Sunday, 24 April 2016

Delegitimisation of low-skill work in the Enriched World

Although it is now extremely well documented, for instance by The Washington Post’s Sarah Puliam Bailey, that the US – for some time the last bastion of Christianity in an atheistic Enriched World – is going more secular by the year, George Friedman has had a look at how seismic the shift has become, putting genuine traditionalists in a position as difficult as they were under Stalinist regimes in Europe during the last century.

In Europe, the true traditionalists, even in de jure Catholic countries, have found life impossible for a very long time – to illustrate, the last Amish communities left Europe in 1937 – due to the high price of land and powerful unions jacking labour and living costs to a level where only the highly educated and skilled have hopes of living with socially-expected comforts, as Friedman notes:
“The fourth quintile, the heart of lower-middle class, earns about [US]$31,000 a year before taxes per household. I grew up in a lower-middle class household (my father was a printer, my mother a homemaker, and there were two children). We owned a house and a car and took a vacation. Today, people in the lower-middle class are bringing home, at best, [US]$2,000 a month, and they will not own a house but instead pay [US]$1,200 a month to rent an apartment, with the rest going to food and other basics. The lower-middle class can no longer afford what used to be a lower-middle class life.”
Being dependent on consistent change to maintain employment – high technology by its nature is always advancing – and isolated from family relationships, these highly skilled and educated technical workers tend to be (alongside welfare recipients) the most secular group of all. The history of Europe since its workers’s political demands created the welfare state shows how these two groups will squeeze the remainder of society out, leaving productivity centred on sectors necessarily “impermanent”.“Impemanence” (for want of a better word) is simply incompatible with opportunities for those of lesser skill, who must move to the American South or suburban Australia to possess socially-desired levels of comfort rather than cramped housing at high prices or rents. At the same time, these lesser-skilled workers either accept big government – which as noted above dooms them as requisite high taxes prevent them gaining adequate – or face ridicule from the welfare classes and academia, as Friedman discusses below regarding American workers:
“The white lower-middle class is divided into two parts. One part has already been shattered by economic pressures, family fragmentation, drugs, and other forces. Another part is under equal economic pressure but has not yet fragmented. It retains values such as religiosity, traditional sexual mores, intense work ethic, and so on.

“This is the class that has been deemed pathological by the media and the upper classes. Its opposition to homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, promiscuity, and the rest (which was the social norm a generation ago) is now treated as a problem that needs to be overcome, rather than the core of a decent society. The speed of the shift in the values of dominant classes has left this class in a position where those values taught at home and at church are now regarded by the broader society as despicable. Repercussions are bound to happen.

“The simultaneous economic disaster and delegitimation of their values marginalized this class. When Mitt Romney referred to the 47% who were parasites in our society, he was referring to these people. When Barack Obama was elected, this group felt that the focus had shifted to the black community and saw itself as invisible (and to the extent seen, contemptible). Economic, social, and cultural evolutions had bypassed them.

“Their perception of the political system has become intensely cynical. They see the political elite, bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists as a near criminal and entirely incompetent class. We speak of unemployment after the 2008 recession in terms of numbers. These are the people who were unemployed. They view this elite as claiming rights they haven’t earned. The lower-middle class can tolerate earned wealth, and even respect it, but cannot accept what they see as manipulated wealth and power.”
What these people believe Trump aims to do is to eliminate the extreme inequality of opportunity of highly skilled vis-à-vis unskilled workers within today’s United States. Thus runs very much counter to prevailing trends: absence of low-skill opportunity, is, of course, much worse in Europe and East Asia than the United States, and its consequences run deep at levels whose discussion is off-topic here.

“Delegitimation” (no doubt a US colloquialism) of less-skilled workers by both the highly-skilled technology sector and permanent public welfare recipients (what Friedman would call the lowest quintile) is a last stage in the Enriched World’s economic and cultural transformation that for some like Sam Harris or Gregory Paul (as here) represents an ideal, but which ought also to be considered from the observation that more migrants move to the religious American South – or as expatriates even to the anti-democratic ultra-Muslim Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qaṭar – than atheistic Sweden. They do this for the simple reason that those without advanced education can hope for nothing more than welfare in Sweden but have strong job opportunities in the American South and can gain better wages in the Gulf States than in resource-poor tropical Asia. Paul fails to consider how countries with “inferior” conditions can and do attract migrants though lower taxes, lower living costs, and fewer regulations that allow anyone – not just those with training extending to beyond a person’s prime reproductive years – an acceptable standard of living.

