It is a scientific fact that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases play an important role in the radiative equilibrium of the planet. It's not a matter of scientific dispute.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases have known and measurable physical properties that influence the Earth's radiative balance. The greenhouse gases are those that have the unique property of being transparent to visible and ultraviolet frequencies, while absorbing strongly in infrared frequencies. This is what is meant by greenhouse gases. It is not a matter of scientific dispute.
Incoming radiation from the sun is mostly in the visible frequencies. Radiation from the sun warms the Earth, which then reradiates energy in infrared frequencies. Greenhouse gases prevent the radiation emitted by the Earth's surface from escaping freely to space and cause the Earth to be much warmer than it would otherwise be without their presence. This is what is known as the "greenhouse effect" and it is not a matter of scientific dispute.
The overall, equilibrium temperature of the Earth is determined by these factors; the amount of incoming radiation, the planetary albedo, and the transmissivity/emmissivity of the atmosphere. This is basic physical science and is not a matter of scientific dispute.
The Earths atmosphere (and oceans) are stratified into layers of varying temperature and composition. The temperature in any particular layer, as at the Earth's surface, is determined by interactions with the adjoining layers. The predominate mode of heat transfer, i.e. by conduction, convection, or radiation, varies from layer to layer and determines the equilibrium temperature for that layer.
The questions and uncertainties that exist among scientists who study atmospheric science and climatology do not revolve among these fundamental understandings. The fact that carbon dioxide absorbs infrared energy has been known and quantitatively measured since the 1860s. Its role in determining the Earth's temperature has been known since the early 1900s.
It is an indisputable fact that atmospheric carbon dioxide has a warming effect on the Earth's temperature. This is not disputed by any climate scientist alive today. The range of uncertainty that exists in predicting the rise in mean, global surface temperature that will result from the rapid increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to a number of reasons; but a denial of the fundamental physics of how bodies in space radiate heat and the absorption properties of carbon dioxide are not among those reasons.
These scientific questions were obscure and of interest to only a small community of scientists until roughly the 1960s, when it was observed by a growing number of scientists that the consequences of their understanding of the effects of the rapid build-up of carbon dioxide held serious consequences for the planet at large.
In recent years as a growing recognition of the gravity of the situation has led to calls for action to address the problem, the science itself has come under intense opposition from many quarters. In the hyper-partisan United States in particular, opposition has led the public in large numbers to believe such things as; the idea of anthropogenic climate change was invented by (former vice-president) Al Gore, the work of climatologists in America's leading science institutions and around the world is a hoax based on a political agenda, and that major disagreements exist in the community of atmospheric scientists, geophysicists, and climatologists over the fundamentals of climate science. None of these things are true.
I don't know what else to say. People believe what they want to believe.
Obama should take off the gloves in the 2012 campaign and come out fighting. That's what people want to see. I respected him for his civility in 2008 and I know a lot of others did, as well. But now, I think people want to see him fight. I know I do.
Some 76 million tax filers, or 46.4 percent of the total, will be exempt from federal income tax in 2011.
Who are the 76 million non-tax paying filers? 41 million of the filers exempt from federal income tax are in the lowest income quintile, meaning they make less than 80% of the country. Those in the bottom quintile have incomes of less than $16,812. 22 million filers who won't pay income tax this year are in the second-lowest quintile ($33,542 or less)
The non-income-taxpaying population in these groups is largely a result of Republican tax policies. The earned-income tax credit (EITC) is the main reason those with low incomes are largely exempted from federal income taxes. Originated by Gerald Ford, it was expanded by both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as a better way to help the working poor than raising the minimum wage, which they believed would increase unemployment.
A little more than 20 years ago, as he signed into law the tax bill expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, President Ronald Reagan hailed it as "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress."
Of the remaining non-tax payers, 9 million nonpayers are in the middle income quintile ($59,486 or less). Another 1.9 million are in the second-highest quintile ($103,465 or less), and some 443,000 are in the top quintile ($103,467 or greater).
The Tax Policy Center breaks down that last number a bit further: There are 78,000 non-paying units in the top 95th to 99th income percentile, 24,000 in the top 1 percentile, and 3,000 in the top one-tenth percentile.
How much money would the US government raise by collecting $1,000 each from the 41 million filers in the lowest quintile? Easy, $41 billion.
I have no problem with the EITC. Maybe there are some reasonable adjustments that could be made to it, I don't know. But I am perfectly OK with it in principle.
