Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nature superior to Man? What green twaddle

For some, love of Nature is the flipside of distaste for Man. This is nonsense: as the No1 species, we're in control

Sitting on a log, in a clearing by the banks of the River Matamata close to where it flows into the Amazon, Sara Bennett was encircled by her audience. This audience, too, sat on logs. We were composed of men and monkeys. The human contingent were my six travelling companions and I. The monkeys - well, they too had names, but I could no more name them than name the half-dozen different monkey species they came from.

The reddish-furred monkey in Dr Bennett's arms was a female howler monkey: this I did recognise - by the fearsome, echoing roar she made as she clung like an anxious child to her human matriarch. But as for the simian miscellany that sat solemly on logs, pretending to understand as Sara talked about her monkey rescue work, or clowned around, running up tree trunks, swinging from shrubs or playing with rocks and sticks, I cannot begin to identify them.

They ranged from something with a broken tail, the size of a squirrel, to a woolly monkey the size of a labrador, and two dark-coated creatures as big as children, their fur so long and shaggy that it fell over their eyes, while long-tailed monkeys, pale or dark, hardly bigger than cats, put on a spirited display of gymnastics. "Now stop showing off and settle down, Chimboshi," said Sara to the most extravagant performer.

Dr Bennett runs a sanctuary for orphaned monkeys in the Amacayacu National Park in Colombia. The park is enormous - nearly 300,000 hectares - reaching from the banks of the Amazon deep into primary forest; but the modest Amazon port of Leticia is only a couple of hours downriver and Leticia (though unconnected by road) is a substantial little town; so the interface between Man and monkey brings its crop of casualties on the simian side.

"People in Leticia know I look after young monkeys that have been orphaned or wounded," said Sara, "so they bring them here." Her sanctuary is not caged - just a patch of forest around her small cabin - and the animals are free to come or go. A scientist whose work is now more in conservation than pure science, people admire and respect her.

Who could fail to? But awkward questions can be the most interesting, so I asked: "Obviously you're helping the monkeys in your care, but has your work any significance for the rest of the Amazon's monkey populations?" She was honest enough, and a sufficiently good scientist, not to pretend to any easy confidence in the answer.

Perhaps I should not try to impute motives, but it was my strong impression that Sara Bennett does not measure the good she is doing in strictly scientific terms; nor is any wider contribution she may make to South American monkey populations what mainly impels her to take in and care for these creatures. I think she just loves monkeys, and in particular her monkeys. She loves them as individuals; and they fascinate her - as, indeed, she fascinates them. This struck me as a wholly and self-evidently good thing, and in need of no further justification, even if that could be provided.

At which point I can imagine a sniffy response from some of the people I have met and talked to along the borderline between science, conservation and ecological campaigning. To a way of thinking common among their mindset, Sara's continuing involvement in the lives of her orphans would be seen as a problem. According to this view, Man should so far as possible stand away from "Nature". Nature starts where the human domain ends, and the aim of serious environmental campaigners should be to withdraw so far as possible the hand of Man, and erase so far as possible the mark of Man, his stamp on the world. Man distorts. Man is bad; Nature is good; the distinction is clear, and the best among us should be on the side of Nature.

But what, then, of the isolated indigenous tribes in the Amazon part of the wild? Are they part of Nature? Environmental campaigners like to insist that such people will establish a "balance" with their environment, but what if they don't? No natural law says that an indigenous tribe may never multiply, beating the forest back. But we outside the forest almost seem to be defining indigenous tribes as part of Nature, not Man - an insult, properly considered.

The truth is that some environmentalists form the fundamentalist outriders for what, even among millions of the less zealous, amounts to a kind of religion, not a science, for it invests data with moral qualities unknown to science. To many, love of "Nature" is the flipside of distaste for Man, or an embarrassment - even shame - about being human.

At the heart of this religion sits a weird variation on the old, old story: the story of the Garden of Eden. In Genesis, God expels Man from the garden. But in the 21st-century version, Man is urged to expel himself; then declare the garden a national park.

Well, I'm not against national parks. Almost 10 per cent of Colombia is a national park. We should have more of them. And there may be places where we do wish to stop and freeze invasive environmental change; and species we do want to ring-fence and preserve from extinction, even self-inflicted. The precautionary principle, meanwhile - that we should be careful about changes that may get out of hand - is simply a matter of prudence, requiring no doctrine for its justification.

But make no mistake: this is not withdrawing from Nature. The very act of selectively extracting ourselves from chosen places, is an act - perhaps the ultimate act - of control. The Earth is our garden, our Eden. We can make new breeds, new plants. We can make lakes and level mountains. We can help to shape and tend our planet as no other species has, and the bits we choose to leave "wild" - like the classic English country garden - are part of the plan. Our plan. The plan we choose to implement.

Stewardship - control - is not an idea we can honestly duck. We must stop retreating into the metaphysical mists of a theory of division between Man and Nature, and cheerfully accept that we ourselves are "Nature", and we're in charge: the top species. We can design this garden for succeeding generations, according to our human taste, because we love our own species.

We love monkeys too, and therefore we will have monkeys, lots of them, of every kind. And we will run orphanages for them. It gives us pleasure. So hats off to Dr Bennett and her audience in that forest clearing, all of us - including the humans: so much a part of Nature that one of the bigger monkeys sat down beside our companion Karl and, in a spirit of scientific curiosity, looked into his eyes and stroked his beard.


A warming theory that has melted away

By Bjorn Lomborg

In defending his strategy for fighting climate change, Oliver Tickell abandons his entire argument...

Oliver Tickell defends against my critique his visions of 4C leading to a catastrophic future. Two casual observations lend themselves readily. First, Tickell has entirely abstained from defending his claim for human extinction from 4C. Thanks. Second, I was clearly wrong when I said that Tickell's claim for 70-80 metres of sea level rise had maxed out campaigners' scare potential because that means all ice is melted. Showing an amazing ability to raise the stakes none the less, Tickell now talks about sea level going 100m higher.

The UN climate panel (IPCC) says that 4C will lead to a rise a hundredth of that figure; but Tickell simply claims such moderate projections are "dangerously misplaced". All I can see is that such facts are terribly inconvenient.

He summarily dismisses (as "outdated econometric models") the analysis of one of the IPCC lead climate economist authors, when the model points out that the damage will be quite modest at 3.5% of GDP. He assures us this "is not to dismiss economics as a whole" - because he can find two economists who support his argument, embracing Stern and Weitzman eagerly.

It is hard not to see this as opportunistic cherry-picking: Stern might have been incomplete but his work "yielded many useful findings - not least that swift and decisive action to mitigate climate change is" the right way to go.

I will not deal with Stern here. Many others have pointed out that the Stern Report has seriously exaggerated the peer reviewed evidence and massaged the analysis to get his results (see, for example, Byatt et al, 2006; Carter, de Freitas, Goklany, Holland, & Lindzen, 2006; Dasgupta, 2006; Mendelsohn, 2007; Nordhaus, 2006e; R. S. J. Tol, 2006; R. S. J. Tol & Yohe, 2006; Varian, 2006; Yohe, 2006, see also my critique in my book Cool It). Weitzman, who Tickell likes when he agrees with him, actually criticises Stern: "As economic analysis the Stern Review dwells in a non_scientific state of limbo." Even then, Stern never did a proper cost-benefit analysis. Such analyses overwhelmingly show that strong early carbon cuts are a bad idea.

But it is interesting to assess Weitzman's argument (My arguments are partly indebted to Professor Nordhaus (pdf)). Tickell (and many other campaigners) fancies Weitzman, because his economic argument seems to support draconian climate policies.

While very technical, it relies on a fairly straightforward gist. All risks you can think of - even catastrophic ones - have non-zero risk. Thus, it is possible (if not very likely) that global warming will not only increase the planet's temperature by 4C, but 10C. Heck, it might even increase beyond 20C - which Weitzman with armchair climatology, suggests might have a probability of 1%. Since evidence for or against such extremes is scarce, accumulating evidence can only slowly close us in on their true probability. Yet, for any given amount of evidence, there will always be sufficiently outrageous risks (think 30C) that are sufficiently unbound by evidence and sufficiently close to negative infinite utility that the total net utility is negative infinity. Thus, we should be willing to spend all our money to avoid it.

Now, in principle all economists would agree that non-trivial risks should be included in the model, and for example, Nordhaus has done that analytically in cost-benefit models (they still show that large emission cuts are not warranted). However, the Weitzman result curiously means that the more speculative and fuzzy the extreme event, the more it counts in the total utility.

This is an argument driven by a technicality - essentially a claim that we are willing to pay an infinite amount to avoid even an infinitesimal risk of annihilation. Yet we demonstratively aren't - and shouldn't be. Civilization-ending asteroids hit the earth once every 100m years, but at present we only spend $4m per year to track them. Maybe we should pay $1bn. But we shouldn't spend everything.

This underscores the fatal flaw in the Weitzman argument. When we allow all scary, fuzzy concerns onto centre stage, there is no end to where we should spend all our money. Every conceivable policy measure has a non-zero risk of catastrophe and so should be avoided at any cost. Biotechnology, strangelets, runaway computer systems, nuclear proliferation, rogue weeds and bugs, pandemics, and asteroids are just a small sample of the areas each of which we should spend all our money on.

Tickell doesn't deal with these arguments at all. As with Stern, he simply picks Weitzman because the policy conclusion fits. Tickell then claims that spending $2tn annually on large-scale emissions cuts will provide the best insurance for mankind. But this ignores that investments in energy R&D will probably long-term cut 11 times more CO2. Moreover, if our goal is not just to cut CO2 but to help people and the planet, we can do even more good by focusing on simple solutions such as investing in nutrition, health and agricultural technologies. Instead of avoiding a couple of thousand extra malaria deaths in a century cases through expensive CO2 cuts, maybe we should avoid a million malaria deaths now through low-cost health policies.

Tickell's reply clearly shows what happens when policy drives the search for suitable facts. The IPCC is simply ignored, Stern is praised for his policy usefulness, Weitzman embraced irrespective of his analysis essentially leading to policy paralysis, driven by extreme and pervasive speculative risks. Not surprisingly, Tickell ends by saying - without a shred of evidence - that his policy would be the best solution, "even without the threat of global warming".

Not only does Tickell abandon his central claim of human extinction, but he also abandons his entire argument for his policy. Not much remains.


Global Warming - Geologist's point of view-II

Sea-level changes through geological history

Sea-level has been close to its present level for the past 6000 years, before which it was lower and fluctuating, last achieving its present position about 120,000 years ago. About 15,000-16,000 years ago, sea-level was 130-140 m below its present position. For the past 500,000 years it has been lower than today about 90% of the time.

These major changes coincide with the latest Ice Age, the later half of the last 1.65 million years of geological time, represents the last 10,000 years when most of the icesheets have melted. Sea-level falls coincide with periods of glaciation whereas the rises occur during interglacials -- the warmer times between ice advances, like the present day.

The onset of the Ice Age began about 40 million years when surface waters in the southern oceans suddenly cooled and the deep ocean basins quickly filled with water ~10øC cooler than before that sank because of its increased density. By about 15 million years ago, the Antarctic Icecap had formed, accelerating production of cold waters.

About 6-5 million years ago, sea-level fell by as much as 50 m, probably associated with expansion of the icecap in Antarctica. This might have caused the Mediterranean Sea to dry up over ~1,000 years, producing vast salt deposits, preserved in the sediments of the sea floor.

About 5 million years ago there followed a brief warming trend and sea-level rose again leaving shallow marine sediments inland of modern coastlines around much of the world. Fossil floras and faunas show that climates were generally warmer than today -- Iceland had a temperate climate; southern England was subtropical. Let us take a case of geological period when the climate was very close to the current climate.

Carboniferous period:

Life was at its full bloom at the age of Carboniferous period (360 MM years -300 MM years).Insects, plants, dinos and many species evolved at this time. It is associated with all the green forest correlatable to present coal deposits. Climate of this period matched today's climate.

Similarities with our Present World

Average global temperatures in the Early Carboniferous Period were hot- approximately 20ø C (68ø F). However, cooling during the Middle Carboniferous reduced average global temperatures to about 12ø C (54ø F). This is comparable to the average global temperature on Earth today!

Similarly, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Early Carboniferous Period were approximately 1500 ppm (parts per million), but by the Middle Carboniferous had declined to about 350 ppm -- comparable to average CO2 concentrations today!

Earth's atmosphere today contains about 380 ppm CO2 (0.038%). Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth's history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm.

Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time

There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example, during the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 18 times higher than today.

The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today-- 4400 ppm. According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming.

I will be presenting what is written on the rocks and what is the opinion.

Our Future Written in Stone

Today the Earth warms up and cools down in cycles. Geologic history reveals similar cycles were operative during the Carboniferous Period. Warming episodes caused by the periodic favorable coincidence of solar maximums and the cyclic variations of Earth's orbit around the sun are responsible for our warm but temporary interglacial vacation from the Pleistocene Ice Age, a cold period in Earth's recent past which began about 2 million years ago and ended (at least temporarily) about 10,000 years ago. And just as our current world has warmed, and our atmosphere has increased in moisture and CO2 since the glaciers began retreating 18,000 years ago, so the Carboniferous Ice Age witnessed brief periods of warming and CO2-enrichment.

Following the Carboniferous Period, earth witnessed predominantly desert-like conditions, accompanied by one or more major periods of species extinctions. CO2 levels began to rise during this time because there was less erosion of the land and therefore reduced opportunity for chemical reaction of CO2 with freshly exposed minerals. Also, there was significantly less plant life growing in the proper swamplands to sequester CO2 through photosynthesis and rapid burial.

It wasn't until Pangea began breaking up in the that climates became moist once again. Carbon dioxide existed then at average concentrations of about 1200 ppm, but have since declined. Today, at 380 ppm our atmosphere is CO2-impoverished, although environmentalists, certain political groups, and the news media would have us believe otherwise.

What will our climate be like in the future? That is the question scientists are asking and seeking answers to right now. The causes of "global warming" and climate change are today being popularly described in terms of human activities. However, climate change is something that happens constantly on its own. If humans are in fact altering Earth's climate with our cars, electrical powerplants, and factories these changes must be larger than the natural climate variability in order to be measurable. So far the signal of a discernible human contribution to global climate change has not emerged from this natural variability or background noise.

Understanding Earth's geologic and climate past is important for understanding why our present Earth is the way it is, and what Earth may look like in the future. The geologic information locked up in the rocks and coal seams of the Carboniferous Period are like a history book waiting to be opened. What we know so far, is merely an introduction. It falls on the next generation of geologists, climatologists, biologists, and curious others to continue the exploration and discovery of Earth's dynamic history-- a fascinating and surprising tale, written in stone.


The catastrophe behind climate change

As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher - such as the International Energy Council's $45 trillion - "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda.

As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards.

All this makes it rather important to know just why our politicians have come to believe that global warming is the most serious challenge confronting mankind, and just how reliable is the evidence for the theory on which their policies are based.

By far the most influential player in putting climate change at the top of the global agenda has been the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up in 1988, not least on the initiative of the Thatcher government. (This was why the first chairman of its scientific working group was Sir John Houghton, then the head of the UK's Meteorological Office.)

Through a succession of reports and international conferences, it was the IPCC which led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, soon to have an even more ambitious successor, to be agreed in Copenhagen next year.

The common view of the IPCC is that it consists of 2,500 of the world's leading scientists who, after carefully weighing all the evidence, have arrived at a "consensus" that world temperatures are rising disastrously, and that the only plausible cause has been rising levels of CO2 and other man-made greenhouse gases.

In fact, as has become ever more apparent over the past 20 years -not least thanks to the evidence of a succession of scientists who have participated in the IPCC itself - the reality of this curious body could scarcely be more different.

It is not so much a scientific as a political organisation. Its brief has never been to look dispassionately at all the evidence for man-made global warming: it has always taken this as an accepted fact.

Indeed only a comparatively small part of its reports are concerned with the science of climate change at all. The greater part must start by accepting the official line, and are concerned only with assessing the impact of warming and what should be done about it.

In reality the IPCC's agenda has always been tightly controlled by the small group of officials at its head.

As one recent study has shown, of the 53 contributors to the key Chapter 9 of the latest report dealing with the basic science (most of them British and American, and 10 of them associated with the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office), 37 belong to a closely related network of academics who are all active promoters of the official warming thesis. It is on the projections of their computer models that all the IPCC's predictions of future warming are based.

The final step in the process is that, before each report is published, a "Summary for Policymakers" is drafted by those at the top of the IPCC, to which governments can make input. It is this which makes headlines in the media, and which all too frequently eliminates the more carefully qualified findings of contributors to the report itself.

The idea that the IPCC represents any kind of genuine scientific "consensus" is a complete fiction. Again and again there have been examples of how evidence has been manipulated to promote the official line, the most glaring instance being the notorious "hockey stick".

Initially the advocates of global warming had one huge problem. Evidence from all over the world indicated that the earth was hotter 1,000 years ago than it is today. This was so generally accepted that the first two IPCC reports included a graph, based on work by Sir John Houghton himself, showing that temperatures were higher in what is known as the Mediaeval Warming period than they were in the 1990s.

The trouble was that this blew a mighty hole in the thesis that warming was caused only by recent man-made CO2.

Then in 1999 an obscure young US physicist, Michael Mann, came up with a new graph like nothing seen before. Instead of the familiar rises and falls in temperature over the past 1,000 years, the line ran virtually flat, only curving up dramatically at the end in a hockey-stick shape to show recent decades as easily the hottest on record.

This was just what the IPCC wanted, The Mediaeval Warming had simply been wiped from the record. When its next report came along in 2001, Mann's graph was given top billing, appearing right at the top of page one of the Summary for Policymakers and five more times in the report proper.

But then two Canadian computer analysts, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, got to work on how Mann had arrived at his graph.

When, with great difficulty, they eventually persuaded Mann to hand over his data, it turned out he had built into his programme an algorithm which would produce a hockey stick shape whatever data were fed into it. Even numbers from the phonebook would come out looking like a hockey stick.

By the time of its latest report, last year, the IPCC had an even greater problem. Far from continuing to rise in line with rising CO2, as its computer models predicted they should, global temperatures since the abnormally hot year of 1998 had flattened out at a lower level and were even falling - a trend confirmed by Nasa's satellite readings over the past 18 months.

So pronounced has this been that even scientists supporting the warmist thesis now concede that, due to changes in ocean currents, we can expect a decade or more of "cooling", before the "underlying warming trend" reappears.

The point is that none of this was predicted by the computer models on which the IPCC relies. Among the ever-growing mountain of informed criticism of the IPCC's methods, a detailed study by an Australian analyst John McLean (to find it, Google "Prejudiced authors, prejudiced findings") shows just how incestuously linked are most of the core group of academics whose models underpin everything the IPCC wishes us to believe about global warming.

The significance of the past year is not just that the vaunted "consensus" on the forces driving our climate has been blown apart as never before, but that a new "counter-consensus" has been emerging among thousands of scientists across the world, given expression in last March's Manhattan Declaration by the so-called Non-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.

This wholly repudiates the IPCC process, showing how its computer models are hopelessly biased, based on unreliable data and programmed to ignore many of the genuine drivers of climate change, from variations in solar activity to those cyclical shifts in ocean currents.

As it was put by Roger Cohen, a senior US physicist formerly involved with the IPCC process, who long accepted its orthodoxy: "I was appalled at how flimsy the case is. I was also appalled at the behaviour of many of those who helped produce the IPCC reports and by many of those who promote it.

"In particular I am referring to the arrogance, the activities aimed at shutting down debate; the outright fabrications; the mindless defense of bogus science; and the politicisation of the IPCC process and the science process itself."

Yet it is at just this moment, when the IPCC's house of cards is crumbling, that the politicians of the Western world are using it to propose steps that can only damage our way of life beyond recognition. It really is time for that "counter-consensus" to be taken seriously.



Sales of winter clothes and thermal underwear are soaring as Britons suffer a dismal summer and prepare for a winter of high fuel bills, according to a leading retailer. Department store Debenhams said shoppers were turning their back on summer sarongs, shorts and swimwear and opting for woollens instead. Sales of thermal underwear at the store are up 54% on this time last year, winter coat sales are up 76% and warm knitwear is up by 53%. Debenhams said the figures were similar to those traditionally seen during October.

The retailer said it had expected a slight increase in sales of winter clothes during the dismal August weather, but put the "massive boost" in figures down to "hibernation hysteria". It noted the higher sales followed comments by Jake Ulrich of Centrica - the parent company of British Gas - telling consumers struggling with soaring fuel bills that "maybe its two jumpers instead of one".

Debenhams' spokesman Ed Watson said: "The awful weather clearly has something to do with this hibernation hysteria. "However with gas and electric companies turning up the heat, it looks like many people will be turning to their wardrobe rather than the central heating thermostat this winter to keep warm. "I suppose it's a reluctant thanks to Jake Ulrich as well. A full set of Debenhams' long johns and a couple of our woolly jumpers are in the post so he can follow his own advice."


The latest Greenie nonsense: No cafeteria trays

Crammed on middle linebacker Derek Walker's plate are beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, spinach and a roll. In the other hand, he balances a salad and a bottle of hot sauce. He lumbers through the small, tabled-filled cafeteria and plunks down without spilling a drop. All without a tray. "You've just got to do with what you have," Walker said. Glenville State has joined an increasing number of colleges and universities that have shed their cafeteria trays.

In drought-stricken Georgia and North Carolina, the goal is to conserve water by lightening the load on dishwashers. Other schools are trying to cut down on wasted food and conserve energy. Proponents, including major food vendors, say it also reduces the use of water-polluting detergents. But no trays?

Students will have to find another way to sled in the winter. And imagine the surprise of Bluto Blutarsky, who piled his tray high, using some of the heaping portions to start a food fight in the 1978 film, "National Lampoon's Animal House." Advocates of the trayless cafeterias say if students can't pile on the food as Bluto did, they might consume fewer calories and keep off those unhealthy pounds often gained in college. Try telling that to hungry coeds who simply make more trips to the counter. "I'll just keep coming back for seconds," said Jeff Lyke, a freshman at Glenville State, which started going trayless in April to coincide with Earth Day.

"It speaks well for our institution's consciousness in preventing an otherwise needless waste," said Glenville President Peter Barr. Convincing the central West Virginia school's nearly 1,400 students, however, could take time. "I think that's kind of ridiculous," said freshman Rebecca Riffle, who used a legal-size notebook to help carry her plate to a table. "Whenever there's a bunch of people here at one time, it gets crazy. You have people bumping into you, so if you're balancing stuff, you're going to end up dropping something or breaking something."

But students all over the country might have to get used to it. Fifty to 60 percent of Philadelphia-based Aramark's 500 campus partners and 230 of the 600 colleges and universities served by Gaithersburg, Md.-based Sodexo are expected to dump their trays, company officials said. At least 23 of the 625 schools belonging to the Okemos, Mich.-based National Association of College & University Food Services have adopted the idea so far. Most of those schools operate their food services independently.

It's too soon to measure cost savings nationwide. But five times more energy and water are consumed in dining halls than any other square foot on college campuses, said Sodexo spokeswoman Monica Zimmer. "So if a college is looking to go 'green,' they need to start looking in the dining facility," Zimmer said. Georgia Tech, enrollment 18,000, has saved 3,000 gallons of water per day without trays, she said.

The 50,000-student University of Florida estimates it will save 470,000 gallons annually. At the 2,000-student University of Maine at Farmington, which went trayless in February 2007, the tally is 288,000 gallons, said Aramark spokesman Dave Gargione. Broken dishes from a lack of trays have been taken into account at Glenville, which has bought extra plates and cups, but Gargione said he hasn't heard about such a trend nationally.

Aramark conducted a study of 92,000 students, faculty and staff at 300 institutions and found that 79 percent indicated they would accept eating off plates instead of trays. Another Aramark study of 186,000 meals served at 25 institutions found that when trays weren't used, food waste per person was reduced 25 percent to 30 percent. At Glenville's Mollohan's Restaurant, one of two places to eat on campus, food waste has been reduced from three, five-gallon buckets to just one per day, said Stephen Shattuck, Aramark's food service director at Glenville.

Some schools are experimenting in a few trayless cafeterias before going campuswide. "This is gaining steam all over the country," said Gail Campana, director of publications and marketing for the food services association. "It's going faster in some places than others because you have different cultures and different ways that universities do things."

Fortunately for Blutarsky, the University of Oregon's Erb Memorial Union, where Belushi's famous food fight scene was filmed at the "Fishbowl" food court, still makes trays available.



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Saturday, August 30, 2008

GOP Nominee Palin cool on Global Warming

Some scientists believe Alaska will be among the first to feel the impact of global warming, but Sarah Palin told voters there she wasn't sure climate change wasn't simply part of a natural warming cycle. "I will not pretend to have all the answers," Palin said about global warming, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Her spokesman clarified at the time that "she's not totally convinced one way or the other. Science will tell us . . . She thinks the jury's still out."

Palin shared her views in the run-up to the 2006 governor's race, at an Alaska Federation of Natives convention, where delegates passed a resolution calling for a mandatory reduction in pollution affecting the atmosphere. Answering a question from the Daily News, Palin cautioned against "overreaction."

Those were among the comments that brought condemnation today from Greenpeace to her selection as Sen. John McCain's running mate on the Republican ticket. The environmental group's Alaska Global Warming Campaigner, Melanie Duchin, described Palin as "one of the most anti-environment records of any governor in the United States." "She has supported oil drilling in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas in Alaska, even when it meant sacrificing polar bears, beluga whales, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," Duchin's statement said. "Despite her advocacy for expanded oil and gas drilling, Palin has done almost nothing to promote the clean energy sources that can help solve global warming, which is already having major negative consequences in her state," Duchin said.

In an interview released by Newsmax magazine today, Palin said that while she recognized her state would be affected by climate change, that didn't mean humans are responsible. "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location," she said. "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."

Palin's comments stand in sharp contrast to those of McCain, who says at every campaign stop that he believes human activity is driving global warming,



Climate is always changing, and the physical and biological effects of climate change are always immensely complex, both regional and locally. There is no simple set of linear responses to world average climate change, whether `cooling' or `warming'. Moreover, what are deemed to be physical and ecological responses to average change more often than not turn out to be the product of highly-localised or regional causes, some of which may have nothing to do with world average changes.

Such complexities are perfectly exemplified by what is currently happening to sea ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic. The two graphs contrast the sea-ice anomalies (in million square km) for (a) the Northern Hemisphere and (b) the Southern Hemisphere respectively between 1978 and 2008/9.

In the Northern Hemisphere, sea ice is indeed declining; on the other hand, in the Southern Hemisphere [bottom graph], sea ice is clearly expanding. Both graphs can be viewed in larger versions at The Cryosphere Today, an excellent web site maintained by the Polar Research Group of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Beware The Melting Media

In the media, we hear a great deal about `global warming', melting ice, and bereft polar bears and penguins. But, as you can guess, things are not quite so straightforward. Indeed, some scientists believe that the decline in the Arctic ice must be put down to regional and local events, and not to world average changes. Possible factors include warm water intrusions from the Pacific Ocean, and more recently from the Atlantic Ocean; undersea volcanic activity, particularly on the Gakkel Ridge, where a major eruption took place in 1999; and, albedo alterations brought about by soot pollution and the spread of tundra shrubs.

Interestingly, similar Arctic `warmings' have taken place before, and are recorded for the 1800s, for the 1930s, and for the 1950s. Current warming in Greenland does not appear to have reached the levels of these earlier events. Moreover, recent work has shown that particulate pollution from mid-latitudes can aggravate warming in the Arctic. This may have had a role to play in the 1800s because, during the so-called Industrial Revolution, technologies were dirtier than they are now.

Similar complexities also attend any understanding of the extending ice in the Southern Hemisphere, with parts of Antarctica cooling and parts warming; local effects of different currents and undercurrents, colder and warmer waters; and with changes in precipitation patterns, snow, and mass balance.

Yet, with global cooling now seemingly underway, the media appear to be even more desperate than usual to continue to hype up `global warming', so expect lots more about the Arctic decline, drowning polar bears, and melting `tipping points' to keep us plebs in thrall. You should, however, take it all with a pinch of oceanic salt. The reality is a great deal more subtle and far more complex, and I suspect that, in truth, we have very little notion of what is actually happening.

Source (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


Incisive article in the Wall Street Journal today on how Russia is using energy supply as part of its strategic renaissance. An excerpt:

"Despite Russia's repeated use of energy as a political weapon in Eastern Europe, Western Europeans keep repeating the mantra that Russia has been a reliable supplier to "Europe." They also choose to ignore that natural-gas giant Gazprom serves as the Kremlin's leading foreign-policy arm. The company is primarily state-owned, and many members of Gazprom's leadership are current or former government officials. The Kremlin's present occupant, Dmitry Medvedev, until recently was the chairman of Gazprom. His replacement there is former Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.

The Russian plan is rather simple: Punish countries that refuse to come under its influence by building new gas pipelines that bypass them, while rewarding countries and political leaders that cooperate with Russia with lucrative energy deals. Maintaining a monopoly over the transport of Caspian gas to Europe is essential for Moscow to ensure that all those countries that have submitted to a Russian "partnership" will acquiesce to the return of the former Soviet space to the Kremlin's control."

It is vital to understand that Russia has designs on Eastern Europe and is using its energy supply to buy off Western Europe. The future looks bad if this is the case.

Yet there is a question here that needs answering first. Natural gas, while cheap to burn and an efficient form of energy, is not the only source of electricity Western Europe has. Germany and Britain both possess abundant coal. France has based its energy profile on nuclear. Both could provide Russia-free energy across Western Europe, yet both are reviled by environmentalists. Wind power and renewables, beloved by environmentalists, are simply not up to the job.

It therefore seems that when faced with a choice between empowering Russia and annoying environmentalists, Western Europeans are less afraid of the former.

Let's also remember that the Kyoto Protocol is designed to see large amounts of Western European money transferred to Russia as European nations purchase credits for emissions reductions banked by Russia following the collapse of communism. European nations can't reduce emissions on their own, for the aforementioned reasons, so they need to buy credit from elsewhere. This was the central reason behind Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. To put it bluntly, the Kyoto Protocol is subsidizing Putin's military revival. If the supposed oil wealth funding of madrassas is a problem, then I suggest this one is at least as big.

This is, needless to say, a terrible situation to be in. When environmentalists get their way, Putin gets his. If Putin's energy weapon is to be neutralized, Western European governments need to face down the environmental lobbies in their countries, and allow digging for coal and new nuclear build. Political calculus, however, suggests otherwise. And Putin knows this.


Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?

A bit of realism from a Leftist site

From Coldplay to Leonardo diCaprio to Al Gore, influential environmentalists are increasingly modeling green behavior by neutralizing their carbon emissions through carbon offsets. Briefly, offsets are based on the notion that consumers can balance out carbon intensive activities, like travel, by contributing to projects that reduce greenhouse gases. Between 2005 and 2007 the market for carbon offsets grew 175%, reaching $110 million (Faris 2007). But just as buying indulgences in the Middle Ages never really erased your sins, carbon offsets rarely counteract your carbon use. Moreover, in some cases, carbon offset projects actually hurt local people. Many experts now believe that well-intentioned consumers are not just wasting their money on offsets, but that purchasing them actually does more harm than good.

How it Works

Suppose you buy airplane tickets for your family's summer vacation on a website like Travelocity, Orbitz or Expedia. Somewhere in the process of taking your credit card information, the website will ask whether you would like to offset your trip's carbon emissions for a nominal fee (e.g., a roundtrip flight from NYC to San Francisco = 5,142 miles = 2,455 lbs CO2 = $17.85). Or, you can offset your car rental, hotel stay and flight (a seven day cross-country trip can be offset for $5.44/day/person). You can also offset your wedding, and, if you're feeling guilty on a daily basis, you can offset energy usage in your home, or your dorm room.

At this point, your original travel search engine will have linked you to a carbon offset company. These for-profit organizations act as brokers, channeling consumer contributions to projects that either replace atmospheric carbon (i.e., by planting trees) or promote renewable energy. Sounds promising, but is it really so easy to "zero-out" the carbon that leads global warming? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

The Trouble with Trees

Take, for example, carbon sequestration programs, which account for approximately 20% of the carbon offset market. Based on the idea that trees absorb carbon, these programs sponsor the planting of large forests designed to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For over a decade, governments and non-profit foundations in the developing world have been offering large sums of money to developing countries in exchange for tree plantations, also known as "carbon sinks".

However scientists point out that there is a major difference between the kind of carbon emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and the kind of carbon stored by trees. "Carbon emissions from burned oil, gas or coal cannot be considered as equal to the same amount of biological carbon in a tree," write scientists at the Forests and the European Union Resource Network (FERN 2005). Whereas in nature, carbon moves freely between forests, oceans and air, the fossil carbon pool is inert. Once out of the ground and into the air via cars, coal extraction, etc., fossil carbon joins the active carbon pool. It will not return to the fossil carbon pool for millennia. So, the carbon absorbed by trees does not zero out the carbon emitted by airplanes.

Even if the carbon were equivalent, trees are not necessarily reliable carbon storehouses. First, scientists point out that when trees burn, rot, or are chopped down, they release any carbon they have stored (Kill 2003).

Second, according to ecologist Ram Oren, principal investigator on Duke University's ongoing Free Air Carbon Enrichment project, if trees do not receive enough water or nutrients, any extra carbon they store very quickly goes back into the atmosphere (Cropping 2007). For instance, in 2002, the band Coldplay announced it would offset the environmental impact caused by the release of its second album by planting 10,000 mango trees in southern India. More precisely, Coldplay worked with CarbonNeutral, an offset company, which in turn contracted with Women for Sustainable Development, an NGO. Eventually funds went to local farmers who were supposed to plant and care for the trees. However, four years after the album's release, many of the trees had died - a drought dried the soil, and many villagers never received funding to help them maintain their trees (Dhillon and Harnden 2006).

Carbon Offsets and Human Rights Violations

The Coldplay/Carbon Neutral project left behind more than just dead mango trees. Indian villagers, who are economically marginalized to begin with, invested time and energy that could have been directed at other, more secure income-generating projects. In fact, one of the biggest problems with Carbon offset schemes, particularly forests, is their lack of attention to the lives of local people. Frequently, carbon sinks displace local populations, generating poverty, inequality, and food and water scarcity. They also drastically reduce biological diversity. In turn, the erosion of resources at every level exacerbates local conflicts (McAfee 2003). Even more seriously, some carbon offset tree plantations have become an excuse for human rights violations.

One well-known case exemplifies the violence created by offset forests. In the early 1990s, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Face Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established by Dutch power companies, launched an initiative to plant scores of trees in Mount Elgon National Park. In order to implement the project, the Ugandan government evicted thousands of local farmers. Most have been fighting to regain their land ever since.

Two years ago, after a new government came into power, the courts granted an injunction in the farmers' favor. Almost immediately, they cut down carbon-sink trees and planted maize and other vegetables instead. In response, the paramilitary Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) began beating and shooting the farmers. Now, the perimeter of Mount Elgon is tantamount to a war zone (Faris 2007; Smith 2007; Zarembo 2007).

The Ugandan case is not the only example of violence associated with carbon offset plantations. There have been other reports in Central America, Africa and India. In general, clearing vast areas of land amid people without economic resources is always problematic.

Alternatives to Arbors

Some carbon offset companies try to steer clear of those problems by funding the production of energy efficient light bulbs, solar panels, or other alternative energy sources. Yet even these projects are rife with uncertainty. For instance, the LA Times reported on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania that received funding from Native Energy, a popular offset broker. The farm had already won an alternative energy grant from the US Department of Agriculture to capture methane and burn it to generate electricity. Just after the project began Native Energy signed a deal to pay the farmer for 29,000 tons of carbon dioxide reductions. The money did not pay for any further methane burning - in fact, in the Times article, the farmer refers to the offset deal as a "free bonus" (Zarembo 2007).

In another example, Native Energy paid $36,000 to the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, a power utility for dozens of remote Eskimo communities in Western Alaska. The cooperative had just received $2.8 million in federal funding for a $3.1-million wind turbine project. In exchange for its contribution (roughly 1% of the total project costs) Native Energy received 25 years of carbon dioxide reductions, or 100% of the project's carbon reductions. Here, consumer offset fees actually bought little except the ability for Native Energy to sell more offsets.

Examples like these have inspired a lot of buzz about ensuring 'additionality', or verifying that offset funding generates genuine and unique carbon reductions. Most offset companies now advertise that their projects' additionality is certified by "third party" experts. But critics point out that certifiers, themselves, are often consultants with their own stake in endorsing a project's success.

More generally, determining criteria for additionality can be tricky business. Some projects might be complete without offset funding, but the extra cushion it provides ensures their sustainability. Whether that constitutes additionality is open to interpretation. For instance, environmental watchdog group Clean Air Cool Planet published its own "Consumer's Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers" in 2007. Native Energy ranked among the top eight providers, with especially high marks for additionality, despite the questionable examples mentioned above.

The problem is that almost every aspect of the carbon offset market is subjective and unfettered. This past January, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will begin to take a closer look at the "booming, unregulated 'carbon offset' market" (Joyce 2008). But, in the meantime, offset companies are free to charge with the market will bear, and economists predict that the industry will grow by $40 billion by the year 2010 (Faris 2007).



UK Coal is seeking to cash in on rising energy prices through higher production and the end of long-term, low-priced legacy contracts. The company is already investing œ55m each in its collieries at Thoresby in Nottinghamshire and Kellingley in West Yorkshire to open up new reserves and is expected to decide within the next six months whether to reopen the Harworth mine near Doncaster, which has been mothballed for more than two years.

Chief executive Jon Lloyd said he believed it was accepted that in the face of higher energy prices, and despite the impact of the large combustion plants directive, which limits power station emissions, coal would play a "significant and perhaps major part in the UK's energy mix over the next two decades".

"There will be environmental challenges but frankly it's a political must to keep the lights on," Lloyd said. He said the company would decide on Harworth either late this year or in the first quarter of 2009. If it was reopened, at a cost of up to œ175m, it would eventually provide another 2.2 m to 2.3 m tonnes of coal a year. The key factors would be the geology, which would determine the cost of accessing the reserves, and their size - thought to be 25m to 40m tonnes.

More here


Who has noticed that the period 2014-2015 keeps on turning up in the debate on greenhouse science? For that is when greenhouse proponents say the long-delayed global warming apocalypse will start happening. In addition, that general date has turned up in forecasts made by an arch sceptic, and two researchers in the US have forecast that sunspot activity will cease entirely by 2014.

As the two sides do not agree on anything else at all this is odd - odd enough to be worth exploring.

One group to point at the 2015 date is led by Noel Keenlyside of the Leibnitz Institute of Marine Science in the German city of Kiel. As reported in the journal Nature (letters, May 1) Keenlyside and colleagues added the affect of climate cycles to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models to forecast that global temperatures will remain stable or perhaps even dip down for the next few years, before heading up. The paper does not give a date for the expected kick up in temperatures but in a subsequent interview with the Daily Telegraph in the UK Keenlyside stated that the earth will start to warm again in 2015.

Keenlyside was forecasting from his research into the powerful Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMO) climate cycle which, he says, has a global effect and will weaken to its long term mean. He also emphasises that his work in no way contradicts that of the IPCC - he is merely adding climate cycles on top of the panel's predictions - but his work seem to have horrified the hardliners. There have been internet reports that prominent scientists have tried to challenge the Keenlyside team to bets on temperature trends. However, other climate cycles seem to be following the AMO lead. In April, NASA announced that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has shifted from its warm mode to its cool mode - a switch that will not be discussed here but may also result in significant cooling.

More recently, another group observing the sun has also come up with the date 2014 but for quite different reasons. As has been noted a few times in the media, the sun has gone quiet - too quiet - with the next solar cycle so far not putting in an appearance. Scientists have known for a very long time that the earth has a distinct 11-year cycle. At its height, indicated by lots of sunspots, the sun is very active giving off lots of flares and solar storms which affect satellites. At the bottom of the cycle there are few or no spots, and a marked lack of activity.

The last cycle was officially declared over by NASA in March 2006 with one group at the space agency putting out a release confidently forecasting that the next cycle would be 20 to 50 per cent stronger than the old.

The sun responded to this piece of scientific hubris by going quiet. A few spots from the new cycle have been sighted, as well as a few spots from the old - scientists can tell which spots the cycle belongs to by their magnetic polarity - but very little has happened.

At the time of writing the sun is still spot free. NASA solar physicist David Hathaway points out, quite rightly, that the sun's behaviour is within major statistical limits - just. The average solar cycle lasts 131 months plus or minus 14 months and the current cycle - the quiet period counts as part of the old cycle - has lasted nearly 143 months. The solar cycle went quiet for years at the beginning of last century before restarting, Hathaway notes, so nothing out of the ordinary has happened - at least, not yet.

Another group at the US National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, William Livingston and Matthew Penn, believe that there may be a deeper process at work. Sunspots are highly magnetic regions that are somewhat cooler than the rest of the sun's surface (they appear dark compared to the rest of the sun, but if seen separately would appear very bright) and the two researchers have been tracking both the temperature and magnetic strength of the spots. They found that the spots have been warming up and becoming less magnetic. An average of the trend is a straight line going down which hits the bottom of the graph at 2014. They have concluded that, although sun spots may appear briefly from time to time in the next few years, they will disappear by 2014.

This conclusion is in a paper submitted to the journal Science three years ago but rejected in peer review. With the sun now so quiet the paper has been resurrected from a filing cabinet in the observatory and circulated informally. Dr Livingston told me (by phone from his office in Tucson) that the paper had been rejected on the grounds that it was a purely statistical argument so it would be better to wait and see what happened, and he considered that a fair point. They are now waiting "for the right moment" to resubmit.

But what happens after 2014? Dr Livingston says that as they are using a purely statistical argument, without any theory to back it, they do not know. All they know is that the trend reaches zero in 2014. Conventional theory on the sun's inner workings never forecast anything like this - in fact, forecast the exact opposite - but has been revised to say that the sun will restart some time next year.

With the sun being quiet for a surprisingly long time, plenty of commentators are pointing to the possibility of a Maunder Minimum - a period from 1645 to 1715 with very few sunspots which is associated with a series of bitter winters known as the Little Ice Age. Although it is widely acknowledged that there must be some link between the sun's activity and climate, the nature of the link and its effectiveness is hotly debated. The IPCC models, the ruling orthodoxy, gives star billing to the effect of industrial gases in the atmosphere and places solar variations in the also ran category. However, as we shall see those models have proved largely useless for forecasting - in the short term, at least - and there are no rival climate theories. The sceptics largely decline to forecast, pointing out, with some justification as it turns out, that there is as yet no means of forecasting what the sun will do.

One sceptic who is prepared to make a forecast, and who also points to the date of 2015, is professional UK weather forecaster Piers Corbyn. The bulk of scientists have little time for Corbyn, who is a strong advocate of the link between solar activity and climate. Greenhouse proponents, in particular, detest him. For as well as stridently denouncing the IPCC whenever he can, he also appeared on the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. However, he does have a track record as a weather forecaster and, for whatever reason, is saying the same things as the Keenlyside team, at least for the next few years. He forecasts that global temperatures will decline until 2015, and then kick up briefly, before declining again....

More here


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Friday, August 29, 2008

Another Prominent Scientist Dissents from Warming Fears at an International Conference

"For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?" - Geologist Dr. David Gee

On August 8, 2008, Geologist Dr. David Gee, the chairman of the science committee of the recently concluded International Geological Congress, dismissed the notion that the "science is settled" on man-made climate fears by asking his fellow scientists "How sure can we be?" about carbon dioxide driving global temperatures.

Note: The International Geological Congress prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. See Full report here

Gee was perhaps one of the most prominent and accomplished scientists attending the conference in Oslo. Gee, currently a professor at Dept. for Geosciences of Uppsala University in Sweden, was awarded the European Geosciences Union award for his scientific leadership of EUROPROBE, a multidisciplinary research project that brought hundreds of senior scientists, postdocs and doctoral students together to study tectonic structures within Europe. EUROPROBE was a project of the International Lithosphere Program and the European Science Foundation. Gee has led geologic expeditions to such locales as Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, the Polar Urals and the Taimyr Peninsula and has authored numerous scientific papers. He also chairs a Swedish Research Council committee. Dr. Gee's full bio here

Full excerpt of Gee's presentation to the International Geological Congress on August 8, 2008:

"Here we look (at the graph) at the last 100 years and here we look at carbon dioxide climbing from about 280ppm to 380 now and we see temperature as well. And we have talked about it all day here haven't we? About the natural variation which produced the ups and downs through the 1910's 1920's, 1930's and 40's, -- increasing -- going down, apparently independent of carbon dioxide and now an increase in temperature thanks to carbon dioxide, apparently. And I think we need to have this in our minds all the time -- How sure can we be? If I could have the next slide please.

If we look at last ten years, this is the thing we have been quarrelling about. You see on left there in 1998, the temperature when we had the El Nino, and the very high peak in 1998 and then a general sinking and flattening and then two years of sharply decreasing temperatures. I don't think anyone quarrels about this; this is international data and well established graphs. You see the carbon dioxide curve going straight across that diagram from left to right, upwards. So my question is extremely simple, we know temperature goes up and down. We know there is tremendous amount of natural variations, but for how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand -- we politicians and scientists-- that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" the scientist asked to applause from the audience."

Thirty Years of a Failed Democrat Energy Policy

By Alan Caruba

Millions will tune in to hear Sen. Barack Obama's acceptance speech as the Democrat Party's choice to be the next President of the United States. For Americans, the need to pay particular attention to his speech is essential if we are to escape thirty years of a failed Democrat energy policy.

From the days President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House and secured a windfall profit taxes on American oil companies, this nation has been made vulnerable to our enemies by emphasizing alternative energy and biofuels as the answer to our growing need for oil and electrical power.

The windfall profits tax led to the decline of the oil industry's investments in oil exploration and extraction in the United States, and to their understandable reluctance to invest billions in the building of much needed refineries.

Congress, since 2006, has been controlled by Democrats as the majority party. In the Senate, Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, has said that "Oil makes us sick. Coal makes us sick. Global warming makes us sick." This is such blatant nonsense that, were it spoken by anyone else, it would be easily dismissed. However, Sen. Reid controls the legislative agenda of the U.S. Senate! His counterpart in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has said that her job is to "save the planet."

We should consider the total lack of any substantive legislation the Democrat Congress has produced in the two years they have been in control. We should consider the prospects if they are permitted to continue and their candidate should become President. For this reason alone we should listen closely to Sen. Obama.

Fact: Global warming was and is a hoax. Thousands of scientists worldwide have dismissed the false computer models on which it is based, but more importantly at this time is the fact that the Earth has been demonstrably cooling for at least a decade.

Even the venerable Farmer's Almanac predicts "below average temperatures for most of the U.S." The 192-year-old publication which claims an accurate rate of 80 to 85 percent for its forecasts, prepared two years in advance, says in its 2009 edition that at least two-thirds of the country can expect "colder-than-average temperatures this winter, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings." "This is going to be catastrophic for millions of people," said editor Peter Geiger.

I will tell you what also will be catastrophic: the election of Sen. Barack Obama and a Democrat Congress if their thirty years of attacks on the American oil industry continue, along with their thirty years of support for biofuels, ethanol, and so-called "alternative energy" or "clean energy." As my friend, Seldon Graham, Jr., with fifty years' experience as a petroleum engineer and attorney, says, "The U.S. needs to eliminate both ethanol and foreign oil. If it is worth fighting for in the Middle East, it is worth drilling for in the United States."

You will not hear such straight talk from Sen. Obama and you have not heard it from the leadership of the Democrat Party. Instead you have heard the steady drumbeat of attacks on the American oil industry and the advocacy of failed energy policies that cost Americans millions at the gas pump and leave millions vulnerable to high costs when they heat their homes this winter.

Even Sen. McCain, who still believes the global warming hoax, has called for off-shore drilling. That is a small step in the right direction. A pragmatist, he will no doubt come to see the folly of further legislative programs to address a non-existent global warming threat, but it will be Sen. Obama's energy policies that hold the greatest threat to the nation's economy and future.


When Good Lizards Go Bad: Komodo Dragons Take Violent Turn

Indonesian villagers Blame Environmentalists for Reptiles' aggression

At least once a week, an unwelcome intruder crawls under a clapboard wall and, forked tongue darting, lumbers its way into Syarif Maulana's classroom. Then, everyone screams, there is no more school, and we all run away very fast," says the 10-year-old boy. "We are very afraid." The intruder, a Komodo dragon, is the world's largest lizard, an ancient, fierce carnivore found only on a handful of remote islands in eastern Indonesia. Reaching 10 feet in length, the dragons feed on buffaloes, deer and an occasional human. Just a year ago, a boy about Syarif's age died in a dragon's jaws, his bones smashed against rocks to facilitate reptilian digestion.

That killing, and a spate of other close encounters, has fanned a panic in the dragons' main habitat, the Komodo National Park. Touted by Indonesia as its "Jurassic Park," this rocky, barren archipelago is home to some 2,500 dragons and nearly 4,000 people, clustered in four fishing villages of wooden stilt houses. These locals have long viewed the dragons as a reincarnation of fellow kinsfolk, to be treated with reverence. But now, villagers say, the once-friendly dragons have turned into vicious man-eaters. And they blame policies drafted by American-funded environmentalists for this frightening turn of events.

"When I was growing up, I felt the dragons were my family," says 55-year-old Hajji Faisal. "But today the dragons are angry with us, and see us as enemies." The reason, he and many other villagers believe, is that environmentalists, in the name of preserving nature, have destroyed Komodo's age-old symbiosis between dragon and man. For centuries, local tradition required feeding the dragons -- which live more than 50 years, can recognize individual humans and usually stick to fairly small areas. Locals say they always left deer parts for the dragons after a hunt, and often tied goats to a post as sacrifice. Island taboos strictly prohibited hurting the giant reptiles, a possible reason why the dragons have survived in the Komodo area despite becoming extinct everywhere else. "For us, giving food to the dragons is an obligation, our sacred duty," says Hajji Adam, headman of the park's biggest village, Kampung Komodo.

Indonesia invited the Nature Conservancy, a Virginia-based environment protection group, to help manage the park in 1995. An Indonesian subsidiary of the group, called Putri Naga Komodo, gained a tourism concession for the park in 2005 and is investing in the conservation effort some $10 million of its own money and matching financing from international donors.

With this funding and advice, park authorities put an end to villagers' traditional deer hunting, enforcing a prohibition that had been widely disregarded. They declared canines an alien species, and outlawed the villagers' dogs, which used to keep dragons away from homes. Park authorities banned the goat sacrifices, previously staged on Komodo for the benefit of picture-snapping tourists. "We don't want the Komodo dragon to be domesticated. It's against natural balance," says Widodo Ramono, policy director of the Nature Conservancy's Indonesian branch and a former director of the country's national park service. "We have to keep this conservation area for the purpose of wildlife. It is not for human beings."

When people hunt deer, it poses a mortal threat to the dragons, which disappeared from a small island near Komodo after poachers decimated deer stocks there, officials say. "If we let the locals hunt again, the dragons will be gone," says Vinsensius Latief, the national park's chief for Komodo island. "If we are not strict in enforcing the ban, everything here will be destroyed."

But, while the deer population remains stable in the park, many dragons these days prefer to seek easier prey in the vicinity of humans. They frequently descend from the hills to the villages, hiding under stilt houses and waiting for a chance to snap at passing chicken or goats. Much to the fury of villagers, park authorities, while endorsing the idea in principle, so far haven't acted on repeated requests to build dragon-proof fences around the park's inhabited areas. The measure is estimated to cost about $5,000 per village. "People are scared because, every day, the dragons come down and eat our goats," complains Ibrahim Hamso, secretary of the Kampung Rinca village. "Today it's a goat, and tomorrow it can be our child."

A year ago, a 9-year-old named Mansur was one such victim. The boy went to answer the call of nature behind a bush near his home in Kampung Komodo. In broad daylight, as terrified relatives looked on, a dragon lunged from his hideout, took a bite of the boy's stomach and chest, and started crushing his skull. "We threw branches and stones to drive him away, but the dragon was crazed with blood, and just wouldn't let go," says the boy's father, Jamain, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. Unlike in the U.S. and many other Western countries, park rangers here don't routinely put down animals that develop a taste for human flesh.

A few months later, Jamain's neighbor Mustaming Kiswanto, a 38-year-old who makes a living selling dragon woodcarvings to tourists, and whose son had been bitten by a dragon, was attacked by another giant lizard after falling asleep. In June, five European divers, stranded in an isolated part of the park, said they successfully fended off an aggressive dragon by throwing their weight belts at it.

One of the most famous lizard attacks occurred half a world away in 2001, when a Komodo dragon kept by the Los Angeles Zoo tried to ingest the foot of Phil Bronstein, then editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and husband of actress Sharon Stone.

To the villagers in Komodo, the recent incidents provide clear evidence of an ominous change in reptile behavior. "I don't blame the dragons for my boy's death. I blame those who forbade us from following custom and feeding them," says Jamain. "If it weren't for them, my boy would still be alive."

Officials at the Nature Conservancy's Indonesian headquarters in Bali dismiss such widespread belief about a connection between the attacks and the ban on feeding the dragons as "superstition." The group and its Komodo subsidiary reject any responsibility for Mansur's death. The boy "shouldn't have crouched like a prey species in a place where dragons live," says Marcus Matthews-Sawyer, tourism, marketing and communications director at Putri Naga Komodo. "You've got to be very careful about extrapolating and drawing any conclusions."

Despite such disbelief in the Komodo villagers' theories, executives at the Nature Conservancy's headquarters in the U.S. pledge to reach out and tackle local fears. "Any concern expressed by the villagers will be taken seriously and we will address it if we can," says Chief Communications Officer James R. Petterson. "The Komodo effort is a work in progress."

Dragon and man could coexist here in harmony in the past, Komodo park officials add, because at the time the area's human population was a fraction of today's size. Now, with local villages pushing deeper inland and attracting new settlers from elsewhere in Indonesia, conflict may be inevitable -- and even a fence won't be able to prevent dragon infiltrations. "The smell of the village -- goats, chicken, drying fish -- all this invites the dragons," says Mr. Latief. "And if the dragons can't grab the animals, they will bite the villagers."


Comment on the above from a reader in Oregon:

Actually, it is not entirely wrong to discourage feeding of dangerous predators. Just up the coast here, in Florence, they are having an awful problem with bears getting into people's homes, having to be trapped and destroyed. A lot of retired people who had moved to Florence thought it was cute to feed them, but this year on account of the cold weather (thanks, Global Warming!) the spring berry crop was poor so the bears wanted more garbage from the humans and people started finding bears on their porches, breaking their doors and windows, and eating pets. Then the trappers come in and catch or shoot the bears which is good because they should not be dependent on humans - fear them, in fact. And, of course, it is perfectly legal for homeowners to shoot threatening bears.

On the other hand, with regard to the Komodos, it sounds like the locals had a modus vivendi worked out, but here come the American earthniks who know better, and there's trouble in Komodo City. And, since apparently the earthniks outlawed dogs as well as guns, the villagers are left defenseless. The attitude of the earthniks is one I've observed before; animals come first, people we can do without. It's widespread in leftist circles.

Food shortage amelioration from an unexpected place

Now that Russia is Fascist (semi-capitalist) instead of Communist, we begin to get a glimpse of its huge agricultural potential -- even amid global cooling

Russia has harvested 75.3 million metric tons of grain to Aug. 25 on 25.7 million hectares (63.5 million acres). The total grain-planted area in Russia is 46.3 million hectares (114.4 million acres). The average yield so far has been 2.93 tons a hectare (1.19 tons / acre).

Grain harvested to date was 22 million tons more than on the same date last year, with the average yields exceeding those reported on the same date last year by 0.55 tons a hectare. Wheat harvest to date was 43.2 million tons on 13 million hectares (32 million acres), with the average yield of 3.35 tons a hectare (1.36 tons / acre). Barley harvest was 17 million tons on 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres), with the average yield of 2.84 tons a hectare (1.15 tons / acre).

The total grain planted area to be harvested this year is 47 million hectares, 2 million hectares or also 5 million acres more than last year. This year's grain harvest is expected to come in at 95 million tons in clean weight. This will be up 13 million tons on the 2007 harvest or up 16%.


Leisure time has value too

One of the things that I've been banging on about here and there recently is the way in which the costs of recycling systems are misstated. For no one ever adds in the costs of the time taken by households to sort the materials so that they can be recycled. My own crude numbers tell me that the costs of this labour are greater than the costs of the rest of the entire system put together. No, I don't think those numbers are right but I am insistent that the basic concept is correct. Which is why I've been rather blindsided by those who say that time spent not working for money doesn't actually have a value.

Eh? Of course such time has a value, there's an opportunity cost to your being forced to labour instead of doing something else. All of which rather leads me to this assertion by Robert Fogel (yet another Nobel Laureate at U. Chicago).
A reader has questioned Fogel's assertion that Americans spend only 13% of their incomes on necessities, noting that sounds low. To make meaningful comparisons across centuries, Fogel has looked at how much of the increase in incomes over a person's lifetime has gone to buy leisure - that is to work fewer hours, including more years in retirement. He put up a table at the Lindau meeting that showed that Americans used 18% of their incomes to buy time off in 1875 but 68% in 1995.

The table and argument are at page 190 of this book.

If, from the gargantuan rise in wealth over the past century and a bit we've decided to purchase more leisure rather than more goods and baubles, then we value that leisure higher than the baubles. So if someone starts telling us that we must labour, for free, to sort our rubbish, that has a cost to us as we now are spending our time on neither the leisure we prefer nor the baubles we've given up to get it. It still leaves, of course, the determination of exactly what that time is in fact worth and as I say, I know that my numbers are not right in detail. I just wish that someone would in fact let us know what are the correct numbers.

Fogel's argument does of course entirely slay another set of arguments, those of all who complain about the ever longer working hours, the way in which modernity leaves us with ever less leisure time. They are, quite literally, spouting rubbish for we've never been so rich in leisure as we are now.


Australia: Arrogant architects who think they know what's best for other people

Regardless of what the people themselves want, of course. NOTE: 1). This is just a regurgitation of the failed American "Smart Growth" strategy. 2). Low quality houses throughout the metropolitan areas are already often torn down and replaced by apartment blocks -- so that people who are willing to live in apartments can do so almost anywhere they choose

AUSTRALIA'S big cities are being urged to ban outer suburban housing estates to cut urban sprawl and be more like London and Rome. The nation's peak architectural body wants Australian cities to focus on boosting their inner and middle suburbs' density rather than release land in outer areas, to become more sustainable.

The Royal Australian Institute of Architects' new urban design policy also pushes for greater regional development, which in Victoria would mean more people to living and working in cities such as Geelong or Ballarat. However, Victoria's peak housing developer group says a move away from outer suburbs would cripple the economy and hurt families who were calling for more housing in affordable areas.

RAIA president Howard Tanner said increasing urban density to maximise efficiency and sustainability of infrastructure was the only way forward for Melbourne and Sydney. "You have got people encouraged to buy a block of land way out of the city and they are having to travel for three hours a day to commute. That's not sustainable," he said. Mr Tanner said a roads-based city like Los Angeles was seeing infrastructure crumble, and Australian cities would do better to aim for the city models of London and Rome. "People there live in town houses or terrace houses, the houses are never one-storey and you have got the population that lives closer to the city," he said. "We have to curtail land subdivisions at the extremities of the city. The other option is to put in some very fast trains to regional centres. Somewhere like Geelong could be an attractive destination for working and living."

Victoria's housing estate developers are represented by the Urban Development Institute of Australia, and executive director Tony De Domenico said banning estate developments on Melbourne's fringe was unrealistic and blinkered. "The population is still growing and there's a demand for these properties," Mr De Domenico said. "It's near impossible to dictate to the market what should happen. The thing that's keeping Victoria's economy very competitive compared to the mining states is we are very competitive in housing." Mr De Domenico said RAIA members should spend more time in outer suburbs and see what people wanted.

Victorian Council of Social Service policy manager David Imber said a sweeping ban on outer-suburban estates was wrong.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

A tour of the climate evidence

There is no evidence human-emitted CO2 has actually raised the earth's temperatures significantly. The evidence we have is a warming, which began about 1850, and mostly occurred too early to be blamed on human-emitted greenhouse gases. The total warming from 1850 to the present has been 0.7 degrees C-but 0.5 degrees of the warming occurred before 1940. Eighty 80 percent of humanity's greenhouse gases emissions came after that date.

The earth's net global warming since 1940, moreover, has been a barely-measurable 0.2 degrees C-over 70 years. During this time the climate forcing power of CO2 molecules has been declining logarithmically, to the point where soon additional CO2 won't make any further climate impact.

The climate warming alarmists say that our recent warming "must be caused by humans," since nothing else would account for the strong warming from 1976-1998. However, there was an equally strong global warming surge from 1916-1940, before global industrialization and auto numbers began to emit CO2 in serious amounts. The fact is that no one can diagnose a climate change on the basis of a mere 25 years of data. Climate events are too long-term, and the short-term events are too complex.

From 1940 to 1975, global temperatures actually trended down, while CO2 emissions were soaring. The alarmists blame this cooling on sulfate particle pollution from power plants, which they claim masked some of the incoming solar radiation. If that were true, however, the southern hemisphere should have warmed faster than the northern hemisphere. In fact, the temperatures rose fastest right where the power plants were located, in the northern hemisphere.

What else could have warmed the earth in our time? Our first clues come from history.

British Wine Grapes

Wine grapes are one of our important climate proxies because people have always grown wine whenever and wherever they could. The Romans wrote of growing wine grapes in England in the 1st century, when they occupied that island. They also wrote of wine grapes and olive trees gradually being cultivated farther and farther north in Italy. It seems clear that the climate was warming during the 1st century. Then the Romans left Britain, and the world entered the Dark Ages, when it was apparently too cold to grow wine in Britain.

In the 11th century, the Britons themselves were growing wine grapes. William the Conqueror's tax collectors had nearly 50 vineyards on the tax rolls of the Domesday Book.[2] After 1300, however, the European climate shifted to a cold phase and for 550 years no wine grapes were grown on the island. Londoners held ice festivals on the frozen Thames instead.

The next time British wine grapes matured was not until after 1950. Britain currently has about 400 vineyards, but almost all of them are of the hobby type. The British wine industry's website says the vintners get only about two good years out of ten, but the rising global thermometers are giving them hope for the future. They also benefit from some hybrid grapes that the Romans didn't have.

The Greenland Vikings

Another eloquent testimonial to the existence of a long, natural climate cycle comes from Greenland. Eric the Red led a group of Viking settlers there from Iceland in 982 AD. They called it Greenland because the coastal regions were then bright green with grass. They pastured their dairy cattle and thrived for at least 300 years on milk, cheese, vegetables, seal meat and codfish. Eric's son Leif even ventured to Newfoundland in search of timber, but the natives' arrows drove him away.

Then, the sea ice began to move south. The codfish moved south too, away from Greenland. The summers got shorter, making it harder and harder to grow enough hay for the cattle during the lengthening winters. Eventually, the sea ice and worse storms cut Iceland off from Greenland for a long 350 years. The last written record of its 3,000 inhabitants was a wedding in 1408. The Greenland Vikings starved or froze due to climate change.[3]

Ancient Chinese Records

China's written records, of course, go back further than those of any other country. China's climate from 1000 BC to 1400 AD has been reconstructed from palace records, official histories, and diaries. Key indicators include the arrival dates of migrating birds, the distribution of plant species and fruit orchards, patterns of elephant migrations, and the major floods and droughts. G. Yu of the Chinese National Academy of Science concludes that Chinese temperatures must have been 2-3 degrees C higher than present during the Holocene Warming 6000 years ago.

Pollen analysis reveals that the deciduous forest extended 800 km further north then than it does today, and tropical forest occupied areas that are now broad-leaved evergreens.[4] Also, Chinese wealth rose steadily from 200 BC, peaked about 1100 AD, and then entered a prolonged decline, according to Kang Chao's careful economic analysis.[5] Chao also reports that China averaged less than four major floods per century during the Medieval Warming and twice that many during the Little Ice Age. Major droughts were only one-third as common during the warm centuries as during the cold phases (the unnamed cold period before 200 BC, the Dark Ages from about 200 to 800 AD, and the Little Ice Age from about 1300 to 1850 AD).

Are we dealing with a cycle? A cycle too moderate and long-term to be discerned by primitive peoples without thermometers or written records? The answer was confirmed in 1983, by the retrieval of the world's first long ice cores from the Greenland ice sheet. Willi Dansgaard of Denmark and Hans Oeschger of Switzerland were anxious to learn what the ice could tell us about the earth's temperature history. They had learned that the oxygen isotopes in the ice layers revealed the air temperature when the ice was laid down, through the ratio of 018 "heavy isotopes" to 016 "light isotopes," which evaporate at different rates.

Dansgaard and Oeschger had expected to see the long 90,000-year Ice Ages in the ice layers, and they did. What they had not expected was a long, moderate 1,500-year climate cycle. The cycle was very regular during the Ice Ages, at 1470 years, plus or minus 10 years. It is somewhat more erratic during the warm interglacial periods, but still dominated the earth's temperatures over the past 12,000 years.[6] The cycle is abrupt, which argues for an external source. Dansgaard and Oeschger suspected the sun, partly because that's where most of our heat comes from, and partly because the "solar isotopes"-carbon 14 in trees and beryllium 10 in ice-showed the same cycles.

Within a few years after Dansgaard and Oeschger, a team led by France's Claude Lorius brought up an even longer ice core from the Antarctic, at the other end of the earth; and it, too, showed the 1,500-year climate cycle extending back nearly a million years.[7] Dansgaard, Oeschger, and Lorius shared the 1996 Tyler Prize (the "environmental Nobel").......

Climate Cycling in North America

The North American Pollen Database, previously mentioned, shows nine complete shifts in vegetation since the last Ice Age. The most recent started about 600 years ago, culminating in the Little Ice Age, with maximum cooling 300 years ago. The previous shift culminated in the maximum warming of the medieval Warm period 1,000 years ago. "We suggest that North Atlantic millennial-scale climate variability is associated with rearrangements of the atmospheric circulation with far-reaching influences on the climate," say the authors. [33]

Water levels of the Great Lakes show a strong response to the 1,500-year climate cycle, with the lake levels high during the climate coolings and low during warming periods. Todd Thompson of Indiana University and Steve Baedke of James Madison University constructed their lake-level history from the "strandplains"-shore-parallel sand ridges that have a core of water-laid sediment.[34]

In the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, foxtail pine and western juniper tree rings indicate a Medieval Warming from 1100 to 1375, and a cold period from 1450 to 1850. Tree rings from the long-lived bristlecone pines correlate statistically from 800 to the present "with the temperatures derived from central England."[35]

U.S. Forest Service researchers analyzed long-dead trees that grew above the current treeline on California's Whitewing Mountain-and concluded that temperatures must have been 3.2 degrees C warmer when they were killed by volcanic gases in 1350.[36]

This is just a sampling of the physical evidence the earth offers on past climate changes. The evidence comes from a wide variety of sources which confirm each other. The evidence is clearly global. Much of it confirms higher temperatures during past warmings than today. Dansgaard and Oeschger clearly documented much higher temperatures than today during the Holocene Warmings 8,000 and 5,000 years ago, which severely undercuts the idea that the trees and plants and birds and bees won't be able to adapt. They did. They're here......

The Sun-Climate Connection

People have known for some 400 years that there is a direct connection between sunspots and the earth's temperatures. We've been counting the sunspots since Galileo made his first telescope, and we've known for centuries that the coldest period during the Little Ice Age occurred during the Maunder and Sporer sunspot minimums, when there were virtually no sunspots at all. Britain's William Herschel said in 1801 that the price of wheat was directly controlled by sunspots, since less rain fell in Britain when there were few sunspots.

But how could the sun control the earth's climate? Fifty years ago, we spoke of the "solar constant." However, we've found in recent years that there is a tiny variation, 0.1 percent in the sun's irradiance. We've also found that the number of sunspots and the length of the sunspot cycle, which ranges from 8-14 years, have a powerful correlation with subsequent changes in the earth's sea surface temperatures.

Richard Willson, of Columbia and NASA, reports that the sun's radiation has increased by nearly 0.05 percent per decade since the late 1970s, when satellites first made it possible to monitor the sun directly. He says he can't be sure that the trend of rising solar radiation goes back further than 1978, but that if this trend had persisted through the 20th century, it would have produced "a significant component" of the observed global warming.[42] Rodney Viereck of the NOAA Space Environment Center admits that natural climate variation could account for one-third of the recent global warming. [43]

Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Research Institute offers a more powerful sun-climate hypothesis: that small variations in the sun's irradiance are amplified into significant climate changes on earth by at least two factors: 1) cosmic rays creating more or fewer of the low, cooling clouds that deflect solar radiance back into space; and 2) solar-driven changes in ozone chemistry in the stratosphere that simultaneously create more or less heating of the earth's lower atmosphere.[44]

The sun constantly releases a stream of charged particles, the solar wind, which partially shields the earth from the cosmic rays that are constantly emitted by distant, exploding stars. The solar wind varies with the sun's irradiance. When the sun's activity is weak, the solar wind is weakened too, so more cosmic rays streak through our atmosphere, creating low, wet clouds, which in turn increase the earth's ability to reflect more of the sun's heat away from the planet. That's a cooling effect. That's why cloudy skies predominated in the landscape paintings during the Little Ice Age.

When the sun is stronger, as it has been since 1850, the solar wind blows more strongly and the earth is shielded more effectively from the cosmic rays. That means fewer low, cooling clouds, and more warming of our planet.

Svensmark matched the data on cosmic rays from the neutron monitor in Climax, Colorado, with the satellite measurements of solar irradiance. Over the period from 1975 to 1989, he found cosmic rays increased by 1.2 percent annually, amplifying the sun's change in irradiance about fourfold. "The direct influence of changes in solar irradiance is estimated to be only 0.1 degree C," he says. "The cloud forcing, however, gives for the above sensitivity 0.3-0.5 C, and has therefore the potential of explaining nearly all of the temperature changes in the period studied."

Svensmark then filled a laboratory cloud chamber with the earth's mix of atmospheric gases, turned on a UV light to mimic the sun-and watched in fascination as the chamber quickly filled with microscopic globules of water and sulfuric acid. In the real atmosphere, these "cloud seeds" attract more moisture and create more of the low, wet clouds that cool the earth. Further experiments are planned at CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory.

Helpfully, the UN's IPCC has already noted that its climate models cannot duplicate the impacts of clouds in the real world. It noted in the science chapter of its 2001 report that not only can it not estimate how much warming or cooling a given cloud might produce, it cannot even tell whether the impact of the cloud is warming or cooling! If it turns out that low, wet clouds really do act as the earth's thermostat, this cloud modeling failure could turn out to be the weakest link in the UN's whole climate science adventure.[45]

Ozone chemistry also seems to offer an amplifier of the solar variability. Joanna Haigh of London's Imperial Collage says that more "far UV" from the sun produces more ozone in the atmosphere-and that ozone absorbs more of the near-UV radiation from the sun. Her computer modeling suggests that a 0.1 percent variation in the sun's radiation could cause a 2 percent change in the ozone concentration.[46] NASA's Drew Shindell says his team confirmed that ozone is one of the key factors that amplifies the effects of solar variations.[47]

Climate warming alarmists don't like to concede that the 1,500-year cycle exists, which is ridiculous in the face of the global evidence. Or they say that the 1,500-year cycle has been superseded in our time by man-made warming. How do we know that, when none of the warming which has occurred has been outside the parameters of the past cycles?

The alarmists do not, however, offer clear evidence proving man-made warming, because they have none. They go only as far as saying that the Greenhouse Effect is "very likely" the cause of recent temperature increases. All they have are unverified climate models, which are not evidence.

If we destroy modern society on the basis of that non-evidence, we will deserve what we will surely get: chaos, poverty, and radically shortened lifespans. For openers, we'd have to give up the 80 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer produced annually with fossil fuels. Half of the world's food supply is grown using nitrogen fertilizer. Organic-only farming would either starve half the population, or force the clearing of the world's remaining forests to grow more low-yield crops.

For the determined cycle skeptics, I recommend getting a copy of "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years". We cite hundreds of studies, by more than 450 peer-reviewed authors and co-authors who have found reason to doubt the "global warming consensus."

Much more here

The power grid and wind energy don't mesh well

When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.

That is a symptom of a broad national problem. Expansive dreams about renewable energy, like Al Gore's hope of replacing all fossil fuels in a decade, are bumping up against the reality of a power grid that cannot handle the new demands.

The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not. The grid today, according to experts, is a system conceived 100 years ago to let utilities prop each other up, reducing blackouts and sharing power in small regions. It resembles a network of streets, avenues and country roads. "We need an interstate transmission superhighway system," said Suedeen G. Kelly, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

While the United States today gets barely 1 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, many experts are starting to think that figure could hit 20 percent. Achieving that would require moving large amounts of power over long distances, from the windy, lightly populated plains in the middle of the country to the coasts where many people live. Builders are also contemplating immense solar-power stations in the nation's deserts that would pose the same transmission problems.

The grid's limitations are putting a damper on such projects already. Gabriel Alonso, chief development officer of Horizon Wind Energy, the company that operates Maple Ridge, said that in parts of Wyoming, a turbine could make 50 percent more electricity than the identical model built in New York or Texas. "The windiest sites have not been built, because there is no way to move that electricity from there to the load centers," he said.

The basic problem is that many transmission lines, and the connections between them, are simply too small for the amount of power companies would like to squeeze through them. The difficulty is most acute for long-distance transmission, but shows up at times even over distances of a few hundred miles....

In Texas, T. Boone Pickens, the oilman building the world's largest wind farm, plans to tackle the grid problem by using a right of way he is developing for water pipelines for a 250-mile transmission line from the Panhandle to the Dallas market. He has testified in Congress that Texas policy is especially favorable for such a project and that other wind developers cannot be expected to match his efforts. "If you want to do it on a national scale, where the transmission line distances will be much longer, and utility regulations are different, Congress must act," he said on Capitol Hill....

The Texas Utility commission has already approved lines to transmit the power from West Texas to the municipalities. I suspect it will be a bigger problem in places like New York where regulators tend to have turf battles and throw up road blocks. New Jersey will probably be even worse. It appears that the cost of electricity from wind is going to be much more than the price of the turbines. I think the environmental lobby will also throw up road blocks. It is what they do.


Greens Against Renewable Energy

Green activists have been pushing for "renewable energy" for decades, even though it shows little promise--after billions of dollars in government subsidies--of ever being practical and inexpensive. Nevertheless, plans are springing up all over the country for large-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects. But now, in addition to their enormous technical obstacles, these green power projects are facing fierce opposition . . . from environmentalists.

The Bureau of Land Management has reportedly received more than 130 proposals to build solar power plants on federal lands in the Southwest. New transmission lines to carry the power from the sun-baked deserts to places where electricity users actually live are also under consideration. However, the solar applications are mired in environmental impact studies, which one solar industry executive said "could completely stunt the growth of the industry." And the plans for new transmission capacity are being ferociously protested by environmentalists decrying the "permanent destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine public lands."

According to Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute: "This just shows the true objective of green activism. Environmentalists don't actually want us to find alternative ways of producing energy; they want us to stop using energy altogether. "The basic premise of environmentalism is to leave nature alone. Capturing and utilizing any source of energy--even ones that are supposedly green and renewable--will necessarily have some impact on nature, and will therefore inevitably be subject to environmentalist attacks and condemnation.

"Since the use of energy is an indispensable component of everything we do in our lives, the greens' opposition to even such ridiculous, impractical sources of energy as solar and wind reveals their basic animus against human life.

"An exasperated Arnold Schwarzenegger said 'if we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it.' But that is the whole point. On green philosophy, there is literally no place on earth for mankind."



Four current articles below:

Sign of the times or just climate porn?

By Christmas Eve in 2012, no rain has fallen in Sydney for more than 200 days and, despite its new desalination plant, the emerald city has run out of drinking water. The effects of climate change have created the conditions for a ring of bushfires that surround the city, but authorities don't have enough water to put them out.

This is the plot synopsis for the Nine Network's new tele-feature experiment called Scorched, which will screen nationally in prime time on Sunday night. Promoters have hailed the production a "major television event" with an all-star cast, fake news broadcasts from authentic Nine newsreaders and a comprehensive supporting website. "Mother nature is on the warpath. It's armageddon," the publicity kit modestly proclaims. Media previews have described the plot as "scarily plausible". Director Tony Tilse claims the idea of a city running out of water is "basically a true story, but it just hasn't happened yet".

Oh, really? Perhaps what is more scarily plausible is that the producers of the program didn't bother to speak to Sydney Water or the Sydney Catchment Authority before going to air. They would have discovered that even in the worst-case scenario, Sydney already has enough water in its huge network of catchments to meet demand until 2014. The city's new desalination plant will come on line by 2010 and will be able to supply 15 per cent of Sydney's demand, but has been designed to quickly double its capacity to a half-billion litres of water a day.

Scorched is the headline act in a wave of climate porn to hit Australia in coming weeks. In 2006, Britain's Institute for Public Policy Research reviewed media, government and activist reporting of climate change and found it to be confusing, contradictory and chaotic, leaving the public feeling disempowered and uncompelled to act. Most notable was the tendency to use alarmist language, or climate porn, which offered "a thrilling spectacle but ultimately distances the public from the problem". Scorched producer Kylie Du Fresne says the telemovie is not meant to be seen as a documentary, but admits "we were interested in blurring the lines between fact and fiction".

A water disaster of this magnitude is like being run over by a steamroller. It's possible, but only if you do nothing. Sydney Water spokesman Brendan Elliott says the plot is "truly a work of fiction". Given it's Sydney Water's primary job to make sure the city doesn't run out of water in the face of population growth and climate change, it's not surprising they have a range of strategies to keep moving in the face of the steamroller. These include desalination, increased water recycling and increased conservation programs.

Water Services Association chief executive Ross Young says he is concerned the show might spark a wave of panicked callers to water authorities on Monday morning. "It's very important that the program is clearly labelled a drama and not a documentary," he tells The Australian. "Even though the chances of climate change are significant, there are processes in place to manage the consequences. "The bottom line is our cities are not going to run out of water."

Climate porn is the latest manifestation of infotainment that flourishes in the no man's land between fiction and nonfiction: dramas loosely based on factual events and the communication of often credible and important ideas and theories sexed up with an extra dose of dramatic licence. On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles caused panic across the US when he broadcast a dramatisation of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. Like Scorched, the radio broadcast used simulated news broadcasts to create an aura of authenticity; some of the program's six million listeners thought there was a Martian invasion in progress.

