Freshwater: Ohio Supreme Court affirms his termination

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By a narrow 4-3 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court today affirmed (pdf) the termination of John Freshwater as a science teacher in the Mt. Vernon, Ohio, city schools. That brings to an end more than 2,000 days of administrative hearings and court proceedings in the case. In her opinion for the majority, Chief Justice O’Connor concluded that

After detailed review of the voluminous record in this case, we hold that the court of appeals did not err in affirming the termination. The trial court properly found that the record supports, by clear and convincing evidence, Freshwater’s termination for insubordination in failing to comply with orders to remove religious materials from his classroom. Accordingly, based on our resolution of this threshold issue, we need not reach the constitutional issue of whether Freshwater impermissibly imposed his religious beliefs in his classroom. We affirm the judgment of the court of appeals because there was ample evidence of insubordination to justify the termination decision.

I have a few comments on the decision below the fold. There’s a comprehensive story on the decision at Court News Ohio.

The case as presented to the Supreme Court was a hybrid, mixing employment law with a (putative) First Amendment case. The Court purposefully avoided the constitutional issue, focusing just on the employment law issue and in particular on the finding of insubordination by the administrative hearing referee. It found that while in keeping his personal Bible on his desk Freshwater was not insubordinate, adding two religious books, “Jesus of Nazareth” and an Oxford Bible, subsequent to having been instructed to take down religious displays, was insubordination. The Court concluded

{¶ 99} Here, we need not decide whether Freshwater acted with a permissible or impermissible intent because we hold that he was insubordinate, and his termination can be justified on that basis alone. Freshwater is fully entitled to an ardent faith in Jesus Christ and to interpret Biblical passages according to his faith. But he was not entitled to ignore direct, lawful edicts of his superiors while in the workplace.

The dissents are interesting. Judge Pfeifer, who asked several hostile questions during oral arguments, claimed that

Justice O’Donnell’s well-reasoned dissent addresses the [academic freedom] issue, but goes unrebutted. In short, the majority shrinks from the chance to be a Supreme Court. The lead opinion cobbles together the piddling other claims of supposed insubordination, and, sitting as Supreme School Board, the majority declares the matter closed. In a case bounding with arrogance and cowardice, the lead opinion fits right in.

And while I don’t know, it’s tempting to speculate that Pfeifer has some personal animus toward the hearing referee:

{¶ 139} This court accepted jurisdiction in this case presumably to speak to the important issues of the Establishment Clause, academic freedom, and how schools may approach educating children about the scientific theories of evolution, which may directly clash with religious teachings of creation to which many children have been exposed at home and at church. Instead this court sidesteps all of the difficult issues presented in the case leaving the resolution of all these heady matters in the hands of a lone referee. Ironically, the lead opinion in this case proves the existence of God. Apparently, he’s an R.C. 3319.16 referee from Shelby.

Shelby, referee Shepherd’s home base, is one county over from Pfeifer’s home county.

O’Donnell bought Freshwater’s claim that “critical analysis of evolution” is a valid pedagogical approach:

{¶ 168} And when Freshwater proposed changing the curriculum in 2003 to adopt an Objective Origins Science Policy, his proposal sought only to “[e]ncourage the presentation of scientific evidence regarding the origins of life and its diversity objectively and without religious, naturalistic, or philosophic bias or assumption.” (Emphasis added.) As Freshwater explained, he meant “to take a tenth grade standard and put it down to the eighth grade standard to critically analyze evolution.” Like the tenth grade standard, his proposal distinguished the secular method of critically examining evolution from teaching intelligent design, and Freshwater confirmed that he did not intend that the proposed standard permit the teaching of religious concepts in science class.

There’s more: read it for yourself.

Personal note: This brings to an end my immersion in this case. From when it started, way back in 2002 when Freshwater first offered the Intelligent Design Network’s “Objective Origins Science Policy,” to today, I’ve written on the order of 300,000 words on the case. Nearly a million dollars of school district money has been spent, countless hours of school district personnel’s time has been wasted, and a whole lot of community discord has been generated. What a waste.

And this is a small irony: a few minutes ago, as I was writing this post, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses appeared at my door. I was courteous, but it was a strain.

114 Comments

Isn’t Pfeiffer’s acidly sarcastic, scathing dissent going to give Freshwater ammunition to keep going? (For example, note his writing “How special.” at one point.) We in the community are all tired of this (and I am relieved at this outcome), but Freshwater now has an Ohio Supreme Court Justice who has affirmed that Freshwater’s First Amendment rights were infringed upon – and the main body of the opinion ruling the termination valid admits the point outright, conceding that the school should have allowed him to keep the Bible on the desk, that the school was in the wrong.

My daughter is over there in that building as I type this. I am just afraid it is not over. :-(

Is this really it? Can there be no further appeal? Is there no way to spend any more taxpayer money on this nonsense? Are creationists finally going to get the message? Are they going to try to pull this stunt again? Are they gong to learn their lesson? Are they going to declare this abject failure as a victory for god? Will Freshwater finally admit that the was wrong? Will he admit that he abused his power? WIll he admit that he cheated his students of an education? WIll he show any remorse at all? Can he be forced to pay the court costs?

Thanks Richard for all your hard work.

Personal note: This brings to an end my immersion in this case.

Needless to say you did a great job!!! We are all impressed and grateful.

to today, I’ve written on the order of 300,000 words on the case.

You could easily edit that into a book that should sell well. And if it is too much work, find a coauthor or ghost writer.

I would characterize this decision as judicial punt, but it is more like a squib kick. At least the court stayed within itself by respecting the referee hearing and appellate court decisions, rather than committing a gross overstep by re-instating Freshwater.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/.TbL2PUZs5nA[…]J6xTB.#abdc5 said:

Isn’t Pfeiffer’s acidly sarcastic, scathing dissent going to give Freshwater ammunition to keep going? (For example, note his writing “How special.” at one point.) We in the community are all tired of this (and I am relieved at this outcome), but Freshwater now has an Ohio Supreme Court Justice who has affirmed that Freshwater’s First Amendment rights were infringed upon – and the main body of the opinion ruling the termination valid admits the point outright, conceding that the school should have allowed him to keep the Bible on the desk, that the school was in the wrong.

Yeah, but Pfeiffer’s dissent is of academic interest only.

My daughter is over there in that building as I type this. I am just afraid it is not over. :-(

All I can suggest is keep your eyes and ears open. The district is highly sensitized to this issue now, and vigilance on the part of students and their parents is always necessary.

Not really a satisfying end, but not the defeat for secular education in Ohio some posters had feared either. At least it’s over for now. Thanks for the fantastic coverage, Richard!

