Get all the smart kids together – then expose them to lead, mercury and asbestos

Oh, sometimes, I just want to give up…

Broadview Avenue Public School in Ottawa is one of the best schools around.  It is one of only 3 locations in Ottawa which has a program for students who have been identified as not just gifted, but exceptionally gifted.  Broadview houses both the English and French language versions of this most excellent program.

The school also houses exposed asbestos, lead paint and rich mercury deposits….along with exposed wires which are a fire hazard.

Now, I am not saying that super smart kids are better than other kids and deserve better conditions.  No kids should be exposed to these conditions!

However, to select kids specifically for intelligence and then put them into a school filled with chemicals known to decrease intelligence…that is not the most constructive course of action…

While my older son attended that school, he developed chronic fatigue – and environmental factors were suspected.  We even had our house tested for everything, from heavy metals to mold – and came up clean.  After years of this, with no way to help him, I was close to despair!

The problem resolved itself once he started high-school. Now he is away at University and his health is perfect!

I guess now we know what had made him sick…

If you are looking for a book to read…

Ottawa’s ‘green-bin’ program and Orgaworld: an open letter to journalist Rob Snow

Hi Mr. Snow!

There are some very important questions we need to learn about Orgaworld – how they got awarded the contract and what type of due diligence was or was not done leading up to this.  Forensic audit should only be one step in this process.

I wonder if there is a clause in the Ottawa ‘deal’ with Orgaworld which would permit us to cancel the contract without penalties (to us):

  • IF Orgaworld fails to produce ‘usable’ compost?
As per The Toronto Star, the compost Orgaworld produces from the Toronto ‘diversion program’ is so toxic, it would kill any plants growing from the soil it was used to ‘enrich’.
The sole reason for the green-bin program is to produce compost that can be used as fertilizer. 

If independent tests show that the compost Orgaworld produces is so toxic that it cannot be used as fertilizer, would this constitute ‘non-compliance’ and/or ‘breech of contract’ by Orgaworld?

  • IF Orgaworld is caught shipping some of the materials from the green-bins to be disposed of as garbage?
In Toronto, whose program is admittedly different from ours, they estimate that up to 22% of the materials Orgaworld accepts is not composted, but burned or dumped in landfills.
Is this standard practice here? 

What percentage of the ‘Ottawa green-bin materials’ we think is being composted does Orgaworld dispose of as ‘garbage’?

We are paying much more for ‘composting’ than we would be for ‘garbage disposal’:  if Orgaworld does not actually compost a certain percentage of the material, should they not refund us that percentage of the fees we pay them?

Would ‘not-composting’ materials we pay them to ‘compost’ constitute ‘non-compliance’ and/or ‘breech of contract’ by Orgaworld?

  • IF any of the materials (finished or not) Orgaworld releases from their plant is found to contain active pathogens which should have been rendered inert in ‘properly produced compost’?
The Toronto Star had found that some of the compost produced from the Toronto program which had been sold as ‘finished product’ actually still contained some live germs which should have been killed in a ‘proper’ composting process.  (To be fair – it does not specify if it was Orgaworld’s product or another manufacturer’s.) 

In an separate incident, it was found that Orgaworld had dumped tons of semi-processed bio-matter – ‘unfinished’ and in various stages of decomposition in places like gravel pits, farm fields and city-owned land without preparing these places to accept bio-waste.

This is an active threat to public health!

Rotting food contains bacteria and other micro-organisms which are toxic to us, humans.  The composting process kills these infectious agents, so that by the time the finished compost is spread on land, the deadly pathogens are neutralized and cannot enter the drinking water system and/or cling to the produce grown in that soil (like, say, e-coli contamination of spinach…).  Some pathogens can become airborne, causing people who inhale them to become ill.

The ‘accelerated’ processes in use in the modern ‘composting factories’ rely on a highly controlled and regulated environment to achieve the composting process which kills these deadly germs. (In the natural, non-accelerated composting process, this takes years and this is why our ancestors had exact composting practices instead of just dumping rotting food on their fields.)

If the bio-matter is dumped outside of this controlled environment before it is completely turned into compost, these pathogens will still be active and pose a serious danger. 

(In addition to the ‘leaching’ and ‘airborn pathogen’ dangers, this could lead to a type of decompostion during which Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is released:  this ‘greenhouse gas’ is 240 times ‘stronger’ than Carbon Dioxide (CO2)!)   😉

Would endangering public health through disposal of only partially-neutralized bio-waste constitute ‘non-compliance’ and/or ‘breech of contract’?

Which brings me to some questions:

What is the quality of the compost Orgaworld produces from the Ottawa ‘Green-bin program’? 

Has anyone tested it?

If so, who?

And where?

How independent are the testing facilities?