I am perfectly OK with giving a break to the millions of Americans who make up the working poor. The revenue the federal government would get from taxing their tiny income is chump change.
I agree in principle with a progressive tax structure in which higher earners pay more for the cost of operating the government. In the first case, they can more easily afford it. And in the second case, they have benefited more from the conditions that a stable, functioning, national government provides that allows them to earn so much in the first place.
I agree in principle with measures designed to prevent the concentration of wealth, such as the estate tax and capital gains taxes. These measures prevent the formation of an aristocracy; a privileged class of idle rich like in old Europe. In today's economy, where the annual earnings of those few at the top of the financial sector are counted in tens of millions of dollars, or more, the families of wealthy Wall Street bankers would become our new aristocracy. Maybe they already are our new aristocracy.
The nature of concentrated wealth tends towards concentrated political power as well. I believe it is unrealistic thinking to believe that concentrating extreme wealth would lead to greater benefits for anything other than a small few. The natural tendency over time in this situation is for the wealthy to grow more wealthy and the less wealthy to grow even less so.
Maybe we should just let the Republicans have their way. Abolish Social Security and let the nation's old folk fend for themselves and beg in the streets or work until they die as they did before Social Security was created. Take away food stamps and all nutrition programs so that the working poor, and everyone else can see what REAL poverty looks like. Get rid of the Clean Water Act (like the house just voted last week to do) and let Alabama fight it out with Tennessee and Georgia over who can dump their shit into Alabama's rivers, like they did before 1972.
For the past month, Rutherford County Tennessee has been embroiled in brouhaha over the local Islamic community's plan to build a new Islamic Center. A huge backlash began immediately after the plan was approved by the county planning commission during a routine meeting. The local newspaper, the Daily News Journal, ran this headline on June 18:
<<Mosque's Approval Draws Resident's Ire
By Scott Broden, SBRODEN@DNJ.COM, June 18, 2010
Hundreds Pack County Commission Meeting
Hundreds of residents packed Thursday's Rutherford County Commission meeting where more than 20 voiced opposition to a planned Islamic center on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike.
"I would submit to you that we have a duty here at home to understand thoroughly the nature, the intent, the funding of any group that is being invited into our community under that general banner (of Islam)," said Allen Jackson, the pastor of World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro.>>
read more: http://www.dnj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?A...
On June 25, Republican candidate for Congress LouAnn Zelenik entered the fray:
<<Zelenik Denounces Plan to Build Mosque
By Travis Loller, Associated Press Writer, June 30, 2010
Sixth District candidate Lou Ann Zelenik said she stands with those who oppose building what she calls "an Islamic training center."
She says the center is not part of a religious movement, but a political one "designed to fracture the moral and political foundation of Middle Tennessee"
"Until the American Muslim community find it in their hearts to separate themselves from their evil, radical counterparts, to condemn those who want to destroy our civilization and will fight against them, we are not obligated to open our society to any of them," Zelenik says in the statement.>>
read more: http://www.dnj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?A...
At this point, the war of words is at a fever pitch. A large, organized opposition group is planning a march on July 14 to deliver a petition of some kind to the county commission. The county commission has so far voted down, by a small margin, efforts by opposition commissioners to pass motions to rescind the planning commission's approval, force the matter into court, and various other means to otherwise block the mosque. Many people in the community has spoken out in support of the Mosque and the right to worship peacefully. A group formed to hold a vigil for peace at the courthouse on the square. Bad weather kept turnout low, but there was very good press the following day.
A group of students at Middle Tennessee State University has formed a group called Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom and is planning a counter demonstration on the same day that the mosque opponents plan to deliver their petition to the county courthouse. The students are using a Facebook group as a quick way to organize support (the Facebook name is Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom). They had an open meeting at the university this evening and there was a very strong turnout. I think that a substantial number may turnout for the counter demonstration, but that is not certain and I'm concerned that the mosque opponents may be better organized.
Anyone wishing to come to Murfreesboro, TN to participate is invited to show up at the steps of the county courthouse on July 14 at 2:45pm.
I'm tired of hearing this rationale for opposing a drilling moratorium in the Gulf. When one plane crashes it doesn't overwhelm our ability to respond to another plane crash. A plane crash, while tragic, affects a small number of people. An oil spill in the Gulf affects thousands of families living along the coast.
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