DS said:

Is this really it? Can there be no further appeal? Is there no way to spend any more taxpayer money on this nonsense? Are creationists finally going to get the message? Are they going to try to pull this stunt again? Are they gong to learn their lesson? Are they going to declare this abject failure as a victory for god? Will Freshwater finally admit that the was wrong? Will he admit that he abused his power? WIll he admit that he cheated his students of an education? WIll he show any remorse at all? Can he be forced to pay the court costs?

Yes, not really, there’s always a way to spend more taxpayer money on a given bit of nonsense, they haven’t after dozens of major court losses and they won’t after this relatively minor one, yes, never, if not they’ll pretend this is persecution for a personal Bible on his desk and pretend the creationism stuff didn’t happen, never, nope, haha no, of course not, and no.

This is what I expected would happen. Our court system isn’t *that* bad. It’s worrying that the vote was so close on what should have been an open-and-shut case, but still.

Your work on this Richard has been outstanding! Thanks!

I’m very happy the verdict is what it is, however I really think that this will embolden most creationists to keep trying. They were that close to winning this one. And given the dissent, I really think it’s only a matter of time before they win one of these battles again. What a shame…

The cynical part of me tells me that the judges found a way to obey the law with the least risk of losing in their next election.

Those dissenting opinions are a good reminder of how important it is that President Obama gets to appoint another Supreme Court justice.

We already know what the Discovery Institute will learn from this. “If only Ohio had one of our academic freedom laws, Freshwater would still be teaching.”

Sometimes bad things happen to bad people.

I do hope that the uselessness of appeals will finally be recognized (SCOTUS, at the least, is still a potential appeal, I presume), and/or the money and will to push it has run out. It seems ridiculous to try to go any further, especially since the Supreme Court has ruled against creationism so many times and in so many ways (precedents, IOW).

Freshwater should try to salvage what he can of his life, maybe attempt a bit of a martyr play, even if he’s not a great speaker. Too bad for him, but it cost a lot all around, and he was primarily at fault, so it’s time for him to stop leeching money from others.

Too bad that the decision was so close, but that makes little difference in the end.

Glen Davidson

The dissenting opinions reveal that there are some judges in the courts that don’t recognize pseudoscience when they see it.

ID/creationism and the materials Freshwater used from AiG and the DI are junk science; and it is bad pedagogy to pass junk science off as a serious alternative to the real science.

It appears as though the ID/creationists will keep hammering on “alternatives ” “academic freedom” and “teach the controversy” in order to promote their religion disguised as junk science. This is going to require that teachers be able to humiliate the junk science by exposing it for what it is.

ID/creationists don’t understand even high school level science; and they insist on pushing their junk science into the classroom using any of the various ruses that might persuade a panel of judges. But what may persuade a judge in this case is not appropriate for instruction.

We don’t teach alchemy or astrology in order to improve instruction in science; so there is no reason to teach medieval and dead-headedly wrong scientific understanding in order to “improve” science instruction.

ID/creationism is not a substitute for teaching the lessons of historical science and scientific dead ends; ID/creationism is deliberate deception acting in the present trying to get around the law.

JimboK said:

I would characterize this decision as judicial punt, but it is more like a squib kick. At least the court stayed within itself by respecting the referee hearing and appellate court decisions, rather than committing a gross overstep by re-instating Freshwater.

Its a squib kick all right…that will, in the future, be recovered by the other side and run in for a pro-Chrisitanity-in-schools touchdown.

I’m not all that happy.

1. They gave the green light for teachers to keep bibles an other religious paraphenalia on their desks. They said it doesn’t violate the establishment clause.

2. They introduced some very mushy logic as to when a personal bible would violate the establishent clause (i.e., it must be unobtrusive), which will in the future allow fundie administrations to defend Christians having bibles while getting rid of non-Christian equivalents - after all, how many times do you think some teacher’s Koran is going to be considered “unobtrusive” by some evangelical administrator?

3. The one reason the found against Freshwater was because after being told to put his bible away, he went out and put some equivalent library books on his desk. Now clearly he was flaunting the administration by doing that. But think of the suppression inherent in that! A teacher gets told not to do something. They abide by the ruling, but as a silent protest put some symbolic speech or book on their desk, to communicate “I will obey, but I don’t agree with this order.” Guess what? According to the Ohio Supreme Court, you can now be fired for insubordination for doing that.

Here are some selected quotes from the ruling that support what I say above.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Sometimes bad things happen to bad people.

I do hope that the uselessness of appeals will finally be recognized (SCOTUS, at the least, is still a potential appeal, I presume), and/or the money and will to push it has run out. It seems ridiculous to try to go any further, especially since the Supreme Court has ruled against creationism so many times and in so many ways (precedents, IOW).

Given the history of Freshwater’s involvement with the federal courts on this issue, I strongly doubt that he’ll appeal to them.

DS said:

Is this really it? Can there be no further appeal? Is there no way to spend any more taxpayer money on this nonsense? Are creationists finally going to get the message? Are they going to try to pull this stunt again? Are they gong to learn their lesson? Are they going to declare this abject failure as a victory for god? Will Freshwater finally admit that the was wrong? Will he admit that he abused his power? WIll he admit that he cheated his students of an education? WIll he show any remorse at all? Can he be forced to pay the court costs?

Thanks Richard for all your hard work.

This case is over, except perhaps for a futile petition to the US Supreme Court, but the creationists will never, ever give up. The battle between light and darkness never ends, and the light must be constantly guarded and nourished to stave off the dark. Its extremely unlikely that Ohio law would allow recovery of court costs from Freshwater. I hope a case like this never lands on my desk, but as a hearing officer there is no way I would allow an attorney to drag out an administrative hearing like this, but Ohio law may allow for this kind of over-the-top indulgence.

Thanks for all the hard work Richard!

As to any appeal, Masked Panda is right, all that’s left is a very unlikely to succeed Writ of Certiorari. He might try to bring a Federal Civil Rights violation case against the school board but that seems unlikely, given reports of his financial situation. He’s gotten this far because the Rutherford Institute stepped in to prosecute the appeal but, almost certainly, it wouldn’t take on a new case for free. Unless his original attorney (who I wouldn’t let carry by briefcase into court) takes the case pro bono, it won’t happen. No other lawyer is likely to want to touch this mess and, for several reasons, such a suit is not very likely to succeed in any event.

And this, too, is a fundamental reason why Republicans refuse to confirm any of President Obama’s judicial nominees. They’re too “liberal” and only conservative, god-fearing conservative fundamentalist leaning/favoring nominees are acceptable, from the SCOTUS on down. There will always be more Freshwater cases, and yes, the legislatures will be lobbied for the DI “freedom(?)” laws to preach pseudoscience.