The Orgaworld’s Ottawa composting factory had a fire a few months ago.  Fire/smoke is an indicator of ‘improper composting practices’.  Has there ever been an investigation to ascertain which ‘best practices’ were breached in the composting process and caused the fire and how the resultant product will be impacted?

What are the provisions in the Ottawa-Orgaworld contract for non-compliance/breech of contract?  What are the penalties specified?

Are these provisions/penalties ‘similar’ to the ‘industry standard’?

How does this compare to the ‘standard’ for other ‘City contracts’?

How does this compare to the ‘standard contracts’ in the private sector?

Who is responsible for the oversight?  What are the terms and conditions?  Are they being fulfilled?

Who is responsible for any action should there be non-compliance/breech of contract?

Where/how can citizens (especially taxpayers) monitor this process?

Mr. Snow:  you are an excellent journalist who often interviews our City Officials as well as all kinds of other interesting people.  Would you, please, find the answers to these questions?

If you do find any answers to these questions – or any other relevant information – I would be very happy to publish all of it on my blog.

Sincerely yours,

Alexandra,
blogging as Xanthippa

References (in case the links get stripped out from the text):
http://www.thestar.com/iphone/article/660864
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/660862
http://www2.macleans.ca/tag/orgaworld/

Click to access 382500-11.pdf


http://www.ehow.com/list_7313994_hazards-composting.html
http://www.pma.com/resources/issues-monitoring/food-safety/key-learnings-real-world-terms
http://www.extension.org/article/28585
http://www.owma.org/committees/members.asp?mode=d&org=244
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Smouldering+compost+sends+firefighters+Orgaworld+plant/3427666/story.html

What ‘Earth Day’ is about

April 22, 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the Earth Day!

And, while I think that just about everyone who lives on Earth would like it to be a nice, happy, comfortable little planet – have you paused to think what Earth Day is really about?

Oh, sure – we are being told that it is a reminder ‘not to pollute’ and ‘to be good to the Earth’ and not to forget ‘Mother Earth’….

But, things  have a way of being more than they seem.

No – this is not ‘yet another conspiracy theory’ – mostly because I think that even though conspiracies are ‘fun’, most people are simply not disciplined enough to carry them out….

What I mean is that every message has its ‘obvious’ meaning – the one we perceive easily.  In addition, it also has a deeper message:  sometimes intentional, at other times it is just ‘stuff’ that ‘piggie-backs’ on that message…the transmisssion of ideas the originators of the message ‘took for granted’ and which ‘snuck in’ without them (and/or their audience) even being aware of it.  Once these subtle and sub-conscious bits are part of the message, any message, they necessarily affect the subconscious attitudes of the people who hear and accept the message’s ‘obvious’ meaning.

And, in my never-humble-opinion, the deep, subconscious message behind Earth Day is this:

Anthropocentrism and theocentrism are mutually exclusive...

‘Anthropocentrism’ and ‘theocentrism’ are mutually exclusive…

Seeking volunteers for Crowdreview of IPCC’s references!

Donna Lafromboise of ‘There is No Frakking “Scientific Concensus” on Global Warming’ is seeking volunteers who are willing to spend 3-10 hours in reviewing the IPCC’s references – simply to check (and count) the number of ‘peer-reviewed’ references versus ‘other’ sources (like, say, an ad by WWF, a press release, a guess in an obscure non-scientific magazine, and so on).

The reason?

Most of our policymakers (worldwide) are pretending (acting as if) the 2007 IPCC report were the absolute truth, represented a 100% scientific consensus (you know – anyone who disagrees is automatically defined as a non-scientist, or worse – a denialist!).

One of the reasons most often cited for considering this to be THE authoritative last word that we, pesky humans are boiling poor Mother Earth do death is that the IPCC report is based on solid scientific evidence. All the IPCC evidence, the warm-mongers claim, is based on scientific studies which were peer-reviewed and published in reputable scientific journals.

‘Peer-review’ is what makes a scientific study ‘respectable’.  It is a process in which other respected scientists (ones who are not connected with the people who did the original work and who wrote it up for publication) read the original study, examine how the data was collected, how it was manipulated, how the study analyzed the data and whether the data supported the conclusions which the authors of the study made.  In other words, it’s like having a teacher mark your homework…..  If it is ‘good’ – it passes the ‘peer-review’ and the scientific journal can publish the study with the knowledge that their reputation will not be tarnished by doing so.

This, of course, puts great pressure on the scientists reviewing the study.  No, they are not expected to re-create the experiment, but, they are responsible for making sure that good scientific methodology was followed, that the data collected actually measured what the original scientists thought it measured (THIS is where MORE mistakes in scientific studies happen than most people – including scientists – are aware of), that the statistical analysis used was appropriate for the data, and so on.  It is a big responsibility – with the greatest asset a scientist has on the line:  their reputation!

That is why ‘peer-review’ is considered to be an assurance of ‘good, sound science’.