That this be a valuable “counterculture” for Enriched nations to consider I have no doubt – it was opportunity that grew them into powerhouses, and lack of opportunity that has already caused irreversible decline in large areas of these nations and will no doubt shift power further in the future.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Before and after: temperature correlations before and with Australian greenhouse emissions – Part II

My previous post was concerned with finding out whether correlations between CET and temperatures over other parts of the Enriched World duirng the northern winter showed a clear correlation or anticorrelation that maintain themselves in the face of radical climate change due to land clearing, coal-fired power and extensive road building (exposed in yesterday’s Age as politically rather than economically driven) by Australian individuals and big businesses, and additionally by South Africa and the Gulf States.

This post will extend the study of the relationship between CET and temperature in the eastern US to cover the western US (Nevada and Washington State) and the Plains States (South Dakota), and I will do another graph for Barrow on the Alaska North Slope, although I did not calculate a correlation coefficient because reliable temperature data for the North Slope go back only to the middle 1920s, when land clearing in Australia was well under way and aluminum and titanium metallurgy which have produced a significant part of the greenhouse pollution emitted since then.

We saw in the previous post that winter CET was:
  1. positively correlated (even excluding Australian greenhouse gas emissions) with winter temperature in Florida and the Ohio Valley division
  2. marginally positively correlated (excluding Australian greenhouse gas emissions) with winter temperatures in Texas (south-central US)
  3. not correlated with winter temperatures in Maine
Several winters noted previously (notably 1939/1940, 1962/1963 and with opposing anomalies 1948/1949) suggest negative correlations should exist between winter CET and winter temperatures in western North America. This is less well-known than the anticorrelation between CET and winter temperatures in northeastern (Nunavut, Nord-du-Québéc, Labrador, western Greenland) North America known ever since the North Atlantic Oscillation was discovered in the nineteenth century.

If we look at the warmest CET winters between 1881 and 1974 – excluding 1898/1899 and 1948/1949 which I have discussed in earlier posts – the warmest (1934/1935) is quite exceptional in following most of the opposite patterns to those very cold CET winters woudl imply to occur in exceptionally mild CET winters:
We can see that, although the warmest among the 105 winters between 1869/1870 and 1973/1974 in the CET series, the winter of 1934/1935 was, like the coldest CET winter of this era in 1962/1963:
  • warm over the Lake Baikal region
  • warm over Alaska and Western Canada
  • cold over the northeastern United States
  • warm over most of Greenland (although not on a 1921 to 1974 base period):
The second-warmest winter in this period, 1942/1943, also is problematic for these predictions as it was warmer than normal also over the southwestern United States and Greenland, and colder than normal over the southeast. In fact, all three months of the winter show some deviations from predicted patterns – February 1943 was warmer than normal over Alaska, where December 1942 was the coldest on record and January 1943 very cold indeed:
Global temperature anomalies for December 1942. This was the coldest December over Alaska since 1917, but began a very mild winter over the UK.
We can see, in effect, a pattern that would suggest a westward shift in the longitude of the Icelandic Low, so that the Northwest Territories rather than the Inuit lands of Greenland and Nunavut would be on the cyclone’s cold western side. A North American High strengthened and displaced southeastward might also produce such a pattern.
This pattern is a little akin to March 1963 after the coldest winter over Central England since 1740 – mild and very wet over the United Kingdom, but very cold and “Siberian” over Eastern Europe:
(Notice how March 1963 itself was colder relative to the global virgin mean than the northern winter of 1962/1963, for warm air advection into Nunavut and Alaska ceased, whereas cold air advection into northeastern Europe did not).
Only here do we see a very typical positive NAO pattern with cold weather confined to Greenland and lower latitudes under enhanced and poleward displaced subtropical anticyclones over North America and Europe. The anomalies in western North America, however, remain the opposite of what our previous predictions would suggest, along with observations in such winters as 1902/1903 and 1948/1949.
Here, in this third-warmest winter, we do see more or less the expected pattern, although it might be noted that in the conterminous United States the winter featured the third-warmest February between 1883 and 1975, and the fourth-coldest December since 1885.
This is somewhat, but not wholly, less satisfactory than the winter of 1924/1925, but positive NAO was a very strong trend in the early 1920s. It might be noted than in Maine and adjacent areas March 1923 was the coldest since 1880 and/or 1885 – indeed in Portland, Maine the coldest since before 1875.
This is basically satisfactory except that the anomalies are weak and were from month to month inconsistent – January 1957 was exceptionally cold in the Pacific Northwest but mild in Alaska where Fairbanks had its warmest January since the snow-drenched January 1937, whereas December 1956 had been mild everywhere south of the border but as expected very cold in the northern regions:
Global temperature anomalies for December 1956. Note the extreme cold over the normally cold regions of the Baikal and Amur basins, Alaska, western Greenland and most of Nunavut and Nord-du-Québéc, plus what was before last year (and would remain minus Australian and Gulf States greenhouse emissions) the warmest December on record over the eastern United States.