Eric made the following comment on another thread and asked that we reproduce it here:

Having browsed it, IMO this is not a great ruling for the mainsteam. Its extremely narrow, they defend Freshwater on some key points, and the one act they do say was insubordinate is going to be a little scary for teachers because it will repress dissent (i.e., teachers will be more scared to symbolically dissent from administrative orders).

So, without further adieu, here’s my “suggestde reading” of the not-so-good stuff from the Freshwater decision.

Page 28:

We begin by considering Principal White’s order for Freshwater to remove his personal Bible from his desk. We conclude that this order was neither reasonable nor valid. The order infringed without justification upon conduct protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

So, while Freshwater was insubordinant, Ohio teachers can continue to keep their own bibles on desks in their classes. Also note that later they say that because Freshwater’s right to have his bible was constitutional, he was not insupordinate for disobeying to remove it.

In this case, we must reject the district’s justification because the inconspicuous presence of Freshwater’s personal Bible posed no threat to the Establishment Clause and the record supports that he did not use the Bible while teaching. A public school violates the Establishment Clause if its actions could reasonably be perceived as an official endorsement of religion…

…The district does not convey a message that it endorses or promotes Christianity by simply allowing Freshwater to keep a personal Bible on his desk.

So a teacher can make it very clear that they are strongly christian and put a bible on their desk to remind you of that, but oh no, this will not at all influence student decisions about what they say in class or how they answer test questions.

I find this really bad. The judges seem not to have considered at all how the students will perceive such gestures; only whether the state employee is technically endorsing religion or not.

But maybe some good news:

HROC concluded that the Bible was not on display; it was neither prominently staged nor placed in a way that would draw any particular attention to it. Other witnesses testified that Freshwater himself never drew any attention to the Bible. Given this unobtrusive, obscured, personal setting, no reasonable observer would assume that the state intended to promote or endorse Freshwater’s Bible.

So, they are not saying that a religious display is legal. Sadly, I think this just leaves wiggle room for arbitrary, exceptional, religious discrimination. I imagine that most bibles will be considered “unobtrusive” while any koran or dawkins book will be considered “obtrusive.”

And here we find the very, very narrow issue on which they decided to rule:

Freshwater’s refusal to remove the other items from his classroom—the Oxford Bible, Jesus of Nazareth, and the George W. Bush/Colin Powell poster—presents a much simpler issue. Freshwater’s First Amendment rights did not protect the display of these items, because they were not a part of his exercise of his religion. Freshwater admitted that he checked out the additional books only in order to make a point once this controversy began. Thus, the district would not run afoul of the Free Exercise Clause by ordering Freshwater to remove these materials; the orders were both reasonable and valid. Freshwater’s willful disobedience of these direct orders demonstrates blatant insubordination. That insubordination is established by clear and convincing evidence, and the record fully supports the board’s decision to terminate him on these grounds.

So, that’s it. OSC says: ‘you can have a bible on your desk. And we’re not going to say anything at all about the legality of creationism. But if you display other books as a form of protest of an official order, you can be fired for it.’ Yuck.

PT managers - please feel free to move my posts to a new FReshwater thread, when it starts…

Having read the dissenting opinions, I have two observations. One is that Judge Pfeiffer must be a very unpleasant person to work near.

The second is that the majority did write a weak opinion.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/.TbL2PUZs5nA[…]J6xTB.#abdc5 said:

My daughter is over there in that building as I type this. I am just afraid it is not over. :-(

My daughter attended the Mount Vernon public schools as well and was one of Freshwater’s “students”. I remember telling her that scientists DID know how old the earth is and that evolution was not a controversy among scientists and various other things in rebuttal to the “education” she was getting from Freshwater. He may have lost this round but there are others like him in the Mount Vernon public school system. Mount Vernon Nazarene University is right next door (for those readers not familiar with the area) to the Mount Vernon Middle School and High School and provides a large percentage of the teachers to those schools. Dr. Georgia Purdom was a professor of biology at MVNU for six years before moving on to Answers In Genesis. I believe that she also had a hand in establishing the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky. Today’s verdict is welcome but I fear there is more to come. There are lots of creationists around locally and some of them feel compelled to spread their nonsense.

Thank you for the good advice re my daughter, Dr. Hoppe.

DS said:

Thanks Richard for all your hard work.

I would like to add my thanks also Dick! I always enjoy your comments and have learned quite a lot from you.

I second (and third, and fourth …) the extreme gratitude to Richard Hoppe for all the diligent and insightful effort.

In the annals of judicial courage, the current decision is right up there with the Tennessee Supreme Court throwing out John T. Scopes’s conviction on the grounds that the judge, not the jury, had assessed the $100 fine.

Joe Felsenstein said: In the annals of judicial courage, the current decision is right up there with the Tennessee Supreme Court throwing out John T. Scopes’s conviction on the grounds that the judge, not the jury, had assessed the $100 fine.

LOL!!!

One is reminded of Sir Humphrey Appleby’s most severe damnation, reserved only for acts which were, in his opinion, the very height of folly: “Minister, I think that would be a very courageous decision.”

Hmmmm. The Rutherford Institute, which collaborated with Freshwater in his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, has issued a press release in which they say

In coming to Freshwater’s defense after he was discharged in January 2011, Rutherford Institute attorneys argued that where a teacher’s speech is in compliance with all Board policies and directly relates to the prescribed curriculum, the school should not be permitted to terminate the teacher’s employment as a means of censoring a particular academic viewpoint from the classroom. Institute attorneys plan to file a motion to ask the Ohio Supreme Court to reconsider their opinion in order to focus on the constitutional issues at the heart of the case, particularly as they relate to academic freedom in the classroom.

I’m told that it is very rare for the Court to accept a request for reconsideration. If by unhappy chance that occurs, I sure hope that the school board’s insurance company does not repeat its error in allowing an attorney who was manifestly ignorant of its case to represent it before the Court. In particular, that business about “censoring a particular academic viewpoint” (i.e., intelligent design–see here and here) needs to be hammered into the Court’s consciousness by someone who knows the issue well. As I wrote about Freshwater’s Merit Brief to the Court,

The foundational premise of the Merit Brief, the premise that underpins its academic freedom arguments, is that intelligent design and creation science are legitimate academic theories competing with evolutionary theory.

The knee-deep bullshit of that claim has to be emphasized.

I never followed this case save noting it was stressed on this forum. Firing someone is a big and sad thing when the purpose of school is to teach the truth. I suspect its more incompetence from appointed, suspect on what reasons, Judges. Its NOT religious opinions that is behind any creationist opinion. The opinion is that this or that happened in some origin matter. Its irrelevant if it touches of some doctrines in some religion. The judges are wrong in saying this teacher is imposing or pushing a religious opinion. The opinion just , might, have a source from a religion but one can not discredit the opinion because of the source. because who opposes murder and ones religion opposes murder does not make the anti-murder opinion a religious opinion. Even if its a source. tHe opinion is separate from the source as far as society is concerned. anyways cases like this are great and hopefully more to come to stress the censorship and general immoral and illegal control on conclusions in this or that concerning nature. A decent dust up. I do insist these are days of poor jurisprudence. Better decisions would of been made in the past. Its a poor crop of justices for many reasons. On to the next case.

