Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon: 1930-2012

Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon: 1930-2012 (2012-08-25). Do you really think that Anthony Watts would pass up the chance to sidle up beside a great man so he can poke his nose into the spotlight? Bet your ass not.

“America has just lost its most heroic son” declares Anthony, tissue dabbing the corner of his eye as he ‘reflects’ on the death of Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the surface of the Moon.

I wonder if Anthony will recognize the contrast: Neil Armstrong did something courageous and audacious. He was part of a concerted effort to face a challenge that had no guarantee of success, that required the best efforts of the entire nation and had to be reinvented every step along the way to finally achieve it. That was America in the 1960’s.

Denialists today say the environmental risks we clearly face aren’t so bad (maybe they’re even good!), are lies, or can’t be conveniently solved and fight for inaction. This is Tea Party America in the 2000’s.

America has gone from “can do ” to “can’t do”.

So Anthony when you declare, through crocodile tears, that “America’s manned space program is also dead” remember that thinking people know that it’s wounds come from the determined efforts of ‘small government’ political zealots like yourself. Reflect on that while you pretend to exalt NASA’s most famous representative.

Farewell to Neil Armstrong, a courageous and dedicated explorer from a time when America faced challenges rather than set them aside and bickered over them.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. – President Kennedy, 1962.

26 thoughts on “Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon: 1930-2012

  1. Well said, Ben. The way the “conservative” agenda has been going on for the last years is scary – The Crackpot Caucus – these people may some day actually govern the country!

    [Maybe this really is the end of times… – Ben]

    • Yours. I always find it odd when people take the opportunity of the death of someone they admire to make a point about someone they don’t. If you want to call Anthony a hypocrite I see no reason to use the death of a great man as an opportunity to do so, especially since both you and Anthony both seemed to feel the same way about Neal Armstrong. You have plenty of Anthony bashing opportunities without having to involve Neal Armstrong’s death.

      [I didn’t “use the death of a great man”, Anthony did. Anthony may pretend, or even actually tell himself, that he admires Neil Armstrong but what he actually does is undermine him. That my friend is hypocrisy. That my friend is why I criticized Anthony. – Ben]

      • Come on Charlie. If you are going to criticise Ben for using the death of a great man to make a point – which he didn’t, he was pointing out wattsupmybutt for doing so – at least show some respect yourself and spell the man’s name correctly!

      • My point was on appropriateness. Commenting that you respect someone and noting the irony of the apparent end of manned space flight in relation to that respect doesn’t seem especially inappropriate. Using the opportunity to call someone a hypocrite and a zealot by attempting to tenuously tie their statement to some notion of conservative do nothingness is inappropriate, IMHO.

        In this unfortunate context, he pointed out an irony. In this unfortunate context, you attacked a person.

        <em<[I attacked the hypocrisy that you seem blind to. – Ben]

  2. Hi Ben,

    Have a look at the latest piece of crazy over at wattsupmybutt. This thread:
    Anthony’s explanation as to why it is warmer in Antarctica (wait for this one!!!):

    “…..Regarding that rapid warming of 2C in the last 50 years, just remember that most weather stations in the Antarctic are near humanity, and humanity requires warmth to survive. …”

    Yep – the UHI effect is a problem even in Antarctica.

    [The stupid is strong in this one. – Ben]

    • Agreed. Watts’ statement was pretty stupid. The article didn’t even indicate that the more rapid warming in the last hundred years data came from weather stations. Seemed to just be a continuation of the ice core data. Unless weather stations affect ice cores, I can’t figure out what Watts was trying to imply.

  3. As a more general response to this post, I would say that the notion that conservatives are necessarily “can’t do” people is not well founded. Yes, some conservatives such as myself doubt the catastrophic potential of CO2 emissions, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t support economic answers to our greater issues of future energy. We are not necessarily anti-science and not necessarily anti-investment in reasonable alternatives. Heck, some of us even look for synergies of motive to find these future energy sources. I understand that this blog is trying to specifically deflect some of the garbage that is posted on Anthony’s blog, but is it not more important to find common ground and find common solutions that will address our future whether catastrophe looms or not? I think so and there is evidence that even the hated Anthony thinks so too.

    Being a “can do” person does not necessarily mean believing in the impossible. My opinion is that the current mantra of wind and solar and conservation is not a solution to either the potential for global warming or to our civilizations future energy needs. That mantra represents the impossible. President Obama said that there is no silver bullet for energy. Many conservatives and liberals alike believe that he is wrong. There is a solution that was developed fifty years ago, tested and confirmed in almost all aspects, that is scalable and sustainable for thousands of years into the future. We dropped the ball fifty years ago. We need to pick it up again.