South Dakota (Great Plains)

Here we do not see any major correlation, either by Spearman rank (ρ) or Pearson product-moment (r). The white diamonds are almost randomly distributed, and a notable contrast can be seen with the cold winter of 1962/1963, which was a little above the virgin mean.

One does see a cluster of dark red diamonds in the upper right, which suggests a definite alteration from the virgin patter, and indeed the dark red diamonds do show an absence in the upper left. Oddly, however, for those who want to believe the relationship has been altered by Australian greenhouse gas emissions, there does not exist a white diamond anywhere close to the upper left of the graph, as if a natural limit to this possibility exists. The same is true of the light red diamonds, and seems to beg some sort of explanation.

The case of South Dakota, unlike those of the eastern and southern United States, does suggest a possible alteration in relationships due to Australian-made greenhouse gas emissions. However, a peculiarity in the blanks in the upper left (warmer than normal over South Dakota, colder over the United Kingdom à la 1941/1942 or 1986/1987) suggests that a case for relationships altering remains unproven.

Nevada (Southwestern United States)

With this graph for Nevada, representing the southwestern United States and especially the Great Basin (where temperature inversions in anticyclonic winters dominated by a Great Basin High can create extremely distinctive local conditions) there are two notable features of the virgin Spearman ρ and Pearson r correlation coefficients:
  1. they are highly negative so that when Nevada is cold during the winter, the UK tends to be mild
  2. much more distinctly different than in other plots
  3. because the Spearman coefficient is less sensitive than the Pearson to outliers, this suggests that the natural correlation coefficient in winter temperatures is more strongly negative than the raw values
This prediction of a negative relationship would be expected from both the coldest and the warmest UK winters since 1880. Nonetheless, if we look at the light red diamonds, one detects a clear negative pattern still applying to this group of datapoints. The only exceptions noticeable are 1978/1979 and 1984/1985, which are when the influence of Australian-made greenhouse gas emissions was still not nearly as complete as it is now. These winters are analogous to the severe northern winter of 1916/1917, when easterly or northerly flow covered all of Europe for five months and North America for six:
This map coincides with the record cold European winter and spring of 1916/1917. Note that, contrary to the correlations we have seen in earlier scatter plots, the record cool was in the West and North rather than the Southeast.
If we look at the dark red diamonds, one noticeably sees nothing in the extreme top right as would be predicted if the natural relationship had changed or been eliminated completely. Even the dark red diamonds, upon repeated examination, give a negative line of best fit that may be limited by small sample size and the consistently increasing influence of Australian coal power, land clearing, and highway construction. More in fact that the virginally unrelated graph for South Dakota, Nevada does not suggest a fundamental change in the relationship of other regions’ mean winter temperature with the CET.