Small correction: Justice Paul Pfeifer’s surname has only two fs, not three.

Ugh. You’re right, Douglas.

Richard B. Hoppe said: I’m told that it is very rare for the Court to accept a request for reconsideration. If by unhappy chance that occurs,

Given the ruling, I can’t imagine it would. Three of the judges (the ruling plurality) obviously didn’t want to touch that issue and the fourth who found against Freshwater would most likely rule against the creationists, given that he thinks the school is perfectly in their right to prevent teachers from merely having bibles on their desk.

Now, add to that: if the ruling plurality had wanted to rule in favor of Freshwater on the constitutional issue, they could’ve easily formed a majority with the dissenting judges. So the fact that they didn’t is (I’d argue) pretty good circumstantial evidence that they don’t favor Freshwater, but did not want to take up this issue.

So the situation we have here is, as I see it:

-Three judges would probably take up the constitutional issue and rule for Freshwater -One judge may or may not take it up, but would rule against him -Three judges likely would rule against him, but clearly don’t want to even have to answer the question.

If this is correct, I can’t really see how any plurality of judges would want to take up the constitutional issue. The group of three who would be most interested in doing so would know they’re going to lose.

thomasjneal.nz said:

As for the Dems’ anti-science issues, I need only mention their opposition to nuclear-generated power.

uh, that’s not anti science. it has nothing to do with science, it’s an economic and environmental issue to them.

they aren’t asking legislators to rewrite textbooks about nuclear energy.

false equivalence indeed.

this is the first time I have read your words, and I have to conclude you are completely delusional.

Sensuous Curmudgeon runs one of the best blogs on issues related to evolution denial.

TomS said:

thomasjneal.nz said:

As for the Dems’ anti-science issues, I need only mention their opposition to nuclear-generated power.

uh, that’s not anti science. it has nothing to do with science, it’s an economic and environmental issue to them.

they aren’t asking legislators to rewrite textbooks about nuclear energy.

false equivalence indeed.

this is the first time I have read your words, and I have to conclude you are completely delusional.

Sensuous Curmudgeon runs one of the best blogs on issues related to evolution denial.

This is absolutely true, but his comments here are an unfortunate illustration of how prone people can be to irrational biases.

Doing excellent coverage of this issue, while at the same time making the kind of delusional apologies for the very political movement that drives evolution denial in education to begin with, is acting in a way that undermines one’s best efforts.

I know I said I wouldn’t comment on this again, and I really, really promise that this will be my last, but on reflection, I have to emphasize something.

If Sensuous Curmudgeon were writing about evolution in education while at the same time doing something “unscientific” but mainly unrelated, like consulting an astrologer, that would not be so significant.

Even if he had said “You’re right, Harold, the Republican Party/right wing does drive politically aggressive public school evolution denial, as well as climate change denial, HIV denial, misinformation about contraception, and tobacco/health denial (which still exists). But I have an intense emotional attachment to them that I can’t get over, so I support them anyway, even though doing so undermines my efforts on an issue I care about”, that would also be at least self-aware.

He could still say that right now. Right now, right here, Sensuous Curmudgeon could say “Thank you for clarifying to me that I made use of false equivalence arguments; we all have emotional biases and my emotional biases caused me to read that Atlantic article without using the rational skepticism that I employ so well elsewhere. I concede that others have corrected me with regard to the relationship between the major political parties in the US and political science denial. I still support right wing politics but I’ll be honest about the relationship between the major parties and current political attacks on science going forward.”

But he hasn’t, and delusional (and I use that word because “dishonest” is the only alternative) use of irrational false equivalence constructions in an effort to deny reality doesn’t cut it.

I’d like to point out one other thing. The people who originate the type of slogans and articles that SC linked are usually professional political shills. They work for corporations, right wing think tanks, or right wing politicians directly, or else, I conjecture, they’re journalists positioning themselves for the career advancement that comes from rushing to the defense of persecuted billionaires. They know what they’re doing. But then there is a group of people who repeat the slogans, even to their own detriment. That isn’t a wise thing to do. Sensuous Curmudgeon, the person who wrote that article didn’t spontaneously notice that “liberals attack science too”, they started out with an agenda, like a creationist. That writer started out knowing that everyone knows that, as a general tendency, the Republicans attack science or pander to those who do, and tried to construct some sort of verbose false equivalence to cloud the issue. Please apply rational skepticism to such things going forward. You certainly have the ability.

Harold, I think you may be guilty of false equivalence yourself. The false equivalence of which I speak is the rise in global temperatures, and its cause. (Perhaps it is better to call this the false “Law of Cause and Effect” rather than false equivalence.) You, like most of the public, Al Gore, almost all liberals, and some conservatives, apparently automatically ascribe that increase to human activity (burning of fossil fuels, burning of forests, etc).

But the Carbon Cycle of the Earth is very complex. There is a vast store of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans, huge quantities of carbonate ions in seawater, and immense volumes of precipitated calcium carbonate on the ocean floor, all exchanging back and forth, and thence with the atmosphere. Natural sources of carbon dioxide are principally volcanoes and emissions from mid-ocean ridges. Interestingly, while the carbon dioxide from volcanoes contributes to warming of the biosphere, the dust they inject into the upper atmosphere reflects solar radiation and thus cools the surface of the Earth.

How well-measured are the quantities of volcanic carbon dioxide, and mid-ocean ridge carbon dioxide? They may indeed be greater than the human-injected carbon dioxide. Volcanoes are relatively easy to spot. Their plumes can be photographed and their gaseous emissions analyzed. But the uncountable small emissions along the mid-ocean ridges in every ocean are much more difficult to estimate, much less well-measured.

So at the risk of being derided by all but a few posters here, I will say that the rise of global temperatures may be caused by human activity, but that is by no means certain - not until we understand the Earth’s Carbon Cycle in better detail.

Remember IBIG’s “Law Of Cause And Effect”? (Sarfati at AiG just wrote another pseudo-scientific piece purporting just that.) It’s false equivalence when you jump to the conclusion that because global temperatures have risen, it must be due to humans burning fossil fuels. It’s obviously true. Or is it? No, it is not.

So I take a minority view. Now, I must prepare for the firestorm of criticism. I will not answer any, unless they deal with the quantization of meteoric carbon dioxide and the global carbon cycle. (Meteoric, in the geological sense, means “newly injected into the surface of the Earth from deeper in the crust.”)

