GoreSat Finally Orbits

One of my pet peeves is the contention that conservatives and Republicans are “anti-science” while liberals and Democrats are “pro-science”. Having been in the field for twenty years, I’ve observed little difference in how well science is funded under the two parties, with a slight bias in favor of Republicans. And while it’s true that Republicans are more dubious of science on the big topics du jour — global warming and evolution — that doesn’t mean they are more anti-science in general. When it comes to GMOs, vaccines or nuclear power, the Left is way more anti-science.

My dislike of this meme is embodied in the person of Algore, who has a reputation as this great scientific mind but has always crossed me as a poser: someone who pretends to be a friend of science because he wants to look smart (and, in his case, wants to advance a big government agenda). He wrote a well-praised book — Earth in the Balance — that was shredded in P.J. O’Rourke in All The Trouble in the World and proved to be massively wrong on many issues. He touted a plan to move the United States to alternative energy within ten years that was total science fiction. His advocacy on global warming — hypocritical advocacy — touted doomsday scenarios and marginal studies. It was ultimately a disservice to the climate debate.

But if you want Algore in a nutshell, I give you the Triana satellite, a version of which was launched today. Triana started with this crackpot idea of Gore’s to have a satellite launched which would sit in the L1 Lagrange point and take pictures of the Earth. That’s it. It would take pictures of the Earth to “raise awareness” of our climate. NASA devoted $100 million to this boondoggle, without any peer review, and desperately tried to get scientists to find some use for it. The best they could come up with measuring Earth’s albedo and cloud patterns, although Triana was not what you would have designed with that science program in mind. When the SOHO spacecraft was having trouble, they came up with a plan to put instruments on it to measure solar activity, since the L1 point is good for that.

Triana was mothballed after Bush won the White House but was resurrected by Obama. The satellite — now named DSCOVR — has been revamped so that its primary mission is to measure solar storms and provide and early warning of space weather. The Earth picture thing is an afterthought. Notice that’s NASA’s video doesn’t mention Algore’s original Triana mission at all.

If anyone other than Algore had proposed Triana, burned $100 million on it and had NASA scramble to find an actual scientific use for it, they would have been laughingstock. But today the press is filled with stories about how this is Algore’s “dream” even though his original proposal had nothing to do with DSCOVR’s primary mission.

DSCOVR is a good mission and I’m glad it launched today. I’m even gladder that it was launched by SpaceX. Space weather is a serious issue and we desperately need to address the impact that a severe solar storm could have on our planet (think about a world-wide power grid meltdown to get the picture). But let’s not pretend this has anything to do with Algore. This is NASA making some very good lemonade from a $100 million lemon.

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  1. Xetrov

    someone who pretends to be a friend of science because he wants to look smart

    I don’t think that’s it. Al Gore’s agenda has been to get rich from the get-go. I personally don’t think he gives two shits about the environment, but it’s not so he can look smart. He invests in “green” energy, then uses scare tactic hypocritical stances to push for its adoption in congress, the White House, the MSM, all in an effort to receive potentially billion$ in funding by the Federal Government.

    That’s why I ridicule anyone who claims a GW skeptic is only saying things because they are being paid by “Big Oil”. Big Oil has no chance of competing with the virtually unlimited, and unaccountable funds the Federal Government pumps into “green” initiatives, and research.

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    Xetrov, even though I’m on the “global warming is real side”, I do share the distaste for people who dismiss skeptics as pawns of “big oil”. Most get no oil money. Some do but that is drowned by those who see global warming as a route to big government and government power. The cap-and-trade scheme would have created a slush fund with hundreds of billions of dollars. What is Big Oil money compared to that?

    I think you’re somewhat right on Gore for that reason. He always saw the environment as the issue that would vault him to national prominence and eventually the White House. Gore’s kick is money (he’s made a fortune off of bogus carbon credits and his TV network). But it’s also power. Before he was on the environment, he was on the economy, trying to ride the 80’s Japan-a-phobia into the White House, claiming we needed a big powerful centralized government to make our industry competitive with Japan’s.

    Whatever the cause, the solution is clear to him: elect Algore; give him lots of power.