Washington State (Northwestern Conterminous United States)

This graph is similar to that above for Nevada in terms of correlation coefficient, if not in details of every year due to the influence of Great Basin Highs in anticyclonic winters (e.g. 1930/1931, 1954/1955, 1963/1964, January and February 1984) when it can be cold in the southwest but very mild in Canada.
Contiguous US temperature anomalies for February 1984 in ˚C. Observe the cold over the Great Basin in contrast to abnormal warmth over the northern and eastern regions
If we look at this graph carefully, there is no indication that it is any different from the Nevada graph except that the negative correlation is slightly less and that the winter of 2008/2009 appears as an outlier amongst the dark red diamonds:
Global temperature anomalies for northern winter 2008/2009. Amongst the dark red diamonds, this season appears as an outlier in the CET/Washington State relationship, being the coldest winter in both regions for thirteen years – yet was no colder than the pre-1974 mean

Barrow (Alaska North Slope)

As a final post in this second installment (I am unsure whether I will do a third to look at extratropical Asia where temperature records are not as long but are less well-known), I will look at the station of Barrow, Alaska, on the Arctic Ocean 510 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Data for Barrow – easily the oldest station on the North Slope – go only to 1923/1924, but given that in the previous post Alaska stood out for its conspicuous warm anomalies during cold UK winters, I was interested to do what graph I could.
Even with the strong impact of global warming, it is very easy indeed to detect a negative correlation within all three classes of coloured dot.

The top right and bottom left are almost empty apart from a few recent winters as the impact of man-made global warming intensifies, whereas dots are dense in the top left and bottom right. Likely the correlation coefficients between Barrow and CET winter temperature are more negative than those for Nevada, but I have not bothered to calculate them. The isolated white diamond is the winter of 1934/1935, whose full graph is given at the beginning of this post. Between 1922 and 1974 it was the warmest CET winter and the second-warmest in Barrow behind only 1941/1942. The evolution and cause of this anomaly will be examined from Barrow’s temperature graph shown below, although it might be noted that Barrow’s mean temperature troughs out at the tail end of February – indeed its warmest March, that of 2002, is as much as 11.4˚F or 6.3˚C colder than its record-warm February 1989 (during which Barrow was amazingly 0.02 inch wetter than superhumid Yakutat which had easily its driest month on record).
The winter of 1934/1935 is extremely famous in Alaska for Fairbanks’ only ever “brown Christmas” due to a powerful chinook wind melting all the snow cover during the second week of the month when temperatures rose to a phenomenal 58˚F or 14˚C for several days, followed when the weather turned seasonably cold by conditions too dry for snow. As we can see above, temperatures in Barrow did not reach such record-breaking levels (in fact, no day in December 1934 is record-warm in Barrow) but did average around 20˚F or 11.1˚C above normals for those dates, resulting in, as shown below, substantially above-normal temperatures:
In the UK, December 1934 was notorious for the frequency of rain, the mildness and lack of sunshine. Princetown in Dartmoor recorded 307 hours of rain during the month – in other words it rained for 41.26 percent of the time there, much more even than the long-term mean of such notorious wet places as Ketchikan (26 percent). January 1935 was cooler – though still above average – and dry in the UK, and as the graph above showed only marginally warm in Alaska, besides being exceptionally cold and snowy in Canada and cold throughout southwestern Eurasia due to easterly flow from the European block:
February 1935 is a month I noticed a great deal looking at temperature tables for the northern hemisphere because in huge areas of Siberia, Central Asia, and Canada it was an exceptionally mild month due to enhanced westerly flow and in Canada, chinook winds. The global anomaly of +0.27˚C above the 1880 to 1974 mean is not striking (January 1926 had a figure of +0.38˚C) but this figure is certainly higher for the northern hemisphere alone.
This fast westerly flow, of course, explains the temperature anomaly very well, the only surprising thing being how well the warm air entered Alaska. However, the pattern is consistent with a split jet stream, seen classically during the winters of 1943/1944 and 1991/1992, with heavy rainfall over southern Alaska and the southwestern United States and dry conditions over the Pacific Northwest:
The winter of 1946/1947 may appear to be an outlier, but in fact the cold occurred at different times – in Barrow during December and January, in England during late January and February. Barrow did not get below -47˚F or -43.9˚C on the day Snag, Yukon recorded the coldest temperature in North America away from the Greenland Ice Sheet, but whilst the UK was in a deep freeze, temperatures from 8 to 28 February in Barrow were near normal.
The winter of 2006/2007 shows the complete dominance of Australian-made pollution on the global climate – the only cooler than normal areas being in the Sahara where an expanded Hadley cell allowed more radiational cooling, typical of highly positive NAO episodes. The weakening of polar highs meant that hotter-than-normal air covered all the rest of the globe. This was the winter when loss of sea ice reached its most critical level – without a sign of sanctions against the worst (per capita) culprit nations who are too important to the global economy for the rest of the world to dare make them pay the vast costs of increasingly runaway climate change.