Life is complicated, human society more so. Although I expect most of Freshwater’s supporters are conservatives and Republicans, I would not be surprised to find a few registered Democrats as well.

Prongs - you sound just like a creationist. Show me all of the steps from bacteria to whale and then I will believe.…

IANAS, but the pertinent questions seem plain to me.

1. Has there been a dramatic rise in atmospheric CO2 in recent times?

2. If yes, what new source of CO2 might be contributing to the recent rise that wasn’t, say, several centuries ago?

3. If natural sources such as increased vulcanism could be the cause, have such sources dramatically increased in the last century? Or is there reason to think, though their frequency might not be greater, that their CO2 output could be significantly higher?

4. COULD human burning of fossil fuel (and other activities that release greenhouse gasses) POSSIBLY be a significant contributor to climate change?

5. COULD climate change result in severe human suffering, dislocation, geopolitical crises, etc.?

6. If the answers to 4 and 5 are even POSSIBLY yes, then isn’t it worth our while to try to mitigate those effects?

Again, I am not a scientist, climate or otherwise.

Harold, I think you may be guilty of false equivalence yourself. The false equivalence of which I speak is the rise in global temperatures, and its cause.

This is not what “false equivalence” means. It means false equivalence. Claiming that two things are equivalent, when they aren’t.

What you’re arguing here, incorrectly, is that the evidence doesn’t support human contribution to climate change. Even if you were right about that, believing it does would not be an example of “false equivalence”.

What you did is something we all do in the early years of elementary school, but some of us, tragically, keep doing it our entire lives. You saw that I used some words that seemed to “means something bad”. So, not comprehending what I said, you repeated the words back. Your performance here is slightly worse than that of a six year old saying “no, you’ve got cooties”. You see, I think most six year olds know what “false” means and probably many of them know what “equivalence” means.

(Perhaps it is better to call this the false “Law of Cause and Effect” rather than false equivalence.) You, like most of the public, Al Gore, almost all liberals, and some conservatives, apparently automatically ascribe that increase to human activity (burning of fossil fuels, burning of forests, etc). But the Carbon Cycle of the Earth is very complex. There is a vast store of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans, huge quantities of carbonate ions in seawater, and immense volumes of precipitated calcium carbonate on the ocean floor, all exchanging back and forth, and thence with the atmosphere. Natural sources of carbon dioxide are principally volcanoes and emissions from mid-ocean ridges. Interestingly, while the carbon dioxide from volcanoes contributes to warming of the biosphere, the dust they inject into the upper atmosphere reflects solar radiation and thus cools the surface of the Earth.

There are two problems here. The first is that your argument is completely illogical. You’re arguing that because climate is complex, either human activity can’t impact on climate, or we can’t determine if human activity impacts on climate.

The second problem is a massive case of Dunning-Kruger syndrome. You seem to think that actual climate scientists haven’t thought of all this.

What actual evidence would convince you that human activity is likely contributing to climate change?

How well-measured are the quantities of volcanic carbon dioxide, and mid-ocean ridge carbon dioxide? They may indeed be greater than the human-injected carbon dioxide. Volcanoes are relatively easy to spot. Their plumes can be photographed and their gaseous emissions analyzed. But the uncountable small emissions along the mid-ocean ridges in every ocean are much more difficult to estimate, much less well-measured.

So at the risk of being derided by all but a few posters here, I will say that the rise of global temperatures may be caused by human activity, but that is by no means certain - not until we understand the Earth’s Carbon Cycle in better detail.

More of the same. What actual evidence would convince you that human activity is likely contributing to climate change?

Remember IBIG’s “Law Of Cause And Effect”? (Sarfati at AiG just wrote another pseudo-scientific piece purporting just that.)

Some people defend science, and some people pose as defenders of evolution, in order to give false credibility to some other type of science denial. You are the latter type of person. You are in no position to sneer at the creationists of AIG. You are as bad as they are. Your logic is just as faulty. You mangle and misuse the English language. You dishonestly create straw man versions of the views of others.

It’s false equivalence when you jump to the conclusion that because global temperatures have risen, it must be due to humans burning fossil fuels. It’s obviously true. Or is it? No, it is not.

If your position is correct, why do you need to lie about others in order to defend it? No-one has ever made an argument that resembled this.

I disrespect you. Sorry, but I have no respect for anyone who ever distorts the arguments of others in such a dishonest way.

So I take a minority view.

It’s irrelevant what view you take.

Now, I must prepare for the firestorm of criticism. I will not answer any, unless they deal with the quantization of meteoric carbon dioxide and the global carbon cycle. (Meteoric, in the geological sense, means “newly injected into the surface of the Earth from deeper in the crust.”) Life is complicated, human society more so. Although I expect most of Freshwater’s supporters are conservatives and Republicans, I would not be surprised to find a few registered Democrats as well.

For the sake of third party readers - the world is complicated, but there is strong evidence that rapid oxidization of formerly sequestered carbon into gaseous CO2 by humans is impacting the climate. In addition, there are a number of other problems with human dependence on fossil fuels for energy - they are a non-renewable resource, they have other uses which are interfered with by burning them, burning them generates pollutants other than CO2, etc. The default is not, as this troll implies, that “global warming” must be “proven” beyond some constantly shifting unreasonable doubt, but rather, that human contribution to climate change is likely, and that encouraging more efficient energy use and exploration of better energy sources is prudent, and not just because of climate change, either.

And by the way, naturally, I wish that the climate change deniers were right. Of course I do. Who wants global warming? However, unlike them, I can function like an adult and accept the evidence.

Now I’d like to repeat something for emphasis -

Some people defend science, and some people pose as defenders of evolution, in order to give false credibility to some other type of science denial.

Remarkably few science deniers have the guts to be consistent. As many have noted, they nearly always pose as defenders of science, and frequently tout irrelevant or misused credentials.

This thread sensitized me to a problem within the community who take an interest in science education. Some people seem to attack creationists almost as a means of giving credibility to some other type of science denial, or to create the (false) impression that the US political right wing is not anti-science (“I’m right wing and I don’t personally deny evolution, therefore this somehow cancels out all organized political and legal right wing anti-science activity”).

I’m sick of this. Selfish, biased, politically motivated science denial is selfish, biased, politically motivated science denial. If scientific evidence says something I don’t like, I deal with it and accept the evidence. Even the most deluded creationist accepts scientific reality when they like it. If you happen not to deny the theory of evolution, but you arrogantly and unjustifiably hold your own opinion above the scientific consensus when you don’t like the science - go stand in line with the creationists. You are no better.

It is, of course, perfectly possible to have right wing political preferences without denying scientific reality.

After all, many or most political preferences are expressions of subjective values.