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  3. AlexInCT

    Xetrov, even though I’m on the “global warming is real side”,

    Surprisingly so am I Hal. And I am also on the “global cooling is real side”. Only a moron would ignore some 4.5 billion years’ worth of easy to identify data that will clearly make the case that our planet was once just a chunk of hot molten material, then had the crust cool down enough to not just solidify the material but to form an atmosphere, oceans, and the ensuing weather patterns. Since then, the planet has undergone bouts of extreme heating that allowed Antarctica to be a tropical paradise and cooling so drastic that sheets of ice over a mile high straddled the poles. Even more importantly, it happened in such a way that people in the know, but without a political agenda or dependency on government funding to skew their outcome, readily admit that in the majority of these cases CO2 didn’t play any significant role. When they believe CO2 might have played a role, they admit can’t tell if it preceded the warming or cooling, or came after it. The data is just too complex and the gaps in knowledge too large.

    All this however occurred naturally. Whether it was the sun, volcanoes, strikes of massive E.L.E objects, or combinations of all the above at the same time, the drastic temperature swings happened and the system has balanced itself out. That’s key information there: it is not a closed system and it self corrects even from events that short of an all-out planet wide nuclear war are out of the reach of mankind to do. A single volcano eruption put more particulates, including CO2 in the air than mad did during the entire industrial age. It cooled the planet down by a full 1 degree if I recall correctly. The effects of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption is what basically destroyed any doubt I had about the natural system and man’s impact on it. That the alarmist didn’t even blink after that display of nature’s awesome power, but kept making their nonsense predictions of warm-aggedon, made me double sure they were full of shit.

    The key missing point is man. A latecomer that in the grand scheme of things and when put up against the enormous energy put out by the sun, earth’s weather pattern, the oceans, or other geological activity, amounts to a bunch of ants affecting a B-52 runway. That’s where we differ. Nobody has conclusively provided any proof that man’s impact is more than noise, let alone that it is so big that the natural system can’t correct for it. The whole CO2 argument smacks of desperation, ignores the most common gas responsible for trapping heat – water vapor – and the models have yet, even once, to accurately predict anything close to what is really happening. And yet, these fucking watermelon religious fanatic followers of marx are demanding we destroy the western world’s economies and adopt a tyrannical all powerful collectivist world government that will drive us all back to living in caves. Fuck that noise.

    These are the people that keep getting caught “massaging” data and with models that predict warming regardless of what data goes into them. At least the latest data manipulation scandal didn’t involve the cultists destroying the raw data they algorithmically corrected – always to show a heating trend regardless of if that made sense or not – to pretend the world is warming like they claim.

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  4. richtaylor365

    Alex, that was a lucid and compelling argument you just made, nice job. I would differ only in this respect, where as you dismiss man’s influence on the environment out of hand, I am more circumspect. It is a physical impossibility to introduce any new variable (man) in to the equation (climate change and it’s environmental impact) and not expect some change, some result different from what was obtained without the new variable. I believe man does have some impact, but how much, a significant amount or insignificant, an impact for the good or otherwise, an impact that can be accurately measured, the effect calculated, then definable results extrapolated from the verifiable data. But we have none of that now. I guess that is why I consider myself a climate skeptic as opposed to a climate denier, nothing put forward so far passes the smell test and is usually always presented wrapped around an agenda that monetarily benefits the presenter

    You could very well be right, that man’s impact is so minuscule as to render it meaningless, but that would assume that the science is indeed settled, as those climate pushers claim, nothing has been settled to my satisfaction. If man is fouling the planet as bad as suggested, I want to know about it, prove it, this is after all our home.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    The key missing point is man. A latecomer that in the grand scheme of things and when put up against the enormous energy put out by the sun, earth’s weather pattern, the oceans, or other geological activity, amounts to a bunch of ants affecting a B-52 runway.

    The massive increase in the CO2 content of the atmosphere is hardly a minuscule effect. There are other processes at work but the only theory that comes close to explain the temperature patterns of the last two centuries is AGW. This is the conclusion of everyone who has examined the data, even the “unmassaged” data.

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