Climate disaster movies date back to the release of Soylent Green in 1973. The dystopian science-fiction film is set in a severely over-populated and overheated (as a result of climate change) New York in 2022 facing chronic food shortages. Charlton Heston plays a detective who discovers to his horror that the newest food substitute (Soylent Green) is made by reprocessing dead people.

Then in 1995, Kevin Costner starred in the box-office flop Waterworld, a kind of climate-change crisis meets Mad Max movie set in a futuristic Earth where the polar ice caps have melted and the few survivors sail around or live on floating islands, inevitably fighting with each other.

The most explicit climate porn may well be the 2004 blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. Released two years before Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, it grossed 10 times more at the box office. Melting ice sheets and glaciers caused the Altantic Ocean currents to stop suddenly, plunging the entire northern hemisphere into a deep snap-freeze. The film was derided by most climate scientists and highlighted the real problem with creating drama about the effects of climate change: in reality the changes are not sudden, but slow and insidious. In a review, US paleoclimatologist William Hyde observed: "This movie is to climate science as Frankenstein is to heart transplant surgery."

But even a genuine attempt to explain the science, such as An Inconvenient Truth, sailed close to the wind at times in order to sustain the level of drama in what is basically a 90-minute lecture. In one example, Gore made much of the devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans as a portent of increased natural disasters caused by a warming climate.

The main cause of New Orleans' flooding was a poorly maintained system of levees holding back the Mississippi River and surrounding lakes. But holding this aside, scientists are still arguing over whether Gore's claim is actually true. Despite predictions to the contrary, the two subsequent hurricane seasons on the US Atlantic coast were well below average. Climate porn is not just confined to the cinema.


Another prominent Australian scientist predicts global cooling - Dr Ken McCracken

Climate change has been the most important and complex issue on my plate in 15 years as a science and technology correspondent for The Canberra Times. So an appropriate topic for a farewell commentary for this newspaper is an emerging scientific debate with the potential to complicate the already difficult relationship between scientists and politicians on this issue.

The effect of the sun's activity on global temperatures has loomed large in arguments from climate change sceptics over the years. Several Russian scientists have argued that the current period of global warming is entirely due to a cycle of increased solar activity. NSW Treasurer Michael Costa is understood to be among a small group of Australian politicians and other opinion-shapers to embrace this notion.It is wise to be sceptical of many Russian scientists and all politicians, so I have given this ''solar forcing'' explanation of global warming little credence until I attended a forum at the Academy of Science earlier this year and heard it from a scientist of undoubted integrity and expertise in this area.

A former head of CSIRO's division of space science, Dr Ken McCracken was awarded the Australia Prize the precursor of the Prime Minister's Science Prize in 1995. Now in his 80s, officially retired and raising cattle in the ACT hinterland, he is still very active in his research field of solar physics.McCracken is adamantly not a climate change sceptic, agreeing that rising fossil-fuel emissions will be a long-term cause of rising global temperatures.

But his analysis of the sun's cyclical activity and global climate records has led him to the view that we are entering a period of up to two decades in which reduced solar activity may either flatten the upward trend of global temperatures or even cause a slight and temporary cooling.

In a paper given in 2005 to a ''soiree'' hosted by then president of the Academy of Science, Professor Jim Peacock, McCracken said the sun was the most active it had been over 1000 years of scientific observation. This made it inevitable that its activity would decrease over the next two decades in line with historically observed solar cycles. ''The reduced 'forcing' might compensate, or over-compensate, for the effects of the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases,'' he said. ''It is likely that there will be a cessation of around 20 years in the increase in world temperature, or possibly a decrease by 0.1 [degrees] or more.''

I put this to Dr David Jones, head of climate analysis for the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre, whose overarching judgment is that the warming effect of fossil fuel emissions is an increasingly dominant factor on global temperature to the extent that it will not be slowed by lower solar activity.

After an email conversation, Jones said he and McCracken are in general agreement but differ on emphasis and one key judgment. ''Natural solar variability is potentially important, but the climate history and physics tell us that the probability of this factor sufficiently cooling the planet to offset the enhanced greenhouse effect is distinctly remote,'' Jones wrote.

The main point of disagreement was McCracken's view that the rate of global warming could be eased or reduced by a fall in solar activity. ''I have never seen a credible paper published using a climate model that shows this,'' Jones wrote. He points to recent data which indicates that global temperatures are probably rising faster than previously thought, raising the urgency of calls from climate scientists for political action to reduce emissions.

Yet any uncertainty over the sun's influence creates a lever that climate sceptics and developing nations will seize upon to stall such action.If McCracken is wrong and temperatures continue to climb during a decade or two of low solar activity, the need for emissions reductions will be dramatically reinforced. However, if temperatures do not rise over this period, steeling the political will for such action by all nations will be much more difficult.

The dilemma for the science sector is a classic: how to communicate uncertainty.As McCracken rightly observed in 2005, a lull in temperature rises would provide a wonderful opportunity for political and technological effort to gain the initiative in the fight against climate change by turning global emissions around and thus hopefully avoid worst-case warming scenarios when the sun's fires stoke up again mid-century.

But he also noted the risk that mainstream climate science, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would be seen by its critics and others to have been ill-informed at best or misleading at worst, diminishing its credibility and eroding political commitment to emission reductions.

McCracken believes science should be upfront. ''I believe that we must state firmly that a cooling is possible in the near future, but that the warming would then resume 10-20 years hence,'' he said via email. ''It will be very hard to argue for public trust if we say nothing about the possibility, and then try to argue our way out after it happens. Using an Aussie rules analogy, that would be like giving the climate sceptics a free kick 10m in front of goal.''

Australia is definitely entering a footy finals period, and the Earth may be entering a period where human-induced global warming slows temporarily. Many scientists will not be comfortable to consider this possibility, and even less comfortable that journalists canvas it, because in good faith they want nothing to deflect efforts to combat global warming.

However, I have always aimed to tell readers what they deserve to know, not what they may want to hear or what governments, scientists or interest groups would prefer they were told. This has earned me brickbats and bouquets over the years, as it should do, and as I expect it will on this occasion.


More "contradictions" in the Greenie religion

Hybrid batteries spark waste fears. Old Marxists will know what I mean by "contradictions"

AUSTRALIA has no ability to environmentally dispose of the batteries from the Toyota Camry hybrids whose production has been championed by Kevin Rudd. Labor in Victoria, where the cars will be built, has conceded a "current hole" in the nation's recycling policies means there is no capacity to environmentally dispose of the nickel-metal hydride car batteries from the 10,000 hybrid cars to be produced by Toyota every year from the start of 2010.

Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings appeared to concede that the hybrid Camry batteries, which can weigh more than 50kg and cost several thousand dollars, "may ultimately end up within the waste stream". The admissions prompted Opposition claims that Victoria would be faced with tens of thousands of used hybrid car batteries over the next decade, with no sustainable way of disposing of them. "The Government is busy basking in the benefits of this policy while leaving the environment to pick up the tab," said Liberal MP Andrea Coote.

In June, the Prime Minister and Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe announced in Japan that Toyota Australia would produce 10,000 petrol-electric hybrid Camrys a year at its Altona plant in Melbourne from 2010. Mr Rudd promised Toyota $35million from its new Green Car Innovation Fund, a figure immediately matched by the state Labor Government.

Under questioning in state parliament last week, Mr Jennings said he was happy Ms Coote had "been astute enough to pick up what might be a current hole in the resource efficiency capability of not only Victoria but also the nation". Mr Jennings said he welcomed "encouragement to deal with a whole-of-life issue concerning products that may ultimately end up within the waste stream". He said the current volume of hybrid Camrys, given that production does not start until 2010, was "very low in terms of the Australian marketplace". The state Government would look at ways of tackling the issue. "I am happy to look at local-based regulation and market mechanisms, but also harmonisation with other jurisdictions across the nation, to try to make sure we have the appropriate investment and regulatory environment, whether that be most appropriate in state or national jurisdictions," he said.

Ms Coote said the Government was "clearly more focused on collecting accolades than the environmental issues associated with their policy". "In the next decade, Victoria will be faced with tens of thousands of dead hybrid car batteries, with no environmentally sustainable way of disposing of them," she said.

But Mr Jennings said the Opposition criticism showed it was opposed to the production of environmentally friendly cars. "I want Victoria to lead the way nationally in developing a clear framework for identifying when and what products require recycling at the end of their use, including car batteries, and the most appropriate market or regulatory approach to achieve that," he said.

According to Sustainability Victoria, rechargeable batteries, including nickel-metal hydride, are collected by a waste disposal company. Australia does not have the technology and services required to recycle these batteries, so they are processed overseas by a French company that "specialises in the recovery of nickel and cadmium to a strict environmental standard".

The federal Government is considering its response to former Victorian premier Steve Bracks's review of the automotive industry, handed in earlier this month. Ford, one of three companies that manufacture cars in Australia, yesterday pressed its case for a delay in tariff reductions in a private meeting at Parliament House between its global chief executive, Alan Mullaly, and Mr Rudd. Mr Mullaly was invited to make a presentation to Mr Rudd by Industry Minister Kim Carr during his visit to Detroit in June.

"The judgment was it was a good opportunity to visit Australia and to discuss what is being considered in terms of the future policy arrangements applying to the industry and the perspective of a key participant," Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew McKellar said yesterday.


"Renewables" a Mirage

Press release from Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition. []

The Carbon Sense Coalition today accused governments and media of spreading myths on the ability of "renewables" to supply Australia's future electricity. The Chairman of "Carbon Sense" Mr Viv Forbes said there was no chance that wind, solar, hydro and geothermal could supply 20% of Australia's electricity by 2020 without massive increases in electricity costs and severe damage to Australia's industry and standard of living. "The belief that we can go further and eliminate coal from our energy supply is a dangerous delusion."

Wind and solar suffer three fatal flaws which no amount of research dollars, climate junkets, green papers, government gifts, carbon taxes, ministerial statements or imperial mandates will change. The first fatal flaw is obvious even to children at school - no wind turbine or solar panel anywhere in the world can supply continuous power. Power from wind turbines varies with the wind speed, stops when the wind drops and they have to be shut down in strong winds, storms or cyclones. Solar power stops at night or when it is cloudy, and solar panels only supply maximum power around midday, in summer, in the tropics.

The output of both wind and solar varies or shuts down with little warning; this causes big problems in maintaining stability in large power grids. Thus any power grid with more than 10% supplied by wind and solar will risk sudden blackouts or damaging fluctuations. To maintain stable power requires that every kilowatt of solar or wind is shadowed by standby power (preferably gas or hydro) ready to switch on to full power in a very short time. The capital and operating cost of these standby facilities should be added to the real cost of "green power".

The second fatal flaw with wind and solar is that the supply of energy is very dilute, so a large area of land is required to collect significant power. This causes extensive environmental and scenic damage and very large transmission and maintenance costs.

The third fatal flaw of wind and sun power is that only a few places are ideally suited to collect significant quantities of energy, and these places are often far from the main centres of population. Solar power is best collected from places like the Tanami Desert in Northern Territory, and wind power is best collected from places in the path of the Roaring Forties, such as King Island and Western Tasmania. It will be a long time before either of these sites is connected by high voltage power lines to Penny Wong's desk in Canberra or the PM's Lodge in Sydney.

Wind power is useful for providing stock water and moving sailing ships; using solar hot water heaters makes good sense; and solar energy (combined with harmless carbon dioxide from the air and minerals from the soil) provides the primary resources for all farming, forestry, fishing and grazing industries. But neither wind nor sun will supply economical and reliable base load electricity to big cities or industries.

Hydro power can provide low cost stable energy providing it is backed by a large dam in a reliable rainfall area. Finding such spots where approvals could be obtained in a reasonable time frame is almost impossible in Australia. Hydro will not keep the lights on for a growing population.

Natural gas and coal seam gas are hydro-carbon fuels which produce the same two "greenhouse gases" as coal and oil - water vapour and carbon dioxide. They too will be crippled by Emissions Trading and carbon taxes. When the Luddites realise that gas is also a non-renewable carbon fuel, it too will be taxed and regulated to death. It is not a "renewable" and it is less abundant than coal. It is far too valuable to be mandated for base-load electricity generation or city hot water systems.

This leaves geothermal. Geothermal makes good sense in places like New Zealand and Iceland with big areas of active volcanic rocks at shallow depth. But in an old, quiet, cooling continent like Australia, hot rocks are rare and deep. Here it is a totally unproven power source likely to have very high costs for exploration, development, transmission and water. It is worth investigating by people prepared to speculate their capital, but geothermal will not prevent the power brownouts on the horizon unless someone abandons the misguided "crucify carbon" campaign.

With nuclear power and oil shale banned, and plans to tax coal, oil and gas out of existence, man is headed back to the "green" energy sources of the Dark Ages - muscles, horses, firewood and sunshine. But without carbon fuels to bring heat, light, food, transport and water to our large cities, many people will not survive the transition to green nirvana, especially if the current global cooling trend continues.


For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Internationally renowned Norwegian solar expert is a climate sceptic

Pal Brekke was second-in-command of the gigantic international solar research project SOHO. Now back in his home country of Norway, Dr Brekke is immersed in coordinating research and disseminating findings for the Norwegian Space Centre in Oslo. He is bringing knowledge from his field of speciality into the climate debate, which has branded him as a climate bully in certain circles.

The vast majority of researchers concur that anthropogenic activity has affected the earth's climate. Dr Brekke is no exception. But he breaks rank with most climate researchers when he expresses doubt as to the actual extent of the impact of human activity.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has determined that the earth's temperature has risen by about 0.7ø C since 1901. According to Dr Brekke, this time period coincides not only with an increase in human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, but also with a higher level of solar activity, which makes it complicated to separate the effects of these two phenomena. For this standpoint, he has been accused of being in the pocket of the powerful Norwegian petroleum industry and of being the mouthpiece for the country's least environmentally focused political forces.

Some climate researchers have told Dr Brekke that he is unqualified to put forth his opinion since he is not a climate researcher. Dr Brekke asks, "Just what makes someone a climate researcher? Couldn't someone who studies solar radiation also be considered a climate researcher?" Dr Brekke has published more than 40 scientific articles on the sun and on the interaction between the sun and the earth.

"We could be in for a surprise," he cautions. "It's possible that the sun plays an even more central role in global warming than we have suspected. Anyone who claims that the debate is over and the conclusions are firm has a fundamentally unscientific approach to one of the most momentous issues of our time."

As much as SOHO has revolutionised our knowledge of the sun, a great deal about it remains unknown some 4.6 billion years after it first began to shine. Dr Brekke believes the future will bring surprising answers as to why solar activity varies and about the relationship between solar activity and the climate on earth.

This is a topic of interest to researchers in many countries. At CERN in Switzerland, 70 researchers are participating in a project to test a theory that cloud layer has a significant effect on the earth's temperature. The Danish researchers who developed the theory assert that greater solar activity allows less cosmic radiation to reach the earth's atmosphere, which in turn leads to the formation of fewer clouds. Subsequently, the earth is more exposed to solar radiation, leading to greater warming.

"There is much evidence that the sun's high-activity cycle is levelling off or abating. If it is true that the sun's activity is of great significance in determining the earth's climate, this reduced solar activity could work in the opposite direction to climate change caused by humans. In that case," contends Dr Brekke, "we could find the temperature levelling off or actually falling in the course of a 50-year period" - an assertion that provokes many climate researchers.

More here

Noted British weatherman dismisses global warming

John Kettley is one of the UK's iconic weathermen - he has even featured in a UK pop song which reached number 21 in the UK Singles Chart. Kettley used to work for the Met Office, but he is now famous as BBC Radio 5 Live's "intrepid weatherman", appearing mainly on `Breakfast' between 6 and 9 am. He is also an intrepid Yorkshireman, having been born in Todmorden in West Yorkshire, and, like all Yorkshiremen, he likes to tell it as it is, which is precisely what he has done today with respect to Britain's lousy summer weather [`Awful August has delayed this year's harvest but global warming is not to blame', Daily Mail, August 24]:

"Atrocious weather has seriously delayed the harvest this year ... But this is not a symptom of so-called `global warming'."

And: "These conditions are not unique and are more like the poor August weather Britain saw during the Twenties and Sixties. It is more likely a stark reminder that the warming trend we recorded in the last part of the 20th Century has now stalled."

Finally: "We are not suddenly about to be catapulted towards a Mediterranean climate [idiotic BBC 2 gardening programmes, please note]. We are surrounded by water, with the vast Atlantic Ocean to our west, while the jet stream and gulf stream will forever influence our daily weather and long-term climate."

Common sense at last. Thank goodness for down-to-earth forecasters like John. And thank goodness, too, for the parts of the BBC beyond BBC 1/2 and Radio 4. Like a Yorkshireman, these bits of the Beeb tend to tell it as it is, not as the bien pensant would have it be.

There is thus no cognitive dissonance [see: `Cognitive Dissonance' (August 19) and `More On Cognitive Dissonance' (August 20)] for John Kettley. This summer's dreadful weather, cold and wet, cannot be conveniently forced into the `global warming' cognition simply to ease the dissonance of our more PC media. It's time to call a spade a spade - or even a bloody shovel. It's time to call cooling - er - cooling.

And today? More chill rain in the morning.... It's just like my soggy visits to Torquay as a child. This scene is perfectly recaptured by Eleanor Mills [`The wind, the rain, the child-hating waiters...', The Sunday Times, August 24], as she describes her family's `summer' holiday this year in Dorset and on the British Riviera: "Last week I came back from my two-week summer holiday spent under growling grey skies, sheltering behind a windbreak, where my garment of choice wasn't my new swimming costume but a trusty North Face waterproof. Sunglasses? Pah. A sundress? Are you joking? I wore my thermals." Her five-year old neatly renamed Dorset, `Pour-set'.


Ooops, There Goes Half the Ecological Footprint

It is based on many unsubstantiated assumptions -- and falsification of the anthropogenic warming theory alone undermines the basis for over one half of the posited effects

By Wendell Krossa

The Ecological Footprint model has been gaining acceptance across the globe as a government planning tool at federal, provincial/state, and even local/urban government levels. Advocates of the Ecological Footprint (EF) argue that it shows that humanity is "overshooting" the capacity of ecosystems to support our standards of living and we are heading for catastrophic environmental collapse.

Bill Rees, the originator of the EF, refers to a litany of supposed disasters to support his contention that the human enterprise is destroying nature and must be, not just halted, but actually reversed. He points to such things as massive species loss, forest devastation, pollution, overpopulation, soil degradation, agricultural decline, resource exhaustion (e.g. peak oil), and of course, potentially catastrophic global warming. Ozone depletion and acid rain also still hover in the background as occasional elements of his litany. This litany of disasters is employed to support his contention that we are using too much of nature's resources and must reverse this overshoot level of resource use. He claims that if all of humanity desires to attain to the current standard of living of the developed world then we would need several more earths. I've read estimates of from 2 to 4 more earths.

One of his critics noted that politicians tend to accept the EF model without taking a close look at its details (data, methods). Some advocates of the model, noting its weaknesses such as "calculations based on crude estimates", nonetheless dismiss such weaknesses as peripheral to the main purpose of the model. "Since the focus of the ecological footprint is heuristic- to awaken people, particularly those in more heavily industrialized societies, to their extensive resource use and its externalized costs- greater precision or detail might actually get in the way of this teaching goal". Did I actually read that? Yikes.

But what piqued my curiosity recently, especially as the model claims that we are seriously overshooting nature's ability to sustain us, was a statement by the co-developer of the EF- Mathis Wackernagel- that "Land for carbon absorption is the most significant globally, representing nearly half of humanity's total footprint" (Methods for Calculating National Ecological Footprint Accounts- available online). Rees has also stated in a paper here ("Ecological Footprints and Bio-Capacity: Essential Elements in Sustainability Assessment") that sequestration of CO2 makes up "half the global average eco-footprint and a greater proportion in high-income countries". His ecological footprint model is especially dependent on the anthropogenic warming hypothesis and the belief that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant that must be removed from the atmosphere.

I have argued with Bill Rees that his assumption that CO2 is a major factor in climate change and a primary forcing mechanism for climate modification is simply unproven. No consensus exists on this. There is no clear evidence to support this contention. I've sent him the recent APS paper by Lord Moncton and Roy Spencer's Senate Testimony, along with other research on CO2 and warming. Emerging evidence continues to undermine the AGW theory from many differing angles. It appears then that, ooops, there goes one half, and more, of the human ecological footprint.

What about the other elements of Rees's catastrophe litany that are used to validate the rest of his footprint model- for instance, forests? FAO Production Yearbooks show no serious decline in earth's forest cover over the past 60 years when the human population went from 2.5 billion to 6.3 billion and world GDP went from $4 trillion to over $40 trillion. During this massive increase in population and consumption, forest cover remained roughly stable at about 30% of land area. One would think, according to ecological footprint theory, that such expansion of the human enterprise would have had a much more notable `overshoot' impact on a resource like forests.

Also, the 1992 IUCN report uncovered no evidence of any species holocaust. Species losses appear to continue at low historical rates. Most species have survived past periods of massive change and upheaval such as glaciations, severe episodes of volcanism (with sudden cooling), and so on. They have adapted by migrating up and down mountain slopes and north and south over continents, as well as making other adaptations. So once again, on biodiversity, no evidence of overshoot. Now, if the litany of disasters is not as apocalyptic as he presents them then this undermines Rees's central contention that the human enterprise is destroying nature and needs to be halted or reversed. Bill responds by pointing to local situations of devastation and the loss of isolated species with the less than subtle presumption that these can be extrapolated out to characterize the overall world situation. Or he will argue that our current overshoot will suddenly hit an unexpected tipping point and massive collapse will then occur. This is hard to imagine as today across the world scientists and others are watching the varied elements of ecosystems more closely and thoroughly than at any previous time in history. Satellites observe 24/7. If evidence of overshoot is there, surely we will know about it.

He further dismisses suggestions that such technologies as hydroponic crop production can be employed to alleviate pressure on what he views as overstressed agricultural resources. Inputs to hydroponic agriculture are even higher than those to regular agriculture, he claims. When I argued that we are not exhausting agricultural resources but are actually using less land over time he again stated that this higher agricultural production that uses less land requires more inputs and the impending disaster is that we will soon exhaust these limited inputs of fertilizers. He also argued that GM technology and other agricultural advances will also run up against similar constraints and limits.

For every argument for technological advance he counters with a dark view of limited resources of some sort or other. Creative technological solutions do not fit his apocalyptic outlook which is heavily dependent on concepts of closed systems and strict resource limits and the dissipation, decline, and disorder produced in such systems by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as he employs it. The unlimited creativity of the human mind has no place in his model and is dismissed as a factor of limited impact. History proves him entirely wrong on this. The Green Revolution and Norman Borlaug's work is one good example here. Borlaug ignored Paul Erhlich's doom prophecies of massive famine and in a relatively short time had turned food shortages into agricultural abundance. The unlimited creativity of the human mind is the key factor that leaves doom scenarios with a 100 percent failure rate.

Rees also makes the following argument that we have improved our developed country environments at the cost of devastating the environment's of other countries. "There is a whole other point: China and now India are among the most polluted countries on Earth but much, if not most, of the worst pollution comes from particularly dirty processing and manufacturing industries that have migrated there from Europe, North America and Japan but continue to operate producing goods mostly for consumption in those countries. Result: The rich countries get cleaner, the developing countries and their populations pay the pollution costs. (This phenomenon is readily revealed in our ecological footprint analyses--much of the pollution in China represents the extra-territorial eco-footprints of the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, etc., not of China itself.) In short, Goklany, Beckerman, Lomborg and the like, select data to create a black and white and partial caricature of a very complex and grey-scale picture. This is dangerously delusional and grossly misleading". In my discussions with Rees I had been quoting research from Goklany, Lomberg, and Beckerman.

To be generous, one could grant that on varied points Rees expresses common sense concern over environmental issues. Obviously, we ought to try as much as possible to better understand our engagement of nature and the capacities of its varied resources that are essential to our living standards. Its just that this EF model has been constructed by an ecologist who is committed to halting and reversing the human enterprise to a level appropriate to what many view as environmental extremist visions- a much diminished human population living in a largely wilderness world at a much lower standard of living. Rees states plainly that the human enterprise, as it currently exists in developed countries, is unsustainable. He believes this to be so because he is committed to the concept of strict limits in closed systems and the primacy of the Second Law with its inevitable consequences of decay, dissipation, and decline. I have responded to Bill that the concept of closed systems is a human invention and not a natural fact. It is simply a "philosophical prejudice that has led to unsound long-term forecasts" (Julian Simon, Life Against The Grain, p.330). Simon has countered well the dismal philosophical prejudice of limited resources and closed systems that is promoted by doomsters like Bill Rees (see for instance Ultimate Resource or A Poverty of Reason by Wilfred Beckerman).

If you buy Rees's contention that our current developed world standards of living are unsustainable and all of humanity attaining these standards of living will require from 2 to 4 more earths, then you can see what diminished levels of living standards all of us would need to return to in order to live on just one of Rees's earths. Rees argues that most families could live on about $8,000 of annual income. I doubt he is trying to do this himself.

Other questionable assumptions that under-gird the EF model include the argument that humanity should be allowed access to only a strictly limited amount of natural resources because if we take more, then other species are denied access to those same resources (e.g. photosynthetic capacity). Wilfred Beckerman responds to this argument in his book Green Colored Glasses. Also, the contention is made that our excessive use of renewable resources is undercutting the ability of ecosystems to regenerate or replenish themselves and hence these systems are facing collapse.

While isolated species (e.g. cod in Eastern Canada) have been decimated, as noted above there is no evidence of overall collapse of larger ecosystems or general serious loss of biodiversity. Another contention is that of intergenerational equity. EF advocates argue that we must pass on to future generations an undiminished stock of natural capital. This ignores the fact that future generations will be much wealthier than we are and better able to solve any resource issues. They most likely will discover and access entirely new sources of energy to fuel the human enterprise. Arthur Clarke suggested that we would access dark energy in this century and have an unlimited source of energy. Again, researchers like Wilfred Beckerman have responded well to these questionable assumptions and presented the more complex elements surrounding these issues such as personal values/ideology and sense of aesthetics.

It is hard to take this ecological footprint model seriously because it seeks validation in an unsubstantiated litany of disasters to support its disturbing devaluation of the human enterprise. And then there is the political component- Rees views the free enterprise system as responsible for what he believes to be our current destructive overshoot and he zealously advocates central planning and state regulation to slow and reverse economic growth. Hence this telling quote at the end of some of his papers, "Mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon". Emphasis on coercion. As Wackernagel said in a video presentation on EF, "Aggressive sustainability initiatives are good for us". Even if we don't like them.

Despite the weaknesses of EF analysis, Rees has managed to promote awareness and acceptance of this planning model across the globe. His model claims to provide the factual basis for the sustainable development movement (what levels of human activity are ecologically sustainable). And it has now become a widely accepted belief in the public arena that the human footprint is too large and must be decreased in every way possible. As its influence grows, this model (its data details, methods, and assumptions) will have to be more closely looked at by capable researchers.

Note further that the debate continues over the Science paper which suggested that North America naturally absorbs perhaps all of its human emissions of CO2 (human emissions of CO2 in the US are estimated to be around 1.7 to 2.0 billion tons annually- 1.87 billion tons in 2004. See here). Pieter Tans is quoted as stating, "The North American land surface appears to be absorbing possibly as much as between one and two billion tons of carbon annually, or a sizable fraction of global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning". This appears to further weaken the ecological footprint arguments for fully one half of the human footprint to be allocated to CO2 sequestration. Bill Rees dismisses this evidence.


Wind farms cause thousands of bats to die from trauma

Wind turbines pose a far more serious risk to bats than birds because their blades cause air pressure imbalances that can inflict fatal trauma. A six-week study at two wind farms in the eastern United States recorded 1,764 and 2,900 bat fatalities. Another American project found that bat deaths outnumbered bird deaths in Montana by two to one. Though death rates in Europe are generally lower than this, extensive bat casualties have been reported in Britain.

Birds die when they are struck by turning blades, but bats use echolocation to evade this danger. However, they are at much higher risk than birds of barotrauma - a condition caused by sudden drops in air pressure. In May Natural England, a government agency responsible for wildlife protection, acknowledged increasing concern about the impact of wind farms on bat populations, and called for more research to ascertain the level of risk.

In mainland Europe, noctules, common pipistrelles and Nathusius's pipistrelles are most commonly recorded as casualties of wind farms. These species are listed by Natural England as high risk, together with Leisler's bats.


Tim Blair has a laugh at the Warmists

I've fallen for an older woman. The oldest, in fact. Mother Nature, in the form of planet Earth, is about 4.5 billion years old. Way older than even Madonna. She's not exactly a looker, either, what with her girth of 40 million metres and mass of 12 billion tonnes. Frankly, Nature's the type of unconventional gal that Mt Isa's mayor John Molony might have been thinking about when he invited "beauty challenged" women to seek love in his female-needy town. Planet Earth doesn't just have stretch marks. She's got planar rock fracture fault lines all the way from South Australia to South America.

But she's also pretty hot. And getting hotter, if certain scientists and politicians are to be believed. Hot girls always attract bad press, and Mother Nature is no exception. Last week this saucy sphere was blamed for the death of Colette the whale. "Nature must be allowed to take its course," reported the Los Angeles Times. Closer to home, the Batemans Bay Post Star wrote: Nature is cutting its losses. So terribly cold! Reading these Colette-killing slurs, you'd almost think Mother Nature is just a kind of nebula-formed sun-orbiting Roberta Williams with tectonic plates. But to me she's much, much more than that.

Looks aren't everything. A sense of humour is sexy, and Mother Nature has the cutest joke sensibility since Dorothy Parker. Just like Parker - the celebrated New York writer and wiseass - Mother Nature reserves her cruellest jokes for those who seek to be closest to her. She's irresistible, this massive mother. When then-PM of Britain Tony Blair tried to cozy up to Mother Nature in 2005, he was repaid with chilling scorn. "Why does it always snow when I'm going to talk about global warming?" asked the puzzled PM, following a series of cursed commentaries. That's just the way Mother Nature rolls, Tone.

Ask Al Gore about it. Al's been trying to love it up with Ms Earth for years, but he routinely cops a wet and cold slap to the chops for his trouble. In 2004, Gore delivered a speech on global warming in New York City. Instead of welcoming his help, Mother Nature turned on one of the coldest days in the city's history. Gore was ridiculed even more than usual, which is one hell of lot of ridicule.

Thereafter, no matter where Gore takes his global warming message, awful cold seems to follow. He appeared in Australia two years ago for a series of global warming talks and somehow provoked snow in November. Mother Nature hates a suck-up. To this day, wherever unseasonable cold strikes, someone online will immediately ask: Is Al Gore in town?

Poor Tim Flannery. He's one of Mother Nature's most dedicated suitors, yet the elderly orb makes fun of him at every chance. She appears to single him out for special cruelty. On June 11, 2005, the ABC reported Flannery's prediction that the ongoing drought could leave Sydney's dams dry in just two years. Two years later, to the very day, the ABC ran this news item: "Sydney's largest dam, Warragamba, has received 43mm of rain since Thursday, while the region's smaller dams got a better soaking, including the Upper Nepean which got 108mm." The torrent of rain was so great that water restrictions have been lifted.

Flannery also predicted deadly dam-drying doomspells in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. In every city, great dam-filling rainfall followed. Five months ago, for example, Flannery announced: "The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009." Mother Nature's response was 15 rainy days in a row beginning on July 30, the longest stretch since 1891. Even if no more rain falls, Adelaide's dams (now 61 per cent full) won't run dry until August 2010, going by current useage rates. This is what Old Lady Nature does to people who like her. Ain't she wicked?

The latest case of Mother meanness is so beautiful its almost transcendent. Earlier this year a film company shot a global warming-themed telemovie in Sydney. Scorched - starring Georgie Parker, Cameron Daddo and Vince Colosimo - is meant to depict events in 2012, when there has been no rain for 240 days and the whole place is toast. So the production crew went out looking for hot, horrible locations. Cue Mother Earth and that playful sense of humour. "It began raining in Sydney and didn't stop," reports online movie mag Urban Cinefile.

Scorched director Tony Tilse couldn't believe it. "Unfortunately, it was like Ireland," he said. "Everything became green, the trees were blossoming." How dreadful. Mother Nature had one more trick up her ample sleeve. Noting that Scorched goes to air on August 31, Mother turned on our coldest August in a decade. Folks tuning in to this heatwave horror show will be shivering as they watch, and not because of fear. Who knows what this cosmic comedienne will get up to next? Like the lady herself, you can bet it will be big.



A PHENOMENON of the increasingly tense debate on the Rudd Government's carbon policies is the unwillingness of the protagonists to quantify the risk for Australian workers.

The headline-grabbing Business Council statement on companies endangered by the proposed approach does not do so. Nor have its previous statements on the issue. Rudd Government ministers, not surprisingly, do not do so, although their frequent assurances that the policies will be economically responsible are a dog-whistle attempt to signal to workers (voters) that their interests are in mind. No trade union statement, even those expressing concern, does so. Not even leading federal Opposition spokesmen, Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt, attempt to quantify how many jobs might be in the firing line.

The environmental activists, who have been quick to rail against the BCA and other critics of carbon charges, naturally never mention this point, although they will try to claim job opportunities for their radical programs. The Greens are in the van of trying to paint over the economic threats by claiming that lost jobs in energy-intensive industry will be replaced in "clean" businesses. They bolster this by pointing to the high voter concern about global warming and support for programs that will deliver abatement.

However, recent polling by Essential Media Communications showing that 72 per cent of the people it interviewed supported the introduction of emissions trading also showed that half of those polled admit they do not know what it is.

It would seem a fair guess that these voters also don't know that Australian energy-intensive firms in the firing line of high carbon charges directly employ more than 165,000 people in the food and beverage industry, 64,000 in textiles, clothing and footwear, more than 162,000 in pulp and paper making and printing, 35,000 in non-metallic minerals production, more than 2000 in liquefied natural gas processing, about 100,000 in the petroleum, plastics and chemicals industries, more than 141,000 in metals production, 195,000 in manufacturing of equipment and machinery and about 60,000 in other factories.

This adds up to 924,000 workers and is a Howard government calculation used and accepted earlier this decade in talks on greenhouse gas abatement with both business and environmental non-government organisations. It is now several years out of date. The energy-intensive manufacturing sector claims that the total number today is actually about 1.1 million.

These are people directly employed by trade-exposed, energy-intensive companies. Many more are the beneficiaries of jobs that flow from the output of these TEEI companies. The large plastics business Qenos, for example, says in its submission to Ross Garnaut that it employs 800 people in Melbourne and Sydney and its products are the key material for downstream manufacturers employing another 10,000.

There is no way of knowing how many of these jobs - direct and indirect - will be lost under a high carbon cost regime, but recently announced redundancies in Australian manufacturing are a guide to how difficult it is for local businesses to compete against lower operating costs overseas. What's missing in the Australian carbon debate is the upfront acknowledgement of the big extra risk inherent in driving up power and gas bills that make up a substantial part of energy-intensive firms' operating costs.

None of the claims by the environmental movement and others about what a costly energy revolution could deliver in new jobs exceeds about a quarter of a million people, and this over a much longer time frame than the next few years, which is when new carbon taxes would affect existing businesses, especially those vulnerable to global cost pressures.

In this context, it is interesting to reflect on the views of Ian Macdonald, Minister for State Development, Energy, Minerals Resources and Primary Industries in NSW, who has the largest energy and energy-intensive constituency after federal ministers.

In a virtually unreported meeting with trade-exposed industries in Sydney in June, Macdonald said: "The wrong (emissions trading) policy framework could be disastrous for the economic prosperity of this state and the country." He told 150 industry participants in the meeting that it is of concern to the NSW Government that they could be forced to carry substantial extra costs when there are a number of other factors causing upward pressure on electricity prices and, he said, it was looking as if emissions trading could double power prices in the eastern seaboard electricity market.

NSW manufacturers, the largest factory sector in the country, employ more than 300,000 people, contribute $31 billion to the national economy and earn $10 billion annually in export revenue. "I shudder to think how the wealth and job-creating industries of NSW will cope," Macdonald told the meeting. The Rudd Government, he warned, "has to devise the scheme carefully so as not to send the economy in to freefall".

Macdonald's argument is that, while an emissions trading scheme is necessary to help drive Australia's greenhouse gas abatement, "it must not cause havoc to wealth-creating industries."

The task force the states employed in 2006-07 to study emissions trading, Macdonald pointed out, highlighted the importance of providing adjustment assistance to energy-intensive, trade-exposed industry.

If the core issue, as Macdonald told the meeting of trade-exposed industries is "jobs, jobs and more jobs", then the present advertising campaign to sell federal greenhouse gas policies is more about misleading and deceiving the public than helping it to make an informed judgment. A company behaving like that would be in breach of the Trade Practices Act.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The REAL motivations of Warmists on vivid display

Warmist are worried about all the CO2 in the air -- right? So any technology that removes lots of CO2 would be welcomed by them with open arms -- Right? WRONG! That would take away their best excuse for destroying modern civilization -- which is their REAL aim. They just hate modern life and seek to impose that on everybody else in any way they can. See below:

Scientists at Columbia University are developing a carbon dioxide (CO2) scrubber device that removes one ton of CO2 from the air every day. While some see the scrubber as an efficient and economical way to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, many environmentalists are opposing the technology because it allows people to use fossil fuels and emit carbon in the first place.

Columbia University physicist Klaus Lackner, who is leading the research team, believes producing a large number of CO2 scrubbers can keep to a minimum any rise in atmospheric CO2 without the economically painful elimination of inexpensive energy sources. "I'd rather have a technology that allows us to use fossil fuels without destroying the planet, because people are going to use them anyway," Lackner told the June 1 London Telegraph.

Environmental activist groups such as Greenpeace have consistently opposed similar technologies, such as carbon capture and sequestration, because they do not address what they see as the root of the problem. On May 5, for example, the activist groups Students Promoting Environmental Action and Save Our Cumberland Mountains demonstrated in Knoxville, Tennessee against carbon sequestration. Repeatedly citing a Greenpeace position paper, they argued eliminating the use of coal, not reducing atmospheric CO2, should be society's primary goal. "Our position is we need to start phasing out coal as soon as possible," said Cathie Bird of Save Our Cumberland Mountains. "Carbon capture and storage does not make coal clean," read a banner hoisted by protesters.

Leading energy analysts agreed with the scientists, rather than the protesters. "If CO2 emission reduction is a goal, then investigating and investing in strategies for capitalizing on our existing infrastructure efficiently and effectively makes more sense than throwing away reasonable options simply because they don't align with a political philosophy about our energy economy," said Amy Kaleita, an environmental policy fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

"This is just one more piece of evidence that environmentalists aren't concerned about solving a problem," said Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "Every problem, as they see it, is one way to restrict people's lifestyles, and if you come up with a technological fix that can solve a problem but doesn't require sacrifice and lets us go about our business the way we were before, they're not happy about it, even if it solves the problem.

"Now, I don't know about whether this technology will solve global warming," said Burnett, "but let's say it is cost-effective, and let's assume for the sake of argument that global warming is a real, serious problem that needs to be solved. Then I would argue that this technology may be a good thing."

"I think the question is, what is the objective?" asked Erin Baker, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in an interview for this article. "For me, the objective is reducing the harmful effects of climate change. It is going to be extremely challenging to reduce CO2 levels to the point where we can stabilize the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at, say, 550 ppm (parts per million), and this is only a mild goal.

"Most environmentalists would like to see a much more stringent goal," Baker added. "If we want to have a reasonable chance of achieving this goal, then we need to consider a portfolio of technologies in order to achieve this. This means keeping CCS (carbon capture and storage), nuclear, and biofuels, for instance, on the table.

"If we have some kind of major breakthrough in solar technologies and electricity storage technologies, then we won't need to rely so heavily on these other technologies. But if we don't have any breakthroughs and we refuse to use our full arsenal, we will most likely fail to combat climate change and cause economic hardships, especially for the most vulnerable.

"I am not necessarily advocating a full-scale implementation of any of these technologies, but rather that we continue to [research and develop] a wide range of technologies, and not flat-out reject any possibilities," Baker said.


Global cooling gains momentum among scientists

Two weeks ago, after writing about the possibility that the Earth may actually be entering a cooling phase, I braced myself for a torrent of icy missives from the global warming crowd suggesting that the heat must have fried my noggin.

By the way, it is very difficult to discuss global cooling in the midst of a summer when temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees and crops are wilting. As one friend and colleague from the sweltering Southwest noted after reading the column, "Please send some of that cooling this way."

However, one response opened my eyes to the growing community of global warming skeptics out there, most of them merited scientists. I thought it might be worth presenting their thoughts - a little equal time if you will. Marc Marono, a global warming skeptic who works for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, sent me these excerpts from a U.S. Senate report.

Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev are so convinced that global temperatures will cool within the next decade they have placed a $10,000 wager with a United Kingdom scientist to prove their certainty. The criteria for the $10,000 bet will be to compare global temperatures between 1998 and 2003 with those between 2012 and 2017. The loser will pay up in 2018, according to an April 16, 2007, article in Live Science.

Australian engineer Peter Harris says that the Earth is nearing the end of the typical interglacial cycle and is due for a sudden cooling climate change. "Based on this analysis we can say that there is a 94 percent probability of imminent global cooling and the beginning of the coming ice age. "Climate is becoming unstable," Harris went on to say. "Most of these major natural processes that we are witnessing now are interdependent and occur at the end of each interglacial period, ultimately causing sudden long-term cooling."

Oleg Sorokhtin, merited scientist of Russia and fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and staff researcher of the Oceanology Institute, says to "stock up on fur coats and felt boots! Earth is now at the peak of one of its passing warm spells. It started in the 17th century when there was no industrial influence on the climate to speak of and no such thing as the hothouse effect. "Carbon dioxide is not to blame for global climate change, Sorokhtin said. "Solar activity is many times more powerful than the energy produced by the whole of humankind. Man's influence on nature is a drop in the ocean."

Canadian climatologist Timothy Ball said, "If we are facing (a crisis) at all, I think it is that we are preparing for warming when it is looking like we are cooling. We are preparing for the wrong thing."

On the impact of carbon dioxide on global temperature, United Kingdom astrophysicist Piers Corbyn said, "There is no evidence that carbon dioxide has ever driven or will ever drive world temperatures and climate change. Worrying about carbon dioxide is irrelevant."

So there you have it folks - solid evidence from the other side of the global warming fence and critical thinking I'm sure you won't hear much about outside this space. To be honest, I'm not sure which global weather consequence is more daunting - to be ice fishing in Florida or planting cotton in Maine. But politicians and the popular press should speak out for the resumption of genuine, open debate on climate change. Global warming is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.


Climate Similar to the 1800s Within the Next 15 Years: First Stage of Global Cooling During 2008/09

In the peer reviewed book "Global Warming-Global Cooling, Natural Cause Found", meteorologist and climate researcher David Dilley utilizes nearly a half million years of data linking long term gravitational cycles of the moon explain the recent global warming, rises in carbon dioxide levels, and for 2200 global warming cycles during the past half million years.

The gravitational cycles are called the Primary Forcing Mechanism for Climate (PFM), and act like a magnet by pulling the atmosphere's high pressure systems northward or southward by as much as 3 or 4 degrees of latitude from their normal seasonal positions, and thus causing long-term shifts in the location of atmospheric high pressure systems.

Research by Mr. Dilley shows a near 100 percent correlation between the PFM gravitational cycles to the beginning and ending of global warming cycles. Global warming cycles began right on time with each PFM cycle during the past half million years, as did the current warming which began 100 years ago, and it will end right on time as the current gravitational cycle begins its cyclical decline.

Global temperatures have cooled during the past 12 months. During 2008 and 2009 the first stage of global cooling will cool the world's temperatures to those observed during the years from the 1940s through the 1970s. By the year 2023 global climate will become similar to the colder temperatures experienced during the 1800s.

Mr. Dilley of Global Weather Oscillations has found seven different types of recurring gravitational cycles ranging from the very warm 460,000 year cycle down to a 230year recurring global warming cycle. All of the gravitational cycles coincide nearly 100 percent with 2200 global warming events during the past half million years. This includes the earth's current warming cycle which began around the year 1900, and the first stage of global cooling that will begin during 2008 and 2009.

The release of the book "Global Warming- Global Cooling, Natural Cause Found" culminates 19 years of research clearly linking gravitational cycles as the cause for fluctuations within the earth's climate. The book is available as an electronic e-Book on this website. The author David Dilley is a meteorologist and climate researcher with Global Weather Oscillations Inc. (GWO), former meteorologist with the National Weather Service, and co-host of the radio program "the Politically Incorrect Weather Guys" airing weekly on, an internet streaming radio program. Read more here. He also believes a moderate El Nino will occur this fall. See here.


Russian Tanks Signal a "New Energy War"

"Russia's adventure in Georgia has been described as a `warlet,' a contained firing spree that wound up and down within a week. But to Europe's energy markets, it was the equivalent of wide-scale carpet bombing," writes Eric Reguly in Britain's Global and Mail on August 15th. "Before the Georgian crisis, Europe seemed to be doing all the right things, with little Georgia at the centre of a sensible energy diversification plan. A column of Russian tanks wrecked that strategy in an instant . . . a new energy war is about to begin."

Since the Russian tank attacks, Europe's energy position is far worse than America's. Europe's North Sea oil and gas are waning, and its marginal coal mines have long been shut down. Europe's been importing lots of gas, 40 percent of it from Russia. Georgia was threatening to allow another gas pipeline that Russia wouldn't control-so Vlad the Assailer demonstrated that he can control Caspian-region gas exports whenever he chooses to send tanks.

Europe now urgently wants a long-term partnership with the big undeveloped oil and gas deposits in Libya, Tunisia and the rest of North Africa. Alarmingly, Russia's Gazprom last month offered to buy all of Libya's gas exports.

The U.S. is now trapped, however, in the crossfire between Russian military/economic aggression, Moslem extremism and European energy starvation. We will soon be enormously grateful for our opportunity to drill off our own coasts and in our own ANWR, to import our Alaskan gas through a new pipeline, to tap Appalachia's big, tough gas deposits-and to add more of our own nuclear power. France, Finland and Eastern Europe are already building more nuclear plants, and Germany's Angela Merkel may block the German nuclear phase-out.

Solar and wind power will be built too, but so far they've been expensive, erratic and severely disappointing. Biofuels actually aggravate both global food shortages and greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada's Athabasca Tar Sands, one of the world's largest petroleum reservoirs, got a visit last week from U.S. billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The Athabasca is also in a strategically secure location for the U.S.-400 miles north of Montana. Eco-activists have lately campaigned against the tar sands, calling it "the worst project on earth" because of the CO2 released as the heavy oil is produced. However, CO2 has had a weak correlation with earth's temperature changes-only 22 percent since 1860.

Fortunately, the earth's temperatures are now continuing to decline; more and more clearly separating CO2 emissions from climate change. The first five months of 2008 have been the coolest in at least five years, continuing the cooler trend of the past 18 months. The cooling was predicted by a 2000 downturn in the sunspot index, which has a strong, ten-year-lagged correlation with our temperature history.

The Greens have recommended non-polluting tidal power, but are opposing one of the world's outstanding tidal-power opportunities on Britain's Severn River. The Severn has a 40-foot daily tide range. A ten-mile dam across the Bristol Channel would emit no CO2 or radiation, while producing as much electricity as three nuclear power stations for the next 200 years. The eco-activists are unhappy about the loss of local mud flats which would force shore birds to relocate.

It now looks as though the West must choose between relocating some shore birds and seeing lots more Russian tanks monopolize the world's energy supplies.


Bulls**t Watch - Rising Sea to Drown 600,000 Australian Homes

A real sea-level rise of a few centimetres becomes a prophesied rise of metres! Comments below from Australian rural publication "Agmates"

The Courier Mail and ABC radio continues on with its Climate Change scare mongering and hence register on our Bulls**t Watch. The headline screams “Homes at Risk from rising sea”. in todays Courier Mail. Online the headline reads: “Sea level rise from climate change ‘underestimated’.”
“THE speed at which the climate is changing has been significantly underestimated, with thousands of Australian homes potentially at risk from rising sea levels, a conference has heard.
Ports, harbours and airports situated near the ocean are also vulnerable to the immediate effects of climate change, said keynote speaker Jo Mummery. Preliminary modelling has found that if there is a rise in sea levels, 269,505 houses could be at risk in NSW and 2,875 houses in the NT.”

And again on ABC Radio: “Australian expert says sea levels to rise four metres”
“Dr Jo Mummery, from the Department of Climate Change, told the delegation that if sea levels rose just one metre - exclusive pockets of the Gold Coast would be completely washed out. She says if water enters a 200 metre buffer zone almost 559,000 residential buildings would be affected across the country.”

In both the Courier Mail Report and the ABC they quote:
“The head of the climate change unit at the Australian National University and science adviser to the federal Government, Professor Will Steffen, says he believes the scientific community is underestimating the speed at which the climate is changing. “The evidence over the past 12 to 18 months suggests that we have underestimated how fast this aspect of the earth’s system can change,” he said.”

Are you alarmed yet? Don’t be - Below is a graph showing actual sea level rises from 1991 to 2005.

And in the last 12 months sea levels have actually fallen almost 10mm.

Since global warming plateaued in 2001 sea levels have risen just 5mm or so in 7 years. Even the alarmist IPCC reports predicts sea levels will rise 50cm by 2100.
Here is a graph of sea level changes over the last 24,000 years. The graph shows that sea levels in Australia have risen 20 metres or so in the last 8,000 years.

And in the last 128 years they have risen less than 20cm.

It’s difficult to take scientists seriously who make such outlandish predictions of sea levels rising 1-4 metres in the next 90 years. Those claims immediatley register on the Agmates Bulls**t meter.


Australia: Party balloons banned -- for the "environment"

The simple magic of helium balloons has been popped - councils all over Sydney are banning them. One kill-joy council ranger even attempted to stop a toddler playing with a balloon at a local festival. The bureaucrat from Canada Bay Council threatened a priest handing a helium balloon to two-year-old Lewis Sylvester at the Five Dock Ferragosto festival last week. The ranger rounded on the priest with the terse warning: "I've already told you once. You can't hand out those balloons, it's an offence."

Lewis's father Phil Sylvester, a 2GB radio producer for the Chris Smith program, couldn't believe his ears. Canada Bay is among the increasingly officious councils that have outlawed helium balloons. Marrickville and Willoughby have banned them while Manly and Waverley have gone a step further and banned both helium and regular balloons. Sutherland Council, meanwhile, provides their own biodegradable balloons at events.

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act it is an offence to release 20 or more "lighter than air" balloons at the same time, with a fine of $200 for an individual and $400 for a corporation.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


By New Zealander Nicholas Sault []. Received via email

Dr George Wilson of the Australian Wildlife Services has told thousands of his Australian farmers they should ditch farming cattle and sheep and start farming kangaroo in a big way (see here). The reason? - yes, you got it, kangaroos don't fart and belch methane like cattle and sheep.

That may be the case, but does this boffin really think that overnight you can ditch 12,000 years of domestication, and replace hundreds of millions of relatively easy-to-manage, relatively docile animals with wild animals? Even though he is a scientist, he is obviously one of those people I encounter often, who really have no comprehension of the scale of things. The reason cattle and sheep farming is so big is because these animals can be mass farmed - farmers have the feed, the fencing and the handling down to a tee. Introduce a new animal out of the bush, and you have to start learning and domesticating from scratch.

A case in point from my own country is deer farming. Deer have been farmed for decades in New Zealand, but venison is still little more than a curiosity, a meal you might have in a posh restaurant on your anniversary. Deer are the most skittish of the cloven hoofed brigade. They are extremely difficult to handle, difficult to keep confined and difficult to move. In most cases, when he wants to move cattle or sheep from one field to another, the farmer simply opens the gate and the animals, tired of their current location, just go walkabouts into their fresh new field.

I have seen deer farmers on their farm bikes chasing their deer around for hours, trying to round them up into a bunch to move them. They don't respond to dogs, and it can be quite laughable to see the lengths farmers go to move them around. Also, I have my own experience with farming exotic animals. Emu became a fad in the 1990s in New Zealand, and I still shudder at the memory of nights when I could hear the tall fences screaming, and the fixings working loose from the fence posts, as the highly excitable birds decided as a mass that they wanted to go walkabouts (or runabouts, actually). Worse than that was going out next morning and finding one of giant birds didn't make it and got tangled in the fence, almost totally de-feathering itself in the process.

Like deer and the equally exotic ostrich, emu never caught on with a people in love with roasts and barbecues. All of these exotic meats are low-fat. That was our marketing strategy - get people to eat red meat that is low in fat. But that low-fat content of the meat means that you need some skill in cooking, and time to stand over it to make sure it is not over-cooked. You can't shove a joint of ostrich in the oven and go watch the Olympics 10,000 meters track race; you have to watch it. Same with the barbecue. Take your eyes off this meat for a minute and you might as well be eating beef jerky for lunch.

In reality, deer farming has only survived in New Zealand because millions of Asian men imagine they can get their sex drives going by consuming ground-up deer antler. Hundreds of emu and ostrich farmers went bust in New Zealand simply because the meat just didn't catch on. It was expensive and difficult to cook correctly. Added to that was the sheer difficulty in farming the critters.

From an economic viewpoint, emu, ostrich and deer are browsers and cannot obtain most of their nutrients from the field, as is the case with cattle and sheep in this part of the world. The supplementary feed is very expensive, requiring a premium on the shelf price of the meat. So when the supermarkets come back to you and say "hey, we put it on the shelves for a month, but it's not selling", you tend to get very dismayed (and poor).

Then there's the slaughter (gosh the list goes on). When you spook skittish animals, they fill their blood streams with adrenaline, which is pumped into the muscle making it extremely hard. The resulting meat is as tough as old boots, literally.

When I farmed cattle, the happy chappies used to waltz onto the truck as if going to pastures new rather than to slaughter. To lessen the stress on emu, we planned to have mobile slaughter trucks, so the birds did not have to travel. The industry failed long before that ever eventuated, but lets get real. If you are going to replace the mass market of cattle and sheep with a relatively wild, unpredictable animal like a kangaroo, you'd need slaughter trucks the size of the Queen Mary to go around to the each of the farms. Well, I think I proved the point here. Boffins, please do not get into the habit of expounding outside your field of expertise.

UK Scientist: Recent weather is 'stark reminder' global warming 'has now stalled'

By UK atmospheric scientist John Kettley, formerly of the Met Office and the Fluid Dynamics Department at the Bracknell headquarters

Atrocious weather has seriously delayed the harvest this year - by now oil seed rape, barley and oats should already have been gathered. The delay could mean either a loss in yield or drop in quality, with a subsequent fall in income for farmers for the second year running.

But this is not a symptom of so-called `global warming'. These conditions are not unique and are more like the poor August weather Britain saw during the Twenties and Sixties. It is more likely a stark reminder that the warming trend we recorded in the last part of the 20th Century has now stalled. Globally, 1998 remains the warmest of the last 150 years.

Of course, we have seen very hot months in the UK recently, but we should be under no illusion about global warming. We are not suddenly about to be catapulted towards a Mediterranean climate. We are surrounded by water, with the vast Atlantic Ocean to our west, while the jet stream and gulf stream will forever influence our daily weather and long-term climate.

So, this year's Sixties-style August has seen bad weather in many places. Northern Ireland suffered particularly from serious flooding last weekend, but it has been the cumulative affect of cool, wet and dull conditions which has really hampered farmers' progress.

For every loser there are always winners. Lerwick in Shetland has largely stayed north of the rain-bearing jet stream and in the past week alone saw almost 40 hours of sunshine. Further south, mainland Scotland was not so blessed, as storms brought 2in (50mm) of heavy rain to many places, including Edinburgh, on Wednesday and Thursday. There will be more rain for the west of Scotland in the next few days, but at long last much of the country can look forward to a change in fortune. Late August should see warm picnic weather - which I think will last through September, in line with recent years.


Forecasting based on climate change is delusional

More realism in the Irish press

THE IDEA seems to be taking hold that climate change will render the Irish weather more predictable and that we'll never see a dry August day again. Anyone who has lived more than a week or two in this country knows that this is delusional.

The Minister for the Environment has been going about the place, a Jeremiah in Wellingtons, shaking his head at the rising flood waters and implying that all this could have been avoided if people had listened to him before. Various meteorologists have been trotted out in the media to explain that this year's August rain is due to precipitation over Newfoundland, itself the consequence of greenhouse gases.

I am momentarily struck by the idea that Newfoundland will in the future acquire a significance in Irish life equivalent to the shadow cast in the past by our nearest neighbour. But experience tells me that, in a month or two, everyone will have stopped talking about Newfoundland, the media having found an expert with an even scarier theory about something else.

The main role of media nowadays is to market scares which cause us to worry for a while and then move on to a different problem. If society is not consumed with fear about being wiped out by some new disease, it is fretting about nuclear Armageddon, a meltdown in house prices or, as in recent weeks, the climate apocalypse.

This process has little about it that one could call rational. Very often, the scare rapidly evaporates without trace, leaving behind a total information vacuum and no sense of closure.

Remember, for instance, Sars, an exotic disease with flu-like symptoms that a few years ago claimed a number of lives, mainly in Hong Kong, and which for several weeks gripped the Irish media and consequently Irish society with a profound morbidity? At one point, reports of a single case in D£n Laoghaire caused people to avoid the town for weeks. And yet, for five years now, there has been no talk of Sars at all. The subject rapidly disappeared from the news pages and bulletins, and most of us have since hardly given it a thought.

Bird flu. It's just a year or two since we went around all a-flutter because the "experts" were telling us to be very afraid. But for many months now there has been no talk at all about bird flu or its dire consequences for western civilisation. The newest references to be found on the internet are more than a year old and there is no sense that the saga has either ended or was understood. Bird flu just sort of went away, but nobody has been fingered for creating a spurious scare.

I'm not suggesting that climate change is a similarly phantom phenomenon. Undoubtedly the trend is real and, for the moment, advancing. But it is noticeable in much media discussion of the subject that, most of the time, only the ideologically committed claim to know what is happening. Green politicians, for example, are enjoying the opportunity for head-shaking and tut-tutting, implying that everything they've ever said must now be re-examined.

The scientists, however, are noticeably more circumspect. An excellent article in the current edition of New Scientist says that the science of forecasting on the basis of climate change is still in its infancy. The equations are so complex and the variables so numerous that the sensible scientists say they just don't know. Yes, the earth is warming. Yes, this will have an effect on future weather patterns. But many aspects of the matter are poorly understood and nobody can say with certainty how things will play out. Natural variability remains a far more powerful factor than anything to do with global changes.

And variability is the middle-name of Irish weather. The Spanish, by and large, can predict tomorrow's weather; we in Ireland can predict that tomorrow's weather will take us by surprise. John Gormley seems to be on safe ground when he predicts that we will have more rainfall in the future, but if I were him I wouldn't put my shirt on it.

Contrary to the current mood, therefore, I confidently predict that, one August, sometime in the next few years, we will be complaining about the heat and praying for rain. This is our fate and our nature. Our weather is so unpredictable that we never seem even to claim ownership of any particular element, in the way the Spanish lay claim to sun or the Eskimos to snow.

Without the variability of our weather patterns, God knows what we would talk about. My 12-year-old daughter often remarks on the way we go about when it is raining, all scrunched up against the drops as though we have never encountered a shower before. Despite what outsiders might conclude about the dampness of our climate, we greet every new rain cloud with shudders of outrage and dismay, as though this is the last thing we expected to happen.

The forecast, therefore, is for the Irish weather to remain predictably unpredictable. It will rain and occasionally stop. Everything else is speculation.


Wind Jammers

Once again, there's no such thing as a happy Greemie. They are just enemies of anything that is rational

In this year's great energy debate, Democrats describe a future when the U.S. finally embraces the anything-but-carbon avant-garde. It turns out, however, that when wind and solar power do start to come on line, they face a familiar obstacle: environmentalists and many Democrats.

To wit, the greens are blocking the very transmission network needed for renewable electricity to move throughout the economy. The best sites for wind and solar energy happen to be in the sticks -- in the desert Southwest where sunlight is most intense for longest, or the plains where the wind blows most often. To exploit this energy, utilities need to build transmission lines to connect their electricity to the places where consumers actually live. In addition to other technical problems, the transmission gap is a big reason wind only provides two-thirds of 1% of electricity generated in the U.S., and solar one-tenth of 1%.

Only last week, Duke Energy and American Electric Power announced a $1 billion joint venture to build a mere 240 miles of transmission line in Indiana necessary to accommodate new wind farms. Yet the utilities don't expect to be able to complete the lines for six long years -- until 2014, at the earliest, because of the time necessary to obtain regulatory approval and rights-of-way, plus the obligatory lawsuits.

In California, hundreds turned out at the end of July to protest a connection between the solar and geothermal fields of the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles and Orange County. The environmental class is likewise lobbying state commissioners to kill a 150-mile link between San Diego and solar panels because it would entail a 20-mile jaunt through Anza-Borrego state park. "It's kind of schizophrenic behavior," Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently. "They say that we want renewable energy, but we don't want you to put it anywhere."

California has a law mandating that utilities generate 20% of their electricity from "clean-tech" by 2010. Some 24 states have adopted a "renewable portfolio standard," while Barack Obama wants to impose a national renewable mandate. But the states, with the exception of Texas, didn't make transmission lines easier to build, though it won't prevent them from penalizing the power companies that fail to meet an impossible goal.

Texas is now the wind capital of America (though wind still generates only 3% of state electricity) because it streamlined the regulatory and legal snarls that block transmission in other states. By contrast, though Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Ed Rendell adopted wind power as a main political plank, he and Senator Bob Casey are leading a charge to repeal a 2005 law that makes transmission lines slightly easier to build.

Wind power has also become contentious in oh-so-green Oregon, once people realized that transmission lines would cut through forests. Transmissions lines from a wind project on the Nevada-Idaho border are clogged because of possible effects on the greater sage grouse. Similar melodramas are playing out in Arizona, the Dakotas, the Carolinas, Tennessee, West Virginia, northern Maine, upstate New York, and elsewhere.

In other words, the liberal push for alternatives has the look of a huge bait-and-switch. Washington responds to the climate change panic with multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidies for supposedly clean tech. But then when those incentives start to have an effect in the real world, the same greens who favor the subsidies say build the turbines or towers somewhere else. The only energy sources they seem to like are the ones we don't have.


'This is going to be catastrophic' - Farmers' Almanac says cold winter ahead

Households worried about the high cost of keeping warm this winter will draw little comfort from the Farmers' Almanac, which predicts below-average temperatures for most of the U.S. "Numb's the word," says the 192-year-old publication, which claims an accuracy rate of 80 to 85 percent for its forecasts that are prepared two years in advance.

The almanac's 2009 edition, which goes on sale Tuesday, says at least two-thirds of the country can expect colder than average temperatures, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings.

"This is going to be catastrophic for millions of people," said almanac editor Peter Geiger, noting that the frigid forecast combined with high prices for heating fuel is sure to compound problems households will face in keeping warm.

The almanac predicts above-normal snowfall for the Great Lakes and Midwest, especially during January and February, and above-normal precipitation for the Southwest in December and for the Southeast in January and February. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions should be getting an unusually wet or snowy February, the almanac said.

The forecasts, which are spelled out in three- and four-day periods for each region, are prepared by the almanac's reclusive prognosticator Caleb Weatherbee, who uses a secret formula based on sunspots, the position of the planets and the tidal action of the moon.

Weatherbee's outlook is borne out by e-mail comments that the almanac has received in recent days from readers who have spotted signs of nature that point to a rough winter, Geiger said. The signs range from an abundance of acorns already on the ground to the frequency of fog in August.

The almanac's winter forecast is at odds with that of the National Weather Service, whose trends-based outlook calls for warmer than normal temperatures over much of the country, including Alaska, said Ed O'Lenic, chief of the operations branch at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

While he wouldn't comment specifically on the almanac's ability to forecast the weather two years from now, O'Lenic said it's generally impossible to come up with accurate forecasts more than a week in advance. "Of course it's possible to prepare a forecast with any lead time you like. Whether or nor that forecast has any accuracy or usable skill is another question," he said.


Climate response must protect jobs: Getting too far ahead on an ETS is bad economic policy

An editorial from "The Australian" about the Australian government's Warmist obsessions:

(Kevin Rudd does look a bit like Tintin)

It is neither desirable nor remotely feasible, Ross Garnaut wrote in his interim report in June, "to seek to lower the climate change risk by substantially slowing the rise in living standards anywhere, least of all in developing countries." As Professor Garnaut noted, Australians would not accept such an approach. This is why the Business Council of Australia's "real world" analysis of the economic consequences of the Rudd Government's proposed emissions trading scheme is so effective and devastating.

It reveals that even with the Government's proposed compensation, three firms of the 14 companies that opened their books to Port Jackson Partners for the analysis would face a carbon cost so high they would close. Four others would be forced to review operations to remain viable after losing between 32 per cent and 63 per cent of pre-tax earnings. Many potential investments would be canned.

The companies, with annual revenues ranging from $90 million to more than $3 billion, are in cement manufacturing, petroleum refining, steel making, sugar milling and zinc and nickel refining. On average, the ETS would reduce their pre-tax earnings by 22 per cent, with the worst-affected suffering a 136 per cent reduction. The ETS will apply to 1000 Australian companies, each producing more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon pollution a year.

The ramifications of the BCA analysis are clear. Giving more compensation to trade-exposed high-emitters to stop them going broke or taking their businesses and jobs off shore would reduce the amount of compensation available to others. But without it, new investment and business growth would be decimated and unless remedied, growth in living standards would be substantially slowed - precisely the scenario Professor Garnaut acknowledged was unacceptable.

The analysis for the electricity generating sector, too, is sobering, warning that a 10 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 involves a "major risk" to power supply and a lift in retail prices of 25 to 40 per cent.

It is hardly surprising, overall, that the report canvasses the notion that a less ambitious 2020 emissions target may be required. The Australian has argued consistently that a small nation such as Australia, emitting just 1 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases, is powerless alone to change global warming. This is why it would be foolish to jump ahead of the world in cutting emissions and compromising living standards.

At the same time, we need to assure the world of our willingness to co-operate in international efforts. The 2010 start-up of the ETS is one way of doing so. Another would be a broad-based carbon tax levied on fuel producers, sooner rather than later, at a realistic level, while concurrently gearing up for an eventual ETS to start at the same time that the world's largest industrial nations - including the US, China and India - introduce similar schemes.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham, writing in The Australian Financial Review this week, canvassed the benefits of the Government levying a carbon tax on fuel producers. The advantages, Mr Latham said, would be: "It is comprehensive in coverage and immediate in impact, as companies pass on the new costs to consumers." In its paper, the BCA canvassed a fixed carbon price of $10 to $20 a tonne. Some senior figures in the Government agree, at least in private, that this would be a more prudent approach than a more extravagent plan that would be rich in green symbolism but poor for the economy.

Opinions polls, including Newspoll, have showed consistently that a majority of Australians is prepared to pay more for energy, including petrol and electricity, to help curb global warming. Given this sentiment, a carbon tax with as few exemptions as possible would spread the economic impact of cutting emissions as broadly as possible, standing the best chance of protecting jobs and growth.

The BCA report acknowledged as much. A fixed carbon price of $10 to $20 a tonne, it argued, until an effective global agreement was finalised, would avoid the problem of trade exposed intensive industries investment needing to be outside a cap until there is a world scheme. It would also addresses the issue of potentially volatile emission prices.

There is also merit in the BCA's call for a more modest target for reducing emissions by 2020. A goal of a 10 per cent reduction from the 2000 level instead of the 2010 level might be more realistic, or even a target of holding them steady at 2000 levels.

While the ACTU and environmental groups dismissed the BCA concerns, the Rudd Government cannot afford such irresponsibility. The Government cannot go it alone on climate change without business, and it knows it. Wayne Swan has promised close scrutiny of the BCA's case. The Treasurer must also take on board the concerns of the Minerals Council of Australia and the warnings from the natural gas, cement and petrol refining sectors about the potential impact of the ETS. The ETS was the preferred option in the Government's green paper, but it does not preclude alternatives, including a simple, low-level carbon tax and waiting until our major trading partners adopt an ETS. Achieving a sound balance between climate and economic protection has emerged as the Government's big test.



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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Northern Greenland glaciers showing fractures, large break; Is it global warming or natural?

The article below by Newsweak's Seth Borenstein is amusing. Even Greenie scientists he consulted would not buy into any scare but he nonetheless does his best to attribute a glacial breakup to global warming. Borenstein is an old Warmist from way back. See e.g. here. Also see real story on Greenland here.

In northern Greenland, a part of the Arctic that had seemed immune from global warming, new satellite images show a growing giant crack and an 11-square-mile chunk of ice hemorrhaging off a major glacier, scientists said Thursday. And that's led the university professor who spotted the wounds in the massive Petermann glacier to predict disintegration of a major portion of the Northern Hemisphere's largest floating glacier within the year. If it does worsen and other northern Greenland glaciers melt faster, then it could speed up sea level rise, already increasing because of melt in sourthern Greenland. [Pesky fact: 91% of earth's glacial ice is in Antarctica so any likely melts in Greenland would add only inches to sea level]

The crack is 7 miles long and about half a mile wide. It is about half the width of the 500 square mile floating part of the glacier. Other smaller fractures can be seen in images of the ice tongue, a long narrow sliver of the glacier. "The pictures speak for themselves," said Jason Box, a glacier expert at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University who spotted the changes while studying new satellite images. "This crack is moving, and moving closer and closer to the front. It's just a matter of time till a much larger piece is going to break off.... It is imminent."

The chunk that came off the glacier between July 10 and July 24 is about half the size of Manhattan and doesn't worry Box as much as the cracks. The Petermann glacier had a larger breakaway ice chunk in 2000. But the overall picture worries some scientists. "As we see this phenomenon occurring further and further north - and Petermann is as far north as you can get - it certainly adds to the concern," said Waleed Abdalati, director of the Center for the Study of Earth from Space at the University of Colorado.

The question that now faces scientists is: Are the fractures part of normal glacier stress or are they the beginning of the effects of global warming? "It certainly is a major event," said NASA ice scientist Jay Zwally [A prominent Warmist] in a telephone interview from a conference on glaciers in Ireland. "It's a signal but we don't know what it means." It is too early to say it is clearly global warming, Zwally said. Scientists don't like to attribute single events to global warming, but often say such events fit a pattern.

University of Colorado professor Konrad Steffen, who returned from Greenland Wednesday and has studied the Petermann glacier in the past, said that what Box saw is not too different from what he saw in the 1990s: "The crack is not alarming... I would say it is normal."

However, scientists note that it fits with the trend of melting glacial ice they first saw in the southern part of the massive island and seems to be marching north with time. Big cracks and breakaway pieces are foreboding signs of what's ahead. Further south in Greenland, Box's satellite images show that the Jakobshavn glacier, the fastest retreating glacier in the world, set new records for how far it has moved inland. That concerns Colorado's Abdalati: "It could go back for miles and miles and there's no real mechanism to stop it."


Skeptical view of climate change gets an airing in major Irish newspaper

Article below by William Reville, professor in the biochemistry Department, Faculty of Science, at the University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland.

Global warming/climate change is a very serious and important issue. It has been under scientific investigation since 1986 by the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC declares global warming is a fact and it is driven largely by emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities (IPCC Report 2007 - I have reported the IPCC reports uncritically in this column, but a growing number of scientists are now presenting evidence that contradicts the IPCC position and I will give you a flavour of their position in this article.

Some scientists always disputed the findings of the IPCC but I dismissed this largely as expert opinion hired by the international oil industry. However, it is now clear that many eminent scientists, who are not beholden to vested interests, disagree with the IPCC (eg physicist Freeman J Dyson who argues that the modelling methods used by IPCC are not nearly discriminating enough to reliably predict future climate conditions). The American Physical Society recently issued a statement to say: "There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming since the Industrial Revolution."

The IPCC is a huge UN effort, supported by governments, and enlists the efforts of a great many scientific experts. Why would anyone doubt its findings? Well, critics charge the following: First, IPCC is an activist/ political enterprise whose agenda is to control emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and concentrates exclusively on evidence that might point towards human induced climate change. Second, leading IPCC scientists reflect the positions of their governments, or seek to persuade their governments to adopt the IPCC position. Third, a small group of activists wrote the all-important Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for the four IPCC reports to-date. SPMs are revised and agreed by the member governments. The thousands of scientists who do the scientific work have no direct influence on these selective summaries. Fourth, large professional and financial rewards go to scientists who are willing to slant scientific facts to suit the IPCC agenda.

Two things strike me about these charges. First, if they are true it is amazing that no whistle-blower has emerged from among the large ranks of IPCC. Second, why does IPCC not strenuously rebut these charges?

The US Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) was set up "to base environmental policy on sound science rather than exaggerated fears". However, it has been accused of being influenced by the oil industry. SEPP has published scientific evidence (Nature, Not Human Activity Rules the Climate, S Fred Singer ed. The Heartland Institute, 2008) - NIPCC_final.pdf - to illustrate that 20th-century global warming is not the once-off phenomenon of recent historical times claimed by the IPCC, and that most of the current warming is the result of natural and uncontrollable variations in solar activity and very little is being caused, or could be caused, by human emissions of greenhouse gases. The SEPP also claims that we have little to fear from global warming since human civilisation always fared better during warmer than during colder periods.

If critics of IPCC are right, global warming is inevitable and we should now concentrate our efforts on planning how to live in a warmer world. If we were travelling by bus through the middle of a dangerous continent, where the only safe regions were coastal, and we noticed the bus was almost out of petrol, we would be much better advised to immediately start planning how to survive in the interior than to spend our time frantically searching for a gallon of petrol reportedly hidden on a nearby farm.

If IPCC is correct, we must take immediate steps to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or we face awful consequences from global warming. Of course, it is important to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels anyway because of their relative scarcity, and this reduction would automatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If the critics are correct, any crash programme of reducing gas emissions would be a costly step that would have little or no effect on global warming but would divert funds away from fighting battles we could win - disease, poverty, etc.

Climate and weather are very complex physical phenomena and, as a biochemist, I am unable to critically adjudicate on the competing scientific claims of IPCC and its critics. IPCC represents the mainstream majority scientific position and, in the absence of very persuasive contrary evidence, I must support it. But, the growing scepticism does catch the eye and should not be ignored. It is also embarrassing to witness each side accuse the other of dishonesty. Scientists from both sides must come together to resolve this matter.


Climate change - is it really that dire?

CLIMATE change is typically discussed in terms of foreboding and predictions of catastrophe: droughts, famines, hurricanes and floods - even plagues of jellyfish! The threat of climate change" has become a political cliche, justifying innumerable and often onerous regulations.

The claimed threat rests on two key propositions deriving from United Nations reports: that global temperatures are determined mainly by carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, and that human activity, especially the use of fossil fuels, is increasing these to historically high and dangerous levels. But as research continues and understanding grows, things look less straightforward - and less dire.

Existing doubts about a simple link between temperature and carbon dioxide were reinforced by a paper given at Bayreuth University last month. This reported that during at least three substantial periods in the last 200 years carbon dioxide levels have equalled or exceeded those prevailing today, although temperatures were lower.

On the second point, subsequent studies indicate that the United Nations report substantially underestimated natural contributions to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, consequently exaggerating those attributable to human activity. A report that the contribution from human activity is much less than the UN suggested has been endorsed by 31,000 scientists, many more than advised the UN.

Finally, it has been argued that warmer temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide improve plant growth. The point is emphasised in a report by a scientific team led by Professor Fred Singer, the founder of the US weather satellite service, and confirmed by Nasa satellite surveys which show a substantial increase in global vegetation cover over the last couple of decades. The impact of a changing climate on farming and forestry may, therefore, be less threatening than is popularly suggested - and may even be beneficial.


IPCC Author Selection Process Plagued by Bias, Cronyism

The selection of authors for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose 2007 assessment report is often referred to as the definitive consensus regarding climate science, has been riddled with bias and cronyism, falling far short of the broad scientific consensus by which IPCC describes itself, reports a new study by the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI).

"The IPCC is a single-interest organization, whose charter directs it to assume that there is a human influence on climate, rather than to consider whether the influence may be negligible," lead author John McLean, an Australian researcher, observes in the study.

The study documents that instead of seeking input from a wide array of scientists representing a broad swath of the scientific community, IPCC's climate science assessment is dominated by a small clique of alarmists who frequently work closely with each other outside the IPCC process.

Focusing on chapter 9 of IPCC's latest assessment--the crucial chapter asserting greenhouse gases are the primary cause of the Earth's modest recent warming and predicting a substantial acceleration of warming in the near future--McLean reports, "More than two-thirds of all authors of chapter 9 of the IPCC's 2007 climate-science assessment are part of a clique whose members have co-authored papers with each other and, we can surmise, very possibly at times acted as peer-reviewers for each other's work. Of the 44 contributing authors, more than half have co-authored papers with the lead authors or coordinating lead authors of chapter 9.

"It is no surprise, therefore, that the majority of scientists who are skeptical of a human influence on climate significant enough to be damaging were unrepresented in the authorship of chapter 9, most of whose authors were climate modelers unwilling to admit that their models are neither accurate nor complete," McLean observes.

Two coordinating lead authors were in charge of establishing the procedures and overseeing the substance of chapter 9's final product, the SPPI study notes. The two coordinating lead authors and seven additional lead authors selected the 44 contributing authors for the chapter.

The two coordinating lead authors for chapter 9 were neither objective nor willing to seek broad representation in the selection of contributing authors, the SPPI study documents. One of the two lead authors is a staffer for the environmental activist group Environment Canada, and the other is an alarmist from Duke University who previously co-authored papers with at least 12 of the 44 contributing authors selected for chapter 9.

Of the 53 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and contributing authors chosen to write chapter 9, 41 co-authored papers together ... which they then cited in the IPCC final report. In short, a close-knit group of IPCC authors cited their own prior work to justify their alarmist assertions, and then passed this off as the "broad consensus" of the scientific community, the SPPI study shows.

Disturbingly, at least eight of the authors had previously co-authored articles with Environment Canada's Francis Zwiers, raising serious concerns about their objectivity. Scientists and scientific papers that dispute and contradict the assertions of this close-knit group of alarmists were frequently and predictably ignored by them.