    This same “can do” sentiment about finding common ground and workable solutions was expressed on Anthony’s blog:

    Me, I have followed this topic for several years before Anthony’s blog even posted about it. Probably the best place to start, if you are “can do” and interested, is to watch the film “Thorium Dream” on youtube.


    [What’s wrong with “try everything”? I too hope that we find a way to ameliorate our environmental impact, but think waiting for a magic bullet is folly. If thorium reactors are safe and efficient, go for it (unless there’s a global conspiracy preventing their development…). The fake conservative “it doesn’t affect me, you can’t make me” that I see in the reactionary right-wing is what disgusts me. – Ben]

    • “What’s wrong with ‘try everything’?”

      “Try everything” does not consider economics. Your original proposition is that conservatives exhibit a “can’t do” attitude. I would say that what you interpret as “can’t do” in conservatives is simply based on the addition of economics to the question (a conservative tendency). What we should do is what makes economic sense AND solves the problem. This is an engineering approach to the issue. Engineers consider economics. It is part of their job. This is why a lot of engineers are also conservative. I would not consider engineers to be “can’t do” people even though they consider economics.

      Curious that you say that Thorium must be “efficient” to be considered. In a Liquid Fueled Thorium Reactor (LFTR) it is, but that is beside the point. Why would that be a requirement for Nuclear to be considered, but it is not for wind and solar? Do we only consider economics when talking about nuclear?

      Don’t get me wrong, I support wind and solar, but they just can’t do the job of eliminating fossil fuels. I don’t know how much you know about LFTR or whether you are pro or anti nuclear or not. If you don’t know about it, I really encourage you to do learn a little bit. Wind and Solar can and need to be improved both in technology and in economy to have any kind of impact. Nuclear can be vastly improved as well. We CAN DO it!

      Anyway, I feel I have made some progress. At least it is only the “fake” conservatives that disgust you now. :)

      [I don’t think invoking engineering principles as a argument against “try anything” is wise. Engineers try to anticipate problems and prevent them, they over-design to ensure safety. The denialist approach is what an engineer would call defiantly reckless – “probably” (except not) won’t happen, “probably” (except not) not much harm. Clean, safe, efficient are what we need in energy production. Beyond that I don’t care how we get there. – Ben]

      • Sorry, I must have not worded my response well. I wasn’t advocating engineering principles in relation to accessing the catastrophic potential of CO2 emissions. I was advocating engineering principles as a means to find a convergent solution to different perceptions of the future problems we face.

  4. Charlie:

    “….some conservatives such as myself doubt the catastrophic potential of CO2 emissions…”

    First of all, the problem with many conservatives is that they doubt the potential for CO2 to influence temperatures at all – and that is such an idiotic luddite position to take that it beggars belief. It is like saying that the world is flat or that it is only 6,000 years old. Mind you, they are also the views of many conservatives so maybe it isn’t surprising that they are anti-science and anti-intellectual.

    Secondly, on what basis do you doubt the catastrophic potential of CO2 emissions? Are you an atmospheric physicist? And oceanographer? Climatologist? Environmental scientist? Any sort of scientist at all?

    I suspect not – but I am willing for you to show me that you are. On that basis, you are in no position to ‘doubt’ the catastrophic potential of CO2. The real scientists – the one who have years of education and who have spent years and decades studying the issue – out in the field collecting data and analysing it; they all tell us quite clearly that we are facing catastrophic conseqences. They have been saying for years – decades in some cases – and each and every one of their predictions are coming true.

    From my perspective, I am a wildlife scientist. I study the ecosystems and biology of individual wildlife species and their interactions with the environment and with other species. And I can tell you for an unequivocal fact, that we are on the path to self destruction. We used to think that 2 degrees of warming was going to be bad – now we know that we are unlikely to limit change to that figure – and 4-5 degrees is more likely. That won’t just be disasterous, it will almost certainly result in the complete over-turning of our entire civilisation, with hundreds of millions if not billions of deaths.

    Think about that for a while.

    There is no ‘common ground’ in this debate, just as there is no ‘common ground’ in debating evolution and creationism/ID. One side is right, and the other is wrong. Full stop. End of Story.

    You either accept the science and the urgent need to do something about it, or you are a denier. And the denier’s position is bankrupt.

  5. You were totally off topic. The topic was whether conservatives are do nothing small government zealots with no right to bemoan the current direction of the space program.

