Dr. Harold Brown's blog

Actual figures show futility of predicting hurricanes

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In an affluent country, government can afford to do many unnecessary things, and do them in complex and impressive ways. One example in the United States is the predilection for predicting the number of hurricanes in the upcoming season.

Every spring comes a reminder to prepare for the hurricane season starting in June. Predicting the number of hurricanes for the year is supposed to help. Read More»

Global deforestation: A statistical thicket

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It’s all about forests: The United Nations declared 2011 “International Year of Forests”; the U.S. theme for World Environment Day on June 5 was, “Forests: Nature at Your Service.” This is an ideal opportunity to stop those barking up the wrong tree and debunk a long-running legend: the deforestation of the earth.

The lead-off sentence of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) first survey of world forests in 1948, encapsulated the purpose, “The whole world is suffering from shortages of forest products.” Read More»

USDA is mostly about giveaways, not agriculture

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How does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget grow in proportion to the shrinkage of its mission? Perhaps it is a reward for agriculture’s phenomenal success. Its increased efficiency is one of the miracles of the 20th century. Or, just maybe, the USDA’s budget grows with its emphasis on missions far removed from assisting U.S. agriculture. Read More»

Earth Day is here; let the asthma blame games begin

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Earth Day (April 22) has slowly expanded to Earth Week, and this year it brings to Georgia the administrator of the epitome of government mission creep, Lisa Jackson of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But don’t expect a celebration of this nation’s environmental advances. It’s more likely to be an indictment of industry, power plants and Georgians’ lifestyle choices (driving) for “asthma-causing pollution.” Read More»

Mission creep at the EPA

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Any bureaucracy worth its name seeks to increase its reach and budget, sometimes expanding the former to justify the latter. Nowhere is that tendency more apparent recently than in the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Read More»

Scientists are biased, just like the rest of us

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Reporters and commentators frequently cite scientists as support for positions. In headlines, scientists assess disasters (“Scientists say Gulf spill is way worse than estimated”), bolster environmental actions (“Scientists say mountaintop mining should be stopped”) even to make the obvious official (“Drought grips some of Harris County, scientists say”). Read More»

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