Moreover, lead authors frequently chose their subordinates to compose the report. For example, Peter Stott of the British government's Hadley Center for Forecasting was chosen as a lead author, and then eight additional Hadley Center staffers were chosen to work under him as contributing authors of chapter 9.

Far from ensuring a wide range of opinions from a broad cross-section of scientists, more than 20 percent of the chapter 9 contributing editors consisted of staff from the Hadley Center working in a supervisor/subordinate structure.

Of the remaining contributing authors, 23 also had pre-existing work relationships with each other. For example, two Duke University staffers were chosen to be lead authors. Coordinating lead author Gabriele Heger, who would supervise them for IPCC, was also from Duke University.

All told, 32 of the 53 chapter 9 authors had pre-existing and ongoing relationships with other authors as coworkers, supervisors, or subordinates. That is in addition to the previously documented 41 of 53 authors having previously co-authored papers together.

"This network of relationships between most of the authors of chapter 9 demonstrates a disturbingly tight network of scientists with common research interests and opinions. The contrast between this close-knit network and the IPCC's stated claim to represent a global diversity of views is remarkable and does not augur well for the impartiality or reliability of chapter 9's conclusions," the study noted.

As a result, the study summarizes, "Governments have naively and unwisely accepted the claims of a human influence on global temperatures made by a close-knit clique of a few dozen scientists, many of them climate modelers, as if such claims were representative of the opinion of the wider scientific community. On the evidence presented here, the IPCC's selection of its chapter authors is so prejudiced towards a predetermined outcome that its entire process is valueless, its scientific assessment of the climate meaningless, and its conclusions useless."

"The McLean analysis of the processes of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report supports prior criticisms of IPCC processes and results," said Robert Ferguson, president of the Science and Public Policy Institute. "We now have a better understanding of how the IPCC 3rd Assessment Report 'hockey stick' fiasco, in which bogus statistical data was presented to support a nonexistent warming record, was allowed to occur," Ferguson noted. "That is to say, the UN's IPCC is a political organization feigning science as a cover for its political ends. "The UN's careful selection of layers of like-minded 'authors' for the critical chapter 9 shows it quite successfully counted on a small clique of authors avoiding any meaningful peer review of their assertions," Ferguson said.


Kingsnorth: a camp of uncritical conformity

The British 'climate campers' pose as radical - yet their disdain for consumerism and love of sustainability makes them little different from Prime Minister Brown

Environmental activists have built a climate camp near a power station in Kingsnorth, south-east England, to protest against plans for a new coal-fired plant. Yet Britain's energy infrastructure is heading rapidly for obsolescence, and the British authorities need to start building coal-fired plants now if we are to avoid a shortfall in energy supply. That is of little concern to the climate campers, however - they would positively embrace a fall in energy supply, and the austerity that would follow.

Britain is facing a double whammy of competing problems in terms of electricity generation. For one thing, the ageing stock of power stations currently in use - particularly the nuclear plants - is reaching the end of its life. The amount of electricity generated by these plants will decline sharply over the next 10 years as the plants are decommissioned.

At the same time, there is a widespread desire to reduce the amount of CO2 being produced. One way this might be done is by increasing the proportion of energy we get from low-carbon renewable sources: wind, solar and wave power, in particular. These may supply - if all goes to plan - around 20 per cent of Britain's electricity by 2020 (and that's being ambitious).

But if the nuclear stations, which currently supply more than 20 per cent of our electricity, are not replaced, then Britain will still need to find about 80 per cent of its electricity supplies from non-renewable sources. That mostly means by burning fossil fuels - gas and coal - with all of their accompanying CO2 emissions. Even if the current stock of nuclear stations could be replaced in the next 10 years, there would still be a massive shortfall in electricity supply that must continue to be met by fossil fuels. And the government's one viable plan to replace the ageing nuclear stations - by flogging the company that owns the plants to French power company EDF - has just gone belly-up.

Whatever happens with nuclear and renewables, we're facing a severe shortfall in power in the future unless we use fossil fuels. What we need are more power stations that use reliable technology as soon as possible. Reducing CO2 emissions will simply have to wait. As David Porter, chief executive of the Association of Electricity Producers, pointed out in the Guardian: `If we want diversity of supply - not being overdependent on one fuel, such as gas - and security of supply, we need coal for the foreseeable future.' Paul Golby, head of E.ON, the company that wants to build the new coal-fired plant at Kingsnorth, was blunter still: `The climate campers believe that a combination of wind and wave power and increased energy efficiency will be enough to bridge the gap. But that is simply unrealistic.'

The climate campers' blinkered attitude is not surprising, since meeting the needs of consumers is not very high on their list of priorities. In fact, some of them seem to believe that an `energy crunch' is just the sort of useful thing that might halt our mindless consumption.

One climate camper, Isabelle Michel, told BBC TV's Newsnight: `One of the most important things we need to do is to learn to reduce consumption. I think one of the reasons for saying that nuclear is necessary and renewables will not be enough is if we look at maintaining the levels of consumption or even increasing the levels of consumption - because that's the mentality. So we need more, more, more.' Another protester, Kevin Smith, bemoaned `the madness of trying to maintain a world of perpetual economic growth in a world of finite resources'.

This has always been the most fundamental tenet of environmentalism: that economic growth is a bad thing. We humans should reduce our `ecological footprint' and learn to make do with less because resources are finite - and apparently, as we expand our impact on the planet, we are squeezing out other living things that are just as worthy of existence as we are. This is in direct contradiction to any notion of progress, to the idea that through the development of society and technology, we can generate greater quantities of material wealth that allow us to live longer, healthier, more comfortable and potentially freer lives.

Despite what the anti-growth greens might claim, it's not as if we live in a world where everyone has a private jet and dines on foie gras. The current fuel and food prices are reminding many of us of how little spare cash we really have, even in Britain, one of the richest countries in the world. For the billions in the world who live on less than one dollar per day, environmentalists' demand to `reduce consumption' and `halt economic growth' must sound like a sick joke. Behind environmentalists' various debates about energy supply, coal, nuclear and renewables, there lurks their central moralistic belief system: humans are nothing special, in fact they are destructive, and it is high time they learned to live on less.

What is particularly sickening, given the pressing needs of humanity both at home and abroad, is that the climate camp in Kingsnorth is being presented as the cutting edge of radical protest. When so little else is happening politically, an assortment of slick green campaigners, lentil-eating hippies, misguided, idealistic students and assorted middle-aged oddballs has come to be seen as the touchstone of anti-establishment politics.

In fact, these climate campaigners are very far from anti-establishment. With sustainability at the heart of every government policy, the government shares most of the ideas espoused at Kingsnorth right now. Telling people to tighten their belts and put up with less is an idea that politicians have been keen to stress for centuries, while reducing our impact on the planet is the nearest thing to a `big idea' that the political class possesses today. Indeed, it is hard to tell the difference between Isabelle Michel's demand that we rein in consumption and Gordon Brown's recent advice that we should avoid being wasteful by throwing away our food. From the very top of government right through to the edgy green protest movement, there is a consensus that the greedy, thoughtless masses are demanding too much.

The problem for our political leaders - and the source of charges of hypocrisy from the green movement - is that this sustainability-obsessed outlook must live side-by-side with the need to make society work. And that means addressing practical challenges such as making sure the lights work when you hit the switch, that food gets produced and can be delivered to the shops, and so on. The result of this clash between a low-horizons outlook and the practical need to keep British society chugging along is the kind of administrative paralysis we have seen at the heart of the New Labour government.

If practicality versus ideology is proving a problem for the government, it is starting to generate cracks in the green movement, too. Underpinning green thought is a moral distaste for the vulgarity of consumption, which has an almost religious passion to it: fire and brimstone millenarianism meets monkish self-denial. But even greens want to eat, travel, receive medical treatment, and get an education. And these things require a highly developed society that uses up resources and are a constant reminder of the need for humanity to control Nature.

This paradox within environmentalism is best reflected in the current debate about nuclear power. Those greens who are concerned with climate change above all else can see why nuclear, a low-carbon technology, makes sense in the current `emergency'; most famously, Gaia theorist James Lovelock supports the introduction of nuclear power as a way of `saving the planet'. Other greens, however, would rather see society grind to a halt than allow the construction of one more nuclear power station. So some environmentalists can only put the case for nuclear from the scaremongering standpoint that if we don't go nuclear the world will end - while others oppose nuclear on the basis of unfounded fears about waste and risk, which illustrates their deeply selective attitude towards `scientific evidence'.

These debates paint a pretty unpleasant picture of where society stands at present. Contemporary debate is dominated by fearmongering about global warming and nuclear energy on one side, and anti-consumerist moralism on the other. The end result is crippling indecision rather than a clear-cut vision of how people's needs and desires can be met now, and how their lives can be improved in the future. If this carries on much longer, we might need to get used to the lights going out.


A new Greenie excuse for protecting old houses

In rather devious reasoning, Australia's National Trust calls for 'wasted energy' demolition tax

The National Trust in South Australia is calling for a tax on the energy it says is wasted when a building is knocked down. Ian Stephenson from the National Trust says pre-1920 buildings have a thick wall mass and therefore a lot of stored energy, making them energy stable. He says research shows that if these buildings are demolished, it will take 60 years to get the energy equation back to zero. "They should probably be introducing a tax for energy waste - if you want to knock a building down, if you want to waste that energy, then you have to make a payment for it," he said.

But the Property Council's Nathan Paine says introducing such a tax would have negative repercussions for people looking to buy a house. "If we suddenly introduce significant increased costs on new homes, that will actually drive houses to an unaffordable level and that will actually lock another generation out, so we actually have to look at this in a holistic sense," he said.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, August 22, 2008


An email from Wendell Krossa []

In the article from The Economic Times of India this comment was made- "Every year more than 30 million hectares (74 million acres) of forest -- which soak up 20 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere -- are lost largely due to illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture".

I am not sure where the writer got his information but the FAO reports that world forests still cover about 30% of the overall land area on earth. It has been around this percentage since the 1950s (see Bjorn Lomberg's graph of the FAO Production Yearbooks data- the longest data series- on page 111 of Skeptical Environmentalist). Which is to say that world forest cover remains fairly stable over long time frames and there is no forest holocaust occurring. This is amazing when one considers the significant increase in population and consumption over this same time frame.

Contrary to the 30 million hectare figure used in the noted article, the FAO states that deforestation rates are around 12-13 million hectares per year. A brief summary of FAO data is available at sites like this.

The FAO, and similar sites such as World Resources Institute (WRI), tends to present forest information in alarmist language, referring to the harvest of forest resources as "alarming deforestation". The authors of such material tend to ignore or downplay the fact that deforestation rates have fallen over past comparison periods. They also tend to ignore or downplay reforestation data or when including such data they will emphasize problems such as the loss of original forest cover and the supposed relation of this to biodiversity loss. But the famous 1992 IUCN study (see Julian Simon's summary of this report in Scarcity or Abundance) noted the remarkable ability of species to adapt to secondary habitat and the discovery that there was absolutely no evidence for increased species loss, despite deforestation (massive deforestation in some areas). This report clearly undermined the alarmist claims of massive biodiversity loss.

Surprisingly, even amongst the alarmist chatter on their site the WRI has also noted that deforestation is isolated to a handful of hotspots (Brazil and Indonesia) and is not spread over many nations (See here). This is a refreshing note of rational perspective amongst the usual hysteria, panic, and generalized claims of forest holocaust.

Alan Grainger, in his report No Convincing Evidence for Decline in Tropical Forests, also shows in a review of FAO data and methods that there is no hard evidence that tropical forests are declining overall (See here).

Granted, it is important to investigate such issues as the loss of primary or original forest cover and the relation of this to biodiversity. But so far evidence shows there is apparently little to be concerned about and no cause for outright alarm. One of the underlying issues here may have something to do with a personal aesthetic sense.

Latest analysis: Global temperature has not increased significantly since 1979!

Much ado has been made about global warming stopping since 2001, since 1998 or not increasing in the last decade. Here is more grist to the skeptic mill. The analysis below shows the global temperature has not increased significantly since 1979!

Data are from the TLT Sellite measurements of the Earth's lower troposphere at RSS MSU. When you calculate the global surface temperatures from July to July 1979-2008, the earth has warmed the grand amount of 0.295 degrees C. The standard deviation of temperature changes from each July to July is 0.2522C, putting the change over 30 years at just over a non-significant one standard deviation (actually p=0.13, significant if p<0.05) of the expected change in just one year. Stated another way, temperatures would be expected to change by a similar amount to the increase in the last 30 years, every one out of eight years.

You have to wonder what all the fuss us about. The effect of 30 years of global warming is no greater than the expected change in a single year. The data support low estimates of CO2 doubling as the Spencer climate sensitivity.

The frequency of July-July annual differences with a normal curve is plotted above using R language for the statistics. The temperature difference from July 1979 to July 2008 is marked as a big red dot.

Here is another view of July temperatures over the last 30 years, with the levels of the start and end points marked by red dashed lines.


BOOK REVIEW OF "The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud" By Lawrence Solomon

Review by Jay Lehr, Ph.D

Lawrence Solomon, a longtime environmental activist, began wondering a few years ago how it could be that some scientists were questioning the apparently solid consensus that humans are causing a global warming crisis. He began seeking them out, and interviewing them on the topic. Before long, Solomon came to realize a substantial number of the world's leading scientists are making a very strong case that humans are not causing any sort of global warming crisis.

In 2006 he began publishing his interviews with these leading scientists in Canada's National Post newspaper. In his outstanding new book, The Deniers, Solomon presents the best of these interviews, while sharing additional insights for which his newspaper columns did not have room. Solomon's book breaks new ground in the global warming discussion, presenting the most important scientific evidence in the words of the scientists themselves.

The Deniers is not just a series of interviews and vignettes, however. Solomon carefully divides the information gleaned from his prestigious dissenters into chapters asking the very questions most of us have on our minds, and he allows the scientists' own words to answer the questions collectively.

All of the "dissenters" profiled in the book are recognized leaders in their fields, with many even active in the official body that oversees most of the world's climate change research, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thus the book provides absorbing insight into both the scientific issues and the ferocious political and media battles being waged about global warming. Solomon shows how noble scientists have suffered for their integrity and how attack dogs have mounted an all-out campaign against these scientists, portraying them as hacks bought by profit-mad oil companies or as non-credentialed cranks and lunatics.

The book offers well-written brief biographies of each of their illustrious careers. Here is a sample of the dozens of scientists the author interviewed, with a very condensed indication of who they are and what they believe:

Claude Allegre, Ph.D.: A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and French Academy of Science, Allegre was among the first scientists to sound the alarm on potential dangers from global warming. His view now: "The cause of this climate change is unknown."

Richard Lindzen, Ph.D.: A professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Lindzen says global warming alarmists "are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right."

Habibullo Abdussamatov, Ph.D.: Head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science's Pulkova Observatory and head of the International Space Station's Astrometria Project, Abdussamatov reports, "the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from misinterpretation of cause and effect relations."

Richard Toi, Ph.D.: Principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit and adjunct professor at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Toi calls the IPCC reports "preposterous ... alarmist and incompetent."

Sami Solanki, Ph.D.: Director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, Solanki argues changes in the sun's state, not human activity, may be the principal cause of global warming. Says Solanki, "The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures."

Freeman Dyson, Ph.D.: A professor at Princeton University and one of the most eminent physicists in the world, Dyson reports the models used to justify global warming are "full of fudge factors" and "do not begin to describe the real world."

Eigil Friis-Christensen, Ph.D.: Director of the Danish National Space Center and vice president of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, Friis-Christensen argues changes in the sun's behavior could very well account for most of the warming during the past century.

Necessary Second Opinion

Global warming has become a critical question for citizens who must decide whether the cures being bandied about are not in fact worse than the disease. In matters of health, most intelligent citizens seek a second opinion before undergoing a serious medical procedure, but in the case of global warming, a second opinion is exactly what global warming activists do not want you to seek, for fear it will reduce the effectiveness of their fear-mongering. Therefore, we are treated to a continuous drumbeat of the words, "the science is settled."

All the scientists Solomon interviews in his book are prominent in climate science and are not just nitpicking over the interpretation of some small piece of data. Throughout the book Solomon artistically includes boxes of highlighted quotes from his subjects, taken from their own publications. Here is one from Lindzen:
"How can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes? The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. "Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policymakers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes."

In his interview, Dyson points out from long experience that models packed with numerous "fudge factors" are worthless. As a mathematician and physicist, Dyson is known for the unification of three versions of quantum electrodynamics, as well as for contributions to space flight and the development of a safe nuclear reactor used today by hospitals and universities around the world. But today he is known more widely as a scientific heretic for disagreeing with claims of a central human role in global warming.

In his 2005 winter commencement address at the University of Michigan, Dyson said the mathematical computer models on which the alarmist claims are based "do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry, and the biology of fields, farms, and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."

In Solomon's interview with Friis-Christensen, the scientist states he was originally optimistic about the work IPCC would do in studying the sun's influence on climate change. To his surprise, however, IPCC refused to consider the sun's effect on the Earth's climate as a topic worthy of investigation. IPCC conceived its task only as investigating potential human causes of climate change.

That is a huge omission, Abdussamatov points out. He notes there has been global warming on other planets and moons in the solar system, and this demonstrates other forces may be at work regarding the Earth's moderate recent warming. "Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians," he observes.

Abdussamatov, at the pinnacle of Russia's scientific establishment, is one of the world's most eminent critics of the notion carbon dioxide is driving global warming. He argues these "parallel global-warmings observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth--can only be a straight line consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance."

Abdussamatov believes the recent global warming will be short-lived and that we are actually on the brink of a global cooling, and likely a severe one. He argues Earth has hit its temperature ceiling, demonstrated by cooling currently occurring in the upper layers of the world's oceans. In addition, Abddussamatov notes, solar irradiance has begun to fall, likely ushering in a protracted cooling period beginning in 2012-2015.

The lowest depth of the solar irradiance reaching Earth will occur around 2041 (plus or minus 11 years), Abdussamatov estimates, and will inevitably lead to a deep freeze around 2055-60. The freeze will last into the twenty-second century before temperatures rise again. For now, he says, "we continue to bask in the remains of heat that the planet accumulated over the twentieth century."

This is an excellent book. It is written for non-scientists, and I guarantee you will understand every word. It will inspire you as you witness the courage of the deniers to take a stand and endure the wrath of global warming activists for having the audacity to report sound science.


Polical Courage: MD County Commissioner stands up to Climate Establishment?

By Charles A. Jenkins, a member of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners

I can't help but respond to the letter from Joyce Phillips of Thurmont ("Jenkins can't see the light through the smog," The Gazette, Aug. 14). Not believing in manmade global warming does not in any way suggest a "total disregard for Earth."

Regarding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even John Christy, a member of the panel's team that won the Nobel Prize, has stated that he sees neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for warming: warming that has not occurred for 10 years.

The famed Mann hockey stick was removed from the panel's 2007 report because of the flaws in that science. That professor Ernst Beck has discovered that carbon dioxide levels have been higher than at present several times in the past 200 years should be fascinating reading for anyone who works in this field.

The panel's report is subject to much debate, including that so few actually write the executive summary, and those selected for that task tend to have their own environmentalist agendas.

In the past 10 years, we have seen unprecedented growth of infrastructure in China and India (even by the Industrial Revolution standard of the United States). Collectively, their carbon dioxide emissions have jumped considerably as a result, yet there has been no global warming since 1998.

About 1 million planet earths fit inside of our sun. New research from Victor Velasco Herrera indicates that Earth is more likely to experience cooling in a fairly short time horizon due to a decrease in solar activity. Increased solar activity equals warming; decreased solar activity equals cooling. It's all very natural, and predictable. Change happens.

Ms. Phillips can call me ignorant when it comes to the environment. It's a fairly common tactic to call names when your argument can't be won. Nor do I accept her comments that I have no interest in making our planet a better place for my children or future generations. Such moralistic supremacy is all too common from zealots, regardless of their cause. As for my behavior as an elected official, if you're looking for a lemming you won't find one here.



Prime Minister Rudd's zeal in the Warmist religion has forced lots of Australians to look closely at what he proposes. And they are not "going gently into that good night". Three current articles below

Warmist nonsense 'a company killer'

The nation's peak business group has joined the growing chorus across Australian industry warning the Rudd Government that local companies will close and move offshore unless it fundamentally rethinks its proposed emissions trading scheme. A "real world" analysis of the impact of the Government's plans - based on 14 companies that opened their books for the Business Council of Australia - revealed that even with the Government's proposed compensation, three firms would face a carbon cost so high they would close.

The future of a further two of the 14 companies - drawn from hard-hit sectors such as aluminium refining, cement manufacturing, petroleum refining, steel making, sugar milling and zinc and nickel refining - would be extremely bleak.

The companies, with annual revenues ranging from $90 million to more than $3 billion, revealed their confidential financial data to BCA consultants Port Jackson Partners on the basis that their identity would remain secret. But the research shows that, on average, the companies' pre-tax earnings would be cut by 22 per cent. The worst affected would suffer a 136 per cent reduction in earnings.

The Labor Government plans to introduce an ETS by 2010, forcing big polluters to buy permits to cover their greenhouse gas emissions. "Our research tells us the Government's plans would have significant and unintended consequences for business ... we don't believe the Government intended to design a scheme to achieve the outcome of businesses and jobs moving offshore, but that would be the outcome of the Government's plans," BCA president Greg Gailey said. "We want to ensure that industry plays its part but that the cost is kept at a level which allows them to stay in Australia, rather than move to a less demanding jurisdiction."

The BCA analysis follows a call from the Minerals Council of Australia this week for the Government to consider auctioning only 20 per cent of emissions permits. Also this week came warnings from the liquefied natural gas, cement and petrol refining sectors about the potential impact of the ETS. Wayne Swan said he had "taken on board some of the criticisms" industry had made during consultation over the Government's ETS green paper, but the Treasurer added that "at the end of the day, we've got to understand there is not a bottomless pit of money here".

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said she was "open to discussion of different methods of allocating" compensation to industry. Under its existing proposal, a handful of big emitters exposed to international competition could receive some of their permits for free.

But the BCA wants the Government to completely ditch the formula by which it proposes to compensate some companies that cannot pass on a carbon price to customers, saying it is both inadequate and unfair. Instead, the BCA proposes a compensation formula that would be on average far more generous to its members. It says the 1000 Australian companies required to buy emission permits should be required to buy them until they had paid between 3 and 5 per cent of their gross income, after which they should receive their permits from the Government for free. They say this would still cost the companies on average about 10 per cent of their profits, but this cost would be fixed rather than rising to "unsustainable" levels with an increasing carbon price.

The Government has been adamant that it must limit the proportion of permits given away to trade-exposed industries to 30per cent to avoid putting impossible burdens on the rest of the economy, including households, and to make sure it reaps sufficient revenue to pay compensation to families and businesses.

According to Port Jackson director Rod Sims, who undertook the research, the BCA's alternative compensation model would meet its 30 per cent target at a carbon price of $20 a tonne. The proportion of free permits required would rise to 44 per cent if the carbon price rose to $40 a tonne and the Government, rather than the trade-exposed companies, bore the increasing pain. But the BCA is recommending that the Government not allow the carbon price to rise to those heights until an international agreement is reached, saying it must either set a path for emissions reductions so gentle that the price is kept at between $10 and $20 a tonne, or else fix the permit price at those levels.

The Climate Institute chief executive John Connor warned the Government against succumbing to the business push for "climate protectionism". "Serious questions need to be raised why the Government should transfer billions of dollars of taxpayers' revenue to businesses who have known an emissions trading scheme was coming over a decade ago," he said. The Australian Conservation Foundation said the BCA plan was "totally irresponsible". "Polluting industries that have spent the last decade doing little or nothing to prepare for a carbon-constrained economy should not get a free kick," said executive director Don Henry.


Rudd thrown an emissions time bomb

AUSTRALIA'S business leaders have thrown a political time bomb into the Rudd Government's lap. Business rejection of the Government's emissions trading system model has lethal consequences. It signals that Australia is moving into dangerous territory for individual corporates, the economy and investor confidence. The analysis unveiled yesterday by the Business Council of Australia says the Government's ETS green paper "leaves too much scope for uncertainty for business to continue to invest in existing and new facilities".

This warning constitutes a degree of commercial threat dangerous for any government to ignore. It is contained in the commissioned report by Port Jackson Partners on the application of the green paper's ETS to 14 businesses across Australia's trading sector, the first such corporate analysis. This was led by former federal government senior economist Rod Sims. Its sharpest conclusion projects the Rudd model to 2020, assumes a $40-a-tonne carbon price and concludes that corporate boards "will be unlikely to invest while such outcomes are possible". The graphic shows a series of financial disasters.

The Rudd Government's response to climate change now becomes a diabolical challenge. It is trapped between its political pledge to price carbon to alter investment flows and this business analysis showing that under Rudd's model, a range of Australian-based companies will struggle to stay viable, facing hefty profit declines, a crippling of new investment and significant carbon leakage offshore at Australia's economic cost. The Government will rely upon the imminent Treasury modelling to quell such concerns.

The BCA document demands assessment for its three different messages. First, it argues the proposed ETS with its compensation mechanism is untenable. Second, it proposes an alternative model, different in conception. Third, it offers an overview of Australia's climate change strategy that finishes, in effect, suggesting a carbon tax is probably the best way forward. In its concluding overview, the report supports either a modest abatement target until global deals are done or the alternative of a fixed carbon price of $10 to $20 a tonne, meaning there would be no annual cap pending a global agreement. It leans towards the de facto carbon tax option.

The analysis for the electricity generating sector warns that any 10 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 involves a "major risk" to power supply, a lift in retail prices of 25 to 40 per cent and stretches to the limit investment capacity in alternative energy. It suggests that a lower 2020 emissions target may be required.

The business community also insists that any ETS must see the removal of all retail electricity price caps and abolition of the renewable energy target scheme. While Kevin Rudd and senior ministers are attached to their green paper ETS model, such support will be severely tested by this document. The BCA analysis rejects the formula under which 30 per cent of carbon pollution permits would be issued for free.

It finds the threshold mechanism based on tonnes of emission intensity in relation to revenue is "quite simply, the wrong starting point". This is a problem not of numbers, but of design. The analysis finds the green paper compensation "is inadequate and contains significant anomalies". Businesses with average profits and modest emission intensities of 500 to 2000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per million dollars of revenue "will face significant profit declines". Anomalies are such that firms at 1490 tonnes per million dollars of revenue get no compensation while firms at 1500 tonnes per million dollars of revenue get 60per cent of their permits free.

The BCA wants an entirely new compensation model. It seeks 90per cent compensation for trade-exposed companies. It proposes full compensation above a threshold defined as 3 to 5 per cent of industry value added. And it wants permits issued outside the national cap to allow for growth in trade-exposed industry in the absence of a global carbon price. This will strain government-business ties to the limit.


Business leader pushes nukes

QUEENSLAND will need nuclear energy more than any other state in Australia, former Telstra chief and nuclear physicist Ziggy Switkowski said last night. Mr Switkowski, who chairs the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, launched the Australia Nuclear Association Queensland in Brisbane last night.

He said the need for cleaner energy was more urgent in Queensland because of the state's population growth. "Queensland's economy is booming; its appetite for electricity is growing faster than any other state in Australia," he said. "It's going to have to make decisions earlier than other states in terms of what the next generation of power plants are going to be. "Given 90 per cent of electricity comes from fossil fuel and in the future we can't use fossil fuels, at least not to the same extent, the creation of this group to stimulate an objective debate about nuclear power makes a lot of sense."

The ANAQ has five corporate members including stockbroking firm ABN AMRO Morgans and 13 individuals ranging from lawyers to engineers. Association secretary Kate Holmes said the aim was to crank up the nuclear debate but she did not see the association as a lobby group. "Nuclear energy has been going for 50 years but not many people know much about it," the Brisbane lawyer said. "The idea is to be an education forum to help educate people on the pros and cons of nuclear energy."

Dr Switkowski said nuclear power was used in 31 countries and Australia would soon have to look at it as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. He said the ban on uranium mining in Queensland was contentious. "There is no logic I can see for Queensland to not develop uranium reserves," he said. The former chief executive officer of Telstra was appointed by the Federal Government to chair an inquiry into the viability of nuclear power in Australia in 2006.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

New climate record shows solar-based climate cycles

A stalagmite in a West Virginia cave has yielded the most detailed geological record to date on climate cycles in eastern North America over the past 7,000 years. The new study confirms that during periods when Earth received less solar radiation, the Atlantic Ocean cooled, icebergs increased and precipitation fell, creating a series of century-long droughts.

A research team led by Ohio University geologist Gregory Springer examined the trace metal strontium and carbon and oxygen isotopes in the stalagmite, which preserved climate conditions averaged over periods as brief as a few years. The scientists found evidence of at least seven major drought periods during the Holocene era, according to an article published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"This really nails down the idea of solar influence on continental drought," said Springer, an assistant professor of geological sciences.

Geologist Gerald Bond suggested that every 1,500 years, weak solar activity caused by fluctuations in the sun's magnetic fields cools the North Atlantic Ocean and creates more icebergs and ice rafting, or the movement of sediment to ocean floors. Other scientists have sought more evidence of these so-called "Bond events" and have studied their possible impact on droughts and precipitation. But studies to date have been hampered by incomplete, less detailed records, Springer said.

The stalagmites from the Buckeye Creek Cave provide an excellent record of climate cycles, he said, because West Virginia is affected by the jet streams and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

Other studies have gleaned climate cycle data from lakes, but fish and other critters tend to churn the sediment, muddying the geological record there, said study co-author Harold Rowe, an assistant professor of geological sciences at the University of Texas at Arlington.

"(The caves) haven't been disturbed by anything. We can see what happened on the scale of a few decades. In lakes of the Appalachian region, you're looking more at the scale of a millennium," Rowe said.

Strontium occurs naturally in the soil, and rain washes the element through the limestone. During dry periods, it is concentrated in stalagmites, making them good markers of drought, Rowe explained. Carbon isotopes also record drought, Springer added, because drier soils slow biological activity. This causes the soil to "breathe less, changing the mix of light and heavy carbon atoms in it," he said.

In the recent study, the scientists cut and polished the stalagmite, examined the growth layers and then used a drill to take 200 samples along the growth axis. They weighed and analyzed the metals and isotopes to determine their concentrations over time.

The data are consistent with the Bond events, which showed the connection between weak solar activity and ice rafting, the researchers said. But the study also confirmed that this climate cycle triggers droughts, including some that were particularly pronounced during the mid-Holocene period, about 6,300 to 4,200 years ago. These droughts lasted for decades or even entire centuries.

Though modern records show that a cooling North Atlantic Ocean actually increases moisture and precipitation, the historic climate events were different, Springer said. In the past, the tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean also grew colder, creating a drier climate and prompting the series of droughts, he explained.

The climate record suggests that North America could face a major drought event again in 500 to 1,000 years, though Springer said that manmade global warming could offset the cycle.

"Global warming will leave things like this in the dust. The natural oscillations here are nothing like what we would expect to see with global warming," he said.

Though some climate and drought records exist for the Western and Midwest areas of North America, the eastern Appalachian region hasn't been studied much to date, Rowe said. The research team plans to examine additional stalagmite records from West Virginia and Tennessee to paint a better picture of North American climate cycles.



Benny Pieser's CCNet brings our attention to this Globe and Mail item today. In it, the authors note some of the repercussions to Europe's own energy strategy from Russia's bloody Georgian gambit, which is the latest move in its expanding play to recover lost influence through energy (read this book for a discussion of how the Bolshies actually did the same thing to solidify their initial, not-so-dissimilar coup into a recognized nation-state).

The impacts go further, as I detail in a forthcoming Energy Tribune piece. Without spoiling it: Brussels' Kyoto agenda demands that Poland, the Czechs, and everyone else with very good reasons to distrust the Russians leave their coal in the ground and rely instead on gas . . . which in practice would be mostly Russian gas. As I have detailed in this space before, the EU was already having a hard time wrestling those pesky new member states to the ground on this dangerous proposal. Now, they can forget about it.

Russia turned off the supply to Poland more than a decade before pulling the plug on Ukraine. For the reasons I cite in ET, those who are in the business of finding silver linings have Russia to thank for finally slaying the Kyoto beast.


Global cooling hits New Zealand

Records continue to fall as fast as the snow in New Zealand, with Turoa on Mt Ruapehu yesterday recording the deepest snow base in the history of commercial skiing in the Shaky Isles. Turoa's snow stake at 2000m measured 455cm, and with yet another storm brewing for this weekend, an incredible 5m upper-mountain base is possible for spring.

More snow is also on the way locally today as this impressive winter continues, with the flakes to fall to low levels (around 900m) overnight, continuing through to early Saturday. The weekend should feature sunshine and light winds.


Climate awareness really goes awry! 'Too cold' for global warming torch relay

Who says that Mother Nature doesn't have a sense of humor? First we have an August 14 report from the Lithgow Mercury in Australia announcing a Climate Torch relay to draw attention to the importance of global warming:
The Olympic torch relay might not have made it to our part of the world but tomorrow Lithgow will share in another torch relay of global importance. And you are invited to take part.

An organisation called GetUp! has arranged a Climate Torch relay from Hassans Walls lookout to Queen Elizabeth Park as part of a nation-wide campaign to focus even more attention on the impact and urgency of global warming. A spokesman said that through GetUp! the community has an opportunity to show the nation's leaders how important the issue is to the man and woman in the street. "By taking part in this Australia wide campaign the people of Lithgow can show the rest of the country that we are prepared to stand up - and walk -for what we believe in," she said.

Anyone who can't make it to Hassans Walls for the start is welcome to join in anywhere along the route to the park.

The Climate Torch was designed by the same people who designed the Olympic Torch. "It is solar and wind powered, just in case the pollies need a hint, and people power will get it to its final destination in Canberra," she said.

Climate events coordinator Richie Merzien said Lithgow had been chosen to be part of the relay because of its unique environmental significance.

So how effective was this relay in stressing the importance of global warming? You can get an idea of how it turned out by reading the August 19 headline of the same Lithgow Mercury: "Too cold for global warming relay." Here is their report on actual relay field conditions as written by Len Ashworth:
Climate change may be THE hot international issue of the moment but enthusiasm for the cause clearly wanes on a freezing Friday afternoon when the campaign moves to a mountain top where the wind chill factor is below zero.

This was perhaps the predictably disappointing outcome when the GetUp! climate change lobby group organised an enviro torch relay from Hassans Walls Lookout to Queen Elizabeth Park to focus public attention on the issue.

Ironically, global warming would probably have been welcomed by the handful of hardy souls who turned up to lend their support to the campaign on one of the coldest Lithgow days of this or any other year.

It is unknown if Al Gore was one of those carrying the global warming relay torch in the freezing weather.


Old King Coal may be our saviour yet

Britain is not alone in finding it hard to come to grips with reconciling the need for energy to fuel economic growth with the emerging consensus that something must be done about global warming, while moving away from the dependence on oil. The Democratic-controlled Congress slunk out of Washington last week without even voting on the various policy proposals before it.

So be kind to your own politicians. Making energy policy is a tough job, made tougher by politicians' refusal to acknowledge facts. The most basic is that the promotion of nuclear, solar, wind and other forms will do nothing in the near or medium term to end reliance on oil to propel cars and lorries. For as far ahead as a planner should try to see, we will depend on oil to move ourselves and our products around the country.

You can't fill up at a wind machine or a nuclear plant - and won't be able to until the electric car becomes economic, and that is a long way off. Which means that one ingredient of energy policy is the ability to defend oil supply routes, a job that the world has so far largely out-sourced to America.

No good saying Britain has plenty of oil in the North Sea - which might prove to be the case if oil prices stay high enough to make development of smaller, more difficult-to-access fields profitable, and if the Government resists the siren call of windfall taxes.

Oil markets are international, and if the Iranians try to close the Straits of Hormuz, or the crazies take over Saudi Arabia, prices would reach levels that will have us pining for the good old days of $150 oil.

Which is why the Government's decision to go ahead with the construction of new aircraft carriers is a sensible form of energy policy, assuming it does not come out of an already stretched military budget.

The next reality check is to accept that nuclear power is far dearer than the Government is anticipating. The cost of a nuclear plant is now estimated to be significantly more than twice the figure put about by the industry only five years ago - and rising. Many nuclear advocates have been pinning their hopes for cost reductions on the next-generation nuclear plant being built in Finland by Areva, a French company that Gordon Brown has announced might be allowed a monopoly of nuclear plant construction.

The Finnish project is two years behind schedule and $1.5 billion-plus over budget. High construction costs mean that electricity from nuclear plants can be competitive with the output of fossil fuel plants only if the price of carbon emissions rises and if investors are somehow guaranteed that those prices will stay high for the 20- to 40-year life of the nuclear plants. No such guarantee is possible, given the volatility of carbon markets, so pay no heed to industry promises that it will not seek subsidies.

Most likely, owners of the massive amounts of capital required to build these facilities will insist that they be guaranteed above-market prices for their power, a covert subsidy that will be hidden on electricity bills.

Nuclear's need for subsidies is not unique. Wind and solar, currently receiving large inflows of investment capital, also remain heavily dependent on subsidies. As does ethanol, part of the programme that has contributed to soaring food prices by giving farmers an incentive to transfer acreage to growing fuel.

Which leaves only natural gas, an efficient fuel, but one on which western Europe is overly dependent, to Vladimir Putin's delight - and coal. The world has limitless supplies of coal, most located in nations friendly to the West. But coal is an abomination in the eyes of environmentalists because of its alleged contribution to global warming.

Nevertheless, it will be a key ingredient in the world's energy future: India and China between them have 700 plants planned or under construction; the Government has sensibly authorised a new plant in Kent; and European countries plan to build 50 new coal stations in the next five years.


Dark green barbarians

By Craig Emerson (Craig Emerson is the Minister for Small Business in Australia's Rudd Government)

When we look around the world and find that prosperity is rising strongly in some countries but not in others, seekers of the secret formula for success ask why. Lots of temporary causes come into play: oil discoveries, tourism fads such as safari experiences and even countries setting themselves up as tax havens. But these passing influences don't really tell us what overall government policy approaches will give a country its best chance of success in the prosperity stakes.

Since about 1990 a new body of economic thinking has attributed rising prosperity to the development and application of new ideas. These new growth theorists point out that if the history of the human race were represented by the length of a football field, then living standards were basically unchanged for the entire length of the field other than the last 5cm before the far goal line. But over that last few centimetres, living standards have increased astronomically.

This period of rapidly improving living standards began with the Enlightenment in Europe in the 18th century. New ideas were encouraged and a critical mass of thinkers and inventors was achieved. Enlightenment thinkers repudiated the mysticism and superstition of pre-Enlightenment Europe, advocating instead personal freedom, open, competitive markets and scientific endeavour.

David Hume, one of the Enlightenment figures, and a close friend of Adam Smith, summed up with his statement that a wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. Isaac Newton understood the cumulative power of ideas when he said: "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." James Watt's steam engine ushered in the Industrial Revolution and the rest, as they say, is history.

Deadly diseases were conquered and life expectancy increased. Yes it was a blood-stained 5cm, fouled by slavery, the exploitation of child labour, two world wars, state-sponsored mass starvation and genocide. Yet through the period living standards rose inexorably.

But now mysticism and superstition are making a comeback. Their revival began in the '80s with attacks on economic rationalism. Rational economic thinking was condemned in favour of economic irrationalism: ongoing protectionism, deficit financing by printing money, maintaining airlines and banks in public ownership and expanding the role of the state in the commercial world through clever devices such as WA Inc and the Tricontinental merchant bank.

By the '90s, economic irrationalists had declared competition as the new heresy, attacking the Keating government's National Competition Policy which is estimated to have increased household incomes by $3500 per annum. Twenty-first century mysticism and superstition is finding expression in the big environmental debates. Deep green extremists yearn for a return to a pre-industrial society, before the Enlightenment when faith and dogma prevailed over rational thinking and evidence-based science. In this gentle agrarian society (absent environmentally destructive hard-hoofed farm animals), human beings are tolerated, as long as they leave no carbon footprint. These deep-green crusaders have declared their opposition to coalmining even if emerging technologies were to reduce its emissions to zero, since coal is regarded as an ugly reminder of an industrial society.

Governments of Europe and the US have draped a green cloak of respectability over their farm-subsidising biofuels policies that divert massive amounts of food grain into the production of ethanol. In the name of saving the Earth from ecological disaster, these brutal policies have been responsible for an estimated 70 per cent of the sharp increases in world food prices over the past few years, plunging an extra 100 million people into poverty.

Recycling, we are told, is a good way to do our bit saving the environment. Anyone questioning the environmental benefits of recycling is branded a heretic. In some cities, up to 80 per cent of glass collected for recycling actually ends up in landfill because the cost of separating the different colours of glass is too high. But we feel good.

As director-general of the Queensland environment department in the early '90s I inquired into the life-cycle benefits of container deposit legislation. Glass bottles destined for reuse need to be many times the thickness of those that are melted down or disposed of in landfill. We discovered that by the time account was taken of the energy and water costs of collecting, transporting and washing the bottles, reuse of bottles was bad for the environment. We dared not release the results of the study for fear of being howled down as environmental vandals.

Recycling of some materials makes good environmental sense but of others it does not. Recycling proposals should be evaluated on the basis of good scientific evidence and not pursued simply because they make us feel good.

Consumer magazines such as Choice have begun to expose as greenwash the claims companies make about their products in an attempt to cash in on environmental ignorance. A bottle of air freshener is claimed to be biodegradable, but only the cardboard packet is. Products are promoted as being CFC-free, a true but irrelevant claim since all CFCs were banned in the late '90s. Some items are said to be made from renewable forest products, as if some species of trees are non-renewable.

Free-range chickens and organic fruit are good. But watch out for the next innovation: free-range fruit. Can you imagine the advertisement featuring dancing fruit trees all singing in harmony: "give me land, lots of land 'neath the starry skies above, don't fence me in." And remember, when you're told a product is 90 per cent fat-free, they're really telling you it's 10 per cent pure fat. The message is clear: irrationality sells and any questioning of spurious environmental claims is an act of heresy. It's time for an Australian Enlightenment, where once again reason and facts prevail over mysticism and ignorance.

Criticised for changing his mind on monetary policy during the Depression, John Maynard Keynes retorted: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

An Australian Enlightenment would demand the best available facts as a basis for public debate and public policy making. It would find no place for hired guns: any business consultancies that are willing to distort the facts to suit the requirements of their commercial clients and to promote them on the basis of the result of computer modelling. In computer modelling the enduring truth applies: garbage in, garbage out.

Self-serving consultants who change their assumptions to suit their clients do a great disservice to any endeavour to raise evidence-based policy over policy based on faith and superstition. One of the Enlightenment figures enthused that an army cannot defeat a good idea.

An Australian Enlightenment would restore ideas to the place they have occupied over the last 5cm of the football field: creating prosperity and raising living standards, including those of the most vulnerable in our society.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

'It is a blatant lie' by media that all scientists agree on climate - says blunt Spoken NOAA Atmospheric Scientist

Despite a number of conflicting research findings, the general consensus among weather and climate researchers is that global warming, whether natural or man-made, is unlikely to increase the frequency of hurricanes in the years to come.

In consensus statements found on the Web site of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), scientists involved note that, "Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point. No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change."

Indeed, according to Stanley Goldenberg, meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA, based in Miami, "Numerous hurricane meteorologists agree that the historical data has not produced any evidence of changes [due to climate change] in the number or intensity of hurricanes, particularly in the Atlantic Basin, and even globally.

"There are some who have done studies that do claim a link, [but] virtually all those studies have been heavily rebutted by others in the hurricane community," he noted. "In my opinion, the flaw in those studies is an improper utilization of historical databases. I have been a specialist in hurricane climate data for close to three decades, and others who know the databases well agree with what I am saying."

Mr. Goldenberg pointed to a number of confounding problems in such studies, including the time frame chosen, the techniques available now and in the past to measure hurricane activity, the ways in which such activity was recorded, and the availability of satellite data-or lack thereof.

"The biggest fallacy is that people think that a hurricane feeds off a warm ocean, and if the ocean gets warmer, we will have more intense hurricanes," he explained. "But there are other factors involved, such as vertical wind shear, which is the difference between the upper and lower layers of the atmosphere. You could also have drier air. These are far more critical factors than the ocean being warmer.

"Everything else being equal, if you warm the ocean under a storm, you might get a stronger storm-but everything else is not equal," said Mr. Goldenberg. "Warming may increase vertical shear and therefore inhibit storms. The ocean itself warming is such a little effect."

He added that while many of today's forecasts for future climate and hurricane activity are based on computer climate models, "We can't even reliably forecast El Nino. When you look 50 years into the future, you're getting a picture, but could you be totally wrong? Yes!"

Some climate models, he noted, say that if there is continued warming, higher vertical shear would reduce the frequency of hurricanes, but might result in stronger storms. "I am skeptical of those who would state those results as something like an undeniable fact for the future," he stated. "It is a possible guide for the future. But certainly the models are not pointing to increased activity.

Natural or man-made?

"I did not say if there is global warming, it would be man-made," Mr. Goldenberg emphasized. "Not all scientists agree that the warming we've seen is necessarily anthropogenic. It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming."

According to Peter Dailey, director of Atmospheric Science at AIR Worldwide, based in Boston, "There is now a near consensus that global air temperatures are increasing, however, there is no consensus on how this has affected the temperature of the world's oceans, and in particular in the Atlantic Ocean, or how much of the recent warming trend is attributable to man's activities. This is critical for scientists to understand the impact of climate change on land-falling hurricanes that affect North America.

"Recent scientific research indicates that in a future warming world, the Atlantic may experience two primary effects related to hurricane development," he explained. "First, a warmer environment may continue to elevate sea surface temperatures (SSTs), thereby providing more fuel for tropical cyclones to develop and intensify. Second, there may be a trend for more frequent or more intense El Nino events which in turn increase wind shear in the Atlantic-an unfavorable environment for tropical cyclones to develop.

"So, while it is true that warmer SSTs may lead to more frequent hurricane activity, elevated wind shear may counteract, or possibly even overturn this effect," he continued. "Which of these factors critical to the development of tropical cyclones will ultimately win out is the subject of lively debate within the scientific community and beyond."

Mr. Dailey also reported that recently published studies indicate that hurricane activity could decrease as a result of other competing factors. "For example, simulations of tropical cyclone activity carried out at the GFDL using climate conditions projected for the 21st century indicate the potential for decreased hurricane activity under more pronounced global warming conditions, and cautions against a reliance on statistical extrapolations of recently elevated activity levels through the end of the century," he said.

Although she asserted that global warming "is driven primarily by human activities," Christine Ziehmann, director of model management for Risk Management Solutions, based in Newark, Calif., cautioned that, "It is not clear what effect global warming is having, and will have, on the frequency, intensity and geographical distribution of hurricanes in the Atlantic basin." According to Ms. Ziehmann, computer models of the global climate tend to suggest that global warming should, in the long term, lead to less frequent but more intense tropical cyclones globally. "However, models are less clear about hurricane activity in individual ocean basins," she noted. "For instance, in the Atlantic, some models suggest a long-term increase in frequency with others suggesting a decrease." She added that, "The evidence shows that there has been an increase in the average intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic since the 1970s and an increase in frequency since 1995, but it is not clear what contribution, if any, global warming has made to these changes."

In an interview in 2001, renowned hurricane researcher Prof. William Gray told National Underwriter that a complex combination of factors including ocean temperature, ocean currents and the salt content of the ocean at a given time is most likely to affect the frequency of hurricanes. He emphasized that changes in these factors are "natural" and not man-made.

"Professor Gray is absolutely correct that hurricane formation and development depend on factors such as sea surface temperature," said Ms. Ziehmann. "However, it would be wrong to suggest that these factors could only be affected by natural changes in climate and not by man-made global warming. "Both natural climate variability and man-made global warming influence hurricane formation and development," she stated. "The real question is to what extent they contribute over the time-scale of interest. This is still an open scientific question."

The researchers also addressed the political debate that has attached itself to aspects of climate change. "For the layman, there is sometimes a tendency to regard every new `discovery' or scientific finding from the latest published paper as an inviolate fact," said Mr. Dailey. "In reality, rarely is there ever a last and final word in studies of complex systems such as earth's environment. Rather, science is a dynamic process based on the scientific method in which researchers test hypotheses leading to new discoveries, but also reexamine earlier theories and try to improve, build upon, or extend them."

Mr. Goldenberg of NOAA added, "There are those who want to attribute any perceived increase in natural disasters to anthropomorphic global warming. I predict that if we have an active hurricane season, someone will attribute it to AGW. They're not really looking at the science; they're looking at the disaster."


Greenie thugs

Coercion or attempted coercion seems to come naturally to Greenies. Report below from The Netherlands

Political activism involving criminal acts can lead, years later, to deep regrets for a politician. That's been made amply clear by the resignation of the Dutch GreenLeft MP Wijnand Duyvendak. But while the rebellious acts of one politician can lead to his downfall, others suffer no consequences, and in some cases even benefit from a turbulent past.

Wijnand Duyvendak resigned his parliamentary standing on Thursday in the wake of the controversy stirred up by his activist past. Two weeks earlier, he had confessed that during the 1980s, he took part in a break-in to a ministry to steal plans for nuclear power centres.

Femke Halsema, GreenLeft's chairwoman, reacted angrily to the first revelations about her colleague. It makes clear that the political climate, and attitudes to illegal actions in 2008, is totally different to those of the 1970s and 1980s. In the past, such actions were usually dismissed as 'youthful transgressions'. But following the September 11 attacks in the United States, and the murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands, that's all changed.

Investigative journalist Peter Siebelt has been writing for years about what he calls 'the excrescences of leftist activism' and he believes that Duyvendak has a lot more to answer for. "I keep in regular touch with colleagues abroad, who are experts in combating terrorism. If I tell them who we have sitting in our Lower House, they look at me as if I've come from another planet."

By way of example, he mentions the Socialist Party's Krista van Velzen. In the 1990s, Krista van Velzen let fly with a hammer at a nuclear submarine in the Faslane naval base in Scotland. She was arrested and earned herself a criminal record. Her Socialist Party (SP) colleague, Arda Gerkens, explains why this has never been a problem for the SP.

"The big difference with Wijnand Duyvendak is that Krista has always been honest. Both the party and the voters have always known about her actions. We have never tried to keep them secret. With Wijnand Duyvendak, the situation is different. First, I find break-ins and the intimidation of people far more serious than the actions of my colleague. But more than that, the voters never knew about Duyvendak's past. GreenLeft knew about it, but chose not to make any of the details public. That's the big difference between them and the SP."

Femke Halsema's initial sharp reaction has not been well received by everyone in her party. GreenLeft's European MP, Joost Lagendijk, thinks his party's upper ranks reacted in far too panicky a manner to the news of Duyvendak's illegal past. In a newspaper, he says: "In the 1980s I was involved, as many GreenLefters were, in the squatter's movement. Squatting is also breaking in. But does that mean that everything outside the law is also unacceptable? I don't think so."

Across the border, the German politician Joschka Fischer is the classic example of a politician who has profited from his activist past. At the beginning of the 1970s, Fischer was the leader of the left wing, radical Revolution„rer Kampf. The movement participated in several protest marches which often ended in violence that left several police officers severely injured. There's a photograph of Fischer taken at the time, wearing a crash helmet and fighting. Despite all the coverage of his activist past, the Green politician has now made it all the way to Foreign Minister and to the Vice Chancellorship of Germany.


More details on the above

Leftwing Green (GroenLinks) MP Wijnand Duyvendak orchestrated threats, violence and intimidation of six top civil servants at the economic affairs ministry in 1985. The ministry's director-general of the day, George Verberg, stated yesterday that an attempt was made to set fire to his house. Under Duyvendak's leadership, the anarchists publication Bluf published a list on 11 July 1985 giving the names, addresses and telephone numbers of six top civil servants. This was accompanied by the text: "Disturb the peace of these trouble-makers," newspaper De Telegraaf reported yesterday.

The call in Bluf resulted in telephone threats and intimidation of the civil servants of the nuclear energy directorate. One of them had his windows broken by stones thrown at them, according to De Telegraaf.

Verberg, the then director-general of the ministry, added yesterday afternoon in evening newspaper NRC Handelsblad that an attempt was made to set fire to his home following the publication of his personal details in Bluf. Also, his wife received phone calls saying 'we now where to find your husband'. Verberg published a letter in NRC Handesblad yesterday that he has sent to Duyvendak as well. In it, the former top civil servant states: "Your call to terrorise me was successful. An arson attempt to my home was made by shoving rags drenched in petrol and set on fire through my front door. Luckily, we had a tile floor".

Prior to the publication of Verberg's revelations in NCR Handelsblad, Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven said she was "unpleasantly surprised" by the report in De Telegraaf that Duyvendak incited violence against civil servants of her ministry. She termed the call to violence "unacceptable."

Two weeks ago, Duyvendak confessed that he was one of the burglars who broke into the economic affairs ministry in 1985. The personal data of the six civil servants were seized in that crime, as well as documents on plans for the construction of nuclear plants - these were never built.

Duyvendak had denied being involved in the break-in for years. He made his U-turn two weeks ago in an announcement of an upcoming autobiography he is presenting on 20 August. The break-in is now so long ago that he cannot be prosecuted any more. The GroenLinks MP complained on Wednesday he has already been pursued for 10 days by a storm of negative publicity on his activist past. It annoys him that his address has also been published, he said - apparently unaware of the irony of this remark....

Duyvendak is a very senior GroenLinks member. His wife is former party chairman Mirjam de Rijk and his brother is a key party strategist. Some insiders have suggested Duyvendak wanted to come clean in his book because he had ambitions to become GroenLinks leader.


UK Scientist: As Earth faces cooling, media exhibits 'cognitive dissonance'
"Un experto de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico pronostico que en alrededor de diez anos la Tierra entrara  a una `pequena era de hielo' que durara  de 60 a 80 anos y sera  causada por la disminucion de la actividad solar." [Milenio, August 16]

I must ask a very serious and urgent question of our media. Why do you continue to talk glibly about current climate `warming' when it is now widely acknowledged that there has been no `global warming' for the last ten years, a cooling trend that many think may continue for at least another ten years? How can you talk of the climate `warming' when, on the key measures, it isn't? And now a leading Mexican scientist is even predicting that we may enter another `Little Ice Age' - a `pequena era de hielo'.

Such media behaviour exhibits a classic condition known as `cognitive dissonance'. This is experienced when belief in a grand narrative persists blindly even when the facts in the real world begin to contradict what the narrative is saying. Sadly, our media have come to have a vested interest in `global warming', as have so many politicians and activists. They are terrified that the public may begin to question everything if climate is acknowledged, on air and in the press, not to be playing ball with their pet trope.

But that is precisely what is happening. Since 1998, according to all the main world temperature records, including the UK Met Office's `HadCRUT3' data set [a globally-gridded product of near-surface temperatures consisting of annual differences from 1961-90 normals], the world average surface temperature has exhibited no warming whatsoever. Indeed, the trend has been a combination of flat-lining and cooling, with a particularly marked plunge over the last few months. Many parts of the world, including Canada, China, and the US, have just experienced their worst winter in years (as is currently Australia), while skiing in Scotland has benefited from the trend, and the summit of Snowdon carried snow even up to the end of April.

To put it simply, since 1998, there has been no `global warming', despite the fact that, during this same period, atmospheric CO2 has continued to rise, from c. 368 ppm by volume in 1998 to c. 384 ppmv in November, 2007. Moreover, another `greenhouse gas', methane, has also been rising, following a period of relative stability, by about 0.5% between 2006 and 2007.

Of course, little can be gleaned from a short data run of only 10-years, a fact, I might add, which `global warming' fanatics have too often failed to stress. Nevertheless, recent work demonstrates that the Earth's temperature may stay roughly the same for at least a further decade through the workings of a phenomenon known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The cause of this oscillation, which is related to the currents that bring warmth from the tropics to Europe, is not well understood, but the cycle appears to have an effect every 60 to 70 years. It may well prove to be part of the explanation as to why global mean temperatures rose in the early years of the 20th Century, before then starting to cool again in the late-1940s. Thus, according to the new model, cooling remains on the cards for another ten years at least, making a potential 20 years of cooling in all.

But the sun isn't playing ball either. The big question is: "What has happened to Solar Cycle 24?" Solar-cycle intensity is measured by the maximum number of sunspots. These are dark blotches on the Sun that mark areas of heightened magnetic activity. The more sunspots there are, the more likely it is that major solar storms will occur, and these are related to warming on Earth; the fewer the sunspots, the more likely there is to be cooling. The next 11-year cycle of solar storms [Solar Cycle 24] was predicted to have begun in autumn, 2006, but it appears to have been delayed. It was then expected to take off in March last year, and to peak in late-2011, or mid-2012. But the Sun remains largely spotless, except for an odd fading spot. This delayed onset has somewhat confused the official Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel, leaving them evenly split as to whether a weak or a strong period of solar storms now lies ahead.

However, some other scientists are deeply concerned, including Phil Chapman, the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut, who comments: "Disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously."

Chapman then explains why the absence of sunspots might exacerbate this cooling trend: "The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth's climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790. Northern winters became ferocious: in particular, the rout of Napoleon's Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812 was at least partly due to the lack of sunspots." Thus, all the immediate signs and portents are pointing in the direction of a cooling period, not a warming one.

So, why are newspapers, magazines, radio, and television not telling us all this? Because they have invested so much effort over the last ten years in hyping up the exact opposite. Moreover, it is especially pathetic sophistry to claim, as dedicated `global warmers' are wont to do, that `natural forces' are having the temerity to "suppress" `global warming'. The fundamental point has always been this: climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically-selected factor is as misguided as it gets.

And now a Mexican expert, Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera (National Autonomous University of Mexico), is warning that the Earth will enter a new `Little Ice Age' for up to 80 years due to decreases in solar activity [see: `Auguran breve era del hielo en 2010', Milenio, August 16]. He describes the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as "erroneous".

If this cooling phase really does persist, it will be illuminating to observe how long our media can maintain its befuddled state of `cognitive dissonance'. Mind you, I jolly well hope that we aren't entering a cooling period - it's the very last thing we need! Give me warming any time. Brrrr!


Global Warming Skeptics Prominently Featured At International Scientific Meeting

Indian Scientist Mocks Nobel Prize Award to Gore

A major international scientific conference prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. The International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Oslo, Norway, from August 4-14.

[The conference was criticized by the activists at (who apparently are threatened by any challenges to their version of `consensus' on global warming science) for being too balanced and allowing skeptical scientists to have a forum. RealClimate's Rasmus E. Benestad lamented on August 19 that the actual scientific debate during the conference "seemed to be a step backwards towards confusion rather than a progress towards resolution." ]

During the Geologic conference, Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia of the Center of Advanced Study in Geology at Punjab University and a visiting scholar of the Geology Department at University of Cincinnati, openly ridiculed former Vice President Al Gore and the UN IPCC's coveted Nobel Peace Prize. [An online video of an August 8, 2008, conference climate change panel has been posted and is a must-see video for anyone desiring healthy scientific debate. See: HERE ]

"I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists," Ahluwalia, a fellow of the Geological Society of India, said during a question and answer panel discussion.

Ahluwalia, who has authored numerous scientific studies in the fields of geology and paleontology, referred to the UN climate panel as the "elite IPCC." "The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn't listen to others. It doesn't have open minds."

Ahluwalia, a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet ( also criticized the promoters of man-made global warming fears for "drawing out exaggerated conclusions" and took the UN to task for failing to allow dissenting voices.

"When I put forward my points in the morning, some IPCC official got up to say that what I was [saying was] `nonsense.' See, when we have that sort of attitude, that sort of dogma against a scientific observation that would not actually end up in very, very positive debate. We should maintain our sense of proportion, maintain our sense of objectivity, allow a discussion -- not have fixed mindset about global warming," he said to applause from the members.

Panel participants at the August 8 debate included skeptical Physicist Dr. Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Centre and Paleoclimate scientist Dr. Bob Carter of Australia's James Cook University, former chairman of the earth science panel of the Australian Research Council, who has published numerous peer-reviewed papers and is an outspoken dissenter of Gore and the UN IPCC's climate claims.

Prominent scientist Professor Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, a leading world authority on sea levels and coastal erosion who headed the Department of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics at Stockholm University, was also on hand during the panel's question and answer session.

A Canadian paleoclimatolgist/sedimentary geologist openly dissented from UN IPCC views during the panel's Q & A session. "I think the scientific community is putting way too much faith on these models, especially given the fact that they have not been able to predict 5-day weather forecasts yet and weather systems are simpler than the climate, and every 5 days they have a chance to test the model and improve it," the Canadian scientist said. [ At 43:30 and 44:35 of online video]

"A lot of the predictions made by modelers and models do not match very well to the longer term geologic record and even more scary, most atmospheric scientists are not aware of that," he explained.

Another scientist stood up to a key question about the recent global cooling trend. "We know temperature goes up and down, we know there is tremendous amount of natural variations, but for how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand -- we politicians and scientists-- that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" the scientist asked to applause from the audience.


Vocal Australian Doomster Tim Flannery repeatedly shown to be a false prophet

With his long and remarkable track record of predictive failure, you could well be inclined to expect the opposite of whatever he predicts

By Andrew Bolt

Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery really should stay out of the predictions business, unless he's just rehearsing a comedy act. Four years ago, there was his prediction for Perth:
Speaking last night at the State Government's Sydney Futures forum, Dr Flannery warned of a city grappling with up to 60 per cent less water. As temperatures around the world warmed by 2 to 7 per cent, Sydney could glimpse its future by looking at the devastating impact that global warming had already had on Perth. "I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis," Dr Flannery said.

Perth's dams have reached their highest July level in eight years, despite WA's gas crisis causing the closure of the Kwinana desalination plant at the start of the month. Above-average rainfall in the major catchment areas since April has meant that the dams are about 34 per cent full. Weather Bureau spokesman Glenn Cook said that the high dam levels were due in part to good winter rain last year...

Three years ago there was his prediction for Sydney:
He also predicts that the ongoing drought could leave Sydney's dams dry in just two years.

The available storage as at 3 p.m. Thursday, 7 August 2008 was 66.0 %.

Flannery's latest city-scare? It's for Adelaide, and given five months ago:
The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.

Instead? Let Tim Blair give you the soggy news and the healthy dam readings. We've seen Flannery's sort before, of course:
And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."


Climate balance from a major Australian TV show!

A turning point in the debate: 60 Minutes is suddenly not so sure man is heating the world to hell, after all. And it won't have been reassured by Kevin Rudd's shaky grasp of the evidence in spruiking his carbon tax:
PM KEVIN RUDD: But economic cost (sic) of not acting is massive, it's through the roof. Think about food production, the Murray, think about the impact on tourism in QLD, no more Barrier Reef, Kakadu, no more Kakadu. Think about the impact on jobs, it's huge.

Actually, even if Rudd really thinks warming will wipe out the Barrier Reef and Kakadu (neither of which show any sign of going anywhere), he is deceiving viewers by suggesting his carbon tax would make the slightest difference to the climate. Indeed, the only impact will be on jobs - as in costing them, and not, as he claims, saving them.
TARA BROWN: How certain are you that mankind is the cause behind global warming?

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just look at what the scientists say. There's a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change - 4000 of them.

No, it's actually called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And no, there are not 4000 IPCC scientists. Try 2500, instead. Rudd is lucky that this exaggeration wasn't picked up by Brown. What's more, a number of those 2500 don't stand by the IPCC conclusion on man's effect on the climate. Many others were not even consulted over the report's bottom-line finding.
PM KEVIN RUDD: ... And what they (IPCC scientists) say to us is it's happening and it's caused by human activity.

Actually, even the IPCC report admits doubts, saying it's only 90 per cent sure humans are responsible for most of the warming in just the 25 years until 1998. But a token alarmist is then rolled on to preach doom:
DR TIM FLANNERY: Stop burning coal and other fossil fuels and stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because that is what is warming the atmosphere and that is what's driving the changes.

I wouldn't rely on anyone with Flannery's record of alarmist inaccuracies. And in this case thousands of scientists disagree, actually. 60 Minutes, to its credit, finally talks to some of the "thousands" it agrees are there:
PROF. RICHARD LINDZEN: We need CO-2. It's not a poison, it's not a pollutant. It's essential for life on earth. I mean how much are we going to depend on people's ignorance in order to produce panic?.

DAVID EVANS: (There's no evidence that carbon emissions cause any significant warming at all...

And reporter Tara Brown even dares mention the Medieval Warm Period:
TARA BROWN: Perhaps nowhere in the world is there more compelling evidence against the man-made carbon dioxide argument than Greenland. Long before the Industrial Age, the Vikings lived here and happily grew wheat and vegetables. It was known as the `Medieval Warm Period' and temperatures were even hotter than they are today.

But, wait, there's more:
TARA BROWN: So statistically, in the last seven years, the flattening and perhaps even slight cooling of temperatures - is that significant?

DAVID EVANS: Yes, yes it is significant. Once it gets up to five years or so it's really quite significant. Whatever was driving the temperatures up has taken a break for a while and meanwhile carbon emissions have continued and the level of carbon in the atmosphere has gone up about 5% since 2001, yet we see no more warming.

But back to Rudd, who can't have counted on being corrected mid-scare by Brown:
PM KEVIN RUDD: Here's a measurement which people should just sit back and pay a bit of attention to - the 12 hottest years in human history have occurred in the last 13 years. That's a fact.

TARA BROWN: It's not my position to correct you Prime Minister but Ive been told that in fact during the middle ages the global temperatures were two to three degrees warmer than now. Certainly we've had the hottest 12 years in recent history but the planet's been a lot hotter.

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I stand by what the International Panel of Climate Change Scientists have had to say. There will always be argy-bargy about elements of the detail.

Where the world has been hotter in human history is now just "elements of the detail" to Rudd? And is he not even familiar with this debate over dodgy IPCC claims, and what it says about the IPCC on which he relies so heavily? And still Brown hasn't finished sowing doubts:
TARA BROWN: But one thing climate scientists agree on - if global warming is caused by CO-2 emissions then the CO-2 will leave a distinct signature their computer models predict a big red hotspot above the equator. The problem is thousands of weather balloons equipped with some very sophisticated thermometers have measured the temperatures in the atmosphere to test the theory, and guess what, no hotspots.

DAVID EVANS: There's no hotspot, there's no hotspot at all. It's not even a little hotspot and it's missing. We couldn't find it.

Sadly, Brown then goes on to quote for no clear reason previous 60 Minutes stories which preached alarmism over drought and Chernobyl, and waffles on without quite finding the courage to admit they swallowed green scares whole. But there is this rally near the end:
PM KEVIN RUDD: The key thing is, how do you bring carbon pollution down in an economically responsible fashion? And having looked at all the detail this is the best way forward.

TARA BROWN: But if you believe the sceptics, and carbon dioxide isn't to blame for global warming then we face massive change for no good reason.

DAVID EVANS: Isn't it a bit dopey to wreck the economy for a purely theoretical reason when the alleged symptom, warming, stopped six years ago.

To conclude: 60 Minutes has dared to contradict the global warming "consensus", and its own record, to present fairly the growing evidence that supports the scepticism of thousands of scientists. That puts it ahead of the media curve - certainly ahead of the ABC. And having this done on the country's most-watched current affairs show marks a significant turning point in the debate. 60 Minutes, for one, will now have a vested interest in saying "we told you". Rudd, already at sea with the evidence, should be very, very nervous.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

LOL! It's Almost Like Something Unusual is Poised to Happen in Denver

Is Mother Earth trying to tell them something?

(Via Ace. For non-American readers, the Democrat convention is about to open in Denver, Colorado)

More: Record low maximum temperature set in Denver for August 16th... The high temperature at Denver International Airport today was 58 degrees. This 58 degree reading will replace the previous low maximum temperature record for August 16th which was 63 degrees set 118 years ago in 1890.

VA city has 'coolest August in years' -- Not a single 90 degree plus day

High temperatures usually mark the month of August, but those dog days of summer have been scarce in Hampton Roads this year. This month, not a single day's temperature has risen above 90 degrees. Forecasters are calling for Tuesday to hit 92 degress, which would be the hottest day of August. This month's highest temperature has been 90 degrees.

This summer, Hampton Roads has had the lowest average temperature in five years. In fact, this decade has been cooler than previous decades. Since 2000, Hampton Roads has seen 58 days when the official temperatur has climbed above 90. That represents the smallest total since the 1980s. Unseasonably cool temperatures are hitting other parts of the country as well. In Chicago, for example, temperatures this summer are the lowest since the 1930s.

Despite popular debates over global warming and global cooling, both processes are difficult to track. Climate change is so intermittent that even professionals in the scientific community have difficulty understanding its many complexities and causes.

Scientists have no data to prove whether or not the cooling is noteworthy. Josh Willis, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says, "There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant."


Another cooling convert

The article is in Spanish here. Google Translated link from Spanish: here. Excerpt follows:

An expert from the National Autonomous University of Mexico predicted that in about ten years the Earth will enter a "little ice age" which will last from 60 to 80 years and may be caused by the decrease in solar activity. Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the UNAM, as argued earlier during a conference that teaches at the Centre for Applied Sciences and Technological Development...

Velasco Herrera described as erroneous predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), pursuant to which the planet is experiencing a gradual increase in temperature, the so-called global warming. The models and forecasts of the IPCC "is incorrect because only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity," said the specialist also in image processing and signs and prevention of natural disasters. The phenomenon of climate change, he added, should include other kinds of factors, both internal, such as volcanoes and the very human activity, and external, such as solar activity....

"In this century glaciers are growing", as seen in the Andes, Perito Moreno, Logan, the highest mountain in Canada, and with Franz-Josef Glacier, New Zealand, said Velasco Herrera....

The prognosis on the emergence of a new Ice Age has little uncertainty as to their dates. The latest, according to Victor Manuel Velasco, could arrive in approximately two years. In another lecture he gave at the beginning of last December, the same expert had said that the cooling would arrive within 30 or 40 years. And in early July, Velasco Herrera said that satellite data indicate that this period of global cooling could even have already begun, since 2005.

A nasty one for the peak-oilers

You Can't Get Blood From A Stone. But Shell Oil appears to have found a way to get oil from a rock. The Denver Post describes a promising technology to extract oil - a lot of oil - from oil shale in the American West. There are many unanswered questions and many details that need to be worked out, but this is pretty promising. Shell's test site yielded about a 65% recovery rate for the oil. Versus about a 25% recovery rate for traditional methods. The resultant extracted oil is of an extremely high quality.
The ramshackle collection of wellheads and electric cables hidden in a pine-covered draw west of Rifle doesn't look like much now, but until three years ago it was the home of the oil industry's equivalent of the Manhattan Project. Over five years here, Shell Oil conducted a series of secretive experiments that have the potential to blow open the status quo of North American oil production, unlocking the vast reserves of oil shale that underlie Colorado's Western Slope.

Early attempts failed miserably. But beginning in 2002, Shell drilled a honeycombed series of wells, then lowered in giant heating elements, raising the temperature of the shale to 650 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 months. Out flowed an abundance of high-quality shale oil. "It was our 'eureka' moment," said Tracy Boyd, a spokesman for Shell, smiling as he showed off the historic spot. "Now we know we have a technology that works."

Now that and similar technologies have become fodder in the increasingly contentious energy debate, holding out the possibility that, in an era of $4-a-gallon gasoline, America might just be sitting on oil reserves equal to a 100-year supply of the country's imports.

The fight over oil shale has become a major issue in Colorado's U.S. Senate race as well as a regular talking point for Republicans nationwide. At the White House in June, President Bush blasted Democrats for "standing in the way" of oil-shale development and hurting ordinary Americans. The latest to enter the fray is Orrin Hatch, the powerful Republican senator from Utah, who accused Democratic Senate candidate Mark Udall of siding with "an elite, anti-oil crowd" by helping impose a moratorium on commercial leasing regulations for the shale deposits. (Utah is one of three Western states with oil-shale reserves.)

The technology still needs to be proven at an industrial scale and there are serious issues about the environmental impact, especially on water resources. Read the whole thing. The early battle lines are already forming both in the short term of this election and in the long term, decades away. But this appears to be promising. Certainly more promising than this incident over in Zimbabwe.



Russia's adventure in Georgia has been described as a "warlet," a contained firing spree that wound up and down within a week. But to Europe's energy markets, it was the equivalent of wide-scale carpet bombing. With the North Sea oil and natural gas fields running out of puff, Europe, in particular the European Union, is more dependent than ever on imported energy. The biggest single supplier is Russia, whose pipelines snake across Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova before poking into central and western Europe.

Russia's energy supplies are cherished. Germany, France and Italy have almost no oil and gas of their own. Russia's Gazprom, the world's biggest gas company, supplies 40 per cent or more of Europe's gas imports. The company, controlled by the Russian state and led by Dmitry Medvedev before he became Russia's President, is the equivalent of a one-country gas OPEC. By 2020, Gazprom's exports to the EU are expected to rise by more than 50 per cent. The company is unafraid to wield its mighty power. For four days in 2006, it stopped supplying gas to the Ukrainian market because of a contract dispute.

Since keeping the lights on is the minimum requirement to stay elected, Europe's governments were doing two things. They were buying every molecule of Russian energy available and were working hard to ensure that Russia alone did not control the entire show.

Enter Georgia. The pro-Western country became a convenient bit of non-Russian real estate on which to plunk pipelines to funnel non-Russian (and non-OPEC) oil and gas to the outside world. No fewer than three pipelines originating in Azerbaijan cross Georgian territory.

One of the trio, called BTE, was due for a massively enlarged role in the future. The BTE pipeline currently takes gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia and into central Turkey. An extension, known as the Nabucco project, would take the gas from there on to Austria, making it a hefty counterweight to Russian gas exports. Nabucco is backed by the EU and the United States and counts German power utility RWE among it biggest shareholders.

Thanks to Russia's invasion of Georgia on Aug. 8, Georgia's role as a secure energy transit point to Europe has been shattered. Russia has made clear it can make Georgia a puppet state if it wishes, and will almost certainly recognize the independence of the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Suddenly the risk premiums on oil and gas pipelines that pass through Georgian soil went through the roof. Some analysts are already predicting the death of the Nabucco project, whose construction was to begin in 2010.

So much for Europe's energy diversification plans. New, independent pipelines from Central Asia seem like a lost cause. With Georgia reined in, Moscow's grip on energy supplies to Europe must be close to complete. You have to wonder whether a Kremlin filing cabinet contains a plan that had laid out this very scenario a decade ago.

What is Europe to do? Time for Diversification Plan B. A big part of the plan would have to see Europe turning the Mediterranean into mare nostrum - our sea - as the Romans called it in the empire years. The North African countries of Libya and Algeria, and Syria in the Eastern Med to a lesser extent, have vast, undeveloped oil and gas fields.

Energy companies with an appetite for political risk have been pouring billions into these countries. One of them is Petro-Canada, which is already hauling 50,000 barrels of oil a day out of Libya and has targeted the country for significant growth. Algeria's gas reserves are mammoth. Last year, Italy and Algeria agreed to construct a 900-kilometre pipeline to take Algerian gas to Sardinia, then on to the Italian mainland. Other pipelines will have to be built. Speed is of the essence, because Gazprom's ambitions are boundless. Last month it offered to buy all of Libya's gas exports.

Mediterranean gas cannot be the entire solution. Europe will have to rethink its nuclear strategy. Germany and Spain have committed to phase out nuclear power. Surely, that strategy will have to be reversed. Italy has no nuclear power plants. That will have to change, too. A few nuclear plants are under construction in Europe after a moratorium that began with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The number will have to soar if Europe is to take energy diversification seriously.

Coal might make a big comeback, too, in spite of the horrendous amounts of soot and carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired electricity plants. Fortunes will have to be plowed into "clean coal" technology, which so far is more myth than reality.

Before the Georgian crisis, Europe seemed to be doing all the right things, with little Georgia at the centre of a sensible energy diversification plan. A column of Russian tanks wrecked that strategy in an instant. Europe is learning quickly that the only way to curtail Russia's energy control is to compete with it. A new energy war is about to begin.



Britain's Conservative Party tried to exploit global warming alarmism. It backfired enormously. Lesson learned?

Britain's Conservative Party has surged to an historic 22-point opinion-poll lead over the incumbent Labour Party. This turnabout has followed an energetic campaign by the Tory leader, David Cameron, to wrench the party out of its ideological comfort zone and overhaul its public image. Cameron has indeed handled many issues deftly. However, his initial attempt to spark a bidding war over climate alarmism backfired enormously, and it should serve as a warning to other Western political parties that are trying to burnish their green credentials.

From the moment he was elected Conservative leader in 2005, Cameron was eager to woo the upper-class voters who had shunned the party in the post-Thatcher era. He chose to make environmental policy the focus of his stylistic revolution, and he commissioned Zac Goldsmith (a fellow Eton graduate and director of The Ecologist magazine) to chair a "Quality of Life" policy group. Goldsmith, an heir to a billion-dollar fortune and well-known green activist, claimed "an invitation to be radical."

Goldsmith's policy group soon unleashed a fury of impractical ideas. It proposed placing prohibitive taxes on landfill and big cars, halting investment in air and road infrastructure, taxing parking at out-of-town malls, and even mandating that car advertisements include emissions statistics. The Conservative MP Tim Yeo, who chairs the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, declared that domestic plane flights should be taxed out of existence. (Yeo boasted that he now travels to Scotland by train "as a matter of conscience.")

Without doing much to appeal to suburbanites interested in clean rivers and parks, the new Tory agenda threatened the low-cost flights that had only recently made European travel affordable for millions. It also confirmed the suspicion of many working-class voters that the Conservatives were rich elitists who cared little about job loss.

While many of the Tories' environmental proposals were harmlessly ridiculous and had no real prospect of enactment, the empty rhetoric proved very costly. The Labour government, refusing to let the Conservative Party claim the mantle of environmental champion, swung left on the issue. The failure of environmental taxes to change behavior was taken as a sign that those taxes should be raised even further. Big increases in annual road taxes were rolled out; drivers of Honda Accords will owe over $500 per year by 2010-11. Taxes on gasoline went up, forcing motorists to pay nearly $9 a gallon. Meanwhile, taxes on plane flights were doubled, despite evidence that such a change may actually increase emissions.

