-long special called, “Hanukkah Lights.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - It’s Science Friday ! First hour: Should companies be granted patents on genes?

Second hour: The top technologies of 2009 and the biggest flops.

A segment you won’t hear: What really happens when you stick your tongue to a cold metal pole?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Many Republican and DFL candidates for governor have a common complaint about the federal No Child Left Behind law and its impact on Minnesota schools. Even some of the candidates advocating for an increase in K-12 funding say they want the state to opt of NCLB and give up millions in federal money. MPR’s Tim Pugmire will have the story.

MPR’s Marianne Combs profiles a new bookstore in St. Paul that caters to theater professionals, students and other folks interested in the performing arts. Considering the thriving arts scene, the idea makes sense. Considering the market for independent bookstores, it makes no sense at all.

  • Al

    //Discussion point: Should there be more regulation of what you eat?

    The debate you linked to has to do with eating unhealthy food or unhealthy quantities, but I look at the regulation issue from a basic safety angle.

    There should be much more research and regulation on food and supplements. I work as chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. We are required to go to great lengths to identify, qualify as safe, and track any chemicals which may contaminate, be result of breakdown of the product over the course of years and extreme conditions, or come into contact with the product from packaging. This is done for tiny amounts of contaminants in products which are generally used in tiny quantities.

    Then we turn around eat large quantities of food packaged in unregulated materials. The huge disconnect is evident.

  • kennedy

    Unhealthy diet increases health care costs. We need to find a way to pass those costs on to the consumer, not the provider. Health insurance premiums could be adjusted based on tobacco use, seat belt use, fitness, etc. The difficulty is that health care will be provided whether or not the individual can afford it.

    Seems like the most direct route is to tax unhealthy food. If someone doesn’t have the money to afford the tax on a bag of chips, maybe they’ll eat an apple instead. I don’t see this going very far, though. Consumers want cheap junk food and providers want all the revenue for themselves.

  • Michael

    Not to revisit something that was discussed ad nauseum back around 2000, but the end of the decade is a year away (unless we believe there was a year called ‘Zero’).

  • GregS

    FactCheck.org, a usually reliable source, really missed the mark on this one.

    The question is not “is the earth getting warmer?” We all know that is. I has been doing so for several hundred years. The important question is whether human activity is dramatically affecting natural warming.

    ClimateGate reveals the people who we trust to give us the facts are eco-evangelists who manipulate data, delete data, violate freedom of information laws and corrupt the peer-review process.

    In other words, they have greatly exaggerated the warming and proved climate science itself, to be undeserving of trust.