And THAT is why the IPCC and its supporters argue that since the IPCC is based on ‘peer-reviewed’ scientific studies, it is above reproach!

OK….

For the sake of the argument, let us set aside any claims that the IPCC-associated scientists turned ‘peer-review’ into ‘pal-review’ and actually check to see just how accurate the claim that the IPCC used only scientific studies which were ‘peer-reviewed’ and published in reputable scientific journals.

In her post, Donna says:

‘How much of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is based on peer-reviewed literature? Recent examinations of two random chapters found only 24 percent and 58 percent of the sources cited were peer-reviewed journal articles.’ ‘

So, she has decided to put the whole thing to the test!

But, that is a lot of checking….  Therefore, she is looking for volunteers who would be willing to share the load:

‘The goal of this project is for each chapter to be counted thrice, by three volunteers working independently of one another. In the event that tallies differ dramatically, further examination will occur. Should they differ only marginally, the count that is most favourable to the IPCC will be used.’

So, if you have a bit of time and are willing, head on to her site and get counting!

If a tree falls in the forest….

Having spent time in such serene surroundings like this:

Canada has magnificent trees.  This one looks like it's in the thralls of a wild, primal dance!

Canada has magnificent trees.

…is it not surprising that my mind had taken a break from the ‘everyday’ and slipped into a bit of philosophising?

If a tree falls in the forest, and no-one is there to hear it, would it make a sound?

In the past, when discussing this with my kids and husband, we have invariably fallen into the pitfalls like, for example, trying to define what does ‘sound’ mean:  is it simply the movement of air molecules in a particular way, or does it have to be ‘perceived’ by human ears?  (If it is recorded, then the sound we hear is made by the recorder, not the tree…and endless possibilities along these chains of thoughts.)

This year, I began so see it from a different perspective…

Richard Feynman is perhaps my favourite genius of the 20th century – and I am convinced he is an ‘Aspie’ to boot! ( Just reading his most awesome book, ‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!’, is an excellent lesson in how an ‘Aspie’ mind organizes thoughts and commits them onto paper – plus it is fun and curiously comforting to read).  In his Lectures (available as podcasts, and ideal for relaxing with while ‘away from it all’), specifically, in the ‘Quantum Mechanics’ lecture, he also visits this question about the proverbial tree falling in the forest… 

Dr. Feynman gives some very specific qualifications regarding this issue:  he would not be a physicist had he not done that.  He states that in the real world, even if there is no observer when the tree falls, there are still unmistakable physical signgs that it had, indeed, made a sound.  These signs, perhaps as minute as little scratches from vibrating leaves/needles as the sound energy is transferred to them, could then be observed after the event itself and the presence of such sound would be conclusively demonstrated.  Thus, he concludes that ‘in a real world, of course, a tree falling in a forest makes a sound‘.

He is, of course, absolutely correct – given the qualifications he does.  

Yet, listening to him made me think that perhaps his ‘after the fact observer’ – as our familial discussions from the past – were really missing the whole point of the question!

Whether during the act of the tree falling, or afterwards; directly or through recording devices of some sort (even leaves and needles) – this introduces an observer.   And the fact remains that if an observer is present, and the original condition (or, rather, its intent) is breeched.

Yes, I’ll gladly concede that in the real world, it might be impossible to have a ‘no observer’ scenario – but that is not the point.  The question asks us about a hypothetical situation, where no observation (during or after the event) occurred (even had it been possible). 

Let us imagine an observer who makes a direct observation that 999 trees, as they fell, indeed did make a sound.  Then the observer leaves, and our proverbial tree falls.  No observation as to the sound of any kind had been made during the event.  The scene has since been altered so much that no additional evidence can be gathered.  How can we answer the question now?  Did our proverbial tree make a sound, or not?

And this, in my never-humble-opinion, is the crux, the core, of this principle:  one can only say that one does not know.

It would be reasonable to predict that it is highly likely that the tree had made a sound, based on previous observations.  But one would not know !

This is the difference between direct observation and a guess.  Perhaps it might be an ‘educated guess’ (based on the previous 999 observations) , but it is still only a guess.  And that is the whole point:  to get us to stop and think, to learn to recognize that difference between what we know and what we are making educated guesses about (or a semi-educated guess about).

One of my sons thought this simply reduced the question to the ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’ scenario, but I think there is a difference.  This is not about probability curves and their collapses, this is about learning to recognize the blinders we all wear which let us treat guesses (whether ors or those of others) as equally valid to observed facts. 

And it is about time that some of these blinders statred coming off! 

After all, guesses, even educated ones, are not facts – and we must not fall into the easy trap of treating them as such.  Especially in cases where the guess is not based on 999 direct observations of this very event…or not on even one such event having ever happened!

