Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘predictions’

Revisiting the first Earth Day

Posted by Richard on April 22, 2014

On this Earth Day, Mark J. Perry looked back at the apocalyptic predictions made around the first Earth Day in 1970. Describing them as “spectacularly wrong” seems like an understatement. If even a few of the 18 he cites had come true, third-world populations would have plummeted, countless westerners would have been killed by pollution, most of the world’s plants and animals would be extinct, and the human race would be well on its way extinction as well. Oh, and Canadians would be fleeing south to escape the advancing ice sheets that would eventually make much of the northern hemisphere uninhabitable.

Instead, the Norman Borlaugh-led “green revolution” (yes, genetically modified organisms) virtually eliminated famine everywhere except where strife and government policies create it. Modest market reforms in India, China, and a handful of other places have lifted well over a billion people out of poverty. Life expectancies have gone up. As Julian Simon predicted, all the resources that the doomsayers said we were running out of have become cheaper and more abundant. And increasing wealth has made the environment much cleaner, as it always does.

But that doesn’t stop today’s Cassandras from making dire predictions about the grim fate that awaits us over the next 44 years. You can just as safely laugh at them as at the predictions from 1970.

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Palin’s prescience

Posted by Richard on March 1, 2014

During the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin predicted that if the weak and feckless Sen. Obama were elected President, Vladimir Putin might invade Ukraine. She was laughed at by foreign policy experts.

Palin said then:

After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.

For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine.

Hounshell wrote then that Palin’s comments were “strange” and “this is an extremely far-fetched scenario.”

“And given how Russia has been able to unsettle Ukraine’s pro-Western government without firing a shot, I don’t see why violence would be necessary to bring Kiev to heel,” Hounshell dismissively wrote.

Oops. Palin is now having the last laugh. Hounshell has acknowledged her prescience:

I didn’t see anything resembling an apology, however, although Moe Lane for one suggested it was due:

I’m reminded of how the left mocked Palin for telling Tea Party groups to “party like it’s 1773” — blissfully unaware that that was the year of the Boston Tea Party. When you repeatedly make fun of someone for being a stupid yahoo, and they’re repeatedly proven wiser and more knowledgeable than you, shouldn’t you feel some embarrassment and shame?

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Polar bear numbers

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2008

Estimated number of polar bears in 1970: 8,000 – 10,000

Estimated number of polar bears today: 20,000 – 40,000 

Estimated increase in Quebec, Labrador and southern Baffin Island polar bear populations in the last 20 years: 160% 

Percentage of relevant scientific forecasting principles applied by Dept. of Interior research studies predicting polar bear decline due to global warming: 10 – 15% 

Number of reputable peer-reviewed studies published since last October (by NASA and the journal Nature) showing that the melting of Arctic sea ice in recent years is not caused by global warming: 2

Degree of confidence that the models and predictions and projections about Arctic sea ice and polar bear populations will prove to be accurate: Zip, zero, zilch, nada 

Number of lawsuits environmentalist will file to stop human activities that generate CO2, now that the Interior Dept. has listed polar bears as a threatened species anyway: Countless

Thanks, Bush administration.

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Maybe Rove is right

Posted by Richard on October 18, 2006

The polls all predict disaster for the Republicans, and everybody from the mainstream media to conservative commenters and bloggers seems to believe them. It’s a done deal. Glenn Reynolds even offered a much-discussed "pre-mortem" explaining all the reasons (and they’re good ones!) why voters are likely to punish the Republicans severely come November (see also Glenn’s follow-up).

Prognosticators are so certain of a crushing GOP defeat that the Washington Post seemed genuinely puzzled that this belief isn’t shared by the White House:

Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.

The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence — based on Bush’s and Rove’s electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command — or of self-delusion. Even many Republicans suspect the latter.

Today in The Corner, Rich Lowry quoted a White House bulletin that suggested viewing all the recent polling data with skepticism (emphasis in The Corner):

A spate of recent polls paints a very gloomy electoral outlook for GOP candidates in next month’s elections. One reason for that, possibly, is a set of samples in recent polls that do not mirror the historical norm for party ID. A memo circulating among Republicans on the Hill, authored by GOP pollster David Winston, takes a look at the historical spread between Democrats and Republicans in House elections and polling over the last 14 years. According to Winston’s analysis, there is a material discrepancy between the party identification listed by people in exit polls (people who actually voted) between 1992 and 2004, and those used over the last few weeks.

Since 1992, the party ID differentials have ranged from +4% Democratic (1998) to +2% Republican (2002). Winston looked at the October polling samples from 8 different polling organizations. The smallest party ID differential was +5% Democratic by CBS/NYT. CNN didn’t provide party ID data. The other six ranged from +7% Democratic (Pew) to +11% Democratic (Newsweek).

Can you say "wishful thinking"? Or "attempting to create a self-fulfilling prophecy"? I wouldn’t bet against Karl Rove just yet.

My take? Glenn and other critics are absolutely correct regarding the failings, betrayals, malfeasance, and incompetence of far too many congressional Republicans. They richly deserve to be punished. But Rush is right when he says that they may deserve to lose, but we don’t deserve the higher taxes, slowing economy, increased federal spending, decreased national security, and other consequences that are sure to follow if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House and Charles Rangel chairs the Ways and Means Committee.

Voters who are pro-free-market, limited-government conservatives or libertarians should exercise some discretion. If you’re looking at a House or Senate race that’s got an absolute shoe-in incumbent of either major party (and that’s most districts), by all means use your vote in a way that sends the best message — vote Libertarian, Constitution, write-in, or not at all (don’t add to a big-government liberal’s vote total for any reason — that sends entirely the wrong message).

But if you’re in a competitive district or state, don’t just blindly punish a less-than-ideal Republican or tell yourself that this particular Democrat’s pretty moderate, doesn’t support tax increases, etc. — helping to elect that Democrat, no matter how decent and harmless, helps to put Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and friends back in control. What do you suppose the consequences will be for taxes, spending, regulation, national security, judgeships, … ?

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