British leaders have long struggled to convince the public that significant resources should be allocated to fight climate change. Yet the burgeoning global warming industry-a motley assortment of activists and NGOs-has relentlessly driven its agenda through bureaucratic and legal channels that are cut off from democratic accountability. Further insulated from political attack by Cameron's green posturing, the climate change alarmists were able to set the terms of the debate.

While most peer-reviewed cost-benefit analyses of climate change tend to find that the costs of global warming do not merit a radical and immediate shift away from carbon-based fuels, moderate anti-carbon policies have failed to satisfy the demands of climate activists. In response to the inconvenient economics, the Labour government decided to base all its policymaking on a Treasury study by Nicholas Stern. The Stern report used an extremely low discount rate to grossly magnify the future environmental costs of climate change.

Yet, far from rebuking this folly, the Conservative Party's Quality of Life policy group criticised the Stern report for tolerating too much planetary warming. As the Labour government advocated a 60 percent reduction in British carbon emissions by the year 2050, the Tories shot back with a demand that the nation roll back 80 percent of its emissions by that time. This merely upped the ante. The third-party Liberal Democrats responded with a call for complete decarbonization-a 100 percent reduction in emissions. No matter how hard the Tories tried, they could never "out-green" their rivals on the left.

The popular press were less indulgent of such nonsense, and many media outlets lampooned the proposed climate initiatives. Voters did not like having wealthy politicians lecture them on the demerits of prosperity, and every green policy that the Tories promoted was greeted with derision or worse. When the Tory Quality of Life group's disastrous report was eventually released in September 2007, the Conservatives were in disarray. They were so far behind in the opinion polls that Prime Minister Gordon Brown even considered calling an early election.

Cameron had no choice but to change tack. The recovery that saw the Tories rise to their present poll lead began with a call to significantly reduce the inheritance tax. This was followed by proposals for comprehensive school choice and welfare reform. The Conservatives also suggested some tough new anti-crime initiatives. The idea that proved most useful in de-stigmatizing the Tory brand was a plan to rebuild poverty-stricken communities in disadvantaged areas.

To be sure, the Conservatives have also benefited from a complete collapse of popular support for the Labour government. Indeed, this has been perhaps the biggest factor in the Tories' resurgence. The British economy has faltered, and voters have become less tolerant of fiscal extravagance. They are especially angry about an increase in the annual car tax, which was sold as a green measure. In a recent YouGov poll commissioned by the TaxPayers' Alliance, 63 percent agreed with this statement: "politicians are not serious about the environment and are using the issue as an excuse to raise more revenue from green taxes." When a recent Mori poll asked voters to name important issues facing Great Britain, only 7 percent cited the environment, while 42 percent named immigration and 35 percent said crime.

None of this is to say that conservatives should neglect the environment. Over the past few months, Cameron has been trumpeting a more holistic environmentalism, arguing that being green is "not just about the stratosphere, it's about the street corner." He stresses the need to eliminate graffiti and cut crime in local parks. While there is little public appetite for raising energy taxes or overhauling the British economy to deal with climate change, there is widespread support for boosting investment in green-friendly technologies, and the Tories are well-placed to advance this.

The recent success of the Conservative Party has owed little to quixotic environmentalism, and almost every Tory attempt to play the green card has been a disaster. The party seems to have learned its lesson, and is now embracing a results-driven conservation policy that defends green spaces and promotes the development of efficient clean-energy technologies. While the climate debate is often dominated by clamorous activists, ordinary voters tend to favor a more pragmatic approach. If the Tories want to maintain their huge lead over Labour, that is the type of approach they should endorse.


Prominent Australian conservative says Oz must go nuclear

AUSTRALIA must embrace nuclear power to cut greenhouse gases, argues a Liberal [Party] frontbencher who warns coal-fired power generation is deadlier. In the strongest pro-nuclear remarks since former prime minister John Howard left politics, Coalition trade spokesman Ian Macfarlane says Australia "must get real" on nuclear energy to tackle climate change. "If we are serious about reducing global greenhouse emissions, the nuclear option is one we cannot ignore," the Queensland Liberal MP will say in a speech tonight.

Mr Macfarlane's comments will be seized on by the Rudd Government, which believes the Coalition harbours a secret plan to resurrect Mr Howard's nuclear framework. They will not be welcomed by sections of the Liberal Party - including senior frontbenchers - who also believe nuclear is political poison.

In a mining speech in Brisbane tonight, Mr Macfarlane will argue the Government "must include" nuclear in any future base-load energy mix. He will argue that nuclear must be "among the first options worthy of consideration" as Australia decides the best way to tackle climate change. "The biggest gains in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in the shortest possible time and at the lowest cost and least economic risk will come from nuclear power," Mr Macfarlane will say. "It's a black and white answer. Or should I say black and yellow answer. Clean coal and yellowcake - we must include nuclear in our future base-load clean energy mix."

The Coalition's position on nuclear power has been confused since the election, when Labor ran an effective scare campaign on the prospect of 25 nuclear reactors. Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson appeared to shift position on the volatile issue in December - but some other frontbenchers believe nuclear should remain on the table. Other Liberal MPs, such as Opposition defence spokesman Nick Minchin, are very cool towards nuclear power, believing it is politically unpopular.

Mr Macfarlane says deaths from nuclear power generation "are less than half a percent of the total" of deaths attributed to the coal-fired power sector.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Prominent climate alarmist concedes (ungraciously) defeat to climate realist in rare debate

A debate between the Right Honourable The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and Richard Littlemore of alarmist blog Being intellectually outgunned by a senior member (A Viscount ranks above a Baron and below an Earl) of the hereditary British aristocracy must REALLY hurt. Note: DeSmogBlog's Littlemore is just the latest alarmist to get demolished like a tomato in a real debate. See U.S. Senate Report: Scientific Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate --March 16, 2007

See this website to listen to the August 17, 2008 full audio of debate of Monckton vs. Littlemore and read the comments confirming yet another stunning victory for those skeptical of a man-made claims catastrophe: Excerpt:
"I'd have to say that Monckton 'won' the debate. He came across as more prepared and had answers at his fingertips, whereas Richard appeared to verbally stumble on occasion."

In addition, this website sympathetic to Littlemore was brutal in it's view of the smackdown that Littlemore got from Monckton. Excerpt:
"I got the impression that Littlemore was engaging in the debate totally unprepared."

No wonder Al Gore has refused all challenges to debate global warming!

Excerpt from Littlemore's concession speech:
"In hindsight, I played perfectly into the hands of Monckton and his happy radio host, Roy Green, who share the same goal - not to win an argument about global warming science, but merely to show that there still IS an argument. Of course there's not. But while we danced angels around the head of a pin, I can imagine Green's listeners thinking, "Oh my. This is very confusing. No wonder the government says it's too early to take action." Score one for Monckton....

It was also a tactical error to start pointing people to helpful websites with clear graphs and reliable science that could support my position. It left open the possibility for Monckton to say, "I could produce 35 graphs" to the contrary - which fiction then drifted to the listeners as if it were, well, accurate in the real world.

Thanks (and my apologies) to those of you who volunteered some much-preferable debating strategies. Maybe next time.


Coral Calcification and Photosynthesis in a CO2-Enriched World of the Future

Many are the people who have predicted that rates of coral calcification, as well as the photosynthetic rates of their symbiotic algae, will dramatically decline in response to what they typically refer to as an acidification of the world's oceans, as the atmosphere's CO2 concentration continues to rise in the years, decades and centuries to come (see Calcification (Corals) in our Subject Index). As ever more pertinent evidence accumulates, however, the true story appears to be just the opposite of what these climate alarmists continue to tell us.

A case in point is the recent study of Herfort et al. (2008), who note that an increase in atmospheric CO2 will cause an increase in the abundance of HCO3- (bicarbonate) ions and dissolved CO2, and who report that several studies on marine plants have observed "increased photosynthesis with higher than ambient DIC [dissolved inorganic carbon] concentrations," citing the works of Gao et al. (1993), Weis (1993), Beer and Rehnberg (1997), Marubini and Thake (1998), Mercado et al. (2001, 2003), Herfort et al. (2002) and Zou et al. (2003).

To further explore this subject, and to see what it might imply for coral calcification, the three researchers employed a wide range of bicarbonate concentrations "to monitor the kinetics of bicarbonate use in both photosynthesis and calcification in two reef-building corals, Porites porites and Acropora sp." This work revealed that additions of HCO3- to synthetic seawater continued to increase the calcification rate of Porites porites until the bicarbonate concentration exceeded three times that of seawater, while photosynthetic rates of the coral's symbiotic algae were stimulated by HCO3- addition until they became saturated at twice the normal HCO3- concentration of seawater.

Similar experiments conducted on Indo-Pacific Acropora sp. showed that calcification and photosynthetic rates in these corals were enhanced to an even greater extent, with calcification continuing to increase above a quadrupling of the HCO3- concentration and photosynthesis saturating at triple the concentration of seawater. In addition, they monitored calcification rates of the Acropora sp. in the dark, and, in their words, "although these were lower than in the light for a given HCO3- concentration, they still increased dramatically with HCO3- addition, showing that calcification in this coral is light stimulated but not light dependent."

In discussing the significance of their findings, Herfort et al. suggest, as we have long contended (Idso et al., 2000), that "hermatypic corals incubated in the light achieve high rates of calcification by the synergistic action of photosynthesis [our italics]," which, as they have shown, is enhanced by elevated concentrations of HCO3- ions that come courtesy of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content.

As for the real-world implications of their work, the three researchers note that over the next century the predicted increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration "will result in about a 15% increase in oceanic HCO3-," and they say that this development "could stimulate photosynthesis and calcification in a wide variety of hermatypic corals." This well-supported conclusion stands in stark contrast to the outworn contention of the world's climate alarmists that continued increases in the air's CO2 content will, as restated by Herfort et al., "cause a reduction in coral growth and planktonic calcification." This claim, as they and many others have now demonstrated, is about as far from the truth as it could possibly be.


Note: My favourite Pilsener, Lubos Motl, also has a good demolition of the "ocean acidification" scare.

Prince Charles wrong on GM, says British government minister

A senior minister has accused Prince Charles of "ignoring" the needs of starving people in the developing world by attacking genetically modified crops. Phil Woolas, the environment minister, said it was "easy for those with plentiful food" to ignore Third World hunger. He told The Sunday Telegraph that the Government would press ahead with GM crop trials and look at moving to a more "liberal" regime in Britain, unless scientific evidence showed that the crops had done harm.

The defiant stance came days after the Prince called GM a "gigantic experiment with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong". The Prince told The Daily Telegraph last week that future reliance on corporations to mass-produce food would drive millions of farmers off their land.

Ministers were privately furious about the attack, which they believe risks becoming a constitutional crisis. One Labour source said the Prince had "overstepped the mark". Mr Woolas said: "I'm grateful to Prince Charles for raising the issue. He raises some very important doubts that are held by many people. But government ministers have a responsibility to base policy on science and I do strongly believe that we have a moral responsibility to the developing world to ask the question: can GM crops help? "It's easy for those of us with plentiful food supplies to ignore the issue, but we have a responsibility to use science to help the less well off where we can. I'm asking to see the evidence. If it has been a disaster, then please provide the evidence."

Mr Woolas disputed the Prince's claim that the crops had caused climate change, adding: "I don't understand the reasoning behind the assertion that this is dangerous for climate change."

While Mr Woolas chose his words carefully, privately ministers are furious. Gordon Brown is said to be determined that anti-GM campaigners will not dictate his policy. The destruction of a GM trial in North Yorkshire two months ago is said to have hardened his stance. A Labour source said: "Usually we welcome Prince Charles's contributions to various debates, but on this issue he seems to have overstepped the mark."

Mr Woolas said the Government will base its future strategy on a number of tests, the crucial one being: "Should the UK change our policy on GM to one that is more liberal?" He added: "The Government has not got a predetermined decision."

Sources close to the Prince stressed that he had not been trying to cause a political row. "This was in no way an attempt to lay down a challenge to Government policy. The Prince's considerable interests in the environment are non-political: he simply cares for the future."

Prof John Wibberley, of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, has offered support to the Prince. "The Prince of Wales is a very welcome champion of farmers not only nationally but internationally. As a farmer himself, he is all too aware of the brilliance that most possess in cherishing the countryside and their farms," he said.


Student isolates microbe that lunches on plastic bags

Even a kid was able to falsify the frequent Greenie claim that plastic bags are not biodegradable. Will it influence the plastic bag hysteria? Probably not. Fantasies of heroism trump reality any day

Getting ordinary plastic bags to rot away like banana peels would be an environmental dream come true. After all, we produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. They take up space in landfills, litter our streets and parks, pollute the oceans and kill the animals that eat them. Now a Waterloo teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster -- in three months, he figures.

Daniel Burd's project won the top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa. He came back with a long list of awards, including a $10,000 prize, a $20,000 scholarship, and recognition that he has found a practical way to help the environment.

Daniel, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, got the idea for his project from everyday life. "Almost every week I have to do chores and when I open the closet door, I have this avalanche of plastic bags falling on top of me," he said. "One day, I got tired of it and I wanted to know what other people are doing with these plastic bags." The answer: not much. So he decided to do something himself.

He knew plastic does eventually degrade, and figured microorganisms must be behind it. His goal was to isolate the microorganisms that can break down plastic -- not an easy task because they don't exist in high numbers in nature. First, he ground plastic bags into a powder. Next, he used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. To that, he added the plastic powder and dirt. Then the solution sat in a shaker at 30 degrees.

After three months of upping the concentration of plastic-eating microbes, Burd filtered out the remaining plastic powder and put his bacterial culture into three flasks with strips of plastic cut from grocery bags. As a control, he also added plastic to flasks containing boiled and therefore dead bacterial culture. Six weeks later, he weighed the strips of plastic. The control strips were the same. But the ones that had been in the live bacterial culture weighed an average of 17 per cent less.

That wasn't good enough for Burd. To identify the bacteria in his culture, he let them grow on agar plates and found he had four types of microbes. He tested those on more plastic strips and found only the second was capable of significant plastic degradation. Next, Burd tried mixing his most effective strain with the others. He found strains one and two together produced a 32 per cent weight loss in his plastic strips. His theory is strain one helps strain two reproduce. Tests to identify the strains found strain two was Sphingomonas bacteria and the helper was Pseudomonas.

A researcher in Ireland has found Pseudomonas is capable of degrading polystyrene, but as far as Burd and his teacher Mark Menhennet know -- and they've looked -- Burd's research on polyethelene plastic bags is a first.

Next, Burd tested his strains' effectiveness at different temperatures, concentrations and with the addition of sodium acetate as a ready source of carbon to help bacteria grow. At 37 degrees and optimal bacterial concentration, with a bit of sodium acetate thrown in, Burd achieved 43 per cent degradation within six weeks. The plastic he fished out then was visibly clearer and more brittle, and Burd guesses after six more weeks, it would be gone. He hasn't tried that yet.

To see if his process would work on a larger scale, he tried it with five or six whole bags in a bucket with the bacterial culture. That worked too. Industrial application should be easy, said Burd. "All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags." The inputs are cheap, maintaining the required temperature takes little energy because microbes produce heat as they work, and the only outputs are water and tiny levels of carbon dioxide -- each microbe produces only 0.01 per cent of its own infinitesimal weight in carbon dioxide, said Burd. "This is a huge, huge step forward . . . We're using nature to solve a man-made problem."


Free trade would deliver the benefits that Warmism cannot

If just a fraction of the energies devoted to promoting Warmism were diverted into promoting free trade, there would be real and very large benefits -- but the world mostly chases after the illusion rather than the reality. As T.S. Eliot said in "Four Quartets", "humankind cannot stand very much reality"

By Bjorn Lomborg

Last month, the Doha negotiations, broke down, ostensibly over a technicality. In reality, the talks collapsed because nobody was willing to take the political short-term hit by offending inefficient farmers and coddled domestic industries in order to create greater long-term benefits for virtually everyone.

And they broke down because we really don't care. After a few exasperated editorials, the world has pretty much dropped the subject and gone back to its usual concerns. This is foolish. Establishing significantly freer trade would help the world combat almost all of its biggest problems. For an astonishingly low cost, we could improve education and health conditions, make the poorest people richer, and help everybody become better able to tackle the future.

We have known for centuries that free trade almost always benefits both parties. The economist David Ricardo pointed out in 1817 that both Britain and Portugal would benefit if they exploited their comparative advantages. Portugal could produce wine cheaply, whereas Britain could produce cloth much more cheaply than wine. By selling cloth and buying wine, Great Britain obtains more of both, as does Portugal. The same holds true today, when countries, doing what they do best, produce more and exchange it for more of all other goods.

Yet today, with international trade talks stalled and protectionist rhetoric rising, we are instead moving towards building bigger trade barriers. These barriers are supported by deep-pocketed corporations and lobby groups, and defended by politicians who are scared that the redistribution of jobs, income and wealth resulting from freer trade will reduce their chances of remaining in power.

When the Doha trade round was launched shortly after September 11, 2001, there was plenty of international goodwill. But a recent poll in the US and Europe found people nearly three times more likely to say that globalisation is negative rather than positive. Recently, the Copenhagen Consensus project gathered some of the world's leading economists to decide how to do the most good for the planet in a world of finite resources. The panel - including five Nobel laureates - found that one of the single best actions the planet could take would be completing the Doha negotiations. They based their conclusions on new research for the Copenhagen Consensus project by Australian economist Kym Anderson. Anderson showed that if developing countries cut their tariffs by the same proportion as high-income countries, and services and investment were also liberalised, the annual global gains could climb to $US120 billion ($137 billion), with $US17 billion going to the world's poorest countries by 2015.

This is a respectable sum, and certainly a benefit that the international community should try to achieve. But what we often fail to realise is that the story only starts here. As economies open up, as countries do what they do best, competition and innovation drive up rates of growth.

More competition means that previously sheltered companies must shape up and become more productive, innovating simply to survive. Having more open economies allows more trade in innovation, so that new companies can almost instantly use smart ideas from around the globe. Instead of every closed market having to reinvent the wheel, once is enough to get everyone's economy going. This means that over time, the advantage of moving towards freer trade grows dramatically bigger: the $US120 billion benefit in 2015 grows to many trillions of dollars of annual benefits by the end of the century. And the benefits would increasingly accrue to the developing world, which would achieve the biggest boosts to growth rates.

We have seen three very visible cases of such growth boosts in three different decades. South Korea liberalised trade in 1965, Chile in 1974, and India in 1991; all saw annual growth rates increase by several percentage points thereafter.

If we recast these benefits as annual instalments, a realistic Doha outcome could increase global income by more than $US3 trillion every year throughout this century. And about $US2.5 trillion annually would go to today's developing countries every year, or $US500 a year on average for each individual in the Third World, almost half of whom now survive on less than $US2 a day. There would, of course, be costs. Freer trade would force some industries to downsize or close, although more industries would expand, and for some people and communities, the transition would be difficult. Yet the overall benefits of a successful Doha Round would likely be hundreds of times greater than these costs.

It is interesting to contrast global scepticism about free trade with support for expensive, inefficient methods to combat global warming. Many argue that we should act, even if such action will have no benefit for the next decades, because it will help lessen the impact of global warming by the century's end. But free trade also promises few benefits now and huge benefits in the future. Moreover, if we could stop global warming (which we can't), the benefit for future generations would be one-tenth or less of the benefit of freer trade (which we certainly can achieve). Still, there are few celebrity campaigners calling on politicians to sort out the Doha Round. Fear about free trade leaves the planet at risk of missing out on the benefits that it offers.

Free trade is good not only for big corporations, or for job growth. It is simply good.


Australia: 'Carbon tax bad governance,' says agricultural scientist

The Rudd government's carbon pollution tax is based on non-scientific and theoretical computer modeling and does not make good governance at a time of rising inflation, global food shortages and increasing export uncompetitiveness due to rising cost and freight pressures. That's the view of agricultural scientist John Williams - a researcher, author and educator who is studying for a PhD at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Williams said there are `strong and powerful counter-arguments' to the theories on global warming and carbon trading that are not being fully considered. Drawing on a chorus of disbelief from a growing number of scientists, Mr Williams said "there is no proof that carbon dioxide is causing or precedes global warming". "All indications are that the minor warming cycle finished in 2001 and that Arctic ice melting is related to cyclical orbit-tilt-axis changes in earth's angle to the sun."

Yet in the government's pursuit of a carbon trading scheme, Mr Williams said there was likely to be economic distortion, higher costs, investment disincentives and taxpayer-funded subsidies. He says any carbon trading scheme is likely to have a heavy impact on agriculture by:

Causing economic distortions, such as favouring imports over export industries (despite huge government subsidies to exporters which will attract World Trade Organisation [WTO] attention).

Penalising resource industries (and Australia's comparative advantage).

Compensating road transport, thereby discriminating against less-polluting rail transport.

Replacing highly productive cropping farmland in high-rainfall zones with tree plantations, reducing cropping agriculture and confining it to the less fertile lower-rainfall areas at a time of global food shortages and rising food prices.

Discriminating against animal industries which comprise one of the most successful Australian export industries.

Discriminating between farmers based on soil type.

Discriminating against consumers, who will bear the brunt of the costs through higher energy and food costs.

Mr Williams says the likely outcome of these economic distortions will be:

Increasing export uncompetitiveness at a time of record global shipping freight rates.

A worsening trade deficit which will necessitate persistent high interest rates to attract balancing foreign capital inflows.

Reduced investment in energy and rail industries.

Coal demand decreasing, which will lower prices and provide signals to buyers that the resource boom may be over;

Depressing rural communities even further, as long-term tree investment cannot replace short-term crop revenue cash-flows; and

Increasing cost pressures boosting prices and inflation for consumers already encountering economic difficulties.

He says shifting animals from pasture to higher protein feeds will exacerbate food shortages and higher prices. "As more than 80pc of Australian exports are price-taking commodities, any carbon emissions cost is going to be borne by the domestic producer and exporter, and require large compensation under any carbon trading scheme," Mr Williams said. "This compensation will be seen as a producer subsidy under WTO guidelines at a time when Australia is supposed to be leading by good example in freer trade for the rest of the world."

He said governments worldwide had spent $50 billion on global warming research since 1990, with no evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming. "All this cost is borne by taxpayers yet where exactly are the benefits beyond normal pollution control regulations?"

He also questioned what incentive there was for farmers to increase organic carbon in the soil, only to sell it off as carbon credits and become managers of it for someone else. And he asked what would happen if soil carbon levels dropped due to drought, fire, flood or crop rotations. "Farmers could be forced into bankruptcy by having to refund money they do not have."

He said increased rural land values caused by demand from industries seeking carbon credits through forestation programs was only going to distract farmers from producing food, cause uncertainty in investment decisions and entice them to seek short-term property sale benefits.

Rural towns would also struggle from a lack of money (from reduced production revenues) and decreased investment at a time when farms are being replaced by long-term forests. "To introduce a new high-cost system based on fear and feeding off superstition does not make good fiscal governance when there are serious economic distortions, measurement difficulties, investment disincentives, potential carbon market liquidity problems and a low probability of achieving any benefits in energy reduction or environment improvement," Mr Williams said. "Without a similar cost scheme for Australia's major export competitors, the outcome could be economic suicide for exporters in terms of loss of international competitiveness."



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Desperation time: Forget Global Warming -- The Oxygen Crisis Threatens human survival

A brand new scare. The lack of warming and the collapse of the agw fear machine is leading to new causes. We may soon see the creation of a new UN IPOC - Intergovernmental Panel on Oxygen Crisis. The author of the screed below, Peter Tatchell, is best known as a homosexual activist. He appears to base his latest cry for attention on the contents of an as-yet unwritten book

The rise in carbon dioxide emissions is big news. It is prompting action to reverse global warming. But little or no attention is being paid to the long-term fall in oxygen concentrations and its knock-on effects. Compared to prehistoric times, the level of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere has declined by over a third and in polluted cities the decline may be more than 50%. [This is risible. Gaseous diffusion is very rapid. A huge difference like this in Oxygen concentration between city and country is impossible] This change in the makeup of the air we breathe has potentially serious implications for our health. Indeed, it could ultimately threaten the survival of human life on earth, according to Roddy Newman, who is drafting a new book, The Oxygen Crisis.

I am not a scientist, but this seems a reasonable concern. It is a possibility that we should examine and assess. So, what's the evidence? Around 10,000 years ago, the planet's forest cover was at least twice what it is today, which means that forests are now emitting only half the amount of oxygen. Desertification and deforestation are rapidly accelerating this long-term loss of oxygen sources. The story at sea is much the same. Nasa reports that in the north Pacific ocean oxygen-producing phytoplankton concentrations are 30% lower today, compared to the 1980s. This is a huge drop in just three decades.

Moreover, the UN environment programme confirmed in 2004 that there were nearly 150 "dead zones" in the world's oceans where discharged sewage and industrial waste, farm fertiliser run-off and other pollutants have reduced oxygen levels to such an extent that most or all sea creatures can no longer live there. This oxygen starvation is reducing regional fish stocks and diminishing the food supplies of populations that are dependent on fishing. It also causes genetic mutations and hormonal changes that can affect the reproductive capacity of sea life, which could further diminish global fish supplies.

Professor Robert Berner of Yale University has researched oxygen levels in prehistoric times by chemically analysing air bubbles trapped in fossilised tree amber. He suggests that humans breathed a much more oxygen-rich air 10,000 years ago.

Further back, the oxygen levels were even greater. Robert Sloan has listed the percentage of oxygen in samples of dinosaur-era amber as: 28% (130m years ago), 29% (115m years ago), 35% (95m years ago), 33% (88m years ago), 35% (75m years ago), 35% (70m years ago), 35% (68m years ago), 31% (65.2m years ago), and 29% (65m years ago).

Professor Ian Plimer of Adelaide University and Professor Jon Harrison of the University of Arizona concur. Like most other scientists they accept that oxygen levels in the atmosphere in prehistoric times averaged around 30% to 35%, compared to only 21% today - and that the levels are even less in densely populated, polluted city centres and industrial complexes, perhaps only 15 % or lower.

Much of this recent, accelerated change is down to human activity, notably the industrial revolution and the burning of fossil fuels. The Professor of Geological Sciences at Notre Dame University in Indiana, J Keith Rigby, was quoted in 1993-1994 as saying:
In the 20th century, humanity has pumped increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning the carbon stored in coal, petroleum and natural gas. In the process, we've also been consuming oxygen and destroying plant life - cutting down forests at an alarming rate and thereby short-circuiting the cycle's natural rebound. We're artificially slowing down one process and speeding up another, forcing a change in the atmosphere.

Very interesting. But does this decline in oxygen matter? Are there any practical consequences that we ought to be concerned about? What is the effect of lower oxygen levels on the human body? Does it disrupt and impair our immune systems and therefore make us more prone to cancer and degenerative diseases?

Surprisingly, no significant research has been done, perhaps on the following presumption: the decline in oxygen levels has taken place over millions of years of our planet's existence. The changes during the shorter period of human life have also been slow and incremental - until the last two centuries of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Surely, this mostly gradual decline has allowed the human body to evolve and adapt to lower concentrations of oxygen? Maybe, maybe not.

The pace of oxygen loss is likely to have speeded up massively in the last three decades, with the industrialisation of China, India, South Korea and other countries, and as a consequence of the massive worldwide increase in the burning of fossil fuels.

In the view of Professor Ervin Laszlo, the drop in atmospheric oxygen has potentially serious consequences. A UN advisor who has been a professor of philosophy and systems sciences, Laszlo writes:
Evidence from prehistoric times indicates that the oxygen content of pristine nature was above the 21% of total volume that it is today. It has decreased in recent times due mainly to the burning of coal in the middle of the last century. Currently the oxygen content of the Earth's atmosphere dips to 19% over impacted areas, and it is down to 12 to 17% over the major cities. At these levels it is difficult for people to get sufficient oxygen to maintain bodily health: it takes a proper intake of oxygen to keep body cells and organs, and the entire immune system, functioning at full efficiency. At the levels we have reached today cancers and other degenerative diseases are likely to develop. And at 6 to 7% life can no longer be sustained.

Scaremongering? I don't think so. A reason for doomsaying? Not yet. What is needed is an authoritative evidence-based investigation to ascertain current oxygen levels and what consequences, if any, there are for the long-term wellbeing of our species - and, indeed, of all species.


UPDATE: An emailed comment from Prof. Roy Spencer of UAH below.

"It doesn't get much more stupid than this. The O2 concentration of the atmosphere has been measured off and on for about 100 years now, and the concentration (20.95%) has not varied within the accuracy of the measurements. Only in recent years have more precise measurement techniques been developed, and the tiny decrease in O2 with increasing CO2 has been actually measured....but I believe the O2 concentration is still 20.95%....maybe it's down to 20.94% by now...I'm not sure.

There is SO much O2 in the atmosphere, it is believed to not be substantially affected by vegetation, but it is the result of geochemistry in deep-ocean one really knows for sure.

Since too much O2 is not good for humans, the human body keeps O2 concentrations down around 5% in our major organs. Extra O2 can give you a burst of energy, but it will harm you (or kill you) if the exposure is too long.

It has been estimated that global wildfire risk would increase greatly if O2 concentrations were much more than they are now.

To say there is an impending "oxygen crisis" is the epitome of fear mongering."

Update 2: I think Lubos Motl has the final word on the matter

August 'one of the coldest on record' for Australia

August 2008 continues to be one of the coldest on record for most of Australia with temperatures averaging as much as six degrees below normal.

The cold weather has even spread to northern Queensland with Burketown dropping to five degrees on Saturday morning for the first time in 24 years. On the Queensland coast Coolangatta has now dropped to five or less on 10 consecutive mornings, easily beating the old record of six.

Daytime has brought little relief with Orange shivering through 10 consecutive days below eight degrees for the first time in 17 years.

The prolonged cold spell is due to a strong high pressure system anchored south of WA. The high is directing southerly winds over the country, carrying cold air from the Southern Ocean well north into the tropics.

The high will finally move east early next week but a second high will maintain chilly weather until at least Sunday.


Canada endures 'briefest summer' in decades

Summer, we hardly knew ye. Even the sunniest optimist can't deny the signs. It's all but over. Area fall fairs start today. The CNE is under way. (Both, no doubt, doomed to storms that are both unforecast and torrential.) What, you say summer doesn't officially end until 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 22? Only if you're an astronomer. Back-to-school ads are out, retailers licking their chops in anticipation that Christmas is virtually around the corner. Soon sweaty Olympians will be replaced on TV by sweatier Jerry Lewis, the Ticats thump the Argos on Labour Day weekend, and the wet, brief, Summer of Woe-Eight is history. Has any summer felt shorter? And why does it matter? What is it about summer that so often breaks our hearts?

If you measure the season by blue sky and sunshine, this has been the briefest summer since perhaps the oppressive gloom and cold of the summer of 1992. It's not so much the total rainfall this season -- although Hamilton has indeed had at least 10 centimetres more rain than average, and three times more than last summer. No, it's more about timing. Summer is about the weekend. Last year, to this point in the summer, Hamilton had measurable rainfall on a total of four Saturdays or Sundays. This summer? Sixteen -- rain on 16 Saturdays or Sundays. Put another way, last summer there were seven totally dry weekends, this summer, just one (July 4-5).

Worst of all, the weather has been maddeningly schizophrenic, storm clouds on the periphery seemingly every day, and forecasts as scientific as a Ouija board. "If it's bright all day, or rains all day, it's easy to plan, but we've seen the weather changing on a dime, by the hour," said Dave Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, who is quick to assert that forecasters "never promise anything."

As if to compound frustration over the summer that wasn't, there is nothing convenient on which to blame the weather, not global warming, El Nino or El Nina. The cave-like summer of 1992 -- perhaps the worst ever for cloud and cold -- was attributed to atmospheric fallout of dust from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines the year prior. And this summer? There's no identifiable cause for our season of discontent, other than we have for some reason been trapped beneath what is called an "upper low," an oxymoronic disturbance parked over the James Bay-Central Quebec area that moves around a bit but never really exits, refusing to spin north or east, which would allow for the arrival of dry warm air from the southern United States.....

Expectations for a bright and warm 2008 season were no doubt influenced by last summer, which was abnormally dry and hot. It skewed our perception of what summer should be. But then, summer has always been less about reality than it is about magic.


Global Warming: Solving an Environmental Problem or Creating a Social Crisis?

By William Kininmonth of Melbourne, Australia. William Kininmonth is a former head of Australia's National Climate Centre and a consultant to the World Meteorological Organization. Kininmonth points out that it is only unrealistic figures fed into climate models that produce worrying projections

Prevention of dangerous climate change, particularly through implementation of a national carbon pollution reduction scheme, has emerged as a primary policy objective of the Rudd government. The rationale for the policy is the scientific assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its computer-based projections of global warming. We are told by the IPCC `consensus of scientists' that continued burning of fossil fuels, and a range of other industry activities that increase the concentration of `greenhouse gases' in the atmosphere, will lead to dangerous climate change, possibly passing a `tipping point' causing `runaway global warming'. What does this all mean, really?

The IPCC's most recent assessment attempts to be helpful to the casual enquirer by having a series of explanations for `frequently asked questions', or FAQs. The first FAQ is `What factors determine earth's climate'? We are informed that, on average, the earth emits 240 w m-2 of radiation to space and that this equates to an emission temperature of -19oC. The earth's temperature, however, is about 14oC and the -19oC temperature is found at a height of about 5 km above the surface. To quote the IPCC: "The reason the earth's surface is this warm is the presence of greenhouse gases, which act as a partial blanket for the longwave radiation coming from the earth's surface. This blanketing is known as the natural greenhouse effect".

This explanation by the IPCC is clearly misleading, if not wrong. The inference that the greenhouse gases are acting like a blanket suggests that they are increasing the insulating properties of the atmosphere. However, the main gases of the atmosphere are oxygen and nitrogen, non-greenhouse gases, and they are also excellent insulators against the conduction of heat (like a blanket); adding additional trace amounts of carbon dioxide will have no appreciable impact on the insulating properties of the atmosphere.

In its third FAQ, `What is the greenhouse effect?' the IPCC comes to the nub of the issue but provides a different and equally misleading explanation. "Much of the thermal radiation emitted by the land and the ocean is absorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and reradiated back to earth. This is called the greenhouse effect". According to the IPCC's global energy budget, the surface emits 390 W m-2 of radiation and the energy radiated back to the surface is 324 W m-2. It is difficult to see how an ongoing net loss of longwave radiation energy from the surface of 66 W m-2 can lead to warming! Indeed, we are all aware that between dusk and dawn the earth's surface cools.

The IPCC has not explained in a scientifically sound and coherent way, how the `greenhouse effect' is maintained. The greenhouse gases do not increase the insulating properties of the atmosphere and the back radiation does not warm the surface. The IPCC explanation of the greenhouse effect is obfuscation and, even to the mildly scientific literate, reflects ignorance of basic processes of the climate system.

How then do we explain to people who are going to be affected by reactionary government policies what are the greenhouse effect and its enhancement by additional carbon dioxide?

A credible explanation has no need for smoke and mirrors. The energy flow through the climate system is predominantly by way of four stages: 1) absorption of solar radiation at the surface; 2) conduction of heat and evaporation of latent energy from the surface to the atmospheric boundary layer; 3) convective overturning that distributes heat and latent energy through the troposphere; and 4) radiation of energy from the atmosphere to space. We will see that it is the characteristics of convective overturning that keep the surface warmer than it would otherwise be.

The Kiehl and Trenberth (1997) global average energy budget of the earth is used by the IPCC and is a useful starting point for explanation of the establishment and maintenance of the greenhouse effect. Of the 340 units of solar radiation entering the earth's atmosphere, 67 are absorbed by the atmosphere and 168 are absorbed at the surface. There is thus an ongoing source of solar energy available to the atmosphere and the surface. At the surface there is a net accumulation of radiation energy because the incoming solar radiation (168 units) exceeds the net loss of longwave radiation (66 units).

In the atmospheric layer there is absorption of 417 units (390 of emission from the surface, less 40 that go directly to space, plus absorption of 67 of solar radiation) and an emission of 519 units (324 back to the surface and 195 direct emission to space). The net effect of the interaction between the greenhouse gases and radiation is a tendency to cool the atmosphere because it is continually losing energy.

Overall there is a dichotomy, with radiation processes firstly tending to warm the earth's surface and secondly tending to cool the atmosphere. Air is an excellent insulator against conduction of heat and will not transfer heat through the atmosphere, as is necessary for energy balance. Also, the thermodynamic properties of air (potential temperature increases with height) ensure that turbulent motions of the atmosphere will mix energy downward, not upward as required.

The process for transferring energy from the surface to the atmosphere, necessary to achieve overall energy balance of the climate system, was explained by Herbert Riehl and Joanne Malkus (the latter better known as Joanne Simpson) in a 1958 paper, On the heat balance of the equatorial trough zone (Geophysica). Riehl and Malkus noted that boundary layer air, rising buoyantly in the protected updraughts of deep tropical convection clouds, converts heat and latent energy to potential energy. Away from the convection, compensating subsidence converts potential energy to heat.

What is implied in the Riehl and Malkus model is that deep tropical convection, and the transfer of energy from the surface to the atmosphere, will not take place without buoyant updraughts within deep convection clouds. That is, there is a need for the temperature of the atmosphere to decrease with altitude and that the rate of decrease of temperature must be sufficient to allow buoyancy of the air ascending in the updraughts. From well-known thermodynamic laws, the rate of decrease of temperature must be at least 6.5oC/km to allow the buoyancy forces of convection to overcome the natural stratification of the atmosphere.

The climate system will come into energy equilibrium when temperatures are such that the net solar radiation absorbed is balanced by the longwave radiation to space. At equilibrium, the greenhouse effect (ie, that the average surface temperature of 14oC is greater than the -19oC blackbody emission temperature of earth) is an outcome from the need for convective overturning of the atmosphere.

Additional warming of the surface will come about when the greenhouse effect is enhanced. The fundamental question is how much warming will additional greenhouse gas concentrations cause and will it be dangerous?

An increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration reduces the emission of longwave radiation to space and increases the back radiation at the surface. An increase in back radiation adds energy to the surface, which will further warm the surface. However there is a constraint on the surface temperature rise because of the commensurate increase in rate of energy loss from the surface: both the rate of infrared emission and the rate of evaporation of latent heat increase with temperature.

The increase in radiation emission from the surface can be calculated from the well-known Boltzmann equation and is 5.4 units/oC at 15oC. The earth's surface is mainly ocean or freely transpiring vegetation and evaporation will increase near exponentially with temperature according to the Claussius-Clapeyron relationship and is 6.0 units/oC at 15oC. According to the IPCC, the radiative forcing from doubling of carbon dioxide concentration is 3.7 units. The actual surface temperature increase is derived from the ratio of the radiation forcing (3.7) to the natural rate of increase in surface energy loss with temperature (5.4 + 6.0). The direct surface temperature rise from a doubling of carbon dioxide is therefore 3.7/(5.4 + 6.0) = 0.3oC.

A 0.3oC global temperature increase towards the end of the 21st century from a doubling of current carbon dioxide concentration is not obviously dangerous. However, what also needs to be taken into account is the positive feedback. A warming of the surface temperature will cause a warming of the overlying atmosphere, an increase in the water vapour concentration (another naturally occurring greenhouse gas), a further increase in back radiation, and an incremental increase in surface temperature. Each successive incremental surface temperature increase will cause another incremental temperature increase through the positive feedback amplification.

The amplification follows standard mathematical treatment and, as long as the ratio r is less than unity, the gain is given by [1 / (1 - r)]. Here r is the ratio of natural increase in back radiation with temperature (4.8 units/oC - estimated from a standard radiation transfer model) to the natural increase of surface energy loss with temperature (as previously, 11.4 units/oC). The natural gain is 1.7 and increases the surface temperature rise from a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration from 0.3oC to 0.5oC.

A 0.5oC increase in global temperature over the coming century is within recent short-term temperature variability and is less than the apparent global temperature rise of the past century. Moreover, both the direct forcing of surface temperature and the amplification gain are tightly constrained by the magnitude of the natural increase of surface energy loss with temperature increase. It is not immediately apparent how `runaway global warming' could come about with such a constraint.

A fundamental question arises as to why the IPCC global temperature projections for doubling carbon dioxide concentration, based on computer models of the climate system, lead to estimates of about 3oC, or about six times the above estimate.

A clue to the conundrum can be found in published descriptions of the performance of the computer models used in the IPCC fourth assessment. Isaac Held and Brian Soden, writing in the Journal of Climate (2006) note that the rate of increase of evaporation in the computer models, on average, only increases at about one-third of the rate expected from the Claussius Clapeyron relationship. Additionally, Frank Wentz and colleagues, writing in the journal Science (2007), have confirmed the under-specification of evaporation increase with temperature and, from satellite based observations, have determined that global evaporation does indeed comply with the Claussius Clapeyron relationship.

It is clear from the above formulation of the surface temperature rise and the associated amplification gain that each is sensitive to the specification of evaporation increase with temperature. Substitution of the average evaporation specification of computer models into the formulation will boost the projected temperature rise from the above expected value of 0.5oC to 1.5oC, the lower end of IPCC projections. When the specification of evaporation increase with temperature is very low, as in the more extreme models, then the feedback amplification gain increases to a value of about ten; the temperature sensitivity of the computer model becomes highly exaggerated and model would likely simulate the behaviour of runaway global warming. The behaviour, of course, is false and arises only because of the significant under-specification of evaporation.

Despite the many claims that the IPCC projections of human-caused global warming are sound, the consensus of climate scientists and that the science is settled, there are disturbing shortcomings to both the essential explanations and to the computer modelling. The shortcomings are disturbing because the projections and their associated predictions of diabolical impacts on environmental systems are the only rational justification given for wholesale government restructuring of our industrial base and lifestyles.

This is the first time in human history that there has been a conscious move at the national level to discard the tools that have underpinned security, wellbeing and comfort. We are deliberately abrogating energy usage from proven and widely available sources on the basis of a perceived environmental threat which is poorly articulated and substantiated only by recourse to obviously deficient computer modelling. Why am I reminded of Charles MacKay's 1841 tome, "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds'?

More here

Lomborg replies to the ticklish one

Says that Alarmist predictions of climate change like Oliver Tickell's are bad science. Tickell's plug for his new book was mentioned briefly on this blog on 11th

Much of the global warming debate is perhaps best described as a constant outbidding by frantic campaigners, producing a barrage of ever-more scary scenarios in an attempt to get the public to accept their civilisation-changing proposals. Unfortunately, the general public - while concerned about the environment - is distinctly unwilling to support questionable solutions with costs running into tens of trillions of pounds. Predictably, this makes the campaigners reach for even more outlandish scares.

These alarmist predictions are becoming quite bizarre, and could be dismissed as sociological oddities, if it weren't for the fact that they get such big play in the media. Oliver Tickell, for instance, writes that a global warming causing a 4C temperature increase by the end of the century would be a "catastrophe" and the beginning of the "extinction" of the human race. This is simply silly.

His evidence? That 4C would mean that all the ice on the planet would melt, bringing the long-term sea level rise to 70-80m, flooding everything we hold dear, seeing billions of people die. Clearly, Tickell has maxed out the campaigners' scare potential (because there is no more ice to melt, this is the scariest he could ever conjure). But he is wrong. Let us just remember that the UN climate panel, the IPCC, expects a temperature rise by the end of the century between 1.8 and 6.0C. Within this range, the IPCC predicts that, by the end of the century, sea levels will rise 18-59 centimetres - Tickell is simply exaggerating by a factor of up to 400.

Tickell will undoubtedly claim that he was talking about what could happen many, many millennia from now. But this is disingenuous. First, the 4C temperature rise is predicted on a century scale - this is what we talk about and can plan for. Second, although sea-level rise will continue for many centuries to come, the models unanimously show that Greenland's ice shelf will be reduced, but Antarctic ice will increase even more (because of increased precipitation in Antarctica) for the next three centuries. What will happen beyond that clearly depends much more on emissions in future centuries. Given that CO2 stays in the atmosphere about a century, what happens with the temperature, say, six centuries from now mainly depends on emissions five centuries from now (where it seems unlikely non-carbon emitting technology such as solar panels will not have become economically competitive).

Third, Tickell tells us how the 80m sea-level rise would wipe out all the world's coastal infrastructure and much of the world's farmland - "undoubtedly" causing billions to die. But to cause billions to die, it would require the surge to occur within a single human lifespan. This sort of scare tactic is insidiously wrong and misleading, mimicking a firebrand preacher who claims the earth is coming to an end and we need to repent. While it is probably true that the sun will burn up the earth in 4-5bn years' time, it does give a slightly different perspective on the need for immediate repenting.

Tickell's claim that 4C will be the beginning of our extinction is again many times beyond wrong and misleading, and, of course, made with no data to back it up. Let us just take a look at the realistic impact of such a 4C temperature rise. For the Copenhagen Consensus, one of the lead economists of the IPCC, Professor Gary Yohe, did a survey of all the problems and all the benefits accruing from a temperature rise over this century of about approximately 4C. And yes, there will, of course, also be benefits: as temperatures rise, more people will die from heat, but fewer from cold; agricultural yields will decline in the tropics, but increase in the temperate zones, etc.

The model evaluates the impacts on agriculture, forestry, energy, water, unmanaged ecosystems, coastal zones, heat and cold deaths and disease. The bottom line is that benefits from global warming right now outweigh the costs (the benefit is about 0.25% of global GDP). Global warming will continue to be a net benefit until about 2070, when the damages will begin to outweigh the benefits, reaching a total damage cost equivalent to about 3.5% of GDP by 2300. This is simply not the end of humanity. If anything, global warming is a net benefit now; and even in three centuries, it will not be a challenge to our civilisation. Further, the IPCC expects the average person on earth to be 1,700% richer by the end of this century.

Tickell's hellfire and damnation sermon also misinforms us of the solutions to global warming: panicking is rarely the right state of mind for finding smart solutions. In essence, Tickell says that because the outlook is so frightening, we need to cut much, much more than the Kyoto protocol called for. Now, all peer-reviewed, published economic models demonstrate that such an effort is a colossal waste of money - one of the leading models shows that, for every pound spent, Tickell's solution would do about 13p-worth of good.

Tickell finds that current climate efforts like Kyoto have been "miserable failures", which is true, but makes it seem rather odd that he thinks much-more-of-the-same will suddenly be great policy. He claims that the reason these policies are not realised is because our governments are "craven to special interests". While this is convenient to believe, it is, of course, incorrect; the real reason is that no one in the electorate wants to pay œ2, œ3 or even œ4 for a litre of petrol.

If we are to find a workable and economically smart solution, we would do well to look at the best climate solution from the top economists from the Copenhagen Consensus. They found that, unlike even moderate CO2 cuts, which cost more than they do good, we should focus on investing in finding cheaper low-carbon energy. This requires us to invest massively in energy research and development (R&D). Right now, we don't - because the climate panic makes us focus exclusively on cutting CO2.

R&D has been dropping worldwide since the early 1980s. If we increased this investment ten-fold, it would still be ten times cheaper than Kyoto, and probably hundreds to thousands of times cheaper than Tickell's proposal. The literature indicates that for every pound invested, we would do œ11-worth of good. The reason: because when we all talk about cutting CO2, we might get some well-meaning westerners to put up a few inefficient solar panels on their roof-tops. While it costs a lot, it will do little and have no impact on Chinese and Indian emissions. But if we focus on investing in making cheaper solar panels, they will become competitive sooner, making everyone, including the Chinese and Indians, switch.

Such a proposal is efficient, politically feasible and will actually fix climate change in the medium term. Being panicked by incorrect data and suggesting outlandish policies might create a splash, but it will stall our prospects of achieving real change. Let's not be silly - let's choose the best solution.


Wind Woes: Living close to wind turbines can cause 'sleep disorders, difficulty with equilibrium, headaches, childhood night terrors'

Regrettably, carbon dioxide seems to induce the same disorders in some people

Dr. Nina Pierpont of Malone, N.Y., coined the phrase "wind turbine syndrome" for what she says happens to some people living near wind energy farms. She has made the phrase part of the title of a book she's written called "Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on the Natural Experiment." It is scheduled for publication next month by K-Selected Press, of Santa Fe, N.M.

In contrast to those who consider wind turbines clean, green and an ideal source of renewable energy, Pierpont says living or working too close to them has a downside. Her research says wind turbines should never be built closer than two miles from homes. Pierpont, 53, is a 1991 graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has a doctorate in population biology from Princeton University. Her interest was piqued by a wind farm being built near her upstate New York home, and she studied 10 families living near wind turbines built since 2004 in Canada, England, Ireland, Italy and the United States.

Pierpont's findings suggest that low-frequency noise and vibration generated by wind machines can have an effect on the inner ear, triggering headaches; difficulty sleeping; tinnitus, or ringing in the ears; learning and mood disorders; panic attacks; irritability; disruption of equilibrium, concentration and memory; and childhood behavior problems.

Concerns also are coming out of Europe about low-frequency noise from newly built wind turbines. For example, British physician Amanda Harry, in a February 2007 article titled "Wind Turbines, Noise and Health," wrote of 39 people, including residents of New Zealand and Australia, who suffered from the sounds emitted by wind turbines. According to Pierpont, eight of the 10 families in her study moved out of their homes."All these problems were resolved as soon as these people got away from the turbines, got in the car and drove away from the house," she said.

Mike Logsdon, director of development for Invenergy, developer of the 48 wind turbines under construction in the Willow Creek Wind Project, said he's heard of Pierpont's findings, but his 5-year-old company doesn't find them credible."We've had a number of other wind farms over the country and residents living by them and never had any problems," Logsdon said. Invenergy has built and operates wind farms in Canada and Poland and in 12 states in the United States, Logsdon said. The company has 1,200 megawatts in production and is building 600 megawatts this year. The 72-megawatt Willow Creek Wind Project near the Eatons' home is scheduled to start producing electricity Jan. 1.

If Pierpont's theories gain acceptance, decisions on where future wind energy farms are built could be affected. Last year, more than one-third of all new power capacity in the United States, roughly 5,000 megawatts, was generated by wind turbines, said Joseph Beamon, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington.Meanwhile, a U.S. Department of Energy report said demand for electricity is likely to grow 40 percent in the next 22 years in the United States alone, with 20 percent of the nation's power generated by wind turbines, he said.

The Eatons and their neighbors have more to worry about than the Willow Creek Project. Approval was given July 25 by the Oregon Facilities Siting Council for construction of as many as 400 more wind turbines in the nearby Shepherds Flat Wind Project spanning parts of Gilliam and Morrow counties. The planned 909-megawatt project by Caithness Energy of Chicago is expected to be the largest wind farm on Earth, generating enough peak energy to power 225,000 homes.

"Man, this whole country is going to be windmills," said a dismayed Denny Wade, 59, a railroad worker and neighbor of the Eatons. He and his wife, Lorrie, a 53-year-old schoolteacher, live three-quarters of a mile from one of Willow Creek's turbines. The Wades had planned to sell the home where they've lived for four years and build a retirement home on a knoll 200 yards away with a view of Mount Hood. "Now, the view that it had is all windmills," Wade said. "I didn't move out there to view windmills."

But Denny Wade's larger concern is his vulnerability to migraine headaches. Although not everyone living near wind turbines experienced headaches, Pierpont's research suggests "everyone with pre-existing migraines" developed headaches by living near the wind generators. The Wades scrapped plans to build a new home and hope to sell their 42 acres and move, they said.

Morrow County planner Carla McLane said potential health issues never were raised during the planning process in her county, and the opportunity to appeal has passed. The potential effects of turbines on the scenic values of Oregon 74 never were brought up in hearings he attended, said Terry Tallman, Morrow County Commission chairman. Generally, wind energy farms have been welcomed in this sparsely settled corner of the state, Tallman said. Tax revenues from the wind farms will be distributed to the counties, public schools, park and recreation districts and fire departments, he said."Everybody that I've talked to has been very happy," he said, adding that some on whose property the turbines are being built intend to retire on the income they receive. "I think it's a good thing," Ron Wyscaver, 40, a neighbor of the Eatons and Wades, said of the wind turbines.

Caithness first proposed a 105-megawatt Shepherds Flat Project in 2002, then applied to the state for the larger project two years ago, McLane said. The project was so large it went to the Energy Facilities Siting Council, where it received the go-ahead to start construction.

Potential medical problems aside, wind turbines will wreck the tranquillity that Mike and Sherry Eaton came to this remote place to find, Sherry Eaton said. She drives 90 miles a day to and from her job in Hermiston so they can live in the high-desert setting."When you come home from work, everything drains away from you because it's so quiet and peaceful," she said, adding that's about to end."Now we are going to have to listen to those windmills: Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!" she said



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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Unashamed Fascism from Australian Warmists

A wet dream about police action to enforce Warmism below. The authors are Anthony Bergin, director of research programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Ross Allen, an "independent researcher". We read: "ASPI is an independent, non-partisan policy institute. It has been set up by the government to provide fresh ideas on Australia's defence and strategic policy choices". The "fresh" ideas below go back to Mussolini in the 1920s. Musso was a Greenie too

AFTER the release of the Rudd Government's green discussion paper on climate change last month, eyes are focused on how business and the community will be affected by the mitigation costs of climate change. But there has been little attention given to climate change and its implications for Australian policing. As the principal domestic security actor in Australia, with 44,000 officers, the eight police forces that serve this country need to think harder about how climate change may affect their core business.

Most Australian senior police officers haven't considered climate change to have much relevance for their work. The notable exception is Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty, who suggested last September that climate change could eclipse terrorism as the security issue of the century.

Climate change could have wide-ranging implications and challenges for Australia's police. New legal regimes are required to manage carbon markets and these will require compliance and enforcement. Compliance under the carbon pollution reduction scheme will involve liable entities monitoring and reporting emissions at least annually.

The Government proposes establishing an emissions trading regulator as an incorporated body with a high degree of operational independence. The regulator will have its own investigation and enforcement mechanisms, and trading activities could be covered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Detailed compliance and enforcement arrangements are to be developed, but the regulator and ASIC may wish to invite police involvement to investigate criminal breaches of the scheme once legislation has been defined. This will require police to develop knowledge and competencies on the use of emissions trading for money laundering and fraud.

But we may have expectations of law enforcement agencies that they're not in a position or resourced to deliver: large-scale fraud has proven to be resource intensive, particularly when the territory is uncharted. The possibility of a "green shoe" brigade emerging as the scheme begins can't be discounted. The financial scale of emissions trading and the proposed future linkages to existing international carbon trading schemes suggests the AFP will need to explore what opportunities exist for criminal activity, particularly where emission trading intersects with world financial markets.

While we may be confident in the capabilities of Australian policing and our regulatory institutions, there's cause to be concerned that Pacific Island states will be vulnerable to criminal activity associated with carbon markets. They don't have the capacity to handle large and complex investigations.

We may see changes in the type, rate and frequency of crimes as our climate alters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that weather does encourage particular types of criminal behaviour, such as changes in domestic violence patterns, a rise in drunkenness and associated anti-social behaviour, especially in the aftermath of disasters.

A key risk is that climate change could push already vulnerable pockets of communities further into hardship. The drought, for example, is changing the demographic make-up in areas affected by water availability. Lower socio-economic groups are relocating into drought-affected towns because the cost of living is cheaper. This could create a vicious cycle of poor economic prospects and associated social ills, including increases in personal and property crime rates. If drought conditions continue we may see increases in a range of water thefts. Crimes of opportunity will increase with more climate-affected natural disasters: if custodial sentences are given to looters this will have obvious implications for our prison system.

Climate change may have implications for police budgets; responding to a higher frequency of weather-induced disasters will divert already scarce resources from core police business. Climate change may contribute to regional events that require police to act in complex emergencies. Australian police could provide, for example, a security presence at refugee camps or at key transit areas in regional countries to help manage any potential mass movement of people. More climate refugees or climate migrants could pose problems for community policing, possibly leading to changes in the rates and types of crime that police forces will have to confront.

In vulnerable areas, police will need to play an active role enhancing community preparedness by educating the public in disaster-response protocols. The co-operation between state police and the military will need to improve to aid the Australian civil community in times of traumatic environmental stress.

In the face of increasing numbers of state police involved in responding to disasters, police agencies will need to consider the physical and psychological effects of climate change on their personnel. The emotional trauma of dealing with affected communities in natural disaster areas could have a psychological effect on some officers when they return to normal duties.

Australian police forces will also need to take on board the lessons from recent natural disasters and start a process to climate-proof their infrastructure and address redundancies in systems to adapt to climate change. Our police officers may have to face more environmental protest groups challenging governments to go further in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Law enforcement bodies would want to avoid aggressive and heavy-handed approaches in responding to this potential problem.

Police will need to adopt a "low carb" approach to daily business; like other large organisations in Australia, police agencies will have to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There has been little planning to make existing police infrastructure more energy efficient. Police fleets still largely consist of petrol-guzzling vehicles that are out of touch with efficiency trends and spiralling fuel costs.

Australia's police should bring together in a national information hub present knowledge and future thinking on climate change and its implications for law enforcement. Understanding the criminal implications of drought conditions would be an obvious starting point. Australia's police forces should co-operate with research bodies to develop risk assessments of locations likeliest to be affected by climate change as part of a multi-agency strategic approach to climate change adaptation.

While it's unlikely we will see climate-change squads in our police forces in the near future, the release of the Government's green paper provides the opportunity for Australian police officers to start considering how they will need to adapt to the challenges posed by the severity and effect of climate change.


Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered

Despite the best that the crooks at the National Snow and Ice Data Center could do

Just a few weeks ago, predictions of Arctic ice collapse were buzzing all over the internet. Some scientists were predicting that the "North Pole may be ice-free for first time this summer". Others predicted that the entire "polar ice cap would disappear this summer".

The Arctic melt season is nearly done for this year. The sun is now very low above the horizon and will set for the winter at the North Pole in five weeks. And none of these dire predictions have come to pass. Yet there is, however, something odd going on with the ice data.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado released an alarming graph on August 11, showing that Arctic ice was rapidly disappearing, back towards last year's record minimum. Their data shows Arctic sea ice extent only 10 per cent greater than this date in 2007, and the second lowest on record.

The problem is that this graph does not appear to be correct. Other data sources show Arctic ice having made a nice recovery this summer. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center data shows 2008 ice nearly identical to 2002, 2005 and 2006. Maps of Arctic ice extent are readily available from several sources, including the University of Illinois, which keeps a daily archive for the last 30 years. A comparison of these maps (derived from NSIDC data) below shows that Arctic ice extent was 30 per cent greater on August 11, 2008 than it was on the August 12, 2007. (2008 is a leap year, so the dates are offset by one.)

The video below highlights the differences between those two dates. As you can see, ice has grown in nearly every direction since last summer - with a large increase in the area north of Siberia. Also note that the area around the Northwest Passage (west of Greenland) has seen a significant increase in ice. Some of the islands in the Canadian Archipelago are surrounded by more ice than they were during the summer of 1980.

The 30 per cent increase was calculated by counting pixels which contain colors representing ice. This is a conservative calculation, because of the map projection used. As the ice expands away from the pole, each new pixel represents a larger area - so the net effect is that the calculated 30 per cent increase is actually on the low side.

So how did NSIDC calculate a 10 per cent increase over 2007? Their graph appears to disagree with the maps by a factor of three (10 per cent vs. 30 per cent) - hardly a trivial discrepancy. What melts the Arctic?

The Arctic did not experience the meltdowns forecast by NSIDC and the Norwegian Polar Year Secretariat. It didn't even come close. Additionally, some current graphs and press releases from NSIDC seem less than conservative. There appears to be a consistent pattern of overstatement related to Arctic ice loss.

We know that Arctic summer ice extent is largely determined by variable oceanic and atmospheric currents such as the Arctic Oscillation. NASA claimed last summer that "not all the large changes seen in Arctic climate in recent years are a result of long-term trends associated with global warming". The media tendency to knee-jerkingly blame everything on "global warming" makes for an easy story - but it is not based on solid science.

And what of the Antarctic? Down south, ice extent is well ahead of the recent average. Why isn't NSIDC making similarly high-profile press releases about the increase in Antarctic ice over the last 30 years?


Al Gore's Doomsday Clock

Al Gore gave a speech last week "challenging" America to run "on 100% zero-carbon electricity in 10 years" -- though that's just the first step on his road to "ending our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Serious people understand this is absurd. Maybe other people will start drawing the same conclusion about the man proposing it.

The former vice president has also recently disavowed any intention of returning to politics. This is wise. As America's leading peddler of both doom and salvation, Mr. Gore has moved beyond the constraints and obligations of reality. His job is to serve as a Prophet of Truth. In Mr. Gore's prophesy, a transition to carbon-free electricity generation in a decade is "achievable, affordable and transformative." He believes that the goal can be achieved almost entirely through the use of "renewables" alone, meaning solar, geothermal, wind power and biofuels.

And he doesn't think we really have any other good options: "The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk," he says, with his usual gift for understatement. "And even more -- if more should be required -- the future of human civilization is at stake."

What manner the catastrophe might take isn't yet clear, but the scenarios are grim: The climate crisis is getting worse faster than anticipated; global warming will cause refugee crises and destabilize entire nations; an "energy tsunami" is headed our way. And so on.

Here, however, is an inconvenient fact. In 1995, the U.S. got about 2.2% of its net electricity generation from "renewable" sources, according to the Energy Information Administration. By 2000, the last full year of the Clinton administration, that percentage had dropped to 2.1%. By contrast, the combined share of coal, petroleum and natural gas rose to 70% from 68% during the same time frame.

Now the share of renewables is up slightly, to about 2.3% as of 2006 (the latest year for which the EIA provides figures). The EIA thinks the use of renewables (minus hydropower) could rise to 201 billion kilowatt hours per year in 2018 from the current 65 billion. But the EIA also projects total net generation in 2018 to be 4.4 trillion kilowatt hours per year. That would put the total share of renewables at just over four percent of our electricity needs.

Mr. Gore's argument would be helped if he were also willing to propose huge investments in nuclear power, which emits no carbon dioxide and currently supplies about one-fifth of U.S. electricity needs, and about three-quarters of France's. Britain has just approved eight new nuclear plants, and the German government of Angela Merkel is working to do away with a plan by the previous government to go nuclear-free.

But Mr. Gore makes no mention of nuclear power in his speech, nor of the equally carbon-free hydroelectric power. These are proven technologies -- and useful reminders of what happens when environmentalists get what they wished for.

Mr. Gore's case would also be helped if our experience of renewable sources were a positive one. It isn't. In his useful book "Gusher of Lies," Robert Bryce notes that "in July 2006, wind turbines in California produced power at only about 10% of their capacity; in Texas, one of the most promising states for wind energy, the windmills produced electricity at about 17% of their rated capacity." Like wind power, solar power also suffers from the problem of intermittency, which means that it has to be backed up by conventional sources in order to avoid disruptions. This is especially true of hot summers when the wind doesn't blow and cold winters when the sun doesn't shine.

And then there are biofuels, whose recent vogue, the World Bank believes, may have been responsible for up to 75% of the recent rise in world food prices. Save the planet; starve the poor.

None of this seems to trouble Mr. Gore. He thinks that simply by declaring an emergency he can help achieve Stakhanovite results. He might recall what the Stakhanovite myth (about the man who mined 14 times his quota of coal in six hours) actually did to the Soviet economy.

A more interesting question is why Mr. Gore remains believable. Perhaps people think that facts ought not to count against a man whose task is to raise our sights, or play Cassandra to unbelieving mortals.

Or maybe he is believed simply because people want something in which to believe. "The readiness for self-sacrifice," wrote Eric Hoffer in "The True Believer," "is contingent on an imperviousness to the realities of life. . . . All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it. . . . To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy and treason. It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible."


How NOT to Have Electricity

Every week there’s some new proposal to cover the nation with wind farms and solar panels.

Electricity is so commonplace that no one gives any thought to not having access to it. Few give any consideration to how it is generated, but we are now being inundated with the most virulent nonsense about how wind or solar power is “clean” and practically “free.” Every week there’s some new proposal to cover the nation with wind farms and solar panels.

The problem for everyone who wants to get rich with these energy sources or those who think they are the answer to our energy needs is that neither wind, nor solar can ever power anything more than relatively small projects like a farm or a local stadium. A nation of more than three hundred million people, however, needs a lot of generation capacity.

All the razzle-dazzle of television advertising and public relations propaganda cannot justify the building of massive wind or solar farms. They are simply inadequate to the production of the electricity the nation requires now and in the future. The weird thing about T. Boone Pickens' pitch is that he talks about oil dependency to justify wind power, but vehicles are not powered by wind. Nor are they likely to be powered by liquified natural gas as Pickens suggests.

By contrast, the July edition of Energy Tribune devoted some of its pages to the comeback of nuclear power in America. What jumped out at me was co-editor Robert Bryce’s citation of the fact that, “The U.S. government has spent some $7 billion building a repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada” and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has declared that it “is never going to open” and is “not the answer to nuclear waste storage.”

Senator Reid recently said that, “Coal is making us sick. Oil is making us sick,” and then went on to blather insanely about global warming.

According to Bryce, “On June 3, the Department of Energy submitted an 8,600-page application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking approval of the Yucca Mountain site for waste storage. Just one day later, Nevada urged the agency to reject the application.” This is a glaring example of how to make sure America lacks the electrical energy it needs.

Throughout the debate over energy use, the Big Lie has been that industrial and other activities generate carbon dioxide emissions that, in turn, are causing global warming. Ergo, we have to radically alter every aspect of modern life to avoid the Earth’s destruction.

The problem with that is a decade-old cooling period that the Earth entered in 1998 and which is getting colder, not warmer. The other problem is the fact that the Earth has passed through periods in which the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere were much higher than they are today.

Since it is getting colder, we are going to need more electricity and other sources of energy to keep us warm in our homes, offices, schools, et cetera. We are going to have to burn coal, currently the major source of power, to generate electricity as well as the cheapest and most abundant. We will continue to use natural gas as well. All the hydroelectric sources have been identified and are in use at present.

That leaves nuclear. An Energy Tribune article by William E. Burchill serves up lots of information about the nuclear production of electrical energy. Worldwide, 441 nuclear reactors are providing electricity to one billion people. Presently nuclear power provides twenty percent of America’s electricity needs, thanks to the 104 nuclear plants operating in the U.S.

Here’s something to keep in mind. “No U.S. plant worker or member of the public has ever been injured or killed by an accident caused by nuclear power.” Moreover, amidst the frenzy over CO2, nuclear is “an emissions-free source of electricity.”

There is a literal renaissance of nuclear energy in America and this is a good thing. The U.S. Department of Energy forecasts that, by 2030, U.S. demand will increase by 30 percent. This increase reflects a worldwide trend. Currently, China, India, Russia, South Korea, Pakistan, and Japan are in the process of building a total of thirty-five nuclear plants and other nations have announced plans.

The worldwide demand for more electricity is growing right along with population growth and the spurt of industrialization occurring in nations that have looked at the Western model and are now beginning to compete in the process called globalization. By mid-century, the demand for electricity will double or triple.

The elected leaders of America have been largely deaf and blind to our national needs, opposing electrical generation no matter what source is used. Resistance to nuclear energy was part of the environmental agenda, but these days their cries and lies are mostly about what they now call “dirty fuels,” oil and coal.

What can Americans do when we have loonies like Senator Harry Reid or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spouting nonsense and blocking efforts to meet current and future energy needs? One answer is almost too obvious. They and others can and should be voted out of office. They can be replaced!

Or maybe you want to wait while wind power, currently 0.77 percent of the sources of electricity energy, or solar power, about 0.01 percent, replaces coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric power. Bundle up! You’re going to be very cold.


U.S. on verge of grand-scale blackout

Five years after the worst blackout in North American history, the country's largest utilities say the U.S. power system faces the prospect of even bigger and more damaging outages. The specific flaws that led to 50 million people losing power in 2003 have largely been addressed, they say, but even bigger problems loom. Excess generating capacity in the system is shrinking, for example, and power-plant construction has slowed as costs to build and operate plants have soared.

At the same time, it is estimated that electricity use will increase 29 percent between 2006 to 2030 - much of it driven by residential growth, according to a government report issued in June. "I'm really not a `Chicken Little' player, but I worry that no one seems to be focusing in on this," said Michael Morris, chairman, president and chief executive of American Electric Power, which runs the nation's largest electricity transmission system. Morris said massive outages this year in South Africa, which forced gold, diamond and platinum mines to stop production for five days, should serve as a warning to the United States.

Industry experts back Morris and say there is even more resistance to building new plants because of the debate over climate change and opposition to new transmission lines. The blocking of two coal-fired plants in Kansas is one example of the resistance. "The level of excess capacity has shrunk ... to a level barely within the planning toleration of the industry," said Marc Chupka, with the Brattle Group, an energy consultant.

The blackout five years ago today shut off power to vast swaths of the Northeast and Midwest for as much as four days. Rolling blackouts continued in Ontario for a week. The outages caused as much as $10 billion in damages to the U.S. economy. FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, Ohio, which got the blame for the spread of the outages, has worked to shore up its transmission system. But the larger issues of the country's total generating ability and the overall health and capacity of the transmission grid remain a problem, the experts say.

Rick Sergel, president of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the agency that oversees the nation's power grid, said, "We're to the point where we need every possible resource: renewables, demand response and energy efficiency, nuclear, clean coal - you name it, we need it. And we especially need the transmission lines that will bring the power generated by these new resources to consumers."

Construction of coal-fired generating plants has almost stopped, and new nuclear plants are years away, if they are approved at all, said Arshad Mansoor, vice president of power delivery and use for the Electric Power Research Institute. Better efficiency will go only so far, he said.

Morris, of American Electric Power, sees a potentially dire situation ahead, including the sort of power rationing that occurred in South Africa. "It would ruin the economy," Morris said.


Climate-Change Skeptics Revisited

The article below by comrade John P. Holdren is an extension of an earlier article by him mentioned on this blog on 5th. He claims that the lack of scientific detail in his original piece was because the editor left that stuff out. Amusingly, however, this time too he simply makes sweeping assertions rather than discussing anything in detail. That evil editor again, I guess. Following it are replies to the original Holdren piece by Prof. Fred Singer and by The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

I did not expect that my op-ed in Monday's Boston Globe, to which the editors gave the title "Convincing the Climate-Change Skeptics", would actually convince many skeptics. It was aimed more at reinforcing the resolve of the majority in the public and the policy-making community who, betting on the scientific consensus, are ready to move forward with a serious approach to dealing with the problem but are being slowed down by the ill-founded skepticism of a minority. That is why my own title for the piece was "Climate-Change Skeptics Are Dangerously Wrong".

I am being castigated by many respondents for resorting to reference to authority rather then providing substantive responses to the specific arguments of climate-change deniers. I suggest that this criticism is in part based on a misunderstanding of what is possible within the length constraint of an op-ed piece. The "top ten" arguments employed by the relatively few deniers with credentials in any aspect of climate-change science (which arguments include "the sun is doing it", "Earth's climate was changing before there were people here", "climate is changing on Mars but there are no SUVs there", "the Earth hasn't been warming since 1998", "thermometer records showing heating are contaminated by the urban-heat-island effect", "satellite measurements show cooling rather than warming") have all been shown in the serious scientific literature to be wrong or irrelevant, but explaining their defects requires at least a paragraph or two for each one.

This cannot be done in the 700 words of an op-ed piece. But there are plenty of other forums where it can be.and has been. Persuasive reefutations are readily available not only at a high scientific level in (among others) the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (, the UN Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development (, the US National Academy of Sciences (, the US National Center for Atmospheric Research ( ), and the UK Meteorological Office ( - as well as on a myyriad of websites run by serious climatologists (e.g.,,, ) - but also in a form boiled down for the intelligent layperson by organizations skilled in scientific communication, such as the BBC ( ) , the New Scientist magazine ( ), and the promising new Climate Central organization ( featuring The Weather Channel's climatologist, Heidi Cullen. Any skeptic who actually wants to know what's wrong with the standard deniers' arguments can easily find out.

I provided all the above-mentioned references and more in a longer essay on climate-change skepticism that I wrote in June in response to requests for an explanation of the apparent continuing influence of deniers in the U.S. policy process, and from which I abstracted the op-ed I submitted to The Globe. The references wouldn't fit within the op-ed word limit without losing too much else that I thought needed to be said.

Even more regrettably, I agreed to a further shortening of what I submitted by the editors at The Globe. I regret agreeing to it because it's clear (from the responses I'm receiving) that the resulting omission of a sentence about the value of skepticism in science left the impression that I am unaware of the positive role that healthy skepticism has played in the scientific enterprise over the centuries. The omitted sentence was in the middle of a passage that in the original read as follows (omission italicized):

"All three factions are wrong, but the first is the worst. We should really call them "deniers" rather than "skeptics", because they are giving the venerable tradition of skepticism a bad name. Their arguments, such as they are, suffer from two huge deficiencies".

As my original reference to "the venerable tradition of skepticism" indicates, I am in fact well aware of its valuable and indeed fundamental role in the practice of science. Skeptical views, clearly stated and soundly based, tend to promote healthy re-examination of premises, additional ways to test hypotheses and theories, and refinement of explanations and arguments. And it does happen from time to time - although less often than most casuual observers suppose - that views initially held only by skeptics end up overtuurning and replacing what had been the "mainstream" view.

Appreciation for this positive role of scientific skepticism, however, should not lead to uncritical embrace of the deplorable practices characterizing what much of has been masquerading as appropriate skepticism in the climate-science domain. These practices include refusal to acknowledge the existence of large bodies of relevant evidence (such as the proposition that there is no basis for implicating carbon dioxide in the global-average temperature increases observed over the past century); the relentless recycling of arguments in public forums that have long since been persuasively discredited in the scientific literature (such as the attribution of the observed global temperature trends to urban-heat island effects or artifacts of statistical method); the pernicious suggestion that not knowing everything about a phenomenon (such as the role of cloudiness in a warming world) is the same as knowing nothing about it; and the attribution of the views of thousands of members of the mainstream climate-science community to "mass hysteria" or deliberate propagation of a "hoax".

The purveying of propositions like these by a few scientists who do or should know better -and their parroting by amateur skeptics who laack the scientific background or the motivation to figure out what's wrong with them - are what I was inveighing against in the op-ed and will continue to inveigh against. The activities of these folks, whether witting in the case of the scientists or unwitting in the case of their gullible adherents, have nothing to do with respectable scientific skepticism.

It also needs to be understood by publics and policy makers alike that, while it can never be guaranteed that a mainstream scientific position will not be overturned by new data or insight, the likelihood of this occurring gets smaller as the size and coherence of the body of data and analysis supporting the mainstream position get larger. The lines of evidence and analysis supporting the mainstream position on climate change are diverse and robust - embracing a huge body of direct measurements by a varietyy of methods in a wealth of locations on the Earth's surface and from space, solid understanding of the basic physics governing how energy flow in the atmosphere interacts with greenhouse gases, insights derived from the reconstruction of causes and consequences of millions of years of natural climatic variations, and the results of computer models that are increasingly capable of reproducing the main features of Earth's climate with and without human influences.

The public and the policy makers who are supposed to act on the public's behalf are constantly having to make choices in the absence of complete certainty about threats and outcomes. If they are smart, they make those choices on the basis of judgments about probability: Which position is more likely to be right? On climate change, the probability is high that the scientific mainstream is right about its main conclusions, even if all the details are not yet pinned down. Those main conclusions are that climate is changing in ways unusual against the backdrop of natural variability; that human activities are responsible for most of this unusual change; that significant harm to human well-being is already occurring as a result; and that far larger -- perhaps catastrophic - damages will ensensue if serious remedial action is not started soon.

The rationale for calling the attention of the public and policy makers -- the audiences for an op-ed - to the number, diversity, and distincction of scientists and scientific organizations embracing these conclusions is to inform them of the extent to which this is the view of the most qualified people and groups that have studied the matter. Given the unavoidable fact that most people do not have the training (or the time) to reach an independent conclusion on a scientific matter of this kind, knowing where most of the people who do have the training and who have taken the time come down on the matter is the best guide available on where the public and its policy makers should place their bets.


Comment from Fred Singer:

John Holdren, of the Kennedy School, Harvard University, and Woods Hole Research Center (not to be confused with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) presents a polemic that distorts relevant science. As he himself points out, many scientists agree that current climate changes are not unusual and that human-released greenhouse gases play only a negligible role - contrary to his own view. He does not provide any references, but readers may scrutinize the report "Nature, not human activity, rules the climate," of the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a group of more that two dozen climate experts from 16 nations. It is available on the Internet here. (Unlike the UN-sponsored IPCC, the NIPCC, while an international team, does not include experts ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe.)

Holdren cleverly tries to shift the burden of proof away from himself, Al Gore, and the IPCC, which claims to be 90 to 99 % sure that warming is anthropogenic. They have no evidence to support this claim. None. Yet they all call for Draconian steps to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by effectively imposing a huge tax on the already high price of energy. (New Englanders will bear the full brunt of these misguided policies in their household heating bills this coming winter.). Well, perhaps Dr. Holdren can explain to us why it is that the climate has refused to warm during the past decade -- in spite of rising CO2 levels.

Comment by The Right Honourable The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley;

Professor John Holdren wrote recently here that no one should heed the few climate change skeptics with any sort of scientific credentials. Yet, in 676 words, he did not offer even one scientific argument in favor of climate alarm. In this reply, I offer nothing but scientific arguments.

First, global warming began 300 years back. Humankind was not to blame. Warming stopped ten years ago. For the last seven of those years, all five major global surface temperature datasets show cooling. The cooling between January 2007 and January 2008 was the sharpest since records began in 1880. Not one of the 22 costly computer models relied upon by the UN's climate panel predicted the present long cooling. Now scientists expect no more warming till 2015.

Today's temperature is 10 F below its peak during each of the past four interglacial periods; and up to 5 F below where it was in the Bronze Age, Roman, and mediaeval warm periods. For most of the past 10,000 years, temperatures were above today's.

The Sun was more active in the past 70 years than at almost any time in the previous 11,400 years. Even if it had not caused the warming that stopped a decade ago, the UN's climate panel has not convicted humankind. CO2 occupies only one-ten-thousandth more of the atmosphere today than it did in 1750. In the Cambrian era, 550 million years ago, there was 18 times as much CO2 in the air as there is today. Life throve: otherwise we should not be here. The climate panel, in its 2001 report, admitted that the observed changes may be natural.

The UN's models predict a human fingerprint - warming in the tropical mid-troposphere at thrice the surface rate. This fingerprint is absent from 50 years of radiosonde data and 30 years of satellite data. Whatever caused the warming in the 300 years ending in 1998, it was not us.