Despite severe and increasingly rapid alterations to the climate from fossil fuel use and land clearing in a small number of oil- or mineral rich and largely arid nations around the Indian Ocean (Australia, the Gulf States and South Africa being the important culprits), most natural temperature correlations and anticorrelations do not seem to have disappeared. In most cases, if one subdivides into pre-1974, 1974 to 1997 and post-1997 using coloured diamonds, it is possible to see something approaching the same relationship in each colour of diamond.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Before and after: temperature correlations before and with Australian greenhouse emissions – Part I

In two previous posts (here and here), I considered the relationship between England and Wales Precipitation (EWP) and Central England Temperature (CET) and showed that:
  1. the relationships in “summer” (April to September) and “winter” (November to February) are opposite in sign
    • in “summer” the relationship between EWP and CET is negative, whereas in “winter” it is positive
    • these differences are naturally due to the greater temperature variation of dry continental airflows producing low EWP values vis-à-vis moist maritime ones providing high EWP values
  2. despite a definite climatic impact through greenhouse emissions from Australia, South Africa and the Arab Gulf States, these relationships remain essentially the same as they were pre-1974 or even pre-1895
In this and the following post I will have a look at the relationship of winter CET with winter temperatures in various parts of the United States, with the aim of finding out whether a change in basic relationship has occurred between temperatures on a more global scale.
Ever since the discovery of the North Atlantic Oscillation in the middle nineteenth century, and especially since Frederick Löwe’s ‘The Temperature See-Saw between Western Greenland and Europe’, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, it has long been known that winter temperatures in the CET area, and as far east as the Ural Mountains, show a strong inverse correlation with those in western Greenland (but not necessarily eastern Greenland). It is important to recognise, as Löwe did, that winter temperatures in Greenland and other regions of the true Arctic (defined as those areas above the northern timberline) showed a major abrupt rise during the 1920s, as can be seen via the following graph:
Global virgin period northern winter temperatures before and after 1920. Note the large increase in northwest Greenland and other regions of the true Arctic and contrast with erratic changes elsewhere
We can see Löwe’s observations clearly for the very cold months over the UK in January and February 1895:
Note here that this figure was across western Greenland, as Löwe noted in his original article, much further above normals from 1881 to 1910 than this picture shows. Anomalies relative to 1881 to 1910 means reached during the first three months of 1895 as high as +6.9˚C or +12.4˚F in northwest Greenland. When we look at the next subzero UK or CET mean temperature in 1939/1940 we see the anticorrelation more clearly:
January to March 1947 was the first example of this anticorrelation to be widely publicised by the meteorological journals, owing to Jerome Namias’ Monthly Weather Review article ‘Characteristics of the General Circulation over the Northern Hemisphere during the Abnormal Winter 1946/47’ showing how abnormal was the easterly flow both at sea level and aloft during February and March:
1962/1963, though the third-coldest winter in the CET series, the coldest therein since 1739/1740, and the coldest over the UK since at least 1813/1814 (January 1814 had an estimated UK mean temperature of -3.4˚C or 25.9˚F, 1.4˚C or 2.52˚F colder than any month since) was less publicised at the time, but still demonstrates the same relationship observed in 1895, 1940 and 1947. Löwe shows that previously in 1846/1847, another cold winter in Europe was also very warm in western Greenland.
December 2010, despite the severe impact of Australian greenhouse emissions, remains a “classic” map over the high latitudes nonetheless:
We also naturally observe anticorrelation in mild UK winters that were very cold over western Greenland, though even if globally no warmer, such winters tend to see reduced energy demand due to warmth over more-populated areas. This is clear in the winter of 1883/1884, the coldest on record over western Greenland but among the ten warmest of the nineteenth century in CET – and more famous for record heavy rainfall in Los Angeles and San Diego, sometimes blamed on the previous August’s Krakatoa eruption:
The winter of 1897/1898, which began forty years of mild winters over the UK, is another conspicuous example:
More modern examples can be seen in the winters of 1921/1922, 1974/1975, 1988/1989 and 1992/1993. (I have used a 1921-1974 base period to show how unusual 1992/1993 was compared to the post-1920 mean, within which period it constitutes the coldest winter in the Greenlandic capital Nuuk). Despite the modest UK departure, the cold over Northeast Africa and warmth over Eastern Europe shows a clear positive NAO signal for this winter.
If we look at the above cold UK winter months, we might notice that there seems to be a pattern of cold weather in the southeast of North America and warm weather in the northwest, including Alaska. The warm winters do – to a smaller extent – seem to follow the reverse pattern of warm weather in the southeast and cold weather in the northwest and Alaska. To test this on a broader scale, I will take a representative selection of states and stations in the United States and see whether:
  1. these observed predictions do hold
    • I will measure this by means of the virgin (up to 1974) Spearman ρ Pearson r correlation coefficients between CET and the winter temperatures of each North American region
  2. following from the basic aim outlined at the start, testing whether these relationship still hold for the period influenced or completely controlled by Australian greenhouse emissions

