Category Archives: Politics

War Between Pot-Farmers & Environmentalists?

We sometimes say, and many of you disagree, that Both U.S. Political Parties Oppose Science. Yes, many creationists are now Republicans, but the Democrats have their own science problems. Our last post on this topic was only a week ago: 2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in US Senate.

Today we found something at PhysOrg that has potential to make our point. It’s titled Legal marijuana sales creating escalating damage to the environment.

Think about that for a minute. Environmentalists tend to be on the liberal side of the political spectrum. Such people often favor the legalization of marijuana. There may be an intra-party conflict here. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Marijuana sales have created an economic boom in U.S. states that have fully or partially relaxed their cannabis laws, but is the increased cultivation and sale of this crop also creating escalating environmental damage and a threat to public health?

Egad — for many people, that’s a difficult question. Then we’re told:

In an opinion piece published by the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lancaster University in the U.K. have called on U.S. federal agencies to fund studies that will gather essential environmental data from the legal cultivation farms and facilities.

This is the article they’re talking about: High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation. You can read it online without a subscription, but we’ll stay with PhysOrg, which tells us:

State-by-state legalization is effectively creating a new industry in U.S., one that looks set to rival all but the largest of current businesses. In Colorado alone, sales revenues have reached $1 billion, roughly equal to that from grain farming in the state. By 2020 it is estimated that country-wide legal marijuana sales will generate more annual revenue than the National Football League.

But [the authors of the article] … say that this expanded cultivation carries with it serious environmental effects. Their article points out that cannabis is an especially needy crop requiring high temperatures (25-30 °C for indoor operations), strong light, highly fertile soil and large volumes of water – around twice that of wine grapes. In addition, the authors state that the few available studies of marijuana cultivation have uncovered potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air, and soil.

You see the problem, don’t you? Hold on, there’s even more:

For example, a study of illegal outdoor grow operations in northern California found that rates of water extraction from streams threatened aquatic ecosystems. High levels of growth nutrients, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, also found their way back into the local environment, further damaging aquatic wildlife.

Controlling the indoor growing environment requires considerable energy with power requirements estimated to be similar to that of Google’s massive data centers. No significant data has been collected on the air pollution impacts on worker’s public health inside these growing facilities or the degradation of outdoor air quality due to emissions produced by the industrial scale production of marijuana.

It looks like this is a fertile area for research, so to speak. The PhysOrg article continues:

The continued expansion of legalization by the states does offer significant opportunities for the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institutes of Health (NIH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to fund research into legal cannabis cultivation to protect the environment.

Now the pot-growers are going to have to deal with government regulations. When that happens, they’ll start sounding like Republicans.

Our last excerpt is a quote from William Vizuete, one of the authors of the published paper:

There are also significant potential public health issues caused by emissions from the plants themselves rather than smoking it. These emissions cause both indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Okay, dear reader. Now we’ll see whether there’s a political party that is consistently pro-science. Your Curmudgeon boldly predicts that the pot-growers will behave like the oil companies — they’ll deny the science. But maybe not. We’ve been wrong before.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in US Senate

A month ago we wrote 2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in Congress. That was about House Resolution 44 which was introduced into the US House of Representatives. All its 19 co-sponsors are Democrats.

Now our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have just posted: Darwin Day resolution in the Senate. Here are some excerpts:

Senate Resolution 59, introduced in the United States Senate on February 10, 2017, would, if passed, express the Senate’s support of designating February 12, 2017, as Darwin Day, and its recognition of “Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.”

We briefly looked at the text of the Senate resolution. It appears to be identical to the one in the House, which we gave you in our earlier post. NCSE continues:

Sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), S. Res. 59 is the third Darwin Day resolution ever to appear in the Senate.

Blumenthal’s resolution has only one co-sponsor so far, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, and he too is a Democrat.

Republicans control both chambers of Congress, so neither resolution is likely to pass. But even when that wasn’t so, such resolutions never passed anyway.

We’re hoping for at least one Republican to co-sponsor one of these resolutions, so this isn’t a total embarrassment, but that doesn’t seem likely. The situation is absurd, because not every Republican is a creationist, and not every Democrat is a solid supporter of science — see Is Your Political Party Really Pro-Science?

Politicians in both parties, like the population as a whole, are mostly ignorant of science. They’re driven by ideology, and they support science only when it seems to justify the their party’s position on specific issues — like abortion, environmentalism, national defense, “social justice,” etc. Also, each party opposes the science that challenges its sacred ideology. The sad truth is that science in general has no political friends. All we have are temporarily convenient alliances — and depending on one’s science, we don’t have the same allies.

