Unholy Fire

Civil Defense Perspectives May 2015 Volume 31 No. 4

The sharpest dividing line between hominids and all other organisms is the use of fire, wrote the late Isaac Asimov (A Choice of Catastrophes). There is evidence of fire having been used by Homo erectus in caves in China half a million years ago. A method of starting a fire from scratch was probably discovered by a member of Homo sapiens around 7000 B.C.

In Greek mythology, the Titan god Prometheus stole fire, which Zeus had withheld from men, and delivered it to mortals. In retaliation, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora, the first woman, to bring misfortune to the house of man. Continue reading

Scandalous Civil Defense

Civil Defense Perspectives March 2015 Volume 31 No. 3

The U.S. long ago adopted the nonstrategy of deliberately leaving its citizens completely unprotected against nuclear weapons. For prevention it has depended on the concept of nuclear deterrence. This depends on the enemy being rational, concerned about its own survival, and identifiable—and the willingness and ability of the U.S. to utterly crush the foe.

Nuclear proliferation, unilateral U.S. disarmament, technological change, and the rise of many enemies willing or eager to die in the process of killing infidels mean that nuclear deterrence is much less reliable—or even impossible. Continue reading

A Choice of Catastrophes

Civil Defense Perspectives January 2015 Volume 31 No. 2

All the calls for people to work to “Save the Planet” suggest that the Planet could have eternal life if only we banished the demon carbon dioxide to the nether regions of Earth. But of course the Planet had a beginning, and it will have an end. For perspective it is worth reviewing the late Isaac Asimov’s 1979 book A Choice of Catastrophes: the Disasters That Threaten Our World.

The heat death of the entire universe would seem to be an inevitable, inexorable end to everything not already destroyed.  The Earth could be rendered uninhabitable by collision with an asteroid, or by changes in the sun as it became a red giant and eventually a white dwarf. But on a smaller than astronomic scale, the force with the greatest likely impact is climate.  There have always been droughts, and floods, and storms, but could the Earth become a planetary Sahara or a planetary Greenland? The popular press in the 1970s was filled with threats of global cooling, which were endorsed by all major scientific organizations (http://tinyurl.com/q7pkmp4). Continue reading

97 Percent Wrong

Civil Defense Perspectives November  2014 Volume 31 No. 1

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may claim 95% confidence in its predictions, but 111 (97%) of 114 runs of climate models predicted temperature changes greater than observed (TWTW 8/23/14). After a 35-year simulation, models over-predicted actual temperatures by 200% to 750%. Would a 300-year simulation fare better (TWTW 11/8/14)?

Previously, the climate-research establishment denied the existence of a pause in the inexorable warming, but admitted that it would invalidate their theories. A 2008 report from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 years or more” (Matt Ridley, WSJ 9/4/14). Continue reading

Emerging Viral Disease

Civil Defense Perspectives September 2014 Volume 30 No. 6
[published November 2014]

In March, a devastating Ebola epidemic was building up in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and was belatedly recognized as an international emergency by the World Health Organization only on August 6. At the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., July 25-28, Steven Hatfill, M.D., gave an in-depth presentation on Ebola and other emerging diseases (http://tinyurl.com/mb3ftzo).

Some key take-home lessons: Continue reading

One Shot Can Start A War

Civil Defense Perspectives May 2014 Vol. 30 No. 4
[published July 2014]

Long before Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, by a group of five Serbs and one Bosnian Muslim, shots fired by a British militia company at Jumonville Glen, near what is now Pittsburgh, launched what some consider a world war. The French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years War, killed at least a million men, women, and children in North America, South America, Europe, Cuba, Africa, India, Cuba, the Philippines, and the Caribbean. The young lieutenant colonel who lost control of his men was George Washington, writes Richard Maybury (EWR, May 2014). Continue reading

Trigger for WWIII?

Civil Defense Perspectives March 2014 Vol. 30 No. 3

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1854

Even small, seemingly insignificant places, like Sarajevo, can spark global conflicts. Crimea is not strategically insignificant.  The [First] Crimean War fundamentally altered the balance of power in Europe, which had kept the peace for three decades after the Treaty of Vienna ended the Napoleonic Wars. And the outcome set the stage for World War I. Continue reading

State of the Union: Lockdown

Civil Defense Perspectives January 2014 Vol. 30 No. 2
[published April 2014]

In his 2014 State of the Union message, Barack Obama made some startling claims:

We’ve had “more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years” (see transcript at http://tinyurl.com/k6jjrls).

“I’ll act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects….” Continue reading

Climate Glasnost?

Civil Defense Perspectives November 2013 Vo. 30 No. 1 [published January 2014]

In its Fifth Assessment Report (AR-5), the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has to confront some inconvenient truths, such as the 16-year “pause” in global warming. Even Nature, “one of the most alarmist voices in the climate debate,” is having to “walk back its past predictions of climate apocalypse,” writes Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute. Continue reading