    But, I will respond.

    I agree that there is little common ground in the extremes of this debate. That isn’t what I said. I said that there is common ground in figuring out what to do REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU STAND IN THIS DEBATE.

    Your attitude that you are right and we are wrong and there is no common ground, full stop, end of story, is embodiment of a “can’t do” attitude. Here I sit, trying to say that I believe that we can do something together even though we disagree and there you sit irrationally constructing a high horse. Honestly, I don’t get why you think that this will work. I am not really trying to be insulting. This is an honest confusion I feel. Why do people think that climbing onto the pillars of scientific elitism will somehow be effective at accomplishing something? Why would people think that saying “you’re idiots, do what we say.” would be effective. Why liken skeptics to holocaust deniers as a means to humiliate them when they are necessarily part of the solution you seek. It honestly confuses me. Simply saying guys like Anthony do the same thing doesn’t change the argument. Anthony isn’t trying to bring about change. You are. Your side needs to come up with solutions and arguments that are inclusive. Or, at the very least, be a little more receptive to ideas that compliment your own then you demonstrate above.

    You mentioned that the problem with many conservatives is that they doubt there is a issue at all. Less than a quarter of Americans think that. Of those, three fourths call themselves conservative and a quarter call themselves liberal. Of people calling themselves conservative, only a third think there is no problem with global warming. I would characterize that as a problem with a minority of people, both conservative and liberal, of which more are conservative, but to make it a strictly conservative issue is not correct. BTW, your relating this to the rejection of evolution by many people is interesting. Did you know that 40% of DEMOCRATS think that God created people in their present form within the last 10K years. Only 20% believe that God didn’t guide evolution – of DEMOCRATS. This might not be the comparison to make. Way more people doubt evolution than think there is no problem with global warming at all. Crazy really. I suppose this is probably because Religion is important to lots of people but it really surprised me that so few people accepted the obvious truths of evolution – both Democrats and Republicans.

    Yes, you are correct, I am not doing active scientific research. That said, I don’t see how you being involved in the science of what happens ASSUMING CLIMATE CHANGE makes you any more qualified about the topic of how much man made climate change will happen than I am. You don’t do research on the mechanisms that cause climate change any more than I do. Not that I don’t have a great deal of respect for scientists such as yourself. I do. Biology rocks! I’m just saying that I also have a technical degree that enables me to understand the issues pretty well.

    Anyway, agree to disagree and all that. Please take a second to learn about Liquid Fueled Thorium Reactors (LFTR) and about Thorium in particular if you do not already know about it. It is worth your time regardless of your stance on nuclear in general. And, good luck to you.

    [The idiots are the ones who cling to false arguments after seeing their deconstruction. “Our side” is offering solutions, its the dishonest fight against those solutions that has driven this conflict. By the way the false holocaust association is a classic denialist straw-man, I’d suggest you avoid it if you want to be taken seriously. – Ben]

    • @Charlie:
      It is not a question of making you feel insulted by “us” vs. “you” – that we are the smarter lot, so listen to us. To clarify, I am a scientist, a physicist to be specific, who also has a leg in climate research.

      If you acknowledge that man-made global warming is happening, then as a private citizen you can contribute in small ways, like use public transport (I have chosen not to buy a car, instead a bicycle), switching off home appliances that are not in use, boil the exact amount of water that you want to use for your tea etc., but to confront the scale of the problem one needs big initiatives, which only major corporations and governments are capable of handling. NASA’s Jim Hansen has been trying to achieve public awareness precisely for this for decades. So yes, while “we” can engage with “your” solutions, before even “we” do so, “you” are going to shout that government will use “your” tax dollars to pay for “our initiatives” – or for that matter increase taxes on citizens to fund such global efforts – and “you” will be opposed to that – Republicans want a smaller Govt.! It is at that point “you” become “can’t do”. That attitude shines through your statement: “Anthony isn’t trying to bring about change. You are. Your side needs to come up with solutions and arguments that are inclusive.”

      What does Anthony do? Not only does he resist change, but also spread misinformation, lies, half-baked truths; the sole purpose is to confuse the public. Even Joe the plumber can be a webblogger. What are his mantras? That (1) scientists are liars, (2) they and the global Govts. are together in a gigantic conspiracy, (3) peer-review is pal-review, as it only enforces this global conspiracy, to name but a few. So please reflect on “your” side of the agenda before you accuse “us” of “can’t do”.