Unfortunately, many scientists are unaware of the motives of politicians, so they’ll support a party that seems to support their endeavors, while overlooking that party’s anti-scientific positions on other issues. The Darwin Day resolutions make the Republicans look like idiots. That’s their purpose. But tomorrow, when the issue is something like fracking or increasing the number of nuclear power plants, the positions of the parties will be reversed. So don’t be naïve, dear reader. Bear in mind that political parties are driven by ideology, not science.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Ken Ham: Making America Great Again

The central theme of Donald Trump’s campaign was his promise to make American great again. No one knows how to do that better than Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, and for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark. Verily, he is the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Ol’ Hambo tells us how it should be done in How to Make America Great Again. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Tomorrow is Inauguration Day here in the United States. On this day President-elect Donald Trump will become President Trump. He has promised to make America great again. Well, God’s Word tells us exactly how to do that!

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Isn’t this wonderful? Hambo says:

To truly make America really great again, Americans need to put God first and turn to His Word as the absolute authority in all areas.

Yes, that’s the way to do it! Phooey on the Constitution! Then he tells us:

Many people believe we don’t need God because man is basically good. But that’s a false assumption. [Scripture quote.] What does God say about man’s heart?

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:19 ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Wow! That sounds like we were badly designed. Hambo continues:

The only One who is good is God. [Scripture quote.] As our Creator, God has every right to judge sinful man. And He will judge every person. To all my non-Christian followers, I urge you at this time to consider your life, death, and eternity: [Scripture quote.]

Good advice! Let’s read on:

Many people refuse to listen to God’s Word because they’ve bought the culture’s lie that it can’t be trusted. They’ve sided with the majority. But is the majority right?

Gasp — if it isn’t, why do we have democracy? Hambo explains:

Well, the majority of doctors once didn’t wash their hands after autopsies and before delivering babies — they were wrong! … The majority of scientists believe in molecules-to-man evolution — the majority is obviously wrong. Just because the majority believes something doesn’t mean it’s right.

Wow — our whole system of government is wrong! Another excerpt:

If you believe that the majority rules, there can never be truth. What or who determined that the majority rules?

Hambo’s right. There’s nothing about democracy in the bible. Here’s more

We don’t need to be at the mercy of the changing opinions of the majority. God’s Word provides a firm foundation for morality.

We need a theocracy! Hambo for dictator! One more excerpt:

God’s Word needs to be our authority. It provides a rock-solid foundation in a culture that changes with each generation. I encourage you to carefully consider Christianity and the Bible.

There’s a bit more, but it’s just a promotion for an AIG book. So there you are, dear reader. Now you know how to make America great again.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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David Gelernter — Trump’s Science Advisor?

Two months ago we wrote Who Will Be Trump’s Science Advisor?, in which we said:

[F]or those who are concerned about what a Trump administration would mean for science — a legitimate concern considering that Mike Pence, his Vice President, is a creationist — Trump’s appointment of director of the OSTP [Office of Science and Technology Policy] is a key thing to watch for.

[…]

Okay, now we’ll make a prediction. Trump’s science advisor: (a) won’t be a creationist; and (b) won’t be in denial about climate change.

We haven’t seen any news stories or even speculation about this subject, until today. In the Yale Daily News, the daily newspaper of Yale University, we read: Yale professor under consideration for Trump advisor role. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Yale computer science professor David Gelernter ’76 is being considered for the job of science advisor in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Here’s that story in the Washington Post: David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser. [*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] He’s “fiercely anti-intellectual” — whatever that means in an academic context. We’ll get back to that in a moment, but let’s return to the Yale Daily News, which says:

According to the Post, Gelernter — who caught the attention of students and faculty when he appeared on Fox News in October to express his support for Trump — is a leading expert in the field of parallel computation, a type of computing in which multiple processes are executed at the same time. He is also the author of several books, including “America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats),” which argues that top universities are to blame for the erosion of traditional American values.

[*Gasp*] — he appeared on Fox News, and his political views are unpopular in academia. He must be some kind of monster! One more excerpt:

Yalies were given a taste of Gelernter’s political views in a segment of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” last fall in which he called the University “an intellectual ghetto,” citing the overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 on campus. On the show, Gelernter expressed disgust at Trump’s treatment of women, but added, “We need somebody who is not scared to make big changes.”

Okay, now let’s see what the Washington Post says:

Gelernter met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, according to press secretary Sean Spicer.

[…]

In 1993, Gelernter was seriously injured by a letter bomb sent by Ted Kaczynski, the anti-technology terrorist known as the Unabomber.

[…]

In his 2013 book, “America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats),” he condemned “belligerent leftists” and blamed intellectualism for the disintegration of patriotism and traditional family values. He attributed the decline in American culture to “an increasing Jewish presence at top colleges.” (Gelernter himself is Jewish.)

[…]

He has expressed doubt about the reality of man-made climate change — something that 97 percent of active researchers agree is a problem. And his anti-intellectualism makes him an outlier among scientists.

Okay, dear reader, that’s all we’ve got so far. If the Washington Post story is accurate, he’s quite a clunker. Go ahead and discuss it, but remember — at this point he’s just a name that’s being considered.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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