Why are the climate models so wrong? Because in 1963 it was proven impossible to predict the long-run future of the complex, chaotic climate unless we first know its initial state to a precision that is not attainable in the real world.

There is only one question that matters in the climate debate: By how much will temperature rise if we double the pre-industrial concentration of CO2 in the air? The answer to this question is an input to the computers, not an output from them. Models cannot predict future rates of warming, because they are told the answer in advance.

Even if minuscule increases in the concentration of a trace gas could impact temperature significantly, the peer-reviewed literature is near-unanimous in not predicting climate catastrophe. A High Court judge in London, finding against Al Gore's sci-fi comedy horror movie, said bluntly: "The Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view."

Scientifically-baseless precautions are already starving millions as biofuels, which the UN at first recommended and now calls a "crime against humanity", have pre-empted agricultural land, doubling staple cereal prices in a year.

The UN's proposed "precautions" would work no better than the "precautionary" ban on DDT, which killed 40 million worldwide - mostly children - before the World Health Organization ended the ban in 2006.

The strategic harm to humanity caused by killing the worlds poor and destroying the economic prosperity of the West would far outweigh any conceivable climate benefit from Warner-Lieberman. Adaptation as or, rather, if necessary would be far more cost-effective and less harmful. Futile schemes by bureaucrats to mitigate imagined global warming will have no more effect on the climate than King Canute's command to the tide not to come in and wet the Royal feet.

We must get the science right or we shall get the policy wrong. There is no manmade climate crisis. It is a non-problem. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.


For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, August 15, 2008

New book: "Green Gone Wild -- Elevating Nature Above Human Rights"

For those considering the green revolution and wondering about its future, it may be too late. One prominent authority believes green has gone, gone wild. M. David Stirling, vice president of the highly regarded Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento has just published a book titled "Green Gone Wild -- Elevating Nature Above Human Rights." In it he catalogs the unrestrained steps by hardcore environmentalists from Rachel Carson to present day power and property grabbers who operate through the implementation and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

He chronicles the half-century worldwide influence of Carson's rage against the use of the mosquito-killing DDT as costing tens of millions of lives. Uncontrolled mosquito populations, especially in developing countries, have spread killer malarial plagues year after year since DDT was banned in 1972.In what Stirling calls a display of classic hypocrisy, Carson's erroneous fear-mongering that DDT was causing human sickness and deaths led her radical followers to find ways to eliminate or curtail humans' activities they viewed as endangering an ever-expanding number of lesser species.

He believes that today's greenies are on a rampage to confiscate millions of acres of private property they declare as habitat for an assortment of rats, snakes, crickets, birds, salamanders and other wildlife and plants. Like many of the other 1,350 species that have been tucked under the ESA's protective canopy, polar bear numbers are increasing as the animal thrives. Stirling foresees that tying the polar bear's listing to global warming can lead to highly restrictive regulation of any human activity viewed as contributing to that alleged phenomenon.

Stirling's book recalls the poorly researched science and knee-jerk reaction of authorities to declare a significant portion of the Northwest's old-growth forests as protected habitat for the northern spotted owl. Timber operations throughout the area closed down, causing immeasurable economic and personal distress to logging families and communities, making the forests more vulnerable to wildfires.

Stirling's conclusion is that nature-loving green zealots hiding behind the ESA are exclusionists at heart. That means they are anti-human. They believe the earth is overpopulated, and restrictions on human enterprise such as the pursuit of happiness should be curtailed, whatever it takes. They have found a way to discourage and limit human enterprise with the ESA's onerous and expensive regulations.

He offers 15 ways to modify the ESA to allow it to actually protect plants and animals that may be in danger without eliminating human activity and commerce. For farmers and others with property at stake these suggestions alone make the book worth the price


Gang Green

Earlier this month, while visiting a friend in San Francisco, I almost spilled my latte in my lap when I read this on the front page of the Chronicle: "S.F. Mayor Proposes Fines for Unsorted Trash." The story began: "Garbage collectors would inspect San Francisco residents' trash to make sure pizza crusts aren't mixed in with chip bags or wine bottles under a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom."

Isn't that what homeless people do -- rooting around in other people's garbage? If Bay Area residents are caught failing to separate the plastic bottles from the newspapers, according to the newspaper story, they could face fines of up to $1,000. "We don't want to fine people," the mayor is quoted saying reassuringly. "We want to change behavior." Translation: Do exactly as we say and no one gets hurt. And San Francisco considers itself one of the most progressive cities in America!

When I was a kid, the environmentalists promoted their clean skies and antilittering agenda mostly through moral suasion -- with pictures of an Indian under a smoggy sky with a tear rolling down his cheek or the owl who chanted on TV: "Give a hoot, don't pollute." Such messages made you feel guilty about callously throwing a candy bar wrapper on the ground or feeling indifferent toward car fumes. Back then I was a devoted recycler, but not for sentimental reasons. It was the financial incentive: You got up to a nickel for every bottle you brought back to the grocery store. So I would scavenge the landscape to find unredeemed bottles to buy baseball cards and candy.

But now the environmental movement has morphed into the most authoritarian philosophy in America. The most glaring example of course is the multitrillion-dollar cap-and-trade anti-global warming scheme that would mandate an entire restructuring of our industrial economy. This plan, endorsed by both presidential candidates, would empower climate-change cops to regulate the energy usage and carbon emissions of every industry in America. If we do this, the best estimates are that we could reduce global temperatures by 0.1 degrees by 2050 and save on average about one polar bear a year from early death. But no burden is too great when it comes to helping the planet -- even if the progress to be made is infinitesimal. To weigh costs and benefits is regarded as sacrilege -- the refuge of global warming "deniers."

There are also new federal and state proposals to snoop on citizens in our own homes. California is considering a plan to police the temperature settings on residents' thermostats. The feds are checking on the flush capacity of our toilets and the kinds of light bulbs we use. A new game called Climate Crime Cards urges kids to spy on and keep an online record of their family's environmental faux pas -- noting when their parents fail to turn off the TV, plug in too many appliances or use the clothes dryer on a sunny day.

Sen. John Warner, a Republican from Virginia, wants to bring back the reviled 55-mile-per-hour federal speed limit law so that America can reduce gasoline consumption. Barack Obama believes that properly inflating the tires on our cars is the solution to our energy woes. Is the government going to start giving tickets for failure to inflate?

The latest rage among the more radical environmental groups is to encourage the government to monitor and ration every individual's carbon footprint -- how much you eat, drive, fly, heat, air condition, throw away and so on. Why? Because the average American emits twice as much carbon as the average European (which is another way of saying we are more productive than they are).

This is all promoted as a form of shared sacrifice. But under this system some people are more equal than others. People with enough money like Al Gore can purchase carbon offset credits to justify chartering a plane rather than having to fly commercial. Seems like this is the very kind of elitist policy -- reminiscent of the practice during the Civil War of allowing the rich and privileged to buy their way out of the draft -- that liberals used to be against.

Do-gooders also once wanted to "celebrate diversity," but total conformity seems to be the aim of those in Seattle these days, where the city has started putting green tags on garbage cans of homeowners who don't recycle. Enthusiasts boast that there is a very positive "Scarlet Letter" effect to subjecting noncompliers to public scorn. So you can almost hear the kitchen conversations: "Jimmy, I don't want you playing with the Williams boys anymore; their family doesn't recycle."

But wait, aren't these the same ACLU members who oppose public registries of multiple sex offenders? Many studies have shown that the environmental benefits from household recycling are minimal or at least highly exaggerated (because it uses a lot of energy and those recycling trucks emit a lot of greenhouse gases). America is not in danger of ever running out of landfill to store our garbage. For example, a study by Daniel Benjamin, an economist at Clemson, finds that we could store all of America's garbage for the next century within the property of Ted Turner's ranch in Montana, with 50,000 acres undisturbed for the horse and bison.

In reality, household recycling is mostly about absolving the guilt of Lexus liberals who just hate themselves for enjoying an affluent 21st-century lifestyle. The aim seems to be less saving nature than building self-esteem. And it has worked. Too well. I can barely tolerate the proud recyclers, hybrid-car owners and "save the polar bear" button-wearers who smother us with their self-righteousness. A few weeks ago I was at the house of some friends, and I accidentally tossed a plastic Gatorade bottle into the glass recycling bin. You would have thought that I had made a pass at their daughter.

Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes with rich irony that "we now live in a society where Sunday church attendance is down, but people wouldn't dream of missing their weekly trek to the altar of the recycling center." These facilities, by the way, are increasingly called "redemption centers." Which is fine except that now the greens want to make redemption mandatory. Oh, for a return to the days when someone stood up for the separation of church and state.


REAL climate change -- and not an SUV in sight

A US-led team of archaeologists said today they had discovered by chance what is believed to be the largest find of Stone Age-era remains ever uncovered in the Sahara Desert. Named Gobero, the site includes remarkably intact human remains as well as the skeletons of fish and crocodiles dating back some 10,000 years to a time when what is now the world's largest desert was a swampy wetland.

The discovery, reported in the September issue of National Geographic Magazine, was stumbled upon by University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno as he and his team searched for dinosaur fossils in Niger. The archaeological site is a part of the desert called Tenere, or "deserts of deserts" in the Tuareg nomads' language, and dates back to when the region was at its wettest period between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.

Gobero holds evidence of two different human populations that lived in the area more than 1,000 years apart. Exposed by the hot winds of the Sahara, human bones were found strewn about a wide area, the researchers said. "At first glance, it's hard to imagine two more biologically distinct groups of people burying their dead in the same place," said team member Chris Stojanowski. The Arizona State University bioarchaeologist added: "The biggest mystery is how they seemed to have done this without disturbing a single grave."

One of the finds stopped the team in its tracks -- a 5,000-year old skeleton of a small woman facing the remains of two young children, her arms outstretched in a gesture of embrace. Samples taken from underneath the bones revealed pollen clusters, evidence the team says, that those who perished had been buried on a bed of flowers. Other finds at the site include a human jaw with a nearly complete set of teeth and the bones of a small hand jutting out of the sand with all its digits intact. Alongside the human remains, the archaeologists also found harpoon points, stone implements and small, pierced decorations for making collars.

Because of the pristine condition in which the remains were found, the archaeologists say they are certain the burial ground was undiscovered until now. "Everywhere you turned, there were bones belonging to animals that don't live in the desert, Sereno said. "I realised we were in the green Sahara." The site yielded fossils of huge crocodiles and dinosaurs including the complete skeleton of Sarcosuchus imperator, one of the biggest crocodiles that ever roamed the earth some 110 million years ago. Sereno also unearthed the Nigersaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur with a huge jaw studded with 500 teeth that lived in the same geologic period, the Cretaceous, some 110 million years ago.

Carbon-dating tests carried out on the bones and teeth by Stojanowski, from the University of Arizona, revealed more than 80 radiocarbon dates, showing two distinct populations lived on the banks of the lake, but 1,000 years apart.


Austin, Texas, wants to produce power (at 6 times the normal cost) by burning wood waste

Burning wood will reduce pollution?? When other people are paying, no cost is too great and no acrivity is too bizarre in the pursuit of righteousness

Austin Energy (the city-owned electric utility in the Texas capital) and Nacogdoches Power, LLC, are hosting a town hall meeting in Austin tonight about their proposed biomass-power partnership. They propose a $2.3 billion, 20-year contract for power from wood waste. Austin Energy would be the sole buyer of power from the plant for the duration of the 20-year contract.

So Austin, always eager to lead the way in costly "green" ventures, is about to spend $2.3 billion on a 100-megawatt power plant that produces power from a fuel source that accounted for 0.95 percent of the total electricity generation in the U.S. in 2006. Not a surprising move, as the Austin Climate Protection Plan seeks to have 30 percent of the city's power from renewable-energy sources by 2020.

But even local environmental groups are urging caution:
"The City Council's decision to delay a decision on the plant for a couple weeks is a good one because I think there are a lot of questions," said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, who said he supports getting power from a biomass plant but would like to see more data. "It'd be really helpful for that information to come out and be reviewed."

Tom "Smitty" Smith, executive director of Public Citizen, a government watchdog and environmental group, said he likes the basic concept behind the project but still has concerns about the cost and environmental impact, specifically pollution and the amount of wood waste that might be available to fuel the plant.

Mike Sloan, president of local renewable energy consulting firm Virtus Energy, said Austin shouldn't make such an expensive decision before Austin Energy's planned effort this fall to gather input about future sources of energy. "There are so many changes going on in the energy industry right now; it would be a good idea for Austin to get its priorities based on input from the people," Sloan said.

Austin Mayor Will Wynn is raring to go, though: "Wynn said partnering with Nacogdoches Power is a valuable opportunity. If Austin doesn't jump on this offer, someone else will, he said. `I definitely want to act when we can control our destiny,' Wynn said. `This is a remarkable hedge against the volatility of fossil fuels (pricing) and whichever carbon regime is going to happen sooner rather than later.'"

Missing from Mayor Wynn's comments are the effects of the project on Austin Energy ratepayers. Austin is preparing to commit $2.3 billion for 100 megawatts of generating capacity. The FutureGen project promised 275 megawatts of generating capacity for about $1.5 billion. The two proposed additional units at the South Texas Nuclear Project will generate 2,700 megawatts for about $6 billion. On a cost-per-megawatt basis, the city would be better off pursuing these zero-emissions alternatives rather than air-polluting burning of wood waste.

The kicker: Austin Energy owns 16 percent of the existing two STNP units but declined to participate in the two new units over cost concerns. Maybe Austin's ambitious Climate Protection Plan had something to do with it. The article reports, "If the biomass plant and a planned solar power project for a city-owned Webberville tract go forward, 18 percent of Austin Energy's fuel would be coming from renewable sources in 2012."



Responding to various new scientific reports questioning the concept of global warming, Assemblyman Michael Doherty today called on Governor Corzine to hold off on proposing any new regulations associated with the state's Global Warming Response Act and urged the Legislature to repeal that act when it returns to legislative business after Labor Day.

"There are many credible members of the scientific community who have questioned the theory of global warming, and now we have some scientists actually suggesting the earth's temperatures may be entering a period of dramatic cooling," said Doherty, R-Warren and Hunterdon. "With this growing level of scientific uncertainty, it makes no sense to enact a new set of economically damaging regulations prompted by the global warming hysteria of recent years."

The Global Warming Response Act was signed last year by Corzine, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The law required the state Department of Environmental Protection to release a report detailing how the state would meet the goals, with recommendations now expected to be issued this fall.

According to recent news reports, a top observatory that has been measuring sun spot activity predicts that global temperatures will drop by two degrees over the next 20 years as solar activity slows and the planet drastically cools down. They suggest this could potentially herald the onset of a new ice age. Following the end of the sun's most active period in over 11,000 years, the last 10 years have displayed a clear cooling trend as temperatures post-1998 leveled out and are now decreasing.

Earlier this year, John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel, stated that manmade global warming is "the greatest scam in history," adding, "I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a scam." Coleman said the theory of global warming is based on fraudulent science.

"New Jersey's tax and regulatory climate is already chasing jobs from this state left and right and these new regulations will make matters worse," Doherty said. "Rather than conforming our policies to questionable scientific theories, we should be looking at the concrete economic indicators that show our state's economy is in trouble. And we should be taking steps to help people who are losing jobs and being forced out of their homes by this state's anti-economic growth agenda - not making matters worse."


CCSP-USP Report misunderstands ice-core data

Comment by ice-core expert, Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski. See also a previous critique of this allegedly "expert" Warmist report here


The foundations of the CCSP-USP Report, its "fingerprints" and "human influences", are based on ice core studies of CO2. However, ice cores are a wrong matrix for reconstruction of chemical composition of the ancient atmosphere. No effort dedicated to improving analytical techniques can change the imperative pattern of polar ice as a non-closed system matrix. Because of this pattern of ice the CO2 ice core data will always be artifacts caused by processes in the ice sheets and in the ice cores, with CO2 concentration values about 30% to 50% lower than in the original atmosphere.

The low CO2 ice-core concentrations during the past interglacials, when the global temperature was warmer than now, suggest that either atmospheric CO2 levels have no discernible influence on climate, or that proxy ice core reconstructions of the chemical composition of the ancient atmosphere are false - both propositions are probably true.

The scenarios in the CCSP-USP draft Report are based on unreliable ice core data and on incorrect presentation of the past climatic changes. They should not be used for global economic planning. Under Information Quality Act's terms this document is not permissibly disseminated so long as it continues to reproduce these false scenarios with the apparent imprimatur of the federal government. The requested change is: (1) to drop all the references to "human influences" and "fingerprints" as they cannot be credibly validated and are in fact empty notions; (2) to present the veritable fluctuation of climatic cold and warm phases over the past millennium; (3) to review the recent cosmo-climatologic studies, and to reflect them in the conclusions and recommendations of the Report. Without such corrections, the statements in this document fail to meet the authors' claim of representing "the best available information" (p. 14), and "the best available evidence" (p. 15), and otherwise violate applicable objectivity requirements.

Heavily referenced full article available online here


For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greenies beginning to see that abuse alone is not enough

Writing below, Andrew Dessler even acknowledges that there is a climate "debate". Wow! And he even argues his case instead of just saying that the skeptics are in the pay of "Big Oil". His arguments are nonsense but we must be thankful for small mercies, I guess. For instance, Einstein's theory didn't "extend" anything; Einstein REMOVED assumptions that Newton (and others, implicitly) had used to derive a theory of universal gravitation.

And there is NO need to go back a century to find scientific consensus being overturned. Instances crop up all the time on my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog. For instance, the recognition of the role of helicobacter pylori happened only in the 1990s and that overturned a centuries-old consensus that bacteria could not survive in the acid environment of the stomach. Where stomach ulcers were once universally treated with antacids and surgery, they are now treated with antibiotics. Similar revolutions already under way this century in the treatment of burns, snakebite, the use of blood transfusions and the use of N2O in anesthesia etc., etc.

And as for 100% certainty that global temperature is increasing, that's true only if you believe the "cooked" figures of Jim Hansen. Other sources show no increase over the last 10 years

One of the biggest problems in the climate change debate is the fact that many people out there fail to understand the finer points of "scientific consensus." For an example of this misunderstanding, see Ron Rosenbaum's recent article in Slate. His article trots out one of the staples of the denial industry: Science has been wrong in the past, so how do we know that a scientific consensus on climate change is right? Because of this, reporters should report all sides of the argument.So if you're writing an article about climate change, you can interview one of the thousands of climate scientists out there who basically agree with the scientific assessment described by the IPCC reports, and then you can balance them out by quoting one of the the dozen or so credible scientific skeptics out there. After all, you don't want to be biased.

To support this well-worn canard, he trots out the usual examples of scientific consensus being overturned, such as Ignaz Semmelweis, who recognized that proper hygiene could greatly reduce disease, and Einstein, whose theory of general relativity superseded Newton's. Of course, the fact that the author had to go back more than a century to find these examples should give the reader pause. And never mind that Einstein's theory didn't overturn Newton's, but extended it.

Why is this such a ridiculous argument? As all scientists know, the confidence in any "consensus" can range from low to very high. For some, such as the connection between cigarettes and lung cancer, or the observation that the Earth's temperature is increasing, there is virtual 100 percent certainty that the scientific consensus is correct.

For the statement that humans are responsible for most of the recent warming, the consensus is slightly weaker. The IPCC estimates that there is about a one-in-ten chance that this statement is wrong. For statements about changes in precipitation patterns under climate change, the consensus is weak. We think we know generally how precipitation will change, but no one would be surprised if it turns out to be substantially wrong.

Dissenting voices exist on just about every scientific question that touches the political sphere. For example, there are dissenters out there arguing that HIV does not cause AIDS, such as Kary Mullis, the 1993 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. Because they are always out there, the existence of dissenting voices actually tells you nothing about the actual scientific strength of a position. I doubt that even Rosenbaum would argue that journalists writing an article about HIV should balance their work by providing the dissenting view that perhaps HIV does not cause AIDS.Rather, journalists need to evaluate the strength of the consensus that they are reporting on.

For confidently held scientific views, such as the connection between increasing greenhouse gases and climate change or the connection between cigarettes and cancer, it is highly unlikely that the scientific community is wrong. What Rosenbaum fails to understand is that promoting uncertainty is a technique to forestall action. In other words, those opposed to action want the debate to focus on the science. As long as people are debating whether climate change is happening or not, and whether humans are responsible or not, then the debate will not be about what to do, and the status quo is maintained.In these cases, providing balance is, in reality, bias.


It does not add up!

There's been no net global warming in the 21st century. Although seldom reported by the mainstream media, it's quite a story, because no climate model predicted it.

This graph, courtesy of atmospheric scientist John Christy, shows how climate models and reality diverge. The red, purple, and orange lines are model forecasts of global temperatures under different emission scenarios. The yellow line shows how much warming we are supposedly "committed to" even if CO2 concentrations don't change. The blue and green lines are actual temperatures as measured by ground-based (HadCrut) and satellite (UAH LT) monitoring systems.

What's really rather remarkable, is that since 2000, the rates at which CO2 emissions and concentrations are increasing have accelerated. According to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s.

And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there's been no net warming in the 21st century. It don't add up! Skeptics have long said climate models aren't accurate enough to base policy decisions on. That may be truer now than ever


Are the ice caps melting? Climate science's bipolar disorder

The headlines last week brought us terrifying news: The North Pole will be ice-free this summer "for the first time in human history," wrote Steve Connor in The Independent. Or so the experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado predict. This sounds very frightening, so let's look at the facts about polar sea ice. As usual, there are a couple of huge problems with the reports.

Firstly, the story is neither alarming nor unique. In the August 29, 2000 edition of the New York Times, the same NSIDC expert, Mark Serreze, said: "There's nothing to be necessarily alarmed about. There's been open water at the pole before. We have no clear evidence at this point that this is related to global climate change." During the summer of 2000 there was "a large body of ice-free water about 10 miles long and 3 miles wide near the pole". Also in 2000, Dr Claire Parkinson at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center was quoted as saying: "The fact of having no ice at the pole is not so stunning." Submarines regularly surface at the North Pole

Satellite records have been kept for polar sea ice over the last thirty years by the University Of Illinois. In 2007 2008, two very different records were set. The Arctic broke the previous record for the least sea ice area ever recorded, while the Antarctic broke the record for the most sea ice area ever recorded. Summed up over the entire earth, polar ice has remained constant. As seen below, there has been no net gain or loss of polar sea ice since records began.

Last week, Dr James Hansen from NASA spoke about how CO2 is affecting the polar ice caps. "We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes... The Arctic is the first tipping point and it's occurring exactly the way we said it would," he said.

Well, not exactly. Hansen is only telling half the story. In the 1980s the same Dr Hansen wrote a paper titled Climate Sensitivity to Increasing Greenhouse Gases [pdf], in which he explained how CO2 causes "polar amplification." He predicted nearly symmetrical warming at both poles. As shown in Figure 2-2 from the article, Hansen calculated that both the Arctic and Antarctic would warm by 5-6 degrees Centigrade. His predictions were largely incorrect, as most of Antarctica has cooled and sea ice has rapidly expanded. The evidence does not support the theory.

In 2004, Dr Hansen returned to the subject. This time, he explained (pdf) that most of Arctic warming and melting is due to dirty snow from soot, not CO2. "Soot snow/ice albedo climate forcing is not included in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change evaluations. This forcing is unusually effective, causing twice as much global warming as a CO2 forcing of the same magnitude," he wrote. Once the snow dirties, it absorbs sunlight, warms, and quickly melts. Then the land and air above warms, causing higher temperature readings. This affects the Arctic more than the Antarctic simply because there aren't many people living near the Antarctic. The Arctic is polluted by European cities and oil fields in Siberia - where gas flaring generates huge amounts of soot. In fact, scientists at the University of California have estimated that up to 94 per cent of Arctic melt is due to dirty snow.

In other words, then, Antarctic temperatures and ice are going the opposite direction of what Dr. Hansen predicted, and most of the Arctic warming is due to soot, not CO2. His own research directly contradicts his recent high-profile statements about the Arctic and CO2.

Dr Hansen also talks frequently about the unprecedented temperature rise in the Arctic, yet his own temperature records show that much of the Arctic (including Greenland) was warmer from 1920-1940 than now. The NASA graph below from Nuuk, Greenland is typical of long term records of the region. Nuuk, Greenland is a key location because it is located in the southwest portion of the island and is not far from the mouth of the Jakobshavn Glacier - the most rapidly moving glacier in the world and a poster child for global warming campaigners. It is also the largest city and capital of Greenland, located just south of the Arctic Circle. NASA literature from the last few years focuses heavily on anomalous melt in southwest Greenland as a concern for sea level rise.

During the ice age scare in the 1970s the Arctic cooled dramatically, and is only now returning to temperatures comparable to sixty years ago. Most of the other Arctic locations with long-term records show similar trends. Long-term NASA temperature records in the Arctic are very sparse, but most show a pattern similar to Nuuk. Most of the other Arctic locations with long-term records show similar trends. Ostrov, Hatanga, Gmo, Bodo Vi, and Reykjavik are good examples.

Another pollution problem reported by NASA is known as the Arctic Haze. This is a human-generated brown cloud which hovers over the Arctic and traps heat. Additionally, we know that the summer of 2007 had unusually low cloud cover in the Arctic, which contributed to the unusual melt. But probably the most important factor in the anomalous "melt" was a spate of strong winds which blew all summer up the Bering Strait, across the pole and out into the warm waters of the North Atlantic. This compressed the sea ice towards Greenland and revealed a large area of open water north of Siberia and Alaska.

But in 2008 we are not seeing that. The winds and temperatures in the Arctic are quite different, and as of today there is more ice than normal around Siberia. The Arctic melt season ends in about seven weeks because the sun will get too low. As of June 26, there is no indication that the North Pole is in danger of melting.

The BBC's Richard Black wrote an article last week claiming that Arctic Ice is melting "even faster than last year." Looking at the Cryosphere Today map, it is abundantly clear that ice is melting more slowly than last year. By the end of June, 2007 the Hudson Bay was essentially ice-free. This year it is close to normal, with cold temperatures predicted for most of the rest of the short melt season. Someone is apparently having trouble reading maps at either the BBC and/or NSIDC.

Last summer, the headlines read "First ever traversal of the Northwest Passage". This sounds very dramatic, except that it is entirely incorrect. As the BBC reported: "In 1905, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage, in a wooden sailboat." The Northwest Passage has been navigated at least one hundred times over the last century. According to official US Weather Bureau records (pdf) from 1922, there was open sailing very close to the North Pole that year. Anthony Watts unearthed this quote from the Weather Bureau: "In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81 degrees in ice-free water.


Is there a cold future just lying in wait for us?

Comment from Ulster

Our own observatory at Armagh is one of the oldest in the world and has been observing solar cycles for more than 200 years. What this work has shown is that, over all of this time, short and intense cycles coincide with global warmth and long and weak cycles coincide with cooling. Most recently, this pattern continued in the 1980s and 1990s when cycles 21 and 22 were short (less than 10 years) and intense and it was notably hot. But all this now looks set to change.

Cycle 23, which hasn't finished yet, looks like it will be long (at least 12 to 13 years) and cycle 24, which has still to start, looks like it will be exceptionally weak. Based on the past Armagh measurements, this suggests that over the next two decades, global temperatures may fall by about 2 degrees C - that is, to a level lower than any we have seen in the last 100 years. Of course, nothing in science is certain. Perhaps (though I doubt it) Armagh's old measurements are wrong or perhaps there are now other factors, such as CO2 emissions, which may change things somewhat.

However, temperatures have already fallen by about 0.5 degrees C over the past 12 months and, if this is only the start of it, it would be a serious concern. Northern Ireland is not noted for extreme warmth at the best of times and has much more to fear from cold weather than it does from hot. We really need to be sure what is going to happen before spending too much money on combating global warming. We may need all the money we can save just to help us keep warm.


Decade has had fewest 90-degree days since 1930

Comment from Chicago

August is the wettest and often the muggiest month of the year. Yet, summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century's opening decade. There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That's by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.

This summer's highest reading to date has been just 91 degrees. That's unusual. Since 1928, only one year-2000-has failed to record a higher warm-season temperature by Aug. 13.


More global cooling: Abnormally cold winter in Southern Queensland, Australia

It's not your imagination. This is shaping up to be Brisbane's coldest winter in years with minimum temperatures about four degrees below average. So far this August Brisbane has averaged 7.4 degrees in the morning compared with 11.4 degrees at the same time last year. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecast Vikash Prasad said the long term average for August was about 10 degrees. "We're certainly seeing some cooler temperatures associated with the dry south-westerly airstream," Mr Prasad said.

This morning was no different with the mercury sinking to 6.5 degrees in the City and just 2.8 at the Airport. But farther west it was much colder with Amberley reaching a freezing -2.1 degrees, Oakey -3.6, Warwick -4.5 and Applethorpe a bone rattling -5 degrees.

Mr Prasad said the clearing of yesterday's cloud cover contributed to the colder morning. "There's still a bit of high cloud about but with the cloud clearing forward we'll probably see similar temperatures tomorrow as well," he said. Although the cold snap was expected to continue across inland parts, coastal areas should see slightly warmer minimums from next Monday or Tuesday as the winds changed from south-westerly to south-easterly. "That means there's more onshore flow and it should increase the moisture in the air a little bit," said Mr Prasad.



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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anything might happen

Just a bit of fun: An unfalsifiable New Zealand weather forecast that uses a lot of words to predict everything and thus says nothing at all. If only the Warmists were equally prepared to admit that no-one can predict climate events. The waffle below is at least harmless

Otago's weather is expected to return to normal over the next two months, with an occasional cold blast providing variation, the MetService's seasonal forecast says.

The northwest winds of spring are expected to be delayed this year while fronts are likely to mainly bring southwest wind changes, with occasionally showery conditions, especially along the coast. "Some fronts may be followed by chilling southerly winds with hail and or sleet," the seasonal forecast team said. In Central Otago and the southern lakes, the weather was also expected to return to normal, with long periods of dry weather expected. Fronts and troughs rolling in from the Tasman Sea were expected to bring a return to normal rainfall.

In August, these fronts might add to the accumulation of mountain snow, the forecast said. Computer models suggested there was a 75% probability of neutral conditions dominating the incoming spring, and just a 15% probability of a significant El Nino appearing. A close year with similar weather patterns was 2001, which remained neutral through spring and into summer. "Since there was no significant broad-scale influence on our weather patterns during the next few months, it opened the possibility for more variability and variety," the team said. "We do not expect any one particular pattern to dominate for any more than a week or two."

The northern Tasman Sea was slightly warmer than normal and was likely to continue to be a breeding ground for low-pressure areas that would move on to various parts of New Zealand, especially during August. Each of the systems was expected to bring periods of rain and some wind. There would also be interludes of sunny weather and light winds, with some passing anticyclones or ridges of high pressure, but these were not expected to last long. "Occasional polar blasts that bring chilling winds from the Southern Ocean are also on the menu."


Claim: Drought is the silent and insidious killer associated with global warming

This poor old anthropologist obviously has not a clue about elementary physics. Warming oceans evaporate off more and thus produce MORE rain, not less -- though rainfall patterns may of course shift. But the overall effect will be LESS drought. And in a globalized world, shifting patterns of production will be quickly adapted to

Global warming is currently one the world's most pressing issues, but the phenomenon of climate change is not specific to the 21st century. A new book by anthropologist Brian Fagan takes a look at the global effects of climate change that occurred during the Medieval Warm Period and examines how subtle shifts in the environment had far-reaching effects on human existence.

In "The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations" (Bloomsbury Press, 2008), Fagan, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focuses on the period from the 10th to 15th centuries when the earth experienced a rise in average temperature that changed the climate worldwide.

Some civilizations, including those in Western Europe and the Norse and Inuit of the North Atlantic, flourished as long summers brought bountiful crops, population growth, and a burgeoning cultural scene, Fagan notes. However, other long-established societies, such as the Maya and Indians of the American southwest, collapsed from prolonged periods of drought.

He describes the ways in which different civilizations adapted to the centuries of irregular warming. Mayans, for example, created huge water storage facilities while the Chimu lords of coastal Peru designed sophisticated irrigation systems. However, despite their efforts, they could not withstand the repeated multiyear droughts, which, according to Fagan, constitute the most dangerous element of global warming.

"When I began writing the book, I expected to focus on Europe," Fagan said. "But as I looked further afield I realized that for a lot of the world the Medieval Warm Period meant savage issues related to drought. With so much of the world currently suffering from the effects of drought, this struck me as a neglected problem."

While climate experts tend to focus on melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events such as Hurricane Katrina and the severe flooding it caused, Fagan believes drought is the greater threat.

Citing conditions in eastern and sub-Saharan Africa among other areas, he writes in his book, ".if you look at the warm centuries with a global perspective, the wide incidence of drought is truly striking and offers a sobering message about tomorrow's world. Prolonged aridity was widespread in medieval times and killed enormous numbers of people. Evidence is mounting that drought is the silent and insidious killer associated with global warming."


The Greatest Hoax ever Perpetrated

Google "RECORD HEAT" and you will get 3,180,000 hits. Google "record cold" and you will get 5,110,000. Yes, that's right; and it's just the tip of the proverbial (not melting) iceberg. You see, the convenient truth about the theory of global warming is that you can blame anything on it. Record snows and snow cover in North America, record cold in Asia, snow falling in Baghdad. That's right. Snow in the desert. Clearly more signs of catastrophic global warming.

Not so fast. Pull up a chair, put your feet up, expel some evil CO2, and let's talk about how "settled" the issue of global warming really is. I know full well that writing this piece will cause me to be labeled a "global warming denier" and be lumped in with those that Al Gore said in March are, along with Dick Cheney, "in such a tiny minority view now with their point of view, they're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat."

Seriously? I can't question the people who are incapable of telling me what the weather is going to be for my tee-time this Saturday, but claim to know exactly how much warmer the entire globe will be, how much the sea will rise, how much the snow cover will recede, and how much the ice caps will melt in 100 years?

You're really going to implicitly equate me with a holocaust denier because I don't believe that your faulty computer models (designed by James Hanson, et al., a liberal NASA scientist with an agenda) prove that the globe is warming, or if it is, that it's our fault? You swear by the models, why don't you swear by the corrections that NASA very quietly released last summer that show the warmest year on record was not 1998, but in fact is 1934, and that five of the top 10 hottest years on record were all before World War II?

The Pope once had a problem with a "denier." His name was Galileo, and he thought that the earth was round and that it was not the center of the universe; that it actually revolved around the sun, not the other way around. The Pope did the same thing that Al Gore is doing now. With faulty data and conjecture, the Pope declared that the debate was over and that anybody who disagreed would be burned at the stake.

While we don't burn people at the stake these days, Gore claims we will all die in a ball of fire if we don't rally around this theory and devote all of our time, energy (both fossil and kinetic), and money to it.

OK, I am a skeptic. When every lunatic liberal leftist on the face of the planet says we need to close down the carbon emissions of industry (carbon caps) and spend trillions of dollars trying to fix something that (1.) we don't know if we caused it (the factual evidence says we didn't), and (2.) if we did cause global warming, is it really in our power to fix (reverse) it, red flags go up.

Many leading scientists firmly believe that more CO2 in the atmosphere is actually good for the planet. David Archibald, PhD, at the Biology Department of San Diego State University, is one of those leading scientists. In a lecture given at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, Dr. Archibald said that more CO2 in the atmosphere will give us a lusher environment and actually increase plant growth rates in addition to increasing the sustainability of crops in arid regions.

If you believe that liberal bastion of policy wonks and diplomats (and a couple of decent, and many not-so-decent, scientists), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we cannot reverse it. The IPCC closed its Fourth Assessment Report's (AR4) Summary for Policymakers with this: "[B]oth past and future anthropogenic (man-made) carbon dioxide emissions will continue to contribute to global warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium, due to the time scales required for removal of this gas from the atmosphere."

For those of you who do not know, the IPCC is more than just Gore's co-conspirator in the global warming fraud, they are co-recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. And what does climate change have to do with peace anyway? Back to our favorite global warming alarmist, Al Gore. He recently announced that his Alliance for Climate Protection will embark on a mission to better educate the public on the dangers of man-made global warming and the dire necessity to make drastic (and prohibitively costly) changes in order to stop it. Oh yeah, he's spending $300 million to do it.

Maybe Gore subscribes to Gallup. A recent Gallup poll revealed that about the same percentage of people believe in man-made global warming as did when they first took the poll in 1989. Ironically, the propaganda machine that is Nobel Laureate Gore bans the media from his lectures. An odd contradiction for a man that wants the world to adopt his doomsday outlook and invest in his "green" funds. Gore's lecture contract, handled by The Harry Walker Agency, Inc., in New York, in addition to requiring non-disclosure of the terms and conditions of the agreement, says in section 9(a) that "the press is not invited or permitted to cover the event unless express written permission is granted by the Harry Walker Agency, Inc." Section 9(c) reads, "Vice President Gore will accept no interview requests."

Maybe if he allowed the press into his lectures, or gave an interview or two, he wouldn't have to spend $300 million on public awareness. In case you are wondering, yes, I have a copy. Are you at least a little bit curious why the free press is not allowed to attend his lectures? Read on, my friend.

GLOBAL WARMING HAS BECOME QUITE THE INDUSTRY. The U.S. alone spends over $4 billion per year on climate change research. That seems like a lot of money to spend on something that is so well settled and agreed upon by all but a few "flat-earthers."

Gore has started giving a disclaimer during his lectures. Gore, and Global Investment Management, LLP (GIM), the London-based private equity firm of which Gore is the founder and Chairman, stand to benefit in untold riches if we invest in the companies he recommends in his lectures. His disclaimers are no different than those of a stock broker or insurance agent. Gore is basically saying, yes, I own stock in these companies, but you should too if you want to save the planet from certain doom.

Doom-and-gloom has served Gore well. Like the other two shysters from his administration, he is reported to be worth north of $100 million. If you missed the media's passing mention last month, Clinton finally released her income tax returns. Turns out she's worth about $109 million. Civil servants, huh? Servants never had it so good. All the past presidents and vice presidents combined probably don't have the wealth of the Gores and Clintons.

As a side note, Gore closed GIM's second "green" fund, Climate Solutions Fund, in April at $683 million. The first fund, Global Equity Strategy Fund, has invested $2.2 billion in large companies judged to have, from an environmental, social and economic viewpoint, a "sustainable" business. I wonder, can any of the companies that Gore is investing billions in help him and his Nashville mansion use less than 10 times the amount of energy the average American household uses? But don't worry, he's using compact fluorescents in his house, so it's ok to use 10 times as much energy as everyone else.

Speaking of Gore's waste and gluttony, I wonder how ginormous his carbon footprint was while he was jetting around the world promoting his lie/movie and trying to convince everyone to invest in his companies. It was reported in April that An Inconvenient Truth used computer-generated footage from the movie The Day After Tomorrow to show a crumbling ice shelf. Those are the kinds of deceptions necessary when trying to convince the world of a lie. Just as Nazi Propaganda Chief Joseph Goebbels said, "[T]ell a lie enough and it becomes accepted as truth."

As well as that has worked for Gore, support for his "planet in peril" mantra is eroding faster than he claims the ice caps are. In 2007 a British court held that, in order for his lie/movie to be shown to school children, "eleven inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of the [students]." Among those inaccuracies, the court ruled, was that rises in CO2 lagged behind temperature rises by 800-2,000 years; that despite the movie's claim, it is a scientific impossibility for global warming to cause the Gulf Steam to stop flowing; and that, while the movie claims sea levels could rise 23 feet, the evidence showed sea levels are expected to rise 15 inches over the next 100 years.

If you believe Gore, we shouldn't even bother buying green bananas, the end is so close at hand. Gore should have won his Oscar for the best mockumentary, not documentary, of 2007.

The idea of exposing the lies behind global warming in courtrooms is catching on in the U.S. also. John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, published an article in ICECAP last year in which he called global warming the greatest scam in history. Coleman added, "[S]ome dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long-term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the `research' to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus."

Coleman didn't stop there. On March 3, while attending the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York he said the following: "I have a feeling this is the opening. If the lawyers will take the case - sue the people who sell carbon credits, that includes Al Gore - that lawsuit would get so much publicity, so much media attention. And as the experts went to the witness stand and testified, I feel like that could become the vehicle to finally put some light on the fraud of global warming." Well, it worked in Britain.

Another famous Albert (Einstein), this one with a background in math and science, however, once noted that the consensus of a 100 scientists is undone by one fact. Steve McIntyre and a team of volunteers noticed some inconsistencies and an unusual discontinuity in the US temperature data used for climate modeling. When they asked NASA's Hanson for the algorithm, he refused. (All in the name of science and consensus, I'm sure.) McIntyre and his team reverse-engineered it. What they found was a jump in many locations, all occurring around January 2000. As previously noted, NASA has released corrected data.

Hanson can't even fix the Y2K glitch in his climate model, and we're supposed to radically change global lifestyles and economics based on his numbers? Joseph D'Aleo, the first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel and former chief of the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecast, says that "carbon dioxide (CO2) is 0.000383 of our atmosphere by volume. . . Only 0.0275 of atmospheric CO2 is [man-made] in origin. . . We are responsible for 0.00001 of this atmosphere. If the atmosphere were a 100-story building, our [man-made] CO2 contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor."

Do we really want to spend a trillion dollars on linoleum? "We've been warming up about a degree per century since the Little Ice Age (LIA) in about 1600. We've been warming for 400 years, long before human-generated CO2 could have anything to do with the climate," says Dr. Don Easterbrook, Professor Emeritus Geology, Western Washington University.

Dr. Easterbrook is not alone in his opinion. Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, opines "[O]f course it's going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we're coming out of the LIA, not because we are putting more carbon dioxide into the air."

On December 13, 2007, 100 scientists (often referred to as the Bali-100) wrote an open letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Li-Moon, in New York, NY. Among other things, the letter made three significant declarations: 1. "[R]ecent observations of phenomena such as glacial retreats, sea-level rise and the migration of temperature-sensitive species are not evidence for abnormal climate change, for none of these changes has been shown to lie outside the bounds of known natural variability. 2. The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century fall within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years. 3. Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today's computer models cannot predict climate. Consistent with this, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling."

The letter continued, "In stark contrast to the oft repeated assertion that the science of climate change is `settled,' significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming. But, because these IPCC working groups were generally instructed to consider work published only through May 2005, these important findings are not included in their reports; i.e., the IPCC assessment reports are already materially outdated."

In case you are wondering, these are not some lunatic-fringe, pseudo-scientists. Of the 100 signatories to that letter, 85 hold a PhD. They closed the letter by saying, "[A]ttemps to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems."

On March 4, at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, more than 500 scientists closed the conference with what is referred to as the Manhattan Declaration. In short, they declared that "global climate has always changed and always will, independent of the actions of humans, and that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant but rather a necessity for all life. . . There is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change. . . Now, therefore, we recommend that world leaders reject the view expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided, works such as An Inconvenient Truth."

How many of you heard or read about these declarations in the mainstream media? Is this the consensus that Saint Gore and his co-conspirators in the media speak of?

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Maine's tourism industry suffering due to 'unseasonably cool' weather

August is usually the busiest month of the year for Maine's tourism industry. With August off to a soggy start, there are a lot of long faces in Vacationland. Fleece and sweatshirts have replaced bikinis at Old Orchard Beach and no one's buying ice cream. Instead, it's rained 10 of the last 11 days and it's unseasonably cool.

Who's counting? Families on vacation, that's who. "A little depressing so far ha. It would have been nice to go to Aquaboggan today." Instead Dad had to break the bad news to Melanie, Alex and Nathan--the waterpark was closed due to weather. Staying closed on a lucrative 10-dollar Monday means 20 to 30 thousand dollars down the tubes..And in Aquaboggan's short nine week season, they can't make that money back.

While bad weather tends to scare off last minute travelers, vacationers who've booked ahead usually forge ahead. They string up the blue tarp at the campground and try to make the best of it.


Global Warming Hoax: A Skeptical Beginner's Guide

When you landed on this site, you most likely made an effort to search for an alternate take on global warming - the one the mainstream media and Al Gore won't tell you. However, you may be new to the entire subject of the global warming hoax and need a primer without having to read the vast library of information contained on There are several major subjects up for debate, unlike what Al Gore tells you, on the topic of climate change. This two-part article will attempt to provide guidance, from a skeptical point of view, of each subject trumpeted by the global warming activists.

Each of these talking points have been touted by the media and the global warming crowd as proof that the world is going to end and all civilization as we know it will be wiped from the face of the planet if we don't act soon. By "proof" they mean "possible observations at a specific point-in-time that may have changed to no longer support the global warming cause so we'll just keep repeating old data until you believe it." By "the world is going to end" they mean "sea levels are going to rise one foot over the next 100 years, but we'll say 20 feet just to scare them". "All civilization as we know it will be wiped from the face of the planet" really means "the poor that can't afford to move away from low-lying areas may have their homes flooded if there's a really, really high tide". And "act soon" really means "more taxes". Got it so far? Good. Let's move on to the talking points.

Global Warming Activist Point #1: Arctic ice is melting, which will force polar bears into extinction.

Global Warming Skeptic Rebuttal: If the Arctic ice is melting, a recent study found that it may be due to natural causes. However, the Winter of 2007-2008 showed that the Arctic ice refreezed at a record rate, but the records have only been kept for 25 years. Also, ice coverage between 2006 and 2007 went from 13 million square kilometers in the winter to 4 million square kilometers in the summer back to 13 million square kilometers the following winter. So no scientist can truly tell you that the Arctic ice, in an unprecedented move, is going to melt away and flood the world. There isn't enough data available to understand the median ice coverage. Oh, and polar bear thing? An global warming activist was caught passing off photos of polar bears clinging to shrinking winter icebergs when the photo was actually taken in the summer.

Global Warming Activist Point #2: Antarctic ice is melting, which will flood the planet.

Global Warming Skeptic Rebuttal: Antarctic ice is GROWING on three sides of the continent. They don't tell you that on the news. The best example of disputing this claim is the work of an early 1900's explorer that visited Antarctica. His claims state that parts of the continent that were water back in 1915 are now ice. With all of the carbon dioxide pumped into the air between 1915 and today, shouldn't the same area of Antarctica remain in liquid form?

Global Warming Activist Point #3: All of the warming has occurred since 1940, so it must be due to carbon dioxide output.

Global Warming Skeptic Rebuttal: Al Gore presented the now infamous "hockey stick" graph that depicted a relatively low temperature period before making a significant jump north during the era of industrialization. Unfortunately for Gore and the global warming activists, it's been warmer on this planet before as is evidenced in a graph on this website. The warming and cooling of the Earth appear cyclical and, over the long run, does not appear to have any direct correlation to CO2 levels.

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Australian property buyers not worried by global warming

The threat of rising sea levels caused by climate change is not putting off cashed-up Australians from spending big on blue-chip beachfront property. Real estate agents say that dire predictions about the hungry sea swallowing up coastal suburbs seem to be falling on deaf ears. Demand for high-end beach property is holding up despite overall market softness due to a slowing economy and tanking share market. Buyers are either ignoring the experts or don't believe them.

A record was set on the Central Coast when a deceased estate in Pacific Dr, facing Wamberal Beach, offered for the first time in 70 years, sold for $6.2 million. Another picture-perfect beachfront home at Narrabeen, earmarked by scientists as the Sydney suburb most vulnerable to rising sea levels, sold last month for $4.03 million -- 20 per cent up on the price it fetched three years ago.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicts sea levels will rise between 18cm and 59cm over the next 92 years, and another 10cm to 20cm if ice sheets melt faster. For every centimetre the sea rises, scientists say, the beach retreats 1m -- so, by the end of the century, the worst-case scenario is that properties within 80m of the beach will be under water.

But real estate agent Jack Elsegood, an expert in northern beaches property, said there was no sign buyers were worried. "They understand there is a threat but, while it exists, it's not going to be in their lifetime or maybe even in their children's,'' he said.

Oceanographer Dr John Hunter, from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart, said some people did not to want to face the problem. "People want to live by the sea and a lot of them will take these risks,'' he said. "They'll accept them, hoping a solution can be found. (They think) perhaps a sea wall can be built.'' Dr Hunter said it was wrong to think the problems posed by rising sea levels were years away. [Even though sea-levels have stopped rising recently?]



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

APS, A thought-free zone

Below is the substance of a communication received from The Right Honourable The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

The American Physical Society ceased to be a scientific body and became a mere pressure-group when, in 2007, it adopted "National Policy 07.1" on climate change, reproduced in full below. The "policy" cites not a single scientific authority: it is a purely political manifesto whose tendentious conclusions are materially at odds with scientific theory and with observed reality.
"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

"Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth's climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases."

A scientifically accurate revision of the APS' "National Policy" on "Climate Change" is below
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities have increased the proportion of the atmosphere occupied by carbon dioxide by one-ten-thousandth part since 1750 (Keeling & Whorf, 2004, updated). This minuscule perturbation may cause a small, harmless, and beneficial warming (Monckton, 2008). Greenhouse gases also include water vapor, the most significant greenhouse gas because of its volume, and methane, of which the atmospheric concentration ceased to increase in 2000 and is now declining (IPCC, 2007). Greenhouse gases are not pollutants, but occur naturally in quantities greater than those emitted from fossil fuel combustion and industrial and agricultural processes.

The evidence is incontrovertible: global cooling is occurring (GISStemp, HadCRU, RSS, UAH, NCDC). Though a natural warming trend of ~0.5 øC per century began in 1700, long before humankind could possibly have had any significant effect on global temperature (Akasofu, 2008), there has been no new record year for global temperature since 1998 and, since late 2001, there has been a downtrend. The cooling between January 2007 and January 2008 was the sharpest since records began in 1880.

Therefore no action need be taken to mitigate "global warming", for there is no evidence in the instrumental record that humankind has caused any significant increase in the 300-year-long natural warming rate, and no theoretical reason why future greenhouse-gas emissions should prove harmful. In any event, mitigating actions would be orders of magnitude less cost-effective than adaptation as, and if, necessary (all economists except Stern, 2006). The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was ~18 times today's in the Cambrian era (IPCC, 2001). Humankind was not responsible - we were not there. The planet came to no harm. Significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are unlikely to occur.

Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate long-run prediction impossible (Lorenz, 1963), the APS urges caution in relying upon computer models when making long-term climate predictions. There is no basis for the oft-repeated contention that the effects of human activity on the Earth's climate are likely to be great enough to influence the future climate. The APS therefore urges governments and peoples to provide the technological options for meeting real short-term and long-term environmental challenges, of which "global warming" from greenhouse-gas enrichment is not one. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the current official misinformation and unscientific alarmism about emission of greenhouse gases.

Climate realists' weekend sports sampler


Here's a news flash: someone is actually shivering at the Olympics. Beijing was supposed to be hotter than Amanda Beard, but yesterday, the rain poured down on the women's cycling road race.

The odds of somebody quivering in the cold at the Beijing Olympics were about as long as Yao Ming's inseam, but the lips of Canadian cyclist Leigh Hobson were trembling in a finish-line interview after she placed an impressive 17th on her 38th birthday. What do you have to say now, David Suzuki?


With unseasonably cool temperatures dipping into the mid-60s Sunday night at Wrigley Field, Edmonds received three standing ovations in a 6-2 victory over St. Louis, including one in the second inning for flying out and advancing a runner...

On a crisp night that felt more like early October than the dog days of August, Edmonds almost managed to upstage Ryan Dempster...


An unseasonably cool August morning and a highly competive field that featured many of the area's best distance runners were the catalysts for record-setting performances at the third annual Dog Days 5K in Gypsy Hill Park on Saturday.


Gerald Mosse took the starring role on Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup day at Ascot when leading his European team to victory as well as collecting the Silver Saddle trophy for leading rider.

Despite damp conditions and unseasonably cold weather for the height of summer, over 33,000 turned out to enjoy the annual four-team jockeys' competition which drew riders from across the globe.


New poll shows CO2 hysteria fading in the U.S.

Actual poll results are here. A few notes:

Only 25% (question 2) of those surveyed thought that global warming was the world's single biggest environmental problem (multiple responses accepted). This is down from 33% last year.

Only 30% (question 3) trust the things that scientists say about the environment "completely" or "a lot".

Only 33% (question 8) thought that a rise in the world's temperatures was caused by "things people do", down from 41% last year.

Only 33% (question 18) thought that "most scientists" agree with one another about the causes of global warming, and only 33% thought that "most scientists" agree with one another about how much of a threat global warming poses.


Scientists debate whether we're changing the climate

The global warming debate isn't likely to cool off anytime soon, with experts disagreeing about its causes, and even its existence. What you hear about global warming can vary as much as, well, the weather. One day, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is quoted saying: "We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late. The science is clear. The global warming debate is over."

Another day, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says this: "Americans are coming to understand that global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10."

On another day, dozens of papers proclaim that the sun is at fault, since the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research demonstrated that the sun has burned brighter in the last 60 years than any time in the last 1,100 years, or 8,000 years, depending on the news source.

Most climatologists maintain that global warming is real and human activity is likely the major contributor. They believe that as we release more CO2 into the atmosphere, the planet will get hotter. The contradictory statements tend to cluster around a couple of sticking points: the heating trend over the last few years, the influence of the sun, and the lessons from the distant past.

Where there's good agreement is laid out by MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen, a critic of Al Gore and others he considers alarmists. In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal several years ago called "Climate of Fear," he wrote that he agrees that global temperature has risen about a degree (Celsius) since the late 19th century. He also agrees with most other climatologists that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by about 30 percent over the same period, and that CO2 should contribute to future warming, thanks to basic atmospheric physics.

Lindzen, however, said in a recent interview that the carbon dioxide buildup may not be causing the current warming trend, and it therefore may not play a significant role in the future climate. And the trend may already have turned around, he said. "If you look from 1995 you don't see any change that could be regarded as statistically significant . . . . For the last 13 or 14 years nothing has been happening."

Pennsylvania State University climatologist Richard Alley said the recent cooling claim is everywhere. If you search for the phrase "global warming stopped in 1998," you get thousands of hits, and he's most recently heard this argument from U.S. senators. He called it "cheating" to start in 1998 and then pick some subsequent cooler year to argue for cooling. It's a little like taking your first measurements in July and your last ones in January, he said. To understand the climate, you have to look at longer-scale trends, he said, smoothing out those little ripples known as weather. Over the long term, he said, it's getting hotter. "If you take the last 30 years, it's completely evident that it's going up," he said of the global temperature.

But could it be the work of the sun? Solar physicists say the sun has been temperamental in the past, and flare-ups and calm periods have rocked the climate. One clue to the sun's variability comes from the Little Ice Age, during the 17th and 18th centuries, when Europe and North America were much colder and snowier than they are today. During that time, astronomers noted a nearly complete absence of sunspots, said atmospheric physicist Peter Pilewskie from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Called the Maunder Minimum, he said, the coincidence of this spotless period on the sun with the notable chill of the ice age suggests a sun-climate connection.

Could the sun be getting warmer? If that were so, Pilewskie said it would be unlikely to account for more than a fraction of the observed warming trend. With satellites, scientists have been able to record the total radiation emitted by the sun, and found it has changed very little in the last 30 years.

But those records only go back so far. Several years ago, a team from Germany's Max Planck institute published a paper showing that carbon isotopes trapped in tree rings reveal unprecedented solar activity during the 20th century. Carbon 14, a heavy form of carbon, is formed when cosmic rays from outer space impact carbon on the Earth. The greater the solar activity, the more the sun's magnetic field deflects the cosmic rays and the less carbon 14 should be stored in tree rings. According to the Max Planck team, we've been experiencing more solar activity in the last 100 years than we did for the last 8,000 years.

Judith Lean, a solar physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, calls that conclusion erroneous. She said the isotopes also vary much more with changes in the Earth's own magnetic field and processes on the Earth, thus complicating the analysis. She said the consensus among solar physicists now is that the sun is in a relatively warm phase, but nothing unprecedented and not hot enough to have raised the temperature a degree in the last century.

The other major point of contention surrounds the Earth's erratic climate history, with its many ice ages and long steamy periods. Lindzen argues that the climate is ultimately unstable, and so we should expect constant change regardless of human-generated carbon dioxide. Many factors can influence climate on time scales long and short. Slight fluctuations in the Earth's distance from the sun have periodically conspired with the angle of the planet's tilt to create ice ages over the course of the last five million years.

More ancient hot periods that lasted millions of years are raising bigger questions. About 95 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs, for example, it was so warm that alligators lived in what's now Canada and tropical trees grew as far north as Greenland. Dinosaurs roamed where penguins and polar bears live today.

It looks as if it would take about eight times today's atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to make things that hot, said Brian Huber, who studies past climate for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "This is a challenge for climate modelers - we don't fully understand it," he said. But it could be that CO2 has a greater warming power than previously realized, in which case we will be in for a more severe global warming than has been predicted, Huber said.

To Lindzen, the inability to fully account for past warm spells makes it hard to trust predictions of our near-term future. "If we knew the answer to things like this, one would have more confidence." Lindzen takes the view that the climate doesn't need human intervention to change over the course of decades or centuries. "The whole notion that something outside has to cause a change is absurd," he said. "The system is never in equilibrium; it's always wobbly."

But Penn State's Alley said CO2 from volcanoes looks to be the prime suspect for the warm spells of the distant past, and fossil-fuel burning is by far the most likely driver of current trends. "We've looked at the sun. Volcanoes are not doing anything weird. The oceans can dump heat into the atmosphere, but they're getting warmer too," he said.

Perhaps some of the disagreement boils down to a philosophical difference. Some fret over the pace of humanity's impact on the planet, and consider the cautious approach to be to hold off on further changing our atmosphere. Others are comfortable with the notion of human beings altering the global atmosphere, and argue the cautious approach would be to avoid changing our way of life until we know more.


The Columbia Journalism Review's Division Over Dissent

When does dissent become Untruth and lose the rights and respect due to "legitimate dissent"? Who decides-and how-what dissent deserves to be heard and what doesn't? When do journalists have to "protect" readers from Untruth masking itself as dissent or skepticism?

I found myself thinking about this when I came across an unexpected disjunction in the July/August issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. The issue leads off with a strong, sharply worded editorial called "The Dissent Deficit." (It's not online, but it should be.) In it, the magazine, a publication of the Columbia School of Journalism-and thus a semi-official upholder of standards in the semi-official profession of journalism-argues clearly and unequivocally that allowing dissent to be heard and understood is part of a journalist's mission.

The editorial contends that doing so sometimes requires looking beyond the majority consensus as defined by the media on the basis of a few sound bites and paying extra attention to dissenting views, because they often present important challenges to conventional wisdom on urgent issues that deserve a hearing.The editorial deplores the way that journalism has lately been failing in this mission: "Rather than engage speech that strays too far from the dangerously narrow borders of our public discourse, the gatekeepers of that discourse-our mass media-tend to effectively shout it down, marginalize it, or ignore it."

So true. The editorial offers the media's treatment of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a dissident whose views, particularly on American foreign policy's responsibility for 9/11, have gotten no more than sound-bite treatment, as an example. I found that the editorial gave the best short summary of Wright's view of "black liberation theology," especially the concept of "transformation," and made a strong case that Wright and his views deserve attention rather than derision. He shouldn't be erased from public discourse with the excuse that we've "moved on," that we're all "post-racial" now.

The CJR editorial encourages journalists not to marginalize dissenters, however unpopular or out of step. Implicit are the notions that today's dissenters can become tomorrow's majority, that our nation was founded on dissent, that the Bill of Rights (and especially the First Amendment) was written by dissenters, for dissenters. That the journalistic profession deserves what respect it retains not for being the stenographers of the Official Truth but for conveying dissent and debate.

It was troubling, then, to find, in an article in the very same issue of CJR, an argument that seems to me to unmistakably marginalize certain kinds of dissent. The contention appears in an article called, with deceptive blandness, "Climate Change: What's Next?" The article doesn't present itself as a marginalizer of dissent. It rather presents itself as a guide for "green journalists" on what aspects of climate change should be covered now that the Truth about "global warming"-whether it's real, and whether it's mainly caused by humans-is known.

About two-thirds of the story offers tips and warnings like "watch out for techno-optimism." Alas, the author doesn't inspire confidence that she takes her own warnings to heart. The very first paragraph of her story contains a classic of credulous "techno-optimism":
... a decade from now, Abu Dhabi hopes to have the first city in the world with zero carbon emissions. In a windswept stretch of desert, developers plan to build Masdar city, a livable environment for fifty thousand people that relies entirely on solar power and other renewable energy.

All that's missing from the breathless, real-estate-brochure prose is a plug for the 24-hour health club and the concierge service for condo owners.

But, the article tells us, the danger of "techno-optimism" pales before the perils of handling dissent. The first problem in the evaluation of what dissent should be heard is how certain we are about the truth. If we know the truth, why allow dissent from it into journalism? But who decides when we've reached that point of certainty? In any case, as the author's Abu Dhabi effusion suggests, there's no lack of certainty about what the Official Truth is in her mind:
"After several years of stumbling, mainstream science and environmental coverage has generally adopted the scientific consensus that increases in heat-trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels and tropical deforestation are changing the planet's climate, causing adverse effects even more rapidly than had been predicted.

She's correct in saying that this is the consensus, that most journalists now accept what's known as the "anthropogenic theory" of global warming: that it is our carbon footprint that is the key cause of global warming, rather than-as a few scientists still argue-changes in solar activity, slight changes in the tilt of the earth's axis, the kinds of climate change that the earth constantly experienced long before man lit the first coal-burning plant.

But here lies danger, "a danger that the subtleties of the science, and its uncertainty, might be missed by reporters unfamiliar with the territory," especially when confronted with "studies that contradict one another." Faced with conflicting studies, she tells us, "scientists look for consistency among several reports before concluding something is true."

This is, frankly, a misunderstanding or misstating of the way science works. She seems to be confusing consensus among scientists and scientific truth. They are two different things. The history of science repeatedly shows a "consensus" being overturned by an unexpected truth that dissents from the consensus. Scientific truth has continued to evolve, often in unexpected ways, and scientific consensus always remains "falsifiable," to use Karl Popper's phrase, one any science reporter should be familiar with. All the more reason for reporting on scientific dissent, one would think.

Yet when I read her description of how science proceeds, it seems to me she is suggesting science proceeds by a vote: Whoever who has the greatest number of consistent papers-papers that agree with him or her-"wins." As in, has the Truth.

In fact, the history of science frequently demonstrates that science proceeds when contradictory-dissenting-studies provoke more studies, encourage rethinking rather than being marginalized by "the consensus" or the "consistency" of previous reports. Indeed, the century's foremost historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, believed, as even "green" reporters should know, that science often proceeds by major unexpected shifts: Just when an old consensus congealed, new dissenting, contradictory reports heralded a "paradigm shift" that often ended up tossing the old "consensus" into the junk bin.

If it hadn't been for the lone dissenting voice of that crazy guy in the Swiss patent office with his papers on "relativity," we still might believe the "consensus" that Newtonian mechanics explained a deterministic universe. And what about Ignaz Semmelweis and his lone crusade against the "consensus" that doctors need not wash their hands before going from an infected to an uninfected patient? Or the nutty counterintuitive dissenting idea of vaccination? The consensus was wrong. In fact, science proceeds by overturning consensus.

Sometimes the consensus proves to be long-lasting, but in science, any consensus, even the new consensus that formed around relativity, is subject to the challenges of Popper's "falsifiability." But even if-or because-not all truths in science are final, argument about what the truth is, and competition among competing ideas, often helps us to get closer to it.

But our CJR author appears to believe that the green consensus, the anthropogenic theory of global warming, has some special need to be protected from doubters and dissenters, and that reporters who don't do their job to insulate it are not being "helpful." When faced with dissent from the sacrosanct green consensus, the author, as we'll see, argues that the "helpful" reporter must always show the dissenters are wrong if they are to be given any attention at all.

This was the contention that stunned me-that reporters must protect us from dissent -especially in light of the CJR editorial deploring the "dangerously narrow borders of our public discourse."

The contention that reporters must be "helpful" in protecting us from dissent is best understood in the context of the "no last word" anecdote in which the author tells us of the way your loyal green reporter must manage conflicting reports. She tells the story of a report that indicated the rest of the century would bring fewer hurricanes. It was important to her that "experienced" green journalists were able to cite other reports that there would be "more and more powerful hurricanes." She praises a reporter who concludes his story "with a scientist's caveat": "We don't regard this [new, fewer-hurricane report] as the last word on this topic."

So, "no last word" is the way to go. Except when it isn't. We learn this as the CJR writer slaps the wrist of a local TV station for allowing "skeptics" to be heard without someone representing the consensus being given the last word. "Last year," she writes, "a meteorologist at CBS's Chicago station did a special report that featured local scientists discussing the hazards of global warming in one segment, well-known national skeptics in another, and ended with a cop-out: 'What is the truth about global warming? It depends on who you talk to.' " In other words, no last word. Bad CBS affiliate, bad! "Not helpful, and not good reporting" she tells us. "The he-said, she-said reporting just won't do."

Setting aside for a moment, if you can, the sanctimonious tone of the knuckle rapping ("just won't do"), there are two ways to interpret this no-no, both objectionable, both anti-dissent.

One implication is that these "nationally known skeptics" should never have been given air time in the first place because the debate is over, the Truth is known, their dissent has no claim on our attention; their dissent is, in fact, pernicious.

The second way of reading her "not helpful" condemnation is that if one allows dissenters on air to express their dissent, the approach shouldn't be "he-said, she-said." No, the viewers must be protected from this pernicious dissent. We should get "he-said, she-said, but he (or she) is wrong, and here is the correct way to think."

It may be that believers in anthropogenic global warming are right. I have no strong position on the matter, aside from agreeing with the CJR editorial that there's a danger in narrowing the permissible borders of dissent. But I take issue with the author's contention that the time for dissent has ended. "The era of 'equal time' for skeptics who argue that global warming is just a result of natural variation and not human intervention seems to be largely over-except on talk radio, cable, and local television," she tells us.

And of course we all know that the Truth is to be found only on networks and major national print outlets. Their record has been nigh unto infallible.

But wait! I think I've found an insidious infiltration of forbidden dissent in the citadel of Truth that the CJR writer neglected to condemn. One of the environmental reporters the writer speaks of reverently, the New York Times' Andy Revkin, runs the Times' Dot Earth blog and features on his blogroll a hotbed of "just won't do" climate-change skeptics: the Climate Debate Daily blog (an offshoot of the highly respected Arts & Letters Daily). Revkin provides no protective warning to the reader that he will be entering the realm of verboten dissent from the Consensus.

I find Climate Debate Daily a particularly important site precisely because it does give "equal time" to different arguments about climate change. Take a look at it. It's just two lists of links, one of reports and studies that support the consensus view and one of studies that don't. No warnings on the site about what is True and what constitutes Dangerous Dissent. Exactly the sort of thing that our CJR reporter says is just not done.

And yet one cannot read the site without believing there are dissents from the consensus by scientists who deserve a hearing, if only so that their theses can be disproved. Check out, for instance, this work by an Australian scientist who was once charged with enforcing limits on greenhouse gases by the government but who now has changed his mind on the issue! It happens perhaps more often than "green journalists" let us know.

At a dinner recently, I listened as Nick Lemann, the dean of Columbia's J-school, talked about the difficulty the school had in helping the students get the hang of "structuring an inquiry." At the heart of structuring an inquiry, he said, was the need to "find the arguments." Not deny the arguments. Find them, explore them.

But which arguments? It's a fascinating subject that I've spent some time considering. My last two books, Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars, were, in part anyway, efforts to decide which of the myriad arguments about and dissenting visions of each of these figures was worth pursuing. For instance, with Hitler, after investigating, I wanted to refute the myth (often used in a heavy-handed way by anti-Semites) that Hitler was part Jewish. The risk is that in giving attention to the argument, one can spread it even while refuting it. But to ignore it was worse.

Perhaps this is what our green journalist with her tsk-tsking really fears, and it's a legitimate fear. But I'd argue that journalists should be on the side of vigorous argument, not deciding for readers what is truth and then not exposing them to certain arguments.

In my Shakespeare book, I mentioned-but didn't devote time to-what I regarded as the already well-refuted argument that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays in the canon. This doesn't mean I would stop others from arguing about it; it just is my belief that it wasn't worth the attention and that since life was short, one would be better off spending one's time rereading the plays than arguing over who wrote them. In any case, the fate of the earth was not at stake.

But the argument over the green consensus does matter: If the green alarmists are right, we will have to turn our civilization inside out virtually overnight to save ourselves. One would like to know this is based on good, well-tested science, not mere "consensus."

Skepticism is particularly important and particularly worth attention from journalists. Especially considering the abysmal record green journalists have on the ethanol fiasco.

Here we should give the CJR reporter credit where due: She does include perhaps the single most important question that such an article could ask, one I haven't heard asked by most mainstream enviro-cheerleader media: [W]here were the skeptical scientists, politicians and journalists earlier, when ethanol was first being promoted in Congress?

Indeed I don't remember reading a lot of "dissent" on the idea. Shouldn't it have occurred to someone green that taking acreage once capable of producing food on a planet with hundreds of millions of starving people and using it to lower the carbon footprint of your SUV might end up causing the deaths of those who lack food or the means to pay the soaring prices of ethanol-induced shortage? But it doesn't seem to occur to her that the delegitimizing of dissent she encourages with her "just won't do" sanctimony might have been responsible for making reporters fearful of being "greenlisted" for dissenting from The Consensus at the time.

I think it's time for "green reporters," the new self-promoting subprofession, to take responsibility for the ethanol fiasco. Go back into their files and show us the stories they wrote that carry a hint that there might be a downside to taking food out of the mouths of the hungry. Those who fail the test-who didn't speak out, even on "talk radio, cable TV or local news"-shouldn't be so skeptical about skeptics.

I'd suggest they all be assigned to read the CJR editorial about protecting dissent and the danger of "narrowing the borders" of what is permissible. The problem is, as Freeman Dyson, one of the great scientists of our age, put it in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, environmentalism can become a religion, and religions always seek to silence or marginalize heretics. CJR has been an invaluable voice in defending that aspect of the First Amendment dealing with the freedom of the press; it should be vigilant about the other aspect that forbids the establishment of a religion.


Climate Change: Breaking the "Political Consensus"

The purpose of this report is to examine the science behind climate change so as to better understand the issue at hand, and thus, to be able to make an informed decision on how to handle the issue. The primary aim here is to examine climate change from a perspective not often heard in media or government channels; that of climate change being a natural phenomenon, not the result of man-made carbon emissions.

The "Science" of Consensus

When addressing the issue of climate change, it is important to understand that climatic change is an important field of study in science. However, it is not an exact science, like all sciences. Our understanding of the climatic sciences is always changing, just as our understanding of all sciences changes. If our understanding of science does not change, we would still think that the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around our little planet. When these great achievements in science were first discovered, the scientists who discovered them were attacked, denounced, or even imprisoned.

There is an enormous political, social and economic interest in a scientific consensus, because it determines our understanding of our environment and all that is in it, including humanity, itself. A challenge to a perceived consensus is a challenge to all the powers in human society, as it can take a person's understanding of the world we live in, and flip it upside down.

This encourages people to think "outside the box," fosters creativity and to be critical thinkers. This can ultimately threaten any power structure, as people may come to understand the forces that seek to control our lives. A consensus is an amazing tool in the hands of elites to control and manipulate people. And challenging a consensus is an amazing tool for people to remain free and independent thinkers.

This does not mean that any perceived consensus is inaccurate or completely manipulated. But it is important to understand how such a consensus can be used. It is also vital to understand that without questioning and challenging a scientific consensus, science would never advance. The key to scientific discovery is being able to change your perspective as the science changes. This is why debate on climate change must not be simply reduced to a one-sided debate; those who "know there is a problem," and those who are "deniers." All sides must be heard, so that we can come to a better understanding of the issue.

We hear consistently the one side of the debate, that climate change is caused by increased Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and that humans are the greatest contributor of this toxic greenhouse gas, and thus, the greatest contributor to climate change, and that there will be catastrophic consequences as a result. I hope to give voice to the other side of the debate.

A Brief Climate History

First of all, it is important to note that climate change is not new. There has always been climate change, and there will always be climate change. After all, there was a period known as the Ice Age, which was a long-term period of reduction in global temperatures. This expanded the continental ice sheets and glaciers. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were created in this period. The ice age left its imprint upon our environment, forming valleys, fjords, rock formations, and the like as glaciers advanced across the continents. As they receded when the ice age passed, it left the landscape altered and free for plant growth and life to flourish. The Great Lakes between Canada and the United States were carved out by ice. Following the Ice Age, the Holocene period began roughly 12,000 B.C. All human civilization has occurred within the Holocene period.

During the Holocene period, there was both global warming and cooling periods, which have lasted until today. During the period of 10,000 to 8500 BC, there was a slight cooling period known as the Younger-Dryas. However, that passed, and between 5000 and 3000 B.C., temperatures increased to a level higher than today. This period is referred to as the Climatic Optimum. It was during this warming period in history that Earth's first great human civilizations began to flourish, such as ancient African civilizations around the Nile.

Between 3000 and 2000 B.C., a cooling period occurred, resulting in a drop in sea levels, from which islands such as the Bahamas emerged. There was a subsequent warming period between 2000 and 1500 B.C., again followed by a cool period, which led to glacial growth. The Roman Empire (150 B.C. - 300 A.D.) occurred during a cooling period, which went until roughly 900 A.D. During the period of 900 A.D. until 1200 A.D., a warming period occurred known as the Medieval Warming Period, or Little Climatic Optimum, which was warmer than today, allowing settlements to flourish in Greenland and Iceland.

Then a cooling period followed and between 1550 and 1850, temperatures were colder than at any other time since the end of the previous Ice Age, leading to what has been called the Little Ice Age. Since 1850, there has been a general warming period.

CO2 and Temperature

This latest warming period has also coincided with the Industrial Revolution, which saw the greatest output of human induced CO2, leading many, like Al Gore, to compare the rise in CO2 levels with the rise in temperatures, drawing a conclusion that the rise in CO2 in the earth's atmosphere was the determining factor in the rise in temperatures. However, if one studies statistics and how to read and interpret stats and graphs, one of the primary lessons is that correlation does not imply causation. Simply put, two factors lining up on a graph, does not necessarily imply that there is a cause and effect relationship. One could take a graph of increases in temperatures and increases in the consumption of peanuts, and they may line up. However, common sense will tell us that eating peanuts does not increase global temperatures. Simply because there appears to be a correlation between the two, that does not imply that there is a cause and effect relationship.

When it comes to CO2, however, there is a much more important factor to analyze than simply statistical interpretation. Al Gore popularized the CO2/temperature connection in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, in which he showed the correlation between the two on a graph. However, he interpreted the graph as evidence of a cause and effect relationship. His information came from an ice core sample related to CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. However, paleoclimatologist and earth sciences professor at USC, Lowell Stott, released findings of a study in September of 2007, which concluded that, "Deep-sea temperatures warmed about 1,300 years before the tropical surface ocean and well before the rise in atmospheric CO2" at the ending of the last ice age, which "suggests the rise in greenhouse gas was likely a result of warming," not the cause of warming.[3]

As well as this, an ice core sample of air bubbles in 2003, "revealed a precise record of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations" and concluded that, "the CO increase lagged Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 +/- 200 years and preceded the Northern Hemisphere deglaciation." Simply put, the analysis of the ice core samples, published in Science Magazine, reported that CO2 increases lagged behind temperature increases by roughly 800 years.

In statistics, this is what is called a "lurking variable," meaning a hidden variable that can have an outcome on the results of a statistic without having been taken into consideration in the statistic's interpretation. For example, Al Gore's graph showed a correlation between CO2 increases and temperature increases. The interpretation he gave was that the correlation implied causation; that because they lined up, there was an established relationship, and that relationship was defined as CO2 increases driving temperature. However, the lurking variable was that he did not take into consideration whether CO2 followed temperature increases, as the ice core samples have shown, but he rather chose to conclude that because they line up on a graph, CO2 is therefore the driver. This is bad science and statistical analysis at best, or intentional political deception at worst.....

What Causes Climate Change?

If CO2 increases lag behind temperature increases, it does not make sense that CO2 can be the cause of temperature increases. It would be the equivalent of saying that growing older is caused by the graying of hair; there appears to be a cause and effect relationship, it is just of vital importance to understand which is the cause and which is the effect. So, from here we must examine what some major causes of climatic change can be.

The most important factor in climatic changes is what is called solar variations. This refers to radiation emitted from the Sun and its variations, in particular, the sunspot cycle. Sunspot cycles are the irregular rises and drops in the number of sunspots, which are regions on the Sun's surface, which have lower temperatures than its surrounding area and strong magnetic fields. The cycles tend to last 11 years.

An important thing to note is that Earth is not the only planet that experiences climate change, as in 2002, it was reported that Pluto was "undergoing global warming in its thin atmosphere," likely due to it's orbit, which, "significantly changes the planet's distance from the Sun during its long `year,' which lasts 248 Earth years."[14] In 2006, it was reported that a new storm on Jupiter could indicate that the planet is "in the midst of a global change that can modify temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit." As far back as 1998, it was reported that Neptune's largest moon, Triton, "has been undergoing a period of global warming," since 1989.[16] This could have much to do with the fact that, as reported in 1997, the "Sun is getting hotter," leading some scientists to say that Earth's global warming "is part of a natural cycle for the planet."

In 2004, the Telegraph reported that, "Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research." The study, conducted by Swiss and German scientists, "suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes." Interestingly, the Sun "is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years," coinciding with the warming trend experienced since the Industrial Revolution.

This is what can be referred to as a "lurking variable" in Al Gore's analysis of his graphs of carbon and temperature increases since the Industrial Revolution. It is a lurking variable because though the temperatures and carbon emissions match up on a graph, it doesn't take into account other factors that may influence the statistics, such as increasing radiation from the Sun, which also correlates with increasing temperatures.

National Geographic News quoted a scientist in 2007 that, "Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural-and not a human-induced-cause." Mars' ice caps had been diminishing for three years in a row, and the scientist, "Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun." He further stated that, "changes in the sun's heat output can account for almost all the climate changes we see on both planets."

A NASA study in the same year also reported that Mars warmed since the 1970s, "similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period," which, they conclude, "suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena." A study in 2007 on climatic changes on Earth and Neptune suggested that, "some planetary climate changes may be due to variations in the solar system environment."