      As for “deniers” – there is nothing to do with holocaust. If you are insider of scientific review – I am, I serve as a referee for multiple physics journals, as well as on editorial boards – you’d learn to appreciate that scientists are the true skeptics in their own fields. Sorry bud, I do not consider people like Anthony and his cohorts skeptics – they are pure deniers of truths and scientific facts. Skeptics can be convinced and turned around (remember Richard Muller of the BEST project?), deniers can’t, that’s the difference.

      • Funny thing. You don’t know me. I believe strongly that we need more national investment in science, specifically big science, that which can’t be done by individuals and that which often won’t be done by corporations. So, small government on entitlements and small government on individual freedoms and natural rights, but bigger government on science. With, of course, some minor personal deviations:) it is unfortunate that there are so many Republicans like me but too few in representative positions.

        Did you really respond to my comment on Mandas’ scientific elitism by telling me to turn off the lights and let you solve the problem? OK, OK, not exactly fair, but it sure felt that way. I support investment in practical convergent solutions to our future problems. The entirety of my posts was exactly about this. We don’t agree about catastrophe, but we don’t have to. That’s it.

        it is funny that you should bring up Hansen because he is both specifically to blame for the sensitivity about the term “deniers” (along with Woodman and others) and he is also pro Nuke. I disagree with him on his purposeful and admitted puffing of the coming catastrophe and on his contemptuous and ineffective treatment of those that don’t necessarily agree with him, but I agree with him that nuclear is necessary for our future. Isn’t my point of agreement the only one that really matters. My opinion about him is exactly the kind of tolerant appeal for convergent solutions that I am advocating for in my posts.

        There is not much of a defense for a lot of the garbage that is posted on Anthony’s blog. I haven’t tried to defend it. I have specifically said garbage. I read this blog for specifically this reason. I like to hear a lot of different positions and feel that I am capable of filtering information. I agree with comments about Anthony’s blog posting a lot of propogandized junk, but I don’t agree that this is an indication of an endemic conservative “can’t do” pattern.

        As to your ethics (from the inside) and to scientific method in general, I fully support your position that the peer review process if often effectual and that science often eventually finds the right answer through critical self analysis. Pure science is a noble pursuit.

        As a physicist, I hope you learn more about the LFTR and the potential for safe, clean, cheap, and nearly limitless nuclear – if you haven’t done so already.

        Best Regards,

        • While I did react to your response to mandas, telling you to switch lights off was not a part of it. What I intended to communicate is as follows. In order to downsize our carbon footprints we can do two things (1) to feel personally responsible as citizens, (2) in parallel pursue big govt. funded initiatives. The scale of the problem is so big that personal actions can only go so far, so we need big govt. to fund initiatives – I cannot put up a nuclear reactor in my back garden for example. I put the above in context that today’s Republicans want small govt. in every sense: look at what the intellectually bankrupt couple Romney-Ryan has to offer! Climate change issues have taken a backseat in Obama administration, and with the present choice of Republicans’ well-oiled machinery by the Koch Bro and Tea Party, we will never even come close to acknowledging that humans-induced climate change is even happening, let alone raise taxes to fund projects for alternative energies.

          [Btw, whether to feel personally responsible for carbon footprints or not is really a personal choice. I have given examples of some choices I have made for myself. I regret that in my profession I cannot entirely avoid flying to conferences, that would be a professional suicide.]

          I am personally all for nuclear, but I do not see why we shouldn’t invest in solar, wind and water-wave energies. And I certainly do not blame Hansen for coining the term “denier”. I personally do not see anything wrong with that term – people like Anthony will never acknowledge man-made global warming, it simply doesn’t suit their personal agenda.

  6. Charlie, the reason we “…liken skeptics to holocaust deniers as a means to humiliate them when they are necessarily part of the solution you seek….” is that they are not sceptics – they are deniers pure and simple – and they are not part of the solution; they are the problem and they are the reason we have not made any grounds towards implementing a solution.

    And I am not claiming that I understand the mechanisms of climate change – I don’t. But then, I am not the one doubting the word and the efforts of those that do. I have my field of expertise, and if someone with no expertise wrote a blog about one of my papers – without having read it – and in doing so said I was wrong and that I was a liar/scammer then I would feel pretty agrieved and think that person was an arsehole – because they are. Climate denier bloggers are exactly that – arseholes!

    And you can note from my spelling of ‘arsehole’ that I am not an American – although I have lived there – so the Democrat/Replublican divide on this issue is largely irrelevant to me. Although I do have extreme concerns that the Republican candidates for this election are fully ensconced in the intellectual vacuum that passes for policy in that party these days. If they come to power, then we are all well and truly fucked.

