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May 5, 201409:48 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Chocolate cake isn’t just for breakfast anymore

(page 1 of 2)

Ate a good, healthy breakfast of smoky links, eggs, and cheese this morning.

No more groats and raisins. Not after The Wall Street Journal finds a “Questionable link between saturated fat and heart disease.”

Politics in science? In the 1950s, one Ancel Benjamin Keys of the University of Minnesota got himself on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association to promote his theory that animal fat would kill you. The USDA canonized that opinion with its food pyramid. Now, the WSJ reports that Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study.

Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense ….

Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic … carbs do.

Woody Allen played a character in the movie Sleeper who had been a health food purveyor who is brought back to life after being cryogenically frozen. He returns to a future world to find that the healthiest food is chocolate cake.

The USDA food pyramid
The CrossFit food pyramid

This cholesterol phobia illustrates the principal progressive error: unexamined certitude — the Stalinist presumption of politics deciding science and declaring the debate over.

The obvious parallel is the “science” of climate change, global warming.

Not all that long ago at all, science thought the universe was contracting. No, it’s expanding. Much less is it fixed, as was thought a century ago. Human evolution was supposed to have ended when Homo sapiens left Africa. No, it continues to this day, we now are told. Science is never settled.


Old to new | New to old
May 5, 2014 10:35 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

The shape of the universe is hard to know. The global temperature and reasons for it are relatively easy to know.

Maybe we should run that Keystone line right through your backyard.

May 5, 2014 02:46 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

"Global temperature and reasons for it are relatively easy to know."

So, one would have thought, were dietary guidelines.

May 5, 2014 05:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

"G.K. Chesterton said that "when people stop believing in orthodox religion, rather than believe in nothing, they will believe in anything". One of the ersatz religions which fills the void in recent years is belief in Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming. It claims to be based on science. But it has all the characteristics of an eschatological cult.

It has its own priesthood and ecclesiastical establishment - the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; they alone can interpret its sacred scriptures - the Assessment Reports; it anathematises as 'deniers' anyone who casts doubt on its certainties; above all it predicts imminent doom if we do not follow its precepts and make the sacrifices it prescribes.

What most clearly distinguishes the Catastrophic Global Warming cult from science is that it is not refutable by facts. As Parliament enacted the Climate Change Bill, on the presumption that the world was getting warmer, it snowed in London in October - the first time in 74 years. Supporters explained "extreme cold is a symptom of global warming"!"

Read more:

May 8, 2014 02:27 pm
 Posted by  JNT

What you wrote here doesn’t make sense. One shouldn’t believe the “science” (your quotes) of climate change because of …. bacon. Huh? Do you not think climatology or physics or geology are sciences, hence the scary quotes? If you have a science argument against climate science, then make it. Otherwise, your sole argument here, besides bacon, is “The obvious parallel is the “science” of climate change, né global warming.”

I don’t know if this is the 5th or 20th time I’ve read this in one of your posts, but I don’t get what the point is that you’re trying to make. Wait, you mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Global Warming, formed in 1988, was later changed to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Well …. no, that didn’t actually happen, it was always the IPCC.

Global warming refers to global temperature increases. Climate change refers to changes in the hydrological cycle due to rising temperatures, such as increasing droughts in some regions and greater flooding in other parts of the world. If the poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation continues (which determines where the world’s deserts are) that affects the United States directly in terms of increasing drought in the southwest. Climate change can also refer to the broader impact on agriculture, wildfires, the melting of glaciers and sea level rise.

May 8, 2014 02:31 pm
 Posted by  JNT

Or maybe you’re referring to the great liberal conspiracy to change the words global warming to climate change? There was an advocate of precisely taking this action. That person was Frank Luntz. In a memo (see page 11) he wrote the following:

“It’s time for us to start talking about “climate change” instead of global warming and “conservation ” instead of preservation.
1. “Climate change’’ is less frightening than “global waming; ” As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going fkom Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more
controllable and less emotional challenge.”

You also wrote here: “This cholesterol phobia illustrates the principal progressive error: unexamined certitude — the Stalinist presumption of politics deciding science and declaring the debate over.” Yet, on Nov. 1, 2013 you wrote “No doubt that human activity does warm the earth” That sounds a lot like certitude to me. Did you just call yourself a Stalinist?

May 8, 2014 02:32 pm
 Posted by  JNT

Let me close this with the following. The only reason I even bother to write here is that I think I can change your mind about climate change. I think there is a need to act now. Specifically, we need to do two things: 1) The US and the world need to ramp down carbon emissions. 2) We need to significantly increase non-carbon energy sources from the present world-wide annual power consumption of 16 TW used now to roughly 60 TW by 2100. That includes conventional nuclear fission and hopefully, fusion, my personal preference.

Per unit of energy, coal puts out about twice the CO2 as natural gas and oil. The best way to ramp down CO2 is to put limits on coal plants. The other day Jon Huntsman wrote an op-ed in the NYT saying, “If Republicans can get to a place where science drives our thinking and actions, then we will be able to make progress. We need to plan for the impacts of climate change at all levels of government.”

David, how about we reach a compromise --- I’ll give you the Keystone pipeline if you give me the limits on CO2 emission from coal plants. Deal?

May 12, 2014 06:32 am
 Posted by  madisonexpat


Two questions:

1) in the last of (5?) Ice Ages, Madison was covered by a wall of ice five times the height of the current capitol dome. How'd that happen?
2) where did the deadly carbon come from? Dinosaurs and ferns?

May 12, 2014 03:34 pm
 Posted by  JNT


Thanks for the questions. The answer to the first question is rather fascinating because it illustrates beautifully the scientific method and demonstrates clearly why climatology is a science. In the 1910s to the 1930s a Serbian engineer and geophysicist named Milutin Milankovitch worked out the details of the total incoming solar radiation (insolation) due to changes in the Earth’s orbit (some of the was done in a POW camp!). Working off an idea given to him by noted German climatologist Wladimir Köppen, the reasoning was that what mattered most in determining when glaciers formed was the insolation at approximately 65 degrees north latitude. Basically, the thinking was that if the insolation was low during the summer, the ice that formed during the winter would not melt and the glacier would grow. Milankovitch came up with the profound realization that 3 changes in the Earth’s orbit were the determining factors. First, there is roughly a 100,000 year period in which the orbit became more or less elliptical. Second, the angle between the earth’s axis of rotation and the normal to its planar obit, called the obliquity, varies with a period of about 41,000 years. And third, there is a wobble in the Earth’s axis much like that in a spinning top as it slows down, which has a period of about 26,000 years.

May 12, 2014 03:35 pm
 Posted by  JNT

At the time when Milankovitch’s calculations became known they were ridiculed because they did not follow the accepted model of when the ice ages occurred. The problem was that there wasn’t a good method to determine the temperature in the past. Then in the 1950s, working off a suggestion by Harold Urey (of atom bomb fame), Cesare Emiliani showed that one could obtain accurate estimates of temperature by determining the ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 in foraminifera, a form of sea plankton. Throughout the 50s to 60s there was enormous progress made in dating temperature variations in the past that completely overturned the conventional view of ice ages. One paper in particular stands out: in 1976, Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton published their data on deep-sea sediment core that showed that Milankovitch’s model was indeed correct after all.

As to your second question, I’m not sure I understand what you are asking. Perhaps if you rephrase it for my benefit, it would help.

May 12, 2014 05:31 pm
 Posted by  JNT

Oh .. and David, limits on coal plant emission for the Keystone pipeline.

As Howie Mandel would put it: Deal or no deal?

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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