Which leads me to the next question:  If the global temperatures change by 0.6 of a degree, and no well-financed lobby group is there to use it as a pretext to organize a scare-mongering, funds-transfering campaign, would anyone notice?

Perspective - we all need it!

Perspective - we all need it!

Observations do not match IPCC’s predictions

This is the beauty of ‘scientific theories’!

In order for something to qualify as a ‘scientific theory’, it must include a set of predictions of ‘actions or reactions’, which will prove or disprove said theory.  Though not usually well understood, this is what makes ‘scientific theories’ ‘respectable’.

The IPCC’s report formulated a theory.  This theory predicted that due to human activity, there has been (and continues to be) an increase in the Carbon Dioxide levels in our atmosphere, AND that this difference is CAUSING specific, observable changes in world climate.  It then makes a set of specific predictions of how the climate will change as a result of this.

OK.  So far, so good.

Now, back when it came out, there were a LOT of us criticizing the IPCC’s report.  Whether it was: their methodology, their underlying data – whatever the causes, there was much criticism.  This was answered by the supporters of the IPCC report in various ways, which were not always satisfactory.  Much bickering ensued.

But, all this is slowly and surely becoming irrelevant, thanks to the IPCC’s report itself.  WHY?  Because of the predictions it made.  The very ones which – if observed to occur – will confirm that the IPCC report was accurate and the critics were full of dingo’s kidneys.  If, on the other hand, observations are made which are NOT in agreement with the IPCC report’s predictions, it proves the sceptics were correct and that the IPCC report itself is a load of dingo’s kidneys!

Well, over the last little while, much data has indeed been coming in.  Like, loads of it.  And, as many actua scientists (as opposed to advisors to policymakers) had predicted, the bits which ‘fail to support the IPCC report’s predictions’ are the ones most favourable to that ‘report’.  Most of the data coming our actually directly contradicts it…. 

Here is just the tip of the iceberg:

‘Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered’

Abstract

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions probably caused more than half of the “global warming” of the past 50 years and would cause further rapid warming. However, global mean surface temperature has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001. The present analysis suggests that the failure of the IPCC’s models to predict this and many other climatic phenomena arises from defects in its evaluation of the three factors whose product is climate sensitivity:

  1. Radiative forcing ΔF;
  2. The no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter κ; and
  3. The feedback multiplier ƒ.

Some reasons why the IPCC’s estimates may be excessive and unsafe are explained. More importantly, the conclusion is that, perhaps, there is no “climate crisis”, and that currently-fashionable efforts by governments to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions are pointless, may be ill-conceived, and could even be harmful.

Just in case you like ‘graphic representations’, the article has some nifty graphs.  Not as alarmist as Mr. Gore’s graphs were, but they DO show actual temperature measurements:  please, follow the link to the article and look at them….using plain linear regression, they demonstrate the temperatures are going down…

According to the IPCC’s graphs, these should be going up.  And, before you say ‘this is natural variation and does not prove anything’, let me point out that the IPCC’s predictions say these graphs cover a long enough period to demonstrate warming.

The article then inclused more colourful and pretty charts, diagrams and graphs, a ‘ton’ of actual physics, and comes up with this closing statement:

In short, we must get the science right, or we shall get the policy wrong. If the concluding equation in this analysis (Eqn. 30) is correct, the IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no “climate crisis” at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.

Thanks to Jenifer Marohasy for the story!  But that site also had another interesting article:  ‘Global Warming is a myth:  a Note from Jim Peden’.  It has a respected physicist, looking not at ‘climate change’ itself, but analyzing the physics of the very mechanism that the ACC crowd claims is responsible for ‘Greenhouse gasses’ causing ‘Global Warming’.  This is how it starts:

As a dissenting physicist, I simply can no longer buy the notion that CO2 produces any significant warming of the atmosphere at any rate.

I’ve studied the atomic absorption physics to death, from John Nicol’s extensive development to the much longer winded dissertation by Gerlich & Tscheuschner and everything in between, it simply doesn’t add up.

In case you are not familiar with the claims made by the ACC crowd, they say that the atoms of ‘greenhouse gasses’ absorb energy in the visible and UV spectrum, break it down into smaller bits (heat) which they then release, and which are then ‘trapped’ in our atmosphere.  Here, a physicist who specializes in atomic absorption (and is respected and recognized as an expert in this), calls their claims a load of dingo’s kidneys…. 

Gosh, I hope everyone loves kidney pie!

 

Please note:  the original post contained an unjustified statement by me, where I jumped to conclusions instead of properly checking my sources.  This was spotted by ‘tamino’, who commented on it.  Many thanks for his help, as getting the correct information is essential.  The incorrect claim has been removed.

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Viscount Moncton, author of the American Physical Society’s ‘Forum on Physics & Society’ article, which is the 1st of the articles I linked to and quoted from, has some questions for the American Physical Society….  (via SmallDeadAnimals and TheCorner)