However, it it NOT possible to deny either climate change, or the current Republican record on scientific issues, without denying reality, in a dishonest way. Period.

Prongs, I’m going to have to walk you through some basics. I know you’ve heard some of this before, but please bear with me as I build up a quick look at the case for human CO2.

1) The carbon cycle may be complex, but the overall levels of CO2 accumulation are not. In fact they’re pretty simple. This is what it looks like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M[…]_Apr2013.svg

2) The overall rate of accumulation is lower than the rate of human-caused CO2 emissions. Each year we put out about 30 gigatons of carbon (mostly as CO2), almost half of which is absorbed by natural carbon sinks (mostly the ocean).

3) Since the rate of accumulation is less than the rate of our emissions, we must be emitting more CO2 than the natural sinks can handle. But since they ARE taking a chunk out of our annual emissions in addition to all the natural sources of CO2, this indicates that if we weren’t emitting so many gigatons of carbon every year then the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would not be going up. It would be holding steady, or even going down, but it would not be rising at a rate of about 2ppm/year and wouldn’t be about 40% higher than pre-Industrial times.

4) This is corroborated by looking at past CO2 concentrations, which are fairly straightforward to measure from things like ice cores taken from the thick ice sheets at the poles.

5) What we see is that CO2 levels have never been as high as they are now for the entire length of our ice core records, which go back nearly a million years. For example, the CDIC website gives us this:

Over the last 800,000 years atmospheric CO2 levels as indicated by the ice-core data have fluctuated between 170 and 300 parts per million by volume (ppmv), corresponding with conditions of glacial and interglacial periods. The Vostok core indicates very similar trends. Prior to about 450,000 years before present time (BP) atmospheric CO2 levels were always at or below 260 ppmv and reached lowest values, approaching 170 ppmv, between 660,000 and 670,000 years ago. The highest pre-industrial value recorded in 800,000 years of ice-core record was 298.6 ppmv, in the Vostok core, around 330,000 years ago. Atmospheric CO2 levels have increased markedly in industrial times; measurements in year 2010 at Cape Grim Tasmania and the South Pole both indicated values of 386 ppmv, and are currently increasing at about 2 ppmv/year.

To give you a better idea, the trends in CO2 concentration look like this:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/ima[…]00_years.gif

See if you can pick out the Industrial Revolution (where our use of fossil fuels intensified dramatically) in that timeline. Over that same 10K year history, which covers most of the Holocene, the climate has been more or less stable. This allowed for permanent settlements based around intensive agriculture to arise, which in turn created the conditions necessary for civilizations.

6) Besides the fact that natural sinks have been able to keep up with natural CO2 emissions for the last 10,000 years, there’s another piece of evidence we can use to fingerprint human emissions as the source of this carbon build-up. Just as the ratio of carbon isotopes can be used to date old artefacts, they can be used to determine if CO2 in the atmosphere comes from ancient or recent sources. If the CO2 build-up is due in part to the use of fossil fuels, we should see a significant increase in “ancient” carbon that has had time to decay from C13 to C12. This is indeed what we find when we analyze modern and old samples of the atmosphere.

7) Corresponding to the rise in “ancient” carbon in the atmosphere is a matching decrease in free oxygen, which is what we’d expect as the result of combustion (as in the use of fossil fuels). Free oxygen from the atmosphere and fossil hydrocarbons are being burned for energy, which releases ancient carbon while taking oxygen to make CO2.

8) The Greenhouse Effect works when shortwave electromagnetic radiation from the sun is absorbed by surfaces on the earth, and then re-radiated back towards space as long-wave infrared radiation. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) slow the escape of this energy back into space, trapping more of it within the climate system. Each GHG has its own absorption and emission signatures from spectrometry, reacting to different wavelengths, so we can tell with good precision which gases are gunking up which wavelengths. Data from satellites and other observatories record an increase in the amount of long-wave IR being blocked in the atmosphere, and the spectral analyses point to CO2 for much of the difference.

So what we have is a history of relatively stable CO2 and climate up until the Industrial Revolution, when human use of fossil fuels increased dramatically. After that point we see a steady rise in atmospheric CO2 levels, consisting mostly of fossil carbon, and a corresponding drop in free oxygen. Furthermore, the changing signature of out-bound longwave IR corresponds to this increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, tying the elevated levels to an enhanced Greenhouse Effect.

After carefully quantifying the sources of CO2 emissions both natural and man-made, we can put our contribution relative to other things like volcanoes. Humans emit more than 100x as much CO2 per year as volcanic activity. That sounds like a lot, but we only make up about 3% of all CO2 emissions on the planet. Good news, right? Well, no. As I said before, natural carbon sinks (like the ocean) are apparently taking in so much carbon that atmospheric CO2 levels are rising at an unprecedented rate. What’s more, since the amount of annual increase is about half of our total anthropogenic emissions, then the total accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere is likely due to us. It’s like having a savings account that earns 3% interest every year. Even if you never deposit any cash and regularly withdraw about half the interest, the rest of it still adds up over time. The accumulation of cash in that account is because of that +3% annual interest, 1.5% of which stays behind after your withdrawals.

So despite being a relatively minor contribution to annual emissions, our activities almost certainly make up the entire ~40% of extra CO2 in the atmosphere relative to pre-industrial times. Because the carbon cycle was roughly in balance before, according to everything we know, emitting and sinking CO2 at about the same rate and giving us a relatively stable climate, the extra carbon we’re adding to it is going to tip the scales towards an increase. That’s what’s destabilizing the climate now, and driving us to this remarkable warming trend.

If you want to attribute the increase in CO2 to some other process that we’ve somehow missed, you’re going to have to explain it in the context of all the other evidence. We have CO2 records from instruments, ice cores, and other proxies going back in a complete record for hundreds of thousands of years. We don’t see anything like today’s ~400ppm levels in that whole span, nor have we seen an increase as rapid as this. Why would the mid-ocean ridges suddenly pump out so much extra CO2? They haven’t been any more active lately. Why would that correspond so closely to the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which shows up plainly in the CO2 record? What accounts for the down-draw of free oxygen, which roughly matches the combustion from industrial processes?

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

I wasn’t always interested in the climate question, but once I did start looking I noticed how extraordinarily similar most of the “skeptical” arguments against it were to the arguments used by Creationists. In fact, I found the most blatant overlap in the person of Dr. Roy Spencer, as explained here. Just as there are powerful and wealthy people backing think-tanks like the Discovery Institute in their quest to spread FUD about evolution, so are there even more powerful and wealthy people and industries backing think-tanks like the Heartland Institute to spread FUD about climate science. I think that if you’ll take the time, you could recognize so many of the same fallacies and tactics being used by the so-called “skeptics” of anthropogenic climate change as the ones that constantly show up in anti-evolutionist writings and tracts. They may not be appealing to the Bible for their preferred reality, but the logical missteps are almost identical.