In 2006, a study was conducted regarding Venus being the "solar system's most inhospitable planet." A planetary scientist at Oxford University stated, "It's very disturbing that we do not understand the climate on a planet that is so much like the Earth," and that, "It is telling us that we really don't understand the Earth. We have ended up with a lot of mysteries." Venus was "unbelievably hot, dense, and had virtually no oxygen." Venus has a very pronounced greenhouse effect, as its "thick atmosphere traps solar radiation and heats the world to boiling point."

Scientists say that Venus being closer to the Sun than Earth is a factor, yet, there may be other factors. One brought up was that Venus' atmosphere is almost entirely made up of CO2, which is effective at trapping heat. CO2 is roughly 95% of Venus' atmosphere, compared to Earth's atmosphere, which is 0.038% CO2, so it is extremely understandable that CO2 would have a greater effect upon Venus than Earth. The question as to why Venus has so much CO2 may be because it lost its water, whereas on Earth, "carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans, where it forms carbonate minerals and over the millennia is deposited as rock. That process was arrested early on Venus when it lost its oceans."[22] Perhaps we should put more focus into preserving and protecting our oceans.

Get Your Parka, Here Comes Global. "Cooling"?

There is a little problem with the whole "global warming" consensus, in that recent scientific research has shown that, "A study of sea temperature changes predicts a lull as traditional climate cycles cancel out the heating effect of greenhouse gases from pollution," and that, "Global warming will be `put on hold' over the next decade because of natural climate variations."[23] In other words, the natural climate cycles that Earth goes through, and always has gone through, has changed once again, just as a political consensus was reached. This is very significant because if CO2 was the prime cause for recent warming, and CO2 consumption has not gone down, yet, the Earth's climate has engaged on a cooling trend, this appears to pose a problem for the CO2 hypothesis.

This cooling trend is supported by many recent events. In 2008, "Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966," and China went through its most brutal winter in a century. Also, when we are told that the Artic Sea ice is melting to its "lowest levels on record," it is important to note that the records date back to 1972, and "that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past."

As it turns out, the ice itself has not only recovered from melting, but has grown thicker in many places. With the previous melting of the Arctic, we have been told it was caused by human activity and will result in catastrophe. However, climate modelers, predicting the future climate with computer models based upon information they provide, such as CO2 consumption, are highly inaccurate, as, "Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt."

Many places have experienced unusual cold and snowfalls in the last year. Argentina got its first snowfall in Buenos Aires since 1918,[25] Johannesburg, South Africa, experienced snow for the first time in 26 years,[26] Baghdad experienced snow for the "first time in living memory,"[27] and Saudi Arabia went through sub-zero temperatures and snow storms, making it the coldest winter in over 20 years.

Even the BBC reported that temperatures will decrease, "as a result of the cold La Nina current in the Pacific,"[29] which is a natural phenomenon, and has a large effect on increasing cyclonic activity in the Atlantic. It's interesting how La Nina and El Nino have disappeared from discussion on climate and hurricanes. Today, whenever there is a hurricane or natural disaster, it is instantly blamed on global warming and having been accelerated by human activity. Even Al Gore's movie poster pictured a smoke stack with a hurricane coming out the top. An MIT climate scientist, who previously wrote about the link between hurricane energy and warming, produced a study in 2008 where he changed his pervious claims, saying that its not a clearly defined connection, saying there is a "lot of uncertainty," and he was quoted as stating, "It's a really bad thing for a scientist to have an immovable, intractable position."

In March of 2008, NPR reported that after a survey of the ocean by 3,000 scientific robots, information was retrieved that showed that, "the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather." The article quotes a NASA scientist as saying that, "the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming."

In July of 2008, a major peer-reviewed journal of the American Physical Society, Physics and Society, concluded that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report "overstated" the effects of CO2 on temperature in their climate models by between 500 and 2000%. The paper concluded that there is no "climate crisis." The paper further reported that CO2 will add "little more than 1øF (O.6øC) to global mean surface temperature by 2100;" that the IPCC report took their predictive information from four published papers, not 2,500, as was claimed; that "global warming" stopped ten years ago; the IPCC overstated the "effect of ice-melt by 1000%"; that 50 years ago, it was proved that "predicting climate more than two weeks ahead is impossible"; and that an important factor in explaining the previous warming was that, "In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the last 11,400 years."

What About the Consensus?

We are often told, (especially by Al Gore), that on the issue of the effects of human activity on climate change, there is a "scientific consensus" on humans being the primary cause. If the above information does not provide some proof as to a lack of consensus on the subject, perhaps the fact that for the UN-organized 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which concluded that, "global warming and other environmental insults were threatening the planet with catastrophe," was countered with a petition of scientists decrying, "the unsupported assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuels and requires immediate action." The number of signatories to the petition eventually reached 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners. In 2000, to counter the Kyoto Protocol, a petition was made up of "1,500 clergy, theologians, religious leaders, scientists, academics and policy experts concerned about the harm that Kyoto could inflict on the world's poor."

A current petition makes the statement that, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth." This petition has been signed by over 31,000 scientists.

The former editor of New Scientist magazine, Nigel Calder, wrote that, "When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works." He explained how roughly 20 years ago, "climate research became politicized in favour of one particular hypothesis," and that the media, "often imagine that anyone who doubts the hypothesis of man-made global warming must be in the pay of the oil companies. As a result, some key discoveries in climate research go almost unreported."

He also explained the results of a scientific study conducted in 2001 in Denmark, which found that, "cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars. More cosmic rays, more clouds. The sun's magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer world. On the other hand the Little Ice Age was chilly because the lazy sun let in more cosmic rays, leaving the world cloudier and gloomier."[35] So not only is the Sun a determining factor, but so are cosmic rays.


I won't state exactly what is causing climate change on our planet, as the reality is that there are many answers to that question; the Sun, cosmic rays, ocean currents and other natural phenomena, etc. However, it is safe to say that the wealth of science points to a natural change in our climate, and the entire history of the world and of all humanity supports this hypothesis. Throughout history, as in the earliest African civilizations, it was the ability of different peoples to change and adapt to climate change, which determined their survival as a civilization.

Today, we are trying to fight it. This is a dangerous road to walk, and history will not look kindly upon our scientific ignorance and politically fear-driven society. How will we be viewed in the future? How have we viewed the people of the past who thought the Earth was flat, or the Sun revolved around Earth? Trying to fight and stop a natural phenomenon is possibly one of the most ignorant and dangerous things humanity has ever engaged in. How would history view a civilization that tried to reverse the spinning of the Earth, or the blowing of wind? It is a recipe for the fall of a civilization.

Much of the people in the world have been riled up with predictions of a catastrophic end to mankind and the world unless we don't do something about so-called "man-made" climate change. Ironically enough, our refusal to adapt to a changing world, and instead a determination to fight it with our efforts to "go green" and "carbon neutral" may, in fact, cause the catastrophic end of our civilization. And sadly, in this instance, it would undeniably be a man-made disaster.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, August 11, 2008

"On a planet 4C hotter, all we can prepare for is extinction"

Excerpt below from an article by Oliver Tickell. Tickell is a professional alarmist who is also "concerned" about trans fats in food etc. His alarmist books must be a nice little earner

We need to get prepared for four degrees of global warming, Bob Watson told the Gurdian last week. At first sight this looks like wise counsel from the climate science adviser to Defra. But the idea that we could adapt to a 4C rise is absurd and dangerous. Global warming on this scale would be a catastrophe that would mean, in the immortal words that Chief Seattle probably never spoke, "the end of living and the beginning of survival" for humankind. Or perhaps the beginning of our extinction.

The collapse of the polar ice caps would become inevitable [Fact check, O ticklish one: Antarctica contains 91% of the world's glacial ice and the temperature of all but the margins of Antarctica is WAY below zero Celsius, so a mere 4 degree rise would melt NOTHING of that] , bringing long-term sea level rises of 70-80 metres. All the world's coastal plains would be lost, complete with ports, cities, transport and industrial infrastructure, and much of the world's most productive farmland. The world's geography would be transformed much as it was at the end of the last ice age, when sea levels rose by about 120 metres to create the Channel, the North Sea and Cardigan Bay out of dry land. Weather would become extreme and unpredictable, with more frequent and severe droughts, floods and hurricanes. The Earth's carrying capacity would be hugely reduced. Billions would undoubtedly die.

More here

Global Warming Task Force: all cost, no benefit

A squeak of protest from Wisconsin -- by Jim Ott, formerly a meteorologist with WTMJ-TV (Channel 4)

Predictably, the climate scientists on the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board endorsed the recommendations of Gov. Jim Doyle's Global Warming Task Force ("Making it happen," July 29) But the Editorial Board - and the task force - left out important facts you should know: The task force was charged by the governor at the outset to assume that human use of fossil fuels is a major contributor to global warming. The fact that a significant number of climate scientists do not share this view or have serious reservations was ignored.

The Editorial Board forgot to mention that there have been many dramatic natural climate variations in the past that are not fully understood, such as the "Little Ice Age" that affected Europe for several centuries. Has the Journal Sentinel determined that natural causes of climate change are no longer relevant? Where is the science to back this up?

The editorial mentioned the "recommendations" of the task force regarding nuclear energy. In fact, the task force states on page 49 that, "This recommendation is not a recommendation by the Task Force that a new nuclear power plant be built." The easiest way to reduce greenhouse gases - increased use of nuclear energy - is clearly not a priority of the task force.

And, like the task force, the Journal Sentinel fails to make any mention of the potential cost to you or to our state's economy if the "recommendations" are enacted into law. Isn't this important information? Would you be willing to pay $6 a gallon for gas to fight global warming? How does a 40% increase in the cost of electricity sound? The price of virtually everything would rise. Last year, Wisconsin's economy grew by a paltry 1%. What will raising prices, taxes and the cost of doing business do to Wisconsin's economy?

It's important to understand that if the task force's recommendations are adopted, we all will be forced to make dramatic changes in how we live. The state will interject itself into every facet of our lives, including but not limited to requiring an energy audit when we sell our homes, telling farmers what to feed their cows, adjusting the school funding mechanism, mandating what type of lighting landlords must install and maybe even regulating how many miles we can drive our cars - all in the name of "fighting global climate change."

Finally, any effort by an individual state to address global warming is pointless. Even if Wisconsin's greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced to zero, there would be no measurable impact on global atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and therefore no measurable effect on global temperatures. So a cost/benefit analysis of the task force's recommendations reveals major increases in prices and taxes for consumers, massive growth in state government rules and regulations and no impact or benefit to Earth's climate.

Regardless of how you feel about "global climate change," the task force's recommendations are a recipe for disaster.



So this is the Kyoto Protocol in action: A marginally-economical chemical factory in an industrial superpower finally installs 1970s-era technology to clean up its act, and as a result makes 30 times more money by selling "carbon credits" to fight global warming than it makes by selling chemicals. This isn't a last-ditch effort to upgrade Outer Mongolia-this is a French factory in South Korea. From the WSJ today:
"The company, Rhodia SA, manufactures hundreds of tons a day of adipic acid, an ingredient in nylon, at its factory here. But the real money is in what it doesn't make. The payday, which could amount to more than $1 billion over seven years, comes from destroying nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, an unwanted byproduct and potent greenhouse gas. It's Rhodia's single most profitable business world-wide. Last year, destroying nitrous oxide here and at a similar plant in Brazil generated _189 million ($300.5 million) in sales of pollution "credits." [.] The Rhodia factory in [South Korea] alone is slated to bring in more money, under the U.N.-administered program, than all the clean-air projects currently registered on the continent of Africa."

Fears over the effectiveness of Kyoto at reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases have multiplied as the treaty nears its expiration date in 2012. And that matters, because Kyoto is still the main template for what comes next, to be decided by the end of 2009 at another global climate-change conference in Denmark. The apparent shortcomings of a Kyoto-style approach are two-fold.

Plenty of economists suspect a cap-and-trade system is just asking to be gamed, and that a straight tax on emissions of carbon dioxide would be more transparent. Rhodia, the French company with the Korean factory, says it's just following the rules that were laid down. Even so, the United Nations-which runs the Kyoto plan-is trying to crack down on bogus "emissions reductions" schemes which threaten to undermine confidence in the whole idea.

And climate-change plans that leave big chunks of the global economy-like South Korea's $1 trillion economy, or China and India-outside the picture are bound to cause distortions. South Korea is considered a "developing economy," so it wins points-and factories there earn millions-by doing things that other industrialized countries do out of habit nowadays. That seems to flunk Kyoto's own acid test that lucrative carbon credits have to come from projects that wouldn't otherwise make sense.

The Bush administration has caught a lot of flak for insisting that any global agreement on climate change must include developing countries, as well as the U.S., a Kyoto holdout. But when companies are making more money cleaning up their factories than running them, something does seem wrong with the current system. Is it time for a rethink?


Cap and Trade: Economic Suicide

There have been many texts and many analyses written about big governments, specifically the tyranny of big governments. Those who have studied them notice big governments such as those of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Red China, Cuba, North Korea, Myanmar, and others, have commonalities among them. "The Road to Serfdom" by Nobel winner Friedrich Hayek, for example, is a short and excellent analysis.

There are invariably major losses of personal freedoms, personal liberty, speech codes, loss of freedom of the press, to assemble, of religion, expression, confiscation of personal property, confiscation of wealth, wages, and overall government sponsored destitution. Most have led in their final stages to tyranny involving huge terror and police states, rendering its citizens broken, deprived, and destitute.

Big Federal Government

Recently Congress attempted to impose its big government hand into CO2 mitigation. Called the Climate Security Act (sponsored by senators Warner and Lieberman) it proposed, according to the Heritage Foundation analysis of the bill, many economy-killing features. The Act relies upon 3 dubious assumptions: The climate is warming, man-made CO2 is the cause, and it is always harmful.

A look at the scientific literature shows that the earth has not been warming for 10 years and has been actually cooling for the last 7 years, man-made CO2 is not the cause of significant warming or cooling, and warming is not necessarily harmful. It shouldn't need saying but life is better at the lower latitudes. CO2 is a nutrient essential for all life. Nonetheless, the Senate bill proposed an "economy killer" by restricting CO2 emissions, throughout nearly all human activities in American life. No government should have this much power, let alone one that espouses freedom.

Most Americans would never accept or believe that our leaders would seriously propose legislation that could destroy the American economy, and that would take our liberties.

As serious as this proposed federal legislation is, many in Congress are also compounding the economic threat by restricting the oil supplies, opposing drilling, wishing to wean Americans off cars and gasoline. Washington's Senator Maria Cantwell was quite explicit in supporting this agenda ( The Senators seem to have forgotten that our constitution was written specifically to protect US citizens from heavy handed government. Leaders with such whimsical and shallow understanding of energy and how it is made, are frightening and dangerous.

Big State Governments

Now we find that it is being casually put forth at the state levels too, as if these were just routine legislation. The expansion of federal and state government bureaucracies in the Western United States is of major concern to many Americans in noticing the similar growing expansion of big US state governments into their lives, much of it menacing, unwelcome and unsolicited. What is going on in the Western states may be called "assisted suicide".

This history of big government intrusions continues in the western US such as the Washington State legislature passing House Bill 2815 and signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire. The bill spells out the need and a multi-billion dollar climate change mitigation program.

More bureaucratic activities have been formed such as the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). The WCI released its recent planning document entitled "Draft Design of the Regional Cap-and-Trade Program." The document is available on the Washington State Dept. of Ecology's website

Concurrently another bureaucracy was formed, the Washington State Climate Action Team (CAT). The big government fests continued when the big government CAT team was briefed on the status of WCI accomplishments to-date, and discussed these draft recommendations.

The driving force behind these massive well-funded government activities is the global warming scare in general, now renamed "climate change", and a huge, largely wasteful program for mitigation of Washington State CO2 emissions.

Based upon incomplete climate "evidence", the Washington State programs-and the thousands of proposed new hires needed to enforce them, will require billions of dollars to be spent in implementation, monitoring, testing, measuring, permitting, approving, auditing, recording, filing, and enforcement throughout, the program is grotesquely misguided, wasteful, and unnecessary.

The Origins of it all

Going back to the beginning of this giant scare story, the leader of the United Nation Environmental Program stated in 1992 "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" -- Maurice Strong, (Strong was head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations).

Strong's statement was quite clear in its intent, ominous in significance, and an integral part of UN policy. His statement is fundamental in helping us understand the essence of the global warming agenda at the state and federal levels as well. But it is not science, even though it may look and sound like it.

Secondly, the entire climate undertaking by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not to push research toward a greater understanding of the very complex climate systems. The stated purpose of the IPCC with regard to climate change was to show man-made effects only. The effects of the significantly larger natural forces were to be ignored---vastly different from the purpose of understanding the complex climate-changing forces.

For example, the United Nation's Framework on Climate Change states in its Article 1 defines "Climate Change" as "a change of climate which is attributed directly and indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to the natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods". (Green Delusions, by Vincent Gray, p. 11).

Once we understand the IPCC's original guidance to limit studies solely to human impacts on climate and ignoring the rest, the entire discussion changes. Given man's small impacts the entire global climate, this effort seems to be more political activity than science. (See the Maurice Strong quote above).

Many in the media, Hollywood, educators, state and federal governments, (including the funding agencies providing $5 billion in climate research per year), nevertheless have failed to notice such limiting distinctions.

The level of science intolerance continues far beyond the Washington State policy makers. Since the policy makers have forbidden any discussions of the underlying and changing science, they have forced science illiteracy upon themselves. This, of course, will result in extremely misguided, costly, and intrusive policy, that is based upon bad science. Even worse some of the operating assumptions appear to be questionable. Some of these include:

* Climate change is always unusual---its not

* Climate change is always harmful-its not.

* The change is always caused by humans (especially in the capitalist and free nations---See Maurice Strong's statement above)

Climate change, no matter its largely natural origins, no matter that it has been changing for millions of years, must now be stopped no matter how costly, how futile, and how harmful to Americans. Thus, when the CAT team, politicians, and others attempt to end the science discussion, they also cut themselves off from recent evidence.

One of these is that the global temperatures have not increased for 10 years. In fact in has declined since 2001. The CAT team is not alone in its self-imposed isolation, since many in the media have yet to learn this either, and are still repeating old mantras that the earth is warming and doom is imminent. Even though CO2 is increasing, the climate is not currently warming.....

There are many other serious yet unanswered climate questions about which we have little information. There is significant information that is directly contrary to what the dogmatic climate change "templates" require.

Americans would be better served if the policy makers paid closer attention to the continuing flood of new climate information. The fact that the climate is currently cooling, is unknown to the CAT team which now seems hell-bent on creating a multi-billion dollar bureaucracy, that is premised on warming which ended 10 years ago. We are not even permitted to ask why. Why the rush? Why the secrecy? How can we respect such heavy handed state policies, when the need for such policies and huge costs are not justified?

In the recent words of Christopher Monckton, science advisor to Margaret Thatcher, "We must get the science right or we shall get the policy wrong. There is no manmade "climate crisis". It is a non-problem. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing."

He continued to an Australian government official: "If you introduce an emissions-trading scheme, when it transpires that the scheme and its associated economic damage had never been necessary - and it will, and sooner than you think - you and your party will be flung from office, perhaps forever. It is, therefore, in the long-term vested interest of your party to think again." Amen, Lord Monckton.


Carbon-Based Prohibition

If some environmentalists have their way, simple math suggests life as we know it will end

In 1916 a blanket ban on beer seemed like far-fetched idea. But prohibitionists cracked the door open by promising to keep whiskey available by prescription. Within three years, the country was dry. Nearly a century later, environmentalists are thinking the same way about carbon. Converting fossil fuels into controlled substances today could lead to outright carbon prohibition tomorrow.

In a magazine interview last year, Al Gore upped his call for a 90 percent cut in fossil fuel use, demanding Congress "eliminate the payroll tax and replace it dollar for dollar with a CO2 tax." A research paper published this year in Geophysical Research Letters went further. "Avoiding future human-induced climate warming," the authors said, "may require policies that seek not only to decrease CO2 emissions, but to eliminate them entirely." As the New York Times business section headlined it in March, "For Carbon Emissions, a Goal of Less Than Zero."

Those who view fossil fuel the way Carrie Nation did Demon Rum point out that were everyone on Earth to burn just a gas tank's worth of carbon each day, CO2 in the atmosphere would still double in a decade. Skeptics may discount climate models as metaphysical, but true believers consider the human costs of prohibition an acceptable price for environmental salvation. Gore's 2006 Nobel Prize speech elevated environmentalism from a pretext for social intervention to a categorical imperative by declaring: "We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer..They will not take us far enough without collective action."

It took two centuries for daily per capita carbon consumption in America to reach the roughly 100-pound level that currently lights homes, powers industry, and keeps the Internet humming. But like driving, all those welcome activities increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The average American currently generates 22 tons of CO2 a year, but to limit 21st century warming to 2.5 degrees Celsius, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests cutting the global rise in CO2 to one part per million by 2050. That's only a small multiple of the weight of the CO2 people exhale, and realizing this goal within 42 years could require America to burn less carbon in a month than we do now in a day.

This draconian downturn unfolds from a single statistic: the 5-quadrillion-ton weight of Earth's atmosphere. Your 792,000-ton share of the air may seem hefty, but one part per million of it is less than one ton. Goodbye, central heating; an average New England home furnace belts out six tons of CO2 a year. Ditto private cars; families living on a truly Earth-friendly carbon ration might spend breakfast debating whether to blow their half-pint gasoline coupon on a moped ride to town or use the daily kilowatt-hour allotment to turn the communal electric blanket up to 4. Holiday turkeys may end up as sashimi, since oven roasting could mean a heatless Thanksgiving night or Christmas Eve.

A personal CO2 limit of less than a ton per year does not even imply the right to buy that much fuel, because CO2 is only 27 percent carbon. Multiply your 1,745-pound annual CO2 ration by 27 percent, divide the result by 365 days, and.yikes! It's 21 ounces of carbon a day-and falling. If the global population reaches 9 billion by 2050, expect a daily fossil fuel ration of a latte cup of gasoline, three Pilates balls of natural gas, or a lump of coal the size of a turnip.

If you suspect life on a pound of coal a day might be solitary, brutish, nasty, and short, you're right. The countries with the smallest carbon footprints already feature the shortest life expectancies on Earth. Not that real prohibitionists should mind: When it comes to carbon, Sudan is bone dry.



"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". --Voltaire (attributed)

That's what we used to call it - refereeing. The term "peer review" seemed to spring up and take over at about the same time as the rise of political correctness. It was a burden that most senior academics and some industrial engineers and scientists were expected to bear as part of their duty to their profession, and an onerous one it was too. It took up many hours of one's week, with no recognition and certainly no payment. Many of us would now have a more comfortable retirement if we had devoted the time to fee earning.

The duties of the referee were mainly concerned with preserving the integrity of the institution and its publications, to identify provable errors and infelicities of expression. It did not involve rewriting an author's paper, changing its slant or imposing an opinion.

The European tradition of refereeing was that it was to be done with a light touch, but that curious intensity that invades some American academic institutions often resulted in little short of a demolition job. There was something of a schism, one side thinking the other was idle, while in the other direction there were mutterings of "over the top". For what was understood was that the process was corruptible. Many referees in their early careers had experienced coteries that attempted to take over particular small areas of disciplines to enforce their own views and theories. It was, however, only in the new era of Green politics that the threat of a universal censorship emerged.

It was always a difficult course to negotiate. There will inevitably be submissions that are just silly or even insane, such as the old perennial that pi is exactly three. It is not uncommon for people to acquire a bit of jargon and go on to delude themselves that they are making a fundamental contribution to knowledge. Such delusions became institutionalised with the rise of fashionable nonsense under the name of post-modernism. This was just one of the enormous tectonic shifts that were taking place in society, the rise of the new left. At the same time political control was being established over science and research. In Britain it took the form of outright nationalisation of the universities, begun under Thatcher and completed under Blair. In America it was the founding of new public institutions, richly endowed with taxpayers' money, such as Nixon's EPA. They had the resources and therefore the patronage. A new self-sustaining political class had formed, insulated from the laws of science and economics, yet demanding sovereignty over both. Science was no longer a democracy of scholars seeking after truth; it was now an instrument of political power and control.

The creation of the UN IPCC was a cataclysmic event in the history of science. Here was a purely political body posing as a scientific institution. Through the power of patronage it rapidly attracted acolytes. Peer review soon rapidly evolved from the old style refereeing to a much more sinister imposition of The Censorship. As Wegman demonstrated, new circles of like-minded propagandists formed, acting as judge and jury for each other. Above all, they acted in concert to keep out alien and hostile opinion.

"Peer review" developed into a mantra that was picked up by political activists who clearly had no idea of the procedures of science or its learned societies. It became an imprimatur of political acceptability, whose absence was equivalent to placement on the proscribed list.

As global warming alarmism stumbles inevitably towards the later stages of Langmuir's Laws, its defenders have become increasingly shrill. The pressure on science, both from external politicians and internal quislings, has become intense.

The question of whether science can ever recover its innocence is moot. After life as a harlot on the mean streets of political imperative, a return to the sanctity of the cloister looks out of the question. If so, humanity has forever lost a bright jewel in its culture.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

The latest statement of faith from a Warmism disciple

An excerpt from a Greenie site: Thickening ice is due to global warming!

As I type this, I am in the Students on Ice office in Gatineau, Quebec, helping to coordinate the media and logistics for the current expedition in Canada's Arctic. Every single day, the schedule has changed. Logistics consist of Plan B, Plan C, and even Plan J. There is a reason why the motto of the organization's founder and expedition leader, Geoff Green, is: "Flexibility is the key". But never before has an expedition been so altered by climate change impacts. Auyuittuq National Park was closed earlier this week due to mass flooding as glaciers melt at exponential speed. Itinerary change number one.

Major ice blockages up past Pangnirtung in the Cumberland Sound that the ice-class ship was unable to break through, as ice conditions are becoming more extreme (both forming and melting) with climate change.

More here

The silly little lady who wrote that could actually be right. Global warming would cause warmer seas and hence more evaporation and precipitation. And precipitation is the main determinant of glacial ice mass. So global warming COULD cause thicker ice. But I don't think she would like some of the corollaries of that: That global warming will cause polar ice to grow rather than shrink and that shrinking ice mass indicates global cooling!

The major thing overlooked in her dreaming, however, is that Arctic ice mass is not solely the product of global temperature but is affected by many local factors as well -- winds, currents, vulcanism etc

The Australian government's climate castle is built on sand

A large part of the justification that Prime Minister Rudd has offered for his climate adventures is a CSIRO report on how global warming (if it ever happens) would affect Australia. The CSIRO is a greatly respected scientific research body but its funding depends on political favour and has often been threatened. So political expediency is not of course beyond them. You can get all sorts of answers out of climate models (which is why the IPCC reports the results from many of them) so if the CSIRO people know what the government wants, why not choose a model that gives it to them? Below is one summary of the CSIRO report (from July 6):
The Federal Government has released a report into the link between drought and climate change, which it says will trigger major review of drought policy. The report is by the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO and is the first of three commissioned by the Government.

The report warns that extreme conditions previously thought to occur once in every 20 to 25 years, could become as frequent as every one or two years. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told ABC1's Insiders the report paints a very disturbing picture about the future of droughts in Australia. "When it comes to exceptional or extreme drought, exceptionally high temperatures, the historical assumption that this occurred once every 20 years has now been revised down to between every one and two years," he said. "Exceptional circumstances drought conditions ... will occur twice as often and with twice the area of droughted parts of Australia included. "Now this is a serious revision of the impact of climate change on drought."

Recently, however, an examination of the assumptions behind the CSIRO report has been done by Dr David Stockwell, a modelling expert. Excerpt:
"Therefore there is no credible basis for the claims of increasing frequency of Exceptional Circumstances declarations made in the report. These results are consistent with other studies finding lack of adequate validation in global warming effects modeling, and lack of skill of climate models at the regional scale..

Except in the few cases noted above, the model simulations have no resemblance to patterns of observed droughtedness in the last century. We conclude the models have failed internal validation and no further testing is warranted."

In other words, those wonderful "models" the CSIRO relied on don't give an accurate picture of what has actually happened in the past. And if they can't get the past right, how can we expect them to get the future right?

A recent article in the Hydrological Sciences Journal also found that climate models had no validity in portraying the climate of regional areas (such as Australia). The one thing we can test about such models is how accurate they are in "back-predicting" the past -- and they fail utterly. The journal Abstract:
On the credibility of climate predictions

By D. Koutsoyiannis et al.

Geographically distributed predictions of future climate, obtained through climate models, are widely used in hydrology and many other disciplines, typically without assessing their reliability. Here we compare the output of various models to temperature and precipitation observations from eight stations with long (over 100 years) records from around the globe. The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.

Source (H/T Agmates)

Are deserts soaking up CO2?

When Li Yan began measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) in western China's Gubantonggut Desert in 2005, he thought his equipment had malfunctioned. Li, plant ecophysiologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences'Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in Urumqi, discovered that his plot was soaking up CO2 at night. His team ruled out the sparse vegetation as the CO2 sink. Li came to a surprising conclusion: The alkaline soil of Gubantonggut is socking away large quantities of CO2 in an inorganic form.

A CO2-gulping desert in a remote corner of China may not be an isolated phenomenon. Halfway around the world, researchers have found that Nevada's Mojave Desert, square meter for square meter, absorbs about the same amount of CO2 as some temperate forests. The two sets of findings suggest that deserts are unsung players in the global carbon cycle. "Deserts are a larger sink for carbon dioxide than had previously been assumed," says Lynn Fenstermaker, a remote sensing ecologist at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a coauthor of a paper on the Mojave findings published online last April in Global Change Biology.

The effect could be huge: About 35% of Earth's land surface, or 5.2 billion hectares, is desert and semiarid ecosystems. If the Mojave readings represent an average CO2 uptake, then deserts and semiarid regions may be absorbing up to 5.2 billion tons of carbon a year--roughly half the amount emitted globally by burning fossil fuels, says John "Jay" Arnone, an ecologist in DRI's Reno lab and a co-author of the Mojave paper.

But others point out that CO2 fluxes are notoriously difficult to measure and that it is necessary to take readings in other arid and semiarid regions to determine whether the Mojave and Gubantonggut findings are representative or anomalous. For now, some experts doubt that the world's most barren ecosystems are the long-sought missing carbon sink. "I'd be hugely surprised if this were the missing sink. If deserts are taking up a lot of carbon, it ought to be obvious," says William Schlesinger, a biogeochemist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, who in the 1980s was among the first to examine carbon flux in deserts. Nevertheless, he says, both sets of findings are intriguing and "must be followed up."

Scientists have long struggled to balance Earth's carbon books. While atmospheric CO2 levels are rising rapidly, our planet absorbs more CO2 than can be accounted for. Researchers have searched high and low for this missing sink. It doesn't appear to be the oceans or forests--although the capacity of boreal forests to absorb CO2 was long underestimated. Deserts might be the least likely candidate. "You would think that seemingly lifeless places must be carbon neutral, or carbon sources," says Mojave coauthor Georg Wohlfahrt, an ecologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria....

More here

"Fake But Accurate" Science?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science claims for its journal Science: 'the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.' Be that as it may, Science is the Dan Rather of science journalism. "Fake Data, but Could the Idea Still Be Right?" in the July 14 issue actually makes the following statement:
European investigators last week confirmed that a pioneering oral cancer researcher in Norway had fabricated much of his work. The news left experts in his field with a pressing question: What should they believe now? Suppose his findings, which precisely identified people at high risk of the deadly disease, were accurate even though data were faked?

AAAS's fake-but-accurate standard of scientific rigor applies not merely to the science of such obscure and unimportant subjects as death, disease, and cancer, but extends even to the science of impending doom.

The Hockey Stick Graph

The so-called "hockey stick" graph appears in the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations organization that dominates climate change discussion. The graph purported to show that world temperatures had remained stable for almost a thousand years, but took a sudden turn upward in the last century (the blade of the hockey stick). It was the product of research into "proxy" temperature records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and coral reefs, by Michael Mann, the Joe Wilson of climate change. It can be seen here. Charles Martin took a critical look at it last March for The American Thinker.

The problem is that the world was almost certainly warmer than it is today during the "Medieval Warm Period" or "Medieval Climate Optimum" of the 9th through 14th Centuries, which was followed by the "Little Ice Age" of the 15th through 19th Centuries, whose end is the occasion for today's global warming hysteria.

But Science magazine stuck to its argument. "Politicians Attack, But Evidence for Global Warming Doesn't Wilt" in the July 28 issue of Science not only employs the typical deceitful rhetoric of the scientific establishment, here presenting an argument among scientists as an argument between scientists and politicians, but also uses the fake-but-accurate excuse for the corrupt activities of its favorite scientists.

Mann's statistical methodology was soon exposed as flawed, if not downright fraudulent, by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, and he responded by refusing to make public the details of his analysis. This in turn angered Joe Barton and other members of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who objected to this arrogant refusal to allow oversight of federally financed research-either by the responsible congressional committees or by the scientific community. Hence the recent hearings and the dishonest report of them in Science.

Since Mann's work-and the IPCC's inclusion of it in its report-are indefensible, Science resorted to the fake-but-accurate defense. Gerald North of Texas A&M, testifying on behalf of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, "concluded that the hockey stick was flawed but the sort of data on which it was based are still evidence of unprecedented warming."

The graph shows unprecedented warming; the graph is flawed in such a way as to produce a false appearance of unprecedented warming; nevertheless, there is unprecedented warming: "Finding flaws 'doesn't mean Mann et al.'s claims are wrong,' he told Barton."

I must admit that it is possible for science to be fake but accurate, just as it is possible for Israel to have committed war crimes despite the fact that the evidence for them is faked. It is indeed possible that, as the New York Times famously proclaimed, "Memos on Bush Are Fake But Accurate, Typist Says."

The question, however, is not whether it is possible that Israel committed war crimes or that George W. Bush did not complete his National Guard service, but whether we have any reason to believe the reporting of Reuters or CBS News. It is possible that the hockey stick is accurate, but why should we take the word of Michael Mann, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the United Nations for it?

Michael Mann faked his statistics, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published his fakery, the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggested that the fakery is beside the point, and the United Nations, well, readers of The American Thinker are quite acquainted with the United Nations.

The article in Science would do Dan Rather proud. It says the North investigation found that the "only supportable conclusion from climate proxies" was that "the last few decades were likely the warmest of the millennium." However, here is what North actually testified.
"It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries."

Four centuries, not the millennium! North testified that recent decades were warmer than the Little Ice Age, not that they were warmer than the Global Warm Period! North also testified that he "finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium."

North first said that in recent decades the world was likely warmer than in any other time in the last four hundred years. Then he said that in recent decades the Northern Hemisphere was likely warmer than in any other time in the last millennium. Science has converted these statements into the claim that in recent decades the world was likely warmer than in any time in the last millennium. So much for the Scientific Method. But even the statement that the Northern Hemisphere was likely warmer than in any other time in the last millennium is subject to uncertainty according to North:
However, the substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that 'the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium' because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods, and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.

As to Mann's scandalous statistical manipulations, North says gently, "We also question some of the statistical choices made in the original papers by Dr. Mann and his colleagues." Ah, the "choices" euphemism.

A perfectly reasonable letter to Michael Mann from Representative Barton, who is derisively characterized by Science as a politician, makes clear that in the morally inverted universe of the liberal scientific establishment, it is the scientists who play politics, forcing the politicians to uphold the ideals of science.
As you know, sharing data and research results is a basic tenet of open scientific inquiry, providing a means to judge the reliability of scientific claims. The ability to replicate a study, as the National Research Council has noted, is typically the gold standard by which the reliability of claims is judged. Given the questions reported about data access surrounding these studies, we also seek to learn whether obligations concerning the sharing of information developed or disseminated with federal support have been appropriately met....According to The Wall Street Journal, you have declined to release the exact computer code you used to generate your results. (a) Is this correct? (b) What policy on sharing research and methods do you follow? (c) What is the source of that policy? (d) Provide this exact computer code used to generate your results.

The subcommittee commissioned a study of the hockey stick headed by Edward Wegman of George Mason University, Chairman of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences, referred to dismissively as "Barton's choice" by the article in Science. The study reached the following conclusions:
In general, we found MBH98 and MBH99 [papers by Mann] to be somewhat obscure and incomplete and the criticisms of MM03/05a/05b [papers by McIntyre and McKitrick] to be valid and compelling.

In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus 'independent studies' may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface.

It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent.

Overall, our committee believes that Mann's assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.

The response of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science and its prestigious journal? It refers to the hockey stick as a "now-superseded curve."
"An ill-advised step in Mann's statistical analysis may have created the hockey stick, Wegman said."

Statistical choices, ill-advised steps, fake but accurate, what difference would it make, flawed doesn't mean wrong. The betrayal-of-science establishment has adopted the standards of Dan Rather and Reuters and should be equally trusted.


Global Warming, Global Myth

"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen." - Sir John Houghton, first chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and lead editor of its first three reports

During the 20th century, the earth warmed 0.6 degree Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit), but that warming has been wiped out in a single year with a drop of 0.63 degree C. (1.13 F.) in 2007. A single year does not constitute a trend reversal, but the magnitude of that temperature drop - equal to 100 years of warming - is noteworthy. Of course, it can also be argued that a mere 0.6 degree warming in a century is so tiny it should never have been considered a cause for alarm in the first place. But then how could the idea of global warming be sold to the public? In any case, global cooling has been evident for more than a single year. Global temperature has declined since 1998. Meanwhile, atmospheric carbon dioxide has gone in the other direction, increasing 15-20%. This divergence casts doubt on the validity of the greenhouse hypothesis, but that hasn't discouraged the global warming advocates. They have long been ignoring far greater evidence that the basic assumption of greenhouse warming from increases in carbon dioxide is false.

Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide were not significant before worldwide industrialization began in the 1940s. They have increased steadily since. Over 80% of the 20th century's carbon dioxide increase occurred after 1940 - but most of the century's temperature increase occurred before 1940! From 1940 until the mid-1970s, the climate also failed to behave according to the greenhouse hypothesis, as carbon dioxide was strongly increasing while global temperatures cooled. This cooling led to countless scare stories in the media about a new ice age commencing.

In the last 1.6 million years there have been 63 alternations between warm and cold climates, and no indication that any of them were caused by changes in carbon dioxide levels. A recent study of a much longer period (600 million years) shows - without exception - that temperature changes precede changes in carbon dioxide levels, not the other way around. As the earth warms, the oceans yield more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, because warmer water cannot hold as much carbon dioxide as colder water.

The public has been led to believe that increased carbon dioxide from human activities is causing a greenhouse effect that is heating the planet. But carbon dioxide comprises only 0.035% of our atmosphere and is a very weak greenhouse gas. Although it is widely blamed for greenhouse warming, it is not the only greenhouse gas, or even the most important. Water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas and accounts for at least 95% of any greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide accounts for only about 3%, with the remainder due to methane and several other gases.

Not only is carbon dioxide's total greenhouse effect puny, mankind's contribution to it is minuscule. The overwhelming majority (97%) of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere comes from nature, not from man. Volcanoes, swamps, rice paddies, fallen leaves, and even insects and bacteria produce carbon dioxide, as well as methane. According to the journal Science (Nov. 5, 1982), termites alone emit ten times more carbon dioxide than all the factories and automobiles in the world. Natural wetlands emit more greenhouse gases than all human activities combined. (If greenhouse warming is such a problem, why are we trying to save all the wetlands?) Geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park emits ten times the carbon dioxide of a midsized coal-burning power plant, and volcanoes emit hundreds of times more.

In fact, our atmosphere's composition is primarily the result of volcanic activity. There are about 100 active volcanoes today, mostly in remote locations, and we're living in a period of relatively low volcanic activity. There have been times when volcanic activity was ten times greater than in modern times. But by far the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions is the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It produces 72% of the earth's emissions of carbon dioxide, and the rest of the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and the other oceans also contribute. The human contribution is overshadowed by these far larger sources of carbon dioxide. Combining the factors of water vapor and nature's production of carbon dioxide, we see that 99.8% of any greenhouse effect has nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions from human activity. So how much effect could regulating the tiny remainder have upon world climate, even if carbon dioxide determined climate?

Since carbon dioxide is a very weak greenhouse gas, computer models predicting environmental catastrophe depend on the small amount of warming from carbon dioxide being amplified by increased evaporation of water. But in the many documented periods of higher carbon dioxide, even during much warmer climate periods, that never happened. During the time of the dinosaurs, the carbon dioxide levels were 300-500% greater than today. Five hundred million years ago, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 15-20 times what it is today. Yet the catastrophic water-vapor amplification of carbon dioxide warming never occurred. Today we're told catastrophic warming will result if carbon dioxide doubles. But during the Ordovician Period, the carbon dioxide level was 12 times what it is today, and the earth was in an Ice Age. That's exactly opposite to the "runaway" warming that computer models predict should occur. Clearly the models are wrong; they depend upon an assumption of amplification that is contrary to the climate record of millions of years. There is no reason to trust the computer predictions - or base public policies on them. Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, has stated, "You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."

There are other examples where the computer models fail to agree with reality. According to the greenhouse hypothesis, the warming should occur equally during day and night. But most of the warming that has been observed has occurred at night, thus falsifying the models.

All of the models agree - for sound theoretical reasons - that warming from a greenhouse effect must be 2-3 times greater in the lower atmosphere than at the earth's surface. This is not happening. Both satellites and weather balloons show slightly greater warming at the surface. These atmospheric temperature measurements furnish direct, unequivocal evidence that whatever warming has occurred is not from the greenhouse effect.

Everyone knows the sun heats the earth, but the public is generally unaware that the sun's heat is not uniform. Solar radiation is affected by disturbances on the surface of the sun, called "sunspots," which correspond to the sun's 11-year magnetic cycle. There are also several solar cycles of longer duration. Superimposed, these cycles might augment or cancel each other. There are also periods when sunspots "crash," or almost disappear, which can lead to dramatic cooling of the earth for several decades. This is what happened 400 years ago during the Maunder Minimum, which was the coldest part of the Little Ice Age. During one 30-year period during the Maunder Minimum only about 50 sunspots were observed, compared to a typical 40-50 thousand.

Sunspots have now virtually vanished. You can check out pictures of the sun day after day after day for the last few years here. Very few show more than one sunspot and many show none. We are currently at a solar minimum, awaiting the start of the next solar cycle. If sunspot activity does not pick up soon, we could be in for some seriously cold climate. The jury is still out on sunspot numbers.

In any case, some climate scientists believe the length of past solar cycles points to a cool phase in this century. Professor Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, believes a slow decline in temperatures will begin as early as 2012-15 and will lead to a deep freeze in 2050-60 that will last about 50 years. Climatologist Tim Patterson thinks that by 2020 the sun will be starting its weakest 11-year sunspot cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on earth. He says, "If we're to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."

The global warming advocates make all sorts of false claims about dire consequences of global warming. They claim it will result in the spread of malaria, food shortages, more human deaths, more violent weather, and a loss of biological diversity through the extinction of species. All untrue. The largest number of species - the greatest biological diversity - is in the tropics. As you move away from the equator, you find fewer and fewer species, until you reach the earth's poles, where there is zero diversity because nothing can live there.

Agricultural productivity is also reduced by cold climate, not a warmer one. That's why Siberia and Alaska are not noted for agricultural abundance. A warmer climate would mean longer growing seasons and would make agriculture possible in areas where it isn't today. And there are at least 300 studies showing plants and forests grow faster and more luxuriantly under conditions of increased carbon dioxide.

Our bodies require heat. We are warm-blooded and have no fur. We wear clothes, build homes, and heat them with fires, all as protection against the cold. Far more people move to Florida, California, or Arizona because of warm climate than move to Alaska, North Dakota, or Montana. Canada is the world's second largest country, but 90% of the population lives within 100 miles of its southern border. Worldwide, far more people die every year from cold than from heat. So why should global warming be bad for us?

Global warming will not result in the spread of malaria. Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, is one of the world's foremost experts on insect-borne diseases. He says, "The global warming alarm is dressed up as science, but it is not science. It is propaganda. I was horrified to read the [IPCC] 2nd and 3rd Assessment Reports because there was so much misinformation." For example, the IPCC states "mosquito species that transmit malaria do not usually survive where the mean winter temperature drops below 16-18 degrees C." This is "clearly untrue," says Reiter. "In fact, mosquitoes are extremely abundant in the Arctic. The most devastating epidemic of malaria was in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. There were something like 13 million cases a year and something like 600,000 deaths, a tremendous catastrophe that reached up to the Arctic Circle. Arkhangel [a city 300 miles further north than Helsinki, Finland] had 30,000 cases and about 10,000 deaths. So it's not a tropical disease. Yet these people in the global warming fraternity invent the idea that malaria will move northward."

New York City and Boston had long histories of malaria. In 1933, when President Roosevelt authorized the Tennessee Valley Authority, a third of the population in the area had malaria. Malaria was not eliminated in the United States until 1951. It was done through the use of DDT - which the environmentalists prevailed upon the United States to ban, resulting in 40-50 million unnecessary deaths from malaria since 1972.

The environmentalists have also invented the idea that the polar bear is threatened by global warming. Today there are 22-25 thousand polar bears, compared to 8-10 thousand 40 years ago and only 5,000 in 1940, before the big rise in carbon dioxide. Eleven of the 13 polar bear groups in Canada today are stable or increasing. The two that are decreasing are in an area where the climate has gotten colder! Furthermore, the polar bears survived many periods of much warmer temperatures, some lasting thousands of years. They survived the Medieval Warm Period a thousand years ago, when the Vikings settled both Iceland and Greenland. Greenland actually was green then and could support agriculture; but when the cold returned a few centuries later, the people there all starved to death. Today Greenland is covered by a sheet of ice. Six thousand years ago the earth's climate was much warmer than now, and the polar bears survived. Ten thousand years ago the earth's climate was a whopping six degrees C (11 degrees F) warmer than now, and the bears survived. Polar bears have been a distinct species for 125,000 years (they descended from grizzly bears) and they've survived far warmer climates than anything they face today or in the foreseeable future. A Canadian polar bear expert, Mitch Taylor, says, "They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected."

The argument that a warmer climate will bring more violent weather can only be made by people who have no knowledge of climate history or simply dismiss it because it contradicts their propaganda. And they rely on the public - and the media - being uninformed enough and gullible enough to believe them. There is abundant historical evidence that the earth had far more violent weather in times of colder climate, such as the Little Ice Age, than in warmer times. It is well known, too, that what determines violent weather is the temperature differential between the equator and the poles. All the computer models predict the greatest warming from the greenhouse effect will be at the poles, which will reduce that differential and violent weather.

There are four sources of global temperature measurements: NASA, The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems). NASA is out of step with the other three. The others show global temperatures declining since 1998 while NASA shows them increasing at a record pace. How can that be? Statistician Steve McIntyre tracks climate data closely at Recently he ran an article titled "NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again." It explains that NASA has "adjusted" recent temperatures upward and older temperatures downward, which creates the appearance of warming.

The man behind these changes is James Hansen, the scientist who started the whole global warming hysteria by testifying before a Senate committee in June 1988 that he was "99% sure" greenhouse warming was already under way. The same media which scarcely a decade earlier were touting a coming ice age now seized upon Hansen's unsupported testimony and began touting global warming. Hansen has been trying ever since to come up with evidence to support his claims, now even tampering with the actual temperature record. Steven Goddard asks, "How could it be determined that so many thermometers were wrong by an average of 0.5 degrees in one particular year several decades ago, and an accurate retrofit be made? Why is the adjustment 0.5 degrees one year, and 0.1 degrees the next?" Statistically, the odds are 50/50 of an error being either up or down. But Hansen adds an upward correction to the average of thousands of temperature measurements annually across the globe in more than 55 years out of 70. That's like flipping a coin 70 times and having it turn up heads 55 times. The odds of that happening are about one in a million.

Nor is that the only example of manipulation of data for the good of the cause. The centerpiece of the IPCC Third Assessment Report was the "hockey stick" graph by Michael Mann, et al. It showed a thousand years of "reconstructed" global temperatures as a long horizontal trend looking like the long handle of a hockey stick - with a sharp rise since 1900 looking like the blade of the hockey stick, due to global warming. This work has now been thoroughly discredited. It was the product of multiple inaccuracies from errors, omissions, obsolete data, and manipulations in "reconstructing" data, all of which was then processed through an invalid statistical procedure. That procedure was found to produce a "hockey stick" even from random inputs, and Mann himself later admitted it would find a "hockey stick" where there wasn't one. The National Academy of Sciences found a "validation skill not significantly different from zero."

The issue was presented to the National Academy of Sciences by the Wegman Panel, consisting of three independent statisticians chaired by an eminent statistics professor, Edward Wegman, who also testified about it at a congressional investigation. After explaining the incorrect mathematics in Mann's procedure, Wegman stated: "I am baffled by the [Mann] claim that incorrect mathematics doesn't matter because the answer is correct anyway[!]" Ideology trumps mathematics! (Incidentally, this graph is still being used on TV programs on global warming. I was on one such program less than a year ago that displayed this graph four or five times in an hour and allowed Mann plenty of airtime to tout it, and the program provided no rebuttal. And I have been told by students and parents that the "hockey stick" graph is still being used in schools.)

Here's an example of the global warming alarmists completely ignoring contrary data, or even denying it exists. Some scientists assert that the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (about 380 parts per million) is the highest in 800,000 years. The media sucks this up and broadcasts it all over the airwaves and the newspapers, and the public, not knowing any better, believes it must be true. But how could such learned men be so ignorant in their own field of expertise as to not know of the abundant temperature records that give lie to their claim? How could they not know of the monumental compilation by Ernst-Georg Beck of more than 90,000 direct carbon dioxide measurements, between 1812 and 1961, from 175 published technical papers? Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., says these measurements were ignored for three decades "not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by top scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, using techniques that are standard textbook procedures. . . . The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming. I regard this as perhaps the greatest scientific scandal of our time."

What about the ice core samples? Same story: omission or denial of whatever doesn't fit the global warming doctrine. The 2007 IPCC Summary report states: "The global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2005 exceeds by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years (180 to 300 ppm) as determined from ice cores." In fact, the ice cores show measurements of over 400 ppm as recently as about 1700 A.D. and 420 ppm about 200 A.D. Ice cores show similar carbon dioxide levels intermittently over the last 10,000 years. So who is wrong, the ice cores or the IPCC? Just who are the "deniers" of reality?

Jaworowski has studied climate for over 40 years, organized 11 glacier expeditions researching 17 glaciers in the Arctic, Antarctic, Alps, Norway, Himalayas, Peruvian Andes, and other mountainous regions. He has also published about 20 papers on climate issues, most of them about ice cores. He writes that the ice core information in the 2007 IPCC Summary Report was "plagued with improper manipulation of data, an arbitrary rejection of high readings from old ice, and an arbitrary rejection of low readings from young ice, simply because they did not fit the preconceived idea of man-made global warming ."

Furthermore, from over 90,000 direct measurements of carbon dioxide, Beck graphed five-year averages, which further discredit the IPCC claim. These show 440 ppm carbon dioxide for the years 1820 and 1940, and 390 ppm for 1855. Can there be any doubt that the IPCC is distorting science for political purposes?

Why is it that the global warming advocates are unfazed by any contrary evidence, no matter how strong? All their claims of disasters from global warming have been debunked. All their computer models have been shown to be false, to be based on flawed assumptions, incapable of being reconciled with the observable facts. Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic and a university professor before he became president, is the author of a book on global warming and has spoken often on the subject. He says, "What frustrates me is the feeling that everything has already been said and published, that all rational argument has been used, yet it does not help." It does not help because global warming alarmism is not based on rational argument. It is not based on science. It is not based on reality. It is based on political ideology. If rational argument doesn't fit, then phony arguments must be invented: the spread of malaria, the loss of biological diversity, polar bears disappearing, etc. If computer models can predict disaster scenarios only by programming unrealistic assumptions, then that will be done. If global warming does not fit the observable temperature measurements, then a new "reality" must be invented to fit the ideology: the actual temperature records must be altered or dismissed. The global warming advocates are not disturbed by all this because, in their view, ideology trumps reality.

Patrick Moore, a cofounder and director of Greenpeace, resigned because of its "trend toward abandoning scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas." After the failure of communism, he says, there was little public support for collectivist ideology. In his view, a "reason environmental extremism emerged was because world communism failed, the [Berlin] wall came down, and a lot of peaceniks and political activists moved into the environmental movement bringing their neo-Marxism with them and learned to use green language in a very clever way to cloak agendas that actually have more to do with anticapitalism and antiglobalism than they do anything with ecology or science." "I think if we don't overthrow capitalism, we don't have a chance of saving the world ecologically," said Judi Bari, principal organizer of Earth First!

James Hansen revealed his hatred of capitalism in an impassioned email denouncing the attention paid to errors in NASA temperature data: "The deceit behind the attempts to discredit evidence of climate change reveals matters of importance. This deceit has a clear purpose: to confuse the public about the status of knowledge of global climate change, thus delaying effective action to mitigate climate change. The danger is that delay will cause tipping points to be passed, such that large climate impacts become inevitable . . . the ones who will live in infamy if we pass the tipping points, are the captains of industry, CEOs in fossil fuel companies such as EXXON/Mobil, automobile manufacturers, utilities, all of the leaders who have placed short-term profit above the fate of the planet and the well-being of our children."

Klaus states:
We succeeded in getting rid of communism, but along with many others, we erroneously assumed that attempts to suppress freedom, and to centrally organize, mastermind, and control society and the economy, were matters of the past, an almost-forgotten relic. Unfortunately, those centralizing urges are still with us. . . . Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people and nature friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior and our values. . . .

The followers of the environmentalist ideology, however, keep presenting us with various catastrophic scenarios with the intention of persuading us to implement their ideas. That is not only unfair but also extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous, in my view, is the quasi-scientific guise that their oft-refuted forecasts have taken on. . . . Their recommendations would take us back to an era of statism and restricted freedom. . . . The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical - the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of the proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality. . . . We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society. . . . It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.

Do you ever wonder how communism could last for 70 years in Russia? Surely there was plenty of evidence, for decades, that the system was failing: food shortages, declining life expectancy, increased infant mortality, low standards of living, primitive hospitals, and sanitation facilities lagging far behind those in Western Europe and America - not to mention pollution far worse than in the West. But to diehard communists, the facts did not matter. All the observable negatives of collectivism were trumped by ideology. The same is true of the ideology behind global warming.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

The two sides of the global warming debate

The story below from "The Australian" gives a much more comprehensive account of the realist view than one normally sees in a major newspaper

Has global warming stopped? The question alone is enough to provoke scorn from the mainstream scientific community and from the Government, which says the earth has never been hotter. But tell that to a new army of sceptics who have mushroomed on internet blog sites and elsewhere in recent months to challenge some of the most basic assumptions and claims of climate change science. Their claims are provocative and contentious but they are also attracting attention, so much sothat mainstream scientists are being forced torespond.

The bloggers and others make several key claims. They say the way of measuring the world's temperature is frighteningly imprecise and open to manipulation. They argue that far from becoming hotter, the world's temperatures have cooled in the past decade, contrary to the overwhelming impression conveyed by scientists and politicians. As such, they say there should be far greater scepticism towards the apocalyptic predictions about climate change. Even widely accepted claims, such as that made by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong that "the 12 hottest years in history have all been in the last 13 years", are being openly challenged.

"She is just plain wrong," says Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs. "It's not a question of debate. What about the medieval warming period? The historical record shows they were growing wine in England, for goodness sake; come on. It is not disputed by anyone that the Vikings arrived in Greenland in AD900 and it was warmer than Greenland is now. What Penny Wong is doing is being selective and saying that is a long time ago."

But selective use of facts and data is fast becoming an art form on both sides of the climate change debate now that real money is at stake as the West ponders concrete schemes to reduce carbon emissions. So what is the validity of some of the key claims being made by these new blogger sceptics? Their first claim is that the most basic aspect of climate change science - the measurement of global warming - is flawed, imprecise and open to manipulation.

The earth's temperature is measured using land-based weather stations - in effect, a network of thermometers scattered unevenly across the globe - as well as via satellites and ocean-based weather sensors. There are four agencies that measure the world's temperatures and each has different methodology and produces varying, although not dramatically different, results.

Sceptics accuse climate change believers of always quoting the agency that shows the highest level of warming, the US National Aeronautic and Space Administration's Goddard Institute for Space Studies run by prominent climate change scientist and activist James Hansen. An independent study by Yale University in the US shows GISS says the earth has warmed by 0.025C a year during the past eight years while the other best-known measurement agency, London's Hadley Centre, says it warmed by only 0.014C a year during the same period. Not surprisingly, the Hadley figures are the most quoted by climate change sceptics while the GISS figures are most popular with climate change believers.

David Evans, former consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office, says Hansen's GISS is unreliable because it is the only measurement agency that relies almost wholly on land-based data instead of satellites. "Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the urban heat island effect," he says. "Urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars and houses." As such, he alleges that the GISS figures - which are enormously influential in the climate change debate - are "hopelessly corrupted" and may even be manipulated to suit Hansen's views on global warming.

A group of weather buffs in the US also has attacked GISS's methodology, putting together an online photo gallery of US weather stations at website that shows some thermometers situated next to asphalt runways and parking lots where they would pick up excess warming.

But GISS says the distorting impact of this urban warming is negated because data from these stations is modified to remove these effects and give a true reading. Hansen acknowledges there may be flaws in the weather station data because temperature measurement is not always a precise science. But he says this does not mean big-picture trends can't be drawn from the data. He says: "That doesn't mean you give up on the science and that you can't draw valid conclusions about the nature of earth's temperature change."

Hansen has been infuriated by the attacks on GISS by climate change critics. Last year Canadian blogger and retired businessman Stephen McIntyre exposed a minor mistake in Hansen's figures that had caused GISS to overstate US temperatures by a statistically small 0.15C since 2000. Sceptics were energised. "We have proof of man-made global warming," roared conservative American radio host Rush Limbaugh. "The man-made global warming is inside NASA."

Hansen struck back, saying he would "not joust with court jesters" who sought to "create a brouhaha and muddy the waters in the climate change story".

What the bloggers have succeeded in doing is to highlight that measuring climate change is an evolving science. But their success has been at the margins only. So far they have failed to prove that these discrepancies negate the broader core arguments about the trends of global warming.

However, the second argument being put forward by blogger sceptics is more accessible to the public and therefore is having a greater impact. They argue that, contrary to the impressions given about global warming, the earth's temperatures have plateaued during the past decade and may have cooled in recent years. This, they argue, should not be happening when carbon emissions are growing rapidly. This was not what the climate change modellers predicted. Their conclusion therefore is that carbon emissions are not the driver of warming and climate change and that the earth is not heading for a climate change apocalypse caused by greenhouse gases.

"All official measures of global temperature show that it peaked in 1998 and has been declining since at least 2002," says climate change sceptic Bob Carter, a science adviser to the Australian Climate Science Coalition. "And this is in the face of an almost 5 per cent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1998. Spot the problem?"

A careful analysis of global temperature graphs from each of the measurement agencies confirm that - despite variations between them - there has not been any notable warming since 2000. Depending on which graphs you use, global temperatures since 2000 have been more or less flat. Some, such as the GISS data, show a modest rise, while others show negligible movement and even a small fall in recent years.

Sceptics like to use graphs that date from 1998 because that was the hottest year on record due to El Nino influences and therefore the temperature trends for the decade look flattest when 1998 is the starting point. But ultimately this is a phony war because most mainstream scientists do not dispute that global temperatures have remained relatively flat during the past decade. Where they differ with the sceptics is on how this outcome should be interpreted.

"The changes in temperature over the past 10 years have basically plateaued," says Andy Pitman, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW. "But scientists did not anticipate a gradual year-by-year warming in temperature. What matters is the long-term trend. This outcome does not change any of the science but it does change the spin climate deniers can put on it."

The sceptics are having a field day with this trend. The IPA's Marohasy says: "In the last 10 years we have seen an increase in carbon dioxide levels yet temperatures are coming down. That, if anyone looks at the actual data, is not disputable. Carbon dioxide is not driving temperatures because there are other important climatic factors at play."

Most scientists are adamant that any assessment of climate change based on only 10 years of data is not only meaningless but reckless. "From a climate standpoint it is far too short a period to have any significance," says Amanda Lynch, a climate change scientist at Melbourne's Monash University. "What we are seeing now is consistent with our understanding of variability between decades. If we hung about for another 30 years and it kept going down, then you might start to think there is something we don't understand. But the evidence at this point suggests this is not something we should hang around and wait for."

Climate change scientists say we must go back much further than the past decade and pay attention to the longer-term trend lines that run through the temperature data and clearly trend upwards. Lynch says other factors beyond temperature are also relevant. "In the last 10 years there has been a catastrophic and massive Arctic sea ice retreat. We've seen glacial retreat, permafrost thaw and ocean thermal expansion, so temperature is not the whole story."

But the sceptics are undeterred. "It is widely alleged that the science of global warming is settled," says the US-based Science and Public Policy Institute. "This implies that all the major scientific aspects of climate change are well understood and uncontroversial. The allegation is profoundly untrue ... even the most widely held opinions should never be regarded as an ultimate truth."

Matthew England, from the Climate Change Research Centre, describes the latest blog war by climate change sceptics as an amazing phenomenon. "Climate change is a robust area of science and there is plenty that is still being debated and new discoveries are still being made," he says. "It is a topic (that) will keep attracting different opinions from enthusiasts and from bloggers. They are a minority but they are proving to be a very vocal group."


Global Warming: It isn't a hoax and it isn't a crisis

An interview with Iain Murray by

The Chilling Effect: We ran into you at the Americans For Prosperity/RightOnline event, where you were on speaking a panel regarding global warming. Some in the audience were certain that global warming is a hoax, while others were agnostic on the science. Given your review of the issue, what's your best guess on climate change?

Iain S. Murray: I think it's pretty conclusive that, all other things being equal, more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to a warmer atmosphere. However, it's clear from the recent plateau in temperatures, while GHGs have continued to accumulate, that all other things are not equal. We really don't know very much about the other "forcings," as they call them, that go in to deciding the global temperature, and clearly need more research on them. We also don't know very much at all about the history of climate beyond 400 years ago. We need to know not just what regulates the atmosphere, but whether temperature swings are unusual or not.

TCE: What frustrates you most, then, about the current debate over climate change?

ISM: There are a lot of things we can do - the so-called "no regrets" policies - that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or create a global economy more resilient to change that would be beneficial even if global warming doesn't turn out to be a problem. However, these policies are ignored by the global warming industry because they require a little lateral thinking and don't create massive bureaucracies and central control. Meanwhile, there are many who deride such policies because they see global warming as a hoax. The truth is it isn't a hoax, not is it a crisis. It's a risk to be managed. So let's manage it!

TCE: It doesn't take long to understand the thesis of your book, since the title does a great job of summing it up. One of the most interesting arguments you make is that "Gore's vision of greater state control over the economy has already produced some of the greatest environmental disasters in history." Can you give our readers a quick idea of what you mean?

ISM: The central insight of free-market environmentalism is that people with an ownership stake in the environment generally take care of their asset. Yet the Goreite approach to the environment seeks to take control out of the hand of the owner and give it to the commons either by regulation (forcing or even "nudging" the owner to do something he wouldn't otherwise) or by direct public ownership. This leads to what ecologist Garret Hardin called "The Tragedy of the Commons," as far back as 1968. So it was nationalization of the nation's waterways that led to the Cuyahoga catching on fire, biofuel subsidies and mandates that have led to food crises and deforestation, public management of forests that led to Yellowstone almost burning down 20 years ago, the de facto ban on DDT that led to the failure to control malaria in Africa and, worst of all, the Soviet direct management of waterways in Asia that led to the destruction of the Aral Sea.

TCE: When you get feedback from people who have read your book, what is the most common thing that they mention? What strikes or surprises them most, or what pushback have you gotten from critics?

ISM: The people I thought would criticize the book have largely ignored it, which seems to be the liberal environmentalist approach these days to things they don't like. They regard such arguments as literally unspeakable. Of those open-minded enough to read the book, the thing that has gotten the most attention is the revelation of the environmental movement's silence over a number of issues that plainly affect the environment by their own lights - the effects of the contraceptive pill on the nation's freshwater fish, the encouragement of mass immigration to the US and so on. And, of course, everyone wants to know about global warming. In fact, if I'd written my book purely on global warming I'm sure it would have sold more copies, but there are plenty of other books out there doing that. I wanted to stress how global warming alarmism is just the latest in a series of environmentally-based power grabs.

TCE: There are a lot of us who want to keep the world in good order but think the evidence just isn't there on global warming. For someone who cares about the environment, what are the best practical ways to keep our world clean and improve energy for the future?

ISM: The best practical steps, I think, are to exercise traditional virtues of thrift and conservation. Turn you lights off when you're not using them. Don't drive too far for something that isn't really worth it. Spend time with your children rather than leaving them in front of a TV or video game. All these activities will lower your bills and lower emissions. Better sources of energy will come as the market responds to them. If people are willing to pay more for "cleaner" energy, the market will respond. However, we must recognize that this is a luxury purchase. So were TVs 30 years ago. We must allow people to get richer, around the world, so that such energy sources cease to be luxuries. However, that, ironically, requires access to affordable energy. So the last thing we should do is seek to raise the price of energy for everyone.

TCE: Do you have any pet projects or quirky arguments/ideas that you wish policymakers or the think tank community would latch onto when it comes to the global warming and energy debate?

ISM: Reform the Air Traffic Control system! The current system is based on a 1920s system of beacons and is ridiculously labor-intensive in the days of GPS navigation. Simple reforms could reduce the amount of fuel used - and emissions generated - by 0.4 million barrels of oil per day. That's a great example of the sort of no regrets policy I mentioned earlier. Oh, and we need to remove all the regulatory barriers we have put in the way of energy innovation, but that's a longer argument for another day.


Climate change computer models are limited

Computer models that predict climate change have improved during the past decade, but they still have deficiencies such as predicting precipitation over specific regions, according to a report released recently by a unit of the Energy Department. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program's report, "Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations," examined some computer models of the earth's climate and their ability to simulate current climate change.

To assure that future climate projections are used appropriately, it's important to understand what current models are able to simulate effectively, the document said. "This report makes an important contribution in helping to describe and explain the current state of high-end climate modeling for the non-specialist," said David Bader, with DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the coordinating lead author for the report.

The report described complex mathematical models used to simulate the earth's climate on powerful supercomputers and assesses the model's ability to reproduce observed climate features. It also studied the model's sensitivity to changes in conditions such as atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

Despite progress in modeling over the last 10 years, a number of systematic biases remain, particularly in the simulation of regional precipitation, the report said. On smaller geographic scales, when compared to the current climate, the simulated climate varies substantially from model to model, it added. "No current model is superior to others in all respects, but rather different models have differing strengths and weaknesses," the report stated.

To develop the report, DOE chartered a Federal Advisory Committee comprised of 29 members drawn from academia, the government scientific community, nonprofit and for-profit organizations that drafted and oversaw the review of the report.


Hydrogen-Wind-Nuclear Plant in Ontario Not Currently Worthwhile, Study Shows

A recent case study on using hydrogen to store the electricity generated by a mix of wind and nuclear power in Ontario, Canada, has shown that the hydrogen addition won't be worth the cost, at least not at the current state of hydrogen technology development. Bruce Power - Canada's first private nuclear generating company - is considering including a hydrogen storage and distribution component to go along with a large scale wind farm, all presently sharing the main electrical transmission line in Bruce County, Ontario.

The province's first commercial wind farm, Huron Wind, is located on the shore of Lake Huron. Its five wind turbines provide a maximum output power of 9 MW. Additional large scale wind farms are located close by, using the same transmission lines.

Bruce Power's nuclear power plant, located about 250 km northwest of Toronto, consists of six reactors. Together, the reactors generate a total output power of 4,830 MW, which supplies more than 20% of Ontario's electricity.

Using hydrogen as a storage and distribution method for the electricity generated by the wind farm and nuclear plant from the same region could have several potential benefits. When the cost of electricity is low, for example, the company could store part of its electricity production as hydrogen, and then sell it back to the electricity market when the price increases. Similarly, electricity could be stored as hydrogen when there is not enough line capacity to transfer it all at once. In periods of low winds, hydrogen storage could help make up for the variability and in periods of high winds and constrained transmission capacities, hydrogen could be used to store the electricity. In the future, the hydrogen itself could be sold to a hydrogen market, which could be more profitable than selling it back to the electricity market.

However, costs of the initial investment, production, and operation won't be matched by the profit solely from storing electricity as hydrogen, according to the study by Gregor Taljan and Gregor Verbi? from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Claudio Ca¤izares and Michael Fowler from the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Even with an optimistic hydrogen production efficiency of 60% through electrolysis, the researchers' evaluation shows that the electricity stored as hydrogen would need to be sold to the electricity market at a high price that rarely happens in order for the scheme to be profitable. As the researchers demonstrate, the selling price of electricity would need to be about four times the buying electricity price for the hydrogen system to profit from storing electricity.

"This study is very important from the viewpoint of finding synergies between electrical energy and chemical energy stored in hydrogen," Taljan told "The study shows that currently, hydrogen is not profitable solely for electricity storage. On the other hand, it might be economically acceptable to produce hydrogen from electricity at advantageous electricity/hydrogen prices. Furthermore, hydrogen is shown to be a highly favorable option when there are electricity transmission constraints in the area, limiting sales of electricity of a power producer."

As the researchers explain, hydrogen storage might be an economically feasible option for storing electricity in times of insufficient electricity transmission line capacities, which would otherwise be dumped. This could be especially true in cases where the upgrade of transmission systems is not an option due to various reasons (such as remote location, resistance of local population, etc.).

The study also showed that a hydrogen sub-system for producing hydrogen could be profitable if there is sufficient hydrogen demand. For instance, transportation applications (such as cars, trains, and planes) could provide a market for buying hydrogen produced by a mixed wind-nuclear plant.

"Hydrogen production might become profitable when the Hydrogen Economy becomes fully mature, i.e. when the demand, and correspondingly prices, for hydrogen increases (expected mainly from the transportation sector)," Taljan said. "This might happen when the prices of fossil fuels rise as a result of many different possible factors (e.g. shrinking reserves, higher demand, political instabilities, CO2 emissions trading schemes). In this scenario, hydrogen might become a real fossil fuel substitute option which will drive up the hydrogen demand and prices, making the hydrogen production a lucrative business.

"In this context, it is also important that research into hydrogen production, storage, transmission, distribution and consumption components `wins the battle' with the electron economy, where the energy carrier is considered to be electricity. Those two economies compete in many different areas, such as efficiencies, durability, and prices. Currently, hydrogen is advantageous in terms of higher energy density and durability but still lags in efficiencies."

The team's investigation into the feasibility of hydrogen is further elaborated in two other recent studies. "Hydrogen storage for mixed wind-nuclear power plants in the context of a Hydrogen Economy," which is published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, deals with how the excess oxygen and heat utilizations would improve the economics of hydrogen systems primarily designed for storing of electricity.

The second study, "Study of Mixed Wind-Nuclear-Hydrogen Power Plants," which is going to be presented at this year's North American Power Symposium in Calgary, demonstrates that hydrogen is not economically feasible for the sole purpose of storing electricity, in spite of residual heat and oxygen utilization, and based on current hydrogen production and utilization technologies.


Global warming: Where is the heat and science?

What the mainstream media has been feeding our nation on the issue of global warming is more hype than heat and more scam than science. Thus, for a change, we shall look at the facts. First question: Where is the heat?

Scientist Robert Balling Jr., director of the Laboratory of Climatology at Arizona State University, examined the temperature records from European ground stations over the last 250 years. What were his findings? He said,

"There had been no warming in Europe during the past 65 years. Europe warmed only .58 degrees Celsius during the past 250 years, with all of the warming taking place between 1890 and the mid-1930s and at the same time as an increase in the output of the sun.

An in-depth study released by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine states: "The average temperature of the Earth has varied within a range of about 3 degrees Celsius during the past 3,000 years. It is currently increasing as the Earth recovers from a period that is known as the Little Ice Age. ... "Compiled U.S. surface temperatures have increased about 0.5 degrees Celsius per century, which is consistent with other historical values of 0.4 to 0.5 degrees Celsius per century during the recovery from the Little Ice Age. ... Three intermediate trends are evident, including the decreasing trend used to justify fears of `global cooling' in the 1970s.

"While the average temperature change taking place as the Earth recovers from the Little Ice Age is so slight that it is difficult to discern, its environmental effects are measurable. "Greenland, for example, is beginning to turn green again, as it was 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Climate Optimum. Arctic sea ice is decreasing somewhat, but Antarctic ice is not decreasing and may be increasing, due to increased snow.

"All of the observed climate changes are gradual, moderate and entirely within the bounds of ordinary natural changes that have occurred during the benign period of the past few thousand years. "There is no indication whatever in the experimental data that an abrupt or remarkable change in any of the ordinary natural climate variables is beginning or will begin to take place."

The facts tell us that the average temperature increase over the past 100 years is 0.5 degrees C and this is all in the range of normality. So where is the heat? It is minimal and in the range of normality. Second question: Where is the science?

In 1996, The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, a United Nations Organization, released its report "The Science of Climate Change 1995." It addressed the issue of the human impact on the earth's climate and was hailed by the media as the latest and most authoritative statement on global warming. Soon after its release, there was a protest by some scientist of the handling of this document and the version of it that was released to the media. The Wall Street Journal carried this article titled "A Major Deception on Global Warming"˜ by Frederick Seitz. In the editorial, Seitz had this to say:
"In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.

"A comparison between the report approved by the contributing scientists and the published version reveals that key changes were made after the scientists had met and accepted what they thought was the final peer-reviewed version.

"If they lead to carbon taxes and restraints on economic growth, they will have a major and almost certainly destructive impact on the economies of the world. Whatever the intent was of those who made these significant changes, their effect is to deceive policy makers and the public into believing that the scientific evidence shows human activities are causing global warming."

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel and a television meteorologist for more than 54 years, has called global warming alarmism "The Greatest Scam in history˜."Scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long-term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming," he said.

The truth is, there has been scientific manipulation of the facts for a desired outcome. That is the reason Dr. Frederick Seitz and several other credible scientists started the "Petition Project"˜ that states that global warming is not a crisis and that we should all oppose higher energy tax schemes as well as the Kyoto Treaty. How many have signed this "Petition Project"?˜ More than 31,000 American scientists have signed the Petition!

Where is the heat? It is little, normal and natural. Where is the science? It is limited and manipulated, to be certain, and used to promote a certain political and economical outcome.


Aggressive Greenie "protesters" in England

Coercion and self-publicity are the stock in trade of the Green/Left. They NEED to be noticed

Hundreds of riot police pushed back protesters at the Kingsnorth coal power station "climate camp" in Kent yesterday, as officers raided the site and made eight arrests. Kent Police seized four men aged between 24 and 45 for public order offences in dawn skirmishes. A 27-year-old man was also arrested for obstructing police and a 40-year-old man was held on suspicion of possessing a prohibited weapon.

Scuffles broke out as shield-carrying officers moved in to surround protesters in the afternoon after the high-profile arrival of five campaigners who are trying to breach a court order banning them from entering the site. Police also stopped food deliveries to the camp.

The five protesters - Paul Morozzo, Jonathan Stevenson, Ellen Potts, Mel Evans and Oli Rodker - were among 29 that were arrested in June for stopping a coal delivery train outside Drax power station in North Yorkshire. Their bail conditions ban them from going near any British power station and from attending the climate camp but they phoned ahead to warn the local police commander of their arrival aboard the 1.33pm train from London Victoria to Chatham, Kent.

Mr Morozzo, 41, was arrested after being identified as a bail-breaker but the other four managed to sneak inside the camp despite the police sealing off the perimeter and holding identity checks. Another man was arrested at the time. Lawyers warned the group they are likely to face prison by entering the site. A spokeswoman for Kent Police said: "Police are investigating the arrival of campaigners believed to have breached their bail conditions but we cannot confirm how many arrests have been made."

About 700 protesters were on site yesterday; police sources said they expect about 2,000 this week, gathering to show their disapproval at plans by the plant's owners, E.ON, to build a new coal-powered station on the site. Protesters have promised to shut down Kingsnorth on Saturday.

Before arriving at the site, Mr Morozzo said: "I'm pretty nervous about being arrested because I've never been to prison. It will be bad but the worst thing about being arrested will be that I won't get to go to an event that I have been planning for a long time. This is one of the most important issues of our generation and it's vital that we are allowed to discuss it. It's tragic that the police seem to want to stop that."

Mr Stevenson, 26, who remained at large last night, had prepared for arrest by posting his father a birthday card and texting his parents: "I'm sorry I haven't said anything before, but I didn't want to worry you. It looks like I might be arrested at climate camp. It is my choice and it's something I feel strongly about. Please don't be angry." Ms Potts, 32, added: "We are also doing this because we feel our bail conditions are disproportionate to our supposed offences. I can see the logic in keeping us away from power stations, but to keep us away from this event, where people are meeting to discuss how to tackle climate change, is wrong."



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Hurricanes pesky -- so try rain

All the claims about global warming causing hurricanes have by now been very widely debunked so the Warmists have to find some alternative disaster. So now they turn to rain. It's basic physics that warmer seas will lead to more precipitation but Warmists don't care about basic physics so they have to "discover" the same thing by some more roundabout route. "Powerful rainstorms" are now said to be a problem caused by warming.

A problem?? What it wrong with heavy rain? It is great for crops. I grew up in the tropics, where we measured our annual rainfall not in inches but in yards. And the rain was so heavy we used to say that it came down "in sheets". All that rain was slightly pesky at times but the environment sure was lush and all the crops grew like mad. We had fields of grass that was over 6' high. And the grass concerned (sugar cane) was and is the world's cheapest source of sugar and ethanol. Heavier rain would be GREAT!

And India and much of Asia have lived with monsoonal rain for millennia. They seem to have survived somehow. People actually welcome the monsoon there, funnily enough

Climate models have long predicted that global warming will increase the intensity of extreme precipitation events. A new study conducted at the University of Miami and the University of Reading (U.K.) provides the first observational evidence to confirm the link between a warmer climate and more powerful rainstorms.

One of the most serious challenges humanity will face in response to global warming is adapting to changes in extreme weather events. Of utmost concern is that heavy rainstorms will become more common and more intense in a warmer climate due to the increased moisture available for condensation. More intense rain events increase the risk of flooding and can have substantial societal and economic impacts.