Florida (Southeast Region)

For Florida, representing the southeastern United States, we see a very simple positive correlation based on both Spearman and Pearson coefficients (not significantly different) for both the virgin period and even the post-1997 period where the influence of largely Australian-made greenhouse pollution took a further step beyond what it was from 1974 to 1997. Indeed, for all three colours of dots there is a clear line of best fit.

Ohio Valley Region (WV, KY, TN, OH, IN, IL, MO)

For the Ohio Valley Region, north of Florida, the graph is essentially similar in shape (only with of course vastly cooler temperatures). Winter temperature clearly correlates positively with CET, and this correlation is not contradicted except by a few outliers such as 2013/2014 and 1898/1899.

Texas (South Central Region)

Here, unlike the more easterly regions of the United States, only a slight positive correlation exists, with the virgin Spearman and Pearson standard deviations only a third of those for Florida and the Ohio Valley region.

The thing to do here is to look closely at the light red and dark red diamonds and see whether they form a similar sort of graph to the white diamonds. Without detailed calculation, it appears that in fact they do. Looking closely at the graph of CET versus Texas winter temperatures certainly visualises a similar shape for the diamonds of all three colours, although the full-period Spearman and Pearson correlations are considerably higher than for the three climate periods (1896 to 1974, 1975 to 1997 and since 1998) taken separately. Most especially, there are no extreme outliers coloured light or dark red – which could theoretically occur if opposing influence of natural variability and man-made greenhouse emissions gave different results over Texas and the UK.

Maine (Northeast Region)

Maine, lying near the boundary between positive temperature correlations with NAO to the south and negative correlations to the north, shows a more consistent increase in winter temperatures than seen in the southern United States. As can be seen, the virgin Spearman and Pearson correlations with CET are near zero, but for the whole period a positive correlation is definitely detectable; however, the lack of diamonds in the bottom left is notable compared to the Ohio Valley. Like Texas, however, there are no outliers caused by differential response when global warming and natural variability oppose one another.

If we look at the dark red diamonds, it is clear that those at the top show a full spread re their CET value. The same is clearly true of the lighter red diamonds – the temperature in Maine in the cold UK winter of 1978/1979 and the very warm winter of 1974/1975 – nor does any pattern exist for the dark red diamonds. Thus, Maine, like the southeastern regions, does not contradict the thesis that no change in natural relationships of CET with temperatures elsewhere has been caused by Australian greenhouse emissions.


We can see that, from out studies relating CET winter temperature to winter temperatures in the eastern half of the United States that:
  1. owing to greenhouse gas emissions largely sourced from Australia, South Africa and the Arab Gulf States, temperatures have risen steadily since 1975 in both the UK and eastern North America
  2. before 1975 definite natural positive relationships existed between UK winter temperatures and winter temperatures in southeastern North America
  3. no significant relationship exists between UK winter temperatures and those in:
    1. south-central North America (Texas)
    2. east-central North America (Maine) 
  4. despite the marked increase in all regions’ temperatures, the relationships between them have not changed substantially under the influence of man-made greenhouse emissions largely sourced from a few mineral-rich desert states

Thursday, 31 March 2016

A amazing picture for a Christian?!