Just as TalkOrigins was critical for informing me about the real science behind evolution, I’ve found a number of reliable sources on climate science that are invaluable for answering common questions and addressing “skeptical” criticisms. As with evolution, I look primarily to the scientists who would best know the issues and have the deepest understanding of what makes the climate tick. Here are some of my go-to sites where climate scientists explain the issues and rebut misinformation, like TalkOrigins does for Creationism:

RealClimate, a blog created by some of the top climate scientists in a variety of sub-fields. Here’s what they have to say about how we know the CO2 problem is due to us.

SkepticalScience, a blog created by a physicist and featuring regular posts by climate and other scientists on daily topics. They keep a running list of Arguments From Global Warming Skeptics, in which they discuss what’s really going on with copious references to the appropriate scientific literature. Think of this as the climate version of TO’s Index to Creationist Claims. Take a look through it and see if you spot some skeptical talking points that seem reasonable to you, and find out if those are really based on sound science. To tie back into what I wrote above about CO2, here’s a brief post outlining how we know humans are driving the recent warming, which covers some of the evidence implicating anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

It’s important to keep this in perspective: there’s a vast consensus on AGW within the climate science community, much like the one about evolution among biologists. It is no longer considered controversial at all, having established itself as the best explanation for the wide variety of evidence and data gathered over more than a century of properly skeptical scientific examination and debate. This consensus shows up in direct surveys of climate scientists (PDF, peer-reviewed), in different reviews of the climate science literature (essay in Science and Open Access peer-reviewed paper, respectively), and by examining what climate scientists are willing to put their name on (PDF, peer-reviewed). All of these different methodologies reach the same conclusion; something like 97-98% are convinced both that it’s us AND that it’s a problem we need to tackle. This is also reflected in the regular reviews of the state of climate science that form the basis of the IPCC’s synthesis reports, and by the fact that no body of working scientists disagree with the assessment, instead publishing statements of support or assent.

None of this would be the case if the idea of AGW were based merely on post-hoc reasoning. It takes far more than that to convince professional skeptics, who are also experts in the subject, of something this strongly. Hopefully you can get a much better picture of the evidence supporting the consensus with the help of the sources I’ve provided.

As with evolution, there’s a tiny number of individuals who oppose the consensus. But it has become clear that they are not doing so because of valid scientific reasons; mostly they are motivated by partisan political ideology or irrational contrarianism, not by the dint of strong evidence and genuine skepticism.

By all reasonable standards, it’s time to leave the doubt behind and start working on solutions. One of the failings of the Republican party is that they have chosen to continue denying the reality of climate change, and thus written themselves out of the conversation to shape our policy of dealing with it. It’s not just their sheer obstruction which hurts us, it’s also their lack of participation in finding agreeable solutions. So please take your time, and consider the evidence carefully.

Just a note, I posted a very lengthy and very linky comment in reply to prongs. There were so many links it’s being held for moderation. Hopefully it will show up soon.

yup it did, and it’s a gudun.

prediction is that prongs will simply go to his favorite denial site and copypasta some boilerplate response along the lines of a “different interpretation of data”.

…just like a creationist would.

As an educator I have a question pertaining to the original incidents. If he burned some marks onto the arm of the students, why was not fired for doing so or even thrown in jail? I am not from the civilized world but I would have have been thrown of the school grounds 5 minutes later and my name would appear on some kind of register.

I noticed how extraordinarily similar most of the “skeptical” arguments against it were to the arguments used by Creationists.

The psychological similarity is dramatic.

Just off the top of my head -

1) Both groups show massive influence of economic and social bias. It’s slightly more blatantly obvious in the case of climate denial - literally financed by fossil fuel companies (although the corporations themselves hedge their bets with plenty of research on alternate energy). However, creationism is also related to an economic agenda. It’s the bedrock of a post-modern, hostile, pseudo-judgmental* version of Christianity that is peddled to keep poor white people, especially in the south, from supporting progressive economic policy. Getting people who work two jobs but live in a shared trailer, have no health insurance, and live on the edge of subsistence to vote the interests of a tiny minority (who would lead lives of unimaginable luxury even if we had Swedish economics), or at least to not vote at all, takes some effort. Back in the day FDR won southern states with popular vote percentages in, you can’t make this up, the high nineties. *I say “pseudo-judgmental” because creationists are always getting into the worst kinds of scandals over gross abuse of illegal substances and irresponsible sexual behavior, but preach that God hates everyone else but forgives them for everything.

2) Both groups peddle defensive arguments and offer no scientific insights of their own. They simply deny some scientific reality that threatens their ideology, by any means they can. ID/creationists offer no coherent explanation of life’s diversity, or numerous other aspects of biology that make sense in the light of evolutionary mechanisms. The “ID” side of ID/creationism goes as far as to play peek-a-boo, always “officially denying” that gods or miracles have anything to do with their nonsense (while simultaneously blowing on the dog whistle until they’re blue in the face). The others are almost as bad - they mainly won’t offer coherent, testable ideas. What’s a “kind”? A “baramin”?

3) Both groups constantly imply that their position is a default, and that any challenge to it must meet some standard of “proof” - and they decide the “proof”. The standard is always set so that it could not ever be achieved.

4) Yet both groups are also dishonest about “3)”. When asked “what would convince you”, they NEVER answer honestly “I can’t be convinced; I’m committed to arguing against evolution and/or climate change no matter what evidence emerges”. They ALWAYS evade the question, and always make excuses as to why they won’t answer questions, and/or try to throw out science-y sounding language to bluff their way out of the questions. See Prongs above for a great example.

5) They essentially NEVER state either a fair paraphrase of the position they oppose. They seem to think that by creating straw men, they weaken reality. (The opposite is the truth. The fact that they ALWAYS resort to dishonest distortion of the views of others, beside being intensely obnoxious and speaking very ill of their ethical character and personal ability to deal with adversity, is presumptive evidence in favor of the other side. If I have to lie about what you said to dispute what you said, it would seem that I don’t likely have any very good arguments.)

It follows from this that they don’t feel any need to understand the material they claim to dispute. They always pretend to know more about the subject, or related subjects, than they actually do. In fact, they typically know nothing yet try to throw around an alphabet soup of technical terms. This behavior is obviously designed to trick the ignorant, since it cannot fool the knowledgeable.

Another tactic, more used by creationists perhaps, that is related to the underlying unwillingness or inability to actually deal with the material they supposedly oppose, is constant efforts to slyly change the subject. Creationists are always making arguments against abiogenesis, or feigning some sort of knowledge of computer science, math, or physics, in the always disappointed hopes that their scientific critics will be ignorant of these fields.

