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Sunday, November 17, 2013

GLOBAL WARMING, MAVEN, THE USS GERALD FORD AND OUR MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

Today, I editorialize.  Except for their editorial pages (and clearly identified statements), newspapers and TV newscasts tend to just report the news without prejudice, and this is the way it should be.  This blog site tends to mostly provide the facts, but does not shy away from providing a point of view, mine, that I think makes sense or deserves comment.  So here are my personal observations on issues today:
  • Scientists and governments maintain an attitude that global warming cannot be blamed for what seems to be more powerful oceanic storms.  I say nonsense, the oceans are warming, this is a scientific fact, and warmer oceans can only mean more and/or severe hurricanes.  Why, for example do these storms ONLY occur during the warmer months, and NEVER in the dead of winter?  Six years ago in my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth I said:


Both William Gray and Max Mayfield, icons in hurricane prediction and observation, have said that there is no link between global warming and hurricanes.  However, Environmental Science and Technology reports on two studies in Science and Nature which have found hurricanes growing fiercer. Peter Webster and Judith Curry believe that there is an unambiguous connection between warmer ocean surface temperatures and increase in hurricane intensity. Curry, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, was asked why Gray and Mayfield feel the way they do, and her response was, “these are hurricane scientists who don’t know a lot about global climate warming.” Kerry Emmanuel (left) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has reported that over the past 30 years hurricanes have become more powerful, where both wind speed and duration have increased by 50%. The blame was squarely placed on global warming. These storms trigger twisters and floods, so the effect multiplies.

But, you say, where were these monster hurricane in the Atlantic, or over Hawaii this year?  Well, among the anomalies of climate change are wild gyrations from the norm.  Why is drought occurring at one site and a 100 year flood at another?  These extremes are part of the consequences.
  • On Monday afternoon at 1:28 PM Florida time, NASA will launch Maven, a robotic explorer to measure the upper atmosphere of Mars.  Why?  Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) will cost $671 million.  MAVEN will join three other functioning moving scientific laboratories on the Red Planet.  Just one of them, Curiosity (which has found NOTHING--which is important, for perhaps this will dissuade Humanity from risking lives and many more billions in attempting to land and live there) will cost taxpayers $2.5 billion.   I was being sarcastic, in that Curiosity did find what could have been geophysical evidence that water could  have (mind you, water was not actually detected) some time in the past flowed on the surface, took 36,700 photos of Planet Earth and found an iguana, to the right above.   Earlier this month India sent Mangalyaan to Mars to seek signs of life, focusing on the detection of methane.  Now, for $74 million, this almost makes sense.  Ah, but there is severe criticism that these millions should have been spent on social programs in that country.  But will Mangalyaan or Maven even get to Mars, as Russia tried 18 times and only 14% succeeded.  American is actually doing well, with a 70% success rate for 20 launches.  Why am I so negative about Mars?  This just not the time to go to Mars.  Perhaps in a century or millennium, but not now.  There are higher priorities for billion dollar projects on Planet Earth.  I'm not saying we should abandon NASA. There are cheaper and more realistic targets of opportunity in space worthy of firing up the imagination of our future generations.  Just no more billion dollar launches for no good reason at all.
  • Last weekend the USS Gerald Ford was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, a $13 billion nuclear aircraft carrier to become operational in 2016.  While the final cost will go north of $15 billion, it's too late, finish it.  This ship will become our instrument of posturing for a couple of decades.  But, please, no more...whoops, the USS John F. Kennedy has begun construction.  The first three of these are estimated to cost $43 billion, and seven more are on the drawing board.  We already have 12 aircraft carriers in full operation, one in reserve, another (USS America) undergoing trials and 4 under construction.  This is not the place for details, but we have eleven carrier strike groups, meaning that in addition to the mothership, there are cruisers, warships, submarine destroyers, frigates, etc.  

WHY SO MANY TASK FORCES?  The Cold War is over.  China is not a threat.  Sure, maintain three of these marine forces for natural calamities like Super Typhoon Haiyan, one to scare Iran and another to keep China honest.  But eleven?  Aircraft carriers are obsolete anyway...politically useful, but hopelessly vulnerable if there is ever a real war.  Next, my diatribe on the F-35, a $1.5 trillion (or 1,500 billion dollars) mistake.  How much of an impact will my views have on defense spending?  Are you kidding, there is something called the Military Industrial Complex! Watch President Dwight D. Eisenhower warn us half a century ago.

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