Although I have been familiar with Robert Spencer for almost a decade now and respect his opinions – which after all do reflect what I read upon reading the Koran as a teenager – one recent discovery has been quite astonishingly funny and strange to me.

Back in 2007, a few years after his Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) hit the New York Times bestseller list, Robert Spencer did a segment on “Blogging the Qur’an” in which Spencer gave his own interpretation of what the Qur’an says and how it relates to jihad today against Israel and the West.

Most of the material in Spencer’s blog is very familiar to me, but there is one thing in the post on Surat-as-Sajda (“Chapter of the Adoration” or “Chapter of the Prostration”) that belies a lack of understanding of modern secularisation:

It is rather astonishing that someone as learned as Robert Spencer would place a picture – even a mildly satirical one – of AC/DC to head a post about the Qur’an!
As you can see, above the text for Spencer’s interpretation of Surat-as-Sajda, there is a humorised picture of none other than AC/DC! I have no idea what Spencer was intending to do – and in other parts of his “Blogging the Qur’an” series I do often sort of like his pictures and admire their humour – but there are some facts about AC/DC that ought to make anyone who is a Catholic like Spencer not wish to put them on a blog trying to refute or criticise the Qur’an. Also, whereas Spencer’s other pictures in his “Blogging the Qur’an” series, notably the one for Surat-al-Qamar with its joke about what Neil Armstrong’s landing means for the Qur’an, can be arrestingly funny and surreal, it is impossible to see what Spencer wishes to achieve by putting AC/DC on a picture of a chapter called “The Prostration”?
The most important thing is that the rise of AC/DC coincided with the most rapid decline in the influence of Christianity and growth of extramarital sex in the West – a growth dated to around the early 1980s when young people where beginning to listen in millions to Highway to Hell, Back in Black, and For Those About to Rock We Salute You. I have in many previous posts outlined the alarming things condoning violence and forced sex within the AC/DC discography, but it has for some years seemed to me that the loud noise of AC/DC’s music was a uniquely effective tool to turn Westerners away from Christian prayer and the needed quiet therefor, as Rod Dreher, Sara Maitland and many others have noted.

A second thing which to my mid is particularly notable is the similarity in method of composition between the Qur’an and the AC/DC discography – similarities that exceed the support for violence that the two share in common and distinguish them from the New Testament:
  1. rather than being historical narratives like the Bible, both the Qur’an and the AC/DC discography are collections of sermons where historical material is never told for its own sake, but is used to illuminate various points pertaining to the worldview of Islam or of AC/DC as a whole
  2. both the Qur’an and the AC/DC discography say what they say countless times, and rely strongly upon incantatory effects to overcome their repetitive nature and inculcate a particular and complete worldview into the listener
    • I can testify that such was occurring when a schoolmate who bullied me simultaneously graffitied my ruler “AC/DC” – if he were listening to what AC/DC were saying he would feel he had a right to bully to prove his strength
The Qur’an can hardly be referring to the kinds of sound made throughout the AC/DC discography in its descriptions of Hell! In addition, the extent to which AC/DC’s (implied) views on ethics and politics contradict all the Abrahamic religions is utterly absolute and could not have been comprehended by people living in a harsh, low-productivity desert where moral religions are the rule (of course Angus and Malcolm Young, Bon Scott and Brian Johnson originated from the cool, protein-rich land and seas of Scotland).

If the picture is trying to suggest AC/DC “prostrate” themselves before “rock and roll”, Spencer’s picture remains ludicrous when the whole message of the AC/DC discography is the precise opposite of a message of humility and prostration. Rather, the consistent message of the AC/DC discography is one of absolute personal power and total absence of moral law, whereby good is seen in terms of personal rights to do whatever one wants without the tiniest reference to relationships or even harmony with others. Islam may not emphasise relationships with others as Christianity does – Islam is a “hybrid” vision in emphasising hostility towards unbelievers but strong ties within the community of Muslims – but it is nothing like what AC/DC have been preaching for over four decades.