    I may not study climate science and be intimately aware of its mechanisms, but I do study it’s potential impacts – and my previous post is based on that. I know that if the climate changes by 4-5 degrees we will experience catastrophic consequences.

    You are right – we both need to determine what we need to do to solve this problem. But that cannot occur until one side of the debate accepts that there is a problem, that it is urgent, and that the consequences of failure are dire.

    • Wow, I am apparently incapable of making a point. I suck! :) I will only address your last statement which I feel clearly demonstrates my own inability to make my point. I will test my skills one more time:)

      You said, “But that cannot occur until one side of the debate accepts that there is a problem, that it is urgent, and that the consequences of failure are dire.”

      I say, you are incorrect. If there is a convergent solution then the debate never needs to be settled. The convergence I see is between the call for energy independence and the call for reduced CO2 because of the potential global consequence. I am suggesting a convergent solution that has amazing, successfully demonstrated potential and is not a pipe dream. I honestly hope you learn more about it.

      Best Regards

      • Charlie,

        Are you a paid lobbyist for the thorium nuclear power industry, because that is how you are coming across.

        And despite your claims, you are continually and spectacularly failing to grasp the issue here. My one and only concern is that we address the problem of climate change, and that we do so in a manner that does not create alternative, major problems. Thorium reactors may be part of that solution; and I do know a little about them, so there is no need for you to keep on with your urges for me or others to read up on them.

        And you can also cut out the nonsense about my ‘scientific elitism’. It is not scientific elitism to state facts – and it is ignorance to suggest that there is debate on a scientific topic when there is none. There may be debate in the scientific community over the finer details of climate change – for example on feedbacks – but there is zero debate that climate change is occuring as a result of human emmissions of GHGs. None. Nada. And anyone who suggests otherwise – such as the luddites who form part of the US Republican party – is either a moron, someone who has a vested interest in lying about the facts, or someone who had been deluded by someone in the first two categories.

        I bought up evolution and young earth creationism in a n earlier post because it is a perfect analogy for this debate. There is zero scientific debate on the fact that evolution occurs, but there is plenty of debate on the mechanisms. There is zero scientific debate that that the universe and the earth a billlions of years old – not thousands – but there are still those who insist otherwise, because they are sadly deluded by ideology and choose to ignore facts. Climate change is exactly the same.

        We need to fix this problem and we need to fix it now. The industry that you appear to be a paid lobbyist for may well be part of that solution, but there are other mechanisms such as solar, wind, geothermal etc that are also effective, and the right mix should be chosen depending upon the circumstances. For you to insist on your preferred solution to the detriment of others suggests that you haven’t really properly considered the issue.

        • There is no “thorium nuclear energy industry”. It doesn’t exist. No industry. None. Well, some other nations are doing research, but there is no INDUSTRY. No, I am not a paid lobbyist for an industry that doesn’t exist. And, it is not so much Thorium that I support, but a particular configuration of breeder reactor that is based on liquid fuels. I am pretty sure that you don’t know much about it if you actually think there is an industry. I’d like to think you were joking, but I don’t even get the joke.

          Anyway, clearly this isn’t going anywhere. I tried to be respectful, but I was obviously unsuccessful. Alas…

  7. Pingback: Future Energy Sources | Alternative Energy Facts

  8. That’s a nice quote from Kennedy Ben. But since we’re dropping quotes, here’s an excerpt from James Gleick’s bio on Richard Feynman. Gleick describes Feynman’s thoughts on scientists and science:

    “It was all too easy to fall into the trap of correcting until the answer looked right. To avoid it required an intimate acquaintance with the rules of the scientist’s game. It also required not just honesty, but a sense that honesty required exertion.”

    To be fair, it’s a sentiment that should apply to both sides of the equation. But hey, back to the snarkiness…

    [I’m guessing you don’t see how Feynman’s remark more aptly applies to ignorant denialists leaping from one easy talking point to the next without a backward glance. – Ben]

    • You’re right, I don’t, especially when climatologists tend to neglect and/or excoriate the null hypothesis that is CO2 is not the driving force for anthropogenic global warming. Hey, somebody’s gotta do the work.

      [“somebody’s gotta do the work.” That’s a good one! – Ben]

      • And here’s me betting that Fujita doesn’t even know what a ‘null hypothesis’ is, how it should be applied, and in what circumstances. But that’s pretty obvious from his post.

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