6) Other than contradicting those whom they perceive as opponents, they have NO interest in consistency. This is a point that many science supporters need to grasp. It’s all about doing anything that “hurts evolution” or anything that prevents serious discussion of, let alone action on, climate change. The tendency of climate denialists to make multiple contradictory arguments is well known. This sequence is often seen from the same person in the same comment thread - a) there is no warming trend, b) there is a warming trend but it isn’t related to humans, c) there is and it’s related to humans but we can’t do anything about it, d) there is and it’s related to humans and we could act, but it’s actually beneficial. The same person will go from arguing that there is no warming to arguing that we should keep burning as much fossil fuel as possible because that will increase warming and allow us to grow wheat in Antarctica, in the same thread (I defend this as a fair paraphrase of numerous real life threads).

Quite frankly, I think that these argumentation styles simply reflect the universal cognitive tool-kit of deception, including self-deception. From the used car lot to the floor of the senate, from the arguments substance addicts use to themselves to the meeting room of a high end venture capital firm, these are the mental constructs people use when they try to convince others, or themselves, to buy something that doesn’t jibe with reality.

Come now, we’re being unfair to climate change deniers. Their basic position is straightforward:

1. There is no global warming.

2. Well, OK, there is global warming. but it isn’t caused by humans.

3. Well, OK, there is global warming and it is caused by humans, but it’s good for us.

4. Well, OK, there is global warming and it is caused by humans, but God will never let us mess up the world too badly. But he reserves the right to do that whenever he wants.

5. Well, OK, there is global warming and it is caused by humans, but these are the Last Days and a few of us are going to be “raptured” tomorrow or the next day, so what the hell do we care; the rest of you sinners can live in the hothouse for the next thousand years until Jesus destroys the whole shebang.

6. Well, OK, there is global warming but it’s more expensive to fix it than to let it happen.

icstuff said:

As an educator I have a question pertaining to the original incidents. If he burned some marks onto the arm of the students, why was not fired for doing so or even thrown in jail? I am not from the civilized world but I would have have been thrown of the school grounds 5 minutes later and my name would appear on some kind of register.

Where I live Freshwater would have been fired just for touching the kids in an inappropriate way even if he hadn’t burnt their skin. However, we have different laws in Germany. IIRC the branding case has been settled out of court but rather the school board’s insurance than Freshwater paid for this solution.

Still, I wonder why nobody seems to have raised the question why Freshwater was approaching his students physically and why he did this only to boys. His methods to manipulate his students are not different from priests or boy scout leaders abusing their position of trust. Freshwater himself may beleave his motivations were only Christian but if one would leave out the Christian part Freshwater’s story would read as one of a child molester.

DS said:

JimboK said:

JimboK said:

I have found a news video. Here. It unfortunately cuts Freshwater off at the moment were he is being defiant.

Fixed link (I think)… Sorry..

Video can be found by going Mt. Vernon News website, clicking on “Extra-Edition”, scrolling down to the Freshwater story.

Yea sure, he gained great strength and inspiration by having his “personal” bible on his public desk. He couldn’t possibly have gotten the same thing by keeping it in the desk drawer! What a bunch of baloney.

From the “amens” to Freshwater’s mispronunciation “the free-exercise klaus”; it’s all pretty sickening. BTW, the video is dated April 16, 2008.

JimboK said:

DS said:

JimboK said:

JimboK said:

I have found a news video. Here. It unfortunately cuts Freshwater off at the moment were he is being defiant.

Fixed link (I think)… Sorry..

Video can be found by going Mt. Vernon News website, clicking on “Extra-Edition”, scrolling down to the Freshwater story.

Yea sure, he gained great strength and inspiration by having his “personal” bible on his public desk. He couldn’t possibly have gotten the same thing by keeping it in the desk drawer! What a bunch of baloney.

From the “amens” to Freshwater’s mispronunciation “the free-exercise klaus”; it’s all pretty sickening. BTW, the video is dated April 16, 2008.

ERMAGERD!!!

My first comment here…

If Freshwater didn’t refer to or use the bible on his desk to make or bolster his claims during class, and if he didn’t even use it for personal reading, …why was it there at all?

The obvious answer is that he used it just like his offensive displays - to intimidate, to cement his unlawful promulgation of religious mumbo-jumbo, and to make a point. Either that, or to hide his porn under.

Of course he never read it! He couldn’t have, or he’d understand that ostentatious displays of religulous fervour are frowned upon by the main protagonist in the book he never used.

Oh, and I’d like to just say thanks to everyone who’s provided so many helpful links. More opportunities to learn are rare, and very much appreciated!

A minor note on volcanic eruptions: Volcanoes emit sulfur dioxide SO2, which has a short-lived cooling effect on the earth’s atmosphere and climate. “Short-lived” is 2-3 years:

The Atmospheric Impact of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption

The USGS said:

The optically dense Pinatubo aerosol cloud caused marked changes in the amount of radiation reaching the Earth’s surface; in turn, these changes affected weather and climate over the past 3 years following the eruption.

CO2 emissions are much more longer-lived.

Anyone still reading this thread? Here are several images of the Keeling Curve, including a seasonally adjusted version.

The Keeling Curve runs from 1958 to the present. During that time, there were several notable volcanic eruptions:

  • Mt. Agung, Bali, Indonesia: 1963
  • El Chicon, Mexico: 1982
  • Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines: 1991

The 3-year cooling signature for these eruptions is very obvious in the climate record. If these volcanoes were a significant contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide, the curve would show large steps upward in 1963, 1982, and 1991.

I see no such anomaly in the seasonally adjusted curve. There might be a slight tic upwards in 1993, but it is overwhelmed by the background increase, which looks to me like an exponential. It ain’t the volcanoes.

By the way, Charles Keeling thought about volcanoes in 1960.

Contained in my huge infodump is the perspective that humans emit about 100x more CO2 than volcanoes per year, and human emissions are about 3% of global annual emissions. What’s more, about half of our emissions are being soaked up by natural sinks to make the annual increase in emissions less than the amount we spew into the atmosphere over the same period.

It kind of follows that even very large, singular volcanic eruptions aren’t really going to show up in the Keeling Curve.

ksplawn said:

6. Well, OK, there is global warming but it’s more expensive to fix it than to let it happen.

7. And nobody really cares about Kiribati anyway.

This page claims that the total annual CO2 released from volcanism is equal to less than 3 days of anthropogenic emissions. It would take 700 Pinatubo-sized eruptions to equal the annual human CO2 output.

It’s been said that the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption was actually carbon-negative, at least in it’s initial stage, as the grounding of flights in Europe more than offset the emissions of the volcano itself.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on November 19, 2013 10:11 AM.

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