Ivan W. Parkins

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About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Front Page

ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES:

POLITICS AND SCIENCE

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     Understanding our problems regarding atmospheric changes is greatly complicated by the vigorous participation of political action groups.  That seems especially unfortunate when one notes that similar political participation produced the hasty and extreme measure of banning DDT.  And that led to what may be the most horrendous and unnecessary sacrifice of human lives in the history of mankind.

 

     The evidence regarding atmospheric dangers is greater, and the dangers more widely shared by all of us.  Fortunately, Asians seeking economic growth are less willing to accept remedies advocated by “more sophisticated” Westerners than Africans were to accept the DDT ban.  Furthermore, the evidence regarding atmospheric problems is vastly more convoluted than that regarding DDT.

 

     Even allowing for its many currents and eddies, it is simplistic to think of one atmosphere serving the world.  Yes, some poisoning of it should be a concern to all of us.  But, many of the most intense problems are largely man-made, and local in effects.  When it comes to broader problems of temperature and CO2, we all share in them even when we breathe.  But, there are many reasons to question how significant man’s share is as compared to variations in the Sun’s emissions, variations in the orbit of the Earth, and emissions from the Earth’s interior.

 

     Most of the evidence offered by scientists regarding atmospheric warming and cooling is true. Our problem is that it is also fragmentary and contradictory.  There are actually dozens of factors contributing to cooling/warming of the Earth and their comparative importance is often unclear.  For instance, how significant are the mostly unexplored seepages and eruptions from Earth’s core that occur deep within the oceans?  The numerous geological and biological evidences of time cycles in atmospheric conditions are significant, but overlapping and not very precise as guides to our future.

 

     We need to study environmental conditions.  We need, also, to minimize the special interest politics of our conclusions and responses.  Let’s at least keep the costs of atmospheric politics below that of major wars, the thing that those who obtained the ban on DDT failed to do.

 

I.W. Parkins 070809    

The Politics of Science

Global Warming, DDT

and Other Issues

SCIENCE, SCIENTISTS,

AND THE PUBLIC;

MY VIEW

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     The tiny high school that I attended did not offer basic physics; I got that by driving, walking, or hitch-hiking to a neighboring town.  Major state and, at the Naval Academy, national testing placed me high in comprehension of basic science.  Prior to military service, I believed that I would seek employment in the sciences. And I did continue to read a little and to attend occasional public lectures.  A couple of the latter were by Enrico Fermi on nuclear physics. He, incidentally, was an exceptionally lucid lecturer.

      Some years later, as the ranking professor in a former community college being transformed into a four year state school (1963-4), I attempted to promote an earth sciences program, not in my department or jurisdiction.  Earth sciences were becoming more important; both state and national governments had major facilities relating to that in our vicinity; the local geography was especially interesting.  That proposal was vetoed by our college president on grounds that such a program might overshadow the humanities, his openly avowed personal favorite.

     I offer those things as evidence that I am a better than average informed-layman; I am not a scientist.  But, I do not apologize  for supposing that much of the American public is so lacking in scientific knowledge that it allows itself to be ”taken to the cleaners” by people claiming to rely upon science.

     Some additional experiences during my teaching career support my skepticism.  One new colleague with whom I had only a speaking acquaintance claimed, falsely, a doctorate in physics.  It was discovered and he was fired.  Another, a charming man, who occupied the only endowed chair in our small institution, left quietly after three years, when the expert committee brought in to evaluate his cancer research declared it to be worthless.

     While teaching a course in government and law as they relate to business, I used a text by Murray Weidenbaum.  He had been Nixon’s Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and became a member of Reagan’s first Council of Economic Advisors.  Perhaps his foremost effort            was to promote careful cost/benefit analysis of regulations.  In the text that I used he cited the example of a university bio-chemist who informed the Consumer Products Safety Commission that he had discovered a link between a spray adhesive widely used by hobbyists with birth defects.  Two major chemical manufacturers were notified and further investigations began.  Outside experts were unable to reproduce the dangerous evidence, or even to see the evidence that the original scientist claimed to see on his few slides.

      Meanwhile, about $100,000,000 of business was curtailed, thousands of hobbyists were inconvenienced, several of them cited fears of birth defects as reasons for abortions, and an unknown number of workers lost their jobs.  In about a year the manufacture of those products resumed.