To understand how precipitation responds to a warmer climate, researchers in this study used naturally-driven changes associated with El Ni¤o as a laboratory for testing their hypotheses. Based on 20 years of satellite observations, they found a distinct link between tropical rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods. "A warmer atmosphere contains larger amounts of moisture which boosts the intensity of heavy downpours," said Dr. Brian J. Soden, associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.

The report, "Atmospheric Warming and the Amplification of Precipitation Extremes," previewed in Science Express this Thursday, August 7, and published in an upcoming issue of Science, found that both observations and models indicated an increase in heavy rainstorms in response to a warmer climate. However, the observed amplification of rainfall extremes was found to be substantially larger in the observations than what is predicted by current models. "Comparing observations with results from computer models improves understanding of how rainfall responds to a warming world" said Dr. Richard P. Allan, NERC advance fellow at the University of Reading's Environmental Systems Science Centre. "Differences can relate to deficiencies in the measurements, or the models used to predict future climatic change"


Could the Earth be cooling its heels?

One thing could quash the debate over "global warming" real quick - global cooling - and it could be on the way. This brave, against-the-grain prognostication that the Earth's average temperature could be actually starting to decrease comes from agricultural meteorologist Drew Lerner, who in circles of the global warming in-crowd is known as a "denier."

Apparently this is because his opinion is based on a well-grounded theory that global warming and cooling are largely affected by factors such as solar radiation, Arctic winds, water vapor and the El Ni¤o/La Ni¤a phenomena, and less by the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere.

Lerner's opinion runs contrary to those of "alarmists" such as Al Gore - who blames man-made global warming for increased hurricane activity, rising sea levels and making him tell a fib about creating the Internet. Lerner doesn't say that global warming has not been occurring over the last two to three decades, or that man's activity has not had an impact on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It's just that carbon dioxide doesn't play as big a role in climate change as other factors do. And those factors, surprisingly, are now pointing toward the Earth cooling its heels.

Lerner is definitely outnumbered by detractors. Recently, the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change estimated that global temperatures will rise 2 to 10 degrees by 2100. A scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., projected a 5-degree increase by the end of the century. And Gore, pre-eminent para-scientist that he is, warns that warming will result in a rise in sea level of 20 feet over the next 20 years, which would put much of the current U.S. coastline under water.

Lerner bases his cooling forecast on cycles of the sun - the single driving force for the entire energy equation on the planet. How much energy we receive from the sun determines how warm or cold temperatures are in the oceans and polar regions, which in turn affects climate.

The amount of energy emitted by the sun started a downward cycle around 1983, according to Lerner. If information Lerner has gathered is correct, there is evidence that a decline in the sun's energy will correlate to a decline in Earth's temperatures within 25 to 30 years. If it's 25 years, the cooling off process should be starting this year and will continue over the next 10 to 15 years. His theory is that it will take a few years before the cooling is uniform throughout the atmosphere. "We could start seeing actual cooler temperatures in 2013 and beyond."

Lerner qualifies his forecast of cooler weather saying that he nor anyone really has a handle on what moves the global climate, a stand more reputable scientists should take. If Lerner does prove correct, I doubt it would chill Al Gore and his friends, who would simply rev everyone up for the coming Ice Age - while finding a way to blame global warming for it.


Britain: Suddenly being green is not cool any more

Julie Burchill can't stand them. According to her new book, Not in my Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy, she thinks all environmentalists are po-faced, unsexy, public school alumni who drivel on about the end of the world because they don't want the working classes to have any fun, go on foreign holidays or buy cheap clothes.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, agrees. In an interview with Rachel Sylvester and me, he told us that the "nutbag ecologists" are the overindulged rich who have nothing better to do with their lives than talk about hot air and beans.

So the salad days are over; it's the end of the greens. Where only a year ago the smart new eco-warriors were revered, wormeries and unbleached cashmere jeans are now seen as a middle-class indulgence. But the problem for the green lobby isn't that it has been overrun by "toffs": it's the chilly economic climate that has frozen the shoots of environmentalism. Espousing the green life, with its misshapen vegetables and non-disposable nappies, is increasingly being seen as a luxury by everyone.

Only a year ago, according to MORI, 15 per cent of those polled put the environment in their top three concerns. That figure has dropped by a third to 10 per cent this month. Now that people are fighting for their own survival rather than their grandchildren's, they put crime, the economy and rising prices at the top of their list.

According to Andrew Cooper, director of the research company, Populus: "There is a direct correlation between how people perceive the economy and the importance they place on the environment. When times are tough people resent paying more to salve their conscience." This means that fewer people are now buying organic chickens from smart supermarkets when they can pay œ3.99 at Lidl. With all food prices rising, the organic market is being credit-crunched. Demand for it grew by 70 per cent from 2002 to 2007; now it has stalled, according to the consultancy Organic Monitor. The vast new organic Whole Foods Store on Kensington High Street in London is so quiet you can hear the cheese breathe in the specially designed glass room. Meanwhile the demand for takeaway pizzas and McDonald's has risen as people find the cheapest way to eat.

When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party he said that green issues were at the top of his agenda. His slogan for the local elections last year was "Vote Blue, Go Green". But in the past few months he has realised that voters have lost the appetite for their greens. He has only given one environmental speech since Christmas. Once he used to talk about putting a $6,000 windmill on top of his house. Now the message is not about conserving the planet but preserving his bank balance. He wears catalogue clothes, grows his own vegetables and holidays barefoot in Britain because it is less extravagant, not because he is trying to reduce his global footprint.

In fact, when the Tory leader's bicycle was stolen a week ago, the message of the story was not how green he was for riding his bike, but how broken our society has become when a politician finds his bike nicked from under his nose.

Boris Johnson was the first to realise that the tolerance for green taxes may have peaked. When he became Mayor of London, he dropped plans to charge a $50 congestion fee on gas-guzzling cars.

The Tories have quietly been reviewing many of their green policies. A range of measures designed to penalise motoring and other polluting activities has been put on hold in case they alienate families struggling to pay their bills. A proposal to tax the highest emitting cars up to œ500 more than the greenest vehicles has been quietly shelved, as has the plan to raise taxes on short-haul flights. Instead George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, has promised to cut tax on fuel when oil prices rise.

Gordon Brown has also stopped discussing his solar panels and compost heap in Scotland and is trying to dissociate himself from local council rubbish taxes - even though they have been driven by central government plans to put up landfill charges.

Both parties are looking at ways of rewarding people for being green rather than penalising them for throwing out their yoghurt pots with their teabags. Mr Osborne, in a speech last month, admitted: "When people are feeling the pinch, we need to make it pay to go green. Instead of being fined for not recycling, households should be paid for recycling."

When Barack Obama first decided to run for the presidency, he embraced the green cause. Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, about global warming had just become the biggest grossing documentary in history and Mr Gore had won the Nobel prize. But recently Mr Obama has been talking more about thrift than trees. Instead of showing off his recycling skills, he explains that his children don't receive Christmas or birthday presents.

It's not just the economic downturn that has harmed the green order. People have become wary of environmental causes that can turn out to do more harm than good. They don't want wind turbines marching across Britain's moors when nuclear power stations can do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They worry that washing and bleaching all those non-disposable nappies may be damaging the ozone layer, that the massive incentives for biofuels have distorted the world food market, and that green taxes are actually stealth taxes.

But paradoxically, just as Britain is turning its back on the environment, the country is finally becoming greener. Fewer people are moving house so they are buying fewer new white goods such as washing machines and fridges. They may not be queueing up for $18 organic Poilane bread, but for the first time in a decade they are discarding less food. They buy less impulsively and think more carefully before their weekly shop. Children are wearing hand-me-down uniforms rather than new ones made in sweatshops.

Bottled water sales have fallen. Garden centres have reported a 10 per cent rise in the sales of vegetable seeds in the past 12 months. People are saving money by growing their own potatoes and carrots. They are turning off their central heating for a few more months of the year and ditching their second car rather than buying an electric runaround. And instead of carbon-offsetting their holidays, they are simply going on fewer of them. It's the downturn that has made greenery look unappetising - but it may yet prove to do more than anything to save the planet.



For years, hyperactive environmentalists have burned votive candles to the spirit in the sky, hoping she'd levitate energy prices high enough to make alternatives to oil economically feasible. That day has come. Result: The oil has hit the fan. With gasoline over $4 and with life as they love it in the suburbs being shut down, did people call for the windmills? Nope. A heavy majority want to drill the bejeezus out of anywhere in America we can find familiar black slop.

No one has been hit harder by this unexpected truth than Nancy Pelosi and her green brigades. Fearful of an up-or-down vote on drilling for oil in, of all places, our own country, the Pelosi House and Harry Reid's Senate shut down Congress. House Minority Leader John Boehner calls drilling the greatest issue Republicans have had in his political lifetime. A party flat on its back is ready to run on oil pumps. Why stop there?

Republicans shouldn't settle for making the world safe for SUVs. What's going on here is about more than $4 gasoline. When Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats spent a week holding the people's chamber under house arrest, they made plain a political vulnerability beyond drilling. To achieve greenhouse gas goals in the out-years, they are willing to risk a slowdown now in the American economy. How else can you interpret what happened this week? These Democrats aren't environmentalists. They're enviromaniacs.

An environmentalist with two feet on the planet is someone who admits that fixing what economists call "externalities," such as air pollution or climate effects, requires a balance between those goals and protecting the productive economy. An enviromaniac is the sort of person who would say: "Breaking our oil addiction . . . will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy."

The complete transformation of our economy? So said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in his major energy statement this Monday. Though the speech had hedged bows to oil, coal and nuclear, it was overwhelmingly a Goreian jeremiad about "building" a new economy on a promise called renewables.

"We can see shuttered factories open their doors to manufacturers that sell wind turbines and solar panels that will power our homes and our businesses," he said. "We can watch as millions of new jobs with good pay and good benefits are created." This will "meet our moral obligations to future generations."

Whoa. "Millions" of new jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, and this is to "meet our moral obligations?" Virtue aside, here's the biggest problem with Sen. Obama and Democratic enviromania: It's a risky roll of the dice with the U.S. economy. The economy we've got works. We know that carbon makes the U.S. economy run like a Swiss watch (transportation, distribution, production, commuting). The bet between carbon inputs and growing American outputs is virtually 1:1.

Mr. Obama and his Democratic colleagues in Congress want a "complete transformation" of an already successful economy. Not partial. complete. Can any of them say what the odds are that all this economic activity, including the nation's electrical grid, will work as well with their new fuels? Assuredly, growth's odds aren't as good as the ones we have now. Sen. Obama: "I will not pretend we can achieve [my goals] without cost or without sacrifice." Might this mean foregoing some GDP for five to 10 years? "Growth" appears in Mr. Obama's speech only to describe the "clean energy sector."

The problem with Democratic enviromania is that it's uncoupled from the realities of a nation whose economy has to compete now with the Chinas and Indias of the world, whose high growth rates use proven energy sources.

Republicans this fall should push their argument beyond drilling. Drilling is mainly a proxy for one's understanding of the U.S. economy. The Democrats and Mr. Obama showed this week they are so in thrall to Al Gore's big climate bet that they'd risk having a slow-growth economy. The GOP should run on High Growth America as a better bet than Democratic Slow Growth. Instead of enviro-messianism, they should propose a drill-to-transition for whatever energy source can prove it works at a nonsacrificial price -- shale, coal gasification, nuclear, solar or some combination. (Windmill farms are a pox on the land.)

Don't be oil-industry deniers. Mr. Obama and Rep. Pelosi want to hammer and punish the only players on the field who actually know how to put massive amounts of energy on the grid. Don't we want them using their resources to drill here, rather than off in some godforsaken place producing gushers of cash for people who want to pound us into a hole? We need Smart Oil on our side for at least 10 years. Democrats this week chose the prayer of alternative energy over proven prosperity. They've handed prosperity in the here-and-now to the Republicans. Run with it.


Brainwashing the children with lies

Stalin's Young Pioneers? The Hitler Youth? Warmism is just another socialist cult

As the climate change challenge becomes increasingly worrying, children of HSBC staff were given hands-on tips on the best environmental practices for a sustainable lifestyle.

The initiative is part of HSBC's Global Climate Partnership Programme, a $100 million initiative spread over five years.

Children between the ages of seven and 12 learned about the causes of global warming and its impact on earth. The emphasis of the presentation, prepared by HSBC staff who received training during a two-week field trip to Oxford, in the UK, was on alternative energy and ways to improve fuel efficiency, good practices to reduce water consumption and proper disposal of waste through reduction, reusage and recycling.

"Children are the best ambassadors of the environment; their love of nature and care for its creatures prompt them to go to great lengths to ensure harm is avoided, making them the best guardians of our planet for the future," said Ray Cassar, participant of the Climate Partnership Programme in Malta who conducted the educational session at HSBC's Call Centre in Swatar. "Children absorb what is good and bad and are usually the ones to point out, in the family, at school and in the community, behaviour which is unfavourable to the environment."

The HSBC Climate Partnership programme is about pledging time and resources of HSBC staff to get involved and do their own bit against the urgent threat of climate change. As part of this initiative, HSBC staff are making presentations in schools, including summer clubs, associations involved in community work and local councils.


Guardian Scientist (and leftist activist) Watson Predicts 4C Rise

Today's headline grabber is part-time scientist, part-time Obama and leftwing activist, Professor Robert Watson. Watson's latest prediction, in a long line of alarmist climate statements, is that the world is set for a four degree C rise in temperatures unless the world listens to him and stops that very nasty carbon emitting business.

Now you might think that yet another doom and gloom prediction from any 'scientific' source would elicit a yawn from most people - not least given the latest cycle of temperature rise ended 10 years ago and that global temperatures are already dropping and set to drop further. Not so the climate alarmist's intrepid flag-waver, The Guardian, which broke today's scary story. Bravely sidestepping the facts and evidence once again it has given a scaremongering platform designed to set the mass media sheep running - not to mention spiking sales. But why Robert Watson?

Well Watson is no ordinary scientist. He makes a living from climate alarmism not only in his taxpayer-funded 'laboratory' but also, in the cause of leftwing politics in the US and UK. The Guardian describes him as a 'chief advisor to the UK government'. Prior to that, of course, he was a senior advisor to Bill Clinton's administration, was a would-be chairman of the alarmist IPCC (till the Vast-Rightwing Conspiracy 'conspired' to unseat him) - who now spends his off-duty hours writing op-eds to get that Obarmy chap elected. Spot the politics here? Are we talking 'fair and balanced'?

Well Watson likes to do more than talk science in his op-eds. Take the one he wrote in May for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel papers in May in which he attempted to re-write history. In his 'politically neutral piece 'Obama Needs Support of Jewish Voters' Watson claimed that Harry Truman was not, as history has it, a blatant anti-semite at all, but was, in fact, sensitive to the "plight of the Jews". As this outraged Jewish reader noted, Truman was in fact an antisemite. And Truman's autobiography makes it perfectly clear that Truman "...was proud of the fact that not one Jew had ever set foot into the homes he shared with his wife."

Good to know The Guardian has maintained its usual high standard of journalistic integrity via such an a-political, 'scientific' source. But wait! Watson ... The Guardian ... Bill Clinton ... Obarmy ... scaremongering for a living ... re-writing anti-semitic history ... could it all just be a Vast Leftwing Conspiracy? Perhaps I'll write a letter to The Guardian ...



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hertzberg refutes the jug man on Global Warming

"Krug" is German/Yiddish for "jug". Krugman Excerpt: "The only way we're going to get action, I'd suggest, is if those who stand in the way of action come to be perceived as not just wrong but immoral. [.] Martin Weitzman, a Harvard economist who has been driving much of the recent high-level debate, offers some sobering numbers. Surveying a wide range of climate models, he argues that, over all, they suggest about a 5 percent chance that world temperatures will eventually rise by more than 10 degrees Celsius (that is, world temperatures will rise by 18 degrees Fahrenheit). As Mr. Weitzman points out, that's enough to "effectively destroy planet Earth as we know it." It's sheer irresponsibility not to do whatever we can to eliminate that threat".

Dr. Martin Hertzberg is a retired Navy meteorologist with a PhD in physical chemistry. His letter to the jug man follows:

Dear Prof Krugman:

I have generally found myself in strong agreement with most of the opinions expressed in your columns dealing with politics and the economy. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat, but I am also a scientist. In your interview with Keith Obermann last night, there was an implication that somehow those of us who are human-caused global warming skeptics were all supported by big-oil money. In the 20 years that I have been studying this issue and expressing my skepticism, I have never received a cent from either big-oil or the government to study the problem. You failed to mention the 50 billion being spent by governments to finance research that supports the human-caused global warming theory. In this morning's article "Can This Planet Be Saved", you simply regurgitated the typical fear-mongering hysteria that the Gore-IPCC-Hansen clique promulgate without any serious consideration of the fact that that hysteria is based on half-baked computer models that have never been verified and that are totally our of touch with reality. I am sure that as an Economist you have seen similar econometric models that are similarly out of touch with reality coming from the likes of "the Chicago boys" or the Heritage Foundation.

I have taken the liberty of attaching copies of Alexander Cockburn's articles that appeared in the Nation Magazine last year. They are based, in part, on my studies of the issue. Also attached is a recent talk I gave on the subject. It has been published in the Australian web-site: Also attached is a list of web-sites of global warming skeptics.

I can only hope that you will read the attachments with an open mind and consider the possibility that you might need an informed and objective science adviser before making any further pronouncements on the subject. I will also forward under separate cover, a letter I sent to the President of the American Physical Society about their treatment of a well known global warming sceptic, Lord Monckton. If you might recall, he had routinely advertized in the N. Y. Times, challenging Gore to a debate on the issue, which Gore ignored. You can always tell the difference between a propagandist and a scientist. If a scientist has a theory, he looks diligently for facts that might contradict his theory so that he can test its validity or refine it. The propagandist on the other hand selects only those facts that agree with his theory and dutifully ignores those facts that contradict it.


Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation and serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee, also criticizes the jug man. Excerpt:

Krugman advocates: painting those who do not agree with him as not just wrong but immoral. That is to say, not just wrong, but evil. Krugman, limited in imagination as he is, cannot conceive that anybody could possibly disagree with him, nor look at the same data and come to a different conclusion. People that fail to accord with him are not just making a mistake, they are being mischievous. Krugman is not the first to suffer from this kind of delusion. La Shawn Barber has written an article called Is Climate Change. Racist? He looks at liberal Congressman James Clyburn, who has written a report echoing the old joke: "World Ends Due to Global Warming: Poor Blacks Hardest Hit." The gist is that those who disagree with the end-time visions risk being called a racist, a frightening term in today's USA. University of Amsterdam "philosopher" Marc Davidson has even written a peer-reviewed paper in a prominent journal alluding that those who disagree with Weitzman-like claims are no better than slave holders (no, I'm not kidding).

Another scientist reverses view, now climate SKEPTIC - 'I was appalled at how flimsy the case really is'

The article below was written by Dr. Roger W. Cohen, an American Physical Society (APS) fellow who earned a doctorate in physics, worked in the electronics industry and retired in 2003 from ExxonMobil as manager of strategic planning. That Exxon connection will give the Warmists a horn or two

I have been involved in climate change for nearly 30 years. In 1980, a few of us in the research organization of a large multinational energy corporation realized that the climate issue was likely to affect our future business environment. We subsequently started the only industrial research activity in the basic science of climate change. The move was justified by the fact that the best way to really understand a complex technical issue is to actually work in the area, interacting with other scientists. I have supervised climate scientists working in the area of climate change and have followed the area closely. Over the years our researchers have served as authors of key IPCC report chapters. I would like to share some perspectives with you.

I retired four years ago, and at the time of my retirement I was well convinced, as were most technically trained people, that the IPCC's case for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is very tight. However, upon taking the time to get into the details of the science, I was appalled at how flimsy the case really is. I was also appalled at the behavior of many of those who helped produce the IPCC reports and by many of those who promote it. In particular I am referring to the arrogance; the activities aimed at shutting down debate; the outright fabrications; the mindless defense of bogus science, and the politicization of the IPCC process and the science process itself.

At this point there is little doubt that the IPCC position is seriously flawed in its central position that humanity is responsible for most of the observed warming of the last third of the 20th century, and in its projections for effects in the 21st century. Here are five key reasons for this:

1. The recorded temperature rise is neither exceptional nor persistent. For example, the earth has not warmed since around 1997 and may in fact be in a cooling trend. Also, in particular, the Arctic and contiguous 48 states are at about the same temperature as they were in the 1930s. Also in particular the rate of global warming in the early 20th century was as great as the last third of the century, and no one seriously ascribes the early century increase to greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Predictions of climate models are demonstrably too high, indicating a significant overestimate of the climate sensitivity (the response of the earth to increases in the incident radiation caused by atmospheric greenhouse gases). This is because the models, upon which the IPCC relies for their future projections, err in their calculations of key feedback and driving forces in the climate system.

3. Natural effects have been and continue to be important contributors to variations in the earth's climate, especially solar variability and decadal and multidecadal ocean cycles.

4. The recorded land-based temperature increase data are significantly exaggerated due to widespread errors in data gathering and inadequately corrected contamination by human activity.

5. The multitude of environmental and ecological effects blamed on climate change to date is either exaggerated or nonexistent. Examples are claims of more frequent and ferocious storms, accelerated melting of terrestrial icecaps, Mount Kilimanjaro's glacier, polar bear populations, and expansive mosquito-borne diseases. All of these and many others have been claimed and ascribed to global warming and by extension to human activity, and all are bogus or highly exaggerated. I would be pleased to provide details on any of these five key reasons. Many others can do so as well.

As contrary evidence has accumulated, proponents of strong AGW have begun to display signs of cognitive dissonance. The famed social psychologist Leon Festinger, developer of the concept of cognitive dissonance, conducted early studies of the phenomenon. One study looked at people who bought bomb shelters during the cold war. It was found that such people tended to exaggerate the threat of nuclear war, and nothing could dissuade them. Good news about relaxed tensions and peace initiatives was rejected. Such developments brought about cognitive dissonance, bizarrely almost as if they were invested in nuclear war. The psychological model is that their belief system became part of their identity, their self, and information at odds with that belief system became an attack on the self. This helps explain why such people can be resistant to information that would be judged positive on a rational basis. Festinger's book, When Prophecy Fails, tells of a group of doomsday believers who predicted the end of the world on a particular date. When that didn't happen, the believers became even more determined they were right. And they become even louder and proselytized even more aggressively after the disconfirmation. So we can expect ever more extreme, opaque, and strange defenses from proponents as evidence continues to mount. For example we are now told that even cooling fits in with global warming.

Having said all this, it does not mean that there is no threat or that we should not debate some kind of action to control atmospheric CO2. It does mean that the case for immediate draconian measures that will have the effect or restricting world economic growth is poor. It does mean that the climate is unpredictable, even with modern tools, and this implies that continuing to load the atmosphere poses imponderable risks to terrestrial life. I believe that the way to a solution lies with new technology for both energy supply and for directly controlling net emissions. In this regard the role of governments is not to enact restrictive economic measures via market interventions, or to choose the winners in a technology race. Its proper role is to encourage the development and deployment of new technology through direct funding of R&D and through tax incentives for industries that research, develop, and deploy such technology.


The Green Hornet

Al Gore said the other day that "the future of human civilization" depends on giving up fossil fuels within a decade -- and was acclaimed as a prophet by the political class. Obviously boring reality doesn't count for much these days. Even so, when Barack Obama wheels out an energy agenda nearly as grandiose as Mr. Gore's, shouldn't it receive at least some media scrutiny?

On Monday, Mr. Obama said that the U.S. must "end the age of oil in our time," with "real results by the end of my first term in office." This, he said, will "take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy." Mark that one down as the understatement of the year. Maybe Mr. Obama really is the Green Hornet, or some other superhero of his current political myth.

The Senator calls for $150 billion over 10 years to achieve "energy independence," with elevated subsidies for renewable alternatives and efficiency programs. He also says he'll "leverage billions more in private capital to build a new energy economy," euphemistically referring to his climate plan to tax and regulate greenhouse gases. Every President since Nixon has declared "energy independence," as Mr. Obama noted. But this time, he says, things will change.

They won't. And not because of "the old politics," or whatever. Currently, alternative sources -- wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal -- provide less than 7% of yearly domestic consumption. Throw out hydro and geothermal, and it's only 4%. For the foreseeable future, renewables simply cannot provide the scale and volume of energy needed to meet growing U.S. demand, which is expected to increase by 20% over the next two decades. Even with colossal taxpayer subsidies, renewables probably can't even slow the rate of growth of carbon-based fuel consumption, much less replace it.

Take wind power, which has grown rapidly though still only provides about two-thirds of 1% of all U.S. electricity. The Energy Department optimistically calculates that ramping up merely to 20% by 2030 would require more than $2 trillion and turbines across the Midwest "wind corridor," plus multiple offshore installations. And we'll need a new "transmission superhighway system" of more than 12,000 miles of electric lines to connect the wind system to population centers. A mere $150 billion won't cut it. Mr. Obama also didn't mention that this wind power will be more expensive than traditional sources like coal.

Wind, too, is intermittent: It isn't always blowing and can't be accessed on demand when people need electricity. Since there's no cost-effective way to store large amounts of electricity, wind requires "spinning reserve," or nonalternative baseload power to avoid blackouts. That baseload power is now provided largely by coal, nuclear and natural gas, and wind can't displace much. The same problem afflicts solar energy -- now one-hundredth of 1% of net U.S. electric generation. One of the top uses of solar panels is to heat residential swimming pools.

Mr. Obama also says he wants to mandate that all new cars and trucks are "flexible fuel" vehicles, meaning that they can run on higher concentrations of corn ethanol mixed with gasoline, or second-generation biofuels if those ever come onto the market. Like wind and solar, this would present major land use problems: According to credible estimates, land areas larger than the size of Texas would need to be planted with fuel feedstocks to displace just half the oil America imports every day. Meanwhile, the economic distortions caused by corn ethanol -- such as higher food prices -- have been bad enough.

And yet there's more miracle work to do. Mr. Obama promises to put at least one million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015. That's fine if consumers want to buy them. But even if technical battery problems are overcome, this would only lead to "fuel switching" -- if cars don't use gasoline, the energy still has to come from somewhere. And the cap-and-trade program also favored by Mr. Obama would effectively bar new coal plants, while new nuclear plants are only now being planned after a 30-year hiatus thanks to punishing regulations and lawsuits.

Problems like these are the reality of "alternative" energy, and they explain why every "energy independence" plan has faltered since the 1970s. But just because Mr. Obama's plan is wildly unrealistic doesn't mean that a program of vast new taxes, subsidies and mandates wouldn't be destructive. The U.S. has a great deal invested in fossil fuels not because of a political conspiracy or because anyone worships carbon but because other sources of energy are, right now, inferior.

Consumption isn't rising because of wastefulness. The U.S. produces more than twice as much GDP today per unit of energy as it did in the 1950s, yet energy use has risen threefold. That's because energy use is tethered to growth, and the economy continues to innovate and expand. Mr. Obama seems to have other ideas.


Hawaiian chill: Maui breaks record for coldest temps

The return of the trade winds should temper the temperature extremes that occurred around the state over the weekend, but it will be increasing the wildfire threat, Maui weather analyst Glenn James said Tuesday. Even as a brush fire broke out at Pulehu on Tuesday (see related story below), a fire- weather watch was issued giving notice of an increased fire hazard. "The National Weather Service issued a watch, which means we all have to be very, very careful about not lighting any fires right now," he said.

It may appear to be an abrupt change in conditions, after Maui County experienced a record low 64 degrees on Sunday that combined with steady afternoon showers to provide another near record 65 degrees on Monday, before the daytime temperature zipped up to a high of 91 degrees that afternoon. It was all brought on by a low-pressure trough that was sliding north of Kauai, cutting off the normal trade wind flows, said James, senior weather analyst with the Pacific Disaster Center. "That trough has moved off to the west and opened the floodgates for a stronger brand of trade winds. At Maalaea (Tuesday) afternoon, we had 40 mile-per-hour gusts. We should be having another few days of stronger-than-normal trade winds," he said....

James, who produces the Web site and "Maui Weather Today" at 7:45 a.m. Monday to Friday on cable Channel 55, said the temperature fluctuations over the weekend were the result of the slack winds, which allowed cold air to drain from higher elevations of Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains, while clear skies Monday allowed more ground heating. The cloud cover and showers that eased the drought conditions in Maui County on Sunday were the remnants of Hurricane Genevieve, a tropical cyclone that dissipated before it reached Hawaii but remained a soggy air mass as it moved over the islands.



The looming costs of Prime Minister Rudd's climate mania are focusing a lot of minds in Australia at the moment. Three recent climate articles from Australia below

Emission Trading Scheme paints Rudd Government into a Corner

Lord Christopher Monckton has written to Australia's Climate Change minister Penny Wong warning that pressing ahead with an Emissions Trading scheme will see Labor thrown out of office.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's new Labor Government in only 9 months has painted itself into a corner with its proposed Carbon Reduction Scheme that it may never get out of. In it's first 9 months in office Australia's economic condition has deteriorate form arguably the strongest it's ever been to talk in todays press of it quickly sliding into recession. Fuel prices, Interest rates and food prices have all soared whilst consumer spending, house prices, private and business borrowings and confidence has plummeted.

While Australians were flush with wealth and money they might have been keen for the good of the environment too endure the extra costs (read tax) that an emissions trading scheme would impose on them. However no populace that is struggling financially to pay a mortgage will accept an environment tax with very dubious environmental benefits. Mr Rudd may well learn first hand that committing to a scheme that hobbles ones own economic growth is indeed only the prerogative of a wealthy society.

He may learn why it is folly for him to believe that he can ever convince developing nations like China & India with their millions of people just emerging from a lifetime of poverty to stymie their economic growth with a carbon emissions scheme.

Increasing world wide media coverage that there is no evidence that CO2 emissions are linked to climate change coupled with the fact that whatever actions we take as a nation are meaningless unless the big emitters like China, India and the US take similar action is starting to permeate into the Australians conscious. In fact if we were to cut our emissions to zero tomorrow China's growth in extra emissions alone would make up our CO2 reduction from the global balance in just 270 days.

Lord Christopher Monckton is chief policy advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute. Below is a copy of an email he sent to Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.
Dear Senator Wong,

Greetings from Scotland! One of your constituents, Mr. John Cribbes, has asked me to drop you a short email about emissions trading and "global warming".

I have recently conducted some detailed research into the mathematics behind the conclusions of the UN climate panel on the single question that matters in the climate debate - by how much will the world warm in response to adding CO2 to the atmosphere? My research, published in Physics and Society, a technical newsletter of the American Physical Society this month, demonstratres that the IPCC's values for the three key parameters whose product is climate sensitivity are based on only four papers - not the 2,500 that are often mentioned.

Those four papers are unrepresentative of the literature, in which a low and harmless climate sensitivity is now the consensus.

Therefore I should recommend extreme caution before any emissions-trading scheme is put in place. Such schemes will damage Australia's competitiveness, perhaps fatally; they are prone to corruption in that they incentivize over-claiming by both parties to each trade and by the regulator; they are addressing a non-problem; and, even if the problem were real (as a few largely-politicized scientists persist in maintaining), adaptation as and if necessary would be orders of magnitude cheaper than emissions trading or any other attempt at mitigating the quantities of carbon dioxide that we are (harmlessly) adding to the atmosphere.

Therefore I strongly urge you to reconsider your support for this or any emissions-trading scheme. I have read the Australian Government's paper on the proposed scheme, and the science in it is, alas, largely nonsense.

Politically, of course, the fatal damage that emissions trading will do to the Australian economy will greatly favour the enemies of the free West, which is why I, as an ally, have locus standi to approach you.

Climatically, your emissions-trading scheme will not make any significant difference. There are many other environmental problems that are real: I recommend that the Australian Government should tackle those.

As for the climate, it is a non-problem, and the correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing. Similar warnings are being sent to other legislators worldwide by those of us - now probably in the majority among the scientific community, not that one should do science by head-count - who have studied climate sensitivity and have found the UN's analysis lamentably wanting.

The UN's predictions are already being falsified by events: global temperatures have been falling for seven years, and not one of the climate models relied upon so heavily and so unwisely by the IPCC predicted that turn of events. If you introduce an emissions-trading scheme, when it transpires that the scheme and its associated economic damage had never been necessary - and it will, and sooner than you think - you and your party will be flung from office, perhaps forever. It is, therefore, in the long-term vested interest of your party to think again.

Monckton of Brenchley


Global Warming Religion Eroding Human Rights

Have you ever noticed that the champions of global warming are not scientists. Al Gore (ex politician), Nicholas Stern (economist), Ross Garnaut (economist) Kevin Rudd (diplomat / politician). Oh it's it a fact that 2,500 ICCP scientist have formed a consensus that humans are causing global warming. However Arthur B. Robinson, president and professor of chemistry at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, is one of 31,000 scientists who have signed a petition to disagree.
"Robinson said that in recent years the U.N. and a group of 600 scientists, representing less than one percent of the scientific population, reached a "consensus" that global warming is happening. This has never been done before, Robinson insists.

Dennis Avery, Director for the Center of Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, agrees with Robinson. "Nobody can do science by a committee. You do science by testing," said Avery. "To me it is appalling that an international organization of the stature of the U.N. would ignore the evidence of past climate changing."

The signers of Robinson's petition, including 9,000 Ph.Ds, all have one thing in common. They believe that human rights are being taken away.

Thats an interesting proposition and one that Australian Farmers have already experienced first hand. Arthur Herman a historian and author in a great article in today's Australian agrees:
"IT has been a tough year for the high priests of global warming in the US. First, NASA had to correct its earlier claim that the hottest year on record in the contiguous US had been 1998, which seemed to prove that global warming was on the march. It was actually 1934. Then it turned out the world's oceans have been growing steadily cooler, not hotter, since 2003. Meanwhile, the winter of 2007 was the coldest in the US in decades, after Al Gore warned us that we were about to see the end of winter as we know it.

Yet believers in man-made global warming demand more and more money to combat climate change and still more drastic changes in our economic output and lifestyle. The reason is that precisely that they are believers, not scientists. No amount of empirical evidence will overturn what has become not a scientific theory but a form of religion.

Of Superstition and Enthusiasm, describes how even in civilised societies the mind of man is subject to certain unaccountable terrors and apprehensions when real worries are missing. As these enemies are entirely invisible and unknown, like today's greenhouse gases, people try to propitiate them by ceremonies, observations, mortifications, sacrifices such as Earth Day and banning plastic bags and petrol-driven lawnmowers.

Fear and ignorance, Hume concludes, are the true source of superstition. They lead a blind and terrified public to embrace any practice, however absurd or frivolous, which either folly or knavery recommends."

Now think about the Australian farmers who have had their property rights taken from them with the tree clearing bans so Australia could meet its Kyoto obligations, without a cent of compensation!

Both articles go into detail how human rights will be sacrificed to the alter of the climate change religion. Well worth a read.


Bullsh*t Watch: The winner is Graham Readfearn

In the tradition set by the Rudd Government with Fuel Watch, Grocery Watch, Water Watch we are launching Bullsh*t Watch. Todays Bullsh*t award goes to Brisbane's Courier Mail Journalist Graham Readfearn for his article: "Call to Act by Pioneer on Climate".

American Scientist Professor Gene Likens is speaking at the invitation-only presentation at Griffith University's Nathan campus. The presentation is on problems being faced around the globe with drought and climate change. He and other like minded people, that is climate change believers will be delivering their message to policymakers and politician including Queensland Minister for Climate Change Andrew McNamara, National Water Commissioner Chloe Munro and water commissioners from Queensland and NSW.
"Does the climate change problem exist? Yes," Professor Likens said. "The scientific consensus is so strong and so universal - there are just a handful of doubters on this. "Yet (those doubters) get such high media attention and a lot of support."

That statement lit up my "Bullshit" metre straight away. Would the "handful of Doubters" the good professor is referring too be the 31,072 AMERICAN Scientist including 9,021 PhD's who signed this petition:

The Courier Mail's Graham Readfearn would have to live under a rock to have not know that this petition exists. But wait - it gets better, turns out Graham Readfearn is none other than the author of The Courier Mails own Green Blog. It is a classic. His profile reads -
"Graham Readfearn

Environment blogger Graham Readfearn sorts the green from the green-wash and the eco from the no-go - one climate-friendly posting at a time. Green news, views and the odd shot-down eco-skeptic."

This guy is a rabid greenie, supporter of WWF (World Wildlife Foundation), Greenpeace etc, just have a look at his first article - 100 months left or try this classic - How much is enough - Eco-sinner? No mention in the paper's byline that Graham Readfearn is a rabid one eyed greenie - no the bi-line would have the average reader believe that is is just an unbiased major newspaper reporter, searching for the truth and writing a balanced article. Apparantly Not. Shame on the Courier.

What the good Readfearn also forgets to tell us is that the good professor Likens is an ecologist - not a climatologist.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

APS Paper on Global Warming Debate by Atmospheric scientist Dr. Blick

Below is a preview of a paper submitted to the American Physical Society for publication. The preview below does not include graphics or reference citation details. It is reproduced with permission from Prof. Blick. The author is retired Air Force atmospheric scientist Dr. Edward F Blick [] Professor of Meteorology and Engineering at University of Oklahoma. He has 54 years' scientific experience. He is the author of 150 publications in engineering, meteorology, and cardiology, and has also written two engineering textbooks. He is the co-developer of a medical patent, and is the inventor of a new type of windmill.

Since Prof. Blick argues that manmade global warming is a hoax, the probablity of the paper being published in its intended outlet seems low. Full copies of the paper (complete with graphics and references) are now in the hands of many people (including myself), however so it will not sink without trace


World temperature records show no evidence of anthropogenic global warming ("AGW"). Solar activity in the late 20th century was extremely high. Atmospheric CO2 levels rose as the sea surface warmed. Henry's Solubility Law, with mass balances of carbon and its isotopes, show the total increase in atmospheric CO2 from pre-industrial times is less than 4%. Burning all our remaining fossil fuels, cannot double the CO2, but only increase it by 20%. Beck cataloged 90,000 chemical measurements of CO2 in the 1800s, some as high as 470 ppm (greater than the current Mauna Loa value of 385 ppm). These data exposed as false the UN IPCC's 280-ppm ice core values during the 1800s. IPCC's ice core measurements of CO2 were incorrect owing to their inability to correct for problems with gas solubility and the extreme pressures in glaciers. Not man but nature rules the climate.


The recent American Physical Society (APS) debate on anthropogenic global warming was welcomed by many like myself, who believe "global warming" to be exaggerated. I have never seen any convincing evidence for it. The paper by Hafemeister and Schwartz depended upon petitio principii, in that the emissivity value was set to produce the desired climate sensitivity. The considerable evidence presented by Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley in his APS article "Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered" was convincing. The rebuttal by Dr. Smith was not.

This paper addresses two key elements in the APS global warming debate: are, first, the scientific credibility of the UN, and, secondly, the truth about the minimal increase in the amount of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2.

The UN

The UN set up the 1992 Rio de Janeiro conference entitled "The Earth Summit". It was attended by Vice President Al Gore. At this conference Maurice Strong, a UN advisor, stated, "The Earth Summit will play an important role in reforming and strengthening the UN as the centerpiece of the emerging system of democratic global governance."

Al Gore is a politician, not a scientist. He had two college natural science courses. He made a "D" in one, and a "C+" in the other. He made an "F" on his College Board physics exam and a "D" in chemistry. Gore ducks all challenges to debate (including Christopher Monckton) on AGW.

Strong and the UN set up the 1997 Kyoto conference on global warming. All countries were urged to sign a treaty to reduce their CO2 output in order to save the planet. China, India and the U.S. refused. Most of Europe joined, but have done little in the way of lowering their CO2 output. The National Review magazine, Sept. 1, 1997 quoted Strong: "The only way of saving the world may be for industrial civilization to collapse, deliberately seek poverty, and set levels of mortality". We're starting to see the collapse of U.S. trucking and airline industry as our government limits oil drilling. Timothy Wirth, former president of the United Nations Foundation, stated: "We have to ride the theory of Global Warming even if it is wrong." Richard Benedict, former advisor to Kofi Annan stated: "A global warming treaty must be implemented even if there is no evidence of global warming." In the words of H.L. Mencken: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule."

In 1988, the UN politicians set up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC). There was no scientific evidence then or now of any significant AGW. Sir John Houghton, the first chairman of the UN's IPCC stated: "Unless we announce disaster, no one will listen." Here is the summary the scientists wrote for the 1995 IPCC Draft Report:

1) None of the studies have shown any clear evidence of climate changes due to greenhouse gases.

2) No study has positively attributed any climate change to anthropogenic causes.

3) Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate are reduced.

The UN removed all three of its scientists' conclusions, inserting the following text in the final 1995 Summary Report for policy-makers: The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.

Many of the IPCC scientists quit, and threatened the UN with a lawsuit in order to have their names removed from the IPCC final report.

The UN's method of preparing IPCC reports is non-standard. They first publish a "Summary Report for Policy-makers". Then several months later they publish the Scientific Report so as to assure its consistency with the Summary Report. After the 1995 IPCC report, this procedure was repeated in 2001 and 2007 IPCC reports.


In the United States, the hottest years of the 20th century were in the 1930s (Fig.1). Twenty-four states had their high temperature records set in the 1930s. Only seventeen had their temperature records set in last 50 years of the 20th century! Where is the fingerprint of anthropogenic global warming?

During the 20th century the Earth warmed ~0.7 0C. The warming culminated at about the same time as the solar Grand Maximum during the 70 years centered on the mid-1960s (Fig.2). Similarly, astronomers discovered that Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto all warmed up in the 20th century. (Archibald, 2008). Since 1998, admittedly a strong El Nino year, "global warming" has ceased. We've had global cooling from reduced sun spot activity (Archibald, 2008).

The oceans "breathe" carbon dioxide in and out with cooling or heating. CO2 is less soluble in water as it warms and more soluble as it cools. The warming during the 20th century caused the oceans to emit more CO2 into the atmosphere (Endersbee, 2008, Fig. 4).

A miniscule amount of global heating of ~0.5 W/m2 is due to an increase of 2% to 4% of atmospheric CO2, owing to the burning of fossil fuels since the late 1800s (Segalstad, 1996). This corresponds to a tiny 0.50 C rise in temperature, using the climate sensitivity parameter of ~1 0C per W/m2 (Kiehl and Trenberth, 1997). This climate sensitivity parameter of ~1 0C per W/m2, adopted by the UN, is an order of magnitude greater than eight natural experiments (Idso 1998). It results in exaggerated predictions of future global temperatures.

Archer (2008) assumed a rise in atmospheric CO2 of 380 to 420 ppmv in the next 20 years. Using the University of Chicago's ModtranS facility, he obtained a 0.4 W/m2 increase in global warming. Using Idso's 0.1 0C per W/m2 sensitivity value, he predicted a 0.040C increase in temperature due to the CO2 greenhouse effect.

In 1995, the UN IPCC report included a global temperature anomaly chart shown in Fig.3. This chart agreed with hundreds of scientific papers which dealt with this Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age which followed. From about 900 to 1350 AD, the Earth was approximately 20 C warmer than now. The Vikings colonized Greenland, and many of the great cathedrals were built in Europe. The Little Ice Age which followed lasted about 400 years (Soon & Baliunas, 2003). At the principal Viking settlement of Hvalsey in SW Greenland, the bodies of the Viking colonists are now buried under Greenland's permafrost. Yet, six years after this correct chart (Fig.3), the UN's 2001 IPCC report featured a new, radically different "hockey stick" chart (Fig. 5). It showed essentially a flat temperature for the 1000 years prior to the 20th century, followed by a rapid rise of earth's temperature in the 20th century. The UN blamed the rise on AGW. Subsequently, however, McIntyre and McKitrick (2005) found statistical discrepancies that led to a report by the US National Academy of Sciences that, while finding the hockey-stick no more than "plausible", described it as having "a validation skill not significantly different from zero". A report by three statisticians for the US House of Representatives (Wegman et al., 2005), also found the graph unfit for its purpose. To this day, dozens of papers from all over the world attest to the existence of the mediaeval warm period, with temperatures up to 3.75 oC greater than the present in some places.

CO2: a natural trace gas essential to all life on Earth

CO2 is not a pollutant. It is the gas of life for plants, man, and animals. All plant life is sustained by photosynthesis, where CO2 plus water plus chlorophyll plus the Sun's energy form carbohydrates plus Oxygen. Humans and animals breathe in Oxygen and exhale CO2.

If atmospheric CO2 drops as low as 220 ppm, plants get sick. They die at 160 ppm. In a field of corn on a sunny day, unless wind currents stir up the air, all of the CO2 is consumed within one meter of the ground in 5 minutes. (Personal communication, Daryl Smika, Plant Physiologist, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture), In order to increase their yield, commercial greenhouse owners increase the CO2 levels to 600 - 1000 ppm. According to the Mauna Loa observatory the present atmospheric CO2 is about 385 ppmv, but in times past it was as high as 2450 ppmv. (Jaworoski, 1992a, 1992b). In the Cambrian era the atmospheric concentration of CO2 reached ~7000 ppmv, 18 times today's concentration (IPCC, 2001).

The most important greenhouse gas is water vapor. Its mass is 54 times greater than CO2. Dr. Reid Bryson, former director of meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, says: "The first 30 feet of water vapor absorbs 80% of the earth's heat radiation. You can go outside and spit and have the effect as doubling CO2!"

150 years ago, the atmospheric CO2 contained 700 Gt of carbon (1 Gt = 1 billion tons), and the earth contained 7000 Gt of carbon in the form of fossil fuels. It is estimated that man has burned 1000 Gt of the original 7000 Gt. (Segalstad 1998). For water, at normal temperature, Henry's Law of Solubility dictates there will be 50 parts of CO2 in solution, for one part of gaseous CO2 above the water. Experimental measurements have shown that the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 5-10 years. The UN, using a confused and widely-criticized definition of residence time, says it is 50-200 years. Hence today, after 150 years, the amount of CO2 added by man to the atmosphere is (1/50) x1000 = 20 Gt, and the increase in atmospheric CO2 is (700+20)/700 = 1.03 or a 3% increase!! (Segalstad, 1998). The UN, assuming 278 ppmv as the pre-industrial concentration said the increase is 21%.

Segalstad (1998) developed an alternative method of determining how much of the atmospheric CO2 is due to fossil fuels is by an isotopic mass balance of Carbon 12, C-12, and the heavier isotope Carbon 13, C-13. During photosynthesis more of the C-12 is absorbed by the plant than C-13. Ratios between C-12 and C-13 stable isotopes are commonly expressed as in permil by a so-called delta-13-C notation multiplied by 1000. CO2 from combustion of fossil fuel have delta -13-C values of (-26 permil). Natural CO2 has a delta-12-C value of( -7 perm). Keeling (1989) reported a 1988-measured atmospheric delta-13-C value of (-7.807permil). Using a simple isotopic mass balance equation of [26X +7(1-X) = 7.807] produces an X value of 0.042. Hence the earth's atmospheric CO2 is made up of approximately 4% CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. This is close to the 3% computed above by the alternate mass-consumed method of Segalstad. Revelle & Suess (1957) using Carbon-14 data computed the amount of atmospheric CO2 derived from fossil fuel combustion was 1.2 to 1.73 %. UN IPCC reports assume that, at present, 21% of CO2 is from fossil fuel burning!

Using Henry's Law, and assuming all the remaining 6000 Gt of carbon in our fossil fuel reserves has been burned, the increase in atmospheric CO2 will be [{(7oo+ (7000/50)}/700 =1.2], a 20 % increase over what the atmosphere contained in the mid nineteenth century (Segalstad, 1998). The UN predicts a 170% increase. Even burning all fossil fuels (7000 Gt of carbon) will have no meaningful effect on global climate. CO2 in the atmosphere cannot increase more than 20%. It cannot double!

The Earth receives about 1368 W/m2 of radiative heat from the sun. The total amount of heat withheld is about 146 W/m2, +/- 5 to10 W/m2 due to natural climatic variations. Clouds can reflect up to 50 W/m2 and can absorb up to 30 W/m2 of the solar radiation. Less than 0.5 W/m2 is produced by anthropogenic CO2, making it much smaller than the Earth's average greenhouse effect (water vapor, etc), which varies naturally across the interval [96, 176] W/m2. (Segalstad, 2006)

The total internal energy of the whole ocean is 3.3 x 1027 Joules, about 3500 times greater than the total energy of the entire atmosphere, 9.4 x 1023 joules. The global climate is primarily governed by the enormous heat energy stored in the oceans and the latent heat of melting of the ice caps. From a thermodynamic heat balance, the small amounts of heat generated by anthropogenic CO2 could not possibly cause significant increases in sea level. (Segalstad, 1995; Moerner, 2004)

1400 years of study found approximately 10 inches of difference in sea level between the thermal expansions the Medieval Warm Period and thermal contractions of the Little Ice Age. (van de Plassche, [date?])

The sharpest January-January fall in global temperatures since records began in 1880 occurred between January 2007 and January 2008 (Fig. 6) The drop in temperature was about equal to the net gain in average temperature for the 20th century.

Figure 7 -- Does the atmospheric CO2 correlate with temperature? It should if AGW were correct, for absence of correlation necessarily implies absence of causation. But Figure 7 shows it does not always correlate. Fig. 4 shows CO2 does correlates very well with sea surface temperature.

Figure 8 --The long temperature record at Armagh, Ireland shows a strong correlation of temperature with sunspot-cycle length. The longer the sunspot cycle the colder the temperature. Presently we are in Solar cycle 23 which is 12 ® years long and Archibald (2008) predicts it will last to 13 ® years, though the first sunspot with reversed polarity, indicating the approach of Solar Cycle 24, has now been observed. Solar physicists here and in Russia are predicting globally 20-30 years of cold weather, after the end of Solar Cycle 24, based on the recently-observed slowing of the magnetic convection currents beneath both hemispheres of the Sun.

Figure 9-High temperature records from all the continents and Oceania indicate that all except one high-temperature record occurred before 1943!

Figure 10-Ernst-Georg Beck's (2007) paper plotted 90,000 accurate chemical analyses of CO2 in air. These standard textbook measurements from 380 scientific papers had an accuracy of better than 3%. Several scientists who won the Nobel Prize made these measurements. Beck's CO2 peaks (`370-450 ppm) occurred around 1823, 1859 and 1944.

Figure 11 --- A comparison of Beck's CO2 data versus Neftel's ice core data show a wide difference. Beck criticized Callendar and Keeling the men who crafted the flat portion of the Hockey Stick CO2 chart. Beck found that CO2 measurements had been rejected if they did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate warming, and that Callandar and Keeling only examined 10% of the available literature.

Zbigniew Jaworowski is a CO2 glaciologist. He has studied glaciers all over the world. He has published many papers on climate, most of them concerning CO2 measurements in ice cores. He strongly believes the CO2 measurements used in the UN IPCC reports are unreliable. He pointed out, "Drilling ice cores is a brutal system and a polluting procedure, drastically disturbing the ice samples." He also states that ice cores cannot be regarded as a closed system and used to measure CO2 levels of air trapped in ice. He stated there are "more than 20 physical-chemical processes operating in situ . in the ice cores.. In cold water, CO2 is more than 70 times more soluble than nitrogen and more than 30 times more soluble than oxygen." Liquid water is commonly in present in the polar snow and ice even at the eutectic temperature of -730 C." This phenomenon alone will reduce the percentage of CO2 in the air bubbles trapped in ice. The Knudsen effect, combined with inward diffusion, depletes CO2 in ice cores exposed to drastic pressure changes (up to 300 bar, for ice buried in glaciers). The effects of increased solubility and extreme pressures could explain the difference between chemical CO2 and ice core measurements in Beck's Figure 11.

A recent attempt by a researcher to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain details of the methods by which ice cores were extracted, handled, stored, transported, and analyzed was thwarted when he was told that all such details were classified information.

Jaworowski noted that these effects were discovered, "only recently, many years after the ice-based edifice of anthropogenic warming had reached a skyscraper height.". Jaworowski noted how Neftel (1985) et. al. had inappropriately combined the CO2 values of 328 ppm from ice deposited in 1890 and combined it with 328 ppm CO2 values measured at Mauna Loa volcano , Hawaii, 83 years later. This unsafe data curve was then published in the 2001 IPCC report. The real data, 83 years apart, demonstrate that pre-industrial level of CO2 was the same as in the second half of the 20th century. Because of this absence of any appreciable difference in CO2 levels more than 83 years apart, Jaworowski believes that "human beings may be responsible for less than 0.010 C of warming during the last century".


The processes of the United Nations are an unsatisfactory medium for scientific enquiry. For the reasons outlined in this short paper, the principal conclusions of the IPCC are questionable and do not provide a sound basis for taking policy decisions that are calculated to cause severe economic harm to the economies of the West and to cause environmental damage by transferring manufactures from Western nations, where pollution is controlled, to Third World countries, where it is not.

CCSP Climate Impacts Report: A Perversion of Science

Luckily, the U.S. Climate Change Assessment Report just released by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is only a "draft" released for the purpose of gathering public comments. This means that the report's authors still have time to get things in order before a "final" publication is released. The current contents read as if the CCSP authors set aside their list of sizable scientific credentials, and instead opted to write a fantasy piece on how they wished the state of climate science to be, rather than how it actually is.

As it now stands, the draft CCSP report is a gross perversion of science. It is made even worse that it is coming from a group researchers, who, at one time at least, were regarded as some of the leaders in their fields. No fair treatment of science discusses a topic with complete disregard to opposing views that are held and published by other credible, qualified and knowledgeable persons. And yet this is precisely what is contained, ad nauseum, within the draft of the CCSP synthesis report.

The report reads as a simple rehashing of the "pet opinions" held by its authors and completely ignoring that these opinions have been harshly disputed and criticized in the scientific literature and elsewhere by other equally qualified researchers as being based upon faulty methodology and inappropriate inferences.

It is as if the CCSP authors think that if they just keep repeating the same things over and over again in different fora, they will eventually become true-or at least that the critics will have become so exasperated by their audacity and simply grow tired of responding.

I am at a loss for complimentary adjectives to describe people who are tasked by the U.S. government with assessing climate change and its potential impacts on the United States for the clear (although unstated, wink, wink) purpose of influencing policy and who know of legitimate scientific viewpoints which counter their own but yet act as if such opposition entirely doesn't exist.

I have never read a more pessimistic report on climate change (other than perhaps coverage of Al Gore's we-are-going-to-make-the-earth-uninhabitable-for-people proclamations)-and this coming from a supposed august scientific body. There are virtually no positive aspects of climate change presented or even postulated. Any that are briefly touched upon are almost inevitably countered with subsequent text along the lines of "but that effect will only be temporary."

As I read through the report, I kept flipping back to cover page to double and triple check that this report was actually put out by the U.S. governments' Climate Change Science Program and not Environmental Defense Fund, National Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, or some other strong global warming advocacy group.

My level of exasperation is redlined. What kind of people think that the population of Americans will only suffer if the climate heats up by a few degrees? If you were to track the `average temperature' experienced by the `average American' over time (which we did in an analysis a few years ago), based upon population movements alone, you would find that the experiential temperature is increasing at a rate that is greater than many of the projected scenarios of climate change (Figure 1).

In other words, the population movements made by American's free will-primarily movements to more urban centers and southerly locales-has resulted in the `average American' experiencing a climate that is about 3F warmer at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning-and that doesn't even take into effect the inherent added warmth in urban environments. These changes are independent of actual climate changes. This shows that a warmer climate does not dissuade the average American from pursuing his/her interests (heck, maybe it even entices them). It hasn't dissuaded them in the past, nor should it reasonably be anticipated to do so in the future. If skiing or snowmobiling should someday be relegated to a thing of yesteryear, I am sure we'll more than find other ways to amuse ourselves (and industries standing ready to entice us into new avenues of recreation).

Figure 1. (top) Annual average temperature experienced by the average American based upon the average temperature of where they lived, 1900-2003. Figure 1 (bottom) Annual average temperature history of the United States, 1900-2003. Based upon the patterns of population movement, the average "experiential" temperature of the average American has increased by a much larger amount than the actual average temperature of the U.S. This occurs because, by their own free will, Americans are seeking out warmer climates.

How close-minded must you be that in a world where the scientific literature is overwhelmed with the results of experiments showing how plant species of endless types and varieties-including the world's major food crops-will fare better under conditions of increasing carbon dioxide, that the only plants that you draw attention to are ones that have a negative associations, that is, poison ivy, ragweed, and stinging spurge? What's wrong with singing the praises of better growing chrysanthemums, pansies, or amaryllis (won't they lift the mental health of the nation?) or how about more productive wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, strawberries or sunflowers? These sound like health benefits. How can these topics not be discussed in the Chapter on Human Health where the authors saw fit to discuss poison ivy of all things?

Here are three more appalling examples of the CCSP authors completely ignoring significant scientific studies that run counter to the ideas that they decided to present in their Climate Assessment report.

The first is about damage losses from extreme weather events. Anybody with any sense ought to realize that damages from weather events are dependent on two things-the characteristics of the weather events themselves and the location where the weather event took place. After all, it doesn't matter at all how strong a tornado is if it occurs out in the middle of nowhere, yet a weak tornado hitting a highly populated area can create havoc. Just as a hurricane hitting an unpopulated stretch of beach verses one that hits New Orleans. Thus, given that damages levels are inherently dependent on two things, you can't simply show how damage estimates change over time and then conclude something about only one of the underlying influences.

Does this stop the CCSP from showing such a plot ? No. Does the CCSP expect you to think that their plot should lead you to believe extreme weather is getting worse? Of course. Why else would they show the plot? After all the CCSP report is about climate change impacts, not insurance losses.

To drive the point home, the CCSP follows with a statement about weather-related damages increasing faster than population and inflation (and thus implying actual changes in the weather). Since it is impossible to draw such a conclusion from the figure they show, they instead draw it from a paper by Evan Mills published in Science magazine in 2005. The techniques and conclusions in the Mills paper were harshly criticized in a response by Roger Pielke Jr. that was also published in Science and further elaborated on Pielke Jr.'s blog site (see here and a follow-up here ). Pielke Jr. concluded "Presently, there is simply no scientific basis for claims that the escalating cost of disasters is the result of anything other than increasing societal vulnerability." This is precisely the opposite of the CCSP conclusion. Do you think that the fact that Evan Mills is one of the co-authors of the CCSP report has anything to do with the CCSP completely ignoring Pielke's conclusions? How can a responsible fact-finding government body completely turn its back on well-founded criticism of the limited scope of material that it deems to present? This is unbelievable.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, but the general theme of the CCSP-push, push, push the "global-warming-is-disastrous" mantra and ignore, ignore, ignore anything to the contrary.

Here is another egregious example, this time about human health. Aside from the laughable attempt at trying to relate the introduction and spread of West Nile Virus across the U.S. to climate change (laughable because the range of climate that the West Nile spread through is about 20F and 30 inches of rain, so it shouldn't seem as if miniscule, by comparison, climate change would be the cause of its spread from New York City to the four corners of the continental United States in just 5 years) the section on heat waves and human mortality is shameful. The CCSP authors want you to believe that climate change will lead to more heat waves which will lead to more people dying as a result. The former is probably true, the latter is most probably false-that is, if you properly account for population changes (in other words, it is not permissible to claim more people are dying from the heat without accounting for the increase in the number of total people-this is the same type of shenanigans that they tried in the "damages" section we describe above).

When you properly account for changing population structure over time, you find that despite rising summer temperatures, the population in major urban centers across the United States has become less sensitive (that is, fewer people are dying) to summer heat extremes over the past 30-40 years (Figure 2). Simply put, we have become better adapted to heat waves. This is documented in a series of papers by Robert Davis et al. (including one which was singled out as the "Paper of the Year" by the Climate Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers). Davis et al conclude that the impacts of increasing heat waves in the future will be small and likely diminishing, despite increases in the intensity and severity of heat waves. After all, they found that the warmer the locale generally the fewer heat related deaths (in fact, most southern tier U.S. cities no longer exhibit any statistically identifiable heat-related mortality). This seems a no-brainer.

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It's CO2, Because We Can't Think of Anything Else it Could Be

For a while, I have written about the bizarre assumption made by climate scientists. They cannot prove or show any good link historically between CO2 and warming. What they instead do is show that they can't explain some of the warming by understood processes, so they assume that any warming they cannot explain is from CO2. Don't believe me?
Researchers are trying to understand how much of the melting is due to the extreme natural variability in the northern polar climate system and how much is due to global warming caused by humans. The Arctic Oscillation climate pattern, which plays a big part in the weather patterns in the northern hemisphere, has been in "positive" mode in recent decades bringing higher temperatures to the Arctic.

Dr Igor Polyakov, an oceanographer from the International Arctic Research Centre in Fairbanks, Alaska, explained that natural variability as well as global warming is crucial to understanding the ice melt. "A combination of these two forces led to what we observe now and we should not ignore either forces" he said.

The consensus among scientists is that while the natural variability in the Arctic is an important contributor to climate change there, the climate models cannot explain the rapid loss of sea ice without including "human-induced" global warming. This means human activity such as burning fossil fuels and land clearing which are releasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"There have been numerous models run that have looked at that and basically they can't reproduce the ice loss we've had with natural variability," said Dr Perovich. "You have to add a carbon dioxide warming component to it."

In other words, any warming scientists can't explain is chalked up to, without proof mind you, CO2. Why? Well, perhaps because it is CO2 that gets the funding, so CO2 it is. To show you how dangerous this assumption is, I note that this study apparently did not consider the effect of man-made soot from inefficient coal and oil combustion (e.g. from China). Soot lands on the ice, lowers its albedo, and causes it to melt a lot faster. Several recent studies have hypothesized that this alternate anthropogenic effect (with a very different solution set from Co2 abatement) may explain much of recent Arctic ice loss.

Here is a big fat clue for climate scientists: It is not part of the scientific method to confidently ascribe your pet theory (and source of funding) to every phenomenon you cannot explain. Or, maybe climate scientists are on to something. Why does gravity seem to work instantaneously at long distances? Co2! What causes cancer cells to turn on and grow out of control? CO2! Hey, its easy. All of our scientific dilemmas are instantly solved.


Environmental groups faltered this year -- Voters rank warming fears near dead last

Comment from a correspondent: "I am shocked – shocked - by the numbers of people who just don’t care!!! One would hope – that with mass media fixation on improbable scenarios, photo-shopped pictures of weeping polar bears, endless speeches in the Congress that arrive in thin air, and the apocryphal guidance of countless hand-wringing “authorities” - the Public would sort-of “catch-on” and learn how to give a damn!!! But no – about two hundred vocal deniers in the whole world have persuaded the entire public that the whole “environmental” thing is a sham!!! Small wonder, isn’t it, that responsible people are aware of the pressing need for censorship of this bought-and-paid-for sedition"

Former Vice President Al Gore may have made global warming a household term, but this year's tactical mistakes by the green army may have set the cause back just when it seemed to be on the brink of a legislative breakthrough. While pushing for sharp emission reductions, a number of environmental groups failed to adapt their pitch to acknowledge rising energy costs, experts say, leaving voters to believe that saving the planet will mean unaffordable energy prices.

The Senate's Climate Security Act - sponsored by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), John Warner (R-Va.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) - called for quick emission reductions that would have raised energy costs significantly for Americans. A handful of well-advertised studies by the business community painted the legislation as an economic apocalypse. But Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups were pushing lawmakers to go even further to prevent irreversible environmental damage.

In a year when gasoline soared past $4 per gallon, the green message triggered populist anger and eventually drove away a core group of moderate and conservative Democrats. When the legislation came to the Senate floor, 10 conservative Democratic senators who voted to debate the bill also vowed to oppose it later - even after it had been sweetened with billions of dollars in last-minute public energy assistance.

The group included Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who said he plans to offer his own legislation next year. He told Politico that environmentalists will be forced to compromise next year and support the development of clean coal, nuclear power and other alternative fuels. "We need to be able to address a national energy strategy and then try to work on environmental efficiencies as part of that plan," Webb said. "We can't just start with things like emission standards at a time when we're at a crisis with the entire national energy policy."

Polls show that the public clearly sees global warming and high energy prices as separate issues, rather than one overall problem. Now more Americans than ever are urging politicians to solve the skyrocketing gas prices before finding a solution to climbing temperatures. And while support for offshore oil drilling has reached a record high, solving global warming is low on the list of voter priorities.

In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, global warming ranked seventh in a list of eight top voter priorities, behind the economy and energy at the top, and also following the war in Iraq, health care, terrorism and illegal immigration. It was ahead of only housing.

"There was not enough emphasis that if we move aggressively toward sustainable energy, we will transform our energy costs," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who said he plans to offer his own global warming bill next year. "We were not as clear as we might have been."

Still, Democrats who backed the legislation remain supportive of the greens' agenda. "I'm not discouraged at all," said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). "The environmental community understands that we have to have a starting point. The next bill should be modified with the greens but also with those in the business community." Boxer said environmental groups would continue to play a vital role in next year's debate. "The vast majority of green groups support the targets that are necessary to avoid the most dangerous impact of global warming," she said.

Greens deny that their policy push overlooked the energy crisis but acknowledge a public perception problem. "The solution for us next year is connecting gas prices and global warming. We have to show voters that the solution to gas prices and the solution to global warming is the same," said Greenpeace global warming expert Kate Smolski. "What's been lost on decision makers is that the cost of inaction will far exceed any costs of dealing with the problem now."

It's a balancing act that plenty of others saw coming. "You cannot have a system that emphasizes pain," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), whose American Solutions group opposed the global warming bill. "It is elitist. You'd have to be so wealthy you don't notice the cost or so dedicated that the cost is irrelevant." A study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that energy costs are disproportionally affecting lower and middle class minority families.

Sierra Club global warming lobbyist Dave Hamilton said the environmental community was partly a victim of timing. Despite efforts to educate the grass roots about the relationship between global warming and energy prices, news of the added energy assistance funding came too late and failed to resonate with key voting blocs. "The problems with energy prices have really happened in the last few months," he said. "We somehow failed in making that a priority, and I think we have a huge amount [of work] to do on energy policy."

Environmentalists say Americans want immediate action on global warming but don't want to pay for it. A recent study by the Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change showed that a large majority of Americans wanted serious government action on climate change but that only 14 percent were willing to pay more than $50 a month to help the cause. "You cannot drive home environmental legislation without considering the cost on the economy," said National Association of Manufacturers lobbyist Keith McCoy. "That message was already universally unacceptable."

Leading policymakers suspect greens will continue to face hurdles if energy costs stay high. "They're defeating themselves and hurting all of us on an issue that hurts all of us," said former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who was instrumental in implementing the Clean Air Act. "The trouble comes when people try to attribute everything to global warming. Then the public gets skeptical about the claims."


Is "Green" U.S. mass transit a big myth?

As part of my research for an article on robotic cars and how they change so much of the world, I've been looking into the energy use of various forms of transportation. What I learned about public transit in the USA shocked me. I've been a fan of public transit, taking it where it's practical for me, and feeling green about it. That transit is a significantly greener way to get around than private car travel almost goes without saying in our thoughts and discussions.

Disturbingly, this simply isn't true. I started by pulling out various numbers on the energy used per passenger mile of various forms of transportation. These numbers can be found in places like the U.S. government bureau of transportation statistics figures and the Dept. of Energy Transportation Energy Data Book (Especially table 2-12). I've also found tables broken down per city.

These studies express transit energy efficiency in terms of BTUs per passenger-mile. The BTU is the English system unit of energy, and it's equal to 1055 joules. On pure conversion, there are 3413 BTUs in a kw/h. To turn BTUs/mile into miles per gallon, you divide into 125,000, the number of BTUs you get from burning a gallon of gas. Here's a useful table.

A "passenger mile" is taking one passenger a mile. If it takes 10,000 BTUs to take a vehicle with 10 passengers for one mile, that's 10 passenger miles, and 1,000 BTUs/passenger-mile. For solo vehicles, passenger miles are just miles. The figures below are for the DoE's average passenger loads over the entire USA, unless noted as solo or for a specific district.

The DoE figures describe the average car as using 5500 BTUs/mile (23mpg) or 3,500 BTUs/passenger mile with an average load of 1.57 passengers. This is a "fuel to wheels" number based on burning the gasoline.

Putting the car at 3,500 I was disturbed to learn that city diesel buses and electric trolley buses are both mildly worse than the car in energy efficiency. Light rail systems are also slightly worse, on average, though it varies a lot from city to city. Commuter rail and subway (heavy rail) trains tend to be a bit better, but not a lot better. (Non-hybrid cars are also better at long haul than they are short haul.)

I've put a lot of the figures on this chart. I've thrown in some other interesting forms of transit, including electric cars, scooters, hybrid cars, jet airplanes and more. (See a note below on the fossil fuel to wheels number for the cyclist.)

Particularly disturbing were the numbers for some of the worst transit systems, including the light rail in San Jose, which I sometimes ride. That system takes twice as much energy per passenger than private cars do. It's not even the worst.

It should be noted that the electric vehicles are much more efficient on a "tank to wheels" basis than shown here. However, while 1 kWh of electricity is only 3400 BTUs on a perfect conversion basis, most electricity is generated from heat, and 70% is generated by burning fossil fuels, mostly coal. So in fact each kWh of electricity consumes 10,339 BTUs using the DoE methodology. That's about a 2/3 loss mostly for generation inefficiency and some transmission loss. See also EIA numbers.

But yes, by and large, even the electric vehicles will generate a modestly smaller amount of greenhouse gasses per BTU as the fuel-burning vehicles, though this varies based on the electricity source.

What's not in these numbers

True "well to wheels" analysis includes more factors:

* Energy to make and recycle cars and transit vehicles. For typical cars that's 120 million BTUs, or about 15% extra over a 150,000 mile life-cycle. I don't yet have figures for transit vehicles.

* Energy to build and maintain roads (for cars and buses) and tracks (for trains) or both for street cars.

* Energy to extract, refine and ship fuel, both to cars and diesel transit, and to power plants making electricity for electric transit. For gasoline, this is about a 22% surcharge. I don't yet have figures for the energy cost of mining and shipping coal, or extracting and piping natural gas for electricity.

* Variations in the average passenger load of all the vehicles, including the cars, which make some systems highly efficient and others terrible. Likewise, some cities have higher passenger/car figures and others lower. These are, except where noted, national averages.

* The fact that sometimes transit trips require more miles (changing lines) and sometimes fewer miles (private right-of-way).

These add-ons apply both to transit and cars, though in different ways. The comparison between purely urban cars and purely urban transit is likely somewhat more favourable for transit -- but I would like to get authoritative numbers, and my instincts suggest it does not change the basic conclusion. Likewise the figures for suburban (highway) cars vs. suburban transit will be less favourable for transit.

It's been asserted that the 1.5 passengers per car average provided by the DoE is biased slightly, in that highway driving has higher loads and urban driving has lighter, but I would like to see real numbers on this. A drop to 1.2 urban would make the car's number 25% worse.

How can this be?

A full bus or trainload of people is more efficient than private cars, sometimes quite a bit more so. But transit systems never consist of nothing but full vehicles. They run most of their day with light loads. The above calculations came from figures citing the average city bus holding 9 passengers, and the average train (light or heavy) holds 22. If that seems low, remember that every packed train at rush hour tends to mean a near empty train returning down the track.

Transit vehicles also tend to stop and start a lot, which eats a lot of energy, even with regenerative braking. And most transit vehicles are just plain heavy, and not very aerodynamic. Indeed, you'll see tables in the DoE reports that show that over the past 30 years, private cars have gotten 30% more efficient, while buses have gotten 60% less efficient and trains about 25% worse. The market and government regulations have driven efforts to make cars more efficient, while transit vehicles have actually worsened.

In order to get people to ride transit, you must offer frequent service, all day long. They want to know they have the freedom to leave at different times. But that means emptier vehicles outside of rush hour. You've all seen those huge empty vehicles go by, you just haven't thought of how anti-green they were. It would be better if off-hours transit was done by much smaller vehicles, but that implies too much capital cost -- no transit agency will buy enough equipment for peak times and then buy a second set of equipment for light demand periods.

Transit planning is also driven by different economies. Often transit infrastructure (including vehicles) is paid for by state or federal money, while drivers (but also fuel) are paid from local city budgets. This seems to push local city transit agencies to get bigger vehicles and fewer drivers where they can, since drivers tend to be hired full-time and can't be kept idling in low-demand periods.

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Fears that subtropical koala population could disappear within 20 years

"Fears"! How awful! Must not have fears. The fact that Koalas are in plague proportions in some other parts of Australia (such as Kangaroo Is.) and are being "culled" is not mentioned, of course. For once the "problem" is not being blamed on global warming, however. We must be thankful for small mercies

Southeast Queensland's koala population could be wiped out within 20 years unless urgent steps are taken to save the iconic animal. A new report warns hundreds of koalas are dying each year because they are losing their habitat, getting attacked by dogs or hit by cars. Premier Anna Bligh yesterday revealed tough measures would need to be taken to save an estimated 20,000 koalas living in the southeast including possibly banning dogs in new housing developments or forcing existing dog owners to fence or kennel their pets overnight. The Government may also look at lowering speed limits around koala habitats and building tunnels under major roads so koalas can move between habitats. A taskforce including the RSPCA, local councils, developers, conservation groups and koala experts will be set up to recommend a rescue plan to the Government.

But the move was immediately blasted by conservationists who said it would do little to boost the number of koalas. Australian Koala Foundation's Deborah Tabart OAM said dogs and cars were not the lead killers of koalas as the Government suggested. "The post mortems of 700 koalas earlier this year showed koalas are now starving to death due to loss of food and the disease rates are going up," she said. "These (proposals) will do nothing for koalas; it's meaningless."

Ms Tabart said the state was simply panicking ahead of a Federal Government review of its koala strategy. A report released by the Government yesterday, which was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency and the previous Caboolture, Pine Rivers and Redcliffe councils, found a 46 per cent decline in the number of koalas in Pine Rivers over the past six years.

Ms Bligh conceded the Government had not done enough in the past to protect koalas, with several measures considered but rejected by previous ministers. "It would be a great tragedy if we stood by and let the koalas of southeast Queensland be wiped out," she said. "We face total loss of koalas within 20 years. We need to take on issues that in the past we have felt were too tough on residents ... frankly we've been too cautious and it's time to take tougher action ... doing nothing is not an option."

LNP sustainability spokesman Dave Gibson said the plans would anger responsible dog owners being unfairly targeted because the Government had approved too much development near koala habitats.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

An argument about science that mentions not one scientific fact

The article below by John P. Holdren appeared under the heading "Convincing the climate-change skeptics". His method of convincing people seems to be to attack them. Stalin would understand. Tom Nelson has some interesting links on comrade Holdren

The few climate-change "skeptics" with any sort of scientific credentials continue to receive attention in the media out of all proportion to their numbers, their qualifications, or the merit of their arguments. And this muddying of the waters of public discourse is being magnified by the parroting of these arguments by a larger population of amateur skeptics with no scientific credentials at all.

Long-time observers of public debates about environmental threats know that skeptics about such matters tend to move, over time, through three stages. First, they tell you you're wrong and they can prove it. (In this case, "Climate isn't changing in unusual ways or, if it is, human activities are not the cause.")

Then they tell you you're right but it doesn't matter. ("OK, it's changing and humans are playing a role, but it won't do much harm.") Finally, they tell you it matters but it's too late to do anything about it. ("Yes, climate disruption is going to do some real damage, but it's too late, too difficult, or too costly to avoid that, so we'll just have to hunker down and suffer.")

All three positions are represented among the climate-change skeptics who infest talk shows, Internet blogs, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and cocktail-party conversations. The few with credentials in climate-change science have nearly all shifted in the past few years from the first category to the second, however, and jumps from the second to the third are becoming more frequent.

All three factions are wrong, but the first is the worst. Their arguments, such as they are, suffer from two huge deficiencies. First, they have not come up with any plausible alternative culprit for the disruption of global climate that is being observed, for example, a culprit other than the greenhouse-gas buildups in the atmosphere that have been measured and tied beyond doubt to human activities. (The argument that variations in the sun's output might be responsible fails a number of elementary scientific tests.)

Second, having not succeeded in finding an alternative, they haven't even tried to do what would be logically necessary if they had one, which is to explain how it can be that everything modern science tells us about the interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere is wrong.

Members of the public who are tempted to be swayed by the denier fringe should ask themselves how it is possible, if human-caused climate change is just a hoax, that:

The leaderships of the national academies of sciences of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, China, and India, among others, are on record saying that global climate change is real, caused mainly by humans, and reason for early, concerted action. This is also the overwhelming majority view among the faculty members of the earth sciences departments at every first-rank university in the world.

All three of holders of the one Nobel prize in science that has been awarded for studies of the atmosphere (the 1995 chemistry prize to Paul Crutzen, Sherwood Rowland, and Mario Molina, for figuring out what was happening to stratospheric ozone) are leaders in the climate-change scientific mainstream.

US polls indicate that most of the amateur skeptics are Republicans. These Republican skeptics should wonder how presidential candidate John McCain could have been taken in. He has castigated the Bush administration for wasting eight years in inaction on climate change, and the policies he says he would implement as president include early and deep cuts in US greenhouse-gas emissions. (Senator Barack Obama's position is similar.)

The extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable, it is dangerous. It has delayed - and continues to delay - the development of the political consensus that will be needed if society is to embrace remedies commensurate with the challenge. The science of climate change is telling us that we need to get going. Those who still think this is all a mistake or a hoax need to think again.


False prophet tries a new prophecy

Nothing much came of the acid rain scare (It turned out that Norwegian trees were actually fertilized by British industrial fallout rather than being killed by it!) but he is still trying to draw attention to himself

The scientist who coined the term acid rain says the world is close to a tipping point and Australia must show leadership in dealing with the problem. American scientist Professor Gene Likens, who in the early 1960s was among the first to link the increasing acidity in rain with the burning of fossil fuels, said Australia had to act now.

"Does the climate change problem exist? Yes," Professor Likens said. "The scientific consensus is so strong and so universal - there are just a handful of doubters on this. "Yet (those doubters) get such high media attention and a lot of support."

He argued Australia needed to provide leadership now rather than waiting for other countries such as China, Russia and the US to move first. "You are sticking your head in the sand if you think you should just wait for the US and Russia to do their bit," he said. "There has to be leadership so I applaud Australia for its attempts to provide leadership."