What the point of a devout Catholic placing a picture of one of the most influential apostles of secuarisation on a blog about the Qur’an is remains unknown to me, and is really, really silly – so much so as to create humour!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Climate change in the “chinook belt”: Fairbanks winters’ extreme temperatures

As an indirect result of reading about the problem of homelessness in Anchorage (which in winter is not the coldest “major” city in North America, being milder than Fargo, Duluth, Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon), I have had a look at the winter climate of Fairbanks. Fairbanks is the coldest major city in North America and the third coldest over 100,000 in the world (though a long way behind Yakutsk and Norilsk which are both about 6.5˚C or 11.6˚F colder), but its winter climate is extremely variable due to Fairbanks’ location in the lee of the North American Cordillera.

All along from Interior Alaska to West Texas, this positioning produces a winter climate influenced by “chinooks”, warm adiabatic winds descending from mountains over 4,000 metres high. When chinooks are present, winter temperatures can be extremely warm relative to long-term averages, creating temperature variation over this “chinook belt” that are not rivalled anywhere else in the world. For instance, although the mean January temperature in Fairbanks is -10˚F or -23.3˚C, absolute maxima are as high as 10˚C or 50˚F. In contrast, in East Asia places with similar average January temperatures seldom if ever top freezing. Further south in the “chinook belt”, similar contrasts continue: at Havre, Montana where the mean for January is around -9˚C or 16˚F the record maximum is 68˚F or 20˚C whereas Shěnyàng with a similar average has never exceeded 8.6˚C, and  Rapid City in South Dakota with an average of -3˚C has an absolute maximum of 24˚C – hotter than Melbourne’s absolute midwinter maximum of 22.2˚C.
In fact, in the record-warm February 1954 (actually the third-coolest here in Melbourne since 1895) Rapid City was hotter than Melbourne on one day (before checking I assumed that number to be much greater) but via the graph below one can nonetheless clearly see the contrast between abnormally cool weather here and abnormally warm weather in the central and southern “chinook belt”:
Getting back to Fairbanks, I compiled a graph of number of days that reached to -36˚F or -38˚C, which is the Köppen threshold for an extreme subarctic climate (Dfd or Dwd, as found in northeastern Siberia), for all winters since complete records began in 1906/1907:
As we can see, there have been a clear decrease in the number of nights under -36˚F or -38˚C (exactly -37.777777...˚C) since man-made greenhouse emissions took firm control of the climate in the middle 1970s. Whereas thirteen winters were more than one virgin standard deviation above the mean number before 1974, not one has been since. Once does see between 1906 and 1974 a seemingly natural quasi-regular cycle of milder and colder winters, with peaks in extreme cold observed between 1932 and 1934, and during a longer period between 1964/1965 (the record with 45 minima below -36˚F) and 1975/1976. This cycle even persists into the post-1974 period with the minimum circa 1987 (only two nights below -36˚F in three winters 1985/1986 to 1987/1988), but the effect of greenhouse emissions from Australian coal power and road transport can be seen already in the 25-year mean, which under preindustrial or even early-industrial CO2 levels would likely have increased substantially during the 2000s – a viewpoint professional studies appear to agree with.

If we have a look at the other (more distinctive) side of the “chinook belt” climate – abnormally warm winter days relative to position – we see a different story:
Unlike with very cold weather, we do not see a systematic increase in very warm weather over the (northern) “chinook belt”. There is a distinct peak in November to February days above 0˚C around 1980 – an era which still contains Fairbanks’ warmest November (1979), February (1980) and January (1981 – with seventeen days topping freezing), but also contains a record cold February 1979 and near-record cold December 1980. I have not yet checked other regions of North America, but it’s possible that the great natural variability of winter weather in the “chinook belt”, as this last graph shows, can overshadow the drastic effect of Australian coal power, land clearing and road transport upon the atmospheric circulation of the Earth.

This perception may also explain the strong Republican leanings of the “chinook belt” compared to the rest of North America away from the low-nutrient and naturally conservative non-“Black Belt” South. Like Australians who are used to extremes of drought and flood, people in the “chinook belt” are used to such changeable winter weather than the effects of their own greenhouse emissions may seem much smaller than to people from regions without potential warming Föhn winds in a very cold climate.