Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Snow ≠ No Climate Change

The recent snow storm on the east coast of the U.S. set new records for total snowfall in several cities

(See pictures at http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1960714_2044181,00.html)

We have also had several new record low temperatures recorded this winter in many parts of the country. Does this mean that Global Climate Change is a false theory?

No.

Actually, with Global Climate Change (and a generally warmer earth) the theory predicts greater snowfall. Warm air holds more moisture. When it cools, the moisture precipitates out as rain or snow. So air, holding more moisture than usual, hit a cold front due to a southerly jet stream, and we get a huge amount of snow.

(Remember, you get about 10 inches of light fluffy snow for every inch that would have been rain. Two feet of snow would have been 2.4 inches of rain. Spread over 2 or 3 days, that's not particularly a lot of moisture for the east coast.)

Climate generally refers to long-term weather patterns. It cannot be based on data from one year, and certainly not from just one month.

The theory of Global Climate Change does not predict the end of snow in the U.S., nor the end of periods of cold.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Glen Beck's Cabinet List

Here is what has become a viral email in February 2010:

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On a recent [actually back in early 2009] Glenn Beck Show, he had a graph that illustrated the percentage of each past president's cabinet who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet. You know what the private business sector is... a real life business, not a government job. Here are the percentages discussed by Mr. Beck.

T. Roosevelt........ 38%
Taft......................40%
Wilson ............... 52%
Harding................49%
Coolidge.............. 48%
Hoover................. 42%
F. Roosevelt......... 50%
Truman.................50%
Eisenhower.......... 57%
Kennedy.............. 30%
Johnson................47%
Nixon................... 53%
Ford..................... 42%
Carter................... 32%
Reagan.................56%
GH Bush.............. 51%
Clinton ................ 39%
GW Bush............. 55%

And the winner of the Chicken Dinner is...
Obama....................8%!

Yep! That’s right! Only Eight Percent, the least by far of the last 19 presidents! (Even Carter had 32%, four times as many). These people are trying to tell our big corporations how to run their business?
They know what's best for GM...Chrysler... Wall Street... and you and me?

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If Glen Beck were correct (which he wasn't), Obama would have had slightly more than 1 cabinet member who had private business experience. That was my first clue. If there were just 1 out of the 15 cabinet positions held by somebody with some private business experience, that would be 6.7% or just 7%. Here is the breakdown as near as I can tell with the names, the private business if any, and the last job held before being appointed to the cabinet. As a rule, I would bet nearly every cabinet secretary had a government job right before their appointment -- you want somebody who knows what's going on. But I also agree that people in government SHOULD also have some private business experience.

The jobs the current cabinet members held "in the private business sector" are in bold. Some had several private jobs on their resume, so I only listed one. If Beck was suggesting that their most recent job held prior to appointment, the correct answer is 7% -- Locke was in a private law firm dealing with international business. But Beck left the time frame completely open.

My count puts the percentage at 80.0% if you don't count teaching as private sector work. Only 3 appointees have no private sector experience: Holder, LaHood, and Shinseki. And I'll bet that even Glen Beck might think that a 4-star general of the U.S. Army might be a good candidate to run Veterans Affairs. Or would he prefer some mercenary from Blackwater?

According to Beck's list, that puts Obama's cabinet way at the top of the list with #2 being Eisenhower at a meager 57% (also a hard number to justify since I believe Ike only had 11 cabinet positions to fill, but maybe counting replacements during the 8-year term; 12 out of 21 would be about 57%).

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Obama's Cabinet:

Department of State
Hillary R. Clinton -- Private Lawyer; last job = U.S. Senator from New York

Department of the Treasury
Timothy F. Geithner -- Kissinger Associates, Inc. (private consulting firm); last job = Federal Reserve (technically independent of government)

Department of Defense
Robert M. Gates -- Chairman of the Independent Trustees of The Fidelity Fund (private business); last job = Sec. of Defense for Bush

Department of Justice
Eric H. Holder -- Justice Department Trial Attorney; last job = U. S. Attorney (no private experience)

Department of the Interior
Ken L. Salazar -- Rancher; last job = U.S. Senator from Colorado

Department of Agriculture
Tom J. Vilsack -- Private Lawyer for over 10 years; last job = Governor of Iowa

Department of Commerce
Gary Locke – Governor of Washington State; last job = International law firm in Seattle

Department of Labor
Hilda L. Solis -- Director of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program; last job = U. S. Representative from California

Department of Health and Human Services
Kathleen Sebelius -- Executive Director of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association; last job = Governor of Kansas

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Shaun Donovan -- Private sector financing of affordable housing; last job = New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Department of Transportation
Ray H. LaHood -- Junior high school teacher; last job = U.S. Representatives from Illinois (no private experience)

Department of Energy
Steven Chu -- Researcher for Bell Labs; last job = Nobel Prize winning Physist at the University of California, Berkeley

Department of Education
Arne Duncan -- Professional Basketball in Australia (4 years); last job = Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools

Department of Veterans Affairs
Eric K. Shinseki -- Army Officer all his professional life; last job = Chief of Staff of the United States Army (4-Star General) (no private experience)

Department of Homeland Security
Janet Napolitano -- Private attorney; last job = Governor of Arizona