Professor Likens will be speaking today to policymakers and politicians at the Australian Rivers Institute, based at Griffith University's Nathan campus, on the problems being faced around the globe with drought and climate change. Expected at the invitation-only talk were Queensland Minister for Climate Change Andrew McNamara, National Water Commissioner Chloe Munro and water commissioners from Queensland and NSW.

Professor Likens said climate change was causing a change in rainfall patterns and while Australia appeared to have plenty of rain, water was not falling "where people are living and extracting it through irrigation". He said he had researched the effects of acid rain in 1963 but it took almost 30 years for politicians to act.

"I think we are approaching - from a scientific point of view - a tipping point on climate change and we are going to have to take action sooner rather than later," Professor Likens said.

The Australian Government has so far pledged to cut national emissions by 60 per cent compared with 2000 levels by 2050. The Government has also set a target of a national greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme by 2010, although ministers have hinted that timeframe could slip. "We certainly can't wait until 2050 to cut emissions," Professor Likens warned.



A reader writes:

"Likens did not coin the phrase Acid Rain. That 'honour' belongs to Angus Smith, Phd, a Scot working in Manchester, UK from the 1850's. Wickedpedia says he used the term in 1872 but a book I have (by another author of the time who often refers to Smith) seems to suggest it was more like 1855 (from memory. I would need to look it up to be sure.) Joe Romm would be unlikely to know since he seems unable to read anyone else's writings and understand the meaning."

Clearing the Smog of Beijing with "Coal by Wire"

As the TV turns nightly to Beijing, we can expect chilling pictures and doomsday comments about the "Asian Pollution" and the "Beijing Smog". This will induce media and political scaremongers to use these images to sell dud products like the "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme".

It is not carbon dioxide from burning coal that pollutes the skies of Asia and Africa. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring, clean, invisible, beneficial gas. CO2 is an essential part of the natural world but a very minor trace constituent of our atmosphere....

Moreover, the claim that man's emissions will cause dangerous global warming is strongly and increasingly disputed by scientists and is not supported by historical evidence. It also defies common sense to believe that such a minor natural gas can cause all the climate disasters that are blamed on it. We are about to hang an innocent hero.

Asia's visible pollution is largely caused by the crude and inefficient open air combustion of low quality fuels. It is caused by millions of open-air cooking fires in India, China, North Korea and Africa using scavenged fuels like cow dung, cardboard, wood, and low quality coal and coke; by thousands of backyard brickworks and small dirty furnaces along the Yangtze River and in other places; by forest clearing fires in Indonesia and bush and grass fires elsewhere; and by millions of small obsolete and dirty wood, charcoal and coal stoves, heaters, boilers and furnaces all over Asia and Africa. Similar pollution is obvious in places in South America. "Open fires" was the cause of similar smogs in England as recently as the 1950's.

Open-air combustion of poor quality carbon fuels produces not only the harmless clean so-called "greenhouse" gases of water vapour and carbon dioxide, but also real pollutants such as soot, smoke, ash, dust, unburnt fuel and chemicals containing sulphur, chlorine, nitrogen, fluorine, and metals. In confined unventilated places, open fires can also produce the very poisonous gas, carbon monoxide - this is the one that will quickly kill the canary. China also emits more sulphur dioxide than anywhere else in the world. This chokes their people, causes acid rain and damages buildings.

The elements contained in smoke pollution all came from rich ancient soils in the first place, and are needed in soils today in trace quantities to maintain the health of plants and animals. In dilute quantities, they are not a problem in the atmosphere, and rain recycles them to enrich the soil. But when concentrated in city air, they can be visible, annoying, corrosive or even toxic.

The "Asian Brown Cloud", is a haze of pollution about 3 km thick and sometimes covering an area as big as Australia. The brown haze obscures the sun in some polluted Asian cities and at times this cloud drifts right across the Pacific Ocean and is noticed as far away as the west coast of America. This pollution is already affecting local climate and community health. In Arctic areas, soot drifts onto snow making it darker in colour which allows it to absorb more heat from the sun. This process may be contributing to melting glaciers in China and the Himalayas.

The western world went through this pollution phase half a century ago, and although improvements can still be made, we have banished the notorious smoke pollution in places like London, Manchester and Pittsburgh....

The western world has largely beaten its city smogs, firstly with inventions such as the chimney and the stove, secondly with clean air legislation and anti-pollution technology and finally with the magic of electricity - the clean, silent, invisible "Coal by Wire". This clean energy can be generated reliably 24 hours a day, using high quality coal in non polluting power stations located far from densely populated areas. It is then transported silently and cleanly with zero pollution and minimal loss of energy to deliver lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and motive power into the most humble home in the poorest suburb. It is the magic of the modern world.

To fly over a modern non-polluting coal-fired power station at say 10,000 m is to put things into perspective - a puny cooling tower or two emitting wisps of water vapour (steam). They also emit carbon dioxide, but this is invisible and harmless (in fact generally beneficial). These wisps of steam are regularly displayed dishonestly on TV to illustrate the supposed pollution caused by coal power (or they dig up a picture of an old dirty polluting power station). There is almost no pollution, no noise, no smoke and no landscapes of forests of whirling blades and solar panels in a modern coal burning power station. In fact those wisps of steam are often the only visible evidence that massive energy conversion is taking place inside - coal into electricity.

Yet that facility and its linked coal mine can supply a whole city with heat, light and power for machines as diverse as the handyman's drill, the kitchen toaster or the locomotives that move train-loads of commuters in safety and comfort during rain, hail, snow or heatwave. "Coal by Wire" has already banished most of the terrible pollution that affected cities such as London, Manchester and Pittsburgh, and allowed the regrowth of American forests. City pollution now comes not from coal, but from cars sitting in traffic jams caused by poor road design, inefficient traffic controls and lack of sensible pricing for congested roads.

Today's irrational and hysterical focus on harmless carbon dioxide by governments and media is misdirected and counter-productive. It is diverting attention and resources from damaging pollution which is altering local climate and affecting many areas of the world. And it is delaying the spread of coal powered electricity to many areas now desperate for clean invisible power.....

If Asians had access to better fuel, it would allow cow dung to be used for soil improvement and would encourage forest regrowth in areas denuded by centuries of scavenging for fire wood.

Russian scientists are not conned by the Kyoto hysteria focussed on the harmless natural gas, carbon dioxide. In fact the Russian Academy of Science advised President Putin that the Kyoto Protocol had "no scientific foundation" (Putin joined Kyoto for other very sound political and economic reasons that had nothing to do with global warming).

Man's emissions of CO2 are a miniscule factor in determining Earth's temperature. But while we are wasting decades of time and buckets of money trying to catch and imprison this harmless Will o' the Wisp, an ominous brown smelly choking cloud of real pollution is growing in our northern skies.

Russian ecologist Dr Sergei Golubchikov has the last word: "Ecological treaties should seek to curb emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, heavy metals and other highly-toxic pollutants instead of targeting carbon dioxide, which is a non-toxic gas whose impact on global warming has not been proved."


Faked photo in big-time climate report

Last week on Friday August 1st you may recall that I commented on the release of the Draft report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. In that post I mentioned that "The draft document reads more like a news article in many places than it does a scientific document, and unlike a scientific document, it has a number of what I would call "emotionally based graphics" in it that have nothing to do with the science."

One of those graphics that tug at your heartstrings turns out to be a fabrication, pure and simple.

Image above taken directly from the CCSP report. There's been a discussion on Climate Audit about this photo, namely that it has the flood waters "photoshopped" in. When I showed it to my graphic artist at my office he said, "no problem, I can recreate that using any house photo and a Photoshop filter.

I had contemplated having him do just that, but it turns out proving this photo to be a digital fabrication is a lot easier. Simply go to, where you can buy this photo online. But apparently, the lead authors of the report didn't see the caveat that comes with the photo: "Photo of house under several feet of graphically rendered flood water"

More here

Steve McIntyre notes that the same report also resurrects the discredited Mann "Hockeystick". Greenies need dishonesty to make up for the lack of facts supporting their assertions.


The Achenbach article reproduced here two days ago (last article) infuriated prominent Warmist Joseph Romm. His reponse is reproduced below. Romm says little more than the usual appeal to authority. Note that Romm cannot even spell Achenbach's name correctly in his headline. Following Romm there is another comment on the same article by Pielke Jr.

The Washington Post's Joel Achebach doesn't understand basic climate science

Repeat after me, Joel: "Global warming makes the weather more extreme." If even the Bush administration accepts that basic fact of climate science, shouldn't you? I used to like Achenbach's cutesy science pieces, but his knowledge of climate science is about one or two decades old, as evidenced by his major story in the Washington Post today, "Global Warming Did It! Well, Maybe Not." It is a typical ly uninformed journalistic "backlash" piece, whereby a reporter creates a straw man and then sets it on fire.

Achenbach is trying to seem reasonable by complaining that the next time we get a big hurricane, "some expert will tell us that this storm might be a harbinger of global warming." Uhh, I hate to break this to you Joel, but global warming doesn't need a "harbinger." It has been here for decades. In that sense, your article is not a harbinger of global warming denial, since deniers have been pushing back against the "global warming causes extreme weather" story for years, browbeating the media into downplaying the connection. You really should read your fellow journalist Ross Gelbspan's long discussion of this in his great 2004 book, Boiling Point. Achenbach writes:
Weather alarmism" gives ammunition to global-warming deniers. They're happy to fight on that turf, since they can say that a year with relatively few hurricanes (or a cold snap when you don't expect it) proves that global warming is a myth. As science writer John Tierney put it in the New York Times earlier this year, weather alarmism "leaves climate politics at the mercy of the weather."

You cannot be serious. The best you can do is quoting Tierney, a well-known climate doubter/denier/delayer? And deniers don't need to look for any ammunition - they just make up stuff. You could waste a lot of time trying to figure out what you should or shouldn't say based on a fear of how deniers might twist it or take it out of context.

This is simple stuff. As the climate changes because of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the weather becomes more extreme. That's what climate change is. I understand why deniers don't want the rest of us talking about the connection between global warming and the surge in extreme weather events that has been documented statistically by scientists - including NOAA's National Climactic Data Center (NCDC). That would shut down most discussion of current climate impacts. But I don't understand why Achenbach falls for that spin.

Anyway, it is now officially absurd to take the view of the deniers, Achenbach, and Tierney. Back in June, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (aka the Bush Administration) issued Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate that acknowledged the basic climate science:
Changes in extreme weather and climate events have significant impacts and are among the most serious challenges to society in coping with a changing climate.

Many extremes and their associated impacts are now changing. For example, in recent decades most of North America has been experiencing more unusually hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear trends for North America as a whole. The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, though North American mainland land-falling hurricanes do not appear to have increased over the past century. Outside the tropics, storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.

It is well established through formal attribution studies that the global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases. Such studies have only recently been used to determine the causes of some changes in extremes at the scale of a continent. Certain aspects of observed increases in temperature extremes have been linked to human influences. The increase in heavy precipitation events is associated with an increase in water vapor, and the latter has been attributed to human-induced warming. No formal attribution studies for changes in drought severity in North America have been attempted. There is evidence suggesting a human contribution to recent changes in hurricane activity as well as in storms outside the tropics, though a confident assessment will require further study.

In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. The strongest cold season storms are likely to become more frequent, with stronger winds and more extreme wave heights.

If the Post keeps publishing such uninformed pieces, how will the public ever become informed on this crucial issue?


Joel Achenbach on Weather Extremes

In today's Washington Post Joel Achenbach has a smart and nuanced piece on weather extremes and climate change. The attribution of weather events and trends to particular causes is difficult and contested.
Equivocation isn't a sign of cognitive weakness. Uncertainty is intrinsic to the scientific process, and sometimes you have to have the courage to stand up and say, "Maybe."

For Achenbach's efforts he gets called stupid and a tool of the "deniers". Such complaints are ironic given that Achenbach explains how foolish it is to put too much weight on extreme events in arguments about climate change:
the evidence for man-made climate change is solid enough that it doesn't need to be bolstered by iffy claims. Rigorous science is the best weapon for persuading the public that this is a real problem that requires bold action. "Weather alarmism" gives ammunition to global-warming deniers. They're happy to fight on that turf, since they can say that a year with relatively few hurricanes (or a cold snap when you don't expect it) proves that global warming is a myth. As science writer John Tierney put it in the New York Times earlier this year, weather alarmism "leaves climate politics at the mercy of the weather."

There's an ancillary issue here: Global warming threatens to suck all the oxygen out of any discussion of the environment. We wind up giving too little attention to habitat destruction, overfishing, invasive species tagging along with global trade and so on. You don't need a climate model to detect that big oil spill in the Mississippi. That "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico -- an oxygen-starved region the size of Massachusetts -- isn't caused by global warming, but by all that fertilizer spread on Midwest cornfields.

Some folks may actually get the notion that the planet will be safe if we all just start driving Priuses. But even if we cured ourselves of our addiction to fossil fuels and stabilized the planet's climate, we'd still have an environmental crisis on our hands. Our fundamental problem is that -- now it's my chance to sound hysterical -- humans are a species out of control. We've been hellbent on wrecking our environment pretty much since the day we figured out how to make fire. This caused that: It would be nice if climate and weather were that simple.

And the U.S. Climate Change Science Program recently issued a report with the following conclusions:
1. Over the long-term U.S. hurricane landfalls have been declining.

2. Nationwide there have been no long-term increases in drought.

3. Despite increases in some measures of precipitation , there have not been corresponding increases in peak streamflows (high flows above 90th percentile).

4. There have been no observed changes in the occurrence of tornadoes or thunderstorms.

5. There have been no long-term increases in strong East Coast winter storms (ECWS), called Nor'easters.

6. There are no long-term trends in either heat waves or cold spells, though there are trends within shorter time periods in the overall record.

In the climate debate, you would have to be pretty foolish to allow any argument to hinge on claims about the attribution of observed extreme events to the emissions of greenhouse gases. But as we've noted here on many occasions, for some the climate debate is a morality tale that cannot withstand nuance, even if that nuance is perfectly appropriate given the current state of understandings. But given the public relations value of extreme events in the climate debate, don't expect Achenbach's reasoned view to take hold among those calling for action. Like the Bush Administration and Iraqi WMDs, for some folks sometimes the intelligence that you wish existed trumps the facts on the ground.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Pesky British navy logbooks

Britain's great seafaring tradition is to provide a unique insight into modern climate change, thanks to thousands of Royal Navy logbooks that have survived from the 17th century onwards. The logbooks kept by every naval ship, ranging from Nelson's Victory and Cook's Endeavour down to the humblest frigate, are emerging as one of the world's best sources for long-term weather data. The discovery has been made by a group of British academics and Met Office scientists who are seeking new ways to plot historic changes in climate.

"This is a treasure trove," said Dr Sam Willis, a maritime historian and author who is affiliated with Exeter University's Centre for Maritime Historical Studies. "Ships' officers recorded air pressure, wind strength, air and sea temperature and other weather conditions. From those records scientists can build a detailed picture of past weather and climate."

A preliminary study of 6,000 logbooks has produced results that raise questions about climate change theories. One paper, published by Dr Dennis Wheeler, a Sunderland University geographer, in the journal The Holocene, details a surge in the frequency of summer storms over Britain in the 1680s and 1690s. Many scientists believe storms are a consequence of global warming, but these were the coldest decades of the so-called Little Ice Age that hit Europe from about 1600 to 1850.

Wheeler and his colleagues have since won European Union funding to extend this research to 1750. This shows that during the 1730s, Europe underwent a period of rapid warming similar to that recorded recently - and which must have had natural origins. Hints of such changes are already known from British records, but Wheeler has found they affected much of the north Atlantic too, and he has traced some of the underlying weather systems that caused it. His research will be published in the journal Climatic Change.

The ships' logs have also shed light on extreme weather events such as hurricanes. It is commonly believed that hurricanes form in the eastern Atlantic and track westwards, so scientists were shocked in 2005 when Hurricane Vince instead moved northeast to hit southern Spain and Portugal. Many interpreted this as a consequence of climate change; but Wheeler, along with colleagues at the University of Madrid, used old ships' logs to show that this had also happened in 1842, when a hurricane followed the same trajectory into Andalusia.

The potential of Royal Navy ships' logs to offer new insights into historic climate change was spotted by Wheeler after he began researching weather conditions during famous naval battles. Later, as global warming moved up the scientific agenda, he and others realised that the same data could shed light on historic climate change. He said: "British archives contain more than 100,000 Royal Navy logbooks from around 1670 to 1850 alone. They are a stunning resource."

Most of these earlier documents contain verbal descriptions of weather rather than numerical data, because ships lacked the instruments to take numerical readings. However, Wheeler and his colleagues found early Royal Navy officers recorded weather in consistent language. "It means we can deduce numerical values for wind strength and direction, temperature and rainfall," he said. The information will ultimately contribute to the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmos-phere Data Set, a global database maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a US government agency.

Wheeler makes clear he has no doubts about modern human-induced climate change. [He would be out on his ear if he said otherwise] He said: "Global warming is a reality, but what our data shows is that climate science is complex and that it is wrong to take particular events and link them to CO2 emissions. These records will give us a much clearer picture of what is really happening."

The Met Office has also set up a project, part-funded by Defra, the environment ministry, to study 900 logbooks kept by the East India Company on voyages between Europe and the Far East between 1780 and 1840. Its vessels carried thermometers and barometers so the data is of higher quality.

Faced with logs taken over so many voyages, the researchers have had to be selective. One of the most avid recorders of such data was Nelson himself, whose personal logbook records the air pressure and other readings he took up to several times daily.


Law of Averages

By Dr. Mel Goldstein, a Meteorologist on Connecticut's TV News Channel 8

Do you believe that most things in life balance out, even the weather? We have our happy days, unhappy ones, healthy days, less healthy ones, and then of course, our wet and dry spells, our cold and warm ones.

If you enjoy trying your luck whether it be at the casino, or on Wall Street, if you can stay in long enough, cycles have a way of turning life around for you. But at the card table, you do have the option of cashing in; but, at the weather table, you are stuck, that option is not your choice. Now, that we are embroiled in a discussion of global change, one has to wonder where the law of weather averages will hold true here. I'm just finishing a book on Connecticut weather, I'd love your input.

The book has been a year and a half in the writing. A huge task, and I labored over the final chapter which dealt with global change. Sure that has been warming since the mid 1980s, especially, and you can see that clearly when looking at the records, but the question remains whether this is relatively a temporary thing caused by natural cycles, or has man-made influences made the process irreversible.

The International Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) is convinced and has data to show, that natural cycles alone could not account for the degree of warming which has taken place. But many of these people are not frontline weather forecasters, and if there are sceptics in the bunch, these by and large come from this group. We deal with change all the time. We are familiar will the limitation of the computer model equations and inputs. Look at the past weekend-the machines projected a few Sunday showers, and instead, we had a deluge, all day. If these inputs and equations have trouble in the short-term, can we truly trust them to tell us a 20-year or 50-year forecast?

Maybe there will be a law of weather averages even here, and we will return to a colder cycle. But one huge advantage to going green is that we will clear the air pollution level to a much more desirable level. It is about time that we controlled pollutants like hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides as well smog and ozone - and then there are the political and social aspects of the change. I just hope that if we do go through a colder cycle, green folks don't get cold feet.


Snow greets visiting hikers at Mount Rainier

Cool ocean temperatures in the southern Pacific Ocean -- a phenomenon known as La Nina -- chilled sunny expectations this summer for thousands of visitors to Mount Rainier National Park.

Those who arrived here in July planning to backpack or hike its famous sub-alpine wildflower meadows found snow instead, six feet in places, though sunny daytime temperatures reach into the 70s.

The popular mountain that draws 1.5 million visitors each year received 950 inches of snow last winter, 300 inches more than its 650-inch average. Park officials said a cooler than usual spring also pushed back the thaw.

"A lot of people were disappointed to come and find snowy meadows," said Mike Punches, a park interpreter at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, located 5,400 feet above sea level. "Normally the wildflower season is all of July and August. The early bloomers come the first of July.


What are the odds that we're baking the planet?

Eco-campaigners claim that climate catastrophe is a virtual certainty. A little bit of maths and logic suggests otherwise

For some years now, governments, industry, and private citizens have been regularly chastised by environmental activists for not doing more to limit greenhouse gases, the presumed cause of global warming. But lately a far more serious charge has been made. In June, the oft-quoted NASA climate scientist James Hansen appeared before a United States congressional committee. He said that the directors of fossil-fuel companies `should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature' (1).

But these people shouldn't be prosecuted just for producing fossil fuels. Hansen thinks they should also be prosecuted because, as he wrote in the UK Guardian: `Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link.' (2) In other words, fossil fuel company directors should be prosecuted for what they say, as well as for what they do.

It's a common type of argument, familiar to anyone acquainted with totalitarian regimes: the nation (or revolution, race, class, etc) is in grave peril from (fill in the blank). But there are traitors among us who spread lies, seeking to weaken our resolve. They must be restrained (temporarily, of course) for the good of us all.

But there's no reason this policy should only be applied to peddlers of coal and oil. Anyone who casts doubt on the reality of global warming would be equally guilty of imperilling the entire Earth. In the face of the imminent and overwhelming threat of catastrophic climate change, strict measures would (regrettably) have to be taken.

Environmental activists describe anyone who is sceptical of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) as a `climate-change denier'. The similarity of this phrase to the pejorative epithet `Holocaust denier' is not accidental. If you deny something, you believe it's false. If you're sceptical about it, you're not convinced it's true. This is an important logical distinction. But it's one that environmental activists are happy to obscure. It's also important to distinguish the varying degrees of climate-change scepticism that exist. For example, someone might be sceptical about one or more of these commonly accepted statements:

Global warming is really happening.

Global warming is caused by man-made greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Global warming will be harmful.

GHG emissions must be reduced in order to combat global warming.

And if there really is an urgent need to reduce GHG emissions, all four of these statements must be true. Predictably, James Hansen has no doubt: `I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 per cent.' (3)

But just how likely is it that all four of these statements are true? Fortunately, this question is easy to answer. All we need to do is consult the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with an elementary logic textbook.

The IPCC Synthesis Report of 2007 is scrupulous in specifying the probability of the various statements it makes about climate change. For example, consider this sentence on page 30: `Average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the twentieth century were very likely higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years.' And this one on page 39: `Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.' The italics are in the original.

Obviously this supports our statements 1 and 2. What the italicised words mean in terms of the percentage likelihood of causation or occurrence is clearly set out on page 27:

95-99 per cent: Extremely likely

90-94 per cent: Very likely

66-89 per cent: Likely

50-65 per cent: More likely than not

33-66 per cent: As likely as not

Below 33 per cent: Unlikely

(The numbers given here for `more likely than not' and `as likely as not' aren't misprints: the ranges overlap in the report itself.)

Now we'll turn to our Logic for Beginners textbook. Suppose the two statements A and B are independent: that is, the truth of A doesn't make B any more or less probable. Then the probability of them both being true is equal to the probability of A multiplied by the probability of B. Consider the classic textbook example of the coin toss. The likelihood of tossing heads or tails when tossing a coin isn't affected by previous tosses: no matter how many heads you've tossed already, the probability that the next will be heads is still fifty-fifty. (Many a gambler has come to grief by ignoring this basic principle.) So the two statements:

A. The first toss is heads.

B. The second toss is heads.

are independent. Since the probability of each statement is 50 per cent, or 0.5, the probability of tossing two heads in a row is 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25, or 25 per cent.

When the statements aren't independent, the calculation is a bit more complicated. And obviously our statements 2, 3, and 4 aren't independent of 1. But since the IPCC probability estimates take these dependencies into account, the simple multiplication rule of the coin toss example will give the correct result.

As we've seen, the IPCC rates statement 1 as `very likely', so the probability of this statement is in the range 90-94 per cent. The IPCC also rates statement 2 as `very likely'. Using the multiplication rule, we can calculate the probability of statements 1 and 2 being true together as 81-88 per cent. This falls within the range the IPCC describes as `likely'.

So we can see already that James Hansen's claim of `certainty exceeding 99 per cent' goes well beyond the evidence provided by the IPCC report. It seems he's placed himself firmly on the lunatic fringe of environmental activism.

Of course, this doesn't mean that climate-change scepticism is warranted. The probability that statements 1 and 2 are both true is still over 80 per cent, according to the IPCC data. But statements 3 and 4 have to be considered as well. Again, all four must be true if the calls for urgent action on GHGs have any merit.

The IPCC report examines a number of scenarios that make different assumptions about world population and economic growth. For each scenario, it estimates how much average global temperature would rise by the end of the twenty-first century. These estimates range from 0.6 to 4.0 degrees. The IPCC also estimates what effects these different levels of global warming might have on weather, food production, ecological systems, human health, and so on. For the most part, these effects are harmful ones, such as increased drought, heatwaves, floods, and more intense storms.

But some benefits are also mentioned. Under some of the scenarios, longer growing seasons and increased precipitation result in an overall increase in global food production. Warmer winters also have some health benefits, and significantly reduce energy consumption.

However, the IPCC report makes no predictions about how much future global warming will occur, since it doesn't assign probabilities to any of these scenarios. Although some amount of warming is predicted in all of the scenarios, the report reveals much uncertainty about how harmful the effects might be. Nevertheless, let's do our best for the case against GHGs, and assign statement 3 to the IPCC's `likely' category. This gives it a probability range of 66-89 per cent.

Using the multiplication rule once again, we find that the probability of statements 1, 2, and 3 all being true is 53-79 per cent. This falls mainly within the range the IPCC describes as `more likely than not'.

Finally we come to statement 4. Given statement 2, it may seem obvious that reducing man-made GHGs would reduce global warming. But unfortunately, the physical world is more complicated than that. The fact that X is the cause of Y doesn't guarantee that doing something to X will have any effect on Y. To choose a simple example, you can't fix a broken window by getting rid of the rock that broke it. And many environmentalists - including James Hansen - talk ominously about `tipping points', beyond which further global warming would be unavoidable whatever we did.

So there's no guarantee that reducing man-made GHGs would have any effect on global warming. Still, let's assume our statement 4 is also `likely' to be true. Using the multiplication rule one last time, it turns out the probability of statements 1 through 4 all being true together is 35-70 per cent. This falls almost entirely within the range the IPCC calls `as likely as not'.

It's easy to predict the environmentalist response: `We should err on the side of caution, and try to cut GHG emissions anyway.' This would be perfectly reasonable if limiting GHGs would itself have no adverse consequences. But implementing policies like those set out in the Kyoto Protocol would have significant economic costs.

More strident environmentalists would no doubt like to tip this balance by replacing our statement 3 with something like: `Global warming will be catastrophic.' But there's nothing in the IPCC report that justifies such a claim. This puts it in the same league with statements like: `Man-made GHGs have saved us from another ice age.' Based on the IPCC report, both statements are equally likely.

People are notoriously error-prone when reasoning about probability. When told that two statements are each very likely to be true, most people immediately conclude that the two taken together are just as probable. But this isn't so. Claiming that two things are true just gives you twice as many opportunities to be wrong. Uncertainties multiply, however slight each individual one might be.

Science can't always give us definite answers to our questions, even when the issues involved are very important to us. But it often can tell us how certain we should allow ourselves to be. And the certainty expressed by far too many environmentalists goes well beyond what the science will support.


South African nonsense refuted

Comment on "Global warming hits Midmar Dam" (on this blog July 23) by Umgeni Water

The article reaches the opposite conclusion to what is in the published paper "Toxic blooms in Midmar Dam". This constitutes an incorrect interpretation of the paper. CSIR researcher Dr Paul Oberholster and colleague Dr Anna-Marie Botha actually conclude that the winter bloom of Microcystis spp. during 2005 occurred with a low average surface water temperature of 10,1øC and that this is "totally antithetical" to the norm. In other words, it is not temperature that seemed to be the cause of the algae bloom but "that nitrogen plays a large role in the changes to the phytoplankton community composition". There is even reference in the publication to the fact that the sampled sites of the study "are part of the Midmar game park sanctuary, and waterfowl may be a contributory factor to the high nutrient values in the winter months".

Midmar Dam, like other Umgeni Water (UW) dam water resources, is comprehensively monitored by UW for a wide variety of analyses, including algae down to genus level. Sampling is done near the wall and is representative of the main body of water where water is abstracted for treatment. This enables Umgeni Water to identify and react to potential problems so that treated water is always safe to drink.

There is currently no major change being seen in the behaviour of the water temperature in the Midmar impoundment. On the contrary, median annual temperatures have cooled slightly in recent years. Winter minimum temperatures have behaved similarly. While climate change is a concern and is receiving attention at Umgeni Water, it is the possibility of droughts and floods that are by far the most important problems needing attention.

The article refers to "algae flowers". An algal "bloom" is not an algal "flower" (most are unicellular and cannot flower). A bloom is the name given to a proliferation of algae in very high numbers, usually due to a plentiful supply of nutrients. Without these nutrients, excessive growth is not possible, regardless of temperature. Temperature can have an effect on algal blooms, but different algae have different temperature needs and some algae can develop blooms at low temperatures.

Toxin-producing algae have been detected in Midmar (mostly in summer), but these algae can be found almost everywhere. Midmar has not yet experienced an algal bloom where potential toxin-producing algal numbers have developed to the point where abstracted water quality problems are likely, at any time of the year. The WHO suggests a limit of 100 000 cyanobacterial cells/mL alert level in the water resource, at which cyanotoxins could be present up to 20ug/L.

The average cyanobacterial counts are less than 20 000 cells/ml for the period 1994 to 2008.

In Midmar, small blooms of other algal types that cause related problems have been encountered, but have been minor in nature (causing slight filter blocking). A number of the minor algal blooms that have occurred in Midmar since Umgeni Water monitoring began in the late eighties have occurred in late winter, so this appears to be normal behaviour for this impoundment. These blooms have mostly been of algae called diatoms which do not produce any toxic substances.

All relevant water resource managers involved at Midmar Dam (including the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and Umgeni Water) are fully aware of the potential problems algae can cause. If a problem is seen to be developing, a wide range of actions can then be taken.

Besides trying to prevent nutrient enrichment in the first place, spilling the dam can remove the problem, provided that there is enough water, and in dams like Midmar there are a number of abstraction depths that can be strategically selected to avoid sucking in algae. Pre-treatment of the raw water can be undertaken to remove the algae, and even more careful than normal treatment processes followed.

At other dams, such as Inanda, where far more nutrients are present and there have been significant and potentially problematic algal blooms in the past, detailed monitoring (including analysis of the algal toxins) has been undertaken. While toxins have been detected in low amounts in some samples, the work has shown that the raw water sent to treatment plants has been entirely safe, even when specifically problematic algae (mostly cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae) have been present in large numbers. Additionally, Umgeni Water's treatment plants, which are designed to be effective in removing algae, can be and are operated with additional and even more comprehensive treatment to ensure removal of these problems (such as the use of activated carbon). Were a problem algal bloom to affect Midmar, similar additional monitoring and treatment would be undertaken.

Problem algae (both in terms of numbers and particularly the presence of cyanobacteria of concern) are far more likely to result from nutrient enrichment in a dam than from temperature changes. These problems are more likely in summer, but would be of concern no matter what time of year they might occur. The sources of these nutrients are related to the land-use pattern around the water resource.


Garbage correctness in SF

Garbage collectors would inspect San Francisco residents' trash to make sure pizza crusts aren't mixed in with chip bags or wine bottles under a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom. And if residents or businesses don't separate the coffee grounds from the newspapers, they would face fines of up to $1,000 and eventually could have their garbage service stopped.

The plan to require proper sorting of refuse would be the nation's first mandatory recycling and composting law. It would direct garbage collectors to inspect the trash to make sure it is put into the right blue, black or green bin, according to a draft of the legislation prepared by the city's Department of the Environment.

The program is designed to limit the amount of food and foliage that goes into the city-contracted landfill in Alameda County, where the refuse takes up costly space and decomposes to form methane, one of the most potent of greenhouse gases. It will also help San Francisco, which city officials say currently diverts 70 percent of its waste from landfills, achieve a goal set by the Board of Supervisors to divert 75 percent by 2010 and have zero waste by 2020.

"If we're truly going to be the city we promote ourselves to be, a world-class, 21st century city that advances its values and principles, we're going to have to try new things," Newsom said Thursday. "People are used to doing things a certain way. And when you change that, they say it can't be done. Well, we've proved them wrong." He pointed to a doubling in the city's recycling rate from 1996 to 2008, but acknowledged "it will take some time" to win over hearts and minds. "People don't knowingly want to waste," Environment Department Director Jared Blumenfeld said. "At the moment, we have a missed opportunity, which is that we're at a 70 percent recycling rate. Overnight we could be at 92 percent if everything people are throwing away that could be reused or recycled actually was."

Plenty of other cities, from Pittsburgh to San Diego, have mandatory recycling. None, however, requires all food waste be composted. Seattle passed a law in 2003 requiring people to have a compost bin but it did not mandate that all food waste go in there. "If they want to throw away food, that's their right," said Brett Stav, a planning and development specialist at Seattle Public Utilities. "We're not banning food from the garbage."

Skeptics call Newsom's plan unworkable and see it as the latest intrusion from heavy-handed city government, which has outlawed smoking in parks and feeding pigeons in much of the city. Duboce Triangle resident Mark Cromwell, a 53-year-old personal assistant, called the proposed law "laughable." "Do we want our garbage collectors to be the meter maids of trash?" Cromwell said. "Good luck placing blame on the recycling criminal, especially in big apartment buildings. I will stop recycling if this law goes into effect just to become an eventual test case. Dictators are anathema, no matter which side of the political spectrum they come from."

The company with the city's garbage and recycling contract also is hesitant to take on enforcement, saying it could slow down service and require extra data entry and information tracking. "We support the goals of the proposed ordinance but believe it needs refinements to be workable for everyone involved, especially the customers," said Robert Reed, a spokesman for Norcal Waste Systems. Norcal is the parent company of San Francisco collectors Sunset Scavenger Co. and Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Co.

"We are concerned about draft provisions that envision our drivers policing the contents of refuse containers and possibly withholding service if violations were found," Reed said. "A significant increase in time required to service each customer location would mean we would need to have more routes, which means more drivers, trucks, fuel and related resources."

The proposal, which city officials said the mayor could bring to the Board of Supervisors in about a month, calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash. Food vendors would have to supply them for customers. Managers of multifamily or commercial properties would be required to provide them for tenants or employees. Trash collectors would be required to check the bins for proper sorting, which Blumenfeld said would require only a cursory visual inspection, not combing through the contents.

If they found a bin with the wrong material in it, collectors would leave a tag on the container identifying the problem. A second time would result in another tag and a written notice to the service subscriber. On a third offense, the collector could refuse to empty the container, although this would not apply to multifamily properties like apartment buildings or to commercial properties with multiple tenants and joint collection. The city could also levy a fine of up to $500 for the first violation, $750 for the second in one year and $1,000 for the third in a year.

Apartment landlords are concerned that they'll have to pay for a tenant's behavior and won't be able to pass the fine along, said Sean Pritchard, the government affairs director for the San Francisco Apartment Association. "How do you determine which tenant is at fault?" Pritchard said. "Or do we indiscriminately start fining all tenants for one tenant's poor choice of judgment?" Blumenfeld called that fear unnecessary, saying, "We won't enforce against owners of apartment buildings if their tenants don't do this."



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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The latest scare: Rising sea levels

You just have to look at their graphs to debunk this one. It is clear from the first one that sea levels have been rising for a LONG time -- long before the era of widespread industrialization. And if you look at the third graph you will see that the rise has in fact been LEVELLING OFF in the last two years. See below

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a very good new website on global climate change. It offers a nice summary of the relevant science in a variety of areas: key indicators, evidence, causes, effects, uncertainties, and solutions. The website is a good place to send people who are uninformed on global warming, but looking for basic information.

JPL has a very nice front-page banner with pulldown menus providing data on "Vital Signs of the Planet," including Arctic sea ice, carbon dioxide, sea level rise, global temperature, and the ozone hole. Here is the expanded chart showing the recent 70 percent jump in sea level rise:


"The chart [above] shows historical sea level data derived from 23 tide-gauge measurements. The chart on the right shows the average sea level since 1993 derived from global satellite measurements, updated here monthly. Sea level rise is associated with the thermal expansion of sea water due to climate warming and widespread melting of land ice."

If you go to the key indicators page, you can run your mouse over the final data point, which shows that the trend continues. JPL gets their data from the University of Colorado, which has extended their plot through the end of 2008:

Mean sea level

So sea levels are now rising about 1.3 inches a decade. This is not yet worrisome, but if current emissions trends continue and the rate of sea level rise merely continues the same relationship to global temperature rise that it has had in recent decades, then we could see a total rise of up to five feet by 2100, at which point the rate of sea level rise would exceed six inches a decade, as explained in a 2007 Science article, "A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise."


Arctic Ice Thickness Update

1st year Arctic Sea Ice is AS THICK as OLDER Sea Ice?

While I was on vacation last week, I monitored some of the comments and saw the interesting update about the Arctic ice thickness from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Earlier concerns about the Arctic sea ice was that much of the Arctic Ocean this year was covered by unusually thin, first-year ice, which is far more likely to completely melt out during the summer 2008 melt season, compared to the thicker multi-year ice.

According to the latest ICESat thickness estimates, it appears that the first-year sea ice in the Arctic Ocean so far this season is comparable in thickness to what it was in 2006 and 2007. Note the charts below. Why is that? The NSIDC says that sparse snow cover over the Arctic Ocean last winter resulted in less insulation from the bitterly cold air, resulting in faster, first-year ice growth. Snow was unable to accumulate last autumn since much of the Arctic Ocean was still ice-free, causing the snow to just melt into the open waters. Once the ice formed later in the fall, it accumulated more quickly than normal as there was very little barrier (snow) between the ice and the cold air just above the surface.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, let's assume that there is even less sea ice coverage at the end of this year's melt season compared to the last two years, based on their above explanation wouldn't that mean that there would be even less early autumn snow accumulation compared to last year and thus another slight increase in the first-year sea ice thickness for 2009?

You can also see that the multi-year ice this year is clearly much thinner than the past two years. The NSIDC notes that this could be due to two factors. melting at the underside of the ice that was observed in the summer of 2007 and the greater than normal export of thick ice out of the Arctic Ocean.


Regulate Rocks? Rocks responsible for 'substantial' release of CO2

Maybe cover them with tinfoil left over from the hats?

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers have added a new source of carbon dioxide to the complex climate change puzzle by showing that ancient rocks can release substantial amounts of organic matter into Earth's rivers and oceans, and that this organic matter is easily converted by bacteria to carbon dioxide, which enters the atmosphere and contributes to climate change.

"Sedimentary rocks contain the largest mass of organic carbon on Earth, but these reservoirs are not well-integrated into modern carbon budgets" says Steven Petsch, a professor of geosciences. "Since we need to know the budget of the natural carbon cycle in order to determine human climate impacts, this information will lead to more accurate climate modeling." The research was conducted by Petsch and UMass Amherst graduate student Sarah Schillawski.

In a study published in the July issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Petsch and Schillawski focused on black shales from Kentucky. Black shales are rich in a type of organic matter called kerogen that contains carbon. Kerogen can turn into oil and natural gas when the rocks are heated. The first step was to determine how much organic carbon could be released from the rocks by simulating the weathering process in the laboratory.

Samples of the shale were placed in glass columns, and the effects of weathering were duplicated by running water through the samples for one year. Kerogen is thought to be difficult to dissolve, but the results of the column studies showed a slow, sustained release of organic matter from the rock. Over the course of one year, the rock samples had lost approximately 0.3 percent of their total organic carbon.

The next step was to determine whether this hard-to-digest organic matter could be broken down by bacteria into carbon dioxide. Using common bacteria found in natural waters, including the Quabbin Reservoir, Petsch found that essentially all of the dissolved organic matter in water from the column studies was rapidly degraded by bacteria over a period of nine days.

"This was the most surprising finding in the study, since these bacteria are adapted to digest organic matter from things like leaves and acorns, which is similar to carbohydrates consumed by humans," says Petsch. "The presence of microorganisms capable of using kerogen may have significant implications for the global-scale cycling of carbon and oxygen."

Petsch has also studied the release of carbon from sedimentary rocks by soil bacteria, which is another way that ancient carbon can be converted into carbon dioxide. "We have found outcrops of the New Albany Shale, which is usually black, that have turned a light brown color as bacteria consume carbon where the overlying soil meets the weathered rock," says Petsch.

According to Petsch, the bottom line is that the release of organic material from sedimentary rocks contributes approximately 2 percent of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere each year. While this may seem like a small amount, it is another piece of the puzzle that can be used when determining how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.


British Conservative leader wavers on green pledges

David Cameron has shelved his commitment to green taxes because of rising fuel prices and the economic downturn

A range of measures designed to penalise motoring and other polluting activities has been put on hold amid fears that it would alienate working families feeling the pinch as the economy slows. Senior strategists admit privately that initiatives prepared by the Tory leader are unlikely to see the light of day, including raising taxes on short-haul flights and on larger cars. Elaborate plans for widespread micro-generation of energy in homes and offices are also being quietly shelved in favour of a strategy little different from Labour's, based on a new generation of nuclear power stations

Rather than taxing a range of polluting behaviours, the Tories will offer incentives to choose more environmentally-friendly alternatives, insiders say. A senior party source admitted: "We can't possibly sell the idea of green taxes to voters during a downturn."

Last year, Mr Cameron welcomed a Tory policy review that called for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on the highest-emitting cars to be up to $1,000 more than for the greenest vehicles and a "showroom tax" of up to 10 per cent on "gas guzzlers". The Tories led calls for a ground-breaking Climate Change Bill to set a target for cutting carbon emissions by 2050 and campaigned under the banner "vote blue, go green" in the local elections. The party's "quality of life" group, led by John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith, proposed radical parking charges at out-of-town supermarkets and shopping malls, a moratorium on airport expansion and increased taxes - including VAT - on short-haul flights. Mr Cameron had pledged to increase the proportion of taxation raised through green levies by rebalancing taxation away from "good" things, such as jobs and investment, towards "bad" things, like pollution and carbon emissions. He also promised that the money raised from green taxes would fund tax cuts for families.

But this summer Mr Cameron dropped his support for higher road tax as he clashed with Gordon Brown over the Government's plans to impose retrospective rises of up to $400 in VED on cars up to seven years old while George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, promised to cut tax on fuel when prices at the pump rose.

Strategists said it was possible the Tory leader could resurrect green taxes, but not for a year or until the economy has rallied. One senior MP said: "The question is whether the party will keep its nerve about doing things that will be uncomfortable for consumers. At the moment the jury is out."

Another issue of concern for some is that the Tories are warming to nuclear power. Last year, it viewed a new generation of nuclear power stations as "a last resort" but would now support the move if there were no taxpayers' subsidy. The about-turn is significant because green issues were once the lynchpin of Mr Cameron's modernising drive. But he has not made a major speech on the environment or hinted at policy in this area for many months.

This week the Tories will open a new offensive on education, promising to address the plight of the poorest children. Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, will claim that the Government has failed to eradicate glaring inequalities between the achievements of the richest and poorest children.


Summer Chill: Montana breaks 1897 record for coldest temps?

Two temperature records were set or tied in July in Great Falls, including one dating back more than a century, according to the National Weather Service. An overnight low of 39 degrees on July 11 broke the daily record of 40 degrees set in 1897, said Ed Kurdy hydro-meteorological technician with the Weather Service. The only other July daily record occurred July 12, when the low was 40 degrees, tying the mark set in 2004. "Other than those two record temperatures, it was a pretty unspectacular month as far as weather was concerned," Kurdy said. That is in stark contrast to July 2007, when the mercury topped 100 degrees seven times. The highest temperature last month was 97 degrees, on July 21.

The average high temperature last year was 94, compared to 84.7 this year, according to the Weather Service's month-end report. This year's average was still 1.7 degrees above the monthly average, the report states. The mean average of highs and lows was 67.9 degrees for July this year, much cooler than the 76.8 degree average in 2007.


Global Warming Did It! Well, Maybe Not

We're heading into the heart of hurricane season, and any day now, a storm will barrel toward the United States, inspiring all the TV weather reporters to find a beach where they can lash themselves to a palm tree. We can be certain of two things: First, we'll be told that the wind is blowing very hard and the surf is up. Second, some expert will tell us that this storm might be a harbinger of global warming.

Somewhere along the line, global warming became the explanation for everything. Right-thinking people are not supposed to discuss any meteorological or geophysical event -- a hurricane, a wildfire, a heat wave, a drought, a flood, a blizzard, a tornado, a lightning strike, an unfamiliar breeze, a strange tingling on the neck -- without immediately invoking the climate crisis. It causes earthquakes, plagues and backyard gardening disappointments. Weird fungus on your tomato plants? Classic sign of global warming.

You are permitted to note, as a parenthetical, that no single weather calamity can be ascribed with absolute certainty (roll your eyes here to signal the exasperating fussiness of scientists) to what humans are doing to the atmosphere. But your tone will make it clear that this is just legalese, like the fine-print warnings on the flip side of a Lipitor ad.

Some people are impatient with even a token amount of equivocation. A science writer for Newsweek recently flat-out declared that this year's floods in the Midwest were the result of climate change, and in the process, she derided the wishy-washy climatologists who couldn't quite bring themselves to reach that conclusion (they "trip over themselves to absolve global warming").

Well, gosh, I dunno. Equivocation isn't a sign of cognitive weakness. Uncertainty is intrinsic to the scientific process, and sometimes you have to have the courage to stand up and say, "Maybe." Seems to me that it's inherently impossible to prove a causal connection between climate and weather -- they're just two different things. Moreover, the evidence for man-made climate change is solid enough that it doesn't need to be bolstered by iffy claims. Rigorous science is the best weapon for persuading the public that this is a real problem that requires bold action. "Weather alarmism" gives ammunition to global-warming deniers. They're happy to fight on that turf, since they can say that a year with relatively few hurricanes (or a cold snap when you don't expect it) proves that global warming is a myth. As science writer John Tierney put it in the New York Times earlier this year, weather alarmism "leaves climate politics at the mercy of the weather."

There's an ancillary issue here: Global warming threatens to suck all the oxygen out of any discussion of the environment. We wind up giving too little attention to habitat destruction, overfishing, invasive species tagging along with global trade,and so on. You don't need a climate model to detect that big oil spill in the Mississippi. That "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico -- an oxygen-starved region the size of Massachusetts -- isn't caused by global warming, but by all that fertilizer spread on Midwest cornfields.

Some folks may actually get the notion that the planet will be safe if we all just start driving Priuses. But even if we cured ourselves of our addiction to fossil fuels and stabilized the planet's climate, we'd still have an environmental crisis on our hands. Our fundamental problem is that -- now it's my chance to sound hysterical -- humans are a species out of control. We've been hellbent on wrecking our environment pretty much since the day we figured out how to make fire. T his caused that: It would be nice if climate and weather were that simple.

But "one can only speak rationally about odds," Kerry Emanuel, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied hurricanes and climate change, told me last week. "Global warming increases the probabilities of floods and strong hurricanes, and that is all that you can say." Emanuel's research shows that in the past 25 years, there's been an uptick in the number of strong storms, though not necessarily in the number of hurricanes overall. Climate models show that a 1-degree Celsius rise in sea-surface temperatures should intensify top winds by about 5 percent, which corresponds to a 15 percent increase in destructive power. The tropical Atlantic sea surface has warmed by 0.6 degrees Celsius in the past half-century.

At my request, Emanuel ran a computer program to see how much extra energy Hurricane Katrina had because of increases in sea-surface temperature. His conclusion: Katrina's winds were about 2 percent stronger in the Gulf, and not significantly stronger at landfall. Maybe climate change was a factor in generating such a storm, or in the amount of moisture it carried, but the catastrophe that Katrina caused in New Orleans can more plausibly be attributed to civil engineers who built inadequate levees, city planning that let neighborhoods materialize below sea level and Bush administration officials who didn't do such a heckuva job.

Let's go back to those Iowa floods. Humans surely contributed to the calamity: Farmland in the Midwest has been plumbed with drainage pipes; streams have been straightened; most of the state's wetlands have been engineered out of existence; land set aside for conservation is being put back into corn production to meet the demands of the ethanol boom. This is a landscape that's practically begging to have 500-year floods every decade.

Was climate change a factor in the floods? Maybe. A recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that heavier downpours are more likely in a warming world. Thomas Karl, a NOAA scientist, says that there has been a measurable increase in water vapor over parts of the United States and more precipitation in the Midwest.

But tree-ring data indicate that the state has gone through a cycle of increasing and decreasing rainfall for hundreds of years. The downpours this year weren't that unusual, according to Harry J. Hillaker Jr., the Iowa state meteorologist. "The intensity has not really been excessive on a short-term scale," he said. "We're not seeing three-inch-an-hour rainfall amounts."

This will be a wet year (as was last year), but Iowa may not set a rainfall record. The wettest year on record was 1993. The second wettest: 1881. The third wettest: 1902. Iowa is an awkward place to talk about global warming, because the state has actually been a bit cooler in the summer than it was in the first half of the 20th century. Hillaker says the widespread shift to annual plants (corn and soybeans) and away from perennial grasses has altered the climate. The 10 hottest summers in Iowa have been, in order, 1936, 1934, 1901, 1988, 1983, 1931, 1921, 1955, 1933 and 1913. Talk about extreme weather: One day in 1936, Iowa set a state record with a high temperature of 117 degrees. And no one blamed it on global warming.

Rest assured, we may find ways to ruin the planet even before the worst effects of global warming kick in. The thing that gets you in the end is rarely the thing you're paying attention to.

The basic problem is that there are so many of us now. Four centuries ago, there were about 500 million people on Earth. Today there are that many, plus 6 billion. We're rapidly heading toward 9 billion. Conservatives say that we just need to focus on maintaining free markets and let everything sort itself out through the miracle of the invisible hand. But the political tide is turning against unfettered free markets and toward greater regulation. Climate-change policy is part of that: Somehow we've got to embed environmental effects into the cost of energy sources, consumer goods and so on. The market approach by itself has let us down.

Viewed broadly, it appears that humans are environment-destroying creatures by nature. The notion of the prelapsarian era in which we lived in perfect harmony with nature has been effectively shattered by such scientists as Jared Diamond, the author of "Collapse," and Tim Flannery, who wrote "The Future Eaters." If everything gets simplified and reduced to a global-warming narrative, we'll be unable to see the trees for the forest.

Consider the June issue of Scientific American, where you'll find a photograph of a parched lake, the mud baked into the kind of desiccated tiles that scream "drought." The caption says: "Climate shift to unprecedentedly dry weather, along with diversion of water for irrigation, has converted this former reservoir in China's Minqin County into desert."

Um . . . "this former reservoir?" Look closely, and you can see concrete walls in the background. This is not a natural place: It's a manufactured landscape. Here's a wild guess: This part of China is an environmental disaster that has very little to do with climate change and very much to do with high population and intensifying agriculture.

Last week, we saw reports of more wildfires in California. Sure as night follows day, people will lay some of the blame on climate change. But there's also the minor matter of people building homes in wildfire-susceptible forests, overgrown with vegetation due to decades of fire suppression. That's like pitching a tent on the railroad tracks.

The message that needs to be communicated to these people is: "Your problem is not global warming. Your problem is that you're nuts."



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

UK 'delusional' over climate change

The UK has massively overstated its reduction in carbon emissions, say two new reports which cast a harsh light on Britain's environmental policy. Government claims of reduced emissions are based on calculations which exclude significant contributing factors to global warming, the reports read. If aviation, shipping and the importing of goods are factored into the calculations UK greenhouse emissions are actually 49 per cent higher than reported. That means UK emissions have actually risen since the 1990s - contrary to government claims.

Both reports are by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in the University of York.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Steve Webb said: "The government has been unbelievably complacent about the UK's record on greenhouse gases. "The reality is that we have simply exported our emissions to countries that do the manufacturing that we used to do in the past."

Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "Rather than hiding behind dodgy data and relying on green gimmicks the government need to make urgent changes to move the country to a low carbon economy."


Climate change "isn't happening" say experts in Spain

Climate change isn't happening was the main message of a course on the subject at the Universidad de Verano de Adeje (UVA) (Adeje summer university).

A team of experts in various aspects of the subject , with the exception of one, agreed with this tenet. The course was led by Jose Ramon Aravalo Sierra, Profesor of Ecology at the University of La Laguna, who refuted the usual claims that extreme weather conditions are already increasing, or that more forest fires were occurring.

Professor of Geography at the Madrid Complutense University, Maria Eugenia Perez, spoke about the actual temperature measurements around the globe. She recalled that most temperatures are recorded in urban areas where microclimates can be warmer, and the reduction of the number of stations at high latitudes since the collapse of the USSR, both of which could bias data upwards.

She also commented on the reliability of some data, and its short period of collection (some stations only for 50 years), but then showed that the general trend in the last 10 years has been slight cooling. This was after a cool period of around 1940-1970, which was followed by the rapid rise in temperatures to the end of the nineties which caused scientists to start thinking that global warming was happening. She warned against drawing conclusions about climate change from data sets of less than three sets of 30 years.

Two other eminent speakers, Chris Horner an American lawyer, and Gabriel Calzada, Professor of Economics at the University Rey Juan Carlos, spoke in strong terms against the Kyoto protocol, which both believed was not designed to reduce CO2 emissions, and was not in fact doing anything to reduce them.

Spain's rapid growth in the period since 1990 has left the government with a problem to resolve as the growth of Spain's emissions by 48% means it is virtually impossible for the it to meet its commitment to keep emissions growth to only 15%.

There was also a presentation by a journalist, Antonio Salazar, about the role of the media in popular hysteria about subjects such as climate change; and the final lecture was from Jose Maria Fernandez-Palacios, a Professor of Ecology at the University of La Laguna. He held a more conventional view that global warming was occurring and detailed the likely ecological consequences for the Canary Islands which is likely to involve a reduction in biodiversity.


Is global warming causing hurricanes and wildfires? No, warming message morphs as Earth cools

Global Warming Committee chair Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently told students gathered at the U.S. Capitol that climate change caused Hurricane Katrina. "There now is no question that this harm is being caused by human activity. It's warming up the planet and melting the glaciers," he said. "The planet is running a fever."

Markey was not aware that global temperatures stopped warming in 1998 and since 2002 have been declining. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the 3,000 global ARGO diving buoys they deployed in 2003 have shown that the world's oceans have cooled, too.

This cooling has occurred even as CO2 increased 3.5 percent. A similar decoupling took place from the 1940s to the late 1970s, when temperatures fell as CO2 accelerated upwards into the post-war boom years. This on-again, off-again correlation suggests CO2 is not the primary driver of climate.

Rep. Markey also was not aware that in a NOAA press release, hurricane specialist Chris Landsea stated: "There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts." MIT's Kerry Emanuel, earlier a proponent of a global warming - hurricane link, published a new paper showing that even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries.

Despite these new findings and defections, climate alarmists have adopted the position that all extremes of weather are due to man. They blamed the serious spring flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest on global warming even though they were caused by a cooling Earth, a return to a cold Pacific and a strong La Nina.

The National Wildlife Federation's Amanda Staudt noted in a press release: "Warmer air can carry more water, and this means more heavy precipitation in the central United States. Big Midwestern storms that used to be seen every 20 years or so will likely occur every four to six years by century's end."

But Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado responded in his Climate Science blog, Staudt presents no evidence that this flood event was due to warmer air and an increase in atmospheric water vapor, which has not increased over North America. She also ignored evidence that flood losses are actually decreasing in the United States.

Also, it was not warm. In fact, it was unusually cold. The last winter and spring period ranked as the 25th coldest out of 113 years for the north central states. The cold air suppressed the jet stream and storm track, resulting in heavy snows, spring floods and severe weather.

And though the 119 tornado deaths so far this year are tragic, they fall far short of more than 300 deaths recorded in 1965 and 1974, and the over 800 who died in 1927. Indur Glokany, an IPCC reviewer, reported that global mortality rates due to extreme weather have declined by 95 percent since the 1920s.

Despite the evidence, don't expect alarmists to concede anything on this issue anytime soon. They have too much of a vested interest in having you believe what they say is true. So expect them to blame any unusual weather on man-made climate change. As Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault's admonished the media "Global warming can mean colder; it can mean drier; it can mean wetter; that's what we're dealing with."


In Science, Ignorance is not Bliss

Comment by Physicist Walter Cunningham, NASA Apollo 7 Astronaut

NASA has played a key role in one of the greatest periods of scientific progress in history. It is uniquely positioned to collect the most comprehensive data on our biosphere. For example, recently generated NASA data enabled scientists to finally understand the Gulf Stream warming mechanism and its effect on European weather. Such data will allow us to improve our models, resulting in better seasonal forecasts.

NASA's Aqua satellite is showing that water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, works to offset the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). This information, contrary to the assumption used in all the warming models, is ignored by global warming alarmists.

Climate understanding and critical decision making require comprehensive data about our planet's land, sea, and atmosphere. Without an adequate satellite system to provide such data, policy efforts and monitoring international environmental agreements are doomed to failure. Our satellite monitoring capability is being crippled by interagency wrangling and federal budget issues. As much as a third of our satellites need replacing in the next couple of years.

NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it is becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science. Advocacy is replacing objective evaluation of data, while scientific data is being ignored in favor of emotions and politics.

There are excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the Sun and the Earth's temperature, while scientists cannot find a relationship between industrial activity, energy consumption, and global temperatures. But global warming is an issue no longer being decided in the scientific arena.

Saying the Earth is warming is to state the obvious. Since the end of the ice age, the Earth's temperature has increased approximately 16 degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels have risen a total of 300 feet. That is certain and measurable evidence of warming, but it is not evidence of AGW-human-caused warming.

We can track the temperature of the Earth back for millennia. Knowing the temperature of the Earth, past or present, is a matter of collecting data, analyzing it, and coming up with the best answer to account for the data. Collecting such data on a global basis is a NASA forte.

I believe in global climate change, but there is no way that humans can influence the temperature of our planet to any measurable degree with the tools currently at their disposal. Any human contribution to global temperature change is lost in the noise of terrestrial and cosmic factors.

Our beautiful home planet has been warming and cooling for the last 4.8 billion years. Most recently, it has been warming-be it ever so slightly-but there is nothing unusual about it! The changes and rates of change in the Earth's temperature, just since the Industrial Revolution, have occurred many times in our climatic history. While climate scientists generally agree that the Earth's temperature is always changing, not many of them would say that humans are responsible for those changes.

None of this is to say there are not legitimate reasons to restrict emissions of any number of chemicals into the atmosphere. We should just not fool ourselves into thinking we will change the temperature of the Earth by doing so.

In a December 2007 Senate report, 400 prominent scientists signed a letter pointing out that climate change was a well-known natural phenomenon, and that adapting to it is far more sensible than attempting to prevent it. Their ranks included experts in climatology, geology, oceanography, biology, glaciology, biogeography, meteorology, economics, chemistry, mathematics, environmental sciences, engineering, physics, and paleo-climatology. Their message: When changes are gradual, man has an almost infinite ability to adapt and evolve.

The fearmongers of global warming base their case on the correlation between CO2 and global temperature, even though we cannot be sure which is cause and which is effect. Historically, temperature increases have preceded high CO2 levels, and there have been periods when atmospheric CO2 levels were as much as 16 times what they are now, periods characterized not by warming but by glaciation.

You might have to go back half a million years to match our current level of atmospheric CO2, but you only have to go back to the Medieval Warming Period, from the 10th to the 14th Century, to find an intense global warming episode, followed immediately by the drastic cooling of the Little Ice Age. Neither of these events were caused by variations in CO2 levels.

Even though CO2 is a relatively minor constituent of "greenhouse gases," alarmists have made it the whipping boy for global warming (probably because they know how fruitless it would be to propose controlling other principal constituents, H2O, CH4, and N2O). Since human activity does contribute a tiny portion of atmospheric CO2, they blame us for global warming.

Other inconvenient facts ignored by the activists: Carbon dioxide is a nonpolluting gas, essential for plant photosynthesis. Higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere produce bigger harvests.

In spite of warnings of severe consequences from rising seas, droughts, severe weather, species extinction, and other disasters, the U.S. has not been stampeded into going along with the recommendations of the UN Panel on Climate Change-so far. Even though evidence supports the American position, we have begun to show signs of caving in to the alarmists. With scientific evidence going out of style, emotional arguments and anecdotal data are ruling the day. The media subjects us to one frightening image of environmental nightmare after another, linking each to global warming. Journalists and activist scientists use hurricanes, wildfires, and starving polar bears to appeal to our emotions, not to our reason. They are far more concerned with anecdotal observations, such as the frozen sea ice inside the Arctic Circle, than they are with understanding why it is happening and how frequently it has occurred in the past.

After warnings that 2007 would be the hottest year on record and a record year for hurricanes, what we experienced was the coolest year since 2001 and, by some measures, the most benign hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere in three decades.

Even though recent changes in our atmosphere are all within the bounds of the Earth's natural variability, a growing number of people are willing to throw away trillions of dollars on fruitless solutions. Why do we allow emotional appeals and anecdotal data to shape our conclusions and influence our expenditures with the science and technology we have available at our fingertips? ....

More here

Cool summer posing challenges for gardeners in Minnesota

As the month of July winds down, home gardeners across the area have become increasingly worried about their prospects for harvesting many warm weather crops. The persistent cool weather this summer has slowed the growth of virtually all garden plants, but is posing the biggest challenge to those plants that need real heat to mature. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash and corn are all behind and could well run into the end of the growing season before reaching maturity.

"I doubt that some of these varieties will make it," said Kendall Dykhuis, an educator with the St. Louis County Extension Service in Virginia. According to Dykhuis, most area gardens are about three weeks behind, at least from where they've been in recent summers. "They could make it up, but it will take some heat to push it," said Dykhuis.

Marcia Mahoney is keeping her fingers crossed for some of that heat. Mahoney, an avid home gardener, is also the manager of the highly successful farmer's market in Ely. The market has found a niche in Ely on Tuesday nights in the summer, but so far this year she said shoppers have had pretty limited choices for freshly-grown produce.

"It has definitely had an effect on our growers," she said. "It's a pretty big impact, really." To date, only two growers, both of whom operate small greenhouses, have had any fresh vegetables to sell. Mahoney said she expects that to change soon. "Things are finally coming around. I had several of my growers say they'll be able to start bringing stuff this week."

But ripe homegrown tomatoes are still a luxury item at the farmer's market this year, and Mahoney isn't optimistic. Despite using row covers and even heaters earlier in the summer, Mahoney said tomatoes appear a long ways off. "They're blooming, but I don't think I have any tomatoes yet."

"I think we'll be picking lots of green tomatoes this year," said Becky Gawboy, whose large family of adopted children maintains a nearly half acre garden on their rural farmstead south of Tower. According to Gawboy, most of their heat-loving crops are well behind by recent standards, but not so much when compared to conditions in the late 1980s and 90s. "I've kept records on the garden since I've lived here. This is like the old days," she said. Indeed, many North Country gardeners used to take green tomatoes for granted, Gawboy noted.

More here

Ignore this missive from people-hating doctors

The British Medical Journal's insistence that people should have fewer children speaks to our misanthropic, Malthusian, baby-fearing times

We live in a culture that finds it increasingly difficult to value life. So it isn't surprising that even the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published an editorial calling on doctors to advise their patients to have fewer children. According to the authors of the editorial - life-long Malthusian Professor John Guillebaud and Pip Hayes, an Exeter-based GP - not having children is `analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high-carbon cars'. Newborn babies are a danger to the environment, they argue, and although they rhetorically state that `we must not put pressure on people', pressure is exactly what they want doctors to exercise as part of this new Malthusian crusade.

`We are not criticising those people in Britain who had large families in the past, because a lot of people had no inkling about the sustainability implications', Guillebeaud informed the UK Guardian (1). In fact, as a hard-line Malthusian zealot, Guillebeaud has been criticising people who breed `too much' for a very long time. All that has changed in recent years is the packaging of anti-natalist arguments.

In the past, Malthusians warned that overpopulation would lead to famine. When that argument disintegrated, they said overpopulation would undermine economic development. Later they claimed that overpopulation might assist the spread of communism, and more recently they have argued that it aids terrorism (lots of poor young men with no jobs apparently leads to apocalyptic violence).

Now they have latched on to environmentalism and the widespread concern about humanity's impact on the planet. What we have today is a new form of joined-up scaremongering, where the traditional fear of human fertility is linking up with anxieties about what humans are doing to the Earth.

King Herod's fear of the newborn was confined to one baby. Today's misanthrophic fear merchants have a far bigger target in their sights. One Australian professor of obstetric medicine, Barry Walters, believes the survival of the planet requires stringent controls on the number of children parents can have. He argues: 'Anthropogenic greenhouse gases constitute the largest source of pollution, with by far the greatest contribution from humans in the developed world. Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society. What then should we do as environmentally responsible medical practitioners? We should point out the consequences to all who fail to see them, including, if necessary, the ministers for health. Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and thereby rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a "Baby Levy" in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the "polluter pays" principle.' (2)

Throughout history, different cultures have celebrated birth as a unique moment, signifying the joy of life. The reinterpretation of a new birth as `greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour' speaks to today's degraded imagination, where carbon-reduction has become the supreme moral imperative. Once every newborn baby is dehumanised in this way - represented as little more than a professional polluter who is a `potent source of greenhouse gas emissions' - then it becomes difficult for people to read the BMJ editorial without nodding along in agreement.

If the birth of a baby is regarded as an unnecessary and unacceptable burden on the carrying capacity of the planet, then it's only a matter of time before a child's very existence will be regarded as a threat. One of the distinct features of contemporary environmentalism is its intense suspicion of the human species. Environmentalists' systematic spread of fear about the `human impact' promotes mistrust of people's motives, and in the end of people themselves. Going further down this route, the new demands for a carbon tax on fertility means that the defining identity of a newborn baby would be `Polluter'.

Subjecting the act of birth itself, that once-celebrated creation of a new life, to the `polluter pays' principle exposes the dark side of today's misanthrophic imagination.

More here


For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


More on the Bangladesh embarrassment

Post below recycled from Planet Gore. See the original for links

The hits (or rather misses) just keep on coming, in the form of observations and facts that are proving very inconvenient for James Hansen's and the rest of the IPCC gang's paranoid, hysterical, and angry advocacy for global governance, energy rationing, Kyoto, etc. Today, it is Hansen's catastrophe posterchild, Bangladesh - which, far from being soon underwater, is actually gaining land mass rather than losing it.

It turns out that the genii at the IPCC never considered that rivers silt up. This should not be surprising: leading sea-level rise expert Nils-Axel M”rner noted that the IPCC's SLR panel is stacked with people who aren't sea-level rise experts. Possibly they are the anthropology TAs, transport-policy instructors, and others that Climate Resistance discovered among the IPCC's 2,000 "world's leading climate scientists."

So, let's review the bidding. The IPCC and the models on which it premises its version of reality are wrong on rainfall. They are wrong on GHG concentrations and behavior. Models are wrong on Antarctica, on Andean snowpack, on Bangladesh, on ocean temperatures, and wrong on the Northwest Passage. Roy Spencer's research appears to have affirmed that models are demonstrably and fatally wrong on the threshold question of climate sensitivity.

Not to worry, the U.S. government is preparing to issue a hysterical statement, on which EPA says it will base its CO2 regulations [the deadline for public comments to NOAA is August 14, everyone], claiming that at least the models are finding observations consistent with models' projections in . . . Alaska. Um, except that in April, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation - which accounted for all of Alaska's warming (with a little help from the urban-heat-island effect) - had flipped again, and cooling is in the cards.

Other than that, why, those models are perfectly wonderful tools on which to premise trillion-dollar economic decisions! Fortunately, we have two candidates for president promising to do just that.

More Model FAILURE

Climate Impact Studies Lead to 'Faulty Conclusions' - Using More Than One Model Leads to `Entirely Different Results'

Many biologists who are studying the potential impacts of climate change on different species and the environment could be coming to faulty conclusions unless they widen the scope of their research, a new Canadian study suggests. The report, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggests biologists often use only one of the 31 different climate-change models provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Those models, while generally consistent at predicting climate, can differ significantly in providing data about how the living conditions for certain species are expected to change, the study found.

Co-author Jonathan Newman, a professor of environment biology at the University of Guelph, was researching the impact of climate change on the swede midge, an invasive insect that has been affecting canola crops in the United States since 1996 and has now migrated to southern Ontario. Newman's team used two models and expected some level of variation in the results. But they did not expect contradictory data. "We basically got opposite answers when we should have gotten the same answer," Newman said. "What we've shown is if you use more than one model you can get entirely different results, so (based on studies that used only one model) maybe we have no view at all of what the impacts are going to be."

A Canadian climate model found the swede midge could expand across Ontario and into northern and western regions of Canada and the United States due to warmer and moist conditions brought on by climate change. But a British model - one of the most commonly used by researchers - found that ideal conditions for the swede midge would disappear significantly with climate change, which surprised Newman. "That was worrying as a biologist engaged in the business of trying to elucidate biological impacts," he said. "What we need is a whole array of models that all make different assumptions and then we look for conclusions that are reasonably robust."

Of the 65 studies that have used the IPCC models since 1994, only about one in five used more than one model, the report found. It doesn't mean that the existing research is wrong, Newman said, but scientists should be working with multiple models so they can be certain about their research. "I certainly would hope that (the study) spurs more research like we've been doing in our lab," he said.

There's no debating that researchers should be using multiple models and variables in their research and it's not very surprising that some contradictions could emerge, said Quentin Chiotti, lead author of the Ontario chapter of Natural Resources Canada's recent report, "From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007." "If there's a lesson to be learned based on this article that would be to use a wide range of models and a wide range of scenarios; fair enough, I don't know how you could try to refute that," he said.

But he also questioned just how serious the problem is and said most top-level research and work by policy-makers would be very thorough. There are many studies that only use one model and are taken seriously but researchers should always be taking that factor into account, he said.

"It's our job to look at the literature with a critical eye [A welcome thought!] and get a sense of what were they really using and what were they really saying. It's really up to the scientists to determine what are the most plausible outcomes, where can we make - from a precautionary principle perspective - the most intelligent decisions."


Note: For good background reading on why computer model "predictions" of nature are suspect, see the book: "Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future", reviewed here. Journal article behind the report above abstracted below:

Will climate change be beneficial or detrimental to the invasive swede midge in North America? Contrasting predictions using climate projections from different general circulation models

By ANNA M. MIKA et al.

Climate change may dramatically affect the distribution and abundance of organisms. With the world's population size expected to increase significantly during the next 100 years, we need to know how climate change might impact our food production systems. In particular, we need estimates of how future climate might alter the distribution of agricultural pests. We used the climate projections from two general circulation models (GCMs) of global climate, the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis GCM (CGCM2) and the Hadley Centre model (HadCM3), for the A2 and B2 scenarios from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios in conjunction with a previously published bioclimatic envelope model (BEM) to predict the potential changes in distribution and abundance of the swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii, in North America. The BEM in conjunction with either GCM predicted that C. nasturtii would spread from its current initial invasion in southern Ontario and northwestern New York State into the Canadian prairies, northern Canada, and midwestern United States, but the magnitude of risk depended strongly on the GCM and the scenario used. When the CGCM2 projections were used, the BEM predicted an extensive shift in the location of the midges' climatic envelope through most of Ontario, Quebec, and the maritime and prairie provinces by the 2080s. In the United States, C. nasturtii was predicted to spread to all the Great Lake states, into midwestern states as far south as Colorado, and west into Washington State. When the HadCM3 was applied, southern Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Washington State were not as favourable for C. nasturtii by the 2080s. Indeed, when used with the HadCM3 climate projections, the BEM predicted the virtual disappearance of 'very favourable' regions for C. nasturtii. The CGCM2 projections generally caused the BEM to predict a small increase in the mean number of midge generations throughout the course of the century, whereas, the HadCM3 projections resulted in roughly the same mean number of generations but decreased variance. Predictions of the likely potential of C. nasturtii spatial spread are thus strongly dependent on the source of climate projections. This study illustrates the importance of using multiple GCMs in combination with multiple scenarios when studying the potential for spatial spread of an organism in response to climate change.

Global Change Biology. Volume 14 Issue 8, Pages 1721 - 1733

New Paper (another one!) Demonstrates Lack of Credibility for Climate Model Predictions

A new paper by Demetris Koutsoyiannis et al has been published, which demonstrates that climate models have no predictive value. The full paper entitled, 'On the Credibility of Climate Predictions' is published in the Journal of Hydrological Sciences, and is available for free download. 18 years of climate model predictions for temperature and precipitation at 8 locations worldwide were evaluated.

The Abstract states:

Geographically distributed predictions of future climate, obtained through climate models, are widely used in hydrology and many other disciplines, typically without assessing their reliability. Here we compare the output of various models to temperature and precipitation observations from eight stations with long (over 100 years) records from around the globe. The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.


UN rushes aid as 'severe unseasonable cold spell' threatens Peruvian livestock?

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has provided urgently needed medical supplies to poor farmers in the Peruvian highlands whose livestock are suffering as a result of a severe unseasonable cold spell, known locally as "El friaje." The antiparasitic medicines, antibiotics and vitamins are being used to treat some 18,000 alpacas in the country's Pilpichaca en Huanvavelica district that have been weakened or fallen ill as a result of the unexpected cold snap.

The El friaje phenomenon involves a combination of unseasonable low temperatures, frosts, snow and hail that damages crops and the high-altitude pastures on which alpacas graze, according to Marc Vandersmissen, FAO's Emergency Coordinator in Peru. This year, the cold arrived well ahead of the usual season - in March and April, instead of June - and many small-scale farmers have not been able to harvest their crops.

The early arrival of the cold weather has greatly affected alpaqueros - smallholders in high-altitude areas whose livelihoods depend completely on raising alpacas. Pastures have been covered in snow which has frozen over, making grazing impossible. Unable to find adequate food, the alpacas have become weak and susceptible to disease, Mr. Vandersmissen said. The gravity of the situation has led the Peruvian Government to declare a state of emergency in 11 of the country's 25 provinces.

While FAO's intervention has helped to treat numerous alpacas, llamas and sheep, the agency is warning of possible increased livestock sickness and mortality in September in the high Andes of central and southern Peru, where alpaca production depends on natural pastures that have been extremely affected by the friaje.

A field assessment is being carried out in the five most affected provinces and FAO is asking donors for emergency funds to prevent any further damage to the livelihoods of Peru's high-altitude alpaqueros.


Even water-bottling is a suspect industry in California

California, The Nanny State, continues to trail-blaze America's Green future with carbon caps, fuel-economy laws, even a South L.A. ban on new fast-food restaurants (to force residents to lead a healthier lifestyle). Now comes Attorney General Jerry Brown's threat this week to block a proposed water-bottling plant in Northern California unless its effects on global warming are evaluated.

According to AP's report, Brown said the plant "failed to include an examination of whether the operation will contribute to global warming through the production of plastic bottles, the operation's electrical demands and the diesel soot and greenhouse gas emissions produced by trucks traveling to and from the plant."

Of course, AG Moonbeam's criteria would kill all new manufacturing business in the state, but I suppose we should be used to such lunacy by now.


Proposed Australian climate policy already hitting Australia's electricity supply

An emissions trading scheme has not even started but the Government's hostility to carbon emissions is already choking off the supply of electricity, leading to an inevitable rise in prices. Coal is used to generate 90 per cent of Australia's electricity, but no business can fund new coal-fired power plants under the existing policy settings. The last big coal-based power station built with private funding was Millmerran in Queensland, completed in 2002 by a Shell-led consortium. One other station, Kogan Creek, also in Queensland, has been built with government funding. No others are planned.

Specifying the carbon price that new electricity generators will pay when the emissions trading scheme begins will not solve the problem either, since the carbon price will be set by politicians each year. The Government also has yet to decide when key CO2 emitting sectors such as agriculture and petrol are to be included under the cap. As long as these are excluded, the price will need to be higher for the rest.

The Government also has yet to determine many other elements of an emissions trading scheme. These include the basis on which a reserve price for carbon will be in place (effectively capping the scheme); what, if any, compensation will be provided to big emitters and big users; and whether compensation will be paid to subsidise ongoing production or as a lump sum to allow big coal power producers to close down facilities.

All this is complicated by the sale of the NSW generators. Canberra does not want to jeopardise NSW Premier Morris Iemma's abilities to raise money from the sale, which also allows the Government to exit an industry that would otherwise make substantial calls on public funding. But any bidders for the NSW assets will need cast-iron commitments about what their future carbon credit costs will be. In any case, the value of the assets has already been dramatically devalued by commitments to a future emissions trading scheme.

Before the proposals of Ross Garnaut's climate change report were released, most electricity generators expected to receive free carbon credits. The green paper dangles these before their noses, though it leaves their value unquantified. Free credits could compensate the most carbon-intensive power plants for leaving the market, with those remaining being reimbursed for the costs of buying credits by a higher wholesale price resulting from the capacity reduction.

A carbon tax at the green paper's mentioned range of $20 to $40 a tonne of CO2 should make it possible, theoretically, for gas-fuelled electricity generation (with its lower CO2 emissions) to take market share from coal-based power stations. But gas-fuelled generators would be likely to find their competitive edge eroded because they would face higher gas prices following the increase in demand. Solar-based renewables would remain uncompetitive in any case.

The sword of Damocles hanging over coal-based electricity power stations is causing supply to tighten by preventing new investment. Eventually this will be exacerbated as existing stations become obsolete and are scrapped. And obsolescence will accelerate as businesses see a truncated useful life for their facilities and scrimp on maintenance expenditures. The effect of the discouragement of new supplies is being progressively felt. Generators cannot obtain forward contracts because neither they nor retailers know what the future price is likely to be.

These developments have brought an increase in wholesale prices. Average electricity prices in NSW and Victoria during the past couple of years have been $50 a megawatt hour. Ten years ago they were about $30 a megawatt hour. That increase is already equivalent to the tax of $20 a tonne of CO2 that the green paper estimates will mean a - presumably acceptable - 16 per cent rise in electricity prices. But we have seen with petrol that very high price increases have little effect on demand; it may take a tax on electricity of $100 a tonne of CO2, bringing a 70 per cent price increase, to shave even a modest 10 per cent from demand.

Though the price increases foreshadowed in the green paper are already happening, most consumers are largely insulated from them because their retailers have contracts with generators at the previously prevailing prices. Soon, however, the higher current prices will be reflected in consumers' electricity bills. At that stage, the rhetoric about the need for higher prices will meet the reality, and test the support of the Government, the media and ordinary people for a trading scheme designed to bring deep cuts in CO2 emissions.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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