 

I.W. Parkins 070809

THE MAN-MADE QUESTION

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     One source on global warming that I am happy to recommend is UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING: EVERY 1500 YEARS, by Fred S. Singer and Dennis T. Avery.  They offer a summary of extensive evidence that the earth has undergone numerous cycles of temperature change, and that one of them is warming about every 1500 years.

 

     Chapter 6, Fraud and Deceit in Selling Man-Made Global Warming, begins with David Deming, author of a study in SCIENCE, testifying before the Senate Committee on Public Works, December 6, 2006.  He relates two instances of hostility that he encountered from persons who wanted him to endorse a more man-made approach.

 

      Regarding the “Green movement” the authors conclude: “It really isn’t about ‘global warming’ or about protecting Nature. It’s about shutting down the world’s leading economies . . .”.

Other Notes:

 

QUESTION:

    What President signed into law?:

          -The Environmental Quality Policy Act

          -The Water Quality Improvement Act

          -The National Air Quality Standards Act

          -The Resource Recovery Act

          -The Consumer Product Safety Act

      Hint: He won reelection by the largest poplar plurality, and by the third largest majority of the total vote, in our history.

       Giveaway: He was also the only President forced to resign the office. 

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

     Recently (June 26) THE WALL STREET JOURNAL cited California, New York, and New Jersey as “antigrowth models.”  That is, as states that have high taxes and are suffering large losses of citizens, especially the most affluent citizens.

 

     Another item that the Journal might have mentioned is that two-thirds of President Obama’s popular plurality in the 2008 election came from those same three states.

 We know what happened to President Nixon, but how much do we know about why?

 

     Nixon resigned rather than risk a bitter and nationally divisive impeachment fight, which it appeared that he would lose.  Chief among the charges pending against him was abuse of power.  And, one of the most substantial items in that charge was that he had impounded i.e. refused to spend, about half of the funds which Congress had appropriated for Senator Muskie’s Clean Water Act.  Even the Supreme Court held against the President in that matter.

      Years later, it occurred to me that there should be new evidence re that charge.  I checked THE STATISTICAL ABSTRACT for what we actually did spend.  With Nixon out of the way, we spent just about what he had recommended. I.W.Parkins 020809

                       GREAT AWAKENING?

By Ivan W. Parkins

This is a reprint from February of this year

  

     Is environmentalism a third manifestation of the Great Awakening phenomenon that American historians have identified?  The first, in the eighteenth century, was mainly religious and educationally focused, a wave of enthusiasm that contributed to America’s sense of identity and desire for independence.  The second, in the nineteenth century, was religious and academic, and it contributed to the anti-slavery movement.  Now, Iain Murray contends,” . . environmentalism [has] begun to replace liberal Christianity as the Left’s motivating religious force.” He further asserts that environmentalism, in the fashion of Martin Luther, values “faith” more than good works.

 

   Murray’s book, THE REALLY INCONVIENT TRUTHS, carries the subtitle “Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don’t Want You To Know About—Because They Helped Cause Them.”  The first and most gross catastrophe is the ban on DDT, with its huge, and continuing, toll of human lives, especially among Earth’s poorest people.

 

   I had not remembered that a DDT ban was enacted in Michigan the year that I moved here.  That preceded the international ban by five years.  And, Dutch elm disease is a continuing problem.

 

   Murray refers to research that shows sexually mutilated and declining fish populations suffer far more from the traces of birth-control chemicals in urban sewage than they do from industrial wastes.  Environmentalists remain much more interested in attacking industry than in the real problem.

 

   One especially interesting passage in the book describes the history of a natural wonder, identified, purchased, and preserved (with public access) for more than two centuries.  It is Natural Bridge in Virginia, and its original “warden” was Thomas Jefferson.

 

   Not only is environmentalism now highly organized, its top organizations pay their CEOs annual salaries ranging from $125,000 to $700,000.  Murray cites ten such organizations with recently reported top salaries averaging just over $200,000.

 

   Most significant of his criticisms is the contention that environmentalist work and money is focused, not directly upon protection of the environment, but indirectly, into lobbying and law suits directing governments to behave in ways that the environmentalists favor, largely towards socialism.

 

   Is environmentalism, today, a third Great Awakening, or is it a larger edition of THE BIG SLEEP—confusing, corrupt, and deadly?